Size and Safety Factors of Tents and Use of a Wood Stove

tentsizearticleA tent and a wood stove is an essential part of a more comfortable outdoor adventure with advantages and disadvantages. First consider what kind of trip it is. What kind of weather and temperatures will it be used in? Are you backpacking or will it be for family or group camping? Is it easy to set up? What is important to you? How many people will be in the tent?

When a tent is advertised as a 2, 4 or 6 person tent and so on, this is recognized as the maximum number of adults that can sleep without their gear. This calculation would work fine if the tent is solely for light travel, trail or backpacking. Most often the best way to figure with some added gear is to half the numbers and figure 3 people for a 6-person tent.

For more serious campground or wilderness trips in-depth planning is needed to determine a more realistic tent capacity. How much gear you will have? Will you be using cots or sleeping bags? Cots are more comfortable but will take up more of the space. Besides taking into account the actual length and width of the tent, head-room must be thought out. What is the peak height measurement? Will you be changing clothes and will you will be able to stand upright inside the tent? A good calculation is to plan on a minimum of 20 feet of floor space per person and 30 if cooking and congregating.

Drawing out a floor plan just like you would when building a new home is also helpful. I found an excellent visual tool for a scaled diagram of tent floor plan sizes with moveable gear, cots and stove sizes. This works well to just move things around and scrutinize exactly how much space you have to work with, especially when implementing a wood stove.


Generally when determining measurements of a tent for safety and practical use with a wood stove, bigger is better. A good wood stove can make a tent quite warm even in sub zero temperatures. Keep on mind, a wood stove must be kept from being a fire hazard. Make sure the wood stove is made from 18-22 gauge metal. Weight is important factor if you are packing in and a smaller collapsible stove can easily fit in a pannier. Don’t let your desire for light-weight override safety. Weight is important if you are packing in. A smaller collapsible stove can easily fit in a pannier which is nice. Thinner gauge materials can be dangerous and they do make lightweight stoves that are 18-22 gauge.

For safety, fire treated canvas and a spark arrestor is recommended for wood stoves. A spark arrestor helps cool off sparks before they leave the pipe and will keep most sparks from ever reaching the roof. However, even fire treated canvas can get burns from sparks in a tent roof. A fly is the best way to prevent spark holes in a tent roof. Wood like pine and spruce give off more sparks and should be careful if not altogether avoid burning these types of wood.

A fire can be controlled better with a damper which also makes a stove more efficient requiring less wood. Dampers are well worth it but need care as the more a stove is damped the more the air intake is reduced causing it to have a tendency to build up with ash and soot in the stove pipe and spark arrestor. If it becomes too clogged with ash and soot it could result in a fire inside the stove pipe. The spark arrestor should be cleaned out every couple of days and the stove pipe gently banged to loosen any ash build up. Three feet away is a recommended safety buffer for cots or flammable items from a wood stove.

Check out your surrounding area before setting up camp with a wood stove. Sometimes sparks shoot out of the stovepipe. Are there any overhanging dead trees that could prove to be a fire hazard? Stove’s are usually set up in a corner close to the door so that wood can be conveniently brought in through the door. There should be at least two feet of space between the stove and tent walls.

With all the pros and cons of safety considerations with a wood stove in a tent, a wood stove makes camping so much more enjoyable. It is well worth a larger tent.

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