Whose 8-Man Tipi?

Kevin Dill

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Aug 26, 2014
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2,535
I owned a Kifaru 8-Man for years and sold it. Wasn't perfect but what is? I'm now looking at another 8-Man. Kifaru is on the top 3 list. So is Seek Outside. #3 spot is open. I'm currently looking closely at the SO unit. It has 2 things I find very desirable: external guy-outs and a sod flap. I used to pooh-pooh the flap until I had one added to my Sawtooth...very functional for excluding weather and critters. The guy-outs need no explanation. I can't get these 2 options from Kifaru and would have to do them custom after the sale.

Price difference of $300 (with liners) in favor of SO. I hear no bad talk about Kevin and SO products...very reputable. I'm interested in what you think about your 8-Man or similar tipi from top-end companies and what you would buy today if in the market.
 

bbrown

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Mar 9, 2012
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Fort Collins - CO
The one thing I like on the SO compared to my Kifaru 8man is the door zippers continue to the peak. I have to stoop a bit walking into mine which isn't a huge deal but a minor inconvenience.

The "Flex-pitch" on the SO tipis seems like a cool option in theory as well although I wonder how much it would get used.
 

AK Troutbum

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Apr 22, 2012
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Chugiak, Alaska
Storm flap over the zipper on the SO can also come in pretty handy. I don't know if the Kifaru tipi's ever have issues with leaking through the zipper but my buddies 8 person Ti Goat did and it was a real PITA. I've never had an issue with my 12 person SO leaking.
 
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Kevin Dill

Kevin Dill

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Aug 26, 2014
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Good stuff. The longer zipper (SO) is a great example of the things I'm looking for. Those little differences add up to better user experiences. The flapped or hooded zipper would be nice. My previous Kifaru dripped water steadily during heavy rains, particularly at the upper end where the zipper starts.

I have a friend with a TiGoat Vertex and he likes it. I don't have an opinion on them as I've never seen one and I don't hear many guys talking about them.
 

gramirau

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Dec 18, 2013
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Location
Alberta
I've had good luck with my SO in what I consider pretty rough weather. The guy-outs a bit higher up seem to elevate the bottom portion of the tipi and seem to increase the useable area of the tipi. I haven't experienced the Kifaru 8 man though, so can't compare it. I've only used it when I've needed a stove in it, therefore bugs are less of an issue but the sod skirt is nice to cut the wind from entering. It's also handy to pack snow around to seal out the wind (need to open a air gap somewhere for oxygen for fire though). The flexi-pitch, while a nice feature, has yet to be used since I always want as much room as possible and the space to pitch it hasn't been much of an issue yet.
 

JigStick

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Aug 26, 2016
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315
Location
Pittsburgh
I have a SO 16man Tipi, and the SO Redcliffe. As said already, the zippers and zipper flaps I like better than the Kifaru. And the guy outs and Flex Pitch option come in real handy with my 16man. Plus the price is better. So you're getting more for your money, and the quality is excellent...as is the customer service. What else do you need
 

AXEL

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Jan 2, 2015
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315
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Brit. Col.
SO for me, my experiences with them over about 3 years have been simply outstanding. Might buy a Redcliff or a 12 person this year, if, I cannot swing the northern BC outfitted trip I am looking at now.
 

Hiwallman

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Mar 6, 2017
Messages
40
Location
Montana
Had a kifaru 6man and sold it to get the SO 8man. I have no complaints about the SO 8man but I am now looking at getting the tentipi Safir 9 tipi tent from Mansfield Outdoors. Not really a backpacking tent but a great base camp tent. It’s expensive but I really like the features of this tent.
 

GraveyardNRSE

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Apr 2, 2016
Messages
413
You guys are all looking at the luxuries of the SO--sod skirt, cheaper, guy outs, etc. However, did any of you see on youtube when Aron compared the materials from Kifaru to SO? Its quite telling why SO is cheaper. Also, I've received swatches from both companies and thrashed them with pliers. Kifaru is stronger. They use a higher quality material, hence why they are more expensive. Think about that before you invest in a SO.
 

AK Troutbum

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Apr 22, 2012
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Chugiak, Alaska
Regarding durability, the K does appear to be made with a tougher material than the SO. As far as practical experience goes, I can only speak from the 5+ years of usage (averaging approx. 3-4 week/yr.), in my 12 person SO. It has performed flawlessly, never a leak, and has withstood some pretty hellacious fall and winter storms on Kodiak. My opinion is, if my shelter can go through multiple late season storms on Kodiak or the AK peninsula, and come out unscathed, it passes my durability test.


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rayporter

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Jul 3, 2014
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arkansas or ohio
wellllllll......

I have owned 2 different 8 mat tipis. they did not do what I wanted. so I sold them.

now I have a six man and a twelve man. mostly because I was always trying to make the 8 do what I needed a 12 for.
 

rayporter

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Jul 3, 2014
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arkansas or ohio
wellllllll......

