Best Insulated Tent for Hot and Cold Camping

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If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best insulated tent is, we recommend the Crua Outdoors insulated tent.

Without the comfort of modern conveniences, camping in the summer can quickly become too hot, and camping in the winter can be too cold. A tent heater or air conditioner can help, but since tents are mostly made of mesh, all of that comfortable air will soon escape the confines of your shelter.

To solve this problem, you need to get one of the best insulated tents. It’s a way to help regulate the temperature inside your shelter, providing some measure of consistency, despite the ever-fluctuating nature of the outside air.

In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best insulated tents:

What is an Insulated Tent?

whiteduck canvas tent stove opening

An insulated tent is pretty self-explanatory. While most shelters work really hard to keep the space well ventilated and open, an insulated tent tries to seal things off as best as it can. Mesh is reduced, double walls help trap warm air (or cold air), and thicker flooring can keep the chill from seeping up from the ground.

Most of the time, an insulated tent is used for winter camping, as a way to stay warmer in brutally cold temperatures. But, just like a thermos, insulation doesn’t just keep things warm. It can also keep your environment cold as well, which is exactly what you want on swelting summer days. Paired with a tent air conditioner, there’s no better way to beat the heat while camping.

4 Season Tents

In general, a 4 season tent is going to be your best option when looking for something that’s insulated. Since they’re designed for brutal winter weather, the walls are almost always double layered, and the pole structure is strong and durable.

I think many people get the mistaken impression that 4 season tents are only for winter camping, when in reality, they’re called 4 season tents for a reason. The insulation and strength are certainly nice to have in the winter, but they also come in handy during the warmer months as well. Just remember that these shelters usually minimize air flow as much as possible, so you’ll definitely need a tent fan or air conditioner during the summer. But once it’s cold inside, it’ll stay that way for awhile.

Flooring

inside of a tent looking out at foggy mountains

The floor is one of the most common places for cold air to seep in. Since it’s resting directly on the dirt or snow, you’ll feel the ground chill when you lay down in your sleeping bag at night.

In terms of tent design, there’s not much you can do about it. Hypothetically, the higher the denier of the floor, the more insulative it will be, since denier equates to the thickness of the threads used. Even so, the effect would be minimal, and you’d still feel the cold air on your back while you’re trying to sleep.

One solution is to buy a rug specifically for camping. A blanket or a mat would get the job done, as well, though a rug will be the more durable option. Otherwise, your next best choice is to get off the ground completely, either with a camping cot or a rooftop tent.

Ventilation

One of the most common problems with insulated tents is ventilation. In an effort to keep the tent sealed, minimizing the impact of outdoor temperature fluctuations, there’s not much air exchange between the inside and outside of the tent.

Why is this a problem, you might ask? Well, if there’s no air exchange, that means all the vapor from your breath is going to accumulate on the ceiling of your tent very quickly. As the condensation grows, it will start to form droplets that will fall on you once they get big enough. It’s a great way to make your camping trip turn sour really fast, and it’s something that you’ll want to minimize as much as possible.

However, it’s worth noting that there’s only so much you can do before the ventilation ruins the insulative qualities of the tent. To some extent, you’ll have to resign yourself to the inevitable condensation that will build up inside.

Size

yellow tent with a light on at night

As it is with any shelter, it’s good to know how you’re going to be using it. Are you a solo backpacker? A family car camper? Hanging out at the beach? Trekking through the mountains?

We’ll focus on size for the moment. Having a tent that’s “too big” is rarely a problem, unless you’re concerned about weight. However, a tent that’s too small for you and your crew will spell misery for all. If you’ve never owned a tent before, you might think that finding the right size will be pretty straightforward. After all, most tent manufacturers are nice enough to tell you the capacity of their products. A 2 person tent will house two people, and a 6 person tent will house six people…right?

Not exactly. In their endless pursuit of cutting back weight and materials, tent manufacturers like to stretch the truth a little bit. A 2 person tent can certainly hold two people, as long as they don’t mind cuddling each other all night. Likewise, a 6 person tent can hold six people, as long as they’re okay leaving all their gear outside.

As a rule of thumb, the tent’s capacity should be understood as the number of people who can sleep uncomfortably inside. In reality, a 6 person tent is perfect for four people or less, and a 2 person tent works well for a solo camper and their dog.

Durability

Tents are expensive, often costing several hundred dollars for a product of decent quality. That being said, don’t you want to get your money’s worth by purchasing a shelter that will last you for many years to come?

Durability isn’t something to overlook on your quest for the best insulated tent. The landscape is rugged, harsh, and unforgiving, with rocks and branches often tearing holes into the thin synthetic walls of your tent. As such, finding an option with a high denier floor and rainfly is a must, even though the tent will weigh a little bit more because of it.

