Treehouses vs Tree Tents
Tree Tents vs Treehouse: Upgrading your Backyard Camping Game
We’ve all daydreamed about building the perfect Treehouse in our backyard – whether it’s for the little ones to play in all year round, or for us adults to escape for a cup of tea and some peace and quiet! As kids, we could imagine nothing better than spending hours in our very own secret backyard treehouse, with only our imaginations and creativity (and a few birds) for company. Getting our parents to build one was a different matter altogether…
Our Founder Alex Shirley-Smith realised these childhood dreams by training to be an Architect, and spent many years designing and building luxury treehouses in the UK, EU, USA and Canada. His work was featured on Sky 1 TVs ‘The Great Treehouse Challenge, where he was lead Architect on three exciting builds across Britain, in Scotland, Cornwall and Surrey. https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/great-treehouse-challenge-childrens-trust-4812495.
It was from this love of Treehouse Architecture that Alex went on to invent Tree Tents – creating an innovative solution for those who want to hang out in the trees, but don’t necessarily want to build a permanent structure. In this article, we’ll look at the main similarities and differences between Tree Tents and Treehouses, to give a better understanding of how they work, and their benefits.
What is a traditional Treehouse?
A Treehouse is traditionally a permanent structure built around the trunk, or in the branches of a tree for children to play in. In more recent years, this form of building has been adopted by a much wider population – from luxury treehouse hotels for those looking for a night glamping in the forest, to outdoors offices spaces and meeting rooms.
It’s difficult to estimate how many Treehouses there are globally or in any given country – by their very nature they are often small scale and tucked away out of sight – but it’s likely that they are most popular in the USA. How sophisticated they are is entirely up to the landowner. It’s estimated that for a simple backyard structure it could cost as little as $3000 to install, though the national average is around $7350 depending on design, with the most expensive on record coming in at an eyewatering $3 million!
Of course, there are lots of people who could knock one up cheaper with some scraps of wood and a quick raid of the tool shed – but we don’t recommend this route as there are lots of things to consider including Planning / Permissions, Health and Safety, and of course being mindful of the health of the tree itself.
Pros & Cons
Treehouses are a more permanent structure. Once it’s built, it’s there for years to come – after the initial build it provides a great perfect hideaway, clubhouse or retreat for all ages. Everyone loves a treehouse.
They’re fun! Fun to design, fun to build, fun to enjoy. Even a cheap DIY treehouse is great for inspiring little imaginations and encouraging people to spend more time Outdoors.
They are permanent structures. The pro can also become a con. Once built, you can't move them easily. The neighbours might complain of over-looking and you may need permission from local authorities.
Unless you have a huge amounts of space, these structures can be a little obtrusive, take up valuable real estate in your yard or become no one wants to hang out anymore.
They can be pretty costly to construct. Even a DIY one will set you back a few thousand and a number of weekends!
There’s also the issue of maintenance. They’ll need occasional care and attention to make sure they last the duration. Materials are always susceptible to the elements – whether that’s rain, wind, ice or intense heat. Insects can also do damage so effective wood treatments are a must every 3 – 8 years.
What is a Tree Tent?
Tentsile Tree Tents were originally conceived as portable treehouses. The concept is to create a portable, comfortable, versatile shelter that combines the fun, freedom and portability of a hammock with the security of a multi-person tent.
Each of our Tree Tents and Giant Hammocks use 3 trees to create a tensioned suspended space for you and your friends to relax and enjoy, soaking up the sounds of nature and unbeatable views of the tree canopy above. They range from 1 – 6 person capacity, with different features and weights depending on what kind of adventure you’re seeking or the space you have to work with in your Backyard.
Pros & Cons
- They are a great all-terrain camping solution, portable and easy to set up in any location from the deep wilderness, the campsite, or as a pop-up garden treehouse that avoids planning restrictions.
- They’re designed to be modular, so should you decide to upgrade you Backyard Treefort the follow year, you can easily add on a layer or two of giant hammocks to your Tree Tent and Stack them High!
- They are incredibly spacious, and have plenty of room to sit up and move around inside. Above sloping, uneven, muddy, lumpy, or soggy ground conditions, a Tree Tent is a portable treehouse in a bag that lets you camp cosily, protected from insects and critters as well as the weather.
- Cheaper than a treehouse. Even our biggest, 3 story stacks will come in well under the price of you most basic wooden treehouse structure.
- Not permanent and will need taking down between periods of use to make sure that they last longer.
- Not solid. A Tree Tent is made from tensioned fabric and straps, so it will not have the same solid surfaces as a treehouse.
Types of suspended camping experiences
Camping on the ground is old news. Even the earthiest among us don’t particularly enjoy tree roots poking into our backs when we’re trying to sleep, or the cold damp feeling that seems to take hold at about 4am when you’re camping on wet muddy ground. Enter, suspended camping.
Hammocks are nothing new either – they’ve been around since nearly 1000 years ago, originating in Central America and traced back to the Mayan Civilisation. But, although not revolutionary, they’ve had a resurgence in recent decades as more people embrace the Outdoors and find themselves hanging out in the wilderness.
Tree Tent Camping
All the comfort and versatility of a traditional hammock, with the security and multi-occupancy of a Tent – simple! With all the built-in insect meshes and waterproof rainflies you need to keep you dry and protected from the elements.
We touched earlier on the type of outlay you’re looking at for a more traditional Backyard Treehouse - just over $7000. But, if (like us!) you want to indulge in a bit of treehouse camping without having to remortage your actual home, then a Tentsile Stack is a much more credit friendly option that gives you bags of flexibility and an opportunity to tailor a package that suits your space. They start at $679 for the Flite Classic Stack, or for those who want to go BIG, sleep up to 9 people in a veritable tree mansion with our Ultimate Stacks. Every one of our Tree Tents has a giant hammock with a footprint to match, as well as tons of helpful accessories to customise your set up.
Camping Hammock – not a tree tent but another alternative experience
On the other end of the scale entirely to Treehouses are camping hammocks. Typically one person capacity for use on solo adventures or for those wanting to pack light, there are a few things to include in a camping hammock set up such as an overhead rain tarp, some bug netting, a suspension system with wide (tree friendly) straps, and an insulating underquilt or sleeping pad (https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-hammock-camp.html). The major draw to traditional hammocks is that they’re comparatively lightweight and easy to string up in a flash. Some people find it a little less enjoyable because of the swinging motion that can occur, and the fact that you can’t stretch out entirely flat unlike a Tentsile.
Why a Tree Tent is better
Tentsile gear is made to the highest quality and safety standards - our Tree Tents and Hammock Tents are the amongst the most robust camping shelters available anywhere in the world. We manufacture our range in a purpose-built factory, and every Tentsile is quality checked before it leaves. The attention to detail and top spec engineering have been testified to by a huge range of trusted voices / publications in the Outdoors world – so unlike a Treehouse, you know you’re getting a tried and tested, expert endorsed product that will be safe in your space for years to come, with minimal maintenance. Just pop it down every few weeks to give the trees and the material a break, and make sure to pack it away dry, and it’ll last you for years. And, unlike a Treehouse, there are no rotten floorboards to worry about putting your foot through…
In an early Blog written by our Founder Alex all the way back in 2015, he considers the biggest benefit of Tree Tents over Treehouses that they are portable. They give you everything you want from a treehouse, with the wilderness and escapism of a shelter you can pack up and move, rather than an immobile structure at the end of the backyard. 8 years on from writing, his words are just as true – and we see that many tens of thousands of Tentsile customers went on to agree with him!