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10 Best Four-Season Tents

10 Best Four Season Tents Gear Guide

Four-season tents for mountaineering, winter backpacking, and backcountry skiing tours need to be a good deal stronger than regular three season tents if you are camping in exposed windy terrain that is subject to heavy snow loads. The strongest and most wind-resistant tents are wedge or dome-shaped and freestanding, so they are completely self-supporting. You still need to secure them to the ground to keep them from blowing away in wind, but freestanding tents can be set up on any surface including open rock ledges or climber’s portaledges, providing added flexibility and increased safety because you can get out of the weather more quickly.

Make / ModelPeopleDoorsMin WeightPrice
Black Diamond FirstLight1-212 lbs 9 oz$370
Black Diamond El Dorado214 lbs 8 oz$730
NEMO Kunai 2213 lbs 14 oz$500
Hilleberg Soulo114 lbs 7 oz$735
NEMO Tenshi 2113 lbs 14 oz$700
Hilleberg Unna114 lbs 7 oz$715
Mountain Hardwear Outpost 2224 lbs 13.5 oz$600
Big Sky Chinook 2224 lbs$550
SlingFin Portal 2222 lbs 13 oz$485
Black Diamond Beta Lite211 lb 3 oz$220

They also need to be more comfortable and spacious because you have to spend more time in them given the lack of daylight and shorter days that accompany winter weather. Added vestibule space is convenient for storing gear and keeping snow-covered items outside the living space to cut down on internal condensation, although they do weigh more. They can also be used for cooking and melting snow under cover when conditions outside are poor. Good ventilation is equally important, again to reduce internal condensation and to vent dangerous gasses if you cook or fart inside the tent.

Our preference is for lightweight four-season tents because no one wants to lug a heavy tent all day when climbing a peak, snowshoeing, or backcountry skiing if it’s avoidable.

1. Black Diamond FirstLight Tent

Black Diamond First Light Tent
The Black Diamond FirstLight is a wedge-shaped, freestanding, two-person tent with a single front door. It’s fast and easy to set up with two internal crossing poles. An optional front vestibule is also available. Weighing just 2 lbs 9 oz, the FirstLight is a single wall tent that’s large enough for two very friendly people, but lightweight enough for just one person if you prefer to sleep by yourself. Beaks over the screened rear window and front door let you keep them open for cross ventilation and help reduce internal condensation in winter. A three-person version of this lightweight, freestanding tent is also available. Read our FirstLight 2P Review.

Check for the latest price at:
Black Diamond | REI | Amazon

2. Black Diamond El Dorado

Black Diamond Eldorado
The Black Diamond El Dorado is similar to the BD FirstLight but it’s larger for taller individuals and has more interior space for gear storage. It’s also made with a waterproof/breathable fabric to help vent condensation while front and rear top vents promote greater airflow. Weighing 4 lbs 8 oz, the El Dorado has two crossed aluminum poles that are secured in the tent’s interior. A separate front vestibule is also available.

Check for the latest price at:
Black Diamond | REI | Amazon

3. NEMO Kunai 2

Nemo Kunai Tent
The NEMO Kunai 2 is a double-walled four-season tent that weighs 3 lbs 14 oz. It has a solid, breathable inner tent for greater warmth, with large pass-through vents that provide excellent airflow. An aggressive brow pole over the front door provides additional clearance inside the front vestibule, which provides a sheltered entrance and damp gear storage. The Kunai 2 is suitable for year-round use, which is an added bonus.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw | Amazon

4. Hilleberg Soulo

The Hilleberg Soulo is a one-person, double-wall freestanding tent designed for 4 season use. It has a large front vestibule that provides access and ventilation and can be used for cooking or gear storage in poor weather. Weighing 4 lbs 7 oz, it is tremendously strong and can be pitched just about anywhere. The inner tent can be hung inside the outer rain fly after it has been set up, a desirable feature to keep the inner tent dry if it is raining during setup. Most Hilleberg tents have this capability.

Check for the latest price at:
Moosejaw | OutdoorPlay 

5. NEMO Tenshi 2

Nemo Tenshi 2 Winter Tent
Weighing in at 3 lbs 14 oz, the NEMO Tenshi 2 is a single wall, four-season tent made with a waterproof/breathable fabric to vent internal condensation. It has roof vents, a front and rear window that provide excellent ventilation, and is available with an optional vestibule with a transparent front window for gear storage and cooking in challenging weather. External DAC poles provide a strong shelter while over-sized guy loops let you anchor the tent with backcountry skiing or mountaineering gear instead of stakes.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Moosejaw

6. Hilleberg Unna

Hilleberg Unna
The Hilleberg Unna is a 1-person dome-style freestanding tent that weighs 4 lbs 7 oz. It is ideal for trips in any season where low weight is a high priority, but where the terrain makes for tricky pitching conditions. Rather than a vestibule, the Unna has a spacious interior that easily accommodates the occupant and gear. The corner of the inner tent can be detached to create a large protected area to cook, pack, or store gear.

