So you’re sick of staying indoors and are willing to brave the cold to catch a glimpse of the scenic winter landscapes.
But you’re looking at your current tent and you know it just won’t quite cut it in winter.
We’ve reviewed dozens of four season tents based on tried and tested criteria. If you’re looking for the best 4 season tent for winter camping, we’ve got you covered. Find out which tents top the list.
If you’re in a rush, the best winter tent is the Mountain Hardwear Trango. It can handle intense wind and snow and comes with a huge vestibule for storing your gear.
As an alternative, if you’re backpacking in fairer weather and want to go lightweight, the MSR Access tent may be a more suitable choice.
- Mountain Hardwear Trango tent (2 person, 3 person, 4 person) – Best overall 4 season tent
- The North Face Mountain 25 2 Person Tent – Runner up mountaineering tent
- MSR Access 3 Person Tent – Best alternative for ultralight winter backpacking
- REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 Person Tent – Almost as good as the MSR Access, but on a budget
- Whiteduck Regatta Canvas 4/6/10 Person Tent – Great for camping in one spot with a stove
- Naturehike Cloud Up 2/3 Person Tent (4 season edition) – Not recommended
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Best Overall Winter Tent
Runner Up Mountaineering Tent
Best Ultralight 4 Season Tent
|Weight and Portability
|Value for Money
|Ease of Setup
The Trango is the king of mountaineering tents. It may be overkill for a mild winter but this tent is super strong and reliable.
Almost as good as the Trango, but the smaller vestibule lets this tent down.
A great lightweight tent for those winter backpacking in milder conditions. But not as strong as the Trango.
Almost as good as the MSR Access, but on a budget
Great for camping in one spot with a stove
We do not recommend the Cloud up for winter camping due to reliability issues.
A quick note about winter camping
Remember – winter camping should be taken seriously.
Warmth is not the intended function of a tent. A four-season tent should shield you from the wind and the rain while being strong enough to hold the weight of snow. A high-quality sleeping pad and sleeping bag are essential for any winter camping.
3 season tents may be appropriate if you live in a place that has milder winters. But if there is any chance of snow or rough weather, make sure to either bring a tough tent with you or have a car nearby as a backup.
Best 4 season winter tents compared
- Brilliant in high winds, heavy rain, and snow
- Lots of storage pockets
- Spacious on the inside
- Setup is pretty easy
- Excellent durability
- Huge vestibule with room to store two full backpacks
- Can have ventilation issues
- Like most four season tents, it’s fairly heavy
- Poor performance in summer
- This tent is overkill if you’re in a milder climate
The Mountain Hardwear Trango is the BEST 4 season tent available. There’s a reason that this tent is by far the most popular mountaineering tent around – it’s as hardy as they come.
The Trango tent comes in 2, 3, or 4 person models and, unlike most tents, these stated capacities aren’t over-optimistic. This is thanks to the tent’s huge vestibule. The vestibule on the 2 person model gives you room to store two full backpacks, or alternatively room to cook if needed.
This large vestibule, along with the plenty of space within the tent and numerous storage pockets, also play an important role in the livability of a tent. No one wants to be stuck inside a tent for an extended period of time in winter. But if the wind and snow are not playing game, you might have to make do.
And if the wind has really picked up? You’ll definitely be glad you picked a Trango tent.
The Trango tent is incredibly strong and will take a battering like no other tent will. The pole structure is robust, the materials are durable and the tent just oozes reliability and safety in winter.
Setup is quick for a four season tent. Although you’ll never be able to set up these tents as quickly as fair weather models, given the extra guy lines needing pegged and clips that need to be attached.
Normally we would prefer to see sleeves for tent poles as these give a more equal force distribution. But we actually really liked having the tent clips. If you’re trying to set up the tent in strong winds then you can start clipping the rainfly on from the bottom of the tent. This is much easier than wresting the poles through sleeves.
So what does the Trango tent not do so well?
The Trango is a winter tent and so won’t be suitable for some uses. It doesn’t have loads of ventilation which will hinder its performance in summer. And it’s quite heavy compared to a lightweight three-season tent. Like all serious four-season tents, they’re best used for when the weather starts getting harsher.
The Trango tent is also fairly expensive. But our view with winter tents is that you get what you pay for. If you’re winter camping, we always advise that you shouldn’t take any chances.
The final (more legitimate) drawback is that the Trango tent can have condensation issues at times. You may have to zip the inner tent door down (the one within the vestibule) a little to let in more air.
Overall, there is very much a reason why the Mountain Hardwear Trango is the king of mountaineering tents. If you live in a very fair climate then this tent may be overkill. But otherwise, don’t mess with nature – grab yourself a Trango instead.
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- Strong and good performance in bad weather
- Good liveability
- Plenty of space inside
- Good sized vestibule, although not as big as the Trango
- Slightly less space than the Trango
- Slightly harder to set up than the Trango, especially in wind
- Heavy – like most 4 season tents
- This tent is also overkill if you have warm winters
The Mountain 25 Tent from North Face comes in a 2 person size. On the face of it, this tent has a lot of similarities to the Mountain Hardwear Trango tent.
