The crew realizes that it is a new millenium and that we have to keep with the changing times in order to have the latest and greatest gear that is out there.  That is why we have our R&D team hard at work discovering such items.  Well, finding them is one thing, testing them is another.  This is where our gear testing team comes into play.  We are willing to try just about anything if it means greater comfort, a lighter pack, a few more degrees of warmth or anything that is in the general interest of the group.
The 8 Man Ultralight Tipi
with Large Wood Stove by
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.  Well 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 woodstove.  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.

Now for the details:

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.
The woodstove is stainless steel and weighs in at just over 4lbs.  When folded up it is roughly the size of a laptop and comes in it’s own carrying case.  This can prove to be a little tougher to set up the first time especially the stove pipe.  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 especially since the door only allows wood of approximately 3.5 inches in diameter.  However, burn time is about an hour and a half.  With a fair amount of attention 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.

Final Score*:
comfort- 10
ease of setup- 7
spaciousness- 8.5
pack stowability- 7

*bear in mind these scores are the opinion of E.R.O.T.I.C. after only one trip
and are purely random in nature

For more information please visit

Update!!! —-We have now used the Tipi on many trips including our recent
Dog Sledding trip with Wintergreen in Ely, Minnesota.  The Tipi has been used in a variety of circumstances and performed well everytime.  The main things that we have learned is to fully dig out 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 to and hour and a half 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.  Finally, 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. Feel free to ask us any
questions and if you purchase your own tell them you saw this on

During the winter it is especially important to get good dependable performance out of one’s backpacking stove.  Up until this point the crew has always used some sort of fuel based stove.  These generally have worked great however one problem that we have is they can sometimes lose fuel pressure due to the cold temperatures and it is also difficult to measure how much fuel one has left not to mention the weight of carrying the stove and fuel.
We recently purchased a wood burning Trail Stove by Stratus.  The trail stove weighs in at less then a pound (14.8oz) and since it burns wood you never have to worry about running out of fuel.  The trail stove is small, lightweight and yet very well made and sturdy. Our initial test of the stove produced very favorable results.  It was very
easy to start and maintain a fire.  A pot of water was brought to a boil in around 15 minutes with very little effort.
A much more detailed review will be made after our next trip
Trail Stove
by Stratus
Alps Mountaineering -20F Mummy Bag
Purchased:  Sierra Trading Post
Price: $60 (on sale)
Rated: -20 F
Style:  Mummy right side zipper
Size: Fits to 6 feet
Shoulder Girth: 64″
Weight: 5lbs 9oz
Gear Tester: Sparky

Pluses: This sleeping bag is very warm and has been used in temperatures of 6 to 20 degrees thus far when the tipi stove was not being used.  One might find that a hat is not needed when the drawstring is pulled tight on the hood of the bag.  The 5+lb weight is nothing to carry when warmth is the key to comfort.
Minus: The comfort level is compromised by the snug fit around the shoulders.  This is found to be true especially when more then a normal amount of clothing is worn.  Zippering the bag has a tendency to be difficult at times as the material inside of the bag is prone to get stuck in the zipper.
Our Rating: 9.0 out of 10