The space a bell tent provides means you can incorporate
beds, chairs, cushions, wood burning stoves and more to create a haven. Plus, they're incredibly quick and easy to put up and take down, with most models under 5m being easily erected by one person.
A GOOD INVESTMENT
Whether you're a seasoned camper looking for your next tent or just getting started in the glamping world, buying a bell tent is a big decision. Treated well your tent should provide you with many years of happy holidays, but before you order the bunting there are a number of key things you should consider before you take the plunge.
With so much to think about it can be tough knowing where to start!
That's why we've put together a buyers Guide that covers everything from what size tent to buy to essential accessories so you can be sure you're making a sound investment for years of happy glamping!
As with most types of accommodation, size does matter!
In fact with camping or glamping it's even more important
to get the right size tent.With space at a premium, having enough room for everyone to sleep and move around in comfortably is important.Especially if the unpredictable British weather potentially keeps you inside, that bit of extra space could make a real difference to your camping holiday!
There are various sizes of bell tents available, but the most common size are 3 metre, 4 metre and 5 metre, if you think you may need something larger you can also find 6metre or 7metre and even Emperor(double) bell tents in the UK too.
So how do you decide on which size is best for you? Well, first things first, think about the size of your party. If it's just going to be two of you for weekend getaways with blow up beds, then a smaller tent should give you enough space.
However, larger groups and families, or those bringing pets and proper glamping beds and furniture, should think big for a more relaxed and comfortable longer holiday.
Whilst these dimensions might sound like a large amount of space, when deciding on which size you also need to factor in the sloping ceiling, which does eat into usable space in a bell tent. To give you a little help on how which size tent would best suit you, here's a few specs on the standard sizes.
These tents are ideal for short breaksand can comfortably accomodate 2 adults, and possibly a pet. They can house a double bed for additional comfort, but it might feel a little snug at times. The smaller size does have numerous advantages for shorter adventures, as they're quick and easy to put up (even on your own), very stable and easy to heat. Although, they don't allow roomfor a nice wood burning stove, so at the end of the season you may need to use an electric powered heater.
If you're going for longer trips, you may find you want a little more space for any additional baggage and prefer the next size up.
The next size up is a more generous 4-metre sized tent that can easily accommodate 2-3 adults possibly 4 at a squeeze or 2 adults and 2 children, with enough room to fit in beds, baggage and still have space to move about.
The 4 metre is great for couples, with the addition of some glamping accessories but if you're away for longer periods as a bigger group, you might prefer a larger tent to prevent everyone from getting on top of each other. Plus if you're planning on spending a lot of time in your tent, you may feel a little cramped with more bodies.
That being said the 4-metre bell tent offers a comfortable quick to pitch and stable tent in all varieties of British weather. It packs away smaller than the 5 meter tent for fitting in the car and is lighter to carry at around 24kg. Furthermore, there are a number of tent inners for 4 metre tents that can allow you to create separate living and sleeping areas as well as give additional warmth and insulation for all-season glamping.
For those travelling with families or larger groups of 4-6 people , or for couples who like plenty of room to move around a 5-metre bell tent will give you plenty of space and a bit more headroom inside to sleep, eat and socialise. For those with kids, the 5-metre tent is the ideal home for a glamping holiday. With the addition of inners you can easily create compartments for sleeping and living areas and still have room for them to play when you are all inside together.
With these larger tents inners can create a nice division between living and sleeping spaces and are useful at times when you want to put the kids to bed! If you like camping throughout the season you may want to consider adding a wood burning stove to keep you nice and toasty.
THE JOYS OF NATURAL CANVAS
For those who have slept under canvas, it's very hard to go back to anythign else. The way the light filters through your tent, the feel and look of this natural fabric offers a very different camping experience. It can however need some TLC. The key things is to understand the way to look after it and it will last you for years and years.
As the majority of your tent will be made from it, there are a few things to consider when buying a canvas tent.
