Preparing for your winter outdoor recreation may require extra attention to all the details, especially equipment. People often think that good clothes are the top priority, and you can't argue with that. But there are still some extremely important aspects that can be just as important as a good winter outfit.
Therefore, knowing how to choose a product for cold weather can be quite difficult, and searching for such information can leave you confused and overwhelmed. We will give you the main and most important aspects to consider and specify what to look for when buying your warm tent for extreme weather camping. In general, you need to know what every part of the construction is made of, why it matters, and how to choose an item based on that information.
How to choose the best warm tent to survive in the cold?
First, you must choose how you will get to the campsite: are you walking or driving to the destination point? This makes a lot of sense since as a traveller it’s better to carry a light and compact item, and if you drive, you may want to leave extra space in your car for a large and heavy package.
If you are travelling around the country, we recommend that you find a dome-shaped shelter. They are made for backpackers as they are usually light, more compact, and take up less space in backpacks.
They are designed specifically to withstand strong winds in open areas and prevent snow from accumulating on a flat surface. Heavy snow can quickly accumulate on top of your light shelter, damaging it and even putting your life at risk. This is why the light dome shape is so popular these days.
Most 4-season models are designed specifically for people looking for a warm indoor atmosphere in extreme weather conditions: in the mountains, at the south or north poles, or camping in northern areas such as Alaska, Canada, or Scandinavia.
On the other hand, if you are a big family and only want to explore the country for the weekend or go to your favorite place, you don't need a dome. Instead, choose a cabin-shaped shelter. These items can also be great for cold season camping, especially during mild and warm winters. Typically, hut-shaped constructions are for families, friends, large groups, and people who are not planning on spending a few days on top of a windy mountain in the middle of winter.
When you decide how you will approach your campsite and determine the type of shelter you will have, you should plan for how many people are going with you. If it's just you, this can be fairly easy to determine, but if it's you, your friend, a family member, a group of friends, or your entire family, you may need to consider more details.
First of all, if you opted for a dome, you might have trouble having more than one person indoors. If your party consists of three people, we advise you to buy a shelter for four people. As a general rule, dome tents tend to be pretty compact, and as a result, it may feel crowded inside.
Also, you may have to consider people who are taller or larger in body structure. Therefore, buying a larger item can certainly be an advantage. Even if it's three normal people sleeping in a four-person accommodation, they still have room for backpacks, boots, food, etc. Always choose a larger model. Of course, hut-shaped models are far from light and more expensive, so if you're on a budget, you might have to stick with a dome.
During snow storms or rainy weather, you may actually end up spending more time than usual inside your shelter. In such cases, having extra space is necessary and is going to help you a lot in achieving comfort and keeping you mentally well. Shape affects how much free space will be there and how long the installation will take.
Another thing to consider is how many entrances there are in your camping home. If more than two people are planning to stay indoors, you should have multiple entrances and exits. It can be very difficult for other people to move further from the exit if they need to leave the shelter, for example at night. To avoid uncomfortable situations, buy an item with at least two exits on each side. If it's a three-person model, a third door would also be helpful.
Since we are talking about entrances, when you’re setting up your tent, try to determine the direction of the wind and arrange the shelter and its entrances so that the wind does not directly face them. This will prevent you from losing indoor heat.
Frame and poles
Another very important thing to consider when choosing a warm tent is the poles. A large family model might not have flexible folding poles. This can be fine if you're driving a truck, but if you're camping with a light backpack or have a smaller car, it can be a problem.
On the other hand, light dome constructions tend to have foldable fibreglass or aluminium poles. Be aware that fibreglass can break if it bends too much. A proper four-season model should never have fibreglass poles as they can permanently bend and shatter in extreme temperatures. Usually, aluminium is known to be a much stronger support material. After all, your tent's structure must be able to withstand strong winds and heavy snowfall.
Remember that the more elements your accommodation has, the more durable it will be. This also means that it will be heavier, but if you plan to hike in intense winter conditions, you should go for a stable and long-lasting choice.
We also need to mention the quality of stakes that allow you to firmly hold the shelter on the ground. If your temporary home is not properly set up in extreme weather conditions, a strong wind can blow it away. Hence, this is why the stakes are very important.
Of course, you need a solid base to place them properly. Winter camping also means you have to dig up all that snow in order to set up your camp. If you don't have access to solid ground, find a spot where the snow is highly compressed and almost as hard as a rock (maybe even frozen), and covered with fresh new snow. With a noticeable effect, attach the stakes to the floor so that the walls appear elongated. Some experienced tourists bring a small hammer to nail the stakes, as the frozen winter ground can become very hard.
If there is a wobbly part or something that seems to be loose, make sure to find out why that is. If you leave it the way it is, your shelter may break in a strong gust of wind.
If the ground is too rough and you can't hit the stakes, you can use your trekking poles to securely anchor the tent. Of course, if you are alone, you will only have a couple of trekking poles, but at least you will have two stable anchor points.
