What’s one of the safest ways to get away with the family this summer, without breaking the bank? Exploring the English countryside and pitching up in a small family tent has to be one of the top ways! With the beautiful sunny weather, we have been having and with everyone desperate to spend some time away from home, here at Leisureshopdirect we are having a huge number of enquiries about which is the best small family tent for this season. Many of our recent customers are new to camping and are finding the massive selection of small family tents rather overwhelming, with all the different types of fabric, poled or airbeam structures, suitability for size and the proposed use, berth, the choices and decisions are endless! Here we are going to plunge into the world of small family tents and try to answer as many puzzling questions for you as possible.
How much should I be spending on a small family tent?
A good measure to go by is, you will get what you pay for! You can easily pick up a small family tent from your local supermarket and think you have got an absolute bargain, but you will soon be disappointed if you were expecting a comfortable, dry night. These tents may well be ok for garden camping as you can abandon ship if the weather turns and sleep back in your comfy beds, but as soon as you want to go away for more than a few nights and you are exposed to the unpredictable English weather, you will regret not investing in more research time and money! So, on the one hand don’t go for a really low-priced small family tent, but on the other don’t immediately procure the most expensive one either, if this is your first-time camping. It’s a good idea to work out whether the camping lifestyle suits you and your loved ones, before blowing your entire summer budget. Leisureshopdirect has a fabulous selection of small family tents that cover a range of budgets, but are all good quality from well known brands. The Vango Stargrove II 450 Poled Family tent offers great protection against the elements at a very reasonable price. This 4-man tent has a fully enclosed integrated awning offering great usability in all conditions. The large Diamond Clear windows let light pour into the living areas during the day and can be covered up with the roll-away toggled curtains at night. The fully sewn-in groundsheet keeps out draughts and bugs whilst ventilation can be managed using the mesh doors and AirZone panels. At over 2m tall, it's easy to stand up and move around. The large front door can be unzipped to the midpoint, or fully across, giving a good variety of options to suit different conditions and uses. You can sleep-in longer thanks to the Nightfall bedroom inner tent, designed to minimise morning light.
If you have a higher budget and really want extra room in your small family tent then the Valencia II Air 450 Family tent offers great quality and value for money. Sleeping up to 4 people and with space for lots of luggage, the Vango Valencia II Air 450 Family Tent is the ideal counterpart to any family camping trip. The two large sleeping areas found inside the tent can be split into a single Emperor Bedroom, with a convenient and secure storage area at the rear of the tent giving you a place to keep your most important possessions. Alongside the main sleeping area, this tent also features an equally large communal area for eating, relaxing, and storage. Great if you happen to be holidaying and you have a rainy stretch…….lots of space for the family to sit back, playing cards or a board game.
Would you prefer an air beam small family tent or a poled version?
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of debate in the camping industry about which tent frame structure is better- inflatable air beams or poles (usually made from steel, aluminium or glass fibre). There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both and it is the buyer who needs to decide which form of tent would suit them best. If you are a camper who wants to arrive at your chosen site and pitch up in the least amount of time possible, then you may well be attracted to the reliable hassle-free experience that the inflatable air tent promises. You can sit back and relax, with your favourite tipple in hand, watching other campers struggle to erect their poled small family tents! Also, if you are going to be pitching your tent alone, then an air beam small family tent is way easier to handle with help from fewer campers. Airbeams can additionally cope with higher winds without being damaged and are relatively maintenance free as they are extremely tough, generally being in cased by two fabric sleeves. If damage does occur to a tube, it is usually easy to have it mended or replaced. They are also great for the family who likes to move around a lot from one campsite to another. However, inflatable tents are more prone to condensation building up inside and given as they come as one single unit, they are without doubt much heavier than similar poled tent versions. This can make them more difficult to move about and larger to store. They can also be difficult to pack away for the first time so we often tell our customers to take a few pics or a video when you are unwrapping it for the first time. It is also important to be aware of pressure changes inside the air beams that may occur during the day/ night….. the air pressure will fluctuate due to the outside temperature. So, if you think you have perfectly pitched your small family tent early or late in the day, during the hotter part of the afternoon the airbeams may become over pressured. If you perfectly pitched your tent at lunchtime in the hot sun, you may find it is rather saggy as the temperature drops in the night! Just keeping an eye on the pressure of the airbeams, adding and taking away a bit of air, can easily help you overcome saggy tent syndrome!
