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Getting Started with Hot Tent Camping

A cozier camping option.

By Trent Jonas

Getting Started with Hot Tent Camping

With a wood stove and a proper tent, you can take your winter camping adventure to the next level. Tents built for hot camping are designed for wood stove pipes to emit smoke out of the tent—all while keeping the inside warm and toasty. Not only does this allow you to camp in frigid winter conditions, it's also a great tool for cooking your meals. Don't let the winter slow you down. Here's how to get started in hot tent camping.   

The Tent

When it comes to hot tent camping, the tent is the most important consideration: You need a tent that is designed for use with a wood stove. Such tents are often made of canvas or another heat-resistant material and have built-in openings through which you can fit a stove pipe. These openings in the tent canopy, called stove jacks, are reinforced even further against heat, so you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be warm as well as safe from fire and smoke. 

Another characteristic of hot tents is that they tend to have plenty of headroom to allow the stove sufficient space to operate away from the tent’s ceilings and walls. When looking at hot tents, you’ll find the most common models are wall tents and tipi-style tents. The former usually reserve a corner of the tent for the stove, while the latter permit the stove to sit in the center of the tent. Wall tents tend to be heavier and are designed to be left in place for several days or even weeks. They can be used as longer-term winter shelters. Otherwise, you can get a relatively lightweight—8 to 12 pounds—tipi-style tent that can be set up and taken down quickly and easily if you’re on the move.

One final thing to be aware of is that hot tent shelters are typically floorless. This, of course, is to accommodate the stove. So, when planning a hot tent camping adventure, you need to be aware of the ground conditions in the area where you’ll be camping. For example, if you know there will be snow cover, plan to bring a shovel or other implement to dig out a floor for your tent. Or, if the ground is frozen or rocky, or muddy due to a lot of rain, you’ll want to bring the right type of stakes or anchors to accommodate the terrain and to seal the bottom of the tent as tightly to the ground as possible.

The Stove

When it comes to tent stoves, you’ll have a lot of things to think about before making your choice. To begin, you’ll need to consider the size of the stove relative to your tent. You want a stove that will take up as little space as possible while kicking off enough heat to warm the entire space. A stove that’s too big will cramp the tent and potentially radiate too much heat. On the other hand, a stove that’s too small may leave those farther from the heat with chattering teeth. 

You also want a stove that will fit with your method of travel. If you’re on foot and carrying gear, a lightweight, collapsible stove, like the Peregrine Condor Titanium Tent Stove probably suits your needs best. On the other hand, if weight is not a consideration, you could get a stove with all sorts of bells and whistles, like the Fltom Camp Tent Stove, which comes with integrated shelves and a warming tray. Ultimately, the stove you choose will depend on your tent and the type of camping you do.

Other Considerations

There are a couple other things you’ll need to consider before heading out to camp in a hot tent. First, you’ll want to think about your sleeping arrangements. As mentioned above, in a hot tent, you most likely will not have a floor. If you’re traveling light, you may want to bring a tarp or rug or some other barrier to separate your sleeping pad or sleeping bag from the ground. If weight considerations are not as big an issue, you may want to consider a cot to raise your pad and sleeping bag up off the ground and permit greater air circulation in the tent. 

Finally, how you plan to travel will dictate much about the gear you bring. A solo backpacker is not a likely candidate for hot tent camping, unless they are willing to pack quite heavy or pull a sled or cart behind them. Two or more backpackers may be able to divvy up lightweight hot tent gear sufficiently well to make it work. If you plan on bringing a canvas tent or a larger stove, however, you’ll want to pack it in on an ATV, snowmobile, or 4x4—or even a horse. 

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As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.