The Outdoorsman

The Tree Tent: An Offbeat Approach to Camping in the Woods

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter January Outdoor Living Newsletter

What does camping mean to you?

The word "camping" has different meanings for different people. For RVers, it involves rigging an RV to simulate the comforts of home and renting a site at an RV park or resort. For weekend campers, it could be pitching a tent at a campsite or roughing it out in a cabin in the woods. For the extreme outdoor enthusiast, it's not camping unless one gets lost on purpose in the middle of nowhere and becomes isolated from anything that smells of the city.

So, what does camping mean to you? And if you were given the chance, would you camp in a sphere suspended some distance up the trees in the middle of the woods?

Camping in a sphere suspended up among the trees is an opportunity you'll get when you camp inside a Tree Tent. The Tree Tent is a spherical structure designed by Jason Thawley, an engineer and founder of the UK-based design studio Luminair.

What is the Tree Tent?

Think of the Tree Tent as a tree house. Unlike a regular tree house, though, the Tree Tent has a handmade, steam-bent frame made of green ash. It has an aluminum frame and is suspended from trees using strong but lightweight Marlow Dyneema rope. The shell is made of thermal-lined canvas made of 100% cotton, tightly and densely woven, water-repellant, and proofed against mold, mildew and rot.

The Tree Tent can fit two adults. Inside you will find seating that transforms into beds, a woodstove, a mess unit consisting of a sink and a single gas burner, and a multipurpose table. It has an under-floor storage unit that can be accessed through a hatch on the floor. Other accessories include solar electric kits, storage kits for fresh- and wastewater, fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide alarms, LED lighting kits, and woolen blankets. Access to the Tree Tent can be done using a ladder or a staircase wrapped around the nearest tree.

The most distinct characteristic of the Tree Tent is its spherical shape. This shape allows the structure to blend into its ideal woodsy surroundings. It also lets the water slide along the tent's sides when it rains; it even collects rainwater for use when camping.

A Sustainable Camping Structure

One of the main draws of the Tree Tent is it is highly sustainable. All the materials making up its structure is either recycled or recyclable. The green ash making up the frame is locally sourced in Suffolk, UK where the Luminair bending workshop is located. Each tree felled in making the frame is documented and replaced. The aluminum parts of the frame are recycled; moreover, they are lightweight, durable and corrosion-proof. The cotton canvas is made of natural cotton fibers. It does not contain any petroleum-based materials, which are more susceptible to ultraviolet radiation.

If you are a campground owner or operator, the Tree Tent is an excellent way of expanding your campground without clearing more land for campsites. The Tree Tent can be suspended safely from one overhanging branch. The best setup for this structure, though, is suspending it from two to four trees to distribute the load evenly. It does not damage the trees onto which it is rigged.

Right now, the Tree Tent is available only in a number of campgrounds and private properties in the UK. If you want one, a single unit costs around £8,000 and takes four to six weeks to build onsite.

The Tree Tent is not your usual way of camping in the woods, that's for sure. So, would you camp in it?

Find out more about the Tree Tent at the Luminair website.

The Tree Tent
The Tree Tent offers a new way of camping in the woods.
Inside the Tree Tent
The bedding and woodstove inside the Tree Tent.
The Tree Tent's green ash and aluminum frame
Ultimate Nautilus features a queen-sized bed pod and leather lounge, with TV upgrade available.
The Tree Tent's interior floor plan
The Tree Tent offers many options for comfortable camping.

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