In response to this post, a reader writes:

Dear RE,

I have been following,w/great interest,your dome building

projects. How do they hold up in high winds and rain…we

are having some very strong storms in the area where I am


Yrs ago,I made a Tipi (from scratch)…sewed in on my sewing

machine…made it 2/3’s scale of avg TIPI. While camping in

it…a tornado came thru….all the store tents,campers,etc were

blown over…the leaning cone/TIPI survived nicely and I was

able to walk out of it,w/a cup of steaming coffee, to the

astonishment of other campers in the primitive camp area…

who had made such fun of the tipi when we arrived at our camp

site…they even thought we brought our own fire wood; the lodge

poles on top of the van we had to use to transport the poles…

we did have firewood inside of the van!  A great experience

for my son…who learned to, “chop wood and carry water”, as

the saying goes.

Do the domes hold up as well in high winds and pounding


We too,had curious people who wanted to see the TIPI…both

inside and out….we made it more beautiful by attaching wide and long ribbons,the colors of the rainbow,to the tips of the lodge poles…it was a fun project…many fond memories of it’s con-

struction and use. Camped in it….all seasons…including cold

and snow….could heat water inside and take sponge baths.

My nephew(a twin & an artist) is moving to Seatle,WA…next

week…leaving Kansas City,MO.


Red Elk replies:

I too have Fond Memories of my 5 Tipis.  Had 6 but last SO BIG (28 ft.) I couldn’t “lock” the poles before wind (“REGULAR” WIND HERE) Knocked ‘em down and broke most.  Sold it last summer.  I LOVE ‘EM!  BUT hauling those POLES are a BIG HASSLE!  And to LUG ‘EM IN to a secluded spot….FORGET IT!

I’d never go LESS then a 16′ or BIGGER then 22′.  16’ easiest and can easily handle 3 people.  18′ kinda “Super” but you’re getting into pole hassles…(I LIKE VERY LONG POLES).

In my 16’ we once had 22 people, doing a Sing Sing.  Firepit going AND ALL OUR (6) One Week’s gear. HAD a BALL!

The other problem (as you know) is it’s a PEOPLE “DRAWER”.  Aho?

Certainly NOT “stealth”.

Then too…the skin SLOPE!  STEALS from Walk-About room.

A Tipi’s “room” is WHEN YOU SIT (next to “skin”).   Aho?

Many Tipi owners do NOT know how to set them up Properly.  YOU MUST NOT have the skin TOUCH THE GROUND.  Up the poles about 2 to 5 inches.  Many TOO do NOT use an INNER LINER (“wall”).  Thus their Tipis are COLD.  Even WITH “tacked” TIGHT to the ground.  That INNER LINER has 3 functions :  Outside wind / air hits its Backside…then the Fire’s HEAT “catches” it…creating a CHIMNEY EFFECT.  Clears the smoke at Fire-Start time VERY FAST.  Any NOT HAVING A LINER is just darn STUPID!

It STOPS Inner Shadows against the skin.  Better PRIVACY as well as Harder to find a human TARGET when shooting INTO the Tipi.


I stuffed mine with Boughs and Dead Weeds and Straw, in winter.  Adding to the INSULATION.  SMELLED GREAT in was “comfy” inside in HIGHER Low teens.  AFTER the cold gets LOWER…I used ANOTHER, TALLER, “Liner” put on / around OUTSIDE the Tipi “proper”.

This 3 to 4 feet from Tipi skin and TOO “Packed” with insulating material.

In this set-up I spent 2 full HARD WINTERS.  Got to 42 degrees BELOW 0 in second.

I’d let the fire go out…but have QUICK FIRE MATERIAL next to it for morning starting.  Then crawled into LOTS of BLANKETS and CALL MY MALAMUTE!  He HATED the bed’s HEAT, so would end sleeping next to me on TOP of the blankets.

I LOVE “MUTES!”  BIG (110 + lbs.).  GREAT COMPANIONS…almost NEVER Howl / Bark (don’t draw attention)…Size SCARES “enemies”…eat VERY LITTLE (a Cocker Spaniel easily out-eats ‘em)…can PULL and can PACK….PLUS are GREAT “Bed Warmers”!

I do NOT TRUST ANY WITH “light” “blue” EYE(s).  TOO UNTRUSTWORTHY (in general) around kids / people / other dogs I’ve found.

