Though the temperatures have dropped and a fresh blanket of snow is on the ground, there’s no reason to stay indoors.
Anyone planning to venture outside in the winter months must be prepared for the elements.
That means having a quality cold weather tent on hand to protect yourself from the extreme conditions.
The best tent for extreme cold weather is the MSR Access 2.
I like this tent because it's relatively lightweight and portable, without sacrificing livability.
Also, the tent has limited mesh in its canopy, which helps it retain warmth and an extra-durable waterproof construction for harsh winter weather.
Plus, the MSR Access 2 has plenty of gear storage space, which makes it the overall ideal choice for cold weather camping.
Further down the list, I do recommend 5 family tents for cold weather camping.
In a Hurry? Here's My Top 3 Picks
Best Extreme Cold Weather Tents Review
MSR Access 2
A solid 4 season tent for winter adventures, the MSR Access 2 is a popular choice for campers who need 1 shelter for all their upcoming trips.
Boasting a classic 2 wall construction with a set of rugged Easton Syclone poles, the Access 2 is quick and easy to set up using MSR’s proprietary clip system.
The poles also have a hub-style design, which makes packing and pitching as simple as can be.
For weather protection, the company gave this tent a 20D ripstop nylon fly with a 1200mm Xtreme Shield waterproof polyurethane coating to help you stay dry in the rain without extra weight in your pack.
To help slough off snow in wintery conditions, this tent has an extra-steep vaulted ceiling. Its 30D ripstop nylon bathtub-style floor will also help keep you and your gear dry when you’re camping on snow or damp ground.
Plus, the Access 2 allows for easy entry and exit due to its 2 large doors. With these doors, you even get 2 sizable vestibules for gear storage in snowy conditions, allowing you to make the most of your internal living space.
- High-quality Easton Syclone poles
- Steep roof sloughs off snow
- Hub-style pole for simplified pitching
- 2 door, 2 vestibule design
- Bathtub-style floor helps you stay dry
- Taller ceiling height is a slight concern in the wind
Nemo Tenshi 2
Designed specifically with harsh mountain environments in mind, the Nemo Tenshi 2 is a fully-featured winter camping tent for cold weather conditions.
This tent features a burly construction including a DAC Featherlite aluminum pole skeleton that can stay upright, even in rough winds.
During the tent pitching process, these aluminum poles are also fairly easy to snap into place, so you can get your shelter up and ready as soon as possible.
When it comes to staying dry in snowy locales, the Tenshi 2 doesn’t disappoint. It has a rugged 40D OSMO ripstop nylon rainfly that’s rated to 2000mm waterproofing for plentiful protection when the weather decides it’s not going to cooperate.
Moreover, this tent has an extra-large vestibule, which is ideal for winter campers. Because winter camping often involves a lot of extra gear, having that vestibule storage space allows you to declutter the interior of the tent.
For ease of use, the Tenshi 2 comes with large see-through windows that allow you to check on external conditions without exposing yourself to the weather.
The tent also has a unique Pressure Porting vent system that allows you to maintain good airflow to reduce condensation on cold nights.
- Extra-durable materials
- Spacious vestibule for gear storage
- Quick-set-up design
- Integrated ventilation system
- Window for external visibility
- Fairly heavy for a tent this size
ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2
High in value, low in price, the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 2 is a 4 season tent that’s designed for cold winter environments.
Made with a set of hubbed 7000 series aluminum poles, this tent is decidedly easy to set up without sacrificing stability in the wind.
The poles quickly snap together, allowing for a sped-up pitching process, which is ideal when your fingers are a bit cold during the winter months.
Meanwhile, the tent has a burly 75D polyester ripstop fly that’s treated to 1500mm waterproofing, which will help you stay dry in the winter.
At the same time, it offers a quality ventilation system, allowing you to stay warm in the cold without excessive condensation build-up.
Within the Tasmanian 2, you have access to a set of mesh storage pockets and a gear loft to help you stay organized. The tent also has 2 poled vestibules to maximize your gear storage area.
