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11/22/2018 12:45 pm  #1

Planning a winter hot tent trip

Hey all, 

I am planning an interior winter trek and we plan to hot tent for the first time, so I am looking for advice.  We are four well experienced and avid canoe trippers/hikers so have most of the gear needed aside from ski's/shoes/hot tent.

My first question is around acquiring a hot tent.  Is renting possible, and where is the best place to do so?  '
We originally planned on snow shoeing but the idea of skiing in is also appealing.  Would you recommend one over the other?  I imagine we would need to take snow shoes with us if we ski'd either way.  
Also wondering what everyone uses for cargo sleds? 
We haven't decided if we are going to base camp our tour yet, but I'd love any perspective on both. 

If there is an older thread on this my apologies. 



11/22/2018 1:29 pm  #2

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

Hey, just some rapid fire answers:

-Not sure where to rent a tent. I thought Algonquin Outfitters did, but it is not listed on their site. There may be a place in Huntsville last I saw. The tent is the hard part. Sometimes people will rent privately, or you can try and find somebody who wants to go that already has one, and cold camp for sleeping with a hot tent communal space there is a couple people.

-We snowshoe, just find it easier, especially when pulling a toboggan on anything but perfect conditions. Although skis for a day trip would be awesome.

-Google SnowWalker Toboggan. They are pretty standard for winter trips, but there are lots of other options. The key is to pack whatever you use as a sled low. Packing more of a pulk style sled high with bags will result in having to right the sleds a lot. Some people have a backpack and a small sleds too. Some people even rig crazy carpets in sleds.

-Everything is just slower in the winter. Conditions can mean speedy movement or crazy slow slog like movement. If it is your first time, I would recommend hiking in somewhere, then day trip out from there. Or if you are going for more than a long weekend, move every day or two. You will spend more time getting to enjoy the hot tent and get some unencumbered winter travel in on a day trip. Keep in mind that in the summer a 5-10klm paddle from any put-in will feel like your barely into the park, but in winter, when the park is pretty empty in many places, that can feel pretty “away from it all”.

Check out www.Wintertrekking.com it is dedicated to boreal forest, toboggan, hot tent style trips.


11/22/2018 3:36 pm  #3

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

I second APPaul. Couple of things:

1) Definitely go to the forums on WinterTrekking.com

2) The Ontario Winter Camping Symposium is on Saturday in Waterloo. There may be 2 tickets left (2 people refunded yesterday)... Check it out: http://www.ontariowintercamping.ca/ 

3) Lure of the North is an outfitter/craftsman company run by two lovely people. https://lureofthenorth.com/ they have a gear list, they also offer guided trips. 

4) Bible of hot tenting: Snow Walker’s Companion. https://lureofthenorth.com/product/literature/snow-walkers-companion/

5) If you do decide to go without someone experienced, I'd recommend Mew Lake. There's a meet-up on Family Day - you'll get lots of good advice. Good community. It's great for the first time. If you want, you can backcountry camp in the airfield, and still be close to safety. 

6) You don't need a hot tent for 2-3 days. It's really after 3 days where moisture management becomes an issue. It's never the cold. 



11/22/2018 9:10 pm  #4

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

My son and I have interior camped from Mew Lake along the trail leading toward Highland trail and Track and  Tower the past 3 February's. A 10 to 15 minute hike from the car. This enables us to get the interior feel with the added security of being close to the car and comforts of the campgound when needed. Family day weekend is excellent time to be there. Its packed and many winter camping  displays set up within mew lake. Hot chocolate, hot dogs and skating rink. Also a few hot tents available to warm up in. Park by the garbage bins by the airfield and follow the trail south. Great area for a first time trip and to sort things out. Many opportunities here for day trips as well. You may not need snowshoes along the main trails but usually a necessity once you step off the trail to access your site. We love this area for the ease of interior access in winter. Also for added security this area has pretty decent cell service while in the bush. Once you step off the trail to establish your site you really do feel like you're further in than you are. You can also buy firewood. I know park wood isn't always the best but once it gets going its not bad. Weve never had an issue with standing dead wood but always grab a couple bags just in case. Whatever you decide enjoy it. Its a whole new park in the dead of winter. Keep us posted on what you decide.

