TWO stoves for extended winter stay?

1:00 a.m. on December 22, 2018 (EST)
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SCENARIO: 5+ day camping with no streams, ponds or lakes - just snow.

MAIN STOVE-> MSR Whisperlite Universal (white gas mode) For cooking

SUPPLEMENTAL STOVE-> Trail Designs ti Sidewinder (W/Inferno insert) For melting snow.

With this combo the ti Cone stove weighs less than the extra gas needed for melting snow for 5+ days. Where twigs are available the fuel is provided by Ma Nature.

Comments?

Eric B.

8:31 a.m. on December 22, 2018 (EST)
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I prefer two stoves on long winter trips so I have a back up other than fire. I guess if your back up stove works for fire that's even better. The Whisperlite rocks at snow melt/boil, but a little wood stove would be nice in the snow. Might have to start looking at trying that out Eric.

12:20 p.m. on December 22, 2018 (EST)
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For an extended winter stay I would bring a stove like an MSR flamethrower and build a fire for heat and melting snow. 

6:21 p.m. on December 22, 2018 (EST)
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A fire helps a lot to dry out the clothing and bedding.  It is a hug psychological benefit.  It saves hauling a lot of fuel. 

1:30 p.m. on December 23, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks guys. I can always use the wood burning Sidewinder cone stove (with the pot off the top) for warming my hands and the cheerful psychological benefit. With the pot off I can fuel it with much larger sticks for longer burn times.

The sheet titanium Sidewinder/Inferno insert combination weighs very little. I only need Vaseline soaked cotton balls for tinder. They are the best light weight fire starters I've yet found. 

I'll take some photos in January and post here to encourage backpackers to get out in winter.

Eric B.

12:54 p.m. on December 24, 2018 (EST)
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I never build a fire when I'm winter backpacking unless I need to burn my trash---or placate the wife or in a group social setting.  Or living in a tipi with a woodstove.

In my opinion fires are vastly overrated for solo winter camping with snow on the ground at 0F or below.  Why?

WHY FIRES SUCK ON A BUTT COLD TRIP
     First you have a good 4 season tent set up with a subzero down bag and a 7R or 8R pad system.  You also are wearing very warm down pants and a beefy subzero down parka.  You're in the tent sitting on your pads and it's 0F but your feet and hands are suitably warm so cocooned by your shelter and gear.  You don't want to go out and build a fire at 0F in a 20mph wind.  Here's why---

**  You have to find a level spot and clear the snow.
**  It must be far enough from the tent to prevent burn ash holes in the tent fly from floating embers.
**  You move the snow and go gather wood and break or cut enough, you'll also need ample kindling wood.
**  All this prep is done in your butt cold rock hard boots, so your in-tent warm feet are now frozen.
**  You work hard to get enough wood and get a fire going.

**  Your backpacking winter goose down layers are getting pinholed by hot ashes because as a backpacker you cannot carry enough flame resistant clothing (wool/canvas) to be as warm as your lighter down parka and pants and down mittens.

**  As you feed the fire and wait for the coals to build up it's dark and 0F with a moderate wind so your torso is cooling rapidly and your hands are cold because the fire doesn't yet give off enough heat to sit down and bask in the warmth.

**  And where are you gonna sit?  Definitely not on your inflatable sleeping pad---it'll get holed by a hot ash.  And not on your ccf pad in your tent because it'll get wet from melting snow and also holed by hot embers.  But you have to sit somewhere so you can remove your boots and thaw out your painful feet.

**  In due time your face and chest and arms and legs are getting warm but your back and butt are still ice cold and your socked feet are barely thawing even by the fire.  Don't burn your socks.

**  Smoke chokes your lungs and eyes.  Just about the time you get relaxed and comfy you have to put your rock hard boots on to get more wood.

**  After a couple hours the hot coals aren't enough as they wither away and you start getting ass cold again and it's time to retire to the tent---where you could've been all along on top of your sleeping pads and under your -20F down bag while writing in your trip report.  

    The best use of a fire in the winter is in a tipi with a woodstove (or wall tent or witu etc).  Something you can feed at 10pm and by 10am the next day it still has a bed of hot coals and puts out heat all night.

Just my opinion.

12:08 p.m. on December 25, 2018 (EST)
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I am a big fan of fires. I heat my house with wood. 

