Explore America's Campgrounds
When tent camping in wet weather, cold weather, and especially cold, wet weather, nothing makes your shelter more comfortable than a heater, In primitive areas, there's no better, more readily available heat source than burning wood in a stove. Camping in and of itself is a sort of do-it-yourself project. So why purchase a stove when you can easily build one yourself? Here are some ideas to guide you. There are three main parts to such a stove -- a firebox, a chimney and “extras” such as legs and a cooktop.
Most home-built wood stoves start with some sort of firebox that has been recycled from another use. You can use a metal barrel, a discarded propane cylinder, a metal, five-gallon bucket, even the tank from a discarded water heater. There’s no set standard, but figure a stove made from a five-gallon bucket or 20-pound propane cylinder will easily heat a two-person tent. Larger stoves, up to those made from 55-gallon drums, can be used to heat a large cook tent or barracks-style camping tent.
The firebox only needs to be large enough to accept the size of the firewood available and be substantial enough to allow a stovepipe to attach and support some sort of door you will install for adding wood and controlling the amount of air coming into the firebox.
You will need to attach a flange to the stove that will accept a metal stovepipe of either three, four or six inches in diameter. The smallest stoves made from containers for 10 gallons and fewer need have only a three-inch flue size. From 10 to 30 gallons in firebox size, go with a four-inch chimney. Upsize to a six-inch flue in stoves larger than that. When in doubt, go with a larger flue and install a damper in the flue to control the amount of smoke and heat going up the chimney.
A wood stove is a simple device and it would be possible to do without anything more than a firebox, door and smokestack. However, a set of legs to support the stove off the floor or ground makes sense. If you would like to cook food or make some coffee on the stove, weld or rivet a flat surface to the stove as a cooktop.
The heat of the fire and how quickly the fuel burns is regulated by the amount of air allowed to get into the firebox. This can be done by opening or closing the door, but adjustable draft holes can be engineered into the design if desired.
Wood Stove Safety
Be sure the tent in which the stove is used has a metal or other fireproof flange affixed into the roof or side of the tent where the chimney pipe exits the tent.
Be sure the top of the stovepipe has a spark-arresting cap on the top to prevent burning embers or sparks from being drafted up the chimney and falling out onto the canvas of the tent.
Mike Schoonveld has been writing since 1989 with magazine credits including "Outdoor Life," "Fur-Fish-Game," "The Rotarian" and numerous regional publications. Schoonveld earned a Master Captain License from the Coast Guard. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife science from Purdue University.