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Been asked 100's of times already....

(53 Posts)
muchostinky Sun 07-Aug-11 16:31:06

Hi all you people with a fountain of camping knowledge grin trying to butter you up so you don't get sick of my repeated questions

I am looking at a tent to get for me, my DP and DS, currently it will just be for the odd couple of days here and there but from next year I am hoping we can get away for weeks or longer at a time.

Now my question is, to bell tent or not to bell tent? I love them - look gorgeous, size and space seems great and my son would love it too I think. BUT would I find it easier to have some covered 'other' space to put stuff in and for some properly separate bedrooms? I am currently watching a Vango Aspen 500 and a Outwell Oakland XL on ebay and they look good too. Been to Towsure and we all liked the look and feel of these, haven't seen a Bell Tent up but I just know I would love that.

I am so confused and just don't know, am trying to do a pro's and con's list of both types but I am coming up a bit short....

Please help oh wise ones!!??? blush

mel2005 Sun 07-Aug-11 16:49:29

ohhh get a bell, you will never ever want to sleep in a poly tent ever again. they are so easy to put up and take down, they look great and you can get a tent wing which cost 50 euro delivered for some extra outside space. when you lay inside its just so lovely, i cant describe the feeling, i would sleep in mine all the time if i could.

lovecat Sun 07-Aug-11 17:13:54

Bell Tent! grin

There are 3 of us (DD is 6) and we have a 5m bell. Easy to pitch, easy to take down, gorgeous feel of light and space inside, I've said it before but there's a really peaceful vibe inside one... I love it. Although officially it's too large for just 3, we love the extra space and it allows us space for storage furniture. This, imo, is the real drawback to a bell, you need to be disciplined about keeping it tidy or it can very quickly descend into a midden. You can purchase an inner tent if you want a separate bedroom, but we've got one (1/4 tent) and I'm still a bit hmm about it, as tbh if I wanted inner rooms I'd have gone for an Outwell Nevada like my DSis has... it is useful for stashing stuff inside, though!

To be entirely fair, there are some other drawbacks to bells:

- they are heavy
- they are a gateway drug to bunting, cushions, tealight chandeliers and you may find yourself spending even more money on useless tut camping gear than is usual.
- We've ended up buying some camping cupboards to store stuff in and have got a separate tent (Vango Juno 300 - tepee style, goes up on the same principle/speed of the bell) for a utility room - which we can't always take with us as there's not enough room on the site's pitch
- more cumbersome to dry out than a nylon tent
- very little is custom-made for a bell (porches, carpets, footprints etc) so you find yourself having to be inventive/spend tons of cash - the mere mention of the 'g' word seems to add £££ to camping gear!
- the tent pitches quite large, 8m by 8m, so it can't go on some sites where pitches are smaller.


- No --friggin' horrible useless--bendy poles!!! (I cannot underestimate the importance of this one to us)
- Looks gorgeous
- You can roll the sides up/unzip the mesh windows and let a lovely breeze flow through on a hot day
- I can put it up on my own in 20 mins
- It gives me an excuse to buy useless tut pretty things for the tent
- It's really robust due to its shape - in a storm where other tents were blowing about/leaking, ours stood firm.
- as yet, there's not been a problem pitching it anywhere (but we've only visited 3 sites since buying it)

Hth smile

GingerWrath Sun 07-Aug-11 17:29:10

Afraid it's Outwell for me all the way! We just did a practice pitch on our brand new Montana 6. 45 minutes for a first go. No bendy poles in sight, all steel ones.

We love being able to put DD to sleep in the bedroom and slob round in the living area with a glass of wine mug of hot chocolate.

