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Weekend(s?) only camping, possibly only once or twice a year - cheap pop-up or proper tent? Please help!

(36 Posts)
MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 18:01:50

Well, neither dh or myself campers, but I've persuaded him to go to Blackberry Woods next weekend, for 2 days only.

It will be dh, myself and our 16-month old (escape artist, if that makes any difference).

With weekend rapidly approaching, I'm starting to panic about the tent.

I've read a lot of reviews and threads about the best tents on here, and keep having to have words with myself as to why we don't need the really, really lovely ones that I want to live in looks comfortable but costs a fortune.

My problem: Do we get a proper tent so as not to put dh off completely on first attempt at camping (but spend too much on what will most likely be the only camping weekend this year), or do we buy something cheap that will erect in minutes, but not so comfortable?

None of our friends camp, so sadly we can't borrow one, which would have been ideal.

PS: You can't really realistically go camping in winter, can you?? sad

Thanks very much in advance!

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 18:21:36

When you say you are going for 2 days only, does that only mean 1 night?

How much cooking are you planning on doing? Are you going to eat out much?

When you say comfortable do you mean space, or a comfortable nights sleep? I think if you have a tight budget you are better off investing in some good sleeping bags/mats/airbeds than buying a spenith tent and then having a miserable, cold, sleepless night.

If you are just going for 1 night and eating out then I think a pop up will be fine. We have just got 2 outwell jersey Ms for 1-2 night camps and I think they are pretty good. We also have a tarp to sit under which came into its own last night and this morning (rain +++).

The other option is to go for a small 3 man tent with a porch.

I don't think many folk camp in winter but I think that is partly to do with lack of daylight hours as well as the pissy weather.

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 18:25:08

If your dh is anything like my dh he is much more likely to be put off if you have a bigger than necessary tent that fills up the boot, takes ages to put up (while you are herding escaping dc) and takes ages to take down and dry when you get it home.

This is the path to camper's crack-up wink

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 23-Aug-09 18:33:48

proper tent. One night or a zillion, you do not want to get wet if it rains.

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 18:35:46

Slubber, thanks for the posts - I've read some of your excellent answers on the Camping topic, which is the main reason I keep thinking we really need a proper one! grin wink

But yes, you're right - I suspect if he has to spend an hour setting it up, it'll most definitely be a one and only trip!

Well, the booking is for Friday and Saturday night, but we both work until 5 on Friday, so we'll be able to leave London at 6pm at the earliest after picking ds up from nursery. I am considering this though - packing everything the night before, and drive straight from nursery there (should take us 2 hours max). A quick set-up would obviously be essential for this. Am I mad?

I think if we were to go regularly, I would be happy (well, as far as possible anyway) to spend around £200 - £300, but for infrequent trips, I'm hoping to get away with half that max. Is that doable? Will search for your tent suggestion in a second.

Wrt eating out, I'm hoping not to, but instead spend some family time together, which we miss a bit by both working out full-time. Is happy to live off bbq'd marshmallows if needs be!

We've got a good air mattress, so would only need to get the sleeping bags and other camping essentials. I'm trying to stick to online, as I'm a sucker for gadgets and gets a bit over excited in camping shops!

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 18:38:56

Sorry TheDMshouldbeRivened, missed you in my essay. Thing with that though, the only ones that I can find that's really quick to set up, are really expensive. There was a Khyam one (can't remember full name now) that I think Slubber linked to that looked excellent, and they say it could be done in 4 minutes (so half an hour for us I guess), but it's about £300... I don't know what to do!

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 23-Aug-09 18:39:56

Bell Tent takes 10 minutes wink
I have a Vango Orchy which takes about 20 mins.

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 18:40:38

Hmm, so the cheaper ones, do you think it's likely to leak? Oh hell, that'll be even worse for fighting my case... (I'm just blaming him, I'll probably be the one begging to go home at 1am!)

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 23-Aug-09 18:42:08

The Orchy was about £120, has a hydrostatic thingy of 3000 and has never leaked, even in torrential rain, hail and wind.

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 18:54:03

Ooh wow, I want a Bell Tent with fairy lights... See the pic in the middle. Hmm, wonder if divorce would be worth it. Close call. See middle pic.

Slubber, those pop-ups with a tarp might be perfect for overnight, as looks like no hassle involved at all.

If not, the Vango looks really good, and the price good, so fine even if for occasional use. TheDMshouldbeRivened, does it need 2 people to set up? DS will probably be halfway back to London if left to himself for 5 minutes!

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 23-Aug-09 19:00:02

I put it up by myself Sal. DH hates camping and never goes.

