Long nights and wet and freezing conditions make winter camping a challenge. Particularly during multi-day trips. Moisture from the environment, your breath, and perspiration build up in your tent, clothing, and sleeping bag. It’s difficult to stay dry. The freezing weather makes it impossible to warm up. You can only endure so much cold before you become exhausted. With the proper equipment, winter camping doesn’t have to be miserable. A hot tent and portable wood tent stove can keep you and your gear warm and dry, even in the most extreme winter conditions. This guide outlines hot tent camping.
In this guide, we’ll outline the different types of hot tents and wood tent stoves, winter camp setup, how to stay warm and dry, hot tent camping safety, pricing, and much more. We’ll also list the pros and cons of hot tent camping and using a tent wood stove. Hopefully, this guide helps you decide whether or not hot tent camping is for you.
Table of Contents
This is a long guide. Use the links below to jump around the page.
- Hot tents- design, materials, shapes, sizes, weight, pricing, and more.
- Wood tent stoves- designs, sizes, materials, shapes, weight, and pricing.
- Stove pipes- designs, shaping, and materials.
- Other wood tent stove components
- Stove features and accessories
- Hot tent and wood stove setup and break in
- Firewood- collecting, drying, and processing firewood
- Cooking on a wood stove
- Maintaining a wood tent stove
- How to stay safe while hot tent camping
- Pros and cons of Hot tent camping
- Hot tent recommendations
- Wood tent stove recommendations
What is a Hot Tent?
A hot tent is a shelter that is designed to be paired with a portable wood-burning tent stove. The wood tent stove sits on the ground inside of the tent. You build a fire inside of the stove to heat the tent. Smoke from the fire vents directly from the stove through a chimney or stovepipe through a hole in the side of the hot tent. The hole in the tent is called the stove jack.
Hot tents are designed with safety in mind. They are made from flame-resistant materials. They also offer good ventilation so you don’t breathe smoke, carbon monoxide, or other contaminants emitted by the fire.
The main function of the wood stove is to heat the inside of the tent to keep you toasty warm during the cold winter months. A good wood stove can keep the inside of the hot tent at a comfortable 60-70°F (15-20°C) when the outside temperature is well below freezing.
The fire also helps to keep the inside of the tent and your clothing and gear dry. The dry heat causes moisture on your clothing, boots, and gear to evaporate and vent away. The stove nearly eliminates condensation. You won’t wake up with frost on the inside of your tent when you use a wood stove.
In addition, can cook in a hot tent on top of most wood tent stoves. The fire heats the flat top of the stove, which acts as a burner. The stove also creates a cozy atmosphere for you to relax in. The warm glow of the fire on a cold day is comforting.
With a hot tent and stove, you can camp longer without feeling cold, wet, and miserable. This opens up your winter camping options. Multi-day winter trips become possible.
Hot Tent Design
Hot tents are specially designed so you can safely use a wood stove inside. They are made from flame-retardant materials that won’t catch fire if a spark comes into contact. The tent wall features a fire-resistant stove jack sewn in. The jack won’t catch fire when it touches the hot stove pipe.
The chimney or stovepipe runs through the stove jack. Smoke vents directly out of the tent through the stovepipe. This way, the tent doesn’t get filled with smoke or dangerous carbon monoxide gas.
Most hot tents feature a removable floor or are floorless. Without a floor, you don’t have to worry about the stove or hot embers burning or melting through the floor of the tent. You also don’t have to worry about tracking snow into the tent. If your hot tent has a floor, you can use a fire retardant mat to protect it.
In addition, the tent won’t freeze to the ground after putting your fire out. If your tent has a floor, snow can melt underneath while the fire is burning then re-freeze when the fire goes out. Your tent floor can freeze to the ground. Most tent stove manufacturers recommend that you place the stove directly on the ground to avoid this.
Most hot tents are single wall rather than double wall. This means there is no mesh tent inner. The single-wall design saves some weight and makes the tent a bit easier to set up. The single-wall design works fine for hot tents because you don’t need to worry about insects during the winter. A mesh inner bug net is unnecessary. Condensation can be a problem in single-wall tents. With a hot tent, you don’t have to worry about this either because the stove keeps the inside of the tent dry.
Hot tents are usually non-freestanding as opposed to freestanding. This means you must stake the tent out in order for it to maintain its shape and remain standing. The tent gets its structure from a pole or poles and stakes and tensioned guy lines. You can’t pick the tent up and move it around while pitched.
Hot Tent Materials
Hot tents are made from durable and fire-resistant materials. They are designed to hold up to harsh winter conditions and not catch fire.
The most common hot tent material is canvas. Canvas is a thick, rugged, and tightly woven cotton fabric. It is ideal for hot tents because it is durable. It holds up well to extreme winter conditions. It’s also breathable. This helps keep condensation at bay. Generally, the canvas used to make hot tents is treated with a fire-resistant coating.
The main drawback to canvas is the weight. Canvas is heavy. It is also a thick and bulky material. Canvas hot tents are ideal for trips that don’t require you to carry the tent too far, such as car camping.
Some modern hot tents are made from thin and lightweight synthetic materials such as ripstop nylon. These tents are much lighter and more compact than canvas. Nylon hot tents are light and compact enough to use for backpacking, bicycle touring, or motorcycle touring.
There are drawbacks to nylon hot tents. They tend to be less durable because the material is so much thinner. They are also not as spark-resistant. An ember could melt a hole. They are also a bit less breathable.
Hot Tent Shapes and Sizes
Hot tents come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. You can choose from pyramid, dome, hexagon, teepee, yurt, a-frame, 4 wall tents, and more. Smaller hot tents may use trekking poles as tent poles. Larger models require proprietary poles.
The simplest and most popular hot tent design is probably the pyramid. These tents set up quickly and easily with one central pole. They require minimal staking. Pyramid tents feature steep walls that don’t allow snow to accumulate.
Dome-shaped hot tents are another popular design. They are popular due to their roominess and efficient use of space. The dome design is also strong. They can handle a snow load when necessary. For larger tents, a modified wedge or a-frame design is a good option.
For longer trips, a wall tent may be preferable. These are large tents with 4 vertical walls and a pitched roof. They are basically a rectangular room. This design allows the tent to have plenty of headroom and interior space for multiple campers and gear. You can stand up and walk around in a large wall tent. This tent design is popular among hunters and glampers because there is so much space for cots and extra gear.
Hot Tent Capacity
Hot tents are available in sizes ranging from 1-8 person. Larger wall style and yurt style hot tents are available that can accommodate even more people.
Hot tents tend to be larger and roomier than standard tents. This is necessary because there needs to be space for the stove and firewood inside of the tent. The stove needs to sit away from the tent walls and your gear so nothing gets too hot and ignites. While hot tenting, you also tend to spend more time in your tent. It’s nice to have extra space to move around.
When choosing a hot tent, try to choose a model that is designed to accommodate one more person than you plan to camp with. For example, if there are 3 people in your group camping together, choose a hot tent that is designed to accommodate 4 people. If you’re camping alone, consider packing a 2 person hot tent.
The extra space gives you more room to store bulky winter gear such as snow boots, heavy jackets, and thick winter sleeping bags. There is also extra room to lay your wet gear out to dry. The extra space also gives everyone more room to move around and stretch out inside of the tent.
If your hot tent is too small and cramped, it’s easy for someone to bump or rub up against the stove and burn themselves or knock it over. There also isn’t enough room to dry out gear.
Hot Tent Weight
The weight of a hot tent depends on the tent size, materials it’s made of, and the design. Hot tents come in ultralight designs that are light enough to carry around in a backpack. These models are typically made from sil-nylon. Canvas hot tents tend to be larger and heavier because the material is much thicker.
A few examples of hot tent weight ranges include:
- Ultralight sil-nylon 1-2 person hot tents weighs 1.5-3 lbs (0.68-1.36 kg).
- Ultralight sil-nylon 2-4 person hot tents weigh 3-5 lbs (1.36-2.26 kg).
- Canvas hot tents for 1-2 people weigh 20-30 lbs (9-14 kg).
- Mid-size canvas hot tents for 3-4 people weigh 70-80 lbs (32-36 kg).
- Large canvas wall tents weigh over 100 lbs (45 kg).
How much tent weight matters depends on how you plan to transport the tent and how far you have to transport it.
If you plan to hike several miles with the tent in a backpack, it needs to be as light as possible. Ideally less than 5 lbs.
If you plan to set up your tent right next to your car, weight isn’t really an issue. You just need to be able to lift it.
If you have to carry a heavy tent a few hundred yards from your vehicle to a campsite, you can use a game cart or sled to make the job easier. You won’t want to carry an 80 lb tent by yourself.
If you’re carrying your tent with a horse or motorcycle or bicycle, it needs to be relatively lightweight. Ideally under 20 lbs. If you’re camping with someone else, you can use a heavier tent because you can divide up the weight. For example, one person can carry the tent and the other can carry the poles.
Of course, you’ll have to consider the weight of your stove as well. Your wood stove can weigh as much or more than your tent. We’ll talk more about stoves in the next section.