Firstly the canvas weight in the market is 285 GSM which is ideal for recreational use, most users will find this weight suitable in terms of practicality and cost but not as practical for long terms of practicality and cost, but not as practical for long term pitching. Heavier weight canvas tents of around 360 GSM can be better suited to longer term pitching , but remember , heavier canvas equates to a heavier tent bag to carry!
Check if the tent is 100% natural canvas or whether it has a pvc lining or a treatment on the inside. Tents with lining inside the canvas or a treatment on the inside may loose the some of the benefit of natural canvas - the breathability . You don't want to buy a natural canvas tent only to find the lining or treatment inside means it gets consideration on the inside!
You may find bell tents are bigger and heavier to carry than a regular polyester tent, 5 meter tents weigh around 32kg.
Something to consider if you'll be carrying your tent to your pitch, this is especially true if the rent is wet during take down.
Remember you should never pack a canvas tent away wet as this will result in the dreaded mould ruining your tent . Canvas tents can take a longer time to dry in the home or garage before storing it away.
If you're considering using a stove , you should be aware that whilst canvas tents are more fire resistant than a polyester tent they are not fully fireproof , so caution should be exercised. If you want a fully fireproof tent then look for tents that conform to British standard BS 5438 and BS 7837 this is a ''Fireproof'' version of regular bell tents.
AND WHILST WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT OF WATERPROOFING
When you initially use a bell tent, you may have to go through some ''weathering''. This means allowing the fabric to get wet and then dry out a couple of times.
Because of the way canvas is made , bell tents may not always be fully waterproof on their first use. It's possible some water may form on the inside of the canvas.
Firstly don't panic! To be fully waterproof, the fabric will just need to be wet, and once dried it will knit together making it fully waterproof. Some people will give their tent a good wetting down with a hose and leave it to dry prior to first trip away.
All the canvas tents are pre-treated with mould resistor and water proofing, but depending on the amount of use it can be worht re-treating every year.With a canvas tent it is also important to check for mould , always clean away any spills and stains or the inevitable bird droppings as quickly as possible.
At first, it may sound like canvas takes a lot of care and attention but, the benefits and its durability far out weigh the general maintenance.After a night under a canvas tent you'll be hard pushed to want to sleep in a polly tent again.
The next consideration will be the type of ground sheet you go for. There are three different types of ground sheets available with bell tents:
.Separate ground sheet.
Sewn in ground sheet (SIG)
Zipped in Ground sheet (ZIG)
Separate ground sheets are generally the cheaper option but can be more labour intensive to put up as you have to pin the ground sheet separately to the tent. Furthermore, separate ground sheets aren't always waterproof and can also allows insects to get into your tent through the overlaps.
That being said, there are advantages to separate ground sheets. As they're not attached to the tent they can be packed away separately, they're easy to clean as they can be hosed down which means you can pack them away without getting any mud on the cnavas of the tent. In the summer the sides can be raised to air the tent and enjoy the view. Plus you can easily feed through an electric hook-up (EHU) cable through one of the gaps.
Sewn in ground sheets offer a completely sealed, waterproof and insect free ground sheet for bell tents and are easier to put up, as they are sewn into the canvas of the tent. However, this means that you don't have the option of rolling up the sides on a warm sunny day, plus there is no gap to fee in your EHU cables so they will have to come in through the front doorway.
Zipped in Ground Sheets are by far the best of both worlds when it comes to ground sheets, as you get the benefits of the sewn in and separate ground sheet rolled into one.
They are waterproof and keep out any unwanted insects and are easy to put together with the ability to feed your EHU cable through one of the zip joints, yet you have the flexibility to pack them separately , roll up the sides and easily clean them down without getting the canvas mucky in the process.
AS well as a standard centre pole you can buy bell tents with or without an A-frame around the door. An A-frame is a valuable addition to your bell tent as it will create a raised entrance. Bell tents without A-frames around the entrance can, on occasions , have issues with water entering via the front door.
