Back to the future at The Outdoor Trade Show 2012

Not so long ago, we attended the Outdoor Trade Show at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. The week after we close up our tent show at Sanders for the season we’re already looking forward to next season. OTS Stoneleigh gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that.

This year the organisers of the show have opted to consolidate two separate events into one, bringing together exhibitors of outdoor clothing, tents and other gear into one rather large chunk of a trade show.

Not only were there two halls full of well over 100 exhibition ‘booths’, but several large fields full of tents from various designers and manufacturers. Shows like these give outdoor brands the chance to introduce their new gear and show off their innovative products to retailers who are pinpointing what to buy in for the upcoming year.

At Taunton Leisure we’re no different. Having already sampled the huge scale of Friedrichshafen only a few weeks ago, The Outdoor Trade Show was, for us, an opportunity to focus on what is new in tents for 2013. So myself and Simon (the boss) headed there with a lot to look out for.

We can’t give too much away yet on what’s new in tents just yet, but we can give you a flavour of how our day went:

It was certainly a long one. Out at 7am and back at about 10:30pm. We were on the road first thing in order to make the two and a bit hour road journey from Somerset to Warwickshire in good time, so we could have a full day taking in everything there was to see.

Accompanied by the Sat Nav voice of Jeremy Clarkson (who was all too eager to remind us of how ‘bored to tears’ he was with the journey), we discussed our plans for the day. Our main objectives were to spend time looking tents that we have listed as ‘maybes’ for next season, fulfill appointments with our trade partners, and look out for any new or particularly interesting products that catch our eye.

Upon arrival we headed straight for the cafe for a cup of coffee to energise us for the day ahead, a perfectly normal thing to do! We looked round and like last year, there were tents as far as the eye could see.

Still, we had a stroll around and found something of interest…

It was like a very quiet, well ordered Glastonbury Festival, albiet one where everybody owned high spec tents and gave each other a good few feet of room…

On second thoughts it was actually nothing like Glastonbury.

We always liked the idea of bell tents and this one from Nordisk had a lovely feel both inside and out as well as appearing sturdy and well made. We get a lot of people asking if we sell this kind of tent, which we don’t currently. It’s certainly under consideration for next year, though…

After a bit of time inspecting the selection from Nordisk, Simon had an appointment to fulfill, so I decided to have a look round at what was on offer from our friends at Vango.

Vango is a key brand in our range of expedition and family tents. We’ve always felt they offer great value and performance throughout their range.

Vango: What to expect for 2013

We can’t reveal too much, but we can give you a sneaky peak on what we’re excited about from Vango for 2012. One thing that’s looking promising is the introduction of new thicker 150 denier polyester flysheet fabric to selected tents in their range.

This thicker fabric should not only be stronger, but last much longer as well.As I looked around I got chatting to Louis, an Assistant Product Developer from Vango. He took me through the tents in their range that we were particularly interested in, giving me the lowdown on each model and what’s new compared to last year.

One tent that features the thicker fabric is the Vango AirBeam Eclipse 600, a hugely spacious, roomy and sturdy inflatable tent that pitches quickly. Notice that little storage area at the front? That should help you get the most of the space provided by the ‘stub canopy’. The tent also has a inflatable beam on the rain entrance, which features sides that run right to the floor to prevent rain entering the tent.

Most pleasingly though, is the inclusion of zip on canopy compatibility the front of the tent so the compatible zip on canopy, a new feature from Vango, can be added. This method is by far the quickest and most secure way to attach a canopy, and we’re glad that Vango have afforded this technology to their top level tents.

This bodes well for other tents using the thicker fabric and is only a good thing for campers. As you’d expect, the tents will cost more, but in our opinion, the benefits of their extra lifespan are worth the extra cash.At our Sanders tent show this season we had a few tents pitched with 120 denier fabric, which is much thicker than the 70 denier material that you’d associate with most tents. This thicker tent fabric managed to withstand 5 months of constant exposure to the elements; sun, wind, rain, the lot. Granted, they did look a little ropey by the end, but they had survived the equivalent of over 15 years use in all conditions!

New tent for 2013: Vango Appleby 500

Not quite a tipi (although we’re sure we’ll hear them referred to as such), the distinctive Appleby offers a great amount of room, head height and views of your surroundings. The canopy on the front is included and provides a great area of shade for sitting in. Large windows and big doors with supporting mesh add to the light and airy feeling inside of the tent.We don’t want to get into revealing all of next years tents quite so early, but we just love the Appleby and we wanted to share it in all of its quirky glory!

The Appleby utilises new ‘tied arch system’ technology making the tent easy to pitch and allowing for a huge amount of space and head height. We’re really looking forward to stocking this tent next season, as well as many others from Vango, next season.

What about inside?

Next on the agenda was to have a look inside the halls. As well as the many acres of tents, there was plenty to see inside the two large halls, with, we think, around 100 or so different exhibitors inside. Here’s a few pictures:

As I mentioned earlier, our main focus was on tents for next season, so after we did the rounds inside we headed off to visit our friends at Outwell, who were on a separate site.

There was a huge amount to see at Outwell, including many tents and a whole host of accessories. There are lots of exciting developments to look forward to for next season.

But that’s a story for another day…

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