7 Best Types of Camping Stoves You Can Use Under a Tarp

Last Updated on 21/08/2023

Types of Camping Stoves You Can Use Under a Tarp

In this short guide to the different types of camping stoves you can use under a tarp, we share our experience with cooking under a tarp shelter and why gas stoves are the best. You might learn about a new kind of stove you can use for tarp camping as well as apply most of these to cooking in the porch of a tent too.

Stoves are an essential part of camping if you can’t live without a morning cup of coffee or want to eat food other than cereal bars and jerky. Campfires are obviously the king of camp stoves, but unless you are very experienced, I recommend that most people do not have a campfire under a tarp for the obvious reason.

Because of the risks of cooking under a tarp, having a stove you can control easily, like a gas stove, is the safest way to go. You can also safely use other types of fuel, but gas also burns cleaner than most other types, which can leave black soot on your tarp if you avoid burning any holes. Here are the best type of stoves to use when camping under a tarp.

7 Types of Camping Stoves You Can Use Under a Tarp

There are lots of different stoves out there. Gas stoves are the most common, but alcohol stoves are still fairly popular. Non-gas camp stoves are also making a comeback, but here are some tips for the different types of stoves you can use under a tarp when camping:

Gas Stove

stoves you can use under a camping tarp

Gas stoves come in many shapes and sizes, but they are fairly consistent in their outputs and are one of the safest types of stoves to cook under a tarp with. They can be easily controlled by a tap and so can be turned down low enough not to damage your tarp. One issue we see time and time again with gas stoves, however, is that they lack stability and can be easily knocked over if the ground isn’t even. Use one of these canister supports to solve that issue.

Liquid Fuel Stove

Liquid stove fuels are probably the second safest type of stove to cook on under a tarp (after gas stoves). The perfect example would be a Trangia alcohol stove, which is very compact, reliable, stable, and controllable. They have a similar heat output to a gas stove on medium heat, so you don’t have to worry about te flame getting too high. You do need to be careful not to spill any of the fuel while the stove is lit, though, as this would create a dangerous situation.

Solid Fuel Stove

Solid fuel stoves use are a cheap and reliable way to cook or boil water on shorter camping trips. They use fuel tablets that don’t blaze too highly unless you use a full pack, so they are fairly safe to use under a tarp at a safe distance. The one big issue I have found with cooking on a solid fuel stove under a tarp or tent porch is that it leaves lots of black carbon residue or soot where the smoke hits the material. This then smells very smoky and makes your hands and pack dirty very quickly.

Barbeques and Disposable BBQs

If you have planned a barbeque and it’s raining, then putting a tarp over the top of it makes sense. But is it safe? So long as you set the tarp up high enough, don’t let the barbeque get too raging, and have the means to control it, then you can cautiously use a tarp to keep it dry in the rain. Would I advise it? Not really, but I have done it more than once without an issue.

Portable Wood Burning Stove

camping stove without gas

Compact wood-burning stoves are small-scale versions of their larger counterparts and can run on small amounts of fuel like wood chips, pine cones, or dead grass. Because the burning chamber is so small, it limits how big you can build a fire and so you never really have an issue cooking under a tarp that is a good distance above. The main issues you will have are leaving carbon residue from the smoke and potential sparks if you burn the wrong type of wood.

Wood Burning Stove With Chimney

If you want to use a larger wood-burning stove under a tarp, then you should definitely use a chimney to divert the smoke and heat out and away from the tarp. The kind of heat you can generate inside a full-sized tent wood burner is enough to melt some metals, so you definitely don’t want that underneath a tarp that isn’t heatproof. But using a chimney makes it safe.

Hobo Stove

A hobo stove uses any kind of tin (e.g., baked been tin, paint tin, or even as small as a sardine tin) with some air holes poked in the sides as a container to burn anything to hand as well as create a raised platform to balance a pot.

They are called hobo stoves because, during the great depression, it is what many of the homeless vagrants would use to cook with as well as use as storage containers for their life possessions. These should be treated the same as small wood-burning stoves using extra caution not to injure yourself or knock it over.

Can You Have a Campfire Under a Tarp?

While it’s possible to use a tarp over a campfire for cooking in the rain, be wary of sparks which can cause tiny burn holes. A small fire or mere embers pose a lesser risk. However, a recurring campfire under your tarp can lead to it smelling strongly of smoke and accumulating black soot, which can then transfer to other gear. I generally don’t recommend it, but if you do, you need to be ultra-aware of the size of the fire and constantly monitor it to avoid any accidents.

The wood type significantly influences your campfire experience under a tarp. Preferred choices include hardwoods like Oak, Ash, and Maple, known for minimal smoke and sparks. Cherry and Apple woods offer the bonus of a pleasant scent. On the contrary, certain woods, notably conifers, and pines, should be avoided. These emit excessive smoke and sparks. Additionally, avoid wet or unseasoned wood, and never burn driftwood due to its potential to release harmful fumes.

Hopefully, we covered all the different types of camping stoves you can use under a tarp for cooking and boiling water. Let us know if you can think of any more in the comments.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant