By: Tracey Breen
A high-quality shelter is necessary when hunting in the backcountry. Almost every backcountry hunter knows it; the problem is choosing the right shelter for your needs. Over the years, I have tried a variety of shelters, but in the last ten years, for my needs, nothing compares to a tipi. There are many different brands on the market today. My favorite is the Kifaru. Kifaru tipi’s are made in Colorado and built for the hunter who wants a lean and mean shelter that can take a beating and last for years.
One of the best things about a tipi is how lightweight it is. My four-man tipi tips the scales at slightly over five pounds. Most four-man tents are twice this weight. A Kifaru tipi doesn’t have a floor, has only one pole which goes in the center and is made of a lightweight proprietary material that is super strong and tear resistant. A tipi is tough, lightweight and is extremely easy to set up because there aren’t many poles and gadgets needed to erect a tipi.
A four-man Kifaru tipi is perfect for two hunters and all their gear. I have lived in my tipi for up to two weeks and it offers many advantages over traditional tents including more head room, the ability to use a wood stove and because it doesn’t have a floor, I never have to worry about ruining the floor or getting it dirty.
When I purchased the Kifaru tipi, I also purchased the medium wood stove. The stove is what really separates a tipi from a tent. The stove is compact and can be quickly setup or broke down without much effort. What I like most about the stove is the amount of heat it gives off. A few years ago while elk hunting in the Idaho wilderness, I found myself caught in a blizzard. When I returned to camp, I was soaked to the bone. I quickly warmed up after I got the stove cranked up. I hung my wet clothes by the stove and went to bed. I stoked the fire several times during the night and my clothes were dry in the morning.
The stove eliminates the need for a Jetboil or other cook stove. It takes a little longer to boil water on a Kifaru stove than a Jetboil, but having a stove that doubles as a heat source is worth the trade off. I typically make freeze dried food or Ramen noodles on the stove and it works well, especially on really cold nights and the stove is worth its’ weight in gold.
The footprint of the Kifaru four-man tipi is 10.5”x13” when set up, with a center height of 6’6”. When packed, the tipi measures 6.5”x 22”. In my opinion, this tipi and stove combo is the perfect system for the backcountry hunter. After you have tried a tipi, you will likely never use another form of shelter again.
If you really want to go lean and mean, check out the Kifaru ParaTarp. This one-man shelter only weighs 1 pound, 13 ounces.
About the Author: Tracy Breen is a full-time outdoor writer and marketing consultant in the outdoor industry. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com.