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Seek Outside 'big sibling' hot tent wood stove
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Edward Barton
(edwardalbarton) - F
Seek Outside 'big sibling' hot tent wood stove on 11/13/2013 22:57:51 MST Print View

I just came across this newish entry to the hot tent wood stove market from Seek Outside. Weighing around 12-14oz including stove pipe, for around $200, makes this a tempting package.

Has anyone had any experience with this stove?

Burn time?

Temperature impact?

How about when compared with other stoves - e.g. the Tigoat cylinder series....

Thanks for any feedback, E

Below are a few photos, from Seek Outside, the forums at Hillpeoplegrear, and Dave C's bedrockandparadox blog.siblingDave C's setupprototype

Edited by edwardalbarton on 11/13/2013 23:04:34 MST.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Seek Outside 'big sibling' hot tent wood stove on 11/13/2013 23:41:34 MST Print View

No experience with that stove, but do have and have experience with their boxed stove design (the large model of same).

The new stove's weight is very nice, but i do like the convenience of the box stove doubling easily as part of a cook kit. While it's not the most efficient way to heat water or cook, if you're already using it to heat up the tent, it's certainly practical and convenient to easily use that same heat source to warm up water, etc.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Seek Outside 'big sibling' hot tent wood stove on 11/14/2013 10:30:19 MST Print View

Interesting approach. It looks like a fair bit of the combustion of the hot gases occurs in the flue (stainless steel, right?). That allows the "stove box" to be a lot smaller, although compared to a stove with a traditional firebox:

You've got less surface area from which to radiant/conduct-to-air the heat.

With less combustion occurring in the firebox, you'd get less radiant HX to the new wood. i.e. it wouldn't be as good at bringing wet or frozen wood up to temperature.

That's a pretty small opening. There's going to be more sawing or maybe an ax in your future, and that adds weight.

And, as commented on above, there's currently no cooking option. I'd be tempted to make an annular pot around a short section of flue pipe. Maybe even with a spigot (think coffee urn) so you could boil water from the heat of the flue pipe. Fabrication would be tough - to weld such thin stainless. I make heat exchangers on pots with JB Weld, but the pot can NEVER run out of water.

Edited to add another segue from Justin's thoughts: you most want a wood stove in winter when you also need to melt snow and have lots of hot drinks, so the lack of an cooking option could be a big disadvantage.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 11/14/2013 10:33:45 MST.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
water bottle on 11/14/2013 10:37:57 MST Print View

What about a removable stainless steel water bottle with some sort of holder, say riveted or bolted in place.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Big Sibling stove on 11/14/2013 10:45:03 MST Print View

I haven't used mine a ton yet, but initial signs are promising.

It drafts very well and fires up very quickly, and heat transfer is rapid and effective. Combustion is complete. The shape of the stove and size of the door do limit fuel size, and bringing a small saw is a good idea, especially in areas with pitchier and/or damper fuels.

Small stoves like this are not going to provide heat when there isn't flame. They require frequent feeding, and aren't going to radiate heat otherwise. In my experience this is true regardless of shape. They're a specialty tool for drying gear and making things more pleasent, thus saving energy during tough conditions. Not being able to cook on the Sibling is thus not a big deal for me.

The real advantage of the Sibling is the small packed size. Pipe, damper, and stove pack into a 3" by 16ish" cylinder, which is very easy to pack. The above photo is from an overnight technical canyoneering trip, for example.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: re: Big Sibling stove on 11/14/2013 11:17:25 MST Print View

This is a HYOH thing but I'm trying to understand the appeal of these stoves for a backpacker and I'm sincerely interested to know why you guys use these.

I've used some pretty heavy Yukon stoves and think they're wonderful for winter expeditions where you have wheeled support but they were way too heavy for backpacking. I toyed around with the idea of putting together a hot tent paired with a titanium stove for winter backpacking but haven't for a couple (perceived) reasons:

1. Seemed that I can add extra insulation to my sleep system for less of a weight penalty than that of a UL titanium stove.

2. Most of the stoves marketed for backpackers seem to be too small to burn for 6-8 hrs so I'd have to add fuel throughout the night.

