/ Family camping tent
This is sort of a gear question but more general knowledge than anything technical, so I’ll stick it here.
We’re now a family of four as of a fortnight ago, and I’d like to get back in to camping this year. I need a new monster family camping tent to replace the trusty 2-man and I was hoping for some recommendations.
It doesn’t need to do anything impressive, just be large, robust enough that we’re not going to find ourselves in trouble in the occasional summer storm and preferably not cost the earth.
It will always be car camping so packed size and weight are not critical, though obviously smaller and lighter are always better.
Anyone got any good candidates to share, please?
We’ve been using a Vango Diablo for a few years now. Enormous tent and practically bomb proof although it does weigh a ton.
The Diablo seems a little overkill for four. You can get some very nice tents with two sleeping compartments and a central living area that are much smaller and lighter (and cheaper?).
For example (I have no experience of this exact model):
I've got a coleman coastline (3 plus). It's taken quite a battering over the years and has minimal damage to show for it (including a fractured pole after being literally flattened in the wind which was later fixed with climbing tape, five years ago). Spacious, sturdy, easy to pitch and pack away. When I eventually give it a viking funeral I will probably try and replace it with an equivalent model. Being a roomy 3-man it's not the lightest but I've taken it to festivals and the walk to the camping areas from car park has never been especially punishing. I don't know your budget but you can get 4-man models new for around the £300 mark from Go Outdoors.
Eureka tunnel type tents in the "technical cotton" variant, nothing else (unless you want to pay for a proper expedition basecamp model)
Best tent climate both in cold Scandinavia and a Mediterranean heat wave, and bomb proof (ours survived a storm that flattened our Hilleberg Keron pitched next to it). We have the smallest , three pole variant, which is tall enough for me to stand in, but a bigger model can allow you to install a second inner tent for the children.
We are a family of four with an aging van who have borrowed a few tents over the years and are considering a new tent purchase. Our thoughts:
1. Get as big a tent as you can face. Inside space is a godsend when the weather sets in. Space to cook whilst the kids play/colour etc makes life a lot easier.
2. Inflatable tents go up and down VERY quickly, so for a snatched weekend they are real plus
3. Fabric - as per cb294's post, polycotton tents are apparently a lot better than si-nylon etc. I don't have any experience with them but the praise is enough for me to put it near the top of the list of must haves.
We got the Decathlon Air Seconds 6.3 XL (https://www.decathlon.co.uk/air-seconds-63-fb-tent-id_8492639.html) last year and it's great for family camping...
2 bedrooms with black-out material so no early rising or getting cooked out. Optional third bedroom/storage room.
Large (huge!) inside space so space to play on rainy days.
Lastly it's an Air tent, so super-quick to put up, which is useful when you arrive in the dark/rain and need to corral the kids until the tent's up.
Only downside is it's pretty big packed down.
We've had a Coleman MacKenzie 4 for approx 7 years and been really pleased with it, they discontinued it for a while but I see they've now reintroduced it with the addition of a blackout bedroom.
It has steel poles so is pretty strong, the downside is the weight & pack size; not a problem for us as we have a van.
That’s an interesting suggestion, thanks - I hadn’t thought about the merits of blackout bedrooms but in UK summer when the sun only goes down for 6 hours a night that could be very handy.
How do these air tents hold up in reality? Do they get punctures often, and are they as sturdy as a pole based tent?
We've got a Vango airbeam tent - bloody godsend. We've been camping with other families a few times. I can put our mansion up singlehanded in 10 minutes (whilst the wife passifies the kids who've been couped up in the car on the journey there). We're sipping beers whilst the other families with pole tents are still having a domestic over which pole goes in which sleeve.
Never had a problem with it going down. The chap at the tent shop said the display tents never needed topping up all season. The airbeams have fairly heavy duty fabric protecting them - you'd struggle to puncture one accidently.
We have been using this tent for the last 5 years. Worked well for us as a family of 3 (2 adults and a teenager). Child is off to University, so we will be back to smaller tents, but I would recommend.
Another vote for a Decathlon tent.. We also have the QUECHUA ARPENAZ 4.2
Great value, have only used it once last summer as yet, but impressed. It also come in an inflatable variety(with Black Out) if you wanted but its considerably more expensive.
