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Considering tipi build
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Denny Hostetler
(dhostetler) - F

Locale: Western CO
Considering tipi build on 08/17/2011 07:50:50 MDT Print View

First of all, I am blown away at the creativity I've seen in this forum. I didn't even realize that there was a community of people out there creating gear to suite their needs. Needless to say everyone has perked my interest.

Now, onto the matter at hand: I'm really interested in the floor-less tipi design with that will accept a small wood stove. The Kifaru & TiGoat systems look great, but are way out of reach cash wise. I toyed with the idea of a GoLite SGL5 fitted with a stove jack, but I keep coming back to the threads I've seen with people building these shelters on their own. I would like to have something that was large enough to almost stand up in (i'm 6'3") with enough room for a stove and 2 or 3 people with gear.

I'm wondering if the shelter in Jerry's article can be modified to this larger scale, and what I might be looking at in material and costs associated to the project before I commit. I have never sewn anything before, but am interested in learning and MYOG!

Thanks everybody

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Considering tipi build on 08/17/2011 08:56:02 MDT Print View

Someone made a 16 foot square base x 9 feet tall version

Maybe 30 yards of fabric - $6.00 per yard if you do seconds sil nylon

There is a learning curve. And you have to go very slow and careful. Be really careful laying out initially. There's a chance you'll buy all the materials and never be able to finish it.

The main sewing trick is to sew two long lengths of sil together. The top piece tends to stick on the pressure foot a little and slide against the bottom piece. They start aligned, but by the end of the seam they don't line up. Practice this on some long scraps of fabric first.

And I have no idea about having a wood stove in a tent. That seems inconsistent with flamable, meltable silnylon material. But there are people that do that. I don't know if they use nylon tent. Maybe silnylon is less flamable because of the silicone coating.

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Re: Considering tipi build on 08/17/2011 10:39:36 MDT Print View

get your sil 2nds from Noah Lamport for around $3yd to save a boat load. I have used their material in the past and it isn't the best in the world but for the price it is much better for a first project (if you're like us this is just the beginning) and will make a very workable tipi.


kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Tipi stuff and stoves on 08/17/2011 11:14:49 MDT Print View


First we make tipi's that are similar and a bit less expensive (

The wood stove pipe exit, you need a silicone coated welder blanket essentially.

It can take a lot of material dependent on the size.

Our 4 person is 7 ft tall, but really has stand up room for two six footers. The thing to remember is how big the area is above 6 ft, so for instance a 7 height tipi, has may only have 1.5 ft each side of the pole above 6 ft.

However, as it get's bigger, you get a lot more room, for instance our 8 person, which is close to 9 ft tall, you could have a small dance in.


kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
waterproofed ness on 08/17/2011 11:18:07 MDT Print View

The one problem with seconds is you don't what waterproof level the fabric may be. I've seen some with hydrostatic ratings of 500 ish, so they wet out easily. Seconds are great for testing and prototyping though.

500 ish may not be an issue if you plan on using a liner, but if you don't you are more likely to get wet. Not much of a problem if it is only used in the winter, but the problem with winter is usually frost, so a liner helps prevent it from becoming a dribbler.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: waterproofed ness on 08/17/2011 11:42:55 MDT Print View

I've made many tarps from different lots of 2nd silnylon and never noticed them to leak

Maybe hydrostatic head isn't as important for a tarp.

Now for a bivy bottom, or pack, I've noticed that silnylon does leak. I recently got some of that Shield silnylon from Thru-hiker that Richard recommended for a bivy bottom but haven't tested it out yet

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
Depends on supplier on 08/17/2011 12:33:31 MDT Print View

As far as hydrostatic ratings, it really depends on the original supplier, and even then it's hit and miss. We've seen first quality stuff at 500 ish rating and I know of seconds that are similar.

You may get stuff with high ratings, or it may be low. I know of some sil, that while quality, comes no where near 1500mm on it's firsts.

FWIW I've tested several tents with seconds, and what we got in seconds, seemed fine. One took 6 hours of rain before there were issues.

Some can also depend on where you pitch it, for instance under a tree canopy severely lessens the problem.

Denny Hostetler
(dhostetler) - F

Locale: Western CO
Maas on 08/17/2011 14:19:21 MDT Print View

Jerry, thanks for the insight. Do you think it would be relatively easy to scale the 2-person tipi in the article up to something a bit larger? Maybe just scale all measurements up until I get the height I want? I think it would be worth while to learn how to do this. Is 30 yards a guess for the tent in the article?

