Tentsile combines the versatility of a hammock with the comfort and security of a multi-person tent. Now everyone can see the world from a new perspective and enjoy our natural environment in comfort. The tent is fully collapsable, portable and it is possible to set it up and take it down in 5 minutes.
The Tentsile concept was conceived by Alex Shirley-Smith, whilst studying architecture back in 1999. Thinking the design was obvious and simple, he assumed someone must be doing it already. 10 years later, nobody was. Alex was made redundant from his office job and decided to prototype his design, the only problem was he couldn't sew. He spent a long time trying to find a company that would be willing to work with him to make the first one. He thought it would take a month.....
It was a year before the first model was complete. Alex worked closely with a seamstress in a factory in the North of England for periods of a week at a time. The structure was complicated and skinning it had to be done in the air, by hand! There were massive obstacles to overcome, not least trying to work out how to piece together the webbing framework so that under tension it would create a perfect dodecahedron.
To make things even more difficult, the second Tentsile was to be even bigger (to hold 8 people ) and had to be created in the car park outside. We have to make this pile of straps....
And then put a skin on it to make this...
Battling the elements, through the frustration of hand sewing pieces of lightweight fabric together by hand in the rain and wind was a real blood, sweat and tears time the Tentsile's development. However Alex and his brother, Robert managed to create an 8 person suspended tent that can pack down into the trunk of a small car.
In April 2012, the Tentsile Spider model was featured in an online green design forum and 2 days later we were clocking up 40,000 hits a day on the website. The unanticipated level of public response, blew away our initial plan of making by hand, between 10-15 bespoke units a year. It seemed everyone wanted a Tentsile!
Due to the overwhelming response to the concept, a new model needed to be created. One that could be easily replicable, lightweight, simple to set up and affordable. The team put everything they had into renting a studio and refining a design that would suit a broader market and allow Tentsile to be more than just a niche product. The Stingray was born.
The Stingray has the added benefit of being able to be set up on the ground as well as in the air, making it universally versatile. This model is the lightest, simplest and most elegant model to date and we have just finished prototyping.
There are conversations currently ongoing with a couple of manufacturers (2 in the UK and 1 in China) that are interested in producing this tent. With their help and your kind support, the first Tentsile Stingray units could be coming off the production line by March.
Crowd funding resources will facilitate the going live of an online store, help with studio costs and allow the placement of a first batch order. You can be part of this product getting off the ground and be the first to own a Tentsile Stingray.
Risks and challenges
A lot of work has been put into the Tentsile concept and brand over the past 3 years. Unprecedented interest has already been generated over the internet, our friends and families have been extremely encouraging and those members of the public who have stumbled upon test setups, have been awe struck.
The challenges ahead will include not being sunk by the tent industry big players. Tentsile must build a strong brand name in little time in order to become synonymous with suspended shelters and tree tents. None of the major brand names were interested in helping develop our range when we approached them. If the product / brand is a success however, it is almost certain they will try and muscle Tentsile out of the way.
To this end, we intend to build close relationships with both fans and clients, tapping into an already established community of lovers of the outdoors. If you love camping, exploring or just playing in the forest, we believe THIS is the product you've been waiting for.
All components of this model have a minimum breaking load of 2.5 tonnes. That is 4 time the recommended weight limit set to this model. The tension created pulls the floor and roof tight. You could liken it to an enclosed trampoline.