A breakfast recipe to cure the common hangover

Epic nights under the stars are often followed by not so epic mornings. If you’ve got to get up and on the trail for more adventures, you’ll need a good breakfast to banish the hangover and set you up for a great day out. Even if everything still tastes of tequila there’s only one thing for it.

Huevos Rancheros, truly the breakfast of champions.
This recipe is gratefully received from the Wahaca restaurant founder
Thomasina Miers. Thank you for all the days you saved.
Once you’ve sorted the fire and the coffee out, you will need

6 tablespoons of lard. Yes lard. It’s the magic ingredient.
1 chopped onion
2 chopped red chillies. Or as many as you want if you know what you’re doing.
3 chopped cloves of garlic. Ditto.
2 tins of tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of demerara sugar
Plenty of Worcestershire sauce
A handful of chopped tarragon
4 tortillas
4 eggs
Cheese. A pale and crumbly sort works well.



Heat two tablespoons of the lard in a wide saucepan and add the onion and chillis. Let them sweat down for ten minutes and add the garlic, cook for a few more minutes and add the tomatoes. Season the salsa well with the salt, pepper, sugar and Worcestershire sauce, and mash the tomatoes as they cook. Leave it on the fire for half an hour and add some water if it gets too dry. You might do all this ahead of your trip and just cook it through on the morning in question which will save some coordination challenges if you’re feeling very rough.
When that’s looking like a salsa, melt another tablespoon of lard in a frying pan and brown the tortillas a bit on both sides, then wrap them in foil and keep them warm on the fire.
Stir the tarragon into the salsa.
Melt all the lard you can spare in the frying pan and get it as hot as the fire will allow. Deep fry the eggs, spooning hot lard over them so they get good and crispy.
Serve up a tortilla with plenty of salsa and an egg and cheese on top then retire to your Tentsile to complete your recovery.
There’s a riddle in there somewhere about a getting a hangover from drinking something ‘on the rocks’, when hanging over some rocks in a hammock.

A Tentsile is a hang over cure for rocks, or anything else for that matter.



November 24, 2014 — Syd Howells

What’s the one thing you can’t leave behind if you have to leave your camp in a hurry?

Let’s say the worst case scenario happens, you lose the creature comforts of your happy camp and suddenly you’re strangers in a strange land. What do you take with you when the pressure’s on?

You hopefully have some great ‘every day carry’ camping tools, and manage to grab your survival kit. But the thing that matters more than anything in a pinch, and that you can’t drop in the confusion of an emergency, is field skill.

Before you set off on your adventure, think about what you could be up against if things go wrong, and what you can do about it. Your survival kit should be a lot more than a little tin full of fish hooks and matches.


The glass is always half full

It starts with a state of mind and a plan, and finishes with a bag of tools and the knowledge and judgement of how and when to use them. At this point it’s hard not to sound like a survivalist. Let’s just think of it as having a Plan B for when Plan A doesn’t work out. Plan A should be to have a good time, all the time, and Plan B shouldn’t be too far from that.

A positive mental attitude is going to give you the best approach to any difficult situation, no matter how bad. Time and again the survival case studies and instructors tell us the difference between success and failure came down to the attitude of the people involved. Add a little planning, training and experience, and you’ve got a much better chance of making your Plan B work.


Your new best friends

A good knife in the right hands is a tool that can make so many useful things in the wild. It might be your new best friend. Find a good bushcraft instructor or knife maker and you’ll be on your way to learning how to put a good knife to its greatest uses. Keep it in tip top condition and hair-popping sharp. Knowing how to use your tools is the best start to a survival kit you can get.


So what’s in the bag…

The main ingredients are going to be used for signalling help, navigation, fire starting, water storage, food preparation, and first aid. It comes down to knowing how to do as much as possible, with as little as possible for as long as possible. A survival kit should contain the best equipment you can afford to keep stashed away in the hope of never needing it. Do the research, get some training and collect the most resilient and versatile kit you can. Pack it all tight and seal it against the elements. Check and maintain it regularly, and above all, don’t leave it behind. Ever.


and what do you do with it?

