Wall Tent Wood Stoves Buying Guide – Comparison of Types and Features

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.

fire in wall tent stove

Nice sight on a cold morning.

  1. Price – Determined by the materials, size and design of stove
  2. Sq Ft to Heat – Mainly determines size of stove needed
  3. 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 more than 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 now 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*
Steel    20-77   120-420       5-16 $200-$330
Light Weight    12-35   120-380       2-9 $150-$380
Collapsible    15-42     80-230       2-8 $200-$310
Backpacker      4-8     64-80       1-2 $120-$150

*Prices are for basic stove and pipe and may not include accessories

Steel Stoves

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.

Collapsible Stoves

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.

Backpacker Stoves

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

wall tent wood stove

Hot water can always be ready with kettle or hot water tank (not shown).

When we bought our Cylinder Stove, we also got an oven and a three gallon hot water tank. The wood grate, spark arrestor, pipe damper and warming tray were included with the stove.

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

Stove Jack

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.

Spark Arrestor

stove pipe spark arrestor

Spark Arrestor

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. They can also double as a crawdad trap.

Wood Grate

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.

Pipe Damper

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.

Warming Tray/Shelf

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 wood stove 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 up and out the stove pipe.

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 hunting or ice fishing camp.

See our post on wall tent sizes & layout diagramswall tent floor plan

Comments

  1. Thanks for the great info on your site! I’ve read a number of your articles.

    I’m planning to get a wall tent and a wood stove, and I’m considering buying a heat powered fan for the stove top.

    So far, the two fan types that I have found are vulcan fans and Caframo eco fan.

    One of the differences in these two fans is the minimum operating temperature, so I’m wondering how hot the stove top gets. Do you know how hot your stove top gets at operating temperature?

    Also, in regards to the fans, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them if you have any experience with them. Are you aware of any additional brands? Have you ever used a fan like this? If you have used a fan like this, what’s your experience been with it?

    • Interesting idea Josh.
      I have seen these fans for indoor settings, but not for a wall tent. I have not measured the temperature of my stove top, but I can tell you it can get hot enough to glow. I read that at 885°F, a red glow is visible in twilight, but I would not advise letting it get that hot inside a tent (and I will not do it again).

      The combustion temperature of wood is between 190 – 260°C (374 – 500°F). Volatile gasses start to come out of the wood around 500°F and then those gasses ignite and burn at temperatures around 1,000 – 1,100°F.

      So if you open the draft and allow air to be sucked in, the temperature of the outside of the box could easily over 800°F. With the air shut down, most of the fire should still be releasing gases that burn. I think it would be hard to keep the outside temperature of the stove (especially the top) under 400°F.

      I believe there will be enough temperature for the fans to operate. That said, I’m not sure I see the need for a fan in a wall tent (especially for the price).

      A tent is a relatively small place. My 12 X 14 foot tent contains 420 cubic feet. You can feel radiant heat from the stove even in the farthest corner (about 13 feet from stove). The stove also causes a convection current inside the tent. Heat rises to the roof and then sinks down the walls and runs back towards the stove along the ground. The stove also sucks in air to replace what goes up the chimney and that air must come in from the outside and most of it seems to come in near the ground.

      The problem is not getting heat to the corners, but keeping heat on the ground. The tent is always warmest near the roof and coolest on the ground. This is why ceiling fans help keep a house warm during the Winter, by pushing warm air down to the lower half of the house where we live.

      I suggest you buy a wall tent and stove and get outside and try it out this Winter. The purpose is to get outside, see new things, learn new skills, test ourselves and most of all, get away from the un-natural world. Then, if you think a high tech fan will add to the experience without breaking the bank, then have at it.

      Good luck and send a picture when you get there.

  2. Backpacker wood stoves (see example) can be used within tents like tipi. Its pretty perfect combination when you are actually carrying all the weight with you on your hiking trips. 🙂

  3. I second what wild mike says. You can get a 16′ diameter teepee with a stove that weighs 12 pounds total.

    • If you are not careful, even heavy, well made stoves and pipes can leak smoke into the tent. I have seen light weight stoves, but never used one. Am curious about how smokey they are and how much heat they can put out. Obviously not much heat is needed in a small tent.

  4. Shon Northam says

    That was an incredible well-written and informative article!!! Thank you for posting. I will be reading more of your articles (I’m hoping to see a recommendation for a Wall tent). We have a Jeep and get outdoors regularly but my wife’s medical condition is beginning to necessitate warmth. We have a 3-year old that loves the outdoors too so now we are gonna get a wall tent n stove and I really appreciate your article. Many Blessings to you. 🙏

  5. How do you like the Elk Mountain tent? Is the fabric on par with regular tent canvas?

    • On Par? The material is much lighter in weight so the frame is also much lighter in weight. The material also doesn’t seem to attract dirt like canvas and it doesn’t sweat inside like canvas.
      I like the tent. I recently sold my other wall tent, so the Elk Mountain tent is my only tent now.

