Half the fun of camping is sitting around the campfire fire, especially when it’s cold. But a campfire is not so great when it’s raining and anyone that has camped during cold weather knows how hard it is to leave the fire and crawl into a cold sleeping bag.
One of the best things about camping in a wall tent compared to other tents is that they can be heated with a wood stove, so the fire can be brought inside the tent. Whether its having a warm place to sleep all night or just knocking the chill down in the morning makes all the difference when camping with the family or at an outfitter’s camp.
There are three main considerations for wood burning wall tent stoves (not necessarily in order). Other factors (size & materials ) are related to these three factors.
- Price – Determined by the materials, size and design of stove
- Sq Ft to Heat – Mainly determines size of stove needed
- Weight – Determined by the materials, size and design of stove
Truck Camping or Packing?
If you don’t plan to set up camp far from the road, weight is not an issue. If you need to pack a stove by horse, then weight and size will be an issue. If a medium sized wall tent weighs 70-80 lbs and the heaviest stove could weigh almost 80 lbs, one horse can pack them both, but basically nothing else, so that means more horses or more trips.
Most stove manufacturers state the size tent each model should be able to heat. If in doubt or if you plan on lot’s of cold weather camping, get the next larger stove size. As Woodrow Call (Lonesome Dove) said, “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it”.
Lightweight and collapsible stoves are lighter than the heavy gauge steel stoves and take up less space, so they are easier to pack, but generally don’t last as long or hold heat as long.
Weight is even more of an issue when packing the stove in on your back. Yes, you could pack a 77 lb stove on your back, in a wheel barrow or on a game cart, but unless you only had to go a few hundred yards on flat ground, this would turn into a big deal.
Two people can carry a heavy stove attached to a pole, but few people today consider doing things the way our grandfathers did. I think some guys drive to the edge of camp just to piss. Any one of my young African friends could carry a heavy stove on their head for as many miles as you needed. Fortunately for our heads, there are light weight and even backpacker wood stoves that weigh less than 10 lbs.
Basic Types of Wood Stoves for Camping
|Stove Type||Weight (lbs)||Heats (Sq Ft)||Hours of Heat||Price*|
*Prices are for basic stove and pipe and may not include accessories
Heavy steel stoves are constructed from rolled steel between 10 to 18 gauge (.135 -.05 in) and are usually designed as cylinders or square boxes in a variety of sizes to heat even the largest wall tents. They are also used to heat small cabins, ice fishing shacks and as emergency heat sources for modern homes. Thicker steel costs more, lasts longer, holds heat longer, warps less, but is heavier. The better quality stoves have sealed doors to control air flow. Pipes with dampers also help control air flow and extend burn times.
Light Weight Stoves
Light Weight stoves are designed to be light so they are easier to pack. They are light weight because they are made from thin galvanized metal, but will not last as long as heavy gauge steel. Cheaper (and lighter) models are made from only one layer of galvanized, while more expensive and more durable models are made with two layers (see examples of lightweight, collapsible and backpacker stoves in eBay link above).
Collapsible Stoves are designed to fold up to make them easier to pack. They are made of the same galvanized metal, so they weigh about the same as lightweight stoves, but take up less space when folded. Keep in mind, the stove pipe comes in sections that collapse down into a small piece, but will not fold.
I’m not sure about the point of a stove small and light weight enough to back pack easily. It might be easy to pack, but what kind of tent are you going to pack with it? Wall tents aren’t really designed to be back packed and most light weight tents can’t handle the heat or the chimney. Backpacker stoves can only heat a small area for an hour or two. I have searched all over the web and can not find a single picture, post or review from anyone that has actually used one of these stoves. Please set me straight if you or someone you know actually uses one of these backpacker type stoves.
Wood Stove Accessories
- Wood grate
- Spark arrestor
- Pipe damper
- Stove jack
- Shelf/warming tray
- Hot water tank/water heater
- Chimney oven
- Pipe elbows
- Kettles & cookware
- Pellet burner kits
Our Cylinder Wood Stove
When we bought our Cylinder Stove, we were extremely lucky to find a used stove in the classifieds. It turned out that the stove was never used and still in the original box. The package included an oven, three gallon water tank, wood grate, spark arrestor, pipe damper and warming tray for sale at about half price.
Like buying a used car, you don’t get to pick the exact model or all the options, but we are pleased with the stove and the accessories, especially for the price. Good news for us, but a sad story for the guy that bought the stove and never got to use it.
Our stove is a medium size (42 lbs) cylinder type stove with a 1.6 cubic foot firebox and the top of the stove is 22 inches above the ground. The stove is designed to heat tents up to 14 x 16 ft (224 sq ft). Our tent is 12 x 14 ft (168 sq ft), so the stove should keep our tent warm even at -20° or -30°(F). The coldest temperature we have experienced in the wall tent has been about 10°F and we were very toasty.
The stove holds heat for about seven hours, so it has to be stoked once during the night. It’s nice to roll out of the sleeping bag to a stove still full of hot coals. So nice in fact, it almost takes away from some of the fun and challenge of Winter camping. But I have reached a point in my life where comfort is becoming more important than challenges. No more sleeping in a snow cave for me, I have enough challenges as it is.
Wood Stove Accessories
A stove jack is a necessity, not an accessory. The Stove jack protects the tent from the hot stove pipe. Our tent came with stove jack already installed, but if your tent does not have a stove jack, you will need one.
A spark arrestor is another necessity, but is nothing more than a piece of welded wire folded over and stuck into the top of the stove pipe to catch sparks that escape. Catching sparks protects the tent fabric from burn holes. Our spark arrestor came with the stove, but you could make one from welded wire in about two minutes.
The wood grate can be seen in the first picture above. It is a simple frame to hold wood off the bottom of the stove to allow air to circulate. This is something you could easily make. Note: We throw a little sand or dirt in the bottom of the stove to protect it from the extreme heat. Over time, I am told even the heavy gauge steel will burn through.
A pipe damper is necessary to control the flow of air up the pipe/chimney. Fast air flow sucks heat out of the tent and causes the wood to burn faster than necessary. This is a good accessory.
The warming tray or shelf simply slides into place and creates additional flat top space next to the stove (see photo). Like counter space, there is never enough. The warming tray is very useful.
Water Tank/Hot Water Heater
We have a three gallon water tank that hangs on the side of the stove and is rounded to fit close to the stove’s rounded side for good heat transfer. It’s nice to have hot water always ready when it’s cold. The only negative, is the water tank has to be kept full so it does not warp. So every time you take some hot water, you need to immediately re-fill the tank. We don’t always use the water tank and simply keep a kettle on the stove for hot water (see photo).
Chimney/Stove Pipe Oven
The oven fits on the stove pipe above the stove and is heated by the smoke circulating around the stove box before exiting out the top of the pipe. It also causes more heat to be dumped into the tent before it can be carried away.
The oven is a fun accessory and there is nothing like hot buttered biscuits for breakfast at camp, but truth is, it is difficult to keep the oven at a constant temperature. It’s nice if you have someone that wants to take the time to bake. We use the stove more often when we are simply camping for fun or ice fishing, but do not usually use it at elk camp when we want to get going early.
I hope this helps you to decide to get a wall tent and camp stove so you can take the family camping or get closer to the action in your own elk camp.