Does anybody else have insight on fabrics and the use of stoves inside these shelters?

Thanks, Denny

Edited by dhostetler on 08/17/2011 14:21:39 MDT.

kevin timm
(ktimm) - MLife

Locale: Colorado (SeekOutside)
I have a lot of insight on 08/17/2011 14:27:01 MDT Print View

And am in Western Co as well.

We make both tents and stoves.

Ed T , who is a forum member has a lot of knowledge as well, unfortunately his mother just passed away so I'm not sure we will be seeing him on the forum much for a few days.


Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Larger Tipi = circle on 08/17/2011 14:47:28 MDT Print View

If you want to make a larger tipi, I suggest making it an actual tipi (round) vs a square one. That way all the pieces of fabric are the same size. I have made two MYOG tipis with fabric from Noah Lampert. One is a 10x10x6.5' tall the other is a monster, it is 25' in diameter and 12 feet tall. I installed stove jacks in both and use fold down wood stoves that Ed T made.

I do think the MYOG route is both more satisfying and rewarding. That being said. Modifying a Golite mid would take about 1/10th the effort, time, and headache.

If you are up for the challenge, it would be a great project, just be prepared to be possibly frustrated from time to time.

Jerry adams article is a good resource for how to do it. When I started, I bought a few yards of cheapo material and made a 1/10 scale version to practice on. This was very helpful.

If you use Google Sketchup, I have a number of tipis drawn out that will give you the amount a facrice required for each, as well as the dimensions.

PM me and I can email some to you if you are interested.Smallbig

Edited by bwortman on 08/17/2011 14:51:11 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Maas on 08/17/2011 15:35:36 MDT Print View

I think the 16 foot tent in that thread was basically scaled up. Actually, I think it was 14.5 x 16.5.

30 yards is pretty close for 16 foot square base and 9 feet tall. You should calculate exactly before ordering anything.

There are a couple diagrams in that article that would help you to calculate for any size you wanted. Choose your base length and width and height - it would be easier if it was square.

If you want me to double check your calulations I would be happy to do that. Basically, you just need the Pythagorean theorom - hypotnuse squared = sum of sides squared. And Roger's catenary curve spreadsheet which I modified and included in article is useful.

If the side pieces are wider than the fabric width (normally 60 inches or a little more) then it's probably better to have the fabric go sideways rather than up and down, like in the 16 foot square tent. Look at the pictures and you can see the seams going sideways.

Or round (actually an octogon or whatever) would work. Slightly more complicated calculation. Check out that link.

Paul Ashton
(PDA123) - F

Locale: Eastern Mass
Teepee design on 08/21/2011 13:28:49 MDT Print View

I was very impressed by this article and video

or for an inexpensive prototype, Sportsman's Guide has a (heavy) teepee, which you could use as a model for a light weight version.

or prototype it yourself using a 20x10 blue tarp or dropcloth

Denny Hostetler
(d_hostetler) - F
few questions on 08/22/2011 07:15:37 MDT Print View

Hey Jerry - a couple quick questions for ya when you get a chance. I'm still deciding what shape the footprint should be.

I went ahead and mocked up your design with slightly different dimensions. The panels I laid out on the computer are 65' Wide and 79.2 High. Is the 2.5 deflection in the ridge lines sufficient?

I know there should be .5 seam allowance; are the edges on 60" fabric good enough (straight enough) to be utilized as one of the panel edges? Or should I look for a wider piece of fabric?

When ordering for fabric did you allow for some extra yardage? When I add up the amount needed for the shelter in the article, it seems to be less than what the article is spec'd as needed.

I actually did a quick overnight in the Maroon Bells on Friday and my buddy brought along an old chouinard mid - it was a pretty cool little tent!


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: few questions on 08/22/2011 09:06:22 MDT Print View

I think 2.5 inches of deflection on 79.2 inch ridge would be good. I think mine is 1 inch on 95 inch ridgeline but I decided 2.5 inches on 95 inch ridgeline would be better. It's not critical.

On the edge of the "60 inch" fabric are sprocket holes. I don't think that should be in the body of the tent, but it could be in the seam allowance if you're trying to use every bit of fabric available. Different rolls of fabric have different widths between sprocket holes - maybe 63 or 66 inches. You might want to get your fabric, measure it, and then do a final tweak to your design to fit within this 63 or 66 inches. If you need wider side panels, then the "MLD" solution is to run the fabric sideways and have a seam going sideways towards the top of the tent. In my experience, you have to just order the "60 inch" fabric and measure it. They won't tell you what the actual width is. And wider than this isn't available. But, seaming together two pieces of fabric isn't a big deal.

