Choosing a Nordic Tipi tent is an exciting purchase and comparing tipi’s to ensure you get the right one for your camping needs is important as the outlay can be significant.
In this post we’ll take a look and compare side by side three of the main players in the Nordic tipi world:
We will also look at the material options, compare canvas and polycotton, decide wether a tipi is indeed a good option for family camping and overlanding plus eliminate all the options until we decide which tent is going to be best.
How we’ll be using our tent
Our overlanding style has developed into something different to that of our initial idea when we first began the project. In the early days we were heavily researching roof tents [as well as other ‘overland’ essentials] and eventually decided against one due to cost, roof load, access etc etc.
A tipi tent came into the equation due to its simplicity, we needed something to stand up in and a tipi looked more attractive that your standard ‘family’ tunnel tent. Our camping these days is done one of two ways – either in the Shogun when it’s just the two of us which means we can wild camp in the depths of Andalucia or at a campsite when there are three of us.
From 2023 onwards we are also looking at longer road trips to the North of Spain, France, Sweden and the UK to see family. Having a good tent on an organised pitch saves a lot of hassle, in the Nordics we can free camp so the tipi can be used on site and off site. Essentialy we need a family tent for organised camping and the wild camping can be done in the rig.
Robens Chinook [including PRS model]
The Robens Chinook is a smart option, for a tipi design it looks the business and offers a darker rim around the outside edge to mitigate mud splashes and dust marks. The Chinook also comes in a polyester version, introduced in 2022 it is around €200 euros cheaper than the canvas version.
The Chinook has the same groundsheet design as the Klondike where it zips open from the front door to the center pole allowing for a fire/stove on the ground inside the tent. The Chinook also acommodates a chimney flu.
The real party trick of the Chinook however is the way the doors open up, opening up the entire front of the tent, while this is impressive stuff we didn’t feel the need for such a feature and coupled with the higher price tag of €1100 euros the Chinook canvas version was out. The PRS version is much more budget friendly.
Robens Klondike [including PRS model]
The Robens Klondike isn’t actually a tipi but rather a bell tent, coming in at around €800 euros for the cotton canvas verson and €600 euros approx for the newer, more lightweight polyester model these two options are some of the more budget friendly for a canvas tent solution.
The polyester version is a good colour, in green you’re not going to stand out like a sore thumb in a forest environment and it has all the features of it’s canvas cousin featuring the zipped in groundsheet and ability to open the groundsheet from the door to the center pole for a stove or muddy boots etc.
We looked at the Klondike closely, given its attractive price it’s a good tent for the money but reviews are hit and miss. I never base any buying decision on reviews alone but when the same issue keeps coming up from different parties it’s time not to fully dismiss but to seek potential alternatives. [The issue in question is the A frame pole/water ingress through the canvas at this point].
Nordisk Alfheim 12.6
The Nordisk Alfheim is a classic tipi, it’s ultimate simplicity was the big attraction to us with it’s one pole design, 200 g/m2 cotton polyester mix and 4m round footprint. The Nordisk brand is well known and well respected with their products being made in Germany.
It would appear that the more ‘traditional’ the tipi the more likely you are to have to purchase a groundsheet separately – this is the case with the Alfheim 12.6 [and the larger 19.6 model], for the former you are looking at an additional €280 on top of the tipi which does hike the price up significantly. It is also worth noting that this setup consists of two bags – one for the tent and one for the groundsheet.
We liked the Alfheim a lot, it offered plenty of space for three adults, sleep systems, backpacks, table and more, it was a sensible choice so made the shortlist.
Nordisk Thrymheim 5
Choosing a Nordic tipi tent may have you thinking of cream cotton canvas, string lights and Instagram images of ‘glamping’, the Thrymheim blows all of that out the water with it’s design. What started off as an outsider quickly became a contender and here’s why: The design is striking, it’s the right size, it has a porch that you can stand up in and it’s Nordisk quality – this tent ticked a lot of boxes.
The Thrymheim weighs in at 8.9kg so it’s a substantial package but not as heavy as cotton canvas. The specs [see below] are impressive but what attracted us was the hybrid design, a modern day tipi if you like.
All of the tipis on this list are of a more traditional layout, you have the tent and that’s it, with the Thrymheim you have a porch large enough to store a mountain of gear including overland/camping tables, chairs with enough room leftover to cook in too when the weather is bad.
This tent is a very interesting proposition, it may look on the small side but the five person model is 5m long by 3m wide and boasts a height of 2.5m. An inner tent and groundsheet is included and the price is around €300 euros cheaper than the canvas Alfheim.
Tentipi Onyx 7
The Tentipi brand is a serious contender if you are looking for the best of the best, there are no negative reviews, the website is impressive and all you read about is quality, quality and more quality.
With quality comes a price and unfortunately even the Onyx 7, which is the most budget friendly model was just out of reach for us.
If money was no problem then Tentipi would have had some serious consideration, I sent away for a catalogue, a rarity these days in an all digital age, it arrived faster than Spanish internal post and is a very informative read detailing the whole range and accessories.
