If you love winter camping and are in the market for a new or replacement winter tent stove, choosing the right stove for your specific purpose can be confusing and daunting. Winter camping stoves come in a variety of materials and making the right choice for your application is crucial for an enjoyable, relaxing experience. The choice of material will have an impact on stove weight, maintenance requirements, heat retention and product longevity. These are important considerations whether you are a solo camper, prefer group outings, or outfit others for their adventures.
At Boreal Outdoor Innovations we have created an easy reference guide in response to the frequently asked questions we receive from our clients and outfitters regarding various materials used for portable winter camping stoves.
Cast Iron is an iron-carbon alloy used in a variety of applications including industrial machinery, pipes and automotive components just to name a few. Cast iron is known for its tough mechanical properties and rough appearance. This material is also used for cookware as pots and pans can be placed directly on a fire. Although people often think about this material when considering winter tent stoves, cast iron is not practical for this purpose. While cast iron is known for being strong and absorbing and retaining heat for long periods of time, this material is too heavy, too brittle, and requires high maintenance, making it impractical for portable winter camping applications. This material is best for stoves that are stationary or permanent.
Carbon Steel is a common material used in a variety of applications including household appliances, lockers and filing cabinets. This material is relatively inexpensive, readily available on the market and is primarily used for its ease of manufacturing, forming and welding processes. Most portable winter camping stoves that use this material are typically made from 20-22 gauge (.9MM to .75MM) sheets. Many people new to winter camping are lured towards these stoves because of their low price point. These stoves, however, have significant issues with rust, leading to seizing of hinges (making opening doors and folding the stove challenging). Further, they are prone to having the top of the stove warp, preventing the operator from properly being able to cook efficiently since the pots or pans do not lie flush on the top surface. Outfitters using these stoves often need to replace them after two seasons since warping becomes quite an issue. These stoves require extensive maintenance (scrubbing, cleaning and oiling) especially when storing them for the season. Cooking or placing food directly onto them is not recommended due to the risk of rust contamination.
Titanium is a super alloy material used in the aviation and petrochemical industry, and is known for its high strength to weight ratio. Titanium does not rust or corrode like carbon based materials. Stoves that are made from titanium are typically made from 24-26 gauge (.51MM-.4 MM) sheets. Titanium changes colour at high temperatures when heated, giving it an attractive appearance. It is light weight, making stoves easier to transport with a pulk or sled. Titanium is not commonly used in portable winter camping stoves due to its extremely high cost. Additionally, it is difficult to form, bend, and weld, adding to the cost of manufacturing and final price of the product. Though light and strong, the most common complaint with titanium stoves is that they do not retain heat for any considerable length of time thus requiring more wood to burn to maintain a comfortable interior tent temperature. Some warpage is expected with titanium stoves due to the very thin gauge body material used in manufacturing.
Stainless steel is widely used in various industrial applications from commercial kitchens, surgical tools, marine and aerospace applications, just to name a few. The alloying element that makes steel “stainless” (and much less likely to rust) is chromium. Stainless steel is not only known for its resistance to rusting and pitting, but also for its clean aesthetic appearance, low maintenance requirements, and increased mechanical strength. An additional benefit is that stainless steel tolerates high and low temperature fluctuations with minimal warping, making it an ideal choice for winter camping stoves. There are many different types of stainless steels available today, depending on your application. Portable winter camping stoves found on the market are typically made of 20-22 gauge (.9MM to .75MM) sheet thickness. Stainless steel is more expensive and difficult form, bend and weld than carbon steel but not as expensive as titanium, making it an ideal, versatile choice for winter camping applications.
Take care friends, and we’ll see you on the trails!