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Oh camping experts - please come and help a novice with tent choices!

(42 Posts)
Kingsroadie Thu 07-Jul-11 18:14:16

So oh knowledgable ones - which tent brands are considered good? Outwell? Vango? Coleman?

We have one daughter (19 months) and a puppy and are considering a camping holiday this summer. We were going to go the "glamping" route but it is fairly pricey and for a week in the summer at one of the cheaper places even (£395 for a week in August which is a lot cheaper than most) we could buy a smart tent which would last a long time. I know we don't have to go in school holidays but quite wanted to go in August as my husband's work will be a bit quieter so he wouldn't be attached to his blackberry the whole time and also to get maybe a slightly better chance of good weather...

We have a tipee already which is nice but not the sturdiest and whilst good for overnight camping with just adults (sleeps 6) might not be as comfortable with a toddler and dog. Also like the idea of separate rooms so we can put the baby to bed (if we want - she will probably stay up later anyway) and we can still be in the tent without disturbing her.

If we do buy a tent I would like a big one. As I would like to have big living and storage space etc in case of bed weather etc. And to make it as nice as possible! Looking at various, incluing Coleman Coastline 8 Deluxe, A few Outwell ones and Vango ones too. Would like an 8 sleeper as we plan on having (hopefully 2 more) more children and with a dog as well I think a 6 sleeper would be too small.

Any suggestions/recommendations/considerations?
Also - when you go camping do you need all the cooking/sleeping kit etc? (When we have camped overnight before we just used blankets and duvets etc and got food out).

Thank you in advance!

Slubberdegullion Thu 07-Jul-11 18:54:30

To be honest nothing beats going to a camping store, or one of the many outdoor tent displays that spring up at this time of year, and having a mooch about yourself. Sometimes a particular tent will just call to you and the decision will be made without spending hours goggling at tents on the internet.

The brands you have listed are all good, but tbh for an 8 birth vango or outwell you are going to probably have to pay more than £400. You can get 8 births for less than that, but the quality/materials wont be as good.

Tent buying is all about compromises.

ukcs has good reviews so if you find a tent (or a few) that you like and see what people who own it have said about it. You can ask on mn too.

you don't need cooking stuff if you plan to eat out grin but that maketh an expensive, albeit light on the washing up holiday.

I would always recommend that you spend as much money as your budget allows on something decent to sleep on. Nothing worse than being cold and uncomfortable and therefore awake all night (and tired and miserable the next day). Lots of choice there too, airbeds, selfinflating mats, campbeds or good old roll mats. again a good camping shop will at the very least let you have a lie down on a sim.
Blankets/duvets fine but they take up a whole heap of space in your car. A good 3 season sleeping bag packs down much smaller and will keep you warm for the majority of uk camping holidays.


Kingsroadie Thu 07-Jul-11 23:01:31

Thanks a lot slubber - really helps. (btw what do you think the cross over is with here and the doghouse? grin)

Yes have seen that a fair few are more than £400 too - just a rough guide as to why we were debating not glamping etc.

Thing is, in London, know the few camping shops etc - they are unlikely to have massive tents erected no? So I won't really be able to see what they are like...

Also I have no idea re which materials are considered better than others etc - is ther a minimum standard you'd recommend? Ie waterproofness, fibreglass poles (aren't most those rather than aluminium unless super £?), materials? Sewn in groundsheet/bathtub style?

Thanks again...

JetLi Fri 08-Jul-11 10:00:55

Slubber speaks the very truth about a good nights sleep. Makes a world of difference, so I would agree to concentrate cash/research on that aspect especially. We had a bloody awful nights sleep recently -- DP entirely to blame -- and the following day everyone was evil tempered. Not good shit.

Youtube have some very good vids of tents, for narrowing down the field a bit. We have the Coleman Weathermaster XL for 3+ nights - paid £149 on ebay and its fab for us.

