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Thread: Kifaru tipi vs. Seek Outside tipi

  1. #1
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default Kifaru tipi vs. Seek Outside tipi

    I'm looking at purchasing a 12 man tipi with a few options, ( large wood burning stove, netting, full liner, and a couple nests). These two brands seem to be very similar with the exception of price. The Kifaru is about $600 (give or take) more than the Seek Outside with basically the same options. I have a little experience with Kifaru in that I have the DT1 pack, and I only have good things to say about it. I don't have any experience with SO. I'm basically just looking for opinions regarding these two tipi manufactures and probably more so with SO, because I'm pretty confident in my opinion that Kifaru makes bomber gear. Thanks in advance for any and all input.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Like those tieouts!

    Haven't used either, but am a fan of tipi shelters - using the TiGoat 8-man with lightweight stove for several seasons now, so I hope you won't mind a comment.

    I've had my tipi modified (sturdier peg loops - props to AK Tent/Tarp!) - and hope to add more tieouts next to reduce interior space deformity in high winds - such as we experienced in Kodiak last month. One difference I noticed between your Kifaru vs SO; the SO comes with plenty of tieouts already on their tipi. I think that's a practical, meaningful difference once the wind kicks up - at least if you're inside !

    Materials wise, they seem to be made of similar weight silnylon. Hard to tell without side-by-side maybe, but as I understand it, silnylon's resistance to water penetration is measured as hydrostatic head pressure (1500 mm for the SO. Not stated for Kifaru, but the tents are of similar weight). Lighter weight fabric (900 mm hydrostatic head) saves shelter weight when weight is at a premium while heavier weights (3,000 mm hydrostatic head) work better for tough applications like floors.

    I had been reading about another company (Locus Gear) making tipi-style shelters, which also includes plenty of tieouts in their designs, an improvement IMO over both the Kifaru and TiGoat products. LG is also using some of the newer UL backpacking fabrics, eVent, cuben and silnylon. Who knows yet whether these materials are ready for prime time in AK or not, but the UL backpacking community has been more enthusiastic year-by-year for lower-48 applications. Performance criteria in AK are just sometimes a notch more demanding.

    That Seek Outside tipi looks real interesting. Hope you get helpful comments.
    Best of luck man with your search.

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    Send Alaska_Lanche a pm and ask him, he has used both. It is my understanding that the guy that started SO, used to work for Patrick and left to start his own business. Kifaru stuff is not silnylon, and their custom service is second to none. One of their tipis failed during the 100 plus MPH wind storm we had this fall and he replaced that tipi no charge, not many companies would do that nor would I expect them to do so.

    I own several Kifaru products and all have exceeded my expectations. My Sawtooth tipi withstood winds in excess of 50 mph for hours totally exposed on Kodiak last fall. For Alaska it is proven gear for me especially shelters.

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
    Founding Member
    http://www.residenthuntersofalaska.org/

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Higher performance criteria: smaller differences?

    Features: both the SO and Kifaru tipis have two doors, a valuable feature. My TiGoat tipi has only one, but there have been occasional warm days when a second door would have been welcomed for improving ventilation. Don't get me wrong though, I remain delighted with the Goat - mainly because of it's simplicity - all fabrics and all features have tradeoffs - and because I have now seen it function well in both wet/windy applications in Alaska. Weather conditions make all the difference as do some features. Where the TiGoat has tieouts, they effectively improved high wind performance. SO's tieouts seem like a significant improvement to me based on that experience.

    Customer Service/Reputation: Stid's comment about Kifaru's customer service makes a good point. Kifaru seems a larger, more established business, has earned loyalty with its products and perhaps is in a better position to respond to customer needs given its established business/inventory processes. Seek Outside may be smaller, newer - trying to establish itself. Smaller companies may face more limitations when it comes to customer service esp during busy times of the year. The testimonials on SO's website sound promising. It's also good to hear that AK Lanche, someone we know and trust, has experience with SO's gear. I did find favorable comments on an earlier SO shelter on the BackpackingLight website too (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...hread_id=46555).

