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Complete tent newbie - can you help?

(18 Posts)
Pawan Sat 05-Jan-13 23:12:59

We bought a vango tent two years ago (Vango Samara 600 - it's a six birth, and there are four of us) - definitely worth going for 2 more sleeping spaces than you have people, so that you have enough space.

I don't think £200 will get you a decent tent and camping gear - more like £200 to £300 for a decent tent, and then another £100 for gear - unless you can find a good ebay deal.

Our tent has a four person sleeping area, and a two person area, which we use to store our bags and stuff - and if you have young dc's then it's worth being in the same sleeping area so you don't have to faff about with zips in the middle of the night if you need to get to them.

Our essentials are:

airbeds and quilts (we found quilts warmer than sleeping bags, plus it's easy to smuggle dc's onto our airbed to act as hot water bottles. But quilts do take up loads of space in the car)
table and chairs
single ring stove and simple cooking items
wind-up torches (dc's love these)
wine and coffee !! is great for tent and campsite reviews.

Ffuntimewincies Fri 04-Jan-13 18:08:32

Cooking wise, a single or double burner with the butane cartridges is a good, cheap starter option. Just enough to boil water/fry sausages/heat beans/boil rice.

CatsRule Fri 04-Jan-13 16:19:34

The Vango Airbeam tents look good...I didn't know about them but I wonder how sturdy they are. I would like a Coleman one but they are really heavy and extortionate!

When we were camping last year I saw a tent, foreign I think, that looked fab. It was high enough to stand up in all areas. Wish I could remember the make!

We are hoping to go to the Caravan and Camping show this year to see what's on offer and what's new.

Piffpaffpoff Fri 04-Jan-13 16:10:21

My one concession to high winds is to take the awning down as it just acts like sail. I always have spare guy ropes and a pole repair kit with me too in case of any breakages! The Icarus packs down (relatively) small too which is a bonus.

I really want to get a Vango Airbeam next - same space as the Icarus, but no faffing with poles. I worry about getting a puncture though!

CatsRule Fri 04-Jan-13 15:33:23

I really fancied that kind of tent Piffpaffpoff but after seeing, not just one, but a few it put me off. One of them, the guy ropes snapped...which I know could happen to any tent tbh.

We really need a new tent too and what I liked about the Icarus' was the living space is at the front.

Our problem going camping now is space in the car since having our ds! And I can't travel light grin

TheHappyCamper Fri 04-Jan-13 15:10:28

Welcome to the wonderful world of camping!

I'd agree with most things said so far. A 4 berth tent will unlikely be big enough for 4. Get a 6 berth. We have a 5 berth for us 3. We don't put up the bedroom divider so all sleep in one room with our belongings.

Things to think about:

-large living area in tent so you can all sit in there if/when it rains.

-electric hook up cable ~£30 so you can plug in electric heater/kettle/charger etc

-I'd get 2 x double airbeds for your family, or possibly 1 x double and 2 x single. A travel cot just takes up a daft amount of space. Airbeds will fit snugly together and it's not like your toddler can 'fall' out as such ... well 3 inches maybe!

-Get a stove, even a one ring burner. You can make loads of meals with just one pan smile

-Definitely buy the best sleeping bags you can afford. 3 season if you can. My worst camping nightmares have been due to being cold at night.

-Get full waterproof suits for both kids (ebay is good) and wellies so you can still go out in the rain.

I'll post later if I think of anything else. It's the attiude that makes camping fun as well (and no amount of money can buy that!) - remember it WILL rain, not MIGHT grin so be ready for it!

Piffpaffpoff Fri 04-Jan-13 14:53:22

My Icarus has been fine in high (scottish) winds Cats. You just need to make sure you have all the guy ropes out properly, paying particular attention the the front and back ones. I would agree that you probably could be less vigilant with the heavier ones or a ome tent with crossing poles, but I wouldn't rule tunnels out entirely because they are good starter tents for beginners due to price/ease of use.

CatsRule Fri 04-Jan-13 13:44:53

We went camping in Scotland (live here so used to the weather) in May last year. It was cold at night but we had a wee heater...I would say, as long as used safely, a heater in Scotland is necessary!

Also, we saw a few Icarus tents and Hi Gear that didn't fair well against the wind. The tents that seemed to be able to withstand the wind best were either the big heavy framed tents or the crossover ones. The Icarus style where the poles go in an arc and don't cross seemed to almost collapse against the wind. Just food for thought when choosing!

Where in Scotland do you plan on going?

I would also say that a 4 man tent was cramped for the two of bedroom had luggage and the other for sleeping. We are looking for a bigger tent for 3 now as the living space just wouldn't be big enough for everything. Especially all the home comforts I take!

