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How To Choose The Right Kni-Co Stove

Tim Foley
January 14, 2020
Last Updated: July 19, 2022

Here at The Canadian outdoor Equipment Co., we're fans of Kni-Co stoves. Made in the USA from 22 gauge cold rolled steel (carbon steel), they provide a portable, efficient means of heating a winter tent. As they are made from carbon steel (which means they can rust) end of season care and maintenance is important. We'll get to how to care for and maintain your Kni-Co stove a bit later.

Kni-Co stoves have legs that fold up and pipes that nest and fit into the stove box. The stove box itself doesn't collapse, but since you need a place to store your pipes anyway, this isn't a big deal as the stove box itself provides protection as well as storage.

Kni-Co Stove Size Comparison

We carry 4 different styles of Kni-Co stove, ranging from small to large:

Tent Size Pipe Diameter Packed Dimensions Packed Weight
Kni-Co Trekker 9'x9'
4" (tapers to 3") 25.5 x 25.5 x 48cm
(10" x 10" x 19")
Kni-Co Packer 10'x10'
5" (tapers to 4") 25.5 x 25.5 x 58.5cm
(10" x 10" x 23")
Kni-Co Alaskan Jr 10'x10'
5" (tapers to 4") 30.5 x 30.5 x 48cm
(10" x 10" x 19")
Kni-Co Alaskan 12'x12'
5" (tapers to 4") 30.5 x 30.5 x 61cm
(12" x 12" x 24")

Choosing the Right Size Kni-Co Stove

Stoves come in 2 different heights and lengths of the stove box. The stove you choose will be dictated by the size of your tent. An underpowered stove is more trouble than it's worth, in terms of having to constantly feed it and your peak temperature being difficult to sustain (add wood, temp goes down). If in doubt, size up the stove.

Our tent size recommendations are based on winter (Jan/Feb) use in Canada. Tent sizes are measured width and length of the tent footprint, in feet.)

Kni-Co Stoves for 10'x12' or Smaller Tents

The Packer has a longer stove box, which means less sawing needed. The Alaskan Jr has the shorter stove box, so more sawing needed but a higher and wider box so it can be packed higher with wood, so while both service 10x10 tents, the Alaskan Jr may be better for 10x12, or provide a larger stove box for 10x10 applications.

Kni-Co Stove for 12'x12' and 12'x14' Tents

Kni-Co Stove for Tents Larger Than 12'x14'

Tents larger than 12x14 (16'x20') will require larger stoves and at those sizes tents are much less portable - this will be the subject of a future video down the road.

Kni-Co Stove Pipe Styles and Sizes

All Kni-Co stoves come in 2 different variations: one with straight pipe segments only, or one with pipes and an elbow. Pipe style will depend on tent style and stove pipe ring placement (whether out the side or straight up).

Regarding pipes, on all stoves the damper sleeve is a straight pipe with no taper, so if you want to add more pieces, or an elbow, you can with hardware store pipes either right after damper sleeve, or at end of pipe stack (after all pipes have tapered). The damper sleeve on the Trekker is 4", whereas all other models are 5". The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co. pipe sets add extra pieces in order to extend the pipe stack height to clear the peak of Esker pyramid tents. The Classic 2 stoves have an elbow and an extra section of straight pipe. All the stoves come with screws for the pipes, though generally, for winter camping, you do not need to use them. As long as the fit is good and you're not dealing with hurricane level winds, the pipes are fine to use without the screws.

Useful Accessories for Kni-Co Stoves

We have a number of useful accessories available for the stoves.

At the top of the list would be the kni-co side table option, which provides space to put boiled kettles, pots, etc, off the side of the heat when cooking - very handy, and it packs inside the stove box with pipes, so there are no extra pieces to carry.

Another excellent accessory are Treker/Packer False Bottoms or Alaskan False Bottoms. These extend the life of your stove by burning on the false bottom rather than the actual bottom of the stove. With the brunt of the heating and cooling absorbed by the false bottom and the red hot embers on the false bottom metal instead of the stove bottom, your stove can last longer. This also has the added benefit of providing a better burn, as oxygen can get under the fire which creates a hotter fire, more ash, and thus, less unburned wood.

Finally, we have available a kni-co water tank as an option for hot water on demand. This is best on longer trips, or if you're setting up a basecamp.

How to Maintain Your Kni-Co Stove

The stoves only look shiny before their first burn. After, it will look like you've had it for 20 years. When you store them for the season, be sure to oil the legs and bottom of the stove with hemp or other oil, or they could seize if left unattended. It is not necessary to oil the entire stove box, provided it gets stored while dry and clean, but you can do it. Just expect it to smoke during your first burn of the season.

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Tim Foley

Tim grew up spending summers and much of his spare time in the backwoods of Northern Ontario and has been canoeing, camping and hiking ever since. When not running the Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co., you can find him riding his bike, hiking the Bruce Trail, canoeing, or clearing trails, cutting firewood and testing gear out in the bush.
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