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View Full Version : Gear talk - Matt's new backcountry toys


mattblick
08-22-2012, 03:14 PM
I haven't been to the backcountry since June, and have several new toys to bring with me on my next trip in early October.

The first new toy I am excited about is a a new stove. It is a little more heavy and bulky than what I had been using, but I think it is really cool. I finally got my Biolite (http://biolitestove.com/campstove/camp-overview/features/)camp stove in the mail last month. I really hate having to go out and pick up new isobutane canisters before every trip. I refill my lighters with leftover isobutane, but I still have a growing collection of these partial canisters. Sometimes I haul up 3 partial containers because I don't know how much is in each one. The Biolite will allow me to use the small bits of kindling found everywhere in the park for my fuel, and recharge my gps/water purifier/flashlights from the 2Watts@5V extra energy produced by the fire. How cool is that?

The other new toys for this trip include new sleeping arrangements. I will be sleeping in a hammock in the backcountry for the first time on this trip. The equipment will include a DD brand hammock (http://www.ddhammocks.com/product/camping-hammock). I upgraded the suspension to whoopie slings (http://whoopieslings.com/Whoopie_slings.html) and strapworks' seatbelt polyester simple sling tree straps (http://www.strapworks.com/Strapworks_Simple_Sling_p/hss1p.htm). I have a BIAS Buginator (http://www.buttinasling.com/bugnet.html) net, and a DD 9'x9' tarp (http://www.ddhammocks.com/product/ddtarp_olive_green_3x3) to protect me from the elements. Needless to say I am very excited.

Have any of you picked up some new gear lately? The outdoor retailer show was just a couple weeks back, so perhaps you have your eyes on something?

-Matt-

Grannyknot
08-22-2012, 03:57 PM
.... I finally got my Biolite (http://biolitestove.com/campstove/camp-overview/features/)camp stove in the mail last month.......
-Matt-

Can't wait to hear your review of the biolite stove. This thing has had my interest for a couple of years now, but I have been afraid it was a little too gimmick-ey.....plus I was worried about the ability to start a fire inside it with the rainforest tinder we commonly find in the smokies.

Please do post a review after you use it. It would come in really handy for charging a gps.

David Knapp
08-22-2012, 04:03 PM
I wish I wouldn't have read this.....now I want a new toy. :rolleyes: :biggrin: Oh well, I needed something else to spend my money on I guess. I'll be looking forward to a review of that stove as well. It looks like something I would be very interested in.

mattblick
08-22-2012, 04:10 PM
Can't wait to hear your review of the biolite stove. This thing has had my interest for a couple of years now, but I have been afraid it was a little too gimmick-ey.....plus I was worried about the ability to start a fire inside it with the rainforest tinder we commonly find in the smokies.

Please do post a review after you use it. It would come in really handy for charging a gps.

I was a pre-order customer but for some reason they didn't get it shipped out with the other pre-orders. Mine got shipped in the first batch of orders from the new web site.

I'll be sure to post a review - the trip is about 7 weeks away still, but I started thinking about it and getting excited when my PTO request got approved.

I can already say its build quality seems sturdy and well thought out. The way the heat pipe and fan assembly attaches to the stove portion is particularly clever. One of the folding legs locks over a tab on the fan assembly into place when you fold the leg out, so you don't need to worry about it coming detached. I was worried about this at first, I pictured flimsy hooks or keyhole style attachments.

I think the rainforest tinder could be an issue, and will plan on bringing some assistance for each trip. I plan on packing the compressed wood & wax fire starters the first trip; biollite supplied some of these with the stove. You are allowed to use "solid biomass" but are not supposed to use liquid accelerants or gels; I suspect the hot cubes like Wetfire and Esbit will be out along with sterno, and vaseline cotton balls. But the old classics such as dryer lint and wax or wax soaked cardboard applicator tampons cut into small pieces will be perfect.

-Matt-

ifish4wildtrout
08-22-2012, 05:03 PM
I am also interested in a report on the stove. I love my little stove, but i do hate carrying fuel cans. Like you said, I carry one that's not full and not sure how much fuel is left, so I take another just in case...

benintenn
08-22-2012, 08:14 PM
I wish I could try out hammock camping before I commit to buying one. I do love my Hubba Hubba but sleeping in a hammock does intrigue me.