Here's a great article.


Last edited by Shayne74 (11/22/2018 9:12 pm)


11/22/2018 9:46 pm  #5

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

The Airfield area as suggested above is such a great place to hot tent.  You get the benefits of an interior-style trip with the perks of being within walking distance to:
-a heated comfort station (bathroom and showers)
-running hot water (at the comfort station)
-firewood you can buy
-your vehicle
It's really hard to beat that!  It's nice to be able to access your vehicle as well in the event things go south or you just can't get warm.  Also opens up options for other hikes along the corridor if you're game for going for a drive.

I'm not really sure of any place that rents hot tents..there have been a few people asking lately though so maybe one of the outfitters will consider it as winter camping is gaining popularity.

One thing to keep in mind is that most of the wood up there is softwood so unless you plan on waking up every 2 hours to stoke the fire, the tent will drop down to ambient temperatures very quickly.  This was a bit of a surprise for me when I first did it as I totally thought I'd get most of a nights burn if I loaded the stove up...not the case though.  I now let the stove burn out and usually within an hour to an hour and a half the temperature inside the tent is about the same as outside...

Shayne74 thanks for linking that article.  I did that a few years back and completely forgot about it!  I'll have to add hammocking now as I've really gotten into that, even in the winter


11/23/2018 10:56 am  #6

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

I *think* Algonquin Basecamp in Kearney rents Snowtrekker hot tents. At least they used to. Unless you're coming from the north, that's not really on your way to the Highway 60 area, and in fact you'd have to cover some real distance on foot to access the park itself on the west or north side since the access roads in those areas aren't open all the way to the park boundary in winter. Then again, if you're not planning to make use of any Highway 60 facilities (interpretive trails, campground amenities, etc), there's limited benefit to being in the park itself. Lots of nice crown land in the Kearney area.

Last winter actually I went camping on crown land in the Kearney area in a rented hot tent, but Basecamp wasn't operating in the winter for family reasons, and we rented an Esker hot tent from Canadian Outdoor Equipment in Etobicoke (we live in Toronto). Can't say I loved dealing with them, their rental system isn't super accommodating, like they need their stuff back by closing time on the last rental day which is hard when you're driving all the way back from Algonquin. But they're an option if you're in or passing through Toronto.

In spite of Marko's point about moisture, I wouldn't say hot tents are pointless for weekend trips, it's just a very different experience from cold tenting. More work, but perhaps more comfort, and enjoyment, subjectively, depending on what you like. It's like having a little cabin that follows you into the woods.

For your first trip I'd recommend base camping (ie staying put). Travel is slow, days are short and gathering/cutting wood is more of a significant chore than you're probably used to from canoe tripping. I mean it's not just gathering sticks, you need good solid long-burning logs, and they have to be cut to fit your stove. No big deal once you're used to it but allocate time at first. Depending on your distances and sled setup, you might even consider hauling in a little purchased firewood for the first night (if you're in the park it will have to be from a park store, eg campground).


11/23/2018 4:07 pm  #7

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

DanPM wrote:

In spite of Marko's point about moisture, I wouldn't say hot tents are pointless for weekend trips, it's just a very different experience from cold tenting. More work, but perhaps more comfort, and enjoyment, subjectively, depending on what you like. It's like having a little cabin that follows you into the woods.

Agree, the hot tents are lovely, and I prefer them. However, remember that you must have a sleeping system that works without the stove (i.e. don't rely on being able to stoke the fire all night). This is important for several reasons:

1) safety and carbon monoxide (this is extremely unlikely with the stove... the catalytic propane heaters are much more dangerous as there's not the air draw).

