Tent stoves are a game-changer when it comes to cold weather camping.
These stoves typically burn wood in an enclosed fire box, although it is possible to find tent stoves that burn other types of fuel like charcoal. They have a chimney pipe, often referred to as a flue pipe, that extends through a specialty opening in the tent known as a stove jack, effectively directing the smoke and gas created by the burning of fuel out of the tent. Not only do tent stoves warm the tent’s interior, but they also typically have stove tops for cooking and racking for drying out gear.
To make it easier for you to decide which tent stove is right for you, we put over 30 tent stoves to the test. What we have here is a list of the top 6 tent stoves based on weight, durability, cooking efficiency, and additional features.
Editor’s Choice – Colorado Cylinder Uncompahgre
|Dimensions LxWxH||23 x 14 x 11 inches|
The Colorado Cylinder Uncomahgre, nicknamed “The Unc” is a durable and efficient tent stove.
The fire box measures 23”x14”x11”, and the whole stove is 19 inches tall when fully set up. This is a big enough design to keep tents up to 14x14 feet toasty warm. Above that size and it may struggle to maintain adequate heat.
The stove is a mid-range weight of 32 pounds. On our list, there are both heavier and lighter options, so if you’re looking for the balance between heavy-weight durability, and lightweight portability, the Unc strikes a nice balance.
And speaking of durability, it’s built with 20 gauge black steel construction. It also has an excellent coating that withstands just about any temperature.
We all know how difficult it can be to dry out gear while camping, especially during winter. That’s why we really appreciate that they’ve included some side racks that can be used for drying and heating things. It’s perfect for drying out boots, socks, and other gear that gets wet throughout the day.
To add to this stove’s versatility, it can very efficiently burn other types of fuel such as charcoal. And to make it more portable, the stove collapses to 2.25 inches thick when you want to pack it away.
To save you some money on accessories, Colorado Cylinder includes a few crucial extras with the stove. You’ll get a Nesting stove pipe bundle, a stovepipe damper, and a mesh spark arrestor in order to prevent lit ashes and sparks from leaving the flue and starting a fire unintentionally.
The Unc is a solid choice for any camper looking for a heat-efficient, mid-sized stove with superior longevity.
Budget Pick – TMS Portable Military
|Dimensions LxWxH||18 x 10.25 x 11 inches|
If you’re looking to buy a stove for your tent but want to keep expenses to a minimum, you’ll appreciate the budget-friendly price of the TMS Portable Military stove.
It’s 18 inches long and 10 inches wide. The height of the stove itself is 11 inches, but that doesn’t include the 4 removable legs, which are 2 ¾ inches in diameter and adjustable. At maximum height, they can extend up to 16 ¾ inches long.
Like the Unc, it has side racks that can be used to dry out and warm up gloves and other gear. For quick drying, the stovetop can be rotated to face the racks, providing maximum heat without exposing the gear to flames.
We also really liked that the stove has a generous amount of cook space for its size. For those who enjoy cooking multiple items at the same time, this a critical feature.
Considering this is a stove available at a budget price point, we expected to find some downsides in terms of quality and durability. What we discovered is that the paint starts bubbling after some use. This is concerning and especially important to keep in mind if you plan to use the stove for cooking.
Also, the front door and rear air control plate will warp when the stove gets hot. If you were planning to use the stove for extended periods of time to keep you warm while you sleep or continuously over the course of a cold day, it could mean the end of these parts.
As far as budget-friendly stoves go, the TMS portable is a good option. We would just warn you that for the money you save, you will be sacrificing pretty significant durability and longevity.
Best Heavy Duty Tent Stove – Camp Chef Alpine
|Dimensions LxWxH||24 x 20 x 22.5 inches|
The Camp Chef Alpine is designed for the camper who prioritizes cooking and doesn’t mind carrying a heavy load to have the most efficient setup.
It has the biggest stovetops of all the tent stoves on our list, so you’ll have plenty of space to cook up whatever culinary creation you have in mind. Camp Chef also includes a door damper to alter the stove’s temperature depending on what you’re cooking.
As we mentioned, this stove is a heavy burden to transport. It is 24x20x22.5 inches which is the largest dimension out of any stove on the list and is made of heavy-duty steel. This size and durable construction contribute to its hefty overall weight of 74 pounds, which’s 42 pounds heavier than the Unc, which is the second heaviest stove we’ve reviewed.
This is obviously not a stove that is meant for campers who will be moving around frequently. We’d recommend it for hunters and anglers who plan to set up camp in one place and stay there for a while.
To increase the stability of this heavy stove, the legs included are adjustable. This allows you to customize the length of each leg to compensate for uneven ground.
Like the last two stoves on our list, it also has useful side racks that are very helpful for drying out gear.
