If you’ve ever tried to camp in the cold weather it can be downright miserable. That is unless you have a heat source. White Duck Tents offers a wide selection of canvas tents that are wood stove compatible, which is an absolute must if you plan to be out in cold weather. We had the pleasure of testing the White Duck Regatta Bell tent paired with the Winnerwell Woodlander Double View stove, and the Colorado Cylinder Stoves Spruce Package for this review. These combinations proved to be fantastic and kept us toasty warm on cold winter days.
Why We chose White Duck Tents Regatta Bell
When sorting through the available options when it comes to canvas hot tents, there are a number of things to consider in making a selection for what will work best for your needs. Some of the give and take involved is the ease of setup, interior space, floor/floorless, and overall size needs.
BELL TENT VS WALL TENT
The first thing you want to determine to help you narrow down your selection is whether you want a bell tent or wall tent. There is a HUGE difference between the two styles. Yes, they are both canvas tents that are wood stove compatible, but their design and functionality is very different. To simplify the differences, a bell-style tent is exponentially easier and faster to set up, but offers less usable room inside and less standing room inside for the same square footage.
If you are going to be setting up a base camp for an extended period of time and know you won’t be needing to move your camp spot, a wall tent is going to offer you more livable space on the inside so it’s worth the extra time to set it up. This kind of tent is simply more comfortable as it doesn’t have any awkward corners to navigate as you do with a bell tent. On the other hand, they are kind of a pain to set up when compared to the Regatta Bell tent.
For example, I pulled the White Duck Regatta Bell tent out and set it up for the very first time and had it ready to go (not including the wood stove) in under 30 minutes. Contrast that with needing to build out the frame of the White Duck wall tent, and it took a couple hours when all said and done. For me, the potential of needing to move my base camp during hunting season won over the need for more luxury inside, so I elected to go with the White Duck Regatta Bell tent since the easier setup and take-down is so appealing.
What Size Tent Do I need?
Once you’ve narrowed down the style of tent you want, selecting the size from the many White Duck Tent options may be a bit of a task. Since weight isn’t a concern like it would be if you were backpacking, I tend to go bigger rather than smaller. With a base camp, and when cold-weather camping, everything takes up more space than you think. For example, those very nice Cabelas Alaskan Cots we use are great to have but they take up a substantial amount of space. While they are super comfortable, you’ll need a bigger tent since they take up so much room.
We were able to comfortably fit seven of us in one of the White Duck Tents, the 16.5 foot Regatta Bell, while using typical foam pads, sleeping on the ground. In addition, we had the wood stove, three camping chairs, and a cooler in the tent with all of us.
However, when we used cots, we were only able to get four of us in there comfortably with three camp chairs, a cooler, and wood stove. Depending on your setup, you could easily get 7+ people in this 16.5 foot bell tent, or three people living luxuriously on cots.
White Duck Tents Canvas Color Selection
Selecting the color of canvas is another difficult decision as there are a number of things to consider.
- Lighter colored canvas (Sandstone) lets in more light, but will look dirty a lot more quickly
- The darker color canvas (Forrest Green or Desert Red) are going to look nice a whole lot longer as they won’t show all the dirt and potential ash from burning a wood stove, but tend to make it dark inside.
After weighing the options, I elected to go with the Desert Red (Forrest Green was my first choice, but it was out of stock at the time). What I didn’t expect was just how much light this darker canvas blocked. In fact, during the later hours of the evening, if you were inside the tent it was difficult to know if the sun had set or not. The Desert Red color blocked a ton of light. It also required the use of a lantern inside the tent, even when the sun had not yet set.
This is very nice during the summer as you may not want to wake up at 5am by the rising sun, so your preference will pull you one way or the other on what color to choose. I did find, however, that it is an absolute MUST to have a couple lanterns and run them a lot more in the darker colored canvas tent. For that, I picked up a couple of these 1800 Lumen Lanterns and that did the trick.
What Size Stove Do I need?: White Duck Tents: Regatta Bell 16 fT
Selecting the correct size in a wood stove can make a huge difference in just how comfortable the inside of your new canvas tent will be. When we started testing this 16.5 foot Regetta Bell from White Duck Tents for this review, we started with the Winnerwell Woodlander Double View wood stove, size large. This stove has a firebox volume of 1500ci, which proved to be a bit on the small side for a tent this size. While we love the “double view” glass, which made for a fantastic glow when burning, you have to keep this stove really cranking to heat this size of tent.
The larger size of the Colorado Cylinder Stove Spruce Package has a much larger fire box volume, and is able to put out more heat, so it ended up being a better fit for this size of at tent over.