Hot Tent Packed Size
If you are limited by space, you will want to consider the packed size when choosing a hot tent. The packed size is determined mostly by the capacity and material your hot tent is made of.
Tents that are designed to accommodate more people are larger when packed because they contain more material. Canvas hot tents are larger and bulkier than synthetic hot tents when packed because the material is thicker.
If you plan to use the tent for backpacking, it needs to pack down small enough to fit in your pack or at least attach to it. A 1-2 person sil-nylon hot tent is ideal for backpacking
When you’re car camping, the size doesn’t matter as much. The tent just needs to fit in your vehicle with the rest of your gear. Any hot tent will do.
If you’re traveling by horse, motorcycle, or bicycle, or with a sled, the tent needs to fit in your luggage. If you’re camping in a dense forest, you’ll find a more compact tent easier to transport.
Hot Tent Pricing
Pricing depends on the materials, design, and size of the hot tent. A few common price ranges forgot tents include:
- Single-person hot tents cost around $150-$300.
- Mid-range hot tents designed for 3-4 people costs around $250-$600.
- Large hot tents cost $500-$1000.
- High-end models designed for long-term living or expeditions cost $1200-$2000+.
Hot tent prices vary greatly. Most hot tent models are pretty affordable due to their basic design. They feature simple single-wall, floorless, non-freestanding construction. These tents are easy to manufacture and require few materials.
Higher-end and larger models often feature more durable components, better build quality, and more complex designs. In most cases, the stove jack is included and already installed.
Some premium models feature a floor that is removable with a zipper, quick setup, extra windows and vents, insect netting, or double-wall construction. These hot tents tend to be more expensive.
Portable Wood Tent Stoves
Most hot tent campers buy their stove separate from their tent. Wood tent stoves come in a range of sizes, materials, and designs. The ideal wood stove for your trip depends on the size of your hot tent and how you plan to transport your gear.
In this section, we’ll outline the different types of wood tent stoves. We’ll cover stove size, weight, heat output, burn time, pricing, and more. I’ll also list a few features to look out for.
Types of Wood Tent Stoves
A number of tent wood stove styles exist for different types of hot tent camping. In this section, I’ll outline the three main designs, listed in order from heaviest to lightest.
Heavy steel or cast iron stoves
These large, heavy-duty stoves are made from thick rolled steel or cast iron. They are designed to heat a large area of 150-400+ square feet. These stoves can heat a large 8 person wall tent, small cabin, ice fishing shack, motorhome/van, garage, or even a large room in a home.
Heavy steel stoves are durable and long-lasting. They don’t warp easily due to the thickness of the material. The stove walls typically measure 18 to 10 gauge (0.05-0.135″). These heavy steel and cast iron stoves come in cylinder and box designs.
These stoves also put out the most heat and continue producing heat for the longest amount of time. This is possible due to their large firebox size, sealing door, and built-in damper. Thick metal also retains heat longer after the fire dies down. Many models can continue putting out heat for 5-15+ hours before they need to be stoked.
The main drawback is that these stoves are extremely heavy. They weigh 50-90+ lbs (23-40 kg). They are also large and bulky. They’re also expensive. Large stoves cost $200-$300+.
Lightweight steel stoves
These stoves are usually made from thin stainless steel or galvanized steel sheets. They are designed to heat a mid-sized 2-4 person tent with an area of around 80-250 square feet. These stoves work well for car camping, hunting, and ice fishing.
Most models weigh around 15-30 lbs. They are small and light enough to easily carry around and transport in a vehicle or on horseback. Some models fold or disassemble for storage and transport. They come in both cylinder and box styles. Due to the smaller size, you need to stoke these stoves more often. They can burn for 2-8 hours.
These stoves are durable but don’t last quite as long as heavy steel stoves. They can warp if they overheat because the material is thinner. It is also possible to burn a hole in the material over time. Higher-end models are made from two layers of material. This improves durability.
These are the most affordable type of wood tent stove. They cost around $130-$300. Premium models with multiple layers of material and additional features are also available. These cost $500-$600.
Ultralight backpacker stoves
These small, lightweight stoves are designed to carry in a backpack. Most models collapse down flat or come apart for easy packing.
Ultralight tent stoves are usually made from lightweight titanium sheets. These are designed to be paired with an ultralight 1 or 2 person hot tent. They can heat a small area of 60-80 square feet. Due to the small firebox size, these stoves may only provide 1-2 hours of heat before they need more wood.
These stoves are fairly expensive due to the complex folding design and lightweight materials used. Most ultralight models cost $300-$600. They also tend to be a bit fragile because they are made from thin materials.
Wood Tent Stove Sizes and Heat Output
Wood tent stoves come in a range of sizes. The size of stove you need depends on the size of the area that you plan to heat. Generally, the larger the stove, the more heat it can produce. To heat a large tent, you’ll need a large wood stove. For a small 1-2 person tent, you can get away with a smaller stove.
To determine the size of stove you need to keep your tent warm, you’ll need to know the size of the hot tent you plan to pair it with. Most manufacturers list the square footage of the tent in the specifications. You can also measure the square footage yourself. Look for a stove that is designed to heat that amount of space.
Most stove manufacturers list the amount of area that their stove can heat. For example, if your tent measures 10’ x 10’ or 100 square feet, look for a stove that is designed to heat 100 square feet.
It’s also a good idea to consider the firebox size when choosing a stove. Generally, the larger the firebox, the more heat that the stove can put out. This is the case because you’ll be able to fit more wood inside of a stove with a larger firebox.
The firebox size is usually listed in cubic inches, cubic feet, or liters. This measurement can come in handy if you want to compare two stoves from different manufacturers that are designed to heat similarly sized areas.
For example, maybe you’re considering two stoves that are each rated to heat 200 square feet. One has a firebox that measures 2500 square inches and the other has a firebox that measures 2750 square inches. Most likely, the stove with the 2750 square inch firebox will put out more heat because the firebox is 250 square inches larger in volume. All else being equal, you’re better off going with the stove with a larger firebox.
A small collapsible titanium wood stove designed for backpacking might only be able to heat 50 square feet. This would be ideal for heating a 1 or 2 person tent. A large steel stove might be able to heat 400 square feet or more. This would be ideal for heating a large tent, small cabin, or an ice fishing shack. A mid-sized stove might heat 100-200 square feet. These are ideal for heating a 3-4 person wall tent or hunting tent.
If you expect to camp in extremely cold weather, you may want to choose a stove that is designed to heat a larger area than your tent. For example, if your hot tent measures 150 square feet and you frequently camp in below-freezing conditions, you might choose a stove that is designed to heat 200 square feet. An extra larger wood stove could keep the inside of the tent warm and cozy in temperatures well below zero.
It’s also important to consider the amount of space that the stove takes up in your tent. If you’re camping in a small 2 person hot tent, you wouldn’t want to bring a massive stove. It would take up too much floor space. If your tent is too cramped, you could accidentally rub up against the stove while moving around inside. You could burn yourself or melt your gear. If your tent is roomy, the size of the stove is less important. Some poorly designed stoves have a large physical size but small firebox size.
Wood Tent Stove Materials
The stove material plays a major role in the performance, longevity, and weight of the stove. Wood tent stoves are made from either steel, cast iron, or titanium.
Heavy-duty wood tent stoves are made from either thick steel plates or cast iron. Lightweight stoves are made from thin stainless or galvanized steel plates. Ultralight backpacking wood stoves are made from lightweight titanium sheets. Each stove material has its pros and cons.
Thick steel or cast iron stoves offer a long burn time. Many models will burn for 8+ hours. These stoves also last practically forever. The thick material is unlikely to warp or melt through. The drawback is that these stoves are extremely heavy and bulky. They are not portable.
Stoves made from thin steel plates don’t burn for quite as long. Most offer a burn time of 2-8 hours depending on the firebox size. If you burn the stove too hot, thin steel plates can warp. Over time, they can also burn through. These stoves don’t last quite as long as stoves made from thicker plates or cast iron. The main benefit of stoves made from thin steel is that they are significantly lighter and more compact. This makes transporting the stove easier.
Titanium stoves are the lightest weight. They are also the most compact. These stoves are portable. They also offer the shortest burn time. Most models can only burn for 1-2 hours before they need to be stoked. Titanium stoves last a long time but they can warp if the fire gets too hot for too long.
The best stove material depends on how you plan to use and transport your stove. If you need to use your stove to keep you warm all night every night, a heavy-duty steel stove is ideal. If you need to be able to transport your stove easily in a backpack, a lightweight and collapsible steel or titanium stove will be preferable. There are compromises to make.
Stove Pipe Material
The stove pipe material is an important consideration as well. Stove pipes are made from either titanium or steel. The stove pipe material plays a role in its weight, packed size, and durability.
Titanium is probably the best stove pipe material. The material is strong, lightweight, and doesn’t corrode. Titanium stovepipes can also be rolled up tightly into a 12″ x 1″ x 1″ cylinder. They don’t take up much space in your pack. The drawback is that titanium stovepipes are expensive at around $75.
Steel stove pipes are strong, durable, and affordable. The main drawback is that they are heavy and bulky. They can also rust when exposed to moisture.
