5 Best Extreme Cold Weather Tents in 2020

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    Camping in the extreme cold gives you the chance to discover snow-covered landscapes and enjoy the tranquility of a world that feels untouched and preserved from human influence. 

    Plus there’s almost no bugs – and let’s face it, that’s the real advantage of heading out into the frigid winter conditions!

    We’ve reviewed five of the best tents for extreme cold weather camping, offering a range of options to choose from. Read on to see what would be the best choice for your need.

    Product

    Review

    Rating

    Price

    Best Overall Tent
    The Battle Mountain’s distinctive yellow rainfly isn’t the only thing that stands out from this tent!
    4.5/5
    4.5/5
    Best Lightweight Choice
    If you’re looking to tread lightly on the snow, this option from MSR won’t weigh you down
    4/5
    4/5
    Best Stove Tent
    A great home-away-from-home option, loved by glampers and hunters
    4/5
    4/5
    Best Budget Option
    This model from Naturehike makes the winter camping accessible to campers who can’t afford the higher budget options
    3.5/5
    3.5/5
    Best Insulated Tent
    Stay protected from the cold, light, and noise in this insulated tent
    3.5/5
    3.5/5

    Product Comparisons

    4.5/5
    Best Overall Tent
    The Battle Mountain’s distinctive yellow rainfly isn’t the only thing that stands out from this tent!

    Capacity: 2 | Weight: 6lb 1oz | Dimensions: 145” (L) x 58”(W) x 42” (H) | Bag Dimensions: 6″ x 20″  | Doors: 2 | Price: $$ | Setup Time: 10-15 minutes 

    Pros

    Innovative twist clips
    Two vestibules
    Very durable

    Cons

    Poor ventilation

    This was the tent that impressed us most for its overall ability to deal with extreme cold weather conditions. 

    Big Agnes ambassador Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, who has summited Mount Everest 16 times, helped with the design for this tent. His suggestions included the fantastic oversized twist clips to attach the fly to the poles with remarkable ease – even when wearing gloves. 

    Features like those clips give this tent a rapid setup, but innovations in design aren’t always intuitive for users. It’s a good idea to practice setting this tent up a few times before heading out to make sure you’re familiar with its quirks. 

    The two vestibules this tent comes with improves the liveability of this tent dramatically. The door of the front vestibule can even be propped up by hiking poles or ski poles to give you an awning, under which you can sit and cook in relative shelter. 

    Inside there are plenty of storage solutions to further enhance the comfort of this tent, with three side pockets and a gear loft. There are also plenty of interior loops for having lights or lanterns inside your tent. 

    The floor of this 4-season tent is made from nylon taffeta with a monumental hydrostatic head of 10,000mm and the silicone-treated fly is waterproof with a rating of 1200mm and comes with an additional coating to increase tear strength and UV resistance by 20-25%. 

    Some users have reported issues with ventilation when using the tent outside of cold weather which is often a problem with tents designed for rugged climates. This does mean that the versatility of the tent is less impressive than we would like. 

    Overall, however, this 2-person camping tent is an excellent choice for an all-round extreme cold weather.

    4/5
    Best Lightweight Choice
    If you’re looking to tread lightly on the snow, this option from MSR won’t weigh you down

    Capacity: 2 | Weight: 2lbs 14oz | Dimensions: 82” x 42” | Bag Dimensions: 18” x 6” | Doors: 1 | Price: $$$ | Setup Time: <10 minutes

    Pros

    Very lightweight and easy to carry
    Hybrid clip and pole system makes set up easy

    Cons

    The compact size makes it uncomfortable to live in
    Weak waterproofing, designed for snow but not heavy rain

    This tent from MSR is our choice for the best lightweight backpacking tent suitable for extreme cold weather. 

    At just 1.3kg, this tent is remarkably light. This is thanks to some fantastic innovation by MSR to get the most out of each part of their tents. The Easton Syclone composite poles that come with the Advance Pro are a great example of this. 

    Designed using lightweight, aerospace-grade composite materials that flex under force and bounce back into shape, the tent poles that come with this tent are not only light as a feather but they are also incredibly resilient. 

    This tent is ideal for high-alpine camping, designed with a small footprint thanks to the wedge-shaped construction to allow easy pitching on high-altitude ledges. The hybrid clip and pole-sleeve system also allows the tent to be mainly pitched from one position. 