While buying the largest stove you can find might seem like a solution, it can be counter productive in that it will cook you out of the tent. A stove too large won’t be able to burn at a low enough level to make the tent comfortable, and you’ll go through a lot more wood.
The Testing: White Duck Tents: Regatta Bell 16 fT
We were excited to have the opportunity to do some winter camping in one of the White Duck tents and put this tent through the paces with old man winter at its best. We took this White Duck Regatta Bell tent out on a number of trips, with temperatures ranging from the upper 20s down to the low single digits. Unfortunately, none of our trips generated any heavy snow to test the snow load capability of this tent, but as we continue to use this, I’ll update this review with that information. We got some fantastic insight into the things that worked well, a few things that didn’t, and how to navigate them.
Options & Accessories: White Duck Tents
When you’re considering White Duck Tents, there are a number of options that you can add on to make your winter (or summer) camping trip even more enjoyable. Thankfully though, and unlike many canvas tent makers out there, White Duck Tents includes pretty much everything you need to hit the road and enjoy your tent. When you purchase one of the White Duck Tents, you will receive a canvas tent that includes:
- Canvas tent WITH A FULL SEWN IN FLOOR!
- All stakes and poles needed with a rubber mallet
- Nice, fully contained storage case for your stakes and mallet
- Nice, long-term storage bag
- Compression straps for the rolled up tent
- Galvanized steel poles
A few other options are available for the White Duck Tents Regatta Bell Tents that might be worth picking up as well.
You can add on a tent awning to any of the White Duck Regatta Bell Tents to extend the weather or sun protection of the tent. It is especially nice to have a more protected place to set your boots, cooler, cook stove, etc. to reduce the clutter inside your tent. Given that the White Duck Regatta Bell tents don’t have a built-in awning, I would recommend this add on as it’s truly nice to have.
You can also pick up an extra White Duck Tents ground sheet to help extend the tent’s floor life. While this isn’t a necessary add on, it certainly is nice to have an additional layer of protection between sharp objects that could puncture the floor.
The Specs: White Duck Tents Regatta Bell 16 Ft
If you are into specs, here are the details of the White Duck Regatta Bell 16′ Bell tent:
Features: White Duck Tents Regatta Bell 16 Ft
If you are considering picking up one of the White Duck tents, there are a number of features you should take note of.
The White Duck Tents Regatta Bell features 3 well-placed vents at the peak of the shelter to ensure you have some good airflow, particularly when burning a wood stove. These vents are at the apex of the tent and have a protective covering on the outside to keep unwanted moisture out.
HYBRID TIPI TENT
The White Duck Tents bell tent is a bit of a hybrid tipi tent. Featuring 2.7 foot side walls coming off the ground at a 90 degree angle, it gives this tent much more usable space than a typical tipi-style tent. I’ve used a number of true tipi tents, and one of the downsides is that there is a lot of unusable space in the interior because the tent walls don’t have a side wall. These side walls make a HUGE difference in interior space.
SEWN IN FLOOR
I love that White Duck tents include a full, sewn-in floor at no extra cost. No need to try and find a ground sheet or tarp that fits just right. This makes your purchase a lot easier and the value of these White Duck tents more significant considering that you get a full floor with your purchase.
With that being said, when we were testing, we did notice that the tent floor was quite slick. We would suggest bringing some kind of floor covering, like a carpet or ground sheet, to place where you’ll be walking in and out of the tent to help with this. The 7.5 oz. biodegradable sewn-in PE groundsheet is great, but it feels more like a heavy duty tarp, and this material gets extremely slick when temperatures drop well below freezing. More than a few times we found ourselves slipping inside the tent, so we set out to bring along a ground cloth for the interior to help with this.
ALL STAKES AND POLES INCLUDED
It’s nice that all White Duck tents include stakes and poles in the advertised price. This isn’t always the case with canvas tents, so I appreciate that the price you see online includes the frame (if you select a wall tent), or the center poles needed for setup on the bell tents. This simplifies your shopping experience and helps you see your “all in” cost more easily without trying to figure out what accessories you have to add just to use the tent.
3 SCREENED WINDOWS
White Duck tents come with screened windows as well as a large screened door, which is really nice. Again, these are included with your tent, so you don’t have an extra cost for these screens like you would with other tents on the market. You can keep a nice air flow in the tent during summer by opening up the doors and windows. I only wish the windows had a way to open up to let some light in without letting in the cold air during the winter months. It would be nice to let more natural light in without the cold air.
