Reliable Tipi Set Up Instructions
Reliable TIPI SET UP INSTRUCTIONS for the 9’ – 24 ‘ SIZE Sioux and Crow Tipi.
Congratulations you have purchased the most authentic, best-constructed tipi on the market. Before getting started,
take a few moments and read this booklet completely!!
You’re about to have one of the most interesting and entertaining experiences you’ve ever had-setting
up your tipi! Although is looks complicated, it is really very simple, plus you’ve got these explicit
instructions and diagrams. It should take you a couple of hours the first time and after that, less than 1
Before doing anything with the poles, it is a good idea to wipe them all down with a damp cloth or
brush to get rid of dirt and dust caused by shipping.
– Select the three straightest and strongest poles and lay them on the cover as shown in Figure #1.
Note: The Door Pole should be on top of the North and South Poles. The bottom of each pole should
protrude past the canvas to the bottom of the stake loops sewn to the cover.
Next, take 3/8” rope included with your tipi (you can find it in your stake bag) and tie the tripod poles
together with a clove hitch as shown in Figure #2. Tie the poles together approximately 15” beyond
the tipi cover. Mark this location so the next time you put up your tipi you will not have to measure.
Watch this hitch closely as tripod is pulled up!! Make sure it does not slip.
Take the long end of the rope and wrap it around the poles four (4) times directly below the clove
hitch. Firmly but not extremely tight. Tie off the short end of the clove hitch to your rope with two
It is easiest to position the bottom of the Door Pole where you want the door and the bottom of the
North and South Poles approximately where the South Pole should be.
Now have one person pull on the rope as another person lifts the tripod up. (figure #3)
As soon as you’ve got it straight up, move North pole apart to form the tripod. (figure #4)
THIS IS IMPORTANT! – Facing the tipi, put your door pole exactly where you want your left hand
door entrance to be and use the Pole Diagram to get the exact measurements between North, South and
Door tripod poles. (Figure #5)
Take the time to get these exactly where you want them. It is very hard to shift the tipi when it is all
CONGRATULATIONS! The hard part is done!! The rest of the tipi goes up in just minutes!
STEP 5 PUTTING THE REST OF THE POLES ON THE TRIPOD
Set aside your next strongest pole for the lift pole, and set aside the two lightest poles for your smoke
flaps. This should leave you with eleven (11) poles to place in tripod. Use the pole diagram (figure
#5) and put each pole on the tripod in order from one to eleven (1-11). Take pole #1 and look up at the
top of the tripod. There is a crotch formed by the north and south tripod pole. Go ahead and rest pole
#1 in its natural place and put 2, 3, and 4 right on top of it. Move over to #5 and put it right on top of
pole #4 and then just stack 6, 7, and 8 right on top of pole # 5. Move around back and put #9 and #10
in place in the natural opening formed up top. Pole #11 fits into a natural opening that you will see
when you look up. Make sure you leave room for the lift pole between pole # 10 and #11. This
sounds a little complicated, but as you lay the poles on the tripod, you will see that there is a natural
place for each of them to go. (Figure #6a, #6b).
After pole #11 is in place, just grab the dangling rope, go outside the poles and walk around the
framework four (4) times. (Figure #7)
This ties all the poles together. As you walk, keep tension on the rope and jerk it hard now and then.
This causes the rope to slip up tight around the poles where you’ve tied the tripod. After the 4th wrap,
tie the rope off on the right tripod pole near the bottom.
Now your tipi is actually starting to look like a tipi! Don’t worry about exact placement of the eleven
(11) poles at this point. You will do final adjusting after the cover goes on.
STEP 7 PUTTING ON THE COVER
Spread out the cover on the ground with the inside up. It is easy to tell the inside from the outside by
the Reliable Tent and Tipi logo near the doorway on the outside. The logo should be facing down.
