With the cold fingers of winter gripping ever tighter, it’s nice to sit back in the comfort of our homes and enjoy the warmth. This, however, this is a luxury we may not always have. Natural and manmade disasters can occur during the middle of winter and you never know when you may need to evacuate your warm home. The successful prepper is one who is prepared for any eventuality, including having to camp out in cold conditions. The best cold weather tent is a welcome addition to any survival kit and one that should be seriously considered. While some consider camping a summer activity, there are many fantastic mountaineering tents that will keep you and your family sheltered from the storm while the ice sets in outside.
What to look for?
In some respects, cold weather tents differ somewhat to more typical models and it is worth finding out which features to look for when considering the best tent for you and your family. In other ways, you will be facing the same choices as you would for any other type of tent.
This is dependent on how many people the tent will need to accommodate. Obviously, for one person, a small tent is better. Extremely large tents should be avoided unless several people will fill it. This is mostly because the empty space will quickly fill with cold air. Circumstance can dictate how large the tent will need to be. Bear in mind that larger tents do not pack up very small. If you’re planning on being on the move on foot frequently, a large cumbersome tent may not be ideal.
- Choose a tent that will be large enough to accommodate everyone in your group plus kit
- Avoid huge tents that will remain largely empty as these can become drafty
- Consider the usage. Several small tents may be better for a group that is constantly on the move compared to one large, bulky one
Single or double wall?
Cold weather tents can be split into two categories, those with a single wall construction and those with a double wall. Both options have their perks and the choice largely comes down to the circumstances the tent will be subject to.
● Pack up very small
● Ideal for those on the move, backpackers, and mountain climbers
● More expensive
● Ground sheet often not included
● Not as warm as double walled tents
● Prone to increased levels of condensation
● Less expensive
● Normally include ground sheet
● Generally keep heat in better
● Less prone to condensation
● Don’t pack up as small
● Better for those not moving around as much, or with access to a vehicle
The shape of a cold weather tent can be very important when heavy snowfall is a possibility. The vast majority of such tents are either dome-shaped or cabin shaped. However other shapes, such as a traditional steep pitch, triangular design are also available. In general, dome-shaped tents are more popular in cold weather.
● Pack up smaller
● Lighter and easier to carry
● Better wind resistance
● Better for extreme conditions when on the move
● Snow is less likely to pile up on the roof
● Larger, more comfortable
● Heavy and bulky
● Better for a long term shelter
● Suffer more in high winds
● Potential for snow to build up on roof
Features to look for in a cold weather tent
When you know how many people will require shelter, the location and the weather conditions you will facing, you’ll be far more able to choose a suitable tent armed with the above information. However, there are more features specific to cold weather tents that should also be taken into consideration.
The strength of a tent relies heavily on the pole design. The more times the poles cross, the stronger and more durable the tent will be. Thicker poles are generally stronger. Aluminum poles are less likely to snap in strong winds in comparison to fiberglass and are lighter.
Good ventilation is essential for a comfortable tent. Without air circulation, even the most breathable tent would soon become wet with condensation. Seek out a tent that has several air vents, the more the better.
When camping as a group, one door soon becomes insufficient. A tent with two doors is far more practical and comfortable and will aid with ventilation. Also look out for tents with a vestibule. This provides an extra sheltered space for storing kit and can free up precious floor space within the tent.
When the weather outside is frightful, it is important that the tent is properly secured to the ground. This can be difficult in snow, however, snow stakes help. They look like thick metal spikes with holes running down their length. These are buried in compacted snow with a guyline tied to the middle, holding your tent fast. Be sure to bury them at least a foot deep for additional security.
Thinking of just using your summer tent and hoping for the best? It does, after all, have a rainfly. Unfortunately, summer rainfly rarely cover the entire tent. It is essential that a winter tent is fully covered by the rainfly.
The floor of any tent is mostly designed to keep moisture and dirt away. They rarely have any insulating properties. As such it is essential that one packs at least a sleeping mat.
These include the typical storage pockets, lamp hooks and a gear attic for additional storage space off the ground. Pockets are always useful and prevent floor space being taken up as well as aiding organization.
With knowledge of what to look for in a cold weather tent, you are now prepared to get out there and select the best tent for your needs. A tent for cold weather can really be a lifesaver if the worst happens. Consider the number of people it will need to accommodate, where you will aim to set up and the weather conditions expected. Don’t get bogged down on features. Pole design and the number of walls are the most important aspects when choosing a strong, durable and comfortable tent. With this in mind, what are you waiting for?
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