Spoiler Alert: Conquerwild named the Moko Waterproof Family Camping Tent as the best cold weather tent for winter camping!!
As cold weather starts to creep in, it can be hard for us to let go of our camping habits. The secret is: we don’t have to! When you choose the right tent for the winter months, you can have a shelter that’s comfortable, warm and protected from harsh weather.
Finding the best cold weather tent isn’t always an easy task, which is why I’ve researched and reviewed the 6 best products out there. Here’s what I came up with:
What We’ll Be Reviewing:
- Naturehike Cloud-Up Backpacking Tent
- Vidalido 4 Season Tent
- Moko Waterproof Camping Tent
- Whiteduck Regatta Family Camping Tent
- ALPS Mountaineering Taurus
- KAZOO Lightweight Backpacking Tent
Naturehike Cloud-Up Backpacking Tent – Most Affordable Cold Weather Tent
Tent Type: 3-season dome tent
Fits: 1-3 people (depending on the size you choose)
It can be hard to find a good cold weather tent that balances portability with efficiency, but the Naturehike Cloud-Up does an exceptional job of doing just that. You can purchase this tent in variations for 1, 2 or 3 people and each option is super lightweight.
The Naturehike is double layered with a full coverage rainfly made of 210T polyester. It stays true to its name as a 3 season tent and, while it might not be the best for extreme winter weather, it can handle a decent amount of snow. The 300mm waterproof bathtub floor keeps ground moisture out quite easily thanks to its polyurethane 3000 coating.
Overall, this isn’t the tent I’d choose to bring into the Arctic tundra. However, if you’re expecting a few inches of snow or some cold conditions, the Naturehike should have no issues meeting your needs.
- The 1 person variation weighs 3.7lbs, the 2 person weighs 4.7lbs and the 3 person weighs 5.7lbs- so they‘re ultra lightweight.
- It only takes about 5 minutes to set up, even with just one person.
- All seams are factory sealed, meaning they keep water out.
- It’s well-ventilated, so it’s also good for warm weather camping.
- The aluminum tent poles are lightweight and sturdy.
- There’s not a huge amount of storage space.
- This tent isn’t made for extreme winter temperatures or high winds.
Vidalido 4 Season Tent – Most Versatile Cold Weather Tent
Tent Type: 4-season conical tent
Fits: 5-6 people
As one of the most unique snow tents out there, this product from Vidalido is the epitome of versatile camping. Its “teepee” like appearance and pointed roof ensure that snow will not weigh the structure down, even in extreme winter weather.
This reasonably-priced tent comes with only 2 anti-rust, reinforced steel poles: one for the structure of the tent, and one for the optional awning. The hexagonal floor plan has a 12.5 foot diameter, giving you enough room to fit 2 twin-sized air mattresses. The nearly 8 foot peak height also ensures that, even if you’re trapped inside due to extreme weather, you have room to stand and stretch your legs… And even if your shelter’s bombarded by snow, the 190T polyester will keep the interior nice and dry.
The full coverage layer of mesh around the inside of the tent just may be the most appealing aspect of this product. When you take the rainfly off, this tent becomes a great shelter for warm weather camping with tons of airflow. Regardless of the time of year, Vidalido’s 4 season tent is prepared to keep you safe and comfortable.
- With the help of the extra pole, you can create an awning which is ideal for storing wet equipment or getting some extra ventilation.
- All of the seams, caulking and stitches are waterproof.
- Setup takes 5 minutes or less.
- It’s reasonably priced.
- The doors and windows are made of 2,000D polyurethane and 3,000MM high-density mesh.
- You can also separate the rainfly to create a daytime shelter.
- It comes in green, white and yellow.
- Many customers find the instructions to be kind of difficult to read.
- The tent floor is a bit thin.
MoKo Waterproof Camping Tent – Best Pick Overall
Tent Type: 4-season instant dome tent
Fits: 2-3 people
Extreme winter weather conditions seem to be no match for the MoKo Camping Tent. This 3 person shelter has just about every base covered when it comes to cold weather shelters. With 21 aluminum pegs, 3 intersecting fiberglass poles and 6 ropes included, the MoKo is ready for some pretty intense winter winds.
One of the main highlights of this tent is its multitude of storage options. Storage pockets are pretty much standard on most tents, but the MoKo also has a ceiling hook and (most importantly) an exterior vestibule. When the rainfly is on, there’s a nice little porch-like section which has its own zippered door. This area is perfect for storing wet, snow-covered gear without making a mess.
