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Design Philosophy and Quality

design philosphy and quality

There’s a lot of talk about quality, about individual specifications or properties which are supposed to guarantee that a certain product is the best. We believe there are four important components which, when put together, make the final result something really special. These are: ambition, insight, ability and will.

Our ambition has never been primarily to haul in money. Instead we have always endeavoured to make as functional a product as possible. The insight we have gained after all these years is that first and foremost you must identify existing problems and challenges which must be conquered. What is required of the material? For example, where are the biggest tension points on a tent and how do we turn that knowledge into practical solutions that work? To really do this properly, you need a big portion of ability and will as well. When all this has fallen into place, well, then you can talk about quality. This is, quite simply, the difference between being good and being best.

Many things are needed to create a first-class tent.

The Nordic Tipi – the ideal shape

In many ways, the shape of a Nordic Tipi is ideal. The base is broad which gives lots of space where the wind cannot blow so hard since it is slowed down by the ground. The part that sticks up above an ordinary tunnel tent has a small profile. This gives many advantages without having to sacrifice much wind resistance.

The height of the tent creates a “chimney effect” which means good ventilation, even on hot days with no wind. The air is warmed up and rises inside the tent which allows fresh, cooler air to be sucked in at the bottom. The height also means there is space for flames so an open fire can be used. It also makes it possible to stand up in the tent and gives the tent a wonderful, evocative atmosphere.

The spaciousness of the tent makes is perfect for socialising and the round shape means everyone can see each other, no matter how few or many people there are. Moreover, if you put an open fire in the middle of the circle, well, then you come in contact with the qualities that once upon a time made human beings the way they are. Around the fire, story-telling and learning take place in a natural, interesting way; nothing is artificial or contrived.

The shape of the tent also makes it possible to use the seams as structural elements, stretched between the top of the central pole and the ground. A flexible, strong and yet light structure is thereby created. The shape means there is no side that is more vulnerable than the others when the wind changes direction or blows harder, something that is a problem for many types of tents with a different shape. This means our Nordic Tipis can often be used without any storm cords. (However, they should definitely be used if stormy weather is expected.)

So Tentipi have utilised and tried to optimise this fantastic starting point with relation to different sizes of tents and different demands for lightness, comfort and price. It is fantastic to work with something that was “so right” right from the start.

We have used the traditional “kåta” with wooden poles and animal hides as our model but have reduced the weight from a couple of hundred kilos to just 3.5 kilos (the weight of our lightest tent)! The time needed to erect a tent has been reduced from, say, 60 minutes to about 3 minutes. We have added many features like insect protection, indoor ventilation adjustment, the possibility of having a stove, and many accessories like an inner tent, drying rail and porch. But most importantly, we have retained the possibility of having an open fire in the tent, something no other type of tent can offer.

There is no doubt that owners of a Nordic Tipi from Tentipi embrace in part the genuine, old Nordic Sami tradition while at the same time living in an ultra-modern tent that is the most flexible one on the market!

But success needs much more than a good basic concept. To become a world-leading manufacturer of Nordic Tipis, a company must be characterized by a number of traits that interact with each other in many different ways and at several different levels. The accumulated value of these traits must be the only feasible explanation why we have been the completely dominating company in our niche. The traits we mean are: ambition, insight, ability and will.


When running a business, ambition can be anything from feeling satisfaction when customers are happy with the products you sell, to doing something meaningful, having fun or making money.

Our ambitions have comprised all those things – and in that order – but it’s also a question of balancing one’s driving forces. The result would have been very different if we had put our ambitions in reverse order. Having satisfied customers – or even better, impressed customers – has been an ambition that has permeated Tentipi ever since we started in 1989, then under the name Moskoselkåtan. It really hurts inside if a customer has any negative experiences when using one of our tents. If we detect a problem, or someone tells us about one, there are then intense in-house discussions since everyone is committed to their work and eager to solve the problem. Often, it turns out to be not as bad as we first thought but it’s still worth all the effort since it helps us to stay at the top.

One thing that we have not yet succeeded in is reducing our prices. We have tried but we have quite simply not been able to compromise enough to be able to reduce the price as much as we would like to.

Another example of what our ambitions lead to is our product development. We always start by creating a long list of requirements without giving a thought to whether it is possible to fulfil them or not. It never stops surprising us that we usually succeed in including almost everything on the list! Without ambition, our mission would have been much simpler but the subsequent result would not have been as good. Of course, we have to prioritise among the points on our “wish list” and to do that, we need the next trait: insight.


