Tips and different methods for pitching a tent in deep snow.

Patch96 Member Posts: 25

I am hoping to get into some winter camping this season. I am considering getting an Ultimid to use for my shelter. I am looking for any tips and suggestions on how you guys pitch a non freestanding tent in different kinds of snow. If anybody uses a tarp for winter camping I would love to hear how you pitch and stake that down also. Thanks!


  • MHerb
    MHerb Member Posts: 13

    Hey Patch96, I have used a non-freestanding shelter like the Ultimid quite a bit during winter camping while on ski traverses in the Canadian Rockies, for sleeping in as well as just a cook shelter. Here are a few techniques/tips I have found helpful over the years. Since you're traveling in deep snow, I assume you'll be on skis or snowshoes

    • Pack down an area with the same dimensions as the Ultimid.
    • Lay the tarp out and stake out the corners and midpoints (use ski poles, ice axe, branches, etc.. I found that the regular stakes were too small for winter use).
    • Use two ski poles and straps to support the center of the tent and adjust the height so the fabric is taut.
    • Dig down into the snow within the footprint of the tarp, excavating ~1.5 feet of snow (use this snow to build a short wall around the perimeter of the tarp to prevent snow from drifting in). This makes for a great sleeping platform for 4 people.
    • Another option is to dig out a bench platform around three sides of the shelter, leaving a column of snow in the middle to support the center pole (a great cooking platform). These benches can be used for sitting and/or sleeping. Dig the trench around the center column deep enough to stand up.
    • Dig steps into the shelter and use backpacks to block off the entrance to prevent snow from drifting in.
    • Use a ground tarp or pine branches to prevent your sleeping pad or sleeping bag from getting wet.

    I'll post photos if I can find them. Hope this helps!

  • Patch96
    Patch96 Member Posts: 25

    Thanks for the tips! Sounds like you go on some pretty fun trips!

    I was hoping to hear a little more specifically how to stake out the corners. As you said the normal stakes meant for dirt won’t work well in the snow. Do you use dead man anchors, snow specific stakes?

  • Danimal
    Danimal Member Posts: 17

    I don't have any rules when it comes to staking a tent in snow. Anything goes! I start with standard tent stakes, sometimes crossed in an x through the tent line to create more surface area in contact with the snow. Next come the standard items available, Skis, ski poles upside down or buried and tied to the center, snow shovel, snow saw, snowshoes, ditty bags full of snow and buried also work well. Basically anything you can stick in the snow or bury will work. The ammount of anchors and the size required is relative to wind and anticipated snow load.

  • Patch96
    Patch96 Member Posts: 25

    Hey Danimal thanks for the input! I hadn’t thought bought about using dirty bags to fill up and bury but that’s a great idea. We are still lacking snow here in New Hampshire but hoping that changes soon so I can get out and test some different methods.