    However, the clip and sleeve pole system is difficult to work with gloves on and unfortunately will probably mean exposing your fingers to the elements to setup. 

    The hydrostatic head rating of the tent is fairly low at 1000mm, so this tent isn’t going to keep you dry in heavy showers. However, it should cope fine in freezing temperatures when the precipitation is solid, rather than liquid. 

    The liveability of this tent is also fairly limited. Fitting two adults with all their equipment in here will be tight. With a peak height of 44”, taller campers might also feel cramped in this model. 

    But this 2-person tent focuses on providing a lightweight solution to camping in extreme cold weather. The versatility and liveability of this tent might let it down, but we felt its lightweight ingenuity far outweighed these issues, particularly for backpackers looking for a winter tent.

    4/5
    Best Stove Tent
    A great home-away-from-home option, loved by glampers and hunters

    Capacity: 8 | Weight: 83lbs | Dimensions: 20’ (W) x 9’10” (H) | Bag Dimensions: 45” x 12” x 12” | Doors: 1 | Price: $$$ | Setup Time: 15-20 minutes 

    Pros

    Two stove jacks
    Durable, thick canvas material
    Huge living space

    Cons

    Expensive initial investment

    Being able to bring a stove inside your tent during cold, winter trips is a blessing that few tents can offer. Not only is it a heat source, but you boil a kettle or fry some sausages on top of the stove. 

    We loved the fact that with two stove Jacks, this winter tent allows you to setup in whatever way is most comfortable for you. You could even have two stoves at once in the tent if you really wanted. 

    But thanks to the cotton canvas fabric that comes with the DANCHEL, the tent stays insulated whilst also breathable to prevent condensation building inside. 

    The bell-shape is preferable to other canvas tents that come with stove jackets like the White Duck Wall Tent, as the vertical walls can catch in the wind.

    This tent is a fantastic base for hunting trips or winter glamping. It’s spacious and warm, feeling like a home away from home even in extreme cold weather.

    3.5/5
    Best Budget Option
    This model from Naturehike makes the winter camping accessible to campers who can’t afford the higher budget options

    Capacity: 3 | Weight: 8lbs | Dimensions: 165” (L) x 83” (W) x 43” (H) | Bag Dimensions: 23.6” x 7” | Doors: 2 | Price: $ | Setup Time: 5-10 minutes 

    Pros

    Low-cost and great value for money
    A very versatile tent that can be used in warmer climates
    Huge vestibule

    Cons

    Fewer quality materials and features than higher budget tents

    This option from Naturehike offers a low-cost alternative to the more established brands also reviewed. For campers who want to head out in the winter but can’t justify stumping up the money for an MSR, Big Agnes or other quality brands like Fjallraven or Hilleberg. 

    But there are risks with a brand like Naturehike. The quality of their products is often not as high as more expensive offerings from comparable brands. For example, this model uses smaller 8.5mm aluminum poles whereas the similar Hilleberg Nammatj uses stronger 10mm poles which give the tent greater stability. 

    The rainfly is made from ripstop nylon and comes with a polyurethane coating that gives it a hydrostatic head rating of 3000mm which is impressive for the low-cost of this tent. Aluminum is a lightweight and sturdy material for tent poles so although the poles could be thicker, they are still a benefit in this tent. 

    It is fairly easy to setup, taking between 5-7 minutes for two people to set the model up comfortably. 

    The vestibule at the front is huge, large enough to store a full-sized adult mountain bike – which might not be needed when you’re using it in deep snow but this is a versatile 4-season tent which can be used all-year-round thanks to the fantastic ventilation.

    The Naturehike Opalus offers a low-budget opportunity for campers to head out into the wilderness in winter.

    3.5/5
    Best Insulated Tent
    Stay protected from the cold, light, and noise in this insulated tent

    Capacity: 2 | Weight: 15lbs (Trail Weight: 5lbs) | Dimensions: 6.8’ (L) x 4.9’ (W) x 4’ (H) | Bag Dimensions: 66.04cm x 38.1cm x 35.56 cm | Doors: 1 | Price: $$ | Setup Time: 5 minutes (Cocoon: 60 seconds) 

    Pros

    Insulates effectively against noise, light, and cold
    The cocoon can be removed, improving versatility
    Can connect with other Crua models

    Cons

    The short roof might deter tall campers

    This innovative design from Crua allows you to choose between being lightweight and being insulated. With the Crua Cocoon which fits inside other tents like the Crua Duo Maxx, it’s almost like you’re getting two tents in one here. 