One of the faults in this stove we discovered during testing is that the stove is not airtight. To be honest, it’s really not sealed very well at all. This allows some heat and smoke to escape, especially around the door. If you plan on getting this stove, we suggest installing a door gasket to create a proper seal around the door.
So, if you’re a stationary camper looking for a heavy-duty stove, look no further than the Camp Chef Alpine.
Best Bang for the Buck – Danchel Outdoor 304
|Metal||Stainless Steel, Alloy Steel, Aluminum|
|Dimensions LxWxH||18 x 15 x 15 inches|
The Danchel Outdoor 304 has a unique design that will fit a wide variety of campers’ needs.
Although it’s not as lightweight as the US Stove Caribou or the Bullet Proof 50, it’s only less than 5 pounds heavier, weighing a total of 22 pounds.
The stove also includes the side racks for drying stuff out, but they also serve a secondary function. When you’re not using the stove, the side racks fold up and create sturdy handles, enhancing portability.
Although we had high hopes for a tent stove made by a quality brand like Danchel, we were disappointed with the cooktop’s lack of quality. It’s poorly made and deforms after a couple of long uses. Danchel is a respected company that prides themselves on their reputation, so we hope that they will change this design flaw in the near future.
If you’re not looking to make a complicated production out of the set up process every time you want to take your stove on a trip, you’ll appreciate just how easy the stove is to set up. It’s an intuitive process that avoids the headaches of more complicated setups.
Although Danchel would surely like you to purchase one of their canvas tents along with this stove, it’s actually compatible with many other types and brands of tents.
One of the coolest additional features included is the ventilation drawer. It’s located under the stove with a ring handle that makes it easy to pull out. It’s both an ashtray and an adjustable vent that allows you to customize airflow inside the stove.
This is a great all-around stove that, although it has some flaws, still provides excellent value.
Best Portability on a Tent Stove – US Stove Caribou
|Dimensions LxWxH||15 x 8 x 23 inches|
The US Stove Caribou is the lightest weight and most portable tent stove on our list.
The stove dimensions are 18 inches long, 10.25 inches wide, and 11 inches high. Although this makes it a bit shorter than other stoves, it’s super easy to transport and only weighs 17.8 pounds. This makes it light enough that it could even fit the needs of individual backpack campers.
Keep in mind the design isn’t meant to warm large tents. We’d say it’s best used with small to medium size tents.
And, to increase the portability of this little stove, it comes with a very useful carrying case. The case can fit every part of the stove inside, including the 6-foot long flue pipe. It also does a great job of eliminating metal rattle while carrying the parts for quieter transportation.
We found this stove very efficient for cooking, with a 73 square inch cooktop and door damper that allows you to adjust the stove’s heat level. However, one word of caution with the damper. Once the stove starts to heat up, the damper can become so hot that it requires a potholder to operate, so be careful.
Also, we noticed that the paint might start to burn off in areas after some use.
Considering this is a US manufacturer, we were surprised by just how reasonable the price is. It might not be the least expensive stove on our list, but it does provide substantial value for a great price.
If portability is your highest priority when it comes to choosing a tent stove, you won’t be disappointed with the US Stove Caribou.
Best of the Rest – Bullet Proof 50 BMG
|Dimensions LxWxH||14 x 9 x 20 inches|
The Bullet Proof 50 BMG has one of the most unique designs of any stove on our list.
It’s built-in a Y shape, with a gravity-fed opening that you to drop wood into. This type of design allows you to keep the stove open and enjoy the fire.
Although it may be excellent for warmth and fire-side sitting, this stove isn’t the best for cooking. It’s hard to get the proper draw of air through the pipe, making it more challenging to cook on.
The stove dimensions are 14 x 9 x 20 inches, and the total weight is 18 pounds, making it a lightweight option compared to most of the stoves on our list. However, its lightweight does not necessarily make it very portable. They’ve included a carrying handle. However, it’s very uncomfortable to use for any length of time. We found that it actually hurts when carrying it over long distances.
The only other complaint we have about it is that it doesn’t burn wood pellets, which some campers prefer over different fuel types.
You can’t argue with the quality craftsmanship of this stove. It’s a well-built stove with a sturdy and durable design. Instead of adjustable rod legs, it has a fixed bar legs on a broad base. Although this means it lacks a built-in ability to adjust to uneven ground, it does make it less likely to wobble. It also seems like the type of stove that will have very respectable longevity.
Any camper who enjoys sitting by the fire and is intrigued by efficiencies created by this unique Y shape design will be able to appreciate this quality stove for years to come.
There are many tent stove options out there, and it’s not always easy to decide which one is right for you. To help make your decision easier, take a look at our buyer’s guide. We’ve included a handful of factors you’ll want to take into account while making your decision.
