Hot Tent Stand – How to Erect a Hot Tent Without Staking it Into the Ground

Last year I built my second hot tent.  This one specifically to take into the backcountry. The first, the tipi was made to do so as well but after a trip with my friend Ashley from Young Outdoors, I realized that was never going to happen, well, not solo at least.

The tipi and stove weighed in at just over 100lbs without any gear!  Split between 2 people it was okay, but solo, was something that just wouldn’t be feasible for me.  I mean, I could possibly take it somewhere not too far in, but that was it.

So, In November 2017, I built my second tent, especially for the backcountry.  It turned out great and I loved it.  It was light, small, amazingly easy to set up and perfect.  But after taking it on a few outings last year, I discovered something that would worry me and cause me great stress every time I thought about taking it out.

On several of the trips I took the new tent on, I had issues with staking it to the ground.  I took the tent on a test run at Mew Lake and the ground was frozen solid.  I bent 4 stakes and used several different types.  I finally got the tent staked down and set up, but it was quite a bit of work, took a lot of extra time and freaked me out.

On another trip, the first backcountry trip with the new hot tent, I took it to Go Home Lake with my friend Sue, from Sue’s Outdoor Crew.  This time the tent would be set up on rock.  We tried 4 different spots, all solid rock.  It was cold out and thanks to an idea of Sue’s we buried some firewood we’d brought in and tied the corners down to the fire wood. It worked but the tent was all harry carry and not set up properly and I hated the feeling, the anxiety, the fear of getting it out into the middle of no where, alone, and not being able to set it up and get warm. The entire purpose of the tent.

On Boxing Day 2017, I took the hot tent out on my first solo backcountry trip with it.  The temperature was -36 with the wind chill of -44. It was very very cold.  I hiked into a site about 2km’s in. It took me more time than it should have, but eventually I made it to a nice place where I could camp.  I set up the tent and had no issues but the entire time beforehand, I was stressed, freaked out and worried I would get all the way to the site, then not be able to set up the tent and get warm. My hair was frozen, it was that cold and thankfully, that time it worked, but ever since that trip, I’ve been thinking about how I could resolve this issue.

I bought all different type of stakes. I got stakes used for ice huts, common nails, and researched all the different methods people use to stake down their tents in the winter.  None of them made me feel any better, so, I got creative.

I thought of a contraption that might work and went over the idea with my dad.  Something that could fold up and open up at site, not be too heavy and I could set up the tent, without the worry and stress of having to stake it to the ground.  A plan was devised.

I stopped in at my dads on the way back to Muskoka to do some brainstorming.  My dad and I were on the same wavelength and were thinking the same things, but in his workshop, he actually made a small partial model of what it would look like to see if it really would work.  On paper, and in miniature, it looked good but I had no idea if it would actually work. I decided to give it a go and spend the money and see if it would do what I needed it to do.

I left my dads and went straight to the Home Depot to get the items I would need.  8 x 3 “hinges, 4 pieces of 1x 4 x 8 cedar, and some screws that wouldn’t go all the way through the wood and stick out the other side. I spent around $60.00.

My dad created the centre piece in his workshop.  Just a thick piece of wood that had a recessed hole in the centre where the pole would rest, 6 inches per side

Each side of the centre piece would get a 3″ hinge attached to it and then 2 pieces of wood stretching out to each of the 4 corners of the tent.

The 2 pieces would have a hinge between them so that the Hot Tent Stand could fold up for travel like below. The total weight is just under 15lbs and it’s 3′ 10″ in length. Below is the stand folded up for travel.

The pole would sit on the centre piece and hold the entire contraption down.

I got home and got started almost immediately. I was really excited about this project, it was a nice sunny day and I wanted to see if it would work.

I set up the tent in my backyard and measured how long the second piece of wood needed to be. I had purchased 4 x 8 foot pieces of cedar, but had had them cut at 2 feet 10 inches as I knew that would be not quite half the size needed.  The second piece I left to cut at home after measuring the tent set up and ensuring I had a few inches left on each side, just in case.

I cut the second section of wood to 3 feet 10 inches.  This would make each piece stretch out from the centre piece 6 feet 8 inches.  When added to the size of the centre piece, that would stretch out just a few inches beyond each corner.  Once the wood was cut, the hinges were applied.

The hinges would all go on the same side of the Hot Tent Stand.  There would be one on each of the 4 sides of the centre piece, then one in between the 2 pieces of cedar that led towards the corner. This would allow the pieces to fold into themselves to be more compact when travelling, making the Cross Stand approximate 3 feet 10 inches long and easy to carry on the sled.

Once the hinges were all put in with the wood pushed together as closely as possible, I tested it out.

I put the cross stand on the grass and carefully opened each arm of the device, unfolding it at the hinges and placing the hinges face down on the ground so the wood would not bend up, only down, which wasn’t possible.

I went down to my workshop and located 4 screw hooks that would be used to attach the 4 corner loops of the tent to the ends of the arms of the Stand and slid the Stand underneath the tent which was still staked into the ground.

I put the screw hooks into the end of the arms approximately in the same vicinity as where the stakes were currently put into the ground.  I then slid the Hot Tent Stand into place, putting the centre pole onto the recessed circle in the stand, then I moved all the arms so that they were right beside where the corners were staked into the ground and one by one, took the stake out of the ground and transferred the corner loop to the hook on the end of the arms.  Once all 4 were done, the tent was still standing.  Well, look at that!  I was pretty surprised and happy.

