Buying family tents isn’t an easy task. Accompanying the hundreds and thousands of brands and makes is streams of technical information. But the problem is many of us neither have the patience for it all or the specialist large tents knowledge to understand it.
As beginner campers, we tend to just choose the first functional-looking tent we see and believe it will suffice. This mind set saves a lot of aggravation now but it will lead to avoidable headaches later.
What parents and carers need is a concise, digestible guide to help them choose the best family tent to suit their needs. This means trimming down the detail to the essential factors needed to make an informed decision. We’ve done some trimming to provide you with only the need-to-know considerations that’ll stand you in good stead.
Size Matters with Family Tents
Big families or camping groups demand large family tents. There are two very important reasons for this: the first is capacity.
The capacity refers to the number of campers family tents can accommodate. This also takes into account berth – which is how many campers the tent sleeps.
The second reason is space. Like capacity, this is about being able to fit campers and their belongings in the tent snugly. The space available can be determined by factors such as width, height, layout and even tent shape.
Family tents are generally large tents. They are tents that are built to house more than three people comfortably. When searching for adequate large family tents, consider how many people will be slept in the tent. Tent suppliers make clear the number of people that a tent can sleep.
Importantly, however, there is a common trick to ensuring that there is enough space for all attendees and camping gear. Choose a tent that has a comfort rating of one more person than it will be sleeping. For example, if you are a family of four, look at five-berth tents, instead of four-berth. This will allow additional room for camping equipment and to manoeuvre during sleep.
Are you looking at large tents that are liveable? Do you want a tent with standing room? These are a few of the questions you should ask yourself when looking at large family tents. They are especially critical given the likelihood of caprices in weather during the British camping season. Unless you want to spend that time cramped in a position, waiting for the weather to subside, buy a spacious tent. A big tent with lots of interior room allows occupants to work, eat and play inside the tent when events don’t allow it outside.
The layout of the tent is a major aspect to explore when considering space. Firstly, the layout should allow for sleeping room and the storage of your belongings. Many large tents provide space and side pockets to keep things stowed out of the way.
Some tents are spacious but subdivided. This means that, whilst there is plenty of room sleep, there’s restricted living room. Fortunately, many of the family tents have retractable subdivisions that can easily be attached and detached. This feature is especially attractive to families with children. The dividers lend children, and parents, some privacy without losing a sense of security. Should anybody come into problems, the divider can be raised for quick access.
Important Features for Family Tents
Whilst size is undoubtedly very important to consider when trying to find the best family tent for your camping trip, there are other vital features too. These essential qualities add to the comfort and safeness your tent.
There are a few types of fabric that family tents are commonly made from. Each fabric has its pros and cons. Here are a few of the fabrics that you are most likely to find when looking through large family tents:
But what does each fabric bring that makes them an attractive option for a family on a camping holiday?
When it comes to large tents, polyester is used most often. It has a makeup that gives tents resilience, durability and portability beyond any other fabric. Polyester is highly resistant to deformity and abrasion whether wet or dry. With tents, it is woven in a way that can prevent seepage and can dry quickly.
Nylon shares many characteristics with polyester including its natural toughness and its ease of maintenance. Still, it is more generally used for smaller, lighter tents. It is the lightest fabric used to construct tents. But, because of this, it isn’t as good at insulating the tent on cold nights or keeping a rigid structure on breezy days.
As the name suggests, polycotton is a unique blend of polyester and cotton to make this material. The result creates a super material that is reflected in its more expensive pricing. For instance, where polyester fails to where polyester fails in insulation, polycotton thrives – both in hot and cold weather. Polycotton is a compromise of the good and bad characteristics of both materials. Thus, the good qualities introduced by the cotton (UV resistance, breathability and insulation) are balanced with the polyester’s bad qualities (poor insulation and breathability), and vice versa.
Canvas isn’t just used for those big military-style bushcraft tents you see on TV dramas. You can still find canvas used on many large family tents. Whereas canvas is very strong and resistant to extreme temperatures, its absorbent nature makes it susceptible to wetness and rot. Moreover, it is quite heavy. If you don’t mind lugging around a big four-berth tent to your pitch, then canvas family tents offer some great benefits.
Openings (Entrances and Windows)
Of course, large tents have a way to enter them. Some even have several openings for more access. Windows, on the other hand, aren’t always included with tents. But windows, like doors, improve the hospitality of family tents.
The position of entrances on tents can vary. Some are on the front; others are on the back; then there are side doors too. Typically, the entrance is constructed by the same material as the tent and secured by zipper.
A well-positioned entrance will allow for easy, safe access for the family, as well as allowing light and ventilation to enter. This can mean an entire side of the tent can be taken down, or up, to avoid tripping and allow air to all corners inside.
Nowadays, there are even storm entrances that allow campers to keep the entrance open without allowing in a deluge of rain. Several large tents are fitted with rain shelters above the opening to wick rainfall.
Windows are more than just a striking extra – they’re also a crucial specification. With windows, you can invite in light and ventilation without letting in the wildlife outside. Windows on large tents are regularly equipped with mesh netting to keep midges and other insects out.
What windows don’t allow for is much privacy. This can be problematic – particularly when camping with children or expensive belongings. But there are several models that have created blinds or darkened areas to help families escape prying eyes.
Accessorising Family Tents
A final essential piece of the family tents puzzle is finding some extras that can enhance the cosiness of the experience. There are numerous accessories to choose from that can make occasion a little better, but here are some you will not want to be without:
- Groundsheet: This is the waterproof layer that insulates the tent from the floor underneath. It can come sewn into a tent or bought separately. The groundsheet separates campers from the dirty ground underneath. It works well at insulating the tent from the coldness of the ground and keeping insects from entering.
- Tent carpet: An additional layer on top of the groundsheet providing more warmth. Not only this, it also feels better underfoot and looks better than a plain old piece of tarp.
- Porch: This is practically a standard fitting, nowadays. The porch is an extension above the front of the tent, immediately outside the entrance. It has enough space to lounge in or to store muddy gear.
- Tent lighting: With fussy kids who may become apprehensive in a new environment in the dark, tent lighting is necessary. Battery-powered lanterns are long-lasting and can be purchased inexpensively for just such an occasion.