The material itself plays a major role in durability as well, with canvas being far more tear and puncture resistant that synthetics. Rooftop tents also have the benefit of resting far away from the environmental factors that cause damage in the first place.

Weather Resistance

yellow tent in the snow by mountains

At the end of the day, a tent only serves two purposes: bug/animal protection and weather protection. So, if your shelter isn’t waterproof, it’s already failing at half of its intended purpose, which is exactly what you don’t want to have happen.

All tents are supposed to be waterproof, but unfortunately, not all of them actually are. To determine this, I’d recommend looking at the reviews for the product to see what kind of experience other people have had with the tent. Take them with a grain of salt, though, as a tent can lose its waterproof ability if it isn’t staked out properly.

Even if your tent is waterproof, it can’t hurt to give it a solid coating of waterproofing spray too. This gives you extra protection when you get caught up in those daylong deluges that can swamp even the most impressive shelters.

Insulate Your Own Tent

Do you already own a tent that you’d like to insulate yourself? It’s pretty simple to do, once you’ve got the proper materials to make it work.

We already mentioned it earlier, but one of the best things you can do to insulate your tent is add a rug or floor mat. Your rainfly will also help trap heat, but it may not be enough by itself, so it might be worth investing in another tarp. Throw it on top of your rainfly, and make sure you have a way to secure it and keep the material taut.

If that’s still not enough to keep you warm, it might be time to look at tents with a stove jack, in addition to tent stoves themselves. As long as you keep a steady fire going, I guarantee you won’t struggle with the chill anymore.

Best Insulated Tents – Reviewed

REI Co-op Base Camp 4 Tent

  • Weight: 17 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Tent Material: Polyester
  • Peak Height: 60 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 2

A rugged shelter designed for mountaineering, the REI Co-op Base Camp has everything that you’d hope to find in one of the best insulated tents. The strong, geodesic design is able to withstand a heavy snow load during the winter. Even if you get caught up in a blizzard, you can rest easy inside, knowing that the roof isn’t going to collapse onto you.

With a minimal amount of mesh, it’s a pretty well insulated shelter. And once you’ve got the rainfly on, everything seals up nicely, trapping any heat (or cold) that’s generated inside. In fact, it traps heat so well that many would immediately reject the idea of using it in the summer. While there are some vents, they aren’t nearly enough to cool down the inside of the tent during the warmest months. If you want to use it year-round, you’ll definitely need an air conditioner to keep temperatures bearable during the summer.

The vestibules are a nice feature, allowing you to keep your dirty gear outside, instead of tracking it into the tent. While it’s too heavy for backpacking, it’s easy enough for one person tent setup by themselves in a handful of minutes. There are a lot of poles to contend with, but once you’ve got the system down, it’ll go up in a flash.

Pros:

– Very durable
– Holds up well in bad weather
– Well insulated
– Spacious vestibules
– Easy to setup

Cons:

– Lack of ventilation

Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 Tent

  • Weight: 11.3 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Tent Material: Nylon
  • Peak Height: 45 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 2

For the most part, I consider the Mountain Hardwear Trango to be the gold standard for 4 season tents. It’s tough, well insulated. and surprisingly light for what you get with it. While not ideal for backpacking, you can certainly make it work, if you spread out the weight between you and someone else.

The simplicity is something to be admired, as it’s fairly unexpected for a specialized tent like this. It goes up in a jiffy, even if you happen to get to your campsite after dark, or you don’t have another pair of helping hands to make the job easier. Even better is how well it holds up in rough weather. Despite being relatively lightweight, strong winds won’t even budge it, as long as you’ve staked it out properly. Heavy rain and snow won’t find a place to enter either, keeping you and your belongings comfortable and dry, regardless of where you’re camping.

4 season tents also tend to be quite small, as a way to keep the interior warmer. This can be a pain for taller campers, like me, who need a little extra space to stretch out. Unlike many of their competitors, Mountain Hardwear actually took this into consideration when designing the Trango, making it a suitable option for their taller consumers.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the red rainfly, as it’s rather garish, but that’s a purely aesthetic detail. If that’s the only complaint I can come up with for the tent, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal.

Pros:

– Fairly lightweight
– Strong design
– Performs well in high winds
– Keeps rain and snow out
– Somewhat spacious interior
– Condensation isn’t terrible for a 4 season tent

Cons:

– Obnoxious rainfly coloring

MSR Access 3 Tent

  • Weight: 6.7 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Silicone
  • Tent Material: Nylon
  • Peak Height: 44 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 2

As it tends to be with MSR tents, there’s a lot to like about the Access 3 tent…and some things that could use improvement. I’m the type of person who likes to eat dessert first, so let’s start by diving into the things that the Access 3 does really well.