We gain insight by listening to what our customers say but also by listening beyond that. Instead of just doing what our customers ask us to do, we try to find ways of meeting underlying needs. In that way, we create solutions that will be of use for so many more people and that will often work better than the original inspirer ever could have imagined.

We also gain insight through discussion with suppliers and different sorts of experts. We never take an alleged truth for granted without checking that things really are as they are claimed to be. This maybe sounds self-evident but the fact is that most of what goes on around us is based on tradition and cultural behaviour – “this is how we do things”, “this is how we’ve always done it”, “most people think like this”, etc. – rather than on insight. People base their work on what other people do and say, which is based on what others do and say…

Usually, we are sufficiently contrary to be able to resist this. Read about our views of different types of tests here.


If you want to go your own way and try to be better and smarter than others, you can’t copy what they do. Instead, you must have enough energy and creativity to get past any obstacles. The position we now hold on the market must prove that we have the necessary ability. This has resulted in a thick quality handbook which states in detail how our products are to be made. It also describes what machines and aids that are to be used and our training methods. Moreover, it brings together masses of experience we have gained, experience that is of invaluable use when we develop and improve our products.


At this point, we can simply say that without will, nothing would have been achieved because to reach goals, a huge amount of work and sacrifice is needed. It is resolute will that propels the other three traits.

When we fail (which we sometimes do), there’s a gloomy atmosphere because everyone at Tentipi cares. Because we always take any problems very seriously and never give in to easy ways out, we come up with solutions that we would never have found without a very strong will.

Will is about caring and being passionate. Ever since we started in 1989, we have been passionate about ONE SINGLE THING: being the best in the world at manufacturing and supplying Nordic Tipis and their accessories and giving our customers the best service possible.

Price in relation to quality

In order to meet our customers’ needs and financial resources in the best possible way, most of our range of products has been divided into three levels of quality. Even for the simplest level, Base, the standards we have set are far higher than many tent manufacturers ever do but of course at the same time it’s important to keep the price as low as possible.

Our ambitions lead to compromises regarding cost as well which is why not even our cheapest tents are particularly cheap when compared with others.

At the highest level, Pro, we don’t compromise on cost; here the challenge is quite simply to produce the very best. This often means choosing materials that are twice or even up to five times as expensive as those used for Base.

Let’s change focus for a moment. Some people think that Tentipi’s tents cost a lot of money and, well, yes, they are quite expensive. Our aim has always been to design and produce the most flexible tent in the world. If it’s to be truly flexible, then it is simply not possible to compromise on quality and features since the tent would then not cope with stormy weather, different climates and varying needs.

It’s like comparing an ordinary table knife with a multi-tool like Victorinox or Leatherman. They cost many times as much but can one really compare them? Anyone who has tried out cheap copies of these tools has no doubt realised that there is a “cost” linked to a low price! Yes, a Tentipi tent does cost more than traditional types of tents but you get so much more for your money. And yes, we are the most expensive tent-makers but there are good reasons for that.

Reputable Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine tested Safir 9 cp and gave it top marks in all categories: Quality, Features, VALUE FOR MONEY, Storm Proofing, and Ease of Set up. The interesting thing here is precisely “value for money”. They tested our most expensive model together with much cheaper Nordic tipis and yet the results showed that Tentipi offered “best value for money”.

This is precisely what we are striving for when we develop and produce our tents: to give as much “plus value” as possible to the user. The result is so much more than just a tent that offers weather protection; a Tentipi Nordic tipi is a cosy and comfortable home wherever you are, in any kind of climate and in all weather conditions.

Below we explain our philosophy and give our frank opinions about certain phenomena within the tent industry. It should be quite obvious that our position is not “cheap” but hopefully it will instill confidence and explain why our tents are somewhat more expensive than other brands of tent but why they are worth every single pound.

Hydrostatic head values

Why don’t Tentipi present the hydrostatic head values of their fabrics?
Because we don’t want to mislead our customers!

We don’t present our fabrics’ hydrostatic head values because they don’t say anything about the quality of a tent fabric and therefore can be very misleading. For example, a floor fabric that can withstand the force of a 10 000 mm water column (the pressure of 10-metre deep water!!!) without any dripping, may let so much water through that it is completely wet under a bed mat after one night’s sleep. This is because polyurethane, which is the most common coating, is microporous. That means water in molecule form can pass through it which creates wetness between floor and bed mat or it will give you a damp bottom when you sit on it. But it does keep water in liquid form out which is why its water column reading is so high. Moreover, even a very basic, cheap fabric can easily be given a very high hydrostatic head value but it drops drastically as soon as the fabric starts to be used since the coating is not sufficiently well stuck onto the fabric.