    Sometimes it seems the differences get smaller as the price gets larger. In the field, I bet any of these tipis performs well under most (sub-100 mph winds at least) AK conditions. The manufacturers seem all to have the foundation of excellent construction technique and workmanship so critical with these materials. The advantages offered by lighter frames, lighter materials, better designs and additional features seem to offer several good choices, depending on your application/needs. It's a lot of money for a tent, and the tipi design has some performance limitations - (solid staking/tieouts are critical in high winds), but many advantages worth exploiting on the types of safaris we enjoy here.

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    Default Seek Outside

    Hi


    I'm one of the owners of Seek Outside. I believe I have had email exchanges with the OP, so my intent is to clear up some misconceptions and rumors.

    We have never been involved with the other manufacturer. In fact we had never seen one of their tents until we were already in business. The one we saw was a group camp, and honestly we did not even spend much time scrutinizing it. I believe the source of the rumor is our involvement with Ed Tyanich (Ed T). Ed did much of the design and built their stoves for several years. Our relationship with Ed is that we collaborated on the BCS shelter. It was an idea he though was valuable based on a discontinued tent. We were working through various prototypes that providing similar functionality, thus the collaboration was posi
    tive. In fact Ed and us are somewhat competitors on the wood stoves as much as we are collaboraters. I do chat with Ed often about general gear musings as we have similar interests and activities.

    I believe there are more differences than similarities with our tents. Sure, they are lightweight, high performance tipi tents. However, most of the similarities stop there. I suspect we use different size panels, which is purposeful on our part as we want to be flexible on fabric. I know our seams are very different. We use a triple stiched seam, and due to the way we finish them we don't even recommend seam sealing. User experience corroborates our recommendations. You might need to seal a tad around the guy out points, but not much. Outside of the obvious difference in features (dual vents, sod skirt, side guy outs et
    c) our tie outs are much different. Our standard tie out has never failed and in fact we have seen hard plastic DuraPeg stakes shear off in the ground yet the tie out was fine. Our material is similar but slightly different. Both are american made 30D nylon with silicone coatings. Our choice came down to being able to consistantly meet a certain waterproof rating where the other fabric provided could not do that.

    Regarding testing and user experiece. Let me share a couple testemonials. The first I beleive the customer was in the same storm that a 16 person from another manufacturer was shredded in. This was discussed on the other manufacturers forum. To be fair thay are different size tents and a 16 person will have more stress, and there are other factors such as age, pitch and micro climate to consider.
    Good evening Angie,
    Just got back from a 10 day moose hunt in remote Alaska. Didnt put meat in the freezer but had a great time.

    I wanted you to know that my father and I endured extreme weather in my 6 man Seek Outside tipi from single digit temperatures to 100+ MPH winds. Other hunters had their state of the art tents shredded around them and spent several nights in the elements, but not usand we told everyone.

    Anytime you need an endorsement or recommendation, Ill be glad to oblige. Your product is the best out there!

    Thanks,


    Steve Jones
    We also have another not yet published testimonial that is similar from a person using a 12 man. I do know a substantial tree fell feet from their tent. It's a reminder, that in bad weather stuff can happen even if your gear does it's job. Customers have also reported good success on Kodiak Island and as far north as Kotzebue for winter trap line use.

    We strive to provide excellent customer service. To my knowledge we have repaired or replaced anything that might have remotely been our fault. There have been cases where a customer had 3 bear / tent encounters and we repaired the tent for a minimal charge. The customer did fill their bear tag though.

    Are we young and new ? Yes. Have people had great success in poor weather ? Yes they have. Do we provide a different feature set and construction ? Yes.

    I think with these large purchases, every should perform proper due diligence. Please ask me any question you may have. I'll check back on this thread for the next few days to answer any questions.

