Best Winter Tents for Cold Weather Camping

Hitting the trail in winter brings with it a unique set of challenges, not least being your choice of cold weather tent. It’s not just the cold – stormy weather, high winds, snow and frozen ground need the best winter tent that’s up to the job.

We’ve taken a look at some top-rated 4-season tents, and here are the results..

At a Glance: Top Recommendations for Winter Camping Tents

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Best Winter Tents for Cold Weather Camping

Eureka Alpenlite XT Tent

Eureka! Alpenlite XT Two-Person, Four-Season Backpacking Tent, Yellow

The Good…

  • Plenty of headroom
  • Double-wall design handles extreme environments
  • Reinforced and fully-taped seams
  • 2-Pole Design for quicker setup
  • Performs well in nasty weather
  • 20-pocket organizer wall and a flashlight loop

The Bad…

  • No vestibule or ground sheet
  • Not ideal for warmer weather – it’s a winter tent guys

At first glance, the Eureka Alpenlite XT looks like a well built, but “average” mountaineering tent. Well, don’t let those looks fool you. It’s an excellent choice for high altitude treks in snow, and is bulletproof in extreme weather.

Eureka used a double-wall design for the Alpenlite XT, and it’s a fast setup using the clips and post, grommet corner attachments, and the 9.5-millimeter 7001-T6 freestanding, shock-corded aluminum poles. Specifically, the body is made of 70D nylon taffeta, 40D no-see-um mesh, and the 75D Stormshield polyester fly repels rain and snow.

It has multiple ventilation ports you can zip open at the peak, mesh panels, and another over the door. It’s quite roomy at 31 square feet and has plenty of peak height at around 40 inches. Also, there are six pockets, two gear lofts, and two flashlight loops.

While you may not want to take this one on an expedition through the Himalayas, it holds up pretty well in the snow. The thick 75D Stormshield polyester does make it a bit hefty, but it’s still light for a cold-weather tent. It’ll keep you dry in wet weather year-round.

Summer may be a drag, although the ventilation is better than expected.

This is one of the best mountaineering tents for the money, and while the internal system can take some getting used to, it’s worth it if you want a storm-proof tent. It’s an excellent choice for taller folks as well.


Hilleberg Jannu 2 Camping Tent

The Good…

  • Inner and Outer tents can separate
  • Great in high winds and snow
  • Simple setup
  • Different color choices

The Bad…

  • 7.1 lbs. packed weight
  • Price!

Looking for a tent that can take the toughest of weather? Well, look no further than the Hilleberg Jannu, an almost bomb-proof shelter with excellent resistance to snow loads and wind. It also has some interesting features that will come in handy when extreme weather hits and speed of set up is critical.

The Jannu is in the Alpine class and uses a design that’s ideal in heavy snow. It has a cross-pole construction to prevent cave-ins, and you can extend the outer walls to touch the ground.

They use Kerlon 1200 on those walls, which are silicone-coated, and tear-resistant. The color-coded pole system, and the fact you can pitch the inner and outer tents all at once, make for quick setup.

There’s not quite as much headroom in the Hilleberg Jannu 2 as you’ll find in the Eldorado, but its close at 40-inches. It has 34.4 square feet on the inside, and the vestibule adds an extra 12.9 square feet for gear although you’ll need to stake it out separately.

This tent is not as roomy as the Trango and some of the larger models, but you’re not going to feel cramped.

Snow is no problem, and rain won’t stand a chance. It’s perfect for camping in the winter and among the top tents for wet weather. An extra perk are the color options with Red, Green, and Sand.


Mountain Hardwear Trango 2

No products found.

The Good…

  • 40 sq. ft. is nice and roomy
  • Snow Flaps
  • Color-coded setup takes out the guesswork
  • Spacious vestibule for gear
  • Lots of pockets for those smaller items

The Bad…

  • Heavy at 9 lbs. 13 oz.
  • Takes time to pitch the first couple times
  • Average height of 38-inches

The Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 allows you to ride out storms in style. While not in the “featherweight” class, it’s a durable tent with plenty of pockets, and will keep you toasty on the coldest of nights.

