Wood stove to heat tent or tarp - anyone?

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Hi all, since I probably chose a very unprecise subject for my previous post that looked like I wanted to talk about the old cooking-in-the-tent question, I now re-post my question with this post with a better subject line - sorry! My question is: Is anyone here using a WOOD stove with a chimney pipe in a tent, tipi, or underneath a reasonably closed tarp for cold weather trips or in winter? If so, what exactly are you using, and what are your experiences? I'm planning on experimenting with that a bit - could add an interesting flavour to some trips. Inspiration came from kifaru.com, a company that makes tipi-like tents with collapsible, very (!) light and powerful wood stoves and lengthwise roll-up (!) stainless steel chimneys, which can lead to t-shirt temperatures inside during sub zero conditions outside. For me, the sawtooth or potentially one of their tarps / hootches combined with a front door would be about the size of shelter that I'd be looking for to use with a stove in cold weather. Very interesting indeed. Also, a wood stove that has absolutely all the features that a wood stove in a house has most definitely does not count as open fire, which would allow you to get proper warmth in areas where "open fire" is not permitted. They even include a spark catcher inside the chimney. I would have no hesitations to use this in the bush. Intrigued and already taking all sorts of tools to an old ammo box as I type this to mock up something rough and see how well it works. Obviously, it will weigh multiple times as much, around 2.5 kg, but to check out the concept, that's all right with me. Anyone got any interesting experience with that anything that is even remotely related, like "camp fire plus tarp" or whatever? Cheers, Matt

Sorry, it's www.kifaru.net, not .com. Matt

Its common in cold places like Canada and Norway but overkill for anywhere you can drive to in NZ and to heavy to carry any distance.

Hi Mariku. It sounds really appealing. I had a look at one of these on the internet and would love to have one for the car camping style of travel. I'd be keen to hear from someone who has one too. I'm sure it wouldn't be too warm for me!

Geeves: If you look at the Kifaru web page, their smaller models, which still have some tangible power output, are nothing like some other heavy tent stoves, and definitely light enough to carry them on any trip that I would do, which is up to about two weeks self supported. Plus, you can subtract the weight of your cook stove, since you can cook on them as well, AND you can subtract any fuel (except a day's worth in advance maybe) that you would have to carry (unless you are already using a wood cook stove). Also, I can think of a LOT of very nice places in New Zealand that I would not go without the ability to use fire for heating, or to which I would not go during certain times of the year. Note I would be ABLE to, but I would not WANT to. We've done a two week trip around the Routeburn area a while ago and it was bucketing down on us non stop almost the whole trip, with high winds as well. We made it, never were even close to being in trouble, and have very fond memories of all that water around us, but we sure had our moments. You can laugh at the rain, wind and cold with a lot more ease if you know you'll have a reliable fire at night EVEN if you don't know yet where you will spend that night. Knowing that you will be warm and dry over night makes many trips a lot more enjoyable, and a tarp stove could provide that without being dependent on huts to achieve that. In my book, that's well worth investigating... Hi Honora, long time no see! Sorry so bloody busy all the time. I find it very appealing as well, it could easily be a powerful season extender, and would also give me the option to camp higher than usual in up to moderate weather conditions, escaping most bugs, and enjoying the views in the evening and in the morning. I don't think it's only good for car camping. Check out the weights, they are really, really light, at least for what they are and provide. They collaps really small as well; especially the "roll-up" chimney is a simple but ingenious idea. Brilliant thinking. (No, I have no connections with Kifaru, but as an engineer I like good engineering when I see it, which unfortunately is rare.) I'm currently thinking I would probably favor a ray-way style tarp which is wide enough so you can pitch it with the sides down to the ground without it becoming too narrow in bad weather or winter. Then add optional "beak extensions" that also go down to the ground to form vestibules at both ends, and then have the stove sit under one of the vestibules and the pipe going through a piece of fiberglass cloth in the vestibule. That setup would still allow you to use the tarp as an open tarp in conditions that are suitable for it, which is something I am not willing to give up since it's the driest form to sleep outside, in any weather, at least below the bush line. When using the stove in cold conditions, closing the tarp all around to the ground is not a moisture and condensation problem, of course, due to the warmth of the fire. As soon as I find the time [TM] I want to sew a prototype of that and maybe order the small stove size and try that combination. There are not enough hours in a day... Cheers, Matt

Whatever you may be thinking about zombies aside... ...these threads are an amazing accumulation of know-how about DIY tent heating wood stoves. WOW! I'm blown away. If you're interested in the topic, this is an absolute must-read. http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=53145 http://www.wilderness-survival.net/forums/showthread.php?9099-Baffle-for-a-coffee-can-stove http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=10670 Looks like some more inventing is required to make one that burns for say four hours or so, so you can actually sleep in a warm tarp / tent, without needing to feed the fire every twenty minutes. Nonetheless, will have to get me some cans and tin snips very soon. Now thinking along the lines of a maybe 5 litre paint can, which I can store the whole kitchen inside of for transport. Happy experimenting! If anyone does, let us know the results! Matt

Hi Mariku Standing by to hear how you get on. I'll check out those links too.

