Outdoor enthusiasts will gladly tell you that they fall into one of two categories: tent sleepers or hammock users.
There is quite a split between those who like one or the other and it really comes down to personal preference.
Outdoor companies have capitalized on this idea and created a hybrid tent and hammock product.
This combines the safety and comfort of a hammock with the familiar shelter-like feel of having a tent to protect you from the elements.
The result? A tree tent that is suspended off the ground and can fit multiple people just like a regular tent would.
Yes, tree tents are safe to sleep in, and can be used for multiple days at a time. Ensuring that you set up the anchors properly and to trees that can support the weight of the inhabitants is important to the stability of the tent.
Let’s take a deeper look into how these tents work, how safe they really are, and why you would want one for your outdoor adventures in the wilderness.
What Is A Tree Tent?
A tree tent is a hammock and tent combination that is suspended by anchor points attached to a minimum of 3 trees.
It is usually set up at chest height or higher and you can access the inside of the tent from the underside.
The inside is identical to a tent except the floor is made of a material that makes it bouncy, which is why it is akin to sleeping in a hammock.
There is no hard ground underneath you to cause the aches and pains that an unsuitable sleeping pad would cause.
There is a rainfly that goes over the top to keep out the elements and much like a hammock, you can keep stuff underneath away from the elements.
The downside to these tents is pretty obvious in that you need 2-3 sturdy trees to set them up effectively.
Since they are not made to be on the ground it can be tricky to find a place to hang them if the woodlands are not suited for that type of camping.
This means you probably won’t be setting one up in the middle of a field.
One benefit of a tree tent is that it can hold up to 6 people depending on the size you want with no issue with different people having varied weights.
The material inside the tent is made to absorb impact, which is why it’s made of a flexible material.
You’ll probably notice quickly that the bottom of the tents are not insulated so ensuring that you have a sleeping pad under you is still a good consideration.
What You Should Consider Before Buying One
Tree tents have a unique factor that may draw people in to buy them before really understanding what they could be getting into. There are some considerations before jumping into buying one.
Tree tents can be more expensive than tents and hammocks
Companies like Tentsile create their products with high-quality components and materials. They do this to provide maximum security and safety since you are suspended in the air.
Premium materials always equal more money and tree tents are no exception.
You’ll be looking at a minimum of $300 USD to get a single-person hammock tent. At the highest level, for a 6+ person tree tent, you’ll be looking at closer to $2,000 USD.
They can be heavy, depending on the model
Much like canvas tents, tree tents can be extremely heavy with weights upwards of 60 pounds.
This is something to keep in mind before getting the largest tree tent you can find and trying to haul it outside through the backcountry.
The main reason for the weight is the industrial-strength ratchets that are needed to hold the tents up with the added weight of people inside.
The webbing straps are also heavy-duty so that they don’t sag throughout the night.
Tree tents can only be used in specific environments
As with hammocks, tree tents can only be used in certain locations, specifically where you have large enough trees in specific positions.
If you are going camping in a mountainous range or someplace that has small trees then you won’t be able to use it effectively.
Keep in mind as well that the trees need to be thick enough that they can support the weight of a tent in between them.
How To Set Up A Tree Tent Successfully
Luckily, tree tents are relatively easy to set up and you can have one up in a matter of minutes.
They come with heavy-duty ratchet tensioners that ensure you have a secure hold on the trees you’re attaching them to.
To be successful in setting up these kinds of tents you’re going to want to find trees with a diameter of 10 inches at least and spaced about 15 feet apart from each other.
You’re going to have a lot of weight in the tent and these specifications ensure that you don’t harm the trees or yourself.
Height is important in setting up your tree tent. Most manufacturers recommend that you set up your tree tent no higher than 5 feet off the ground, or as high as you’re willing to fall.
Another thing to note is that tree trunks get slimmer the further up you go and this could affect the stability of your tree tent.
It’s also good to note that you want to hook up to live trees because dead trees could be rotting and are generally weaker.
Now that the hard part is done all you need to do is attach the webbing straps and crank the ratchets equally until your tent is suspended and as level as you can get it.
Tree tents are awesome, from the suspended camping experience to the comfort they provide in the middle of the woods.
Yes, they may be expensive and heavy, but you’re almost guaranteed a great experience and a product that will last you for years.
For those that want a hammock and a tent, this is a no-brainer.
Perrin is a nomad surviving and thriving in in the Canadian forests. His areas of expertise include wilderness survival, primitive living, tracking wildlife, and teaching others about this way of life. He has has a “first-responder” certification and is a “leave no trace” expert.