The corners were bending upwards a bit, probably due to the extreme tension on them being pulled up by the tent, but after putting a brick on each end, that wasn’t as bad.  I would most likely always be hot tenting in snow so the corners could just be buried a bit or have a rock or something heavy placed on them to keep them from popping up, a small issue but still way easier than getting stakes into rock or ice, in my opion.

I made a few revisions, moving a few of the hooks, but overall, that was it.

It totally worked and I was elated.  Now I would be able to set up the tent in my basement to make revisions, air it out, set it up at shows, like I will be doing at the upcoming Ontario Winter Camping Symposium on November 24th.    Without this device it would be extremely difficult to do that without being able to put stakes in the ground.

I have set up the hot tent many times since creating the Hot Tent Stand and it has easily worked every single time.   A few revisions have been made to the tent over the last few months, replacing the corner loops as the ones previously put in place were already pulling out of the tent corners and tearing, and I finally added a vent that I had been wanting to do since last year. I will be sharing a post and video on how I made the vent in the next few weeks, but below is a sneak peek at what it looks like.

I am looking forward to taking this out into the backcountry to test it out there.

Thanks so much for checking out my post.  At this point in time, I can confirm the tent will be shown at the Ontario Winter Camping Symposium, Winter in the Wild over Family Day Weekend in Algonquin Park at Mew Lake along with my original tipi, and the Quiet Water Symposium in Michigan. I hope to see you at one of the upcoming events!

If you would like to check out the video, click here.

Happy Winter Camping!

Camper Christina

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  1. Harry Teitelbaum November 13, 2018 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    The hinge idea actually gave me a great idea for a cot stand..glad you picked cedar but curious to see how many seasons it lasts being buried between puddles and ice.

    • Christina November 14, 2018 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Thanks Harry, that is a good point. Wondering if I can seal it with some type of coating, paint or stain? Any suggestions?

  2. Jim Moodie November 13, 2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    You may want to have some plastic or rubber to wrap around where the hings are to help keep the water out so they don’t freeze in the open position on the ground.

    • Christina November 14, 2018 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Thanks Jim. I didn’t even think about that. Thank you! I think I will also bring a small screwdriver in case they do get stuck, I can also take the hinges off. I appreciate the attention brought to the things I still haven’t thought about.

  3. George Webster November 13, 2018 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Nice job! It is a cool solution, especially since you set up the tent indoors,

    In cold weather, I chip a hole in the ice for a small piece of firewood, then fill the hole with warm water and snow. It very quickly freezes so make sure you tie a loop to it before pouring the water, LOL I use cotton rope for the loop because I can just cut it off even with the ground and it will decay.

    At other times, I have found some large logs and dragged them to the perimeter of the tent. that works on snow or rock. If the logs are not heavy enough, run your guy line under them, then tie off to a tree or some other heavy object. .I

    I don’t pack a stove because of the weight, and in Winter, I mostly camp in the woods on the mountains behind my home. I often skip the tent, and just erect a tarp shelter, so I can have a fire pit inside. I bring a piece of stove pipe with me and bury it so it allows air into the shelter, and a fold up vent similar to what they put over stoves in the house. A second piece of stove pipe fits on the vent, and has a chimney cap on it. Total weight less than 10 pounds. Its not real pretty, but with the dug fire pit inside the shelter, I’m toasty. In real cold weather, I line the pit with rocks if I can find some. If the snow is deep, I throw some bricks on the sled I use to haul my gear.

    Sandbags work too, especially if you fill them with rocks. I don;t haul tent stakes, because it only takes a few minutes to make some.

    • Christina November 14, 2018 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Wow you are totally hard core. I don’t like the cold but am doing my best to deal with it as I love being outside all year round. It’s the sleeping for me that’s the hardest part, hence why I built the tent. I appreciate you checking out my post and providing all the comments. Lots to think about. I have done the burying of the wood also and tied string to it but the tent looked not so nice. Someone also has suggested the little pails to fill with water and freeze loops in them to tie to. Do you have any photos of the set up with the pipe? I can’t seem to wrap my head around that one? Thanks again so much for the great comment!

  4. Brian Spencer November 13, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Christina:talk about thinking outside the box by getting inside the box. Creative & inventive; there may be some problems & modifications but to me the concept may be patent able. Thanks Brian 78

    • Christina November 14, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Thank you Brian. Nothing is ever perfect but unless you try, you may never get there. 🙂 Thanks so much for checking out the post and for commenting. 🙂

  5. Lennard Donkers November 14, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply

    You are going to have be careful in late winter. I used a tarp and and thought I would bury some sticks with with guy lines attached. That worked great. I dug a small trench and buried the sticks. Needless to say when the wet snow froze hard I had to cut my guy lines. They were frozen in a block of ice. Even the hatchet was taking to long to chip the sticks out.
    As long as the wood doesn’t get buried you should be OK.

    • Christina November 14, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

      Thanks Lennard! That is great advice, Thank you. I was planning on burying the wood actually but someone else also mentioned the hinges might freeze open. I will have to be very careful. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank you!

  6. […] had brought the new hot tent stand that I had made to test it out in the snow.  I had only used it on grass and in my basement thus […]

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