Why Have a Tent Stove
Photo Credit: Frickel
Portable wood burning tent stoves provide more than just heat for cold weather camping. Tent Stoves serve a variety of purposes, although some types of tent stoves are designed to perform some functions better than others.
Portable wood stoves are a safe and efficient means of heating your tent and staying warm. Tent stoves require a fraction of the amount of wood open fires consume to create a similar heating effect. Heat from the combustion occurring in the firebox as well as hot smoke drafting up the flue pipe is trapped in your tent – keeping you warmer, longer. Wood warms you up 3 times: chopping it, stacking it, and burning it.
Small wood burning stoves provide concentrated and consistent heat perfect for cooking whether you're boiling water for coffee, searing a steak, or cheffing up a stir-fry. Stove top cooking is faster and cleaner than working over an open fire. Wood stoves are designed for use inside tents whereas propane fueled stoves must be operated outside. Some tent stoves even have ovens for backcountry baking.
The ambiance created by the soft lapping of warm light from a crackling fire is irresistible. Flames are visually fascinating, even moth brains agree. Harsh white light is useful for headlamps, hospitals, and torturous office environments but studies show it is both physically and emotionally distressing. Aesthetics aside, light is necessary to extend our productivity beyond daylight hours since humans don’t see well in low light conditions. The dark is also scary, we’re all instinctively afraid of it on some level. Not all tent stoves are designed to be a light source – be sure to look for glass panes when stove shopping if basking in the battery-free glow of a fire is a priority.
Fire is usually a critter deterrent. Although keeping food and trash secured is your best bet to keep the animals in the wild and out of your camp, smoke and flames generally signal dangers most creatures want to avoid. Insects can be attracted to light and mice can seek the heat, but any reasonable quality tent is going to keep crawlers at bay whereas a rock ring on an open fire pit provides hidey-holes. The large animals - moose, lion, wolf, and (most) bear – are generally fire-adverse.
The momentary discomfort of putting on a wet bathing suit is trivial compared to the morale destroying feeling of slipping your feet into wet socks and frozen boots first thing in the morning. Having the right gear to adapt to changing weather conditions is the first step, but moisture will eventually find its way in be it through sweat, rain, or an errant step in a river crossing. Starting your day dry is critical to both enjoyment and survival in the outdoors. Tent stoves are ideal for drying out shoes, pants, and socks– items far too important to dangle over an open flame. Treat yourself by heating up clean rocks to drop in boots, gloves, or sleeping bags and slip into something warm in the wilderness.
85% of wildfires in the US are sparked by humans - of those less than 7% are intentional acts of arson. The cost of these unnatural wildfires is staggering both economically and environmentally. There is no substitute for responsible fire safety practices. The only completely safe campfire is the one that is never started, although tent stoves are a better option than an open fire pit. Enclosed fireboxes burn fuel more completely and efficiently. Fires are smaller, emit less spark, and must be completely extinguished before packing it up and leaving camp.
Most American campsites have fire pits – designated areas where steel fire rings or rock circles are placed to contain a fire and shield it from wind and rain. Public lands, ample space, and a century of conservation have created camping experiences that are somewhat unique to North America. In Europe – particularly western Europe –open space is at a premium and open fires are often illegal. Tent stoves, used inside or outside tents, are great ways to enjoy a fire without scarring the ground – or breaking the law.
Ready to start hot tenting? Apply your tent stove expertise and shop for the best tent stove for you. Learn more about wood burning tent stoves by exploring our Tent Stove Buyers Guide – the complete guide to buying, owning, and operating a tent stove.