When it comes to the tent material itself, the Moko makes it nearly impossible for leaks to occur. The rainfly is made of 210D polyester, and it’s 2500mm waterproof- this is so important for camping in the snow. It’s got a 1000D polyethylene floor that’s 5000mm waterproof. In other words: you won’t have to worry about moisture seeping in from the ground. There’s also a closable window made of fine mesh which (even when it’s open) does a great job of keeping water out. Everything from the design of this product to its stability and appearance make it my top pick for best cold weather tent.
- It’s affordable!
- It’s a 4 season tent and is great for camping all year round.
- The tent fabric is super breathable and has a mesh, anti-mosquito layer for the summer.
- The detachable hood on the roof of the tent allows for ventilation while keeping the interior shielded from the elements.
- A ceiling hook allows for the hanging of a lantern or other light source.
- With the roomy 70.8” x 82.7” floor plan, there’s ample room for 3 average-sized people to fit comfortably.
- The 3.5’ peak height doesn’t allow for standing room.
Whiteduck Regatta Canvas Tent – Best Cold Weather Tent For Families
Tent Type: 4-season, 100% cotton canvas bell tent
Fits: 3 – 10 people (depending on the size you choose)
If your main concern in choosing a winter tent is “hominess,” the Whiteduck Regatta Canvas Tent may be a great choice for you. This thing is barely a step down from a winter cabin in terms of space and amenities. It comes in 3 sizes (10 feet, 13 feet and 16 feet) and each offers tons of room for large camping groups. Some people have even used this tent as a temporary home- and it works well as one!
This tent is able to deliver sufficient ventilation while also keeping the elements out. There are several mesh-covered windows which are helpful in both the summer and winter. The protective finish on this cotton tent keeps it resistant to water, mildew and UV rays. To top it off, all seams are double-stitched and all corners are reinforced.
Keep in mind that the Whiteduck isn’t exactly crafted for backpacking, it’s designed for more “leisurely” activities. Either way, this tent offers an amazing space to sit and lounge around while you wait for the winter weather to pass.
- The tent is made from premium, grade-A cotton, which is breathable and sustainable.
- It’s also available with a fire-retardant finish.
- It’s easy to set up and take down.
- It has an E-port for access to power cords.
- The center pole has a convenient, D-shaped hook for hanging lanterns and other items.
- The tent’s finish is PFC free, meaning it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals.
- There’s a fire-retardant stove jack, which allows you to use a stove inside the tent.
- Due to the shape of the roof, you’ll have to brush snow off to get rid of the added weight.
- It’s pretty expensive.
ALPS Mountaineering Taurus – Best Value Cold Weather Tent
Tent Type: 3-season, freestanding dome tent
Fits: 2 – 3 people
The ALPS Mountaineering Taurus Tent is a great example of a product that prioritizes convenience. This freestanding shelter is super easy to set up and also pretty lightweight at 10 pounds 8 ounces.
The water and UV resistant polyester rainfly offers full coverage for this dome tent. At the same time, it maintains just enough ventilation to prevent condensation. There’s also tons of storage space here, which is always appreciated. This tent offers a gear loft and- not just one, but two storage vestibules. This means that there are also 2 entrances, so you don’t have to stumble over your fellow camper(s) when entering or exiting.
The ALPS Taurus is a standout when it comes to cold weather tents for its simplicity and user friendliness. Luckily, convenience doesn’t come at the expense of efficiency or durability. This product gets a thumbs up from Conquerwild.
- It’s affordable!
- It comes in red/gray and sage/rust colors.
- The rainfly is made from a durable 75D 185T polyester.
- It comes with aluminum stakes and guy ropes.
- With a 7’6” x 8’6” floor plan, it’s large enough to fit a queen-sized mattress, but small enough to help retain body heat.
- Each of the 2 entrances have closable mesh windows for extra ventilation.
- The 52” peak height doesn’t provide much standing room for the average adult.
- With just 2 fiberglass poles, this isn’t the best tent for strong winds.
KAZOO Lightweight Backpacking Tent – Most Lightweight Cold Weather Tent
Tent Type: 4-season, freestanding backpacking tent
Fits: 1-2 people
Weighing in at a mere 5.29 pounds, the KAZOO backpacking tent is the lightest cold weather tent on this list. Perfect for couples or single backpackers, this shelter features an interesting hexagonal design with 2 entrances and 2 vestibules. I love the non-conventional look of this thing and its ability to pack down into a size that easily fits into most backpacks.
The KAZOO works hard to keep its occupants well protected from their environment with a double layer. The inner layer is a mixture of mesh and 190T polyester. This means 2 things: durability and breathability. As for the rainfly, it’s made from even more dense, 210T ripstop polyester. These 2 layers are connected to each other by hooks and straps, making for a pretty rigid structure.