Wrapping up this tent’s list of great features is a decently high center height. Although a 46” (117cm) center height isn’t tall enough for most of us to stand upright in, it is surprisingly spacious for a 2 person, 4 season tent.
- Hubbed pole system for quick pitching
- Well-ventilated to reduce condensation
- Durable polyester ripstop fly
- Lots of gear storage options
- Affordable price point
- Somewhat heavy for a 2 person tent
Big Agnes Mad House 6
Perfect for larger group winter camping adventures, the Big Agnes Mad House 6 is an ideal option for cold weather trips.
This solid all-around tent has a 2 room design that allows for maximum functionality in the winter months.
If your group doesn’t have 6 people, you can even use the second room for additional gear storage, allowing you to stretch out and relax in your main living space without having to worry about your gear.
The tent is built from durable Dominico ripstop polyester to help you stay warm when the temperatures drop.
Big Agnes also treated the rainfly of the Mad House 6 with a 1200mm polyurethane coating for improved weatherproofing in the snow and rain.
For wind resistance, this tent comes with a set of DAC Featherlite poles. Its criss-crossing, dome-like construction also allows for enhanced performance in high winds, which is ideal from a winter-use perspective.
As far as gear storage goes, the Mad House 6 really brings its A-game. Each of the tent’s 2 large doors has a spacious vestibule, providing you with plenty of storage space for all your equipment.
Oh, and the tent has overhead storage bins that will help you stay organized in the mountains.
- Dome-like construction for windy conditions
- Lots of gear storage space
- Durable Dominici ripstop fabric
- 2 room design for ease of use
- High sleeping capacity
- Heavy for backpacking
Black Diamond Eldorado 2
An absolute classic of a winter mountaineering and camping tent, the Black Diamond Eldorado 2 is a tried and tested option for the harshest of alpine environments.
It’s a 4 season tent designed to make your winter camping experience as easy as can be, thanks to its single wall ToddTex fabric.
Unlike most other winter tents, though, the Eldorado 2 has just 1 layer of fabric separating you from the elements.
While this might seem problematic, the fabric that Black Diamond uses in its top-of-the-line tents is designed to provide an excellent mix of durability, breathability, and insulation.
Moreover, by trimming down to just 1 layer of fabric, the Eldorado 2 allows you to keep your pack weight to an absolute minimum in the mountains.
This tent can also be pitched from the inside, which is an ideal feature in cold, snowy environments.
If you arrive in camp during the middle of the storm, you can keep the inside of the tent as dry as possible by pitching it from the inside and then quickly rushing inside for shelter from the conditions.
Finally, the Eldorado 2 comes with a fairly accommodating 43” (109cm) peak height, which is surprisingly high for a compact and lightweight 4 season tent like this.
It also has an extra-long length of 87” (221cm), so it’s functional, even for taller campers.
- Single wall ToddTex fabric cuts down on weight and bulk
- Can be pitched from the inside
- Breathable and waterproof
- High center height for a 2 person tent
- Longer length for taller campers
- Doesn’t have a vestibule (sold separately)
Rab Latok 2
When weight savings are your top priority, the Rab Latok 2 should be the winter camping shelter at the top of your shortlist.
Made by alpinists, for alpinists, the Latok 2 is an uber-light option for 2 person winter missions. It is made with a single wall of 3L eVent waterproof breathable fabric to help cut weight in your pack without sacrificing weather-resistance or warmth at night.
To keep you dry, this 4 season tent has a 70D ripstop nylon bathtub-style floor that’s fully PU-coated to help ensure that snow doesn’t seep in and dampen your winter sleeping bag on a cold night.
For added functionality, you can pitch this tent from the inside if the weather isn’t cooperating. Plus, its 2 DAC Featherlite NSL poles provide a great strength-to-weight ratio, offering plenty of peace of mind in windy conditions.
Finally, if you need some extra gear storage space for all your puffy jackets during your cold weather camping trip, the Latok 2 has an optional vestibule system accessory that can be attached in just a few minutes.