The Outwell Oakdale 5 Person Air Tent is a fabulous family tent, featuring plenty of space, plus helpful communal areas for storing gear and eating. It is slightly larger than the Outwell Hartsdatle 4PA, allowing you to accommodate up to five people - great if you have three kids or you just like having more room. The standout feature of this product is the fact that it is inflatable. You don't have to worry about feeding poles through channels on the canvas. Because it is an air tent, all you need to do is pump it up and then tie it down to the ground with pegs. The front of the Oakdale 5PA features a spacious porch area, measuring a massive 350 cm wide and 165 cm deep. This space is great for drying out muddy boots and wet clothes and lets you avoid dragging mud into the main body of the tent. With the door unzipped, the area is also great for sitting out breezes and showers. Behind the porch area is the main communal space of the Oakdale 5PA. Outwell makes the tent slightly asymmetrical to extend this area, providing an alcove for storing all of your gear out of the way of the living space itself. The bedroom is at the back of the tent. Outwell suggests splitting this into two distinct spaces - an adult sleeping area, and kids sleeping area for up to three children. Outwell darkens the bedroom lining, which is great for preventing the sun from waking people up on summer mornings. And each of the doors features the brand's Quick and Quiet magnetic access, eliminating annoying zip sounds in the night.
If you are concerned about having to lug around a massive weight and the storage size of your small family tent being awkward, then investigating poled versions may suit you well. The tent canvas and poles can easily be separated into two bags (or more), enabling you to carry them separately and there is less chance of condensation build up in a poled tent. However, you will need your fellow campers to work as a group, during pitch up as poled small family tents are very hard to put up alone. Usually poles for your tent are supplied in sections, that are linked by elastic cord or steel wire springs. More heavy materials may have a spring-loaded button or have matching (male/female) attachable profiles. Basically, they need a co-ordinated effort to be erected, but once you have been on a few trips away, you will know your tent inside and out and have it up in no time! Sometimes the poles are number or colour co-ordinated so you know which poles fit together, but if your chosen small family tent isn’t, then it is well worth using coloured tape (or another marking means) when its up to show you for next time.
A very popular poled tent is the Outwell Oakwood 5 Person Poled Tent. It sleeps upto five in two Premier Bedrooms with Dark Inners and Outwell Quick & Quiet Inner Doors. The compact Oakwood 5 is ideal for families and groups of friends seeking space and camping comfort. It has full standing height in the living area, a deep front canopy for shelter, large front D-door, large tinted window, the versatile Outwell HookTrack System for storage and lighting and Rear Ventilation System, making you and your loved ones supremely comfortable on your exploring adventures.
What weather conditions you camp in will affect which small family tent you should choose!
You need to consider at what time of the year and where you will be going camping. If you are only ever going to explore the UK and Ireland, then tents manufactured from good quality standard material, like polyester, will suit you fine. If you think you may want to travel and camp further afield, like in Southern France, you will need a tent made from polycotton, which will help you and your loved ones to stay a lot cooler in warmer weather. Below, we will look through the different types of materials tents can be made from to help you make an informed small family tent choice.
Polyester is a very popular choice of fabric for small family tents. It is a man-made fabric, whose waterproof properties originate from special coatings being applied to the inside surface. The fabric is then tested for it’s waterproofness and it is given a hydrostatic head rating, HHR, which portrays the pressure needed to push water through the fabric and coating. Obviously, the higher the HHR rating, the more waterproof your chosen tent is. Polyester tents will have fully tapered seams, which means they are sealed to prevent water from entering. Great you might think! I will stay dry! However, it also means no water can leave the inside of the tent, so polyester small family tents may suffer from a bit of condensation, especially if the tent does not have good ventilation systems. You may notice this the most, first thing in the morning due to you having zipped up closed the tent for the night.
