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
- 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Multiple Hammock Setup, Storage Area
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.
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.