Camping is good for tent envy/research - could you stand a weekend away in the tipee as campsites are often very good places to look at all sorts of tents & other kit & most people (we've found anyway) are happy to talk shop and give you wee tours.

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 10:21:17

She speaketh the truth - love it grin oh wise camping people. I agree with good night's sleep. Weirdly we love extremely hard floors and when we have slept in the tipee - on a blanket and duvet with a duvet on top we have been fine (might that have something to do with blood alcohol level too?!) but yes, def think comfort for sleeping is v important. My latest idea is to borrow our friend's big tent (and any other spare equipment) and do a trial run. We were thinking of going to the south west for anything up to a week - is that a really long time for a camping holiday with a toddler and a dog? (We have camped before with just the two of us so not total novices and know what to expect).

Aha - I had looked at the coleman weathermaster too. They seem to have some large reasonably priced tents - what is it that makes some more expensive than others?! Name? Material? We wouldn't want to spend a fortune anyway and wouldn't be going winter or anything like that at all but equally there can be some pretty heavy wind and rain in england even in the summer (today is a case in point) so want one able to withstand that!

Thanks guys!

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 14:06:51

Lol @ camping and dog's house crossover grin

Is there a Yeoman's tent display anywhere near you? They have them all over the country and have bazillions of tents up on display.

Jet's idea to have a mooch around a campsite also excellent idea. I have never met a camping family who didn't want to show off and chat about their tent.

Re materials, for camping in this country you really want a HH (hydrostatic head) of nothing less than 3000. Poles wise, well I would prefer to sleep under something with steel poles as they are so much stronger and don't bend alarmingly in the wind. But of course you'll pay for that, both in cash terms but also in weight and pack size.

Coleman also a well regarded brand.

Bath tub groundsheets (and no groundsheets) seem to be very out of vogue at the moment. Most tents seem to come with sigs (sewn in groundsheet) or zigs (zip in groundsheet).

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 14:18:30

Not sure - will have a google - thanks. V helpful -that is the kind of stuff I need to find out. Most tents I have seen seem to have fibreglass poles only...

Ah interesting re bathtub groundsheets - is there a reason they are out of vogue? What's the difference between that a sig? (check me out with the lingo...!)

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 14:29:11

Sig is sewn in, so attached to the rest of the tent. Makes the bag like a giant bag.

Bath tub groundsheet clip or toggle in, but are bathtubby grin so will stop water flowing in if the conditions are very wet.

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 14:31:23

Aha I see. I assumed bathtub was also sewn in. Would a sig not also stop water from coming in or is it the seam which might cause the problem? I like the idea of it all being sewn in - sounds warmer for some reason ! (disclaimer: I have no idea what I am talking about)

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 14:32:09

Lots of people go for sigs as they won't let creepy-crawlies in.

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 14:37:40

Seams can cause water ingress, so are 'taped' to stop the water getting through. Sometimes the taping fails but can be easily fixed with seam sealant.

3rdnparty Fri 08-Jul-11 14:39:40

Kings- there are some places to view tents on the outskirts of London - there was a thread not that long ago....which ended up with quite a list...ones out west are pj tents - maidenhead/reading way , family camping Shepperton, another near farnham can't remember name - but in london is also a decathlon at Surrey Quays - not allowed to go as will spend to much money grin but they may have some tents up

most tents will be fibreglass poles which is ok for smaller tunnel or dome style eg up to 4-6 berth but would be wary of anything bigger with only fibreglass poles - purely for the size of structure they are having to support!

groundsheets - bath tubs hook on the insides of the tent they are less common not sure why - guess more expensive to make than SIG
Sig all sewn in so tent outer basically one piece...less chance of leaks and warmer in theory but would recommend anotehr piece of tarp underneeth to protect from sharp stones and mud if v v if it gets ruined the tent is as well..
ZIG - groundsheet seperate and then zipped into place- usually only in more expensive tents..


Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 14:40:53

Sounds my kind of groundsheet!

