Wood stove acalculia

Some numbers to consider:

-fully tricked Megalight (linelocs, center guy points each with 12′ of line, stove boot): 29 oz
-homemade wood stove (Walmart can): 16 oz
-5 foot long, 3 inch diameter stainless stove pipe, with spark screen, end ring, and three cable rings: 15 oz

Installing the stove boot is easy. I bought a half yard of the material, which weighed 20 oz (!), from BearPaw Wilderness Designs. Starting with a 10.5 by 9 inch rectangle, I sewed it first to the inside of the center seam, then out from there, trimming off the one odd corner. Once that was done, it’s easy to cut out the now redundant silnylon, fold the edges back over, and double stitch. The small webbing loops are to allow a strap or cord to hold the flap down in high winds.

The jack adds around 3 oz.

It is pretty neat to get the pipe red hot and not burn down your highly flammable shelter.

The stove is a lot rougher, but the HPG instructions linked to above are pretty straightforward, as is getting the pipe rolled longways the first time (three hands would be ideal).  After a few burns rolling gets easier.

The question now becomes whether the added weight and (especially) bulk will be worthwhile.  The stove should serve a variety of purposes; cooking, snow melting, warmth, gear drying.  When and how well it will work for each of these is less clear.  Cooking in your tent in Grizzly country is not recommended most of the year, so a more traditional stove will be needed April-November, or perhaps the wood stove will work for cooking absent the pipe, over in the next bunch of trees.  The larger problem is that thus far the amount of heat I’ve been able to get out of the thing has not impressed, the above photo was the best I’ve done, and did not last long.  Perhaps time will bring improvement, but I suspect I’ll need to buy a larger stove made of a more conductive material.

My greatest hope is that I’ll be able to generate enough heat during the dead of winter to make hanging out pleasant, and drying gear pragmatic.  I don’t think the wood stove will make it possible to bring fewer clothes or less sleeping insulation, but if it widened the margin of error/comfort that would be most welcome.  Time will tell.


  1. He Dave

    that looks splendid. A member of our German UL group had a TiGoat cylinder stove in his SL5 on the last meeting. It is a cool idea, but in my opinion nothing for a longer trip I think, because of the weight. During the night you will still need warm insulation if you don’t wanna put every half an hour some sticks into the stove, but for cooking and drying gear during the evening it is a cool idea.

  2. Wood stoves that produce good long term heat output have a pretty low airflow. That way you can put in a large dry chunk of hardwood and not tend it for a few hours. They are also pretty hefty, which is is sometimes achieved with a sand filled double floor or cement bricks. Perhaps a few rocks in the stove would buffer the heat swing when the fire dies down?

  3. This is really neat! If you’re not happy with the warmth/weight ratio then another way to warm a tent and dry kit is to use a white gas stove inside it. This is of course strictly banned by manufacturers but I’ve been doing that for quite some time and it makes really nice camping. Double-walled tent helps to make a temperature difference but I think it would work also with a single-walled ‘mid. And of course most white gas stoves are quite loud but there are some silent ones too…

    hrXXLight: Or something for a really long trips (time-wise). It’s nice to have an opportunity to be in a warm sheltered place and dry out kit.

  4. I think the issues with not enough are (in order of importance): my technique stoking the stove, the fairly thick stainless in the body, and the small size. I’ll be working on the former, and perhaps upgrade the last two later. I’m not worried about heat all night long, I just want to be able to generate a lot for a few hours, for cooking and drying stuff in the evening.

    Strictly weight-wise this might make the most sense on long trips, if it could bring fuel weight to zero. Obviously the convenience and moral factors cannot be so quantified.

    And Smokey, you’ve been warned before. Now you are done. Disagreement is welcome here, pointless snark is not.

  5. Dave, spectacular build. I’ve been looking for an acceptable firebox since you posted your first thoughts on this recently so as to make a similar build for my Shangri-La 3. I refuse to shop at Walmart so have been keeping a close eye out at my thrift haunts and antique stores. This could be a great solution to convince my lady to join me on winter trips as it would allow us to both warm up before bed. Thanks so much for sharing another great DIY project.

    1. Dave,

      A titanium pipe would give a little more heat transfer but with the cherry red pipe, looks like lots of heat is heading up and out. I think a damper would help. If you would like one to try let me know.


      1. Thanks for the offer Ed. I’ve really only got it that hot twice, and it didn’t last for long. If my stoking technique improves I might take you up on that. Or just buy one of your stoves later this winter.

    1. Thus far nothing but my hands. Based on other feedback I’ll probably add a small saw, which will be necessary to get thicker wood short enough to fit.

      1. Dave, do a Youtube search for the method of baton splitting of wood. Then go to Ben’s Backwoods and buy yourself a $10 Morakniv. It’s a very cool technique.

        1. I don’t think batoning helps a lot if you want to cut thick wood into _shorter_ pieces. Good for splitting though. But I might go for a small folder saw also. The Mora I carry anyway if I plan to make a lot fires on a trip.

        2. Yes, it occurred to me sometime after I commented that this technique is really only useful when used in addition to a saw.

  6. Dave,

    As far as stoking technique goes, smaller wood is better than bigger wood or at least add small sticks in with anything bigger. That and stoke while you still have flame rather than just coals. In over 20 years of playing with these small stoves, one thing I have found is that there is very little heat without flames. You can have a bed of coals that could forge steel, but the flames are what really warm the living space.

    The damper can help as well. I have done tests with an IR thermometer and the stove surface temps jump substantially when the flames are dampened in the pipe.

    Good luck with your warm camp adventures!


  7. Dave, didn’t see if you had this along on your recent hunting trip – did you bring it? Curious if you’ve managed to perfect the technique in getting more heat out of it yet?

    1. I didn’t bring it. I still struggle with the weight and space it takes up, and the fact that most of the time, even in crap weather, you can get along without it. I’m planning to buy a Seek Outside Big Sibling stove later this fall.

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