Winter camping requires equipment and gear designed to withstand the potential extreme elements. One of the most important pieces of equipment for winter camping is the tent. Sometimes referred to as four-season tents, winter camping tents provide protection from the cold, wind and snow. Winter camping tents are available in a variety of designs, sizes and materials.
Available in different styles such as wall tents, dome tents or cabin tents, winter camping tents are designed to protect you from the elements. Two major concerns with winter camping are wind and snow, and the design specifically addresses those concerns. A round, aerodynamic shape allows the tent to withstand the strong winter winds while shedding snow to prevent excessive weight.
Unlike summer tents, winter camping tents have thick walls for extra insulation and a solid windbreak. The thick walls can retain heat produced from a wood stove while keeping moisture outside. Tent poles are constructed from high-strength materials such as aluminum or carbon fiber to withstand fractures when faced with strong winds or heavy snow.
Winter camping tents are slightly larger than summer tents. With the cold temperatures and short days, you spend more time inside the tent. The larger floor space gives you room to sleep and store additional equipment. Some tents have vestibules that attach to the door of the tent for additional storage space. The vestibules provide protection from the elements and can be used to store packs, boots or firewood.
Accessories for winter camping in tents can enhance your camping experience. Winter camping requires planning and preparation to make sure you stay safe, warm and dry. When camping in a tent during the winter, it’s important to have a four-season sleeping bag rated for freezing temperatures. Include insulated, waterproof clothing, gloves and outerwear. Pack fire-starting equipment to start fires in windy or wet weather conditions. Use a backpack to store and organize extra gear, and make sure you have plenty of water for hydration.
The major considerations for pitching winter tents include terrain, altitude, water availability, avalanche hazard and wind protection. Use the terrain and trees to keep the tent less exposed from wind and potential snow. If necessary, hang a tarp to block the wind or dig a hole to lower the tent. Pack down any snow around the tent before setting it up, and consider the possibility for an avalanche. Keep water sources within walking distance of the tent, and avoid valley bottoms or low meadows as cold air settles in these areas.