2) stove may fail, or you may not be able to continue the fire throughout the night. 

I used to burn the stove throughout the night, but I stopped due to both of these issues. It's actually quite lovely to have a fire in the evening, go to bed, have it die out at one point overnight. The mornings can be chilly at -30C, but the fire gets the tent warm within 10 minutes. Key is to have a fire starting bundle ready for the mornings. 



11/23/2018 4:26 pm  #8

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

Pretty sure Andrew. ATVenture ,works at Basecamp . Send him a PM.

Also. I'm certain that Snow Forest Adventures have some Hot Tent Camps pre set in the Black Fox lake / Hiram Lake area for their dogsled tours . I think they would rent them out to you if you were willing to make the hike in and they weren't in use. You can look them up online or FB if interested. My daughter and I were on one of their tours a couple years back. Good guys to deal with.

Just a thought.

Last edited by Shayne74 (11/23/2018 4:32 pm)


11/23/2018 5:32 pm  #9

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

I agree too with what was said above.  If I'm going for anything less than 3 nights I'll cold tent, tarp or hammock it.  Anything more than 3 nights then it's worth the extra work to lug in and set up the tent and stove.  I find too that I spend WAY more time processing firewood when I hot tent.  I always want three piles of tinder, kindling and wood:  1 for an outside fire, 1 for when I first retire into the hot tent and then another for first thing in the morning...


11/25/2018 12:11 pm  #10

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

I'm an experienced winter camper, but also looking into Hot Tenting. Following the advice above, gathered from here, snowtrekker, and other places this is my planning: I winter hammock camp. Happy with that. But want the hot tent as a warming tent to take meals in, visit in, dry off gear, etc. So I am looking at some of the lower weight hot tent's. Tipi style. Kifaru and SeekOutside have some great ones available. Cheaper than a snowtrekker but still expensive. Luxe Hiking Gear is new to me and they have some lower priced options. Swinging the opposite way now - I looked at lower weight some-assembly-required stoves but the assembly intimidates me somewhat. Yes, everything is slower when winter camping - including my brain. I feel I lose a few IQ points and can stare at a knot for a moment or two before the slush between my ears makes sense of it. So I find the pre-assembled stoves attractive. Which means I am probably bringing a sled. Which means I am definitely bringing in purchased wood. They say the wood warms you 3x - finding it, processing it and burning it but there is something to be said for having some ready to go. The only thing that does seem to move fast with winter camping is sunset.

If outfitters are reading this - yes, I'd like to rent a hot tent too.



11/26/2018 12:08 pm  #11

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

tenderfoot wrote:

If outfitters are reading this - yes, I'd like to rent a hot tent too.


Interesting discussion, I hope the guy I talked to yesterday is reading this. For the record, AO does not rent hot tent/stove combos. We do have two four-season tents (3-person Marmot Thor) if you need a robust tent for "cold camping."

Not to completely hijack the thread but you guys are the demographic for AO to jump in and ask some questions. To be honest, we have been debating internally whether to get one or two hot tents for rental, since it is clear that some demand exists, and interest in winter camping is clearly growing. Algonquin Base Camp used to rent them but they have taken down the whole winter-related section of their website, so I have a feeling they got out of that aspect of the business.

From an outfitter's point of view there are a number of challenges related to renting canvas tents and wood stoves:

- cost of the equipment up front
- what size of tent to offer
- what model of tent to offer (likely a Snowtrekker or Esker style with poles would be easier for all to deal with than a Prospector style)
- what model of stove to offer
- maintenance: drying out between rentals; cleaning; re-packing, etc. This is called "reprocessing" in outfitter jargon. (for those of you familiar with our Oxtongue Lake location, only the retail store is heated in the winter)
- what level of instruction to provide rental customers prior to setting them loose with the tent and stove
- liability related to renting a portable wood stove (also known as a non-certified wood burning appliance)
- balancing a reasonable rental rate with making it worth our while to offer the product

We would appreciate any comments on the above points as well as answers to some specific questions:

- would you pay $80 - 100 per day to rent a tent and stove combo? This seems to be the going rate. If that seems high to you, what would you expect to pay for such a rental item?

