Camping in the winter is much different than camping during the rest of the year.

But it can be done. And you can have an enjoyable time while doing it! In addition to a winter sleeping bag, a quality winter tent is the most important piece of winter camping gear to help you stay warm and dry while camping in cold weather.

Our reviews of the best winter camping tents help you narrow down the options to a few of the very best. Our reviews focus on the weatherproofing, durability, ease of use, packed weight, and livability of each tent, with a specific emphasis on use in cold and snow.

Here is exactly how to choose the best cold weather tent for 2020.

Table of Contents

  1. Best Winter Tents
  2. Winter Tent Buyer’s Guide
  3. How to Set Up a Winter Tent
  4. Winter Tent Camping Accessories
  5. Alternative Shelters

7 Best Winter Tents for 2020

Here are the 7 best tents for winter camping in 2020:

1. Best Overall: Mountain Hardware Trango 2

Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 Tent

$700.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of December 7, 2019 6:32 pm

The Mountain Hardware Trango 2 is one of the best two-person tents rated for 4-season use.

It boasts a double-wall basecamp-style design that utilizes high-denier waterproof nylon fabric and featherlight aluminum poles. Two doors with dry-entry vestibules and snow flaps increase livability. Countless interior pockets give you plenty of spots to stash your most important gear.

The Trango 2 is notable for its overall versatility. It’s rugged enough for use on long mountaineering expeditions but still lightweight enough (especially when divided up between two hikers) for winter backpacking trips in mild conditions. The ample interior space is much appreciate when outside conditions are foul.

What We Like:

  • Spacious Interior
  • Easy to Set Up
  • Versatile Applicaitons

What We Don’t Like:

  • Heavier Than Other Models

2. Best for Mountaineering: The North Face Mountain 25

The North Face Mountain 25 Tent

$689.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of December 7, 2019 6:32 pm

The North Face Mountain 25 is a quality winter mountaineering tent that’s very popular among climbers.

The two-person, 4-season tent has a double-wall design and is specifically engineered for extreme cold and snow. It’s made from 40-denier polyurethane-coated nylon fabric and comes with featherlight aluminum poles. Two doors with vestibules increase convenience and livability.

The Mountain 25 is notable for its strong, rugged construction. It will hold up in even the most foul winter weather conditions. Plus, it will last for years on end, even with heavy regular use and abuse. Other highlights include ample livability, eight interior pockets, and excellent ventilation. Although this The North Face tent is ideal for mountaineering, it’s also versatile enough for milder winter camping use.

What We Like:

  • Very Sturdy
  • Excellent in High Winds
  • Great Ventilation

What We Don’t Like:

  • Heavier Than Other Models

3. Best for Casual Winter Camping: Big Agnes Shield 2

Big Agnes Shield 2 Person Tent Orange

$649.95  in stock
Buy Now
Mountain Gear
as of December 7, 2019 6:32 pm

The Big Agnes Shield 2 is one of the best winter tents for those that don’t require a full-blown mountaineering tent.

This two-person, 4-season winter tent has a single-wall construction that utilities a lightweight three-layer design. It has a compact footprint, strong exterior pole design, and optional vestibule.

The Shield 2 is a popular choice for winter backpacking thanks to its lightweight construction, ease of use, and small compact packed size. For these reasons, it’s also an excellent choice for camping while cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight
  • Breathable Fabric
  • Optional Vestibule

What We Don’t Like:

  • Cramped Interior

4. Best for Winter Backpackers: Black Diamond Eldorado

Black Diamond Eldorado Tent

$729.99  in stock
6 new from $729.95
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of December 9, 2019 11:11 pm

The Black Diamond Eldorado consistently ranks as one of the best winter tents for backpacking year after year.

This two-person, 4-season tent incorporates a classic design with a compact layout and a single-wall construction. It’s lightweight enough for long winter backpacking trips but still robust enough for use as a winter basecamp. The tent has a single door with an optional vestibule plus a number of interior pockets to stash your valuables.

What’s so great about the Eldorado is its one-two punch of extreme toughness and its light weight. It’s rugged enough for use on Everest expeditions but light enough for use as a winter backpacking tent. Although it costs a pretty penny, you really can’t beat this winter tent in terms of its lightweight, minimalist design.

What We Like:

  • Lightweight
  • Compact Design
  • Extremely Durable

What We Don’t Like:

  • Difficult to Set Up

5. Best on a Budget: ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2

ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2 Tent

$261.73  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of December 7, 2019 6:32 pm

The ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2 is a fantastic winter camping tent for those on a budget.

If you prefer not to dish out $500 on a top-of-the-line mountaineering tent, this affordable two-person, 4-season tent might just be what you’re looking for. It features a double-wall construction, fully-extended rainfly, free-standing aluminum pole system, and numerous interior pockets. This winter tent is lightweight and breathable but robust enough for ample protection in foul weather conditions, including heavy snow.

It’s all but impossible to find a budget-friendly winter tent that holds a candle to the Tasmanian 2. It’s the perfect cold weather tent for those that only go winter camping a handful of times per season.

