I hardly dare admit it on here but our bell tent isn't really doing it for us

(66 Posts)

Slightly concerned that I'll get rubbished by the MN bell tent posse wink but our 4m bell tent isn't really working out for us. We're a family of 5 and yes, I know we probably should have gone for 5m straight up but I wasn't thinking straight when we bought it (as a family of 4).

But we have got back from 10 days camping in France and found it really frustrating not having enough space & trying to get it vaguely organised enough to find anything. Thanks goodness the weather was fab but I can't imagine how tricky it would have been had it rained. Anyway we had always intended to upgrade to a 5m but now we're not so sure. I think we need a tent with rooms or certainly a divide between sleeping & living. Of course this is nothing to do with all the Dutch tents we saw at the campsite blush.
But what tents would you recommend as an alternative - we still want a canvas tent & something as easy to put up as possible.

Coconutty Thu 31-Jul-14 09:47:56

I'm not impressed with my friend's bell tent so you're not alone. Sorry can't recommend another one but just wanted to tell you that!

wanttosinglikemarycoughlan Thu 31-Jul-14 09:51:23

I think they are nicer to look at than to use <unhelpful>

Wolfiefan Thu 31-Jul-14 09:55:48

They do look lovely. My kids like having their own rooms. It wouldn't work for us.

Slubberdegullion Thu 31-Jul-14 10:00:46

As you've seen some Dutch Pyramids. I will say no more grin

What about a straight forward frame tent? Loads to be had on eBay. The Cabanon Aruba or Espace would suit your family's needs. All have separate bedrooms and a big living space with the push out kitchen area.

Great canvas tents, bombproof with loads of room.

Big buggers though.

Slubberdegullion Thu 31-Jul-14 10:02:37

Outwell do a range of 100% cotton tents, in a traditional tunnel tent set up. ££££ though.

Obelink also have a great selection of canvas tents, pyramide, bungalow and tunnel.

Pancakeflipper Thu 31-Jul-14 10:05:08

My DB said it worked for him before children. Worked ok with 1 child. Then he said he had the holiday from hell in one when second child came so he's also rethinking tents.

pootlebug Thu 31-Jul-14 10:08:05

I guess it depends where your priorities lie in terms of canvas / easy to put up / separate spaces / price etc.

We have a 5m bell tent for 5 of us. I'm really happy with it. But we are never going to have the sort of space to organise everything that our friends with a colossal 6-man Outwell have with a wardrobe cupboard, 2 bedrooms, big living area, big covered awning area etc. On the other hand theirs takes 2 people to erect it, whereas I can do ours on my own, and I prefer the airiness of the bell and its canvas.

Once you get a canvas tent with separate sleeping areas big enough for 5 you're talking a pretty big tent. We all sleep in a line along the back half of our 5m bell tent so I guess we could use an inner tent for that, if you can open the central partition to have one big sleeping area. Would that be any better?

Have you had a browse on obelink.nl? Dutch site with loads and loads of tents....see if anything there takes your fancy.

On the upside, bell tents seem to hold value pretty well, so you shouldn't lose out too badly on selling on your 4m.

pootlebug Thu 31-Jul-14 10:09:02

Cross posted with lots of people!

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Thu 31-Jul-14 10:10:18

You can get inner tents for bell tents so you can have rooms. If I ever upgrade my 3m bell tent to a larger one then I'll be getting an inner tent for the "bedroom".

I love my bell tent, but I do wish I'd bought a bigger one at the very least so that dh and I can stand up in it!

pootlebug Thu 31-Jul-14 10:10:29

Yes I like the look of the palamos very much. Would need to research it a bit more esp how easy it is to put up.
Slubber I saw some de Waards at the campsite & then looked them up when we got back shock you lucky woman smile

Will check out the suggestions, thanks

Hakluyt Thu 31-Jul-14 10:32:20

We have a lovely tentipi that we use for all 4 of us for one or two nights. But the children have a little tipi each which we pitch if we're staying in one place for longer. Then we use the tentipi for a living space and Dp and my bedroom, and the children have a bedroom each.

Looks really gorgeous- like a tipi and its babies!

CampingClaire Thu 31-Jul-14 11:26:54

When ours were small we had a variety Outwell tents (Hartford - hated pitching it, Michigan - great but living area was a bit small, Maryland - bloddy marvellous but enormous...). Last year we treated ourself to a DeWaard Albatross which we love (one child left who holidays with us).
When they were small the separate space of the Outwell's definitely worked when the weather was rubbish or even just for keeping things tidy. One child's pod looked like she had exploded in it...clothes and belongings everywhere and the other one's looked like a photo shoot for Country Living with her fluffy covers and decorations!!

