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In this article, we bring you a comprehensive expert review of the best winter tents available in the market. Our team of outdoor enthusiasts and experts have rigorously tested and evaluated a range of winter tents based on various factors, including warmth, insulation, durability, weight, and ease of set-up.
Camping in the winter can be an incredibly exhilarating experience, allowing you to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes that are often inaccessible during the warmer months. However, camping in the winter requires specialized equipment, including a high-quality winter tent that can withstand the harsh winter elements.
Whether you’re planning a winter camping trip with friends or family, or embarking on a mountaineering or backcountry skiing adventure, our review will provide you with detailed information and unbiased opinions to help you choose the best winter tent for your specific needs and budget.
We hope that this article will serve as a valuable resource for all winter camping enthusiasts, from seasoned veterans to novice campers, and help you stay warm, comfortable, and safe during your winter outdoor adventures.
1. One of the best tents – Hilleberg Unna
Hilleberg Unna is a solo tent for all-season hiking. Suitable for mountain hiking, alpine-style mountaineering and ski touring.
Features of Hilleberg Unna
- Spaciousness. The width of the bottom of Unna is 110 cm. For comparison, the width of an average two-shack is a little more – 130 cm. Inside there is enough space to lie down in a thick and warm sleeping bag and to change easily voluminous winter clothes, not clinging to the walls of the tent.
- Adjustable vestibule. By default there is almost no tambour at Unna – it is adjusted by the traveler. Just unbuckle one corner buckle to make room for a pair of boots. And if you unbuckle a few more turnbuckles and roll up the inner tent a little, there’s enough room for a burner to cook inside.
- Durability. The tent awning is made of very strong and durable nylon with triple siliconization. It will not tear even in a very strong wind, and this material does not degrade over the years in the sun. The quality of seams and reliable fittings are also unquestionable: there are many Hilleberg tents around the world which serve their owners for 15-20 years and are still “on the go.
- Wind and snow resistance. The tent has a pretty stiff frame and 12 peg attachment points, including 4 drawstrings, which makes Unna stand up to strong winds when set up properly. According to feedback from owners, the tent does not fold even in stormy 20 m/s. Snow is not trapped on the tent, too, but rolls down the sloping walls of the tent made of slippery siliconized nylon. That’s enough for most winters, except for the toughest regions like the Polar Urals or Greenland.
- Easy assembly. The inner tent is tucked into the tent by default. That means when you set up the tent, you’re setting up the entire tent at the same time. There are only two arcs of the same length in the Unna frame – you won’t mix them up when you assemble them. They are inserted into the fabric sleeves on the tent, the opposite ends of which are tightly sealed. So all that remains is to bend and insert the arcs into the special stops on the other side of the tent. This can be done quickly even with thick mittens and in a blizzard. In experienced hands Unna is assembled in 4-5 minutes.
- Reasonable weight. The tent weighs 2.3 kg, but without the cover and part of the pegs weight drops to 2 kg. For a reliable all-season solo model, it’s not much.
2. One of the best tents – HELSPORT PATAGONIA 3
The Helsport Patagonia is the strongest stocked tent in the world. It is designed for ski trips and expeditions in the most unfavorable winter regions in the Arctic and Antarctic. The Patagonia tent is in many ways the brainchild of Helsport Ambassador Borge Ousland, a Norwegian polar explorer famous for being the first person in history to cross Antarctica solo and without support. What are its features?
Features of Helsport Patagonia 3
- Extreme design. The tent is built for hardcore winter trails, and all of its details work for it. The outer frame with a sleeping valance hooked up to the tent, the all-round snow protection skirt, the included 20-centimeter Y-poles, and the ability to secure the tent with ice picks and broad skis.
- Very high wind resistance. The tent is aerodynamically shaped so the wind does not press the frame to the ground, but flows around it. The Patagonia’s rigid structure can be strengthened with a second set of poles so the tent won’t collapse even in a crosswind. Hook-and-loop fasteners on the Patagonia secure at 25 points – for a roomy 3-person tent with a big vestibule 15-17 points are usually enough. The tent was put to the test in Borg Ausland’s expeditions where winds of 40 m/s are not uncommon.
- Longevity and durability. For sewing the Helsport Patagonia tent we use siliconized nylon with a tensile strength of 18 kg. Even the fittings are reinforced: instead of usual twisted zipper, the tent uses powerful tractor YKK, which does not freeze and can operate even at frosts below -40°C.
- Unique equipment. The tent is ready for extreme expeditions. Each tent comes with 25 poles, a second set of poles to strengthen the frame, a changing kit, and a sled pouch. Carries the tent half-assembled for quick set up and use when camping, rain or shine.
- Roomy vestibule. The vestibule is big enough to hold your sled, your shoes, and still have room for a kitchen. It has two entrances so one is always downwind. But inside the tent there is not enough room for three people, especially in view of the winter clothes and equipment. But this is a necessary sacrifice for the final weight.
- Adaptive weight. The weight of all parts of the tent assembly, including the second set of arcs, is 6.54 kg. Not a lot, but also not much for a 3-person winter fortress. But if the camping area and forecasts do not assume hurricane winds, the tent can be noticeably lighter. Without the second set of poles, the harness and the sledge cover, the weight is 4.29 kg, and with 25 poles, some of which can be replaced with skis, poles and snow anchors. So, it is possible to reduce the weight down to 4 kg. Such all-season “three” is already difficult to call heavy, especially if you consider that even in this configuration it is able to cope with storm winds and snow drifts.