That stove sounds pretty cool. Can't wait to hear how it performs.

duckypaddler
08-23-2012, 08:15 AM
I am also interested in a report on the stove. I love my little stove, but i do hate carrying fuel cans. Like you said, I carry one that's not full and not sure how much fuel is left, so I take another just in case...

It's really easy to weigh you fuel can and estimate how much fuel you have left. That stove looks more like a gimmic to me. The fact that it's over 2 pounds kind of kills the weight saving of carrying fuel, plus if he is carrying wax sticks on top of that.

My whole kitchen set-up weighs less than half and looks like it is much better set up for the conditions to the Smokies.

Caldera cone 1.5 oz
Small lighter - .4 oz
Fire starter stick - .4 oz
Salt & pepper shaker .6 oz
Bottle of oil 1 oz
12-10 alcohol stove - .5 oz
Pot holder 1.2 oz
Small towel - .3 oz
AGG 3 cup alum pot 2.5 oz
Lid 1.3 oz
Insulated Ziploc cup 2.5 oz
Insulation for pot - .8 oz
Stuff sack - .5 oz
Lexan fork & spoon - .7 oz
14.2 oz 0.888 pounds
Plus the 4.9 ounces of alcohol


Even when you look at my gas can set-up (when you need to simmer, fry, not just boil water, I believe the whole set up comes in at under 2 pounds)

Amazon had a I-phone charger for $6 including shipping that can fully charge phone 2-3 timesand only weighs 3-4 ounces.

There are many lighweight alternatives that while they don't have a fan or charger if you really want to use wood to cook

I hope you like you new toy:smile:

mattblick
08-23-2012, 08:26 AM
I wish I could try out hammock camping before I commit to buying one. I do love my Hubba Hubba but sleeping in a hammock does intrigue me.

That stove sounds pretty cool. Can't wait to hear how it performs.

Hey Benintenn - that Hubba Hubba is a really nice tent! I used a BA Lynx Pass last year and earlier this year, but the possible extra comfort of a hammock really called to me.

A relatively cheap ($25) yet quite comfortable way to try sleeping in one would be a hammock that is sold (of all places) at Wal Mart (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Equip-Travel-Hammock/20434439). If it agrees with you, this hammock really could stand up to backpacking use with the suspension eventually swapped out. If sleeping in it does not agree with you, you'll have an easy to set up hammock for backyard barbeques and car camping. Folks at hammock forums praised it so much that I picked one up out of curiosity. Three people took long naps in it at a family gathering after The Flying Pig marathon.

The Wal Mart hammock had a person (my wife's cousin) sleep in it overnight along Craig Creek, Virginia back in May. I brought it along in case anyone in the group was curious about it. I slept in my DD hammock for my first overnight front country hammock sleeping experience, and the 2 nights after that. Each night I slept wonderfully. I wasn't comfortable bringing a hammock backpacking until I had given it a try elsewhere first. Have you ever been camping/backpacking in a large group and found yourself unable to sleep if the rest of the group hasn't stopped partying for the night? Each night I tucked in early so I could get up early to fish. Each night I fell asleep quickly and got teased the next morning about the volume of my snoring..

So if your curious, try an inexpensive one out, even in the front country. I think amazon has a sub $20 grand trunk one as well, but I am not sure if it comes with any suspension at all. If/when you do try it out, the first important thing to consider ahead of time is that when sleeping in a hammock convective heat loss out of the bottom is a big issue. Bottom insulation is of equal or greater importance than the top insulation when you are in your tent. Your sleeping bag counts on loft for warmth, and in a hammock will be compressed in areas it is not when on the ground. A closed cell foam mat/exercise mat or a partially inflated camp pad under you will work well. There are too many options and considerations to go into here, but two great resources to read are www.hammockforums.net (http://www.hammockforums.net/) and a recently published book entitled "the ultimate hang (http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Hang-Illustrated-Hammock-Camping/dp/1466263687/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345722586&sr=1-1&keywords=ultimate+hang)", only four bucks in the Kindle edition.. Before investing any more than $25 or so dollars on hammock equipment, I would strongly advise reading about all the various components that go into a setup. One example of a difficulty/mistake made by countless people trying hammocks out is the fault of manufacturers: most of the tree straps sold retail by the known brands such as ENO, Grand Trunk, Hammock Bliss, etc are made of nylon. These tree straps stretch under load and you will find yourself on the ground needing to adjust your suspension in the middle of the night. They also cost about double what a good set of non-stretch polyester or polypropylene straps will run you if you shop at the right place. Then there are decisions like whether you want to save weight by using knots and hitches at connection points or have the simplicity of a hardware solution like climber grade carabiners, descender rings, dutch clips, etc.