For starters, this tent is practically indestructible. Heavy rain and snow will roll right off of it, and you won’t even feel it budge in gale force winds. For a 4 season tent, that’s exactly that kind of protection that you want to have when you’re camping in the mountains. And part of the reason why it holds up so well in such devastating conditions is because of how many guy out points there are around the tent. You’ll need to purchase extra guylines (and stakes) separately, but once you’re fully equipped, the tent isn’t going anywhere.

Storage space is also superb, with a massive vestibule and internal pockets to house all your belongings. The tent itself isn’t big enough for three people and all their gear, but it makes a fantastic single person or two person shelter. However, there’s one major problem with the Access 3, which should come as no surprise if you know the nature of 4 season tents.

Condensation buildup is a bear, and while it’s to be expected in this type of shelter, the sheer amount is greater than what you’d find in similar tents. The vents on the rainfly do little to combat the accumulation of moisture on the ceiling, causing water droplets and ice to form over time. It may end up freezing your poles in place, in addition to falling on you during the night.

Pros:

– Very solid tent
– Plenty of gear storage
– Massive vestibule
– Easy setup
– Decent weight

Cons:

– Condensation

Thule Tepui Foothill Tent

  • Weight: 108 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Tent Material: Polyester
  • Peak Height: 38 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 1

Aside from glamping, there are few experiences more exciting that sleeping on the top of your car. Getting up off the cold, hard ground, staying away from any animals snooping around, and being close to any creature comforts you left in the car are just a few reasons why it’s so great.

The Thule Foothill encompasses everything you could hope to have in a rooftop tent. It’s exciting, surprisingly spacious, and can fit on most vehicles that have a roof rack. Even better is the fact that you can house a kayak or mountain bike on top of your car along with the tent, making the most of the useable space available to you. Just keep in mind that this is a very heavy shelter, and will require the assistance of a second person to get it on top of your vehicle without scratching the paint.

Most Thule products also have a relatively steep learning curve, and the Foothill is no different. It’ll take some trial and error before you figure out how to strap it to your roof, but once you’ve figured it out, the tent isn’t going anywhere. Able to house two people comfortably, you can lay back and enjoy looking out of the two windows in the ceiling. Not only do they help with airflow, but you’ll also have a clear view of the stars at night, which is the best way to fall asleep, in my opinion.

The black rainfly is a bit unfortunate, since it really attracts and captures the hot rays from the sun. Additionally, the included mattress isn’t pretty firm, so I’d recommend getting a comfortable mattress topper to go over it.

Pros:

– Get off the ground
– Fairly spacious
– Skylights
– Well ventilated
– Can sit on top of the vehicle along with a kayak or mountain bike

Cons:

– Heavy
– Heats up quickly

Whiteduck Alpha Canvas Tent

  • Weight: 73 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Reinforced Aluminum
  • Tent Material: Canvas
  • Peak Height: 96 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 1

I’ve stayed in a number of Whiteduck canvas tents over the years, across every season. Alaska, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota…some of the most brutal climates that you’ll find in the USA. And through it all, one of the only thoughts going through my head was, “Wow, it feels like I’m back home.”

The Alpha was one such tent that I had the pleasure of staying in for a few nights. It was set up for glamping, with a tent stove for warmth on one occasion, and a Mr. Buddy heater on the other. Aside from the time that it took to get the fire going in the tent stove, sleeping in a bed surrounded by canvas walls felt no different than being in my bedroom back home. There were strong winds and heavy rain that first night, but I never once felt threatened by them. The spacious tent held firm throughout the storm, and remained well insulated against the cold temperatures outside.

From a durability perspective, it’s hard to beat a canvas tent like this one. But the tradeoff for that toughness is an increased amount of weight, and 73 pounds is no laughing matter. However, if you don’t plan on taking it very far, or you want to turn it into a more permanent residence, there are few options better than this. Setting it up is an ordeal, so you’ll want a few helping hands, but once it’s up…it’s not coming down again, until you’re ready.

Pros:

– Durability
– Weather resistance
– Insulation
– Stove jack
– Great for glamping

Cons:

– Heavy
– Expensive

Gazelle T4 Hub Tent

  • Weight: 30 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Fiberglass
  • Tent Material: Polyester
  • Peak Height: 78 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 2

Gazelle doesn’t make very many tents, but the ones that they do make are some of the best that you’ll find. They specialize in pop-up designs that make use of a hubbed pole structure for easy setup. By yourself, you could easily set up the entire T4 tent in a matter of minutes, especially once you’ve had a chance to practice. It’s a handy feature when you consider the 30 pound weight of the tent, and how difficult it would otherwise be to setup.

