Please recommend me a family tent that I can pitch by myself

(52 Posts)
LondonSuperTrooper Mon 12-Aug-13 16:02:21


Please help! I am looking for a family tent for 5-6 people that I can pitch by myself (on the odd occasions that my DH doesn't want to come camping with us).

I'm not keen on pop up tents as I do not think that I will be able to pack it up by myself! I absolutely love the Outwell Montana 6P but not sure about pitching it alone. I've been told to avoid fibreglass poles as they tend to snap.... I've looked at Vango airbeam but can't find any for under £550 (i like the enternity 600). I'm not keen on the bell tent as I like the separate rooms and think that bell tents can get messy very quickly.

Is it possible to find a decent sized tent that I pitch by myself? Any recommendations please?

MummyPigsFatTummy Mon 12-Aug-13 16:22:37

Was about to suggest a pop up or a bell tent until I read your post.

If you like inflatables, have you looked at Decathlon's MSH range? Although they may be pricey too.

LondonSuperTrooper Mon 12-Aug-13 18:38:50

Ahh thank you for your reply. I love the look and feel of bell tents but I think it'll be very difficult to keep tidy!

MummyPigsFatTummy Mon 12-Aug-13 20:44:25

They are difficult to keep tidy but possibly not so much if you are naturally tidy, which I am not. Some pople bring pop up storage bins or one of those camping cupboards you can get. They do help. Or even a quarter inner tent maybe to chuck everything during the day.

I do totally get why not everyone likes them though grin

LondonSuperTrooper Tue 13-Aug-13 09:28:46

Well, DH looked at the bell tents online and he told me that he wants one! confused

Where is the best place to buy one online?

LondonSuperTrooper Tue 13-Aug-13 09:29:32

I'm not looking forward to the mess..... will have to save up for the inner room thingys for next summer!

kelda Tue 13-Aug-13 09:31:52

We have a tent like this from Gelert. It's 7 person, comfortalbe for 5/6. Dh can put it up on his own, so can I if I could be bothered.

What's also good is that the outer part goes up first, convenient if it is raining.

kelda Tue 13-Aug-13 09:34:49

It's called the Gelert Cadiz 7. Main problem is that rain can come in the door are, between the bedrooms, but this wasn't really a problem for us, even in heavy rain. We used mopped it up with a towel.

TheGirlFromIpanema Tue 13-Aug-13 09:35:10

I have a hi gear caplan 5 which I bought because I can easily put it up by myself. There are ony 3 of us though, but something tunnel tent style rather than cross-over poles is much easier on ones own I found smile

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 13-Aug-13 09:44:29

A lot of people buy from Soulpad and I gather they have very good customer service.

I don't know, because we got ours from Obelink due to some sort of computer glitch which meant they shipped it to us even though they have an agreement with not to ship bells (and other canvas tents) to the UK or Ireland. The glitch was a couple of years ago but if you have time to spare you could try putting an order through on their Dutch site and see if it arrives - you will probably get a message to say they won't ship but if it does go through for any reason you can save a fair bit of cash.

Because of that restrictive agreement, I won't buy from Belltent on principle but I gather their customer service can be a bit shaky anyway and they are (or were) more expensive than Souplad.

There are other suppliers, like Boutique Camping (who sell all sorts of coloured bells as well as plain ones) and Karma Canvas, but I am afraid I know nothing about them. Hopefully someone who does will be along soon.

Don't worry too much about the mess. If you are a tidy sort of person, you will find ways of keeping it looking good. I am not which is why ours sometimes looks as if someone picked up the tent and shook it violently for a while before re-pitching it. But I still love it grin

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 13-Aug-13 09:45:09 by the way

WeAreSeven Tue 13-Aug-13 09:49:50

Oh, are tents supposed to be tidy?shock

RegainingUnconsciousness Tue 13-Aug-13 09:52:26

My mum has a Montana 4 that she can pitch herself.

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 13-Aug-13 09:52:32

Although I just looked on belltent's website out of curiosity and they are throwing in a free tea light chandelier with 5m tents at the moment so if this appeals you might want to look at them.