- Lightweight and very portable
- 4 season design
- Weatherproof 3L eVent fabric
- Bathtub-style floor for waterproofing
- Fairly small interior space
- Vestibule not included
Nemo Chogori 2
If you’ve ever felt frustrated about how long it takes to set up a 4 season tent, then the Nemo Chogori 2 might be just what you’re looking for.
When crafting this tent, Nemo decided to go big by cutting the pitching process in half using an innovative external pole structure.
By incorporating a set of extra-durable aluminum DAC Featherlite NSL poles with a 30D sil nylon ripstop rainfly, this tent can be set up completely from the outside in just a few minutes, which is helpful in cold conditions in which time is of the essence.
The Chogori 2 also impresses with its low weight for a fully featured 2 person winter tent. With 2 doors and an oversized vestibule, this tent also allows you to easily store all of your cold weather gear without feeling like you’ve turned your living space into a messy closet.
Although winter camping is often about staying warm, this tent features a high-quality ventilation system, which you can open and close from the inside of the shelter.
That way, you can eliminate unnecessary condensation at night, preventing your sleeping bag from getting damp and causing chills on cold evenings.
- Quick-set-up design
- Integrated fly and poles reduce pack weight
- Extra-large vestibule for gear storage
- Ventilation system can be opened from the inside
- No gear organization pockets inside
MSR Advance Pro 2
One of the lightest extreme cold weather tents on the market today, the MSR Advance Pro 2 is designed for those high alpine expeditions for which second best just isn’t an option.
It boasts a slim 3lb 3oz (1.46kg) pack weight, which is absolutely minuscule by 2 season tent standards.
At the same time, the Advance Pro 2 is made with a set of ultralight Easton Syclone poles that are designed to hold up, even in severe wind.
When the time comes to set up your tent, this model offers a seamless pitching process thanks to its hybrid clip and pole sleeve design.
One person can set it up in a matter of seconds, providing quick shelter in cold locales.
The entire tent has an Xtreme Shield waterproof coating to help you stay dry in the snow and rain.
While it doesn’t come with a vestibule, the Advance Pro 2 does have a quality ventilation system to reduce condensation.
Moreover, this tent has a slender profile, which allows for set-up even in tight campsites or on rocky ledges.
It also packs down small to limit the amount of space it takes up in your pack. This is essential if you’re carrying lots of bulky, puffy jackets during the winter months.
- Quick-set-up process
- Very lightweight
- Highly portable design
- Well ventilated to reduce condensation
- Burly Easton Syclone poles
- Small living space
- No vestibule or gear storage options
Black Diamond Ahwahnee
Perhaps one of the most versatile 2 person, 4 season tents available, the Black Diamond Ahwahnee is a do-anything tent for the intrepid adventurer.
Like most of Black Diamond’s 4 season tents, this model is made from a single layer of ToddTex waterproof breathable fabric.
It has a set of 3 durable aluminum poles that can be set up quickly from the inside to help you stay warm and dry during the pitching process.
Within the Ahwahnee 2, you have access to a set of interior mesh pockets for gear storage. Although they’re sold separately, you can also attach 2 optional vestibules to beef up your living space.
What sets this tent apart from some of Black Diamond’s other 4 season offerings is the orientation of its doors.
With 2 large doors that include both internal mesh and external ToddTex fabric, the Ahwahnee 2 is easy to get in and out of during the night.
The internal mesh paneling on these doors also allows for customizable ventilation to reduce condensation in the cold.
- Large doors for easy entry and exit
- Quick-set-up design
- Internal mesh pockets for gear organization
- Durable construction
- Mesh inner doors for ventilation
- Vestibules sold separately
ALPS Mountaineering Taurus 4
Made specifically with budget-conscious winter campers in mind, the ALPS Mountaineering Taurus 4 is a 4 season tent meant for small groups.
Simple, yet functional, this tent has a 2 pole structure and a freestanding half-dome design that allows for a nice mix of durability and livability during the colder months of the year.