Edit I've read Dave's response for drying gear. I'm just wondering if someone has perfected a technique for keeping the stove running throughout the night for added warmth.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 11/14/2013 11:22:57 MST.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Re: re: Big Sibling stove on 11/14/2013 11:23:49 MST Print View


I think one of the big advantages is drying gear although you're right -- a small stove requires frequent stoking.

The other big advantage is when you're wet and possibly borderline hypothermic external heat is a huge blessing. Sometimes when you're cold and wet through a fire is just the most wonderful thing in the world.

Adventures In Stoving

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: re: Big Sibling stove on 11/14/2013 11:32:09 MST Print View

I have a Pulk project waiting for me in the garage that I need to complete this winter so I think it's just a matter of time before I put together a hot tent. I've spent many hours huddled around a Yukon stove trying to thaw my fingers so I'm certainly not opposed to the idea.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 11/14/2013 11:32:40 MST.

Colin Krusor

Locale: Northwest US
"stove" on 11/14/2013 11:34:21 MST Print View

I think "stove" might be a misnomer. This appears to be a campfire flue. The fire is on the ground and this flue goes over it. I think it is a clever design that could be useful in some situations, but it isn't a stove, in my opinion.

If you'd rather define a stove as anything that mostly encloses the fire, I won't argue. The distinction isn't important, really, and I don't feel particularly invested in splitting hairs. It just seems to me that this is a good place to draw a line between a stove and a flue over a campfire.

Edited by ckrusor on 11/14/2013 11:43:50 MST.

Edward Barton
(edwardalbarton) - F
Re: Big Sibling stove on 11/14/2013 12:24:21 MST Print View

Dave, if you can, let us know your experience with the temperature impact of the stove when you are stoking it frequently? How much of a temperature raise have you seen, in what conditions?

My main concern with a design like this is that I want something like a 3-4p mid to warm up enough to be comfortable. I'd like to be able to hike with my partner and dog and then hang out in relative comfort without having to be all the way inside a sleeping bag, and have the magic of a fire to curl around, regardless of whether I need to feed it frequently.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Seek Outside 'big sibling' hot tent wood stove on 11/14/2013 12:35:35 MST Print View

I also think it's pretty interesting, but wouldn't the open-door design make it easier for an errant spark/ember to burn a hole in a bag or something?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: stove heat on 11/14/2013 15:15:43 MST Print View

Edward, the heat put off by the stove is pretty impressive. On the evening the photo above was taken, we set camp at dusk. By the time we had the mid up and Meredith was in her bag boiling water for dinner temps were in the low 20s and cold air was pouring down into the canyon. I got in and fired up the Big Sibling and within a few minutes the stove and pipe were glowing red and we were perfectly comfortable out of our bags and eating dinner in just long sleeves. Feeding the stove every 5 minutes kept the temp at that level until we ran short of fuel and went to sleep.

A stove like this won't allow you to do a trip with a lighter sleeping bag. You are in a non-insulated shelter, after all. It will allow you to dry condensation in your bag, thus keeping it at full function.

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Comments on 11/14/2013 19:32:06 MST Print View

The comments by Dave C are pretty much spot on. It will take an average size mid and take it 60 or 70 inside when it is near 20 outside, and with about 5 minute tending. It certainly does have drawbacks operationally in comparison to a box stove, but it's intent was not to replicate that performance. The intent, was very light weight, very small pack size, very quick assembly, and to take the chill off and dry off. I used it on an early spring time mountain crossing, where pack weight was very light (I used a ULA Ohm). After 14 hours almost entirely above timberline one day, setting up camp just as it was dark,, the ease of assembly and quick heat were welcome, and we did somewhat dry our gear in the meantime.

If I know I'm going to use a stove or am not super concerned about weight, I will take a box stove. The sibling is for when I'm not sure I'll use a stove, or when weight or just taking the chill off is more important.

As far as all night warmth and a stove, it is as much a shelter issue as a stove issue. I've know our XL can be loaded up and dampered down and still be putting out heat 3 hours later. The lightweight material however, does not hold heat very well meaning you have to keep a decent fire going and that coals are not enough. There have been times when it has snowed during the night, which creates some insulation on the shelter, and I could wake up a few hours later to a 50 degree temperature in the tent while it was only 15 degrees outside. Granted once, I opened the tent, the tent was nearly 15 as well. A tent liner will help, but it's a combination of different things. The cool thing about the XL stove, is it will fire right back up a few hours later with some wood thrown in it. The sibling, yes 5 minutes stoking is about right. However, I'd rather stoke it every 5 minutes and be warm then be awake all night shivering.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: re: Big Sibling stove on 11/14/2013 19:53:59 MST Print View

Ian, i was going to say that with a pulk, it's really no weight at all. My stove set weighs packed, a little over 3 lbs, and since it's collapsible, not a lot of volume either.

