Box 1748 Conway, NH 03818
Phone: (603) 447-2344 Fax: (603) 447-8377

Traditional Tipis

Traditional TipiTENTSMITHS’ roots are in Tipis, this is the structure that started us alongthis tent-making path. Our Tipis have always been  constructed to meet the highest standards of quality in both structure and atmosphere and, for twenty years, have met the needs of people looking for an alternative living space or a historic shelter for Fur Trade Rendezvous and Pow Wows.

TIPI is a Sioux word for dwelling. The Tipi is the final evolution of the conical tent, ever popular in the north. It’s shape sheds wind and rain while the smoke flaps allow the owner to adjust for a good smoke draw with the wind from any direction. Although the Tipi is a bit harder to transport than the smaller tents, the days and nights spent in this shelter are impossible to duplicate and become lasting memories.

Tipis were in use long before the Europeans arrived on the scene. Apparently the earlier Tipis were small (around 12 to 14 feet) to facilitate travel with only dogs to transport the poles. With the introduction of the horse, the Indian became better able to supply himself with the bison hides for Tipi construction and could more easily move longer poles. Catlin, Bodmer, and Miller all show Tipis from the 12 foot to 18 foot plus range. The larger Tipis, appearing in the photographs of the reservation period, probably came into being due to the fact that it was no longer necessary to move them very often. White man use of the Tipi seems to have been limited to an occasional stay while visiting a tribe for trade or marrying into an Indian family. Miller paints Indians and Tipis at a rendezvous and an engraving of the Bonneville Expedition (1845) shows a Tipi like structure in use beside Pyramid Lake.

The Tipi is made up of two basic components. The cover, stretched over the outside of the poles, and a liner suspended from the poles, surrounding the inside. Our covers are a derivative of the Laubin design, the final form having evolved over the years to be cut correctly and strongly reinforced in the right places. Our hems are left raw for tying off with the “stone and string” method, or finished with a hemmed edge and loops. Liners are now built in one piece so there are no cold spots and the they can hang tightly to the poles. Our liners are generously cut, tall enough to act efficiently removing smoke and insulating the interior.  Loops on liners are standard.

Tipis are not a perfect cone. They lean back to allow the smoke hole to be directly over the centrally located fire. The base footprint is more that of a wide egg than a true circle, so the measure is an average of its diameter. We have found the 16 foot size to be the easiest to transport and still have room for two or three adults. The 18 footer is extremely roomy and makes a wonderful camp for an extended Rendezvous.

Tribal styles did exist and did differ. We have, again, based our styles on the Laubin research and offer Tipis in four basic variations, all based around the shape of the smoke flaps. (Please see the drawings.) Many more variations exist for other tribes and we are happy to construct to any tribal style requested.

When ordering a Tipi, please specify tribal style, size and material. Tipis include all canvas components and ropes. Poles, stakes, and lace pins must be acquired separately.


Tipi Diameter


Sunforger Flame






































BOOK “THE INDIAN TIPI” by Reginald & Gladys Laubin ~ $25
(Included with any tipi order)
Tipi Styles
Cheyenne   –     Sioux    –    Crow    –    Blackfoot



Jeff Everson
W741 Highway A
Rhinelander, WI  54501
Phone: (715) 362-3903

Copyright © 1997-2018 Tentsmiths