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Thread: How weatherproof is a tipi?

  1. #1
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    Question How weatherproof is a tipi?

    My mind was made up on a tent selection, but some recent conversations have me back on the fence. I'll be floating for ten days out of the Brooks on a moose/'bou hunt next September with a buddy of mine. We'd settled on a Mountain Hardwear Trango 4 (13 lbs, 57 sq-ft interior space, http://www.mountainhardwear.com/trango-4-OU9657.html), which is known to be solid and reliable, if not terribly lean in the weight category. We'd disregarded the floorless style shelters because we perceived that they would allow weather to flow/blow/seep under the walls and create a messy/uncomfortable situation inside. Granted, that perception isn't based on personal experience.

    I've spoken with two separate contacts recently who have both highly recommended a tipi/woodstove setup over the tub-floor style of tent. They used these shelters with great comfort and success. Conversely, they witnessed a couple of other groups last fall who were cold/wet/miserable using different setups. Having access to a limitless source of dry heat was key to comfort and high morale.

    I know that this subject has been discussed ad nauseam, but I was hoping some of you who have experience with both styles of shelter (tipi vs. bathtub floor tent) might offer insights comparing/contrasting the user experience in the field in sub-ideal circumstances. How would the user experience between using a MH Trango 4 and one of the preferred 6-man tipi/stove combos compare in bad (high wind, rain, cold, etc.) weather?

    I need to make up my mind and purchase some equipment. Any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms are well-taken and appreciated.

    -John

  2. #2

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    I just got back from a New Years Eve campout with my home made tarp tipi hot tent. Some thoughts on tipi design. A modified tipi design which has lower peak and wider base which probably most modern tipi designs are (except traditional designs) is an exceptional design for wind resistance as well as heating efficiency. In the modified tipi design there is minimal overhead and maximised living space. In other words, heat rises and there is very little room overhead for the heat to rise to and therefore more heat is down lower. It does not matter what direction the wind is blowing from, the tipi design is very efficient at shedding wind. The floorless design tents/tipis are fine here in Alaska in my opinion. If insect (mosquitoes) are bad, you might want to have dirt snow etc piled around the outside to keep insects from entering under the walls. I have never used any modern nylon tipis though I do have a traditional canvas style as well as my 11 foot diameter tarp tipi hot tent. My 11 foot with woodstove is perfect for one man but two is okay. My wife and I just brought in the new year while camped in the tarp tipi hot tent. Hopefully others will have input here as well. I personally like the floorless design because when you cook and eat in the shelter, if you spill anything you don't need to worry about messing up you tent floor. also coming in with muddy or snowy boots is not as big of a deal. It typically does not rain hard enough basically anywhere in Alaska (except coastal) to worry much about water coming in under the walls. I however have minimal experience camping on silty river bars so maybe others will chime in on that medium. If rain on the silty bars is a problem then it should be very easy to dig a diversion trench or burm on the uphill side in that loose soil in order to divert the runoff.