LondonSuperTrooper Tue 13-Aug-13 10:41:57

Thanks for the replies. I'll check out the links and suggestions at lunchtime.

I'm slowly getting excited - we are supposed to go on holiday next weekend and we still haven't booked or bought anything!!!!

LondonSuperTrooper Tue 13-Aug-13 12:21:23

I really like the soulpad ease 4000.... but its above my budget sad

Iamnormalish Tue 13-Aug-13 12:27:35

Cabanon Pyramide or Guadaloupe.

Really good quality tents that will last a lifetime. Easy to erect with just one person.

Highly recommended.

£££££££ new but because they last 20 plus years and are so solid they can be picked up in pristine condition alot cheaper secondhand.

Google the tents and read up the threads about them on UKCS.

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 13-Aug-13 12:28:10

For 5-6 people I really think you need a 5 metre if you can, especially if you would like to keep it at all tidy.

Cost-wise and practicality-wise, you might be better off going for a pegged in 5m rather than a zipped in 4m. We don't even have the pegged in version (ours is just a rubber flap on the tent you tuck under the groundsheet) and honestly, it is fine. We really don't get that many bugs and I reckon they find their way in anyway even with a SIG.

Iamnormalish Tue 13-Aug-13 12:32:10

Here is a snippet from a review about how easy the Cabanon pyramid tents are so easy to erect:

"So what is so good about the Guadeloupe? Well for starters it couldn’t be quicker or simpler to pitch. No threading poles, no fighting the wind, just peg out the sewn in groundsheet, insert the central pole, add the door and porch poles and peg out. With practice this can be done in 10 minutes, but even a novice could manage it in 20!"

Iamnormalish Tue 13-Aug-13 12:35:41

Also forgot the Cabanon Barbados

LondonSuperTrooper Tue 13-Aug-13 15:18:11

Iamnormalish thanks for the recommendations but these tents are way out of my price budget sad

DH has JUST slashed our tent budget to £250!!!! What the heck can I buy with that?!!! angry

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 13-Aug-13 15:25:41

A Vango Icarus I think (on sale in Millets and maybe elsewhere) and even a Quechua family pop up from Decathlon. Otherwise I am not sure unless you go second hand from Ebay.

WeAreSeven Tue 13-Aug-13 15:26:51

Look on the ads on
Lots of people sell really good tents very reasonably.

CoolStoryBro Tue 13-Aug-13 15:41:56

I have this

Easy peasy to put up. Except for the awning over the top, my 10yo DD can put it up by herself!

Iamnormalish Tue 13-Aug-13 16:05:01

Buy secondhand - seriously. Canvas/cotton tents are usually better with age as they have been weathered. You need to see them pitched though to know the canvas has not shrunk.

I am lover of cotton/canvas tents and have several. My DH is not a camper and does not get it soi I am always on a tight budget because he does not share my enthusiasm.

Checkout preloved, ebay and UKCS ads. You generally get more buying second hand too. Usually bits of camping kit chucked in for free.

MummyPigsFatTummy Tue 13-Aug-13 16:29:04

Or, if you really want a bell tent, consider persuading your DH to holiday in deepest Netherlands near the Obelink warehouse and pop in on your arrival and buy a 5m basic bell for the equivalent of £320 in today's money (really not that much more than £250 wink). Then enjoy your Dutch camping holiday and many future camping trips.


LondonSuperTrooper Wed 14-Aug-13 12:37:58

LOL @ Mummy There is no chance of that happening! I tried to persuade DH to go to France for the week and he said no..... and that is a much shorter drive than Netherlands.

I've found an Outwell Nevada on sale now. It's last season's colour though.... would like to get the awning but was hoping to wait till next summer before buying it.

MummyPigsFatTummy Wed 14-Aug-13 13:04:42

Oh well - it was worth a try to recruit another bell tenter. Outwells are fabulous tents though. I would love one if I had the patience to erect it.

