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Posted in Gear Review
December 8, 2014

Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent Review

tentsile-stingray-underbelly1

I’m a little embarrassed to realize that I’ve had my Tentsile Stingray tree tent for over a year and I haven’t published a review! I purchased my Stingray during a sale at the end of 2013, and I’ve collected a lot of images and experiences that I can share.

Tentsile Stingray Details

Listed Features

  • MSRP: $599
  • Manufacturer: Tentsile, London, UK
  • Integrated bug netting with zippered door
  • 2 x 8.5mm diameter anodised aluminium tent poles
  • 7.5 sqm / 80 sqf floor space
  • 190T PU coated waterproof polyester 3000hh rain fly
  • Included ratchet mechanism, and tree strap suspension system with heavy duty, plated, industry grade buckles with a 2.5 tonne minimum breaking strength
  • Capacity: 880 lbs (400 kg)
  • Weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)

Product Description

tentsile-stingray-park-loaded

The Tentsile Stingray is listed as a 3-person floating “tree tent,” and is the only 3+ person hammock-style shelter on the market. The first prototypes of the Tentsile hammocks made waves on the internet because of their radical approach to shelter design. Tentsile has refined the design a lot, focusing on a more simple platform. A lot of comments I read focused on being protected against wild animals in this cool “alien” shelter. In fact, this tent has been dubbed the “alien tent” by my Boy Scout troop and kids.

The shelter has three main tie-outs that meet in the center. The design is centered around an equilateral triangle base. Some of my friends who have seen this instantly recall sleeping on a trampoline where everyone eventually sags into the center. The Tentsile prevents this with with sleeping chambers created by the intersection of the tie-outs and the triangle base. All three occupants have their own geometric “hammocks” to sleep in.

Entering from the bottom
Entering from the bottom

The main entrance to the shelter is from a triangular hatch at the bottom. On one long edge, there is a zippered door/window sewn into the bug netting that can also be used for access into the shelter.

The Stingray comes with an integrated bug netting and a rain fly and all the necessary heavy-duty webbing and ratchet mechanisms to get set-up. No additional gear is required to set up the shelter.

Sleeping Capacity

tentsile-stingray-family-tent

The Stingray is listed as a 3-person shelter with a weight capacity of 880 lbs (400 kg). In terms of floor space, you can fit more people inside, so long as you don’t exceed the recommended capacity. One reason I wanted this shelter is that my all my kids could sleep inside. Smaller kids can fit 2-up in one of the three bed chambers. We’ve had cousin sleep-overs with six kids inside, all having a blast.

tentsile-stingray-inside1

Fun Factor

Speaking about having a blast, this tent has high appeal. No matter where I’ve set it up, it has been the star of the show. At Boy Scout camps, we have to take a lottery to see who could sleep in it, taking turns throughout the week. With family, it’s a regular tree house, fort, base, or alien space ship that has sparked all kinds of imaginative play.

Comfort

The Stingray doesn’t sleep like any hammock you may have seen: bridge, gathered-end, or hybrid. The bed chambers are trapezoidal and have a unique lay. Using under quilts (a common hammock bottom insulator) isn’t really feasible; closed-cell foam or inflatable pads are recommended to stay warm beneath you.

There is no “sleeping diagonal” either. The bed chambers have a pocket where you lay. I found one of the more comfortable positions was to hang one tie-out a little higher than the other two and sleep with my feet pointed up to that point and have my torso centered as much in the trapezoid as possible.

Setup

The Stingray is remarkably easy to set up. I can do it by myself without much effort. The webbing straps have loops sewn into the ends that are used to secure the strap around a tree. The ratchet straps are connected to the tie-out points on the Stingray. I first wrap the straps around each of three trees, about head high, and lay the straps inward so I can access them.

tentsile-stingray-setup

I lay out the triangle platform and feed the straps into each ratchet mechanism and pull them all up. In just a few minutes the platform is rising off the ground.

