Cooking in a camping tent or an improvised shelter can be quite dangerous, but sometimes, bad weather gives you no alternative.

What are the hazards you have to beware and how can we cook safely inside a tent? Also, do you know what the best camping stove is for preparing your food securely in a tent?

The hazards:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

Camping stoves give off carbon monoxide when you cook on them. It is an odorless, invisible gas, and inhaling too much of it can cause you severe brain damage or even kill you. When cooking on a camping stove, I recommend you to use it in a well-ventilated place (outside, if possible, or in your tent’s vestibule with the outer door wide open). If your tent doesn’t have a vestibule, I advise you to unzip all the doors and fold them back to have plenty of ventilation. If you don’t ventilate it, carbon monoxide will diffuse evenly through the air inside a tent.

  • Setting your tent on fire

There’s a genuine danger that you could set your tent on fire while you’re cooking inside it. Remaining without a shelter in cold weather because you’ve burned it down can be life-threatening. Many available tents sold nowadays have been treated with fire retardants that may slow the spreading of flames. However, many tents from smaller manufacturers have not been treated at all, requiring extra caution if you use a camping stove inside one.

  • Major burns

Certain fuels like white gas or alcohol are dangerous to cook with inside a tent because you can’t see them, so you can’t have complete control over them without spillage.Spilled white gas can also cause a fire. However, if you must use a white gas stove, light the fire outside your tent, and bring it inside only when you can control the flame’s height.


Alcohol is also difficult to see when it’s burning and you risk not knowing for sure if your stove has been extinguished or not. 

  • Attracting undesirable animals with powerful food smells

Usually, animals feel the smell of food, and you risk attracting hungry bears, boars, coyotes, etc. So, avoid cooking strong smelling foods like fried bacon or fish inside your tent, but instead prepare some freeze-dried or dehydrated meals.

Now, let’s see the best stoves for cooking inside tents.

All-in-one canister stoves are the best option for cooking in tents and ultralight shelters. Those come with an integrated pot and camp stove combination. You can opt for Jetboil Flash, Jetboil Joule, the MSR Reactor, and the MSR WindBurner.

When you light these stoves:

  • There’s a tiny flame going upwards
  • They’re windproof (if it’s a windy weather).

In my opinion, MSR Reactor and the MSR WindBurner stoves are effective and flameless. Also, isobutane canister stoves are the easiest type of flames to control in a tent.

Why are the other methods not safe?

  • When lit, white gas stoves usually flare up in a big fireball.
  • Alcohol stove has an invisible flame, and it’s hard to tell when it’s gone out.
  • Solid fuel tabs smell unpleasant when burning and leave a bad odor behind.
  • The flame height and flying embers of the wood are hard to control.

Hanging kits for canister stoves are available from various manufacturers. However, if you want to use them, suspend them on a branch and use them only in open air. Avoid using them inside your tent because the stove flame would be too close to the ceiling. A much better alternative will be bringing a wide snap-on pot canister stand and a small piece of Reflectix to place your stove on the ground to insulate it from snow when cooking.

Think twice before placing flames near the ceiling or the walls of your tent and try to light the fire down and away.

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