Hill People Gear Forums
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralSeek Outside XL Stove reviewSeek Outside XL Stove review
New Post
3/13/2012 1:25 PM


I hate fiddly, and by that I mean I don’t like to have to keep messing with a piece of gear to make it work for my needs. I don’t have a problem spending time with something to learn how to use it and the best way to make it work for my needs, but after the initial learning curve I expect a piece of gear to work without constantly needing my attention or being overly complicated. 
My first use of a portable wood stove was in the Forest Service back in the mid-1990s with what I simply knew as a shepherd’s stove. I have since had personal experience with several different sizes of Kifaru stoves, EdT’s cylinder roll up stoves, and a couple of different variants of Evan’s canister stove (http://hillpeoplegear.com/FreeResources/Makeawoodstove/tabid/880/Default.aspx ), not to mention a fair number of woodstoves in houses over the years. At this point I don’t own any stoves. All the stoves mentioned above are owned by others. Evan’s canister stove design was the first stove that I have ever really had any interest in owning for my uses, until now. Kevin at Seek Outside sent us a stove to T&E at the winter rondee, and I have to say I was pleased and impressed with it.  
With the knowledge that we were going to be using our 12-man as a communal tent, we asked him to send us one of his extra large stoves (designed to go with his 8man). Evan promptly told me I was in charge of the 12-man and as a result the stove.  (The location of the pitch of the 12-man is testament to how much I hate fiddling with stuff. I specifically chose to pitch it in the sun so that we would get plenty of solar gain so I didn’t have to be a stove slave during the daylight hours. Evan has written elsewhere on how that bit us in the butt, and as it turns out totally unnecessary.) The first thing that was striking was the weight of the stove when Evan handed it to me. I shouldn’t have been surprised given it is made out of titanium, but the stove is surprisingly light for the size. Our specific stove weighted in at 2.5lbs with the damper, but without a stove pipe. The next thing that struck me was how well the stove fitted together. I had previously seen one of SOs box stoves, but hadn’t really messed with it so I knew it was well fitted, but it was a pleasant experience to put together a stove and not feel like I needed a third or even fourth hand to get it together. Remember my dislike for fiddly? This thing was really starting to grow on me. However, it wasn’t until I started a fire and started running it that I was sold. 
Based on my experience with wood stoves in buildings and my first experience with that shepherd’s stove, especially given that all of the rectangular portable wood stoves I have see and used have basically been the same as the original shepherd’s stove (design, materials, way you put it together, etc…) with minor variations (air tightness, location of vent holes, dimensions), I have an expectation about how a wood stove should work. I expect a stove to get going with minimal fuss with a good fire lay. That means I don’t expect to have be constantly blowing on it to get it burning, then be very careful with the size of wood that I feed it; meaning very very slowly feeding larger sticks and then ¼ or smaller rounds until it is going, and having to repeat those steps at every turn if the stove is slightly neglected. If I do my part and get a good fire lay and then get a fire going I expect the stove to do its part by burning without my constant attention. This stove delivered on that expectation. In fact, I was so impressed that I started pushing the stove to see what it would do. Whole rounds shoved in, shove it full of wood without any thought to a good draw, shove in wet wood, shove in all different sizes of wood, I did it all. It got to the point, that when it needed more wood I would just fill it as full of wood as I could cram it and then close the door and sit back and relax for another hour or two. I also told the guys splitting wood the second day to not worry about splitting the small rounds and only half the larger ones specifically to see if this was an issue. This stove didn’t seem to care it just chugged along.  I put this down to the location of the front vent holes which are at the front of the box below the door. The draw of a stove is critical to the operation of a stove and as heat tends to rise the natural pathway of air through a stove is from bottom to top as it gets heated. Therefore a stove that has the holes to high won’t draw as well as a stove that has them low.
At first I was a bit skeptical about the door, which is a slider set in a couple of runners. My suspicion was that it would be easy for me to knock it off one end or the other when I was feeding the stove based on the knowledge that I can be a bit clumsy at times. Luckily, I was right and that is exactly what happened, and I discovered what was one of my favorite features. The door was easily removable and large so when it came time to feed the stove I just pulled the door off, set it aside and shoved wood in the gaping maw of this little critter. When I was done it was a simple matter to slide the door right back on. I typically use leather gloves when working with a wood stove because I have found that my hands aren’t quit as deft as they should be and it is very easy to hit the edge of the door or door itself with the back or side of my hand.  This is even easier when the door is on a hinge and wants to swing closed on you. With the door completely out of the way this wasn’t a concern. However, in the interest of fair testing I did grab the two loops to put the door back on a few times and/or open it. I did this with no problem, and found that the door loops where never too hot to touch even when my singed knuckle proved the door was. That being said I still recommend gloves and if you don’t and burn yourself it is on you.
We started the fire on Friday afternoon and ran it until bedtime. I restarted the stove next morning and we ran it continuously until the following morning or approximately 28hrs straight. Both times I started it where almost a non-event. Get a good stove lay, add fire, and then add wood. The second morning I even tried to smother the fire by adding wood once it was going until the box was full and then shutting the door and leaving it alone. Didn’t make a difference in my experience those two days if there was fire and wood it was going to burn. This was possible because of how well and efficiently this stove works. Saturday night I was the first one to wake up, hydration can be a catch 22 on a cold winter night, and decided to see if there was enough of bed of coals, after a full day of burning, to get it going again. I have to admit that the idea of sleeping in a warm tent, even though I wasn’t cold had a bit of an allure, and as it had been 3.5hrs since it was last stoked I did blow on it a bit to get it going. The next time I woke up, got to stay hydrated right, the stove was cranking away. I found out from him the next morning that Jason had been up about an hour earlier and just shoved the box full as he stumbled by in the dark and went back to sleep. After three hours of no attention that was all it took a full box and a bit of time to kick off. Given that knowledge in the morning all I did was shove it full of wood, and then went about my morning and sure enough after a bit of time it was away and going. Finally a wood stove with the size and characteristics that it is entirely feasible to have a stove burning all night if you have the wood and someone wakes up every few hours and can cram it full. 
So that is the good, what is the bad? Ironically, all of my complaints, which aren’t really complaints, but rather personal choices, are by trying to cut weight. Kevin sent us the smaller diameter legs, he offers a thicker diameter as an option, as they are the standard size, and while they supported the stove with no issues I personally would have liked something a bit thicker so the stove was a bit more stable. The other issue I had was that I felt like the stove could have benefited from a larger diameter pipe. Although to be fair, this stove was designed size wise to work with SO’s 8 man and not a 12-man and we were really asking the stove to do more than it was designed for. That being said it did just fine, but when the wind was really whipping, I felt like the diameter of the stove pipe was causing it to not exhaust as well as it could. I also noticed at those times that when I opened the door smoke was blowing out of the door. I think what was happening was simply a back draft due to high winds overcoming the mass of the hot air rising. Again, SO offers a larger diameter pipe as an option. 
The final piece of information about running this stove is that we found that after 15+ hrs of continuous burning and however many hours the day before the damper got a bit clogged. I banged on the bottom of it with a stick while it and the pipe where raised using a Leatherman SUPER TROOPER EXCALIBER AWESOMENESS 3000, and after that it was up and running again with no problem. Not that it had stopped drawing, but rather it was not drawing as well. Another reason I would opt for the larger diameter pipe. 