With a whopping 40 square feet of living space, you’ll have plenty of legroom, and the vestibule adds 12 square feet. It comes at the expense of weight, though, as the Trango is the heaviest tent on our list at 9.13 lbs.

Other standout features include: direct connection points, a vestibule snow flap, and an internal guy system for added strength. The canopy is made from 40D nylon while the floor and rainfly clock in at 70D; both are PU coated. Needless to say, wind, rain, and snow won’t be an issue for the Trango 2.

This freestanding tent is going to be too heavy for some backpackers. It’s a solid choice if you don’t mind the extra weight, but it’s not for lightweight mountaineering.

Be prepared to split the load and allow time for the initial setup if you plan to pitch this one in poor weather. Used extensively on supported treks such as Kilimanjaro.


Big Agnes Battle Mountain 2 Tent

Big Agnes Battle Mountain Mountaineering Tent, 2 Person

The Good…

  • 4.5 lbs. packed
  • 42-inch peak height
  • Oversized Stake Out Loops
  • Fully-Taped Seams (Solvent-Free PU Tape)
  • “Green” Poles and J Stakes

The Bad…

  • On the small side
  • No vestibule

Big Agnes makes a tent for every season. The Battle Mountain is an excellent choice, and a bit different from a traditional winter tent, due to its design and freestanding nature.

The Shield 2 is a single wall tent that’s light in the pack and has great wind resistance. The design makes it one of the easier tents to pitch regardless of the weather, as there are only two poles to deal with.

It’s rated for 4-seasons, so the vented door and zip fly will keep you cool-ish in the summer while the taped seams and 1000mm of PU coating keeps the rain off.

When winter rolls around, the large stake out loops are handy, and you’ll appreciate the Mega X stakes. There are no tricks to combat the cold, so it’s impressive the tent keeps you as warm as it does, given the single-walled design. Warmer options exist in this range, but they won’t be as light, or as versatile.

The one negative for the Big Agnes Battle Mountain is the space. It’s good for two campers, but with only 28 square feet, things can get tight. There are also no “extras” included, so you’ll need to pick up a vestibule and footprint separately. The latter is something you never want to leave home without.


Black Diamond Firstlight Tent

Black Diamond Firstlight 2 Person Tent

The Good…

  • Only 3.5 lbs. packed!
  • Breathability
  • Price
  • Sheds snow like a champ

The Bad…

  • Not great in extended downpours
  • Not enough guy points for high winds IMO
  • Bit small

The term “lightweight” is something that gets thrown around far too often in the backpacking world, even with tents built for winter. The Firstlight tent from Black Diamond is one of a handful deserving of the moniker, thanks to a jaw-and-pound-dropping packed weight.

The Black Diamond Firstlight is easy to pitch and will keep you warm and dry in bad weather. The trial weight tips the scales at a paltry 3.5 lbs. and the minimum weight is only 2.13 lbs. Using two poles and NanoShield fabric keeps things light, while silicone-dipped threads fight moisture.

Generally, when a tent is this light, there are going to be a few drawbacks. In this case, it’s the living area which is only 27 square feet. The durability takes a hit as well, so you’ll need a decent footprint. It’s good in mild weather, but not ideal for severe weather over extended periods. I’m not taking it to the Himalayas.

The company spared no expense with the use of exotic materials in the Firstlight, but somehow managed to keep it affordable. It’s half the price of other 4-season tents at this tier although not as warm or burly as something like the Trango 2.


The North Face Mountain 25

The North Face Mountain 25 Tent - Summit Gold/Asphalt Grey

The Good…

  • Hi-Low Venting
  • Eight storage pockets
  • Vestibules at front and back for gear storage
  • Double-wall design keeps in warmth

The Bad…

  • Poles sleeves aren’t ideal for everyone
  • Not as druable as some

North Face saw a huge jump in mainstream popularity thanks to the Denali fleece, but they had plenty of fans in the outdoor world long before. The company makes far more than just jackets, and the North Face Mountain 25 Tent is a solid tent built for cold-weather fun.

