How to Light a Tent Stove

How to Light a Tent Stove
Andrii Kovalenko November 15, 2021 6 mins read time


How to Light a Tent Stove

A lightweight tent with a stove is a great thing when it comes to hiking and staying out in the field on a cool day. If used properly, it can give enough heat to keep you warm all night long. Many hiking gurus say yes to it when it comes to choosing between a stove, an oil-filled radiator, and an electric fan heater. Thanks to its small weight, you can carry it to another place any time.

First-time users may struggle igniting. But it is a piece of cake if you follow a few simple steps. This post contains some tips on how to get all things done in less than a couple of minutes. Your lightweight camp tent stove will help you spend even the coldest and dampest day in the field with joy.

Please follow the tips below and light your fire in one go!

packable tent stove

Keep it clean

Smoke contains vaporized carbon by-products. As the smoke goes up the flue pipe, these particles condense and build up on the relatively cool inner surface of the pipe. Soot, ash, and debris may block airflow and make it difficult to ignite. In cheap products, the soot’s weight can affect the pipe’s integrity. Before lighting, check the firebox and remove ash and debris. Remove the top part of the flue pipe and the spark arrestor and check it for soot. Clean it (if necessary).

Prepare the kindling

It is advisable to prepare a fire starter kit, two base logs, a starter kindling kit, and a feeder kindling kit right after or before arriving to the hiking area. Once you have gotten the hang of it, you don’t need to go through this every time.

lightweight tent with stove

Get the fire starter ready

Firelighter rolls seem to be the best option. You can use little DIY fire starter bundles of dry grass. Wrap the grass around a stick (remove it when the bundle is ready) or tie it in a knot. If there’s no dry grass around, use newspaper. Many campers use crumpled newspaper, but it will work better if you shred it into long and thin pieces and put these together in a bird-nest fashion. Other great options include cotton balls, dryer lint, any tinder smeared with pine sap or Vaseline. All these work very well providing that you follow the rest of the strategy.

Stack it

Prepare two base logs and place them along the sides of the firebox. Make sure they are not sticking out of the door. Each base log should be half the depth of the firebox. The base logs are going to be the foundation of your kindling platform.

Be sure that there is space between the base logs: you are going to put the fire starter there. Besides, you will need some room to access the fire starter with a lit match.

Make the starter kindling. Prepare a handful of thin and dry pieces of wood. You can use long, thin, and dry shards which you can get when splitting larger logs or chunks. Dry pine or birch tree bark will do well too. Place the stuff horizontally over the base logs in a roof-like fashion to ensure direct exposure to the fire starter flame.

Now that the starter kindling is in its place, start putting feeder kindling in. Split a chunk into several pinker-finger-thick pieces. Make sure their length is about the width of the stove. Place several layers on top of the starter kindling at a 45-to-90 degree angle to each layer. For better airflow, leave an inch or so of space between each piece. This will help them to ignite quickly and form charcoal.

Now you have a shed-like structure in your lightweight tent stove. With the fire starter in it, you are ready to go. Please get a few fuel logs ready before setting fire. Make sure their size matches the size of your piece. You will be adding these after your kindling platform has caught and you need more fire.

Light it

Set fire to the fire starter and wait until the starter kindling catches on fire. If you have done the above properly, it will start burning right away and keep going.

Keep your place smoke-free

Once the kindling has caught on fire, push it toward the back of the firebox with a fire rake until it is right under the flue pipe. This will help you heat up the pipe and ensure a sufficient draft. The stove will begin to draw cold air from the front. Hot air is lighter in weight, so it will rise and carry the smoke and carbon monoxide up the flue pipe. The airflow cycle will keep your place smoke-free and safe.

Feed it properly

Open the air intake and flue dampers to provide more oxygen as your fire builds up. Once the flame becomes stable, put a couple of small fuel logs onto the stack. Close the firebox door. Please note that not all products have air intake vents. If yours does not, do not close the firebox door tightly and crack it open.