The plan should be to get rescued as soon as possible. Researching how the emergency services set about finding people will tell you how to help yourself get rescued, but until then it’ll be all about clean water, food and shelter. Learn ways to signal for help, find water, practice making fire every way you can, forage and eat what’s safe where you are, and make tools and shelter. Above all, stay positive, stick to your plan, and use your kit wisely.

So you’ve planned an epic adventure and the gang are ready for their great escape. Get together and talk about Plan B. The best thing you can do is not get yourself or anyone else into a situation where you need to be rescued, but be prepared for it, and make sure your friends know what to do to help. Approach the situation with a positive attitude, remember you’ve got the skills and kit to adapt to different challenges, and you’re going the right way to get out of trouble as fast as you can get into it.


Don’t practice to get it right, practice so you can’t get it wrong

We’ve met all kinds of amazing people on our Tentsile adventures, and there’s always more to learn about living out there in the wild. If you want to share your wisdom and experience, or need to add to your knowledge and you think we can help, get in touch and let’s see what we can do together.

November 23, 2014 — Syd Howells

Camping on a Shoestring?

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.

November 21, 2014 — Syd Howells
The Story of Tentsile

The Story of Tentsile

Tentsile started off as a string sculpture, held up by books in a London living room back in 2002.

I wanted to make a structure that used pure tentsile from 3 points to create usable space as I thought that a collapsable treehouse could be an interesting option for those who love treehouses but didn't want to by limited to their backyards to enjoy it!

I was still an architecture student at the time and figured that the principles were so simple that someone would have done it by the time I finished school so... It never happened.

No one was looking at that space.


I got made redundant after the crash of 2008 and so I thought I would put some time into seeing if the model could be scaled up to hold some real weight. I put a cat in the next one (that was about 3 foot wide) and when it proved workable, I got started on making a full scale version.

The Spider and Giant Tentsiles were huge. Spider had a 10m / 25' diameter and Giant had a 15m / 35' diameter. They were impossibly hard to make as the dodecahedron centre could only be created by painstakingly adjusting the cords that pulled it part. Each cords was attached to a “loom” with 7 ratchets on each. It was like tuning a 28 stringed guitar from a ladder 5m / 20' in the air.

Slowly we managed to put a water tight skin on the structure and insert suspended hammocks into the “arms”. We worked but it was big, heavy and expensive. They did however, allow us to get some marvellous photos and the whole thing went viral when Inhabitat posted our picture. 40,00 hits in one day and boom, we were running.

That is when Kirk contacted me. We met for a coffee ( out of all the crazy tent designers in the world, he happened to be 4 miles away ) and his product design background became instantly essential. Together, we refined the designed, made full scale prototypes and tested all kinds of materials to make it work. We worked on final tweaks for more than a year after we soled the first one, incorporating customer feedback and designing out reoccurring problems.


Now we have a list of new models that Tentsile will be making over the next few years, each will have a slightly different focus ( playful, extreme, ground based... ) watch this space...


November 14, 2014 — Alex Shirley-Smith

Join us in China: A look at our factory and why it’s not what you think.

Good morning from the China team. Here we are - our operations manager Matte to the left, our head seamstress Janeu and me - Kirk to the right. 


But let's start form the beginning... A year ago Tentsile was produced in the UK in a small workshop in Kent that made parasailing parachutes and other crazy stuff. We quickly outgrew their capacity and had to look further afield for a manufacturing facility as there was nobody else who manufactures camping tents neither in the UK nor in the parts of Europe where we had contacts and spoke the lingo. Eventually I went to visit a factory in China who had made some samples for me in the past and had proven itself to deliver. It was a stab in the dark but we had customers lining up orders and our production could not cope with it. When I landed in China I was greeted with a taste of the 21st century.  A true 21st century. Mega cities, megastructures, bullet trains, world class infrastructure... it slowly dawned on me that China isn't what I've learned about at school any more. The straw hats and bicycles were gone. The bizarre dog eating insect devouring stories that were being recycled in the western media seemed to me to be from another era altogether. 

A year later we outgrew the capacity of our Chinese supplier too and we set up our own factory. Poverty and child labour still exist here in some ways and we were adamant to make a difference for the guys so we plucked some of them up from a shanty town on the outskirts, we loaded their stuff in our car and relocated them to our own newly painted facility. Now they have a kitchen, air con, a washing machine and even some nice plants. Hooray! 

