Blue Flower


Tipi - Teepee

The Spanish explorer Franciscon Vasquez De Coranado during his 1540-42 expedition told of seeing native hinting parties living in skin tents. We also see many artists rendering of the rendezvous of 1837 showing tipis in the artwork of A.J. Miller, a noted sketch artist of the time.

Most of the tipis of that time were made of animal hides. These were very heavy and therefore keep sizes to a minimum. Large 20 to 30 foot tipis were not around until 1804 when the army began providing Russian made sail canvas to the Indians.

There is nothing quite like spending the night in a tipi. Its unique design is remarkable, and the history behind it is endless. But the tipi is far more than just a romantic oddity. It is one of the soundest designs in the history of man-made shelters. The very shape of the tipi makes it one of the soundest designs against the wind and the rain. It is very roomy yet one person can pitch it if necessary. The liner makes for good ventilation in hot summer weather while providing the draft for a fire during the winter months. The smoke flaps at the top of the tipi can be adjusted to draw the spoke off the interior fire, keeping the tipi virtually smoke free. They can also be closed off to shut out inclement weather.

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Baker Tent

Although it is not historically authentic to the fur trade era, the baker lean-to is one of the more popular tents at the rendezvous. It is actually a canvas version of the open-front Adirondack lean-to, sometimes seen on canoe trails. In a nutshell, it is a wall tent cut in half long ways with a flap added on to the front. The flap may be closed in bad weather or raised to form a fly for shade. It is cumbersome to setup and requires 12 to 15 poles of various lengths. The square design is very practical for storing gear and placement of beds for sleeping.

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Whelan Lean-To


Named after its inventor, the Whelan is another shelter that, while not being documented as authentic for the period, is a very popular home at the rendezvous. Its wide acceptance and popularity can be attributed to two things. First of all it is a lightweight, practical design that one person can fit easily in with his gear. Secondly because of its low front, the Whelan has virtually unlimited flexibility of set up. In a pinch, it can be set up with no poles by using a rope between two trees to support the ridge

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Wall Tent

The wall tent has left a long trail through history. It has been used for centuries and it came in all sorts of sizes. It gives more headroom than most tents, and the traditional inside pole design makes is easier to set up.

The "eastern style" or inside pole wall tent is the oldest and most authentic wall tent design. It derives its name from the fact that it can be set up with a minimum of three poles: two uprights and a ridge pole on the inside of the tent. The tent pictured above is an eastern style with outside wall poles. This set up works the best, although it is possible to tie the walls off at a wide angle, eliminating the need for the outside poles.

The other type of set up is the outside pole or "western style". This style came later. It uses more poles, longer poles, and therefore it is a bit more difficult to set up. The reason that this style became popular is that poles were plentiful in the west. When an encampment was pitched, the poles were cut from the area. When the encampment was over the poles were simply left behind. New ones were cut at the next site. Since they didn't have to haul the poles, it didn't matter how long or bulky they were.

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Pyramid / Hunter

The Pyramid tents were used during and after the fur trade. Rufus Sage used one in 1841 when he was traveling along the Laramie on his way to Fort Platte. Francis Parkman's party used one in 1846, and other references support evidence that the pyramid tent was in use as early as 1820. Sizes ranged form 7'x7'x7'to 15'x15'x9'6".

The pyramid style tent has popularity because of its space efficiency, ease of set up, and low requirements for poles. This style of tent was on occasion referred to later as a miner tents.

The Hunter's tent gives you flexibility of three different set up possibilities. For a one-pole set up simply place the pole inside the tent, propping up the middle. It causes a loss of over space in the center and is the least recommended. In the two-pole method you just tie the peak of the tent to the point where the two poles cross. By lifting the poles and propping their butts against the ground, no ropes are needed for set up. For the no pole method, you must tie a rope to the loop at the peak and throw the rope over a tree limb and tie it off.

You won't find a tent that goes up quicker or easier that this type. Just peg out the base and raise the peak and you are done. Set up takes only 5 to 10 minutes and that leaves you more time to enjoy yourself.

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Marquis Tent

The high peak and walls make for the best headroom and useable space of any shelter, and because it was used as early as the Renaissance Period, this tent is one of the most authentic at any rendezvous.

One nice feature of the Marquee is the extra flexibility built in to the curtain design. On warm days a curtain may be drawn back or removed for open ventilation. On colder days the curtains can be tied close tightly to prevent cold airflow. Partitioning of the Marquee into rooms also makes for a civilized living environment.

However, one must be aware that these tents are cumbersome to setup and require a considerable amount of poles. The good news is that poles for this type of tent are easy to obtain. A trip to the lumberyard will take care of the pole problem. For the ridgepole, use a 2X4. Two 10 foot long 3X3's can be used for the uprights after shaving off the corners, and the twelve to twenty perimeter poles (depending on Marquee size) should be 6 foot high 2X2's. The two uprights and the perimeter poles need pins. A good method is to drive a 16-penny nail into the end and cut off the head.

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Primitive Tent Vendors


Primitive Tent Vendors

Track of the Wolf

Dixie Gun Works

Bradley Company of the Fox

Fox River Traders

RK Lodges

Red Hawk Trading

Nomadics tipi Makers

Panther Primitives


Tim's Muzzleloader Page -- Modified Diamond Shelter

Longshots Webpage -- The Diamond Shelter