BUILT-IN STOVE JACK
All of your White Duck tents come with a built-in stove jack, so they are ready for your winter camping adventures. This is somewhat standard among canvas tents. It’s nice that it’s not extra money or an add on. The stove jack is pre-marked for 5 inch and 6 inch stove pipes to make cutting out the size you need easier.
One of the best “features” of these White Duck tents Regatta Bell tents is how fast and easy they are to set up. They are truly easier to set up than a lot of your typical car camping tents, so this is a tent you can easily take with you on any camping trip; spring, summer, fall, or winter. I hate spending a ton of time setting up a tent, so this is a huge win in my book.
All White Duck Tents are made with a DYNADUCK fabric, which is an 8.5 oz. Army Duck cotton canvas that is either water repellent, or fire and water repellent, depending on what selection you make. It is also mold and UV resistant to help ensure your canvas tent looks great for a long time and doesn’t develop unwanted mold.
Hot Tent Camping Tips & Must Have Items
If you are new to hot tent camping, or even if you aren’t, venturing out to camp in the dead of winter can be down right miserable without the right equipment. Experience is a great teacher, so here are a few things that we found to be must-have items to make sure your experience is not just tolerable, but enjoyable.
WOOD STOVE / HEAT SOURCE
It goes without saying, but having a way to heat your tent is an absolute must when camping in cold winter temperatures. I know some folks have done that with a Propane Buddy Heater, but you have to be careful to properly vent your tent as they are not recommended for inside use.
While propane heaters are faster to deploy and cleaner and easier to use than a wood burning stove, they don’t put off nearly the heat. In addition to that, if you’ve ever used a wood burning stove to heat with, you know it’s just a more desirable heating source all the way around. I know people who have heated with a propane style stove, but it’s not something we’d recommend as it’s just not safe.
Instead, something like the Winnerwell Woodlander Double View shown above, or the Colorado Cylinder Stove Spruce Package is a far superior way to safely keep your tent toasty warm. With a wood stove, you get much more heat output along with that welcoming “wood stove heat” feel. There is just something different about heating with wood, and that is never more apparent than when winter camping.
FIRE STARTER / LIGHTER
Assuming you go with a wood stove option (hopefully you do), you’ll want to make sure to have a quick and easy way to get your fire started. For that, we highly recommend Bigfoot Bushcraft Fire Plugs. I’ve been using these for years for everything from an emergency pack item, camp fire starter, to my go-to fire starter on backpack hunts where we are taking an ultralight hot tent. I absolutely love them, and they work amazingly well. They are super easy to light and burn for over 5 minutes each which is plenty of time to get some good kindling started.
I threw in a 2.5 lb sledge hammer with my tent kit to make getting those large tent stakes in the ground. This is key, particularly in rocky ground. While the rubber mallet that comes with the White Duck Tents is nice, it’s no where near robust enough to handle ground that is difficult to get stakes in, especially in colder weather when the ground might be frozen.
DRILL / DRILL BITS – SELF TAPPING TENT SCREWS / Propane Torch
One thing we learned the hard way is just how difficult it can be to get tent stakes in the ground during winter conditions. You’ll want to be prepared for this, which can be done a number of ways:
- Pre-drill your tent stake holes.
- You can pick up some long masonry drill bits and pre-drill your tent stake holes to aid in getting your tent staked out. If you go this route, we found that drilling a hole slightly bigger in diameter than the stakes works best. This prevents the tent stakes from freezing into the ground, which makes taking them out when you’re tearing down the tent, an absolute nightmare. Of course, you’ll need to bring a battery powered drill like this Dewalt to get the job done.
- Bring some self-tapping tent stakes.
- The most effective way we found to battle the frozen ground (or breaking through layers of ice) is to utilize some screw-in tent stakes. They are on the expensive side, but the headache they will save you when setting up and taking down your tent is worth the extra money. If you go this route, bring an impact drill, and your life will be much easier.
- Bring a small propane blow torch.
- Another option to handle frozen ground is to bring a small propane blow torch. This is more for getting your stakes out of the ground when it’s time to leave, as your stakes will freeze into the ground once you get them set. We had a very difficult time removing the stakes from the ground, and wished we had used either the self-tapping screws with an impact gun, or brought a blow torch to heat up the stakes enough to break them free from the ice in the ground.
While this certainly isn’t a “must-have” item, a power bank is certainly a very nice item to have especially when winter camping. During winter months it gets dark early, and you can find yourself going through a lot of batteries in lanterns, headlamps, etc (unless you use a gas powered lantern). You can even use a power station like this Biolite Base Charge to recharge you power drill.
