When choosing a family tent there are certain practicalities you’ll want to keep in mind:
How easy it is to transport, put up and take down.
While a pop up tent will save you time they aren’t very big so can make for very cramped conditions. On the other hand a larger tent may require a degree and three engineers to set it up in the first place. Check the instructions, look for reviews and ask the vendor before you buy.
The sleeping arrangements – all together or separate?
All together is nice and cosy especially when you have young children but where will you go once the children are in bed? Separate sections give you dedicated sleeping areas around a common ‘living area’.
How often you plan to use it.
You could spend a small fortune on tents and equipment but if you’re only going to use it a few times perhaps it would be better to rent and save the hassle (not to mention the boot space!)
That said, here are my top three options for family tents:
This is more like a house than a tent. The Rage Tromso Deluxe sleeps 8 in three bedrooms compartments arranged around a large central living space. The central dome has a 2 metre head height so you can stand comfortably and has enough floor space that you could set up a table in there. Each of the bedrooms fits a blow up bed which gives you lots of room to play with. You could easily use one room as a storage space to keep all the clothes and gear out of the way. The construction uses dome poles which are pretty easy in my experience and they are even colour coded to help you get it up even more quickly. It has a whole range of weather features such as mud guards, high waterproof grading, shower caps all of which sounds mighty impressive (to a tent novice like me). All in all it’s the kind of tent which will see you through many years of family camping. Currently on offer for £212.65 (down from £379.99) at Tentastic.
If you’re looking for something small for occasional use then I am loving this Zandra Rhodes Teepee from Millets. It is 4.5 metres across and 2.3 metres at its highest point so you get a little more head height for your money. It has two doors to make access easy or for ventilation. With a single pole and a few pegs it won’t take forever to put up. The design is by iconic pink haired fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and will ensure your tent stands out in a crowd – essential for festivals! Currently on sale for £89.99 (down from £119.99) at Millets.
I have to admit to being a bit nostalgic about old fashioned canvas bell tents. For some reason my Grandmother had an assortment of this style of tent when we were little and they were the object of much amusement. Bell tents have an enduring popularity not just because of nostalgia but due to their highly practical design. Their high central pols and raised sides give you exceptional space while the sides roll up to allow complete ventilation and avoid the dreaded sweaty tent smell. They start from 4 metres across and go up to a whopping 7 metres (as pictured above) which could house a small circus. It is possible to erect the tent in just ten minutes with two people and an impressive 13 minutes single handed. Looked after well, these tents will out live your family life and last until the next generation are out camping. Prices are £299 for a 4 metre tent, £349 for a 5 metre tent (pictured top of post) and £599 for the 7 metre emperor bell tent all from Bell Tent.