Tentsile Flite Tree Tent Review
Tentsile Flite Tree Tent
I was fortunate to be sent a demo model of the Flite “tree tent” from Tentsile—their newest addition on their line of platform shelters. The Flite is their lightest, most compact, most packable shelter they offer, so of course I set out to test this on some backpacking trips of my own. I wasn’t too disappointed.
- Manufacturer: Tentsile, made in China
- MSRP: US$350 (hammock, tarp fly, stakes, straps, and necessary hardware)
- 2-person, platform-style hammock
- Head-to-foot flat lay, with the ability for stomach and side sleeping positions
- Integrated bug netting with dual entry
- Removable, full-coverage rain fly
- Includes all necessary webbing straps and hanging hardware
- A single segmented aluminum tent pole
- Light grey 40D polyester floor fabric, reinforced with 40 ft (12 m) of 25 mm webbing
- Stainless steel ring-style carabiners (malons)
- 70D PU coated waterproof polyester, 3000HH rain fly (in a choice of colors)
- 485 lbs (220 kg) rated weight capacity
- Meets USA CPAI-84 fire resistance
- Listed Weight: 7.4 lbs (3.5 kg)
- My Trail Weight*: 7.7 lbs (3.48 kg)
*I removed the three steel carabiners and didn’t pack any stakes, which shaved a few ounces.
The Flite follows all the Tentsile designs with a triangle base platform that uses three tie-outs to suspend it off the ground. The tent uses high tensile forces, similar to a slack line, to keep the platform surface taut and flat. The use of thick webbing straps is essential to protect the anchor points from compression. The integrated bug netting is held out thanks to a single aluminum tent pole. The matching rain fly is propped up by this same tent pole and is pulled taut at each pull-out. Additional tie-outs on the tarp keep the sides taut.
The Flite is a two-person shelter, designed to be light and faster to pack and set up.
One of the highest search terms that I see related to hammocks are for “two person” hammock shelters. It’s a tricky market because hammocks don’t usually lend themselves to couples unless you enjoy snuggling very intimately all night. Other solutions, like the Clark Vertex, are essentially two hammocks hung side-by-side but with a tarp and bug netting to connect them. The Flite is the most comfortable two-person hammocks I’ve tested, and it is also one of the easiest to set up as well as the most accommodating to sleeping pads and sleeping bags that most people are used to.
While the Flite is the lightest shelter Tentsile offers, it is still quite heavy compared with two basic hammocks slung side-by-side. It does have an appeal for those looking for a more traditional “flat” sleeping platform, but still want to get off uneven, gunky ground.
Recommendations and Review
Setup and Usage + Tips
Tentsile has produced a great little video that shows the proper setup of the hammock. You can pitch it a little faster than the 10 minutes they estimate, once you’ve had a little practice. I found that some time is lost in adjusting to get the straps level, or to raise or lower the hammock once you’ve been in the hammock for a few moments.
I find that all the Tentsile platform hammocks are relatively easy to set up. The biggest issue, however, is finding three trees that are in the right proximity and distance apart. This is probably the biggest drawback of the Flite, so expect to scout around a little while to find a good spot. Planning ahead can make a big difference on knowing whether or not you can use the Flite in the field. Here are some other tips I recommend after using the Flite:
- The Flite works best with trees that are closer together. On one of our first outings, we found a perfect triangle of trees that were about 20 ft (6 m) or so apart, which still left us with ample tree strap length left. However, even after tensioning the straps as much as we could, the hammock really stretched and sagged quite a bit during the night and my son and I ended up rolling together in the middle of the hammock. The next time we set up the hammock we found trees that were closer together (12 ft/3.6 m), which worked perfectly.
- We found that it’s more important to have the head end of the hammock attached close to the two trees while the “tail” end can be further apart. This helps prevent the middle from sagging together and helps keep the tarp taut. This was the second best tip to help keep our two platform “beds” working as designed.
- Set up the Flite between 2 and 4 feet (0.6 to 1.4 m) off the ground. Any lower and you risk touching the ground. Any higher and it’s really difficult to get in.
- Set up the straps first and keep the hammock packed/rolled-up and attach one end at a time to keep the hammock from touching the ground. This will help save the fabric from any accidental snagging.