This synthetic fabric is a lot lighter and not nearly as bulky as natural based fabrics like cotton. Making small family tents made from polyester a lot more manageable- easier to store at home and much easier to carry between car and pitch and storage. It is a very robust material, producing a hard-wearing tent that has good tensile and tear strength. It is also a great mildew resistant material, although it is essential to store a polyester tent away clean and dry. Polyester can come in different thicknesses- many tents are 70 denier, but some are thicker, meaning they will keep you warmer and be more resistant to sunlight UV degradation. So even though higher denier tents cost more, they will therefore last a lot longer, so are considered a better long-term investment.
However, compared to materials like cotton, polyester does not act as a great insulator, so these types of tent can get hot when it’s warm and chilly when it’s cooler. Also, being a light-weight material, tents made from polyester may be prone to flap a little in the breeze.
Overall, the user-friendly qualities, like the light weight, robustness and easy maintenance, along with the lower economic price tag makes polyester a very popular small family tent material.
The Vango Rome Air 550XL Tent is made from Vango’s exclusive Sentinel Dura fabric. It has a Hydrostatic Head of 4000mm and is 75 Denier polyester. It is highly waterproof and a very durable and reliable material. With a UPF+ 30, Vango’s ColorLok technology and fully factory tapered seams, you can be sure the Vango Rome Air tent will keep your loved ones safe from the elements, whilst looking super stylish on the campsite. With side storage, ample space for 5 people, and offering full standing height throughout, few tents can promise a better camping experience than the Vango Rome Air 550XL Tent. This tent comes with a large storage area and a wide and open communal space, giving you countless options when it comes to organising your campsite to make the most of the space you have. Thanks to Vango’s AirBeam® system, this tent can be pitched in as little as 12 minutes with the included pump, so you can get to the good stuff more quickly, like fun and relaxing!
Polycotton is a man-made hybrid fabric, made from polyester and cotton; normally around 65% polyester and 35% cotton. Therefore, the bulk and weight of a polycotton tent falls about halfway between polyester and cotton and it can boast the best of both worlds in terms of ease of use and comfort. The cotton content does increase the overall cost of the tent, weight and maintenance compared to a polyester one, but the polyester in the weave gives the fabric a lot more strength, making it less prone to ripping and makes the tent less susceptible to mildew. It is also a lighter weight than a complete cotton tent and has the desirable breathable qualities of cotton, meaning there are a lot less condensation problems in a polycotton tent. With higher insulating assets, they are better at keeping you cool in warm climates and warmer in cooler climates. It has a better resistance to heat and UV light than polyester, therefore it has a much longer lifespan and is usually noise free in windy conditions.
The Vango Utopia II Air TC 500- Grey Cloud small family tent is a cracking example of poly cotton tent. It is made from Vango’s highly tested Sentinel Signature fabric, a polycotton that creates a traditional canvas feel which is soft to touch and has a premium luxury feel. It’s higher UPF of 50, gives great piece of mind it will protect the family from the sun and with Vango’s ColorLok technology you are sure to be the envy of the campsite for many years to come! The Vango Utopia II Air TC 500, 5-man inflatable AirBeam® tent will appeal to campers looking for a compact luxury tent. Big enough to sleep five people the darkened Midnight bedroom is divided by a zipped privacy curtain. The well-proportioned living area is enhanced by the Villa Construction and maximises the useable indoor space, providing excellent height. The Sentinel Signature Technical Cotton fabric repels water and contains ColourLok™ to protect from UV rays. The Utopia is easy to store and transport, making it great choice for shorter adventures and spur of the moment trips. Get out and enjoy life in the outdoors in style in this enviable polycotton small family tent!
If your budget is lower, but you still want the benefits of polycotton and the roominess of a 5 man tent, then the Vango Farley TC 500 Tent could be the ideal small family tent for you. The Vango Farley TC 500, 5-man Technical Polycotton tent is a great choice for campers who want the luxury of a cotton tent, with a smaller pack size. The tunnel tent design gives the best space to pack size ratio and the integrated sun canopy provides an outdoor sheltered area for storage or simply relaxation. Accommodate up to five people or enjoy more space as a smaller group. Stepovers at the entrance doors can dropped and the bedroom doors also benefit from lowered openings. Enjoy a longer, more peaceful sleep in the queen-sized bedrooms with darker Midnight inner tents, designed to reduce the morning light.