Piffpaffpoff Mon 31-Dec-12 14:38:41

I have a Vango Icarus 600 which is supposedly a 6 person but I use it for a max of four. DD used to be in her travel cot no bother and the tent only has a curtain between the two sleeping areas so I can shuffle across and under it (in my sleeping bag!) if either of the DCs need me. This has worked fine for me so far.

YDdraigGoch Sun 30-Dec-12 22:32:50

I don't want to put a downer on things, but April? In Scotland? In a tent? You must be mad smile
It will be very cold at night, probably wet, and a 4 berth tent will feel tiny.

£200 is not enough to get all the stuff you need. You need at least a 6 berth tent - one you can stand up in, and with a living area big enough for a table and chairs, so you can eat inside when its raining. Vango do some nice ones.
Good thick sleeping bags (not thin ones from the likes of Argos)
A stove, gas, and something to put stove on.
Air beds
Cooking utensils like saucepans
A water carrier
Lights (gas or to run off car battery)
Cool box
Table and chairs

I reckon £500 min, unless you get some great deals on eBay.

Kahlua4me Sun 30-Dec-12 22:23:53

When we first started camping we bought a tent with 2 bedrooms and took a travel cot. Big mistake for us as it drove me mad having to keep zipping and unzipping the rooms to go to ds.
Eventually took him in with us and he shared my mat. Now dc are 7 and 9 and still share the bedroom with us. I use the other bedroom to keep all our clothes.
General rule on tent size is to go for 2 berths bigger than you party.

Have a look at ukcampsite for more help.

happyhorse Sat 29-Dec-12 11:01:09

I bought one of those heaters but don't really like to use it because of the risk of carbon monoxide building up. I always take a carbon monoxide alarm with me. I'd also be worried about fire/burns with very young children. Hot water bottles would be better.

I think apart from a tent and something to sleep on/in, the only other essentials are something to cook on and a cool box.

shockers Sat 29-Dec-12 09:18:25

I wouldn't put a heater in a tent, although I know people who have. April in Scotland is going to feel very cold and damp at night. You will need hats and socks to sleep in as well as what the others have said. Having said that, if next year is anything like this has been, March/April are your best bet!

happyhorse Sat 29-Dec-12 09:02:13

My advice would be not to spend too much on your first tent as its unlikely to be the tent you stick with. Definitely try eBay. A six berth should give you enough room. Tunnel tents are much simpler to put up than domes.

When you're at the campsite you need to get nosy, looking at other people's tents and seeing them go up/down. That should give you an idea of what sort of tent will suit you long term.

April can be bitterly cold at night so spend a bit more on good sleeping bags and take lots of extra blankets.

NotInMyDay Fri 28-Dec-12 21:57:15

Thanks guys. I'll go and look on eBay.

Are heaters safe?

hannahem Fri 28-Dec-12 12:05:44

Hiya, we're also fairly new to camping, started last summer so we've had a few trial runs! I would also agree with checking out ebay, we got a lovely tent from there. I'd recommend asking to see the tent set up, that way you can be sure it's in good condition and that all the bits and pieces are there! You sometimes see people selling whole tent kits too including stoves, beds etc.

If you're looking at going in April I'd recommend getting a little heater or something, it'll be chilly On an evening. Go Outdoors do a little heater that's powered by gas canisters which isn't expensive, around £20 I think.

I'm sure I've seen a list on here of camping kit essentials but for us I would say other than a tent, you'll need airbeds/mattresses, lots of blankets and either duvets or sleeping bags, something to sit on, something to cook with, a light and decent torch and a cool box. I'm sure there are lots more experienced campers on here that can give you more suggests but hope it helps!

EauRougelyNight Fri 28-Dec-12 09:09:39

Hello, I'm a newbie too (only been camping once so far!) but I can tell you what helped us. We originally ordered a 4 person tent because there are 4 of us- it was waaaaay too small. We ended up buying an 8 person tent which had plenty of room for us. A 5 or 6 person tent might be enough- not sure about fitting in a travel cot though, we all just slept on airbeds. 6-8 person tents sound like a lot but you'll need the extra space for your stuff and for a place to sit indoors when it inevitably rains grin

We got our 8 person one on ebay, there were plenty of bargains to be had. We did look at some new ones but for £200 the ones we saw were basically bin bags with a frame.

Aldi had some deals on for camping stuff, we got some airbeds for £12 each. Also try freecycle and local ads.

Hope that helps a bit!

NotInMyDay Thu 27-Dec-12 22:00:15

Hi all

We have been given a little bit of money for Christmas and we'd love to buy a tent and take our first trip in April (in Scotland).

We have c£200 to get as much as we can. Tent for 4 (2bedrooms), sleeping bags and anything else you consider essential.

Please help me not make a terrible decision. It's for me,DH,DD(5), and DS(2.3). I'd love to be able to fit a travel cot in.

Thank ou so much.

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