Heating, cooking, stoves and tents.
Well, I’ve already said in a few other articles that in-tent heating can be effective using either a fan heater (EHU) or a basic wood burning or multi-fuel stove. The important thing is to never have an open flame (including the use of gas canisters/bottles) inside your tent, even if the tent is sold to you as ‘fire retardant’ (not fire proof) or ‘fire proof’ (I wouldn’t risk it).
So let’s say you want to camp in cooler weather (winter, early spring or Autumn) – installing a stove of course together with a safety flue kit in your tent, can be a huge Plus when it comes to overall enjoyment of your camping trip. Let’s admit it, we’d all prefer to enter and settle down into a cosy space, feeling warm and snug, as opposed to a cold, empty one.
A stove can simply be a straightforward wood burner (I’d recommend 3kw to 4kw output for a 4m or a 5m bell tent), with a basic firebox only, or it could be larger (for something like a 6m bell tent or emperor bell) and quite literally the equivalent of a mini-Range in your tent with one or two decent-sized ovens arranged side by side, and then with one or more hot plates on top. These stoves can output a lot of heat into a tent. Serious comfort!
Plus the mini-Range type of stove means that you can cook dishes inside the closed oven itself (as opposed to on top in a pan), such as casseroles etc without too much of the food smells permeating your tent interior or the tent fabric itself. Cooking smells in a canvas tent can take a long time to disappear because the fabric becomes totally impregnated. When using small cooking stoves/ranges like this (if you do intend to cook in your tent) it is advisable to situate them towards the middle of the tent – this means that steam and/or spatters of cooking sauces or fat etc will be not be too close to your canvas. Fat and canvas do not mix.
For those of you who do really want to cook their bacon and eggs in a frying pan on top of their little Range cooker or more basic wood burner, then please do make sure that all window vents and doors are open, in order to allow maximum throughput of air – this will help to minimise those lingering smells.
If you decide to opt for one of these ‘mini-Range’ type of ovens, in order to have hot water all you’d need to do is literally place a kettle (hob type with steel-metal base) onto one of the hotplates. It really does just create a wonderful feeling of quaint old-fashioned-homeliness-in-the-outback sort of thing!
If you’re like me and prefer to keep all cooking outside of my tent, either use a kitchen tent or a kitchen/cooking ‘area’ away from the tent. This I feel is not only safer, but also easier and less stressful. This means that it may only be necessary to use a stove inside your tent for ambient heat but more importantly, for a constant supply of hot water. If you have a smaller more basic wood stove you can usually get water heaters that bolt on to the side of the stove fire box. These are similar to small tea urns and have taps fitted. They are then filled with cold water which gets heated up to boiling point by the sheer heat of the stove. Literally water on-tap!
Various outdoor cooking stoves exist, and all have their own quirks. Some are suitable for cooking inside your tent and others only suited to being used in the open. You just need to get used to using whichever one it is you have, whether it be a Frontier stove, a cob oven, a ‘mini-Range’, a barbecue or a fire pit type of arrangement. Just make sure that you always play safe and use mesh covers on barbecues and fire pits to prevent hot ashes from floating towards your tent. Ensure that if you do want to use a stove for heating the inside of your tent that it camping is properly made and that it’s a properly sealed unit with safety flue kit.
Similarly always make sure you have spark arresters fitted to stove chimneys, and keep open fires (even with covers) a safe distance from any tent.
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