Like the ALPS Taurus, this tent is freestanding and super easy to set up. At the same time, its specially designed aluminum poles ensure that strong winds are no match for it. I’d say this is a pretty solid tent overall when it comes to cold, wet and windy weather.
- It’s the most lightweight cold weather tent on this list.
- One person can set it up in as little as 3 minutes!
- It comes in a green or (super vibrant) yellow color.
- It has a ceiling hook and mesh interior pockets for storage.
- The double-layer design ensures that there are never any leaks, even with downpours or heavy snow.
- It has ceiling vents for efficient ventilation.
- Two entrances is always a plus!
- The inner layer cannot be set up on its own, you must assemble this tent with the rainfly.
- Its 39” peak height doesn’t allow for any standing room.
- It doesn’t offer much leg room for people over 6’ tall.
What Type Of Cold Weather Tent Do You Need?
When it comes to camping in cold conditions, you need to be absolutely sure that your tent is ready to handle what Mother Nature has to throw at it. Depending on when and where you’ll be camping, there are different types of winter weather to prepare for.
Are you expecting heavy snowfall? Cold rain? A hailstorm? Just plain old frigid weather? Not all winter tents are equipped to handle all of these conditions, and you need to be mindful of that. That’s where we get into tent classifications.
4-season tents are some of the toughest shelters out there. As their title suggests, they’re designed for year-round use and should be able to withstand extreme winter weather. They usually have strong tent poles, tough fabric, double layers and sloped walls (to prevent snow from accumulating). This is the type of tent you want if you’re expecting heavy snow, hail or strong winds. On the down side, 4-season tents are typically on the heavy side and can be expensive. As a result, they’re not always the best for camping in warm weather or for backpacking.
3-season tents aren’t usually designed to endure extreme winter weather, but they can still work well in moderately cold conditions. They’re meant for use in the spring, summer and fall, but they’re not always durable enough to withstand intense winds or tons of snow like 4-season tents are. On the plus side, they tend to be well suited for warm weather and they’re usually good for backpacking due to their lightweight nature.
The 3 C’s Of Winter Tents
When talking about any tent, I always like to refer to the “3 C’s” as a set of standards. These are Constancy, Comfortability and Convenience. In cold weather, these 3 aspects are even more important than usual.
Constancy means “durability,” and when you set out to camp in fierce winter conditions, this is the first thing you should look for in a tent. If you want to stay warm, dry and safe during your camping trip, be sure to keep an eye out for these factors:
Nobody wants to be wet while sitting inside their tent, especially when it’s freezing cold out. A tent that leaks will make you more prone to hypothermia.
Be sure to look out for the waterproof rating on the tent you choose. This is usually described in millimeters, and it refers to the amount of water that a material can withstand without leaking (for example, “5000mm,” “2500mm,” etc.).
Even with a high waterproof rating, it’s important to look at the seams of your tent. This is the most common place for leaks to occur. Be sure that the seams are either double stitched, reinforced, factory sealed, or all of the above.
The rainfly of your tent is also a super important part of staying dry (hence the name). This is an extra layer of material that goes over the top of your tent. These are often treated with a waterproof coating (such as polyurethane) to help repel moisture.
Is Your Tent Structure Sturdy?
If there are strong winds in your forecast, then you need to be sure that your tent poles are ready to handle that. I find aluminum to be the best tent pole material, as it’s super strong and lightweight. While fiberglass poles are a bit heavier, they’re a great second choice. It’s always good when the poles intersect each other as this makes for a more reinforced tent structure.
If you’re expecting super windy conditions, get guy lines for your tent. This will help hold it to the ground. It’s also important that your tent stakes are of quality (aluminum is the best).
When it comes to tent shape, dome or bell tents are usually better than cabins. With a more pointed roof and steeply sloped walls, less snow will accumulate. This means less weight on the roof and less chances of the tent collapsing.
The actual fabric that your tent is made of can be a huge indicator of whether or not it’s winter weather ready. Examine the Denier rating of the material for each tent. This measures the thickness of each individual thread in your fabric. It’s represented by a number with the letter D. The higher the number, the thicker the fabric.
Fabric density is usually measured by thread count. This refers to the amount of threads per square inch in a material. It’s represented by a number and the letter T.
It goes without saying that a thicker and more dense fabric performs better in extreme weather conditions.
Camping should always be comfortable, regardless of what the weather forecast is. However, comfortability can be difficult to achieve when it’s freezing outside. When a tent has the following qualities, you should expect a better camping experience overall.
