Home Forums Campfire Forum Wood vs. Propane in Tent

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    • paleoman
      Member
      Post count: 918

      I bought a canvas spike tent last year. It has a stove pipe vent. I plan to use it mainly in late October/early Nov. here in Mi. The weather can be variable, from winter conditions to very mild. Last year I used my Little Buddy propane heater the 3rd week of October and it was fine. I don’t run it at night as I’m warm enough in the bag. I can get a case of propane and stretch a bottle out at least a couple nights. I don’t know how well this would work if it got real cold, but the tent does heat up quickly. I’d be interested in any other experiences. I know you can’t beat the smell of wood and the deep heat for drying clothes, but again it’s a small space…btw, I usually drive to the end of some forelorn rd and make a camp, so I’m not worried about packing in the propane.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      I’m tood dumb or old to know what a “canvas spike tent” really is but I had a 8′ ridge, 5′ wall, 8×10 I used in MT.

      If you have a fly over the “spike tent” it really helps hold heat.

      Stoves:

      Wood is nice, but stoves can be fussy. Spark arrester for sure, bottoms of some type stoves burn out rather quickly (2-3 seasons)(depending on how hard they’re used)

      Hauling sufficient wood is more volume then propane.

      Neatest trick I saw in MT was guys had those trigger squirt oil gizmos and filled with #2 fuel oil, squirt a few squirts on a dead fire and light…no flame up but hot enough to get even damp wood going.

      Propane

      You can invest less for a “Buddy style” that bolts to a 20# or 30# tank and save all the costs and hassle of changing lots of tanks.

      I’m told, don’t know, that in super cold weather, propane can get hinky and not flow?

      Instant on while you’re shivering and get you into the field quicker

      No vent or spark arresters needed

      Large tank versions can be very sweet, but I’d check more on the low end temp for outside use of propane tanks…might be a myth they don’t work well in super cold (when you’d want it most).

      Good luck!

    • grumpygrumpy
      Member
      Post count: 962

      Had propane tanks on the camper I lived in for 7 years, and never had a problem at any temp. Had a cute little furnace, and fan to blow the heat all over the 30 foot camper. Nice and toasty. OK, didn’t get more than 10 below zero, but no problem.

      On the other hand, butane (or butane/propane mix) will stop around freezing. Some backpack stoves use the butane, and it can be a BIG disappointment.

    • paleoman
      Member
      Member
      Post count: 918

      Thanks both. I didn’t know that about butane, thanks Grumps. I’m really thinning out my gear and will be looking for a backpack stove and corresponding set of nested cooking gear.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Maybe what the grumpster is talking about is what I remember???

      with me, I forget what I remember…

      I do remember having Fire Ribbon to put on my Svea Stove (white gas) to preheat the tubes that created the vapor after you pumped up the wee li’l buggar… lol

      Wonder what ever happened to that stove…another thing I don’t remember what I forgot!

      For all that a wood stove would cost to set up properly in a tent, I’d invest in one of the Buddy Heaters for the 20# cylinder and take 2 of those along and be happy!

    • David Petersen
      Member
      Post count: 2749

      Paleo — For your needs as described, I’d stick with what you’ve tried and works. Wood stoves in canvas tents are a variety of heaven on earth … but in my experience only worth the considerable extra bulk, weight and hassle if you have a spacious tent and some down-time to collect wood, etc., and will be there for several days at least.

      Remember Occam’s razor: When more than one solution to a problem appears, the simplest is generally the best. But I would get a 20# tank and adaptor.

    • David Fudala
      Post count: 224

      Just keep ventilation in mind if your gonna run propane in an enclosed tent. Carbon monoxide can accumulate quickly in a small area like a tent.

    • jg
      Post count: 5

      In my experience using unvented propane, that fact alone makes wood the only choice. I did not like the moisture added to the space using propane. The efficency went (literally) out the door as well. To compare, in my truck camper 20lbs lasts 8 days at below zero temps. Direct vent type. Regarding wood stove burning out the bottoms, add a layer of sand about 1/2 inch deep and try not to shovel it away when ashing. Makes a huge diff. We used this method in Maine. We burnened wood 9 months a year for 15 yrs no issues. Joshua

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      If you’re camping at the end of the road, then hauling propane vs. hauling wood seems like a moot point, assuming you have enough space in your vehicle for either. Propane is certainly convenient, but on the other hand if you’re road camping, you can cut and split all your wood before you drive to your camp, which means all you need to do is feed the stove, and there’s really no extra time or hassle involved at all.

      Personally, I love having a wood stove in the tent. And I can use it for cooking as well as warmth.

      This stove weighs around 2.5 lbs. and packs up small (the stove pipe is in the bag as well):

    • jg
      Post count: 5

      Nice set up. What stove is that? I like the size/weight when packed. Joshua

    • Bruce Smithhammer
      Post count: 2514

      It’s made by Seek Outside. I have their “6-person” tipi, and that’s the medium-size stove. The whole setup – tipi, stove, pole, etc. is under 10lbs.

    • Stephen Smiley
      Post count: 46

      When truck camping in cold weather I use a 12X12 winter tent with a stove jack and use a sheet metal wood stove. Like jg suggested I put about an inch of sand in the bottom to protect the metal and it also seems to hold heat like a rock. It really does not take much wood to heat the space even in very cold conditions and will hold coals all night when damped down. Nothing like the heat of a wood stove to dry wet cloths and gear. For lightweight spike camps I use a setup similar to Bruce only mine is by Titanium Goat.

    • John Dilts
      Post count: 135

      Always been a big Fan of Coleman Naptha (whitegas) stoves myself.

    • Charles EkCharles Ek
      Moderator
      Post count: 563

      john dilts wrote: Always been a big Fan of Coleman Naptha (whitegas) stoves myself.

      Yeah, what he said. Here in the States, it’s known simply as Coleman fuel. (White gas hasn’t been available for years.)

      I’ve had a SVEA 123 stove and nesting SIGG Tourist cook kit since Tricky was still in office. (John, that’s a Nixon reference.) It has never failed to start, at temperatures running down to -30 ºF. It has never been maintained, much less serviced, in any way. (All that cannot be said for any MSR Whisperlite or later iteration of the same design, I don’t care what you claim.)

      My method for starting is simple and reliable: Open the valve. Hold a couple of matches under the tank (in winter, use a candle for additional heat.) Wait for some fuel to come bubbling up, while keeping the flame away from the fuel. Close the valve. Light the fuel. When it has nearly burned out, open the valve.

      The obligatory Youtube video link:

      Cooking with the Svea 123 and SIGG Tourist cookset

      And yes, you can find both stove and cook kit on eBay, often at ludicrously low prices for this classic, reliable equipment.

    • Charles EkCharles Ek
      Moderator
      Post count: 563

      For the absolute best advice on picking a backpacking stove, turn to Zen Stoves – How to Choose a Backpacking Stove. Among other things, the Zen Stoves site has the facts, not fiction, about Cold Weather Operation of canister stoves.

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