4-Season Tents: Our Favorites For Snow And Mountaineering -Review
Who said that freezing weather should stop you from enjoying an outdoor camping trip? A cold weather tent provides an easy solution to camp out whenever you please.
The primary difference between these outdoor shelters and regular tents is their reinforced insulation. Also called the mountaineering or 4-season tents, they come with sturdier constructions to withstand extreme cold and heavy snow.
Settling for the right winter tent depends on a combination of your specific needs and budget. We put together this cold-weather tent guide that should help you buy the best one possible.
Best Winter Tent Comparison
The below links will bring you to Amazon:
- PlayDo 4-Season Canvas Bell Tent
- Crua Loj Thermo Insulated Family Tent
- Capri 600XL Multi-Room Tent
- Russian Bear Army Military Tent
- Arctic Oven Tent
- Black Diamond Eldorado
What Makes Great Insulated & Arctic Tents?
Cold weather tents come engineered with better insulation and studier construction to hold up well against extreme conditions. They perform well when pitched up any time of the year because they are in essence 4-season tents.
It takes a combination of the fabric used for the outer shell, the inner material, poles, and a double-wall layering construction to make an outdoor abode sufficiently insulated. These tents come in heavier packages because they use durable fabrics for construction. The winter shelters also come with more poles compared to the two and three season tents.
Most come with provisions to accommodate wood stoves for added insulation including roof vent pipes and fireproof walls. They feature cabin-style designs with steeper walls to prevent snow from piling and settling on the shelter. While some do come in instant designs, most come with guy lines and require staking for set up.
Collectively, all these elements are what indicate that an outdoor shelter can see you through the most extreme of weathers.
Do They Hold Up To Extreme Weather? Sub Zero Temperatures?
It is needless to say that a great tent should feature an excellent construction to serve its intended purpose. However, several other elements determine whether a cold weather tent is worth your money.
When Do You Need To Use The Tent?
There are different degrees of foul weather and the time of the year when you choose to go out camping determines the kind of tent you need. 4-season tents come highly recommend for the winter months, but you still have to be keen enough to buy the right one.
Mountaineering tents come designed to take n the high alpine environments, and they typically maintain a lightweight structure. Most are the single-walled variety (read below for more on this) and they emphasize on wind and weather protection. Most of the range of mountaineering tents are 100% waterproof, or they can easily be seam-sealed. However, they offer less square footage in comparison to treeline and basecamp outdoor shelters.
The base camp variety come in double-walled, heavier, and roomier constructions in comparison to the mountaineering tents. The reason is just that most do not require a long haul up a mountain or trekking paths. Also, campers spend a significant portion of their time inside the base camp shelters needing the comfort of added space. Naturally, their inclusion of a double-wall design and space compromises on weight which does not make them ideal for summit pushes and light adventures.
Last but not least, the treeline 4-season tents but their performance falls in between what you get from a base camp and mountaineering portable outdoor shelter. They come designed for winter, but they do not hold up too well in high mountain exposures. Also, in comparison to the mountaineering and base camp tents, the treeline models fall short regarding durability and toughness. They work best for lightweight winter adventures or backpacking in unpredictable conditions.
Naturally, winter tents should create an environment that is more livable compared to 3-season tents. When snowed in for a couple of days, you want to feel comfortable in these tents without cabin fever setting in too soon.
A winter tent with a vestibule allows you to store your gear and shoes freeing up more space inside. Also, it will enable you to store away dump items outside to keep condensation buildup at bay.
Spaciousness is equally essential, but you want to make sure that the sleeping compartment stays cozy enough to maintain heat. Tents with room divisions work best because they demarcate spaces for different functions.
The wall construction has a direct influence on ventilation, and 4-season tents typically come in a double and single-walled construct.
The double walled tents come with two separate layers, one making up the outer rainfly and another inner fabric layer. Double wall tents provide better air circulation while maintaining a reasonable level of insulation too. Naturally, long-duration campers who do not have to move around too much will find these outdoor shelters much more favorable.
