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Stove Recommendation for Heat Retention

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  • Stove Recommendation for Heat Retention

    I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations for a hot tent stove that has decent heat retention or ideas on how to improve stove efficiency during the night to slow the burn? Currently we use a Kni-Co Alaskan Jr. It pumps out good heat when the stove is stoked, but because of the relatively small firebox and thin gauge steel, it loses heat quickly even when airflow is reduced. This is a bit of a nuisance when sleeping as we have to wake up every hour and a half to 2 hours to add wood.

    As we do haul our gear into camp locations, weight is somewhat of a factor and I know options are limited because of this. One stove I have looked at is the Winnerwell Nomad series that is made of thicker gauge steel than the Kni-Co's are. The large version is 34lbs, which could be workable in regards to hauling. Has anyone used this stove and if so, what are your thoughts on it? Do titanium stoves have better heat retention or is their main advantage the weight savings and durability from warping?

    I have considered adding fiberglass gasket around the door to make it more airtight, but don't know if that would make much of a difference or not. Does a stack robber help? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    You may like to consider that if you are wanting to stay warm all night for the least increase in weight you could buy warmer sleeping bags and let the stove go out. OK, so some mug has to wake up first to light the stove while the others stay buried in their cozy bags but this really is the optimum way to travel in winter.
    Sorry, that likely wasn’t the answer you were looking for. 😞

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    • #3
      I think it comes down to three main things to keep heat in the tent in regards to a stoves efficiency.

      1. Air tight and controllable with the dampers on the flue and front of the fire box. Having the ability to keep the heat in the stove and not allow it to rush out the pipe is important and to slow the fire down to a level that it won't go out yet still keep the fire box hot.
      2. Thermal Mass- I think this one gets overlooked in camp stoves a lot and it's not high on my list personally. Thermal mass is irreplaceable and for the most part it CAN be faked. Titanium and thin gage materials lack the thermal mass to retain heat in the stove. You will get harsher temperature swings on stoves that lack the thermal mass. For instance heavy steel wood stoves contain a great amount of thermal mass, for instance the fourdog steel stoves. They're perfect for getting a good amount of time between re-stoking the fire.

      Adding thermal mass to a stove is pretty easy by faking it. Cut your wood and stack it around your stove, this will heat your wood to safe levels and retain heat within the tent. If basecamping I stack about 2-3 days worth of wood around my stove. Other items add thermal mass, cast iron cookware next to the stove, pot of water, etc.

      3. Knowing that all wood stoves are just glorified heat exchangers, any heat you can siphon off the flue will be an added benefit. This may come at a cost of creosote build up and an undesirable draw. I personally have no experience in any type of stack robbers. With a Kni-co Alaskan, I know they don't come factory with a baffle. Making one will be your friend, turbulence keeps more heat in the stove.


      Now there is one thing that does have an effect on heat retention and it's wood selection. Pine is what it is, burns fast and reliable. Good dry hardwoods may be harder to come by but oak, ash and in my area, osage orange are the bees knees.

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      • #4
        A stack robber (or baffle of any kind) will retain some heat that would otherwise be vented out the chimney. I’m afraid it won’t help a fire burn longer. I haven’t seen a trek-able stove the will put out heat all night unattended. I second HD and BV. Good hardwood will burn longer than softwood but for the best, uninterrupted sleep I would work on the sleep system, not the stove.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Snowbound View Post
          A stack robber (or baffle of any kind) will retain some heat that would otherwise be vented out the chimney. I’m afraid it won’t help a fire burn longer. I haven’t seen a trek-able stove the will put out heat all night unattended. I second HD and BV. Good hardwood will burn longer than softwood but for the best, uninterrupted sleep I would work on the sleep system, not the stove.
          +1, Great points here. I always saw a trekking stove as a tool to get warm, and dry, not for long lasting heat (multiple hours). In our area, I have found that dry Ash trees burn the longest with the best heat output. Spruce and most Conifer species are readily available and are a dependable source of quick heat. My stove will produce the most amount of heat with burning well split Conifer.
          I would say that steel stoves retain heat better than titanium. Sleep system is key.

