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Backyard Snowtrekker Lessons

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  • #16
    One way to dial in a woodstove and all the accoutrements of a luxurious heated tent is to turn it into a home office of sorts. Each day I head out to the yard and fire up the stove for a few hours. Heating with a woodstove is new to me so I'm applying what I've watched and read about. It's more fun "doing" than watching.

    We finally have some snow to go with "winter" so the fly is getting some experience:

    I like working with my boots off and socks on:

    An inquisitive visitor. I left it a peanutbutter treat along with a snappy surprise:


    • #17
      With 50 mph gusts predicted, I ended my 26-day practice session yesterday by striking the tent. While I felt certain the tent would handle the wind just fine, I asked myself, "Why push it? Save the strain for a real situation in the woods." We had thundersnow this evening with a particularly loud flash and crash.

      A few wrap-up notes from my backyard experience:

      1. If I worked in my tent for 6-7 hours, I burned through a Kwik Trip-sized bundle of wood so now I have a feel for how much wood to plan for on weekend outings. I will also start sourcing my own supply of wood going forward. Gas station wood costs add up fast. Any thoughts related to costs of equipment/tools for wood processing vs buying ready-to-go? I don't mind the body work-outs associated with processing enough wood for camping and hanging out in the backyard for a month or so each winter so I'm more interested in the dollar discussion.

      2. I learned a ton about the relationship between the stove pipe damper and the air intake openings on the stove door. Having a stove pipe thermometer made a nice visual tool to use along with how warm or cool the air felt. My Kni-Co Alaskan does not have a false bottom or a baffle so I'll have to consider those options for the future.

      3. A Voda fan is very useful in a backyard/home-use scenario - but is too heavy and fragile to haul into the woods.

      4. I struggled with the stove pipe damper. When I wanted it open, it would close and when I wanted it closed, it would open. The butterfly spun too freely on its axis. I can think of two solutions: a) stretch the spring on the handle a bit to create more tension, or 2) dig down into the ground so that the stove sits lower in the tent to allow the first section coming out of the stove to be the straight section with the damper. Perhaps the damper would behave better in a vertical position as opposed to sitting on an angle. My recent set-up had the elbow section as the first section out from the stove and the damper section was second and thus was on an angle. Any advice?

      5. I trapped a mouse who was exploring the inside of the tent. Question: Do baited traps attract rodents thus becoming a self-fulfilling situation or is it better to hope they won't take up residence because there is no food to eat?

      5. During week days when on a video call, my colleagues enjoyed asking me about working in a tent. Lots of lively discussion when it was -17° F and I was basking in the heat of a woodstove. I always had a teapot on for hot chocolate and other snacks and lunches that could be warmed up. Tending the fire or prepping the next fire kept me occupied between gaps in the work flow.

      Thanks for reading and for adding any comments and suggestions. I'll definitely do this each winter as it cures a bit of the cabin fever. The past 30 days' weather was very stable - no rain, about 6 inches of snow, and steady cold temps below freezing with one day at -17°. The next week will have big temperature swings between 50° and below zero nights.


      • #18
        Good call on pulling her down in the 50 mph winds. I don't know where you live but in MN yesterday the wind tore the Christmas lights of the tree in front yard. I learned a lot from this post, thanks for sharing!


        • #19
          Nice, a twenty-six testing period is good.

          1. The biggest issue will be what type of wood you are burning. Was the Kwik-Trip stuff a hardwood? I can see it lasting all day then. You won't be able to find hardwood much in certain places, the the BWCA. There it is only/mostly pine and that stuff can burn real quick. Might go through 2 or 4 of the gas station sized bundles in a day, depending on temperature and wind.

          2. I would suggest at the very least to get a false bottom sooner then later. Really helps with the long term survivability of the stove.

          4. I have had that same issue with the dampener. I disassembled it and stretched the spring a bit, just like you were thinking. Seems to have done the trick. I have also set up the stove with the elbow first then then length with the dampener and vice versa, all depending on snow depth. I haven't really seen any difference. My own preference is to start with the stove length first then the elbow, but I don't think it really matters.

          5. Backyard critters might be more numerous then backcountry critters. Setting up for 26 days and having a warm place probably did more to attract critters then food did. I the woods I have never had a problem with mice or voles getting in the tent. But I do make certain that my food is in some container that mice can't gnaw their way through.

          5. Sounds luxurious, and welcome to being known as that guy who is nuts and goes camping in winter.


          • #20
            The emerald ash borer has made ash firewood bundles at Kwik Trip gas stations the predominant species. City forestry crews all across WI are cleaning out dead, dying ash trees each year.


            • #21
              I set up the Snowtrekker shortwall for a few days this week so that I could try out a new stove (steel Four Dog) in terms of fit and assembly, etc. I'll wait for cooler weather in the fall to burn-in the stove. In the meantime, I'm going to build a ground-level platform so that I'm off the ground year round. I've got the extra lumber laying around so the only costs should be whatever hardware I use and possibly some concrete foundation blocks.