Choose The Right Size
When picking a tent for cold weather, size matters. Ultimately, you’ll have to take the amount of people in your group into consideration. Most tents are labeled with a capacity (6 person, 4 person, 2 person, etc.), and this IS NOT meant to be followed strictly. It’s generally good practice to subtract a person or 2 from this capacity label. Otherwise, things might get a bit cramped.
At the same time, when it comes to cold weather camping, you don’t want to be in a tent that’s too roomy. The smaller the space is, the warmer your tent will be, thanks to the body heat of you and your fellow campers.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I decided to camp with 4 friends in the heart of January with a 10 person tent. We all had about 4 feet of space between each other while sleeping. All I remember from this trip is the shivering, the desperate blanket clenching and a sleepless night filled with regret. Don’t make the same mistake that we did.
Don’t Forget Ventilation
You may think that ventilation is unnecessary for winter tent camping, but that’s actually pretty far from the truth. Without ventilation, condensation may begin to accumulate inside your snow camping tent. The last thing you need in the heart of an icy night in the wilderness is drops of condensation raining down on you. Closable mesh vents are the best for winter camping tents.
The last thing any camper needs during a cold weather excursion is added inconvenience. Tents that are hard to work with can be a nightmare when the weather’s against you. Look for the following qualities to ensure that your tent is convenient.
Weight And Size
If you’re backpacking to your campsite, the weight of your tent is a super important factor to look at. The heavier your winter backpacking tent is, the more difficult it will be to transport, especially if you’re trekking through snow or extreme winter conditions.
You should also consider whether your tent can be compacted into a small package. Some tents, like the KAZOO Lightweight Backpacking Tent, are compact enough to fit into a backpack! This will save you lots of trouble when you have extra gear to carry around.
Speaking of gear, it’s important that your shelter offers sufficient space to store it. Many tents have interior storage pockets, usually made of mesh. These are good for keeping small objects. Storage lofts are also a great place to keep your equipment. These are net-like devices that hang from the ceiling of your tent. You can fit larger items in these.
For cold weather camping, the best storage feature to look for is a vestibule. This is a sheltered area outside of your tent, usually covered by the rainfly. A vestibule will provide you with a nice space to keep your bags or take off your shoes before entering the tent itself. This is especially helpful when your gear is wet or covered in snow.
Many campers (especially beginners) find tent setup to be confusing. You can simplify this process by choosing a shelter that has a simple setup and clear instructions. The worse the weather is, the longer it will likely take you to pitch your tent, so keep that in mind.
If you’re super concerned about setup, I recommend going with an instant tent. These shelters can usually be pitched and ready to go within minutes.
Extra Tips For Camping In Cold Weather
Sometimes, it makes more than just a good tent to keep you well sheltered from cold weather. Here are some extra tips that can significantly help you stay comfortable on your next camping trip.
Choose The Right Spot To Set Up Camp
The location you choose to pitch your tent can have a pretty significant effect on your camping experience. If your tent is in an open field, it’ll likely be much colder because of the excess wind. The same goes for setting camp next to large bodies of water.
Forested areas tend to be a better place to pitch a tent because the trees will act as a shield for the wind.
Practice Setup Before Hand
I always recommend practicing setting up your winter camping tent before embarking on your excursion. Imagine arriving at your campsite in the middle of a snowstorm, only to realize that you can’t set up your tent. Not a good situation to put yourself in.
Bring A Tent Heater
Tent heaters can be an absolute godsend when it comes to camping in the cold. These devices are usually powered by propane and are compact enough to backpack with. Some can heat up an entire tent in just a few minutes. There are lots of great products out there, and you can check out my suggestions for best tent heaters here!
Dressing yourself with the right amount of layers can make or break your camping trip, especially in below-freezing temperatures. This means wearing thermals, extra socks, gloves, hats, ear muffs, scarves and whatever else you can handle. It never hurts to pack extra clothes with you, either.
Also, be sure that your sleeping bag is well insulated and rated for cold weather. Click here to see some of my recommendations for sleeping bags.
At the end of the day, cold weather does not mean that camping is impossible. When you have the right tent with all of the necessary features, camping in even the most extreme winter conditions can be enjoyable. Remember to look for a shelter that’s durable, well insulated, strongly structured and ready to handle the elements.
Our Top Pick Is….
This 4 season tent has just about everything one could need for a cold weather camping trip. From its sturdy build to its super waterproof walls to its excellent storage space, this would definitely be my first choice for a 2-3 person camping trip in the cold. On top of all its features, it’s pretty affordable. That’s grounds for bonus points. Overall: a great product from Moko.