Do not feed too many logs into the firebox. Over-fueling is a very common mistake. It takes a small number of logs for a lightweight tent with a wood stove to heat up. The firebox and flue pipe radiate a good amount of heat, quite enough to keep your place warm. The best way to ensure proper heat circulation inside is placing it in a free and uncluttered location. The temperature in your room will depend on how much of the body surface is exposed to the interior, not on the weight or number of the logs you are going to put into the firebox. Over-fueling will lead to excessive combustion and the “rocket stove” effect, with flames shooting up and reaching the top of the flue pipe. If you have a cheap cylinder piece with a 4+ inch chimney, you should take even greater care to prevent the effect.

lightweight tent stove

Prepare beforehand

Please get all your kindling ready in advance. Normally, it takes less than 5 minutes and a minimal weight of kindling to get it going. You should not be rushing around the camp for wood after the starter kindling has caught on fire.

Practice it

For those, who are making first steps in hiking and want to learn to light and fuel it properly, practice makes perfect. If you have purchased a brand-new lightweight tent wood burning stove, you can get your first training session while curing and testing it.

Curing and testing it

Find the right place where you can legally burn materials. Stack it as described above and burn it for 3 to 4 hours. This will help you remove paint and oil and check its integrity. Let it fully cool down and remove the ash.

Check every part for warps and cracks. Be sure that the firebox door opens and closes properly, and there are no loose parts. Now it is ready for further use.

Place it properly

Because it has a small weight, it may move or sway, so it should be placed on level ground. If possible, please, look for a tent with a zip-out section in the ground sheet. Choose one that features a spark arrestor. It will prevent sparks from shooting out of the flue pipe and burning holes in the canvas.

heater block tent heater

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be lethal. If the flue pipe gets blocked and the room is not ventilated properly, the gas will fill the space rapidly. It promptly binds with hemoglobin and blocks the supply of oxygen to vital organs. It can kill everyone in a tent before they know what’s going on. There are two things you must do to avoid a tragedy:

  1. Always check and clean the firebox and flue pipe from soot.
  2. Never leave it unattended. There must be someone on the watch during bedtime.

To learn more about hiking, handling lightweight tent stoves and wood burning, please join our community, read best practices, and share your own tips. We are always there to help you solve your issues and learn to camp out properly.



🏕  How do I light a tent stove quickly?

There are lots of methods and techniques that can help you do it easily. Prepare dry kindling and arrange it in the firebox in such a way as to provide efficient ventilation. Make sure it draws and drafts well.

📦  How do I stack wood in the firebox?

Put two base logs at both sides of the firebox. Put a fire starter between them. Top it with starter and feeder kindling to make a cabin-like structure.

💡  Why is a lightweight tent stove good for me?

Something that is light in weight and compact is easy to handle and transport. It will fit well in your vehicle and will not take up much space.


Liam Wright

Liam Wright said:

Always clean your stove! Don’t be lazy or it can backfire

Ebrahim Coles

Ebrahim Coles said:

Thanks for the article! Some very useful info

Zaine Todd

Zaine Todd said:

If you’re new to this whole lighting a stove process, definitely do a practice run first!

Carmen Boone

Carmen Boone said:

Don’t forget about safety measures, be prepared for anything

Fynn Croft

Fynn Croft said:

An extensive guide, thank you

Extensive first-time camping checklist
Pavlo Lysyy Pavlo Lysyy June 05, 2024
11 mins read time

Extensive first-time camping checklist

Almost everyone has ever had to go on a first time camping trip and previously solved the problem of what to take with you. Traveling to the woods or the
Best wood burning camp stoves
Pavlo Lysyy Pavlo Lysyy June 04, 2024
8 mins read time

Best wood burning camp stoves

The first model on our list is a pretty old-school collapsible option. This is a collapsible model that is best suited for campers on a budget or for those who
Best 3 person tent options on the market: reviewing the leaders
Pavlo Lysyy Pavlo Lysyy June 04, 2024
10 mins read time

Best 3 person tent options on the market: reviewing the leaders

The Telos TR3 Tent by Sea to Summit is an innovative backpacking tent tailored for up to three campers, prioritizing comfort and simplicity. Notable features include a
    1 out of ...