If you accidentally leave home with a partially charged drill battery only to find out half way through setting up the tent, when using one of the methods mentioned above, that your drill battery is dead, a power bank is a life saver.
Having a power source like that Biolite Basecharge 600 can save you a trip, and you can use it to power devices or recharge whatever you need while enjoying life at base camp. If you want to bring some of your luxury items from home, you can even bring a coffee pot or other appliances to power your base camp.
Cots are something that can take your comfort in the backwoods to the next level. While they take up a lot of room in the tent compared to sleeping on the ground, they are a lot more comfortable and allow you to store things under your “bed.” There are a lot of great cots on the market, but the ones we use are the Cabela’s Alaskan Guide Cots, and they work really well. Don’t forget to snag a cot pad as well. The cot pad is what really makes these things comfortable!
As mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure you have a way to light your tent if you are camping during the short, winter days. Taking along a couple of these battery powered lanterns are a great way to go. These 1800 lumen lanterns last a long time, but you may need to recharge them after a few days of use. If you brought one of the Biolite Basecharge units with you to recharge it, you’ll be set!
Another thing we’ve found to be helpful if you are going to be out for more than a weekend and potentially burning a lot of wood, is to bring a wire brush to make sure the spark arrestor doesn’t get plugged and reduce/clog the airflow of the stove. If this happens you’ll find that your stove won’t burn very well, and may even smoke you out of the tent. This really only comes into play if you are staying out for longer periods of time, or burning wood that produces a lot of ash.
Finally, if you might encounter snow when out on your winter camping trip, you’d be wise to throw in a snow shovel to assist in clearing out your camp spot. This will make getting camp set up a whole lot faster. It might seem obvious, but it’s an easy thing to forget. I keep a lightweight, foldable shovel like the Rhino Survival shovel in my pickup for instances like these.
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR
If you are going to be using a propane or other gas powered heater inside your tent, it’s a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector to make sure the CO levels don’t elevate to an unhealthy level. It’s a small and inexpensive thing to throw in that could save your life. If you are using a quality wood burning stove, it’s not nearly as critical, but still not a bad idea. It’s just another item to throw in your stove kit and to have just in case.
This might sound a bit odd, but when winter camping, it’s a good idea to bring some good rubber soled slippers like the Atakama slippers. Your tent floor will stay cold no matter how good your stove is, and a cold floor will keep your feet from warming up. Sure, you can just wear your shoes or boots, but it sure is nice to be able to take off your shoes and relax in a pair of slippers inside your nice warm tent. The Atakama slippers are ideal because they have a rubber sole so if you need to go outside real quick, you can.
Stove Tips: White Duck Tents Regatta Bell 16 Ft
Get the Correct Size Stove
As mentioned above, selecting the right size stove for whatever tent you select will greatly increase your enjoyment. Pick a stove that is too small and it’ll have a difficult time keeping up when the temperatures really drop. Pick a size that is too big and you’ll find yourself needing to open the doors of the tent because it’s just too hot inside. Don’t get caught up in the “let’s just buy the biggest stove we can” trap and regret it later.
Bring the Right Sleep System
Even if you are heating your canvas tent with a wood stove, you will still need to bring a sleep system that will keep you warm for the temperatures you’ll be out in. Unless you plan to keep the wood stove burning all night long, bring a sleeping bag that will keep you warm throughout the coldest part of the night assuming you won’t be using a wood stove.
Bring Your Wood Cut and Chopped
I found it much easier to bring the wood I’m going to burn to base camp where it’s already cut and chopped into half or quarter rounds. Sure, you can do it when you get there, but you already have a lot to do to get set up, and having your wood already taken care of is a welcomed luxury.
Clean the Fire Box and Spark Arrestor
During this White Duck Tents review, we found that if you are going to be out for more than a weekend, you’ll want to be conscious of how full the fire box is getting and empty it every few days if you burn a lot. It’s also a good idea to bring a wire brush and make sure your spark arrestor stays nice and clear to ensure proper air flow in the stove.
What We liked: White Duck Tents Regatta Bell 16 Ft
After testing out this White Duck tents Regatta Bell 16.5 ft tent, we came away with a number of things we absolutely love about this tent. It is so fast and easy to set up, comes with a sewn-in floor (unlike many canvas tents) as well as a built-in stove jack in the event you decide to do some cold weather camping.
FAST, EASY SETUP
If you couldn’t tell by now, we simply love how fast and easy this White Duck Regatta Bell tent is to set up. That is one of the big selling points and biggest advantages over the wall tents.