Unfortunately, you can’t use aluminum to make a stovepipe because it will melt.
Chances are your stove pipe will get dented, regardless of the material it’s made of. As long as it doesn’t have any holes, it should perform just fine.
Portability and Packed Size of Tent Wood Stoves
When choosing a stove, you’ll want to consider portability and packed size. Obviously, a smaller stove is more portable than a larger stove. Some smaller stoves that are designed for backpacking collapse down or disassemble to make them easier to pack.
A few stove designs and their average packed sizes include:
- Ultraportable collapsible wood tent stoves- These pack down to around 15 x 10 x 3 inches (around 38 x 25 x 8 cm). Most fold flat so they can fit in a backpack.
- Mid-sized steel stoves- These measure around 16 x 10 x 10 inches (around 40 x 25 x 25 cm).
- Large heavy duty steel or cast iron stoves- These measure around 20 x 12 x 12 inches (around 50 x 30 x 30 cm).
How much the packed size matters depends on how you plan to use your stove. If you plan to carry your stove in a backpack, on a bicycle or motorcycle, in a sled, or on a horse, portability is crucial. It needs to fold down small enough to fit in your luggage. If you only plan to use your stove for car camping, the packed size is less important. It just needs to be small enough to fit in your vehicle with the rest of your gear.
You’ll also need to consider where you’re going to store the stove at home. If it’s bulky, it will take up a decent amount of space in your home, basement, or garage. If you choose a portable stove that disassembles or folds, it will be much easier to store. When storage space isn’t an issue, then the packed size of the stove doesn’t matter.
Of course, you’ll also need to consider the size of your hot tent. A bulk tent can take up more space than your stove.
A Note About Collapsible Wood Tent Stoves
If you choose a collapsible stove, be sure to consider the assembly time and difficulty. Some models simply unfold and lock into place in a couple of minutes. More complicated models take around 15 minutes to put together. Assembly can take you even longer the first few times you use your stove. Box-shaped stoves that are made from flat metal panels are usually easier to assemble than cylindrical stoves, in my experience.
If you can, watch a video about how the stove assembles or assemble it yourself before buying. You’re not going to want to spend 30 minutes assembling and disassembling a complicated stove with freezing fingers.
Wood Tent Stove Weight
Wood tent stoves range in weight from under 2 lbs to over 90 lbs (around 1 kg-40 kg). The stove weight depends on the material that the stove is made of, the thickness of the material, the size of the stove, and the features that the stove includes.
Small titanium stoves are the lightest. Large stoves made from thick rolled steel or cast iron are the heaviest. Stoves made from thin steel sheets are somewhere in between.
Average stove weights include:
- Ultralight titanium wood tent stoves typically weigh around 2-4 lbs- These are the lightest stoves on the market. They are designed for backpacking.
- Lightweight steel wood tent stoves typically weigh around 20-30 lbs- These stoves are made from thin stainless steel or galvanized steel.
- Heavy-duty steel stoves usually weigh 60-90 lbs- These stoves are made from steel plates that are 10-18 gauge (.128-.048” inches or 3.2-1.22 mm). Some models are made from cast iron.
These weights include the stove, chimney, damper, legs, and all hardware. Pretty much everything you need to use the stove.
Weight is an important consideration when choosing a wood tent stove. Exactly how much your stove weight matters depends on how far you have to transport it and how you plan to transport it.
If you need to hike several miles into the backwoods with your stove in a backpack, it needs to be as light as possible. You probably won’t want to hike with a stove that weighs more than 10-15 lbs. If you only need to carry your stove a few steps from your car to your campsite, weight isn’t as important. If you’re going to carry the stove on horseback, on a motorcycle, in a sled, or on a game cart, it needs to be reasonably light. Ideally less than 30 lbs.
You might also consider who you’re camping with when choosing a stove. If you’re camping alone, you probably won’t want to move an 80 lb stove by yourself. Even if you’re only lifting it in and out of your vehicle. If you have someone to help you out, a heavy stove is easier to manage.
You might also want to think about how often you need to move camp. If you set up camp and stay for a week, lifting a heavy stove one time isn’t that big of a deal. If you move camp every day, you’ll want a lighter stove that’s easier to load and unload.
Wood Tent Stove Shape: Cylindrical Vs Box Shaped Stoves
Wood tent stoves are available in rectangular box shapes and cylindrical shapes. Both designs have their own set of pros and cons.
Cylindrical stoves generally pack down smaller than box stoves. Most models come apart into multiple pieces and collapse down. They also tend to be a bit lighter.
In most cases, cylinder-shaped stoves offer a bit more depth than box stoves. This allows you to burn longer logs. This saves you time while processing wood. You don’t have to cut the pieces quite as small.
Cylinder-shaped stoves are also less likely to warp. Most cylinder stoves have a small cooking surface or no cooking surface at all. Sometimes the top is rounded and not suitable for cooking.
Box-shaped stoves are generally better for cooking because they feature a large flat cooking surface on top. Box stoves are also easier to assemble in most cases. They are made from simple rectangular panels.
These stoves are usually a bit bulkier and heavier than cylinder-shaped stoves. Warping may be more likely.
Wood Tent Stove Burn Time
Burn time is the amount of time a stove full of wood will burn. It is measured from the time the wood ignites until it’s a smoldering pile of ash. At the end of the burn time, you should be able to add another load of wood and it will ignite without having to use a match or lighter.
The ideal burn time depends on how you plan to use your stove. Most hot tent campers want their stove to have a long burn time so they don’t have to get up and stoke the fire frequently during the night. 6-8 hours is a good burn time for this purpose. If you don’t plan to use your stove all night long, the burn time is less important. A 2-4 hour burn time may work fine.
Most stove manufacturers list a burn time in the stove specification. This number is almost always greatly exaggerated. Oftentimes by 50-100%. I don’t pay attention to this metric for this reason.
The best way to compare burn times between different stoves is to compare the stove firebox size. The larger the firebox, the more wood you can fit in the stove. The more wood you can fit in the stove, the longer the stove will burn. The firebox size is usually listed in cubic inches, cubic feet, or liters.
If you need a stove with a long burn time, you should also choose a stove with a door gasket. A door gasket allows the stove to seal up airtight. When the door is sealed up, you can control the burn rate much more accurately by adjusting the damper. If the stove doesn’t have a door gasket, it won’t seal up airtight. More air will make its way to your fire and it will burn faster as a result.
Generally, collapsible backpacker-sized stoves have a burn time of around 1-2 hours. Mid-sized stoves can burn for 2-8 hours. Large stoves can burn for 8+ hours. Some large models can burn as long as 15 hours.
If you don’t mind getting up in the night to stoke your stove, you can get away with a smaller stove. If you want your stove to continue producing heat throughout the night, you’ll need a larger model.
For most campers a 6-8 hour burn time is ideal. You can stoke the fire right before bed then again when you wake up. If you don’t leave your fire burning during the night or you don’t mind getting up to add wood, you can get away with a shorter burn time. If you’re camping with someone else, you can take turns getting up to stoke the fire during the night.
Your damper adjustment plays a major role in the burn time that your stove achieves. To maximize burn time, you’ll have to properly adjust your damper so your fire doesn’t get too much oxygen. If your damper is open too far, your fire will burn too hot and fast. If you close your damper too much, smoke will enter your tent and your fire will go out. You also need to keep the door closed while the fire is burning.
Wood Tent Stove Durability and Longevity
All wood tent stoves are pretty durable. After all, they are just simple metal boxes. If you take care of your stove, it will last decades. That said, there are a few durability issues you can run into.
Probably the most common issue is warping. This happens if you burn your stove too hot for too long. Warping is common on stoves that are made from thin materials. Lightweight stoves made from thin sheets of titanium or steel tend to warp more easily than stoves made from thick steel or cast iron plates.
To avoid warping, try not to run your stove too hot for too long. If your stove does warp, it will still be useable in most cases. It just won’t look perfect anymore.
It is also possible for a stove to burn through. The metal doesn’t actually burn. It melts away over time. Again, this is more common on stoves made from thinner materials because there is simply less material to melt through.
To avoid burn through, you can put a bit of sand or dirt in the bottom of your stove. This protects the material from extreme heat. Also, try not to burn the stove too hot if it’s made from thin materials. If your stove does burn through, you’ll have to replace it.
Some stoves can also corrode if they’re not stored properly. Steel and cast iron stoves can rust when they’re exposed to moisture. Over time, the rust can eat through the side of your stove.
To avoid corrosion, store your stove somewhere dry while you’re not using it. Your basement or garage would work well. Cover it with a tarp for some extra protection from the elements. Also, make sure it’s dry before you put it into storage. If your stove is damp, a small fire can dry it out quickly.
If your stove starts to rust, use some steel wool or a wire brush to remove the rust. This way, it won’t get worse. If you ignore the rust, it will get worse over time and eventually destroy your stove.
For those who live in an area where corrosion is an issue, like near the ocean, consider choosing a stove that is made from a material that won’t corrode, such as stainless steel or titanium.