Check for the latest price at:
Moosejaw | OutdoorPlay

7. Mountain Hardwear Outpost 2 Tent

Mountain Hardware Outpost 2 Tent
The Mountain Hardwear Outpost is a double-wall two-person tent with two doors (front and back) and a large front vestibule for storing gear or snow melting in poor conditions. Roof vents, interior mesh doors, multiple door zippers provide high and low ventilation to help reduce internal condensation. A high front brow makes front access easier and helps shed snow. The inner tent is freestanding, while the fly has numerous guy out points so it can be staked out in high winds. Weighing in at 4 lbs 13.5 oz, the Outpost 2 trades weight for improved livability in challenging weather.

Check for the latest price at:
Mountain Hardware| Moosejaw

8. Big Sky Chinook 2P

Big Sky Chinook 2P

The Big Sky Chinook 2P is a freestanding dome-style two-person tent with two doors. The three-pole construction is very strong and storm-worthy, but the tent can be set up with two poles to save weight. The inner tent is available in all mesh or with solid breathable sides to make the tent less drafty in cold and windy weather. Interior vents help prevent internal condensation. Weighing 4 lbs, the Chinook 2P can be set up fly first in rainy weather to keep the inner tent dry. Read our Chinook Review.

Check for the latest price at:
Big Sky 

9. SlingFin Portal 2

Slingfin Portal tent

The Slingfin Portal is a lightweight two-person tent that can be used year-round in extreme weather. Weighing just 2 lbs 13 oz, it has a unique internal guyline system that adds superb wind-resistance without additional weight. Two large vestibules and numerous internal pockets provide best-in-class livability, while its dome-shaped exoskeleton sheds heavy snow loads. Kickstand door vents provide unrestricted cross-tent airflow for excellent condensation management without sacrificing weather protection. Read our  SlingFin Portal Review.

Check for the latest price at:
SlingFin

10. Black Diamond Beta Light

Black Diamond Beta Light Tent
The Black Diamond Beta Light is a bombproof ultralight tarp tricked out for snow travel. It requires two trekking/ski poles to set up and is guyed so you can anchor it with skis, poles, shovel handles, or ices axes. Weighing just 19 oz, it’s steep walls shed snow, wind, and rain without blinking an eye. An optional inner tent is sold separately for bug season, but for winter use, just bring a shovel to dig out a platform to sleep on. Read our Black Diamond Beta Light Review.

Check for the latest price at:
Black Diamond | Moosejaw | OutdoorPlay

Four-Season Tent Feature Guide

When evaluating winter tents, it helps to research the climate conditions you expect to use the tent in, as this will inform the degree of tent pole strength and ventilation required.

Pole Architecture: Many winter tents have several crossed poles, anchored inside or outside the tent walls. Exterior poles that are anchored in sleeves are much stronger than poles that connect to an inner tent using clips or velcro tabs. They’re much more wind resistant and capable of withstanding heavier snow loads.

Ventilation: Important to minimize and reduce internal condensation. This is achieved by keeping the door(s) open when feasible, through peak and side vents, and in some cases through the use of breathable wall fabrics. You can never have too much ventilation in a winter tent, although the addition of doors and zippers can result in increased weight.

Interior Space: Winter tents designed for high alpine mountaineering are often cramped because weight savings are so critical when you have to climb many thousands of feet to reach your destination. When selecting a winter tent be realistic about your length and width requirements, particularly when choosing a two-person wedge style tent, as livability can be compromised.

Number of Doors: Tents designed to hold two occupants are more comfortable and convenient to use if they have two doors and vestibules because you can come and go without waking your tent partner. Dome style tents often provide greater covered vestibule storage, which can make a significant difference in livability.

Check Out All of SectionHiker's Winter Gear Guides!

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One comment

  1. Thanks for this review. I like only two of these tents, the Hilleberg Soulo and the MN Outpost 2. And I like them mainly for their entrance coverage/vestibule. Vestibules are important in winter camping formally reasons, not the least of which is a place to cook in a raging snowstorm.

    My own “winterized” tents are:
    1. Tarptent Moment DW ->with ripstop inner and optional X-ing pole shortened & run under the fly). Very stable in the worst of winter weather.

    2. Tarptent Scarp 2 ->large enough for 3 in a head-to-toe format. Ripstop inner & both X-ing poles again, shortened & run under the fly.

    Both these tents have 2 doors & vestibules. For the Scarp 2 this is an especially nice feature for two people.

    So here I have taken 3 season tents and with only a little modification made them very storm worthy.

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