Best Tents for Winter Camping

If you are headed out into the wilderness during winter, you’ll need to prepare for the cold. The most important piece of gear? Your tent. 

But the tent you pick for winter camping will depend on the type of winter camping you do. Will you be hiking Everest? Taking the kids ice fishing? Setting up winter living complete with stove? As you shop for the best winter camping tent for you, the first thing you’ll need to do is think about what type of winter camping type fits you.

What kind of winter camping will you engage in?

  1. Alpine expedition tents

    • For winter alpinists, your tent needs to be strong enough to handle snow loading and high winds, small enough to allow your body heat to warm it, and big enough for you to wait out a storm without going stir crazy. 
  2. Base camp tents

    • Often larger and heavier than expedition tents, base camp tents are wind and weatherproof. They are designed for serious mountaineers who must survive in the world’s harshest conditions.
  3. Family winter camping

    • Generally made from thicker, stronger materials than 3 season tents, these cold-weather family tents balance strength and durability with versatility. Many family winter camping tents can be used in all but the hottest of conditions, making them true 4 season tents.
  4. Winter tents with stoves

    • Most often used for winter hunting and ice fishing trips or for extended winter living, winter tents that accommodate a stove are often canvas due to its fire resistance, and tend to be large and heavy. This makes them less ideal for backpacking, but great for snowmobiling and off-road winter adventures. 

We will be taking a look at the first three kinds of winter tents in this article. See our Best Hot Tents article for the best winter tents with stoves.

What to look for in a winter tent

  1. Space 

    • Floor dimensions that will accommodate the members of your party along with any gear that must be inside the tent
    • Height so that if you are stuck inside during a storm, you can sit up to your full height to read or change clothing
    • Vestibule to store additional gear under cover. Best for those items that do not need to be in the tent with you
  2. Doors

    • 2 doors in case wildlife or the weather necessitate you beating a hasty retreat out the back
  3. Weatherproofing

    • Wind can flatten your tent if it’s not rated to hold up to fierce blasts
    • Snow can pile up during storms so make sure your tent had is shaped for heavy loads to slide off
    • Moisture can condense inside your tent from breath in wet conditions. Look for adequate ventilation to minimize moisture build-up
  4. Materials 

    • Tent body: consider canvas if you will be taking a snowmobile or 4-wheel drive vehicle into your campsite. Nylon is lighter so this material is better for tents you will pack in on your back
    • Tent poles: Aluminum stays more flexible in cold weather than fiberglass. Also, if a fiberglass pole fails, it tends to shatter, while an aluminum one will bend and break at a single point, making aluminum poles safer and easier to fix in the field
  5. Cost

    • Price is always a factor to take into consideration. While everyone’s budget varies, looking for lower-cost solutions that offer everything you need is important to your best shopping experience

Best winter tents for cold weather camping

Alpine mountaineering tents

These sturdy cold weather tents are built to withstand the toughest of winter conditions but must be light enough to carry when trekking. Going back to our old adage: durable, light, cheap….pick two, you can expect to pay a premium for this category of four season tent. Most alpinists need a 2-person tent for their excursions and summitting. If you need something bigger, many of the options on our list have a larger cousin.

1. The Nemo Tenshi 2-person mountaineering tent 

The Nemo Tenshi 2-person mountaineering tent is a versatile single-walled tent weighing in at a very reasonable 6 lbs. The removable front vestibule means you can increase your usable space while you’re in base camp but ditch the extra weight when you need to – dropping a pound and a half when you head into the backcountry for a couple of days.

While it only has one door, there is a zippered rear window dubbed an emergency exit in case wildlife or weather turns threatening and you need to get out quickly. While well-ventilated, there may still be issues with condensation in some conditions. The included “condensation curtain” helps keep your breath from condensing on the foot area of the tent, which can help keep your lower body dry even in the dampest of weather.


  • Emergency exit/window
  • Removable vestibule included
  • Easy to set up in bad weather


  • Condensation
  • One door


  • Floor dimensions: 86 inches x 47 inches
  • Interior height: 42 inches
  • Floor area: 28 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 11 square feet

Check price on Amazon

2. Eureka! K-2 XT 2-3 person tent

This tent gets a spot on your winter tent shopping list for its ventilation which controls condensation and the geodesic dome shape to shed snow. Four poles with clips and sleeves offer support and simple set up, which can be helpful in extreme conditions. It’s our roomiest option for mountaineering tents, but that comes with a cost in the pounds you’ll have to carry.