Take your lift pole and place it right in the middle on the cover with the bottom of the pole extending
beyond the canvas to the outer edge of the stake loop sewn to the cover. (Figure #8)
a. Tie the cover to the pole by wrapping the tie straps around the pole at least twice and finish
with a square knot. Make sure the cover is pulled tight along the lift pole.
b. Tie the two smoke flap ropes provided with the tipi to the loops at the base of the smoke flaps.
c. IMPORTANT –(Sioux and Cheyenne Style) Open up the smoke flap pockets to make them
ready to receive the smoke flap poles. After the cover is up, you have to push the poles into the
pockets from the ground. If they are not open and ready, it is going to be somewhat tricky.
Now, just bunch the cover up to the lift pole and set it into place right at the back of the tipi. (Figure
As you look up at the top, you will see the natural opening that it will fit into. Make sure to keep the
pole on the inside with the cover untwisted up top or you may try to put the cover on inside out.
Grab the edges and pull the cover around both sides until it meets at the doorway. (Figure #10)
Be sure to pull your smoke flaps outside the cover with the smoke flap ropes as you pull the cover
around. To lace the front, you are going to need a ladder, strong friend, or be an extremely tall person
to do this. Next, put in your lacing pins, starting from top to bottom. Overlap the flaps with the side
of the flap with the tie sewn to the outer edge going to and seal by pushing the lacing pin through these
four (4) holes (top side hole to under side hole and then out again through the top side hole, right to
After you have it all laced up, go inside and adjust the poles to get a perfect fit of the cover. Just push
them out until the cover fits smoothly. As you push the poles out, wiggle and twist them so they will
extend to the ground level. NOTE: The tripod poles are tied and will not extend.
You are just about finished.
STEP 8 STAKING DOWN THE COVER
To stake down the cover to get a wrinkle free look, start at the back and alternate side to side (10, 11,
9, S, N, 8, 4, 7, 3, 6, 5, D, 1). Pull the cover down snug but not super tight.
CAUTION: Take care when hammering in stakes not to hit the cover or stake loop as it can cause
tears to the fabric. NOTE: The cover should be 4” to 6” off the ground when properly stake down.
Your tipi should look terrific at this point.
STEP 9 SMOKE FLAP POLES
Take the smoke flap poles and insert them into the smoke flap pockets (Sioux and Cheyenne Style). It
will probably be necessary to flap the smoke flaps with the ropes to get a good angle to insert your
poles. For Crow and Blackfoot style tipis there is a leather reinforced hole for you smoke flap pole.
You will need to tie a stick perpendicular to the smoke flap pole and then insert the pole into the hole
in the smoke flap. The small stick will act as a “stop” for the pole. After they are in the pockets or
through the leather reinforcement, criss-cross the poles in back to the tipi. (Figure #11).
The tension will keep them standing there. If you want to close the smoke flaps (rain, etc.), just move
the poles around to the sides and they will shut the smoke flaps. Most rain will hit the poles up top and
run down outside the liner and onto the ground. You can tie your smoke flap ropes on either side or on
one side depending on how open you want it. Pull the ropes snug to get a wrinkle free look and tie
them to one of the poles near the ground or stake them out approximately 6’-8’ away from the tipi.
CONGRATULATIONS!! You have got a complete tipi! That wasn’t too bad – was it? If you have
any problems that you are unable to figure out, just give us a call at 1-800-544-1039. We will be glad
to help you!
Thanks again for selecting a Reliable Tipi! Have Fun!
OTHER NOTES OF INTEREST:
A. If possible, choose a site slightly higher than the surrounding area to provide for drainage.
B. When the tipi is erected on the ground, it pays to dig a shallow trench around the base and slope
outward to catch water rolling off the cover.
C. If you are in an extremely windy area or if your ground will not effectively hold stakes, you can
take the rope hanging from the tripod, drive a stake directly below it, and tie the rope to it. The
tipi is very wind resistant and unless the situation is extreme, this is not necessary.
D. If you want to stake your tipi down with the pebble and loop method, we highly recommend
getting “The Indian Tipi Book” by Reginald & Gladys Laubin. This book describes a number
of original, authentic methods.
Use pencil to outline graphics. Short nap roller can be used on large areas, trim with brush. We
recommend an exterior latex house pain (good quality) with a UV inhibitor. Experiment on scrap
Please note all diagrams and text courtesy Reliable Tent and Tipi.