Wednesday, 13 April 2016

How to choose your Family Tent

One of our greatest pleasures whilst running the business has been sending complete camping novices away with their first camping kit , ready to make some amazing memories on the adventures to come.

Having over 22 years family camping experience we are able to offer advice and guidance for both novice and experienced campers whether your planning your first expedition , or family camping trip we are here to help drawing on our own experience and a few things we've picked up during our ten years of running the business.

We've put together this guide to hopefully help you choose your camping kit ... simply follow the links.

So where to start? ... lets start with the tent - the last few years have seen things move quite quickly in the design of tents especially with the introduction of Inflatable tents.

Things to consider when choosing your tent :-

Polyester or Canvas - most modern tents are now manufactured from Polyester as opposed to canvas however many Tent Manufactures have now introduced a range of Polycotton tents.

Poly Cotton - the Pro's & Con's 

Breathable so is better at climate control - Polycotton Tents tend to be cooler in sunshine and warmer in the evenings.

Polycotton is a lot heavier than polyester and if de-pitched wet should ideally be re-pitched to dry as soon as possible to reduce the risk of shrinking

Things to bear in mind when choosing a polycotton tent ... Space in the car - being polycottton the pack size is likely to be a little larger , space to pitch when you get home just in case you pack down wet. 

Polyester Tents - The pro's & Con's 

The Pro's

Polyester tents tend to be a lot lighter than Polycotton and this means the pack size is usually a lot smaller. There's usually no need to re - pitch if taken down wet - Polyester Tents can be easily dismantled and dry quite nicely over the bannister at home! There's no risk of shrinkage with a polyester tent.

The Con's

Polyester tents can be a little warm in the summer , it is important when choosing your tent to make sure that there is plenty of mesh - either as vents or doors - this both helps with climate control and reduces condensation.

Polyester tents can suffer with condensation a little , again it's important to choose a tent with plenty of air flow.

Understanding H/H - you will see as you shop around that all polyester tents are given a H/H measurement in mm - this is the waterproof rating - a column of water is placed on the fabric and a measurement is taken at the point where the water starts to penetrate the fabric. 1500 mm is classed as waterproof , this is fine for weekend , festival or starter tents - we would though always recommend choosing a tent with a minimum H/H of 3000mm for a family tent or expedition tent. It's also worth bearing in mind that very often the quality of the zips , amount of mesh vent & Doorways will be improved inline with the higher H/H.

Things to bear in mind when choosing a polyester tent , the H/H rating of the tent , the number of doorways and mesh vents to allow for ventilation. 

So now we've chosen the fabric .... what about the frame?

Fibreglass - by far the most popular pole material of recent years , Fibreglass poles are lightweight , compact and easy to thread. Fibreglass poles comprise of sections of Fibreglass with a shock cord (elastic Cord Running Through the middle) it is worth remembering though that fibreglass poles are considered a consumable for Tent Manufacturers and spare poles & shock cord is widely available - replacing a fibreglass pole section is a relatively simple job - but we do offer a Tent Pole Repair service.

Things to bear in mind when choosing Fibreglass Poles - Carry some spares , check the length of the pole sleeves - in recent years tent manufacturers have shortened these making the poles easier to thread , check your tension - each fibreglass pole will have a corresponding pin to locate at ground level on the tent - this may also feature a tensioning strap - make sure this is at it's loosest to locate the pin , and tighten once pitched.

Steel Poles - These came back into the tent market a few years ago and whilst the make the Tent Package considerably heavier than Fibreglass alternatives once pitched Tents feel more grounded - very often steel framed tents will offer a little more usable space in the tent as the design will very often be a lot squarer. Many manufacturers also offer tents with a combination of both Fibreglass & Steel Poles - giving the best of both worlds.

Things to bear in mind when choosing Steel Pole , they are a little heavier but easier to thread giving more usable space in the tent - It is very unlikely that you would need to repair a steel pole - again we can help should you need to.

Inflatable Frame - Airframe Tents - these have revolutionised camping - it really is possible now to arrive and pitch in a very short time. Air frame Tents are supplied with their own pump and pressure gauge to ensure correct inflation. Quality in key with inflatable Tents. We have searched the market to bring you a great range of inflatable tents that offer both value for money & High Specification. Being as one , Inflatable tents are considerably heavier than a fibreglass alternative. Should you have an accident with a pole replacements and spares are available from the Tent manufacturers.

Things to bear in mind when choosing an Air Frame , the weight and pack size of the tent.

So we've chosen the Fabric , the Frame now the layout....

Dome - A versatile design tent with bedrooms positioned off a central living area - great for family or group camping offers a great solution for families with mixed age children.

Things to bear in mind when choosing a dome tent a porch area is always useful for keeping wet gear out of the main living area , head height being dome in design these tents are very unlikely to be full head height in the bedrooms. 

Vis a Vis - Bedrooms placed either side of a central living area - this design is great when camping with older children or two separate groups camping together , a central living area becomes the hub of the tent

Things to bear in mind when choosing a vis a vis style tent - the bedrooms are separate , make sure there is enough living area for everyone. 

Traditional - this style of tent was revived a few years ago and is still extremely popular across the manufacturers , the bedrooms are positioned across the back of the tent with a living area to the font. This is a great choice for families with younger children as more often than not the bedrooms will offer the flexibility of being split with curtain dividers whilst everyone is still sleeping in one pod.

Things to bear in mind when choosing a traditional design tent - check the bedroom configuration a solid line means a separate pod and a dotted or dashed line indicates a divider. These tents will very often be full head height throughout. 

Ridge Tent - these are prefect for a spontaneous get away , reminiscent of the 70's a simple design with one sleeping area and porchway

Bell Tent - Very often made from Canvas or Polycotton , a true glamping experience with everyone sleeping in a central living area. 
 So before we go there are just a couple more tip's we'd like to share with you ....
  • Pitch Size - all of our listings should contain pitch size information - If not please let us know :-) we've added this to help choose your tent , most standard UK Campsites offer pitches of approx 6m x 6m , these can often be upgraded to larger pitches but there may be an extra charge. 
  • How large is your family - we would always recommend if possible to add at least a couple of berth to your tent , this will give you a little extra living / storage space to make sure you & your family can still enjoy the tent even when the weather may not be so good!

Don't forget , we also offer Tent Hire - A great way to try before you buy - if you love the tent you hire and decide to buy one we'll deduct your daily hire fee from the price of your new tent . 

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