How to Pitch a Tipi

How to put up a teepee

We’ll cover two pitch methods – Radius & Setback.  These two methods arrive at the same answer, but solve the problem from opposite directions. 

 The keys to pitching are:

  • Good site selection.
  • Pick your sleeping area – this determines pole location & stove location if you’re using one.
  • Door location & orientation
  • Correct diameter (footprint)

 After you make decisions on sleeping area and door orientation, it’s time to pitch.  Getting a good pitch requires the correct size footprint.  A footprint too big results in a bell shape that reduces usable space.  A footprint too small leaves slack and runs the risk of running out of pole length.

Both of these pitching methods are designed to start out with the right tipi diameter between the two doors.

Use the following chart to determine your radius or setback.

Tipi Size

4 Person

6 Person

8 Person

12 Person

16 Person


5' 11"


7' 11"

9' 5"

10' 6"

Zipper Setback






Side Setback












 Radius Method

  1. Pick your sleeping area - this determines your pole location. (Pole location offset a few feet from sleeping area depending on size of shelter.)
  2. Set a stake to mark the pole location.
  3. From the center stake, either pull a pre-cut cord the length of your shelter’s radius, or mark your center pole at the radius length and use either of these to measure from the center stake to where you want your first door.  Set a stake at this point.
  4. Go across the pitch area and pull another radius from the center stake in a straight line with the first two stakes.  Set a third stake - this is your second door location.
  5. Hook both door stake loops on their stakes.  Make sure the stove jack is oriented to the side you want if you're using a stove.
  6. Pull the fabric out taut but NOT stretched and set the remaining SEAM stake loops, working from door to door to door.  Don't set stakes deep at this time as you may adjust after the tipi is raised.
    • Very Important - stretch the fabric out, let it relax completely.  This is taut.  Stretching the fabric and setting stakes results in a bell shape that reduces usable space.
  7. If you're using a stove, make sure the stove jack flap is open.  Open or close the vent as desired. (You can’t reach these once the tipi is up.)
  8. Put up the pole, adjust stakes if needed, fill in secondary stakes if needed, pound in all primary stakes.


 Setback Method

  1.  Set primary door stake.
  2. Grab opposite door stake loop and stretch tipi out taut (not stretched).  Orient sleeping area or stove as needed.
  3. Setback the door using the measurement in the chart above.  If you don’t have the measurement, put your hand on the door guyout, then fold the fabric toward the opposite door.  The guyout is the middle of this fold.  Where the stake loop lands is very close to the proper setback. (Setback is 2X distance from guyout to sod skirt below stake loop in door.)
  4.  Set the seam stake loops next to doors first, then work door to door to door using side setbacks.
  5. The recommended setbacks are for a standard no guy out pitch. If you would like a little more interior space, or improved snow shedding, move the setbacks in toward center one - two inches from recommended setback, click the pole an inch higher and use the side guy outs.  

Silvertip, Cimarron, Lil Bug Out, and Redcliff shelter directions can be found on our website.

Pitch Tips:

  • If you have a bell shape at the bottom then your footprint is too big.  This is caused by overstretching the fabric when setting the stakes.
  • The diameter and radius of the shelters can vary by a small amount due to uneven terrain or variances in manufacturing.  After pitching a few times you'll find the diameter where your tipi is happiest.
  • Uneven ground - set the uphill side as normal, then set the downhill side.  You will have slack in the downhill side that can then be reduced by using the guyouts.
  • To pitch in wind set 1-3 stakes on the upwind side first.
  • Storm worthiness is determined largely by how solid your stakes are.  Mixing in a few longer or beefier stakes such as our Twisted Stakes helps in bad weather or loose soil.
  • A flat rock under the pole will keep it from sinking into soft ground.
  • Our tipis have inner and outer stake loops.  Pitch with the inner loops to raise the sod skirt and allow more venting in warm weather.  Pitch with the outer loops to seal the skirt to the ground.
  • Watch the skirt when staking!  You’ll put a hole in your skirt if you’re careless.

Care & Maintenance:

  • Never leave your shelter unattended in heavy snow.  The pole will break before the canopy will tear.
  • Store your tipi clean and dry.  Dirt or sand can abrade the waterproof coating, and moisture leads to mildew.
  • To clean, hand wash in woolite or other gentle cleanser, or pitch and spray with a garden hose.  Hang or pitch to dry.
  • Avoid long term UV exposure.
  • If you get pinholes from ember burns, seal them with a dab of seam sealer. 
  • Small tears can be repaired with tenacious tape.