It has two doors, an important feature in a winter tent in case of emergency. And the included vestibule offers more than 20 square feet of additional storage. While it’s heavy for its size, this is a good hybrid car camping/backpacking winter tent. For a more budget-friendly option, take a look at the Eureka! Aplenlite XT 2-person 4-season backpacking tent.


  • 2 doors
  • Good venting
  • Roomy inside
  • Plenty of storage loops and pockets inside


  • Heavy at 11 lbs 12 oz


  • Floor dimensions: 107 inches x 7 feet 8 inches inches
  • Interior height: inches
  • Floor area: 52 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 18 square feet front & 3.9 square feet rear

Check price on Amazon


3. MSR Access Pro 2-Person mountaineering tent

This super lightweight, durable tent is built for the worst conditions in the best way. Easy to set up for one person on unstable ground, with a small footprint, you’ll be able to get shelter in the most heinous storms even on the smallest ledges.

Don’t expect anything cushy, though. This is a pared-down shelter built for protection from the elements at the lightest possible weight. If you are a dedicated alpinist, this is a great tent for you. However, if you are a tall alpinist, we suggest you look hard at the next tent on our list for a little more floor space, even at the cost of additional weight.

Need more room? Try the MSR Expedition 3-person tent with 42 square feet of floor space and a peak height of 47 inches.


  • Light at 3 lbs 8 oz
  • Guylines for reinforced wind resistance
  • Easy set up in harsh conditions


  • No frills inside
  • 1 door
  • Small inside
  • No vestibule


  • Floor dimensions: 84 inches x 33 inches
  • Interior height: 41 inches
  • Floor area: 19 square feet

Check price on Amazon


4. Black Diamond Eldorado 2-person mountaineering tent  

Steep sided to slough off snow and highly waterproof due to Black Diamond’s use of PTFE (Teflon) waterproof coating. This is a great balance for weight and strength along with storm-worthiness. Plus it’s fairly easy to set up in the wind.

Also, with a few more inches in every direction than others on our list, this is a good option for taller alpinists who don’t mind a couple extra pounds to carry.


  • Very waterproof
  • Fairly light weight at 4 lbs 8 oz
  • Sturdy in storms



  • Floor dimensions: 87 inches x 51 inches
  • Interior height: 43 inches
  • Floor area: 30.8 square feet
  • Optional vestibule area: 9 square feet

Check price on Amazon


5. Big Agnes Shield 2- or 3-person mountaineering tent

Big Agnes offers mountaineers two sizes of this alpine tent. Both have similar features, but they differ in weight and dimensions as noted in the specs section below. 

This tent was obviously designed by an alpinist, since there are numerous functional additions only a true mountaineer would think of. One such is the oversized stake out loops that you can use with your ice ax or ski poles. Or even your skis in a pinch. Zippered vents and a microporous membrane to manage moisture and help with condensation management. And the gear loft increases usable space while minimizes the footprint.


  • Easy set up
  • Very breathable
  • Light weight at 3lb 12 oz/4 lbs 8 oz
  • Well thought out design touches


  • 1 door
  • Pricey for its features
  • Vestibule sold separately

Specs: Shield 2/Shield 3

  • Floor dimensions: 86 inches x 52 inches/90 inches x 66 inches
  • Interior height: 40 inches/43 inches
  • Floor area:  28 square feet/39 square feet
  • Optional vestibule area: square feet

Check price on Amazon


Base camp tents

At base camp, you’ll need some extra space to organize your gear before you summit and to stash your extra gear while you’re gone. Serious mountaineers will want to opt for the sturdiest and warmest tents to survive the harshest conditions. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for a good base camp tent.

1. North Face 2-Meter-dome 8 person 

This double layer, freestanding, dome tent is incredibly strong and stable no matter how the storms rage around you. With a full cover fly and 12 aluminum poles, you will be safe and snug inside. Moving around is a breeze with a height of 79 inches. 

