Several years ago Homecamp pioneered modern Hot Tenting in Australia and since then we have been the leaders in providing real-world information on how to hot tent safely. We have created this guide to camping with a woodfire stove so that we can help customers to discover the joys of hot tenting and the precautions that should be taken with integrating a woodfire stove within your tent set-up.
Let’s start with the basics. What is hot tenting?
It’s always a bit of a bummer when the camping season ends abruptly here in Victoria and the transition from autumn to winter becomes a harsh reality. Whilst camping in clear winter weather is fantastic, often it could be in persistent cold rain that creates extra moisture in the air, resulting in damp gear – an unpleasant experience.
Hot tenting is the perfect solution. Camping with a wood fire stove in your tent helps you extend your camping calendar by creating a comfortable and cosy environment that will encourage you to camp throughout the colder seasons.
Hot tenting has a rich history that can be traced back to pretty much all nomadic tribes and traditional cultures that relied on portable shelters and wood stoves in order to survive long cold winters. In recent times, hot tenting has gained popularity among a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts: nature lovers who want to experience the beauty of the wilderness without the crowds, game hunters and fly fishermen looking for a comfortable base camp, snowboarders and cross-country skiers who don’t want to pay chalet prices, and property owners who use tents and stoves as extra accommodation for guests. Some of our customers live in Homecamp bell tents year-round, so having a reliable heating source is imperative.
There are plenty of good reasons to consider camping with a woodfire stove including:
1. Stay warm and comfortable:
By adding a heat source to your tent, you can create a cosy and welcoming space that allows you to stay warm and comfortable for longer periods. In addition, you can dry wet clothing, boots, and gear, which is especially important in cold weather camping.
2. Cook hot meals:
Most hot tenting stoves have the provision for cooking so you can easily prepare hot food and have hot water on tap inside your tent.
3. Conserve energy and wood:
Starting an open fire in stormy or wet weather can be difficult and time-consuming. Having a stove in your tent makes it easy to light a fire and burn wood more efficiently. This means you’ll need less fuel and have a dependable way of drying and storing wood.
Camping in a hot tent gives you a relaxing and uplifting respite from the elements. Enjoying a hot meal inside a cosy tent while it’s raining (or snowing!) is an experience like no other. Plus, the natural ambience created by a fire inside your tent creates a cosy (romantic!) vibe.
Choosing The Right Tent for Hot Tenting
When it comes to hot tenting, choosing the right tent is crucial to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Cabin or Wall Tents are popular choices in North America for winter hunting expeditions, while Canvas Bell Tents and Canvas Tipis are more popular in Australia. Yurts, Esker, and Laavu tents can also work well with the right precautions, however, it’s important to check with the manufacturer to ensure compatibility with a hot stove.
For most uses, especially commercial or semi-permanent setups, we suggest investing in a tent made from fire-resistant woven canvas or coated with a special fire-resistant layer.
Check out our Homecamp Classic Bell Tents for a reliable option.
To summarise, these are the most important factors when choosing the right tent for hot tenting:
One of the most important features to consider when hot tenting is ventilation. Look for a tent that has plenty of mesh windows, mesh doors or vents that can be opened to allow air to flow through the tent whilst the stove is in operation.
The size of the tent is also important. Make sure to choose a tent that is large enough to accommodate you and your fellow campers with plenty of space to move around the stove safely.
The material of the tent is an extremely important factor. Look for a tent that is made from breathable materials such as cotton or cotton/poly canvas. Ideally, the material should have some sort of fire retardancy, especially in the area of the flue exit point.
4. Stove Jack:
This is a pre-cut hole that has a flap cover that is sewn into the tent.
Consider the seasonality of the tent. Look for a four seasons tent that is designed for cool weather camping. Thick canvas will have better thermal capabilities than tents made from polyester or nylon.
Choosing the right woodfire stove for hot tenting
When it comes to hot tenting, choosing the right stove is crucial. Look for a woodfire stove designed to safely and efficiently burn fuel while drawing in fresh air and exhausting smoke and gas fumes outside the tent through a pipe or flue system.
A good hot tenting stove should have an adjustable air-intake vent and a damper mechanism to help regulate airflow and adjust the fuel burn rate. When selecting a stove, look for reputable brands like WorkTuff, Winnerwell, Kni-Co, or G-Stove. There are also lightweight and expensive titanium stoves available from brands such as Winnerwell, Kifaru, Luxe and Seek Outdoors.