Before we started up our own production plant in China in 2007, we contracted a large tent manufacturer to produce our very lightest tents. That company was a supplier for many of the most famous tent brands in the world and we thought we could rely on their expertise. When we found out that the floor fabrics let water through, the manufacturer said that that was normal for lightweight tents. This was the actual spark that made us set up our own fully-owned factory in China, so that we could have direct contact with all our suppliers, full control over all our incoming materials, and be in control of all other quality issues.

Our cotton/polyester fabrics can only withstand a very small water column compared with our lightweight fabrics. Yet, in 99 out of 100 cases, you will be drier in a tent made of this material than in an ordinary lightweight tent! This is why hydrostatic head values that are taken out of context are actually useless as an indicator of quality.

Of course, Tentipi do also use water column testing because it is a fast and simple method. BUT, we test our fabrics both before and after they have been crumpled so as to imitate real usage. We prefer a fabric with a lower hydrostatic head value that does not decrease after crumpling to a fabric with a high value that drops drastically after crumpling. We also test many other properties to make sure that the fabric will protect against wetness. For example, we have developed methods of testing floor fabrics where, in realistic conditions, we measure how much moisture from a wet ground surface passes through the floor.

There are of course other factors too that affect the quality of a fabric, e.g. age, solar ultraviolet light, wear and tear.

The high demands we make mean that we cannot choose cheaper fabrics with inferior performance. We often have to ask much more of our suppliers than they normally provide. This is reflected in price which is why our products are often more expensive than others.

Does this sound like we are saying ”Trust us and ignore the test values”? Hmmm… yes, actually that it precisely what we are saying!

The fact is that NO tent tests that are done in the trade journals are scientific or even well-structured.

That is why consumers must consider whether they are sufficiently confident that the manufacturer of their chosen brand is knowledgeable enough and sufficiently dedicated to deliver an adequate product.

Taped seams

Why don’t Tentipi tape their seams?
Because when the tape eventually wears off, it is very ugly and very difficult to mend.

Tape will only attach well if its glue is perfectly matched with the coating of the tent canvas. One risk factor is that both the coating and the properties of the glue can vary somewhat from batch to batch. Moreover, the glue must be able to withstand ultraviolet light. So all in all, many things can go wrong and the risk increases as the tent gets older.

Without taped seams, we can use smart solutions that wouldn’t be possible with tape, for instance, internal fastening points.

To prevent water penetration, we have devoted a lot of time and energy to developing the best possible sewing thread that is specially adapted for our materials.

If one of our seams nevertheless should start to leak, we just brush on impregnation and the problem is fixed, quickly and invisibly.

To ensure that our tents are completely waterproof, we rain-test every fifth tent in our special rain test room before we sell them.

Tearing strength

Why don’t Tentipi present their fabrics’ tear resistance values?
Because this is another factor where consumers can easily be misled.

For instance, what use is it if a fabric has high tear resistance but the construction/design still allows tearing to happen? Moreover, tear resistance often drops dramatically when the tent has been exposed to the sun for a while. In fact, sometimes different batches of one particular tent fabric can have very different tear resistance values. We have noticed that sometimes our more basic fabrics have as high tear resistance values as our more advanced fabrics. Of course, this will be the same for other tent manufacturers. So do you then state the lowest tear resistance value or the highest? Tentipi state the value that we are sure of but we don’t know how others think. It could be that some manufacturers look at their competitors’ values and then answer the above question by giving the “necessary” value.

There are also several factors that affect the strength of a fabric. It is important that a fabric has high tensile strength to prevent tearing or ripping in the first place.

For example, the tensile strength of our less tear-resistant cotton/polyester fabrics is much higher than that of the best lightweight fabrics on the market which means our fabrics are much stronger than them.

So are we saying ”Trust us”? Yes, we are! Because we have been selling the most exclusive tents on the market since 1989, we know very well what it is we need to do to give our customers products that will function in the best possible way – not specifications that are of no practical use.


We design our products for real conditions

We have a 7-centimetre thick book which describes how every single detail is to be made, down to the smallest stitch. Every new sewer must learn the parts of this book that are relevant for his/her work. The book brings together all the experience we have acquired over more than quarter of a century and it is continuously updated as new insights are gained. This explains in part why our tents stand firm when stormy weather destroys others.


Design features and fabrics

Find out what makes our Adventure Nordic tipis so special.

Read our fire safety document

Learn how to use fire safely in our Nordic tipis.




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