Bell tent for weekend camping (and beyond??)

(30 Posts)
SparkyUK Fri 19-Jul-13 12:33:43

So, following on from my other thread about needing a new weekend tent, how do the bell-tenters feel about weekending in their bell? Is it overkill? My DH has been hinting about trading in our Vango for a bell (but that is typical for him - he is all about style over functionality. I'm not saying the bell is functional, but I need to do a proper look at whether it will fit our needs.)

I feel like a 4 meter tent would be fine for the weekend (and baker + ball have them very inexpensive at the moment -- anyone with experience of them) but worry about longer than that. We did do a week in the 4.1 seconds and it was fine - larger would have been nice. We are only me, DH and two DSs (2.5 and 4.5) But do people find ducking to get in and out a real pain though? How would you arrange 4 SIMS?

The 5 meter would defintiely suit us a week-long tent and seems to have so many benefits space and height wise (I could stand up even at the sides!), but is it overkill for a weekend? It obviously costs a lot more, so would definitely need to trade in my beloved vango, I'm also concerned about the weight. I really want something I can manage myself as currently I find the vango a struggle.

shirazplease Fri 19-Jul-13 13:01:10

We have a 5m ZIG and use it for weekend camping. There's 2 DDs (6 and 17 months) I tend to pick biggest DD up from school and then head off. DH tends to join us when he can drag himself away from his desk, so about 8ish. Pitching is fine, although, admittedly I've never had to do it alone as people have always been dashing to help.

Don't find it overkill at all, and all the bunting and fairy lights come too, even if for just 2 nights smile

TheRealMBJ Fri 19-Jul-13 18:06:43

We've only done weekend camping in our 5m ZIG so far. Not overkill at all. I am an aspiring glamper while DH is more minimalist, so we don't have the sheepskins and chandeliers etc (yet)

SparkyUK Sat 20-Jul-13 11:37:09

Do you find it hard work hoisting up the 5 meter tent or getting it in and out the car? I was thinking if I kept the ground sheet and pole seperate from the actual tent, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I know I'm sounding wimpy, I just find having to lean on DH for things frustrating at the moment. (Not that he's not fab, but I want to be able to do things myself!)

shirazplease Sat 20-Jul-13 12:41:46

Have a look at this thread. I posted it a while ago before I took the kids camping alone.

Lots of useful tips.

TobyLerone Sun 21-Jul-13 07:39:28

We do weekends in our 5m bell all the time. It's dead easy to pitch and there's so much room. It fits me, DH, DS13 & DD12 with a double airbed and 2 singles really easily. Last year we took my niece (also 12) and the DC all had proper camp beds and there was still loads of room.

TobyLerone Sun 21-Jul-13 07:41:04

Oh, and sometimes we take it away for the weekend just me and DH, and it's still not overkill!

MinimalistMommi Sun 21-Jul-13 07:43:38

Any hints on cutting down on camping equipment for weekend camping? For a short spell of time we would like to go more minimal!

issyocean Sun 21-Jul-13 14:43:05

I quite often take my dd away for a weekend or even just one night in the bell.It takes 15mins for us to pitch and she is only six.
It can however take several hours to arrange all our sumptuous glamping goodies confused

SparkyUK Sun 21-Jul-13 14:46:05

Is everyone here a 5-meter beller, or can anyone advise on the 4-meter one? In particular, how would you arrange 4 SIMs? I'm put off by the weight of the 5 meter one, but do think the amount of space would be rather glorious.

issyocean Sun 21-Jul-13 14:58:37

I have a 4m one precisely so that I can manage it one my own however it is plenty big enough when H joins us and D brings a cousin.

I would put 2 sims next to each other on either side of the pole and stack them on top of each other during the day.

Levantine Sun 21-Jul-13 15:13:41

I don't think a 4 metre is big enough - we've got one, with children of similair ages and we have outgrown it really. It depends, if you really want to use it just for weekends, in decent weather then fine, but for bad weather or long hols it is just too small.

TobyLerone Sun 21-Jul-13 15:21:28

Is there a huge difference in weight? I can't get ours in the loft by myself, but I can get it in and out of the car and put it up alone. I don't think it's worth getting a 4m one, personally.

MinimalistMommi Sun 21-Jul-13 15:46:18

5m one is heavy, we have one, but you can't beat the space once pitched. It is a pain to air off and pack away...I'm not sure i could do it simply for a weekend? It's so big, the canvas is quite a lot to deal with so the least number of nights we have camped in it is about three, to make the hassle factor seem 'worth it'. Saying that, I would never not camp in my bell tent. But realistically, the aftercare is a bit of a faff for a weekend?

SalIAm Sun 21-Jul-13 17:10:13

We mostly camp weekends only, even overnighters on occasion, and always take the bell.

For 4 people I'd go for a 5m. Buy one with a zig and store the groundsheet and canvas in separate bags to help with weight if you're concerned about that.

We've got a 4m and I really wish we'd have gone for a 5m instead. 1m diff doesn't sound much, but it makes a big difference once you're more than 2. Also more standing room due to sloping.

