Despite what it seems, winter camping does not have to be cold and miserable. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoors person with lots of camping experience under your belt or new to the outdoor lifestyle, rest assured you can get out and camp in the outdoors even when it’s chilly. You do not need to be a pro camper in order to put your best tent stove to use.
Perhaps you want to venture into the backcountry? Or maybe you want to set up a glamping tent in your backyard for yourself or guests? Whatever your reason, finding the best tent stove for your needs is key to having a good and safe time.
Why do I need a wood stove for camping?
Wood stoves are not just for houses. They come in all kinds of portable sizes and weights. They also vary in construction using different types of metals custom to their use, such as at the campsite, hunting, backpacking, packing animals, raft camping, or ice fishing. Many tents are specifically designed for use with a tent stove, provided they have a tent stove jack. The combination of a good tent wood stove and a four-season tent will get you outside enjoying nature in all weather.
People often use an outdoor tent stove and tent combination for any of the following activities, although this isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list:
11 Tent Stove Uses
- Horse packing and camping
- Backcountry skiing
- Backcountry camping
- Cold-weather camping in the front country
- Ice fishing
- Raft Camping
- Any other cold-weather activity in which you wish to stay in the outdoors!
Additionally, these stoves have become increasingly popular for outdoor living, #vanlife, base camps, and off-grid living.
Obviously, your activity of choice will dictate the type of stove and tent combination you use. For example, if you are skiing or on foot, you’re going to need something lightweight, whereas if you’re packing with horses, you’ll be able to pack something much heavier and sturdier. Further, a glamping situation will likely mean your stove remains static, and you can go with something heavier and fancier.
Use a tent stove in conjunction with a canvas wall tent, a nylon backpacking tent, or a customized camper van. There are plenty of good camping stove options for your specific need.
Benefits of a Wood Stove for Camping
Whatever your reason for using a wood stove for camping, experienced outdoors people will quickly list the benefits and joys of doing so. Some of them are intangibles, while others are strictly for utility. Others are both. Here are some of the benefits of using a wood stove for camping.
If you’re camping during a cold-weather season, life is far more enjoyable and comfortable if you have some form of heat. While you may be able to build a fire outside your canvas tent, you may not always be able to in the middle of a snowstorm. Besides, it’s pretty nice to crawl into your sleeping bag in relative comfort rather than freezing your behind off. If your fire is outside your tent, you’re sure to be cold when you crawl in (or out) of your sleeping bag on those cold nights!
Additionally, you won’t have electricity. Sure, you may have the ability to pack a propane heater of some sort, and that’s great, but you also will run out of propane eventually. If you’re camping in a place with ample firewood, you’ll never run out.
Further, having the ability to heat a tent is also a reasonable safety precaution. If you’re in the wilderness or far from civilization, the ability to warm someone up who has potential hypothermia or frost-bite can be life-saving. At the very least, it can help you warm up your extremities and avoid possible finger or toe losses. Just also keep into consideration the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. You may want to bring along a carbon monoxide detector.
Cooking On A Tent Stove
Another good reason to use a wood stove when camping is because it gives you something to cook on. If you pick up a tent stove with a flat top, as all of our recommendations have, you’ll easily be able to put a pot or a pan on top to boil water or cook your favorite camp food right on top of your camp stove. A flat cooktop is one of the many important factors to consider when reviewing tent stoves.
Side Racks and Drying Racks
Many also come with side racks that attach to both sides to give you additional room to keep things warm or give you extra prep space. The racks can also double as drying racks for socks, hats, and gloves when there are heavy rains or snow.
Plus, many stoves come with the ability to attach a water tank to the side. This means as your fire burns, it heats the water in the tank, and you, therefore, always have hot water available as long as you’ve got a fire going.
If you’ve ever been out recreating in the cold all day, then come inside and sit in front of the fire, you know what we’re saying. There is nothing quite like coming in and warming up with a hot toddy or other beverage of choice. Perhaps you choose to tell stories with your friends or read a good book in silence. Whatever your preference, a fire crackling in a wood stove always makes life better.
Outdoor Tent Stove Basics
As with so many things related to the outdoors, finding the best tent stove will largely depend on what kind of outdoor camping you’ll be doing. If you don’t have to pack a tent and stove very far, such as with glamping, you can get away with a stove that weighs much more. However, if you’re backpacking and will carry everything miles on your back, you’re going to want something much more lightweight.
And remember, when using a tent stove, you do so at your own risk. After all, you are using fire in an enclosed space. Make sure you know your setup and how to use your stove safely.
