I have started this thread to review Seek Outsides 4 man Tipi that I purchased used in November of 2014. I have put it to use a few times and decided to do an initial review. There will be no discussion on how long the tent will last because I have not had it long enough to give an honest opinion. If I still have the tent in a few years then I might choose to speak on the longevity of the tent then. I would like to first start off with some background information about myself, how I camp and previous tents I have owned to give you, the reader, an idea of where I am coming from experience wise.
My past tent history has been an interesting one. When I was younger my family had a large crappy Coleman tent. We are talking about the WalMart special that was likely listed as an 8-12 man tent because it fit 4 of us rather comfortably. We upgraded to a camper and I wont consider those years as camping. Moving on, I joined the US Army Infantry in 2009 and learned quickly that a tent was nothing more than comfort. I never set up a tent in the 3 years that I served. In Afghanistan I took the poncho and poncho liner they supplied us for over night missions. I still to this day will occasionally sleep under the stars if the night is warm and no sign of clouds for miles. I picked up a little 2 man tent from a friend when I excited the military. I couldnít even tell you the brand of the tent but it was a small and outdated backpacking tent. Better quality than my parents old Coleman but not by much. It weighs around 4lbs packed up if I had to guess. After that, I moved to a hammock and I completely fell in love! It was a Hennessy Expedition hammock with the attached bug screen, tarp, and snake skins. For whatever reason I was convinced that a Roof Top Tent (I will refer to this as an RTT from now on) was necessary. RTTís are highly loved by truck campers and serve their purpose well. Just so happens they do not serve me well. After two, yes I had two RTT (thatís another story itself), I decided it was time to move on to something that better suited my camping style.
When I go camping, I set camp first. It has always has been that way and I suspect it will always be that way for me. Most of the time I have no set destination. I have an area that I would like to explore and I fully intend to explore it! Now, most people that own RTTís drive all day, set camp, and go to bed. I arrive to the camp site, set camp, and then get the itch to drive 10 miles down the road to see if the fish are biting or see where another road leads to. That doesnít work so well when you have to pack up camp to drive anywhere. I have similar backpack/hiking tendencies as well. I set camp, then grab my fly rod and head out to various high country lakes in search of tasty brook trout! I guess you can say I use my tent as a base camp. Somewhere to unload all my gear and call home for a few days as I play around.
I stumbled across Seek Outside after seeing Kifarus Tipis on hunting forums. There were nothing but positive reviews for these Ultra Light (UL) tipis. Hunters use these to replace the large and cumbersome wall tents they traditionally used for base camps. The term ultra light is in regards to the size of the shelter compared to the weight. I understand some backpacking guys take UL very serious and will rip anyone a new one if someone calls an item UL and it weighs more than a pound . I do not intend to compare SOís Tipi to Kifaruís Tipi and I ask that any questions regarding that topic be asked elsewhere. Much like talking about longevity, I have never seen a Kifaru Tipi nor do I know the differences so I choose not to speak on that topic. I will say that I chose to go with SO after comparing prices and exchanging emails with the owner Kevin. Ill discuss the customer service later, letís move onto the tent!
Like most tents, the amount of people they fit is slightly exaggerated. SO did an awesome job of explaining the size of the 4 man tipi on their website. You could fit 4 people in the tent but there would be little room and getting in and out of the tent would be interesting to say the least. It is a back country palace for one person without the stove and very comfortable with the stove and a wood pile. I would confidently fit another grown male in the tent with the stove. I plan to have my roommate, his large dog as well as my dog and myself in the tent for quite a few trips in the future. I am more than willing to discuss the size more if anyone has questions. Feel free to ask for more pictures or comparison shots, I will do my best to help anyone thatís interested.
Set up of the tent is relatively simple. There is a slight learning curve and the first set up might take you a bit longer to get a correct pitch. SO suggests using the set back method and has instructions for that on their webpage. Times on pitching the tipi will vary from person to person. I will say that it takes me probably 6-10 minutes to have the minimum number of stakes in and the tent up. The process is simple, first you stake 4 sides, insert the center pole and then stake the rest of the points tight. I have also used this tipi on the ice as an ice fishing hut in the winter. All you have to do is drive nails into the ice instead of stakes.
Since the tent is a conical shape is does well in high winds. I have managed to pitch the tent in 50+ mph wind gusts and once it is up and tight it had shed the gusts well. The tent also features a built in sod skirt and that keeps all breezes to a minimum. I will speak more on this as I gain more experience with the tent in wind.
Let us move onto the best feature of these tents, the ability to have a wood stove in your tent! This is part of the reason I had chosen to leave the RTT and become a ground dweller again. I have the medium stove that SO offers. The stove itself is light and very easy to assemble. I donít have an exact weight but itís no more than a few pounds. I have used it in below zero temps and it heats the tent up in a matter of minutes. There is something amazing about setting up the tent after a decent winter hike and stripping down to a tshirt because the tent is just that warm. I havenít cooked directly on the stove but I have heated up water and soup. I plan on doing some fish tacos next weekend and seeing how well it works. The burn time is a bit of a letdown in my opinion. I would say you have about an hour before you need to stuff more wood into it. The heat output slowly goes down over time as well. When sleeping overnight with the stove I keep feeding it until I am just barely awake, stuff it full and slide into a preheated sleeping bag. Yep, thatís right boys and girls, no more enduring that horrible freezing sleeping bag before bed. I wake up and restart the fire without leaving the sleeping bag. This is rather simple, I leave a birds nest next to my bag and a handful of sticks. Toss them in the stove, light it and close the door. After a minute or so I stuff it full of sticks to get it roaring and then toss in logs. I quickly go back to sleep and wake up to a toasty tent. I put my jeans under the stove so I didnít have to put on cold pants either haha. In the future I plan to leave a cup of water beside the stove and a coffee packet so I can wake up to a warm cup of joe!
Lastly I want to touch base on SOís customer service. Kevin is a great guy to talk to and is very knowledgeable about his products. It felt like he was trying to help me understand the products rather than sell them to me. He is active on their forums and quickly answers all questions in a day or two. I have not had to use them for any warranty work or repairs but have seen his willingness to help those on the forum. I feel confident that SO will be there to help me if my tent does some day fail.
I have plenty more to say about this Tipi but I will add more to this thread at a later time. As of now I am at a page and a half in MS Word so I imagine it will be a mouthful on the forum. Feel free to ask any questions! I will do my best to answer them .
Time for some pictures