But what tent should you choose? You must get this right for it is probably you biggest financial and emotional investment. Well, we’re here to help.
Your first question should concern intended use for the answer will go a long way to help make the
decision regarding the size and design of tent to purchase. Time to kick back with a cuppa for a little thought time with all concerned and find out what you aim to get out of camping. Ask how often, when and where you intend to holiday?
Once that is out of the way approach the pros and cons of a tent – don’t just go on looks. Let’s take a few examples. If you’re buying for the children’s garden sleepovers or perhaps want something simple for a music festival, then it makes sense to go for a small budget tent that is easy to pitch and takes up little space. Our Amble tents offer time-proven designs perfect for short nights away and our Easy Glamping range delivers larger simple tents with head-turning good looks for fun-loving families.
Campers wanting something a bit more feature-packed for more adventurous trips will love Go tent designs. These provide a wide choice of floorplans and styles for those on the move and are ideal for hiking, cycle camping and even touring where the small size saves boot space and the quick pitch characteristics are perfect for that gypsy lifestyle that sees you move regularly from site to site.
Family campers want a tent with more space, headroom and privacy to ensure the long-term comfort needed when staying on a pitch for their summer holiday. You can see examples in our Family tent ranges for 5 persons, 6 persons or maybe 8 persons that address slightly different camping needs and pockets. And all soak up those fantastic camping accessories that catch the eye.
External influences should also be considered when choosing a tent – especially the larger it gets. Will you need a trailer or is your car large enough to transport your tent and accessories? Have you space at home to maintain and store your camping kit? How easy is it to pitch? Have we fixed a budget? These are just a few questions that should be answered, and a practical head is called for when presented by mouth-watering tents and the prospect of an exciting holiday.
Big is not necessarily best. A huge tent may look inviting when decked out with all those accessories, but pitch times, storage, transportation, maintenance soon become issues that might restrict its use to the summer holiday. It might be wise to consider a slightly smaller tent that will encourage you to camp more at weekends or try a little touring to get the most out of your investment and leisure time. A tarp or utility tent can always be added to extend the outdoor living space when needed for that longer holiday or to meet different seasons and weather conditions.
Most answers to the above will help you decide what’s best for you. However, budget considerations are important for you want to get the best quality in all areas of design for your bucks and you should bear in mind that you normally get what you pay for when buying a tent. Yep, there’s no such thing as champagne at lemonade prices…
This does not mean you buy the most expensive tent possible but even if making a modest purchase you should check out the manufacturer’s pedigree and see if they are campers designing product for campers, or just aping leading brands, or selling a generic tent sourced off the shelf from abroad.
Remember, spending a few extra pounds on a reputable brand may significantly increase ease-of-use, safety, stability, comfort and the longevity of the tent to maximise return on your investment.
Much of a tent’s quality and construction features, like fabrics and their coatings, are hidden so now it’s time to research, research, research build and features.
The moment you start your research is the moment you start to turn desires into reality and it is worth understanding basic tent styles and design features – they do affect outdoor living.
There may be many tent styles but not all transfer easily to a larger tent. Quick pitch, domes, geodesic and semi-geodesic designs are more suitable for smaller tents, like Amble, and Go, while tunnels are often better for larger family units. There has been a resurgence of traditional tepee and bell tent designs with campers looking for something a little different for that glamping experience. Many stand up well to bad weather and a few are remarkably easy to pitch but living space that may well incorporate a centre pole and rapidly decreasing head height as you move to the tent perimeter requires a different take on camping that does not suit all.
We use the tunnel design for our larger tents. This is because it is far easier to pitch in all weathers compared to a family dome that must be raised into the wind before it can be secured. The tunnel’s quick-pitch characteristics are a real boon for family campers who may have to split their attention between pitching and looking after children.
These fall into a couple of categories. Design features enhance performance and safety, like fire-resistant fabrics, and correctly placed vents and big windows that create a light, airy interior while minimising condensation. A key feature often considered is the tent’s hydrostatic head – the point the proofing fails to keep out water. A rule of thumb states the higher it is then the better the tent, but this simplifies a complicated subject that involves the initial quality of the base fabric and how it decays with each application of a PU coating. At the end of the day, a correctly pitched tent with a 1,500mm hydrostatic head will cope with most summer conditions and you only need to consider more if you extend the camping season or aim to camp in wet climes. 2,000mm to 3,000mm should cope with all but the severest summer storms and take camping into the shoulder months.
Less important features are those that provide convenience and versatility to improve the camping experience, like storage pockets. Such features once included optional carpets and footprints, but many campers now consider them essential for they improve underfoot comfort and provide protection against wear and tear, making cleaning and maintenance easier. It is worth considering that if a low-price tent has loads of bonus features then quality and build may be compromised to meet that price.
We hope our guide will help you enjoy the buying experience even more by enabling you to focus and understand what’s on offer. Once you’ve worked out your needs and wants it is time to visit a specialist retailer (our website has a handy search engine) and shows to nose around pitched tents and talk to the experts – you will also become familiar with styles and features. Chat to any camper you meet – we’re a friendly bunch who generally love to talk about our pastime! Join Internet Communities to seek out ideas and opinions.
We’re also here to help so subscribe to our newsletter for tips and advice to help you get the most out of camping life. It’s a good way to keep up with competitions and product news −we even have tents ideal for picnics and trips to the beach!