Types Of Tent Stoves
It can be challenging to categorize tent stoves because they have crossover applications. For example, you’ll see people say that steel stoves and cylinder stoves are two different types. But the truth is, many cylinder stoves are of steel construction. Similarly, many lightweight backpacking stoves are cylinder stoves. You get the picture.
Because of this, we don’t want to pigeonhole all stoves into a set number of categories. Instead, there are tent wood stoves in the shape of cylinders, and there are also ones that come in a rectangular shape. Likewise, are collapsible tent stoves and some do not collapse. Some are steel metal, while others have titanium metals. Therefore, it’s best to do your research and study the benefits of each stove you look at.
For a long time, wood tent stoves were specifically in use with wall tents and were far too heavy to use backpacking. However, technology has come a long way in recent years, and there are now many light weight tent stove options on the market.
Tent Stove Materials
Tent stoves are often made of either steel, titanium, or even cast iron, depending on the type of stove. They are all primarily designed to burn wood, and each has its pros and cons.
Alloy Steel Tent Stove
Alloy steel is composed of various elements and is broken into two groups, either low-alloy or high-alloy. Typically when referring to alloy steel, it is low-alloy that is being referenced. Alloy steel is stronger, tougher, more wear-resistant, less corrosive, and stays harder at hot temperatures than carbon steel.
Elements that may be found in alloy steel include aluminum, bismuth, boron, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, sulfur, titanium, tungsten, and vanadium.
Stainless Steel Tent Stove
Stainless steel is a ferrous alloy that contains a minimum of approximately 11% chromium. This prevents the iron from rusting and provides heat-resistant properties. Varying stainless steel grades indicate the type and amount of elements found in each. Stainless steel grades dictate what they are used for. Stainless steel is used to make all kinds of things, from surgical instruments to construction material.
There are several types of stainless steel that may include the following elements: nitrogen, aluminum, silicon, sulfur, titanium, nickel, copper, selenium, niobium, and molybdenum.
Titanium Tent Stove
Titanium is a chemical element of its own. It has high strength and is resistant to corrosion, especially from seawater and chlorine. Titanium is often alloyed with other elements such as iron, aluminum, vanadium, and molybdenum. This process creates strong, lightweight components for anything from aerospace to dental implants. It is popular for its corrosion resistance and strength-to-density ratio. Unalloyed, it can be as strong as steel but less dense.
Cast Iron Tent Stove
Cast iron is an iron-carbon alloy with more than 2% carbon content and is alloyed with silicon. Iron alloys with less carbon are steel. Other elements often alloyed to make cast iron include: manganese, chromium, molybdenum, titanium, and vanadium.
Cast iron has a low melting point, good castability, is resistant to deformation, and is wear-resistant. It is used for anything from pipes to kitchenware.
Tent Stove Different Sizes
When buying a tent stove, another thing to consider is that size matters. The bigger your tent, the larger stove you’ll need to keep things warm. A large wall tent will require a much larger stove than a backpacking tent designed for use with a wood stove.
Not only will the total weight differ, but the internal size will as well. The bigger the interior space, the more wood it can hold, and therefore the longer it can burn. You’ll be thankful for a stove that can fit more wood. Think of it as less trips to gather wood in the middle of the night in order to keep the fire stoked.
Tent Stove Components
A spark arrestor is built into the chimney of a stove to prevent combustible, burning materials from exiting the top of the chimney. This helps in preventing wildfires and from burning your tent roof. It’s usually a mesh mechanism made of metal. The spark arrestor is designed to catch these materials before they get too high up the chimney.
A wood stove chimney is typically cylindrical and extends vertically from the box where the wood burns to the outside of the tent with stove or building. It vents smoke, heat, and gasses out the top and draws in air to aid in combustion. A flue is the space inside the chimney.
The flue damper is a round disk that goes inside the flue. You can turn it horizontally or vertically, and the purpose is to control the amount of air drawn into the fire. The damper aids in maintaining the strength of the fire, either stoking it further or quieting it down.
Best Tent Wood Stove
As we said before, there are many types of tent wood stoves. Therefore, we’ve broken out our best stoves into categories that make sense. Categories from using in combination with a wall tent to lightweight stoves for backpacking. But keep in mind many of our recommendations can be used interchangeably, depending on your needs. And as is often the case with outdoor gear, the best hot tent stove is sometimes simply a matter of personal preference.
Best Wood Stove for Wall Tent
Wall tents are by far the best tents for winter camping. They’re also excellent options for chilly weather in fall and spring and even for use in summer without a stove! You really can’t go wrong with a wall tent. They’re great for glamping, hunting camp, or even living in if someone needs to. The beauty of a wall tent is that they are breathable while also retaining heat. Pair these with the best winter tent stove you can get your hands on. You will have an excellent combination for keeping you warm and cozy year-round.
