When you’re camping in a tent and it’s raining there’s three choices for cooking; ordering a take-away, cooking in the rain or cooking in a tent porch or awning which should keep you somewhat dry.
You can cook in a tent porch or tent awning safely. However, you should consider the size of your awning/porch, the weather and how you’re cooking (gas, electricity etc.) when determining whether or not its a good idea.
Cooking, of course, involves a number of different risks which are usually reduced by being in your own home. For example, if you’re using hot pots and pans, the risk of burning is mediated by being close to a ready source of cold water: your tap.
When you’re in a tent, that’s simply not the case, however, so you need to take care. Always make sure that you’ve got some cold water on hand, as well as a fire extinguisher for if things really go sideways.
There are three main things that you need to be aware of when cooking in a tent porch or awning, and in this article, we’re going to break each of then down and talk it out.
What To Consider When Cooking In A Tent Porch / Awning
There are a couple of things you should consider prior to deciding whether or not you’re going to cook in your tent porch / awning;
The weather conditions are obviously really important when you’re camping, no matter what you’re planning to do. However, if you’re cooking in a tent porch or awning, you’ll be at least a little exposed to the elements.
If you are even a little bit exposed to poor weather conditions (high wind, constant rain) then you’ll need to factor that into your recipes. You may be able to quickly fry some bacon or heat some beans, but anything more intricate will become delicate.
Even a task such as boiling dry pasta can be really difficult if it’s done in poor conditions. Consider the risk that’s inherent in a big pot full of boiling water, and you’ll see what I mean. Increasing those risks is a bad idea, no matter what.
If you’re not directly exposed to the weather, things can still be bad. An informative way to consider this is by taking it to it’s extreme, and supposing that you’re cooking on the floor of your tent during a storm. While that’s more than a little careless, it makes it easy to see the problem: the moving floor.
While in a kitchen at home, you can guarantee that everything will stay more or less still for the duration of cooking. While in a tent that’s being buffeted by wind, however, you can’t guarantee that at all. For that reason, it’s perhaps better to huddle up in a sleeping bag and have a banquet of snacks rather than try to cook in such a movable environment.
The size of the awning that you’re cooking in will definitely affect the way that you cook. The awning or porch that you’re cooking in could be either too large or too small – either of those situations isn’t great, though having a small awning is obviously the worst.
Having an awning that’s too small is the worst of the two, though, as it means that the space you’re in could be poorly ventilated. This is particularly bad if you’re cooking with gas, as escaping gas filling a room with an open flame is a very poor recipe indeed.
Alternatively, you could be using solid fuel, as you might when cooking with a barbecue. In that situation, you need to watch out for smoke. In domestic situations, it’s likely that you’ll have a smoke detector to let you know when the food you’re making is more than a little overdone.
In a tent, however, you won’t have that. Instead, you’ll simply have a room that’s getting a little smokier, and you’ll have to deal with that. If you’ve got a room that’s too small, that’s a really big risk, as smoke inhalation is extremely dangerous.
In order to mitigate that risk, either cook outside or in a larger room.
What you’re cooking with gas, electricity, etc.
Generally speaking, when cooking in a tent, you’ll have three options for a camping stove: gas, electricity, or solid fuel.
A gas stove is what most people have in their home kitchen, so it’s likely that you’ll want to take one of those on your camping trip. Thanks to a number of technical innovations, camping gas stoves are now really safe – at least compared to those weird little ones you might remember from your childhood.
There are two things to bear in mind with gas stoves: gas leakages, and fire risk.
Gas leakages are a fairly easy fix, thankfully. Try to cook in a well-ventilated space, and make sure to turn the gas off immediately if you smell gas. If that happens, turn the gas off, disconnect from your tank, and make everybody get out of the tent while you let the gas dissipate. It sounds like an overreaction, but gas leakages are really dangerous! You can’t be too careful with them.
Fire risks are well known, and you really need to make sure that you’ve got a fire extinguisher with you or at least a bucket of water. While tents don’t burn well, sleeping bags really do, so it’s worth investing in a reliable fire extinguisher.
While an electric stove is a rare choice for a camping trip, it can work really well if you’re concerned about the risks of a portable gas stove. Aside from finding an outlet, the only thing to be concerned about is the thing that you would be concerned about at home: burning food to your cookware.
While this seems trivial, burning food to the cookware could, theoretically, lead to a needlessly smoky environment. To be on the safe side in this situation, make sure to cook in an open, well-ventilated environment. Of course, the risk of smoke inhalation from this situation is very low indeed, but it’s always worth being prepared.
Finally, we come to the solid-fuel stoves. These are another traditional option for cooking while camping, and there are a couple of things to bear in mind.
When using solid-fuel stoves, make sure to cook in a large tent with a pipe jack, or in a really well-ventilated area. The reason for this is that solid fuels will always give off a lot of smoke during the cooking process. By using a tent with a pipe jack, you’ll be able to siphon off that smoke and prevent any inhalation that might occur.
The other benefit of using solid fuel stoves in this way is that they can really help to heat the tent that you’re in. For this reason, they may be a great option for cold-weather camping, as they can allow you to warm up while you cook.
Finally, whenever you’re using a solid-fuel stove to cook in a tent, make sure to protect any of the surfaces that make up the tent. This includes the walls as well as the floor. Make sure you cook on a flame-retardant mat, and that you cook away from any of the walls.
Furthermore, it’s worth investing in a stovepipe that has a spark arrester. This spark arrester will enable you to prevent any sparks falling down on top of your tent, and causing small holes in the fabric.
As with gas stoves, make sure to have a fire extinguisher for if things really don’t go to plan.