In the backcountry, finding suitable wood is pretty easy.  No need to cut or break it up. That is too much work.  just feed the end in Indian style. 

A properly set tipi uses a liner which goes to the ground.  The outside main cover should stop around 6-8 inches from the ground.  Then there is ample convection and the smoke goes up through the smoke hole.  No need to use a stove in a tipi.  I really like how the firelight bounces off the white canvas. 

In cold weather truck camping like this November I hang some canvas vertically near the fire for a wind break and to do the samething with the light and heat. 

3:48 p.m. on December 25, 2018 (EST)
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I lived in a Tipi in the mountains of NC for 21 years and always used a woodstove.  In fact, my Tipi-friend Eustace Conway also recommended using a woodstove in his Tipis---no open fires for us!

He ran his stovepipe up to just below the Tipi smoke hole.  I used a better configuration with the top tipi hole capped with tarps and built a double wide door and ran my stovepipe out horizontally with elbows---and then up.

Think about it---a woodstove is so much more efficient than an open fire.  It doesn't shower occupants with hot sparks and embers.  It keeps in hot coals and radiates heat for 12-15 hours, something an open fire can never do.  It's not smoky or noxious---like an open fire can sometimes be in a canvas Tipi, even with a good liner.  Smoke flaps can be adjusted on a tipi but often the winds change direction and there's inside smoke. 

Another advantage to a Tipi woodstove---You can leave a fire burning damped down and leave the lodge and come back 10 hours later and you still have heat and a fire going.

If I had to live in a primitive shelter again (not on a backpacking trip)---I would never consider using an open fire---and instead would get the best woodstove I could find for my needs.


Tipi-Walter-and-the-Stillwinds-Lodge-XL.
This pic shows my lodge with the stovepipe coming out of the double-wide door.  I also used an outside dead leaf berm around the perimeter of the Tipi which helped as both insulation and a wind block.


Scan7-0001-XL.jpg
The interior woodstove pic showing the pipe leaving out the double door.

The advantage of a covered top pole hole is not a single drop of water or snow spindrift coming in from the usual top Tipi hole.  Plus, with the stovepipe running out the door you get no smoke inside.

4:22 p.m. on December 25, 2018 (EST)
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Walter,

Your homily on the dangers of wood fires applies only partially to my Caldera Cone ti stove B/C that stove contains about 95% of the fire's sparks.  So yeah, I do have to be upwind of the feeding port but very few if any sparks will come through the vent slots.

I never plan to warm anything more than my hands with that stove so I'll be warm in my regular clothing plus added "camp clothing". If the snow is deep enough I'll make a snow kitchen with cooking surface and bench to put my sit pad.   

Eric B.

2:30 p.m. on December 26, 2018 (EST)
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I generally agree with Walter from a pragmatic POV, but if with friends a fire makes a good congregating point for in-camp socializing.  (I'd still wear all those layers he describes and stand back far enough, such that the embers pose an insignificant hazard to my clothing).

I also prefer a different shelter configuration.  Walter goes for the tunnel tent, while I prefer pyramid tarps in the snow.  All trad 4S tents have limited head room; while tarp shelters afford plenty of head room when set up on a perimeter wall of snow, or over a pit dug into the snow.  Small parties can always skip a fire altogether with a pyramid tarp, and instead comfortably congregate in relative spaciousness under a tarp.

If one has the energy and sufficient snow pack, I find fabricating a snow shelter is the best warm accommodations.  Snow is an excellent insulator.  While it may be subzero and blowing hard outside.  The still air in the shelter at near 32⁰F affords hanging out in minimal insulation layers: a balaclava, fleece long-john tops, and long-john bottoms under thermo cycling tights works for me.  A bonus is snow shelters are remarkably quiet - no wind howling or tent walls flapping.

On base camp style outing we expand on Eric's cook station, to include seating for the entire group around the stove.  Weather permitting there is nothing like a moon lit night among expanses of glittering snow diamonds.  Make sure to bring plenty of Aquavit or whiskey.  (I know alcohol makes the body radiate heat - that is why I pack sub zero sleeping system and layers.)  Besides we are talking about getting cheerie not "frosted".

Ed

12:24 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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Okay, I heard what people have said. 

How do you deal with 14-15 hours of darkness and no fire?

The last thing I want to do is spend all of that time cacooned in a little nylon tent. 

12:57 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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ppine said:

Okay, I heard what people have said. 