Best Wall Tent Stove
We think the best wall tent stove is the Guide Gear Large Outdoor Wood Stove. While it is much heavier than many of its counterparts, it makes up for it in many ways. For example, it might not be the most packable stove. Horse packers may think twice about its 88-pound weight, but there are still many good reasons to give this stove consideration.
One of the top reasons this stove tent is a good choice is it’s large enough to keep the coals simmering all night as a fuel source. This means you won’t have to worry about getting up periodically to stoke the fire. The adjustable damper helps you better control the airflow. This means that you can turn it down to continue to burn the fire slowly, extending the burn time. Stay in your sleeping bag, get a good night’s sleep. Get up and add wood in the morning without freezing!
Galvanized Steel with Cast Iron Door
This stove construction is of galvanized steel and comes with a cast-iron hinged door. This means it should last a really long time if properly cared for. The stovepipe diameter is 5.5,” and the length is almost 6.5′. So when you’re done and ready to leave camp, all the parts detach including the stove pipe and pack back up nicely into the firebox.
If you’re looking for a solid stove for a tiny house or other semi-permanent living situation, this is an excellent stove to consider. Due to its size, it can heat slightly a large tent. It is also solid enough for use on a more regular basis.
The downsides to this stove are obviously the weight. It will likely take two people to move it and certainly to pack it on livestock if you dare. But, if you’re going to set up camp for several weeks, it will be worth it for the little extra effort to set it up and take it down.
The other thing reviewers have complained about is the chimney pipe size. At 5.5″, if you need to add length, you’ll need to make some modifications to another pipe size, like 6″.
Best Lightweight Tent Stove
An excellent lightweight tent stove can be challenging to find, especially if you’re looking for one that can warm a wall tent and is still light enough to pack. Finding the right balance is critical. You can get much heavier, larger wall tent stoves or a tinier backpacking stove, but something in the middle? Well, rest assured, we’ve got a great option for you!
We love the WINNERWELL Fastfold Titanium Tent Stove for many reasons. First, it is very lightweight for its size. This may not be the biggest stove available on the market, but its size-to-weight ratio is hard to match. At 15″ x9″ x,” you can fit quite a bit of wood in it to keep your fire burning all night.
At four pounds, this is an ultralight tent stove for its size! And this weight includes the chimney with rings, spark arrestor, and tent protector. It truly is an ultralight hot tent stove and it even comes with a carry bag. If you’re looking for the best titanium tent stove, this might very well be it. The titanium makes it lightweight and also gives it excellent heating properties. It can keep coals going for hours.
Collapsible Tent Stove
This stove is also collapsible, a feature not found in many stoves. This is handy for several reasons. First, if you’re horse packing or raft camping, it is easy to pack in a pannier or stow away in a dry box. Second, it makes for easy storage when you’re not using it. After all, we all know how easily outdoor gear piles up in the garage or spare bedroom!
Additionally, this stove has no loose parts, which is ideal when setting up in the dark or cold. The last thing you want to do is mess around with a lot of little pieces!
The chimney is 9′ tall, which will help keep it above most tents roofs far enough to prevent burning holes in the fabric. However, minor burns can still happen no matter the stove, chimney, or tent, so always make sure you have a repair kit.
TeePee Tent Wood Stove
This is probably the best bell tent stove or an excellent option for a teepee tent as well. It is a little too big for much smaller backpacking tents but is perfect for a solid mid-size tent. So when looking for an excellent mid-size, lightweight option, this titanium tent stove will likely suit your needs.
One downside to this stove is the price. It is expensive for a tent stove, but most high-end, lightweight outdoor gear tends to be. But the good news is you typically get what you pay for, and this stove is no exception. Also, the initial setup can be a bit difficult, at least where the chimney is concerned. Because it is rolled up titanium, it can be tricky the first time until the shape is set by high heat. So it is helpful to have a second set of hands the first time you use it.
Best Backpacking Tent Stove
Backpacking tent stoves have come a long way. However, they are nowhere near the size or sturdiness of their larger counterparts like the others we’ve listed in this article. They are essentially a mini portable wood stove made of very lightweight materials. They will help take the edge off the cold weather but won’t have the size to burn all night. Therefore, you must have high-quality, warm sleeping gear if you’re camping in cold weather.
You’ll also see many cheap, seemingly great value backpacking wood stoves on the market. However, note that anything with an open flame asks for trouble in a backpacking tent that is likely made of nylon or polyester. While these tents are usually treated around the edge of the stove jack or have a fire-resistant ring sewn in, it doesn’t mean the fabric won’t melt when exposed to open fire. Therefore, go forward with caution when choosing your backpacking wood stove.
