Off the Hanger: Tipi Camping

Come hell or high water, I’m going to make sure we get our tipi setup this summer. We’ve had one in the family for as long as I’ve been around and it’s become sort of a trademark by now. For a while I had one in the back yard of a house I owned (bought it with the house, good ole Wyoming) and it was a great all year retreat with a fire and a few blankets. Initially the setup is obviously more of a chore than a normal tent camping situation, but once in place it’s much more like a mobile house than a tent. The absolute best part though is the campfire in the center, beat that North Face.

Pole Setup:
We’re lucky enough to have a piece of land that has an ample supply of lodgepole pine, we thin a few and peel them for the poles.

Bow saw – for the initial tree falling (how cool is that fish logo).
Fanno Folding Pruning Saw – quickly removes all the pole branches.
Flexcut Draw Knife – for de-barking and smoothing the poles.
Rope – ties the poles down through the center so opting for something aside from nasty yellow nylon is aesthetically preferred.

Tipi Cover/Liner
Lots of options out there, obviously the fancier, the more cash. We currently have a simple canvas Sioux style.

Reliable Tent

Obviously the simplest method is no flooring but we’ve had everything from fresh cut pine bows to flagstone (more of a permanent installation) to blankets and tarps.

Canvas tarps – good for a first layer of ground cover and obviously more aesthetically appealing than their blue plastic brethren. Additionally, more resistant to wayward sparks coming from the center fire.
Pendleton Brave Star and Grand Teton Blankets – be nice to go high end on these, sparks be damned.


Howda Seat – Nice wood/canvas alternative to the nylon camp chairs.
Heavy Duty Tent Stakes – gotta opt for something strong here, homemade wood versions are always an option too.
Coleman Kerosene Lantern – stick to the classic.
Smudge Kit – clean off all those bad vibes.

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  1. smpattison
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    This battery powered radio might be a nice addition:

    Listening to “marketplace” on NPR, while sleeping in a tipi, just like the olden times.

  2. Posted March 6, 2010 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    That awesome, i have been day dreaming about a tipi this winter. Seem like the canvas for the outside can be quite expensive, maybe we’ll have to make it ourselves. When you get yours setup make sure to post some pictures.

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