Vango are also launching their Vango Earth Tents this season, which are made from their new and exclusive Sentinel Eco fabric. Tents in this Vango Earth Collection, come in different shapes, sizes, poled or air versions, meaning that every single customers’ preferences are met, so the only difficulty you will face is choosing which one of these highly desirable tents suits you best! All of the Vango Earth Tents are made from recycled single use plastics, like plastic shopping bags, plastic coffee cup lids and plastic bottles. With most of the world’s plastic ending up in landfills, the environment and the oceans and the horrific fact that these plastics do not biodegrade, they very slowly break down into smaller pieces called microplastics, contaminating our soil and water. The toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing of these plastics gets transferred into animal tissue and eventually enters the food chain. Also, for many animal species, plastic waste is disastrous, with turtles and dolphins mistaking bags for food, plastic straws get stuck in animals and can rings strangling birds and seals. Not a pretty picture and if this doesn’t sound bad enough, the world’s plastic problem is getting worse. Thank goodness for companies like Vango, who are making one of their main focusses of this coming season, to manufacture an environmentally eco designed collection, the Vango Earth Collection. Firstly PET (polyethylene terephthalate), single use plastics are collected, sorted, washed and crushed. The plastic is then made into pellets and spun into a thread, which is woven into the Vango Sentinal Eco fabric. This fabric is then made into the Vango Earth Tents and is all ready to accompany you and keep you safe from the elements in comfort, on your next camping adventures!
Let’s look into the Vango Sentinel Eco fabric in a bit more detail. This Sentinal Eco fabric boasts a waterproof rating of 3000MM HH and can be easily cleaned. 1000MM is the lowest level considered to be waterproof, using a hydrostatic head test. To give you assured peace of mind from weather egress, the seams are fully factory taped and the material is 70D (a very high-density weave) recycled polyester, which is highly waterproof, reliable and robust, whilst being low weight, making it easier to transport your chosen tent from storage to your car and from your car to your perfect pitch! It really is a durable material, with strong weather resistant features, enabling you to adventure in the rather unpredictable British climate! The Vango Sentinel Eco is fire retardant, meeting the ISO5912 standards (these are stringent international standards, which specify requirements on safety, including fire, performance, rain resistance and fitness for use). With a UPF (an ultraviolet protection factor), which is a rating system for clothing and fabrics that protect you from the sun) of 30+, you can be sure your family will be shielded from the sun. Vango have also incorporated their ColourLok technology into this Sentinel Eco fabric, which aids colour retention from UV light, meaning you will be the envy of the campsite for years to come!
The Osiris Air 500 Earth Tent is made from the equivalent of 158 recycled bottles, so should definitely appeal to the environmentally minded among us. It can comfortably sleep five happy campers in two toggled bedrooms and although it does not have as much internal space as the Aether and Joro designs, it has key features of a covered entrance and an extended living area. Your choice of Vango Earth tent all depends on how big your camping party is and how much space individuals in your group need, thinking about how much equipment and baggage they require. The Vango Osiris Air 500 has a pack size of 73 x 34 x 34cm, weight of 15.3Kg (a much lighter weight then the other two designs) and an enviable pitch time of 12 minutes. Look at our https://www.leisureshopdirect.com/outdoor/tents/vango-tents/vango-earth-collection-tents Vango Earth Collection tents to see all the different styles, poled and air in this outstanding ecologically minded range, like the Aether and Joro, that come in numerous sizes.
What does the berth of a tent mean and how will this affect my family?
