Airbeam tents, single parents, growing kids and a bit of a ramble.(14 Posts)
In a nutshell, I have separated from my husband and he has custody of the tent. It was a good tent for 2 adults and 2 small children, and it was a Decathlon pop up one, I think the 4.2, with a room at either end. I couldn't have put it away by myself in any case, so I suppose he is welcome to it.
Now I need a tent I can put up by myself and put away by myself. My children should be able to help at their age but they are hopeless at doing anything other than making a noise and making a mess so I am discounting them as helpers. Besides, I may want to camp on my own one day.
A 4 berth tent will definitely be too small for us now as the children are 8 and 10. I also think they will want separate rooms at some point in the next few years. I liked the vis a vis layout of the previous tent. I have had a look at some Vango airbeam tents but most of them have all the bedrooms at one end. There was a much better choice in the range last year.
Now here is where I really start to ramble. I am hoping to meet someone (ie a man) at some point. Not having much luck yet but I live in hope. And buying a new tent is going to be a one-off purchase for me. I am not buying a tent with some mythical man in mind but I am mindful of the possibility that at some point in the next few years I may be camping with my children and a man who is not their father. If we are all at one end of the tent the children and/or not-yet-existent man might be uncomfortable with that. So I am looking at the centara 600 and centara 800. The 800 can have 4 bedrooms so I could separate the children as they get bigger.
Also I may at some point camp with a friend and her two children. I am really only a weekend camper as I find it knackering with the children so I need something quick to pitch. As they get older I am envisaging being able to manage a week or so. I am extremely short into the bargain so quite limited in terms of what I can physically do in terms of poles above my head etc. These are the reasons I was looking at the airbeam.
Is the Centara 800 ridiculous for 3 people, as that is what we would be most of the time? Are there any other inflatable tents I should look at? I know decathlon do some but I am wary of buying something I haven't seen, even though our other decathlon tent was excellent. I don't want us to be crammed into a tiny tent as it will be very stressful. Also their dad has turned into Disney dad and they are having lots of luxury holidays with him. We live in a cold, wet and windy part of the country. I just want to try to make the best of our situation. Money is tight and this is a major purchase for us so I have to get it right. I am prepared to spend £700ish.
Before we split up we were going to buy a 5m bell tent but luckily we didn't as that wouldn't have been great for me now.
And I know all the stuff about meeting someone sounds bonkers and very premature, so no need to point that out to me, but it is a consideration because I won't be replacing this tent, ever.
Please bombard me with brilliant ideas
Not sure I can help with tent suggestions but I wanted to applaud your forward thinking! The children may want their own tents in years to come (pup tents) so factor that into the equation.
Look at the KHYAM website, they have a great sale on and I can put up their large rigid one tents on my own.
I am only just getting my head around the forward thinking. We bought a two person tent when there were two of us, then a three person tent when we had dc1, then a four person tent. This has to be the last tent!
Yes, pup tents would be good if they still like camping when they are teenagers. I say still like camping, I don't think any of us particularly like camping as it is!
I was in the same situation a few years ago, and while I didn't lose custody of the family tent, its size and weight made it completely impractical for me to manage on my own. My dcs were slightly older than yours but I did not want to have to rely on them for assistance. I bought one from Millets (own brand), it has detachable sleeping pods which hook up inside the main tent and you can have different options depending on whether people want to sleep next to each other or on opposite sides of the tent. There will be lots of similar designs on the market I'm sure. Last summer, we had the pods at each end of the tent and the living space in the middle, which worked well. It cost a lot less than £700 in the Millets sale, that's for sure. The only thing is that when you have the arrangement with pods at each end, there is no 'porch' area, which can be a bit of a pain if you want to put damp shoes etc somewhere. We have two tables (one to eat on and one for the cooker / food prep) and chairs set up inside and find it has not been cramped, although we have not needed to spend lots of rainy days in it.
The best value Vango airbeam I can think of for you is last year's Exodus model, but it is right at the top of your budget. There's a good deal here for tent, carpet, footprint and DC pump, which should inflate and deflate making it easy to pitch. A 600 version has three bedrooms, two at the back, and an extra you can put in the living area, so that the children could be next to each other at one end, and you could be in the one at the front with hypothetical man.
I pitch our Vango airbeam 5 person tent on my own. However, it is heavy to get to the pitch. Once you're there it's fine though, and if you can wheel it on it's little suitcase wheels, it's even easier. I'd find it more difficult to get down on my own, and back in it's bag, but I haven't had to do that yet.
BUT I have lurked on this forum for a long time, and one thing that comes up, again and again, is pup tents for teenagers and how much they prefer them. I love how you're thinking ahead, but I suppose I am urging caution about thinking that they will even be in the tent with hypothetical man. They may well not be.