Blu Wed 14-Aug-13 21:18:10

Decathlon have all thier tents set up, and if you go in at a not-too-busy time they will show you how to fold them, and help you, so you could experiment with doingg it by yourself before you buy?

I have a Decathlon op-up, not enormous, and fond it a doddle to fold by myself. After a few false starts, but that was stupidity, not sheer might. I should have asked them to show me how to do it.

LondonSuperTrooper Wed 14-Aug-13 22:47:39

Thanks Blu the nearest store is about 70miles away from me. I think that I'll have to pop into go outdoors and the weekend and get their advice.
I've already been told that putting the Outwell Montana on my own is practically impossible. Problem is that most of the decent tents in the sale are now out of stock sad

Blu Thu 15-Aug-13 00:31:46

Aha, sorry I was misled by the 'London ' in your name and imagining you popping along to Surrey Quays.

Good luck!

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 15-Aug-13 00:49:03

Check eBay for decathlon popups. They had a few on there when I looked today.

Flossiechops Thu 15-Aug-13 07:21:44

We have an Outwell Montana - it's a beast and there's no way you can put it up alone - with struggle with the 2 of us and rope the dc in to hold the poles whilst we pull it up. We've got erection time (ahem) to 25 mins and it's super once up! You need to get your dh on side as he is missing all the fun. We are off to France for the first time in a few days and can't wait!

nooka Thu 15-Aug-13 07:37:58

We bought an Ozark tent this summer, it takes a couple of minutes to put up I usually do it with one of the kids but I think you could probably do it alone if it wasn't windy. We also have an E-Z tent which is a bit smaller and can be put up by a pre-teen on her own. Both were pretty cheap.

But I'm not sure if either can be bought in the UK.

LondonSuperTrooper Thu 15-Aug-13 07:41:09

Blu Surrey Quays didn't come up when I searched my local stores. I'll search again - thanks.

Mummy I'm always nervous of using ebay. I got stung a few years ago and still haven't got over the trauma!

Flossie My DH will camp with us. But I would like to have the freedom to go camping with DS when is he in on call etc. Camping in France sounds great! I think we are a few years away from doing that - need to get a biger car! I hope that you have a super time.

fossil971 Thu 15-Aug-13 07:48:48

I would go for something from Decathlon or Go Outdoors. If you go for a pop-up, get them to demonstrate it and see if you can pack it down (the hard bit). Or something like a Vango Icarus. If you're on your own, camp light, it's not just putting the tent up but putting it down, lugging the bags around, packing the car which is a bit of a drag.

If you are worried about space you could always take a gazebo. How many of you actually are there?

If it turns out you love camping, maybe invest in a more heavy duty tent later.

France is great BTW- you don't need a really big tent because the weather is so nice you just sit outside all the time grin.

perfect for you

LondonSuperTrooper Thu 15-Aug-13 09:10:23

Fossil thanks for your post. I'm intending to go Go Outdoors on saturday and buy the tent that you've linked to smile

We do have a pop up gazebo and may take it with us if the weather forecast is bad. We'll be camping for a week!!!

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 15-Aug-13 09:13:56

I take your point about eBay, London. It can be hit and miss.

If Decathlon Surrey Quays or Lakeside is an option for you pop Ups are the best. We have friends who have a base seconds as a living room and then put small pop Ups at each entrance so it becomes like a sort of pod tent affair. That way if fewer of you are going you can take fewer pods. Clever but the family popups are probably easiest really.

Don't forget to measure the width against what you plan to sleep on ie my icarus500 may well fit 5 bodies in a line, but can only fit 4 camping mattresses, that's often the norm

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 15-Aug-13 09:44:18

Actually, I have just realised a family pop up won't be big enough for more than 4 on its own. You would actually be better off with a Base Seconds and three 2 or 3-man pop ups.

Or a non-pop up family tent of course. This looks quite good value, provided it comes with a groundsheet for the living area which isn't shown in the pictrure oddly: .

I don't know if you could put it up on your own though.