What We Like:

  • Affordable
  • Spacious & Stable
  • Two Built-In Vestibules

What We Don’t Like:

  • Heaviest On This List

6. Best for Mild Winters: GeerTop 4-Season

GEERTOP 4 Season Tent

$162.95  in stock
1 new from $162.95
Free shipping
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of December 9, 2019 11:11 pm

The Geer Top 4-Season tent is a great option for those that only go camping in milder winter conditions, not the extremes faced by mountaineers.

Although it’s still rated for use at very cold temperatures, this tent is much less robust than others on our list. It can definitely hold up to cold, wind, and snow, but it’s also at home for spring and fall camping as well.

The two-person, 4-season tent has a double-wall construction. It’s simple to set up in just minutes. It sheds off snow and rain with ease while holding up to heavy wind without a whimper. The interior of this tent is quite roomy, making it a comfortable place to hang out when outside conditions are less than stellar.

What We Like:

  • Affordable
  • Surprisingly Lightweight
  • Good for Spring & Fall

What We Don’t Like:

  • Least Robust On This List

7. Best for Large Groups: The North Face 2-Meter Dome

The North Face 2-Meter Dome

$4,320.47  in stock
1 new from $4,320.47
1 used from $3,719.34
Free shipping
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of December 9, 2019 11:11 pm

The North Face 2-Meter Dome is the best cold weather tent when camping with a larger party.

This absolute behemoth is an eight-person, 4-season winter tent with three doors and an 81-inch interior peak height. Steep walls make for even more interior space. Chimney vents and exterior windows are additional features of note.

Despite the huge size, the 2-Meter Dome is still extremely stable, even in high winds in exposed terrain. In fact, it’s among the most robust, rugged, and durable winter camping tents of all. It truly is the ideal basecamp tent for mountaineering in the Himalayas, the Arctic, or anywhere in between.

What We Like:

  • Fits 8+ People
  • 81-Inch Peak Height
  • Holds Up In Extreme Conditions

What We Don’t Like:

  • Heavy & Expensive

Winter Camping Tent Buyer’s Guide

Red Tent in Snow

Dozens of different winter tents are available. And there are quite a few differences between models. That’s why a basic understanding of the main components and features of a winter tent will help you select the best model for you.

Here’s what you need to know to buy the best cold weather tent:

Single-Wall vs Double-Wall

A single-wall tent has a single layer of fabric that acts as both the tent body and as a built-in rainfly. These tents are lightweight, easy to use, and versatile.

A double-wall tent, on the other hand, has to layers of fabric: the tent itself and a separate rainfly. These tents are versatile, breathable, and often more livable.

Although a few models are still available, most manufacturers have stopped making single-wall tents altogether. In the past, their chief benefit was their lightweight construction. But, today, double-wall tents can be made just as lightweight.

Seasonality

For winter camping or backpacking, a 4-season tent is all but necessary.

A 4-season tent is designed for winter conditions from the ground up. These tents are excellent in the cold, snow, and wind. Most models can even be used in alpine conditions, above the treeline. Their main drawbacks are a heavy packed weight and a lack of breathability (especially on single-wall models).

Some winter campers can make do with a 3-season or 3-season+ tent. Generally, these tents are suitable for milder winter weather conditions. If you live somewhere with only mild winters, this might be the best winter tent for you.

Capacity & Livability

Tent capacity is the amount of people the tent can hold while tent livability is how comfortable the tent is to use.

In my experience, the recommended capacity is often for the maximum number of people the tent can fit. For example, two people will fit in a two-person tent but are usually far more comfortable in a three-person model. This is especially true for winter camping where you have more gear and equipment with you.

Luckily, several features can make a winter tent more livable. A tent vestibule give you extra space to stash your gear and to change out of your winter hiking boots. A higher peak height is another factor that increases livability. Two doorways also makes a tent more comfortable for two users as each person has their own doorway.

Because winter tent camping often requires spending more time inside your tent, a spacious tent is a must. Furthermore, if you’re winter camping with a large group, it’s usually best to bring a tent that’s large enough for the entire party to sleep in.

Size & Weight

The packed size and weight of your tent is very important for backpackers. The tent must be small and lightweight enough to easily haul to your destination. That said, you don’t want to skimp on durability or waterproofing in favor of a lightweight winter tent.

Winter car camping doesn’t have the same size and weight limitations. You can pretty much bring as heavy and bulky a tent as you like as long as it fits in your vehicle. Do note, however, that larger tents are more difficult to heat up at night.

Construction & Materials

The materials and construction methods used for your winter tent directly influence its durability, waterproofing, ventilation, and much more.

Look for a winter camping tent that’s made with top-quality materials, like high-denier fabrics (including floors) and aluminum poles. A polyurethane coating rated for 100% waterproofing and waterproof seams, especially around the zippers, are also essential.

Construction is also related to the shape of a tent. The best winter tents have a dome shape to best shed snow. Steep sides help ensure that the snow doesn’t pile up at night.