We are a family of five and have been using an Outwell Montana 6 with a porch extension for years. It is a massive and fairly flexible space (bedroom area can be zipped into two rooms or kept as one.). It even has a carpet, which I was initially sceptical about, but it’s great.
It has a huge pack size and is heavy. Also you need someone at least 5ft 6 to hang the bedroom compartment inside the fly sheet. It’s stood up to plenty in the way of high winds and rain and is still going strong.
I have watched with envy as airbeam tents go up in a few minutes though.......
We have a Vango Icarus 600 - 2 adults, 2 small kids in it. Has plenty of room for all the stuff we need to take - the jump from 4 to 6 man isn't much in terms of weight and pack size, but makes a noticeable difference in comfort.
They'd only just come out when we got it and therefore wasn't much choice, but I'd seriously consider the Coleman tents with a "proper" black-out lining, so the kids will go to/stay asleep better. They also claim to be much cooler inside in blazing sun.
> I have watched with envy as airbeam tents go up in a few minutes though.......
Friend of mine has an Airbeam and says it's fantastic - I'm still waiting for the prices to come down to an acceptable level.
> I hadn’t thought about the merits of blackout bedrooms but in UK summer
Decathlon's Fresh & Black range is good for staying cool and allowing you to sleep. They do airbeam versions, too.
Thanks for all the responses. I’m glad I checked with the UKC hive mind because I didn’t realise blackout linings were a thing, and I’d always assumed the inflatable tents were a gimmick, but I like both those ideas now.
Also, either there’s a UI issue with the way the page is laid out or there are some strange people out there, because every post on this thread has atleast one dislike. Have we got a member of the caravan club in our midst?
Another vote for Decathlon inflatable tents. We'e got a standing room, one-bedroom version for £199 There's a two bedroom version, I see, for £299. Very quick to put up, not too hard to get back in its bag and a nice compromise, for us, between the really roomy Wild Country pole tent and the mountain Marmot tent that we used to choose between before. Now we can go away for short breaks and have comfort without being put off by the work involved. I doubt it will stand up to really severe weather, but I doubt we'd want to camp in that anyway.
Why are there so many dislikes on this thread and quite generally throughout the threads at the moment.
Ha - I noticed that too.
Wasn't sure if there's someone very anti-air tent, or just tents in general.
We've only used our air-beam a couple of times, so too early too tell on longevity, but the general consensus is the latest ones are perfectly viable.
One thing to be mindful of is if in summer, don't inflate the poles too much as the expansion can burst them. Some newer tents have fancy valves which let air out automatically if pressure gets too much.
I was originally after a Montana 6 as they seem the staple of family camping, there's an air version too, but for the price, the Decathlon range is incredible.
Yes, I was wondering as well: Three dislikes for recommending a family tent that did an excellent job for me for the last 20 years.
Meant to add, if you have very small kids, these are brilliant, as they can't roll off - my youngest loves hers. Also comes in blue:
I´ve got a gigantic Gellert 6 person thing (with an extension as well) that copes with three adults, two teenagers and a mad dog. Copes with the weather in Brittany and thunderstorms in the Dolomites but takes two adults to put it up. I´ve also a Decathlon 4XL Air Seconds or whatever it´s called, the four person inflatable which is my go-for tent these days car camping either alone with the dog or two adults and a teenage lout. To put it up one person in 5 minutes, erects inner and outer together. Build quality is excellent (probably the best I´ve ever had) and the material is more robust than normal (why it weighs 12kg or so). The tube bladders are replaceabable. Really good ventilation for a summer tent. You can inflate about half way with an electric airbed pump, the rest you definately need the Decathlon pump which you have to buy extra (worth the money though) or a big electric one. It´s survived touring N Europe and Germany, Holland and Cornwall as well as it´s normal service in the Frankenjura (it might be there this weekend). All in all highly recommended. Wet snow is a problem but at least the poles don´t break when it collapses, just get the snow off and it springs back up!
This is excellent to read because after some of the previous recommendations I opted for, at some considerable cost, the decathlon 6.3 XL with the blackout linings.
We’re off for a trial run tomorrow, only to a local site with very swanky facilities, but it’ll be the first time in 4 years or so and with a toddler and a 3.5 week old.
Fingers crossed we don’t ruin it for an entire field of campers!
Thanks for all the advice, all.
A fire on Marsden Moor in West Yorkshire, which has now affected around 15km2 of moorland, is likely to have been started by a barbecue