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Family tent and equipment recommendation please

(45 Posts)
TheHouseofMirth Sat 08-Jan-11 16:02:46

Having camped as a child I have decided 2011 will be the year I force DH to go camping and hopefully make him fall in love with it!

In order to improve my chances of success I want to get the tent and equipment right but things have moved on a bit in the 20 odd years since I last camped and I don't know where to start so I'd really welcome some some tent and equipment suggestions please.

We are 2 adults and 2 children and we have a small hatchback car. If my plan succeeds we'd probaly be looking at weekend camping with maybe a week in the summer.

I know DH will most enjoy camping in small sites with few facilities but he would also like to be comfortable. A tent he can stand up in is essential. Also one that will perform well in windy and rainy conditions. I'd like a spare bedroom for storing stuff.

Over to you...

Slubberdegullion Sat 08-Jan-11 17:06:02

Welcome to the camping topic TheHouseofMirth, the best topic on mn smile.

First you need to set a budget. A budget for the tent and a budget for the rest of the clobber.

Secondly you need to decide what style of tent you want, and what fabric you want it made from. Do you want the bedrooms to be next to one another or have separate pod bedrooms? The general rule of thumb when looking is to go up bto twoto get the number of births you need, so you should look for a 6 man tent. Saying that there are 4 of us and we camp perfectly happily in a 4 man.

Tents these days are either
Polyester ( cheapest, lightest easy to dry, smallest pack size but noisy and get cold/hot depending on the weather)
Canvas (expensive, heavy, big pack size, take a bit longer to dry but quiet warm/cool and smell nice)
Or polycotton which is a polestar and canvas combo, you get a share of the best and the worst of the above.

Steel poles to support the tent are strongest but heavy.

Fibreglass poles are light but break more easily

Buying a tent is all about compromises. The other thing to think about is the bigger the tent ( and the more equipment you put in it) the longer it takes to pack, pitch, strike and unpack. How long all this takes will be a major factor on how frequently you want to go away. Believe me if it takes over a hour to get the car packed and then over an hour to put tent up you will lose a lot of enthusiasm for going away for short breaks.

There are pop up tents now that you can stand up in and are...well pop up. Not sure they have separate hanging bedrooms though.

Equipment wise IMO the best thing to invest in is what you sleep ON. Nobody loves camping if they are lying awake alnight on a cold uncomfortable bed. My vote is always self inflating mats. Look at thermarests.

Then you need something to cook on, a few bits of kitchen equipment, something to out out of and with, lighting /torches, maybe a cool box.

GOOD PEGS grin and a mallet.

Sorry this is a long one. Have you seen anything you like yet. A mooch about a camping store will give you a good idea of the style of tent you like.

Slubberdegullion Sat 08-Jan-11 17:07:32

Sorry about weird typos. Am still getting to grips with this iPad.

That would be polyester not polestar and something to eat out of.

goodmanners Sat 08-Jan-11 17:13:20

There are 4 of us and we have a vango icarus i would defo recommend for weekend camping or up to a week. Go outdoors have lots on show if you have one near to you and as they have had sales on most things day by day im confident camping will rear its head soon with some good deals. We manage with an astra with all our stuff.

goodmanners Sat 08-Jan-11 17:14:00

I am dying to try a thermarest but dare not risk it in case its not as comfy as my airbed grin

Milliways Sat 08-Jan-11 17:30:19

Our Khyam WInnipeg is amazing. 5000 HH, can stand up in bedrooms and living bit, and stands up very well in high winds. We particularly love the "peep holes" in bedrooms (lie in sleeping bag & watch the world outside - like TV!)

It is not huge - but perfect for weekends. Each bedroom easily takes a double or 2 single air beds.

Can get in the sales for £115 99 winnipeg-4-dome-tent-new-2010-model-sale-sale/356/ ?gclid=CO6h9peRq6YCFVBO4QodwSQdaQ here]]

Milliways Sat 08-Jan-11 17:30:45

try again

MissQue Sat 08-Jan-11 17:36:30

Try popping to somewhere like Decathlon or Go Outdoors, they have areas of the store where there are tents set up, so you can see the size of them inside, height, width and style, that will give you a better idea of how big you will need for comfort. They will also be keen to help you find the other equipment you need, but shop around, a lot of supermarkets and Argos have cheaper camping equipment in the early summer, although I recommend not getting a budget priced tent.

