Frequently Asked Questions


I plan on treating the poles with linseed oil. What do you suggest?
How do the poles come?
What is the liner used for and why is it important?
Do your covers have the marble set up or sewn on stake loops?
Do you have floors? If yes, what are they like?
Should the tipi be taken down and put up seasonally?
What kind of weather can the tipi withstand?
Do you recommend a tipi as a permanent lodging? If so, what size do you recommend?
Can you school me in the care and treatment of living in a permanent tipi?
Is there a choice of design in painting the tipi?
What is the size of your largest tipi?
What sort of ground must the tipi be set upon?
How long will we have to wait for a tipi?
How do you heat the tipi?
Do you recommend using a tipi for a long term temporary shelter?



I plan on treating the poles with linseed oil. What do you suggest?

I treat the poles with shingle oil made by Chevron because it is cheaper than linseed oil. I bought a five gallon bucket for $ 20.00. I use a hand pump sprayer and can quickly treat a set of poles.

How do the poles come?

The poles are hand peeled and pointed Lodgepole pine. We ship them via Consolidated Freightways either to your local CF dock (where you pick them up) or to your residence (for an additional fee).

What is the liner used for and why is it important?

The liner aids in the circulation of air through the tipi. It is keeps the smoke from the fire moving upwards toward the smoke hole. The liner also helps keep the tipi cooler in the summertime. The typical liner height is 6 feet but winter liners are usually 8 feet for extra warmth.

Do your covers have the marble set up or sewn on stake loops?

I prefer the smooth stone (marble) with rope method because it is traditional with canvas tipis but we get a split view from tipi folks so we provide both options.

Do you have floors? If yes, what are they like?

Typically, and traditionally, there are no floors in tipis. It was common to put down animal robes and trade blankets for a floor covering. We are supplying floors upon request. The floors are canvas and have a wide hole for the fire ring 2 1/2 feet towards the door from center. My suggestion is that if you will be pitching your tipi in a good grass covered area, you won't have to worry about a floor. However, if you are in an area where the ground is mostly dirt or sand you might want to consider having a floor.

Should the tipi be taken down and put up seasonally?

It depends on how you want to use it. If you are looking for a winter experience, by all means, leave it up. The snow that accumulates around the base will help insulate the tipi. You will also need a liner and an ozan for winter use. However, the UV rays from the sun are destructive and will degrade the canvas so, if you are not going to be using it, I'd recommend storing it. A tipi will typically last 5 years (depending on the climate) when left up year round. Storing a tipi when not in use will double its usable life.

What kind of weather can the tipi withstand?

The tipi is the best temporary structure for withstanding wind and weather. The shape is conical, shedding wind loads around the walls. The walls are steeply pitched aiding in the efficient shedding of snow and rain. The seams we put in our tipis are double sticthed lap seams and face downward to shed rain (like a shingle). We have both a display wall tent and a tipi in front of our shop. The wall tent is constantly in need of maintenance due to the 90 degree angles facing the wind. The tipi was pitched in December of 1997 and except for a small adjustment last summer, I haven't touched it. It has been fully exposed to the winds of the high plains here in Montana.

Do you recommend a tipi as a permanent lodging? If so, what size do you recommend?

As a permanent living space, the 18 Footer is pretty roomy for one or two people. It has the feel and look of a large tipi yet is still easily maintained by one person. Personally, I prefer a 20 Footer just to have some extra space, however, the bigger the tipi the more of a challenge it is to heat in the winter time.

Can you school me in the care and treatment of living in a permanent tipi?

We carry a great book called "The Indian Tipi" which is 340 pages of information showing many photos and drawings of tipis and their traditional use. Including setting them up, cover painting examples, cooking in them, and what kind of wood burns best (least smoke, most light, and heat). This book is the "bible" of tipi living.

Is there a choice of design in painting the tipi?

The painting of the tipi varies from tribe to tribe as far as the layout of designs, choice of animal motifs, and geometrical patterns. It is easy to tell a Blackfeet lodge from a Sioux or Cheyenne once you have seen a few of those tribal styles. It is good to do a little research into the different styles to develop an idea of what you would like ahead of time. When I paint a tipi for myself, I choose animal figures that mean something to me. When I paint for a customer I try to accomodate the design to his or her taste. I send out sketches for approval before I paint.

What is the size of your largest tipi?

The size of our largest tipi is a 26 Footer. We only make this size upon special request. This size is not commonly requested due to the fact that we can't ship poles (30 feet long) for this size. Therefore, you would have to have a local source for poles.

What sort of ground must the tipi be set upon?

In choosing a site, you should look for an area that is: level, has good grass cover, free of rocks and brush, and with trees and obstacles at least 10 feet away from the sides of the tipi (to allow moving the smoke flap poles to close the flaps). If at all possible, try to put your tipi in a protected area that has the least exposure to the wind. It is important to face the front of the tipi away from the prevailing winds - this allows the smoke to be drawn upwards and out of the tipi properly.

How long will we have to wait for a tipi?

Two weeks. Add an additinal week if painting is requested.

How do you heat the tipi?

I've spent an entire winter living in a tipi and I reccommend not only having the usual fire on the floor (hearth) but a wood stove as well. This is not traditional but very useful. The smoke flaps of a tipi work well but wind changes direction and with a good rain you will want to close the smoke flaps which doesn't allow for a hearth fire to burn. The wood stove enables you to cook and heat water regardless of the weather. We can install stovejacks in our tipis upon request. For common tipi use, a hearth fire is adequate as well as aesthetically pleasing.

Do you recommend using a tipi for a long term temporary shelter?

Yes, it is perfect for that sort of use. You can leave a tipi up without having to maintain it for long periods of time.