    Regards
    Kevin

  6. #6

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    Seek Outside looks like a god product/company worth more research. I have a Kifaru sawtooth and 12 man Tipi. Love them. This fall, the 12 man endured heavy rains and winds far exceeding 50mph and we had no issues. I have a large stove IOT use in both Tipis but the Arctic (largest) stove would be my choice for the 12 man. Be aware that any of these lightweight stainless or titanium stoves can't be stoked up for the night, they will warp and eventually melt down. It takes some trial and error to find the balance of amount and frequency to stoke these little stoves. If weight is no issue, you could go with a heavier cast iron type stove but the lightweight packing stoves work well for my needs. I have no complaints with the two Kifaru products I have

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    "The customer did fill their bear tag though" .

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    I had 2 kifaru 8 man tipis, one white and later a brown one and loved them both. Also have a kifaru pack and sleeping bag and could not be happier. Doing more horse packing these days and was interested in SO's 12 man in the waterproof? breathable camo fabric so I would not have to screw with the liner.I bought one this early summer and so far (only about 8 nights) it has been fantastic. A couple of rainy nights and no leaks or condensation yet. Love the guy outs, tipi seems much quieter in the wind. Vents at top seem to help and no water leeks thru the zippers. really not much heavier than reg. fabric with a liner. Only time and more use will tell how well it holds up, but so far, so good. Would I recommend the kifaru? Sure. Am i happy with the SO? Absolutely.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default Kifaru tipi vs. Seek Outside tipi

    So does SO's camo fabric tipi not need a liner?

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    That is right, no liner.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default A lot of good things to say about tipis - which might just be getting better yet...

    Thanks to Kevin for input from Seek Outside's perspective. In other threads, AOD has been fortunate to have comment directly from authorities in the field, owners of several producers of outdoors products (Woodridge, Buffalo Bore), authors (Tony Russ, Karen Jettmar, Jim McCann) and others (Bob Hodson), whose input is always appreciated.

    Quite a few of the SO tipi's design features ought to improve performance. Like blackhawkranch & MTBN alluded to, the tieouts/guyouts should vastly improve tent performance and occupant sleep on those windy nights. I think of a long night when we put our tipi up in a hurry after being dropped off on a remote lake by Rick Grant. Between the two Beaver loads, the wind shifted 180 degrees, often a clue weather's gonna change. Adding to the problems was a small footprint for pitching the tipi, which made it harder yet to get a tight pitch to the silnylon sides. Sure enough, our leeward camp site became windward during the night as rains and worsening winds not only blew blew our tipi and the nearby waves on the beach into quite an orchestra of noise. I didn't consider until reading SO's website, that the additional guyouts also make it possible to get a good taut pitch in a smaller footprint, like on windblown lakeshores maybe.

    The vents and two doors seem to make for much better ventilation, and less interior condensation too. Having used a silnylon tipi with very little ventilation, I'd say that two doors and two vents might make all the difference, certainly enough difference. The water vapor just needs to have somewhere to go instead of condensing inside.

    Waterproof and breathable though are often at opposite ends of a spectrum. Maybe I misread it, but I thought SO's tipi was made from silnylon. My understanding is that plain nylon provides a lightweight, strong but leaky fabric. Tent flies used to be coated with polyurethane for years - which made them waterproof, but the coating didn't last. Modern silicon coating is both more durable and maybe lighter than polyurethane coated nylon and makes nylon waterproof, with thicker coatings providing better protection. Silnylon has a growing track record for lightweight, durable and effective rain protection, but lower weight coatings (300 mm hydrostatic head) that might be somewhat breathable, wouldn't hold up in much rain, especially with wind - thus making them unsuitable for conditions up here. Here's one reference from SO (http://seekoutside.com/products/ultr...person-tipi/):

    Canopy Material U.S.A made 30D nylon, High Tenacity 6.6 thread, with silicone coating, waterproof rating minimum 1500mm hydrostatic head. UV inhibitors in the thread as well the coating (not all competing fabrics have UV inhibitors in the coating check with your vendor) We test all fabric before we purchase.

    Older posts about tipis (Kifaru & TiGoat) have been favorable and enthusiastic. The SO website info makes this tipi by SO sound promising due to some design advantages. The user testimonials on the website and here only add to that impression.

