Hanging in the trees

This is not camping on a shoestring; it’s camping on a rope

If you want to escape, really escape and see your world from a totally new perspective, go tree climbing. Once you’ve gained the skills and experience to pretty much do everything you can on the ground, only high up a tree, then it’s time to start sleeping up there, and get set up in a tree tent. You’re going to use nearly all the gear a hardcore backpacker carries, with the slight difference of some well chosen climbing equipment and a shelter that can be suspended in a tree.

Swing free in a hammock up a tree

You’ve got to earn it

The key is know-how. Just like a skilled backwoods hiker can adapt their kit to cope with all the surprises a good adventure offers, a tree camper can expect to face unique challenges in a tree as they set up a tent and make a temporary home. There are simple rules to tree climbing and rigging in the branches, and once you understand the systems, then it all begins to fit together. No two trees or climbs are the same, but with the right training and experience, you can join an amazing group of people who spend days and nights in the great outdoors like few others.


Getting started

Ask around. Talk to local tree care companies and arborists; arborists often supply shops and training schools. You’ll quickly discover the people who are passionate about tree climbing and who are willing and able to teach you and your friends the ups and downs of safe tree adventures. Prices for tuition will vary, so perhaps negotiate a taster day to see if you’re getting what you want, the way you want it. It’s just the beginning, take your time and do it right. You’re going to meet some very special people and change the way you see the world.

Learn about the trees around you

They’re everywhere, awe inspiring, and they need to be understood. The feeling of being cradled in the arms of some of the biggest living things on Earth is truly unique, but it comes with responsibility. Some trees are better for climbing than others, for lots of reasons. The more you understand about tree species, structure and health, the safer and more adventurous you can be. Find the right tree, in the right condition, in the right place, and you can start to forget all the technicalities that got you that far and start seeing and feeling the possibilities on offer. The more you learn, you’ll realize the more there is to learn. Trees offer a home to a huge amount of life, and you are joining it, so get to know as much of it as you can.


Get the right kit

If you already go camping you’ll have a good idea of what you need to be comfortable, and what makes you happy. It’s just the same in a tree. Some trees are going to be easy to get to, and you can be as ambitious as you like with climbing and camping gear, but some are a long way from help, so you’ll need to think hard and plan your expedition. You can climb a tree with just a rope, tying harness and climbing system from a few well-practiced knots, but some dedicated tree climbing kit is going to make the whole experience better and safer.

Canopy camping

Most shelters for tree camping are borrowed from big wall rock climbing, but there are a few specialized designs for rigging in a tree or trees. When you find a design you’re happy with, practice everything slow and low to see what surprises are in store, and what differences there are in the way you do things in a tree. You’ll be attached to a climbing system the whole time and using the shelter and the tree to move around and support your camping equipment. It’s a good idea to find out just how that feels when you’re near the ground and can solve the challenges as they pop up.

If there’s anything we can do to help here at Tentsile, just get in touch. Whether you are a climber or a camper and you want to do both, let’s talk. We love trees, we will always be learning about them, and we want to share that with as many people as possible.

Syd Howells