Before I tighten the platform completely, I add the tent poles while it is easy to access. I also add the rain fly at this point too, if needed. I have left the rain fly attached for packing and set-up to make it easier on subsequent set-ups.

I tighten up the straps as equally and as tight as possible. This is also different from most hammocks, where a suitable sag is required. The Tentsile system is set up more like a slack line, with extreme tension. The shelter is designed for these kind of forces.

Finding the Right Trees

The hardest part is finding the right trees, and I’ve found this to be the biggest downside to this type of shelter (or any hammock with more than two anchor points). When I first got the Stingray, I went to a local park and spent some time trying to find a perfect set-up. Thankfully I had two sets of straps, so I was able to double some up so I could reach the trees that presented an equilateral triangle setting.

tentsile-stingray-scout-favorite

I’ve found that if the trees are not in a triangle shape, one edge will sag a little lower than the others and I’ve had one tent pole fall over because the tension wasn’t equal. This didn’t affect the sleepers very much, but it does compromise the design a little and the rain fly is no longer as effective.

Ratchet Strap System

As I mentioned before, the ratchet suspension system is very easy and quick to set up. I will say that care must be given to ensure the ratchet mechanism is closed and locked in place before loading the shelter. One a father-son camping trip, I didn’t close one strap completely, and we got quite a scare. My sons had all climbed up into the shelter and I followed them up to tuck them in. I was standing on a rope ladder (the platform was about 5 ft/152 cm off the ground) when one strap suddenly gave way and my son fell dramatically to the ground, hurting his pelvis. Up to that point, I hadn’t had any issues with the Stingray and I was completely shocked. I discovered my error soon and fixed it. My sons were reluctant to get back in at first, but we had no issues after I secured the ratchet.

I must note that this was my problem and inexperience with ratchet systems and I haven’t had any issues since. I just want to make sure no one makes this mistake.

Rope Ladder

tentsile-stingray-rope-ladder

The Tentsile shelters can be hung as high as you feel comfortable. Some of the newer models can even be stacked because the bug netting can be removed completely. This allows for multiple platforms to be set up one over the other. Tentsile sells a rope ladder, but I made my own out of 50 ft (15 m) of rope using a simple loop-and-whip method. The rope ladder makes it easier to get in and out of the hammock, especially when set up high.

rope-ladder-instructions

Multiple Hammock Setup, Storage Area

tentsile-stingray-hennessy-attached

One thing I really like about the Stingray is that the long edges are just long enough to set up hammocks underneath. So long as the total weight capacity isn’t reached, this is a great way to extend the overall “occupancy” of the shelter by adding a few hammocks under the Stingray. Even if you don’t actually sleep in the hammocks, you can create a fun lounge area. The Stingray creates a canopy that can be used to create a secondary covered gathering area during camp.

Recommendations

The Tentsile Stingray is a fun, multi-use shelter that has high repeat appeal. Ideal for car camping adventures where you can find three large, sturdy trees in the right arrangement. Great for family trips.

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84 comments

  • Jason Coyne

    “Only multiperson” seems wrong, Clark has 2 of em. Maybe you meant only 3+? Good review tho.

    Reply to Jason Coyne
    • Post authorDerek

      Yes, good point. I was trying to word that correctly.

      Reply to Derek
  • Gary-Kris Wissel

    Great review Derek! You mention the best sleeping position you found but how is the actual comfort for a full nights sleep?

    Reply to Gary-Kris Wissel
    • Post authorDerek

      The biggest challenge, like any hammock, is staying warm underneath, particularly when it is cold outside. Using a thick foam pad helps a lot. In many respects, it does remind me of sleeping on a trampoline since the bed chambers are so taut. They aren’t as ergonomic as a traditional hammock, but you also aren’t sleeping on the ground. As Alex said below, you can easily sleep on your side, back, or stomach.