    Good thread.

  12. #12

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    I have Kifaru 8-man with large stove,liner, slept just over hundred night in it till now, most of them in Alaska. I like it.
    So far I've had below repairs for tipi due to high winds:
    - couple of torn peg loops. I asked Kifaru to change them all to heavy duty ones, They did it for free. Good customer service.
    - torn stoveboot hole, Kifaru fixed this for free

    Also Kifaru made a sodskirt for my 8-man afterwards for minimal cost.

    If Id be on marked for new tipi I would NOT hesitate to buy Seek Outside for what I have heard so far via different forums!

    I will say this though: NEITHER of the tipis can handle Mother Nature when She gets angry! Already 8-man is having very large wind surface not
    To mention 12-man. One should use common sense not to pitch tipi on ridge tops instead use natural wind barriers for protection. This fall in Alaska
    proved that once again. However sometimes its not easy to find any natural wind protection and camping on exposed spot is the only option (I have done that also).
    Personally when forced to camp in high wind area I make sure I have a backup plan if the worst happens.

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    Hi
    I should apologize for the typo's in my previous post, but I don't see a way to edit them. The forum timed me out a couple times as I was writing and it came out a little less than perfect.

    Anyway , regarding the camo fabric, it is different and heavier and adds some weight. It is very waterproof, and somewhat breathable. The breathability, along with the vents does a good job with condensation in temps above freezing. Below freezing, even breathable materials will accumulate frost, however it will behave differently. Instead of warming up and dripping down the sides, it dissipates a lot more. It does weigh more. On a 12 man it is 4 lbs heavier. So our 12 man can be as low as 8 lbs stripped down and lightweight, or as much as 14 lbs for fully configured and camo. In our testing it performed very well in heavy snow and wind.

    The guy outs do a very good job of maximizing space and correcting for less than perfect pitches when the environment does not allow. In addition, the tent can be pitched smaller using the guy outs if there is just not enough space. We don't recommend that pitch for severe weather, due to only having half the stake out points, but it has performed well in moderate winds when needed as a last resort.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    I have a 12 man kifaru that I purchased in 1999. I have had several repairs done to it, most of them were self inflicted. During one of the repairs I asked Patrick to install guy ties at 30 inches from the floor on the outside, which they did. I use the guys on every pitch. My uncle bought one in 2005 and they would not put the guys in. My tipi is of different ripstop material than the newer silnylon models.

    I have several hundred nights in my tipi and can attest that it works very good in all but the very toughest winds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post

    Quite a few of the SO tipi's design features ought to improve performance. Like blackhawkranch & MTBN alluded to, the tieouts/guyouts should vastly improve tent performance and occupant sleep on those windy nights. I think of a long night when we put our tipi up in a hurry after being dropped off on a remote lake by Rick Grant. Between the two Beaver loads, the wind shifted 180 degrees, often a clue weather's gonna change. Adding to the problems was a small footprint for pitching the tipi, which made it harder yet to get a tight pitch to the silnylon sides. Sure enough, our leeward camp site became windward during the night as rains and worsening winds not only blew blew our tipi and the nearby waves on the beach into quite an orchestra of noise. I didn't consider until reading SO's website, that the additional guyouts also make it possible to get a good taut pitch in a smaller footprint, like on windblown lakeshores maybe.

    The vents and two doors seem to make for much better ventilation, and less interior condensation too. Having used a silnylon tipi with very little ventilation, I'd say that two doors and two vents might make all the difference, certainly enough difference. The water vapor just needs to have somewhere to go instead of condensing inside.




