If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best tent for cold weather is, we recommend the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2 Person Tent.
I grew up in Minnesota, so I’m no stranger to cold weather. The bitter chill can make it easy to give up outdoor activity for the warmth of your home, causing you to sit back and wait until Spring rolls around.
But really, who can wait a full 3-5 months to get back in nature again? I certainly don’t want to, and I’m pretty sure many of you feel the same way. That’s why in this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best cold weather tents, so you can tap into the joys of winter camping.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following tents:
- Geertop 4 Season Tent
- ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2 Person Tent
- High Peak South Col 4 Tent
- Black Diamond El Dorado
- Nemo Tenshi Mountaineering Tent
3 vs 4 Season Tents
We often hear about the number of seasons that a tent can handle, but do we pay attention to it? Many people go tent shopping looking for whatever will save them the most money, or perhaps whatever looks the coolest or most high tech. If you can get in and out of it without too much trouble, it doesn’t feel very heavy, and fits the number of people you need to house, it’s easy to think it’s good enough for your plans. And I’ll be honest…a lot of times, that WILL be good enough to get you by for most car camping getaways.
However, when it comes to dealing with extreme weather conditions, a little more thought is required. If you’re planning on camping in the winter, you likely have quite a bit of camping experience under your belt. Which means you probably know that your standard 2 or 3 season tent just isn’t going to cut it when you’re sitting in the middle of a snow storm with temperatures below freezing. There are winter pop-up tents if you want to maintain convenience, but in extreme temperatures, I’d rather struggle with a 4 season cabin tent if it gives me confidence that I won’t freeze.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some 3 season tents that will work just fine for most winter camping. However, 4 season tents have a few extra features that help with insulation and stability, making them the better option for extreme weather camping.
Staying warm is a top priority during winter camping, and insulation is going to help you do that. There are a couple things to consider here, with the first being the tent walls. Your typical 1-3 season tents have walls made out of one layer to keep things light and breathable. Many 4 season tents, on the other hand, have walls made from 2 layers to help keep warmth in and cold out. It makes the tent heavier, but you’ll be glad to have the extra layers when you’re out in the wild.
The other thing to consider is the amount of open space in your tent. If it’s just you sleeping in a 3 person tent, there’s going to be a lot of extra air floating around that will keep you cold. To stay as warm as possible, you should try to fit as snugly as you can in the tent to stay well insulated.
Shape and Design
The shape of a tent is a big factor you should consider for winter activity. If the roof is too flat, there’s the chance that snow will build up on top, weight it down. This could be problematic for you if it becomes too heavy and collapses on you! Find a tent with a rounded top so snow will slide off easily, and see if you can avoid going with a 4 season cabin tent.
It helps if the sides of the tent are more vertical for the same reason. You want the excess snow to slide right off to keep your tent stable and secure.
Additionally, strong winds can prove to be a challenge for winter campers. The cold temperature is bad enough, but wind chill can be dangerous, not to mention how miserable you’ll feel anyway. Blizzards aren’t uncommon either, depending on where you’re going, so you’ll want a tent that can withstand any condition that comes your way. Something low profile and aerodynamic is usually the best way to go.
Aluminum or carbon fiber poles will hold up the best under stress, so that’s another thing you should look out for. Fiberglass splinters and breaks more easily in cold temperatures, so I would try to avoid any tents made from that material.
It never hurts to bring along an actual heat source, if you’re able. Stoves can be a great way to add warmth to your shelter, at the cost of adding weight and taking space in your pack. Take some time to figure out if it’s worth it to bring something like this along, wherever you decide you want to go.
Because of all the additional features in 4 season tents that help keep you warm, they do tend to run on the more expensive side. Generally speaking, there’s no way around this, though there are a few decent options if you’re on a budget. It’s true that you get what you pay for, but if you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your finances, I’ve included a good mix of cheap 4 season tents and more expensive cold weather tents in the review below.
Cold Weather Tent Reviews
A 2 person tent designed for people on a budget, Geertop’s 4 season tent gives you more than your money’s worth. Weighing in at 6.4 pounds, it’s actually quite light for a 4 season tent, making it a good option for backpacking trips in the winter. With a waterproof coating, the tent walls and roof will easily shed any rain or snow that might fall on you, without weighing the material down or waterlogging it.
The rainfly is large enough to cover the entire tent, adding an extra layer of insulation in cold temperatures. If you’d like to use this tent year round, the layer underneath the rainfly is breathable for good ventilation, so your needs will be met in the summer too.