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 19:01:57

thank you for your nice comments Sal smile
hmmm, it's a tricky one grin

I reckon it's entirely possible for you to go and pitch on friday night (would be lovely waking up on site on saturday morning knowing you had the whole w/e ahead of you) but you will need something quick and easy to pitch, and preferably had a practice pitch at home.

The only reason I'm not giving you the hard sell on the Jerseys are that there is no porch, so nowhere really to sit under to eat/read/converse whatever, you are either in the tent, lying down or you are out of the tent grin. We already had our tarp so that's why I went for them rather than something more along the lines of the Orchy that riven has recommended.

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 19:06:18

<bites fist>

I am loathe to critisise a bell tent as they are divine (and I LOVE camping in our canvas pyramide)


This w/e we camped with friends with the most beautiful Tentipi (oh it is lush inside) however this morning they were having less than loving thoughts towards it as we struck camp in the lashing Welsh rain and they had to fit a HUGE wet heavy canvas into the back of their car.

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 19:08:58

Sal, it was pretty much hassle free, and despite my concerns they stood up quite admirably to the rain and wind.

I think if I were you I'd still go for an Orchy type thing though.

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 19:16:34

Hahaha, just showed dh a pic of the bell tent. That'll be a no then. The words "hell", "no", "dead" and "body" all featured... Maybe if this first time goes really well, we can eventually upgrade one day! Reading your poor friends' struggle helps a little in getting me to stop sulking.

Oh, and sorry, never answered you properly - when I said "comfortable", I meant cosy / good experience. Basically anything to avoid a never again situation. So yes, probably not too much hassle getting everything in boot, not too much trouble setting it up, and definitely not getting wet.

So far, I think good mattress, existing sleeping bag under fitted sheet with proper duvet and pillows (but might go for good sleeping bag now, not sure). Not going to bother with cot, so the 3 of us in bed.

Hmm, ok, either lying down or out perhaps not best option with ds at the moment. I think an Ochy it is then - will search for best price now. Thank you so much to both of you!

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 19:19:46

If I could get something delivered this week, we could sleep in the garden on Sunday night for a practice run. grin

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 19:24:43


You will have to work up to the bell tent. imo the whole camping experience is much nicer under real canvas, but it does come with its own downsides.

For your budget you should be able to get something absolutely fine (ie that does not leak) I'm pretty sure that all the good brands Vango, Outwell, Khyam, Blacks own range etc will do a tent very similar in lay out/size. The higher the HH the more waterproof it will be, anything over 3000 should be fine.

One other thing, if this w/e is your 'tester pot' camp then I'd keep an eye on the weather. If it is going to be pissing it down the whole time with a bastard gale blowing this might not be the best moment to reveal the joys of camping to your DH grin

MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 19:29:59

Problem with weather only is that it was small and secluded with real fires already bare minimum for a starting point (will venture into open fields soon, but baby steps here wink ), and this was the first opening we could get at Blackberry Wood... Keep everything crossed for me for a bank holiday without rain (yes, I know, I know!) grin

I'll take loads of wine and poetry in case!

Mollyfish Sun 23-Aug-09 19:30:28

If this is Blackberry Woods near Ditchling then this is the best campsite EVER, and you will have no trouble convincing DH. (Don't get an absolutly massive tent, the pitches are in little clearings in the woods. They are plenty big enough for a normal family tent, but not for those vast tunnel tents).
Take barbeque stuff.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 23-Aug-09 19:31:07

true, the Bell Tent is heavy. I just shoved it in the car yesterday and haven't faced up to getting it back into its bag yet. Mind you, I am hopeless at getting any tent back into its bag.

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 19:42:21

I'll keep everything crossed for you. The blackberry woods site sounds fab.

I am also one who is not overly fond of putting tents back into their bags. Why do they not make the bags a bit bigger? WHY? WHY? Do they think we enjoy the sweaty, profanity enducing wrestle at the end of a holiday?

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 23-Aug-09 19:43:52

I wonder how they get them in all neat and tight in the first place

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 19:53:56


MistergodthisisSal Sun 23-Aug-09 20:06:45


Yep Mollyfish, that's the one. I'm going to go with the Orchy (or equivalent), so hopefully that'll be fine.

Hmm, if too difficult to get back into bag, I might just go and live in it in the garden. The flat's too small anyway and then I don't have to get up at night !

I'm so excited about next couple of weekends - we're staying in a Yurt (again, first time) in York this weekend. It's got a "cow bed" and everything! grin grin grin

See, there's method in my madness: hotel -> yurt -> camping ... Next thing you know I'll be wild swimming somewhere and sleeping on the beach!

Slubberdegullion Sun 23-Aug-09 20:11:01


envy at the yurt trip. What is a cow bed then?

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