If you take care of your stove, you will get decades of use out of it. A thick steel or cast iron stove should last a lifetime. A steel or titanium stove should last well over a decade with heavy use.
Wood Tent Stove Pricing
Wood tent stove pricing depends on a number of factors including the size of the stove, the material it’s made of, design and build quality, accessories it comes with, and more. A few stove types and their prices include:
- Heavy-duty steel or cast iron stoves cost around $150-$350
- Lightweight steel stoves cost around $250-$400
- Premium steel stoves cost around $500-$600
- Ultralight titanium stoves cost around $250-$350
In most cases, you’ll also have to buy a stove pipe separately. An ultralight titanium stove pipe costs around $75. A nesting steel stove pipe costs around $60.
You could also make your own stove pipe for around $20-$30 worth of materials if you’re handy. You can buy the necessary materials at any hardware store.
Hot Tent Chimney/Stove Pipe
You need a chimney or stove pipe to direct smoke out of your tent. The chimney attaches to your stove and passes through the stove jack in the side of your tent. Smoke vents directly from the stove to the outside.
How long your chimney needs to be depends on your tent height, stove height, and stove placement. The chimney needs to extend a minimum of 12-15 inches above the highest point of the tent. For example, if the highest point of your tent sits 50” off of the ground, the highest point of your chimney should sit 65” off of the ground. On average, a tent wood stove chimney measures about 6 feet long.
You must also choose the correct diameter for your stove pipe. The stove pipe diameter must match both the opening on the stove and the stove jack opening on the tent. For most stoves, the pipe diameter measures somewhere between 2.5” and 5”.
The diameter of the stovepipe affects the draw. A larger diameter pipe will draw more air and heat out of the stove. You can control the draw with the damper. In most cases, a larger stove with more burning power will require a larger diameter pipe.
If your pipe diameter doesn’t match your stove jack opening, you may have to make some modifications to your tent. Some tents come with an adjustable stove jack. Oftentimes you must cut the stove jack to size to match your pipe. you can do this with a knife or scissors.
It’s important that your stove pipe seals to your stove tightly. You don’t want it to leak smoke, carbon monoxide, or other contaminants into your tent.
If your stove jack is slightly too large for your stovepipe, it’s not a big deal. There will just be a gap. If this bothers you, you could buy a new stove jack and cut it to size.
Stove Pipe Designs
Most lightweight wood tent stoves use a stove pipe that is made from a long, thin sheet of titanium. The titanium sheet rolls up lengthwise for easy storage and transport. A 6 foot titanium chimney could pack down into a tube that measures 12″ x 2″ x 2″ and weighs half a pound.
When you’re ready to use the stove pipe, you roll it up widthwise with the assistance of some metal bands. Before you can use the chimney, it needs to be shaped into a tube. I’ll talk more about this later on.
This Danchel Outdoor Titanium Wood Stove Pipe would be a good choice. It comes in three sizes 6.5ft (2m), 8.2ft (2.5m), and 10ft (3m). You can also cut the stove pipe to length if it’s too long. This stove pipe includes 7 fixing rings to make setup easier. It is ultralight at just 0.5-0.74 lb depending on the length.
Collapsible or nested stove pipes are also common. These are made from sections of metal tubing. The sections have different diameters so they can collapse into one another.
These stove pipes are a bit easier to assemble but take up more space. If you’re car camping and you have plenty of space, you could just use a solid chimney that doesn’t roll or collapse.
This Nested Stove Pipe would work well. It’s made from 5 21″ pieces of galvanized metal. It is pre-drilled for a damper.
The best material for hot tent chimneys is titanium because its’ lightweight and corrosion-resistant. Steel chimneys can also work well. They’re a bit heavier and bulkier. They can also rust over time. You’ll want to inspect your steel chimney periodically to make sure it doesn’t develop any holes.
You can buy purpose-made wood tent stove chimneys from outdoor manufacturers. Sometimes the stove pipe is included with the stove. Sometimes it’s an add-on.
You can also make your own. If you decide to make your own stovepipe, make sure you choose a metal that isn’t treated with some kind of potentially toxic coating. This guide contains some good tips and info about making your own DIY hot tent stove pipe.
A Note About Shaping a Stove Pipe
Before the first burn, you may need to shape your stove pipe. This process involves cutting and bending your stove pipe into shape so it fits snugly on your stove. Shaping your stove pipe also makes it easier to roll into shape when you’re ready to use it.
There are a couple of different stove pipe designs. The most common is a rolled piece of thin titanium or steel. Shaping a stove pipe usually involves rolling the long, thin sheet of titanium into a tube shape. This can be a difficult job the first time you do it. It can be helpful to use a piece of PVC pipe as a form to roll the metal around.
The pipe should be roughly the diameter that you desire for your chimney. It can also help to have a second set of hands. This can be an annoying and tedious job. You don’t want to do this job around camp. It’s best to do it at home before you use your stove for the first time.
It’s important that you use your chimney after shaping it. The heat from the fire helps to set the shape of the metal. In other words, the metal develops a memory. It will roll itself into shape on future uses. Over time, the chimney becomes easier to roll into shape.
Another option is to make or buy a collapsible or nested stove pipe. These are made from several sections of metal with slightly different diameters. The sections fit inside one another when stored and telescope out for use. These do not require any shaping unless you’re making your own. In that case, you’ll have to purchase or make metal tubes of the proper diameter and cut them to length. Make sure they fit together snugly so they don’t leak smoke into your tent.
Other Wood Tent Stove Components
A few extra pieces and parts you may need for your wood tent stove include:
- Damper- The damper allows you to control how quickly air can flow up the stove pipe. When the damper is wide open, hot air flows up the chimney and out of the tent quickly. The wood also burns quickly because the fire gets lots of oxygen. When you partially close the damper, the flow of hot air out of the chimney slows down. More heat stays in the stove and more heat makes its way into your tent. The wood also burns slower when the damper is partially closed because it’s not getting as much oxygen. If you close the damper, smoke will start coming into your tent because it can’t go up the stove pipe. Your fire will also go out because it won’t get enough air. You can control exactly how much air flows through the stove pipe by adjusting the damper. You adjust the damper by turning a knob on the stove pipe. The damper is a round plate that is the same diameter as your stove pipe. It sits in the stove pipe and covers the pipe opening when closed. It is usually held in place with a spring so you can precisely position the damper.
- Spark arrestor- This is a piece of wire mesh that attaches to the top of your stove pipe. The spark arrestor prevents flamible material from coming out of your stove pipe. With a spark arrestor, sparks or hot ash won’t come into contact with your tent roof and burn a hole. The spark arrestor also helps to prevent you from accidentally starting a forest fire. This is a necessary piece of gear to protect your tent and the environment. Many tent wood stoves come with a spark arrestor. You can also easily make one out of some metal mesh.
- Fly- A spark arrestor is not 100% effective. Some sparks can make their way through and burn a hole in your hot tent roof. The solution is to pitch a fly over your tent. When a spark makes its way through the arrestor and onto your tent, it will burn a hole in the fly instead of your tent body. It will cool before it has the chance to burn your tent roof. Having a hole in your fly isn’t a big deal. You can just ignore it, patch it, or easily replace it. Having a hole in your tent roof is much worse.
- Wood grate- This is a metal frame that sits in the bottom of the stove’s fire box. The purpose of the wood grate is to hold wood off of the bottom of the stove so more air can circulate under it. This allows the wood to burn more easily and more completely. The wood grate can also help to protect the bottom of your stove from burn through. Some wood tent stoves come with a wood grate. You can also make one.
- Stove jack- The stove jack is the part of the tent where the chimey passes through. It is made from a fire resistant material that protects the tent from the hot chimney. The stove jack hole must match the diameter of your stove’s chimney (usually 2.5-5”.) Some hot tents come with a solid stove jack. You cut the hole to size with a knife or scissors. Some feature an adjustable hole. If the stove jack is slightly too large for your stovepipe, it’s not really an issue. You’ll just have a gap. If it’s too small, you’ll have to cut it larger so the pipe can pass through.
Wood Tent Stove Features and Accessories
Some wood tent stoves are very basic and are only designed to provide heat. Others come with additional features and accessories that improve usability or provide additional functions. A few stove features to look for include:
Many tent wood stoves feature a small window in the front or side. Some stoves close completely and have no window.
A window allows you to watch your fire burn without allowing smoke or sparks in your tent. This feature allows you to easily see how much wood is left in your stove. It’s also entertaining to sit and watch the fire. In addition, the window allows the fire to put off some light.
The drawback is that the window can get covered in soot. You’ll have to clean it occasionally. The glass can also break if you’re not careful. Some stoves with windows come with metal plates that you can replace the windows with.
Built in hot water tank
This nifty little feature heats water that you can use for cooking, making tea and coffee, or cleaning. This way, you always have access to hot water when your stove is burning. Most models that include this feature have a 1-3 gallon water tank attached to the side or top of the stove.
The main drawback to camp stove water tanks is that you always have to keep the tank full to prevent it from warping. Every time you use some water, you should top the tank off. For this reason, you should only get a water tank if you plan to actually use it. Otherwise, it’s just a heavy extra piece that you have to maintain.