MinimalistMommi Thu 31-Jul-14 12:06:56

As you're already aware, you should have got a 5m bell tent, the size difference between the two is quite significant in reality. Our 5m is huge, but yes, you do need to be super organised if you don't have the inners. We don't have the inner tents for them.

SignoraStronza Thu 31-Jul-14 12:16:56

We have a large blacks constellation tent with three bedrooms. Two one end and one the other, each compartment sleeping two. We go at opposite end to the kids so we can shag so as not to disturb each other too much.

SignoraStronza Thu 31-Jul-14 12:17:08

We have a large blacks constellation tent with three bedrooms. Two one end and one the other, each compartment sleeping two. We go at opposite end to the kids so we can shag so as not to disturb each other too much.

SalomeD Thu 31-Jul-14 15:37:47

A Palamos has just popped up on eBay.

Don't think it is worth the Buy Now price of £500 when new you can buy for £530 - and he has midified the centre pole with a hacksaw.

Know what the OP means though, our 5m bell is great for weekending with friends but for a longer camp, esp if it rains i'm looking for something with windows such as a Touareg or Jamboree (still love canvas)

Mellowdramatically Thu 31-Jul-14 17:10:17

LOVE my outwell Nevada tent it has 3 double air bed fitting bedrooms plus large living space. Also bought the tent extension which comes in handy for cooking in rain and dirty shoes! Would highly recommend.

pictish Thu 31-Jul-14 19:34:13

We have a 5 metre bell for 2 adults, 1 teen and 2 kids and get along very well with it, long stay or short.
We have just ourchased a malu awning from Karma Canvas to extend the living space. Now we can cook and eat come rain or shine.

My friend has a 4 metre and yeah - it's too small.

pictish Thu 31-Jul-14 20:27:56

To be fair, I don't think bell tents are for everyone.
I don't use inner tents, and I like the low level, open plan way of living in one.
Other people might prefer a more organised, upright camp. That's understandable.

We will have to rethink when the kids get bigger I suppose.

Have been looking at future upgrades. I like the look of the DeWaard Albatross or Herring Gull...but I'd have to see one, in order to consider parting with that amount of cash. It would have to be a saver upper.

Alternatively a Canvas and Cast 5 metre bell and another smaller canvas tent for ds1 eventually. Possibly a 3 metre bell to himself. That would work well, and provide us with a small tent for overnighters as well.

Kmski Thu 31-Jul-14 21:02:34

I think I know the feeling. We have a 5m bell for a family of 4 so plenty of space. However, I thought I would not be bothered by a little bit of chaos which others mentioned but in the end I was. I am now giving it a second chance and buying an awning and windbreaks to get a nice living space outside of the tent as I really missed having some shade this hot summer ( I am not complaining). But if it still does not work I might consider other options too. Palamos 6 would be the most affordable option as I love canvas and would not want anything else now. But I am a bit worried by the fact that inners are only 190cm long. If I get a raise I might splash out on Cabanon Awaya as it has dark inners to keep light out in the morning and takes only 20 min to pitch ...or if I go really crazy then Karsten but that's probably just wishful thinking.

profpoopsnagle Thu 31-Jul-14 21:16:32

I like the look of bell tents, but they do remind me of guides. I think there is less usable space in them than you think because of the slant. I'm not that bothered by individual space but I think they are like a caravan in that the space has to be shared with sleeping/daytime and so putting beds away is the key, certainly on wetter holidays.

There are lots of lovely canvas other options out there, and not just the brands most available here- we have a Eureka tent which is a Dutch brand, and then there is Cabanon. I do like a pyramid and would like to switch (DH isn't keen) but then if I win the lottery I am buying a holtkamper kyte.

RaisingSteam Thu 31-Jul-14 21:32:28

I would have loved to try a bell tent but we are just toooo sensible. We have an Outwell and are pretty used to pitching it without a fuss by now. The thing that swung it was windows - we go to Scotland and if it's wet/midgie you can be inside the tent with the bug screens down but still see out in 3 directions and have daylight. Tents without a view out freak me.

Kmski Thu 31-Jul-14 22:21:53

Just noticed there is Cabanon Awaya 500 on ebay - used once at a good price. I wish it was a smaller one.

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