Backpacking & Camping

Winter Camping Tents: Staying Warm

Winter Camping Tents

Many people think that camping is only for the summer months, but did you know that there are winter camping tents that can be used all year round? There’s an amount of solace and peace that comes with having a camping area all to yourself and getting to enjoy the great outdoors when it’s covered in ice and snow. Even the animals have gone to bed, and that can make your camping experience even more serene.

But you can’t just use any old tent; a winter camping tent is designed to withstand the elements and keep you warmer, especially at night. So it’s important that you know what to look for if you’re interested in camping during the winter. Take a look at our list of the top cold winter tents to help you select the right one.

Choosing a winter tent

Because you want to be comfortable but also travel light, it’s a good idea to do some research into the kinds of tents that are available in the market. One thing you’re definitely going to need to look for is a 4-season tent. These are most ideal for winter camping, and will also be very useful throughout the rest of the year.

Winter Camping

They’re extremely versatile so you won’t have to spend money on an extra tent for when it’s frigid outside. Here are a few pointers to look out for:

  • Providing warmth: you want to look for a tent that has the ability to shield you from the cold. Heavy fabric works best – which many 4-season tents use – as the walls should shield you from the wind. The floor should be thick and insulated as well as much of the chilly temperature comes from the ground. It should be waterproof and durable enough to withstand the rigors of being walked on by winter boots. A flimsy tent won’t do you any good when you want to sleep comfortably at night.
  • Capacity: the number of people that can share one tent can make all the difference; not only does it keep your camping group together, but it adds the benefit of using body heat to keep everyone warm. Buying a tent that can accommodate at least three people or more works best (since it’s never a great idea to camp in winter by yourself).
  • Quality of the tent: avoiding terrible weather conditions is key when you’re camping, but there are times when Mother Nature creeps up on you and gives you her worst. A good quality tent should be able to withstand the punishment of a blizzard, wind and all. A good 4-season tent should have reinforced aluminum poles, stakes, and reinforced doors so you can get in and out without your entire tent being blown away.
  • Ventilation: although the point of a winter tent is to keep you warm, a tent with poor ventilation can also spell your demise. As the temperature inside the tent increases and the human body loses moisture, it will collect along the inside of the tent walls and lead to the interior getting wet. A tent with an adjustable venting mechanism can take care of this problem so you can stay warm and dry.
  • Easy access: if you’re going to be camping with more than one person, it might be a good idea to get a tent that has more than one door. Nothing is more annoying than only having one entryway, and having to step over other people just to get outside. Having two entryways also gives you some way of getting out if one entry happens to be blocked off, either by snow or a downed tree.
  • Portability: although they’re designed to withstand a lot of punishment, you should consider which tent would be the easiest for you to carry, especially by yourself. Your other camping crew may get injured, and knowing that you can carry your one means of shelter around may make the difference between survival and succumbing to the elements.

Other options

It’s good to keep your options open when it comes to getting a winter tent to ensure that you find one that meets your level of comfort. There are 4-season tents that have an extra storage area for your wet and dirty gear so that you’re not sleeping on the ice and snow that you track into your tent.

There are also winter tents that can be used with your car or truck bed to convert the back area into a camping area. This kind of tent will keep you off the ground so you don’t have to worry about losing any body heat.

Winter Camping Comfort

When it comes to the walls of your tent, it can be a matter of personal preference, as well as how many people are going with you. 4-season tents with two walls are much sturdier and generate a lot more warmth, but they will be a lot heavier to carry and bulkier to pack.

They do have excellent ventilation and are more suitable for larger groups that are camping together. Single-wall tents can also be warm and versatile, and are good for small groups and individuals camping alone. The lack of an extra wall makes them easier to pack and lug around by yourself. You can always make up for the reduced warmth by packing extra blankets and food/drink that will warm you up. See our must- read article on rocket stove mass heater to warm up your tent.

Other considerations of winter tent camping

Now that you’ve got your gear, it’s important that you keep these things in mind before you decide to pick yourself up in the middle of winter and decide to head out. Because of the colder temperatures, there are different equipment and techniques that you should keep in your repertoire in order to stay safe and dry.

You can’t use the same methods that you use in the summer, or else your camping trip is doomed to fail.

Tent in a Snow

The first consideration is material. Regular tents don’t have much in the way of weatherproofing the floor, and you should stay dry if you camp on higher ground. In the winter, however, you’re surrounded by water for miles, and if you don’t have a tent that has a waterproof floor, you’re going to get soaked very quickly.

The floor is typically higher than that of a regular tent, keeping you away from the ground so that you don’t lose body heat, and the material is typically coated with polyurethane to keep the water out.

A second thing to keep in mind is the shape of the tent. 4-season tents tend to have a more aerodynamic shape and lower profiles. This is because of the wind factor that is extremely strong in the winter time. While summer tents can be tall and allow for room to breathe, using these will guarantee that the winter winds sweep them away.

The construction of a winter tent ensures that even in the strongest winds, their shape will let them pass right over them instead of snatching them up from the ground. And because of the lower profile, ventilation is key in order to prevent condensation from occurring.

Having a vestibule can be a great idea in order to keep the moisture outside. It can be a place for you to store your packs, your wet winter jacks, and your winter boots. That allows you more room in the interior to stretch and be more comfortable, even with your sleeping bags and other accessories in the way.

Cold Weather Camping Tips

When in doubt, always bring the warmest sleeping bag that you can find. You may feel that your winter tent may be enough for you, but it always pays to be extra prepared than to be without. If you get too warm, you can always shed a few layers of extra clothing in order to cool off a bit. Do read our article on how to choose the best sleeping bag for your needs.

Look for sleeping bags that have goose down and draft tubes. Draft tubes are filled with insulation that provide even more warmth, and seal around your neck to keep your body heat trapped in your bag.