BUILT IN STOVE JACK
The built-in stove jack is high quality and is conveniently marked with 5 inch and 6 inch options for cutting out the right size hole for your stove pipe. This makes the process a whole lot easier than guessing- another plus with these White Duck tents!
SEWN IN FLOOR
We love that White Duck tents come with a sewn-in floor! Many canvas tents either don’t have the option for a sewn-in floor, or if they do it’s an extra cost. The price you see on the White Duck Tents website includes the sewn-in floor which I really appreciate.
LARGE SIDE POCKETS
The sewn-in side pockets also come with your Regatta Bell White Duck tents, which is another value added without an extra cost at checkout. They are conveniently placed inside the tent and are great for storing things such as shoes, gloves, toiletries you want easily accessible, etc. These aren’t small pockets either, which makes them extremely useful.
ELECTRICAL OUTLET PORT
White Duck tents also come with a sewn-in electrical port, which is perfect for feeding your solar charge station (like the BioLite Solar Generator we use) for anything you might need to charge, plug in, or use while camping. A lot of folks won’t use this feature, but if you have need for it, it’s there.
Another great feature of these White Duck tents is their robust and well-made ropes/tensioners. They are super easy to use, work extremely well, and will last a long time. We are a huge fan of these, and in combination with the elastic stake loops, it makes getting the tension just right on the tent a breeze.
Finally, the overall value of these White Duck tents is extremely high. They may not be the best canvas tents on the market, but they most certainly give you a ton of value along with a lot of high quality materials. You will likely spend a lot more for a similarly sized canvas tent in some of the other options out there.
Here is a quick rundown of the things we love about this 16 ft Regatta Bell White Duck tents:
- Fast, easy, and simple setup
- Built-in stove jack
- Sewn-in floor included at no extra cost
- Nice carry case for tent and stakes
- Mallet included
- Well-placed side pockets (2)
- Electrical outlet included (for solar power, generator, etc.)
- High quality rope and tensioner system for guy outs
- Reasonable cost/good value
What We didn’t like: White Duck Tents Regatta Bell 16 Ft
After testing gear and equipment, there are always things we find that could be improved upon. That was the case with this White Duck tents Regatta Bell tent review as well.
- Lots of stakes/guy lines needed
- Floor is extremely slick in the cold
- Stake bend too easily
- No windows up high
- Windows don’t have way to let light in, but not cold air
- No sewn in loops for clothes lines etc
LOTS OF STAKES & GUY OUT POINTS
The flip side of not having to assemble a frame is that the tent has to be held up using guy out points. That means hammering in A LOT of stakes- 24 to be exact. After getting all of those hammered into the ground with a 2.5 lb sledge hammer, you’ll feel it in your arm.
EXTREMELY SLICK FLOOR
As mentioned before, White Duck tents come with a nice sewn-in floor, but that floor is exceptionally slick, particularly when it gets below freezing outside. It’s a good idea to bring a ground cover for inside the tent like some carpet or rubber backed throw rugs- whatever you have that fits the bill to give you better footing.
STAKES BEND TOO EASILY
Another thing we found when setting up this White Duck Regatta Bell tent was that the smaller stakes (they call them “pins” in the instruction manual) bend WAY too easily. It wasn’t a problem in good weather, but if you hit rocky soil or frozen ground, don’t even try. Do yourself a favor and get some backup stakes before you head out camping, because they simply aren’t robust enough to withstand the rigors of winter camping.
This was glaringly apparent in cold temperatures when the ground was frozen. These stakes didn’t stand a chance in frozen ground. You’ll want to prepare for this and pick up some more robust tent stakes. If you are anticipating the ground freezing while you’re in the backwoods, or will be stetting up on snow/ice covered ground, I’d personally go with some screw in tent stakes and an impact drill.
NO WINDOWS UP HIGH
It would be nice, especially in the darker colored canvas, to have windows near the peak of the tent. This would let some light in without letting the heat from your stove escape and help keep the tent feeling like a dungeon.
Conclusion: White Duck Tents Regatta Bell 16 Ft Review
White Duck tents makes some great canvas tents that simplify the process of selecting one. With their built-in floor and the fact that they include everything you need to hit the trail (minus a stove if you are winter camping), you don’t have to piece together various features of your tent. Take a look around the White Duck Tents website and you are likely to find a size, shape, and model that will fit your needs like a glove. They are affordable, well-made canvas tents that’ll help you enjoy camping all year long!
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