- what type of instruction would be appropriate for someone who has never set up such a tent or used this type of stove?
a) none required - have at it and good luck
b) watch a video
c) printed handout
d) full hands-on setup and take-down demo with stove lighting
e) other suggestions?

- is a floor necessary?

- our research suggests that a simple centre-pole style tent might be the way to go for someone looking to try it out and also keep the the rental process more manageable and cost-effective. Any comments on this idea? Tent would look something like this:

Thanks in advance. If a mod wants to break this out into a separate thread, go for it.

Last edited by AO_GordB (11/26/2018 12:27 pm)


11/27/2018 8:06 am  #12

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

Hi Gord,

My thoughts: 

1) You can't just rent a canvas tent, you need a wood stove. And then you need a toboggan to carry all of it.
2) The wear-and-tear on the winter tent is going to be much higher than the wear-and-tear on summer stuff, with sparks and creosote, unless there's a stove with a baffle and good wood. 
3) Winter camping itself is associated with much higher risks overall (burns and carbon monoxide on one hand, hypothermia and falling through ice on the other, as well as axe injuries as there's a lot more wood processing). 
4) There are very specific skills that are required - in terms of camp set-up and safety, travel, fire-making, wood processing, etc.
5) It's much more physically demanding - an easy canoe portage can be a real pig in the winter with a 150-lb sled. 

With all this, I don't think there's a way of renting a hot tent/stove/toboggan that's both cost-effective and safe (I don't think that a pamphlet will be sufficient for renters, given that the risk of death is actually not negligible compared to summer camping). 

If I recall correctly, the Algonquin Basecamp guys had/have an option of going to a pre-set camp, with wood delivery. I think this is the only feasible way of doing some kind of a rental program. I would recommend something along the following:

1) A standing camp is the only way to go - both to minimize costs (i.e. no toboggan necessary) and safety (pre-cut wood, nice heavy baffled stove and camp that's already set up in a safe place). I would use a prospector-style tent that has room for 4-6, and with a stove to the side. Personally, I have the Atuk Alaskan (and had the Kanguk), and I love the centre-pole tents due to light weight. But there are definite trade-offs, and this is not a beginner tent.

A Woods Prospector from COE (https://www.canadianoutdoorequipment.com/woods-industrial-prospector-tents.html). Or one of the larger tents from Atuk, like the Prospector, Arctic or Cree. (http://www.atuktents.com/en_prospector.php)

It's heavy, but it doesn't matter if it's meant to be used for the season. It's very cost-effective, compared to SnowTrekker, and gives more space, while still providing the same experience for the beginner.

In terms of stove, Four Dog does not make their big stoves any more... too bad. You'd want a large stove with a baffle (baffle is an absolute necessity in my opinion. 

2) I would have a wood pallet floor, with fire-proofing around the stove. 
3) The stove should be a heavy one, and with a baffle to minimize sparks. 

People would snowshoe/ski up to the camp. The wood pallet floor is necessary as there will be heavy use of the camp. I'd consider having cots. This way, you could go with a pamphlet that talks about safety (fire and stove/carbon monoxide; proper clothing i.e. layering and no cotton; safe winter travel). 

Having it on crown land would also minimize the costs to the renters (no camping fees), this would give you a bit of breathing room in terms of your costs - I would definitely advertise this as a bonus. 


Last edited by Marko_Mrko (11/27/2018 8:14 am)


11/27/2018 8:53 am  #13

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

Hi Gord,

I may actually be your demographic, if I wasn't so cheap!

First of all, I understand the liability concerns. But if a few people can be given a canoe, a life jacket and a paddle and have at it, then there is likely a way to rent a tent and a stove. I've sat at Canoe Lake and watched, not much concern about those new to Canada renters getting in a canoe there.