The quality of the fabric
Another aspect that we need to talk about is the walls, or simply the fabric that the item is made of. Typically, tents are made from synthetic light materials. When choosing your shelter, make sure the fabric is frost-resistant, moisture-resistant, and wear-resistant - all these qualities significantly help with warming up indoors.
Warm models are usually made from coated fabrics. This means that they have additional warming qualities. Two very common coating materials are silicon and polyurethane (PU). They also add water-resistant properties to walls while maintaining breathability indoors.
Polyurethane is specially used to improve water resistance and applied to exterior walls. Silicon, on the other hand, is added mainly on the inside to improve the elasticity of the walls and give extra strength to the construction. This is especially important for warm tents, as winter weather requires much more warming indoors. If your item doesn't have such protection, it puts you at great risk.
The waterproof qualities of materials are usually measured in millimetres and indicate the amount of water pressure a fabric can withstand. They can vary from 800 mm to 10,000 mm. If we’re talking about extreme weather conditions, the best polyurethane water-repellent impregnation for the outer layer, in this case, should be in the range of 4,000 to 5,000 mm of the water column.
Average wall fabrics are usually very light and not efficient in insulating heat. They keep out the water, but if you're camping in extreme weather, it will be cold indoors. Of course, your body heat will warm the indoor space but it's not enough.
So the warm tents should have two protective layers. This is good for warming the indoors but not quite great for the ventilation process. Make sure your shelter has a proper ventilation system; otherwise moisture will remain inside it.
When preparing for extreme winter camping you will definitely need to pack a sleeping mat (a light foam pad) and pick up a product with a warm properly insulated floor.
No matter how warm your sleeping bag is, if your floor is not insulated enough, you will be cold all night. The floor of an average tent is made of nothing but light plastic. It does not help with warming but protects from moisture.
That’s why it’s very important to choose a model with a thicker floor that has more than one layer of fabric and snow skirts. The snow skirts are primarily used on warm four-season models designed for extreme weather conditions. While camping tourists usually pile snow on the skirt to seal the perimeter and boost the warming. This usually prevents the entry of wind-driven snow indoors. The skirt can also be an additional anchor for your shelter and help reduce flapping in strong winds.
It’s not unusual for a hot tent to have a built-in stove that can be used to warm up your camping accommodation or cook a meal. It’s always great to have the ability to make your temporary home nice and cozy with the safe heat of burning wood. If you’re planning a winter trip, don’t hesitate to pick up a model with a portable warming stove and chimney pipe.
Additional warming elements
Finally, consider other less important but helpful features for warming up your camping accommodation. For example, having a lobby either on both sides of the shelter, or at least one side. Extra space makes it possible to create a layer of slightly heated air in-between outdoors and indoors.
Also, it’s great for additional storage. Imagine that you have to put your shoes outside of your shelter while it’s snowing. Having the vestibule definitely adds some comfort and boosts the warming in the harsh weather.
What models are the best for extreme weather camping?
Taking into account all of the above, you should choose the best four-season model suitable for your purposes. One of the best products on the market is RBM Outdoors tents which are designed specifically for winter conditions.
When you buy a product from RBM Outdoors, you know that you are getting a piece of high-quality equipment that will be able to keep you warm and dry regardless of the season or weather conditions.
Each of these items features a warming built-in stove and heat-resistant smoke pipe, a frame made of very high-strength metal, and two-layer walls made of water-resistant fabric material. The air space between the inner and outer layers significantly decreases condensation and effectively retains interior heat. All stitches in such shelter are glued to provide the ultimate protection from any liquids. It’s an efficient space-warming design for a cold-weather adventure.
You can choose from different shapes such as the sphere, cuboid, pentagon, and even hexagon. Some of these have the patented umbrella-type frame mechanism which allows the easiest setup. There is also plenty of room – a person of medium height can stand upright anywhere inside it and you can even use bunk beds.
These tents also sport a three-layer floor that prevents cold from the ground from getting inside your accommodation and keeps snow and ice beneath the tent from melting.
Of course, don't forget that our store staff can also help you to make a choice based on what you already know after reading this article. Another tip from our side: try out the product you bought in advance, in your backyard or a nearby national park - somewhere close to ‘civilization’. This will give you a general idea of the item and you will be even more prepared for your true winter adventure.
🏕 What tents are the best choice for extreme weather camping?
When choosing a shelter for cold weather consider the models that will keep the heat indoors and keep you warm. Choose a light model with good insulation, two-layer walls and a portable heating device, such as a wood stove.
📦 What light tent works for cold weather?
If you’re looking for light and warm shelter, consider dome-shaped models. One of the brands on the market is RBM Outdoors products which will keep the heat indoors during extreme weather camping.
💡 What size of the tent is better for cold temperatures camping?
During the bad weather you may spend more time indoors which is hard to do with limited space. We recommend you choose a large and warm shelter that has space for one more person than you have in your group. For example, if you’re going camping with two of your friends, pick a model that can accommodate four people.