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Bell tents and camping

(25 Posts)
Partridge Sat 07-Jun-14 15:56:37

I have researched other threads exhaustively regarding bell tents, but would love a little more advice...

I have fallen in love with the idea of camping in a bell tent. My dh is rather resistant to the idea and I need to sell it to him. So...

a) Does the bell tent feel as spacious as it looks? Should we go for a 5m or an emperor (and would this cause problems on a campsite in terms of pitches)? We are 2 adults and ds(8) ds (6) and ds (3).
b) The simple childhood/keeping them away from screens/reconnecting/big outdoors thing really appeals. How long will they be happy coming camping with us? Can you give me some anecdotes along these lines?
C) which brand should I go for?
d) how long do they take to pitch? I am planning on having it up at my folks all summer as a playroom, but also would like to pich it in our garden for one night for ds 8th birthday in one month. Would 6 7-8 year olds be ok camping in a city walled garden?
e) when does it get too cold to camp in a bell tent?

Many thanks for all your help and advice in the meantime...

CampingClaire Sat 07-Jun-14 19:04:55

Can't talk about bell tents but our girls are now 18 and 13 and have been happy camping with us since they were pre-school. The 18 year old got a bit sniffy about it around 15 but that lasted one huffy summer and she's back to normal now!! No longer holidays with us but she's off to work in a camp in USA for the whole summer and lots of overnight hikes involved!!
Ours camp out for sleepovers in our garden (we get a bit more sleep that way...can't speak for the neighbours though) which is in the country but with neighbours. We just had the rule that no one was left in the tent on their own through the night (loo visits) and that if they came in to sleep (which they never did) they came and told us. Since sleep generally never happens on a sleepover... we've never had an issue!
I love the idea of a bell tent but we've always had things with bedroom pods, partly as they weren't 'the thing' when we started out and big room just wouldn't work with girls who 'need their own space' when changing etc!
Our girls certainly loved the 'outside play' side of things when they were wee - even though we live in the country!! Your kids will love it and I couldn't recommend the whole thing highly enough! Take lots of activity toys and things for them to do if it's chucking it down. This website has great toy ideas.. The older one also appreciated the deeper tan she got from being outside the whole day as she got older!!

CampingClaire Sat 07-Jun-14 19:08:15

Ps... cold weather...I think bell tents can get an inner tent to make them warmer. We have a canvas tent and didn't get the inner as it was another £600!!...figured I'd just throw another few blankets on the beds if we felt cold! If you can light a fire it's great and also bell tents can take stoves too...if you get hooked! There's nothing better than climbing into a cosy bed in a tent when it's a bit chilly outside! Best sleep ever!

shirazplease Sat 07-Jun-14 22:19:18

we have a 5m Bell for 2 kids, from Soulpad. Best. Purchase. Ever. Regarding cold, we have an electric hookup and take a thermostatically controlled fan heater with us. It just clicks off and on through the night to stop the temperature from dropping too drastically.

You can get a 6m bell from a supplier now, can't think which one though, pop it into google.

Partridge Sun 08-Jun-14 07:12:08

Oh wow. Thank you. You have sold me! I will show these fantastic responses to my dh - they can't fail to convert him grin

brotherhoodofspam Sun 08-Jun-14 21:09:54

We've had a 4m bell tent for quite a few years now. My 2 favourite things to do with it are pitch it in the garden and fill out with cushions, throws small tables etc and feel like you're in Morocco, or as we've done twice, go camping in France with it. Camping in a warm climate helps a lot as you can eat outside, giving you more space for bedding etc inside. It's a good size for out family of four but perhaps a 5m one would be better for a family of 5. It does take up quite a lot of room on a pitch though as the guy ropes add quite a bit to the diameter. They are however very easy to pitch once you've got used to it.

pictish Sun 08-Jun-14 21:20:24

We have a 5m and it is very spacious. I think you would toil more to find a flat pitch for an emperor tent, but I can understand why you are tempted...they do look amazing. Remember how heavy it will be as well....the 5m already weighs 4 stone in its bag.

The kids will camp for as long as you do. We have a 12, 6 and 5 yr old and our camping holidays are eagerly anticipated every summer. We get very excited about going and the kids have never yet complained of being bored.
We go for a week at a time usually.

We have a Soulpad, it is really well made....they are the same tent as Belltent Uk sell, but with a different label. Cast and Canvas tents are more high end and look beautiful, but for your average family holiday you don't really need to pay so much imo. It's up to you though, of course.
The ones at Boutique Camping look a bit pants.

It takes dh and I about half an hour to pitch. We have a peg in groundsheet though - the SIG or ZIG will be quicker.

