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Selecting the right late-season stove for your tipi shelter

Seek Outside 8 person tipi

Cold and snow in Wyoming. The perfect late-season combination. Photo credit: Brady Miller

Late season hunts are finally here! Recently, I returned from a cold, snowy and downright tough hunt in the mountains of Wyoming. One piece of gear that continues to shine on a hunt like this is a quality lightweight wood-burning stove.

Some might say that a stove is a luxury rather than a necessity, but having a stove on a late-season hunt like this is a gamechanger! You could have the correct sleeping bag for the job, but when you’re on a long hunt in the snow and below-freezing temperatures, the benefits of a stove greatly make a difference and the extra weight is worth carrying. Do you need heat every morning or night? Maybe or maybe not—that depends on you, but I will say, once you use one, you’ll be glad you have one.

What size stove should you get?

Warming feet up near wood burning stove

A common sight to see when you have a wood-burning stove.

When it comes to warmth, it should go without saying that the bigger the fire, the warmer the fire. The same can be said for the size stove used in a tipi shelter when the temperatures drop. However, another consideration should be the burn time and amount of wood you can keep in a stove.

My first late season hunt in a tipi shelter was on a 2nd season Colorado mule deer hunt using a Seek Outside Lil’ Bug Out. I loved the shelter! It’s very lightweight and perfect for just me or for two when we were looking to save a little weight. At the time, I purchased a medium titanium stove made by Seek Outside (I’m an ounce counter after all, so saving some weight intrigued me) for this shelter. Yet, throughout this hunt, I really wished I went for a bigger stove! In my opinion, the lightweight medium stove would be perfect for the September hunter looking to dry their clothes off from a rainy hunt, but late-season hunts call for a different program. So, after this hunt, I went back into research mode.

Seek Outside Titanium Wood Stove Specs

Stove Dimensions Assembled
Height
Weight Stovepipe
diameter
Pipe
length
Pipe
weight
w/rings
Volume
Seek Outside Medium
Titanium Wood Stove
8"x8"x10.25" 12" 43 oz
w/bag
3.125" 6' 12 oz. total
(2 oz. per ft)
660 c.i.
Seek Outside Large
Titanium Wood Stove
8"x8"x14" 12" 50 oz
w/bag
3.125" 7.5'  15 oz. total
(2 oz. per ft)
900 c.i.
Seek Outside SXL
Titanium Wood Stove
8.25"x10.25x14" 12" 58 oz
w/bag
3.125" 9' 1 lb. 2 oz total
(2 oz. per ft)
1,185 c.i.

Factors behind my switch to a bigger stove size

Huddled close to the stove

On that October hunt, I packed in a foldable hand saw, but I preferred to break sticks with my feet. Breaking sticks with your feet is a great way to get wood fast, but the sticks that we broke ended up being a little too long for the medium stove, so I had to use a saw more than I would have liked (even though I was warming myself twice). Note: a great way to break thicker sticks is to set up a little stick-breaking station. To do this, just take two bigger sticks at least 2” in diameter and place them 12” apart. Then place your wood on that and stomp on it with your foot. Most sticks should then break around the perfect size for the stove you are using.

Back to the part about wanting a bigger stove. The great part about a larger stove is the bigger the stove, the bigger the wood you can use. Also, the bigger stove generally has a larger opening that enables you to place oddly shaped wood in the stove. The large wood also helped in providing a longer burn time. I haven’t really calculated burn times because a lot of factors, such as the type of wood and the size of the wood can impact burn times, but I feel I can easily get 1.5 to 1.75 hours with a good coal base, the right wood and the dampeners set correctly.

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Keep in mind that even after most of the wood has burned up, the coals in the bottom are still putting out a small amount of heat and they are great for getting a fire going again in the middle of the night. Keeping your stove dampened correctly will allow the wood to burn longer.

Seek Outside stove ready to be packed up

A stove packs up to a very small size. I'd compare it to a laptop case, but just a little bit thicker.

In my opinion, the weight difference is so minimal between a medium or large stove, which is why I now run a large Seek Outside stove. I’ve used the large stove in a Cimarron and Redcliff with phenomenal results! On our recent Wyoming trip, we were able to test out the 8 person tipi to give us a little more room for gear and a larger wood pile due to the cold temperatures and snow we were expecting. In doing so, I upgraded to the SXL Titanium Wood Stove. I think I'll continue to use this stove on all late season hunts and just swap out the stove pipe depending on which tipi I run.

Most tipi shelters are made with some sort of silnylon material like 30 denier and are a lot different than canvas wall tent shelters so they do lose heat when it’s really cold and the wind is blowing. This is why I feel you shouldn’t assume that, because you have a wood-burning stove, that you can get by with a 50-degree sleeping bag. Stoves will make a tipi hot, but to keep it at that level, you’ll have to wake up constantly to keep it stoked. So don’t skimp on sleeping gear even with a stove.

Some tips

Burning wood in titanium stove

If you want to have some heat in the shelter while sleeping, first, have the stove rolling hot to get a good coal base. Then when getting ready for bed, load the stove full of wood and then turn down the dampener to let the wood slowly smolder.

Getting a good burn is all about controlling the airflow. If you have the vents open and the wood is in flames, it will get very hot…but will also burn the wood faster. So, at night, I like to turn it back a little so it gives off a slower burn and the heat will last longer.

In summary

Wood pile in Seek Outside tipi shelter

A stove might be a complete luxury on a September backpack hunt, but then it starts to tip the scales it’s needed in early October and downright essential in November.

Keep in mind that using a stove will add a little work at camp each night. You’ll need to camp in a spot with good wood and take time to collect and cut/break the wood.

Maybe I’m just getting older, but it sure is nice to wake up 30 minutes earlier on a cold hunt and get the stove roaring hot when getting my gear ready in the morning. Also, it’s great to not have to instantly jump in my sleeping bag at night. I can lay on my bag, read a book, joke around with friends and enjoy the evening a lot more.

Melting snow on Seek Outside Stove

Another great benefit to a flat-topped wood burning stove is melting snow for water, heating up a cup of ramen noodles or crisping a tortilla.

I feel that if you don’t have a stove on late-season hunts, you might be beaten down at night mentally after a hard day of hunting and hunt less effective the next day. A stove has the ability to not only dry out clothing, boots and other gear items, but it warms the body and the mind, keeping you ready for the rest of your grueling hunt.

In the end, it is up to you to determine if a stove is worth it to you and what size and options you prefer. But I know one thing... a stove is a gamechanger!

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1 Comment

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Ryan D. - posted 1 month ago on 10-22-2019 01:07:52 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Another awesome article Brady! Just a few months ago I received my Redcliff and SXL Stove for our 3rd Rifle CO Muley hunt! Sounds like it was the right choice. Looking forward to putting it to use and hoping it puts us in country that nobody else wants to get into because of access and weather. Thanks for the sleeping bag tip. I have a 15 degree NEMO and I'm hoping it will be enough even with the wood stove!