I have owned 2 different 8 mat tipis. they did not do what I wanted. so I sold them.

now I have a six man and a twelve man. mostly because I was always trying to make the 8 do what I needed a 12 for.

just to muddy up the water for some.
 

Lawnboi

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Mar 2, 2012
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3,997
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North Central Wi
I can't speak as to the 8man, but iv had a kifaru 6 man, along with a so cimmaron. Also have had a few smaller kifaru shelters and still own a paratarp.

Quality of build wise, honestly my seek outside is a little, I guess the word I'd use is, neater of a build. Seams are sewn more even resulting in less stress on some seams. Both held up fine. I like the price of the seek outside, and features, sod skirt, extra tie outs, vent, zipper flap. If I were in the market again honestly I'd go seek outside, that coming from someone who owns a lot of kifaru.

Iv had my cimmaron in recorded 60mph wind gusts and it's held up like my 6man did but no seam stretching around the cone, which I'm guessing was caused by a seam that was just a little off. I can't tell much of a difference in fabric besides the SO sags a little less when wet. My 6 man may have been an anomaly for kifaru, as everything else iv ever gotten from them has been done very neatly, and in the last year I have even seen more of a jump in neatness and finish of their products. They both worked. Price and features are what would drive me to SO if I were buying again.
 

BrushyHillGuide

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Sep 3, 2014
Messages
470
Location
Sabinal, TX
You guys are all looking at the luxuries of the SO--sod skirt, cheaper, guy outs, etc. However, did any of you see on youtube when Aron compared the materials from Kifaru to SO? Its quite telling why SO is cheaper. Also, I've received swatches from both companies and thrashed them with pliers. Kifaru is stronger. They use a higher quality material, hence why they are more expensive. Think about that before you invest in a SO.

I get what you’re saying but features are not, necessarily, “luxuries.” Durability is definitely an important factor but its, also, not the ONLY factor, either. I’m a big Kifaru fan but not to the point that I can’t see certain shortcomings in some products - like leaky zippers or lack of a sod skirt. If other brands’ products (i.e. SO) were DEFICIENT in their durability, I’d get the point about the Kifaru fabric. But that’s not the case. If I was looking for a tipi that was going to be used all the time in the worst possible conditions or I was going on a particular trip where I knew conditions would challenge the best of tipis, the Kifaru would be my choice every time. However, for most people and most conditions, a VERY durable tipi with lots of additional features at a lower price is likely a better value. I’d probably rather have a tipi that’ll give me extra features, save me money and last me for 10 years than, say, a tipi that has some issues including a leaky zipper and cost me more money but will last me 15 years.

Kifaru and SO both make tremendous shelters. Each has their own strong points and the one that’s “right” for you is a very personal decision. I don’t think someone would go wrong with either brand!


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GraveyardNRSE

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Apr 2, 2016
Messages
413
Very well said. I’m not bashing SO. I’ve called customer service and they’re tremendous people. I was just pointing out why SO is cheaper. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with either.
 
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Kevin Dill

Kevin Dill

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Aug 26, 2014
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2,535
My take...and this is considering I'm a Kifaru owner, user and customer x 10+ years.

Kifaru shelters are tough. I love them. They're not invincible. I would put my Sawtooth up against anyone's similar shelter for durability. But it's not a brick house. There are weird things about it, but then again that's nothing really unusual to me.

Seek Outside. I own their 8-Man (after owning and selling a Kifaru 8) and it's one very fine shelter. I would give S.O. the edge for features, fit and finish. I think S.O. is on a bit more progressive track that way...adding value to their shelters by giving people things they will appreciate and benefit from having. A sod flap IS valuable to me. So are no-drip zippers. So are side guy-outs. So are taller door openings.

I have studied both companies' shelters extensively for years. They are similar in appearance at a glance, but built differently in many ways. I cannot find any substantial anecdotal evidence or proof that one product line is better, tougher, prettier or sexier than the other. I know Chevy can "prove" they build a better truck than Ford and Dodge. We get it.

Carbon poles from anyone can break. No fabric repels flying tree branches. Bears can't read sewn-on labels and avoid tough tents. Fabrics on any of these shelters rarely fail...that is a fact. None of these shelters are designed to endure 90 mph winds. There is no way for any manufacturers of shelters to prove overall "better, tougher, durable" than to go head-to-head with similar shelters in destructive testing. Has anyone seen or done that? Shelter design and construction has as much to do with durability and strength as do actual materials used.

At this point in time, there's no better/worse shelter company between S.O. and Kifaru. There are only personal preferences. I like and use them both. I credit Kifaru for their quality shelters proven over many, many years. I credit Seek Outside for their fine shelters which have shown (me) tweaks and improvements which add value to their line. The fact their equivalent shelters are priced differently doesn't prove anything to me. Given S.O.'s strengthening reputation and popularity, their price advantage is simply another positive factor for potential buyers. My advice is to compare, buy the brand you prefer and go enjoy. It's probably not accurate to believe one is just simply better than the other...even if GM or Ford tells us otherwise. ;^)
 
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