Wall tent camping prepared me for wood stove problems

Earlier this week, we had a wood stove malfunction that made for a noisy, sleepless night. It might have affected me more, but I’m a seasoned veteran of camping in wall tents, so it was nothing new.

Several nights ago, our wood stove chimney topper iced over somehow. It could be due to the fact that whoever installed the stove used roughly 400 feet of chimney pipe. It reduces the chance of a chimney fire, but it doesn’t keep the ice off the outlet of the chimney when the smoke has that much time to cool.

The result was a house full of smoke. When I woke to the sound of the alarm screeching, “Warning, Carbon Monoxide,” I at first thought I was in my dad’s wall tent at hunting camp, except that Dad’s tent doesn’t make God-awful screeching noises and shout warnings. But it does smoke up. Regularly.

My dad got a decent-sized wall tent and a Sims Stove many years ago. We used that setup for our summer camping trips as well as for hunting. Over the years, the stove developed some leaks, and if you didn’t keep a couple of vents open in the tent, it would quickly start to look like Cheech & Chong’s apartment in there.

But we learned to avoid the big mistakes we made in the early days of using the stove. It had a shelf that connected to the fire box, and that shelf had two metal legs that held it up on the side opposite the connection to the stove itself. Those legs could get mighty hot. We didn’t realize how hot they could get until one night, after we had stacked a hefty pile of firewood against the legs, we started smelling smoke. We figured it was just the usual smoke, until we went to put more wood on the fire. That’s when we discovered our firewood pile was smoking. And not just a little bit.

It’s a good thing that tent doesn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm. If it did, I’d have never gotten any sleep on our hunting or camping trips.