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
New Post
3/13/2012 7:32 PM

 Thanks for posting Scot.  I am currently contemplating a new shelter and stove combo.  Since I have almost no experience with these stoves/shelters, I am in the "gathering info" stage.  I like what I have seen from SO (and I find the owners really nice and knowledgeable people too).  The reviews from you and Evan have been very helpful.

New Post
3/23/2012 1:21 PM

Thank you sir... I just ordered one of these to go with my preordered 12 man SO tipi and I'm stoked about breaking it in. I'm also hoping to operate it in the bottom removed configuration to expand the firebox and if I have any comments or problems, I'll chime in here.



New Post
6/1/2012 12:14 PM

I had a chance to burn in my XL stove late last night and had similar results... it really ran well and gobbled up whatever I threw in it quickly including some wet framing lumber that had been sitting in the sill of my basement for a year or two.  Once I had a good bed the draft through the holes in the lower front did a good job of keeping it going.  It was easy to put together and really tight. I'm going to run it again tonight for another burn and thinking about cooking dinner on it for my girls.  I also had the rain cap on the end and it worked well. It would be interesting to see how that fared in wind as it was a pretty calm night.

It felt very stable and I didn't get any smoke coming back out of the gaping mouth. Like Scott, I had reservations about the sliding door but found it really easy to use and may actually prefer it to a hinge the more I use it.  Granted Scott and most everyone else here will likely have far more experience with this type of stove and this was the first time I've ever used a take down stove... up to this point, I had only ever used one of the big cast iron wood stoves in a walled tent.  So for a rookie at best between it being fairly intuitive and the comprehensive directions and tips on the SO website it was easy to use... I'd be interested to see it side by side with some of the other manufacturers stoves, but I'm really happy so far.

admittedly I baby my gear especially my new gear so I'm interested to see what the durability is when I'm back from a long hunt or trying to break down camp quick!