Considering what you're getting for 3 lbs, and if it's on a pulk to begin with, really not much weight at all. Lot's of people still use packs that weigh 4 to 7lbs on average, now if you have a 2 lb or so pack, and a 3 lb stove, you're still ahead of the game compared to a lot of folks.

I didn't get this for backpacking so much though. I wasn't on BPL when i purchased it, and didn't have much a clue about UL, SUL, etc, but even then i realized yeah, it's more weight than i need to carry for most trips.

However, a little while after i bought it, i was excited to try it out in the field, and made the big mistake of bringing it on a late spring/early summer week hike in the White Mountains of NH. I was out of shape, carrying this and too much weight in general, and yeah those little mountains (but lots of constant elevation gain/loss) kicked my butt, and kicked it hard.

Found my way over here after that experience (when the student is ready, the teachers appears and all that). What i did primarily purchase it for was in case we had to live in the woods for an extended period of time. If that does happen, i suspect it will be about one of the smartest purchases i've ever made.

But, if we get enough snow here this winter, do want to try it ala pulk style. Thinking about making my own out of UHMWPE plastic.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Comments on 11/14/2013 19:57:49 MST Print View

Kevin, just curious if you guys have researched lightweight non conductive materials as liners for the stove box to increase overall burn time in the box stoves?

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Research on 11/14/2013 20:36:13 MST Print View

We have a couple things we are researching right now, that I really can't comment on. If they are viable, it will be pretty exciting stuff.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Research on 11/14/2013 20:41:54 MST Print View

Ah, look forward to the eventual results.

On a side and self centered note, dang, the old intuition has been sharp lately.

Edward Barton
(edwardalbarton) - F
Re: comments on 11/15/2013 13:25:38 MST Print View

That was a big help guys, thanks. I'm very interested now. Dave, I look forward to your thoughts after the stove gets more use.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: comments on 01/20/2014 20:33:21 MST Print View

I'd like to give everyone an update on how the Big Sibling and I have been getting along.

In short: very well.

Fuel prep is crucial. A small saw is mandatory for ideal function. Prep a bunch of 1.5-2" by 5-6" pieces and you're set. Once the stove has burnt for ~30 minutes and you've set in a bed of coals, you can stuff it full of said pieces, damp it half closed, and leave it for ~15 minutes while it puts off steady heat. In a sil mid sealed from the wind (snow over the edge, sod skirt, etc) you can elevate the interior temp considerably. Like sitting on your pad in long johns and barefooted with an exterior temp of 0 considerably.

These numbers will vary a fair bit depending on wood dryness and type.

The Big Sib is not forgiving of poor wood prep or inattentive feeding. If you've never used a small cubic inch stove before I would strongly recommend some shakedown trips where you can futz with it in easy circumstances.

Stoves like this are not for everyone, and won't get used all the time. For damp trips they make a ton of sense, as they remove a lot of stress relating to keeping gear dry. For deep winter trips they turn a mid into a little mini cabin where you can hang out leisurely. Given the time associated with wood prep, I don't envision the stove making the cut for trips where miles and time are a big priority.

It is an awesome piece of gear and for me was worth every penny (I paid full retail).

Jean-Francois Fortier
(jffortier) - MLife

Locale: Qu├ębec
Big sibling no longer available! on 04/08/2014 09:15:09 MDT Print View

I asked if the product is still available. Here is the reply:

No it is not. Everyone seems to want one after we make a decision to discontinue it , because there were not enough sales to really get it into production.

The good news is, we will have a smaller fully contained stove shortly, that will weigh more but not a lot more and be fully contained.


Well, if there continues to be strong interest , perhaps we will redo it, or make instructions available. Sadly, there was not much interest until the last couple weeks.

Kevin Timm

Edited by jffortier on 04/08/2014 09:18:30 MDT.