• Wed. Nov 30th, 2022

Camp With Your Kid (Indoor): Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent Review

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Sep 19, 2022

“You had me at the tent in the trees.” That was a friend’s response when I asked her to drive an hour to my house to go camping in my backyard.

The Tentsile Stingray is a cross between a camping hammock and a three-person tent. It’s complicated to look at but easy to set up and fun for all who entered, kids and adults. My 9 year old daughter thought it super cool and invited all her friends. It evoked nostalgia in me, reminding me of the tree forts I cherished as a suburban kid.

I tested the third generation Stingray for over 6 months, with most of it on my property (I live in a wildlife refuge). During this time, it acted as a game room, a guesthouse, a man cave, and a peaceful shelter to seek solace during work breaks. It withstood rain, winds, intense sun and a tornado-producing windstorm.

In short: The Tentsile Stingray ($729) is a fun way to camp in the frontcountry. Suitable for car camping and backyard adventuresit’s a niche product that offers a unique experience even to the most hardened campers.

What is a tree tent?

Tentsile Stingray Tree Tent; (photo/Tent)

The Tentsile Stingray is a hanging tent for three people. It has a triangular floor with each corner ending in a 35mm wide strap. The straps are 20 feet long and use ratchets rated at an incredible 2.8 tons to generate and hold tension.

Just like a standard tent, the inner fly uses an invisible mesh. Tentsile uses polyurethane (PU) coated 70D polyester for the flysheet. Two 8.5mm anodized aluminum poles provide the vertical structure. Tension applied to the PU-coated nylon and 240D polyester floor feeds the horizontal structure.

Unlike a camping hammock, the ground stays taut when the Stingray is properly set up. There was a certain “suspended” feel, but the feel is quite different from a tent on the ground.

The Stingray is Tentstile’s flagship product, but they didn’t design it to be hauled in the backcountry. It’s too heavy. Instead, it’s useful and entertaining gear for car camping and backyards. We can see that this tent in the trees would also come in handy for canoeing or rafting trips where dry ground is scarce.

Tentsile Stingray Components

Tentsile Stingray Tent Set

  • Stingray tree tent for 3 people with integrated mosquito net
  • 5000mm water column rain fly
  • 2 x 8.5mm diameter anodized aluminum alloy poles (green)
  • 3 understocking nets
  • 3 large heavy duty ratchet buckles (2.5 ton breaking strength)
  • 36m/19ft. polyester straps
  • 3 giant yellow low impact screw pegs
  • 3 large water doors
  • 3 rubber bands 2m thickness 4mm
  • 3 2m Blue Tree wraps with velcro
  • Spare repair kit
  • tent bag

The verified weight of the Stingray tent kit is 25.5 pounds.

Tentsile Stingray: how to configure

Because the Stingray is such an anomaly, I felt compelled to watch an installation video (which we also recommend to anyone looking to purchase this tent).

Exact triangulation of the three chosen trees was not necessary. They only had to be in the general line of pull for each corner of the tent floor. Adjusting the length of each strap provided some wiggle room, but the final tension should produce fairly even tension on each strap.

There were spacing requirements. There was no real footprint of open ground to worry about. But there was a large area that needed to be cleared of anything that might interfere with the path of the straps or the tent body. Any vegetation or structure aligned with the tent or the straps had to be lower than the ground or the straps. Tentsile recommends a height of 4 feet.

It didn’t matter if the ground was wet, muddy, rocky, covered in sticks or flat. But it didn’t matter that the three tree trunks were big enough, because the tension on the straps was significant. Tentsile recommends a minimum tree diameter of 16 inches.

I set up the Tentsile Stingray once, and it was an easy solo affair on all other occasions.

tree tent life

First of all, the kids were super attracted to the Tentsile Stingray! My 9 year old jumped in as soon as it was mounted and repeatedly asked for spring to stay in it. She told her friends at school, and they all circled.

But here’s the thing: every adult who walked in also felt that joyous joy I associated with first-time camping. Maybe it’s because it’s so unique that it was a new experience, even for experienced campers. Or maybe it reminded us of treehouses. Anyway, adults flocked to my tent in the trees as much as the kids.

Getting in was more difficult than a normal tent, but that was entirely dependent on how high I hung it. I preferred to enter through one of the three side doors, but my daughter liked entering through the floor hatch. Both methods of entry required a jump to a seated or prone position.

Tentsile Stingray Floor Hatch
The Tentsile Stingray floor hatch; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

The stretched floor provided a sleep experience unlike anything I’ve ever used. My daughter didn’t need a mattress under her bag, but she sleeps on her back. I’ve used it a few nights without the pads, but I sleep on my side. An air bag significantly improved sleep.

My logic said that loosening the straps would create a softer floor, but then we would slide towards the center of the tent. High tension in the straps was equivalent to having a flat floor for a regular tent.

Tentsile claims the Stingray is suitable for three adults or two adults and two children. I found that to be more than fair. Because the campers sleep on the perimeter of the floor in a triangle shape, I never felt rushed. No one has encroached on my space either by moving around while I slept. I also didn’t touch the tent wall with my feet or head, and I’m 6ft tall.

A downside of the tent hanging in the trees was that when someone got up in the middle of the night, we were all woken up by the movement of the whole tent. This happened on exit and re-entry, even though each person had their own door.

There was enough space left for each camper to have a personal bag, and three storage nets kept small items off the ground. The floor hatch served as a place to keep items from rolling away and also has a storage pocket. Three exterior storage nets under the floor handled everything else.

Cooler (literally) than ground tents

When it was cold, the Tentsile Stingray was significantly cooler than a normal tent, similar to a camping hammock. The cold air below was the additional thermal suction, which was mitigated by foam mattresses. The wind also carried heat away from below, and the relatively large gap between the inner wall and the rain roof was not thermally efficient.

But the advantage was that in summer the tent was cooler, mainly because there was no vegetation on the ground blocking the wind, but also because of the conduction through the ground to the night air . The inner walls of the Stingray are fully mesh, so dropping the fly created copious amounts of airflow.

Tentsile Stingray without the rain fly
(Picture/Tent)

I had to tighten the straps several times because the dampness from the morning dew or rain stretched them out, a common problem with hammocks and tent flies. And tying the fly to the floor or floor hatch was a must for anything other than a light mist to keep water from pooling in the fly or getting in the doorways.

Tree tent survives turbulence and storms

A storm swept away this oak tree
A storm that produced nearby tornadoes destroyed this tree, but not the tree tent; (photo/Seiji Ishii)

The Stingray is classified as a four season tent by Attempted, which I did not believe. But after a typical Texas storm that brought tornadoes to my area and downed a huge oak tree nearby, the tent in the trees emerged intact. I officially gave it a personal rating of four seasons.

Conclusion

The Tentsile Stingray has been a hit with kids and adults for backyard or car camping. It’s unique, fun and cooler in the summer than regular tents. After 6 months of almost constant use, kids and visiting adults still want to get inside.

The tree tent is heavy, so using it in the backcountry is a big demand. Even dividing the load three ways is problematic, as the main body of the tent is inherently heavy. But it’s not impossible, and for a short hike, it might be worth the novelty and fun.

The Stingray proved extremely tough in a crazy windstorm, and ordinary three-season RV tents would have been decimated. Of course, it depended on the ability of the anchor trees to withstand the storms.

At an MSRP of $729, this is a significant investment. But if you think of it as a playhouse for the kids and an extra room for your outdoor friends like me, it might be worth it.

Check price at Tentsile

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