As for when is it too cold to camp in a bell tent - that depends on the weather.

hz Sun 08-Jun-14 22:16:12

All of the above. I wouldn't go the emperor route, only time I've seen one pitched it was a family with several kids including one child in a wheel chair, they turned up in an enourmous mini bus. The emperor is really huge! 5m bell tent is plenty spacious enough for a family of four. I used to sue one at a weekly playgroup in the park, kids and parents all got in it for snakc time, plenty of space. Also very quick to erect, one of the most enticing features of a bell tent. Sure you wouldn't regret it and the kids will adore camping.

Partridge Mon 09-Jun-14 07:19:51

That's really useful, thank you. I am tempted by the emperor, but as a novice camper I don't think I could pull it off!

How many seasons do you expect your tent to last? Looking at canvas and cast they say their tents are four season tents - I was hoping more like 15 years grin.

My dh is very worried about sleeping comfort. He is a happy part time wigwammer and likes the solidness of the sleeping platforms. I like the look of the double inflatables and bringing our super king duvet, but will we roll off one of these? Are we better off going for a sim?

Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions...

pictish Mon 09-Jun-14 07:42:35

By seasons they mean spring, summer, autumn, winter...not years. grin
The tent will last for as long as you take good care of it.

We use inflatable beds and duvets. We don't roll off. It's very comfy.

Partridge Mon 09-Jun-14 09:27:50

blush Thanks Pictish. They may need to make that a bit clearer for numpties like me

Fannydabbydozey Mon 09-Jun-14 18:16:06

5m bell tent with zig owner here. I love, love, it. 15 minutes to put up and yes it feels lovely and spacious in there. We camp in the uk and France in it every single year - it even came to the Middle East with us (but was actually too heavy to use but hey). We have had it for four years now and it looks as beautiful today as it did fresh out of the bag. We have a huge awning for eating and sheltering under and we are just looking into an inner as I get a bit cold camping in the uk. However, if I had the travel space I would definitely invest in a stove as they look awesome and very bell tent. The canvas is lovely and makes a great sound in they wind, none of that nylon rustle rustle rustle, just a real seasidey flap, if you know what I mean.

We are total glampers: sparkly cushions, Rajasthan sequinned throw, furry rugs, the works. I love my bell tent and I really wouldn't swop if for any other tent at this time.

My kids love camping - we just spent a week under canvas and my kids didn't touch an electronic game all week. Just played in the dunes and read books, much like myself. We don't do electronic hook ups, just wrap up warm when we go to bed and I have been known to use a furry rug as extra bedding!

Do it. You won't regret it.

Fannydabbydozey Mon 09-Jun-14 18:17:35

Tent love

Partridge Mon 09-Jun-14 20:44:24

You guys need to do soulpad's pr. You make it sound utterly seductive.

pictish Mon 09-Jun-14 22:59:57

Oh well...if we're sharing pictures.... grin And everything she said as well. It's a total love affair.

pictish Mon 09-Jun-14 23:02:02

We just bought a malu awning too - it's in the back garden atm, serving as a workshop for the camping chuck box dh is building. grin

I live for this shit.

Partridge Tue 10-Jun-14 06:44:51

Now that's what I'm talking about...

TeamEdward Sat 05-Jul-14 08:39:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lovecat Sun 06-Jul-14 20:55:12

Ooh, if we're doing pictures... grin

1. Interior shot of it all glamped up (with battery tea lights)

2. Exterior, bunted <hides from Slubber>

Lovecat Sun 06-Jul-14 20:56:22

Gaah, pressed send too soon! I meant to say ignore DH, he is making my lovely interior look scruffy. That is a 5m bell so hopefully it'll give you some idea of how big it is inside.

YYY to Soulpad, I cannot rate them highly enough smile

Slubberdegullion Sun 06-Jul-14 21:50:57


Bramblesinforrin Sun 06-Jul-14 22:37:45

Well since we're sharing the pictures of the things which we love, bunt and fairy light ...

Fannydabbydozey Sun 06-Jul-14 22:44:42

I'm so making getting bunting...

And battery tea lights

I now need a chandelier...

MeAndMySpoon Fri 11-Jul-14 23:08:39


I would say, avoid Emperor. Not that I've ever laid eyes on one in the flesh but they must be SO heavy and bulky, and cold brrrrr - all that air. Our 5 m soul pad gets a bit chilly but we've just bought an inner so I'm greatly cheered that people think it makes sleeping a little warmer.

Love the pictures!

TellBent Tue 15-Jul-14 08:29:59

Does anyone have any helpful tips on erecting a bell tent, specifically pegging out the main guys? We had some difficulty with ours this weekend. The ground sheet seemed to have expanded and was lying outside the tent part in places. The canvas wasn't taut all over. Something wasn't right!

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