Check out the Hydrostatic Head, you want over 2000 for it to resist most weather conditions, I've camped in some pretty heavy rain and haven't had a leak from my tents. If you get a gas stove, don't forget the matches grin

VivaLeBeaver Sat 08-Jan-11 17:37:19


Only 2 bedrooms, but stick the kids in the bigger bedroom and there would be space for bags of clothes in their room as well as them.

poppyboo Sat 08-Jan-11 17:57:03

goodmanners, they are seriously comfortable. I need to sleep well because I suffer from fatigue (I'm in remission from cancer) so bascially whether I slept well or not on our first proper camping trip last year was so important, it was make or break. If i didn't get enough rest, we wouldn't have gone camping again (me grumpy with DH and 2 kids=not good) So I dragged along my futon blush thinking it would be more comfy then thermarest's my 2 kids and DH had....needless to say I slept one night on the futon, slept so badly, gave that to DH, and then had the thermarest. I slept aswell as I did at home!!!!!!!!!!!! So now i need to buy one for me this year! You can make them as hard or a bit softer as you want.

FourArms Sat 08-Jan-11 18:14:02

If you'd like a copy of my kit list (it's in Excel), just send me a PM, or you can get lists on this website

goodmanners Sat 08-Jan-11 18:17:50

Does the thermarest com ein differing width and thicknbess abd are they really £80 shock.

bilblio Sat 08-Jan-11 18:20:51

House of Mirth - I have nothing to add Slubberdegullion covered it all

Goodmanners - I have an Dozer from Alpkit, very similar to a thermarest. They're as comfy as an airbed, more comfy actually because I find they support me better, but they're warm! So you don't need the extra blanket to go under you.
Also a week of camping and I only had to top it up once.
Treat yourself, you know you want to I invested in ours as a wedding gift to myself, hurried on by the fact our airbed got a puncture. Hurrah!

Slubberdegullion Sat 08-Jan-11 18:31:27

Oh good I'm glad to said that biblio. Fat airics used to be the mn self inflating mat of choice as they were cheaper than thermarests but (apparently) just as good. They changed their name a year ago and I couldn't for the life of me remember what they were called.


I'll be a thermarest girl until I hang up my delta pegs though.

Good manners it's £80 well spent. In terms of price per comfortable nights sleep over (hopefully) many years of camping it's tiny. And compared to a night on a hotel bed that you can't even take home... grin

MissQue Sat 08-Jan-11 18:34:32

Maybe I'm too heavy, but anything thinner than a proper airbed is no good for me, I end up touching the ground through them and getting very cold and uncomfortable.

Slubberdegullion Sat 08-Jan-11 18:38:48

Even on a 10cm one MissQue?

You must be very heavy of buttock wink

poppyboo Sat 08-Jan-11 18:45:51

facewest usually have good prices on thermarests, so might be worth checking out?

goodmanners Sat 08-Jan-11 18:51:10

dozers are £60 interesting.

Needanewname Sat 08-Jan-11 19:01:40

I recommend bell tents. However they are heavy and don't pack up small but take only 20 mins to put up and have a fab feel about them. You can also now get an inner so you have a separate bedroom though this is one big room rather than separate rooms for you and kids. We used to have an outwell Hartford xxl which was also fab but took over an hour to put up

Re sites I would recommend ones where you can have fires, we wouldn't go anywhere you can't have one

Have fun!

poppyboo Sat 08-Jan-11 19:12:06

you can get a thermarest basecamp mat here for £62.99
I am thinking of getting this one,

although I slep on this thermarest here (which is thinner) and had great sleep last year. We have three of these already:

The kids love them! and so did I grin

slubber I would be interested to know which thermarest you own?

poppyboo Sat 08-Jan-11 19:12:49

slep , sleep even blush

poppyboo Sat 08-Jan-11 19:16:17

I would agree with needanewname, completely in love with our bell tent we got from

quick to put up (only 1 pole) quick to take down. The tent pack is heavy though and it does needs to be dried very well after to make sure you don't get mould on your tent! So it needs TLC. I wouldn't want to camp in anything else now...huge,lots of space for kids to mess around, stays cool in hot weather, hearing rain on canvas is cosy...................

MissQue Sat 08-Jan-11 19:18:59

Thanks for reminding me Slubberdegullion blush I've tried laying on one in Go Outdoors (which is a bit embarrassing), and it just felt hard. If I could, I'd take a big memory foam mattress with me, but that would take up a bit too much space in my rucksack for Glasto grin

Slubberdegullion Sat 08-Jan-11 19:26:42

aww MissQue maybe you lay on a thin one. They are firm but I've never felt the ground through mine (and I don't have a tiny arse grin

Poppy I have the base camp regular. WISH I had pushed the boat out and bought the L now as it's quite narrow. I still love it though.

poppyboo Sat 08-Jan-11 19:37:59

well, we bought the regular size trail lite thermarests, which while being quite narrow, are still super comfy! When I buy one (soon) i will probably get large or XL just b/c i think 'why not?'! LOL

MissQue if you want to take your memory foam mattress with you, this is for you:
but you would need to save your pennies...or should I say pounds!!!! grin

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