    The Cocoon can provide the larger tent with temperature, noise, and light insulation. This is an often overlooked part of this offering from Crua. Not only do you get instant heat insulation, but the Cocoon blocks out daylight and noise from outside your tent. 

    This tent can also be attached to the Crua Core we reviewed as part of our cabin tents article. 

    At 2.2kg, without the Cocoon, the Duo Maxx is very light which makes it a good backpacking tent for the warmer months. 

    It comes with a remarkable hydrostatic head rating of 5000mm, meaning if you do take this tent out in spring or autumn, you don’t need to worry if you get rain, snow or sunshine – this tent will see you through it all. 

    The ceiling of the tent is only four foot high, which might be a concern for taller campers who are looking for something a bit more spacious. The vestibule at the front is also pretty small, especially compared with the other tents reviewed here. 

    If you’re looking for a 4 season tent that will keep you warm in the extreme cold, this high quality insulated tent from Crua is a fantastic winter tent that can be used comfortably through summer as well.

    FAQ 

    What’s the style of tent for cold weather?

    A tent with steep sides will allow excess snow to fall off the tent, but tents with vertical sides like wall tents will be susceptible to high winds making their design less well suited for extreme weather conditions. 

    Dome or pyramid-shaped tents are the best styles for dealing with the snow and wind in the extreme cold. 

    3-season tents won’t provide enough protection against the elements to deal with winter camping, so they should be avoided for extreme cold weather camping.

    How well insulated should a winter tent be?

    Winter tents are usually designed to protect you from the elements, rather than insulate you. There are exceptions like the Cura Cocoon which is designed as an insulated tent to put inside other models, but these systems are rare. 

    Prioritizing a well-insulated sleeping bag and roll mat is a better solution than insulated tents.

    Why do people go camping in the winter?

    There are plenty of reasons to go camping in the winter and extreme weather. For alpine mountaineers and snowsport enthusiasts, the conditions are part of the appeal. 

    During winter and extreme cold weather, as snow covers the landscape it is transformed into something that at times resembles an alien planet. Taking in these views can make trekking in the snow feel worth it. 

    Camping in these conditions isn’t for everyone, which helps adventures enjoy the tranquil stillness of winter. Winter is also a great time for stargazing. And of course, there are fewer bugs!

    Campers using the Big Agnes Battle Mountain whilst on a ski trip
    Some campers like taking advantage of snow sports when camping – such as skiing

    How do I keep warm in my tent?

    For the most part, your insulation when camping should not come from your tent. You should be well insulated by your sleeping bag, roll mat, or sleeping bag and clothing. So make sure to invest in all the right gear to keep you warm – not just a tent.

    It can help to have a snack before you go to sleep as digestion can generate body heat. It’s a good idea to get active before getting into your sleeping bag as well – take a short walk or do some jumping jacks to raise your body temperature. 

    As a tip to keeping warm on colder nights, we recommend investing in some hand warmers that can be thrown into your sleeping bag to get it nice and warm before you go to sleep.

    Is it safe to go camping in the snow?

    Yes, but as always you need to prepare beforehand! Be warned that if you try to venture out into alpine conditions in a 3-Season tent, you might not come back. 

    What size of tent should I get?

    Usually, it’s advisable to get a tent with a capacity larger than what you will need to give yourself a roomy experience in your tent. But in cold weather, is that extra space still a benefit, or is it dead air to heat up inside your tent? 

    It is true that a cavernous tent will be difficult to heat and might get a bit chilly through the night, but it’s also important that you don’t feel confined or uncomfortable in your tent. During winter camping, it is a possibility that bad weather might force you to spend some time inside your tent. 

    A large vestibule is a fantastic solution to this, as it can offer you a space to cook and eat that is shelter from the weather but separate from your sleeping area meaning you don’t need to worry about the air being cold through the night.

    How We Decided

    How much protection did the tent offer?

    We were most impressed by the protection offered by the Big Agnes Battle Mountain tent. Designed to face some of the toughest conditions you can camp in, this tent comes with the maximum possible hydrostatic head rating of 10,000mm. 

