Rating: 5 / 5
Let me start of fby clarifying that I do not work for Seek Outside. I am a project engineer for a highway construction company. I will look for a place for a proper introduction. That being said, I hope you enjoy the review, and look forward to any comments about this item. Feel free to PM.
This review is for a lightweight, packable wood-burning tent stove made by Seek Outside, and can be purchased from [url]www.seekoutside.com[/url]. This company is located in Ridgeway, CO, and the product is made in the USA. It is hard to read a review and know exactly what to expect, but I will entertain any and all questions associated with this review via PM, or posts on this thread. This review will be on all of the forums that I frequent. The name of the stove is still up in the air at the moment, but for the purpose of this review, I will call it the VersaStove, which is in line with their single pole, lightweight tipi, named the VersaShelter ™. The 6 man VersaShelter ™ that was used will also receive a review. This stove can be used in a bottomless operation to make a larger burning volume and a lighter product. The stove with accessories weighed in at 3 pounds, 1.3 ounces with a stainless steel stove pipe. Manufactured models will come with a titanium pipe (mine is on its way), which will shave 9 ounces off of the final weight. Seek Outside is still working on shaving more weight from the product in accessories, and the sack that holds the stove. I received a cordura bag for my stove, and I like it this way, so the metal will not puncture the bag.
The stove material is almost 100% titanium (ti), with the exception of the threaded legs, wing nuts, and spark arrester. With the stove being made from ti, the weight is lower, and material is stronger. The ti material is up to 45% lighter than most steels, and has a melting point of up to 3000o F, whereas stainless steel material has a melting point of 2750o. When burning the stove, you will still notice the glowing red of the material as it heats.
This is the stove as a package (I forgot to take a picture of mine, so this is from [url]www.seekoutside.com[/url] )
I will attach an assembly video taken from Seek Outside’s website which is a straight forward video that shows the assembly of the stove in new condition. The hardest part of the initial assembly is rolling the stove pipe, which is not shown in the video. Use caution when rolling the pipe, because the edges are extremely sharp. It is easier to use two people to roll it. After the initial burn, this is MUCH easier. Here is the video:
It is recommended that you burn it prior to using it in a tent to dissipate any coatings from the metal which may have harmful vapors. For the pre-burn, I used small branches and sticks picked up around the yard. This short video is the pre-burn of the stove set up in a driveway:
After the initial burn, the pipe gets a lot easier to assemble!! It basically rolls itself up in the proper direction.
A group of 7 fishermen went on a trip in WV. We had all intentions of a hike, but it ended up that the trip was made easier with a guide that had been there before. Our gear arrived at camp in a fashion that only we could have wished for. I set up the 6 man VersaShelter ™ and VersaStove in less than 10 minutes. There were 3 cots, gear and 3 bodies in the shelter, and it was still roomy!! We had some assistance gathering firewood, and I made sure that it was cut small enough to fit inside of the stove. I opted for some dry beech from a tree that had fallen over this winter or last year. I split it up with my trusty Back Paxe from Gerber. The beech was split into 2”-3” pieces.
Seek Outside knew that I was providing a review for the stove, and I wanted to use it with both options, with the bottom, and bottomless. The first night of the trip was set up bottomless. I dug out a hole smaller than the perimeter of the stove at a depth of four inches. The volume of the fire box would be 1010 cubic inches this way. The burn was hot, but was not lasting well. It would burn out quick and would be hard to get started. After looking hard at the problem, it appeared that the hole was too deep, and the draft from the front of the stove was hitting too high on the fire. Swing and a miss from my part!! I made the hole about half as deep, and boy did this work. This made the overall volume of the firebox 846 cubic inches. The draft was good, the stove burned well with the damper fully closed. When you look at the damper, you will notice that there is area on the sides that are attached to the adjustment pin which allows some air to escape with the damper fully closed. Burn time was about an hour and half. Remember that river rocks hold heat well, but also remember that some sandstone pops when it gets hot. We piled up rocks around the stove, and they remained hot for hours after the fire was out. Here is a short video of the stove being burned bottomless with the 2 inch deep hole:
The second night of the trip, I placed the bottom on the stove. It burned very well, but there was a noticeable difference in the amount of wood the fire box would hold. There was a decrease in 166 cubic inches of volume when the bottom was on. I think that the bottomless option is ingenious, and better for my application. Here is a short video of the stove being used with the bottom on:
Overall, I would recommend this stove and company to anyone looking for a lightweight backpacking stove for a shelter. The customer service is TOP NOTCH!! The company is very assertive and wants the best for their customers. I will not say that it is not possible, but I would be hard pressed to find a company that takes as much pride in what they do as Seek Outside does. For example, after I did the pre-burn, I noticed that the spark arrester was not staying in place well. I contacted Seek Outside, and a resolution was discovered and the “fix” was noted, and should be in place for the next production models. This is not a product that is made overnight, but they worked hard to get mine to me in time for my trip. My experience with Seek Outside was pleasant to say the least, and I would lobby for this company any time that they need it.
Seek Outside has received a full disclosure for this review, and has permission to use it for the benefit of the company as they see fit.