When camping in winter, you need a reliable shelter that can withstand the worst weather and provide comfort and warmth for those using it.
Choose a tent for the size of your party: four-season tents use robust materials and are heavy, and any unoccupied space still needs to be warmed.
Silicone-coated ripstop nylon fabric keeps rain out and handles strong winds and snow-loading. Steep sides prevent snow from resting on the fabric and collapsing the tent. There are large vestibules for gear.
Warmth trumps breathability, so expect the inner to be made from ripstop nylon rather than mesh.
Airflow will be aided by mesh panels with a separate nylon backing near the ceiling or on the doors. Most vestibule doors can open from the top which is useful if snow has accumulated around the base of the tent.
Multiple guyline attachments provide extra stability – essential for the exposed locations and extreme conditions in which these tents are used.
The weights shown are for the total weight of the tent, which includes poles, pegs, guylines and various carry bags.
The more poles the tent has, the stronger the shelter. Tunnel tents will have one crossover pole at the centre and usually at least two other poles providing structure. Dome tents with even more poles offer increased strength against wind and snow loadings.
A heavy-duty floor with a waterhead rating of 10,000-15,000mm will prevent water seeping through the floor. Lighter floors can be paired with a groundsheet to make them less prone to damage or seepage.
Pockets and suspended gear lockers can help to keep the tent organised and tidy and provide easy access to essential items like headlamps.
The tent’s floor area and vestibule space indicate how much room there is inside. Clever pole geometry can create vertical walls and more headroom for a more livable interior.
Waterhead (hydrostatic pressure) rating
A fabric’s waterhead rating measures its ability to resist water seepage and correlates with the durability of the fabric. The higher the rating, the more water it can resist and the more durable the fabric will be. Winter tent flys are usually measured between 1200mm and 5000mm. Floors are between 3000mm and 15,000mm.
MSR Access 2 $1399
Two-person tent designed to resist high winds and heavy snow loads, central support frame optimises interior space, quick-pitching unified pole, two doors and vestibules. One and three-person options available. Fly 20D ripstop nylon, 1200mm Inner 20D ripstop nylon, 10D mesh Floor 30D ripstop nylon, 3000mm Ceiling height 107cm Area 2.69m², 1.62m² vestibules Poles 2 Weight 1980g. www.ampro.co.nz
The North Face Mountain 25 $1250
Two-person mountain tent with seam-taped bucket floor, dual doors and vestibules, high-strength reflective guylines, PU port window, multiple venting options, eight interior pockets, hanger loops, four snow stakes included, multi-pitch. Fly 40D nylon, 1500mm Inner 40D nylon ripstop, 20D mesh Floor 70D nylon, 10,000mm Poles 4 Ceiling height 105cm Area 3m2, vestibules 0.7m2, 0.3m2 Weight 4450g. www.thenorthface.co.nz
Wilderness Equipment First Arrow UL $1199
Two-three person. Convective and forced flow-through ventilation prevents condensation, multi-pitch, single vestibule with dual entry, removable wrap-around front door, mesh panels with screen covers, suspended mesh ceiling pocket. Fly 30D nylon, 3000mm Inner 20D air-permeable ripstop nylon Floor 40D nylon, 5000mm Poles 3 Ceiling height 110cm Area 2.97m², vestibule 0.83m² Weight 2280g. www.furtherfaster.co.nz
MSR Front Range Tarp $699.99
Four-person alpine shelter allows parties to move quickly on alpine missions and ski traverses. Xtreme Shield waterproof coating. Pitched with ski or trekking poles. Optional bug and floor insert available. Fly 20D ripstop nylon, 1200mm Area 7.52m² Weight 910g. www.ampro.co.nz