Please critique the safety aspects of my setup for cooking in the tent
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John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
NZ Trip -- Please critique the safety aspects of my setup for cooking in the tent on 09/27/2009 23:14:23 MDT Print View

Heading to New Zealand with a new tent and a new stove...looking for feedback on how safe my proposed system for cooking under the outer (fly) is. Seems well-ventilated to me, but I am worried about carbon monoxide, and I have no experience in this area.

Things to know before looking at the pics:

- I'm used to Esbit under the stars in the desert, so I really have no experience with remote-canister stoves, cooking under cover, or with this new tent.

- stove is an MSR WindPro
- pot is Evernew 1.3L
- windguard will be pulled tighter to pot than in pics, about 1/2-inch to 1-inch gap
- fuel will be NZ equivalent of MSR IsoPro 220g

- morning cooking is bringing 1L of water to a boil (coffee for 2)
- evening cooking is the same (tea for 2), as well as bringing a small quantity of water to a boil for a dehydrated meal (twice)
- no other cooking

- tent is a Macpac Celeste
- two doors
- two exterior vents
- six sides, more or less (see pics)
- pitches outer-first, inner easily hung from within when ready

- NZ trip from November thru late-March
- assume at least 1/3 of cooking will be in significant rain, more if we're unlucky

- all pics are in "battened down" mode; the zipped doors could obviously go higher in light precipitation, but I need to guage the safety in a worst-case scenario.

Finally, since we'll mainly be camping low, near water (i.e. river valleys, flats, etc), not on the tops, I'll guess this means not much wind, so let's figure there's no helpful breezes to assist ventilation.



OK -- a tour of the inside first:


1) Below you see half of my side of the tent. The pack would be thicker with more stuff in it, but otherwise this is the view to my right.







2) Below you see the other (left) half of my side of the tent. I would be sitting on the Z-Rest. That's the tent inner folded behind me, ready for later. The orange dry sack is a stand-in for my wife's boots.







3) Now we're looking across at my wife's half of the tent. The blue dry sack is a food bag. The red Compack Chair represents where my wife would be sitting. The NeoAir stands in for my wife's ULA pack, and the stuff on top of that would be another food bag & her stuff.







4) Continuation of the slightly chopped view above.







5) I forgot to measure how high the ceiling is, but I'm about 6'0" and can easily sit where the pot is without brushing my head on the inner, much less on the outer. And I don't have to slouch to do it either. I am hopeful this is enough clearance. I have played briefly with cranking up the MSR, and holding my hands out over the pot -- no significant heat is felt at all at just a foot or two above the pot. Anyway, the pic below is the best I have at conveying the ceiling height. FYI I had not yet staked out the vent...







6) Below is an interior pic of the door to my right, when battened down.







7) Below is the same door from the exterior. The triangular opening is about a foot high at the apex, 1.5 feet long on the sides, and about 2.5 feet across the bottom.







8) Below is an interior pic of the door to my left, when battened down.







9) Below is the same door from the exterior. Forgot to measure, but the interior layout allows this door to be a bit more open.







10) There are two identical vents. Below is an interior shot of one of them. The rectangular mesh dimensions are approximately 6" x 18"







11) However, the vents are more constricted on the exterior. Below is a shot up & into the outer 'scoop' of the vent; this scoop is about 10" wide, and only about 3" high at it's short apex.







12) Below is another exterior shot of the vent-scoop; there's an identical one on the other side.







13) Finally, we'll finish with a quick tour of the exterior at ground level. These dimensions will vary with the pitching & terrain, but in this case we've got: Below you see that side-1 was about 2" high all the way across...







14) Below is side-2, climbing from about 2" on the right to about 4" on the left...







15) Below is side-3, which averaged about 4-5" high...







16) And, lastly, side-4, which climbed from about 1" on the left to about 4" on the right.






Soooo...is this "safe?"

All feedback appreciated...

Edited by trtlrock on 09/28/2009 09:36:34 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Info on 09/28/2009 00:18:27 MDT Print View

Wow that's a lot of info on your setup.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
too much info? on 09/28/2009 00:25:05 MDT Print View

Sorry if that's info overload -- thought anything that impacted ventilation was worth listing...

Edited by trtlrock on 09/28/2009 00:51:01 MDT.

Derek Goffin
(Derekoak)

Locale: North of England
cooking in a tent safety on 09/28/2009 01:37:56 MDT Print View

firstly you should read Roger's article about canister stoves and see what he says about yours. I think you will find it is good, but find out for yourself. Second he has an article on how much area of in and out ventilation you need. I think you have plenty and more and I would not think about it, until the whole bottom strip is filled with snow. Find those articles and you are sorted

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Info on 09/28/2009 02:36:29 MDT Print View

Hi John

You should also look for some feedback from Lynn Taylor, our resident Kiwi.

