Ever wondered about how to use a wood-burning stove in your tent? We try to answer that question…
To keep warm when camping at the cooler times of the year, we typically rely on blankets, suitable clothing, and higher spec sleeping bags.
Using a Woodburning Stove in your Tent
Using a stove in your tent is known as ‘Hot Tenting’, and believe me, a good stove can make your tent very warm.
However, you can’t put a stove in just any tent.
The tent will typically need to be canvas or polycotton and have an opening for the hot flue pipe (the ‘chimney’).
Isn’t using a stove in your tent dangerous?
Yes, you need to take sensible precautions.
Sensible fire precautions when using a stove in your tent
- You’ll need to protect around the stove with a flame retardant mat in case hot embers escape. Many manufacturers recommend rolling back the tent’s groundsheet and placing the stove directly on the ground.
- You’ll want a spark arrester on the top of the flue to prevent hot sparks landing on the tent.
- You’ll need to keep combustible items away from the stove as they do get very hot.
- You’ll need to keep at hand a way of extinguishing any fire.
In addition to fire, you’ll want to make sure any little hands are kept well away from the hot stove surface.
The dangers of Carbon Monoxide when using a tent stove
We have a long-running campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide when camping after several tragic deaths where people brought BBQs that were still warm into the tent.
The big difference with a proper tent stove is that the majority of the fumes should be directed out of the tent up the flue. However, there are some precautions you need to take.
- Your tent must be well ventilated. It won’t matter that you have the door open when the stove is hot. Ideally, your tent should be designed to let the airflow through the tent, so you have a supply of fresh air.
- Don’t leave your stove on through the night. I know of some campers that do without any issues, but I’m not taking any chances with my family and advise you don’t too.
If you do want to leave your stove on through the night, you’ll need someone to stay up on fire watch to man the stove and make sure there’s still adequate ventilation.
Not having it on at night isn’t too much of a problem since you should still have good sleeping bags, clothes, and insulation. Your tent may still have some residual heat when you get into your sleeping bag anyway.
So with all the precautions, why would you want to put a stove in your tent?
Warmth. Cosiness. Ability to cook.
You can make your canvas or polycotton tent very warm and inviting with a stove. We found it too warm at times when we recently tested the new Robens Volcano stove. It was the first time we’ve ever been sweltering in the tent despite it being wet, windy, and cold outside.
The stove can generate a lot more heat than a little electric fan heater or oil-filled radiator.
Then there’s the cooking.
If your tent stove has a hot surface, it’s a great place to put a kettle, and even a skillet, griddle, or pot.
And yes it does get hot enough to boil water.
So when the weather is not great outside, a stove can make your tent a refuge in the storm.
Which tent stove did we use?
As mentioned before, it was a Robens Volcano Stove, which comes with all the accessories needed to fit the tall Robens tipi tents.
There are several similar stoves, noticeably the Frontier Stove, but you may need to purchase additional accessories, such as additional flue sections, spark arrester, and heat guard.
Adapting your tent to use a Wood-Burning Stove
The tents we have come with a fabric sleeve for the flue pipe. However, the flue pipe must have a heat shield. These suspend from the top of the flue pipe with chains, that attach to the spark arrester – which is another essential piece of your stove kit.
You can see that in our photo below.
Our Robens stove came with everything needed in one kit. However, if you don’t have such a kit, you can find various options for different stoves, such as the example spark arrestor from Amazon below, or the tent heat shield sleeve, also from Amazon.
Making the hole in your tent for the flue pipe
Once again, I’d like to repeat, this is not something we’ve done. However, for those of you brave enough to do it yourself, here are a few options.
Solid Flashing (or ‘Stove Jacks’ as called in the US)
These bolt around an opening you make in your tent. You can get them at different angles to match the pitch of your tent’s roof.
Below is an example I found on Amazon.
I did also find this tent stove kit on Amazon, that came with all the flue pipe accessories and the flashing kit. I can’t vouch for this stove though, as I’ve not tried it.
You can get some of these with a number of silicon rubber folds, which might be a better option so that the flue flashing can fold flat when not in use.
Here’s a great video on YouTube that shows you how to fit one of these.
For this type of flue exit, you cut a larger hole in your tent – yikes! However, I think it has a number of advantages:
- It has a flap to cover the opening when not in use. We don’t use our stove in summer generally, and so this solution would be ideal to keep the tent usable all year round.
- You can adjust the whole size to what you need and it doesn’t matter what the angle of your tent roof is.
- The example below can be used with or without the fire-retardant fabric, which can be velcro’d in or out.
- There’s no lumpy metal on your tent, which might cause issues (or damage) when packing away, transporting, or storing your tent.
Here’s the example I found on Amazon. Search around, there are lots of different options for this.
Through an open window
Depending on your tent’s design, you might be able to take the flue pipe through an open window.
To help with this, you might need to get a flue pipe that doesn’t just go straight up. However, note that you need to make sure that this doesn’t make your stove unstable, and you might not find the up-draft as good.
Here’s another good video from CanvasCamp, which gives you an idea on this alternative option.
Getting someone else to fit your stove flue
If you don’t wish to make the hole in your tent yourself, there are a number of companies that do canvas tent repairs and customisations. Here are a few that you might want to reach out to.
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