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The Art of Storing Heat.

When you can’t find what fits your needs you may as well make it on your own. This issue of the Tentipi blog features a good portion of DIY-creativity as we meet 23-year-old Swede, Petra Alinder. She first built her own tipi out of tarp, but later got her hands on an Onyx 9 to which she, of course, added some special touches.

Both warm and cosy

It all started in Beneficio, an off grid alternative village outside Orgiva in southern Spain. It was in the winter 2012 that me and a friend drove from Sweden to Spain, escaping the mean winter winds. We drove by the Pyrenees and visited Orgiva. Beneficio was kind of a known spot and I´ve heard about it before because of its anarchy-inspired origins. I went there one day and pretty fast found my way to the main meeting point, a huge North American native-inspired tipi. I think it might be this day I decided that I wanted to live in one myself someday. I was totally amazed by its beauty and the comforting feeling I got by just being inside it. It´s something special with the cone shape, feels like being held somehow.

Later that spring when back in Sweden, I started to build my own tent in the forest outside the village of Järna. To do it I used my imagination and advice from friends combined with a simple guide from the Internet. Looking back, I´m impressed by my own ambition! Early march, snow, ice, stormy. But it was so much fun! I got help from a good friend to put up all the tree poles I´d collected in the forest. First the big tripod (the three thickest), and then the remaining 9. Instead of a canvas I used two large tarpaulins, because it was easier. This project was more of an experiment to see for myself if I had the guts to go all the way and actually move there. Therefore I didn´t engage in sewing a canvas. Two months later I moved out of my rented room, to live in the tipi during the summer months. I still had a car and a part time job in the village, so I got my share of social life… and showering! I collected my drinking water from a natural spring below the hill where I had my tent. As a toilet I dug simple pits a good distance from the tent (you don´t want the same flies at your toilet as around your cooking pot). I stayed in that forest for 3 months and it became a wonderful summer. So now I’m doing it again, but this time I have a Tentipi Onyx that I bought from a friend, and instead of the forest I chose a more comfortable spot in my friends’ backyard.

The Onyx 9 was put up in her friends backyard

One of the first things I added to my tent was to put a small wooden deck at the entrance of the tent to make it mud-proof. Springtime in Sweden might be kind of wet and with all the going-in and going-out every day it would become a mud puddle in no time. Since I keep all my clothes and stuff in the tipi I´m pretty careful to keep it clean inside. Still, there´s always some moss in my hair, grass in my bed and small spiders running around among my clothes. That´s part of the charm with living in the nature. Since the tipi often stands open during the days the bugs are able to get in, but I´m not bothered by them. They´re nice company.

To keep mud out from her home Petra put a wooden deck infront of the entrance

Then we have the stove.

In early march the nights were snowy and below zero. It was really warm and cozy in the evenings when having a fire burning, but I often woke up at dawn freezing. I didn´t like the idea of getting out of the warm sleeping bag to start a new fire, so I often tried to reach the logs and the stove from inside the sleeping bag and ended up falling out of bed. I started to think of better solutions and got the idea from a friend to insulate the stove and make improvements to hold the warmth longer. The easiest way was to use a big pot full of water. It will hold some warmth for a couple of hours, and as a bonus it moistens the air inside the tent. Without it I felt my throat and eyes get pretty dry after a night. Another plus is you always have hot tea water prepared!

Then I got the idea to use rocks as radiators. It was a big project collecting them but luckily I got help from a friend to get the stones from the forest. The heat radiates a lot to the sides and the back of the stove, almost none underneath. So I built the stones up all around the sides and the back. Wow, what a difference it made! A big plus is that the heat doesn´t radiate so intense anymore. My legs used to get grilled as they were placed at the side of the stove at night.
The stones hold warmth almost all night depending on how cold it is outside. After two hours of fire they are really hot, and some mornings when I get up they´re still lukewarm. One great thing to do at winter nights would be to put some hot stones in a cloth and put them in bed. Should be excellent when you don´t have a partner or a dog there to spoon with ;-).
The stones don’t keep the tent as warm as a burning fire would, but I think it´s enough to spare you from waking up in the middle of the night chattering your teeth. And the bigger the stones the better, since they hold warmth longer. They´re just so damn heavy to carry! Still, I don´t know how this would work on really cold nights, like -5 celcius and below. It’ll be interesting to find out!

Petra built stones around the stove to keep the heat all night


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