  6. Cody Bennett says

    You mention you can get the stove to hold heat for 7 hours, and while I believe you I must admit I am surprised. The manufacturer only claims between 3-5 hours of heat retention, would you say this is an under estimation or are you doing something particularly ingenious to get those extra hours?

    I ask because I am considering the very same stove for my tent which is a similar size to yours. being able to stoke a fire only once and have it burn all night is an absolute dream but at 3-5 hours 2 stokings seems more likely. I should also note that I will be burning pine exclusively because that is the only wood available. I was considering the stove model one size larger, the timberline, which claims 4-6 hours but I wonder what your thoughts on the larger stove operating in a tent that small. I expect It would require fires smaller than the optimal size for the efficiency of the stove but granting this do you think a comfortable temp could be reasonably maintained within the tent with outside temperatures ranging between 10 to 30 degrees F? I understand this would require more wood in total and the stove pipe will need to be cleaned more frequently but I may be willing to put up with this if I could achieve my holy grail of a single nightly stoking.

    So far I have tried two stoves in the tent, the first was a small antique cast iron parlor stove with which I was lucky to get over an hour of burn time, needless to say I didn’t sleep much. the second was a stove I made myself with inadequate materials and equipment, it was very much oversized but the real issue was the fact that i could never get it air tight which meant either maintaining a small fire which needed regular stoking or a large fire which made the tent uncomfortably hot, threatened to damage the tent (don’t worry I only did it once) and what’s more it still only gave me 4 hours burn time at the maximum.

    • Hi Cody… Yes, my stove will hold heat for about 7 hours. Lucky I guess, because I haven’t modified it in any way. The key is to be able to shut out the air. with unlimited airflow, the fire will do it’s thing, but will produce too much heat too fast and burn out. If you can get it roaring, then choke it down, it will smolder…

      A canvas tent has some insulation, but to keep a large area warm enough to be comfortable in your skivies, it will take a lot of heat. If the goal is to keep the tent at comfortable sleeping conditions (like 45°), then that is easier. Keeping the tent just warm enough so the water doesn’t freeze is even easier, but may not be as comfortable unless you are dressed for the col.

      It will be easy to keep the tent 10 – 20° warmer than the outside, but more difficult to keep it 30 – 50° warmer.

      So in very cold weather, you will need more heat and will have to get up more often to stoke the fire because a choked down fire may not be enough heat to keep the tent warm.

      Also, nights are long in the Winter… If you stoke the fire and go to sleep at 10:00 pm, there may still be coals at 5:00 am, but probably not much if any at 6:00 am, so if you don’t get up and stoke the fire, you will be rebuilding at fire before sunrise.

      If you can’t get your stove to shut down airflow enough, try adding more insulation around the door or try modifying the door catch so it shuts tighter.

      That said, and as much as I like the idea of a wood fire for heat in a tent vs propane, the tent can get uncomfortably smokey if the stack is not sealed well.

      Either way, unless you have horses, you are camping close to your truck anyway, so makes little difference whether packing stove or propane heater and propane bottle.

      As for the specific cylinder stoves you mention, there are several companies that make the same thing (similar to the link I have at Amazon), which is exactly like the stove I have. As for going smaller or larger on the stove, if you have space, go larger. Especially if you are truck camping anyway.

      • Cody Bennett says

        Thank you for your reply, that was very quick!

        My concern is less about keeping the tent warm enough and more so about making sure the tent isn’t uncomfortably hot (which is what my current stove does even at 10 degrees outside primarily because it is impossible to close it down fully). even if I could maintain 40 degrees F in the tent without having to tend to it every hour on the hour I would be ecstatic.

        the crux of my question is whether or not you think the larger model stove could be filled or nearly filled with wood and choked down sufficiently so as to not overheat the tent. If so then getting the burn time I am seeking will be a simple matter.

        but if as you say I can get 7 hours with the smaller stove then this would really be necessary, frankly even 5 hours would be enough. although I suppose if either will work it would come down to which would be simpler.

        things I should mention:
        1) After doing a bit of measuring it would seem my tent is actually slightly smaller than yours, (11 by 13)
        2) I will be cooking on the stove, in that respect a larger top might be nice, but then again cooking with the larger stove during the daytime might make the tent excessively hot even with the front and sides open (hotter than with the small stove I mean). talk about a conundrum, or maybe I’m just stressing over nothing lol
        3) packing the stove is not really a concern to me, I drive my jeep and utility trailer to wherever I will be hunting. and besides my current stove weighs 200 pounds at the minimum, anything less will be a treat.

        with these things in mind do you still recommend the larger model?

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