Bell Tents vs. Tipis in Utah: What’s the Difference?

August 12, 2019 11:12 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a solo or a group camping trip—if you don’t want to sleep out in the open, then you should know your shelter options. Let’s take a look at two common ones: the bell tent and the tipi. Here’s the difference between camping in a bell tent and camping in a tipi in Utah.

Bell tents

A bell tent is characterized by its walls, ropes and raised, big entrance. It does not come built with a smoke hole or an extendable tripod. However, the bell tent is simple in that it is covered with cotton—traditionally heavy-duty cotton treated to hold up against water penetration, rot and mildew—or canvas, and supported by a single pole in the center. These tents have double sewn seams for strength and water resistance.

Camping with a bell tent is rather different from camping with traditional sleeper tents that break down, fold up small and require retractable tent poles. Bell tents are made from high-quality waterproof, breathable canvas to prevent the formation of condensation. The sides of this type of tent roll up, which is an especially great thing on hot summer days, when all you want is a nice cool breeze to come through your tent. When constructed and erected properly, they stand strong in the wind and when it rains.

Want to set up cots? A table and chairs? There’s lots of room inside a bell tent. The amount of space can be compared to a small hotel room, minus restroom accommodations, so you can create the atmosphere that you want, be it romantic, personal or time to party.


The tipi design is considered a type of tent. But instead of being more rounded, domed or squared-off like the more popular tents seen setup in campsites and fairgrounds, a tipi is in the shape of a cone. The materials used to make modern tipis include wooden poles, canvas and felt, which are materials similar to what’s used in a yurt. The main construction difference between tipis and yurts, though, is that tipis don’t have traditional walls and a roof.

While some people live in tipis, others use them as a place to find peace and quiet, spend some time alone to think about things and escape the chaos of life. In the modern world, tipi tents are perfect for spending time with family and friends, or for children to play in. The insides of larger tipis can accommodate many people at once—whether sitting, standing or sleeping—and can even include a controlled fire pit for keeping warm, meditating or cooking. Some tipis can be furnished and decorated. And covered in the right weather-resistant material, a tipi tent structure can successfully protect you from the elements.

Finally, here’s something you might not have noticed: The symbol for campgrounds nearby on roadside signs is usually a tipi, not a traditional tent!

Even with this breakdown of bell tent vs. tipi in Utah, it’s up to you which one you want to take on your next adventure. If you need new tipi poles before you go, pay a visit to Huberwoods!

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