It has a side porch which is ideal to put the porta potty in and the front awning works well as a kitchen area!

muchostinky Sun 07-Aug-11 19:36:46

Thanks everyone, seems to be a bit of a lean towards a bell so far grin

Bumping shamelessly to get some more views

mel2005 Sun 07-Aug-11 19:48:59

look at some of these photos, it might help

mel2005 Sun 07-Aug-11 20:00:16

there are some good photos on p4 as well

piebald Sun 07-Aug-11 20:48:43

I love the look of the bell tent but not sure my interior design skills are up to the task--is that really camping??

muchostinky Sun 07-Aug-11 21:07:16

Thanks for the link Mel - those pics are lovely, especially Zen's. Have to agree with piebald though, mine would certainly not look like that if we got one!

Would that be me letting the whole 'style' of the bell tenters down???

NettleTea Sun 07-Aug-11 23:18:51

dont forget Bells were traditionally used by the army - might swing your DH, and Im sure no soldiers ever decorated theirs with bunting and survived!

mel2005 Sun 07-Aug-11 23:34:39

mine doesnt look like that inside either, i have four young children aged between 6 and 2.5y its usually a mess of beds, blankets, wellies and books. its just such a lovely feeling inside its the open space, the lovely light it gives through the canvas and the feeling of luxury. it doesnt feel like a tent at all, i have done alot of camping before children and the bell tents are just so fantastic compared to a normal tent. they are also safer if there is a fire, you can even have a wood burning stove in it, they can be put up quickly on your own and even in torrential downpours and high winds they are reliable. my 5m soulpad is alot lighter to carry than some of the poly family tents we went almost bought and takes a fraction of the time to errect.

muchostinky Mon 08-Aug-11 00:09:06

You are certainly swaying me Mel! grin TBF though I don't think I really needed much swaying! Lol

Think I would need the awning and a wind break though so that we could have some space to do stuff outside - what do you have, if you don't mind me asking?

Saggyoldclothcatpuss Mon 08-Aug-11 00:24:31

My friend has the wood burning stove meant for a Soulpad in her mobile home. Its bloody wonderful!
Those rctangular reconstituted logs from the petrol station fit in it nicely and burn for ages, but when its out, it cools down really quickly.
I have an Outwell Montana 4 at the moment, but I am going to flog it after our bank holiday trip and put the money towards a 5m Soulpad.
Definitely a gateway drug though, my Soulpad wishlist came to £1800!!! shock

DontCallMeBaby Mon 08-Aug-11 09:50:41

Good grief, the Emperor belltent on page 4 of that UKCampsite thread is considerably better furnished than my house! And do they take an articulated lorry camping with them, for all that stuff?!

(just jealous)

Anyway, I have a Montana 6 and while it's untested as yet (well, we've done a test pitch, but not stayed in it) I think it's the tent for me, as I really do want the separate space inside. However a week ago DD and I came back from a festival where we'd used our old Scafell Rock and my friend and her DDs used their belltent. I think we had the Scafell and the belltent up in the same time - first time I'd pitched our tent by myself, but the first time my friend had pitched her bell at all. There was a bit of peering at instructions, and figuring out what to do with guy ropes, but pretty impressive for a first time, especially under duress (we were much much later than we thought we'd be).

It was certainly not glampy inside, although we did have some bunting, and she does have a tealight chandelier (not taken on this occasion). It packed down as easily as my tent, and far easier than the Monty does. Great tent for short trips, although not ideal for festivals in one sense - ugh, it's heavy. Not as heavy as the Monty but I would NEVER take that anywhere I couldn't park next to the pitch. It was like a big heavy canvas sausage on the trolley, we had it sideways on the way back and it was taking out small children as we bowled along ...

chimchar Mon 08-Aug-11 10:07:03

bell tent, bell tent, bell tent!!! grin

we have a 5m one its fab. we are quite messy, and it does get a bit chaotic inside if i don't keep on top of the tidying, but we just love our tent.

we don't have a chandelier, but i am going to get one....lit tealights really take the chill and late night dampness off the air and make the tent all cosy and glowy.

i have a 4 m one for sale (want £260 for it wink) which we bought initially, but upgraded to a larger one because it was just a tiny bit small for 5 of us.

its quick to put up and down.

