Camping in Style: a new way to get in a tipi

A great way to stay warm and dry in the backcountry

mt canvas
The Montana Canvas tipi made a perfect addition to our archery elk hunting camp. Dave Reese photo


tipi snow
Even in temperatures below zero we stayed warm and dry in our lightweight tipi from Montana Canvas. Dave Reese photo

For the last 30 years my friends and I have used a canvas tipi to explore our favorite skiing haunts.

We began our tipi odyssey in the early 1980s in the backcountry around Missoula, and when college graduation drew us out of the University of Montana, we continued our exploits in northwest Montana.
Our backcountry tipi expeditions still continue with that heavy old canvas version, but I’ve discovered a new style of tipi that allows me to benefit from what Native Americans have known all along: the tipis’ durability, portability and resistance to high winds.
This new tipi is a lightweight version made by Montana Canvas in Belgrade, Mont. It’s light enough to pack in a backpack, but since we’ve made the move to horses, the tipi loads nicely on our stock and weighs about 30 pounds.

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Even in rainy weather, we stayed dry in the tipi from Montana Canvas

Unlike a traditional canvas Sioux-style tipi, which has as many as 15 poles cut out of wood, this nylon tipi has one center pole made out of lightweight aluminum. The tipi sets up quickly and looks very cool in the Montana backcountry.
While hunting elk in Eastern Montana we found the tipi could endure extremely high winds with gusts over 60 mph.
For heating and cooking, the tipi features a stovepipe opening so you can use a wood stove. We packed in a lightweight portable wood stove and stayed warm and toasty in temperatures near 10 below zero.

Editor’s Pick:
Four Stars

For information on how to get your hands on one of these new styles of tipis, contact Montana Canvas at

— Dave Reese,

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