Outwell Hartford or Emperor Bell Tent?

(19 Posts)

There are 6 of us, 2 adults and 4 DC 11-4, we have a one off sum of money coming to us and have decided to invest it in camping equipment so that we can afford holidays for the next few years.

What would you all go for? Any other suggestions? We aren't too worried about weight as we will be car camping and we are getting a roof box, as you can imagine we already have a mahoosive car smile

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 04-Mar-14 16:37:32

I think the answer to this depends on the type of person you are. Are you a practical sensible sort of person or do you like collecting all sorts of pretty things which do not necessairly have a useful camping purpose? If the former, probably go for an Outwell - if the latter, you will probably be happy in your Outwell but always hanker after an Emperor.

If you think camping will be enhanced by such items as bunting, fairy lights, a tea light chandelier, cushions and throws, tablecloths and flowers on your camping table, you may be very happy in your Outwell but you are probably a bell tenter at heart.

If the thought of taking such things as bunting and tea light chandeliers within 100 miles of a camp site makes you recoil in horror, step away from the Emperor - it is not the tent for you.

I do love the idea of bunting etc, I'm just not sure I can pull it off IYSWIM. I am a practical sensible sort of person but the Bell appeals to my fiercely repressed whimsical side.

We are also thinking ahead to 3-4 years time when we will have 3 teen DDs, would they be happier with a more sectioned off sleeping space like the Outwell or would an inner for the Bell be ok?

We would be using it for weeks and weekends in the UK and maybe France or Italy next year if we could get our head around the logistics of how to get there and book sites etc.

Dribbling a bit over the Yosemite but waaaay out of budget

JourneyToThePlacentaOfTheEarth Tue 04-Mar-14 19:41:26

Are there inner sections available for bell tents? I love our (old model) Hartford and always put up bunting and fairy lights because it makes me happy:-)

Yes you can get inner sections, for the Emperor tents it looks like they don't take up 1/2 the tent as well.

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 04-Mar-14 22:44:15

The only thing about planning for teens is that you may find they would prefer to sleep in their own pup tents by then - they might even be bringing friends. So I think choose the tent you prefer for now, and they can sort themselves out when the time comes.

lalamumto3 Tue 04-Mar-14 22:52:29

Hi I agree with Mummy, I suspect they will prefer their own tents as they get older, so I would get the Bell tent you like. Then as they want a bit more privacy they can go into smaller tents.
Hope that helps

We've got the Hartford XL (wouldn't be seen dead with bunting) - a few points about it.

1. You'll never get it in a roof box, it's too heavy, it has to go in the boot and it is BIG.
2. The porch is tiny relative to the size of the tent, not much good for sitting under if it's raining and not much use for storing all the outdoor stuff (table and chairs, waterproofs, wellies etc).
3. The middle room is spacious, but not very practical for storage as the walls are curved and mostly taken up with the entries into the sleeping pods, it's hard to keep tidy.
4. It takes best part of an hour to put up and take down with two adults, we CBA with it for a weekend and use a smaller tent for that (two adults and two children).
5. It has a very big footprint and you need to check pitch sizes whenever you book and sometimes have to pay more for an extra large pitch.

Hmm I am definitely leaning more towards the emperor, DH will never cope with an hour to put up a tent, he wanted an inflatable smile

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 05-Mar-14 09:57:27

Oh actually I have just looked at what a Hartford actually is (I assumed it was a tunnel tent like a lot of Outwells). But no, it is a spaceship tent.

If your DH wanted an inflatable to avoid time pitching DO NOT under any circumstances subject him (or yourself) to the Hartford XL/XXL or whatever! That style of tent takes FOREVER to pitch and is really confusing the first time (bitter voice of someone else's experience).

We have a regular bell. It now takes us 15 minutes tops to pitch it. Our friend's Outwell tunnel takes them about 45 minutes when he pitches it by himself although I think we got it down to about 20 when a group of us pitched in. One of those Hartford-style tents takes an hour absolute minimum and is probably the single most common cause of divorce for unreasonable (or actually entirely reasonable but unpleasant) behaviour. Probably brilliant for a fortnight - for a weekend, you spend longer pitching and striking than enjoying yourself and that has got to be a deal breaker.

The Emperor will no doubt take longer than a regular bell but I think is still realistic for weekends and longer breaks. If you decide against it for any reason, get a tunnel - with bedrooms at opposite ends if you don't want to all sleep next to each other.

We borrowed a friends tunnel tent last year and it was simple enough to put up, took us about 20-25 minutes but he still nearly had a tantrum. Normally he's pretty chilled out but because he didn't understand what he was doing and it was a bit alien to him he was really stressed.

So definitely not a Hartford then, I'm not ready to be a single parent again smile

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 05-Mar-14 10:35:55

Maybe you should consider an inflatable MsInga, if 20 minutes was too much! Although if Emperors are anything like regular bells, putting them up is far more straightforward and obvious than more modern tent designs.

We have just invested in our first tunnel - a Vango Palena - having been dedicated to pop ups and bells only up to now. It will be interesting to see how well we get on putting it up. Just in case it has any effect on your thinking, one of the reasons we have gone for a tunnel is that we find that sitting in a bell tent at night or in rainy weather can be a bit isolating as you don't have any windows. Thus, we tend to sit out under a tarp or event shelter. Sometimes though, you want the warmth of a tent. The Emperor may have a larger door (or doors) than a bell so it might be less of an issue, but it is something which it might be worth considering before you invest.

(We are keeping our bell btw, for festivals and weekends where we know we will have good weather).

We thought we'd probably get a tarp as well for that reason, but we are quite fair weather campers blush

He'll be ok I think, we went twice and the second time he was more relaxed about setting up and taking down. I think a tent that takes an hour to put up would finish him off.

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 05-Mar-14 10:52:50

I don't blame him - over-complicated tents take all the fun out of camping.

I was also wondering about those pop up tents that you can join together, does anyone know anything bout them? I just wondered if they would be more flexible?

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 05-Mar-14 15:03:10

You can get them at Decathlon. Some of our friends bought a Quechua Base Full a few years ago and three small pop up tents to go at three of the four entrances to the Base. They sleep in the little pop ups and use the base as a living room. It effectively creates a Hartford-style tent arrangement without the hassle. You do have to be sure you have room for all the pop up tents in your car though - they come in discs and Bases particularly are quite large.

Unfortunately, the Base Full has been discontinued by Decathlon but you can still get them on Ebay from time to time. Decathlon still do a Base but it doesn't have the sort of large awning bits which completely cover the entrances to the little pop ups which the Base Full used to.

Otherwise, you could get one of their family pop up tents (Seconds 4.2 range I think). They are vis a vis style and you could add a base in front of the entrance for extra living space maybe?

Worth looking at Decathlon's website anyway. They also do a similar sort of join-together arrangement for inflatable tents - the MSH range I think.

gardenfeature Sat 08-Mar-14 06:55:24

I have an Hartford Outwell but have become a devout convert to Quechua pop up tents. I still love the Outwell - the quality is great but it doesn't come down from the attic anymore. Having said that, if we were going for a long holiday then I would consider it. Have you also looked at the Montana or any of their other styles? We use our Quechuas more for long weekends so they need to go up and down quickly.

If I were you, I would go to Decathlon and have a good look at the Quechua tents. The discontinued Base Full is a great idea if you can find one on ebay. But I do wonder if it's more for weekends and that for a week or fortnight away you might need something more sturdy. Have a look at the ukcampsites website for more advice. I would also go and look at other shops such as Go Outdoors.

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