Overall, it’s a beast in bad weather, withstanding heavy wind, rain, and hail without issue. While there are quite a few windows, they all seal up tightly when you want the interior to stay insulated. Open up one or several of them to let some air in, effectively reducing the buildup of condensation while preventing the inside of the tent from becoming stale.

Within the tent, you’ll find a removable gear loft and plenty of pockets to store your belongings. In practice, I’d say it’s perfect for housing two people along with all their gear, though you could certainly fit the marketed capacity inside of it as well. For the price, it’s going to be hard to find something better than the T4, in terms of sheer durability, weatherproofing, and ease of setup. If the weight doesn’t bother you, I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

Pros:

– Instant setup
– Extremely weatherproof
– Spacious
– Plenty of gear storage
– Reasonable price

Cons:

– Weight

Crua Outdoors Insulated Tent

  • Weight: 48 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Tent Material: Poly-cotton
  • Peak Height: 60 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 1

One of the first “truly” insulated tents in our review, the Crua Outdoors tent has taken extra measures to make sure that the inside of the shelter stays a consistent temperature. Made from a poly-cotton blend, the inner lining is highly insulative, but it also has a couple other unique features that are nice to have. Because the lining is so thick, it has sound dampening qualities that helps block any noise coming in from the outside. As a light sleeper myself, I can appreciate being able to sleep longer without getting startled awake by a neighbor, an animal, or some other wilderness noise.

The other benefit of having such thick insulation is that it creates a blackout effect. It’s another much appreciated feature for a light sleeper like me, as even the first few rays of dawn tend to be enough to rouse me from slumber.

It’s one of those rare 3 person tents that can actually house three people comfortably. Watertight and windproof, it would be the perfect glamping tent if the peak height was a little taller. Even so, the durability is higher than most of the tents in this review, allowing you to take it almost anywhere in the world without needing to be too concerned about damaging it.

Along with the weight, the only criticism I have for this tent is its size when fully packed. It’s about as big as a large suitcase, which can be a little clunky to carry around, especially longer distances.

Pros:

– Thick insulation
– Spacious
– Noise dampening
– Room darkening
– Highly durable

Cons:

– Doesn’t pack down very small

AYAMAYA 4 Season Backpacking Tent

  • Weight: 5.7 Pounds
  • Pole Material: Aluminum
  • Tent Material: Polyester
  • Peak Height: 47 Inches
  • Number of Doors: 2

As the cheapest product in our review, the AYAMAYA 4 season backpacking tent is perfect for people on a budget. While I’m usually not a fan of off-brand products, this one actually isn’t that bad, offering sufficient protection across 4 seasons of weather. It’s also fairly lightweight for a double walled “2 person” tent, although I certainly wouldn’t try to squeeze two people inside of it, if I were you. It’s just enough for a solo camper and some gear to rest comfortably inside, and perhaps a dog, depending on its size.

I’d be tempted to say that this is the most weatherproof tent you’ll find within this price range, as well. From the photo, you can tell that the rainfly has a long snow skirt to keep out unwanted material. Not only is it great for wintery conditions, but the skirt is also perfect for desert camping, helping to prevent sand from blowing inside. And whether you’re in a winter wonderland or a desert wasteland, an insulated tent is something you’ll want to have.

Given the size, this tent is very easy to setup and tear down again, only taking a matter of minutes for each. It also packs down small, which is exactly what you’d hope to find in a backpacking tent. While the durability won’t be as good as many of the other products mentioned in our review, it does surprisingly well for such a cheap tent.

Pros:

– Affordable
– Lightweight
– Extended snow skirt
– Easy setup
– Holds up well in bad weather

Cons:

– Insulation isn’t very thick

FAQ

Do Insulated Tents Work?

Insulated tents certainly do work, but don’t think that they’re enough to keep you warm in subfreezing conditions. At best, they’ll only keep the inside of the tent about 10-15 degrees warmer than the outside air.

Insulated tents are for adventurous folks who want to dabble in winter camping, mountaineering, desert camping, or spending a few nights in other extreme environments.

Final Thoughts

Feeling a little adventurous, and want to go exploring during a less busy season? I get it, there’s nothing better than taking the road less traveled, camping during a time when you’re practically by yourself. But there’s a reason why no one camps during these times, and most often, it comes down to extreme temperatures.

The best insulated tent gives you the freedom to go out on those brutal winter days, without fear of freezing to death. It also gives you the flexibility to head into the desert, or some other hot climate, without getting baked to a crisp. Overall, we felt that the Crua Outdoors insulated tent embodied these features the best. The poly-cotton lining inside the shelter is exactly what we wanted to see, and the overall durability of the tent is off the charts.


Spencer Yeomans

Spencer Yeomans

A lover of the outdoors, and especially the mountains, Spencer has always enjoyed pushing people to step outside their comfort zones. His mission is to help others get out of their homes to have fun and stay active in nature.

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