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winter tents
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Nate Boyer
(NateB123) - MLife
winter tents on 11/18/2013 10:17:11 MST Print View

For those of you who live in climates with weather that get below zero F and over 1 foot of snow....

What do you use for winter tents? I'd like to see some good options for solo, or two man tents.

I'm thinking of just using my REI quarter dome.

Edited by NateB123 on 11/18/2013 11:15:28 MST.

maria nobles
(hilltackler) - F

Locale: the valley
winter tents on 11/18/2013 10:40:37 MST Print View

I live in New York and do most of my bakcpacking in the Catskills and Adirondaks in winter. And so far I have been using a three season tent during winter - mostly my big agnes or tarp tent rainbow. my coldest night out -10.

Although, this year I am looking into buying a used BD firstlight and have also heard good things about mountain hardware direkt 2 tent.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"winter tents" on 11/18/2013 12:20:23 MST Print View

When I used to winter camp, my winter tent was a Moss Odyssey. But largely I dug snow shelters instead. They're warmer, quieter, and lighter.

Richard Fischel
bd lighthouse on 11/18/2013 13:00:19 MST Print View

a palace for one and cozy for two, but adding the vestibule makes a big difference. there a some folks that have nothing nice to say about this tent, but my experiences have been positive taking into consideration the need to properly vent this tent (or most winter tents) to address condensation and that this might not be the best tent for multi-day prolonged heavy rain situations.

p.s. they have been discontinued, but can be found for sale used in great shape.

bd lighthouse

Edited by RICKO on 11/18/2013 13:18:40 MST.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 11/18/2013 13:25:55 MST Print View

I would be tempted to at least try using a freestanding 3 season tent in the 0 degree temps. Having a mesh inner will mean more air circulation and less condensation.

Richard Fischel
"Having a mesh inner will mean more air circulation and less condensation" on 11/18/2013 13:56:27 MST Print View

maybe in a no/consolidated snow situation, but otherwise have fun keeping the spindrift out. 4 season tents have solid inners for a reason. if you can't get enough ventilation by selectivly opening part of a door or a vent i'd be surprised. you'd also end up with a much colder tent interior.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: re on 11/18/2013 14:26:01 MST Print View

> I would be tempted to at least try using a freestanding 3 season tent in the 0 degree
> temps. Having a mesh inner will mean more air circulation and less condensation.

There's a reason more experienced winter snow walkers, snow shoers and ski tourers use a genuine 4-season tent with a proper non-mesh inner tent. It's called ... experience.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: winter tents on 11/18/2013 15:05:21 MST Print View

What you get with a four-season tent doesn't exactly have to do with seasons.

A four-season tent is simply built to withstand higher winds and probably a decent snow load on the fly. If your winter trips don't involve either of those, then maybe you don't need a four-season tent.

I was on a high expedition one time, and most of our tent teams had proper North Face tents that were built for wind and snow. We were able to sleep at night. One of the tent teams took some flimsy Garuda tent, and the wind worked its way every night, and I don't think any of them got much sleep.


Samuel C Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
winter tents on 11/18/2013 15:47:21 MST Print View

Consider a Snow Peak Lago 1 or 2. Not for rain, though.

Edit/Update: Looking at the later posts, should mention that the Lagos are double wall, polyester that does not sag, and the solo is under 3 lbs trail weight including very sturdy corner guylines and alloy crossing dome poles. My comment about the rain did not allude to leakage, but the absence of a full awning or vestibule to cover entry and exit.

The floor does fold back near the door, which is good for winter, but not much help in a downpour during other seasons. But I'm fussy. My biggest concern about the tent is condensation/frost on the single wall front and back panels in winter conditions conducive to condensation. The tent has good venting, but there have been some reports of this problem. But the question is compared to what. A lot of light winter tents present this issue in varying degrees.

While the solo tent is over 7.5' long and a yard wide, it is definitely only a solo tent, as the walls converge fairly sharply. Haven't seen the Lago 2, so don't have a fix on how spacious it is.

Edited by scfhome on 11/19/2013 21:10:18 MST.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 11/18/2013 17:23:17 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 12/07/2013 20:14:27 MST.

Richard Fischel
"once the temps plummet below 0°F, a double-walled expedition tent is luxurious for those nasty temps." on 11/18/2013 19:04:20 MST Print View

base camp situation, for multiple days, i can't disagree. it's not my typical style and the tent might not always be double-walled, but it will be bigger than my bd lighthouse. i do keep an old walrus around just in case.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
winter tents on 11/18/2013 19:48:32 MST Print View