Meant to say, reason I mentioned the khyam rigii-domes is that the poles are all in place, you 'click" them in place then push the legs up, so don't have to reach up for tall poles.
Just beware that a 8 man Airbeam tent is going to be extremely heavy. Maybe you're very strong but I struggle with our 6 man Airbeam (about 30kg). Lifting it in and out the car, wrestling it back into the bag and dragging it to the pitch would be a struggle on my own.
Also the pumping is quite hard work physically. The bigger the tent, the more beams to pump. Although you can get an electric pump I think.
I would get a simple tunnel tent like a Vango Icarus (or whatever it is called now: Iris?) .
And be clear and direct with your kids about the few short tasks they will need to help you with.
It has a roomy living area, big enough for one of those integral table and chair contraptions , and a tarp for outdoors can give you cooking space .
Kids love the independence of a pup tent, and may demand the privacy v soon, anyway.
I can put up and take down a simple tunnel tent myself.
Something like a gelert horizon, or hi-gear kalamari
It takes a little longer on your own but I can do our 8 man tent on my own in about 45 minutes.
The vis a vis style seem to be out of favour at the moment which is a shame as they suit me a lot better with a similar set up to yours and we often camp with another family so we have a pod for each family and there is a degree of separation and privacy.
Thank you very much for all the advice and suggestions. I will have a look at the tents mentioned.
I'm a little concerned that you can't pack away a Quechua 4.2. There's a knack to it: are you saying you weren't taught 'the knack' or that you physically couldn't get the tension required to make it twist?
If the latter then the hefting of a 30Kg tent into the required position before inflation is going to be very difficult and an airbeam really isn't for you.
You say that none of you particularly like camping? So it's likely to be odd nights and weekends away rather than a week long camp for the sake of it?
If so then now is not the time for your 'forever tent'. Now is the time for a second hand vango or similar 6 man tunnel tent. There are loads about: try posting on your local FB camping stuff page. Get something with flexi poles and give the kids the mallet. make the pitching part of the fun. I started off in quechua 3-man pop ups with littlies and by the time ED was 9 she could hold a pole on a pin and we easily put up lightweight 6-man tunnels: and there will be lots of room for when it rains. (we didn't even put up the far end bedroom often and just had one big bedroom to share and a huge living area).
You'll be able to get a reasonable tent for your purposes for £200 and have £500 left over for a break you will actually love.
I know there is a knack to the twisting the pop-ups away but I just don't have it. Ex had the knack. I have a 3 person pop-up one but I can't even put that away myself. I'm just not a very capable person.
Sorry, I sounded a bit maudlin. I think I would probably enjoy camping if I didn't have the children. I think they enjoy camping. It isn't my dream holiday, but I don't actually go on holiday. I find it very stressful, but that is probably down to a personality clash with the children. I was quite a serious, sensible child and I find it very hard that they are not. They are noisy so I was always trying to keep them quiet in the tent in the mornings, which was always bloody awful. If I give them something simple to do they find it hilarious to get the task wrong and not follow simple instructions. I shouldn't say it but they take after their father in terms of always acting the fool, and he encourages their crap behaviour. Sorry, that was a bit of a brain dump. I am feeling very down in the dumps today. The last time we camped was the summer before last so maybe they will be a bit more sensible this time. I live in hope. Thing is, I probably won't find out for sure until 4 in the morning on a campsite populated by nice quiet children who don't wake up until 8am. I would love to be able to do more stuff with them. Can't believe I am sitting here crying, typing about tents.
Lovely idea about the £500 left over for a break but sadly it won't work like that. I am taking money to buy a tent out from the sale of the marital home but we currently have no income and are living off the proceeds of the sale of the house. I think that is why I am so stressed about taking this decision to buy a tent. There is a lot of pressure to choose the right one first time. They go on lots and lots of lovely holidays with their dad. At the moment I can't envisage enjoying any kind of break with them. Maybe when they get older things will get easier.
I am physically strong, but very small. I'm not unduly concerned about being able to haul the tent around, but it is being able to pitch the tent and put it away myself that is concerning me. Now that I am alone, I am wary of relying on any help from anyone. It is important to me to be able to do everything by myself.
In your shoes I'd be buying a pop up base room and using it with my existing 3 man pop-up until you've got he measure of camping on your own with the children and then choose what you want.
We camp regularly with a family with a Kampa air tent and it goes up very quickly but takes longer to put away than our Vango 800 with poles, and takes three of them (2 adults and a teen son) to get it back into the bag because it is so heavy to manoeuvre.
Don't rush to make the decision. Estimate it will cost £700 and put that aside for a tent but wait until you have had a chance to look around at a few.
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