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Bushcraft

Simon of Tier Gear Tasmania posted this stunning capture by M. Coss of a bushcrafted tensahedron hammock stand under a massive chalcedony overhang, amid giant tree ferns, in front of a marsupial tiger’s cave lair.

Tensa4 offers a degree of portability beyond what people can easily make for themselves, but portability isn’t always important. We love that the basic design is at once non-obvious and simplicity itself, within reach of anybody with a machete, some rope, and a few minutes. Of course, leave-no-trace camping ethics preclude chopping down poles on site, just as they may preclude hanging from delicate trees. In this case, the culled vegetation was the invasive weed Large Leaf Privet.

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Hammock vs. tent

This fun video is making the rounds. OK, it might not be completely fair:

Hammocks are easy to love, but it’s a rare hammock camper who’s never had trouble finding just the right trees in just the right place. It’s this uncertainty that compels many hammockers to keep a tent in reserve, and discourages many tenters from even getting started with hammocks, especially outside of heavily wooded regions. We aim to change this.

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Boundary Waters

Customer JSBar shared some photos of our kayak-friendly Tensa4 hammock stand in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Too good not to share!

Yes, plenty of trees around, but the stand lets you pick your spot, even moving it easily to suit wind, sun, or viewpoint conditions. JS noted the welcome absence of sway from the high winds in the trees.

Tensa4’s low-tension anchoring requirements let it work in shallow soil over bedrock. Even a big rock is often enough.

Also works without a tarp. Otherwise you might confuse it with a tent on stilts.
Prêt-à-portage
Porch mode with a paddle
Nice to be off the ground. Winter cometh. Thanks to the recent invention of the underquilt, the ancient, elegant sleeping technology of the Taino and other Native Americans of the tropics now works even in arctic zones.
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Tensa4 is shipping again

After what felt like ages awaiting receipt of our now factory-finished tube sets, yesterday we got them. The last 500 miles was the slowest. Cheryl finally rented a truck to fetch the shipment from the local freight terminal rather than wait another 3 days. Within an hour of cracking the boxes, we began shipping backorders. It doesn’t look too glamorous, but it’s glorious to us, and we hope soon to you too!

This is a milestone for our company: having more product on hand than we have orders. We have now ended the “deposit and wait” model to get a Tensa4 hammock stand. You can now order one the normal way, and expect shipping without any delay for the manufacturing to catch up. I mean, right after we finish clearing backorders, but that’s going fast.

We’ve also dropped the price a whole $5 to $295, but no longer include “free” shipping, which would put in-person sales at some disadvantage. Shipping is pretty cheap in the US via USPS flat rate: $20.

There’ll be more news to drop soon.

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Life’s a beach?

Customer Alan Smith sends video with the message: “This mindful moment was brought to you by the Tensa Outdoor Tensa4 hammock stand, Warbonnet Blackbird, and the Orange Screw which held my 250 pounds while screwed into the sand even after gently shaking, wiggling, swaying, and bouncing.”

The Orange Screw he mentions comes bundled with our stand. Made in Washington state of recycled polycarbonate, the Orange Screw is the best all-around ground anchor we’ve tested. Some less expensive anchors hold as well in sand or mud, but can’t be driven into harder ground. Some anchors can be pounded into very hard ground, but those don’t hold well in loose stuff at all.

When the ground is too hard to drive in an Orange Screw, we’ve found that thin nail or shepherd’s hook tarp stakes are enough to hold up the Tensa4, where the anchoring is necessary only to maintain the stand’s balance, not to bear the weight of the user.

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We’ve been Shugged!

Shug Emery is well-known and loved in hammock circles for his informative, entertaining videos. Shug is a professional clown by trade, obviously a perfect line of work for this many-talented man. We were excited when he bought one of the first hundred stands we made, but kind of hoped he’d hold off on any review until we could get him a sample of the improved version we’re now projecting to be able to ship from late September. He did.

This is Shug’s first look at the Tensa4:

Have a look around Shug’s Youtube channel if you haven’t already. One of my favorites is his account of hammock camping at -40F°. Which happens to be -40C°, as well. That’s the point that his thermometer wouldn’t show any lower; maybe it was 2 Kelvin.

Thanks Shug!

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Big changes for the better

We started Tensa Outdoor without a crowdfunding or other capital push, instead bootstrapping to refine the products as we went, testing the market with a build-to-order model. We (well, Cheryl) have been building each Tensa stand with hand and home shop tools from small lots of raw materials purchased mostly at consumer prices. You read that right: no fat markup. However romantic, this has been a huge effort alongside real day jobs, frankly not sustainable either as a business or a hobby.

This phase of our company is now over. For the next several weeks, we’re not shipping stands. We are waiting for our first factory order of custom-made tubing to be finished and delivered. In the hiatus, we’ll build up stocks of the other necessary components, revise documentation, and possibly sign up some dealers.

We estimate, but cannot promise, that orders placed in the interim will ship before the end of September. As before, we will fulfill orders in order of deposits placed. Once we fulfill backorders and have ample stock on hand, we will end the “deposit and wait” model, and sell product normally.

With the shift to custom-made tubing, today we announce some major improvements to the Tensa line, sample quantities of which have been quietly trickling out to customers for a few weeks.

Keyed tubing

First-generation Tensa stands used round drawn telescopic tubing. Readily available from specialist industrial suppliers, and having a better stiffness to weight ratio than other shapes, round tubing has done the job. But round tubes rotate freely within one another. This has been an annoyance. It has meant that extending the tubes to engage the spring buttons has required careful visual alignment, dozens of little “hunts” each time you set up the stand. While not difficult, it’s slow and prone to accidental disassembly when buttons drift out of alignment with their engagement holes.