The best winter camping tents

When it comes to getting your first winter camping tent, it pays to have the best. Because they have a lot more features designed to keep you warm and safe, they may be pricier than regular tents.

Don’t be fooled by going for the cheapest one; you’re better off investing in a high-quality tent that will not only withstand the elements, but will also last for many years to come.

Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent – $935

With 36 square feet of floor space, you’ll have enough room to get comfortable with another camper and still have a little more for your gear. This double-walled tent uses durable nylon material to ensure that it’s waterproof, windproof, and will keep out the cold.

It weighs roughly six pounds, and packs down as small as six inches by twenty inches, making it small enough to fit in the trunk of your car or your back seat.

Hilleberg Jannu 2 Person Tent
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It’s very easy to set up, extremely weather resistant, and is super durable. The sidewalls are strong and won’t flop over even in strong breeze providing great ventilation inside so that it doesn’t get mucky and humid. This tent works great for altitude alpine climbing and mountaineering, and works well in even the worst conditions.

Like this product? Then you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.

Hilleberg Tarra 2-Person Mountaineering Tent – $1,095

Another double-walled tent you’ll be glad you invested in! It has 30 square feet of floor space, weighs about 9 pounds, ad folds up to about 7 by 20 inches, making it a little bigger than the Jannu 2, but with a little less floor space.

It comes with two doors, so you can always have an exit when the other is blocked, and makes it easier for occupants to get out without having to step over each other. It also has two vestibules to keep the cold air out, no matter which entryway you use, and provides good ventilation.

Hilleberg Tarra 2 Person Tent
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It is considered to be the strongest two-person tent in the market, it’s easy to pitch and definitely stick to the ground so that the wind won’t take it away. Not even winds of 60 mph are capable of whipping this tent out from under you. It’s a good tent for base camping and for long journeys where bad weather may rear its ugly head.

Like this product? Then you can check its price on Amazon.

Hilleberg Nammatj 2- $765

If you’re looking for a tent that won’t collapse from high winds, then this one is for you. It’s an extremely versatile tent, with 30 square feet of floor space, weighs a little under 6 pounds, and folds up to about 6 by 20 inches. It can be described as more of a double-walled tunnel than a tent, but can still withstand very high winds.

Hilleberg Nammatj GT 2 Person Tent
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It can be pitched quickly when you need to get inside quickly. However, one drawback is that it’s not as versatile as dome-shaped tents, making it not very suitable for base camping. It can withstand crossing Polar Regions and scaling tall peaks, especially with its light weight.

Like this product? Then you can check its price here.

Mountain Hardwear Trango 2- $650

One of the heavier outdoor tents, the Trango 2, weighs in at over 9 pounds. That’s because of all the tools and setup that is required to get it pitched. If you don’t need to find shelter in a hurry, you won’t mind getting this tent, but you’ll definitely be worn out from putting it altogether. It has a roomy 41-square foot floor, double walls, and folds down to  7 by 24 inches.

It’s comfortable enough for 3 people, or very roomy for two. The 41-inch high ceiling also makes it easier for you to get around inside, and with 6 pockets on the walls and 4 pockets on the ceiling, you’ll be able to keep your gear, tools, and other equipment off of the floor and stowed away.

It’s very easy to put up and take down, but it’s very heavy and can be bulky to pack away.  It’s also on the more affordable side of tents, if you’re not looking to spend a lot of money.

If you interested you can buy it on Amazon.

Nemo Tenshi – $699.95

This single-wall tent has 28 square feet of floor space, so you can pack it for yourself, or cuddle together with another person. It’s very light – a little over 5 pounds – so that makes it easy to carry around. It only has one door, and folds down to about 7 by 15 inches, so it can fit very easily in the back of your car.

Nemo Tenshi Tent
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What’s good about this tent is that it has a removable vestibule to minimize the amount of space it takes up on the ground, it has good ventilation, and is one of the stronger ultra-light tents in the market. It may not be as spacious as the other tents listed, but it still serves its purpose of keeping you comfortable. Despite its lightweight, it’s extremely versatile and durable, and is great for high altitudes.

If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can purchase it on Amazon.

The most important rule of winter camping is to stay warm. Bring extra socks, underwear and thermal leggings just in case you do happen to get soaked and need extras to warm you back up. Hot food will definitely keep your spirits lifted, but with the cold weather, it can be difficult to cook your meals.

A hot plate may do the trick of cooking simple and fast meals, just as long as you practice safety with using it in your tent. Never leave it on unsupervised and always make sure that it’s cooled off sufficiently before packing it away.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If the information in this post has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links in this article. Thank you.

About the author

Ellie Thomas

Survival-Mastery reflects my love of the outdoors and having the skills to take care of myself in the wilderness and in worst-case scenarios. I grew up in the southeast backpacking, camping, and fishing, and I have hiked and backpacked over 30,000 miles in the US. My background and career for the past 30 years has been in operations and construction and I enjoy learning and DIY projects.


  • Having spent quite a few nights under the starry winter night, I am a proponent for specialized tents. Having multi-purpose tents can only hurt you, as it is impossible for them to beat a well-made tent designed for a specific situation. This is especially true for winter, no one should suffer the pain of waking up freezing in the middle of the night because of a poor tent choice.

  • I really like the section where you explain about ventilation. I would suggest keeping a double stuffed sleeping bag in the tent to make yourself more comfortable and warm in tough conditions. Also, professionals recommend analyzing the conditions of your camping spot before buying a tent as some of them serve specific conditions.

  • What you need in winter is not only a warm tent, you also need to make sure that your tent is waterproof so that you do not wake up soaked in water. Also, you must sleep a little above the ground to keep warm. I always keep an extra blanket and some hot chocolate to keep myself warm.

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