BD. At least four of the group I bp/snow camp with here in Kalifornia have a BD Hilight or Firstlight. Mine is not very waterproof, I'll get spritzed in a rain, I would not care to wait out a rain in it. I notice theirs are a little greenish in color, mine is yellow. It is highly prone to condensation/frost inside, it helps for the most part to leave it pretty open, then it will still have frost inside at times, can't be helped. I usually have the one vent open all the way and the door half to 3/4 zipped up. The only time I will have it zipped up all the way is in a snow, then I try to open the top of the vent and door a little. You'll still have to push snow away from the walls. It is nice as the stake points are at the corners, so no guying out unless in high wind and you can use points higher up at the corners for that. I've had it out mostly in single digits or teens F, but had one night last winter close to home on the Plumas NF where my Zip-o-gauge showed -3 or lower, can't remember now. It took 10 minutes to stuff my Driloft sleeping bag in the morning as I had to warm my hands numerous times on one of my vintage kerosene stoves. I've used my 3 season SD Halfmoon on numerous trips before, it did not take an unforecasted, high wind, 2' snowfall too well, I can to hold the corners up during high gusts in the night. The poles got bent some, but I have straightened them pretty good.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Black Diamond Stormtrack 2 on 11/18/2013 19:53:26 MST Print View

I have a BD StormTrack 2. It was not the lightest 2 person tent option when I bought it 2 years ago. But it had a good combination of affordability, weight, square footage, and vestibule size.

I took it on a 1 week trip climbing Mt Olympus followed by climbing Mt Rainier. It worked wonderfully. Having two vestibules were great.

If I had to buy again, I might look at the Mountain Hardware EV2 or EV3, but I don't regret taking the BD. I'm taking it for a short trip into the Adirondacks at the end of December.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: winter tents on 11/18/2013 19:58:21 MST Print View

The North Face VE-25.

Heavy, but it is a palace when it is snowing and blowing.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
winter tents on 11/18/2013 20:23:13 MST Print View

Depends on terrain, likely snow conditions, fitness, and goals.

If the snow is deep enough and not bereft of moisture digging a trench and throwing a tarp over it is expedient and effective.

Single wall tent such as the Firstlight are stormproof in below freezing conditions, provided you're not in the poles or high alpine and thus obliged to pitch camp in exposed conditions. They're especially nice in conditions where anchoring a shelter is difficult, such as relatively shallow (~12") low moisture snow.

I prefer pyramid shelters. They provide a good balance of wind and snow resistance, are simple to pitch, and provide plenty of space for sorting winter gear. If there is enough snow to seal the edges they are very toasty.

Double walled tents are well and good, but I prefer to take a lighter approach and avoid the locations and conditions which necessitate them. Others do not or choose to not avail themselves of this luxury. Good tents in this category of quite expensive, too.

Of course, if you're just trying out winter backpacking and are thus likely to pick easier conditions, a 3 season tent will likely be just fine.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Re: Re: winter tents on 11/18/2013 22:08:21 MST Print View

>What you get with a four-season tent doesn't exactly have to do with seasons.
>A four-season tent is simply built to withstand higher winds and probably a decent snow load on the fly. If your winter trips don't involve either of those, then maybe you don't need a four-season tent.

What Bob Gross said.

I usually use a 3-season tent in the winter instead of my 4-season because my 3-season tent is freestanding and more convenient for sharing with others. Waiting for snow to set after packing it with my snowshoes so I can drive my snow stakes or deadman anchors... not really fun after a long, grueling day of snowshoeing.

Additionally, as long as snow load isn't too heavy or wet, and winds aren't too high, nearly any decent 3-season tent will do.

Since where I go I am expected to camp at designated campsites in small clearings between heavily wooded (Coniferous) areas, high winds are never an issue.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
MODIFIED Scarp 2 on 11/19/2013 00:02:18 MST Print View

I've modded my Scarp 2 (see WINTER HIKING page for photos) to be a 4 season tant that will withstand higher winds and wet snow loads mainly by moving the Xing poles inside the fly.

Also I've pre-rigged 4 guy lines, one at each side of the sleeved pole and one at each end with a ski pole as a guy line angle support.

The winter main pole is stronger with thicker tube walls and a larger diameter.

And finally four fly hem stake loops to nail it down.

So far in tests in winds with gusts over 60 mph (approx. 120 kph) the tent has not deformed and has virtually no flapping.

No, it's not a mountaineering or expedition tent but with its modifications and ripstop inner it will do for most of my winter trips above 8,000 ft. (approx. 2,500 meters) in thinly forested areas.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Winter Tents on 11/19/2013 05:51:12 MST Print View

Another consideration.

When solo, it's going to be cold and trees are common, a hammock can be a good option.

My example is a hammock, with down under and top quilt, a highly breathable hammock sock, and a rect tarp hung with closed ends(winter hammock style).

Having the protection of the steep walled tarp with closed ends and the hammock sock makes for a double walled, dry, warm and wind proof shelter and being able to hang a few feet off the ground means that I probably won't have to worry about heavy overnight snowfall.

It would be hard to beat the weight compared to most 4 season tents.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Hammock? on 11/19/2013 07:15:38 MST Print View


How much does the closed end tarp, hammock sock, hammock, and under quilt weigh?

How "fiddly" is all that for setting up?

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Hammock? on 11/19/2013 09:05:22 MST Print View

Spindrift in the wind? Not good. On the trip I had my Sierra Designs tent, the guy who had a hammock abandoned it for shared space in a tepee. That got blown over when the wind got under the edges, so they joined a guy in his BD tent.