This is over. Tensa stands now use custom-made keyed tubing, meaning manual alignment is no longer necessary. Just pull the collapsed assemblies to extend, and all the buttons pop into place. The keys are subtle and curviform, unique to each tube size, preserving nearly all the favorable stiffness to weight characteristics of round tubing. This one change knocks a few whole minutes off setup time!

Anodizing

First-generation Tensa stands used raw aluminum tubes, hand polished and waxed to remove mill marks and provide corrosion protection. This is both labor intensive and not very durable anyway. After the wax wears off, the tubes can blacken hands, and the surface of the metal is naturally soft, so it scratches pretty easily.

Anodizing is the best way to finish aluminum. By running electric current through the tubes as they are immersed in an acid bath, a smooth hard oxide layer builds on the surface, protecting the underlying metal from scratches and corrosion. Early on, we got lots of quotations for anodizing all 28 tubes of a Tensa4 stand. All exceeded the already high cost of the tubing itself.

By working our way higher up the supply chain to custom-made tubing, we finally got to a tolerable price point for anodizing. We chose a bright clear finish instead of colors, since colors often fade in sunlight, and scratches look worse than on clear finishes. We think it looks great, and hope you agree.

Head tether

While it isn’t necessary to guy both ends of a Tensa4 stand, enough of our customers prefer to do so that we’re now bundling a second, head end tether line and anchor. It’s deliberately lighter duty and stretchy to encourage users to set up their stands with proper reliance on a higher foot end, but it helps assure that odd weight shifts, gusts of wind, or groggy wee-hour happenings don’t result in a fly-trapped stand.

I got a first-generation stand and wish I’d waited!

To our early adopter customers and beta testers: thank you. Your purchases and kind words, private and public, gave us the confidence and revenue necessary to pursue these improvements. If you bought one of our early stands or were in our beta test program, we’re offering you a new stand at $100 off the regular price. Offer expires 31 December 2018.

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About Tensa Outdoor

We are two people who love camping, who prefer hammocks to sleeping on the ground. We’re known on Hammock Forums as Raftingtigger and Latherdome. One of us has slept nightly in a hammock at home for five years, and the other has pitched hammocks while trekking above the treeline, in desert canyons, and once underwater scuba diving. Stubborn and inventive, we’ve each come up with novel ways to hang hammocks when no trees are available.

We formed Tensa Outdoor when we saw that we could improve our stands by using the same materials, joining them into a modular system. The four-pole Tensa4 is the lightest and most compact hammock stand that works anywhere, even indoors on top of a twin bed. It packs easily in hand luggage or on a bike. Tensa Solo is a one or two-pole stand that’s even smaller and lighter, backpack-friendly, and works wherever strong ground anchoring is feasible. Both work with tarps, and are compatible with full-size gathered-end and some bridge hammocks.

Our products make hammocks reliably usable, helping people everywhere rest and sleep in unmatched comfort while traveling, for leisure, or at home as a bed.

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What happened to the Tensa2?

As we have expanded our product line it was apparent that our naming schema was inconsistent and causing confusion on what the stand really was and what its function was. The major part of this confusion was with the Tensa2 single pole (each side) support. As a result of this we have come up with a consistent way of naming our products.

Another issue is the product transition from only offered at TiggzCraftworkz.com to a Tensa Outdoor product. Cheryl is the solo owner of TiggzCraftworkz and both Cheryl and Todd own Tensa Outdoor. The goal is to eventually transfer all the hammock related TCW items into Tensa Outdoor products. The products themselves have not changed.

TCW has offered the NoGround series, plus a variety of support items such as lines and anchors. The 2 stands are the NG Trekking, a backpackable set of purpose built trekking poles and hammock extensions and trussing to support up to 250 pounds. This is the lightest weight system we offer. Currently this is only available through TiggzCraftworkz.com

TCW has also offered the NG CarCamp tele. This is a light weight 5-section telescoping hammock support that needs no truss lines. Like the Trekking it requires 2 strong anchors per pole, and 2 poles are needed to fully support a hammock without other supports (tree, post, etc). It is almost as light as the Trekking, but all of it would go into your pack. Both TCW and Tensa Outdoor currently offer this as “CarCamp” and until a few days ago “Tensa2” respectively. TCW will quit selling these when the current stock has been sold. Thereafter they will be available as the Tensa Solo at www.TensaOutdoor.com (this site).

Tensa Solo is a 5-section telescoping pole with 4 sections usable for hammock support and the 5th only for tarp support. It uses common parts from the flagship Tensa4 plus a few unique parts to the Tensa Solo. The Solo is composed of 4 of 28 sections from the Tensa4, and therefore is not practical to build a Tensa4 from the Solos.

Our new naming schema is easy to understand. Tensa is for the company. The number following Tensa is for the full 7-section struts used. Our flagship product is the Tensa4 and it consists of 4 7-segment struts. You can take 2 struts and a fixed anchor (tree, post, etc) and make a functional hammock stand. This is now referred to as a Tensa2. Neither a Tensa1 or Tensa3 has any practical use. However a Tensa7 is a stand with 7 struts that should hold 2 hammocks. I say should – we have not yet tested that. A Tensa10 (10 interlinked struts) would hold 3 hammocks, etc.

Currently the only place to get the NoGround Trekking is via TiggzCraftworkz.com

The Tensa Solo (and NG CarCamp until sold out) are available at both websites. Same product, same builder, different color guylines.

The Tensa4 is available as pre-orders on this site.

Anchors and lines and replacement parts are also available. Just ask.