Camping in winter is tempting but becomes a challenge with each additional day. Apart from freezing winds, deep snow, and frostbitten toes, you wrestle with the problem of being unable to rest at night with ease. One of the issues is a respired moisture that accumulates inside. Imagine waking up in the safety of your best 4 season tent from the snowfall created by the water on the surface of the tent's canvas. Moreover, a damp environment penetrates the gear and damages your health. Instead of a fascinating adventure, you get a life-threatening expedition, the only aim of which, it seems, is to prove the dangers and fruitlessness of camping in cold seasons.

Hot tenting is a solution for camping lovers. A 'hot tent' is a shelter suitable to place and run a stove, which helps to cook, warms the space, and dries clothes. Furthermore, the stove allows prolonging the trip to several days or weeks during cold seasons without damaging your gear or freezing to death. With the stove, your tent turns into a real home, perfect for a rest after a long and tiresome hike.

However, installing a stove is a tricky process. The key is to prepare all the materials needed to ensure the proper running of a stove and apply the necessary precautions to remain safe inside the shelter. In the article, we discuss the reality behind awesome pictures on social media and the safe way to start hot tenting.

Introducing hot tenting

Let's assume that you have the right tent for a stove, meaning it's made from sturdy material like canvas or polycotton, is adequately ventilated, and has a hole for a flue pipe, which is called a stove jack. However, if your tent isn't ready to accommodate a wood-burning stove, take a look at the last section, where we discuss the DIY on tent remaking.

Here we talk about the details of operating a stove and the steps to make it properly and safe for you. But before getting excited and lighting the fire, consider all the preparational steps, which using a stove demands.

Preparation: the work behind the scenes

There are several things to keep in mind before setting a stove.

  1. You'll need to stop to settle early, a couple of hours before the sunset. Setting a tent, finding wood, and lightning the stove will take time, and you don't want to be caught by dark trying to fit the pipe in the stove jack. 
  2. Prepare enough firewood to feed the stove. Chances are the wood will be pretty damp, so you'll need to collect a proper kindling for igniting the stove. Moreover, during the night, wood will become even wetter, so prepare the right amount for both the evening and morning. 
  3. Be ready to care for the stove constantly after you fire it. You can't just put some wood inside and deal with other tasks. Without a constant log supply, it will go out, and the tiresome process of kindling will start again. Moreover, never leave the stove running after you go to sleep. There is a high chance of intoxication by carbon dioxide, so if tired, better don't set the stove at all than do it wrong.

A closer look at the stove

If you're in search of a stove, there's a wide range to choose from. We'll take the Gstove as an example of an affordable and high-quality stove for camping:

  • small and portable, relatively light compared to other stoves;
  • cheaper than a glamping stove;
  • with a spark arrestor on a flue pipe;
  • all parts fit inside the stove's cylinder so that you can save space. However, the details will get dirty, which will be a problem if you want to use the stove the second time in one trip;
  • requires short pieces of wood, so you'll need a hatchet or a splinter;
  • has a scraper that helps push wood further for better draft and scrape out ash;
  • has drying racks to dry out boots. But remember to flip shoes, because the stove is super hot.

Beneath the stove

You can't just place the stove inside the tent on the canvas. The surface warms up to high temperatures and will damage your shelter or even set it on fire. That's why you need to think of something to put underneath the stove. A straightforward option is to buy a heat mat, but you can get a little bit creative. Instead of purchasing new, try to use something you already have, like a big piece of tile or rock you've found in the forest. Moreover, the stone will retain heat after you've put off the stove and keep the tent warm for a longer time.

Handy tools

Stove running has some intricacies you understand only in the field, often without the means to solve these problems. We list several items that help with the stove operation and ensure you won't be stuck in the middle of anywhere with the non-functioning piece of metal.
  • Splitter. It is better than a hatchet because you can use it to ponder tent stakes into the frozen ground and split the wood. 
  • Saw. It helps deal with big logs and is excellent for bones if such circumstances will come into place. 
  • Work gloves. They are essential to save your arms from burns because the stove gets super hot. Moreover, you buy them once, and they last you forever and keep you safe in various situations. 
  • Wood bucket. It helps hold logs in one place and keeps the tent clean inside. 
  • Fire extinguisher. We hope you'll never need to use it, but it will save your life and possessions if the time comes. 
  • Tongs. Come handy when you need to flip or move logs or anything else. 
  • Iron pan. We recommend Field Cast Iron Skillet that is easy to wash and perfect for cooking without food sticking to the surface. Moreover, try to warm it a little bit and put it at the bottom of the sleeping bag. It works better than any heater.

Safety measures

A wood-burning stove is dangerous if set wrong. There is a risk of untamed fire and carbon dioxide intoxication. A spark arrestor, fire extinguisher, and heat mat mentioned above will protect you, but nothing can save you from reckless actions. Two things to keep in mind:

  1. Ventilation. Usually, tents are designed in a way to ensure the constant flow of air. However, you'll need to check that before using a stove. Carbon dioxide poisoning is quite real, and you don't want to drift off because of it. 
  2. Put off the stove before going to sleep. Otherwise, you may not wake at all. If you feel tired, don't fire the stove or put it off earlier. Moreover, the residual heat should keep the tent warm for part of the night.

Remaking a tent to fit a stove

We don't recommend doing it without previous experience or an expert near you. The wrong fitting may cause fire or intoxication, so consider buying a tent compatible with a stove or using services of a professional company like Specialised Canvas or Attwoolls Outdoors. If you are sure of your skills or want to get a general idea, read further.

Basically, you'll need to make a hole in the tent's surface to put through a pipe. If you have a Gstove, a modular stove jack comes with it and perfectly fits any angle. In the beginning, you'll need to cut the rubber part of the stove jack to hold the pipe. After that, place the stove near the tent's side, measure what place on the tent's surface the tube should go out, and mark it with a pencil. The next step is to fit the stove jack to the marked circle, for which help from the second person will be a relief. After sealing the stove jack on the tent, cut a hole in the canvas to put a pipe through. Make sure that the tube doesn't touch any part of the canvas to prevent inflaming. The last thing is to assemble the whole pipe and fire the stove.

Try hot tenting wisely and consult with companies supporting RBM trading to find the best gear for your purposes.