New Post
11/18/2012 8:29 AM

Scot...Thanks for the review, and Forum.          XL Titanium or XXL stainless  for my situations

I have ordered a Seek Outside 12 man tipi with full liners.I am still undecided on the stove, and could use a little help. I am definetly getting a SO stove either a XL Titanium 3.6 # or the XXL Stainless 9 #. The damper and bottomless option and a 4" pipe(there Stainless stove comes with a titanium stove pipe BTW)were my deciding factors We've ran wall tents/colorado cylinder stoves,but its time to lighten up. Plus I just sold a huge wall tent to a fella, and we used my Dolly to get it to his truck.  Transport  would include airplane,boat,snowmachine,pulk and rarely backpack, with the weight split between 3. Everything from trap line to ice fishing, fall moose camp, float trips. I'm pretty sure I would use my  oh so warm colorado cylinder scout stove on super cold days/trips. November to March

Between these two stoves is cubic inches. I believe 1450 CI XL Titanium, and 2300 CI for th XXL. One stove is 14" on top and the SS stove is 16' so not too  I've never ran a titanium stove, and from what I can gather is they tranfer heat much better then stainless. Looking for info from people that have ran both SS KIfaru's and Titanium. Also on your review of the XXL stove what winter temps were you looking at, and how comfortable was it in your 12 man tipi, and did you cook or boil on it.? 1450 CI is pretty close to another companys  Large SS stove, but at 3.6 Lbs. it just sounds to good to be true.... I'm really not worried about weight, I believe 12 man tipi plus  liners SS stove 22 Lbs.  same setup with titanium XL stove about  16.5 lbs. Lighter is always better, especially in a super cub..  Sorry about all the questions, but nobody i know has ran both types before...

regards, and again thanks for the forum !!





New Post
11/19/2012 8:14 AM

 Well, I'm sure you would rather hear from other folks but here is my 2 cents. The titanium is superior for heat transfer and weight. However, the stainless has size to its advantage and airflow. It has almost twice the airflow. The stainless uses a thicker gauge as well and probably does not seem to transfer heat as well, but there is no arguing the increased air flow. It was not designed so much for backpacking as it was for horse packing or other assisted back country usage. Could we add more airflow and a larger pipe to the XL ? Yes, but real estate is the issue. You can leave the door cracked and that works, but efficiency is compromised somewhat. We like our stoves to burn efficiently. The stainless creates more heat due to the extra airflow. 


Btw warming trays and snow supports should be available soon. 

IMO the Xl ti stove is fantastic, and suitable for a wide variety of conditions, but sometimes the stainless is a better choice when weight isn't the driving factor and the tent is large.

http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
New Post
11/19/2012 4:05 PM

Kevin may well be the only one who has perspective on the relative performance of both stoves. We've only seen the one ourselves.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
New Post
11/19/2012 5:04 PM

It comes down to this.

The XXL has a larger diameter pipe and more low air inlet holes than the XL. The XL can be made to do the same, but isn't as optimal. The titanium in the XL does transfer heat better, but the XXL transfers heat as well as other steel stoves. For me, I'm mostly interested in carrying a stove on my back so the XL wins, and it will heat an 8 man extremely well and a 12 man pretty well. However, if I was dealing with long term temps near 0F and a large tent like the 12, I would go with the XXL unless the stove was going in on my back.

I should note, heat is relative. Do you want to heat the tent to 70 degrees, or just create a nice warm area near the center. That is a big difference in expectations. One project we had on our radar, but could not test in the summer, and have not had time to do this fall was a radiant roof on the 12 man to reflect heat back down. The majority of heat loss is in the cone of the tent. The heat rises, it's much warmer at the top in relation to the cool outside temp, and therefore it looses heat the quickest. Theoretically, insulating the cone or reflecting the heat back down should cause the biggest bang for the buck as far as optimizing the heat created by the stove. 

I hope this helps. If you would like to test a reflective top segment let us know, although it will be on an as time permits.




http://www.seekoutside.com | sig added by EH... go check out Kevin's stuff!
New Post
11/19/2012 9:32 PM

Thanks Kevin/Scott for the feedback. XXL stainless stove ordered. I will give some feedback/Pic's  once  try it out. I emailed Kevin about the reflective top..

Regards, CR AK


HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralSeek Outside XL Stove reviewSeek Outside XL Stove review