How To Make a Teepee

 How To Make a TeepeeA teepee provides shelter from the elements as a free-standing dwelling. Historically, teepees were crafted from long wooden poles propped against each other and covered with animal hide. A flap at the top of the teepee allowed smoke from the cooking fire to escape while holding in the warmth. Easy assembly and lightweight components made teepees easy to relocate. In the following steps you will learn how to build a functional and portable teepee that can be used for camping in the backyard or anywhere else you need shelter.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • 3 wood poles, 12 feet long, 3 inches in diameter
  • 2 wood poles, 12 feet long, 2 inches in diameter
  • Roll of thin rope
  • Scissors
  • 4 canvas sheets measuring 10 x 10 foot
  • Hammer
  • 3 metal stakes
Step 1
Set each of the 3-inch diameter poles upright so one end is on the ground and one end points into the air. Cross the upward-pointing ends and spread the opposite ends on the ground to create a triangle. Use a 2-foot length of rope to lash together the top ends of the poles to create a free-standing tripod framework.
Step 2
Stand the remaining poles upright against the tripod framework to create side supports for the teepee. Leave an area on one side open wide enough for an entryway. Lash the top ends of the smaller poles to the top ends of the larger poles to complete the teepee frame.
Step 3
Attach the canvas to the teepee frame one sheet at a time. Tie one corner of a sheet to the lowermost end of one of the large wood poles. Cut small holes along the side of the canvas, following the pole. Thread foot-long lengths of rope through the holes and tie each around the pole to secure the canvas. Tie the top corner of the canvas to the upper end of the pole. Wrap the canvas around the wood frame and tie the other two corners to poles at the top and bottom of the teepee in a similar fashion.
Step 4
Repeat Step 3 for each of the remaining canvas sheets, making sure to cover the frame completely, leaving no gaps or holes. Leave the bottom end of the canvas sheet covering the entryway area untethered so it can be used as a door flap.
Step 5
Hammer one metal stake into the ground beside each of the 3-inch diameter poles used to create the framework. Tie a rope from each pole to the stake next to it to secure the teepee to the ground, which will help it withstand wind.

Tips & Warnings

The canvas sheets used to cover the teepee can be treated with a waterproofing agent to create a barrier against rain and snow. If using the teepee in wet weather, be sure to dig trenches around the exterior edge of the teepee to drain rainwater away from the ground on which the teepee is sitting.
Never build a fire inside a teepee with the door flap closed. Opening the flap allows fresh air in and reduces the risk of asphyxiation. If you plan to have fires inside the teepee, construct the teepee with a gap at the top through which smoke can vent.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.