How to Set Up a Winter Tent

A Camping Tent in Winter with Mountains in the Background

It’s essential to set up your winter tent correctly for a warm, cozy night of sleep. Although the process is basically the same as pitching a tent normally, there are a few key considerations, especially if you’re camping in the snow.

Here is how to set up your winter tent for cold weather camping:

1. Select the Right Site

It’s extremely important to pick a safe, sheltered campsite when winter camping. Of course, in a pinch and with the right tent, you can camp anywhere, even on the side of a mountain, but you’ll get a much better night of sleep with the right spot. The best campsite for winter camping is sheltered from the wind. It must be free of avalanche danger and away from any widow makers (large tree branches that might fall).

2. Create a Solid Platform

The best place to pitch your tent while winter camping is in an established campsite. Look for a flat area that’s not on top of any vegetation. Pitch your tent on bare ground, such as underneath a tree without any hazardous branches, if possible. Pack down the snow before you pitch your tent. Hard packed snow is less likely to melt due to your body heat. You can simply stomp the snow flat with your boots before setting up your winter tent.

3. Pitch Your Tent

Pitch your tent on the hard packed area. It’s typically a smart idea to use tent stakes to secure your tent, especially if the weather forecast calls for wind. Although normal tent stakes might do the job, serious winter campers should invest in special snow stakes that are designed to be used in the snow.

4. Build a Wind Block

If you have the time, and there’s enough snow to do so, it’s never idea to build a wind block. Your best bet is to build the wind block from the direction the wind is forecasted to come from, although you can always build the structure around the entirety of your winter tent. An alternative option is to pitch your tent near a large rock or other formation that will naturally block the wind.

5. Tend to Your Tent

Check on your tent periodically throughout the night to make sure it’s surviving the harsh conditions. If it’s actively snowing, remove the snow from the top of the tent at regular intervals if it piles up. Remember to remove any sharp equipment, such as crampons or an ice axe, before entering the tent to prevent tears and other damages.


Best Winter Camping Tent Accessories

Looking Out of a Tent on a Winter Day

A top-quality winter tent goes a long way towards an enjoyable winter camping trip. But packing the right accessories is also essential. These accessories will help you set up your tent, secure it in place during bad weather, and keep you warm at night.

Here are the most important winter camping accessories to consider:

Ground Cloth/Tarp

Almost all 4-season tents have a waterproof floor, but some 3-season models need a little extra help. A ground cloth or tarp helps provide an extra layer of waterproofing and insulation when camping on cold, wet ground.

Snow Stakes

Most tents come with stakes meant for mild weather conditions. But winter camping, especially mountaineering, often comes with extreme wind conditions that require a little extra oomph from your stakes. Snow stakes have over 10x the holding force of normal tent stakes.

Sleeping Bag

The best winter tents go a long way towards keeping you warm at night. But the right sleeping bag is also essential. Our complete guide to buying a sleeping bag will tell you what you need to know about buying a winter sleeping bag for cold weather camping.

Backcountry Shovel

A backcountry shovel has a lot of beneficial uses while camping in the snow. The tool helps you flatten an area to pitch your tent, build a wind block out of snow, and helps you dig your tent out if it becomes snowed in with a blizzard. You can even use it to build an emergency shelter like a quinzhee or igloo.

Winter Tent Heater

Seriously cold winter camping conditions often necessitate a winter tent heater. A portable heater provides that little extra oomph of heat that you need without safety issues. One of our favorites is the Mr. Heater Little Buddy.


Alternative Shelters for Winter Camping

Igloo Illuminated from the Inside on a Winter Night

A tent is far from the only winter shelter well suited for winter camping. Here are a few of the best winter shelters other than a tent:

  • Hammock – It might sound crazy, but winter hammock camping is totally possible. The best camping hammocks are compatible with rainflies and under quilts to keep you warm and dry in winter. A hammock also keeps you up off the cold and wet ground.
  • Quinzhee – A traditional snow structure made from piling snow, a quinzhee is a cheap, reliable snow shelter best used in emergencies.
  • Igloo – Another traditional snow shelter that’s been used for hundreds of years, an igloo is similar looking to a quinzhee but is built much differently. Igloos are cheap, require few tools to build, and have a low risk of collapse when constructed correctly.
  • Canvas Tent – A canvas wall tent, canvas tipi, or yurt are all perfect glamping tents for winter glamping. Best of all, you can safely used these winter tents with a stove, including wood stoves for some models.
  • RV – Perhaps the warmest and coziest way to go winter camping, an RV makes for a dry, well-heated shelter in cold conditions. A quality RV heater will keep you warm all night long.

Final Thoughts

Woman Looking Out of Winter Tent in the Snow

Now you know what it takes to find the best winter tent for cold weather camping in 2020.

Now, we’d like to hear from you…what is your go-to tent for winter? Do you typically go winter car camping, winter backpacking, or mountaineering with it?

And, like always, don’t hesitate to reach out to use in the comments below with any questions you have about selecting the best winter tent for you!

1 COMMENT

  1. With the winter coming, this information is amazing to get us ready for the cold weather. Thank you so much for putting together this super detailed guide on cold weather tents. Stay warm!!

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