In summer 2011 I went up to the north of Sweden for a job interview and got my first sled dog guide job. I was and still am constantly looking for good material to use, so i ended up looking at Tentipi and their cotton polyester blend Lavvus. I got myself a bottomless Safir 5cp with a Helsport stove. A great combination. A few years later, after very little use of the tent, i sold it, before heading up to Svalbard with a smaller expedition tent in my luggage. Arriving in the arctic and camping out stationary, i had to expand my tent arsenal and got myself a used Zirkon 15cp in which I lived for over a year, with access to an apartment, though. Given the size of the tent I couldn’t possibly travel with it through the arctic landscape. So I found myself a used Safir 7cp including the Pro inner tent. Both tents have seen a lot in terms of weather and this is what I have to say…
Depending on your goal set and preferences, you’ll find a broad range of tent options with Tentipi, which is divided in Adventure, Classic and Event Tipi models with different concepts, sizings and price ranges. I am focusing on the Adventure model Safir 7cp with references to the Zirkon 15cp.
They come in cotton-polyester-blend with an additional polyamide lower part (All the dark green fabric parts). The other material option is a rip-stop version, which makes the tent lighter and smaller packable. Sticking out on the whole range is the Olivin 2 person tent in rip-stop, which is worth to look at for lighter travels.
The big reason for CP is the durability! I had to stitch up both of my tents and with some cotton blend patches, dental floss and a leather needle you can do that easily. All materials are on the heavy duty side and you can be sure the stuff lasts for quite some time.
Setting up a tent is always a bit of a hassle. Especially when being alone. Although you get instructions on using the Tentipi method, which involves a middle canvas piece with markings and a rope to preset the tent pegs in an octagon to match with the tent, i found it less helpful (that said, it makes sense, if you don’t have a bottom, for reference). In high winds the heavy tent of 15kg is a disadvantage and creates problems, even after setting it up several times. Given the weight of the canvas, caught in the wind it is hard to keep it in your hands. You need to preset the snow pegs and guy lines (always keep those guy lines in order when packing it in again! Those things are getting terribly tangled otherwise) and then you can erect the tent with the middle pole and adjust the preset attachment points afterwards. Once all that is finished, the tent can take all kinds of beatings! However, without the inner tent, I noticed, you can stretch out the tent walls much better and make it less vulnerable to wind. Tentipi mentions that the advantage of a middle pole is, that if it breaks you can easily fix it temporarily with wood or whatever you can find. I did have this case, when I had my 7cp standing up on a glacier for 2 weeks and left it there for occasional trips. I don´t know what happened, but the middle pole was broken when we arrived at the camp, but I was able to fix it in no time with 2 snow pegs and some rope.
Always add a wood plate to your shopping basket when buying a Tentipi for winter use. Otherwise your middle pole will take a dive into the snow and with it your tent roof.
I used the 15cp in 20m/s winds with alleged gusts of 30m/s with the middle pole instead of the frame you can buy separately and it was working fine. Unfortunately I got a rip, cause the gusts slammed the canvas into a sharp edge of one of my Zarges boxes and ripped the tent. So the next day i had to fix it…
The biggest weak point – the front zipper! Countless times I cursed about that thing. To me it makes no sense to place the zipper like that without reducing the pressure on it in some way. What i mean, when stretching out the Tipi you will have a lot of pressure from both anker points to tear the zipper apart. In particular on my 15cp it cost me a zipper replacement, which i reinforced by adding velcro to the zipper flap in the hopes to reduce some pressure especially during heavy winds. But in the end when opening and closing the entrance, you will feel that you have quite some force on it. In winter use, during a snow storm for example, you can end up with an iced up zipper. It is a rather bad combination.
The zipper ends quite high on the tent as well and even on the 7cp you can struggle opening the tent from the outside when the zipper is hidden behind a Logo-flap. That said, with the inner tent you will have a ton of zippers, most for mosquito net use and it is just annoying to open the wrong one occasionally.
The cp will weather down with intense sunshine you´ll find, in particular, in arctic terrain and a regular impregnation is needed, too. So you have to work with the material a bit to preserve its benefits.
The ventilation of the tent, mostly designed for open fire and smoke reduction, is amazing. Besides zipped up flaps in the lower part of the tent, you can open the top cap of the tent with strings while sitting in your sleeping bag, when steam is overtaking the tent space in subzero temps.
Size wise… The 7cp including the inner tent is a perfect size for 3-4 people on a winter expedition. With all the gear you really don’t want that much more people cramped in. The comfort level is outstanding, when being able to stand inside your tent. On sunny days the tent with its yellow inside tent gives quite some warmth, compared to its size, the same while cooking.
The bottom and its versatile zippers makes for good use in all kinds of situations, from cooking to taking a pee while a storm is blasting outside.
Packing the tent is always an issue with cp as it can contain some moist. Thus making it stiff and heavier. Unfortunately the original packaging for the cp tents doesn’t include much extra space to be able to fit in the tent including the inner tent with bottom. In my case I was lucky to have the 15cp packaging, which fits the setup perfectly. Beware! At the upper part of the tent you have fiber glass sticks to keep the tent in an octagon. When packing you really have to be careful with those.
Service wise I can´t say too much, since I usually fix things myself. But so far, after some e-mail and social media contact, I have only positive things to say about the Swedish and UK department of the company.
“Safir is designed for the most extreme conditions. This is a tent you can rely on – in stormy winds, on icy expanses, glaciers and under a burning sun.”
Although setting up the tent can cause you quite a hassle in strong winds, once it is erect the tent can take a lot of beating, while being very comfortable, when it comes to ventilation and the chance to actually stand up. I strongly recommend using the inner tent to it, cause it adds warmth and makes it easier to set it up, although you lose some space. The simple construction makes it very easy to fix the tent when the heavy duty materials finally give up.
I never thought about using the Tipis during the summer, unless using them as stationary camps, for which they are great. But for winter use, those tents can be used pretty much everywhere in sub and high arctic surroundings, although their main playground will always be terrain where you’ll find wood to make a fire inside with.