  3. #3
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    I've hunted/guided out of both types, and both worked well. I guided out of the 6 man Cabelas guide tent. As long as there was proper ventilation a two burner coleman stove inside would provide plenty of heat and the ability to dry things off. That said, I hunted out of one of the more compact floorless canvas wall tents w/ woodstove before and it was very nice. Depending on where you set up a floorless tent and it's ability to keep the weather from coming in underneath is the key. I have to say it is quite nice to not have to worry about making a mess out of the floor of a tent, but there are ways around that with a regular floor tent as well. It can be a tuff decision but as long as you choose a quality tent of either design, either one should work out well for you. I would imagine weight would probably be a big concern as well so I would imagine that would figure in to your decision? Btw....the tipi design has proven itself for eons.
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    While I'm using smaller tipi than what you are looking at, I love them. I'm using the Go lite SL3 and SL5, I've used the nest for the SL5 once, I prefer without. Just make sure you don't lay it on soggy soil. But you don't have to worry about cleaning the tent floor up. You get condensation inside, but with a wood stove like you mention, I doubt you will have the issue. I stake down the windward side tight, leave a small gad on the downwind side, keeps wind from blowing in, but creates a nice draft to help vacate moisture. Bugs haven't been an issue for me, they seem to stay at the peak. I'm even looking at a canvas wall tent-sans floor for my "comfy" camping trips to Kenai. I hate keeping the floor of a tent clean and trying to take boots off and on outside the tent. I do have a smaller "sterno" stove I built up and am going to try this winter here in my smaller tents. Dry wood and tinder doesn't exist in Kodiak this time of year.
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    Member brule's Avatar
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    Spent twelve days moose hunting in a homemade tipi tent with titanium wood stove, it held up to rain, snow, and 70 mph winds. The stove kept it plenty warm with minimal fuel. I prefer the floorless design, and didn't have any issues with the weather coming in underneath the sides, however, setting the tent in the proper location is critical.
    "One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted"
    Jose Ortega y Gasset, Meditations on Hunting.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    I have several 4 season tents with traditional bathtub floors (6 person Cabela's Alaska Guide dome, MH Trango 2, NF Mountain 25, etc.), and they have all served me very well and have stood up to some pretty bad weather. Having said that, I purchased a 12 person Seek Outside tipi and XL titanium stove a few years ago and haven't used any of my traditional tents since. I still take a 4 season tent on the majority of my hunts, as long as my wt. limit permits it, but I only take them for back up if something really goes awry, and so far haven't needed to resort to pitching one. I really enjoy being able to walk into the shelter without having to take anything off first. It's also nice to be able to move around in an enclosed space and not feel cooped up. Also, having a source of dry heat is pretty hard to beat IMO, especially when it's really nasty outside. My SO tipi pitches very tight to the ground and there's really no way for anything to blow in underneath it. If you've never tried a floorless shelter, I can see where it would be difficult to try given that you kind of feel exposed, in a lot of ways, compared to a traditional tent. At least that's how I felt prior to trying one. My first experience with one was on a Kodiak deer/goat hunt. My buddy brought his 8 person tipi along and we used it as our cook tent. After that experience, I was sold on the idea, and bought mine shortly after we got home.

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    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    I envy you the opportunity to pick a nice tipi tent. Will you be in a location with sufficient wood available?

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  8. #8

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    After mountaineering and hunting out of floor dome tents for years we used a tipi with stove last year on our sept brooks range float moose hunt. Weather sucked. Tent and stove was the bomb. Seek outside brand. Has sod flap and tie downs.


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    I have a Sierra Designs Mountain Guide Tarp, which sleeps 4. I put in a stove jack for a Ti Goat wood stove. It was a godsend on a sleety moose hunt this fall. I plan to use it for a Brooks Range packraft trip this summer. It can be staked tight to the ground and rocks put on the side flaps. It will be bomber for the coastal plain winds (we've used a GoLight SL5 on a previous Brooks trip and it was awesome, but GoLight is out of business). For the summer Brooks trip we'll also bring OR bug bivis (without it, one mosquito buzzing around your ear can ruin your night). I'll be using the tipi tent and wood stove setup for EVERY trip possible. The Tipi is 5# and the wood stove is 2.5#. Add in 1# per bug bivi, and you have a four season, 4 person tent with a wood stove that is less than 12#.

  10. #10

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    I'll see if I can figure out how to attach a picture taken the first week of September in the Brooks Range(this was a shelter we used just for glassing). We've had weather like this the first week of September for the past three years, this is more likely than not.
    I wouldn't want any type of floor-less tent.
    The Trango 4 should be a great tent for the two of you, take a tarp to put your gear under. Instead of the hassle of a wood stove, finding fire wood and the larger tent, just take a small propane tent heater and a couple of extra propane cylinders, you'll find it much more practical.
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    Wags, have you had any particular bad experiences with floorless tents that steer you toward the floored variety? I'm wondering if a light tarp on the ground inside would be a benefit. Thoughts on that idea?

