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Choosing A Hot Tent Wood Stove

Ignore the hype: ALL you want in a wood stove is HEAT!

I've been winter camping for more than 50 years. My experience now includes DOZENS of different stoves, tents, and shelters. So it is with humor and disappointment that I see posts on a daily basis asking for advice in choosing a wood stove - OR solving problems with the wood stove in a hot tent.

It shouldn't be that complicated. Choosing a wood stove for your winter camping hot tent only involves a few choices:

Number 1: Are you physically carrying the wood stove?

Today, the "trendy" hot tent wood stove is always built from titanium. Why not? It's space-age and expensive. That means it's the best - right? Well, no that is not always true.

Titanium is used in rockets, aircraft, and racing bicycles because it is lighter than conventional or stainless steel. It also costs twice as much. Do you need the lightest stove? Unless you are backpacking or portaging into a distant lake, probably not. If you are carrying the stove a few yards from your vehicle or boat to the campsite, the few extra pounds of a basic steel stove are not much of a sacrifice to save hundreds of dollars.

Likewise, if you are hauling your gear on a toboggan over snow-covered trails or horseback into your backcountry camp, the few extra pounds will not be a big issue. I can guarantee you that I can find enough unnecessary gear in your pack to more than offset this weight difference.

Number 2: Is the packing space of the wood stove the main concern?

If you are an ultralight backpacker, you are not likely interested in the bulk and weight necessitated by winter hot tent camping. If you are backpacking into a remote area for fishing or hunting, you will likely sacrifice the hot tent stove for mobility.

On the other hand, if you are packing into the backcountry (pack horse, dog sled, or ATV) I also warn you NOT to choose a folding stove. In the first place, any stove that is collapsible will have so many air leaks that it will never burn efficiently. These folding stoves are formed from the thinnest metal and are never as durable as a box stove. Besides, who wants to arrive in camp, cold and hungry, and need to assemble a grimy stove and roll out the stove pipe?

In addition, a box stove like the one above will store the pipes inside - and weigh the nearly the same as a folding stove. The packed wood stove (with the folding legs) fits neatly onto a toboggan for transport over trails and across frozen lakes or lashes to your pack saddle.

Number 3: Do you even NEED a wood stove?

If weight is your main concern, you really should consider eliminating the stove entirely. Wait, you say! What about the hot tent tarps for remote hammock camps. What about the tiny pyramid tents with stove jacks? Don't you need a tiny wood stove to match these tents? If weight is your main concern, skip the stove and learn how to build a campfire.

I've used small wood stoves that couldn't hold a fire for more than 30 minutes. Who wants to waste their time and energy cutting wood in 6-inch pieces? You would have more heat and lasting warmth building a small fire. A campfire that reflects heat into an open tent or tarp is way more efficient than any tiny wood stove that can only burn kindling. Your tent with a tiny stove will have a small circle of warmth versus a fire that can warm the tent AND dry your gear - plus only needs to be stoked every few hours instead of continuously.

In my opinion, if you can't accommodate an adequate wood stove, skip it and build a fire in front of an open tent.

Simply building a fire eliminates the complications of carrying and setting up a stove and pipes. You will expend less total energy and enjoy more warmth. You eliminate the entire cost of the stove along with the weight considerations.

BUT - if you don't want to rely strictly on a campfire there is one more suggestion: an open tent with the option of adding a wood stove.

The hot tent pictured above is a hybrid. It is a poly/cotton tent that is intended to be pitched near a campfire. But it ALSO includes a stove jack for your wood stove! You have the best combination of features.

  1. Pack the tent alone (without the wood stove) when weight and bulk is the primary consideration.

  2. Add the hot tent wood stove when transport is not an issue (car camping, dog sled, or access by boat, ATV, or bush plane.)

This combination Bushcraft tent measures 13' x 6.5' with room for two campers. Let the campfire fill the entire tent with even warmth. But when the wind is howling, close the front of the tent and bask in the heat of the wood stove. The wood stove is also a good option even in mild conditions for cooking and when open fires are restricted.

Here is a video that depicts some of the hybrid Hot Tent features:

hot tent wood stove


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