              My unanticipated surprises associated with a summertime setup were 1) the purple bird droppings that were bombed down onto white canvas - evidently the mulberry trees are ripe, and 2) ants...hundreds upon hundreds...on the outside of the tent. I closed the vent holes and kept the door zipped so they didn't hang out inside.


              • #22
                It's been over a year since updating this thread. Have made progress in creating a backyard retreat.

                First steps: Build a platform to keep the tent off the grass, mud, and snow. Add a cooking spot just beyond the front step. Try out furniture options (in late Sept).

                Add tent (in early Nov.)

                Add snow and cold (in late Jan) - at last.

                I use the tent as a work-from-home spot a couple times a week and am usually in there for part of each weekend - baking or snoozing.


                • #23
                  We didn't have a lot of snow this winter - except in March...

                  However, by the time we hit a streak of 80° days in mid-April, it was time to strike the tent. I had it set up for over 160 days straight. It's amazing what can be stored inside if you never empty it out...


                  • #24
                    This is spectacular! I love the platform. And yeah, stuff multiplies whenever I pitch mine in the back yard, too. Can't believe how much I drag out and leave without realizing it until I have to reverse the process.


                    • #25
                      I made a list and it kept getting longer and longer...

                      10'x12' (x6") wooden platform + 11 tent loop cleats on platform
                      Snowtrekker Shortwall 3-man tent + 9 stakes in ground
                      Tent frame poles
                      7 guy lines with Snowtrekker clips
                      37 ceramic floor tiles (12"x12") to seal the snow flaps
                      Tent Fly + 6 stakes in ground
                      Daisy-chain strap (12') for hanging items along interior ridge pole

                      Interior - front third:
                      Little Dog wood stove from Four Dog Stoves
                      Little Dog stove shelf x 2

                      Stove pipe x 4 + elbow + damper pipe + spark arrestor + exterior pipe support (Brautigam Expedition Works)
                      Stove hearth mat
                      Heat Reflector - bottom of stove
                      Heat reflector x 2 with clips - backside of stove
                      8 tiles in 2 stacks, 4 crescent blocks under the stove

                      Ash bin
                      Ash shovel
                      Ash rake
                      Poker/blow tube - titanium
                      Whisk broom
                      Voda magnetic thermometer (on stove pipe)
                      Voda heat-powered stove fan
                      Stove legs x 4
                      Cast iron tea kettle
                      Cast iron trivet x 2

                      Wooden drawer kindling boxes x 5

                      Lure of the North toboggan 10'

                      LOTN Stove bag 2'
                      LOTN Tank 6'
                      LOTN Top bag 4'

                      Collapsible DMOS Stealth shovel
                      Collapsible Clam shovel
                      Kitchen broom​

                      Interior - middle third:

                      Large wooden chest:
                      Camp Country kettle
                      Coleman camp oven
                      Cooking pots x 4
                      Cast iron skillet x 3

                      Electric oil-filled radiator
                      3-way plug adapter
                      100' outdoor extension cord

                      Helinox Savanna chair
                      Helinox Table One Hard Top
                      Wooden child's table

                      Footstool pillow
                      Wool blanket
                      Fleece blanket

                      Baking Kit (lunch bag with Kovea spider stove, etc)
                      Tea Kit (lunch bag with Kovea spider stove and tea pot)
                      Whatever Kit (lunch bag with nesting Coleman cook pots, etc)
                      Coleman Cooler Backpack + Flame King propane tank (5 lb-er) + 4' hose extension

                      Interior - back third:

                      HDX storage tote (70 gallon):
                      Big Dog stove from Four Dog Stove
                      Stove pipe x 5 sections + elbow + damper pipe + spark arrestor
                      Stove legs x 4
                      Stove shelf

                      HDX storage tote (55 gallon):
                      King Kooker iron 2-burner camp stove (25,000 BTU)

                      HDX storage tote (55 gallon):
                      Lodge cast iron Sportsman's Grill

                      HDX storage tote (38 gallon):
                      Lodge cast iron Camp Oven
                      Oklahoma Joe's Halftime XL charcoal starter

                      Recycling bin x 3:
                      Tinder and kindling sticks from yard

                      Kingsford charcoal storage bin (24 lbs)

                      Plumb camp axe
                      Maul 6 lb
                      Maul 13 lb
                      Wedge 6 lb
                      Wedge 4-way

                      Tent organizers (hung between back tent frame poles):
                      Spare beanie
                      Spare gloves
                      Snowtrekker tent bag
                      Snowtrekker hardware bag
                      Snowtrekker stove jack cover

                      Despite all this crap stored in the tent, I had plenty of open space (4'x8') up the middle from the door going back.
                      I've probably forgotten a few small items and I didn't store my ice fishing gear either as we had a very short ice season. There's always next year and more gear...
                      Last edited by SD_Motak; 04-30-2023, 11:43 AM.


                      • #26
                        Great thread. I'm just about ready to do a similar thing here in Chicago-ish. Patio going in this summer. Hot tent going in this fall. And hot tent as the home office through the winter.

                        Thanks for the inspiration!