So slubber... now that I have you here I am never going to let you go - you realise that don't you? grin What is so fab re bell tents? They are canvas, yes? Is that not un waterproof? We have a tipee which I assume is similar in style (having frantically googled them), albeit smaller, and I thought that with kids, it means if in bad weather you are sort of all in the same place so no chance of kids sleeping and you reading/drinking inside tent etc?

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 14:48:45

I'm not a bell tenter grin there is a whole mob of them on here if you want to talk bell specifics.

I have a pyramid (photos on profile). Canvas is waterproof because the cotton fibres swell when they get wet, closing up the holes between the weft and the warp (oh get me with the lingo). You only need to be careful not to lean things up against the sides as they will wick water through. Canvas is lovely to camp under as is generally thought to be cooler in warm weather and a bit warmer in cold. It will also let water vapour through, so you won't get a build up of condensation inside (unlike plastic tents).

We LOVE all being in together, and find the reality is the dc chill out and go to sleep much quicker than if we put them into separate bedrooms. Horses for courses though. Lots of folk much prefer having rooms in the tent, makes hiding mess and clutter easier too.

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 15:01:33

Oh sorry - wouldn't want to offend - it's like the War of the Roses with bell tenters and pyramid tenters and normal tenters and sigs and zigs and bathtubs. grin

<Smoke begins to come out of ears>

Aha - all things to consider then. My concern is that my daughter is still fairly young so probs wouldn't manage to stay up as late as we would and if bad weather we'd have to be inside tent I guess. Plus am anal(ish) so perhaps everything altogether without being able to close off a door to all the clutter/toys might give me a panic attack. Maybe....Hard to know really!

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 15:32:02

Wait till you stumble into the feud between the Cadacians and Cobbers.

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 15:34:17

Hang on.... are they..... cookers? <crosses fingers and hopes that she is right>

Slubberdegullion Fri 08-Jul-11 15:42:21

Yes, sort of.

Cobs are awesome charcoal ovens. Cadacs are flimsy bits of metal that you burn food with gas on.

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 15:44:29

Wonder which one you prefer? haha! I think I would be a fan of the awesome charcoal oven myself...

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 15:49:33

3rdnparty - completely missed your post - thanks also for places near London - v helpful! And zig/sig/bathtub explanation...

ASByatt Fri 08-Jul-11 15:50:13

Don't forget plastic melting pots vs polycotton palaces.....

ASByatt Fri 08-Jul-11 15:50:57

Sorry - just getting into the camping debates there....

And and and whether to ehu or not!

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 16:09:52

Oh no what is that ASByatt (polyester vs polycotton - with the latter being good and the former bad?)?

And ehu? Help!

Is Hi Gear utter crap btw?

Kingsroadie Fri 08-Jul-11 16:19:30

Are Sprayway good? (am now looking at steel poles + polycotton!)

Kingsroadie Sun 10-Jul-11 20:43:44

Me again! Okay I now know ehu is electrical hook up grin

If you get, for eg, a Cobb, can you also heat water for tea? What about lighting in the tent without ehu - torches or gas lights (are they not a bit dangerous)? Was leaning towards ehu myself...Kettle and light and phone chargers etc.

Re tents - am in a quandary as don't want to spend ridiculous amounts on a tent/equipment yet as what if we don't like the camping?! Assume we will but you never know with a toddler! Equally though I would like a large polycotton and steel poles tent as I feel like if we buy one we should get a good one which we will be able to grow into (would like another 2 kids). Which will clearly not be cheap. A friend has a big tent so one option is to borrow that (and any equipment she might have) as long as they don't need it when we do. Or buy a cheaper polyester tent this time and decide to buy a good one if we like it. Or use our teepee but think it might not be ideal for us and a toddler and a puppy (esp if it rains).

Decisions! Any advice?! (or good value 7/8 man polycotton tents?! Sprayway seem reasonable)

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