How do you deal with 14-15 hours of darkness and no fire?

The last thing I want to do is spend all of that time cacooned in a little nylon tent. 

I do what I do when camping in no fire zones.

I have a high wattage LED light I suspend from a line strung overhead.  It lights the kitchen and nearby area without glaring in everyone's eyes.

Night lighting is especially important to me as I do my cooking in the dark, and tend to stay up long after the sun goes down.  The hanging light is actually better than fire, as far as illuminating an area, albeit a fire provides a more pleasant ambiance.  And I HATE being tent bound when awake.

Ed 

1:48 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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Yeah, lying awake in a one person tent for hours sucks. Done that and "I hate it when that happens."

I take only my headlamp but I've hung it from a branch or X'd ski poles for wider area of light.

Eric B.

4:01 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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Fire blinds you to the night, as does artificial light. If you use those tools sparingly when needed, but let yourself adjust to the dark, snowy campsites are never really dark, even on cloudy, new moon, nights. Unless absolutely necessary or I am reading, I use only the red beam on my headlamp. Preserving my night vision is a conscious effort.

If you bring the clothing for it, a person can stand very still in the cold winter's night and just be. Some folks need to be doing something or their minds catch up with them. Others can't stand to be alone and need human or animal companion to make talking noises at. Those who know what I'm talking about understand though. To stand there motionless, under dazzling stars or falling snow and do nothing more than be is a fine camp activity indeed on a long winter's night.

Have to have the right clothing for that though. The stuff you wear during the day isn't going to cut it heh. For me, Baffins on the feet, old school Nuptse and a thick beard are the way to go in this application. To be motionless, yet comfortable, at -20°f allows you to be still enough to hear the cold. Have to watch out for eyeball ice though :)

4:08 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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"What to do about all the time in a tent?" is not something I consider much---I guess because I love living in a tent no matter the conditions and consider myself to be supremely blessed to be outdoors at all---and happy to be sleeping in the ample breasts of Miss Nature.

Heck on my last trip (just got back on Dec 16) I spent 20 days backpacking in the snowy cold mountains of TN and NC.  A big snow event hit on Dec 8-10 and kept me pinned in my tent for 6 nights and 7 days---even though the snow was only 12 inches deep---but the Ice storm on Dec 13 really kept me pinned because the trail off the mountain was gone---blocked by collapsed icy brush.  See pic.


Trip%20194%20%28248%29-XL.jpg
Here's the trail off the mountain.  I had to spend three days cutting my way out with my folding saw.


Trip%20194%20%28247%29-XL.jpg
This is where I spent my 7 days in the blizzard.  The main consideration was waking up every couple hours and clearing the snow and ice off the tent.

What to do to kill the time?
**  Bring books to read and burn.
**  Carry a little radio.
**  Take photos and scroll thru pics.
**  Keep an exhaustive trail journal with paper and pen.
**  Do ranging dayhikes and explore area on foot.
**  Burn stick incense in tent vestibule to brighten mood.
**  Snack often and endlessly.
**  Pull daily water runs for morning tea or oats and evening dinner.
**  Play Hide The Blue Sausage with area beavers.  (Not sure what this means but it sounds neat).

4:22 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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And to Whomeworry about pyramid tarps---I was out last year during a winter trip and found some college kids using their Black Diamond tipis (used to be Chouinard tipis)---Not bad for 2018.


Trip%20189%20%28317%29-XL.jpgI lived in a Chouinard Pyramid tipi back in the winter of 1985 and of course it was designed by Chouinard to be used in snow with the perimeter covered by snow to prevent windblown spindrift coming inside.

My Pyramid was small and the middle pole got in the way and so the foot of my sleeping bag usually touched the wet wall of the single wall shelter.  I could tilt the base of the pole away from the center for more room but then I loss some strength and stability.

And without snow the Pyramid was terrible in high mountain bald winds because even staked down tight wind gusts would get underneath the fabric and cause the tipi to billow out like an umbrella and want to take flight.  I remember one windy night I had to stay up all night and hold the shelter down.

6:28 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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Walter,

I have lived in a wall tent for a month at a time and spent plenty of time in tipis in winter.  Without a fire I would not even consider it. 

Humans have lived in tipis with fires for thousands of years. 

But if you have modern equipment no fires?  That is de-evolution. 

