Every experienced outdoorsman understands one cardinal rule when it comes to gas stoves: don’t bring your stove inside the tent. Stoves release carbon monoxide that can, and often does, result in death for campers who were just trying to stay warm.
The one exception to the rule is the hot tent. The hot tent is not a new idea (armies have been using the hot tent forever) but it is only recently that it has gained significant traction in the civilian camping space.
The hot tent allows you to bring a wood stove into your tent and safely vent smoke and carbon monoxide to the outdoors through a stovepipe. The effect is to create your own private winter lodge right in the middle of the forest. Nice. Below are the best hot tent options for 2021.
1. Cimarron Pyramid Tent
The Cimarron is a beautiful example of hybrid tent design that will elevate your outdoor experience in ways you never imagined. It takes the classic pyramid shape, wraps it in rugged but lightweight 30D cordura nylon, and adds a stove jack to accommodate your wood burning stove (not included).
Unlike many large, framed hot tents, the Cimarron sets up in just a few minutes. And because it weighs less than 4 pounds, (not counting the stove), it can be carried a good distance without becoming a ball and chain. It will keep 2 people toasty warm on even the coldest nights. Just remember to bring a groundsheet for under you sleeping bags. It’s the ideal choice for those planning to set up camp away from the car and spend the weekend snowshoeing, deer hunting, or just relaxing.
2. Danchel Outdoor Cotton Bell Tent
If you don’t plan on carrying your hot tent deep into the woods it can be heavier and more feature-rich, like the Danchel Outdoor Cotton Bell Tent. The Danchel Bell Tent has an integrated floor that makes for a more luxurious experience, plenty of room to allow you and your camping companion to stretch out and an integrated stove jack for your wood burning stove.
There’s ventilation in the sides and the roof to prevent excessive heat buildup, a nice big doorway for easy access, and plenty of guy wires to keep the tent anchored to the ground. The canvas has been waterproofed and all seams are double stitched and heat sealed to keep moisture out. The Danchel Outdoor Cotton Bell Tent takes winter camping to a whole new level of comfort and enjoyment.
3. Fltom Camping Hot Tent
The name may be a tongue-twister but the Fltom Camping Hot Tent is a breeze to set up and light enough to be carried a fair distance into the wilderness. This is another pyramid-style tent that is very stable and provides plenty of head room. The shell is fashioned from 210D PU coated rip-stop polyester and is waterproof and reasonably heat-resistant.
The tent has a built-in stove jack for your wood burning stove (stove not included), and a ground sheet you can choose to use or not. There’s a flap to cover the stove jack when it’s not in use, and 4 guy wires to keep the tent on the ground in heavy winds. The center pole is tough but light and there’s plenty of ventilation to prevent excessive heat and moisture buildup.
4. Playdo Waterproof Canvas Bell Tent
The Playdo Waterproof Canvas Bell Tent is a luxurious yurt-like tent that’s spacious, comfortable, durable and versatile. Summer, fall, winter or spring you and your crew will be relaxing in style under the expansive arms of the Playdo Bell Tent. The shell is fashioned from 300 GSM cotton that’s been treated with waterproofing, and that’s good, because once you get the wood stove fired up inside any snow that’s falling is going to melt when it hits your tent.
The stove jack is well designed and will hold the stovepipe securely. There is plenty of airflow to prevent the interior from getting too hot or too humid. It fastens down to the ground at a dozen points to stand up to the wind, and there is lots of room to stretch out inside. Lots. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great overall value.
5. Preself Tipi Hot Tent
If you’re heading into the wild alone or with one other person, the Preself Tipi Hot Tent is an excellent choice. Unlike some of the bigger hot tents, one person can set this puppy up in about 10 minutes. It’s light enough to carry some distance, in case setting up near the car doesn’t interest you. But keep in mind you, or your companion, will have to carry the stove too.
The ergonomics of the tent are first-rate. Even with the stove set up 2 people should not feel crowded. The stove jack is robust and fire-retardant. It’s also designed to stay flexible in the cold. The bathtub bottom is fashioned from waterproof PU2000, and the tent as a whole stands its ground in strong winds. With everything it has going for it, it’s amazing it doesn’t cost twice as much.
6. Hexpeak XL Tipi
For a free-standing tent the stability of the Hexpeak XL Tipi is pretty extraordinary. If you think you might be setting up in a place where it would be hard to extend guywires, you might want to keep this tent in mind. Build quality is outstanding throughout. The outer shell is fashioned from rugged, ripstop nylon, and it peaks out at 6 feet, so most people will be able to stand up and stretch a bit.
The stove jack on the Hexpeak XL Tipi is fire-resistant and holds the pipe securely. There’s a vestibule for storing gear, the tent does a great job shedding snow, and the bathtub bottom keeps you from having to lay your sleeping bag on the snow or frozen ground. It also enables the tent to retain heat better. You’ll have to supply your own stove and stovepipe. but that’s not such a big deal.
