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Are bell tents and excitable toddlers a good mix?

(24 Posts)
AnnaMolly Wed 27-Jul-11 10:42:54

So last week I purchased a bear lake 6, which I had thought was the family tent of my dreams, until I saw all the talk of bell tents on here. After looking into them a bit, I am now really tempted to return the bear lake (still in its box) and get a soulpad hybrid. Have almost sold DH on the idea, due to the considerably reduced pitching time, but he has reservations about the stability of a tent with only one pole.

The thing is, DD2 (age 2) is very active and DH has visions of her bouncing off the tent walls, in the style of a pinball machine, or swinging on the central pole, bringing the whole thing down on us. Obviously I wont let her run wild inside the tent, but I am wondering if DH has a good point.

I have done a fair bit of camping in the past, but not since having children, so am very naive. Are bell tents and toddlers practical or should I keep the tent I have?

SalomeD Wed 27-Jul-11 11:32:20

Hi, once the central pole is up and you have the guy ropes tensioned there is no chance of the pole moving.

You'll find a lot of postings on the net where other tents have been blown away and the bell tent is still upright - they are very stable indeed.

Guess if DD2 is going to bounce off tent walls she is just as likely to do that in the Bear Lake too?

We have Soulpad 5m and its fantastic - a big plus is that I can put it up by myself in less than 1/2 hour.

Friends we camped with on the weekend: some liked it, others prefer separate pods - so it really is a matter of personal taste. We all sleep on the floor on one great big pile of SIMs and sleeping bags (DSs are 8 & 5 + dog) but other friends prefer to keep their children in pods so they don't wake each other up.

AnnaMolly Wed 27-Jul-11 11:58:40

Thanks for your reply SolomeD. That's reassuring to hear about the pole not being able to move with the tension. The pitch time would be a big plus for me, particularly with young DC. I like the idea of being able to put it up by myself, while DH plays with the DDs, or vice versa.

mel2005 Wed 27-Jul-11 12:07:34

i am just about to put my 5m soulpad up in the gardan again we have four children 5y,4y and twins 2.5y. after taking them all many times around the camping tent shops (you know the ones with a field of tents to have a good look at) and having them running in and out of the poly tents, the bell tent is by far more suitable for young excitable children. its also safer if (god forbid) you ever have a fire as canvas takes alot longer to burn, it was a big part of our decision. you can also have a wood buring stove in it which my DH is very keen on. its really stable and i can get it up on my own in about 10-15mins. there is no way the pole will fall down its really tight to the top and ground even with the guy ropes loosened. it is also lovely with a string of solar fairy lights around the inside and some safe tea lights hanging on the pole (in a holder obviously). the only thing i had to stop them doing was zipping and unzipping the windows.

AnnaMolly Wed 27-Jul-11 13:49:13

Thanks Mel2005. It's really useful to get other people's experience. Think I'm going to go for it as the stability was my only reservation. Am very excited now!

Ripeberry Wed 27-Jul-11 13:57:51

We have a 5m bell tent and have used it for the last 3yrs and it's survived a force 9 gale when all other tents blew away and we also put it up in the middle of a rainstorm and kept everything dry inside.
Once the pole is up and the guy ropes in place, then nothing will bring it down.
My 9yr old regularly climbs up and down the pole grin

mel2005 Wed 27-Jul-11 15:55:38

my lot are now running in and out like mad things, they have also set up the 6 camping chairs like a theatre facing door and are taking it in turns to dance and sing inside the tent.
they broke the pole on my old vango tent within minutes of putting it up last summer. the poles on the soulpad are really thick metal, i would be amazed if anyone managed to bend one.

Kingsroadie Wed 27-Jul-11 17:47:21

Am enjoying hearing that bell tents and toddlers are a good mix! Am about to buy a 5m soulpad hybrid and am totally over excited... Mel2005 - thanks for all your help smile

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 17:49:43

We have one and our 2 year old loves it. No problems so far!

AnnaMolly Wed 27-Jul-11 18:39:21

Thank you everyone for your posts. LOL at DC running in and out like mad things or climbing up and down the pole. The theatre set up is inspired - DD1 would love that. Actually, I think I saw a picture online of a movie projector being used in one.