      Reply to Derek
      • Michel van Hartingsveldt

        Maybe a huge underquilt would be an option 😉 I personally think it’s not a “real” hammock, but still it’s a very cool way of spending the night. also, throw in a couple of pillows, a groundblanket, some lanterns and something to use as a table, and you’ll have a great “mini-home” in which you can entertain yourself, for example when it’s raining. this would be impossible to do in a hammock 😉

        Reply to Michel van Hartingsveldt
        • Cyberdactyl

          I have used a military type hammock tent for 20 years and I used a movers blanket folded up three times as my base under my sleeping bag. Since you are highly compressing anything you sleep on, you need to have double the layers.

          Reply to Cyberdactyl
          • Post authorDerek

            Nice!

            Derek
  • Jari Perho

    It’s definitely a cool shelter, no doubt about that, but practicality takes quite a hit, I think. Pushing in at 9 kilos, I wonder what’s the heaviest part in the setup?

    I think we would have all loved to have something like this as kids in our backyard, or somewhere near as a personal little escape room.

    Reply to Jari Perho
    • Post authorDerek

      The ratchet straps certainly add to the hardware, but are essential to the set-up. The material is also very robust, which is needed to withstand the tensile forces. This is more of a car camping tent than something you would slug over your shoulder for any long distance.

      Reply to Derek
  • Alex Shirley-Smith

    Thanks for the review, Derek! Many new features have been added since 2013 and especially since we opened our own factory in August. Useful updates:
    1) D-rings at each corner are 2.5 ton rated so hammocks slung beneath the Stingray can all be slept in. That is 6 people!
    2) rain fly now all extent out so no need for hammock tarps for protection. These extended flaps can also come together under the tent for a full weather seal, wind break to your back and thermal buffer zone.
    3) Excellent for back, front or side sleepers.
    4) A lot of weight, we understand that and we know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. As an ex hammock user, I have made my choice and have never looked back.
    5) Now comes with the ability to add spare floors, we had a 12 person rig set up last weekend and it was sweet!!!

    Reply to Alex Shirley-Smith
    • Brandon Rammell

      I watched the videos on the stingray with my six year old daughter and she wants one so bad. I’ve been hammock camping a lot and my Wife refuses to go because of an incident we had with a hormonal raccoon that tried to get into our tent while we were sleeping. I think this will make it possible to take my little family camping in a very fun way. I want to add a vista floor when they are available. I placed an order which should arrive shortly and very excited. Great review

      Reply to Brandon Rammell
      • Daivid

        I have not used the Tentsile but looks exciting. I do have experience with raccoons though. I think that if you were to add a cone protector at each strap and pull up the ladder you would be well protected from racoons, mice and chipmunks.

        Reply to Daivid
        • Post authorDerek

          Interesting thought! It is true that small critters could climb across the hammock suspension, but only if there was something to entice them. If you keep all food and smellable items out of the hammock (or tent) you shouldn’t have any issues with critters crossing the suspension.

          Reply to Derek
    • Tyson

      Alex Shirley-Smith,

      What is “the ability to add spare floors”? Do you mean set up one on top of the other?

      Reply to Tyson
      • Post authorDerek

        Essentially, you can stack the newer models one on top of the other.

        Reply to Derek
    • Mike Grim

      Is it possible to purchase a used model or perhaps a demo model – the price is a bit restrictive for my family but my kids will not give me a break . Thanks for any information possible . Mike Grim
      CodeBlueTech01@yahoo.com

      Reply to Mike Grim
      • Post authorDerek

        You’ll have to contact the manufacturer. I purchased my Tentsile during a sale event. Prices have come down since then.

        Reply to Derek
      • Keith

        REI and Backcountry have a sale going on right now with 20% a single item. That certainly helps. I ordered one and expect to receive it in a few days.