$80-100 per day does not seem unreasonable to me, although it gets pricey if you do the 4-5 day trips I think would be most common? Perhaps a bit of the usual discount for longer trips? $300-400 for up to a 4-5 day rental I don't think I would have a problem with, much more and I may think twice.

I've been winter camping a bunch of times, just don't have the equipment and am unlikely to buy my own. So, decent printed instructions would be adequate for me I feel. If you had some sort of video when I was picking up I would likely take 5-10 minutes to watch that.

We usually throw some sort of tarp or floor in the tent, so I like that idea. And a rental pulk would be required for most but maybe not all, I have several.

The center pole tent is fine, I like it better than the prospector for an in/out trip.

So to sum up those rambling thoughts. A rental package for "semi" experienced winter campers may be worth your while. Offer the big ticket equipment the occasional winter camper doesn't have, tent and stove and pulk. For new winter campers you may want to have an area to recommend they go to, something easier to get in to and setup.



11/27/2018 12:07 pm  #14

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

As happy as I am to see and hear about more and more people taking interest in winter camping, I have to say that selfishly I wish they wouldn't lol... I find winter used to be one time in the park you were guaranteed total solitude, even at Mew Lake.  Over the past several years though the park is getting increasingly busy, even in the winter.  Maybe we should start spreading some "fake news" and tell the masses how terrible winter camping is, and then we can keep the park to ourselves in the winter     I'm kidding of course...but man has there ever been a surge in at least interest in winter camping.  


11/27/2018 12:46 pm  #15

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip


You raise a lot of points on why it's hard to rent the tents and gear that it comes along with. As an owner of a hot tent, if I think about lending it, there would be so much to explain.

I think the pre-setup at a pre-determined location may be they way to go, but it does change the "vibe" of a trip. There is something nice about being able to move around and pick you own spots.

Maybe winter guided hot tent trips would be an option. Or, for any first time renter maybe they have to go through setup and take down with a staff member before hand. Printed instructions and hot tent tips would be a must.  



11/27/2018 1:10 pm  #16

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip

As indicated in my previous post, my one hot tenting experience was renting one on a “have at it and good luck” basis, and my only real problem with it was that the outfitter was located (in the GTA) so far from the destination that the return arrangements were disruptive to the trip itinerary. So naturally my feedback is going to lean more to a laissez-faire model… once you’re doing the standing camp thing like Marko pointed out Basecamp has done, you’ve basically got low-end yurt rental going. My group last winter avoided that kind of thing specifically, because we wanted our own backcountry adventure. In our case in particular we wanted to research and access a natural brook trout lake; others will have other priorities. And, I mean, I don’t know much about the liability issues in the industry, but surely there’s a difference between the clientele to whom you rent whitewater gear and long shuttles, and those for whom you deliver Kevlar canoes to Canoe Lake? Like, yes independent winter camping involves a certain degree of skill and danger, but does that make it impossible for an outfitter to facilitate?

So, to the questions:

would you pay $80 - 100 per day to rent a tent and stove combo?

We did pay about the middle of that range. As you say it seems to be the going rate, and $80/day is comparable to two canoes holding a similar number of people. The economics are a bit funny for the client… after a few rentals of a few days each at that rate, you’ve paid as much as buying one, BUT that’s as a group, and there might not be any one person for whom the purchase would be cost-effective or in the budget. I proposed a joint purchase to my friends since they want to go annually, but one of them being a new father even that wasn’t an easy commitment, and in any case sharing property like that is only an option if you have a very consistent set of hot-tenting buddies.

The longer-rental discount probably makes sense if part of the difficulty for the outfitter is the reprocessing.

what type of instruction would be appropriate?

