As a father of two great kids living in California, we’re in the best spot to experience the best that nature has to offer – and camping is something we do together as a family every year. Winter is our favorite time, but of course, you need the right gear to fit the season if you want your camping experience to be a happy one.
Here are 5 of the best four-season tents for cold weather camping and what I think about each of them. You’ll also learn more about my top pick, which is the one we’re planning to take with us on our next trip.
Need a Tent Now? Here’s My Favorite
The ALPS Mountaineering 3-person Tent is the one we’ll be using for the next season’s worth of exploring. If you’re in the market for a new tent, whether you’re a first-time camper or a more seasoned explorer, this is what I’d recommend you get. Tents have to be comfortable, durable and portable: ALPS is all three, while still having enough space on the inside.
Here are the features that make it worth buying:
- It’s not just for winter camping – this tent is just as great for summer as it is for winter.
- 43.5 sq. ft. of floor space gives you more than enough area for comfort
- Anchors properly with excellent, high-quality pegs
- Made from durable, weather-resistant material . Seams are factory sealed and the polyester is strong enough for any trip.
- Includes plenty of storage pockets inside for stowing your flashlights, snacks, and cell phones.
- Easy to set up – Camping with the boys means we don’t want to spend three hours setting up the tent. This tent was done within 15 minutes.
The Chosen Ones: 5 Best Tents for Outdoor Winter Camping
The difference between a great outdoors experience and a terrible one can be the gear. Whether you’re doing this for the first time or whether you’ve been all over the world with nothing but a backpack, a tent and a map, deciding which tent can be one of the hardest things you do.
Here are 5 of the best winter tents for taking to the outdoors – and what makes them our top choices.
The ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3-Person Tent
The ALPS Mountaineering 3-Person Tent is from a trusted brand with a range of other camping products including camping stoves and chairs, so I figured their tent would be worth taking a look at. I wasn’t disappointed, and this is what we’ll be taking along for our next trip.
The one problem with winter tents is that they’re mostly smaller. That’s why depending on the group, we sometimes bring two tents. A 3-person tent is a squeeze for three full-size people, so remember that when looking at tents.
- Both durable and lightweight . ALPS found the right balance to make a tent that can stand up to almost any weather while not being too big.
- Great inside storage space – this tent has inside mesh pockets that are perfect for added storage.
- Quick setup – can be pitched in less than 15 minutes.
- Anchors well in different terrains or angled land thanks to its longer-than-usual pegs
- Bright orange color means you stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way!) when you’re hidden in snow-covered areas.
- The tent’s height could be higher . It measures 5’4” when you’re standing – great for shorter people, but not so great if you’re pushing six-foot like me.
- Doesn’t come with an extra set of pegs
Best for: Winter campers who don’t need much space, but want supreme winter protection.
The MOKO Waterproof Family Camping Tent
The MOKO Waterproof Family Camping Tent is made for 3 people and offers 6” by 7’ floor space. It also has the extra feature of a top covering that fits over the tent, protecting you from the elements a little more than most tents. We’ve used it before when we headed to Arizona – and our only real complaint was that the zippers got stuck.
- Offers comparatively more space. Great if you’re like me and have two kids who kick like windmills in their sleep.
- It’s fire- and water-resistant. The MOKO tent had no issues getting rained on – and yes, we can confirm that it’s fire-resistant thanks to a marshmallow-melting accident.
- Gives you a strong roof on top to help hide you from excessive wind or snow.
- Very affordable for the winter protection provided.
- High quality 2500mm HH rainfly provides superior water resistance.
- Might need a stove or heater, since it does tend to get cold inside.
- Zippers are not the best and may get stuck.
Best for: campers that want to save a bit of money or aren’t in sub-zero climates.
The GEERTOP Backpacking 2-Person Tent
We own a few GEERTOP products, and I thought their 2-person tent would be an excellent choice – especially for the occasional camping trip where it’s just the two of us. The dome-shape is great for mild snow, and the double-layer makes it great for standing up against winter.
- The dome design is great for circulation and avoiding snow.
- Rain doesn’t collect on the top of this dome, either.
- It’s extremely light . At just a little over 6 pounds, it’s lightweight enough for the kids to carry on the trail. Or, great for a quick camping trip where you don’t want to take too much gear along.
- Anchors all the way around the dome to provide great stability at night.