11:55 p.m. on December 27, 2018 (EST)
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ppine---When you lived in your wall tent I bet you had a woodstove---cuz I've never seen a wall tent using an open fire inside.

"But if you have modern equipment no fires?"  Not sure what you mean by this.

I mentioned all the reasons I don't like fires on my cold weather backpacking trips.  No sense in repeating myself.  My -15F WM down bag IS my woodstove and my fire. 

And with all the places now requiring campers to make no fires---it could be the next evolution of backpacking.

With a good 4 season tent and an overkill down bag and a good sleeping pad system there's no need for a fire even at Ten below.  Heck, look at backpackers above treeline or on Mt Everest or in Antarctica---not much wood to burn and yet they still hike and camp.

In the old days most Plains Indians used tipis covered in tanned buffalo hides and used buffalo robes for sleeping "bags" and warmth.  Of course they used open fires in these lodges---but they also put hot fire rocks into animal stomachs full of meat and veggie soups for some of their meals---the hot rocks cooked their food.

I've evolved from hot rocks and stomachs to a titanium pot---and went from an open fire inside a tipi to a woodstove---a vast improvement.

Some winter backpackers carry and use "hot tents"---like the Kifaru nylon tipi with a portable woodstove---the lightest such tipis coming in at around 10 lbs.  The stoves are small so the wood gathered must be small.  The stoves don't hold heat in long---and must be fed almost continually.

Another big drawback is what to do with the hot stove ashes the next day when packing up, especially if you have a morning fire.  The camping area could be bone dry with high winds---so what happens to the hot coals?  You can't just dump them on the ground and leave---ample water therefore is needed to saturate these ashes---but who carries such water at dry campsites.  Just some thoughts.

12:32 p.m. on December 28, 2018 (EST)
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Tipi living fires good. 

Modern backpacking fires bad. 

Tipis are designed to use a fire. 

Wall tents are designed to use a stove. 

2:57 p.m. on December 28, 2018 (EST)
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ATTENTION All Potential Future Tipi Dwellers---Use a woodstove, you'll thank me later.

Well known canvas tipi makers Nomadics has a pic of such a setup in one of their tipis---


Nomadics_wood-stove_interiorWb.jpg
Here's another pic of somebody else's tipi with a woodstove---

https://meadowatdusk.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/inside-tipi-during-day2.jpg

Somebody else's setup---

https://www.summitpost.org/more-inside-the-tipi/707107

Let's get back to my home lodge---Woodstove all the way!!!


Wood-Smoke-and-the-Tipi.jpg
Regarding the comment that Tipis were designed for an open fire, well, they were also designed to use tanned buffalo hides---but nowadays most are canvas.  How many buffalo hide tipis have you seen?  Using an open fire in a tipi is akin to using hides for the cover---canvas is now more popular . . . and woodstoves take the place of the open firepit.

4:49 p.m. on December 28, 2018 (EST)
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Wow, talk about thread drift. Or hijack.

Eric, if you can accomplish the needed tasks with lighter weight, sounds like a winner.

7:41 p.m. on December 28, 2018 (EST)
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The conversation changed on post 4 when ppine opened up the discussion to talk about an open campfire---

"A fire helps a lot to dry out the clothing and bedding.  It is a hug psychological benefit.  It saves hauling a lot of fuel."


I disagreed with his opinion about the usefulness of a campfire---and then the discussion evolved to Tipis and woodstoves vs open fires.

Hijack?  We're still sort of talking about winter backpacking and cook stoves including twig stoves (i.e. woodstoves)---and then open campfires.  It's not a stretch to go from there to open fires vs woodstoves inside primitive shelters.

If we started talking about North Korea or illegal immigration---now that would be a thread hijack.

9:08 p.m. on December 28, 2018 (EST)
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I'd definitely like to hot tent IF I had the terrain to pull my gear in a pulk. But it's too mountainous in Nevada in most places.

Walter, I like that tunnel tent and take it any day for a winter tent unless somebody volunteered to carry a big geodesic dome tent. (Volunteers anyone?)

Eric B.

11:13 p.m. on December 28, 2018 (EST)
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I did a long March trip in the Shenandoahs back in 1987 and carried a North Face VE-24 (for two people---old girlfriend) and yes it was near perfect in all regards. 

My red tunnel tent is definitely my favorite now for winter backpacking (or for summer too for that matter).

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