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Hot tent camping is all the rage these days, especially among winter backcountry enthusiasts. But, what exactly is it, you might ask?

Put simply, hot tent camping is when you sleep in a tent that’s heated by a portable wood-burning stove. For the most part, hot tents are made from canvas and are used during the winter months. But, they can be used for year-round camping trips in very chilly environments.

If you’re interested in going hot tent camping on your next outdoor getaway, here’s what you need to know:

(photo credit: OneTigris)

What Is A Hot Tent?

Although your sleek backpacking tent might feel warm during the summer months, it’s probably not a hot tent. Here are the defining features of a tent used for this kind of camping:

  • Has A Wood-Burning Stove. The primary feature of one of these shelters is the wood-burning stove. This provides essential heat so you can stay warm during the coldest months of the year. They are easy to use and can turn your tent into an oasis of warmth in the middle of the winter.
  • Exhaust Pipe Opening. These tents will also have a small port in the wall or roof that attaches to the exhaust pipe of the wood-burning stove. Without this opening, you’d get smoked out of your shelter within minutes of starting up the stove.
  • Made From Canvas. A hot tent is generally made from canvas, which is a kind of thickly woven cotton fabric. Canvas is the material of choice for these tents because it is durable enough for use in rough winter conditions. However, there are a few models that feature ripstop nylon and other lightweight fabrics. That being said, the downside to these lightweight models is that they are more likely to tear in heavy snow or high winds.
  • Removable Floor. A removable floor allows you to keep the mud out of your tent during the summer months for a tidier sleeping environment. Meanwhile, you can remove the floor in the winter so it doesn’t freeze to the snow-covered ground.

What Are The Benefits Of Hot Tent Camping?

If sleeping outside in the middle of winter doesn’t quite sound that enticing, hot tent camping might be what you need. These are the main benefits of camping out in one of these toasty warm tents during the colder months of the year:

  • A Warm Basecamp. The primary benefit of this style of camping is that it’s warm and comfortable. With a family tent, there are different tactics you can try to stay warm in the winter. But, none of these are going to make you as warm as a wood-burning stove in a hot tent, nor will they be as convenient.
  • Cozy Wood-Burning Stove Smell. While traditional backpacking tents rely on heaters to stay warm during the winter, hot tents use wood stoves. That means you get to enjoy that beautiful smell of a wood-burning stove during every night of your trip.
  • Very Spacious. Generally, hot tents are much larger than your standard backpacking shelter or family tent. Therefore, you can bring some luxury camping items, like sleeping cots, tables, and lots of gear for a more comfortable outdoor experience.
  • Built-In Kitchen. Since your hot tent has a wood-burning stove, you already have a built-in kitchen for your backcountry culinary adventures. Wood-burning stoves are a convenient way to cook or melt snow for drinking water on your trip.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Hot Tent Camping?

Hot tent camping is a great way to spend time outside. But, like any activity, it does have its disadvantages.

The primary drawback to this style of camping is that the tent tends to be quite heavy – upwards of 80lbs (36kg). Additionally, these tents can take quite a while to set up and often require the help of 2-3 people.

Finally, hot tents are often expensive, especially if you want one that’s particularly spacious. The wood-burning stove is also generally sold separately, so you’ll also have to budget in that extra cost.

Is Hot Tent Camping Safe?

In the past, you were probably told that having a fire in the middle of your tent is a major no-no. But, when done correctly, a hot tent is a relatively low-risk way to enjoy spending time outside during the colder months of the year.

The key is to ensure that your stove is set up correctly so that smoke exits through the exhaust pipe. Additionally, general fire safety and awareness are a must on these trips, especially if you have kids with you. Remember to keep your tent well-ventilated at all times and to keep the stove door shut tightly while you’re asleep.

Hot Tent Camping For Your Next Adventure

If you want to enjoy the outdoors during the winter, a hot tent is a solid choice. A canvas tent with a wood-burning stove is a great way to experience the beauty of a snow-covered forest while staying warm and cozy throughout your trip in the backcountry.