- The 1-inch (22 cm) straps are about 10 feet (3 m) too long. Even with the longest hang, we had a ton of left over strap. You could easily reduce the length, cutting off anywhere from 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m) depending on the trees you commonly use.
- You can safely remove the steel O-ring carabiners to save weight. You can tie directly on to the loops on each corner of the hammock.
- We used a slippery Becket Hitch instead of the Cow Hitch on two of the three corners, which I feel not only ties faster and easier, it is also easier to undo when it’s time to pack up.
- For extended use, if you do remove the steel O-rings, I would recommend getting some small continuous loops to attach to the ends/corners of the hammock to reduce wear on the main hammock. Continuous loops are cheap and easy to replace when worn.
- A reader recommended, and I concur, that you could save additional weight by switching the long webbing straps for lighter, yet equally strong, Dyneema cordage. The 0.125 inch (3 mm) Amsteel (Dyneema) line has a 2,500 lbs (1,134 kg) breaking strength, which factors in perfectly with the weight rating of this hammock. You could fashion Whoopie Slings or maybe even the Garda Hitch to tension. Shorter webbing straps could then be used around the tree.
- There is an adjustment strap under the hammock that can tighten the center line. This is helpful if you find yourself slipping into the center of the hammock. Tightening this center strap helps to keep the two pockets separate.
- My son and I had a lot of fun with this hammock. It was great to sleep next to each other, read books, watch a movie on my iPhone, and just chat together. The platform also has a fun “feel” to it and we like to refer to it as a “mini” alien tent. It really does remind me of being in a tree hut, elevated away from imagined marauders.
- While backpacking, it didn’t seem to drag me down too much in terms of weight or bulk. The pack size was smaller than my 2-person tent and I know of other ways to reduce the weight on this hammock after having used it a few times.
- Speaking of reducing weight, we can split the pack weight and bulk between two people by splitting up the tarp, poles, straps, ratchet, stakes, and hammock.
- It’s easy to sleep in different positions to get comfortable.
- Using traditional sleeping pads and bags is easy.
- The two corners on the head end are prime storage spots for gear. There are small webbing loops that attach to mesh pockets. It’s a great little storage area for shoes, extra clothing, or even a water bottle.
- The tarp doesn’t really have a good “storm” mode configuration. During one night we had some strong winds that would catch the tarp like a sail and billow it up. The side tie-outs are a big help, and site selection can help, but because of how the tarp is splayed out, it lends itself to catch the wind.
- The foot end is narrow. This was most noticeable when we put our sleeping pads into the hammock. My son used a large, thick EXPED pad and I used a thin closed-cell foam pad. This combination worked pretty good because my smaller, thinner pad could slide under his. However, his pad jumped the center line and I ended up having my feet and lower legs on his pad. Two large pads would have been more challenging. For continued use, I would recommend getting some closed-cell foam pads and cutting the foot end into a taper to eliminate some cross over. Two big pads can work, but you may find that your legs and feet will drift to one side.
- The head end slopes in one direction and doesn’t cradle or center your head very well. If you lay on the right pocket, your head will roll to the right. Lay on the left, roll to the left. We found that pillows were essential to keep comfortable, even with a pad.
- As you might expect, when one person moves, the entire shelter moves. In practice, this was most noticeable during entering and exiting. During the night I didn’t have any issues, but much depends on what kind of sleeper you are and if you wake easily with movement.
- It is essential that this hammock get pitched taut or tight between each anchor point. This hammock is not designed to hang with a sag like traditional Mayan hammocks, which is counter to people familiar with hammocks might be used to. That said, all material stretches, and while the Polyester used in the Flite has less stretch than other fabrics, the longer the distance between the anchors, the greater the total stretch. After my own testing, this is why I recommend finding trees closer together, and also understanding how to adjust the bottom strap. It is also essential that you pick thick, mature trees that have resilient bark as your anchor points.
Construction and Craftsmanship
The Flite, like all of the Tentsile products I’ve seen and used, is of the highest-quality. I found no loose threads, and all the seams are straight and even. I was also pleased to see that the bug netting was designed with enough gusseting so that the zippers and pulls tracked easily and evenly around without any strain on any seams, even when the hammock was loaded.
The floor fabric is lighter than the other Tensile products, but it is adequately rated for the occupant use. I would just be more careful about making sure the material is kept away from abrasive objects on the ground.
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear. I was under no obligation to publish a review of this item.