        Reply to Keith
  • Jacob D

    This is awesome. I saw a photo of one once and wondered WHAT IS THAT?! … now I know. As my kids have just declared “well, the good news is that we want one!” Thanks for sharing the review 🙂

    Reply to Jacob D
  • Taylor B

    Great review, I just bought myself one and am loving all of the positive feedback from customers.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply to Taylor B
  • Kevin

    I like your pictures D.J.

    Reply to Kevin
  • caroline rowley

    I love the concept of these and want to purchase but it goes against everything I’ve been taught about camping out under trees and falling branches. Has anyone been concerned about that?

    Reply to caroline rowley
    • Post authorDerek

      Are you talking about ‘widow makers’? It is a rather rare phenomenon but I understand your concern. Large dead branches overhead are indeed a risk to watch for, but that is true for any kind of outdoor camping, tent or hammock, unless you only camp in large open fields. In my book I talk at more length about the importance of site selection and looking for things like widow makers and avoiding them. With care, you can minimize this risk.

      Reply to Derek
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  • Greg Boothe

    What is the size of the center opening?

    Reply to Greg Boothe
    • fputnam

      Without measuring (mine is packed), I’d say that the central opening is a 15-18″ equilateral triangle. Since the edges flex slightly, so the functional opening is about another 1″ on each side. (The “front door” is huge for a tent.)

      Reply to fputnam
  • jeremy

    Dear Derek,

    I’m so close to get the actual offers who’s the combo deal stingray.
    I’m almost 2m height and wondering if the sleeping space will be long enough, without having to fold up.
    Moreover, have you got any advice to give on the trillium hammock?

    Thanks

    Jeremy (France)

    Reply to jeremy
    • Post authorDerek

      Jeremy, I think the Tentsile hammocks will fit you fine, but you will be at the limit of the sleeping space. Using a good pad will limit some of the issues you may experience. Each sleeping “pod” is a section of a triangle, so if you angle your body towards the edge of the triangle instead of hanging over the line, you should be fine.

      I haven’t tested the Trillium version, but it looks like the basic design as all their offerings, with more or less the same structure (plus or minus certain features).

      Reply to Derek
      • jeremy

        Thanks Derek, I will be soon part of the Tentsile tribe due to your nice article and advice 😉

        Reply to jeremy
  • fputnam

    Jeremy,

    Thanks for the review.

    I just got my Stingray (via the 20% off sale at REI) and cannot wait to use it.

    One thing that concerns me is finding the right trio of trees. That extra set of straps is a great idea–where did you get yours?

    Thanks!

    fred

    Reply to fputnam
    • Post authorDerek

      My straps all came from Tensile. I agree: finding the right trees is the most difficult part.

      Reply to Derek
      • fputnam

        Thanks, Derek!

        Happy hanging.

        fred

        Reply to fputnam
    • Post authorDerek

      You’re welcome.

      Reply to Derek
  • Ron

    Wow – awesome review! This seems to be exactly what I have been looking for, but I do have a question: can a ladder be used with the Connect? Where would you attach it?

    I know the website says the Connect is only meant to be used at a height of 4 feet. However, the place a plan to use this the most is extremely rugged, hilly, and with thick, low underbrush and smaller trees everywhere – meaning there are literally no ‘clearings’ and I need to go higher. And the Stingray is really too big for my needs.

    I plan to ask the good folks at Tentsile, but thought I’d pick the brains here, first.

    Thanks!

    • Post authorDerek

      I don’t have hands on knowledge of the Connect, unfortunately. It seems like it would meet your needs. I can only guess it has connections for a ladder, but you could always rig something. Tentsile often shows hanging higher; its your comfort and safety level 🙂

      Reply to Derek
  • missgeorgieo

    Thanks for reviewing this, it’s swayed me into getting a pre-loved Tentsile connect for camping adventures with my little lad as he grows up. Looks so much fun & adding a new dimension to camping in terms of seeking out suitable spots will be great.
    I assume that tree protectors will be needed for this? The ones on their website seemed pretty pricey so if they’re needed I’ll have to get creative. And Im looking forward to making my own rope ladder too…. never thought I’d be doing that in my life.

