Whether you’re heading to Worthy Farm or off raving at a sunny European festival, you need to make sure you have a roof over your head that will do the basics: keep you protected from the elements, have enough room for sleeping and house your gear without having to worry about you clothes, camping kit – or worse – your booze stash, getting wet or damaged. To help you choose the right accommodation, we enlisted the help of two camping aficionados. Cool Camping’s James Warner Smith and Shell Robshaw-Bryan from Camping With Style blog to give their picks for festival season.
James Warner Smith’s tips for choosing the right tent:
- As a general rule it’s best to be sceptical about tent sizes, especially if you’re buying online without trying it first. If you want to keep clothes, drinks and belongings with you, then a three-person tent for two people is a more likely fit, or a four-person tent for three. Where possible – and when you plan to spend more money – always try a tent in a shop first.
- Ask yourself how much you plan to use the tent once the festival weekend is over. For a full summer of camping holidays, it’s worth spending more to get a longer lasting, durable model.
- For festivals with the biggest crowds, research the camping areas first and decide how secure you expect to be – will you be in the family camping area or down near the stages with the keenest (and rowdiest) campers? If you think there’s a chance your tent could get damaged, then it’s best to price it accordingly.
- If you’re heading somewhere hot, look for a tent where the poles connect to the interior lining rather than the outer-shell. That way, when you wake up sweltering in the morning, you can remove the cover and sleep beneath just the breezy interior mesh.
- Choose a bright, light tent (red or blue, say) that will reflect the sun’s heat rather than dark colours (black, brown or forest green) that will absorb it.
1. Quechua 2 seconds easy III: £54.99, Decathlon
“This is a rightful favourite of festival-goers, popping from a circular bag in a matter of seconds,” says Warner Smith. “Unlike other similar tents (usually basic, one-layer shells) the Quechua still has an inner mesh lining and a proper ground sheet, making it a far more comfortable and durable option. Competitors are admittedly cheaper but it’s worth the extra money.” Comes in three colours and though it’s designed for three, two people with gear is a more comfortable fit.
2. Field Candy World’s Smallest Pub Tent: £295, Not On The High Street
Both our experts are fans of Field Candy’s super eye-catching but very functional tents. “If you like making friends at a festival, this is sure to draw in the neighbours,” says Warner Smith. “Sleeping two comfortably, this A-frame tent can be bought as standard or customized online – change the pub name and write messages on the blackboard by the door. For a small tent, it’s not the lightest but is surprisingly good quality and comes with a two-year guarantee.” There are loads of other designs to choose from, including leopard-print, a Union Jack, a melon slice and limited-edition options by suitably cool designers and illustrators.
3. Mountain Warehouse Patterned Festival Dome 2 Man Tent: £30, amazon
“Mountain Warehouse does a brilliant job of designing affordable tents and now has a dedicated festival camping range for those on a budget,” says Robshaw-Bryan. “This one is good value, and unlike most cheap tents, benefits from being double-skinned.” The waterproof rating is adequate enough to see you through summer downpours and the pattern will stand out in a muddy field. Ideal for one or a couple who don’t mind being cosy.
4. POD Tents: From £299, Pod Tents
“Designed for ‘social camping’, POD tents can be used independently or as a group,” says Warner Smith. “Additional tunnels are used to link multiple tents together, creating a giant indoor chamber where doors can be opened and closed, turning each into a separate ‘room’. Providing privacy at the same time as a communal space, they’re ideal for groups and sharing families. To make the most of them, however, you need a few, which is expensive and can take up lots of space.” Choose from two sizes, sleeping either four or eight (or less if you want more living space).
5. Vango Talus 400 Tent: £150, Go Outdoors
“Vango makes exceptional tents that are competitively priced,” says Robshaw-Bryan. “This tunnel tent is an ideal choice as it’s easy to carry when it’s packed down – it’s 10.45kg – and on arrival, it won't take long to pitch. It has a roomy living area, a good level of waterproofing (a respectable hydrostatic head of 3000mm) and decent head space – it’s not quite full standing height, though.” Designed for four but we’d go for two or three in here. Be sure to get Go Outdoors’ discount card for £5 to get it at the reduced price.
6. 4m Life Under Canvas Bell Tent: £429, Life Under Canvas
“They aren't cheap, but they will do you and your family for year after year, and there is nothing quite like all sleeping inside a bell tent,” say Robshaw-Bryan. “This four-metre version made from durable canvas provides ample sleeping space for a family of four, and the extra height makes it extremely practical to use. They are heavy to carry, but for quality and longevity, they’re hard to beat.” You can roll up the sides during the day to keep things airy and if you don’t all want to sleep in one room, you can add an inner compartment for an additional cost. Also comes in five and six-metre versions. Just remember to factor-in transporting it to where you’re camping.
7. Freedom Trail Toko LX6 Tent: £85 (with discount card), Go Outdoors
While this claims to sleep six, we think it works well for a festival for groups of four on a budget because you get two bedrooms and then a living space in the middle for any gear. As it’s at the cheaper end of the scale, it’s not as heavy duty as some but it’s lightweight and it’ll do the job in summer.
8. Eurohike Tamar: £35, Millets
“Cheap supermarket tents are all the rage for festivals but this tent from reputable brand Eurohike can still match the price,” says Warner Smith. “A simple, two-pole set-up makes it quick and easy to pitch and, unless windy, the guy ropes aren’t really necessary – convenient when squeezing into festival spaces. Durable, though not especially light, it’ll last the festival weekend and then some.” We think it’s best for a solo festival-goer plus their kit, but a couple would squeeze in.
9. Easy Camp Tribal Festival Tipi Tent: £90, John Lewis
“Easy Camp’s festival tents are aimed squarely at those on a budget,” says Robshaw-Bryan. “This Tipi tent will sleep four, technically, though two or three is more comfortable. It packs down to small size, it's light to carry, it's fast to put up and it looks good too.” With a hydrostatic head of 1500mm, it'll cope with summer showers and is a fun one for shorter events.
10. Airgo Solus Horizon 4 Tent: £400 (with discount card), Go Outdoors
Super-compact tents are all very well, but, trust us, at a muddy festival, you will be very grateful for a tent you can actually stand up in – and pitch quickly. This inflatable, pole-free tent does both. It’ll go up in ten minutes and at 195cm in the living area, you won’t be crawling around to extract your muddy gear from dark corners. It has space for four people in the one bedroom but if we were being really decadent, we’d take the whole thing for two. With a hydrostatic head rating of 4000mm, it’s ideal for British deluges beyond festival season so you can get your money’s worth.
For a budget, quick-to-pitch tent for two, we’d go for Quechua’s 2 seconds Easy III. For something roomier, but still speedy to get up, try Vango or the Airgo inflatable tent. If you want to emulate a glamping experience, a canvas bell tent will do the job (just remember you’ll need a trolley or car to transport it to your camping spot).
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