Macpac Celeste:
Your pics all show this pitched fly-only. Big mistake in NZ. Erect carefully in your backyard, attach inner tent carefully, and henceforth always use it combined. Two reasons:
1) you WILL appreciate the mosquito netting in New Zealand: they have these little things called sandflies ... a bit like Scottish midges. One could have an interesting debate as to which is worse: Scottish midges or NZ sandflies.
2) the ground in NZ will very often be soggy WET. The idea of not using the inner tent groundsheet under those conditions is ... probably laughable.
This is not a winter/mountain/snow tent, but should be fine in most any valley in summer. However, this IS new Zealand, so being in a valley does not mean you will be out of the wind. It just gets stronger up top.

Compack Chair:
Huh? You're carrying it.

Stove system:
All OK. But cut yourself a bit of light 3-ply maybe 6" square, Estapol it (varnish, whatever), and use it as a stove base for stability. Indispensable.
The Celeste with the top vent open should be fine for cooking with the WindPro. You may find that most everyone else cooks inside their tent, especially when it's raining (which is often).
A gap of 1/2 -1" is fine for the windshield.

Cheers and enjoy.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
ventilation feedback on 09/28/2009 09:27:48 MDT Print View

Thanks Derek & Roger,

I did read Roger's articles; that was one of the main reasons for choosing the MSR. And snow won't be an issue, barring freaky weather; this is mainly a low-altitude summer trip.

And I guess that I didn't make it clear that this setup is only for cooking in rain, at all other times the inner would be attached. But I couldn't envision an easy, enjoyable & safe way to cook while the inner was hung. The body of the inner would undoubtedly impede optimal ventilation, and it pushes the stove uncomfortably close to the downsloping outer. Bug protection (while actually cooking) would be moot since the inner's door(s) would be open. And the comfort difference is huge -- trying to fit 2 people at one door in the rectangular inner for a pleasant meal is like playing twister in a cupboard...not fun. Anyway, the inner is so ridiculously easy to hang that we'll be packing it separately from the (presumably wet) outer anyway.

So the typical "it's pouring" scenario would be: Hike, arrive, erect outer, get us & stuff under cover, windshirt/raingear for bug, soggy ground & splatter protection, cook, finish, hang inner, zip & sleep. Break down in reverse in the morning, with the outer being the last item packed...

Anyway, it sounds like my main concerns have been answered. As long as the gap at ground-level, the partially unzipped doors, and the two vents combine to provide adequate ventilation in still conditions, then presumably we won't expire & become a statistic.

Thanks again for the feedback.

Edited by trtlrock on 09/28/2009 10:08:34 MDT.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
Roger -- missing a word? on 09/28/2009 09:30:54 MDT Print View

But cut yourself a bit of light 3-ply maybe 6" square, Estapol it (varnish, whatever), and use it as a stove base for stability. Indispensable.

Roger, what are you referring to above? 3-ply what?

Thanks...

Zack Karas
(iwillchopyou@hotmail.com) - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
NZ cooking on 09/28/2009 09:53:50 MDT Print View

What type of hiking are you going to be doing in NZ? If you are going to be hiking mainly cross-country, then I can see the interest in finding a sheltered way to cook. However, if you are going to be hiking the popular trails that mostly have huts, couldn't you just cook at the huts?

Also, if it is raining hard enough for you to want to cook under a type of shelter, then sand flies most likely won't be around to bother you.

I used a Tarptent Cloudburst in NZ for my 5ish months of tramping there and had zero problems (I also had the annual hut pass and paid it off after a couple weeks--a great investment). Cooking under the front vestibule/beak worked well.

If you are really worried about CO and don't want to sit in a cramped tent on soggy ground, maybe consider bringing a light tarp that could be pitched easily for a nicer stand-up cooking area.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
Tent > Hut on 09/28/2009 10:03:19 MDT Print View

Zack, our itinerary is here: http://trtlrock.blogspot.com/

Looking to avoid huts as much as possible -- we prefer to tent-camp. Good point about the rain probably meaning fewer bugs.

We'll have small Z-Rest sections to sit on, perhaps on our NeoAir's in the Compack chairs, with rain pants on if necessary. As long as we don't pick a pitch-spot that is already a small lake I'm thinking that'll be enough protection from soggy ground while cooking.

Thanks for the feedback.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Roger -- missing a word? on 09/28/2009 10:33:17 MDT Print View

John- 3-ply is very thin plywood, i.e., 3 layers. Can be either 1/8 or 1/4 inch- I use the 1/8". The "sealer" adds years to the wear.

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
3-ply on 09/28/2009 10:41:47 MDT Print View

Tad -- thanks for the translation -- sounds like an excellent idea.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: ventilation feedback on 09/28/2009 16:34:09 MDT Print View

Hi John

> I couldn't envision an easy, enjoyable & safe way to cook while the inner was hung.