The 2 poles snap together with easy-to-use pole clips straight into the durable 75D polyester fly for a quick set-up process.
To get inside the Taurus 4, you have a choice between 2 large doors, both of which are covered by a vestibule for gear storage.
Each of these doors has a zippered mesh window, too, for improved ventilation and reduced condensation.
Within the tent, you have a spacious sleeping area and a fully waterproofed, factory seam-sealed bathtub-style floor to help keep you dry at night.
There’s also plenty of mesh pockets and even an overhead gear loft in which you can store and organize your warm clothing and other gear so that you can stay comfortable throughout your trip.
- 2 large doors, each with a vestibule
- Mesh windows for condensation reduction
- Plenty of gear storage
- Quick-pitch design
- Affordable 4 person tent
- Heavy and bulky
Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3
Spacious and functional, the Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3 is a 4 season camping tent that doesn't back down in harsh environments.
In fact, it was designed by Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, the legendary climber who has summited Mount Everest 16 times, for use in true alpine conditions.
With this tent, you get an extra-durable Dominico ripstop polyester rainfly, which is made from high-tenacity fibers to increase its tear resistance by up to 25% as compared to other fabrics.
This fabric is UV-resistant and sturdy enough to withstand large fluctuations in temperature without becoming fragile over time.
For the floor, Big Agnes gave this tent a nylon taffeta bathtub-style bottom that’s treated with 10,000mm waterproofing for increased durability in rugged conditions.
All the seams on this tent are also completely taped to prevent water from getting in and ruining the loft in your sleeping bag on cold nights.
When it comes to set-up, the Battle Mountain 3 has a quick and simple hub pole design, which allows you to spend less time pitching your tent and more time taking shelter from the cold.
Inside, there are plenty of wall pockets and ceiling pockets, allowing you to keep your gear organized in the mountains.
- Very durable fabric construction
- Rugged floor design for long-term use
- Lots of internal gear pockets
- Hub pole design allows for quick set-up
- Spacious interior
- Very expensive
Black Diamond Bombshelter
Your go-to camping tent for winter backcountry trips with a small group, the Black Diamond Bombshelter is a high-end option for campers who need the sturdiest possible gear.
Crafted to help you escape the cold, harsh, and often inhospitable mountain environment, the Bombshelter 4 features a semi-geodesign that’s designed to maximize wind resistance and warmth when you need it most.
It comes with a set of 4 burly poles that criss-cross multiple times to provide increased rigidity in poor conditions.
The Black Diamond worked hard to keep your pack weight at a minimum by building this tent out of ToddTex single wall fabric.
As a result, the Bombshelter, while not the lightest on the market, is surprisingly compact for a 4 person, 4 season tent.
This tent also comes with 2 vestibules, which is ideal when you’re camping in the winter with a slightly larger group.
These vestibules provide the gear storage space you need in this otherwise feature-light tent and provide a covered entryway in snowy environments.
- 2 vestibules for gear storage
- Very durable pole construction
- Surprisingly compact for a 4 person tent
- Waterproof, breathable, and warm
- Low center height
Nemo Kunai 2
A true 4 season tent that’s equally at home in the dead of winter as it is during a midsummer desert camping trip, the Nemo Kunai 2 is a versatile option for frequent campers.
It features a well-engineered frame that utilizes a single hubbed DAC Featherlite NSL aluminum pole to provide the perfect mixture of livability and rigidity in the wind.
This pole design also allows for a quick set-up process and a steep-roof construction, which sloughs off snow in the winter.
Nemo took things to the next level with this tent by giving it an oversized entryway. Although the Kunai 2 has only 1 door, its spacious vestibule offers plenty of gear storage for wintertime camping.
In addition to being surprisingly lightweight for a 4 season tent, this model comes with Nemo’s proprietary Divvy Sack system.
This makes it easier for you to split the load of the tent with your camping buddy to keep your pack weight at an absolute minimum.
- A true 4 season tent
- Durable in the wind
- Lightweight and highly packable
- Oversized vestibule for gear storage
- Only 1 door limits entry
MSR Remote 3
Your respite from the weather, even in frigid temperatures, the 3 person MSR Remote 3 is a small group camping shelter for wintertime expeditions.