And, like the Trango tent, we can highly recommend the Mountain 25 tent for winter camping, even in rough conditions or mountaineering.
So how do these two tents compare?
They weigh pretty much the same, give or take a few pounds. And they share an almost identical packed size.
Despite this, though, the Trango tent feels a lot larger. It measures six inches longer and ten inches wider than the Mountain 25 tent. Granted this comes at the expense of 3 inches of headroom but, from a horizontal perspective, we’re talking an extra 24% of floor area in the Trango tent.
On top of this, the Trango tent’s vestibule feels huge – 50% larger than the Mountain 25 tent’s vestibule.
This reduced space, along with the slightly harder setup in the wind mentioned above, gives the Trango tent the edge over the Mountain 25.
But overall, do we recommend the Mountain 25 tent? Yes! It’s an excellent tent that will stand up to strong winds and fierce rain and there isn’t a huge amount of difference with the Trango tent.
- Good ventilation prevents condensation
- Decent sized vestibule
- Very lightweight for a 4 season tent
- Easy to setup
- A good versatile tent for less extreme winter adventures
- Hardier than the Arete but performance doesn’t compare to the Trango or Mountain 25 tents
- Not much of a price difference between the Access and the Trango
If you’re an avid backpacker that likes to travel light, you’ve probably clocked that the Trango tent and Mountain 25 tent are pretty heavy. Possibly three times heavier than your normal tent if you’re an ultralight backpacker.
This weight is necessary for the extra thick materials and large vestibule you find on these winter tents. But if these tents are too heavy for you, the MSR Access tent might be the answer.
Sure – it’s not an ultralight tent, coming in 5 lbs 1 oz for the three person model. But you won’t get much lighter for this for a winter tent. Ultimately, there is a trade off between weight and strength.
This comes to the major con of the MSR Access tent. It won’t hold up to the bad weather that the Trango or Mountain 25 tent will. If the winter can get pretty bad where you live, this isn’t the tent for you.
But if you’re used to milder winters or are going camping in the wetter parts of fall, then the MSR access could be an versatile, lightweight option.
Overall the MSR Access Tent is a great winter tent. If you live in a milder climate – this is the one to go for. But for the rest of us who are worried about strong wind or snowfall, the Trango tent is the safer option.
- Does a pretty good job of preventing condensation
- Longer tent which is good for taller people
- Great value for money
- A good choice for milder winter camping
- Low weight for a four season tent
- The vestibule is too small for extended periods of time
- Not as hardy as the Trango
- The durability of materials is good but not amazing
The REI Co-op Arete ASL 2 Person Tent is, in many ways, similar to the MSR Access Tent. It falls firmly into the treeline backpacking group, rather than being a tent that can handle rougher weather conditions.
Unfortunately though, the Arete tent just isn’t quite as good as the Access tent. For starters, it’s heavier – 2 lbs 4 oz heavier for equal sizes.
And its vestibule is also tiny. About half the size of the Access tent. This can become a bit of an issue for storing big backpacks.
Like the Access tent, this 4 season Arete tent is also not going to hold up to snowfall or wind as well as the Trango tent will.
So why does the Arete score so highly? It’s very affordable!
The Arete tent isn’t that far off the Access 4 season tent. And for this reason, it provides the best value for money in this roundup. If you liked the sound of the Access tent but it’s too expensive, the Arete tent is the choice for you.
- Comes with a stove jack for hooking up a stove
- Big, durable canvas tent
- Great for glamping
- Very spacious
- For light winter camping only, not expedition camping
- Far too heavy for backpacking
- The tent is large and setup can take a while
- Won’t be able to handle very strong winds
So you want to go winter camping but you don’t care about winter backpacking? You just want to set up a tent in the one spot, get a wood stove on the go and enjoy a good week of camping.
In that case, the Whiteduck Regatta Canvas Tent may be more up your street.
Sure, this tent would be utterly useless for backpacking. It’s a huge canvas tent and that means it’s heavy and won’t handle very strong winds. But if you’re doing casual winter camping, who cares?
This canvas tent is definitely durable enough for this and is the only tent in this review that comes with a built in stove jack for attaching a wood stove.
All in all, if you’re looking for a winter camping tent, the Regatta is a good choice. Just remember though that it would be insane to take this tent backpacking and if you want a four season tent that can handle a harsh winter, you’ll want a Trango tent.
- Very cheap
- Questionable build quality which makes it unacceptable for use in winter
- This tent wouldn’t be able to take the beating that the others in this review would
The Naturehike Cloud Up tent is a very affordable backpacking tent and technically comes with four season credentials.
But we wouldn’t recommend this tent for winter camping.
Why? It’s very cheap and the build quality can – at times – be questionable. An unreliable tent is the last thing you want when you’re winter camping. It’s too risky.
The only exception where we might recommend this tent is when you have brought a car with you that you can escape to if something goes wrong.
All this isn’t to say that the Cloud Up series are bad tents. The 3 season versions can be a bargain for what you get. But safety is paramount in winter.
Related: Camping in chilly weather? Find out what the best cold weather camping tents are.