Posts tagged ‘MegaTarp’

December 8, 2013

Kifaru – Peak District wild camping with a hot tent

by backpackingbongos

The cafe at Outside in Hathersage saw to my need for fried food.  The only difficulty was trying not to succumb to the array of technical products in the shop below.  Sadly I failed on this occasion.

The road alongside the reservoirs twists and turns amongst scenery that reminds me of parts of Wales.  It’s a fantastic area that can get busy, a breathing space amongst the surrounding cities.  However on a rather gloomy Friday afternoon in December I pretty much had the entire Upper Derwent to myself.

My pack was heavy and filled to the brim.  I had packed the Kifaru small stove and about three kilo’s of dried and chopped wood. The plan was to walk to the head of a remote valley and try out my Tarp / Stove combo for the first time.  Sadly I had made the decision to leave Reuben at home.  Flammable material, flames and a dog would not be a good combination on my first play.  His company was missed.

The car was left at the head of one of the long looping arms of the reservoir.  Through a gate and a good track took me deeper and deeper into a plantation.  A busy week at work was left behind, a night amongst the moors is a good tonic for the soul.  Leaving the plantation behind the track snakes its way onto the vast moorland plateau.  I left it and followed a faint trod through bog, tussocks and heather.  Climbing alongside the peat stained waters as they cut a deep course through the hills.

Minute by minute there was a subtle change in the weather since leaving the car.  Cold weather was gradually being pushed out by a warm front.  Warm air hitting cold ground meant that mist was beginning to envelope the snow speckled slopes above.  Damp air changed to drizzle, then curtains of fine wind-driven rain.

Darkness was approaching as I spotted a large open grassy area.  Although flat it was a little lumpy, but I did not have the luxury of time to choose a better spot.  Darkness comes very early at this time of year.

The Kifaru MegaTarp is a large and unwieldy beast when released from its tiny stuffsack.  There is a strict procedure that needs to be followed to get a taut pitch.  Pegging points have to be measured and poles set to an exact height.  One of my Pacerpoles decided to stick and no amount of twisting would unstick it.  It was a couple of inches short so I resorted to rummaging around in the river for a stone to place underneath.

It was good to finally get inside and change out of wet kit.  Humidity levels were high and even such a large unenclosed shelter was soon wet with condensation.  Inside was steamy and misty, my breath hanging in the cold damp air.

With coffee warming my hands and belly I set about putting together the stove.  I have practised several times so got it together in a few minutes, careful to keep track of the various bolts and wingnuts.  The stove-pipe had been pre heated in a previous burn so easily rolled into shape.  Pushed through the stove boot it felt fairly secure with no wobbling.  However ‘fairly secure’ is not good enough for a hot chimney so I tied it to a guy rope, pulling it away from the main body of the tarp.

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The stove itself lit really easily with the bone dry wood that I had carried in with me.  It was soon roaring, the alarming sound of the stove body creaking as it quickly heated.  Bigger bits of wood were added, quickly kicking out some nice heat.  My wet socks were soon steaming away, drying on my feet.  Outside I could hear the hiss as rain hit the hot stove-pipe.

It quickly became evident that a Jetboil pan is next to useless for boiling water on a wood burning stove.  Next time I will ensure that I have a flat bottomed pan.  Thankfully I had plenty of gas for food and brews.

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Sadly I had only brought enough wood for a couple of hours so retreated to my sleeping bag as the stove cooled down.  Before going to bed I detached the chimney and brought it inside, just in case it got really windy in the night.

I woke several times with the sensation of fine sprays of water on my face.  Outside heavy rain and wind meant that condensation was falling on me.  Thankfully I had a synthetic quilt over my down bag, so remained warm and dry.

The weather was not very appealing when I got up.  The rain finally stopped and I had the opportunity to get a photo of the MegaTarp without moisture covering the lens.  I was about as remote as it is possible to get in the Peak District.  A wonderful spot.

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The downside to having a wood burning stove when wild camping is taking it apart again.  This is a bit of a dirty job and once again you have to be careful you don’t lose anything.  In the photos below you can see how ingenious the chimney is, quickly rolling down into a 12 inch long tube.

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Gloves are necessary when handling the chimney as the edges are razor sharp.  The stove body packs down flat, everything fitting neatly into the heavy-duty stove bag.  This is well thought out and essential to keep sharp edges away from the contents of your pack.  It also stops everything getting filthy.  A trip to the stream was needed to wash my mucky hands.

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I had thought about a brief wander up onto the moors.  However low cloud and morning lassitude meant that after packing I headed back the way I had come.  This time I did not have wind and rain in my face.  Time to enjoy this wild hidden valley close to the Peak District honey pots.

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I did not see a soul until back on the road and at my car.  A short drive to the visitor centre for coffee and a veggie sausage cob. Home early afternoon for a steaming hot bath.

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June 15, 2013

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.

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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.

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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!