The Mountain 25 falls into the “Bomber” class- an expedition tent with double-walls and a pole structure capable of handling heavy snow and high-speed winds with ease.

Structurally, the inner tent is as stable as they come, although the design increases the weight a lot. It weighs 8.5 lbs. fully packed with a fast-pack weight of 6.5 lbs. Floor space and height are average for this tent, at 32.3 square feet and 41-inches.

While that’s not bad, it may get a little cozy for two depending on your gear. The dual-entry vestibule at the front helps, while the one in the rear adds an extra 3 square feet of space.

Setup depends on your skill level as pole sleeves can be a pain for some. It’s a great tent for the price, and while too heavy for summer and spring, it will get you through those winter months.


ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2

ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2-Person Tent

The Good…

  • 46-inches of Headroom
  • Two Vestibules for gear storage
  • Price
  • Rugged zippers
  • Price

The Bad…

  • Slow Set Up
  • Not for seriously cold/high-altitude environments

This freestanding tent from ALPS Mountaineering is built for 4-seasons and can handle two campers comfortably. The Tasmanian 2 is an affordable option from the company.

The ALPS Lynx is a favorite of ours when it comes to lightweight backpacking tents, whereas the Tasmanian is geared for cold weather camping. It weighs around 7.5 lbs. and is freestanding like many tents in this class.

Weather protection comes from the tent’s design, and 1500mm of coating on the 75D polyester fly. Rain will be kept at bay, and the floor has 3500mm of coating.

Need storage? You’ll get it from the gear loft and 13 square feet. of vestibule space while the tent provides 34.5 square feet of living area.

Taller campers will love the ceiling height, considering it’s the tallest tent on our list, at 46-inches. There’s no footprint included although you will get a bag, stakes, guyline and repair kit.


MSR Remote 2 Tent

MSR Expedition-Tents msr Remote 4 Season Person Mountaineering Tent with Dome Vestibule

The Good…

  • Two doors for easy access
  • Large vestibule for gear storage
  • Excels in wind, snow, and rain
  • Easton Syclone Poles

The Bad…

  • Condensation can sometimes be a problem
  • Price

Some tents excel when it comes to livability or come with flagship features you won’t find elsewhere. The MSR Remote tent is a great all-round cold weather tent.

The MSR Remote 2 is a tent we would put in the Pro class, but it’s great for beginners too. Sporting dual walls to keep the warmth in, and rain out, but still weighing-in at a little under 7 lbs.

That’s not exactly lightweight, but impressive once you consider the vestibule is 22 square feet and the tent is 33. It’s a big tent when pitched, with 43-inches of room up top.

The livability factor is high for the MSR Remote 2, although you could get clammy when it gets humid. Breathability is good, but not the best, as this one is better in winter and fall than summer. We like the build quality, and the fact there’s plenty of room for your gear between the tent and vestibule.


NEMO Kunai 3-Person Backpacking Tent

NEMO Kunai 3-Person Backpacking Tent

The Good…

  • Gear pockets
  • Large door vent & zippered mesh windows
  • Overhead light pockets
  • Divvy sack dual stage stuff sack to share the weight load

The Bad…

  • Not the best in a downpour
  • Price – could come with some better ‘extras’

The Kunai is another versatile tent from the minds at Nemo, billed as a 4-season shelter. That’s a good thing if you’re in the market for a well-built, lightweight tent, capable of handling almost any conditions.

At 26.4 square feet, the Kunai, and weighs 5.15 lbs. There’s a good reason for that difference, as the floor uses 70D PU ripstop nylon instead of 30D.

The canopy is twice as thick, making it stronger than other single-walled tents. It’s durable, easy to pitch, and you’ll like the company’s “sleep tight” anchor system too.

Another perk of this tent is the vents. You’ll get four of them on the canopy and two on the vestibule. This gives you total control of the wind, something you won’t find on other models.

The only negatives are the same ones you’ll find with all single-walled tents – rain and freezing weather.