Designed specifically with livability in mind, the Remote 3 has a central-support frame that uses Easton Syclone Poles for the foundation.
With these poles quickly clipped into place, the tent opens up to reveal a large open floor plan with plenty of space for you, your tentmates, and your gear.
This double-walled tent has a 40D ripstop nylon inner canopy and a 68D ripstop polyester rainfly, both of which are waterproofing-treated for maximum weather-resistance.
Where the Remote 3 really shines, however, is in its quick-pitch construction, which uses color-coded poles to simplify the set-up process.
Moreover, once the tent is pitched, you can make use of a large front vestibule that offers even more gear storage options for your winter camping adventure.
- Highly livable design
- Durable Easton Syclone poles
- Extra-large vestibule
- Color-coded poles to speed up the pitching process
- Heavy for a 3 person tent
- Relatively low center height
Big Agnes Guard Station 4
Big Agnes’ premier cold weather tent, the Guard Station 4 is an ideal choice for base-camping-style trips on which comfort is king.
This dome-style tent is decidedly durable thanks to its criss-crossing pole pattern, which provides ample rigidity in the wind.
As a result of this DAC exoskeleton pole system, the Guard Station is strong in cold weather environments, making it an ideal choice for extreme locales.
Moreover, this model has a single wall design, which allows for a quicker pitching process and a less bulky tent in storage.
To achieve this simplified construction, Big Agnes mixed a Dominico polyester ripstop fabric in the canopy with an Oxford polyester floor to provide the best blend of waterproofing, insulation, and breathability.
At the same time, the Guard Station 4 has 2 large windows, which allow for great views of the winter wonderland outside on sunny days.
Plus, while the tent doesn’t have a vestibule, it does have several internal pockets for gear storage and organization, allowing you to maximize your living space for increased comfort while winter camping.
- Durable in windy conditions
- Single wall fabric reduces bulk without sacrificing warmth
- Large windows for exterior views
- Lots of internal pockets for gear organization
- Quick pitching process
- Low ceiling height
- No vestibule for gear storage
The Best Cold Weather Family Tents for Winter Camping
Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow
A super popular canvas tent for use in freezing-cold winter conditions, the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow is a do-everything shelter for family camping adventures.
It’s made from a thick layer of 100% cotton duck canvas for durability. Though canvas is naturally water-resistant, Kodiak Canvas has treated this tent with its Hydra-Shield technology to seal out snow and cold conditions during the winter months.
Moreover, this shelter comes with a set of durable galvanized steel poles that create a sturdy frame for winter environments.
You can also set up the included awning over the door for a snow-free entryway when the weather won’t cooperate.
Inside the tent, you’ll find a spacious living area that can comfortably sleep up to 8 people.
With a ceiling height of 6’6” (198cm), the Flex-Bow is a nice choice for families and small groups.
One of the best things about this tent is that it’s versatile enough for summertime use.
Because canvas keeps you warm in cold conditions, and cool in hot conditions, it’s a solid option for setting up a semi-permanent shelter on your recreational property or for a longer winter camping trip with a large group.
There are also some exceptional extreme cold weather family tents to choose from.
Here is a list of 5 of my favorite family winter camping shelters.
- Made with 100% cotton duck canvas
- Hydra-Shield technology to keep out the cold and snow
- High center height
- Awning provides a snow-free entry
- Plenty of sleeping space for up to 8 campers
- No external gear storage
- Very heavy
Marmot Lair 8
Essentially the tent version of a fortress, the Marmot Lair 8 is for families that are serious about their winter camping experience.
This expedition-style tent is made to withstand the harshest environments on Earth thanks to its 40D ripstop nylon rainfly fabric and extra-sturdy aluminum poles.
What sets this tent apart from the competition is its geodesic design, which provides the perfect mix of livability and shelter in high winds.