The water reservoir adds a bit of convenience. It also adds some weight. You’ll only find this feature on heavy-duty steel stoves. If you don’t have a water tank on your stove, you can heat water in a kettle on top of most stoves.
This is a small tray that attaches to the side of the stove. It usually slides or folds into place. Some tents have a warming tray on each side.
The warming tray creates additional space to place pots and pans and other equipment while you cook. It can be used like countertop space. You can also leave your food on the tray to keep it warm while you eat. These come in handy if you cook on your stove often.
Some large camp stoves feature a built-in oven or an attachable oven accessory. This allows you to bake breads, cakes, pizza, cookies, and other dishes while you camp.
A wood stove oven usually attaches between the stove and stove pipe. Sometimes it attaches between stove pipe sections. The oven is heated by smoke that circulates around the sides of the oven unit on its way out of the tent.
An added benefit of a wood stove oven is that it increases your stove’s heat output. Heat that would have just exited your tent heats the oven instead. The oven radiates some additional heat into your tent.
The main drawback to wood stove ovens is that it’s difficult to maintain a constant temperature. It’s easy to overcook or burn your food if you’re not careful. You’ll want to let your fire burn down a bit before you put your food in. A thermometer can help you regulate the temperature. An oven is also a heavy and bulky piece of equipment.
You’ll also have to consider whether or not you’ll actually take the time to bake while camping. It’s kind of a hassle to make bread or cookies in a tent. You would have to really enjoy baking.
Hot Tent and Wood Stove Weight
The weight of your tent and stove setup depends on the size of the tent and stove you use and the materials they’re made of. Accessories can also add weight.
A big, heavy-duty hot tent and steel wood stove could weigh over 150 lbs (around 70kg).
An average-sized canvas tent and stainless steel stove could weigh 40-50 lbs (around 18-23 kg).
These days, hot tents and wood tent stoves are an option for ultralight campers. An ultralight sil-nylon hot tent and titanium wood stove can weigh in at less than 5 lbs (about 2.25 kg).
When choosing a hot tent and wood tent stove, you’ll want to consider how far you’ll have to transport your gear and how you plan to transport it. If you need to hike or bike a few miles or more, you’ll want an ultralight setup. In this case, your stove and tent should weigh less than 15 lbs. If you’re camping right next to your vehicle, the weight doesn’t really matter. You just need to be able to load and unload your gear.
If there is snow on the ground where you’re hiking, you can pull your gear behind you in a sled. When you do this, the weight of your gear doesn’t matter quite as much. The ground supports the weight. You just pull the sled along. This is an efficient way to move your hot tent and wood stove around in the winter. If there is no snow, you may be able to use a game cart if they’re permitted. Using a sled or game cart isn’t practical if you’re camping in a densely forested or rugged area.
How to Break in a Tent Wood Stove: The First Burn
Before you’re ready to take your new tent wood stove camping, you’ll need to perform a couple of jobs at home to prepare. Most importantly, you’ll need to perform a ‘first burn’ to season your stove.
The first burn burns off potentially harmful chemicals and oil that may have been applied to your stove during manufacture. For example, some stoves have zinc in the coating. Some have paint or other chemical residue that needs to be burned off.
The first burn is important because the gas that comes off of the stove during the first burn may be poisonous. It would be hazardous to your health if you were to breathe it. The gasses may also have a strong odor that could linger in your clothing and gear.
During the first burn, you should set up your stove with the chimney and let it burn for at least 4 hours. You should do this outside where the gasses can escape. Don’t perform the first burn in your hot tent or in your garage. Do it outside.
You only have to do this first burn one time when the stove is new. After the first burn, the stove has been ‘seasoned’. One benefit to doing this first burn is that it forces you to practice lighting and using your stove. This way, you know how everything works when you go camping.
During your first burn, test out your stove’s features. Test the damper, grate, spark arrestor, etc. This way, you know how everything works.
Don’t cook on your stove during the first burn. Chemicals emitted from your stove during the first burn could make their way into your food. You don’t want to ingest these. Wait for the second burn to cook.
Inspecting the Stove After the First Burn
After completing the first burn you should perform an inspection. Let the stove cool down and remove the ash. Look at all of the walls, top, bottom, and lid of the stove and check for warping. Check the welds to make sure they haven’t split or cracked. You want to make sure the stove is solid. If you spot damage, you may have received a faulty stove.
After the first burn, the stove may look different than it did when you bought it. It may lose the shine and look kind of dull. If it’s made from stainless steel, it will have a kind of patina on the outside. This is fine. It’s normal and expected.
Hot Tent and Wood Stove Setup Tips
Using a hot tent and wood adds a bit of complexity to your camp setup. This section outlines a few tips to make the setup process a bit easier.
Practice Setting up your Wood Stove and Hot Tent
It’s a good idea to practice pitching your hot tent and setting your stove and chimney up before you go camping. You can do this in your backyard or in a park.
There are several benefits to practicing camp setup. First, you know how everything goes together. Some collapsible stoves can be a bit tricky to assemble the first time you do it. Floorless non-freestanding tents can take some practice to pitch as well. You want to make sure you can get a tight pitch to maximize ventilation and interior space.
It may take you a couple of hours to assemble and set your stove and tent up for the first time. You don’t want to have to take the time to learn how everything works while your fingers are freezing at camp. You’ll be able to set up camp much faster and more easily when you know how everything goes together.
When you practice, you’ll also know that you have all or the necessary pieces and parts. You don’t want to discover that your hot tent didn’t come with stakes while you’re trying to pitch it at camp. By practicing, you know that you have everything you need.
Practice also ensures that all of the parts of your setup are compatible. You won’t be surprised by missing parts or improperly sized components. If you’ve tested everything, you know it will work. You don’t want to find that your stove jack is too small for your stove pipe while you’re setting up camp.
Practicing setup also allows you to try out different stove and chimney placements. Some hot tents and stoves can be set up in a number of different ways. For example, you could set the stove in the center of the tent or near a wall. You could run the chimney straight up from the stove or out at an angle.
Some hot tents can be pitched in different ways as well. You may be able to pitch a floorless tent close to the ground or leave it raised slightly for ventilation. Play around with this before you go camping.
Set your Stove Up on Solid Ground
When you set up your wood stove, make sure you have a stable base so it doesn’t shift or tip over in your tent. The ground under your stove should be level and solid. Don’t set your stove up on deep snow or rocky uneven ground. If it were to tip over, it could start a fire.
Finding a level and stable place to set your stove up can be a challenge when hot tenting in the snow. Heat from the stove can melt the snow underneath. This can destabilize the stove and cause it to tip.
When setting up camp on deep snow, there are a couple of ways to stabilize your stove. You can dig down until you find a solid surface. You can also build a solid base for your stove. For more info on setting up camp in the snow, check out this excellent guide.
Use a Fireproof Mat Under Your Stove
Keep in mind that the ground under your stove is going to get hot. Many hot tents allow you to zip the floor out under the stove. Some have no floor at all. Setting your stove up directly on the ground reduces your chance of damaging your tent floor.
Many campers like to place a fireproof mat under their stove to protect their tent floor. This ZUZU Babe Fire Pit Mat would work well. It’s lightweight and foldable. A number of sizes are available.
Use a Heat Shield if Necessary
Whether or not you need a heat shield depends on your stove placement in your tent. If your stove sits near a tent wall, you may need a heat shield to prevent the wall from catching fire. If you place your stove in the center of your tent, away from any walls, a heat shield is usually unnecessary.
Some hot tents feature a built-in heat shield that is sewn into the tent wall. This is common if the tent is designed in a way that forces you to place the stove near a wall.
You can also use a piece of thin gauge aluminum sheeting as a heat shield. You can buy this material at any hardware store.
When using your stove, make sure the walls of your tent don’t get too hot. This is one of the most common causes of tent fires. If the wall feels like it’s getting dangerously hot, put out your fire and increase your heat shielding.
Firewood for your Hot Tent Stove
Before your trip, you’ll need to check the firewood regulations where you’re camping. You want to find out if you are permitted to collect firewood around your campsite or if you have to buy firewood and haul it to camp.
You’ll also need to make sure you are permitted to have a fire where you’re camping. Fires are sometimes prohibited due to wildfire risk.
These days, collecting firewood is no longer allowed in many campgrounds. This is the case because when too many people collect firewood, it affects the natural appearance of the environment. Some people also cut trees and cause damage to animal habitats.
Most hot tent campers prefer to collect wood near their campsite if possible. This saves you from having to buy firewood or haul heavy firewood in. Collecting firewood is also kind of fun.
When collecting firewood, try to do so in a way that doesn’t affect the natural environment. Don’t collect wood from standing or fallen trees. These provide shelter for birds and insects. Don’t remove branches from living or dead trees. This affects the appearance of the environment.
Collect wood from the ground such as fallen branches. Driftwood is also a good source of firewood. Try to gather your wood from a large area. This reduces the impact of collecting wood. It’s best to burn wood that is smaller than the diameter of your wrist.
For more firewood collection tips, check out this guide from Leave No Trace.