The North Face Northstar Tent

The Good…

  • Geodesic design for max protection from elements
  • Full standup height- a 6 ft tall person will love
  • 3 doors
  • Large poled vestibule to hang gear at entry
  • Multiple vents
  • Lifetime warranty

The Bad…

  • Due to size, a bit of a pain to set up
  • Heavy

The Northstar is a wind-resistant tent from The North Face Company in the double-wall style. It’s an easy setup tent but a bit of a pain because you’ll need to insert the tent poles into sleeves. If you’re taking your first trip this geodesic tent, then do your set up during the daytime.

This good-looking tent isn’t without drawbacks, primarily because the tent poles insert into sleeves. Certainly, using clips would be a faster setup but likely add to the already hefty tent.

The North Face decided to durability over lightweight with the Northstar. The total weight is for trail is 12 lbs 4oz., and packed 13lbs 12oz.

In addition, the double-walled tent is breathable with multiple vents and sports a large single door entry that you can hang gear from plus 2 other doors. Made of 1500mm PU coating, [canopy] 68D polyester ripstop, [mesh] and a 75D polyester ripstop fly, the combo of these will shield you from the winter storm.

The full standing height for the Northstar is great along with the 63.6 sq ft floor space and 3 doors, which allows easy entry and exits.

North Face bills this tent as 4-season ready, and we’ll agree with the assessment for the most part. Since it has a waterproof coating, when it snow, the fabric doesn’t get soaked.


Geertop Lightweight Backpacking Tent

GEERTOP 2 Person Camping Tent Lightweight 4 Season Waterproof Double Layer All Weather Outdoor...

The Good..

  • Price
  • Great water-resistance
  • Double doors and windows
  • 210T PU5000mm floor – very durable, good for rocky ground
  • 8000mm of coating on the rainfly

The Bad…

  • Ventilation – condensation build-up
  • Zippers a bit flimsy
  • Small

Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to shell out on a tent, and tents for camping in the winter tend to carry a premium price tag. The Geertop is well worth a look, if you’re pinching pennies and an option for the best budget 4-season tent.

This tent isn’t the lightest, despite its moniker, at a little over 6 lbs. packed. While there are lighter options on our list, the water-resistance makes this one stand out. This model has double-stitched tape-sealed seams and 8000mm of coating over the nylon exterior.

It’s not the warmest tent to make the cut, but deals with snow well and sports a built-in skirt to boot.

When weight isn’t a concern, but your budget is – consider the Geertop tent. It’s solid where it counts, and while it can hold two people, it may not be that comfortable depending on your size and gear. Taller campers may have issues with this one, considering it’s only 39-inches high and has 22.48 square feet of living space.


Naturehike Cloud Up 4-Season Tent

Naturehike Cloud-Up 3 Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent with Footprint with Snow Skirt - 4 Season...

The Good…

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to pitch
  • Budget-friendly, entry-level model
  • Color choices

The Bad…

  • There are better options for really bad weather
  • Only 39 inches high

Naturehike’s name may not ring out like Big Agnes or ALPS, but they produce some excellent tents for summer, spring, and fall. They have winter camping tents as well, like the Cloud Up which is built for two and weighs less than 4 lbs.

Earlier we took a look at the 3-season version of the Cloud Up which caught our eye due to its price and weight. The company kept things svelte for their 4-season model, but it still has the essentials like taped seams and a bathtub floor. 20D coated nylon will keep the rain out although there are better options if you need a stormproof shelter for wet weather.

“Simple” is the word best used to describe the Cloud Up 4-Season tent. It’s an entry-level model, great for if you’re heading out for a few days in the latter part of the year – just check the weather report beforehand. There are several variants of the Cloud Up available if you need more protection or prefer a different hue.


4-Season Tent Buying Tips

With winter camping tents, one of the first things to think about is the weather you’re expecting. The Smokey Mountains in December is different than camping at Joshua Tree the same time of year. You may not need a double-walled wonder, if you only need protection from wind and rain – not snow.

winter tent campsite set up

Weather Resistance

This is pretty obvious, but the best 4-season tents for winter camping need to perform well in a variety of weather conditions.

