I haven’t written much about the Frontier Stove for months now, or my army bell tent, and that’s because there hasn’t been much to write about. That said I went away camping with friends in the Lake District the weekend before last and got to experience the wonder of a heated tent!
Even though the weather has been very mild this November the wood stove came into its own. Normally with a large group (as we had that weekend) we would have retired to our separate tents after the pub to try to stay warm, but with the army tent heated we stayed up until the small hours drinking and talking
I applied the lessons learnt last June, and especially made sure I had a large supply of dry wood! Graeme (friend) also brought with a sack of petrol station bought kindling, which was invaluable as I’d brought with the smaller drier logs I cut last month, but they were still too large and I was glad I didn’t have to split too many!
Using the dry wood meant we didn’t have any of the problems we had in June (struggling to light the stove, lots of smoke in the tent), and both mornings (Saturday and Sunday) the stove lit easily, and we had a toasty warm tent very quickly. We also used the internal hanging points in the tent to add a clothes line and dry damp kit from our day, so despite camping in November and hiking in the lakes we went home with no (or very little) damp kit.
We did have one problem we didn’t have in June; damp. With so many people in the tent each evening, and the stove on, and all our kit drying out, and the vents shut we had a very warm tent with a fair bit of moisture, so when the tent cooled overnight (the stove went out within an hour or so once we’d turned in) it all condensed and we (there were three of us sleeping in the tent) woke up to very damp sleeping bags.
It was easily sorted by getting the stove going in the morning, but it highlights the need to keep the stove warm overnight (as it wasn’t that cold) that is at the moment not possible with wood as a fuel (even when dampened the stove isn’t large enough to contain enough wood to keep going for very long). I asked Caroline at Camping Solutions (the manufacturer) if I could use coal, but she said that this was not possible due to the fumes it gives off, however she did suggest using fire bricks to soak up some heat and then radiate it for a bit longer overnight.
We tried a little more cooking with the stove during the trip; we wrapped par-cooked bread (available at Asda, Sainsbury’s etc) in foil and placed it into the stove on a thick bed of embers along with foil wrapped garlic bulbs and some pre-cooked chicken (we didn’t get sick but apparently the chicken is a bad idea!). This worked OK, but really needed a thicker bed of embers and longer than we allowed.
We also did some toast (held over the door – very good) and sausages (which worked very well but when we spilt some of the oil from the frying pan it flowed over the surface of the stove and caught fire).
When it came to packing up the stove helped a bit there too; as well as drying out our kit it helped to dry out the tent. We had a heavy coat of dew on the tent on the morning we left, but a quick once over with a pack towel and an hour or two with the stove on, and then with the sides of the tent hung up the tent came away almost totally dry.
We also found the best place to dry boots was on the floor behind the stove, it’s not too warm there and any water/ mud etc is easy to sweep out of the tent.