No problem. You don't need much space. Pull the middle of the floor back a bit and you should have enough. I am happy to cook in an 8 - 10" wide space, but I am sure you can get more than that. Oh - DO tie the netting out of the way!!!

Check the temperature of the roof above the stove - you don't want that getting hot. But consider: if it is fine weather you can open the door a bit so it isn't a problem. If it is pouring with rain (or worse!), the roof is going to be cold and wet.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Roger -- missing a word? on 09/28/2009 16:37:11 MDT Print View

> 3-ply what?
.
7148Brekki.jpg
You can see the little bit of varnished 3-ply wood sticking out from under the windshield in the photo.

Cheers

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Roger -- missing a word? on 09/28/2009 18:52:50 MDT Print View

Roger, where did you get the Jam? It seems like every time I see that picture I'm hungry

John Beisner
(trtlrock) - F - M

Locale: Blue Ridge
reflector? on 09/28/2009 18:54:34 MDT Print View

Roger - do you have a reflector on top of the 3-ply? They are desirable for bouncing downward heat back up to be utilized, correct (assumes remote-canister)? Thoughts on permanently attaching the reflector (if used) to the 3-ply?

Thanks

Edited by trtlrock on 09/28/2009 19:23:34 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: NZ Trip -- Please critique the safety aspects of my setup for cooking in the tent on 09/28/2009 19:13:29 MDT Print View

One other option that we use a lot in NZ rain is to use sticks or trekking poles to raise the front vestibule door to create an *awning*. This would require two extra guylines and stakes, but makes a nice large well ventilated cooking area. It also makes for nice views that you otherwise miss out on when you're closed up in a rainy tent. This should also allow you room to cook without detaching the inner.

One good thing about sandlfies (as compared to, say, mossies) is that they are only active during daylight hours. So if you only plan on being in the tent during the night (and don't mind being awakened at first dawn by having your blood sucked), then you may not need to use the inner. But it sounds like you intend using it for sleeping.

As far as cooking under the fly, I highly highly recommend using a Caldera Cone as your windscreen/pot stabiliser and heat retainer. You'll get better performance fuel-wise, and especially if it's windy. It is much more stable/safe, and the flames are completely contained within the cone. A Cone and MSR windpro is our most solid and dependable cooking combo in all seasons (mostly we use this for winter trips).

RE: wind!! The closest we ever came to having a tent ruined was because we pitched down in a valley during a gale. This caused the wind to swirl unpredictably, and a downdraft flattened our tent. At least if we had been up higher we would have known which direction the wind was coming from, and wouldn't have been affected by these downdrafts! The second closets call I've seen was also down in a valley when around half a dozen trees right next to our tent were blown over due to heavy rains followed by intense wind gusts. If the wind had been blowing the other way, it would have been us in the firing line...I now have this strange aversion to camping under trees.

Edited by retropump on 09/28/2009 19:32:36 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Roger -- missing a word? on 09/28/2009 22:59:24 MDT Print View

Myrtille jam, bought in a supermarket in Switzerland or France. very nice!

Look for jams by Charles Jacquin or Bonne Maman - they may be imported in the USA. We can get them in Australia.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 09/29/2009 04:07:30 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: reflector? on 09/28/2009 23:02:38 MDT Print View

Hi John

> do you have a reflector on top of the 3-ply
Nope, I never bother. In my experience the 3-ply never gets very warm.

Hey - if it was getting so warm that a reflector was needed or justified, the canister would be getting MUCH too hot. Doesn't happen.

The main use for the 'reflectors' (imho) is for white gas stoves (and kero) to handle spilt fuel. Doesn't apply to canister stoves.

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: NZ Trip -- Please critique the safety aspects of my setup for cooking in the tent on 09/28/2009 23:05:43 MDT Print View

> I now have this strange aversion to camping under trees.
Ah yes - you should see the size of branches which our gum trees can drop!

Some walkers were killed years back when a full Mountain Ash (gum tree) fell on their tent in a creek valley. About 1 metre diameter trunk.

Cheers

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Please critique the safety aspects... on 09/28/2009 23:42:44 MDT Print View

No gum trees here in the US, but a lot of bark-beetle killed pines in the Rockies. My scariest moment in Wyoming's Wind Rivers this summer was when a big gust of wind came up and trees started crashing down right and left. Pitching a tent under a tree to avoid condensation is almost impossible, as is finding a safe site that is not in the middle of a meadow. It's easier close to timberline, since fir species are not affected. However, a lot of the Winds are above timberline, back into heavy condensation mode (which up there is usually frozen by morning). Wherever you are, it's important to check surrounding trees for "widow-makers"!

We do have the Bonne Maman jams here, at least in the northwestern US. Albertsons's and Red Apple markets carry them. Yummy!!! When in France, though, my breakfast was always pain au chocolat. Nobody in the US seems to know how to make these properly (with a piece of dark chocolate, not chocolate filling, in the middle).

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/28/2009 23:47:38 MDT.