The tent stoves on our list range from 17.8 pounds to 74 pounds, just to illustrate how wide the range of weight tent stoves come in. The lighter the stove, the more portable it will be, but that’s not the only factor that will affect the stove’s portability. You’ll want to understand how the tent breaks down after you’re done using it. Does it break down into a carrying case? Does it have handles? If it doesn’t break down into something designed for efficiently carrying that weight, you’re going to have a hard time moving the stove around.
However, suppose you only plan on moving the stove a short distance from your vehicle to your tent once per outing. In that case, portability is probably not your biggest concern, and you can prioritize other attributes.
It’s important to keep in mind that if you want a stove with optimal portability, you may have to sacrifice the heating capacity and cooking space of the stove. Lighter weight, more portable stoves will typically be smaller and therefore not have as much space to load wood into. This means they won’t be capable of heating as big of a tent and will also need to be refilled with fuel more often than a larger, less portable stove needs to be. A smaller stove also typically means a smaller cooktop, so you may not be able to cook as many items at a time as you would on a larger stove with more cooktop space.
Considering that you’re dealing with fire inside a tent, you’ll want to make sure the stove is well made and manufactured with durable, long-lasting components. This is especially true if you plan to leave the stove burning overnight.
Some common durability issues include warping, paint melting, broken seals, and gaskets.
This can occur when burning fuel frequently, for long periods of time, and over the course of time. In these cases, the problems that occur are a result of some degree of extended use. You might call this wear and tear, which is to be expected over time to a certain extent.
These problems can also occur when the stove is brand new and only after a short burning of fuel. This damage is the result of low-quality material and/or poor manufacturing.
Be sure to check all reviews to identify some of the potential durability issues with that stove model. Are people complaining about issues after short periods of time or after extended use? The length of time in ownership and burn time before a reviewer has encountered a problem should give you a better idea of how durable the stove is.
Not all stoves are made equal when it comes to cooking efficiency. Some have better ventilation and heat control than others, which allows you to control the level of cooking more efficiently based on the type of food you’re making.
Another feature to consider that will affect cooking efficiency is the cooktop. The cooktop size will dictate how many dishes you can cook at once and the size of cooking equipment it can accommodate.
If you plan to use your stove for heating the tent mostly, cooking efficiency may not be that big of a concern for you. However, if your tent stove will be used frequently throughout the day for cooking, and you’ll be camping for an extended time, you’ll want to make sure the stove you purchase will fit your cooking needs.
There are a handful of additional features that can come with a stove, and you’ll have to decide which ones are most important to compare with other stove qualities.
Drying racks for warming up and drying out gear are a common feature you may want to make sure your stove includes.
Then you have ventilation draws which allow a higher degree of heat control than stoves without them. Some stoves have adjustable legs, while others have fixed legs. Handles are also a nice additional feature for enhanced portability that is found on some stoves but not others.
There’s a long list of additional features that come with a stove, so be sure to research the features that are unique to each stove you are considering.
The stove’s compatibility with the tent you’ll be using it in is one of the most important factors you’ll need to consider before you make your purchase. The flue pipe of the stove will need to be the right diameter in order to fit through the stove jack in the wall or roof of the tent. So, you’ll want to compare the dimensions of the two to make sure they’ll fit together.
Also, the stove you buy should be an appropriate size for the size of tent you have. For instance, you wouldn’t want to get a big stove for a very small tent. Not only would it be overkill in terms of heating, but you also might not be able to fit the number of campers you have with the stove set up inside. On the other side of the spectrum, if you have a very large tent, you probably won’t want to get a very small stove that won’t adequately heat the tent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tent stoves are safe as long as you take some precautions. You need to use a tent that’s made for use with a stove and has a stove jack. You also need to make sure all flammable material is kept away from the stove, that you use a spark arrester, ensure proper set up, and be attentive whenever the stove is lit to prevent unintentional fires and the build-up of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide.
The first thing you’ll want to do is burn wood until you have a bed of coals. Then, remove ash and other material that cannot burn from the fire box. After that, rake the coals out, so they’re spread evenly throughout the bottom of the stove. Then, evenly place a small quantity of kindling over the coals. Once the kindling has caught fire, place a few medium-sized pieces and one large piece of slow-burning wood such as pine, oak, or hickory on the fire. Allow the logs to burn until they form coals and then reduce the airflow without completely cutting it off.
The minimum distance your stove should be from the tent wall is 2-3 feet. However, whenever possible, you should take extra precautions and provide as much possible space as the tent’s interior layout allows. Also, be sure the stove’s opening is not facing the nearest wall and that there are no other flammable or combustible items between the stove and the wall.
You can leave a wood stove burning overnight as long as it is properly vented and has undergone multiple extended burning tests to ensure durability. However, there is always a risk of danger when leaving a wood stove burning overnight, especially if no camper is awake and attending to it. There is a risk of burning the tent down or the build-up of carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that is potentially lethal.