LondonSuperTrooper Fri 16-Aug-13 04:32:26

Thanks everyone. I've bought the Outwell Nevada M tent. I was hoping to buy it from the store on Saturday but they've sold out, so I took a chance and bought it online without seeing it first.
Many of the reviews seem to suggest that it can be pitched by 1 person so lets hope that I've struck it lucky and will be able to pitch it alone if required.
It's arriving on Tuesday and DH knows that he needs to be home early on that evening so that we can practice pitching it in the garden. I'm now getting very excited and looking forward to our first family camping trip smile We would like to go to the Isle of Wight - lets hope that I can find a decent campsite for the bank holiday week. I'm going to write a separate post about this next adventure wink
Last but not least, many thanks for all of your help and replies. It's been fab to have all if your input and suggestions x

Refoca Sat 17-Aug-13 22:32:14

Not that it helps now, and probably not big enough for you anyway, but just in case it helps anyone else...

I'm 5'1'' and can do the quechua 4.2 alone - putting up and taking down are now about 10mins each, or 5mins if I have someone helping.

Hope you find somewhere to camp and have a good break in your new tent :-)

LondonSuperTrooper Sat 17-Aug-13 23:20:11

Thanks smile
My tent arrived yesterday!!! We are going to buy some tarpaulin from b&q tomorrow and then we'll try pitching it and waterproofing before next weekend. I've been told that I must wet it and dry it 3 times! I just hope that the weather is good tomorrow so that we can pitch it without arguments.

We also went to camping world today..... Spent a small fortune on EHU, stoves, calories gas etc.... This coping marlaky is not cheap is it?!

LondonSuperTrooper Sat 17-Aug-13 23:26:10

Blooming spell checker! I meant calor gas!!

LondonSuperTrooper Sat 17-Aug-13 23:28:49

Refoca, thanks we've already got the tent now. I've been looking at the Outwell official video and pitching it seems to be very straightforward. I'm sure that in reality it's a different story altogether!!
Also, I'm a shortie too- I'm only 5ft smile

LondonSuperTrooper Mon 19-Aug-13 20:54:41

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to update the thread, especially as so many of you helped me out with your tent suggestions.
OK, so the tent was delivered on Friday afternoon and we pitched it on Sunday morning. It took my hubby and I less 25mins to put up. Bear in mind that we had to stop a couple of times to check the YouTube video.

Then we took it down and I tried pitching it by myself. It took me 25mins. It was hard work but totally doable. A bit of wind would have helped when pulling the tent up. Next time I'll open the tent door so that it'll be easier to pull up. I didn't like doing the guy ropes but hey ho.
All in all, I'm very happy with my Nevada m tent smile so much so that we 'camped' in it last night!!!
I'm really looking forward to my week of camping next week. And we are already planning another trip for the middle of September..... I think having the EHU has converted my DH!

lagoonhaze Thu 22-Aug-13 17:46:44

Brillant update. Glad it worked for you. At 5ft2 im looking for tents to pitch solo too so have been watching this thread!

How we keep our bell tent tidy.

Clothes in pillow cases that double up as scatter cushions/pillos. no suitcases. Beds made on one half, living in other half. Larder with cooker on top. Big box with lid for crokery, cutlery and pans which has baby's blanket thrown over it and it is used as an in-tent seat.

BBQ and water bottle outside.

MummyPigsFatTummy Thu 22-Aug-13 19:39:15

Great ideas Starlight. We are going away for two weeks and I was wondering what to do with clothes. Storage/scatter cushions will be perfect!

They fit better in the car too as you can just squash them into the packing gaps.

Though you have to have a tolerance for the odd crease.

MummyPigsFatTummy Fri 23-Aug-13 00:12:00

I have a very high tolerance for creases so I should be fine. Creases are generally the least of my style worries when camping. I am the woman who looked down at my feet about lunchtime the other day at eweleaze to find myself wearing crocs with black socks. A bit of a low point.

LondonSuperTrooper Fri 23-Aug-13 09:33:15

Thanks for the tips Starlight. I like the pillowcase idea for my DS & DH. For me, creased clothing will be a step too far..... I may be converetd after my camping trip next week though!

LOL @ Mummy grin

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