Single wall tents as implied feature one fabric layer but with ample protection against the elements depending on the chosen material. However, they feature a markedly lightweight construction compared to the double-wall shelters. The single-wall variety favors the needs of hikers and backpackers.
4-season tents come with less mesh when compared to their 3-season counterparts. The reason for less mess is so that they hold the most amount of heat within. The reason being no one wants freezing air finding its way into their tent, but at the same time, you do not wish to hamper air flow. Winter tents do not necessarily need too many windows and multiple entry/exit ways. Instead, they need to come in breathable materials to keep them well ventilated.
On the flipside, if the tents do not feature proper ventilation, they can form quite a build up of water droplets on the walls and ceiling. When it is cold, they can likewise form frost feathers which can fall on your sleeping bag and other items inside the tent. That makes you feel soggy and groggy because you have to keep inhaling stale air.
Once again, double-walled models provide better breathability, and with enough vents, they can offer adequate air flow.Try to shoot for one with two entrances mainly if you are going for a family-sized outdoor shelter.
Cold weather tents come designed to endure the strongest of winds and heavy snowfall. The effectiveness of an outdoor shelter to hold up well against these extreme conditions depends on its design and construction.
Go for a tent that features a durable construction using fabrics such as cotton canvas or with reinforced weather protection in the case of synthetic-made options. Make sure that it is 100% waterproof with the same treatment applied to the seams. The flooring is equally essential, and it should also have the ability to keep the groundwater from seeping inside the outdoor shelter.
Choose a cabin-style tent which features steep walls which prevent excess snow from piling on its roof. Also, for single-walled options make sure that they come weather protected with a durable water repellent coating. If possible go for double-walled options that feature a waterproof flysheet covering a breathable inner fabric.
Weight And Size
More poles might mean a heavier tent, but the additional stakes make the overall structure sturdier. The materials used to construct winter tents make them significantly bulkier. It does mean more room, better weather resistance, and a significant ventilation boost.
Naturally, winter camping requires bigger and better-insulated sleeping bags, pads, and more personal gear. A host of 4-season ents come with square footage compared to regular backpacking tents. The unpredictable winter conditions might mean spending several days holed up inside the outdoor shelter while waiting for the weather to let up.
However, square footage only represents the floor space while there is also the peak height as well as the slope of the walls which contribute to the overall area. Weight becomes an issue for hikers and backpackers who often need to keep their carry-weight as low as possible. However, there are considerable selections of lightweight all-weather tents that suit backpackers and hikers.
Long-duration campers do not have to worry too much about weight but still must consider aspects such as portability. Have in mind that weight and packaged size have a direct correlation. It affects pitching and dismantling which are crucial aspects when camping out in extreme conditions.
Pole Design – Freestanding Or Non-freestanding?
When buying any tent, you will come across them in two pole designs: freestanding and the non-freestanding. The freestanding tent as implied stand on their own after installing all the poles. On the other hand, non-freestanding versions require proper staking and guy lines to achieve a decent rigidity level.
Freestanding tents set up quicker because they come with cross-bracing poles giving the outdoor shelter stability and strength. The non-freestanding models come in lighter packages and require some effort to pitch them up. Once the non-freestanding tent has been set up, they need anchoring with the help of stakes at the front and back, and guy lines at the sides to create maximum rigidity.
The quality of the poles is equally essential, and 4-season tents come with more units which are also significantly stronger. Cold weather can shink tent fabric and snap plastic/metal poles. Stout metal poles with long connector joints provide the most effective torsional strength.
Versatility and Durability
A winter tent is not only meant for use when it is pouring down or snowing outside. Their construction allows the use of these portable shelters throughout the year making them worth their significantly higher price.
However, not all of them will perform equally well in summer because of the fewer ventilation points. The double-walled options prove the best performers as versatile options.
