The Kifaru 8 Man Ultralight Tipi with a large wood stove
What started as a mere dream when first discovered by R&D chair Uncle Jim, the Tipi turned into a reality when Mark and Matt finally broke down and bought it. After one trip we can safely say that the Tipi is worth it’s weight in gold…well actually being that it only weighs 12 total pounds it might be worth more than that. Yes, that’s right….12 lbs for an 8 man tent with a packable wood stove. They don’t call it ultralight for nothing – leave the extra sleeping bag and down booties at home because you will be basking in near sauna-like conditions with this system.
The Tipi is made of an ultralight fabric which resembles parachute material. The tipi material itself is very light and easily stuffs into a small sack. It has one aluminum center pole and several stakes. This part of the Tipi weighs in at just over 7 lbs. Setting it up is rather easy. If there is a lot of snow, however, we recommend digging out the area first for easier set up, especially if you don’t have the longer tent stakes. Taking the time to clear out the snow saves a lot of time and trouble in the end.
We have several winter campers that average between 6’4” and 6’6” tall. What is touted as an eight person tent will comfortably fit five with the wood stove and a supply of wood. Without the stove the tent will comfortably fit six persons.
The wood stove is stainless steel and weighs in at just over 4lbs. When folded up it is roughly the size of a laptop and comes in its own carrying case. We recommend rolling the stove pipe a few times at home first in order to loosen it up a bit and to get the hang of it. We did not do this the first trip but hindsight is always 20/20. Once set up it is time to build your fire.
The firebox is 8x9x20 so you will have to keep the wood small since the door only allows wood of approximately 3.5 inches in diameter. Burn time is about an hour, however, you can easily warm the inside of the tipi up into the 70s. The sides of the stove and stovepipe do become red hot so you will want to make sure that the sleeping bags, packs, bare skin, etc. stay well away.
One of the greatest pleasures of sleeping in the heated tipi was discovered in the morning. Waking up to sub freezing temperatures, putting on stiff-frozen boots, and packing up gear in the cold is not one of the highlights of winter camping. Now all of that is in the past. Simply roll over, stoke the fire and wait a few minutes until the tipi is nice and warm. You can now climb out of your light sleeping bag, put on warm dry clothes, enjoy a leisurely breakfast without the normal tremor-like convulsions from shivering. Then let the fire burn down as you pack up the majority of your gear.
Once the stove has cooled some and burnt up most of the wood/coals, simply pull of the stovepipe, carry the stove quickly outside and dump the remaining coals in the snow. There should be very little ash but still be sure to make sure all embers are fully extinguished. If you wish to leave no trace, simply scoop up the ashes and put in a ziplock bag to be carried out by an unsuspecting team member of whom you placed the ashes in their pack when they weren’t paying attention.
We have now used the Tipi on many trips including a Dog Sledding trip with Wintergreen in Ely, Minnesota. The Tipi has been used in a variety of circumstances and performed well every time. The main thing that we have learned is to fully dig out or stamp the area you want to place the tipi to allow for an easy time staking it out.
If you wish to have a fire going all night it is also very important to position a light sleeper near the stove. Burn time is roughly an hour so unless you just plan on re-lighting it in the morning you need someone to who sleeps lightly to keep waking up and throwing a few pieces of wood on every hour or so.
We have found the stove to be an adequate cooking stove. The stove is sturdy enough to hold pots of boiling water, frying pans etc. so now we just use that to cook all of our meals….saves the weight of carrying an extra cooking stove. All in all we highly recommend the Tipi by Kifaru. For more information please visit www.tipikifaru.com. If you purchase your own Tipi tell them you saw this on Wintercampers.com