It also comes with a vestibule to store your gear, and has a freestanding design for easy setup, even in uneven snow. The tent poles are very sturdy, as is the material that makes up the tent walls.
– Budget friendly
– Large rainfly for protection and insulation
– Comes with a good sized vestibule
– Walls have a waterproof coating
– The zippers and stakes could use some tweaks
Nothing says low profile and aerodynamic like the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian tent. Combine the slick design with its sturdy aluminum poles, and you can feel confident that you’ll stay secure inside. It’s a little heavy at 7.5 pounds, but worth the weight in my opinion, especially if you’re setting up camp somewhere that’s very exposed.
It’s spacious for a two person tent, and comes with mesh pockets that line the inside of both sides of the tent. Assembly is also very straightforward, and easy enough for one person to accomplish on their own. Not only that, but all of the vents can also be zipped closed if you don’t want anything getting in.
It can be a little bulky and difficult to pack away, but overall, the tent is well worth the price. Everything from the polyester rainfly to the buckles and zippers are high quality material and should last you for a long time. And on the off chance that something breaks, the tent comes with a lifetime warranty to put your mind (and wallet) at ease.
– Aluminum poles
– Water and UV resistant
– Comes with vestibules and storage pockets
– Low profile and aerodynamic
– Walls are double layered for insulation
– A little difficult to get it back into its storage bag
– Poles can be a little tricky to get into place
Large and spacious, this tent is ideal for housing more than one person. The vestibules are also bigger than most that you’ll find on any other 4 season tent, so for those of you who like to bring a lot of gear, this might be a good option for you. However, because of its size, this tent is on the heavy side coming in at 10 pounds. I wouldn’t suggest it for backpacking, but it works just fine if you’re looking to stick around one area for awhile.
Overall, there aren’t many super fancy features in this tent, other than keeping you warm and giving you lots of room (which, what more do you need anyway?) It is on the cheaper end of the spectrum, though, so it makes for a good tent to cover the most important bases if you’re on a budget.
– Large and sturdy
– Plenty of storage space
– Big vestibules for a 4 season tent
– Well insulated
– Cost effective
– Not as easy to pack up or carry around
Black Diamond is well known in the outdoor community as a quality brand, and the El Dorado is no exception. What I think of as a special ops tent, this cold weather tent is designed to go anywhere in the world and keep you warm and secure. From an open prairie to the edge of a cliff, the El Dorado will have your back.
Designed for alpine use, this tent is made to withstand extreme conditions including rain, snow, and heavy wind. The only concern I have with it is the lack of two guylines on the sides of the tent. They used to be there, but for some reason Black Diamond decided to remove them, even though they play a significant role in wind protection. The tent is still incredibly sturdy without them, but it would be nice if they were brought back at some point.
What really makes this tent stand out from the crowd, though, is the Todd Tex fabric that the walls are made from. The same material as Gore-Tex, it has all of the waterproof and breathability benefits in addition to fire resistance.
– Todd Tex material
– Very good at blocking out the weather
– Extra length and height for taller campers
– Very expensive
– A little bulky to pack away
In my opinion, this tent is the gold standard when it comes to alpine or extreme camping shelters. A lot of thought went into the Nemo Tenshi, and it includes quite a few features that you really won’t find anywhere else. Weighing in at 5 pounds, it’s light for a 4 season tent without compromising on insulation or weather resistance. It also has a “condensation curtain” that collects all of the moisture from your breathing and stores it in one place, so you won’t wake up wet.
The poles are featherlite aluminum, making them even lighter than regular aluminum without compromising on strength. The pole setup is external too, so you won’t have to waste time trying to slide them into place in the middle of extreme weather. There’s a rear window for air circulation, but it can also be used as an escape hatch in the case of an emergency.
– Featherlite aluminum poles
– Condensation curtain
– Rear window that seconds as an escape hatch
– External pole setup
Staying warm is essential for winter and alpine camping. Having a shelter that isn’t suited for cold temperatures can be more than annoying…it can be dangerous. We like the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian tent because we know how important it is to have a shelter you can rely on in any circumstance.
Its aerodynamic design makes it the perfect option for strong winds and blizzards, and the large amount of space inside makes it the perfect place to hunker down. It comes with more storage space than you’ll probably need, and you can close the vents when you don’t need them. Overall, we believe it’s the best option if you’re looking for a cold weather tent to keep you warm and secure.
Having a cold weather tent is half the battle, but what about your sleeping arrangement? Check out these sleeping bags that will help you stay warm when you’re on a budget!