    Thanks for the outstanding feedback so far, everyone. I'm leaning toward picking out a tipi/stove set and giving it a thorough test run before winter is through. Sounds like they are firmly endorsed by those who have used them. They sure ain't cheap, but what is?

  12. #12
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    I've found that canvas painter's tarps are better than a tent floor. They are cheap and easily picked up, shaken off and put back in as a kind of carpet. If you don't want to pack them out, burn them, but they are great for wrapping meat in also.
    My experience with propane in a tent has been less than positive; I really hate the condensation it creates unless you have a direct vented unit. Some places wood is hard to get and then propane comes in as a second choice for me. Wood heat is dry heat and makes staying dry a much easier proposition. The secret for any type of flame stove in a tent is a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil. It can be used as a gasket, as a reflector, and as an aid for stove top cooking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    I've found that canvas painter's tarps are better than a tent floor.
    That sounds like a pretty good idea. So you use a floorless tent on your hunts? I have a Golite SL3 but have yet to use it without the nest....(I can't stand the thought of bugs while I'm trying to sleep)....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I have a floorless Black Diamond mid (same as the picture from wags above), which is used for a place to sit and eat when the wx is way too crappy to sit outside (I still prefer a bombproof backpacking tent for sleeping bug-free). I've been thinking about making my mid compatible for a small wood stove, although I'm aware it might be too small. Has anyone here modified this tent (or similar design) with a stove jack? If so, how did it go?

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    It looks like AKChester did with his Sierra Designs Mountain Guide Tarp above...??? From his description, I'd have to say I think that setup would be hard to beat with the weight that it, and the stove are total....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    It looks like AKChester did with his Sierra Designs Mountain Guide Tarp above...??? From his description, I'd have to say I think that setup would be hard to beat with the weight that it, and the stove are total....
    Geez...I completely missed that post...thanks 4mer.

    Quote Originally Posted by AKChester View Post
    I have a Sierra Designs Mountain Guide Tarp, which sleeps 4. I put in a stove jack for a Ti Goat wood stove. It was a godsend on a sleety moose hunt this fall. I plan to use it for a Brooks Range packraft trip this summer. It can be staked tight to the ground and rocks put on the side flaps. It will be bomber for the coastal plain winds (we've used a GoLight SL5 on a previous Brooks trip and it was awesome, but GoLight is out of business). For the summer Brooks trip we'll also bring OR bug bivis (without it, one mosquito buzzing around your ear can ruin your night). I'll be using the tipi tent and wood stove setup for EVERY trip possible. The Tipi is 5# and the wood stove is 2.5#. Add in 1# per bug bivi, and you have a four season, 4 person tent with a wood stove that is less than 12#.
    Where did you get the stove jack Chester? I'm also looking at a small Ti stove and #4 pipe. Please describe how you mounted/affixed/sewed the stove jack into/to the tent. Thanks in advance...a lot.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    SO sells them for $40.


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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    Geez...I completely missed that post...thanks 4mer.



    Where did you get the stove jack Chester? I'm also looking at a small Ti stove and #4 pipe. Please describe how you mounted/affixed/sewed the stove jack into/to the tent. Thanks in advance...a lot.
    I guess, as Troutbum says they sell them, but I remember somebody here taking it to I think a place in Anchorage that will do it professionally. maybe a boat top maker place?.........sorry, can't remember.

    Btw Troutbum, what's "SO"...???
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  19. #19
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post

    Btw Troutbum, what's "SO"...???
    Seek Outside. Alaska Tent and Tarp may also sell them, and I'm pretty sure they will do the installation too.


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    Would you guys say that the leading brands for tipi/stove combos are Seek Outside, Ti Goat and Kifaru? I've been digging around and it seems like those may be the common go-to makers of these products.

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