If you are not permitted to collect firewood, buy your firewood locally. Ideally, you should buy firewood 10 miles or less from where you plan to camp. Don’t haul firewood in from another area. This can introduce invasive species that can harm the environment. For more info, check out this guide. Always check the local regulations before your trip. Some areas are more strict about firewood than others.
If you don’t feel like chopping or buying firewood locally, it is usually safe to use packaged heat-treated firewood. This wood has been heated to kill pathogens.
When collecting wood during the winter, chances are it will be wet. Before you can burn the wood, you may have to dry it out.
There are three ways to dry wood with a wood tent stove:
- On top of the stove- This is the best place to dry really soaked wood. Don’t leave it up there too long or it could get too hot and ignite. Move it around once in a while so it dries completely.
- Under the stove- This is a good place to dry damp wood. Heat from the stove causes water in the wood to evaporate away.
- Place it in the stove wet- Wet wood eventually dries out and burns. It just burns a bit slower and cooler. You should avoid burning wet wood when possible because it releases more smoke and creosote than dry wood. This contaminates the air and clogs up your stove pipe faster.
You may also need to pack a tool to cut firewood with. Most hot tent campers pack a small folding saw and a fixed blade knife. A hatchet can also come in handy.
If weight isn’t a factor, you may consider bringing a small chainsaw. This makes it much easier to cut logs to size. Consider the noise if you plan to use a chainsaw. You don’t want to disturb other campers. An electric chainsaw is quieter than gas.
These tools allow you to process larger chunks of wood into smaller pieces that will fit in your stove. You can cut logs down to size with the handsaw or chainsaw and use a hatchet or knife to split the logs.
When cutting wood, you need to make sure it’s short enough to fit in your stove’s firebox. Consider measuring your firebox so you know what length to cut the wood. You’ll be able to fit more wood in your stove if it’s the proper length.
You need several sizes of wood. Kindling and small pieces of wood make it easier to start the fire. Medium-sized pieces are great for cooking because they allow you to better control the temperature. Large pieces of wood burn slowly and increase the burn time.
If you don’t pack a saw or hatchet, you limit yourself to burning only small pieces of wood that you can break with your hands or feet. Small pieces of wood burn quickly.
Wood tent stoves burn much more efficiently than open campfires. You don’t need much wood to keep your fire burning all night.
Remember, you should never bring wood from home or haul wood in from somewhere else. If you have to buy firewood, you should buy it locally. This reduces the likelihood of introducing invasive species into the environment.
Lighting the Stove
When you’re ready to start your fire, open all of the vents on the stove and open the damper.
Next, place your kindling and logs in the stove. There are a number of techniques for log placement. This guide outlines a couple of different techniques. Add some paper to help start the fire.
You’ll need to pack some type of lighter or matches to get your fire going. If you expect wet conditions, consider packing a waterproof lighter. Always bring a backup lighter or book of matches in case one gets lost or ruined.
If your firewood is damp, it may be difficult to light. A firestarter can help you get your fire going much faster. These Lightning Nugget Firestarters work well.
Cooking on a Wood Tent Stove
A wood tent stove offers a number of cooking options. It is a versatile cooking tool. Most wood tent stoves feature a flat top where you can cook in a pot or pan.
Use your camp pot to boil water, heat soup, or cook rice or pasta. You could also fry foods in a pan on top of your stove. Fried eggs and bacon are a great way to start the day. Cast iron cookware pairs well with wood stoves due to its durability and heat retention qualities.
Some wood stoves also feature an oven. This is usually an attachment that is heated with smoke. Sometimes the oven is built into the top of the stove.
It’s also possible to create an oven by placing a pot or bowl upside down on top of the stove. Place a rack under the pot to elevate the food off of the hot top surface. The inside of the pot heats up like an oven. You can bake various types of bread or meats in the wood stove oven.
You can also cook directly over the fire inside of the stove. To do this, you can install some type of grill or cooking grate inside of the stove that elevates your food off of the coals. You could also roast food on skewers or on a stick by holding it over the coals. For example, you could roast hot dogs or marshmallows right in your tent. Alternatively, you could wait for the coals to burn down, wrap your food in aluminum foil, and place it directly on the coals.
The main drawback to cooking on your tent wood stove is that you can’t easily control the cooking temperature. If you need a hotter cooking surface, you’ll have to add wood. It will take a few minutes to heat up. If the stove is too hot, you’ll have to wait for it to burn down. It’s easy to burn your food. Burning small pieces of wood while cooking makes it easier to control the temperature. When cooking on your wood stove, stir regularly and keep a close eye.
For some more woodstove cooking tips, check out this guide.
Maintaining a Hot Tent Wood Stove
Wood tent stoves require regular maintenance to keep them burning efficiently and operating safely. After every day of burning, you’ll have to clean the ash out of the stove. Most stoves come with a small brush you can use to sweep the ash out. Before removing ash, make sure that it is completely extinguished so it doesn’t start a fire.
If you let too much ash build up, your stove will become less efficient. You also won’t have as much room for wood. This decreases your burn time.
It’s also important to remove creosote from the stove pipe, stove box, and damper. Creosote is a combination of chemicals that are a byproduct of burning wood. This material builds up in your stove and chimney over time. You should remove the creosote after every 1-2 days of burning.
It’s particularly to remove creosote from the stove pipe. The opening in the pipe shrinks as creosote builds up. A 3” diameter pipe could become a 1” diameter pipe after a couple of days. If the pipe gets too narrow because too much creosote builds up on the walls, carbon monoxide can begin leaking into your tent.
You should also take a wire brush to the inside and outside of the stove box. This removes caked on ash, creosote, and rust. You don’t want to let rust build up on your stove or it can eat through the walls over time and ruin your stove. Ash and creosote buildup in the firebox reduce the volume of wood that you can fit in the stove. Brush these away and keep the firebox clean.
It’s also important to clean and lubricate any moving parts on your stove. First, scrape away any buildup or rust then apply lubricant. Moving parts could include the door hinge, leg hinges, and attachment points if your stove is collapsible. You want to keep these parts operating smoothly.
Next, inspect and clean the damper. Make sure it’s in good condition so it doesn’t slip. If it has a spring, make sure it’s working properly and holding tension.
Finally, inspect your stove. Look for spots that could be weakened by rust. Check for holes, dents, or warping. If you spot any severe damage, repair or replace your stove. Make sure all of the parts function as intended.
It’s also important to inspect your stove pipe. Make sure the stove pipe fits on the stove snugly. If your stove pipe has several sections, make sure they all fit together properly without any gaps. Stove pipes get dented easily. Bend any dents or crimped spots back into shape the best you can. Also, check for holes and rust.
For more in-depth info on cleaning and maintaining a hot tent wood stove, check out this guide.
How to Stay Safe While Hot Tent Camping
Hot tent camping is safe as long as your tent and stove are set up properly and you have the proper safety equipment with you. That said, there are some risks.
Probably the biggest risk of hot tent camping is accidentally poisoning yourself with carbon monoxide. Wood stoves can leak smoke into your tent if they’re not set up properly. This could be deadly.
Fire is also a concern. A spark or ember could jump out of the stove while you’re adding wood and start your tent on. Your tent could ignite if the stove sits too close to the tent wall. Your fire could get away from you and cause a forest fire if you’re not careful. Camping gear could catch fire if it makes contact with your hot stove.
Injury is also a possibility. You could badly burn yourself if you accidentally rub up against the hot stove or chimney. Of course, you could burn yourself on the fire as well.
In this section, I’ll outline some important tips to help you stay safe while hot tent camping. As long as you take the proper safety precautions, you’ll stay safe while hot tenting.
Ventilate your tent well
With proper ventilation, carbon monoxide poisoning is unlikely. Most hot tents offer good ventilation. Whenever you’re using your wood tent stove, open all of the vent holes and windows on the tent. You can leave the door partially open for extra ventilation.
This allows fresh air to enter the tent. Air contaminated with carbon monoxide and other toxins will exit the tent. Never close up all of the vents and doors and windows on your tent while using your stove. Even if the stove is functioning properly, it can leak some smoke and carbon monoxide. You don’t want to be breathing this.
Don’t place gear too close to your stove
Your gear could get too hot and burn, melt, or ignite if it’s sitting too close to your stove. You also need to be careful not to accidentally push gear up against your stove while moving around in your tent.
For example, if, during the night, your sleeping bag or quilt were to rub up against your wood stove, it could melt or even catch fire. You could knock something up against the stove in your sleep. Make sure the area around the stove is clear.
Pack a portable fire extinguisher
You need to have some way to extinguish a flame if your fire gets out of hand. This First Alert EZ Fire Spray would work well.
It comes in a 14oz aerosol bottle that measures 9.6” x 2.6”. It would fit in your backpack’s water bottle holder. This spray is biodegradable and easy to clean up.
Be sure to keep the fire extinguisher in your tent with you while you’re using your stove. If you already have a fire extinguisher in your car, you could just take that one into your tent if you’re car camping.
Aim the stove pipe away from the wind
When the fire burns down, less air travels up the stove pipe. A gust of wind can blow into the pipe and blow smoke and ash into your tent. To avoid this, aim your pipe away from the wind.
