I’m sure that wood stoves are one of the best methods of luxurious winter camping. Just not the one I bought for $75, on eBay, from China.
Guess I should have seen that coming.
A quick summary of what happened when Sam and I took the hot tent to the Adirondacks:
Stove lights, I stay in the tent and stoke it while Sam chops wood. Several minutes later my eyes begin to wate because smoke is coming into the tent. So I open up all the windows and doors, now the tent is smokey and 10F. The fire gets bigger, the smoke dissipates, I close the windows and doors. Then, the flu pipe disconnects from the stove and there is a 2 ft flame in the tent. I yell for Sam to bring me the leather gloves so I can play surgeon on my broken stove. I fix things, the tent does not burn down, it is again 10F in the tent and I am outside, trying not to die of smoke inhalation. Things settle to a normal level of “I can’t see through the cloud of smoke inside the tent. We cook Mac n Cheese on the stove. It is delicious. We admit defeat, let the fire die and pitch our backup tent. It drops to -8F that night. Snow forms on the inside of the tent. At 6am I cannot stand it anymore, rouse Sam and drive to McDonalds because they are open, serve hot beverages and are ok with two people sitting in front of their fake fireplace for several hours while we warm up.
I’ve read lots of reviews on hot tents and many favorable trip reports. Pretty sure my failure boils down to a cheap, no name brand stove from eBay. We tested it in the backyard a few times before going, we used kiln dried wood. Then we got to the real outdoors and it didn’t work (it was also way colder in the Adirondacks than it was in my backyard). I’m not going into detail on how all the paint fell off and I had to repaint it, the memories are too paintful.
So, after this first failure and thankfully being able to return the stove on eBay, I decided to try a novel idea. I googled how country folk do it. It turns out, their are millions of people in the United States who like to kill animals and catch fish in the dead of winter. It also turns out these good people like being warm. But, they don’t use wood, they use propane. Enter hot tent 2.0.
It’s a catalytic propane heater. It uses a little bit of magic, chemistry, and platinum strips to make propane turn into heat without making CO of CO2. What this means is that you can put it in any tent you want. I ended up with two, both by Mr Buddy. The big one has a fan in it and puts out double the heat. So far I’ve used it with my Nemo Moki (3 person mountaineering tent). The small heater worked extremely well, Sam and I tested it ice climbing and neither of us even zipped up out sleeping bags it was so warm in the tent. I used the large heater in a 5 person straight wall cabin tent and was toasty in their too. The only downside is that if you use the little green propane cylinders for camp stoves they only last for 6 hours and you’ll have to swap a new one in during the middle of the night. I bought a 20lb grill tank, definitely not something you’d take into the back country, but for camping near your car for a weekend of skiing or ice climbing it can’t be beat. Well, unless you have money and get a hotel, those have showers and beds.
A picture in the Nemo Moki, it even gives off an orange glow that makes you feel like you have a campfire.
Random note, even though these heaters have built in shut offs for low oxygen levels, you should spend the $20 and get a backup )2/CO/CO2 sensor. Because not dying is worth $20, probably.