7. Whiteduck Alpha Canvas Wall Tent
If you’re heading out for a weekend of winter fun with family and friends no ordinary tent will do. You’ll want something like the Whiteduck Alpha Canvas Wall Tent. This is a serious hot tent that provides up to 320 square feet of space. And, because it’s a straight wall tent with an 8 foot peak, you can use all of that 320 square feet.
The shell is fashioned from rugged, waterproofed cotton duck. The frame is crafted from corrosion resistant aluminum. There are multiple windows to keep air moving and a free-floating PVC floor. The stove jack is heat resistant and will hold your stovepipe nice and tight. While the door provides an extra layer of protection against biting winds and blowing snow. It’s expensive, but it will provide outdoor luxury like the Roman Emperors used to enjoy.
8. OneTigris Iron Wall Stove Tent
The One Tigris Iron Wall Stove Tent is compact and light and is a great choice for lone wolves who enjoy spending time in the wilderness during the winter hunting, ice fishing or just relaxing. The shell is fashioned from 20D silnylon that is water and heat resistant. The stove jack seals up tight when not in use and the inner shell is mesh for optimal breathability.
The One Tigris Iron Wall Stove Tent can be easily set up by one person in just a few minutes. The wood stove (not included) should be set up in the bottomless vestibule which will keep the heat in without endangering the bathtub. This tent is also very stable in the wind.
9. Whiteduck Regatta Canvas Bell Tent
This is a smaller tent than the Whiteduck Alpha we profiled above. The Regatta embodies all those things that make the Alpha such a great hot tent, but because it’s a little smaller and lighter, you have more options regarding where you can set it up.
The regatta is fashioned from 8.5 ounce cotton duck that has been waterproofed and treated with a fire retardant. The integrated stove jack is rugged and won’t let water in. There’s plenty of ventilation and the tent sheds snow like a champ.
10. Russian Bear Hot Tent
The last of our best hot tents is the Russian Bear. For a dome tent the Bear is extremely spacious with near vertical walls and a peak height of 6’ 2”. There’s a pair of windows, an insulated multi-layer floor and an umbrella design that opens quick and sets up in just a few minutes.
The stove jack includes a stainless steel ring to pass the pipe through. This reduces the odds of a heat-related incident. The shell is treated with a fire-resistant coating that will withstand up to 1,200 degrees F, and the camo exterior eliminates the need for constructing a blind.
What Is a Hot Tent?
A hot tent is a tent that is designed to enable you to use a wood burning stove inside. Everything about the tent from the size to the materials to the stove jack is intended to facilitate this purpose. If you are a veteran backpacker or mountaineer you are taught from day 1 not to bring a gas stove into the tent with you (1). But hot tents are different because the material is heavier than that used to make a mountaineering tent, it is often treated with a fire retardant and there is a stove jack that accepts a pipe through which smoke is vented to the outdoors.
Some hot tents come with a wood burning stove. Some do not, meaning you will have to buy your own, along with the necessary stove pipe to vent the smoke and carbon monoxide. Now before you get to thinking you can bring a hot tent with you on your ascent of Denali, think again. These things are big and heavy, and where are you going to find firewood above the treeline anyway?
What is a Stove Jack?
The name “stove jack” is a curious choice. “Stove flashing” would be more accurate because that is exactly what it is: a flashing like you find on a roof (2), fixed in the side or top of the tent that allows you to pass a stovepipe through. This carries smoke from the wood stove inside out of the tent and prevents carbon monoxide poisoning, smoke inhalation, and excessive build up of heat and humidity inside the tent.
Can I Put a Stove Jack in My Backpacking Tent?
The short answer is “no”. There typically isn’t room in a backpacking tent for a wood stove, the material the backpacking tent is made from is not heat resistant and cutting it to add a stove jack will likely ruin the integrity of the tent. So, it turns out the long answer is “no” too.
What are the Benefits of a Hot Tent?
The benefits of hot tents revolve almost entirely around 1 word: comfort. If you have ever been winter hiking with a standard tent you know how insanely cold it can get inside the tent at night. The hot tent prevents that from happening. So, what are the benefits?
A warm, comfy base camp – Lots of people set up a base camp from which they venture forth to go ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing etc. If you have a hot tent at that base camp you will be able to thaw out and relax at the end of the day, instead of piling on more clothes and shivering yourself to sleep.
No need for that super expensive winter sleeping bag – Some hot tents can get as warm as 65 -75 F inside even when it’s pushing single digits (F) outside. Without the hot tent you would need an expensive down winter bag to deal with the extreme cold of winter. With the hot tent you can bring your 3 season bag and might not even zip it up all the way.
Room to move – As we mentioned briefly, hot tents are typically pretty big in order to safely accommodate the wood stove. Some are the size of a small room with high ceilings so you can walk around inside. This kind of freedom of movement is in stark contrast to the situation inside the typical backpacking tent.