Be careful when moving around in your tent
It’s easy to bump your stove or trip over it when you’re moving around in such close quarters. Particularly during the night when it’s dark. If this happens, you could badly burn yourself. You could also separate the stove pipe from the stove. Your tent will fill with smoke quickly if this happens.
To avoid this, be careful when moving around in your tent. Use your flashlight so you can see your way around. Stabilize yourself with your hands while stepping over gear or your camping buddy.
Carry a pair of heat-resistant work gloves
You need a good pair of gloves to operate a wood stove safely. The stove can get hot enough to severely damage your skin.
You can use your gloves to adjust your stove pipe if it becomes separated from your stove and starts leaking smoke. This can happen if you accidentally bump your stove while moving around in your tent. You can also use your gloves to adjust your stove position if it feels unstable. You might also want to wear gloves to reposition logs while stoking your fire.
These Rapicca 16 inch leather gloves would work well. They are made from naturally heat-resistant cowhide leather with a layer of kevlar padding. They can withstand temperatures up to 932°F (500℃). They’re kind of bulky but they will protect your hands.
Pack a sleeping bag and pad that will keep you warm, even if you can’t use your stove
Your sleep system needs to keep you warm if your fire goes out or if you can’t use your stove for whatever reason. This is important for your safety. You can’t rely on your stove alone to keep you warm.
Bring a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your tent
The alarm can alert you if smoke or carbon monoxide starts building up in your tent. This is particularly important if you sleep in your hot tent while your fire is burning. This could save your life.
This X-Sense Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector would work well. It features a 10 year lithium battery and an LCD display that tells you the carbon monoxide levels in real-time. If carbon monoxide levels get too high, an 85 dB alarm will sound and an LED indicator will flash rapidly.
Keep an eye on the carbon monoxide level. If it gets too high, find a way to better ventilate your tent or let your fire burn out and make adjustments to your stove to prevent it from leaking. For example, maybe your stove pipe is too loose.
Be careful when opening the stove
As logs burn, they can shift and fall. If a log is leaning up against the door, it can fall out when you open the stove’s door. To avoid this, let your fire burn down before you open the door. If you must open the door, open it slowly and carefully. Also, make sure there is nothing under the opening of the stove so nothing gets burned or damaged if coals fall out. Have your gloves ready, just in case a hot log rolls out.
Sleep with a knife and flashlight nearby
If worse comes to worst and your tent catches fire, you can cut your way out of the side of the tent with the knife. You’ll need your flashlight to see what you’re doing.
Don’t sleep with your stove burning if you’re alone
To be safe, someone should be awake to keep an eye on the stove. If you’re camping with multiple people, you can each take turns getting up to stoke the fire and keep an eye on it.
If you’re camping alone, use the stove to keep your tent warm while you’re getting ready for bed and let it burn down before you go to sleep. Fire it back up again first thing in the morning when you wake up to heat your tent back up. This way, you don’t risk starting a fire or getting carbon monoxide poisoning while you sleep.
For more safety tips, check out my guide: Is Camping Safe?
Pros and Cons of Hot Tent Camping
Hot tenting is a great way to stay warm and dry while camping during the winter. Of course, it’s not for everyone. In this section, I’ll list the pros and cons of hot tent camping.
Pros of Hot Tent Camping
- You’ll stay warmer- An efficient wood stove can easily keep your tent 40-50°F warmer than the outside temperature. For example, if it’s freezing outside, the inside of your tent could be 80°F (26°C) if you wanted. If it’s -20°F outside, you could get the inside temp up to 50-60°F. With an oversized stove, you could keep your tent even warmer. No matter the outside temperature, you can stay warm and comfy with a wood tent stove.
- Your tent and gear stay dryer in a hot tent- The heat from the fire helps to dry out the inside of your tent and your gear. You can dry your damp socks, boots, gloves, jacket, and other clothing by the stove during the night. This way, you have warm and dry clothing to wear every day. After you wake up, you can dry out your sleeping bag by the stove. The stove also helps to dry out any water that you track into your tent. You’ll stay much warmer when your clothing and gear are dry. Dry clothing lofts better and traps more heat.
- Less condensation to deal with- Condensation occurs when warm, humid air contacts a cold surface. A tent wood stove creates a dry heat. When the air inside of the tent warms up, it can hold more moisture. Any moisture that is inside of the tent evaporates into water vapor. When you open a vent or the tent door, this warm air escapes and takes the water vapor with it. It is replaced with cool, dry air from the outside. Over time, moisture from your damp clothing and gear as well as moisture from your sweat and breath leave the tent. You’re left with a warm and dry tent interior. You won’t wake up to frozen condensation on the inside of your tent. For more info, check out my guide to avoiding condensation in tents.
- You’ll stay more comfortable- After your tent heats up, you can enjoy the comfortable 70-80°F environment. When you’re warm, you can take your time cooking and eating. You don’t have to rush through your meal before it gets cold. You can also lounge around, read, and relax in comfort. In addition, you don’t have to bundle up to stay warm. You could wear your t-shirt and shorts if you wanted to. You’ll also stay dryer. You’ll never have to wear cold, damp socks and boots. Having a comfortable place to hang out allows you to camp for more days during the winter. You won’t burn out as quickly. Without a stove to keep you warm, you can only endure so many days before you become miserable.
- Your gear won’t freeze- With a hot tent, you don’t have to worry about your drinking water freezing during the night. You don’t have to worry about batteries draining because they’re too cold. You don’t have to worry about toiletries or medication freezing. All of your important gear stays warm and free of ice inside of your heated tent.
- You can cook on your hot tent stove- Most wood tent stoves feature a flat spot on top where you can cook. The top of the stove gets very hot. The surface acts like a stovetop burner. Some stoves also offer a built-in oven. It is also possible to cook some foods directly on the top of the stove. If your stove has a hot water tank, you can use the water to easily prepare dehydrated camp meals. You may not need to pack a camp stove if you use a wood stove.
- A hot tent and stove extend your camping season- If you live in a cold climate, you may only be able to comfortably camp for 4-8 months per year. With a hot tent and wood stove, you can comfortably camp year-round. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy more winter activities such as snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
- Hot tenting is cozy and fun- Sitting in your warm tent while it’s cold and windy and snowy outside is a cozy experience. Especially when it’s snowing. The process of gathering wood, starting a fire, and watching it burn can also be fun as well.
- Hot tent camping is a completely unique camping experience- It’s fun to try new outdoor activities. During the winter, you may not feel like going hiking or snowshoeing. Hot tenting is something different.
Cons of Hot Tent Camping
- Wood tent stoves and hot tents are heavy- Adding a stove to your camp setup will add a minimum of 10 lbs if you choose an ultralight model. If you choose a mid-weight model, you’re looking at adding 25-40 lbs to your setup. This is a lot of extra weight to carry around. In order to use a tent wood stove, you need the stove itself, a hot tent, and a chimney. You may also need additional gear such as a fire extinguisher, hatchet, saw, tent fly, wood grate, etc. All of this extra gear adds weight. In addition, you may need to pack firewood with you, depending on where you’re camping. Hot tents also tend to be heavier than regular tents. Particularly if they’re made from heavy materials like canvas. This adds a few pounds to your setup. You cannot go ultralight with a wood stove and hot tent.
- Wood tent stoves and hot tents are bulky- A wood tent stove takes up a lot of space in your pack or car. The most compact collapsible wood stoves measure around 14 x 11 x 2 inches when packed. You’ll also need to pack a stove pipe, spark arrestor, and other hardware. This will take up a big chunk of space in your backpack. A small steel wood stove and accessories might take up half of your vehicle’s trunk space. You might also need to pack firewood with you. This takes up even more space. Hot tents also tend to be bulky. Particularly if they’re made from canvas. If you’re traveling on foot, by bicycle, motorcycle, or horse, you’ll have to pack carefully so you can fit all of your gear in your luggage.
- It takes more time and effort to set up camp when you use a wood stove- A wood tent stove is another piece of gear that you have to set up. First, you have to unload it and carry it to camp. If your stove is heavy, this can take some effort. Next, you have to put it together. If you’re using a collapsible stove, this could take 10-15 minutes. Next, you’ll also have to place the stove in your tent and set up the chimney. You need to make sure it’s stable. You’ll also have to take everything down and pack it up when you’re ready to go. In addition, you’ll have to clean out your stove so it doesn’t get ash everywhere. Using a wood tent stove will add anywhere from 10-30 minutes to your camp set up and take down time. This is fine if you stay at the same site for several days. If you move around frequently, setting up a stove every day gets annoying.
- You have to collect or pack firewood- In order to use your wood tent stove, you need some wood to burn. You’ll have to pay attention to the regulations regarding firewood. In some areas, you are permitted to collect small pieces of firewood from fallen trees. In some areas, you must pack your firewood in. You should buy your firewood locally so you don’t accidentally bring in any invasive species on your wood. For some more firewood tips, check out this guide. If you don’t want to burn wood, you can buy tent stoves that are designed to burn pellets. Some models can burn both pellets and wood.