To access the Lair 8, you have a choice between 2 sizable doors. These open up to reveal a spacious open-concept interior that boasts an 8’ (243cm) ceiling height for maximum headroom as you walk around.
Moreover, this tent comes with several livability-centric features that improve your comfort as you camp in cold climes.
For example, it has overhead windows for natural light and plenty of strategically-placed vents for airflow.
The Lair 8 even comes with a massive vestibule for gear storage.
- Very tall center height
- Super durable in the wind
- Plenty of ventilation
- Large gear storage vestibule
- Overhead windows for natural light
- Particularly pricey
The North Face Wawona 4
Providing maximum livability without sacrificing performance, The North Face Wawona 4 is a small family tent for winter camping adventures.
It features a spacious interior with a staggering 5’6” (167.6cm) center height, which is nearly unheard of in a 4 person tent.
What’s more, the Wawona 4 has a set of heavy-duty 12mm poles that are purposefully pre-bent to maximize livability without creating unusable space in the corners of the tent.
This tent is made with a single durable wall of 68D polyester fabric, which provides a good blend of warmth and weather protection.
The floor of this tent also has a tub-style design to prevent water seepage when you’re camping on the snow.
For ventilation and nice views, The North Face built this tent with a set of 2 large windows. You can also open up the large top vents for airflow to reduce condensation on muggy nights.
Meanwhile, the Wawona has a sizable vestibule for gear storage, which is perfect for a small family.
It also has an internal drying line that can be used to dry damp socks and gloves before the next day of exploration.
- High center height for a 4 person tent
- Internal drying line
- Large vestibule for gear storage
- Pre-bent poles create a spacious interior
- Big windows and vents for airflow
- Too heavy and bulky for backpacking
White Duck Outdoors Prota
Functional as can be, the White Duck Outdoors Prota is a family-focused canvas tent for camping in winter conditions.
Thanks to its 100% cotton army duck 10.10oz canvas and double-stitched seams, the Prota is a fully waterproof tent that also sets a new standard for breathability in cold conditions.
Due to this canvas construction, it’s also versatile enough to use in summer conditions, making it a nice year-round camping solution.
With the Prota, you get a spacious interior with a 6’6” (198cm) ceiling height, which is tall enough to accommodate the majority of campers.
There’s also enough space to sleep up to 8 adults, plus 2 doorways for easy entry throughout the night.
When designing the Prota, White Duck Outdoors put quality at the forefront of production.
The entire tent is made from high-end materials, including military-grade waterproof zippers and T-6-grade aluminum poles for enhanced durability.
- Made from high-end materials
- High center height for headspace
- Double-stitched seams for waterproofing
- 2 doors for easy entry and exit
- Breathable and well-ventilated
- No gear storage space
- Very heavy (97lbs/44kg)
PlayDo Canvas Bell Tent
If glamping is more your style, the PlayDo Canvas Bell Tent might be what you need. This bell-shaped tent provides premium comfort, even in frigid winter conditions.
It is made from 300gsm cotton canvas, which is waterproof-treated and seam-taped to keep you dry.
Meanwhile, built-in top vents around the peak point of the tent encourage airflow without letting cold air and snow get inside the tent.
With a large central opening and a spacious interior, the PlayDo Canvas Bell Tent screams livability.
It has enough space for a small family to comfortably sleep inside, even with plenty of winter camping gear.
Oh, and this model also comes with a 5” (12.7cm) stove vent built into the sidewall.
That way, you can stay warm and cozy with your wood-burning stove, even when the temperatures drop to an unbearably cold level in the middle of the night.
- Stove jack built into side wall
- Overhead vents for breathability
- Large door for easy entry
- Burly and waterproof cotton canvas fabric
- Enough space for a small family
- Takes a while to set up
3 Season Tent vs. 4 Season Tent
When buying a tent for extreme cold weather, you want to ensure that you get a 4 season tent.
What exactly is the difference between a 3 season tent and a 4 season tent, you might ask?
Simply put, a 4 season tent has steeper walls, stronger poles, and more durable fabrics than its 3 season counterpart.