we have a tent carpet in ours...its from a big rectangular tent and it fits well except for the edges.

tiz bloody heavy though.

mel2005 Mon 08-Aug-11 10:09:56

here are some photos of my soulpad in the garden, ignore the first ones with the event shelter, i will not be taking that camping the other photos are with a tent wing which is lovely and gives some great shade, an looking at windbreaks at the moment. i also have 18m of solar fairy lights around the outside which the kids love and a hanging tea light spiral (£5 from e-bay) and safe tea lights (£4 for 6 from amazon) we leave them on all night so the kids dont get scared if they wake up. they use button batteries which are really cheap and last about 50+hrs
it was actually cheaper to buy a soulpad than to get a poly tent for all of us.

winefairy Mon 08-Aug-11 10:20:52

I'm loving my new bell tent. It's just the feeling you get when you're inside. It's airy and relaxing. And the way the light shines through is just beautiful.

So many people come to have a look when you are pitched and almost all want details of where to get one which is a pretty good recommendation in itself!

I was undecided like you having never been in one but I bought the Soulpad and I can honestly say it is one of my favourite things ever. Even DH was seriously impressed after being fairly sceptical when we bought it.

You can make it as glam or not, as you want. I don't have bunting or fairy lights but I do have a Moroccan pouffe and lanterns which required the purchase of a roofbox much to DH's annoyance although all fairly neutral. Each to their own. Bell tents are all beautiful inside even when littered with dirty wellies and old clothes.

I'm currently coveting half the stuff on this site.

mel2005 Mon 08-Aug-11 10:24:03

one of the big poly tents we looked at was 50kg!! and took 2 people over 2hrs to put up, i did wonder what we would do with the kids for 2+hrs which we errected it. so the bell tents are much better, our soulpad is about 25kg i would guess, i can carry it. its much easier to have the pole bag seperate but i can carry it all in one go if needed. we bought two hi-gear voyager 6 carpets for under £30each for the soulpad 5m they cover 95% of the floor as they are shaped at one end. i have just got a bargain £40 roof box to pop the tent and bedding on the roof to make more room in the car for the children.

chimchar Mon 08-Aug-11 10:25:36

scuse hijack, but winefairy hello!! how did you get on incamp besti? did you try the awning yet? hope all is ok x

mel2005 Mon 08-Aug-11 10:28:45

omg, winefairy i so want the windbreak on that site, i have it in my basket already but its £68 shock i did just sell a whole load of clothes i never use on e-bay for way more than the price. i wonder if anyone will walk off with it while i am out.

mel2005 Mon 08-Aug-11 10:30:07

ohhh and the sunshelter wow thats nice but £240 shock

mel2005 Mon 08-Aug-11 10:31:39

the coolboxes are over £200 shock

bbbbob Mon 08-Aug-11 10:32:53

MEL2005 the link you posted upthread - do you know where that 1st campsite is? Looks amazing.

winefairy Mon 08-Aug-11 10:38:35

Hi chimchar! Camp Besti was fabulous, wasn't it? Really loved it and can't wait for next year.

Haven't pitched the awning yet but took it out and made DD and DH hold an end each to get an idea! Will be perfect, thank you soooo much!

Have you seen that site I just linked too? They were our neighbours in Camping Plus, I believe. Such gorgeous stuff. I fear the belltent will be the ruin of me! x

<apologies for hijack mucho although is still slightly on topic- The perils of owning a belltent! >

LostVagueness Mon 08-Aug-11 10:38:46

Definate Bell Tent. Tried one a few weeks ago. We have 2 adults and 2 kids 1yr and 3.5yr. The bell tent allows you to put up bedrooms if you buy the thingumy to put up inside the tent.
You can get great awnings and brilliant wood burners etc if you fancy a bit of glamorous camping. You can even buy a chandelier!

The only down side to the bell tent is that it takes up a lot of space in the car/trailer. It's probably worth it though as all the other campers will be envious of your cool looking tent!

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