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If you haven’t been there already, you really don’t want to be.
And if you have, you never really want to be there again.
Lying there cuddled up in a mummy sleepin bag with nothing between you and the ground but a light piece of foam looking up at the canopy feeling the bliss of your primal sleeping arrangement, when the clouds begin to blow a bit faster through the constellations.
The subtle alpine breeze turns into a howling storm.
And then the wind really starts to pick up and you become literally faced with the top of the tent as the wind throws a proper fit in your direction. If you’ve ever been kissed by the poles bending toward you in a such a raging wind show, you know it’s a bit crazy.
Or you come back from hiking the peak of the mountain you’ve found yourself camped at the base of and a similar situation has occurred: camp has been destroyed and now you have to deal with it instead of taking a nap with an enjoyable scenic backdrop like you had been dreaming about for the past 3 miles.
However it happens, it sucks.
The raw power of the elements are a big factor in the experience we have when living this primal realism.
There is no bad weather, only bad gear. By being prepared, we are more able to effectively co-create the experience that keeps us comfortable while falling asleep under the stars.
So what qualifies a tent to stand up to such blustery conditions?
How to select the right tent for windy weather. .
For optimal wind diversion, domed shape tents which sit closer to the ground will provide more structural integrity as opposed to a tent that stands taller with a more flat and vertical face to catch the wind (such as single-wall tents or a-frame tent options).
Though multiple vestibules are definitely convenient, they also provide more vulnerability with the weather starts to get fierce. One vestibule will provide less access for wind to cause a problem.
Like multiple vestibules, more space inside is definitely comfortable. But when it comes down to the durability in the face of strong winds, minimalism is key to optimize the ability to withstand whatever weather brews during your time spent in the great outdoors.
How many people are going to be sleeping in the tent, and how much more weight will it add to everyone’s packs?
If you’re not going very from the car or just casually camping, weight doesn’t matter as much. However, if you are engaged in multi day events, a true backpacking tent should be lightweight.
Some people like to keep their tent space to the bare minimum. Other’s like to go up an occupancy size to accommodate interior space for pets and/or gear.
More guy lines will provide a stronger anchor all around. Not only will they keep the rain fly off the tent to keep the inner layer dry, they also provide an anchor for the tent so the poles don’t bend too much and potentially snap. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the number of guy-loops and how many have been provided, and how many more you might need to buy separately.
Denier is the durability rating for the fabric used. The higher the rating, the more durable the material.
Other “nice to haves” include bathtub floor functionality, especially during rainy season.
When looking at the structure of the tent, the more poles and times they cross will provide greater integrity.
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing a tent is the pole material. The two most common poles are made of aluminum or fiberglass.
Aluminum poles are lightweight and strong in the face of resistance. If it were to break, the poles generally snaps in half.
Fiberglass poles are the cheaper option but comes with the downsides of extra weight. Generally okay for a camping trip near the car but cumbersome when having to carry the additional pounds. In the event that one of them does break, they produce more of a shatter effect; this has more potential to rip through the tent wall with a sharp edge.
An all-season tent is going to provide the most all-around strength against natural force, providing a safe place for shelter in escalating weather conditions. Being designed to withstand snow and the more inhospitable climates of winter, which means a four-season tent is going to provide less ventilation to keep heat in and can become stuffy on warmer expeditions. Great for use in snow and cold temperatures.
3-season tents provide more ventilation and create an environment of less condensation. Recommended for less extreme climate requirements while still maintaining the integrity to withstand strong winds.
3+ season camping tents provide the balance of a 3 and 4 season, providing a balance of structural integrity, ventilation and the ability to retain warmth. A nice cross-over to be able to use for summer and going into fall when moderate snow is possible.
Another thing to keep in consideration when buying a weather cooperative tent is whether or not it comes with a footprint? Or is an optional one sold separately?
If not, a tarp can be used to further insulate the bottom of the tent in the chance of heavy rain. And a tarp is generally always useful to have around if you have the pack space for it and is the perfect multi-purpose waterproofing accessory (essentially creating a truly waterproof tent). Sometimes, rain is actually the worst enemy especially over multiple days in near-freezing, windy conditions.
Sure, maybe we’d all love to go on a never-ending gear spree for any occasion we could ever possibly fathom ourselves venturing on.
But for those who really don’t need the functionality of an all occasions anywhere in the world mountaineering castle, this guide is kept to price range for those on a more moderate investment.
And for those who either want to spark yourselves to go on an extreme climate journey around the world or are looking to take their base experience to the next level, some options, and recommendations for you to explore are provided as well.
We’ve broken down our assessment into three price categories:
In this guide, the analysis is crafted according to:
|Brand/Model ||Occupancy||Seasonality||Peak |
|Hilleberg Jannu||2||all||39 inches||7 lbs. |
|$990 (Check the latest rates here)|| “tremendously strong and very light” |
|Eureka Alpenlite 2XT||2||4||40 inches||7 lbs. |
|$369.95 (Check out the latest rates!)||“bombproof protection at a heckuva price”|
|Marmot Fortress||3||3||66 inches||6 lbs. |
|$289 (Check out the latest rates here!)||“perfectly roomy with all the elements to provide foul weather protection.”|
|Alps Mountaineering Lynx 4||4||3-4||52 inches |
|8 lbs. |
|$199.99 (Check out the latest rates here!)||“you’re sure to find everything you could want in a tent, in this model.”|
|Kelty Trail Ridge 6||6||3||72 inches |
|15 lbs. |
|$399.95 (Check out the latest rates here!)||“easy access with plenty of living space”|
|Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6||6||all||67 inches||20 lbs. |
|$699.95 (Check out the latest rates here)||“made for basecamp and more”|
Named after a 25,295 ft peak in the Himalayas, the Jannu tent is the perfect blend of strength without sacrificing weight restrictions.
Look for natural windbreaks, such as a hill or a healthy live tree grove.
Evaluate the health of the trees if you are camped near them, making sure there are no dead branches overhead. Try to find space with as little overhead as possible and be mindful of any branches that could potentially fall onto the tent.
Is everything secure and in the right loops? Familiarize yourself with how to set up properly, making sure no pole or loop is left unsecured to maximize the effects of your outdoor abode. Bring enough guy lines to secure taut all possible edges, which will keep the wind from flapping loudly. (some tents have optional guy loops and the guy line is not always provided. Parachute chord works really well for this and is versatile in backcountry essentials.)
It depends, of course. But, a good 3-season tent should be able to hold up against 35 MPH winds. The best high-wind tents should get up to 40-50 MPH wind resistance. Tent positioning, stake positioning and line positioning (of course) all play an important role.
Regardless of which tent you choose, here are some quick rules of thumb to follow:
Top three brand recommendations to explore for your custom needs:
Further Reading on Tents
Sam Hardy is an outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for survival skills. He writes about the great outdoors and his favorite equipment here.