In addition to the stove, there are accessories like hot water tanks and ovens (pizza anyone?) that can enhance your hot tenting experience. A built-in thermometer is also a useful accessory to monitor the temperature in the oven.
Some other points to consider when purchasing a woodfire stove for a hot tent setup:
Make sure to choose a stove size that’s appropriate for your tent size and the number of people in your group. Remember, you want to be able to safely move around the tent without coming in contact with the stove. Ideally, there should be approximately 100cm clearance between the stove and the campers at all times.
Consider the weight of the stove especially if you’re planning on carrying it on a backpacking trip.
Stoves are typically made from either stainless steel, black steel, or titanium. Stainless steel stoves are durable and affordable, while black steel stoves are heavier. Some of the black stoves seem to be made of lower-quality composite metal which should be avoided. Titanium stoves are the lightest and most expensive option.
4. Fuel type:
Most hot tenting stoves use wood or wood fuel pellets however there are some that run on gas. It’s worth considering the size and length of the stove firebox – the larger the capacity the less you will need to refuel.
Ensure your stove has proper door vents, airflow controllers and a damper – all important for safe and efficient burning.
6. Safety features:
Look for stoves that have safety features like spark arrestors, heat shields, and door latches to prevent accidents. We strongly recommend stoves with an external air intake if you are planning on using a stove in a tent.
There are often useful accessories such as hot water tanks, pipe ovens, or built-in thermometers
8. Glass windows:
Glass windows on the stove body make a really nice addition, providing a nice ambience in your tent, perfect to watch your fire progress.
Essential Gear for Hot Tenting
With the exception of a tent and stove, this is a list of other essential gear and equipment for a successful hot tenting trip.
*Note we have also not included general camping gear and tools such as axes, saws and knives that you will need to process wood.
A flashing kit is a fire-retardant silicone sleeve and stainless steel ring that is inserted into a stove jack. Flashing Kits provide extra protection to your tent from damage due to heat, provided extra stability and ensure that the stovepipe is securely attached to the tent. See this step-by-step guide to installing a flashing kit within a tent. If your tent does not have a stove jack then see this guide.
2. Flue (aka Chimney) Pipe:
Generally, there will be plenty of flue segments included with your stove, however, you will need to calculate the length of the flue required to exit the tent and allow at least 80cm of clearance in order to safely vent smoke and gas fumes outside your tent. Note: wider flue pipes have the advantage of not needing to be cleaned out as much as thinner pipes.
3. Spark Arrestor:
A spark arrestor is the final flue segment at the end of the stovepipe after it has exited your tent. The spark arrester reduces the risk of burning the outer tent and usually has a rain cap to reduce rain inflow.
A fireproof mat helps protect your tent floor from heat and sparks. Different mats have different ratings so be sure to understand how much heat your mat can endure
Some manufacturers such as Winnerwell supply extendable legs for your stove – we recommend this in order to keep the stove body away from the groundsheet
Bring fire-resistant gloves to protect your hands when handling the stove. We recommend welders’ gloves, they are inexpensive and available at most hardware stores.
7. Carbon Monoxide Detector:
Bring a carbon monoxide detector to monitor the air quality inside your tent and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning (see section Other Tips and for Safe Hot Tenting below)
8. First Aid Kit:
Always have a first aid kit on hand in case of injury.
9. Cleaning equipment:
Look for wire brushes that can clean creosote from the flue. There are specialist creosote cleaning products available at hardware stores.
Setting Up Your Hot Tent
In order to safely set up a hot tent, it’s important to take the correct precautions. Here are some tips and gear you’ll need for a successful hot tenting experience:
Honestly evaluate your gear and your competence level before starting your adventure into the world of hot tenting.
2. Site selection
Choose a flat and sheltered area for your hot tent setup. Make sure to clear the area of any debris, rocks or sharp objects beneath your tent – you want your stove to be stable.
3. Stove position:
Position the stove in the tent where there is good clearance from combustible materials such as tent walls or bedding. Allow at least 1m of space around the stove for people to move around safely.
4. Anchor your stove:
If you are not using a ground sheet then anchor your stove to the ground using stakes or pegs.
Always use a fireproof mat or another type of fireproof flooring beneath your stove, e.g. paver slabs are an inexpensive choice for a full-time setup. Leg extensions for the stove can also be useful for getting more clearance beneath your stove.
Proper ventilation is important to ensure that carbon monoxide and other gases do not build up inside the tent. Always leave a window or vent open to provide fresh air – see the section below, ‘Other Tips and for Safe Hot Tenting’ for more information.