Can't wait to get one and try it out in the garden (although fitting in the guy ropes will be interesting).

victoriasmith Wed 27-Jul-11 19:27:36

sorry just wondered if i coulf hijack the thread and ask about 4m vs 5m from those in the know. Have finally gotten boyfriend around to the idea of buying a bell tent but not sure whether to go for the 4m or 5m. Camping would be two adults and one 5 month old, although we probably will have more children in the future. The only thing holding me back about the 5m is the extra weight of it compared to the 4m and also the pack size being bigger and wether we would be able to get it and everything else in the car ok. what are everyones thoughts?

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 19:57:24

5m for sure, you won't regret it.

Kingsroadie Wed 27-Jul-11 19:57:36

Well we are going 5m and have a 20 month old (and puppy), and we plan on having more children. Sorry don't know about the weight difference or size etc - my instincts say a quarter weight/size again for 5m as opposed to 4m? If going in care is weight an issue? We will want as much space (and head room) as possible I think - wet days with a toddler inside! These are the things we considered..

AnnaMolly Wed 27-Jul-11 21:06:14

Another thought - Does the lightness of the bell tents cause DC to wake at the crack of dawn? Do the inner tents help?

Kingsroadie Wed 27-Jul-11 21:08:37

I have also had that thought Anna! But I think early starts and camping is a bit of a given regardless of tent? (Someone feel free to correct me!). And most tents aren't very dark - can you imagine a dark tent on a sunny day? Gross.

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 21:15:19

We haven't had that problem (surprising as DD sleeps in a blackened room). Did think about getting an inner and dying it a dark colour as someone on UKCampsite did (dark red, looks beautiful and atmospheric), or getting a small pop-up blackout tent. However, hasn't been an issue.
In fact, lie-ins are very possible in a bell tent - none of that oh-my-god-get-me-out-of-here-i-can't-breathe business you get in a nylon tent.

Kingsroadie Wed 27-Jul-11 21:25:04

Ooh good idea re dyeing the inner tent! Yes mine sleeps in a dark room too. Might have a think about that...

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 21:29:03

Give it a go without before splashing out on an inner. No need, IMO.

Kingsroadie Wed 27-Jul-11 21:32:12

Ah really? Does your toddler go to bed at the same time as you? we were thinking of trying to put her to bed earlier but obv later than normal bedtime - say 8:30/9ish? And if we don't want to go to bed (and if it were raining) we would keep her awake... She isn't one of those who just falls asleep when tired - will be awake and awake and awake forever!

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 21:35:12

We put her to bed whenever we feel it is best - usually a bit later than normal, then don't stray too far when we're outside with a fire or whatever. She even has naps in there, and is a notoriously bad sleeper. I think you tend to get really tired when camping, so just make sure she has lots of fun and exercise.

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 21:37:09

We haven't yet had a situation when we've wanted to be in the tent while she's alseep and not wake her, apart from in the mornings (pretending to be asleep does the trick).
Maybe for this you might want an inner, or a walled gazebo (we have one for kitchen).

AnnaMolly Wed 27-Jul-11 21:54:29

6.30-7am starts I am used to and am fine with. Just having scary thoughts of 5am. I much prefer how they look without the inner tent, but know that a defined sleeping pod would help DDs settle to sleep in the evening. The idea of dying the inner tent a darker colour is interesting - hmm.

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 21:56:14

We had until 9am last time DD slept in there! (Did go to bed late though, about 9pm)

Kingsroadie Thu 28-Jul-11 09:31:17

Argh - am now back on the Emperor, in spite of the fact is has no inner tents available (yet - I think they might bring some out next season as they did with all the other tents). I think I could handily fashion some curtain type things on sewing machine - maybe to create sleeping areas? Those of you with bell tents - do you think it would be possible to sew loops onto the bell tent (like the ones inner tents attach to) so create my own inner tent/curtain drapey thing? The thing that attracts me is more space and more usable head height...

Do you think 2 poles with a bar between would be v tricky for one person to erect on their own? (Not that I envisage going camping solo often/ever!)

Any pearls of wisdom?!

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