Following on from our recent Top 5 Camping Gadgets, our latest top 5 is on family tents. Tents are for camping in. They’re for living in, temporarily or even permanently. At times they are your only barrier between yourself and the elements – the worst storm you’ve ever seen, high winds, teeming rain… They can also be the perfect frame from within which to enjoy a stunning view, a romantic space to share with a loved one, or even a little fort! A tent can be all things to all people, so here’s our top 5 tents of all shapes and sizes…
The Beta range has always been popular with those looking for ample space at a great value price. This range has expanded, literally. The new 550XL opens up the range to families and at full stand up height of 2m, will be suitable for families up to 5 in number who are camping on a budget. The Beta is easy to pitch and comes with plenty of living space and TBS II, giving the tent unrivaled stability. All the usual bells and whistles are featured, including storage pockets, clear pvc windows and reflective webbing to pick up torchlight in the darkness. A great addition to the range and well worthy of a spot in the top five.
The Nevada MP (formerly the Nevada M) is a best seller and firm fixture on campsites across Europe for Danish outdoor brand Outwell. Their approach to ‘innovative family camping’ has catapulted them to the top of the market – each year they produce over 75 different tent models to the market. The Nevada is one of them. The 2012 version was awarded a ‘best buy’ from Which? – high praise indeed. The archetypal family tent, it’s tunnel design is ideal for up to five people – perhaps one or two less if you’d like a bit of extra space. The tent itself features many of the innovations introduced to the market by Outwell including wind stabilizer attachments for stability, great views from panoramic fronted tents, and luminous guylines to (hopefully) prevent you tripping over!
The Bell tent has that retro coolness to it – a simple structure featuring a central pole covered by a polycotton flysheet, anchored to the ground around the walls of the tent with guy ropes that provide stability. Older readers may well remember these from days gone by. The number of people I’ve had come up to me at our tent show and reminisce about how they remember going camping in a bell tent as a child is countless. Today they are as much a symbol of modern day #glamping as they are nostalgia; lighter weight, quick drying polycotton fabric has replaced the heavy 100% cotton canvas of old. They’re easy to pitch, spacious, and offer something a bit different than your conventional tunnel tent. With a few cushions and rugs you can make a space that is really quite appealing!
A beautiful, sturdy and easy to use structure. Tentipi tents present a fusion of classical design principles and modern technology – based upon the traditional design principles of the Sami kåta, using the latest materials and construction techniques. The Safir 9 is the hallmark of the Tentipi Nordic tipi adventure range. The fantastic thing about these structures is that they’re so easy to pitch it almost feels like cheating! You can have a comfortable, reliable space fit for 9 people pitched in 5-10mins without hurrying. Tentipi tents are designed to harness the principles of natural ventilation, utilising well placed vents that allow you to have a fire inside the tent or use a compatible stove. The space to pack size ratio also is also brilliant, with the largest size (Tentipi Zirkon 15) packing into a trekking rucksack at around the 80 litre capacity. For those who want something that will last for a lifetime that is easy to use, reliable, comfortable and unique, this is it.
The latest thing in family camping is inflatable tents, and while they may now be anything new as a concept (remember those old Igloos?) since Vango released their Airbeam inflatable tent range to the market a few years ago, they have been very successful.
We could’ve chosen any Airbeam tent model really, because they all demonstrate the core principles behind this range. Tents that are fun to use, easy to pitch and good all round quality. They take a matter of minutes to pitch – the process is so easy that you can leave the kids to do it whilst sitting back and watching!
The beams are protected by several layers of strong material and have been tested in strong gales and rain. Airbeams now boast the use of thicker 150D fabric as opposed to the ~70D you’ll find on most polyester tents this enhances the durability and increases the tent’s lifespan. The Eclipse we’ve featured has all the essential mod cons, including clear PVC windows with zipped curtains, plenty of storage pockets, TBS II stability system, side rain entrance, and many more.
However, the greatest achievement of the Airbeam tents is, in my opinion, their ability to bring new people into camping; those who were once dismissed the process of pitching a tent as “too complicated” or older campers who perhaps now struggle with the work of pitching a heavy large tent. They have opened camping up to all, regardless or age or experience – and that has to be a good thing. The Airbeam is well deserving of the number 1 spot.
What do you think of our list? Agree or disagree? Are there any family tents we missed out that you feel deserve to be 0n your list? What would you choose as your top 5 family tents? Share your lists with us in the comments section!