The primary concern with foul weather tents is their ability to handle the load in snowed in conditions. Another issue with freezing weather shelters is the direct hit from the sun that they suffer through at higher altitudes because it makes them wear out faster. The heavy fabric used to construct 4-season tents takes care of these concerns.
Mountaineering tents maintain a lightweight construction without really skimping out on quality. The consensus is that the lower the price of a tent the less durable its construction. However, this chain of thought is not cast on stone, but in general, if you do want quality, you should plan to spend significantly more.
Once you have worked your way through the most essential non-negotiable elements that make up a cold weather tent, you can go for an outdoor shelter that comes with extras. For instance, most outdoor shelters come with vestibules creating additional space to store gear and prepare meals.
Most tents also feature utility pockets to allow you to organize your items and store them at an elevated area away from the floor. The cold weather models often also include a provision for a stove as well as vent pipes and fireproof roof walls. A few brands even offer complimentary stoves as part of the package.
What Is An Arctic Oven Tent?
These are the ultimate all-season tents with superior craftsmanship and design. They come designed with functionality, quality, and functionality in mind. The brand uses an innovative design keeping the inside of the tent condensation-free and well-ventilated.
Do They Come With A Stove?
Unfortunately, contrary to what is implied these outdoor shelters do not come with a stove. Instead, they come fitted with a stove jack on their roofs and a covered stove compartment allowing you to use one inside the tent.
However, it is possible to find other similar brands that offer a complimentary stove as part of the package.
Cold Weather Tent Reviews & Currently For Sale
Portable outdoor shelters and come in a variety of sizes, construction and with differing features. Therefore, they are amongst the list of camping gear that needs a purely subjective approach to settle for a suitable one. For instance, some people look for a tent for long-duration camping while others are more concerned with the amount of space the outdoor abode.
Regardless, these five winter tents suit just about anyone looking for a reliable and high-performing cold-weather outdoor shelter.
PlayDo 4-Season Canvas Bell Tent
Some Notable Features:
- The tent comes with a cotton canvas 6M construction.
- Four size options are available.
- It is waterproof treated.
- The PVC floor keeps ground water away.
- It comes with four screen doors and one frame door for entry.
- The package includes a carry bag and all accessories needed to pitch the tent.
The Most Largest 4-season Tent On Our List
The PlayDo tent impressively comes in a selection of five sizes. They include a 9.8 ft, 13 ft, 16.4 ft, and 19.6 ft diameter options, creating large enough tents to suit different needs. The smallest of the options can comfortably accommodate three queen size beds while the largest can house up to 10 people.
It is waterproof treated and withstands the harshest of most weather conditions including heavy rain, strong winds, and snow. Its PVC floor also contributes to the overall waterproofness by keeping groundwater away. The cotton canvas fabric gives it a sturdy and durable construction.
The breathability of the cotton canvas also makes it ideally suited for both warm and cooler environments. Its insulation capabilities make it much suited for cold weather conditions compared to other synthetic-made tents.
Who should buy one?
This reasonably priced cotton canvas bell tents suits a family of campers who often make long-duration trips. The selection of sizes also makes it worth considering as a 4-weather tent for a smaller group.
Crua Loj Thermo Insulated Family Tent
A Few Standout Features:
- It is a 3-roomed tent.
- The tent prevents condensation and is 7000mmm waterproof.
- Its dimensions are 13 ft wide by 7.25 ft long by 6.9 ft tall.
- A 13 ft wide by 10.8 ft long living area includes three access doors.
- The 4-season tent holds up well against extreme weather conditions.
- It is puncture and tear-resistant.
- The tent features a sheltered 13 ft (W) by 5 ft (L) porch area.
Top Winterproof For Survivalists & Hunters
The insulated outdoor shelter is exceptionally suited for freezing weather. It features a waterproof poly-canvas outer shell which is both breathable and holds up well against harsh weather.
Its 232 square feet internal space can comfortably accommodate six people. It comes with a sheltered porch area offering an extra 65 square foot space. The porch area is also wheelchair accessible with a 300 square feet floor space. The inner space separated into three rooms with two smaller insulated sleeping rooms and a larger sitting area.
