A backpacking shelter with woodburner purchased

by backpackingbongos

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.

Megatarp1

Megatarp2

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.

Kilfaru

Stove 1

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!

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18 Comments to “A backpacking shelter with woodburner purchased”

  1. Nice kit mate. Real warm winter camping. Love it. Party tent. Defo need a trip this winter with you. Must dash as I still need to read your TGOC reports.

    • Its gonna be cracking in the Winter Martin, the colder the weather the better I reckon. You’ll have to come along to help test it out.

  2. Hi James

    This looks like a really interesting and fun setup. I look forward to hearing how it performs in the field, especially in wind.
    That’s a very neat looking garden by the way!

    David

    • Yep a very neat garden which is not mine btw. Mine is a tiny patch of weeds and grass that needs cutting! Its meant to be good in wind but I will need to see that for myself.

  3. I love the last part ‘lets say £50’ had me laughing over my coffee this morning

  4. hi james hope your not turning to wild glamping. will you be using the new setup only where fuel available.as I doubt you will want to carry fuel on top of already extra weight. some cosy nights ahead .bet winter cant come to early.ps like look of that tarp (starting to have little issues with laser comp)

    • Wild glamping, that’s a fine concept George. I would only bring the stove along if I was planning on camping where fuel is available. It probably going to be a set up where the camping part is more of a feature that the hiking. Thats because it will probably take a while to collect fuel and cut to stove size etc. As a wild campping base camp it will be ideal. I know what you mean about the laser comp, sold mine as found it too small inside and rather flappy.

  5. Opened my eyes to a whole new world! Had no idea that such things exist but what a cracking idea for a wild camp base with plenty of firewood – could have used it in Ardgour where I camped and lit a fire – the extra warmth in the tent would have been well handy. I may have to follow you around the hills now and accidentally “bump into you” 🙂

    • If I see a dodgy looking middle aged bloke stalking me then I know that it is you Andy! I may have to return to Ardgour later this year to knock off those Corbetts that you climbed.

  6. I would be interested to know what material they use to insulate the stove pipe to stop it melting the tent. Should make a good cooker as well as heating the tent.

    • The stove pipe itself is not insulated Ian but the stove boot insulates it from the main tent fabric. Not sure what material the heat resistant fabric is made from though. I will look forward to being able to cook proper food on it without worrying about wasting gas.

  7. Sorry not very clear, but I meant the boot. The reason I asked is that a normal domestic wood burner would normally run with a temperature on the outside of 300C. That’s the temperature at which you get most efficient combustion of the wood. Thus the chimney would have a similar temperature. In your stove’s case it would be less because the wood is probably not dried and the design of the stove wouldn’t give you the most efficient burning.

    Basically I just wondered how they didn’t set fire to the tent! As you can tell I am a wood burner geek. We have three in the house.

    • As an owner of a woodburner myself I know how much heat they kick out. It was fine having one until we replaced the windows and exterior doors of our drafty terraced house and splashed out on a new efficient boiler. It now has to be VERY cold outside for us to be able to light it or we simply melt!

      Really not sure of the stove boot material. I have my trust in the company on the fact that it is not flamable, they have been successfully building shelters designed for stoves for years now. One thing I will do though is guy out the chimney properly (there are connections on the stove rings for this) the last thing I want is the wind catching it……………..

  8. Whilst the stove looks scarily large for solo backpacking – I like the concept of such an arrangement – especially in the winter where it would also serve as a heater for the tent.

    btw, have you always used walking poles? I have never used them, but have been intrigued by them – they certainly seem popular. Do they make a real difference? Especially with regard to the knees?

    • The stove packs down Rob so won’t be too bulky to carry. Winter luxury for me!

      I have used trekking poles for backpacking for about 15 years now. I find they make a huge difference, expecially with the knees in descent. I use pacerpoles which I find makes walking much more efficient and improves the posture. Gives the arms a workout too. Good for balance on rough ground and on Highland river crossings. I would feel naked without them! I don’t usually use them for day walking though.

  9. I might give them a go as I get the same thing, my knees take a battering on the way down a hill. Anything that could alleviate that is going to be worth a try! 🙂

    • Nothing to lose Rob, except that I know once you start using poles you will continue, make the world of difference.

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