Seek Outside Silex
Although they may be new to many hunters, floorless shelters combined with a stove jack and a lightweight collapsible wood stove (called “hot tents”) have been around for several decades now. The early iterations were spacious tepee and pyramid-shaped designs. Eventually, smaller more complex designs hit the market. But a simple single person hot tent wasn’t available until recently. These small floorless shelters can offer significant savings over a standard backpacking tent with the added capacity to dry gear while taking a little misery out of cold weather.
Silex And Cub U-Turn Stove
Seek Outside released the Silex single person shelter in 2019 and announced the small Cub U-turn stove in 2020. The shelter pitches with two trekking poles (47 – 55 inches) and four stakes into a slight diamond shape. The dimensions are approximately 7 ft. by 7 ft., equating to a 49 square ft. footprint and a height of 50 in. at the center ridge. The body is made of 30D Cordura silnylon fabric and has two entrances with two vestibules for gear storage. Order Silex here.
It’s the entrances of this shelter that make it unique. They forgo a zipper for a pair of opposing line locks that slide up and down a tight guy-out line. This substitution saves weight and eliminates a potential failure point. The total weight of the shelter, including the stove jack and six supplied stakes, comes in at 1.9 lbs. This total does not include the weight of the required trekking poles, so readers can factor in the weight of their personal poles for a total shelter weight.
Cub U-Turn Stove
The Cub U-turn stove uses a one-piece roll of titanium foil for the sides and back of the stove and a smaller 2.5 in. stove pipe for weight savings. The top, bottom, and front pieces are the same as a regular box stove with the same benefits, such as the ability to melt snow and heat water on the top. The dimensions of the Cub are 6 x 6 x 9 in.
The Silex requires a 5 ft. long stove pipe and if the stove is to be used with another shelter it would be wise to call Seek Outside to see what length is needed. Regardless of pipe length, it will roll lengthwise into a 10 in. long tube for packability. The total weight of the stove and pipe, including the storage tube and storage bag, is 1.8 pounds. For the full list of specs check out Seek Outside’s website here.
Silex Use In The Field
Over the years I’ve used a bunch of minimalist types of tarps varying from rectangular, square, and more complex shapes. A lot of these small shelters have limitations in use and the user needs to have practiced setting them up to be efficient in conditions inherent with hunting season: think fatigue, darkness, and inclement weather.
The Silex is one of the easiest to pitch shelters I’ve ever used. First, stake out the non-door ends so there is a little slack, then tightly stake the opposing corners with the door openings, insert the trekking poles, and make slight stake adjustments as needed. There is a great video on the simplicity of the pitch found here:
The four corners are the bare minimum needed to be staked out, with an additional four if maximum weather sealing is needed. There are additional guy-out loops sewn into the non-door ends of the shelter for extra stability in high winds. There are also D-loops on the exterior of the pole pockets for added tensioning with stakes and cordage. They can also be used to pitch the shelter without poles utilizing a line tensioned between trees.
Throughout the spring and summer test period, I used a fixed-length trekking pole 47 inches long, which is the bare minimum. When pitched on ground that is dished in the center of the shelter, I inserted a rock or other object under the pole to obtain a taut pitch. Adjustable length trekking poles would eliminate any need for this practice. This isn’t a shelter issue, but readers should consider this issue if they are planning to use shorter length or fixed-length poles.
Cub U-Turn Adds Versatility Without Complication
Since the bulk of the test period for this combo was during the summer months, I didn’t use the stove a lot. But there were times in the spring when I made a small fire to dry clothes and the interior of the shelter. The stove jack adds three ounces to the shelter weight. But, will extend its use in the late season when the temperatures drop. Overall, the Cub U-turn stove was trouble-free to assemble, and once I burned it in to give the metal some shape “memory”, it was even easier. The parts are simply stored in the provided bag and the pipe storage tube which protects the contents of your pack from any sharp edges.
The small Cub stove produces enough heat to quickly warm the interior of the shelter and make it extremely comfortable on cold days. The small firebox requires steady feeding and won’t solely burn large pieces of wood. A bed of coals can be built up over time in the bottom that will maintain some heat for drying of clothes. But don’t expect it to last more than an hour.
The Silex and Cub stove combo performed favorably in the varied climates of western Montana and Idaho. The sewists at Seek Outside use flat-felled seems when joining shelter panels, which are supposed to be water-resistant. I was curious to see how well the seams would hold out water in an unsealed state. So on my first trip out this spring, I decided to use the shelter prior to sealing any seams. The very first night out, it rained hard and steady for about six hours before I noticed the first drops of water wicking through the stitching; about twice as long as I would have predicted. After sealing the seams with the included tube of silicon, it has not leaked a drop.
The summer in Montana started with constant rain, which can cause issues of condensation in single wall shelters. When I used the Silex in these conditions there was very light condensation. Probably from the lack of a dedicated vent. I found that pitching the shelter with a gap along the bottom edge minimized condensation. And, it was never a major problem.
The interior of the Silex is spacious for a single user. There’s plenty of room for gear in one vestibule and cookware and firewood in the other. There is room to dry clothing and boots without encroaching into the sleeping area between the trekking pole supports. The sleeping area wasn’t cramped, with plenty of head and foot room. There seems to be enough room to fit people over six feet tall without rubbing on the walls of the tent.
The diamond-shaped footprint is small enough to easily find a spot to pitch. When hunting away from regularly used campsites, few places are brush free, flat, and large enough for a shelter. The silex fits effortlessly in most of these tight spaces.
The Silex is a tremendous fit for anyone looking for a simple and efficient ultralight shelter. It packs small, pitches quick, easy, and tight, and is roomy for a solo hunter. The inherently taut pitch makes for a quiet shelter in heavy winds and rain. Add a Cub U-turn stove to the shelter and it will extend its usability well into the snow and cold months of the fall. The construction of the shelter is top-notch with the stitching flawless and all guy-out points and stake loops reinforced.
The Silex will be in my pack on most hunts this fall. Including many different backpack elk hunts in September, sheep trips in October, and high elevation mule deer hunts in November. It is a truly versatile solo hunting shelter. Visit Seek Outside website to order or learn more.
- Silex Silnylon shelter w/ stove jack $244
- Cub U-turn stove w/5 ft pipe $362
- Optional Silex nest $189
You can comment on this review or ask Josh questions here.
Also check out these other shelter reviews.