Tree Tent Innovator Opens Bend Location


Tentsile Opts to Hang Out in Outdoor Mecca with New Outfitters Base

Tentsile, a London-based brand known for its innovative tree tents, has opened its first ever outfitter in Bend after scouring the country to find the ideal fit for its outdoor adventure vision.

The fast-growing company’s promotional materials tout its portable products as combining the versatility of a hammock with the comfort and security of a tent, allowing the ability “to experience a new way to connect with the natural world and spend time amongst
the trees.”

With an official launch some four years ago, Tentsile Tree Tents were conceived by British founder Alex Shirley-Smith as treehouses that could be taken anywhere – offering relative freedom and comfort to camp no matter what the season or ground conditions; being suspended in tension above uneven terrain, water or bugs, snakes and other predators.
The tree tents are made to be suspended, but in dry conditions can also be pitched on the ground like a conventional tent.

Unique designs like the Stingray and modular Connect models come with a fully enclosed insect mesh roof (with opening doors) and removable rainfly sheets, so starry nights can be enjoyed, and the structures comprise an adjustable frame of 2.5-ton webbing straps, a micro insect mesh roof, and a UV resistant, PU-coated and waterproof polyester fabric fly.
The webbing frame is held in tension at each of three anchor points by being ratcheted tight while internal floor straps divide the space into
individual hammocks.

After experiencing exponential growth, particularly in the US market, and deciding to find the ideal location for an outfitter-style base, Tentsile’s team traveled nationally and internationally over the past year, but heard repeatedly that they should visit Bend.

After scouting the area, they instantly recognized that the outdoor activity hub – recently named by Outside Magazine the Best Multi-Sport Town in America – was the perfect fit to open the inaugural Tentsile outfitting location, and secured a location at 50 Scott Street in an eclectic area of businesses next to the Work House and original Sparrow Bakery.

Company representatives said Tentsile’s Outfitters upcoming plans locally include offering a full complement of guided trips throughout Central Oregon, from overnight rafting trips and base camp villages at Smith Rock to full backyard set ups for younger adventurers. Tentsile’s new showroom will have all of the company’s latest products on display and available for purchase.
“As a start-up on the forefront of redefining how we camp, Bend is ideal,” said Shirley-Smith, who in addition to founding the venture is CEO of Tentsile.

“Bend has a burgeoning culture of successful outdoor companies, ideal for collaborating on new ideas and partnerships. And, it is an outdoor Mecca, filled with creative minds who love to participate in the outdoors.

“We have a distribution center in Ogden, Utah, which is situated on a main route between Washington and Oregon and numerous national parks, and saw a lot of traffic coming through.
“Many of the visitors said we needed to have a presence in Bend as not only was it full of trees, but it exemplified Oregon’s forward-thinking progressive community while being truly embracing of the outdoor lifestyle.

“It kept popping up on the radar and that feedback turned out to be a happy coincidence. I think we are a good fit with the city’s entrepreneurial spirit and love of outdoor activities.
“We are excited to be here and part of our plan is to be organizing guided trips, including in conjunction with great local companies like Wanderlust Tours.”
Roger Lee, CEO of Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) which has identified the outdoor product industry as one of their target clusters for the region, commented, “The outdoor industry in Central Oregon continues to thrive and having London-based Tentsile open their first outfitter in the world here in Bend is a great testament to our town and the imaginative industry we continue to attract.”

Shirley-Smith started off building tree houses as an architect, but added, “In terms of the original dream I had, the intent was to get as many people as I could to enjoy friends and trees in a new light, and see their value in different ways – not just as oxygen producers or source of timber.

“We are passionate about trees and want to do our part in conserving them and helping to raise awareness so that others might also do their part, so we invented tree tents that allow people to hang out in complete comfort; after all, if we’re all hanging out in trees, they can’t cut them down!”

He added that Tentsile plants three trees for each tent sold and encourages customers to become part of a reforestation plan the company is spearheading by donating online.
Shirley-Smith said part of his original inspiration came in 1983 when as a six-year-old London boy, he saw coverage of the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest in a BBC news story.
A few weeks later, his grandmother took him to see the Star Wars sequel Return of the Jedi and he said the movie’s idealistic Ewok tree village on Endor planted an idea that our forests would only survive if trees had a value to humans other than a monetary one.

Spurred by a goal of using trees as living accommodation as part of a conservation effort, the seeds of his treehouse vision had been sown and many years later, after training as an architect, he conceived Tentsile as a usable, lightweight space created through pure tension.

The process of designing and prototyping affordable, habitable, tensioned tree structures included an approach from Fiji to create the first tree-top eco settlement in a unique rainforest, featuring an organic farm and a secluded beach and by 2015 the company’s Stingray model had won the Summer Hardware category of ISPO Brand New 2015.
Newer innovations include the launch of the Tentsile Vista and the Trillium super-hammocks aimed at people who want to camp on the side of mountains.

Shirley-Smith said the growing Tentsile team continues researching and developing new ideas and remain committed to working with and supporting organizations around the world, donating tents to flood relief efforts, sending tents to orangutan sanctuaries in Asia, campaigning against deforestation in the Amazon and partnering with to help replant vast swathes of Africa to stop the desertification of Southern Saharan countries.

In the summer of last year, Tentsile broadened its tree planting efforts by teaming up with, which aims to reduce extreme poverty and restore healthy forests in Haiti, Madagascar and Nepal by employing local villagers to plant millions of trees.


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Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer

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