What Is A Hot Tent?

What Is A Hot Tent?

Posted by Nathan on 15th Jun 2022

What Is A Hot Tent?

In its simplest form, a hot tent is a tent with a heat source. Variations abound, but the most common these days are:

  • Canvas wall tents with a wood stove
  • Lightweight floorless tents with a wood stove
  • Canvas tents with a propane heater

Hot Tent Pros & Cons:

As with most things, there are pros and cons to the different types of hot tents. Canvas is durable but very heavy, and can be a pain to set up. Canvas also breathes better than most lightweight waterproof fabrics.

Propane releases water vapor when it burns, so a propane heat source inside a tent can cause extra condensation.

We specialize in lightweight hot tents that have wood stoves, as these tents are intended to be packed into the backcountry. Wood heat is a dry heat (reduced condensation), and gathered wood is weight neutral, so this solution makes sense for the weight conscious.

To read more about the pros and cons of various tent fabrics, see Tent Fabrics: A Comparison of Fabric Types.

Why a Hot Tent?

It was opening day of elk season. I got close to elk but bailed on Plan A due to heavy hunting pressure. Plan B was a few miles hike in the heat of the day.

Sweat and sun, then a hard chase close to dark resulted in a shot at a legal bull.

A blinding fireball in the dim light, then chaos as the herd took off in all directions across the dusty hillside. I searched for hours in the dark amid confusing tracks but couldn’t line out the trail. I’d have to go back in the morning.

Camp was a little over a mile, and 800 feet higher. I gained it, arriving sweaty, sunburnt, and exhausted.

A storm was rolling in with high winds and low temps. It would be snowing in the morning. I had pushed too hard that day, and knew what was coming.

Altitude makes me thirsty. I drink water like a fish. Inevitably this results in trips outside in the night. Each of these trips outside resulted in getting chilled.

I’m not talking about cold toes or fingers. What I got that night was body-wracking chills that left me wearing everything I owned, laying inside my sleeping bag, teeth chattering, shivering like a baby with a fever.

I burned a lot of wood that night.

Knowing that a trip outside would chill me to the bone, but having to go anyway…..I’d stoke the stove before taking my trip outside, then run back in and jump in my sleeping bag. The chills don’t last as long when the temperature inside the tent is 75° F.

The next morning I found my bull and began the packout.

A wood stove can turn a miserable night into a good memory.

Who Needs a Hot Tent?

Hot tents don’t make sense for everyone. If you primarily summer camp, then other shelters may fit your needs better. But if your outdoor pursuits extend into cold months, then a hot tent could benefit you.

Hot tents can make winter camping a lot more enjoyable. They also make outstanding hunting tents.

During fall hunting seasons the daylight hours are short, meaning a lot of dark hours in the tent before bedtime. Sitting around a stove telling stories from the day will make memories that last a lifetime.

The nature of hunting lends itself to a hot tent. Think about it...a hunter HAS to be hunting while the season is open, no matter the weather.

This often means leaving the tent before daybreak and not getting back till after dark, and often being cold, wet, and hungry when you get there. Having a wood fire to look forward to instead of a wet and cold night can make or break a hunting trip.

Floorless & Condensation

It’s hard to discuss the pros and cons of hot tents without addressing the fear of floorless and condensation.

Our hot tents are floorless for several reasons. First is weight savings. Second is the ease and safety of using a wood stove. Third...well, it’s just easier and cleaner.

It’s common for people who don’t have experience with floorless to fear mud, bugs, creepy crawlies, or wet ground.

Those can be valid concerns, but all of them are easy to deal with. To learn a lot more about floorless tents, read our article - Fearlessly Floorless.

Condensation can range from minimal to extreme depending on the weather. On the extreme end it can be very annoying and a challenge to deal with.

Experience and education are key to combating condensation. The goals are to either prevent condensation, or to deal with it effectively if it does happen.

How to Prevent Tent Condensation

  • Site Selection
    • Choose dry ground, high ground, and away from water. A breeze or under trees will keep condensation away.
  • Ventilation
    • Open a door or lift the skirt of your tent to let air through.
  • Shelter Size
    • Small tents with a lot of people in them condensate more than big tents with fewer people.

How to Deal with Tent Condensation

  • Liners
    • Liners catch drips and divert them to the ground. Turns a singlewall tent into a doublewall tent.
  • Tent Stoves
    • Wood heat dries the inside of the tent, as well as your gear.
  • Drying
    • A quick rub down with a cloth removes condensation from tent walls.

