How to Cook in a Tent in the Safest Way

how to cook in a tent safely

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Experienced campers wouldn’t normally advise you to cook inside your tent. This is seen as too hazardous and it’s better to be safe than sorry. But if you go camping as much as we do, you know that at some point cooking inside that tent will be inevitable. That’s why in this article, we will show you how to cook in a tent.

It’s still risky. After all, there’s nothing that screams “fire” louder than the combination of beach tent fabric and a live flame inside it. But don’t worry. There are safe ways to cook in a tent, as long as you take the necessary precautions.

Besides, there are several reasons why you’d consider cooking inside a tent. Sometimes the weather might be too bad to cook outside. It could be a rainy day with damp soil everywhere or a windy day. Since we all have to eat, we will have to improvise, and much of that means going inside your tent and cooking there.

So, how do you cook in a tent? Read on for some amazing ideas and see what you can learn.

Using Stoves to Cook Inside a Tent

Using stoves to cook inside your Toogh tent, for example, is possible, but it depends mostly on the size of your tent. For example, if you’re thinking of using the normal wood burning tent stove, you’d be better off using it in a big tent with enough space for proper air circulation.

Besides, the stove produces a large flame. It will be much safer if you make sure the flame is as far away from the tent fabric as possible. A large tent solves that if you decide to use a wood-burning flame. You may also want to make sure there’s a pipe jack along the sidewall or on the roof of the tent.

A majority of tents are designed with an integrated pipe jack so make sure you check out that feature before you buy. Other than that, there are several other factors you must keep in mind if you want to know how to cook in a tent:

Here are some of them:

  • Get a flame retardant mat to protect the floor around the flame. It’s not uncommon for embers of the fire to jump from the DIY backpack stove to the ground. These are hot enough to burn and make holes on your tent’s floor. Adding a fire retardant protects the floor and significantly reduces the risk of the tent catching fire.
  • Make sure the stove you are using has a chimney or pipe. The chimney should be fitted with a spark arrester that prevents sparks from hitting the roof of the tent on their way out.
  • Try to keep the stove as far away from the tent walls as possible. The further it is from the tent fabric, the lower the risk of fire.
  • For those of you with small tents, using a wood-burning stove to heat your tent is a big NO. Instead, consider using small gas burners. Gas burners are highly portable so it should be easy to find space for it in your backpack. They produce a controllable flame too, making them an ideal choice for a smaller tent. However, you will need to carry a gas canister for the fuel. The size of the canister will depend on how much time you will be spending outside. But a good rule would be to carry as light as you can.

What Does It Even Mean to Cook Inside a Tent?

We know the idea of cooking inside a tent looks and sounds so obvious. Well, it is. In fact, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s simply cooking inside a tent. But hang on a minute. As you can imagine, there are many different tent designs out there.

While in most cases it’s recommended to cook in the middle of the tent, with different tent designs this isn’t always necessary. This sounds a bit confusing but we will break it down for you below.

Floor Cooking

This one is the most obvious option and it means cooking on your tent’s floor area. If you have a basic tent design, you won’t have any other option than to do this. In that case, you must take extra precautions to protect the tent’s walls, roof, and floor from fire.

Vestibule Cooking

Vestibules are usually found in tents that have a full-coverage fly. You may find them in tunnel tents as well but full coverage fly tents tend to be the most common designs that come with this feature.

The vestibule is typically protected from the weather elements such as rain and wind. The good news is that you won’t find a floor inside the vestibule. And in case there’s a floor in there, it’s mostly removable.

The only challenge is the fact that vestibules tend to be very narrow. The roof is also very low so it means the flame may be closer to the tent fabric than expected. However, if you’re using a small gas flame to cook, you’ll be fine.

Screen Room Cooking

Tents that come with a screen room are of course higher-end and more sophisticated designs. Think of the tents that are used on construction sites. They feature a separate screen room where you can cook all your meals away from the place you sleep.

Such tents may also feature a removable floor. The floor is rolled out when cooking and rolled back when you’re done. In some cases, the tent may lack a floor in the screen room. This makes it a safer bet for cooking than using a tent that already has a floor.

Porch Cooking

Some tent designs feature a floorless porch with a very deep cover. This means that the porch area is protected from the elements but doesn’t have a floor.

As long as you can keep the flame from the walls and the roof, you can easily cook in there. In most cases, the porch tends to be open from one side. And if it has a floor, you can remove it.

Tent Cooking Hazards

There’s no denying that most campers would rather cook outside the tent but because of tough weather, that isn’t always an option. There are hazards no doubt and it’s important to know all about them. However, it’s also important to look at these hazards objectively.

In essence, what we will be asking here is a simple question. Is cooking inside the tent worth the risk? The simple answer is yes.

But let’s break it down further here below by explaining the most common hazards and how you can deal with them.

Fire Risk

There’s a real risk that your tent may catch fire as you cook inside it. The fabric used to make tents isn’t necessarily a highly flammable material, but it can still burn as easily.

The last thing you want is to burn your tent out in the wilderness, especially when the weather is tough. To avoid this, try to use tents that have been treated with fire retardants.

CO Poisoning

All camping stoves that use wood or fuelwood release carbon monoxide when cooking. The biggest danger with CO or carbon monoxide is that it’s usually undetectable. Inhaling too much CO can have deadly consequences on you.

CO is generated by burning carbon fuels. The best way to deal with this is to make sure that your tent is properly ventilated when you’re cooking.

Wild Animals

The aromatic odor of your food as it cooks may also attract wild animals that may be a handful to deal with.

Bears, mountain lions, and even coyotes may show up around your tent hoping to get into the party. To prevent this, avoid cooking strong-smelling foods.

Severe Burns

Most people tend to use small tents. There’s very little wriggle room in there to move around and when you introduce a flame at the center of it, there’s a risk you may end up burning yourself and that’s why it’s recommended you use a mess kit for camping for extra safety. Additionally, some fuels like white gas or alcohol aren’t the easiest to control.

The flame can grow large all over a sudden and considering there’s very little room in the tent to maneuver away from it, the risk of burning is very high. A solution to this would be to use a flame that you can control.

Final Thoughts

Cooking inside the tent has its risks but it’s definitely doable. You just need to learn how to cook in a tent. The most important thing is to take all the precautions needed to ensure that the risks we have highlighted above are minimized.

Pay attention to the type of tent you buy too. If you’re going to be cooking inside it, consider a design that’s treated with a fire retardant. Tents with retractable floors are also highly recommended.


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