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:

June 22, 2013 — Kirk Kirchev

Drool'd Review

June 14, 2013 — Alex Shirley-Smith

Silidrome Review

June 04, 2013 — Alex Shirley-Smith

Gizmag: Tentsile unveils Stingray suspended tent

February 24, 2013 — Kirk Kirchev

Tentsile reviewed on the Gadget Show

February 15, 2013 — Alex Shirley-Smith