Owning your personal, purpose-built tree tent may not have been top of your lifetime achievement bucket list, but let’s face it — it seems pretty cool! For that matter, owning your own tree (or trees) is pretty amazing, so if you are in that lucky position, then why not go for it and position a spherical Tree Tent within its branches?
You can buy one for around £8k, plus labor costs, and this is serious stuff. It is 3 meters in diameter, can bear up to 10 times more than its load specifications, has bunks and a log burner, and is suspended from heavy duty primary and secondary safety lines. (Basically, if you just want a tent to put in a backpack and go, then this isn’t for you.)
It’s one of those times when someone comes up with something you just didn’t know was necessary, but now that it exists, it seems impossible that you went so long without one — if you own a tree to put a tent in, that is. If not (and after all, that’s probably a lot of us), then you may be glad to know you can just go and stay in one onsite at a couple of dedicated beauty spots in the UK if the fancy takes you, courtesy of the Luminair design team, who decided one day that tents are all very well on the ground, but why stop there? Tree houses are the business, but tree tents add a surreal touch that just gives them the edge. It’s a tent. Up in a tree!
Initially dreamt up by Luminair’s Jason Thawley, the Tree Tent team is made up of several friends who just happen to have specific talents and experience in balloon and airship engineering, carpentry, precision machining, steam bending and sustainable design expertise.
“The concept has been in development over the past couple of years in between our main design projects,”said Jason Thawley. “We’ve looked carefully at the growing popularity in yurt and tipi camping in the UK and the other amazing structures that have come into play over the past few years and wanted to offer our own take on low impact shelters.”
There’s a whole set of necessary engineering specs that go into making a Tree Tent. It has to be windproof, waterproof, structurally sound — pretty much all the requirements of an earthbound tent, but this time in spades. After all, it’s off the ground (and you want it to stay that way). There are also some particular and practical questions that need to be addressed. As it says on the Luminair FAQ page — “what if you want to go for a wee?” Well, the tent may come built complete with a log burner (and presumably there are plenty of logs to be sourced in the immediate vicinity), but the logistics of having a toilet in a tent in a tree just don’t stack up. So, you will have to climb down and do what comes naturally elsewhere.
How do you get in? Well, it’s your choice. The team can build a spiral staircase up the trunk, a rope walkway or a ladder, depending on requirements. Or you can climb up if it’s not too high, though that may be the not-too-popular ‘Tarzan’ option that’s a step (or handhold) too far.
And of course, how does it stay up there? Here’s the technical bit:
“We use a ‘Garnier Limb’ system for more permanent set-ups. This is a special bolt that screws into the tree and causes minimal damage and disruption to the delicate cambium layer surrounding the trunk. We then clip our suspension lines to eyelets on the end of these bolts. The Tree Tents are best suspended between 2 – 4 trees with added stabilisation lines to keep movement to a minimum though suspension from a single, strong branch/limb is also possible. For less permanent installations wide, padded load straps are used though these are not recommended for installs over 12 months without re-adjustment,” according to the Luminair website.
Think of it as a permanent structure — a yurt, though up a tree. Plus, the Tree Tent is sustainable, is made from recycled materials, and uses natural recyclable materials. It’s covered in 100-percent cotton canvas, and its outer frame is constructed from locally sourced ash. The tent has 100-percent wool thermal liners for insulation. The inner structure is made from 100-percent recyclable aluminum, which is strong, lightweight and requires no glues or resins that may not be eco-friendly. All wood used, including the plywood on the floor, is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
So, is it safe? After all, you’re up a tree, and there’s a fire in a canvas tent! Well, this is taken care of — the fire is surrounded by heat-proof metal plates and the flue is insulated. Plus, as previously mentioned, the canvas is fire-proofed. In other words, while care should always be taken when using a fire, safety has been a major factor throughout in the tent’s design and construction.
However, if you still prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, the Tree Tent can be just a tent— with ground-based versions available from Luminair, at upwards of £6,500 + VAT.