Whether you're five or 50, if you love the adventure of camping, then the idea of sleeping in a tent suspended above the forest floor will bring a smile to your face. Designed as a 'portable treehouse', that's exactly what the Stingray is for.
But before you get to the fun bit, the first surprise with Tentsile's Stingray tree tent is the hardware that falls out of the bag when you unpack it - some 3kg of the tent's 8.5kg total packed weight is made up by three heavy-duty industry grade ratchet straps.
These ratchets are the kind of thing that lorry drivers use to secure heavy pallets in place and each has a 2.5 ton minimum breaking point. The good news is that once you've practiced siting and fastening the Stingray a few times, you can leave two of these ratchets at home and save 2kg of weight right there.
You will need to practice though, as one of the hardest things with the Stingray is picking the right three trees to secure it to. The secret is finding two that are only a few feet or so wider than the front edge of the tent, and then the 'tail' of the Stingray is tethered to a third tree somewhere behind.
Using the ratchets the Stingray is tensioned between these three anchor points until the seatbelt straps that form its shape are taut and the tent stretched into a uniform horizontal position. It took about three goes to get this right but you definitely get better each time!
Once taut, the 240 Denier floor fabric of the Stingray's floor creates a hammock-like 'pocket' along each of the tent's three interior edges, which are easily big enough for an adult each. The Stingray has a maximum load of 400kg.
On the front edge there is a big door opening in the insect mesh upper, which is elegantly arched by a pair of 7001 T6 anodised aluminium elastic-corded poles. It's more fun to use the zipped triangular hatch in the middle of the tent though - especially if you buy the extra rope ladder available for this purpose.
On dry days and nights the Stingray can be used in this 'uncovered' mode which keeps the bugs out but gives you the wonderful feeling of sleeping up above the forest floor, with the stars winking at you through the canopy.
For the UK you're more likely to want to use the generous 70 denier PU coated waterproof polyester flysheet, which is waterproof rated to 3000 column inches and comes in a choice of colours. There is no door opening in the fly but it can rolled up and toggled above the door or pegged out along with the other two sides to give extra rain protection for an area of up to 15m2 under the Stingray.
The big surprise is how comfortable the Stingray is to sleep in - an experience that will particularly appeal to those who like sleeping on their sides. The only caveat is that we'd recommend using a sleeping mat for insulation, as the airflow under the tent means that you can get cold easily.
In summary: expensive and a tad heavy but so different and just so much fun! A word of warning though - if you're using the Stingray with kids, then be sure to wear them out before they get in, otherwise their excitement will have them (and you) bouncing around on what is after all not too dissimilar to a big triangular trampoline.