Tried and Tested – Family Tents

There is nothing like spending a night under canvas, waking to the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. While you don’t need much to go camping, a quality tent is essential. The latest innovations offer labour- and time-saving features, which we put to the test.

Easiest to put up

Berghaus Air 6 Inflatable Tent, £799.99

The inflatable beams of this tent significantly simplify the pitching procedure. Five tubes take minutes to blow up (using the supplied double efficiency pump) and while it took one person 10-15 minutes to pitch (rather than the five minutes stated on the instructions), it was quicker and simpler than a poled version. It has great headroom – our 6ft 4in tester was comfortable in the centre compartment. The pre-attached bedrooms are said to be darkened, but we found it pretty light. It has a double skin, which helps to maintain a comfortable climate as it allows condensation to pass through. Packing away is simple – press a button on each support tube to deflate. Need to know: Quite heavy and large when packed, but it does come in a wheeled bag. A good-sized family car is needed to transport it.

Best Blackout

Coleman Pinto Mountain 5 Plus, £429.99

If you’re not one for getting up with the lark, or you like an early night, this is the tent for you. It features Coleman’s BlackOut Bedrooms technology, which uses a black coating to block up to 99 per cent of external light. It also helps to keep bedroom areas up to 5°C cooler by day and up to 1°C warmer at night. While we found it significantly darker, the mesh ventilation panels allowed in some light. Although it’s a five-person tent, we felt the bedroom areas sleep only four comfortably. It’s a traditional fibreglass pole tent, but the clear instructions on the inside of the bag meant it took only 20 minutes to erect and, once up, it felt sturdy. The large living area was easily able to accommodate a four-seater table and chairs. It has a full-height door to minimise constant bending. Need to know: It comes in a basic carry bag, but would easily fit into a medium-sized car boot and, at 16.8kg, was comfortable to carry a short distance.

Best for budget or first-time campers

Vango Ashton 500, £300

This four-pole tunnel tent is easy to set up –though as first-timers we took about ten minutes longer than the advertised 18 minutes’ pitching time. We liked the reattached front extension with its generous amount of sheltered living space and large windows that let in plenty of light. The head clearance was adequate for our 6ft testers and the bedrooms would sleep five if only sleeping bags were used. If you use camp beds, it would only sleep four in the bedroom area. We liked the handy pockets in the bedrooms, convenient lantern hanging points, highly visible guy ropes to reduce accidents, and that the patented Vango TBS®II Tension Band System stood up well in quite strong winds. The oversized carry bag meant it was easy to repack the tent. Need to know: At 14.7kg, this was the lightest tent we tested and it also took up the least room in the car boot. It was also the cheapest-quality-made tent that made it through our stringent testing.



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