By all means feel free to ask me any specific questions you may have..

RFork
08-23-2012, 10:51 AM
I use a Bushbuddy Ultra, and I love it. Fantastic stove. It is a bit heavier than an alcohol stove on short trips, but I enjoy not having to go buy denatured alcohol for it.

Matt-
What type of insulation are you using for the hammock?

mattblick
08-23-2012, 11:09 AM
I use a Bushbuddy Ultra, and I love it. Fantastic stove. It is a bit heavier than an alcohol stove on short trips, but I enjoy not having to go buy denatured alcohol for it.

Matt-
What type of insulation are you using for the hammock?

On my frontcountry experience, for bottom insulation, I used Gossamer Gear's 1/4" Evazote Foam pad (http://gossamergear.com/sleeping/1-4-wide.html). My DD hammock is double layer so the pad inserted between the layers and at 39" wide was easy to stay on top of. For top insulation I used a GoLite RS 1+ quilt, which has been my "summer bag" for several seasons. Combined, the pad and quilt weigh in at 2 lbs, 5 ounces. This certainly isn't ultralight by today's standards, but my first thermarest alone weighed more. It actually made it down to 41 the 3rd night and I stayed quite warm.

For the October trip, depending on forecast I might bring a MH Ultralamina 32 bag instead of the quilt for a bit more warmth at the expense of 6 ounces.

If after several seasons I still really like the hammock camping thing, I will probably switch to an underquilt. UQs are often sized to the specific hammock though, and the double layer hammock body is no longer is necessary to hold the insulation in place. I will probably replace my hammock before getting an underquilt for that reason..

-Matt-

RFork
08-23-2012, 02:39 PM
On my frontcountry experience, for bottom insulation, I used Gossamer Gear's 1/4" Evazote Foam pad (http://gossamergear.com/sleeping/1-4-wide.html). My DD hammock is double layer so the pad inserted between the layers and at 39" wide was easy to stay on top of. For top insulation I used a GoLite RS 1+ quilt, which has been my "summer bag" for several seasons. Combined, the pad and quilt weigh in at 2 lbs, 5 ounces. This certainly isn't ultralight by today's standards, but my first thermarest alone weighed more. It actually made it down to 41 the 3rd night and I stayed quite warm.

For the October trip, depending on forecast I might bring a MH Ultralamina 32 bag instead of the quilt for a bit more warmth at the expense of 6 ounces.

If after several seasons I still really like the hammock camping thing, I will probably switch to an underquilt. UQs are often sized to the specific hammock though, and the double layer hammock body is no longer is necessary to hold the insulation in place. I will probably replace my hammock before getting an underquilt for that reason..

-Matt-

Underquilts are certainly the way to go. I don't hammock camp, but my brother does. He has a hammock gear underquilt that is great. My understanding is that they are not sized to specific hammocks, but they are made in different sizes. If you don't have full coverage, or choose a 3/4 length, then you can just cut the GG sleeplite down and place it under your feet. If your pack is small, you can use that for a pillow. Things like that help cut weight down and make gear more versatile.

mattblick
08-23-2012, 03:24 PM
Underquilts are certainly the way to go. I don't hammock camp, but my brother does. He has a hammock gear underquilt that is great. My understanding is that they are not sized to specific hammocks, but they are made in different sizes. If you don't have full coverage, or choose a 3/4 length, then you can just cut the GG sleeplite down and place it under your feet. If your pack is small, you can use that for a pillow. Things like that help cut weight down and make gear more versatile.

Hey RFork,

Multi use gear is the best! Before I switched to a Big Agnes manual inflate sleeping pad, I did something very similar using a 3/4 length thermarest self-inflate sleeping pad and a CCF "sit pad" under my feet.

You are correct in your understanding that UQs are not sized to a specific model, but some models are better suited than others. "Full length" can be deceiving since single size hammocks are made in lengths from 8' to 12' by the various manufacturers out there right now. They vary even more in width Most do average in the 9'-10' length range, but a 3/4 underquilt purchased for a 12' hammock could be rather disastrous.