So here is our main floor - there is method to all this madness, let me explain: to the left is where the rolls of fabric arrive, the long table is where it all gets measured and cut, between the columns to the left is where our sewing machines are, the half finished tents get thrown in the middle (yes, we need some more shelves) and you can just make out Janeu sitting on a chair doing quality checks further to the right. Behind her is where we string up and calibrate every tent, and to the far right is the packing area. The large grey bags are full of seatbelt webbing - we use a lot of it so you can sleep safely in the knowledge that your tent won't break if for some reason a baby elephant landed on your lap in the middle of the night.


...And here is what we do sometimes (not often enough) to test our tents in the real world. This waterfall happens to be an hour away from us and it's the perfect spot for farting around pretending to be doing important work. Alex is the dive master in the blue shorts whilst I did try to get under the waterfall but the reverse current was too strong so I'm just doing a silly pose of a bearded water god. 



November 12, 2014 — Kirk Kirchev
Why We Tent In The Trees

Why We Tent In The Trees

Here's the deal: We love trees. In fact, we're down right passionate about them (in a healthy way, we believe). Some look at them and see timber, pulp, and dollar signs. We see trees and our hearts pump faster…. Trees are things of beauty, majesty and inspiration. You can hide away in the trees, shelter within their carpet, survive among them, nourish your soul and feel part of the living landscape.

I was six when I first saw the Ewok Village. I knew then that I wanted to build things in trees and so spent the time to get certified as an architect. I thought that by qualifying, my peers could not look down on treehouse architecture! It's a real thing! I have been lucky enough to have worked with many of the top treehouse design and build teams in the world and could see that they had so much fun working up in the tree tops. That's where I want to spend my time!

The Treehouse Industry and Turning it Around..

Treehouse companies seem to reach a plato in terms if size. The problem is, treehouses are very elaborate to design and completely unique to build! All the companies I worked with were aiming to develop a one-size-fits-all solution. None of them managed to get to that point.

I decided that it would be my mission to make a back packable treehouse. A lightweight, portable structure that employed trees to created a stable a firm framework that could support two or more people. There seemed no point in stepping on the hammock industry's toes – I like hammocks!

After teaming up with Kirk, things moved pretty fast. Kirk's product design background helped refine the Tentsile concept and after 6 months we had created a truly compact and immensely strong design, capable of sleeping 3 people in suspended comfort. We call it Stingray.

What have we started?

We brought Stingray into the world so that everyone can enjoy all the happiness and joy that hanging out in trees brings; an experience to share; a shelter big enough to move around in covered space during those long rainy afternoons; a way to sleep in the woods in supreme comfort over any ground conditions, away from bugs, away from water and mud. We gave Tentsiling to the world because we believe that if we are all hanging out in trees, they can't chop them down....

The image that started it all...
November 11, 2014 — Alex Shirley-Smith

Camping Insider Christmas List

Tentsile Stingray reaches No.1 of the Christmas list for outdoor equipment at the Camping Insider


December 02, 2013 — Alex Shirley-Smith

New York Times reviews Stingray

For That All-Important First Tent


The chipmunks might think U.F.O.’s have arrived. A new generation of campers who are tired of finding their sleeping bags laying on sharp rocks has taken to tents that, instead of being staked to the forest floor, hover over it, suspended from trees. Other sleeping shelters sit up off the ground on legs that resemble a caterpillar’s.

Tree tents are a key ingredient in “glamping” — glamorous camping. Think of it as roughing it, minus the roughness. Glamping is for those looking for more comfort (no fear of creepy-crawlies, at least not the kind likely to invade a ground tent) while sleeping out under the stars.

For those who prefer not to tote their own tents, there are glamp grounds that rent treehouses, yurts and pods that hang from trees.
Begin Slide Show »


September 06, 2013 — Kirk Kirchev

Tentsile Giant on FoxNews

"So whether you want to make your backyard into a floating campground, or hike out into the woods and live atop the trees, the Tentsile Hammock Tent transforms camping into an entirely new adventure."   FoxNews

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/06/22/eight-tools-to-help-get-most-out-summer/#ixzz2e6EEsmUG

June 22, 2013 — Kirk Kirchev

Drool'd Review

June 14, 2013 — Alex Shirley-Smith