By “winter” do you mean:

  • dry, frozen tundra – or
  • wet, windy, snowy forests?

For stormy weather, you’ll want a tent with high wind resistance. The design of the tent helps, but nothing beats plenty of stakeouts for guylines when you’re on a ridge exposed to gales.

Rain is a different story, and condensation can do you in with the design or a poor quality rainfly. Even if the fly keeps the rain out, a steady stream of drips will ruin your night.

As for the summer, you’ll want a tent capable of providing you with plenty of ventilation. UV protection is crucial to the life of your tent.

And then we have snow. It can also get you wet through condensation, but snow loads are the primary concern which brings us to the build quality.

Single Wall vs Double Wall

Single or double-walled design? Single-walled tents are lighter, and allow for more airflow, regardless of the vents. On the downside, they tend to suffer more condensation, and can’t cope with rough winter weather as well as a double-walled tent.

Double-walled tents give more protection from the elements. They are heavier, but what you’ll need when snow and freezing temperatures are an issue.

Tent Materials

Coated nylon, or Silnylon will hold up better than fabric left untreated. Some companies use 3-ply fabrics for strength and weather resistance, which is a step up from the typical tent with a 20D canopy. In most cases, the thicker the fabric, the tougher it is, although exotic blends can add strength to thinner materials as well.

As for the design itself, it’s a matter of preference, you’ll have to choose between freestanding and non-freestanding tents. Tents with a Bomber design are ideal for snow and high winds – in winter or at higher altitudes.

4 season tents on Kilimanjaro
4-season tents in the frozen tundra on Kilimanjaro – camping at 16,000ft requires a rugged tent

Camping Considerations

Are you camping out for the weekend or will your trek involve weeks spent in the wilderness? That’s important, and so are pets, as man’s best friend is a fine companion on the trails.

The tents on our list can handle two people with ease (in most cases), but you still have to consider your gear and comfort on extended hikes.

Measurements like floor area, and ceiling height come into play with livability, as do things like venting and vestibules.

When you spend half the day hiking up a mountain, you want to be comfortable at the end of it, not cramped up elbow to elbow. If space may be a concern, pay close attention to the layout of the floor, and stay away from narrower designs.

If you’ll be using bulky inflatable sleeping pads, you’ll want to be sure they fit, along with your backpack and the rest of the gear.

Try not to be so cramped you’re up against the side of the tent as condensation will wreak havoc with your winter sleeping bags.

Storage is another area tied to livability. Vestibules give you extra room, but so do interior pockets. While they may seem like a minor convenience, don’t underestimate how handy a media pocket is or how uncomfortable a misplaced pouch can be while you sleep.

Weight – Backpacking or Supported Trekking?

Are you traveling by car or plane to a remote destination, or just headed out for a quick overnight winter backpacking trip?

winter hiking

Tents made for winter weather can be cumbersome, and it’s rare to find one in the ultralight class. There are a few exceptions, and while it all comes down to how you pack, consider anything under 5 lbs. a blessing!

Alternatively, you can split the tent between packs if you want a burly shelter that can withstand the harshest environments. Vestibules, the rainfly and stakes can be split up, although pole systems can make things difficult. If splitting the load, check the packed sizes beforehand, to get a better idea of what you’ll have to work with.

Every tent will have two weights listed, with packed weight and trail or a minimum weight with only the essentials. The packed weight is what most people use as it includes the stakes, vestibules, tent, and any other accessories included in the box. The weight can also rise depending on the quality of the extras included, or if you plan on adding an aftermarket guyline or footprint.

Getting out on the trail in winter, or camping above the tree line is only an exciting, rewarding experience if you’ve got the right camping gear. A decent 4-season tent can be the difference between a night spent shivering, moments from hypothermia, or a comfortable sleep before tackling that summit.

See our top tips on how to stay warm in a tent. And how to get a good night’s sleep in a tent.

Product image credits: © Amazon.com

Last update on 2021-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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