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camping with a wood stove

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  • I don't sell any of these nor do I receive any remuneration if you buy them, and I have not personally reviewed all of them, they are listed here to give you perspective
  • - in Summer and Autumn in Victoria, can't light solid fuel fires including wood stoves if wind > 10kph until restrictions lifted - usually this is 1st May
  • some areas do not allow wood fires including wood stoves such as some National Parks (eg. Wilsons Prom)


  • wood stove camping can really add to your enjoyment and amenity, especially in cooler wet conditions
  • while outside open wood camp fires are fantastic they have a lot of issues that wood stoves do not have:
    • use a lot of wood
    • open flame fire risks
    • ember issues (embers will burn holes in your tents, hiking tarps, and your puffer jackets and can start fires)
    • generate a lot of smoke and this can be an added issue if wind changes direction
    • can take a long time to go out (even with water) and can't be left without supervision
    • risk re-igniting in strong winds
    • are a pain to manage and to start in wet weather (often need to use an air blower to assist)
    • generally need heavy iron cookware such as Dutch ovens or heavy iron grates both of which require cooking experience to manage well due to highly variable temperatures
    • are not great for getting your clothes or gear dry - smoke issues and risk of them catching on fire or getting wet by further rain
    • cause fire scars if not used in existing fire pits
  • modern stainless steel portable wood stoves offer:
    • portability and ease of use
      • the medium Winnerwell Nomad wood camping stoves is light weight and only takes up the floor of the one side of rear seat of your car and cools down rapidly for when you want to pack up
      • do not need heavy bulky iron cookware - can even use light weight, compact, collapsible silicon pots for boiling water and cooking!
    • much improved fire safety over an open camp fire
      • no open flame
      • ember guard spark arrestor at the top of the chimney to minimise embers
      • much safer in windy conditions (as long as stabilised and air vent is open)
      • smoke and CO are much less likely to enter tent as long as chimney damper is fully open and it is not too windy
    • excellent cooking options
      • especially if you have a chimney oven as this can bake small items at 200degC fairly reliably as long as you have the fire going well
      • stove surface itself can be used to boil pots or use for a fry pan
      • the edge rails can be used to move the pot/pan partly off the stove to adjust temperature if you just need to simmer or keep warm
    • excellent water boiling options - saves your gas as it is great for boiling 1-2L water at a time for:
      • a hot shower
      • if you need to make river water potable
      • re-heating frozen cryovacced foods
      • washing dishes
      • etc
    • excellent clothes and gear drying in wet weather
      • even if your self-inflating memory foam mattress gets a bit wet and would otherwise end your trip!
      • wet socks can be carefully hung from the outer rails
    • provides warmth in your tent
      • best tent for this is a floor-less tunnel or dome tent of around 3-4m width and around 2m height and these will be around 19-21degC on a cold day at 1m from the ground even with doors open as long as there is no wind - see larger tents without integrated floors to act as fly tents or hot tents
      • a tipi tent can be used but the small volume of air at head level can get very warm at around 40degC even with doors open
      • can use a stove fan to redirect warm air to lower levels
    • helps dry your tent out much faster before packing up
    • provides direct radiant warmth
      • but for a medium Nomad stove you do need to be within a meter of the stove to really enjoy this
      • I have not had issues with my mesh tent being around 60-100cm from the stove
  • they are NOT useful for keeping you warm while you sleep overnight as this is not only a safety risk but they need stoking every 30-45minutes (they use about 1kg kindling per hour)
  • you must take safety measures to ensure
    • your tent does not burn down
      • use a triple shielded chimney section where it passes through the tent
      • the stove is stable and won't fall over in strong winds
      • tent material is guyed out securely so it won't flap against the chimney or stove
      • there are no flammable materials close to the stove, especially above it or under it
      • use a fire mat under the stove as burning embers will fall out onto the floor
    • it is adequately ventilated so you don't get carbon monoxide poisoning - strongly consider an CO alarm
    • children and pets are kept away from the stove otherwise immediate 3rd degree burns will occur from the slightest of contact!
  • do NOT use anything other than dry seasoned wood in the stove
    • many other fuels such as paper will cause the fire to burn too hot and warp the stove
    • damp wood will result in low fire temperatures and major problems with soot and creosote which will make it hard to pull chimney sections apart and which may cause a chimney fire
  1. a floor-less tent with a fire resistant stove jack (4-12kg ~$AU400-800)
    • NB. the stove is likely to damage, melt or set fire to any usual tent floor or tarp!
    • in heavy rain, some water is likely to leak around the chimney, so you can either accept this given it is usually minimal or you may wish to explore options to reduce this such as:
      • using a silicone flashing - but these are relatively large and heavy for most polyester tents
      • have the stove jack on a vertical wall rather than the ceiling
        • this will require an angled chimney section and a chimney tripod support outside the tent
        • has the additional advantage that any tent fly can then fully cover the roof of the tent
  2. optionally, a PVC awning floor (~$AU100)
    • a large awning floor will make it more livable and PVC is less likely to burn than a tent floor, but nevertheless, keep away from stove or place a fire mat on top of it
  3. an inner mesh tent to sleep in (~$AU100)
    • many tents have this option, or, you can use a freestanding 2P mesh tent without its fly - this is my preference as it is very versatile but ensure it does not sit in a lake of water during heavy rain events - you really don't want to risk your sleeping gear getting wet!
    • when there are no insects around eg. Victorian winters, you can forego the inner mesh tent and just use a stretcher bed which will get your gear off the ground
  4. a wood stove (~$AU700)
    • I use the medium sized Winnerwell Nomad wood camping stoves as it is small enough to sit on the floor of the rear of my car
    • whilst the stainless steel water boiler is nice, it is not really needed if you wish to save space and costs - just sit a pot on the stove works just s well albeit without a tap
    • I do love the optional chimney oven - very handy indeed and will bake a 1.2kg butterflied roast lamb or using the two trays can do 600g or so in one tray and roasted vegetables in the other tray
    • you MUST buy the optional triple shielded chimney section if using inside a tent
  5. stove accessories
    • fire mat to place under the stove
    • cooking gear
    • a bubble level to make it easier to get your stove level whilst setting up
    • as oven temperature will not be constant, if cooking roasts in the oven strongly consider getting a Bluetooth meat thermometer such as a Meater (you don't want to open the oven door much as it loses a lot of heat and takes a while to get back up to temperature)
    • consider a stove fan to sit on the stove and recirculate the warm air through the tent
    • chimney pipe cleaner (can be done at home)
  6. wood and wood management gear
    • requires dry seasoned kindling (1kg/hour on average for the Nomad Medium stove)
    • consider a Canadian wood splitter axe to make wood small enough to fit (this can double as your tent peg hammer!)
    • fire starters and matches or gas lighter
    • something to keep your wood dry inside your tent eg. wood bag or similar
australia/woodstovecamping.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/29 14:35 by gary1

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