The outdoor shelter is well ventilated with the help of closable vinyl windows. Unlike other tents that use a mesh design, the solid vinyl helps to preserve warmth and offer protection from winds.
Who should buy this tent?
The Crua Loj is one of the higher priced tents, but for its exemplary performance as a long-term base camp, it is worth the investment. It is an option for anyone who wants a luxurious all-weather tent and with a $2,000 budget at the very least.
Capri 600XL Multi-Room Tent
Our Highlighted Features:
- The family tent uses Vango’s AirBeam technology.
- It comes with a 4000mm waterproof polyester flysheet.
- A pre-attached front extension forms a porch at the entrance.
- Its construction uses the Vango TBS system making it highly stable.
- The pre-angled beams create ample room inside the tent.
- It comes with transparent windows.
The Most Windproof pick
Now the Capri 600 XL is not an all-weather outdoor shelter and would not hold up too well in snowy conditions. It makes it to this list because it is by far the most windproof, and that is the weather condition campers regularly face. The Vango AirBeam technology is the reason why it holds up well against windy conditions. It also makes the outdoor shelter inflate quickly and easily.
The 600XL is a very spacious family tent with proper space division. Its pre-angled beams form an airy living area and make the inner space bright. A front area functions as an extension of the living room or shaded porch offering extra space to use as you please.
The Tension Band System (TBS) contribute to the sturdiness of the tent with several internal clip connection points. A lights-out inner fabric softens the harsh morning light allowing you to sleep for longer. Clear windows maximize visibility and allow light inside the outdoor shelter.
Who should grab one of these outdoor shelters?
The Vango Capri works well for as a long-duration outdoor shelter for anyone who sets out in mildly unpredictable weather conditions.
Russian Bear Army Military Tent
A Few Noteworthy Features:
- It is a double-layer fireproof 4-season tent.
- The windows and doors feature mosquito nets.
- It comes with a stove pipe vent.
- The detachable floor is waterproof.
- The package includes a fire alarm, complimentary stove, and a carry bag.
The Best Military Style Winter Tent
The dome-shaped Russian Bear tent comes designed to battle extreme weather conditions. The package includes a wood stove for added warmth during unusually cold weather. However, its double-layer construction provides more than enough insulation. The tent also comes with a pipe jack venting in the roof with a heat-resistant layer.
It uses an umbrella-style model giving it an instant set up on any terrain.The tent features 4-layered windows which include an inner mesh, an inner panel, a translucent layer, and an outer solid layer. An optional hinged door comes with the outdoor shelter alongside a zippered panel.
The Oxford 240D material used to construct its outer shell is waterproof keeping things inside completely dry even under heavy rains. The doors and windows feature removable mosquito nets, and the waterproof floor is detachable with zip closure.
Who needs one of these tents?
Built as a military tent, hunters, fishers, hikers, and regular campers will appreciate its weatherproof construction. Having been built to withstand the harshest of Russia’s climatic zones, it promises to perform equally well during an American winter.
Arctic Oven Tent
Some Key Features:
- It is a nylon-made all-season tent.
- The outdoor shelter can accommodate a stove for added warmth.
- It is breathable and condensation-free.
- The tent features front and back mesh windows with solid flaps.
- It also comes with a sheltered vestibule.
Our Best Stove Compliant Option
The Arctic 12 Oven Tent comes designed for camping in cold and wet weather. It is nylon-made using a Vapex material that is highly breathable and makes sure that condensation is never an issue. The absence of mesh windows and doors helps the tent preserve warmth, but you can use a wood stove inside for extra warmth.
The outdoor shelter also comes with a pipe jack on its roof and a front and back-placed screen windows that contribute towards ventilation. It is a cabin style portable shelter giving it rather tall and steep walls. Its 152 square feet internal space can house up to six people with an additional 46 square feet vestibule functioning as a protected storage area.