If you have the budget then Tentipi are seriously worth a look, they are commonly regarded as one of the very best brands when it comes to tipis.
Advantages of a Tipi
There are many advantages of a tipi for camping the most obvious one being it’s presence, while everyone else is sporting a bright blue tunnel, dome or cabin tent you’ll be chilling out in your cotton canvas tipi. Tipis are simple by design too, one pole means means putting the tipi up is usually quick.
Traditional design tipis are also made from cotton canvas which has its benefits too, warm in the winter and cool in the summer as cotton canvas is a breathable fabric. Tipis are also tremendously resilient in the wind, the design is thousands of years old and it works. Simple.
A tipi can also be used as a ‘hot tent’ meaning it can acommodate a stove, some have stove ‘jackets’ where you can fit the flu pipe through the sloping roof of the tent. Without a groudsheet you can also have a fire inside a tipi as the smoke will rise and escape through the vent in the roof – this is however pretty hardcore camping/bushcraft.
Disadvantages of a Tipi
There is always a trade off and tipis do have their disadvantages although there aren’t a whole bundle of them. While canvas is great it also needs looking after, waterproofing or ‘seasoning’ your tipi may be required before use. Canvas is also heavy and tipis are large tents so considering the room they will take up when packed is important.
When canvas gets wet it needs to dry out thoroughly – this can take days and where/how will you dry it? Mildew can be a problem on damp canvas and in bad cases can rot through the fabric. In a nutshell canvas needs looking after, it will however last a very long if it is.
Is a Tipi a good choice for overlanding?
Choosing a Nordic tipi tent for overlanding depends on the type of overlanding you do. If you are considering moving away from a roof tent then of course a tipi is an option. If you are looking for something lightweight that takes up minimal space in the rig then a traditional tipi won’t be the best choice.
Providing you have the space to transport these large canvas tents then tipis can be a great idea especially if you are planning on staying at the same location for a number of days. Smaller tipis are also worth researching not just the big heavy canvas family but also the lightweight ‘shelters’ and two man bivvy style tipis designed for survival and backpacking.
Tipi vs Bell Tent
The traditional tipi influenced the design of the first bell tents created by Henry Sibley in the US. Both tents have central pole and are round but there are a few differences.
The tipi has a steeper more conical shape and typically a door that intergrates into the sloping side wall. A bell tent has ‘walls’ which results in more usable space inside [you can get more gear around the inside edges] and the doorway is larger, usually double doored with an apex roof forming part of the entrance.
Modern day bell tents can be and are used for permanent living – as are tipis, both are simple in design, tough and can be exposed to the elememts all year round providing they receive the right care and maintenance.
Choosing the Nordisk Tipi ended up being the sensible choice, firstly through price – since starting this blog post the prices of all tents have gone through the roof. The Thrymheim has gone up from €600 euros to well over €800 so when we did find one for the lower price we grabbed the deal staright away.
Nordisk quality: You’d be hard pushed to find any negative reviews about Nordisk online, in fact it’s quite the opposite as the general concensus is that Nordisk make very good gear and the quality is top notch.
If I’m making a substantial purchase I always contact the company first just to test the water putting a few questions to them. The detailed reply from Nordisk [below] arrived in good time and answered my queries thoroughly. To be fair I didn’t contact Robens and Tentipi were super fast in sending their brochure [just to dd some balance]. It is always pleasant to be dealing with a company that has good high standards.
Alfheim vs Thrymheim
Both tents are quite well suited for 3 people and would certainly both be able to suit your needs quite nicely.
The tents are however different in both the material and the interior as well as the treatment they should receive.
The Trymheim is a polyester tent with a PU coating, where the Alfheim is a cotton tent. The difference is quite extensive.
Generally, you’d get a much better inner climate in a cotton tent, as it offers a higher breathability – it will offer a higher luxury in general during the trip.
Something that speaks in the favor of the Trymheim is actually the vertical entrance, which better accommodates having the entrance open in rainy weather – the entrance to the Alfheim is “slanted” so it has to be closed in rainy weather. This could possibly be rectified with a tarp configuration such as our Kari 8 or 12, which would also give you an area in front of the tent that could be used in unpredictable weather.
Cotton tents should always be stored completely dry – this is not so much of an issue, if you pitch the tent every day, but for extended periods it should be dried – so if you’re expecting rain for the entirety of the 6 weeks I’d recommend the Trymheim but this probably isn’t realistic, depending on the time of year you’re travelling.
I hope this answers your question and clear up some doubt – please let us know if you have further inquiries and we’ll try our best to help you out .
Below: Specs of the Nordisk Alfheim 12.6 cotton canvas tipi versus the Thrymheim 5
|400 x 400 x 275cm
|495 x 295 x 265cm
|6 – 8
|99cm x 32cm
|57cm x 25cm
Choosing a Nordic tipi tent
Choosing a Nordic tipi tent involved a lot of research and there was plenty of swaying from one design to the other, each tipi has its pros and cons. The main considerations were weight, packed down size, maintenance and the company itself.
A tent made in Europe, while potentially more costly is [to my mind] a more sensible purchase as there should be few [if any] quality control issues.