Greatest Winter Tenting Gear 2022

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Let’s be honest: Winter camping isn’t for everyone. If you find the idea of sleeping in a tent in below-freezing weather to be downright unpleasant, don’t worry—there are plenty of summer sports and warm-weather campsites for you. But if you thrive on winter adventures, remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. And when it comes to getting the right gear, consider the fact that you probably wear very different clothing for hiking, biking, running and hanging out in 100-degree weather—the same goes for winter camping gear. Of course you’ll need warmer and more rugged gear for a winter camping trip than you’d need for a fair weather trip (for instance, you’ll definitely want some thermal underwear) but if you prepare and pack strategically, you’ll enjoy a magical season in the snow.

The right winter camping gear can prepare you for a grand adventure, regardless of the temperature.

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If you’re brand new to winter camping, it would be wise to start off with a short trip during mild winter weather before jumping into a snowstorm and trying to set up camp at the top of a windy, icy mountain. Over time, you’ll get more comfortable with the cold and learn what gear you like, how many layers you need and which camping essentials you should bring above others.

If you’re only be heading out for one evening, you could probably get by with packing pre-made food in insulated containers. But if you’ll be out for multiple nights, you’ll need to stock up on the right campsite cooking gear to stay full.

Not only do frozen forests and snow-covered peaks make for seriously spectacular scenery come winter, but chilly temperatures mean there are fewer people on the trails and at campsites. So layer up, pack your bag and get ready to enjoy a cooler, calmer and quieter version of the great outdoors. To help you get started, here’s a selection of the best winter camping gear on the market.

The Best Winter Camping Gear

A Heavy-Duty Snow Tent That Can Handle Winter Weather

There’s a reason most tents are rated for only three-seasons. Those that can’t handle winter weather are lightweight, breathable and tend to be cheaper than four-season tents. But if you plan to use your tent year-round, a three-season tent won’t cut it. Four-season tents are strong and sturdy and designed to handle the sort of extreme wind and snow that’s unique to winter camping. They keep cold air out and prevent condensation build up to keep you dry and warm overnight. A sturdy winter tent is also essential if you don’t want your tent blowing over or collapsing on a windy, snowy night.

Black Diamond’s Mega Snow 4P tent packs down to only 15 x 6 inches and weighs just over 3 pounds. But once set up, you’ll sleep comfortably with a generous 78 square feet of floor space. The pull-back door vent allows vapor to escape without requiring you to unzip it while the 30D high-tenacity polyester fabric is lightweight and seam-sealed, meaning the tent won’t sag when it gets wet. A lightweight, carbon fiber center pole enables a quick and easy set-up while the sturdy, reinforced guylines serve as tough snow anchors and ensure the shelter is secure against high winds.

In the same way that three-season tents won’t cut it in the cold, warm-weather sleeping bags will have you freezing in the winter. Depending on how cold it is, you may be able to get away with a sleeping bag rated for 20 or 30 degrees, but if you plan to camp during truly frigid nights, consider a bag with a more robust rating. Of course, as a general rule, the warmer the sleeping bag, the higher the price tag—so don’t bother spending money on a bag you’ll never fully utilize. But here’s a pro tip: No one can predict the weather perfectly, so you’ll want to pack a sleeping bag that’s rated for at least 10-15 degrees below what you expect the temperature to be.

While there are many winter-rated sleeping bags on the market, what makes the new Big Agnes 3N1 Lost Ranger so special is that it’s more than just a singular bag—it’s an adaptable sleeping system. Designed to offer more versatility and temperature control than ever, this multi-bag system (when combined together) offers a cozy 0-degree setup that’s perfect for winter, but you can also break it down into individual components on warmer nights. The outer bag and pad sleeve are super packable and perfect for warmer nights but when the removable inner-bag is added in, it converts the bag into a two-layer winter sleep system that’s rated down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sleeping bags are designed to protect your body from freezing temperatures, but they can only do so much to keep you warm if you’re sleeping directly on frozen ground. This is where sleeping pads come in. Not only do these squishy pads (typically made from foam or a closed cell structure filled with air) provide extra cushion, they also raise you up to add distance between your body and the cold ground, which helps keep you warm. Some campers swear by roll-up foam pads while others prefer inflatable pads, some of which will automatically inflate while others require you to blow them up with your mouth. For the most part, it’s a matter of personal preference.

For those who prefer air-filled pads (myself included), Exped has the perfect solution with their Dura 8R sleeping pad. 700 cubic inches of down insulation ensures maximum warmth across four seasons and the pad is rated for an impressively low -40 Fahrenheit. A nine centimeter thick air cushion cradles the body with air chambers running head to toe, fully supporting your weight for an unrivaled night’s sleep.

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Big Agnes

Big Agnes Goosenest Double-Decker Inflatable Cot

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In the same way that sleeping pads elevate you to keep the cold and uncomfortable ground at bay, an inflatable cot keeps you even further away from frigid, uneven terrain. When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, the more space between our bodies and the ground, the better. And when the time comes add even more space, we look to the Goosenest Double Decker Inflatable Cot by Big Agnes. Described as a “backcountry box spring,” which is no exaggeration, it provides a sturdy, comfortable layer between the ground and your sleeping pad. Made from aviation-grade TPU lamination tech, these comfy cots are ultra-strong and the high-volume, dual-port valve means you can quickly inflate the pad with a few quick pumps from your hand.

The double-decker nature of the cot comes from stacking two single cots atop one another (attached via Velcro patches), making your camping experience more similar to that of a normal bed. Stacking the cots this way makes for a more natural transition out of bed and is a great option for campers who struggle with a sleeping bag that’s all the way on the ground.

