Originally constructed to provide shelter for most tribes of Plains Indians in North America, the tipi, also spelled teepee or tepe, was a simple dwelling built from readily available log poles and bison hides. These were family dwellings that typically slept six to eight people. Present-day teepees maintain the same structure; however, most are constructed using modern weather-resistant fabrics. A few artisans have returned to the use of historically accurate materials and embellishments.
Modern-day teepees are built to meet the individual needs of the owner. Some of these teepees are built specifically for portability and are sized appropriately based on the number of people you will need to sleep. Fabrics being used by experienced teepee manufacturers are woven specifically for teepee use to provide lightweight teepee components that are UV- and weather-resistant in synthetic and natural fibers. When following land owner or campground regulations, you can erect a teepee almost anywhere that you can legally erect a tent.
Comfortable Interior Climate
Teepees used by the Plains Indians were designed to keep the occupants warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Due to the accurate placement of side and upper, or smoke flaps, the contemporary teepee offers the same level of comfort. The fabrics that are used also contribute to efficient climate control. Fabrics and designs for teepee use in extremely cold climates differ slightly from those used in warmer weather.
Teepees are designed to allow for the use of a fire pit or stove that burns appropriately aged wood. When you use the wood fire properly, the smoke exits through the smoke flaps at the top of the teepee while fresh air is drawn in through ground-level side flaps.
Probably the most important advantage of living in a teepee is the simplicity it offers the dweller. Living in a teepee allows you to become one with the surrounding environment since there is no buffer to the sounds of nature just outside your door. Teepee materials let in natural light so you wake with the sun, and if you are away from external light sources, you can sleep in peaceful darkness. Teepee interiors can accommodate basic needs for storage, yet the space will always feel vast and open due to the height at the center.
- teepee image by Anthony Child from Fotolia.com