I think the 3/4 UQ will be the way I go when I do drop the money for one. Besides wanting to ensure hammocking is for me, I want to wait for a few more products to hit the market. Right now almost all the UQs available are cottage industry produced with premium down. I've always been reluctant to buy down bags. I suspect by the time I am ready to commit to an underquilt there will be some good lightweight synthetic options. I'm too hard on my equipment to worry about the special requirements of down. I know a lot of people extoll the virtues of keeping a well cared for $400 WM bag or $250 JRB underquilt for 10 years and saving money in the long run.. I'm just not that guy. For instance, I have owned 4 different tents in the last 8 years (and now I am trying out hammocks!). I currently own 3 nice synthetic sleeping bags in different temperature ratings and through smart shopping haven't paid more than $80 for any one of them.

-Matt-

joe a
08-23-2012, 09:57 PM
Synthetic is fine and dandy, but I just son't think you can "get" the value of down until you sleep in it's luxury. I am pretty hard on gear myself, but the one think I would be completely unwilling to give up is my Western Mountaineering 20 degree bag.

mattblick
08-24-2012, 10:09 AM
Synthetic is fine and dandy, but I just son't think you can "get" the value of down until you sleep in it's luxury. I am pretty hard on gear myself, but the one think I would be completely unwilling to give up is my Western Mountaineering 20 degree bag.

Hey Joe, I have heard all of that before!:p I actually had a friend insist I try his WM bag for a night. Your word "luxury" is right on the spot. To be honest, before I started looking into hammocks, a WM bag was at the top of my wish list.

The loft the bag provides under you is one of the best parts of a down bag and the luxury factor. In the hammock context however, an underquilt, as the name sort of implies goes under the hammock, and that luxury is all but lost. The thick loft below the hammock still does wonders to block out both convective heat loss and drafts, but you don't get to sleep "on" the down. Splash up is also an issue with underquilts - you hang not far above the ground with the tarp covering you, but frequently splash from the raindrops that hit ground still make it up to the bottom of the UQ. As a down bag user you certainly know the issues with getting the down wet, particularly frequently. So underquilt users now often carry waterproof breathable covers to protect the underquilt - but this then negates a big chunk of the weight savings provided by the down vs synthetic.

So today I started researching ways to maximize the charging potential of that USB plug on the Biolite. I found a really cool little charger that weighs a few ounces and will recharge my 16340 (CR123A) and 18650 flashlight batteries from that port.

-Matt-

joe a
08-24-2012, 10:41 AM
All good points Matt. I do sleep in a Hammock, but do not yet use an underquilt; instead I just use a cell-foam pad in the hammock. I am sure I will change my tune one day when I have the misfortune of getting the bag wet, but so far so good.

RFork
08-24-2012, 10:56 AM
Hey Joe, I have heard all of that before!:p I actually had a friend insist I try his WM bag for a night. Your word "luxury" is right on the spot. To be honest, before I started looking into hammocks, a WM bag was at the top of my wish list.

The loft the bag provides under you is one of the best parts of a down bag and the luxury factor. In the hammock context however, an underquilt, as the name sort of implies goes under the hammock, and that luxury is all but lost. The thick loft below the hammock still does wonders to block out both convective heat loss and drafts, but you don't get to sleep "on" the down. Splash up is also an issue with underquilts - you hang not far above the ground with the tarp covering you, but frequently splash from the raindrops that hit ground still make it up to the bottom of the UQ. As a down bag user you certainly know the issues with getting the down wet, particularly frequently. So underquilt users now often carry waterproof breathable covers to protect the underquilt - but this then negates a big chunk of the weight savings provided by the down vs synthetic.

So today I started researching ways to maximize the charging potential of that USB plug on the Biolite. I found a really cool little charger that weighs a few ounces and will recharge my 16340 (CR123A) and 18650 flashlight batteries from that port.

-Matt-

Loft is lost regardless when you lay on down. I am a quilt user on the ground for that reason. The down below you body does nothing in terms of warmth. Also, almost all (I cannot think of any that would not operate this way) UQ will have an excellent water resistant shell. You would be very surprised at how much water they can hold back. I have tested scraps of .9, 1.1., and maybe .7 in very rudimentary tests by holding them under the faucet. They hold back water very well for an uncoated material.

mattblick
08-24-2012, 12:16 PM
All good points Matt. I do sleep in a Hammock, but do not yet use an underquilt; instead I just use a cell-foam pad in the hammock. I am sure I will change my tune one day when I have the misfortune of getting the bag wet, but so far so good.