To learn a whole lot more about tent condensation, read our post How To Deal With Tent Condensation - it’s worth your time.

Which Hot Tent Is Right For You?

Tents are a tradeoff between size and weight. Figure out the max number of people you need to sleep in the tent, and then decide whether you want a comfortable camp, or if weight is most important.

The real gains in comfort are height related. Going from crawling into your tent to walking in hunched over to walking in standing up are big differences.

The biggest break in comfortable sizing in our tent line is between the 6 person and 8 person tipis. The 8 person is tall enough that it becomes a really comfortable camp.

Buyer Beware

Within the Lightweight Hot Tent category we have begun to see some competitors enter the market with tents imported from overseas.

We will never run down a competitor’s product, but will caution you to educate yourself on what you’re buying, because the fabrics used in tents and the craftsmanship used to put them together make a HUGE difference in performance.

Our fabrics, craftsmanship, customer service, and warranty are all top notch, and we believe we’ll continue to be successful as long as we focus on these.

(One more link to Tent Fabrics: A Comparison of Fabric Types)

Silex - Ultralight Solo Hot Tent

The Silex is a solo tent that is plenty big enough for a 6’8” guy, yet it packs down incredibly small, weighs little more than a pound, pitches fast, and holds tight in bad weather.

Using our patented zipperless design, the Silex is more robust and field repairable than the specs indicate, this is a serious tent for the early to mid season lightweight backpacker.

Paired with an ultralight tent stove such as our Cub U-Turn, the Silex pushes the boundaries of shoulder season.

Silex Specs:

  • Canopy weight - 1lb 1oz
  • 7ft x 7ft layout - 49 sq ft

Cub Stove Specs:

  • 6”tall x 6”wide x 9”long
  • Stove Weight - 15 oz
  • Stove Pipe weight - 1.5 oz per foot. (5.5ft is adequate for the silex)

Learn more about the Silex

Guardian - Ultralight Two Person Hot Tent

The Guardian is a big brother to the Silex, using the same zipperless technology and pitching with trekking poles, but with a longer ridge and geometry that allows for two large guys plus a stove.

Paired with an ultralight tent stove such as our Cub U-Turn, the Guardian is a purpose built two person hot tent for fast and light trips in cold weather.

Guardian Specs:

  • Canopy weight - 1 lb 10 oz
  • 70 sqft total area

Cub Stove Specs:

  • 6”tall x 6”wide x 9”long
  • Stove Weight - 15 oz
  • Stove Pipe weight - 1.5 oz per foot. (5.5ft is adequate)

Learn more about the Guardian

Cimarron - Two Person Hot Tent

The Cimarron sleeps four without a stove, and is comfortable for two people with a lot of gear when using a tent stove.

Paired with a stove such as our Large U-Turn, the Cimarron is a great late season hunting tent for two lightweight minded people who don’t want to sacrifice comfort.

Cimarron Specs:

  • Canopy weight - 2 lb 7 oz
  • 94 sqft total area

Large Stove Specs:

  • Stove Weight - 26 oz
  • Stove Pipe weight - 1.5 oz per foot. (6 ft is adequate)

Learn more about the Cimarron

Redcliff - 3 to 4 Person Hot Tent

Paired with a stove ranging from a Large U-Turn to an SXL, the Redcliff can be a comfortable truck camp for two guys, or a lightweight hot tent for 3. The ultralight minded will sleep four plus tent stove in the Redcliff.

Redcliff Specs:

  • Canopy weight - 3 lb 7 oz
  • 132 sqft total area

Large Stove Specs:

  • Stove Weight - 26 oz
  • Stove Pipe weight - 1.5 oz per foot. (7.5 ft is adequate)

Learn more about the Redcliff

8 Person Tipi - Standing Height Hot Tent

The 8 Person Tipi is in the “comfortable camp” category. It’s tall enough to walk inside standing up, and to have some room to move around without your head hitting the canopy.

This tent sleeps four comfortably with a stove, and can handle two to three people on cots. It makes a great truck camp, but is light enough for 3-4 people to backpack into elk camp.

8 Person Specs:

  • Canopy weight - 4 lb 4 oz
  • 195 sqft total area

SXL Stove Specs:

  • Stove Weight - 40 oz
  • Stove Pipe weight - 2 oz per foot. (9 ft is adequate)

Learn more about the 8 Person