Winter camping, especially snow camping can be amazing as much as camping during the good season. The landscapes are beautiful, the trails are definitely less crowded than in summer and surely you will not have to worry about mosquitoes or other bugs.
But while a weekend of camping during the summer can certainly be improvised, even by those who have never planted a stake, and the worst that can happen is you find yourself soaking wet due to a sudden downpour, winter and snow camping trips must be planned and organized very carfully.
Paths, weather, clothing, gear, food, every detail must be studied and prepared in advance if you don’t want to have a dreadful experience.
If you want some tips on how to prepare your camping trip on the snow you can read this winter camping and backpacking tips article.
Please, don’t use Pop Up Tents for Snow Camping.
As you may guess from its title, this is a review site dedicated to pop up tents. I’m am a huge fan of pop up tents. You can use them almost everywhere and almost in every weather conditions.
Except for winter camping and snow camping.
In fact, the main features, lightness and flexibility, that make pop up tents so versatile, so that can be used in spring, summer and even in autumn, instead become weaknesses when it comes to use them in very extreme conditions such as those that you may encounter during a hiking trip to high altitude.
Their flexible structure and the lightness of their materials makes pop up tents unsuitable to withstand the weight of snow or heavy rains of the winter.
Most of the pop up tents are single layer and even if they are waterproofed, winter rains and snow are quite another thing than the spring rains or even summer storms.
The poles used in pop up tents are usually made of carbon fiberglass. Yes, they are very flexible and can withstand strong gusts of wind but they can easily break under the weight of a large snowfall.
That’s why I say “don’t use pop up tents for winter camping“.
What kind of tent should you buy then?
A Four Season Backpacking Tent Is The Best Choice For Winter Camping
The best tent you can buy for winter camping or snow camping is a four season tent.
This kind of tent is designed specifically for withstand the worst weather conditions.
You can find two kind of four season tent, single layer and double layer.
The single layer or single wall tent has one layer of water resistant or waterproof fabric. It is lighter than a double layer tent and usually faster and easier to set up. On the other hand they are colder and less roomy than a double layer tent.
You should choose a single walled tent for shorter trips, where moving light and fast is a priority like long ski tours or lightweight alpine climbs.
Here you can find a selection of the best single wall 4 season tents.
A double layer four season tent provides higher weather protection than a single walled because it is made with two layers of fabrics. The inner tent is usually breathable and water repellant to make the vapor pass through, reducing the possibility of raining back down on your head. The outer tent is waterproof and protects you against the icy winds, snow and rain.
A double layer tent is heavier than a single layer but it is warmer and more confortable.
You should choose a double layer tent for trips where you will be in the same camp for several nights.
Here you can find a selection of the best double wall 4 season tents.
Four season double-wall tents are equipped with vestibules, usually made of the same waterproofed fabric of the outer tent which provide a dry space for entry and exit the tent and store gear and boots.
Another detail to think about when choosing a four season tent is ventilation. Staying inside a tent involves the formation of condensation due to the humidity of our breath. The greater the number of vents in the tent, the lower will be the formation of condensation.
Whatever the tent you buy, it is best practice to mount it several times before using it on the hik, maybe in your backyard. This will allow you to be familiar with all the steps in order to be faster and more secure when necessary.
Regarding the price, four-season tents are much more expensive than three-season tents. This is due to the higher quality and cost of the fabrics and poles.
They can range from 250 up to 5000 dollars.
Some of these tents are intended only for the professionals of the extreme hiking or for expeditions in the high mountains, others are more affordable even for amateur hikers.
That’s another reason why winter camping trips must be planned properly.
It would be quite annoying discover, in the middle of a snowstorm, that the tent you bought at a very bargain price, is not as solid and confortable as you expected.