Loft is lost regardless when you lay on down. I am a quilt user on the ground for that reason. The down below you body does nothing in terms of warmth. Also, almost all (I cannot think of any that would not operate this way) UQ will have an excellent water resistant shell. You would be very surprised at how much water they can hold back. I have tested scraps of .9, 1.1., and maybe .7 in very rudimentary tests by holding them under the faucet. They hold back water very well for an uncoated material.

The Gossamer closed cell foam pad was just soo much easier and inexpensive for me for bottom insulation. Joe, I'm sure you won't have too much problem keeping that nice WM bag dry inside the hammock, especially since you have the foam under you. Is your hammock single or double layer? The pervasive complaints on HF.net about pads are sliding off of them because they were too narrow or they fell out between the bag and hammock. My plan in getting the double layer hammock was to not have to worry about securing the pad or rolling off of it. When I saw the 39" wide GG pad - problem solved! The only prevalent complaint about the GG pads was that they were "sticky" if you slept directly on them; not an issue with the DL hammock. :-)

Perhaps if I become one of those crazy folks like Shug who hammock sleeps in sub zero weather I will look at an underquilt - but the 11 ounce GG pad does the trick at 1/4 to 1/5 the cost of the UQ.

I am reminded of this quote as I replied on a couple of blogs today that criticized the Biolite -- I am certain that UQ folks experience the same feelings, so hopefully I haven't offended anyone.

-Matt-


You may attack a man’s courage, the flag he serves, the newspaper for which he works, his intellegence, or his camp manners, and he will ignore you; but if you criticise his patent water-bottle he will fall upon you with both fists.

Breck
08-30-2012, 08:22 PM
I have a much smaller and lighter camp stove that actually fits into my palm and folds out into a great piece of cooking equipment. My go to cooking is still done on the the Coleman and the below canisters which are close to $ 5.00 ea.

Picked up the small connector at Cabelas and have filled up 10 of the smaller Coleman containers using my back up grill propane tank as the donor. As soon as you connect the green tank to the connector you will hear it fill and neutralize (now full), unscrew the green Coleman and refill another for pennies!!. My donor propane tank is still very full.

Just an idea, that I believe will save much especially if camping out of the car and use the tanks for cooking and lanterns.

Any other ideas would greatly be appreciated if shared.

http://i1055.photobucket.com/albums/s502/breckdavis100/Camping%202012/IMG_0363.jpg?t=1346371313

http://i1055.photobucket.com/albums/s502/breckdavis100/Camping%202012/IMG_0364.jpg?t=1346371295

http://i1055.photobucket.com/albums/s502/breckdavis100/Camping%202012/IMG_0366.jpg?t=1346371279

Breck

mattblick
08-31-2012, 07:59 AM
I have a much smaller and lighter camp stove that actually fits into my palm and folds out into a great piece of cooking equipment. My go to cooking is still done on the the Coleman and the below canisters which are close to $ 5.00 ea.

Picked up the small connector at Cabelas and have filled up 10 of the smaller Coleman containers using my back up grill propane tank as the donor. As soon as you connect the green tank to the connector you will hear it fill and neutralize (now full), unscrew the green Coleman and refill another for pennies!!. My donor propane tank is still very full.

Just an idea, that I believe will save much especially if camping out of the car and use the tanks for cooking and lanterns.

Any other ideas would greatly be appreciated if shared.

Breck

Breck, refilling the green coleman canisters sounds great, not only from a money savings standpoint but from a conservation standpoint. I'm not a emotion-driven tree hugger, but from a practical standpoint it doesn't make sense to keep throwing those things out. Coleman devised some special caps to show the tank was depleted. This cap allowed the tanks to be accepted for recycling in some areas, but most areas ignored the cap and I haven't seen the caps in stores for a couple years now. Your reuse through refilling is even better IMO. I'm sure the refilling is discouraged if you check the label - but that is likely just to protect them from litigation. I'm going to pick up that adapter for my car camping trips.

mattblick
08-31-2012, 10:19 AM
For the curious, I tried out the Biolite on the patio last night. I had a bunch of dry twigs to thumb size pieces of wood, and broke them up into 3" - 4" pieces. I light one kitchen match, allowed it to burn upwards a second and then dropped into the stove. The match fell clear to the bottom but caught the tinder right away. I had been concerned about lighting it to be honest. I know the wood won't be that dry in the Smokies, but it was amazingly simple and I didn't need to use the "crutches" of UCO matches or fire starters.