Firstly, it’s important to think about the number of campers in your entourage and whether a cousin or your child’s best friend will want to join your expedition. Also, you need to think about each of your loved ones. Are they a long, lanky teenager who needs lots of sleeping room? Is there a baby who needs nappy changing and roll around space? Are you a small or large adult? Are you bringing the family dog(s) along on your adventure? How long are you intending to go away camping for…….if it’s a week-long trip and you aren’t 100% sure the weather is going to be fine, do you want to be squished up like sardines? You may be a group who likes their individual space and what equipment are you bringing along? Some campers aren’t happy to leave their BBQ and bikes outdoors overnight. There is a lot to consider when thinking about how much space you will need. The berth of a tent refers to the number of people it can sleep in total. Here at Leisureshopdirect we would strongly recommend you go up a berth or even 2 to make sure you are comfortable and have enough space to live. You may think a 4 person tent looks amazingly roomy when you first set it up and there isn’t much in it, but add the camp beds, cooking equipment, a few luxuries and you may find you can’t fit the kids in!! From experience I can honestly say for our family of 4 ( 2 normal sized adults and 2 kids under 10), along with out 2 medium sized dogs, we have camped for a few long adventures in the , which has 4 separate sleeping areas, a massive central living area, with immense head height and a large front zip-able porch/storage area. We literally had more room than we could ever have needed and our camping time was exceedingly tidy as there was so much space to pack stuff, kids and dogs away!!! However we didn’t have very much pitch space left….just enough for table and chairs and the fire pit to be safe enough away. This didn’t matter so much to us as our kids were old enough to be riding around on bikes, hover boards and go-karts, so a seating area was all we needed. The Vango Diablo II Air 850XL, 8-man inflatable AirBeam® tent is one of the largest Vango air tents in the collection. The 3-pod tent layout has a spacious living area and a built-in porch, giving generous amounts of both living space and storage. Sleep up to 8 people in comfort with a King-size space allowance of 70cm per person. Each bedroom pod benefits from Midnight bedrooms, designed to keep morning light to a minimum, so that you can sleep for longer. The fully sewn-in groundsheet keeps out draughts and bugs, whilst ventilation can be managed using the AirZone panels. A truly awesomely large tent for long family weeks away. If you are like me and enjoy being spoilt for space, even though your family isn’t that big, then check out Leisureshopdirect’s Large Family Tents section and camp in indulgent large luxury!
If you have a slightly smaller budget, but still want the space and to camp in luxury, then the Vango Longleat II air 800XL also sleeps 8 happy campers in 4 separate sleeping quarters, or 4 exceedingly relaxed family members!!!! With space for up to 8 people and all of their luggage, the Vango Longleat II Air 800XL Tent is the perfect choice for large groups that want to go camping together. Made with Vango’s genius AirBeam® system, this large tent can be pitched in as little as 12 minutes, providing 4 queen-size midnight bedrooms that can be adapted to your needs. This tent is constructed using Sentinel Active Fabric, providing a 3000HH waterproof rating while also being light, durable, and long-lasting. Happy days!
What else should you consider purchasing along with your small family tent?
There are a few other very useful accessorises you should consider to make your home away from home that bit more convenient and comfortable. A groundsheet footprint is an extremely useful piece of kit as it really safe guards your small family tent and adds a layer of comfort for you. They are usually cut to the exact size and shape of your chosen tent, so make sure you purchase the correct one. You lay it down on the pitch surface, which helps you to mark out where your tent will be and allows you to see if you are happy with the tent placement. The groundsheet will definitely help to keep your tent clean and give you an extra waterproof layer between you and the ground in rainy conditions. Your tent will be much drier when it comes to packing it away, which makes life a lot more pleasant! Groundsheets are usually made of a lot thicker material than the tent, so that they protect the bottom of your tent from any tearing issues from sticks and stones. Tent carpets are probably less essential than a groundsheet, but definitely offer great comfort. Again, they are usually cut to the size and shape of the base of your tent for the living areas, offering comfort under foot and giving you a much cosier atmosphere. With a PVC bottom, they help add insulation between you and the ground, so definitely play a role in keeping your tent warmer. There are many other https://www.leisureshopdirect.com/outdoor/caravan-and-camping-accessories Camping Accessorises from kitchens, cookers, to lighting and Storage. If you decide upon a small family tent from Vango, then you can find all the vango tent accessories here.
Get out and have fun on the campsite!