Honesty is the Best Policy

Seems like you guys like honesty. Doesn't usually go hand in hand with corporate strategy these days though, does it? Well, we aren't corporate; we are a tiny start up with a passion for trees and a simple idea. The fact is, when we tell our story honestly and openly, the reaction from you guys is always overwhelming, incredibly positive and super engaged. Maybe this is because you guys like to feel part of the story, which is understandable - and also true. You are.

When Kirk and I made our first Stingray, we photographed it, put it up online and sold it for $1500! With that money, we were able to make 3 Stingrays and that is how this all started....no loans, no outsiders..in fact, no one offered or accepted our proposal!

The first Stingrays we made were single skin (you will be able to find images of these all over the net as they went viral pretty quickly), and looking back, we were insanely lucky that our fist customers took such a gamble with us. They leaked, they creaked and they were really heavy! Once we handed production over, out of our own (unskilled) hands and into a small family owned parachute making company on the outskirts of London, we were then able to take a step back and start improving the details.

The first thing was water tightness – obviously! It is a pity we could not have ironed out the leaking before we started selling, but we simply did not have the luxury of spending 2 years on R&D, testing and evaluating each design decision. We had to bank roll as we went along, both of us still working our day jobs.

Of course, we wish we could have perfected the Stingray before it went public – we are still hurt by early reviews about how “it leaks!” or “the single skin is prone to condensation!” We just have to take these things on the chin, hope that you guys understand the process and know that we have your back! I have recently found a number of reviews on other people's websites complaining that we “brushed off” our responsibilities! This is simply not true. But if folks choose to post complaints on other companies' sites, how are we supposed to know about it in order to help?!

All of our first customers got sent free, brand new Stingrays once we had them working properly, with personalised notes from us (as inventors), thanking them for their early support and belief in what we were trying to do! We are still in touch with many of them – they get free upgrades for life!

Another battle we've faced for the first two years is the question about bending or breaking poles! I can be honest on this subject too; we have nothing to hide! Tentsile poles will bend. They will normally adopt a natural curve that forms as a result of the people's weight inside the tent, being partially supported by them. It is just a fact. We could use much heavier poles and pre-bend them (the Connect now does come with pre-bent poles as the curve is very tight), but heavier poles are heavy, bulky and unnecessary. Over time, there will just a be a slight bend. Simple.

Breaking poles, however, is a different story! This is a result of people “hanging” Tentsiles like a hammocks (#NOTAHAMMOCK). Tentsiles do not like to be hung. They like to be tensioned – that is why we include 3 massive ratchets! But people will be people and not use the ratchets properly and their poles will break and they will complain and that is life. Don't be one of those people. Those are the same kind of people that email us saying, “ I have a thousand trees on my property and there is not a single spot where I have three perfect trees to hang my Tentsile!” We ask those people to send it back. It is not for them.

We have learnt a lot since we sold our first Stingray in March 2013. Single skins are bad, quality is everything, and you guys want to be involved. So get involved. We want to hear from you, that is why we have started our Community page and interactive map. If you have ideas for us to explore, photos you want us to publish, feedback you want us to listen to, do not be shy! Our team has now grown to 7 people and our brand new store in Utah is open to visitors. Between London and Utah, we have got you guys covered, so get in touch. All the usual ways. See you in the trees! #Freedom #Elevateyouradventure #playcampexplore

February 26, 2016 — Alex Shirley-Smith


Jack Metzker

Jack Metzker said:

I bought a display connect just to have one for a campout this last weekend and another this coming weekend. My daughter and i love the tent, it fits our less equipment is better love of camping and as i am older hammocks don’t work so well for me. This is the perfect solution for my adventuresome spirit.I did find some issues i will email you about for improvement ,, they are small and in no way curb my inthusiasm to use your tent , we can’t wait to have friends buy more connects so we can get “connected”, such fun with young adults.I am a Youth Leader in my social circle and am looking for ways to get more of these tents :)

Phil macleod

Phil macleod said:

I brought my stingray a year ago and have to say it still brings a smile to my face.

I’ve been in it in all weathers from -10 in Scotland to +30 in sensible weather. I have been in the best that Scotland could throw at it and it stood up to the test.
Pretty happy I wasn’t in a version one tent though :p

I have he a few issues but respect you guys more by th way you listened helped and resolved the issues promptly.

Keep the good work and company ethos up guys.

Filip Vydra

Filip Vydra said:

This was an incredible idea and I believe it’s still gaining popularity. This is the most fantastic camping solution to rough, and wet grounds, snakes and raccoons. Just wonderful.

Dom Supertramp

Dom Supertramp said:

Your tents are awesome and I know first hand that your costumer service is insanely good. My tent leaked when i got it. I sent an e-mail on a Sunday morning and had a response only 20min later. The new tent arrived here only three days later although it had to be sent here to Switzerland. Keep doing what your doing… it’s great!

Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland said:

I purchased a stingray in November of 2013 – it’s been a great tent and a conversation starter whenever i put it up where others are around. I had broken pole issue – my son stepped on the pole and broke it while it was sitting on th ground waiting to be slid into place, entirely my fault.

I’ve tried some lighter ways to tension the tent with some success – fixing one corner, using a jumar on one corner and pulling it taunt, and using a ratchet on the third corner works pretty well. Next time I’m out I’ll fiddle around with some climing rescue pullys and see how that works out. I’d use the tent more if the system wieghed less! Have to remember to tak some pictures if it works..

In any case, great product, no complaints here. (And by the way, I’ll always fondly remember visiting your “shop” in London, meeting Alex, and walking away with a tent that I only intended to look at out of curiosity.

Best regards


Brian Tripp

Brian Tripp said:

Guys you have an excellent product, and it was a great to work with you on the first tree tents and help you get started better. I know for a fact you have worked so hard to get your products perfect. But you will never please everyone I should know manufacturing parasails, can be very hard to please some people but so long as you are honest and do you best like you are for customers that is all you can do. Good Luck for the future.
All The Best
Sportlite International Ltd

Gilles Gagnon

Gilles Gagnon said:

Bought mine for a 1,000 $, love it when the weather is ok.
since the beginning i’m having problems with the poor sitting of the poles in this yellow triangle which is receptacle for it. beside the fact that the fly sheet is designed without good attachment for wrapping and is a real pain when windy…but beside all of that , i still love it and enjoy it on nice conditions of weather, otherwise it does not perform as attended for serious camping conditions on severe weather…

Fred West

Fred West said:

Wow, what a breath of fresh air. I love it when a company is honest. I may not have one of your products yet but I absolutely love watching all the photos and all the great places that their used. I just can’t afford one now but I will be saving my money to try and buy multiple. My kids and I would love to set up your product at our camp. Keep up the great work you guys are awesome.

Nate said:

Keep doing your thing!!

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.