Most poles are spring loaded to help when putting up, the centre pole diameter is also important to check though, 32mm diameter is a good size for durability.
|GUY ROPES AND TENSIONERS
Guy Ropes come in two varieties- man made fibre or traditional sisal rope. On wet pack ups sisal can stay damp for longer and create mould if packed away damp. However, as sisal guys and ash sliders do look nice , you could opt for the best worlds by opting for a set of each.
Tent pegs come inmany variety's and can be the subject of many debates. What pegs are suitable can depend on the condisitions at the time. Whilst some people will prefer the tradiiotnal ash wood tent peg others may choose to upgrade to delta pegs when the wind gets up. Most typically with new bell tents you'll get a set of 'rock pegs' for the guide ropes and another set of pegs for the groundsheet. Ribbed pegs offer a better grip for the ground sheet and whilst some suppliers recommend hooking the zip apron onto the groundsheet pegs others will supply a second set of pegs specifically for pegging down the apron around the groundsheet.
It's well worth paying attention to the zips by trying to choose a bell tent with good quality, heavy duty zips, cheaper tents can have poor quality zips which can snap on the first use. Some bell tents have front doors that are tied or laced shut instead of zipped, whilst laced up doors can create an authentic look for your tent , practicality, these can be a bit frustrating, particularly when trying to shut the doors in wind and rain.
Some bell tents do not have fly sheets covering the air vents or doors, annoying if midges are around, so our advice is to simply chose a bell tent that does.
CHOOSING YOUR COLOUR
Whilst traditional bell tents are biege or cream coloured in 100% cotton canvas, you can now also find colourful and patterned alternatives if you fancy something a little brighter
PIMPING OUT YOUR BELL TENT
Once you've decided on the right size, groundsheet and colour of your tent it's time to think about how you want it to look and feel inside. The whole idea of glamping is to bring glamour and comfort to camping and the bell tent is the perfect place to do this.
It doesn't matter whether you're using your bell tent for weekned breaks , summer holidays, parties, festivals or weddings, you can get a whole host of essential accessories (and some less essential, but nice) to create the perfect atmosphere.
If you're planning on embarking on all-season campin or just don't like the idea of feeling the chill on a cool evening, then investing in some decent heating for you bell tent will do wonders.
A very effective way to do this is with a wood burning stove and custom built chimney flue, so you can have the warmth and grow of a real fire, and with some models the ability to cook indoors too. If you do opt for a wood burning heating system, be sure that the tent you're buying is properly equipped to house the chimney flue for complete fire safety.
For this you'll need an outlet in the tent for the flue pipe to extract the smoke. These are not always standard and for most tents they will require either a flashing kit of a stove flue flap or both fitting. Some suppliers will offer a retro fit service to put these in.
Other heating alternatives include electric fan heaters or electric oil filled radiators, but rememebr you'll need to be close to an EHU to use it and have special EHU plug fittings for appliances and in some cases be limited to 5 amps of electricity, so be sure to check the campsite has EHU's and your appliances are compatible before you go.
You can also keep the heat in through extra insulation , this can be done through floor mats and rugs that sit on top of the ground sheet and will help to keep the cold from rising up. Also, investing in tent inners will give additional insulation during colder periods, as well as allowing you to create separate quarters inside.
BEDDING AND FURNISHINGS
With the extra space in larger bell tents, you'll have plenty of room
to play with in terms of bedding , furnishings and decor, so why not make it a truly glamorous camping experience with a decent bed to sleep in and places to relax.
Do away with foam mats and get creative with airbeds, cushions or even a sturdy camping bed, smothered in sumptuous throws and pillows for a guaranteed good night's sleep.
Also don't forget to include some money in your budget for furniture and decorations too, as these will only go towards enhancing the feel and functionality of your bell tent and make it a wonderful place to spend time on your own, as a family or with friends. The size and amount of but there should be room for tables, chairs, cushions, as well as lanterns, bunting and so much more.
Buying a bell tent, isn't simply about buying a big tent. You'll soon find you're creating a whole lifestyle. Those who own bell tents and the freedom that these beautiful tents have to offer. The key to successfully buying a bell tent is about recognising your needs to make sure you get the most out of owning one now and for the future.