The ability to cook – With a backpacking tent and a gas stove your culinary options are extremely limited. Plus, you have to cook outside regardless of the conditions. With a hot tent and a wood burning stove you can go to town on dinner inside the tent. The only caveat is that you have to be careful about how you store your food to avoid attracting wildlife (3).
What Should I Look for in a Hot Tent?
Stove Jack – As we mentioned the so-called “stove jack” is really more of a flashing. But whatever you call it, your hot tent needs to have one. Most hot tents come with the stove jack in place. Others, however, leave it up to you to decide whether you want to install a stove jack on your own. If you’re going to do that you have to make sure the tent is large enough to accommodate a stove inside and that the material is rugged and, preferably, fire resistant.
Ventilation – Winter or not you still need to have proper ventilation in your tent. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, with the stove going it’s going to get really hot inside the tent if it is not properly ventilated. Second, if the tent is sealed up tight it’s going to get damp inside. Really damp. If you’re drying clothes near the wood stove inside the tent it’s going to get even wetter inside. So proper ventilation is a must.
Ease of Assembly – A hot tent is not going to be like a pop up tent (4) that snaps into place in seconds. It’s going to take some time to set one up. But when it’s cold out, you want to minimize the amount of time you spend setting the tent up. If you plan to move your campsite during the course of your outdoor adventure, it may be wise to get a “bell” tent. They have one central pole and can usually be set up in a few minutes. Larger framed tents will take longer and may require 2 or more people.
Size and weight – Hot tents are not backpacking tents. They’re made of heavier material. And then there’s the matter of the wood burning stove. Still, you may want (or have) to carry your tent into the woods a bit before setting it up. If that is the case you’ll have to consider its size and weight. If, on the other hand, you’re setting up near your car then weight and size are not such important considerations.
Does it have a groundsheet? – While backpacking and most camping tents come with a built-in base, hot tents are different. The presence of the wood burning stove makes the groundsheet potentially problematic. You don’t want it to catch fire or melt, after all. Some hot tents have fire resistant groundsheets. Some do not. Remember, if your hot tent does not have a groundsheet you can always place your bag on a folding camping cot.
Is it Waterproof? – If it is snowing outside and 70 degrees inside your tent is going to get wet from all the snow melt. The last thing you want is for water to come seeping through the ceiling and walls of the tent. The best hot tents will be fashioned from waterproof material, or be treated with a waterproof coating in order to prevent that.
Price – Make no mistake, hot tents can get expensive. There are several reasons for that. First, they typically use more expensive materials that are heat and water resistant. Most hot tents are also bigger than backpacking tents and more material = more cost for the manufacturer and a higher retail price. The stove jack also costs money to produce and integrate. They often have metal frames too that also cost money to produce and ship etc.
Why Are So Many Hot Tents Made of Canvas?
Many hot tents are made of canvas (5) because canvas is thick so it can accommodate a stove jack without any trouble. Canvas also breathes in the sense that it retains heat well, while allowing moisture to pass through it. Canvas also will not melt, something lighter synthetic fabrics are prone to doing when they get close to a heat source. In addition, it’s easy to treat canvas to make it water resistant. Canvas is heavy though. So keep that in mind if you plan on setting up a campsite in the wild, away from your car. Somebody’s going to have to carry it there.
What Are Some Tip For Camping With a Hot Tent?
Use a fire mat</strong – Always use a fire mat underneath your wood burning stove. This is a must if your hot tent has a floor like backpacking tents do. For hot tents without a floor it’s not as big a deal. Although it can help stabilize the stove on the ground.
Remember hot tents are not gas tents – Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can use a gas stove inside your hot tent. The only reason the wood burning stove works inside the tent is because the stovepipe carries the smoke and carbon monoxide out of the tent. Using a gas stove without a stovepipe could lead to death.
Bring a fire extinguisher – If you’re going through all the trouble of setting up a hot tent with a wood burning stove then it’s not a stretch to bring along a small fire extinguisher too. If you have a wood stove burning inside a tent, this is just common sense.
Consider the wind direction – Try to gauge the direction of the wind (6) and set up the tent so the stove jack is on the downwind side. This way, hot sparks coming out of the pipe won’t blow back across the tent.
Bring some rugs – If you’re going the full-on deluxe glamping (7) route, why not bring a few throw rugs to put on the floor to retain heat and to make it more comfortable to walk around?
The Bottom Line
For people who are not down with having their eyes freeze shut inside their backpacking tent during the winter, hot tents are a godsend. You can return to your base from a day of snowshoeing or ice climbing or snowmobiling, take off your down coat, cook up a steak, kick back and enjoy winter in the woods in a way you were never able to before.
They’re more labor intensive than backpacking tents, they cost more, and you can’t carry them up the mountain with you, but if you’re okay with all that then you’re in for a treat. Use the above info to determine which type of hot tent is right for you.