I usually order extra yardage and then I have some for the next project. If you screw up one side panel, then you have to have an extra maybe 3 yards, so that's what extra you'de have to order. If you are very careful then hopefully you won't screw anything up and need extra. If you had an extra 1/2 yard then you could make a bag to put the tent in.

What dimensions is the fabric that you have and what are the dimensions of the base and height?

Edited by retiredjerry on 08/22/2011 09:07:02 MDT.

Denny Hostetler
(d_hostetler) - F
height x width on 08/22/2011 15:57:17 MDT Print View

Jerry - I'm still in the planning phase and haven't bought any fabric yet. I'm hoping that I can make the tipi somewhere in the range of 6' to 7' ft tall, and wide as the fabric allows without having to stitch fabric together to make the panels. I was just trying to see how much the endeavor was going to cost before diving in.

So if the widest I can go on the panel is roughly 59" (allowing for .5 seam allowance), both panels together on one side would be 118". Then the height would be around 78".

Edited by d_hostetler on 08/22/2011 15:57:57 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: height x width on 08/23/2011 09:40:15 MDT Print View

That makes sense

84 inches tall - subtract 2 inches to allow for fabric stretch so design height would be 82 inches. Side panels length = sqrt(82*82+59*59) + 1/2 inch seam allowance = 102 inches. x 4 for 8 panels = 408 inches = you need 11.33 yards of fabric - order 12 yards

Distance from center of tent to corner = sqrt(59*59+59*59) = 83.43 inches. Ridge length = sqrt(83.43*83.43+82*82) = 116.9872 inches call it 117 inches. 2.5 inches deflection on catenary curve would be good. = 63.5 mm deflection if you use my spreadsheet to calculate catenary curve deflections because it's easier to do decimal fractions with mm than power of 1/2 fractions with screwy U.S. inch system.

What are you going to use for a center pole?

Denny Hostetler
(d_hostetler) - F
Thanks on 08/25/2011 06:12:52 MDT Print View

Thanks for the reply. Not sure about the center pole yet - if you have suggestions feel free to offer them up.

Ordered fabric yesterday - so I'm sure you'll see me back with some questions during the process.

Thanks for everyone's help.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Thanks on 08/25/2011 08:22:51 MDT Print View

Easton Aluminum pole from or quest

I used 0.65 inch for 5 foot tall tent but it's sort of heavy - 7.5 ounce

I'm thinking of getting 0.49 inch version which would weigh 4 ounces, but might collapse in heavy wind.

Two trekking poles lashed together seems to work pretty good somebody said.

You probably want to get pole before you cut any fabric to make sure of exact length

Denny Hostetler
(dhostetler) - F

Locale: Western CO
It's been awhile... on 10/31/2011 12:43:34 MDT Print View

I've been meaning to post pictures of the tipi. First - I'd like to thank everyone on this forum, specifically Ben. Thanks for the design ideas. I ended up building a mockup in google sketchup, then scaling the tipi to the size I wanted. I did not use cat curves, and decided on an octagon footprint. I'd have to go back and look at the dimensions in the sketchup rendering but I think the tent came out to be around 7 foot tall and a 13 foot base. I could be a bit off there.

I honestly think I would have went home early on my week long backcountry hunting trip without this tent. The weather was s@*t. We made a small homemade stove with pipe for the tent, and the whole system worked great. One day it snowed like a banshee and my partner had to hike out - I was able to dry my clothes, eat a warm dinner and listen to a baseball game on a portable radio through the storm. It was really nice. The tent came out weighing a bit above 2lbs total.

I think when I build another (oh, I will) I'll keep the design the same with the exception of taking the zipper to the peak. I think you could zip this thing all the way open, tie it off and have a pretty decent shade shelter for the lake/beach. Since there's no floor, this thing is also going to get some ice fishing time this winter with the stove. The sky is the limit! Thanks everybody - just one last thing... if you are considering doing something like this - just go for it. It's the only way to learn.



Next up - backpack, or quilt, or another tent!

Dana Sherry
(dsherry) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: height x width on 11/20/2011 20:03:32 MST Print View

What does sqrt mean? I'm designing a tipi as well and researching other's designs.
Thanks for your math explanation. It's been quite awhile since trig class....