    Good thread.
    A little history. Our early tipi's were made with a lower profile on the back to (at least in theory) improve wind performance when oriented correctly. Now our tipi's a very close to round. The primary reason for this change is that at least in our experience, when it get's really windy, it comes form every direction. Sure there are certain areas like saddles where it will prevail from one side, but we chose to get the same performance on every side. We also feel a pure round tent distributes the stress better and more evenly than a tent where one side might be longer than another side. Since all nylon's have some stretch, it is easier to keep tight, if all sides stretch the same.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default Kifaru tipi vs. Seek Outside tipi

    Quote Originally Posted by kevin_t View Post
    A little history. Our early tipi's were made with a lower profile on the back to (at least in theory) improve wind performance when oriented correctly. Now our tipi's a very close to round. The primary reason for this change is that at least in our experience, when it get's really windy, it comes form every direction. Sure there are certain areas like saddles where it will prevail from one side, but we chose to get the same performance on every side. We also feel a pure round tent distributes the stress better and more evenly than a tent where one side might be longer than another side. Since all nylon's have some stretch, it is easier to keep tight, if all sides stretch the same.
    Kind of hard to improve on our Native American Indians' tipi design idea from a million or so years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Troutbum View Post
    Kind of hard to improve on our Native American Indians' tipi design idea from a million or so years ago.
    Well, the native americans of the plains likely had a wind that prevailed from the same direction more so than in the mountains, and they were not dealing with materials that will stretch, and that the stretch is part of their strength. They also used poles all around that will minimize how much fabric can move. As an example, if I have a run of fabric that is 12 feet on one side, and 10 ft on another side. The 12 ft section will have more stretch in the same conditions. Simply raising the pole to create a taught structure on the 10 ft side will not tighten the 12 ft section to the same level of tightness. The 12 ft section will require minor re-staking to be ideal. It's a minor difference, but real. Trust me, we have tents with unequal sides like the BCS and this does happen. Granted the BCS is a different animal and is designed more for the correct sizing in a small package. In a center pole tipi, our philosophy is it's better to be able to tighten the complete structure to the same tension. Our early tipi's were based off the Native Indian design, and we felt given the difference in materials, this change made a better structure. The change also had some other advantages, such as the setting up in poor conditions. I generally use more of a "set-back" method, but if it's really blowing it is nice to get as many stakes in the ground and attached as possible before raising the tent. Being more round, it's easier to set the stakes first.

    I have to say, I really like the critical eye and open minded approach this forum group places on design and execution.

    Regards
    Kevin

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default Kifaru tipi vs. Seek Outside tipi

    Kevin, do you recommend, in windy conditions, tying the top of the tipi and staking it out? If so, do you place loops at the top?

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    I have never done that, nor do I believe any of our customers have. I can see some benefit to having high guy outs, but those could create issues as well by relying on them (flying stakes etc) and since we have never put on high guy outs, we just don't know if there are any poor side effects. They would be cumbersome. I've monitored the tension on the lower guy outs in wind storms (which are very robust) and it wasn't significant. I will say, winds at monitoring locations in our area rarely get much above 80 MPH. We have done several tests where trees were falling near where tents were pitched and falling trees and flying debris were the biggest concerns. Winds above that level (large trees falling nearby), I just can't offer much guidance on as there are IMO so many variables to account for. The right tent stake in the right ground, how well it is pitched and what was used. We do have one user testimonial where they state winds in excess of 100 MPH, but I can't say everyone would have that level of success. I'm not one to blow smoke, I'd rather meet and exceed expectations rather than overstate capabilities. We do not have a top hang loop, although we used to. The main reason is that people were not using it and it's another area that could potentially be subject to letting in water. It's somewhat of a balancing act of trying to provide the most usable features and the fewest potential problem points, the fewest areas that may require seam sealing and so on.
    Kevin

    Kevin

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    I just sent in my payment to Kevin at Seek Outside for a 12 in forest green with a large stove. $1,830 shipped to my door. I liked the extra features and cost enough to make the purchase.
    A large light tepee opens up many options for the Alaskan hunter. With an assortment of other quality gear you can go remote and live safe and secure for a few days with a shelter like this. It's not complicated. It's light and easy to move (think small boat or ATV).

    My first outing with it will be a spring Brown Bear hunt in SE Alaska. I'll post a photo or two of it in action when I return.

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