It is a free-standing outdoor abode, but it requires staking when pitching it up. However, the staking makes it very sturdy to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Who should get one?
Now, this winter tent is amongst the most expensive of this list going for $2600 or more. However, it remains one of the top rated for its spaciousness, features, area to weight ratio, and reliability and protection. The only shortcoming with the tent is that it does not come insulated like the other options, but the stove provision makes up for it.
Black Diamond Eldorado
A Few Notable Features:
- It is a 2-person mountaineering tent.
- An optional vestibule creates gear storage space.
- It features two peak vents with zipper closure, a bottom vent, and a hooded vent at the door.
- Optional ground cloth and single-wall fabric offer weather reinforcements.
The Most Lightweight Option
The weatherproof Eldorado is extremely lightweight but still holds up well against harsh weather conditions. The single-walled tent comes with a PTFE coating giving it reinforced weather protection compared to others that use a PU coated fabrics. It features a simple sloped wall design which is stable and excellently withstands snowy and windy conditions.
Weighing in at just 81 oz it is the lightest on our list, but its weight does not mean that the outdoor shelter skimps out on space. It is spacious enough for two with the option of getting a vestibule as an extra for more room. Zippered vents allow air flow within the tent when needed and closing them retains heat inside when it is most needed.
Anyone who feels like they need strengthened weather protection can also get the optional ground floor and ToddTex single-wall fabric.
Who should buy this compact and lightweight winter shelter?
This mountaineering cold weather shelter suits anyone who needs a simple tent that allows them to sleep wherever when out on expeditions. Its versatile design makes it an excellent option for an all-year outdoor abode.
1. Are they all considered all-weather shelters?
It is essential to understand that not all cold-weather outdoor shelters are considered all-weather tents. It is because the 4-season tents come explicitly designed to handle extreme weather conditions. Most of the selections of double-walled winter tents, however, function as all-weather tents.
2. Are Xtreme and extreme weather tents the same thing?
They are the same thing; it is a matter of wordplay. Any outdoor shelter that comes accompanied with an extreme or Xtreme tag means that it can handle harsh weather conditions.
3. these tents hold up in other types of severe weather?
Cold weather tents can handle strong winds, torrential downpours, and the harshest of snows. However, not all will perform decently in summer, but the double-walled options function the best in every weather condition.
4. Can you winterize any tent for snow?
It is possible to weather-treat specific tents so that they hold up well in downpours. However, not every tent can handle snow-ins because the construction of the shelter as well as its design determine how well it can withstand such conditions. Most include seam sealants and apex plugs as some weather-proofing tools.
5. What gives the tent superior insulation?
Cold weather tents use different approaches to give the outdoor shelters superior insulation. The single-walled designs make use of breathable fabrics such as cotton canvas which has excellent heat retention abilities in cold weather. Others make use of a double-walled model to keep the tents warm.
To Wrap Things Up
There you go, with our cold weather tents review you can undoubtedly go ahead and shop for one that meets your needs. Most of them do come with a high price tag. Given that they are designed to withstand extreme conditions, for use all-year round, and incorporate some of the most innovate tent technology they are worth the investment. Also worth noting, most of the tents on our list come in varying sizes, and you can get a smaller one at a lower price ag.
We have included the Capri and Eldorado which are not engineered to withstand the extremes but perform decently in harsh weather. These two options hold up well against strong winds and downpours. They are also two of the less costly options on our list.
The Russian Bear proves to be the best option for the harshest of freezing weather, and it is a plus that it comes with a complimentary stove. The Arctic Oven tent follows closely, and these two options are the costliest on our list.
Long-duration campers who want a permanent-style outdoor winter shelter will appreciate the PlayDo tent. Its cotton canvas construction makes it by far the most suited for warm and cold weather conditions.
The Crua Loj proves the most weatherproof when camping out in any weather condition. It stays relatively unaffected by outside weather conditions making it maintain a far superior insulation level.