We prefer the DANCHEL OUTDOOR Portable Titanium Tent Camping Wood Stove as a solid little backpacking stove. At 5 pounds, it weighs about the same as our best lightweight stove, but it packs up smaller, meaning it’s easier to carry with all your other gear. Due to its light weight, this may be the best tent stove for backpacking. Consider it a best option as a portable tent stove
This little cylinder stove is made of titanium, making it lightweight and with a high melting point. It’s corrosion-resistant, anti-rust, and transfers heat well. It has a flat top and is strong enough to place a pot or pan on top to boil water or cook your favorite backcountry food. This is definitely not the case with all backpacking wood stoves.
8′ Wood Stove Pipe
This stove comes with over 8′ of chimney pipe, ensuring you’ll have enough to extend far above your cavas tent roof. It has a rotary damper in the chimney to control airflow so you can regulate how hot and fast the fire burns, and it also comes with a spark arrestor. Finally, there is a glass window in the door. Glass windows will allow you to check in and monitor the condition of the wood as it burns. This may be a downside to those concerned about it breaking the glass door, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue among those who have owned this stove.
As is the case with our best lightweight stove, this one also has a chimney pipe made of thin titanium that must be heated to set its shape. Unfortunately, unrolling it to set up the first time can be tricky. It is helpful to have a second set of hands or a PVC pipe to roll it around to get the rings in place.
Finally, there will be some warpage with this stove, and it will become discolored at first use. However, this is normal and will not affect its performance if it is set up correctly.
Best Cylinder Tent Stove
A cylinder stove is simply that the shape of the stove is a cylinder, versus the other standard rectangular tent stove shape. A cylinder stove is designed to expand and contract more evenly than other shapes of stoves. Additionally, the ashes settle into the bottom, keeping them off the tent floor.
As with many of our reviews, our different “bests” can often be interchangeable. Such is the case for our cylinder stove pick. We like the Camp Chef Alpine Heavy Duty Cylinder Stove for its brand recognition and durability. This stove has heated many wall tents in hunting camps across the globe, is excellent for teepee or bell tents, and is a standard glamping stove!
Camp Chef Cast Iron Wood Stove
First, Camp Chef is a well known outdoor products brand. Camp Chef also produces high-quality cast iron cookware. It does not stop there, as is evidenced by this heavy-duty tent stove.
This stove comes ready with all you need to get a fire going quickly, including a damper, log grate, accessory shelves, and spark arrestor. It also features over 10′ of 5″ chimney that should work in either a 5″ or a 6″ stove jack. The top is flat, providing ample space for cooking, and the racks on each side allow you to passively warm or cool food while you cook.
Another great feature of this stove is the adjustable legs, meaning you can ensure it’s steady when on uneven ground. Additionally, it comes with brackets for attaching a water tank, sold separately.
The price is good for a stove of this size. However, it isn’t large enough to fit enough wood to keep a fire burning all night. You’ll either need to stoke the tent stove periodically or make sure you have a really warm sleeping bag. That is until you can crawl out into the cold in the morning and get it going again. But once you do, it will warm your tent quickly.
Probably the biggest downside to this stove is the weight. At around a combined weight of 74 pounds, it is pretty heavy to pack into the backcountry. However, plenty of outfitters and horse packers are out there that will do it without blinking an eye. So if you have a bit of experience and have the right livestock, don’t let that stop you from buying this quality stove. If you’re not packing, it’s an excellent option for a camp at the trailhead or a glamping situation.
A Final Word on Best Tent Stove
We get that recreating year around can be challenging in some locations where winters are cold, and spring and fall are also somewhat cold-weather seasons. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Whether your chosen activity is camping, hunting, skiing, snowshoeing, backpacking, snowmobiling, ice fishing, or glamping, a good camp setup is critical to staying warm and having a good time.
Getting the best tent stove to suit your needs and combining it with a great tent will give you years of use. But, as is often the case with outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. Therefore, considering the many years you’ll have a piece of equipment, the cost decreases substantially per year and trip.
Whether you are backpacking, horse packing, or setting up a tent at a trailhead, there are wood tent stove options to suit your needs. Consider whether or not you want one made of titanium, steel, or cast iron and how big you need it to be for the size of the tent you’re heating. Keep in mind that a tent should have several accessories, such as a damper and spark arrestor, and consider options that come with them as part of the package.
Finally, if you have a personal preference for something, follow your instincts! Perhaps you hate the look of cylinder stoves. Then go for a boxed one! Whatever you do, make sure you will enjoy your gear and buy quality equipment to keep you warm and safe. Then get out there and recreate!