It’s time for me to admit something – I’m a tentaholic.
I love looking at tents. You will often find me at festivals wandering around the family camping section, checking out other peoples’ tents with increasing envy.
Choosing a tent is a difficult thing to do – after all this rolled up piece of fabric is the only thing that separates you from the (let’s face it) usually freezing cold and often very wet British weather. So it is important you get the right one for your family.
The most important things to look at when buying a tent are:
Always buy a tent larger than your family. The quoted sizes are the number of people that can sleep in it if they really squeeze in. So if there are 3 of you get a 4 man tent, 4 of you get a 5 man, 5 of you get a 6 man etc
Check the weight and size of the tent when it’s packed up. Some tents like the Outwell Montana are very heavy and so you will need enough space in your car and, if you are going to a larger festival, a trolley to get it from the car to the campsite.
Separate bedrooms sound like a great idea but if you have very young children they will probably get scared if they are on their own, and if they wake up crying in the night you will have to get through two zips to get to them! However if you have older children, separate bedrooms will give them and you some added privacy.
4. Ease of use
If you are going to lots of festivals you should look for one that’s easy to put up and take down. Trust us on this one! Put up your tent in your garden or a local park before you go to a festival so you know how it goes up. This sounds obvious but I’ve lost count of the people we’ve helped who have had no clue how to put up their tent – and when you arrive at a festival with tired children you will want to get your tent up as quickly as possible! If this is the part of camping that you can’t stand, consider investing in an inflatable tent like the Vango Airbeam range that pitch in minutes.
I would recommend getting a trusted brand such as Outwell or Vango. Don’t be fooled into buying a cheap tent – if you have children you don’t want the rain to come in and believe me (this is from experience) if it’s cheap it will leak! If you can’t afford a new one, a second hand good quality tent is much better than a new rubbish one. Have a look on ebay or gumtree, take seam sealant plus either a tent repair kit or a spare tarpaulin with you the first time you use it in case it leaks. Once you have done any repairs (and it may not need any) it will last as long as if you had bought it new.
What is hydrostatic head and is it important?
Hydrostatic head (HH) is the height of water that the material can withstand before it leaks, and you should look for a tent with at least 3000mm HH. You might think that the higher the HH is, the more waterproof the tent – unfortunately it’s not that simple! The truth is that you will tend to get leaks in the seams or doors, not often in the material itself. So it’s good to look for taped seams and a ‘storm entrance’ (this allows you to go in and out while its raining without flooding the tent).