Alternatively, the two cots can easily be attached side-by-side (again, using Velcro) to form a single, double-wide cot that could go under a pair of sleeping bags. Regardless of how you set it up, you’ll need a sleeping pad between your bag and the cot itself. The cot comes with a single-wide accessory cover that securely attaches a single-wide sleeping pad to the cot so you won’t roll off while sleeping, but double-wide accessory covers are sold separately. Weighing in at three pounds each (or six pounds in the case of the double cot), the Goosenest is lighter and smaller than traditional cots and you can rest even easier knowing that each one is individually inflated and tested during manufacturing.

Now that this pricey cot is seriously marked down, it’s time to invest in a better sleeping solution!

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Whether you’re heading out for an overnight trip or a week-long winter camping adventure, insulated food containers are certain to come in handy. For a quick overnight trip, packing hot food (pasta, chili, fried rice and so on) in insulated containers means you can enjoy a warm meal without actually sitting outside to cook. And that means fewer items to pack and less mess to clean up at the campsite. Should you be out in the woods for multiple days, you’ll definitely want to prepare some fresh, hot meals to keep you warm and offer some variety. Whip up a big batch of oatmeal or scrambled eggs and fried potatoes in the morning, throw leftovers into the insulated containers and you have a warm meal ready for lunch during a hike, or for dinner when you get back to the campsite.

Klean Kanteen food storage containers keep food hot for 11 hours (or cold for an astounding 45 hours) and the durable stainless steel containers are stackable, easy to clean at camp and dishwasher-safe when you get back home. The easy-to-twist on and off lids lock into place to offer leakproof storage with just a quick, quarter turn and the swivel handles mean the containers are easy to carry and transport.

With the sun rising later and setting earlier during the winter, more hours of darkness mean that a good headlamp is essential. Sure, you could get by with the light on your phone but phone flashlights are fairly weak, using them drains the battery and there will be times you’ll want both hands free (you know, for cooking, setting up camp, doing your, ahem, business in the woods and so on).

The Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp emits anywhere from eight to 400 lumens of brightness so you can either shoot out a powerful beam to find a friend in the distance or a lower beam if you want to find something in your tent without waking up the person sleeping beside you. The soft band and adjustable headpiece mean you can comfortably wear the headlamp for hours, including during late night and early morning hikes. The Brightness Memory feature allows you to adjust the power of the light and come back to the same beam instead of having to endlessly scroll through options to find your favorite light level.

Headlamps may be handy when it comes to seeing what’s immediately in front of you but if you want to illuminate a more expansive space while cooking, eating, setting up your tent or hanging out at night, you’ll also want to bring a powerful lantern. Black Diamond’s Apollo Lantern is a small, lightweight and ultra-bright lantern (it cranks out 250 lumens) that also has a convenient dimming feature so you don’t keep everyone else up late should you decide to stay up with the stars.

The lantern is about the size of a grapefruit, with fold-down legs so it can stand upright on a table or the ground. Plus it has a handy top-side hook that allows it to be hung from the center of your tent to illuminate the entire space. In addition to taking AA batteries that provide back-up power, the lantern can be charged by USB, meaning you can top it off in your car while driving to the campsite. Not only is this the perfect lantern for camping, it’s also a convenient light source during power outages at home.

Since our extremities tend to freeze the fastest, it’s especially important to have a good set of gloves on your winter camping adventures. If you’re out in mild 30-40 degree winter weather and you’ll be huddled around a campsite most of the night, you may be able to get by with thinner gloves but if the temperature’s really dip down, it could be downright dangerous to only pack fair-weather gloves.

Enter the Black Diamond Guide Gloves: highly breathable, 100% waterproof gloves that are good enough for guides so you know they’re good enough for the rest of us. They have a goat-leather palm, abrasion-resistant nylon shell and a removable liner for when you don’t need maximum cold weather protection, meaning they’re also versatile enough to use across different temperatures (which could easily occur in a single night). I’ve been wearing these gloves for a year on winter hiking and camping trips but also for shoveling my mom’s driveway and taking the dog for a walk. There’s also a men’s version of the Black Diamond Guide Gloves for the guys.

Not only do you need to protect your body from the cold while winter camping, but you also need to protect any electronics you may bring along—like your phone, power bank, AirPods and so on. Cold weather often wreaks havoc on lithium-ion batteries, but in rare cases, it can also damage fragile internals and even crack phone screens.

This “tech capsule” is fully waterproof, meaning it will keep rain, snow, mud and condensation out. And it has a patented Chromium Thermal Barrier to protect its contents from the cold. While the capsule is perfect for seriously cold winter camping trips, it also protects your gadgets from extreme heat, so be sure to pick up this bad boy for summer adventures as well.

We’ve got your body covered, your electronics toasty and your food piping hot in insulated containers. Now we need to address your beverage situation. Nobody wants to go to the trouble of setting up a campfire and boiling water for a satisfying cup of hot coffee or tea, only for it to get cold after a few minutes in freezing temperatures. That’s why these BPA- and Phthalate-free stainless-steel insulated mugs from HydroFlask are annual best-sellers, and you can choose from among 6-, 12- and 24-ounce capacities. To avoid spills and seal in hot (or cold) temps, throw on the handy press-in lid, which easily slides open wide enough to accommodate a straw.

While this mug may be perfect for snuggling up in your tent or around the campsite, it’s also great for the home or office. Whether you need your coffee to stay hot while you push through morning meetings or you want your tea to stay warm (or your smoothie to stay cold) while you curl up with a good book, these temperature-regulating mugs have you covered.