I should preface this with a quick note about this year’s Toy Fair. A trip to Toy Fair is usually overwhelmed by stuffed animals, cheap plastic toys, action figures, and – increasingly – loads of STEM-focused toys and products. So I went this year with something different in mind. I want kids to get outside. Get outdoors and leave all those toys behind. So I walked the aisles of Toy Fair looking for companies with that as their focus. How can we get kids outside, exploring, and having fun in nature?
The idea is pretty simple. Secure the tent to a tree (that’s large enough to support the weight), let it hang, and then hang out (literally) in the tent, suspended a few feet above the ground.
Is this a replacement for a traditional tent? Not even close. But that’s not the point. It’s intended to be used by kids in the backyard, for lounging about on the weekend, or for a unique and entertaining talking point at special events. And with those purposes in mind, it’s brilliant.
We’ve had it hanging in our backyard for a few weeks now, and the kids still love it. It’s a secret hideaway. It’s a fort. It’s home base during games of tag. It’s just fun to get inside and zip yourself in, sealing yourself off from the world for a bit.
Assembly is fairly straightforward, but it takes a while. You need to assemble the internal frame, which consists of two rings that are composed of several curved poles run through looped fabric. It’s not the quickest or easiest thing to put together, so I’m not sure how realistic it would be to take it apart, bring it to the woods, and put it back together. If you get good at it, maybe, but my guess is that most people will just hang this in place and leave it.
Assembled, the diameter of the bottom frame is about 4.5 feet, so it’s not incredibly practical to fit in most cars. It’ll have to be taken apart if you want to bring it with you.
I should also mention that rope is not included. You’ll have to buy it separately. The manual recommends synthetic rope that is rated with a breaking strength of at least 1,500 pounds (680 kg). I picked up some 11-mil static climbing rope, which was probably overkill. How much rope you need depends entirely on where you’ll be hanging it from. It needs to be anchored around the trunk of the tree, passed over the branch where the TreePod will hang, and tied to the branch with a clove hitch. When hung correctly, the treehouse is strong enough to support 500 pounds.
TreePod makes a standalone frame for those of you without a suitable tree. The footprint is a bit larger, but it’s still strong enough to support 500 pounds.
The TreePod itself won’t be that high off the ground. It’s recommended to be no more than 4 feet off the ground and attached to the tree no more than 10 feet up. In other words, this is not an “extreme” tent meant to dangle over cliffs and canyons.
For what it is – not a traditional tent replacement or something you’d realistically carry with you while camping – the TreePod is great fun. If you have a suitable tree in your backyard (or someplace else nearby where you can safely hang it), this is the stuff magical elementary school summers are made of.