Rated as an 8-person tent, this is really a better option for a few less than that along with their gear. If you find yourself living at base camp while you wait for your chance to summit, this is the tent you want to have.


  • Tall at 79-inch center height
  • Very stable with geodesic dome construction
  • Full cover fly for maximum protection


  • Very heavy at 51 lbs
  • Expensive


  • Floor dimensions: 155 inches diameter
  • Interior height: 83 inches
  • Floor area: 125 square feet

Check price on Amazon


2. MSR H.U.B 8 base camp tent

This tunnel-style, single layer, freestanding tent has removable doors on either end and a removable floor for snow conditions. This provides the option to dig down into the underlying snow for additional headroom and insulation. This is not a tent for rainy conditions, though, since the floor does not seal. 

The interior has lots of stash pockets that are big enough for parkas and other large gear. This is a winter living space that is best used as a jumping-off point for deeper forays into the backcountry, rather than a tent to toss on your pack to take with you.


  • 2 fully zip-off doors
  • Removable floor for versatility
  • Strong fabric for tent sides and doors


  • Very heavy at 49 lbs
  • No vents


  • Floor dimensions: 144 inches x 108 inches
  • Interior height:  79 inches
  • Floor area: 108 square feet
  • Optional gear shed 69 square feet

 Check price on Amazon


3. Marmot Lair 8 person mountaineering tent

Considerable less expensive than the other two base camp tents on our list, this winter expedition tent still has all the features you need to stay alive in treacherous conditions. Great for base camp, this is also a good cross-over family camping tent.

This dome-style tent is almost freestanding and incredibly tall. It s also has a whopping 165 square feet of floor space. Don’t be fooled by the 4-season designation. This is definitely a cold-weather tent. With no mesh sections, you’ll want to use this for late fall, winter, and early spring at most.


  • Lightest base tent at 26 lbs
  • Very tall at 94 inches peak height
  • 2 doors
  • Least expensive base camp tent


  • No mesh  


  • Floor dimensions: 9.5-inch diameter
  • Interior height:  94 inches
  • Floor area: 165 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 40 square feet

Check price on Amazon


Family winter tents 

You’ll want more room if you are camping with the family, so rather than the 2 to 3 person alpine tents in our first section or the pricey base camp tents, we will focus on 4 to 8 person tents for budget family winter camping. And if you set up camp close to the car, then a tent that weighs few pounds more or less will not hurt you. 

1. Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 tent

This 4 person winter camping tent comes in on the pricier side of the two, but it’s worth it. When you have your family in the great outdoors when the weather is cold, you want a tent you can rely on. Rest assured; the Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 is going to hold up to the stormiest snows and most blustery winds.

4 adults will be cramped in this tent, but if you have children as part of your party, you’ll be just fine. The interior is chock full of thoughtfully placed pockets, gear loft, and gear clips.



  • Full fly for ultimate weather protection
  • 2 doors
  • 2 vestibules


  • Iffy ventilation
  • Somewhat heavy at 11 lbs


  • Floor dimensions:  96 inches x 94 inches
  • Interior height: 50 inches
  • Floor area: 65 square feet
  • Vestibule area: 18 square feet front/6 square feet back

Check price on REI


2. Geertop 4 person 4-season winter tent

This budget winter camping tent is great for families heading out for a winter weekend camping trip. A snow skirt on the fly and a vestibule that doubles as a porch lets you take off your boots and jacket under a roof out before climbing into the tent. 

Pockets and hooks help you stay organized and the set up is easy. This is a cold-weather tent. It will not give you enough ventilation to be comfortable in hot weather, even with 2 doors. Also, this is a once-in-a-while tent rather than one that will be comfortable to live in for a week or more at a time.


  • 2 doors
  • Full coverage fly


  • Poor ventilation


  • Floor dimensions: 94 inches x 82 inches
  • Interior height: 53 inches
  • Floor area: 53 square feet
  • Vestibule area: square feet

Check price on Amazon


Wrapping it all up

When you are camping in the cold, survival is top of mind. Whether your winter activity of choice is ice fishing, hunting, summiting at snow-covered peak, or simply enjoying the great outdoors with friends and family, make sure your tent fits your style and activities as well as the conditions. Your life may depend on it! 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print