I do NOT care for the SMALLER Malamutes.  TOO MUCH LIKE A HUSKY.  High “WIRED”!  No, give me the milder BIG ONES.

I “FIX” ALL MINE.  Less “wandering” (males) and DONT DRAW WOLVES / COYOTES (females), or cause Fights.

Learned to carry a Heavy CHAIN to “LAY” (not SLAP) on dogs backs when fights occurred.  They RARELY Fight, but when they DO…it’s for MORE then “BLOOD”…its for MURDER!  They LIVE for a “GOOD SCAP”.  Don’t LOOK for it but if it comes : “HOT DAMN! FIGHT! FIGHT!”  Aho.

A BIG mistake to “wade in”.  YOU TAKE YOUR CHANCES.  In that mode, they are WILD WOLVES!

Still, having had MANY MANY Breeds of dogs over my years, LARGE MALAMUTES are WAY ABOVE the TOP OF MY LIST as CAMP and HOME Dogs.

Now…back to Tipis :  I too have  built a number (to sell).  I do NOT at ALL, care for the TIPS OF THE SMOKE FLAPS that “cup” the flap(s) up.  THEY WEAR THROUGH!  Next thing you know, that VERY IMPORTANT FEATURE (flap)  starts SLIDEING DOWN THE POLE!

UGLY and making the flap(s) near useless.  No, I GO FOR A STRONG LOOP UP THERE!  A “cross” piece of wood on the Flap Pole(s) stops THAT!  NEVER HAVE HAD A PROBLEM WITH THIS WAY……LOTS with the “cup”.  Aho?

DOOR should be TWO.  A WIDER one INSIDE and draped (like the other)…OUTSIDE at base.  I USE BOTH IN WINTER Snows!  (I’ve had 3 times a SINGLE has PUSHED IN AT BASE with snow.  Had to DIG OUT!

Also, SWITCH in summer and use the INNER Big One as a “Porch Roof”.  Regular one as door.  Aho?

I also advocate CROSSing WILLOWS (etc) at INSIDE Liner.  No liner “puffing” and LOOKS GOOD!

That “puffing” takes away from Setting / Sleeping room.

There are Other features I had OR WILL HAVE (if I get another).

It’s not likely I Will get another tho.  Gone to “Cockroach shelled” DOMES.

Before I get into them, tho….Tipis are STILL SO TALL they DO CATCH WIND!  Shape or not…they DO.  Aho?

Now, DOMES:  I do NOT LIKE DOMES YOU CAN BUY / or get as KITS!  Not at ALL!

ALL of these SLOPE IN at base.  Like a BALL cut (halved) just below center.  TOO HIGH AT THE BASE!


Either BERM that base to “cockroach body” it, or, as I : BUILD your own.

Of my 3, 2 are ON GROUND (and TOO HIGH (as far as I’m concerned)).   One is being bermed now.  The other I intend to.

The other is built INTO the ground…AND STILL BEING BERMED!

I say “cockroach”…meaning OBLONG and LOW!

This causes winds to FLOW OVER…not SLAM OVER.

Until the edging of MY domes are WELL-LOCKED DOWN (by berming) you DO have BIG Problems with WIND.  CATCHES THE BOTTOM EDGES and off comes the cover!


As mine, you can build a STRAIGHT Wall (no room-stealing SLOPE)  ABOVE the wall the DOME “sloping” starts…yet PLENTY TALL ENOUGH to STAND FULLY IN.  Even 6′ plus tall people.

BUT…the DISADVANTAGE of a Dome over a Tipi…..your dome is THERE!  “Permanent”.  Tipis, despite the poles, ARE MOVEABLE.

So, Pros and Cons of both.  Aho?

I will say this tho…a dome (such as mine) gives FAR MORE INTERIOR LEEWAY then does a Tipi.

I will be experimenting with PERMANENT Dome FRAMES, this summer.  Put several up…A cover that can cover each.  ONE Cover… MANY hidden FRAMES.  Aho? FRAMES are PERMANENT but you CAN MOVE TO ANOTHER cause YOU have THE (only) Cover!  Aho?

So, sister, take your pick…or simply learn how to make a 4 SEASON Lean-To.   GB    re



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