          LL

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          • #6
            agree on all above. heat mass ( rocks and wood), good sleeping system, hot water bottles in wool sock in sleeping bag. if you plan to keep stove up at night consider using some green wood on top of hot coals, but this has its cons

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            • #7
              Consider packing in a Buddy Heater to take the edge off in the mornings.

              I love my Winnerwell Nomad. I strongly dislike the removable plate on top. BUT...when I'm camping with my daughter, she loves the oven and the hot water tank. The Pipe Oven actually acts as a radiator too!

              It was the best stove I could get within my budget. If I wanted to save a little longer, I would get the Four Dog titanium. Why? Because it has a baffle so most of the heat isn't wasted up the chimney.

              So...my budget might not be your budget...so if you have the cash...get this one:

              https://fourdog.com/ultra-light-ii/

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              • #8
                Thermal mass is all you can do, steel and titanium are good radiators of heat so cool down fast. Is it worth stacking up a full tonne of rocks for a quick overnite? Because you do need a huge mass of stone or bricks if you are going to use it as a heat storage. Water works much better but you have to melt it first and you also need a very large quantity, again at least a tonne and do you have the fuel to melt and bring up to the boil a full thousand litres of water? I know I don't.
                There are a few things you can do tho.
                Use a full double skin tent or at least a large fly, better yet a double skin tent plus a large fly. Make the inner tent from very tightly woven fabric so air moves through it slowly. If using an A-Frame you can suspend a thick blanket just below the roof or use breathable RFL house wrap. I've experimented with a few of those options. This coming winter I'm using a better cot with a thicker / warmer mattress and a much warmer sleeping bag, I'm expecting -12C, I'll be using a sleeping combo good to -35C.
                What I do find worthwhile is taking a very good thermos or two and a very efficient insulated bag to keep the thermos in, I fill each/with boiling water and I have warm to hot water to start my morning coffee with. I keep a gas canister stove in the same bag and use the small stove for boiling my water with if it's not hot enough.
                If I'm in a fixed camp I just use LPG and a decent propane camping stove, 4 kilos of propane last me a week or two and well worth hauling 8 or 10 klicks, thus saving the firewood for the important job of drying out my wet gear.

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                • #9
                  Thank you for the info everyone. We will tinker with some of the ideas provided and see what works. We do have fairly decent sleep systems; cots, mattress pads and down bags to -25C. But we have camped in -35C and I guess we are getting a little soft in our old age, so enjoy the extra warmth the stove provides during sleep.

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                  • #10
                    If sleeping on cots don't forget to insulate the space under the cot, at a minimum enclose the whole set-up in something windproof

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                    • #11
                      I’m not sure if this directly affects heat retention, but I’ve added a baffle to my fast fold titanium wood stove and it’s really improved the quality of burns I’m getting. It also seems to evenly disperse and/or reduce the temp on the top of the stove, making cooking a bit easier. It’s also allowed me, by placing the baffle toward the front of the firebox, to run the pipe over the door. This pushes the stove back toward the wall of my tipi tent a bit (with plenty of air space for safety) giving me more useable interior space and a safer buffer when moving around the stove to get in/out of my tent. I made my baffle from the extra length I cut off my rollable stove pipe.

                      If I’m car camping or pulling my toboggan, I also carry an aluminum tray I’ve fashioned (basically a custom cookie sheet) that my stove sits on to help reflect some of the heat from the belly of the stove into the tent instead of the ground/snow. (A fire mat under that seems to keep it from sinking into the snow as much, too.) Makes for a good place to brown baked goods or keep food warm. I’ve also cut a thin piece of sheet steel to fit inside my stove box as a false bottom to protect the stove box and help hold a little heat in the stove.
                      Last edited by 4estTrekker; 12-24-2020, 11:49 AM.

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