    This is important as moisture can seep into the tent through the floor if it isn’t protected well enough. This can be a common issue camping on snow, so it can be reassuring to know you have the highest possible rating of protection between you and the cold, wet snow underneath. 

    The Big Agnes also comes with a fly made from Dominico undyed polyester ripstop which increases the tear strength and UV resistance by 20-25% compared to standard nylon or polyester ripstop fabrics. 

    It also comes with storm flaps on the zippers to prevent any water leaking in as well. 

    The DANCHEL Bell Tent certainly offers the most protection from the elements, with the thick protective canvas keeping the wind and snow out of the tent and the opportunity for a stove to keep the tent warm. 

    The DANCHEL offers a comfortable shelter to keep you safe from the cold weather beyond the canvas walls

    The Crua Duo Combo with the insulating Cocoon is also a fantastic option, offering strong protection against the cold weather. The rainfly also comes with a hydrostatic head rating of 5000mm, which means that this tent is just as good in the rain as the snow – something not all extreme cold weather tents can claim. 

    The MSR Advance Pro 2 offers good protection from a lightweight tent but won’t meet the same standards of some of the other tents listed here. The hydrostatic head rating of the floor is only 3000mm and the rainfly is only just considered waterproof at 1000mm. 

    Of course, in extreme cold weather conditions, the hydrostatic head rating of the fly is less important as in freezing conditions precipitation will be solid, rather than liquid. So whilst the MSR might perform poorly under a standard rainstorm, it does better in extreme cold weather. 

    That [MSR] tent will not be any good for rainy conditions on a multi-day/week trek. Poor ventilation options and single layer so condensation will be a big problem.

    The Naturehike comes with a waterproof 3000mm tent fly which provides adequate protection through showers. However, some owners of Naturehike tents have reported that the quality of protection this tent offered decreased quickly after being used. 

    All of these tents have been selected because they offer fantastic protection from extreme cold weather, but the Big Agnes outshines the others by sheltering from the rain, snow, wind, and the sun. 

    How durable was the tent?

    When it comes to durability and tents to last a lifetime, it’s hard to beat canvas. The DANCHEL Bell Tent will offer campers years and years of use before the fabric loses its protective qualities or becomes damaged. 

    The Big Agnes Battle Mountain is a high-quality tent designed with durability in mind, from the protective coating that increases tear strength and UV resistance to the strong aluminum poles which offer strength and rigidity to the tent. 

    The Easton Syclone composite tent poles on the MSR Advance Pro 2 are some of the most impressive poles we’ve reviewed. By flexing under force and bouncing back into shape rather than bending like weaker poles, these will continue to hold up against blistering winds far better than we have any right to expect from ultralight poles. 

    The Crua Duo Combo, like all Crua models, comes with quality, well-made materials that are tough enough to repeatedly stand up to whatever nature throws at it. The tent fabric is mildew and UV resistant and comes with very tough polyethylene floors that protect the tent from punctures and tears. 

    Handy features like illuminous guy lines and oversized zippers help prevent any accidental damage to the tent. 

    As already highlighted, the Naturehike Opalus comes with smaller, weaker tent poles than offered by higher cost alternatives like Hilleberg. Whilst the quality of materials in this tent never feels cheap, it’s hard to imagine this tent lasting as long as the more expensive options available. 

    When it comes to durability it’s hard to beat canvas, which makes the DANCHEL tent our pick for most durable cold weather tent. 

    How easy was setup?

    When considering a tent for winter, an important criteria is the ease and speed of set up. The best extreme cold weather tents are designed with this in mind. 

    The clear winner for us was the Big Agnes Battle Mountain. Designed for extreme weather conditions and mountaineering, the tent’s oversized twist clips allow you to keep your gloves on during setup. 

    Campers setting up their Battle Mountain tent in the snow
    The innovative design in the Battle Mountain makes set up easy – even when it gets dark!

    We were also impressed by the MSR Advance Pro’s clip and sleeve pole system. Although it’s a disappointment that you’ll have to take your gloves off to clip the tent fabric to the poles, by only having to do the half of the pole not in the sleeve you only need to be exposed to the elements for a short time. 

