Monday, 12 July 2010

Day Trip For A Camping Virgin

My lovely friend David recently decided that camping with his three year old daughter was without a doubt the holiday for them, but his only problem was he didn't have a clue as where to start, let alone  which tent to buy! So he called on me for some expert camping advice....

We jumped in the car and took a short trip out of town to a fabulous camping shop, Camping International, which is based in Gillingham, Kent. As David has never done this camping malarky before I thought it was important for him to check out some of the different varieties of tent that are on offer. 
As we all know, these days everything we need is simply at a click of a button and we can view every single tent available throughout the world online, but to really get a feel for a tent and to make sure that it is the right one for you and your family, it really is a good idea to have a good nosy around them.

Now it has to be said that I am not a big fan of dark green or blue tents. I have owned a blue one in the past and I found it really depressing, especially on a miserable day, the tent felt moody and enclosed. So when it was finally time to upgrade, I was really keen to buy a tent that was light and airy. 
My husband and I spent many hours visiting camping shops, the reason for this is that they all have different varieties on display. Funnily enough, it was at Camping International that I spotted our future holiday home, the Sunncamp Family Vario 600. The minute I stepped inside the door I knew it was 'The One'. It was love at first sight, and what made this tent so special was the amount of windows it had, two in the roof, two down each sides and two at the front,  and if that wasn't enough to make me squeal with delight, it was made from a lovely light green/grey coloured material. Perfection. However the one draw back was the staggering amount of money they wanted in exchange for it! Deflated and heartbroken we left the shop, but I wasn't deterred from my Husband clutching his wallet and shaking his head,  a quick browse on the internet when we got home and I found it cheaper online at Springfield Camping, puppy dog eyes and a promise we would camp for the rest of our lives,  she (not sure why she is a she) was delivered within a couple of days! 

My tent is now sooo last year, although I wouldn't trade her in for all the tea in china and you can still buy this make online but their latest equivalent seems to be the Sunncamp Constellation 800, with extra features!

Other things to think about when buying a tent is how much head room you have! My Husband is 6ft3ins and David is 6ft and if you are planning on camping for a long period of time, ducking your head regularly becomes a right old pain in the neck!

Carpet?!? who'd ever heard of carpet in a tent... bit extravagant isn't it? My husband thought so at the time we bought ours, but he certainly hasn't regretted spending that extra £40 since! It really does take the cold and dampness away from the ground and gives your tent and tootsies a real warm and homely feel.

Footprint in camping terms means its a ground cover that simply helps protect the floor of the tent from abrasion. When you pitch a tent and then get in, your bodyweight and tossing and turning during the night grind the fabric in the ground, wearing off the waterproof coating and in time perhaps even damaging the fabric. With a footprint down, it takes the abuse instead. 

There may be a couple of things that will put you off buying a larger tent, try not to be too daunted by the size of them once you step inside.  I won't lie to you, it will take a couple of trips to get the hang of erecting it and to feel comfortable with what goes where, but it really isn't rocket science, as long as there are two of you, you'll be fine. My advice would be to get as much space as you can afford, because a week feels like a very long time if you get a tent that you can only wiggle a couple of sleeping bags into!
The second thing that may put you off is how expensive it can all be to buy and if thats the case then I may just have the answer you are looking for. Once you find the tent of your dreams,  Google it , this will show you who has the best price for it and if that still seems too much to fork out then the other two options are eBay and Gumtree, you will be suprised at what camping bargins you can find on there.

David decided to go for the same tent as me and after trawling eBay, he found a lovely 2nd hand one that had only been used twice and it also included the footprint and carpet!  He was the winning bidder at £275!  He has saved at least £200! BARGIN!

I asked David if he had anything he would like to share with any camping virgins out there and this is what he said...

My main comment would be how surprised I was that camping can be glamping. It is not about roughing it but enjoying it - in comfort and style!


  1. Hi Abbie
    I love the blog and although we are seasoned glampers it's nice to get new ideas. I totally agree about getting the right tent and spending as much as you can afford to fulfil your requirements! And the choice of colour is very important but of course your preference is also personal choice...we have a blue Vango Aspen 500 which I absolutely love and wouldn't trade for the world. It has great headroom and a large living area for those wet days and cold evenings...we can have four people in their comfortably. It also has large sleeping areas so plenty of storage and the dogs can have their own bedroom which is really handy...anyway I could chat about the wonders our tent forever!
    love the blog and best wishes A

  2. thank you so much for your lovely words about the blog.. you are right, we all have our own preferences and I should have stated that in my piece.. I do know your tent, and it is a lovely shape, with (most importantly) lots of windows ;) okay maybe you have swayed me a tad with this one!.. XA


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