Gear Guy

What’s a good tent for winter camping?

I need to find a tent for winter camping and mountaineering. Living in Oregon I intend to stay within the Cascades. I have narrowed my search to the Fusion 2 and the Fury 2, both made by MSR. They fall into the same weight/price/size category. The Fusion is a convertible tent while the fury appears to be a four-season tent. Given the conditions I'm expecting to face, which tent would be the ideal choice for me? Is the Fury too much tent, is the Fusion too little? Is there another tent that you would recommend? Kevin Portland, Oregon

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I think that if you want a tent for winter camping and mountaineering, then you should go ahead and buy one with that in mind. The fact is, such a tent will work just fine in the summer—it’ll just weigh a bit more. And “convertible” tents, while pretty good, are compromise products. Moreover, winter camping in the Cascades is plenty serious, with the chance for heavy snow loads and high winds.

The Fury ($399) is a great-looking tent; well designed, sturdy and at about seven pounds not too heavy for a true winter-oriented tent. Its hooped vestibule is a particularly useful feature for winter camping, as you can store lots of stuff there or use it as a kitchen (with good ventilation, of course). The Fusion 2 ($299) will work, but has more ventilation than the Fury so will be a little colder at night. Plus, it has a stake-out vestibule, which is almost impossible to use for more than gear storage. Better for occasional winter use in fair conditions, rather than regular, serious winter use.

There are many other fine tents out there, of course. Mountain Hardwear’s Trango Assault ($395), Sierra Designs Tiros AST ($425), and Dana Designs’ Jana ($475) are all tough, winter-tested two-person tents.

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