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If you’re like us, you’re planning adventures deep into the snowiest months of the year. To hike and camp safely in the winter, though, you’ll need to plan ahead and bring the right gear for the your trip. Here’s everything you need to stay warm, safe, and comfortable while camping and hiking during the winter.
The Best Tents for Winter Camping
When conditions are truly bad, a 3-season tent won’t cut it. Get ready to weather the storm—and stay comfortable doing it—with these tents built for winter camping (plus one winter-ready hammock). Reviews by Will McGough
Best Strength-to-Weight Ratio: SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season
When the double-walled CrossBow 2 Four-Season first came out in 2015, it turned heads with its unique truss system: Its pole sleeves are detached from the tent canopy and connect with clips, improving stability and setup in inclement weather. Buy the SlingFin CrossBow 2 Four-Season Now / Read the Full Review
Best Protection: Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3
The Battle Mountain 3 is for the winter adventurer who spends extended time in the cold and at high altitudes, placing a priority on weatherproofing and strength above versatility and weight. A four-pole skeleton reinforces the canopy, which is secured by guylines on the fly and stabilized by high and low internal guy loops. Buy the Big Agnes Battle Mountain 3 Now / Read the Full Review
Best Winter Hammock: Superior Hammock 15°F
The Superior Hammock combines expedition-style warmth with a pitch easy enough that a first-timer can nail it. The key is the 20 ounces of 800-fill hydrophobic down that conserves warmth and eliminates the need for a rigid sleeping pad (awkward to use in a hammock), separate underquilt (finicky to set up), or even a sleeping bag. Buy the Superior Hammock 15°F Now / Read the Full Review
The Best Sleeping Bags for Winter Camping
In cold weather, your sleeping bag is your layer of last resort: it keeps you comfortable and safe by trapping warm air next to your body. The lightweight three-season bags and quilts you use the rest of the year will leave you sleeping chilly, but that doesn’t mean you need to weigh yourself down. Reviews by Emma Athena
Best Value: Therm-a-Rest Saros 0°F
Surprise! Staying warm in bone-chilling weather doesn’t have to crater your bank account. The Saros sits right in the middle of the synthetic-bag field in terms of weight, but it’s at the low end of the price spectrum. Buy the Therm-a-Rest Saros 0°F Now / Read the Full Review
Best Women-Specific Bag: EXPED Winterlite 5°F WMNS
Designers had one goal in mind for the Winterlite 5°F WMNS, and they nailed it: This bag is engineered to keep female bodies as warm as possible. Compared to the men’s version it has 15 percent more 800-fill down stuffed in its torso and foot sections, resulting in more heat retention in the areas where women need it most. Buy the EXPED Winterlite 5°F WMNS Now / Read the Full Review
Best All-Around: Mammut Women’s Perform Down 14°F / Men’s Perform Down 19°F
Whether you’re sleeping in a snow cave, a tent, or the back of a truck, the Perform Down makes a home of it. Its 700-fill down (saves money) has a PFC-free DWR finish, which lets it retain loft when wet. Buy the Mammut Women’s Perform Down 14°F / Men’s Perform Down 19°F Now / Read the Full Review
Warmest: Gryphon Gear Taurus VRB -5°F
Thanks to innovative materials and design, the Taurus VRB delivers exceptional warmth in the lightest -5°F bag on the market. And if that’s all you care about, this is your bag. Buy the Gryphon Gear Taurus VRB -5°F Now / Read the Full Review
Winter Camping Gear Basics
Hitting the trail in winter presents challenges you won’t face in summer. The first step to tackling them is careful layering: start with a warm baselayer (synthetic, wool, or a blend, depending on conditions and your budget). Next, pick the appropriate insulation for your planned activity. Thick puffies are great for stargazing or carrying as an emergency piece, but gravitate toward more breathable midlayers on the trail. Finish off your layers with a waterproof-breathable shell.
Consider how you’ll travel as well. If you’re heading into untracked powder, a pair of snowshoes or light touring skis will go a long way towards keeping you on top of the snow instead of wallowing in it. If the trail is icy, a set of traction devices like Yaktrax can keep you from slipping.
Have plenty of time to burn? There’s no warmer sleeping solution than an igloo, but building one takes time, effort, and a little know-how.