For the last few years I have been lusting over getting a backpacking shelter that would support a woodburner. For me there is something decidedly attractive about sitting in front of a fire inside a tent miles from civilisation. It’s in the last year that I have been doing some serious research, weighing up the pros and cons of the different makes and models.
There are two brands that I became interested in, these being Titanium Goat and Kifaru. Both of these companies are based in the States, making some really nice Tipis and stoves designed for backpacking. Unfortunately it turned out that the Tipis were far too heavy to be able to lug around on my own, especially when carrying a woodburner.
This then ruled out Titanium Goat as their lightest Tipi designed for a stove (the Vertex 6.5) weighs around 1900 grammes. They also did not bother answering an email full of questions. Why would I want to spend money with a company that can’t be bothered to communicate? This left me with Kifaru shelters, which are primarily designed for hunters in places like Alaska. I have to say that I have spent far too long reading forums written by men with an interest in firearms and camouflage. That aside they have been really useful as they go out hunting for days on end in the frozen backcountry, a real test of gear.
I settled on the Kifaru MegaTarp a cavernous shelter that pitches with two trekking poles. What sold it to me was its internal space in comparison to its weight. The poles are set to 132cm and that height runs the whole length of the shelter. The length is 345cm with a width of 172cm, with most space useable due to the vertical lower walls.
The front of the shelter is open with a beaked canopy, whilst there is a rear sewn in door. The total weight is a totally reasonable 595 grammes. I take trekking poles with me anyway so that would keep the weight down further. Add say 200 grammes for a pile of heavy duty pegs (there are numerous pegging points) and you still have a huge shelter at under 800 grammes.
So far you have a large and lightweight shelter which when it is windy will be a little bit draughty. The clever thing is that you can turn it into a four season floorless tent by adding an annex. This weighs an additional 170 grammes. This will take the total enclosed length to 410cm. The great thing about the annex is that it comes with a stove boot sewn in. This is a fire resistant patch (covered by a waterproof flap when not in use) through which a stove chimney fits. This is why I went with this shelter after all!
Now to the stove itself. This is a Kifaru Small Stove made from stainless steel. It packs flat to about the size of a small laptop and weighs in at 1400 grammes including the chimney (which also rolls away to 30 cm long). This video shows how they work (although he is putting together their large stove).
Fitted inside the MegaTarp and with the annexe attached it will look like this from inside.
I have to say that I am really looking forward to getting this package through the post. As is usual with small cottage manufacturers I am going to have to wait a while whilst it is made. A very long 12 weeks.
If the weights on the website are accurate, the shelter with annex and stove should come in at 2165 grammes. Add pegs and a groundsheet and the weight should still be under 2.5 kilos, not bad for a heated shelter. As my wife sometimes reads my blog please don’t ask how much the setup costs, lets call it £50…………….
Photos above were taken from a couple of forums, clicking the photos will take you directly to the page they came from. They are not your usual backpacking forums!