3. One of the best tents – MSR Access
The MSR Access series are winter versions of the very popular MSR Hubba NX tents. In short, today they are the lightest 2-ply tents for light winter tourism and ski touring in the low and middle mountains. The 2-person model assembled weighs 1.86 kg, the solo model weighs only 1.6 kg. And that’s with adequate living space. Thus, in comparison with a fairly spacious MSR Hubba, Access became a little wider and higher. Classic winter tents “two” weigh on average about 3 kg or more, depending on their degree of severity.
MSR Access tents are inferior to full-fledged all-season tents in ruggedness. They are not designed for hurricane-force winds and long days out in blizzards, which can put the tent “under the roof.” Don’t go with Access to the Arctic Circle and the highlands, that is, where there is a high risk of hurricane winds. But if you don’t want to be exposed to such weather conditions, you don’t have to pay the price with a heavier backpack.
The MSR Access tent is not an all-season tent. There is almost no ventilation, so it’s stuffy in hot weather, and there is a risk of condensation in heavy downpours, although not as abundant as in 1-ply tents. MSR Access is best used from the first fall frosts, through winter and early spring, when nighttime temperatures are still subzero and there is a risk of snowfalls. The MSR Access is therefore a great addition to the MSR Hubba NX and its counterparts.
When the weather permits, we use summer ultra-light models. But as soon as conditions get more extreme, such as cold weather, strong winds or snowfalls, and we don’t want to put too much weight on our backpack, we switch to MSR Access. These tents are only 100-200 grams heavier than comparable three-season models, but they protect from bad weather and cold much better.
4. One of the best tents – Helsport Varanger 12-14
The Helsport Varanger tent is a glove made of modern materials, designed for camping, base camps and outdoor festivals. It is simple in construction and assembly: central pole, awning and drawstrings. The inner tent can be purchased separately, but it becomes really necessary only in summer and in the off-season, when you want to protect yourself from insects. In winter you can stay quite comfortably with just an outer tent.
The tent fabric is fireproof – it is not afraid of sparks and does not flare up, but only melts, so you can safely place a stove for heating inside. To keep warm air from escaping, a skirt is provided around the entire perimeter of the Varanger, which can be buried in snow. The entrance is zippered so that warm air can be securely “trapped” from the inside. You don’t have to leave the tent to adjust the required air flow.
There are several closing ventilation windows along the contour of the Varanger base, the top is closed with a flap and its opening is quickly regulated by a specially threaded cord. By opening them you can create a fireplace effect, which perfectly ventilates the tent and creates the draft of air necessary for the stove.
Depending on the size of the model Helsport Varanger can accommodate from 4-6 to 12-14 people inside. And the weight of these tents is relatively low: from 5.3 to 8.3 kg respectively. This allows their use not only in winter base camps, but also in ski trips with a large team.
5. One of the best tents – Hilleberg Akto
The iconic model from Hilleberg, one of the world’s most respected brands in the outdoor industry. The Akto has been in production since 1995 and was the first single tent in the brand’s catalog. After 20 years it is one of the strongest, lightest and most durable solo tents for year-round use. Its design has proven so successful that it has been adopted by many other Scandinavian brands.
Essentially it is a one-man half tent with its inherent advantages of high wind resistance in the longitudinal direction as well as a large living space for minimal weight and setup space. The frame uses only one central arch, and lightweight fiberglass rods are sewn into the corners of the awning to increase leg and headboard space. Akto has a large vestibule – you can store some gear and cook, and a good living space for a single-seat all-season tent. But it will be a bit cramped for a person taller than 180 cm in winter: a part of the height will be “eaten away” by the high warm rug, and for changing bulky winter clothes you’ll need a lot of space.
Like all Hilleberg tents, the awning is set up at the same time as the inner tent, so no matter what the weather and time of day, you can quickly set up your tent without getting your sleeping bag wet. At the same time, all installation operations can be performed by one person without removing mittens or gloves. Even a Hilleberg set-up video teaches you how to set up your tent in windy and bad weather conditions. The tent can be put up separately – as a temporary shelter or as an ultralight option on lightweight camping trips.
The key drawback of Akto is the downside of its design. The tent is not free-standing and requires mandatory stretching when setting up. Therefore, it will be problematic to put it in the highlands, on rocky shores and rocky talus. Nevertheless, the ski climber Peter Schon, one of Hilleberg’s ambassadors, regularly uses Akto in his climbs. For example, on Korzhenevskaya Peak (7105 m) and Chatyn-Tau (4310 m).
In conclusion, winter camping is an incredible opportunity to experience nature in a completely different way. However, it is important to have the right equipment to ensure a comfortable and safe experience, and a high-quality winter tent is an essential part of that equipment.
Our expert review has provided an in-depth analysis of some of the best winter tents available in the market, based on a range of factors, including warmth, insulation, durability, weight, and ease of set-up. We understand that winter camping presents its own unique challenges, and our team of outdoor enthusiasts and experts have put in the effort to test and evaluate each tent to provide you with the most reliable and comprehensive information.
Whether you’re planning a winter camping trip with friends or family, or embarking on a more extreme winter adventure, we hope that our expert review has provided you with the necessary information to choose the best winter tent that will meet your specific needs.
Remember, a good winter tent can make all the difference in your winter camping experience. We hope that our expert review will help you stay warm, comfortable, and safe during your winter outdoor adventures, and make your experience truly unforgettable. Happy camping!