Keep the hot stove pipe insulated from coming into contact with your tent canvas by incorporating a triple pipe section or tent protector where the flue exits the tent via the flashing kit.
8. Spark Arrestor:
Make sure the end of the flue has a clearance of at least 1m above your tent and use a spark arrestor on the last section of the pipe chimney to keep your tent protected from any errant sparks that make their way up the chimney system.
9. Anchor your flue:
Use guy ropes to securely anchor your spark arrestor in place and help maintain stability in high winds.
Other Tips and for Safe Hot Tenting with a Woodfire Stove in Your Tent
There are potential risks when camping with a woodfire stove that you should be aware of. Here is an overview of the hazards and steps you can take to reduce risk – PLEASE read this section thoroughly:
One of the most common hazards of hot tenting is the risk of burns from the stove. If you’re camping with children, multiple people or pets, then we recommend including a fireguard in your setup. Always wear fireproof gloves (welders gloves are a good option) when handling the stove or its components even after the fire has been extinguished.
Stoves consume oxygen to burn fuel, so it’s essential to provide adequate ventilation in your tent while the stove is in use. Leave windows or even doors open ensuring there is a continuous cycle of fresh air. We strongly recommend using a stove that has an external intake system such as the Winnerwell NOMAD Plus.
3. Carbon Monoxide poisoning:
Do not underestimate the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon Monoxide is an odourless and colourless gas produced when fuel doesn’t fully burn and consumes the available oxygen. Carbon Monoxide is difficult to detect so we advise that you invest in a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm. They are inexpensive and can save your life. Also, be aware that exhaust fumes can escape your stove system into the tent either because there is some sort of blockage in the pipes or because a strong wind is blowing directly into the exit flue.
4. Location, location, location:
When positioning the stove in your tent, consider its proximity to the tent door and ventilation. Avoid placing the stove in a location that obstructs your exit or where people frequently walk. It’s important to be mindful of keeping flammable items such as clothing and bedding away from the stove.
5. Water source:
Ensure that you have access to a water source nearby, whether it’s a nearby stream or a container of water that you have near your tent.
6. Fire extinguisher:
Keep a small fire extinguisher nearby in case of fire and consider sleeping with a knife in case you need to cut your way out of the tent in an emergency.
7. Stove damper:
It pays to keep your Damper open so that carbon monoxide is continually drawn out of the firebox up through the chimney flue.
8. Keep it clean:
You should regularly clean your stove and pipe sections to remove creosote that may block the chimney.
9. Fuel storage:
Store your fuel ( wood or propane) well away from the tent and in a safe location to avoid the risk of fire.
Hot tenting with Kids and Pets
We get asked a lot about hot tenting with kids and pets, our response is to err on the side of caution and not recommend it, however, it really is dependent on how old or capable you and your kids are and the safety precautions you have taken to ensure safety.
Apart from the tips we have already covered, we recommend spending considerable time making sure your kids understand the dangers of getting too close to the stove and know not to touch it or any hot surfaces (even after the fire is extinguished). Make sure the stove is not positioned near the entrance, where kids will be moving around. We definitely recommend using a fire guard.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Camping Stove
Cleaning and maintaining your stove is key to a satisfying experience.
1.Clean the stove regularly:
Clean the stove after each use. Make sure to remove any leftover ash, soot, and debris from the firebox (spread this on your garden!).
2. Use a chimney brush:
Check the flue for blockages. Creosote will quickly build up in your flue so clean this out with the appropriate-sized wire brush each and every time you camp.
3. Use dry, properly seasoned hardwood:
Dry, seasoned wood burns better and produces less creosote, which means less cleaning. You will notice some species of hardwood will burn longer and hotter and with fewer gasses than others.
4. Monitor the stovepipe temperature:
The stovepipe temperature should be 100c max – do not run your stove read hot as higher temperatures can damage the stove and is a hazard.
5. Inspect the stove gaskets:
The stove gasket is a seal located around the inside of the stove door. Make sure they are not worn out or damaged. This will prevent air leaks that can reduce the stove’s efficiency and can be dangerous.
6. Keep the stove dry:
Keep the stove dry to prevent rust and corrosion. When not in use, cover the stove with a waterproof cover and clean it with the appropriate cleaning solution.
7. Store the stove properly:
Store the stove in a dry, cool place when not in use, and protect it from moisture and humidity.