    Reply to missgeorgieo
    • Post authorDerek

      The webbing straps are essential. It should come with straps and ratchets as well. If all you have is the tent, I’d recommend matching what Tentsile offers because you’ll need the weight capacity.

      Reply to Derek
      • missgeorgieo

        It does have the straps and ratchets, I was just wondering about the additional tree protectors that you can buy. I’ve seen some that you can get for slacklines though which has given me an idea about making some.

        Reply to missgeorgieo
  • Kandles

    So glad I found this review! Thanks for taking the time to write it (and the great photos!) My primary question had to do with the difficulty of finding the right tree configuration, which you address here. We camp in Wisconsin state forest campgrounds and while there are a lot of big trees in the places we’ve camped, I wondered how much latitude you have with the straps in the event the spacing of three perfectly-positioned trees is far apart. In your pics, it looks like the orange straps are pretty long. Did you mean that you have had to connect an extra set of straps to get the required strap length?

    The other question I had which the good folks at REI weren’t really able to answer is if we could fit three REI Camp Bed pads in the three sleeping pods? The pads are perfect rectangles and I’m guessing mummy-shaped pads or custom cut foam pads would be a better fit, right? We car camp so Princess (me) can have all her necessary comforts.

    And on a final note, that hormonal raccoon story plays heavy in the “buy”/”not buy” deliberation for me now. I can’t un-read that.

    Thanks!

    Reply to Kandles
    • Post authorDerek

      Rectangular pads and bags work fine. The platform hangs fairly flat.

      Reply to Derek
  • Chris

    Hi. Do you have any experience of using this in winter? Is it rated as 3 season? I live in Sweden and plan to embrace all 4 seasons!

    Reply to Chris
    • Post authorDerek

      All hammocks, including the Tentsile,can be used in the winter. I used this hammock in the winter, you just need to insulate with good warm sleeping bags

      Reply to Derek
  • John

    In your Flite review you mention replacing some of the straps (not around trees) with Dyneema. Do you think the Stingray benefit from this too?

    Reply to John
    • Post authorDerek

      I guess it could, to save weight. Use 1/8 or larger diameter Amsteel.

      Reply to Derek
  • MLWilcox

    I too have had the Stingray since it was first released and love it. I also have the Tentsile Connect. My only complaint is the one I have with tents as well. The rain fly when installed takes away the view and restricts ventilation needed in the warm summer months. I keep trying to figure out if there is a fly I could buy for use in the summer months to keep the dew out. Help!

    Reply to MLWilcox
    • Post authorDerek

      You’d have to pitch a big tarp over the top instead of connected directly.

      Reply to Derek
    • FREDERIC PUTNAM

      I found that pitching the corners of the fly more out than down created a sizeable gap between the bottom of the fly and the floor, which allowed plenty of air circulation. (I also leave the mesh access hatch uncovered.)

      Reply to FREDERIC PUTNAM
  • JC

    When properly tensioned what angle from the tree does this hang? I’m wanting to calculate the load for setting up a stand for an event. I’ve been considering a tensegrity with individual hammocks but then seeing this makes me want to change the set up.
    Thanks

    • Post authorDerek

      These platforms are set up like slack lines. Very tight. You don’t hang them with an angle per se.

      Reply to Derek
      • Jarred

        So fully loaded at 880lbs that makes like several thousand lbf per line?

        Reply to Jarred
        • Post authorDerek

          Yes.

          Reply to Derek
  • Tina Sand

    Which one of the Product from tensile would you recommend for 2 persons?

    Reply to Tina Sand
    • Post authorDerek

      The Flite.

      Reply to Derek
    • MLWilcox

      It depends. If you plan on hiking in to your campsite, then the Flite. If you are a car camper like me, then definitely the Connect. You will have much more room with the Connect for yourselves, your stuff, and your dog (we have an Aussie). The campsite we use the most is about a quarter mile from the car.