This allows it to better withstand the harsher conditions often associated with the winter months.
Moreover, most 4 season tents have a fabric inner body or a single wall design, rather than a mesh canopy, for increased insulation in the cold.
Who makes the best 4 season tents?
Plenty of great companies make quality 4 season tents, so it’s impossible to say that one is always better than the rest.
That being said, some of the best 4 season tent manufacturers include MSR, Nemo, The North Face, Black Diamond, and Big Agnes, among others.
How to Keep Your Tent Warm in Cold Weather
Winter camping can seem like a daunting task, particularly if you’re not accustomed to staying warm without central heating.
The good news is that it is possible to keep your tent warm, even in cold weather.
The trick? Focus on keeping your body warm, instead.
While tent heaters, like the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, are a nice choice for car camping trips in frigid climates, you’ll want to ensure that you have the right cold weather clothing and sleeping gear to keep yourself warm at night.
This is especially important for very cold conditions, as even the best of tent heaters shouldn’t be run continuously from dusk to dawn.
Therefore, it’s best to have other tactics for staying warm instead of relying solely on a tent heater for the night. Here are some key things to consider when trying to keep your tent warm in the winter:
Have the right sleeping bag. Whenever possible, get a sleeping bag that’s at least 10ºF (5.5ºC) warmer than the coldest temperatures you expect to face at night.
That way, you can be comfortable while you sleep, even if the conditions are colder than you expect.
Opt for 2 sleeping pads. For winter camping, it’s best to layer an inflatable sleeping pad on top of a foam model for extra insulation from the cold ground.
This is also quite comfortable, so you may find that you prefer the 2-sleeping-pad lifestyle, anyway.
Don’t forget warm socks! It’s best to keep a pair of thick wool socks in your sleeping bag or tent at all times while winter camping. Doing so helps ensure that you’ll always have warm, dry socks for the night.
Wear a hat. People often wonder why they’re cold at night while camping, but they rarely think to put on a hat. If your sleeping bag doesn’t have an insulated hood, put on a warm hat! Your head will thank you later.
Make a hot water bottle. For an extra bit of heat in the middle of the night, fill a durable plastic water bottle, like a Nalgene, with warm water before going to bed. Then, take the water bottle into your sleeping bag with you for a cozy night’s sleep in the mountains.
Eat more food. It turns out that your body needs a lot of calories to stay warm at night. If you’re cold, chances are pretty high that you’re also hungry, so don’t forget to eat a big meal before bed.
Use the loo. This might sound silly, but your body uses up quite a bit of energy trying to keep your bladder warm in cold temperatures. Getting up and going to the toilet if you wake up in the middle of the night feeling cold will actually help you keep warm.
It sounds counterintuitive, but that bit of cold you experience getting out of bed does pay off in the end.
Go to bed warm. If you’ve been sitting around all night before you get into bed, you’re likely going to be cold during the night. Set yourself up for success by going to bed warm so that your sleeping bag can do its job and insulate you at night.
Do some jumping jacks, push-ups, or crunches before going to bed to get your blood pumping. You might even get some exercise out of it, too!
How to Choose the Right Winter Tent
There are so many great winter tents on the market today that it can be challenging to find the best cold weather tent for your needs.
In this section, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know as you choose your next 4 season tent.
Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a cold weather tent.
If you’re looking for a cold weather tent, chances are high that you’re interested in winter camping in a snowy environment.
Therefore, you must have a tent that can keep you dry throughout the night.
When shopping, look for a tent made from durable, waterproof fabrics, like polyester, nylon, or canvas.
These fabrics should also be treated with polyurethane, silicone, and/or durable water repellents (DWR) for improved weather-resistance.
Also, be sure that your tent’s fabric is seam-taped or be prepared to seam-seal it before your first adventure.
In addition to being waterproof, your cold weather tent should be very hardy in the wind.
Winter often brings high winds in the mountains, so having a tent with durable aluminum poles and a sturdy construction is a must.