    The Crua Duo Combo can be set up by one person with relative ease in most weather conditions. In extreme cold weather it can be trickier and, like the MSR, will probably require you to take off your gloves for the more awkward steps like clipping the poles into place. 

    The Cocoon which goes inside the Duo to provide insulation to the tent is pitched with air pole technology which is manageable to be done from inside the Duo. This can be a lot of effort to set up your tent, but it’s a great way to keep you warm as you get your camp ready. 

    The Naturehike’s tunnel shape means that in high winds it can be tricky to keep control of the tent, making setup tricky at times.

    The most difficult set up from all these winter tents was the DANCHEL Bell Tent. It’s understandable given the size and purpose of this tent that it isn’t as easy as the lightweight MSR or the rugged Big Agnes to pitch. 

    The pole system is simple with one central pole supporting the tent and a second one forming the arch of the doorway, there aren’t many parts to this bell tent. It is probably worth investing in stronger pegs as the ones that come with the tent can be difficult to use on frozen ground. 

    Overall, apart from the DANCHEL, these tents for winter camping were all fairly easy to set up and manageable by one person. The Big Agnes was the clear winner for us with its innovative twist clip design. 

    Can you comfortably spend time inside the tent? 

    When deciding on the best extreme cold weather tents, one of the most important factors to consider is how liveable the tent is. If the cold weather forces you to spend lots of time inside on your camping trip, you’re going to want a tent that is comfortable to live in. 

    The best choice for liveability out of the extreme cold weather tents we reviewed was the DANCHEL Bell Tent. The two stove jacks in the tent mean that this tent will keep you warm even in extreme weather conditions. 

    On top of this, this huge bell tent offers plenty of space for storage or room for relaxing in the comfort of your stylish home-away-from-home. 

    We were also very impressed by the Big Agnes Battle Mountain which comes with two vestibules and a front door that can be used as an awning. Both these features make spending time in your tent far more enjoyable. 

    You can use one vestibule for storage and the other as a shelter area to cook in with the awning up. 

    The Naturehike comes with a vestibule large enough to store a mountain bike in which is useful. There’s plenty of space for people to sit inside this tent.

    It’s a great tent for three but could also make a good mess tent for up to 6 adults eat/drink/socialise in!

    The Crua Duo Maxx Combo has a small vestibule which isn’t as much use as the one found in the Naturehike and the Big Agnes. But the insulating cocoon which blocks temperature, light, and noise makes this a great tent for getting a good night’s sleep in. 

    The 2-person MSR Advance Pro camping tent offers a fantastic lightweight option for backpacking in extreme weather but unfortunately, this comes at a trade-off with the liveability of the tent. 

    With a height of 44”, the ceiling isn’t very large making it potentially uncomfortable for taller campers. There’s also no vestibule in this tent so you’ll have to store your gear inside the tent, meaning in practice it can only realistically be used by one person. 

    If you are looking for a tent to provide some impressive living space during extreme weather, the DANCHEL is a fantastic choice for group car camping trips. The Big Agnes also gives great liveability in a much smaller tent. 

    Wrapping It All Up 

    Our favorite extreme cold weather tent was the Big Agnes Battle Mountain. It comes with a great amount of space for liveability and is well designed for camping in harsh winter and alpine conditions. 

    We also liked the DANCHEL as an alternative for group car camping, perfect for hunting trips, or more luxurious family outings into the snow. 

    The MSR Advance Pro, like the Big Agnes, had some remarkable innovative design with the Easton Syclone composite poles that are incredibly lightweight whilst still being sturdy enough to provide adequate protection in harsh weather. 

    The insulated Crua Duo Combo is another cold-weather tent that uses clever design innovation to protect campers from noisy, cold winds. 

    Finally, the Naturehike is a versatile camping tent that can offer protection from extreme weather at an affordable, low price. 

    These are our choices for the best extreme cold weather tents to offer you protection when camping in the frozen wilderness.

    From early family camping trips to recent backpacking adventures, Fraser has a range of experiences to draw from. Using his passionate knowledge of the great outdoors, he wants to make getting out there accessible for all and sustainable for generations to come.

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    Fraser Barker

    Fraser Barker

    From early family camping trips to recent backpacking adventures, Fraser has a range of experiences to draw from. Using his passionate knowledge of the great outdoors, he wants to make getting out there accessible for all and sustainable for generations to come.

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