Once I had some small twigs on fire, I turned on the fan (running on internal battery), waited 30 seconds and pushed the button again to switch the fan into to the high speed (powered by the TEC unit). About 2 minutes later the LED above the USB port turned green - its internal battery was recharged and could now recharge other devices. I could hear the fire "whoosh" and saw the wood gas catching fire right at the air openings on the sides - the fire was burning hot and fast. Next time I will test boil times, but for last night's test I wanted to figure out how much juice was provided by the USB port. One thing the testing also revealed was that the stove also will be a good way to create/obtain hot embers to assist in building a larger campfire when dealing with the typical rainforest wood of the area - it was amazingly simple to light.

The "bonus feature" of charging ability was admittedly of concern to me - the documentation states 2 watts at 5 volts continuous and 4 watts peak. Someone else figured out for me that it should be about 400 MA if it indeed is putting out 2 Watts. While test burning last night, I cut apart a spare USB cable and used my DMM on the leads to verify it was indeed putting out 400 MA - and continuously. I didn't see it vary much above that and it got nowhere near the peak, however it didn't drop below that 400 mah at all. Unless I used my DMM wrong, which is possible, it stayed very stable at the rated 2 Watts continuous.

That 400 MA is slower than most "wall wart" home chargers, but faster than typical "car chargers" - it will get er done. It would take ~ 3-4 hours to fully charge a smartphone if you completely depleted your battery - however you don't need a full charge to make an emergency call or use the phone as a GPS. If you just "top off" your various electronics each time you boil water (3 cookfires a day), they should stay usable for when you need them.

I wanted to get a relatively exact MAH rating because I am also ordering a charging device that some thru-hikers attach to solar panels in order to recharge (rechargeable) Lithium cells. My SteriPen uses 16340 cells, and my flashlight uses 18650 cells. At one point and time I also used a 16340 flashlight, but I just like the 18650s better. The charging device is called a "cottonpicker (http://www.cpfmarketplace.com/mp/showthread.php?240304-gt-FS-Cottonpickers-Chargers-incl-Worlds-smallest-Li-ion-charger-with-display/)", and it is very tiny and light. The guy who makes these cottonpickers will custom set the charge rate for you on a single mode, but he also offers fancier multimode models with attached VMs. Since I know the stove will rarely put out more than 400 MA, I now know to request the single mode 480 MAH cottonpicker. This charge rate is not too fast to be safe for the smaller cells (16340) but can still charge the larger 18650 cells for a typical evening's flashlight usage pretty quickly.

The more I think about this stove the more I love it. The 2 pounds seemed egregious at first - however now I know I will be carrying fewer spare batteries, and more importantly no costly and heavy fuel canisters. The canisters that contain 4 ounces of fuel weigh 8 ounces. For most trips I would carry up two partials and one virgin canister - an $18 investment and somewhere between 16 and 24 ounces of fuel and canister weight. The 33 ounce biolite doesn't seem so heavy anymore.

If there are any more specifics those of you who wanted a review want to ask, let me know..

NDuncan
08-31-2012, 01:07 PM
How do you protect the electronics/USB port (on the stove, not your equipment) from the inevitable moisture you will encounter in the smokies?

mattblick
08-31-2012, 02:46 PM
How do you protect the electronics/USB port (on the stove, not your equipment) from the inevitable moisture you will encounter in the smokies?

Hey Nduncan,

there is a rubber cover that is attached to the stove. It inserts into the USB port and then covers the area around it. While I certainly would not call it waterproof, I believe it would be really hard for water to get in there even in the rain. I am more concerned with water/moisture affecting the TEC unit, Fan motor, or circuit board. The top of the fan unit where the cooling fins and air intake stays open, but even there the design has a "lip" above it so that rain rolling off the side will likely drip to the ground instead of rolling down into the opening. I'm still thinking that humidity might get pulled in and long term could lead to an issue. All I have to say is the stove shows very thoughtful design everywhere else so I hope they have taken measures to mitigate moisture issues internally. I'll have to work really hard to avoid taking out the screws to check out the innards of the "orange thing".