Keep in mind that geodesic dome-style tents and half-dome shelters are generally better than cabin-style models in the winter.
However, if you’re camping in a sheltered campground below the treeline, this may be less of a concern for your style of adventure.
Now, it might seem a bit odd to talk about ventilation in a cold weather tent, as many people think that insulation is the more appropriate topic.
However, as we’ve mentioned, staying warm in a tent in the winter is all about insulating yourself from the elements by using appropriate clothing and a quality sleeping bag, rather than insulating your entire shelter.
On the other hand, one issue that plagues most cold weather camping trips is condensation.
On cold nights, the warmth emanating from your body heat causes the chilly air to quickly meet its dew point. The result is that condensation forms on the inside of your tent.
This is problematic because it can soak your sleeping bag, thereby rendering your down insulation useless.
Therefore, a cold weather tent that’s well ventilated, with either a mesh inner canopy or some built-in vents, is ideal.
Winter camping is a gear-intensive pursuit, so having the space you need to store your gear is a must in a cold weather tent.
As you shop, keep an eye out for tents with at least 1 vestibule, which is ideal if you’d rather not store gear inside your tent.
Vestibules are particularly helpful if you’re camping in a very snowy environment, as they can help prevent gear from getting covered and lost during a heavy snowfall event.
Alternatively, if you’re okay with keeping your gear inside the tent, you’ll want to ensure that your shelter has some internal pockets or a gear loft to help you stay organized while you’re out and about in the mountains.
FAQs About Cold Weather Camping
What is the best sleeping bag for winter camping?
The best sleeping bag for winter camping is the Nemo Sonic, which comes in 0ºF (-17ºC) and -20ºF (-28ºC) models. It offers an immense amount of warmth in the winter months without weighing down your pack, thanks to its high-quality, responsibly-sourced 800 fill hydrophobic down.
Are tent stoves safe?
If you’re sleeping in a canvas tent that has a purpose-built stove pipe vent system, then a tent stove can be a safe thing to use, if operated properly.
This means staying attentive to your fire at all times and ensuring that the stove pipe is properly affixed to the vent system.
However, trying to heat a tent that’s made from nylon or polyester with a tent stove is not a good idea.
These materials are highly flammable and have a very low melting point, which can be a hazard if they are exposed to high heat.
Moreover, these tents are not designed to be used with a tent stove, so dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up in your sleeping area, posing an immediate threat to you and your camping buddies.
Do they make insulated tents?
There are a few insulated tents on the market, but these are more of a niche product than a commonly used shelter for outdoor recreation.
Many so-called insulated tents are really just regular tents with large, insulated quilts draped over the top to trap in warm air.
Instead of opting for an insulated tent, it’s generally best to insulate yourself using a warm sleeping bag, a quality sleeping pad, and plenty of insulated clothing.
Insulating yourself from the cold is a much more efficient task than insulating your entire tent and you’ll often find that you’re warmer when you focus more on yourself than your shelter.
What is too cold to sleep in a tent?
In reality, there’s no such thing as too cold to sleep in a tent.
Humans have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years without modern-day insulation, and adventurers have spent countless nights sleeping in tents in the Antarctic and high Himalayas, where nighttime temperatures routinely drop below -40ºF (-40ºC).
While you may find that there’s a lower limit to your cold weather tolerance, so long as you come prepared with the right gear, any winter camping trip can be enjoyable, despite the frigid temperatures.
No matter how you like to spend your time outside during the winter months, there’s an extreme cold weather tent out there for you.
After reviewing these 20 extreme cold weather tents, the MRS Access 2 is the best choice for cold weather camping on the market right now.
If you are looking for a family tent, the Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe 8 is your best option.
However, if you don't care about the price and only want the absolute best family tent for winter camping, the Marmot Lair 8 is for you.
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Gaby is a professional outdoor educator, guide, and wilderness medicine instructor. She holds a master's degree in outdoor education and spends most of her time hanging out with penguins and polar bears in the polar region. When she's not outdoors, you can find her traveling, reading Nietzsche, and drinking copious double espressos.