The shelterin protein TIN2 is required for the telomeric accumulation of TPP1/POT1 heterodimers and for the protection of telomeres by the POT1 proteins (POT1a and POT1b in the mouse). TIN2 also binds to TRF1 and TRF2, improving the telomeric localization of TRF2 and its function. Here, we ask whether TIN2 needs to interact with both TRF1 and TRF2 to mediate the telomere protection afforded by TRF2 and POT1a/b. Using a TIN2 allele deficient in TRF1 binding (TIN2-L247E), we demonstrate that TRF1 is required for optimal recruitment of TIN2 to telomeres and document phenotypes associated with the TIN2-L247E allele that are explained by insufficient TIN2 loading onto telomeres. To bypass the requirement for TRF1-dependent recruitment, we fused TIN2-L247E to the TRF2-interacting (RCT) domain of Rap1. The RCT-TIN2-L247E fusion showed improved telomeric localization and was fully functional in terms of chromosome end protection by TRF2, TPP1/POT1a, and TPP1/POT1b. These data indicate that when sufficient TIN2 is loaded onto telomeres, its interaction with TRF1 is not required to mediate the function of TRF2 and the TPP1/POT1 heterodimers. We therefore conclude that shelterin can protect chromosome ends as a TRF2-tethered TIN2/TPP1/POT1 complex that lacks a physical connection to TRF1.