Either way, I'd highly recommend a bell. I love ours.

MinimalistMommi Sun 21-Jul-13 17:41:27

Sal, maybe it's more of a faff for us as we have to squeeze it back into its original bag so we can fit it in car. If we kept it in bags it would make it so much easier...

SalIAm Sun 21-Jul-13 21:19:21

I think you can buy an extra canvas bag at Soulpad, but I have no idea if stuffing it in separately will be just as small (together) as cramming it in same bag. Theoretically it should, but in practice...

Roof box? wink

hz Mon 22-Jul-13 09:22:51

I used to use a five meter bell tent for an outdoor playgroup I ran once a week in a local park. This meant putting it up just for a few hours - if I can manage that pretty sure you can manage a couple of nights! Had to carry bell tent from car park to park too - top tip keeps poles and ground sheet seperate then it is easy to manage.

MinimalistMommi Mon 22-Jul-13 09:38:12

hz I think that is where we have been going wrong, not keeping it separate.

SparkyUK Mon 22-Jul-13 14:09:50

HZ, that sounds amazing. I want to come! Our play groups are all in pretty uninspired places (though not complaining - the leaders manage to make them magical for the kids anyhow!) I do keep trying to think of alternate uses. Like maybe for the kids birthday parties?? (We have a large-for-London garden that would be great for birthday parties except the dates are in early winter.) Anyway, 5 meter tent seems to be the consensus. Am selling some things on ebay so if I do well, then I will buy the tent and get out my hand weights ;)

In terms of features, I'd like to get a ZIG, but what else shoudl I be looking for? Do you think mosquito mesh door way is necessary - does that come as standard these days?

hz Mon 22-Jul-13 14:37:11

Sparkyuk Yes, I used it for my daughter's 7th b'day party. 8 girls, in park, it rained but we were perfectly happy crafting and munching in the tent! Then donned coats for outdoor treasure hunt around the totally deserted park - felt like we had the biggest back garden ever!

SparkyUK Mon 22-Jul-13 15:29:23

Love that! It now dawns on me that perhaps the reason DH was so keen was for military re-enactment play with his friends. not really. I don't think. eek!

shirazplease Mon 22-Jul-13 18:30:15

oooh HZ questions about the party!

What time of the year was it? DD will be 7 on 5 March, and she'd LOVE a girly party like that! But surely March will be a bit chilly? cause there's no electric hookup in the park for my fan heater

hz Mon 22-Jul-13 18:49:09

Shiraz It was July. Last year - when it was rainy and cold. Might be a bit chilly in March - unless it is randomly freakishly warm. Who can say! Unless you can do it in your garden or a friend's garden with access to electricity?

shirazplease Mon 22-Jul-13 22:05:09

garden is not impossible.....although March is just too early. How awful would it be to have a bunch of shivering girls at a birthday party?!

#worstpartyever

SparkyUK Tue 20-Aug-13 13:55:48

Update, because I'm still so excited. I ordered a 5 meter bell from Karma Canvas last week and only got around to pitching it last night. It is fab and I sort of want to move in smile

It took us just over 20 minutes, going at a leisurely pace. And that included work we won't have to do next time (tieing the guy ropes on). And it was just less stressful than pitching the other tents as it is a no-brainer really. I felt like with my other tents I always had to remember the best way to get them up.

Anyway, Karma Canvas were great. Super helpful with all my questions and emails. And the Karma Canvas ZIG comes with a mesh door which I think will come in handy.

Off to find last minute camp site where there are isn't rain expected saturday.

shirazplease Wed 21-Aug-13 21:45:12

Hurrah Sparky!

We're just back after almost 3 weeks in our 5m Bell Tent. Was amazing. Wasn't at all fed up of it by the end.

Agreed with the easy pitching. Bell tents are good for your marriage / relationship!

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 21-Aug-13 22:46:47

Missed this thread while away but really glad to hear you got your bell tent Sparky. I also agree a 5m is a must once you are more than a couple (and I have had a 4m and a 5m). I was in Eweleaze this weekend and put up and took down the tent almost on my own (I had help with putting in pegs and checking the pole was upright but that was about it) and I am only 5'4" if that is any help.

We keep everything in the one bag but that does make it a lot heavier than when we used to keep the groundsheet and poles separate so doing that is an option for when you are on your own.

V jealous of your mesh door - we often end up with lots of bugs at the apex of the tent which would be avoided by having one so a good call that, I think.

We also do single nights, weekends and longer trips in the bell and to be honest it is as easy and quick as a family pop up when you are used to it.

Have a great time at the weekend grin

shirazplease Wed 21-Aug-13 22:53:28

MPFT - tip for bugs in the apex:

Drink the best part of a bottle of cheap wine.

Take large beach towel

Open the door

Dance wildly with towel

Wasps / mosquitoes / flies all drop dead laughing disappear in fear!

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 22-Aug-13 00:14:15

grinshiraz. I will try that in France. Should earn me the title of mad British camper of the season with a bit of luck. The wine drinking part will be no problem at least!

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