- Wood tent stoves are expensive- A wood tent stove and accessories will cost anywhere from $150 to $700+. For some campers, this is a major expense. You’ll also have to buy firewood sometimes. Most campgrounds charge $5-$10 per bundle. You may need to buy multiple bundles. This cost adds up quickly. If you’re on a tight budget, you may be better off spending your money on a warmer sleeping bag and some warm clothes instead.
- You have to stoke the fire throughout the night- As outlined above, the amount of time that a stove can provide heat depends on the size of the stove, the design, and the material that the stove is made of. A small wood tent stove that is designed for backpacking may only provide heat for 1-4 hours before you have to stoke it. This means you’ll have to get up in the night to tend to your stove if you want it to keep you warm through the night. You might need to get up 3-4 times during the night. This is uncomfortable and annoying. After you get up, you might not be able to get back to sleep. Larger and heavier wood tent stoves can continue providing heat for over 8 hours. You can stoke the stove once right before bed and again when you wake up in the morning.
- You need to clean and maintain your stove- Wood tent stoves require some regular maintenance to keep them burning efficiently. After every day of use, you’ll have to remove ash from your stove. After every 1-2 days of use, you’ll have to clean the flue and stove pipe. This is necessary because creosote builds up and narrows your stove pipe. Periodically, you’ll need to scrape the rust off of your stove to prevent build-up. You may also need to oil the door hinges to keep them operating smoothly. Some of these jobs are messy and annoying. This maintenance work also takes time.
- You still need to pack a warm sleeping bag and clothing- A wood tent stove does not replace a sleeping bag and winter clothing. You’ll still need to pack a sleeping bag that will keep you warm, even if you don’t have a fire going. You’ll need warm clothing too. You’re not going to spend all of your time in your hot tent.
- Hot tent camping can be dangerous- There are a number of risks to hot tent camping. First, you could poison yourself with carbon monoxide if you’re not careful. This happens when your stove leaks smoke and other poisonous gasses into your tent. Carbon monoxide can kill. Your stove could also light your tent on fire if a spark jumps out or if your fire gets out of hand. A spark arrestor helps reduce the risk. You could also start a forest fire if your fire gets away from you. You should only use your stove where campfires are permitted. Take the safety precautions outlined in the previous section to stay safe.
Hot Tent Recommendations
There are a wide range of hot tents on the market. A few popular options include:
This premium hot tent is suitable for all-season camping. It features a strong and roomy dome shape with an umbrella-style frame that pops up for quick pitching. The floor can easily zip on and off, allowing you to set your stove directly on the ground. The zip floor is also excellent for ice fishing. You can fish from the comfort of your heated tent. The tent features a built-in stove jack and fire-resistant fabric for safety. It also offers a window for ventilation.
The tent body consists of two layers. The inner layer is made from Oxford 210 PU 2000. The outer layer is made from Oxford 300D PU 400. The tent is wind and rainproof. The poles are made from aviation-grade aluminum and steel. This is a durable tent made from quality materials. It will last many years.
The main drawback to this tent is the cost. This is a premium hot tent. The price reflects that. This is also a heavy tent, weighing in at just over 36 lbs. It’s ideal for car camping, fishing, and hunting but too heavy for backpacking.
When pitched, the tent measures 8.9 feet in diameter and 5.9 feet high in the center. It can comfortably sleep 3 people. Larger 5 and 8 person models are also available.
This floorless 4 season hot tent weighs just 5.6 lbs (2.5 kg), making it just light enough to use for backpacking. It also packs down small enough to fit in a backpack or attach to the outside.
The tent includes a stove jack that you can cut to size to fit your stove pipe. There are two doors, two air vents, and one window for ventilation. The tent is made from durable 210T patterned polyester. It is rain and wind resistant. A pole, stakes, and a carrying case are included.
This is a large tent with a diameter of 4 meters and a height of 2.2 meters in the center. It can comfortably accommodate 3 campers with a stove or 4 campers without a stove.
A smaller version is also available that is designed for 2 campers. You can also purchase a floored mesh inner tent separately as an accessory if you need protection from insects.
This yurt-style hot tent is made from 100% Army Duck Canvas. It is designed to be waterproof and UV resistant while still maintaining breathability.
The tent features a built-in groundsheet, 5” fire retardant stove jack, a mesh door and 3 windows, 4 vents, and heavy-duty zippers. The center pole is made from durable galvanized steel. Stakes, a rain cap, a rubber mallet, and a carrying case are included.
The tent is available in 3 sizes, 10’ (3 meters), 13’ (4 meters), and 16.5’ (5 meters) sizes. The 10’ tent sleeps 4, the 13’ tent sleeps 6, and the 16.5’ sleeps 10. These are large and heavy tents. They are designed for glamping or car camping.
Tent Wood Stove Recommendations
As outlined above, tent wood stoves come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials. The best stove depends on how you plan to transport the stove, how far you need to carry it, how much space you need to heat, and your budget. In this section, I’ll recommend a few good options.
This ultralight titanium stove weighs just 4 lbs (1.81 kg). It features a fast folding design. The stove walls and legs fold flat. When packed, the stove measures 15” x 9” x 2”. No tools or hardware are required to set the stove up. The lightweight and compact design make this stove ideal for backpacking and hiking.
A 9 foot titanium chimney, spark arrestor, and carry bag are included. The chimney is made from a thin piece of rolled titanium. It measures just 12” x 1” x 1” when rolled.
The stove’s firebox measure 900 cubic inches. The large flat top makes an excellent cooking surface. The top panel is also removable, allowing you to use the stove as a firepan in sensitive areas where firepans are required.
This premium wood tent stove is made from 0.04” thick stainless steel. It features heat resistant ceramic glass walls. The glass walls serve two purposes. They efficiently transmit heat. They also allow you to view the fire. The stove puts off a cozy soft light.
The stove features a coil-type spark arestor built into the top of the firebox. This essentially splits the firebox into two sections. There are several benefits to this design. First, it increases the stove’s efficiency. Next, it heats the top cooking surface evenly. It also protects the tent from damage from sparks. A stove pipe and carry bag are included. This stove pairs perfectly with Russian Bear hot tents.
This is a mid-weight stove at 18.7 lbs. When packed, the stove measures 11.42” x 20.87″ x 12.99″. This is the small size. Medium and large sizes are also available. The main drawback to this stove is the price. It’s expensive.
This budget stove is made from durable 13-14 gauge galvanized steel with a cast iron hinged door. This stove is ideal for those who like to cook. It features a large flat cooking surface on top, perfect for boiling water or frying bacon and eggs for breakfast.
The legs detach and the pipe collapses and stores inside of the firebox. This makes the whole package easy to transport. This stove includes a stove pipe, poker stick, and ash rake. This is a heavy stove at 47 lbs. This is one of the more affordable stoves on the market. It’s a great choice for campers on a budget.
How to Choose a Hot Tent and Wood Tent Stove
When choosing a hot tent and wood stove, consider:
Your space requirement- How many people are you camping with? Try to choose a hot tent that is designed to accommodate at least one more person than you plan to camp with. This leaves you extra space for your gear and stove. Choose a stove that is designed to heat the appropriate tent size. If your stove is too small, you’ll get cold. If your stove is too large, it will take up too much space in your tent.
How often you need to move camp- If you move camp daily, you’re better off with a lightweight stove and tent that are easy to pack, transport, set up, and take down. If you tend to spend multiple days at the same campsite, you can choose more luxurious gear that takes longer to set up.
How much weight you’re able to carry- If you need to carry all of your gear on your back, you’ll want to choose an ultralight hot tent and stove. Together, these items should weigh less than 15 lbs. If you’re car camping, weight is less important. You could carry a 70 lb tent and 50 lb stove if you wanted to. If you’re using some other mode of transport, you might be better off with mid-weight gear.
How much space you have for gear- If you need your tent and stove to fit in your backpack, you’ll want to pack compact models. Look for a collapsible wood stove that folds down flat for transport. Choose a hot tent made from thin sil-nylon rather than bulky canvas. If you plan to car camp, packed size doesn’t really matter. You can get away with a non-collapsible stove and canvas tent.
Your budget- Hot tents and wood stoves come are available in almost every price range. If you’re on a tight budget, look for entry-level models. You can buy a decent hot tent for just over $100. Tent wood stoves start at around $150. If money is no object, you can easily spend $3000-$4000 for a high-end hot tent and wood stove setup.
Final Thoughts about Hot Tent Camping
For most people, winter camping gets old after just a couple of days. Moisture builds up in your gear. Everything is freezing. It’s impossible to keep warm and comfortable. There is nowhere you can go to warm up. Getting up in the morning is particularly miserable. You can only endure the cold and wet for so long before you need to go indoors to warm up and dry out. This limits winter camping trips to just a couple of days.
With a good hot tent and wood stove, you could basically live outdoors. A wood stove can maintain your tent at a comfortable 65-70°, regardless of the outside temp. This gives you a warm shelter from the elements where you can relax, plan, cook, clean, and organize gear. This makes the camping experience much more enjoyable.
Have you used a wood stove in a tent? Share your tips and experience in the comments below!
More from Where The Road Forks