      Reply to MLWilcox
  • Christopher

    Could a small labrador dog, 30 kilo and two adults fit the Flite? We are going to hike for a couple of weeks, so water is already heavy enough to carry with us to some extent… What would you suggest? Or is there any other hammock that could suit us better?

    Reply to Christopher
    • Post authorDerek

      It would be tight, but it could fit.

      Reply to Derek
    • Jarred

      Make the dog carry its own weight

      Reply to Jarred
    • MLWilcox

      I would order one ASAP from a company with a good return policy such as REI, Campsaver, etc. Pitch it in your backyard or local park. It’s good practice and you can climb in to test the comfort level.

      Reply to MLWilcox
  • John Ho

    Has the Stingray been field tested in a tropical rain forest?

    Thanks

    Reply to John Ho
    • Post authorDerek

      Very likely. Contact the manufacturer and they will be able to give you details.

      Reply to Derek
  • Scott

    If no trees to be found, could you not stake the corners on the ground and use it as a conventional tent in a pinch?
    Just curious
    Thanks

    Reply to Scott
    • Post authorDerek

      Yes, absolutely.

      Reply to Derek
  • Patrick Westöö

    Hi! Great review! I just tried mine in Sweden and after it had been raining for a night the tent leaked, badly. Puddles inside the tent. Has this ever happened to you? Any advice on how to use it in heavy rain?

    Patrick

    Reply to Patrick Westöö
    • Post authorDerek

      I haven’t tried the new tarps for the stingray to compare, but I did notice that the corners flatten out and puddle. Try to pull the corners out further if possible. I may need to contact the manufacturer to check.

      Reply to Derek
    • fputnam

      I had the same problem; there are two potential reasons that I know: (1) not having the fly attached properly to the rings leads water into the Stingray from the corners; (2) a fly that was not properly treated. The latter happened to me; I emailed Tentsile and received a new (waterproof!) fly wtihin two weeks. Good luck!

      Reply to fputnam
  • Patrick Westöö

    Hi! Thanks for your reply. I find the corner quite difficult and I have tightened them properly trying to stretches them so that the water will run off. The problem is the fly, training right through so most likely its faulty. I have had it out for one night and the fly was completely saturated by the top of the entrance. I have emailed them so I hope to get another one!

    Patrick

    Reply to Patrick Westöö
    • Post authorDerek

      I hope that works! They have pretty good customer service. Good luck!

      Reply to Derek
      • Patrick

        Sounds Good! Thanks for your advice!

        Reply to Patrick
  • Patrick Westöö

    Hi! Just wanted to update this thread as I spoke with Tentsile and apparently my fly was a part of a bad batch. They imideately said they would send me a new one, no questions asked. Great experience so far :)!

    Patrick

    Reply to Patrick Westöö
    • Post authorDerek

      Great!

      Reply to Derek
  • fputnam

    Hi, Patrick. That was my experience too-great folks to work with (and a fabulous product!).

    Reply to fputnam
  • marian

    I’m wondering about sleeping in either the Connect or the Stingray as a couple. It looks like all of the tents kind of force people into separate compartments/”hammocks.” Is it possible to sleep together as a couple without being divided by a nylon strap?

    Reply to marian
    • Post authorDerek

      Both use separate beds and will have a strap separating them. If you really want to sleep together, but don’t want to be scrunched up together, you’re best off with a tent 🙁 Hammocks “capture” your body weight. Ever slept on a a trampoline with a bunch of friends? If so, you’ll recall how everyone sags together in the middle. This is not cozy. Having separate “beds” for a hammock is ideal.

      Reply to Derek
  • andreas bohm

    i realy love my stingray !!
    i got it for my indien trip so i have some realy nice moments
    and my kids want to go camping all the time now =)
    i realy want to hear more + and – and trix too make it better
    and i wounder if ther ar more from sweden that have this amasing tent

    Reply to andreas bohm

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