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Tested: Tentsile

Adventures

Man left the trees 4.2 million years ago. Sleeping in a Tentsile makes you wonder why we ever left.

An unidentifiable creature (ferocious beast?) is ransacking our campsite. We’re shouting and throwing rocks, to no reaction. Alligators, water moccasins, pythons, panthers, bears, and the locals are usually what you look out for when camping in Florida. I’ve never seen an animal move like this before, with no regard for our presence. I shine my headlamp revealing our assailant. A giant... armadillo?

Tentsile in the forest

I frantically google if armadillos are dangerous, luckily I have a signal. The future is now, and this happens to be how a millennial survives the wild.

Tentsile above river

“Looks like we will be fine; they’re pretty harmless and practically deaf and blind” I say to Nicole. I mouth, “damn it” under my breath, as I read that they’re one of the most common carriers of leprosy, and watch helplessly as the little bugger runs in circles getting what I’m convinced is contagious leprosy juice all over our campsite.

Tentsile in the forest at night

We lay back down in our Tentsile, suspended 183cm high and tethered to three large Cypress trees next to a deep cavern of underwater springs. We slowly drift off to sleep, lulled by the sounds of our new friend’s strange tirade; and happy to be sleeping well above him.

Woman sitting in a tentsile by the beach

We own six different Tentsiles, and are sleeping in one of the more diesel models, the Connect. This is our go-to for car, canoe, and kayak camping (sleeps two), and is essentially their mid-size model. The Stingray is the largest and sleeps three. The Connect is more spacious and firmer, but also on the heavy side at 5kg (if you conserve weight by using one ratchet). For backpacking, bikepacking, and packrafting we opt for the Flite+ which is smaller and at 3.2kg is more lightweight, as far as two person portable tree forts go. If we want a pure hammock experience without rainfly or bug net we’ll grab the T-Mini. The Flite+ is considerably heavier than an ultra-lite set up like a bivy, teepee tent, or simple hammock set up, but I have never gotten a better night’s sleep in the woods than when in a Tentsile. As long as there are trees it’s worth it’s weight for comfort. If the weather cooperates we usually leave the rainfly off, nearby, for a beautiful 360 aerial view; so no rampant armadillos go unseen. The rainfly is reliable enough to have kept us dry during a bikerafting (bikepacking + packrafting = bikerafting) trip in the Pacific North West weathering torrential downpours during a phenomenon that meteorologists describe as an “atmospheric river”. Lit up at night the Tentsile looks like a recently landed craft from another galaxy.

Woman sitting in a tentsile in the forest

An inflatable sleeping pad is an absolute must for any non-summer Tentsile camping, as to not lose heat underneath from convection (the main cause of heat loss when hammock camping, due to cool air pulling away heat from underneath you). We rock Tentsile’s Sky-Pad Mattresses (manufactured by Klymit), and I usually go for overquilts while Nicole prefers the confines of a mummy bag – we’ve used the set up comfortably down to -6C.

Woman sitting in a tentsile with a dog by the river

Sleeping in these things is a treat. Each model is a slightly differently shaped triangle, so after some trial and error, you’ll soon learn what the perfect site looks like while brushing up on your geometry. “The configuration of these trees looks Isosceles”, is a phrase your camp buddies will have to get used to. Tentsile recommends a cow-hitch to tie directly to the tie in points, but a little hack I use for quicker set up is an overhand knot tied to a carabiner. Easy to untie and super easy to clip. No need to sleep on the ground like an animal anymore; there’s even enough room for our pup!

Setting up tentsile in the forest in winter

Pros...

- Elevated above the ground

- Portable

- Easy to set up when finding perfectly spaced trees

- Easy to set up with two or three people.

- Will make all your friends jealous

Cons...

- Have to be somewhat fit to climb into it

- Descending for midnight bathroom breaks can be a bit of a pain

- Trees must be exact right orientation or tent won’t hang correctly, so this will take some time getting used to

- Larger models are heavy in comparison to tents the same size

- Not the easiest to set up by yourself, totally doable, but it will take longer

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