Update: I have built a first prototype out of a 30 cal ammo box with nothing but a multi tool and a can opener! Ok just kidding, I did use an angle grinder too. Not very sophisticated and quite heavy, but enough for proof of concept - and I'm bloody impressed! I see huge potential and feel a new era of our tramping life might be dawning, at least for winter trips and trips to higher altitudes. Cut most of the short side underneath the hinge out and put a makeshift door in front of it; wood goes in there. A slot underneath the door is the air intake, can be regulated with a piece of sheetmetal in front of it. Cut slots like a pie diagram into the top, bent up the inner tips of all segments so that the chimney fits just over them, covering the then sort of round hole. Used ten watties bean cans as a chimney; if you bend their upper, wider rim inwards a little in eight locations along their circumference, the lower, narrower rim of the next can clicks right into it. Took the rubber seal out of the lid; still no smoke coming out, since the chimney creats so much draft that air goes into the box through all potential openings, certainly not out. If you put a lid on the top of the chimney while it's going, the stove starts smoking out of all corners though, so maybe I do have to put in a glass fibre seal there after all. Also drilled small holes right underneath the rim of the box on both long sides. With an open lid, you can run metal skewers through them, and use the box as a BBQ. Combine with a fishing rod and some skill... YUM! First impressions: Smoked like absolute hell during the first ten minutes of the first burn due to all the paint inside and outside burning off, but that was expected. After that, clean and no smell. Very easy to light - flip open the lid, build a fire inside with easy access until it's going, then close the lid and pop on the chimney. Fire burns extremely clean due to amazing draft. Zero smoke, almost no sparks (have not made a spark arrestor yet). Puts out enormous amounts of heat; I have been sitting in front of it in the garden reading a book for two hours with only normal clothing and a jacket on in the snow that we just had, no problem! In a closed tent, even with lots of ventilation going on, I can easily see that this will make you cosy and happy to way below zero degrees celsius, and extend your survival zone even far further than that - as long as you have wood. It does eat quite a bit of wood. No comparison with a small tin wood stove for cooking which can burn for half an hour on two handfuls of small twigs. It eats about the volume of the ammo box of firewood split to about double thumb thickness (which I used for experiments so far) in an hour or so. That is not a small amount of wood for a night, and could be an issue if many people start using stoves like this in the same place over and over again, creating a firewood shortage. I plan on collecting firewood during the last hour or two of walking each day to avoid too much impact on a particular location, just as I do for cooking wood stoves. It also means that probably some means of cutting the wood will be helpful; thinking of maybe a folding pruning saw (or just break / stomp branches) and a medium knife for splitting. Cooking on top of it was of medium success so far. Ok, it was almost freezing outside, but with all that heat output to the sides, why isn't there more to the top? To my surprise, the night vision function of my camera revealed the problem by showing a heat image by accident: The flames get sucked in a upside-down funnel shape directly into the chimney, so they don't touch much of the top surface. Will have to put some horizontal labyrinth plate in to force them to do just that, shouldn't be too hard. Then, cooking will be fast as in a microwave I think. I can see that one needs to be careful in designing a tent or tarp around it, and in using it. It really does get blazing hot, you can't hold your hand closer than about 15 cm to it for longer than a few seconds at most or you get seriously burned from the heat radiation. At a useful power output, one load burns for up to thirty minutes if stacked with a bit of skill. Thinking about a fuel slide or similar for overnight heating without having to feed it all the time; that's going to be tricky, but it's possible. On the other hand, I have to develop a bit more trust in the whole setup before I even dare to fall asleep next to it. Just for safety reasons, I think the shelter needs some decent space around the stove, maybe half a metre to a metre in all directions I would guess. First things first: I'll make up a crude tarp-tent-thingy from poly sheeting that works with the stove and chimney, and take the setup on a testing trip. No better time for that than winter, after all! One thing is sure already: For cold trips, if I can get this to work nicely in a tent or tarp, and especially with a burn time of maybe four to six hours per load, I don't care one little bit about lugging the extra two and a half kilograms of my crude prototype around with me. In the long run, I'd probably "invest" in a lighter collapsible version, of which there are several available commercially - not least for the roll-up chimney, which takes a tiny fraction of the space than my ten bean cans. Also, stainless would be nice, since the heat seems to speed up corrosion of the ammo can quite seriously; I suspect it would not last much longer than one or two seasons. On the other hand again, the box costs 20 dollars, and with an angle grinder and now that I know how to do it, I can probably make a new one in under an hour. Cost aside, I really like the "super tarp" or "super hooch" design from Kifaru. For two adults, the size seems ideal, it can take a real beating, is light, and I like the simplicity of it. Although for New Zealand, I would make up a mozzie net tent for it; and I'd also like to see the design blown up to accomodate three or even four adults, or at least three adults plus their packs. But I guess that's their "sawtooth" design then, although that does not look quite as simple and lean. Very interesting perspectives opening up here. To be continued as time permits - no idea yet when I'll be able to do the next step. Cheers, Matt

7 deleted posts from Mariku

Oh, and Honora: Yes, if you fire it up full throttle, in all but the iciest weather I think it would actually be too warm for you. Off to the garden now to start make up a stove-poly-tarp-tent-thingy-prototype. Once I have that made up, I'll be able to test the whole setup, but I'm pretty confident it can easily turn into a sauna. Hey! That gives me another idea of just one more advantage of this setup... your very own pocket sauna, in your most favourite spot, by your most favourite lake or stream! The possibilities are endless. I feel like I have reinvented the fire for myself. At least I can much better identify with those early people who actually did - what a massive increase of safety, comfort and quality of life that must have been. Cheers, Matt

1 deleted post from Mariku

Update: It actually only eats about one third to half the volume of the ammo box of firewood per hour if operated at a power output that is not going to fry you in your tent, so wood consumption is not as bad as I initially thought. Note: It is easier to adjust power output by putting less wood in, rather than putting in a lot and reducing air flow. Both is possible, but the latter only works if you have quite a bit of experience in how exactly to stack th wood inside. If you try and go the "lots of wood, little air" way, the further you push it, the longer the burn times will be per load, but the harder it gets to achieve a clean burn. Practise makes perfect. So: If you have little experience, use less wood to achieve less heat. If you have more experience, try more wood and less air. That's a rule that should get satisfying results, no matter how experienced you are. Matt

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Forum Gear talk
Started by Mariku
On 25 May 2011
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