A printed handout would be a great reference to have on the trail; at bare minimum you’d want to provide the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the tent, but something that goes beyond setup instructions would be good too. If you found or produced a good instructional video, I like the idea of putting it on the website, not only to train clients but to help ensure that they know what they’re getting into before they even decide to rent. The full hands-on demo could be something you offer on a by-request basis if you have the staff time. The most I’d suggest by way of “compulsory” training is getting clients to sign off on having watched the video.

is a floor necessary?

Do you mean, is it necessary to provide a tent footprint as part of the package? Ehh, I’m not sure. In our case we put regular tarps under our sleeping pads and went without full floor coverage. Could be an optional add-on.

centre-pole style tent?

I had wanted to rent a Snowtrekker since all the cool kids seem to use them but the place we rented from dealt in Eskers, which is the centre pole style. It was fine and I haven’t used a Snowtrekker to compare. The outfitter included a collapsible centre pole in the package, which I think is necessary – the Esker website itself seems to suggest you just cut a pole from the bush, but I don’t think you’d want to make rental clients do that. One issue I had with the Esker tent was when setting it up in the open, not surrounded by trees to tie off to, there weren’t really enough pegs to tie all the lines to. But it wouldn’t be a big deal to provide extras.

Thanks for consulting the market!


11/28/2018 10:32 pm  #17

Re: Planning a winter hot tent trip


A lot of the responses echo my thoughts but I will touch on them quickly to build consensus.

I would lean towards Snowtrekker tents. Two reasons - they seam to be what a lot of folks aspire to but can't afford. Secondly although I have not had my hands on them they seem sturdier (internal frame) than a spike tent (single pole with guy ropes). Really have to give points for anything that can foolproof the gear. An internal metal frame is familiar to warm weather tenters. Yes, costly but offer renters the option to buy at a slight discount. If you turn them around enough maybe Snowtreker will discount for you. Sort of like a rental car fleet. If you could sell a used snowtrekker for 70% what you paid for it after one year of use you really are only looking to cover that 30% before costs are covered. But that sentence started with “if.”

Another option would be a seekoutside 6 man tpi. Tough tent, less costly than Snowtrekker, manufactured specifically for hot tenting, lower weight and can be enjoyed 4 seasons (families would love tipi with internal nest in summer.) Same try/buy discount offered. Also - not as finicky as canvas for your “reprocessing” but people would have to be educated on condensation. Kifaru Sawtooth is another well known shelter.

Some people rent their RV's to recoup cost. I'd consider buying a tent and having an outfitter rent it on some sort of consignment but now you may have people grousing in both ears - tent owner and renter.

Size? I think 2 is the answer but a comfortable two. And have an extra so a party of 4 could rent two. Personally, even with a pulk I am not interested in more than 50lbs of canvas.

For stove think fool proof. So preassembled I think. Some of the ti stoves can bite you when you are setting up. A titanium stove pipe can be wicked sharp. Kni Co is well established / respected. Maybe same ‘refresh’ program where I can buy the stove from you. Heck, maybe even have unrented tent/stove on hand to be sold new. Dealer for manufacturer.

Aside from burning myself in the tent or cutting myself with the stove make sure I understand that having a sleep system rated for 10 degrees below the expected low is a must. You are NOT renting me the tent so I can use my summer bag in winter.

Tents and fire. Yes, a liability nightmare. Maybe if I rent tent and stove you can throw in a chain saw? Your insurance agent wanted a new truck anyway. Pamphlet, video, hands one - whatever you do get a signature that they read/viewed it and understand it. This will be the financial deal breaker I suspect.

$80-100 - yes, for a package. I pay $40 for a lean to in the summer. $15-25 for a tent site. And I know what the gear costs.

No floor required.

Your center pole looks like a canvas tipi. If I peg the four corners and slide in the pole (that came with it) I think that would work nicely. Some of the spike tents are even sturdier with two poles as an a frame. 

I would certainly consider trekking out to an established site. But the site will get crappy after a few uses I think.  

Last edited by tenderfoot (11/28/2018 10:38 pm)


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