- Durable – and it really is! If the tents on this list were ranked only by how well the material holds up, this would have been the top choice on the list.
- Unless you like feeling every blade of grass under the surface of the tent, buy the extra floor mat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with one.
Best for: solo campers or couples who want to snuggle up under top-of-the-line snow protection.
The Crua Duo Cocoon 2-Person Tent
Sometimes winter camping gets really, really cold. For the colder winter camping trips, and there are many, you’ll want to choose a warmer option. That’s the Crua Duo Cocoon – and it’s the tent my wife and I take along for camping trips without the kids just because it’s warm and toasty.
What makes it even better is the fact that the Duo is both lighter – at 5 pounds – and bigger, with just under 30 feet.
- The cocoon-style design allows you to use this as a solo tent or as a warming layer inside another tent.
- It’s one of the warmest tents out there. For colder areas (or, well, more romantic toasty camping trips) this is one of the best picks.
- Solid, aluminum frame that’s easy to set up. Pitched in the time it takes to get a kettle of water boiling on the fire.
- Durable enough to last years, but comes at a premium price tag.
- 29.9 sq. ft. of floor space is great for two people, maybe three. That’s a lot of floor space compared to other tents and cocoons.
- It’s one of the only tents out there that requires an air pump to set up. Make sure you bring one!
- Cocoon design can be kind of loud on the inside since it’s not pulled tight like a tent.
Best for: cold-weather campers who want to stay warm in the chilliest of nights.
The Black Diamond Eldorado Tent
The Black Diamond Eldorado tent is made with mountaineering in mind, and it’s the tent that I take along when I go out to the Rocky Mountains, usually for a once-in-a-while solitary camping trip. It’s light (just over 5 pounds) and offers more than enough ventilation, space, and protection.
- The bright yellow color is great for visibility in a harsh snowstorm
- Air-flow is just as important as everything else, and this tent’s packed with several configurable vents throughout the tent.
- Plenty of height for a winter tent – great for tall people like me.
- Extremely easy to set up, especially when you consider how well this holds up in the weather.
- Black Diamond knows not all campers want an added vestibule, so the base model doesn’t come with one. But, they do have an add-on vestibule you can purchase.
- Higher price tag than the other tents, but well worth it!
Best for: seasoned campers who want to invest in a tent that’ll keep them warm for years to come.
Tips for Choosing the Best Tent for YOU
In the market for a tent? If you’re reading this, of course, you are! Not everyone has camped as much as we have. Here are a few expert tips on how to choose the best tent for your individual needs.
How To Choose The Best Winter Tent
To choose the right tent for a great outdoor experience, there are a few questions you’ll have to answer first. These are also essential points when you’re faced with several tents side-by-side and have to choose.
- How much space do I need or prefer in a tent?
- How easy is this tent to set up and how long will it take?
- What’s this tent made from?
- Does this tent come with any extras? What do I have to buy separately?
- Does this tent have extra storage space?
- Does this tent anchor well enough in various terrains?
- How light and compact is the tent when not actively set up?
If it’s specifically for winter, you’ll also want to make sure that your chosen tent is warm enough, soundproof enough, and resistant enough to the harsh elements.
Setting Up Your Tent
Not everyone out there is a seasoned camper. If you have never had to set up a tent before, then there are some great guides available online to walk you through every step of the process.
Need to see someone else do it first? There are also some excellent tent setup guides available on YouTube that can show you the ropes and pegs.
Precautions: Be Careful
If you’ve never been camping before or you’re still getting your outdoor-camping stripes, there are a few things you should know about setting up your tent – and camping.
- Don’t set up your tent under a tree: Foliage, branches will all hit you on the way down.
- Set up your tent far enough away from the fire so that any embers can’t blow over to your tent: It’s one of the most common dangers when camping.
- Prepare the floor before you set up your tent. Brush rocks, leaves and foliage out of the way.
- Anchor deeply.
In conclusion, camping is awesome. However, most tents are not built for four seasons. The polyester used in standard tents simply won’t keep you warm, no matter how many blankets you have on.
That’s why it’s worthwhile buying a four-season tent. These tents will keep you warm in the winter and still provide a great camping experience in the summer.
If you’re looking for a great tent option that’s suited to winter and summer in any terrain, the ALPS Mountaineering tent is durable, easy to set up, anchors properly, and gives you the two things most important in winter camping tent: comfort and heat. Highly recommend!