It seems like a lifetime ago that I blogged all about how we were on a quest to buy a tent and become campers. So much has happened since then that it seemed like it was time for a little update.
I’m delighted to say that we are now the very proud owners of a family tent – after spending crazy amounts of time researching tents and camping equipment and spending our weekends dragging the kids round camping shops across the south east. The big tent purchase came though after a trip up to the NEC to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show on Mr C’s birthday – we know how to celebrate a birthday in style here!
Now, if you’re after a tent and want the opportunity to see lots of different ones in the flesh (or should that be canvas?) then this Camping and Caravanning Show (as it seems to be more informally known) is the place to go. Held across five (yes 5!) of the halls at the NEC in Birmingham, this massive show has a whole hall devoted to camping. There were bits on glamping and fancy trailer tents (which I’m yet to fully get my head around) but they also had a crazy number of tents all pitched out in a huge section run by PJ Outdoors. Now the main PJ shop is just down the road from us here in St Albans and they usually have quite an impressive array of tents in their outside section, but this just took it all to a whole new level. There were tent manufacturers there that we’d never even heard of before and it was so useful to be able to walk around all the different models and sizes of tent on the market and work out what is right for us.
In the end we went for a Vango Edoras 600XL. Not a cheap or small model, but it was the one that we thought would work best for us. With three bedrooms, it can sleep up to six people, but we liked the fact that two of the pods can be unzipped to form a “master bedroom” along side a separate room for the kids. Also, as the kids grow up and no longer want to share, it also means we can downgrade our room into a smaller one and they can have separate sleeping areas. The living space is large with a really good head height and we also liked the fact that there was a porch space that we can use either for cooking or eating undercover or just as somewhere to take off wet wellies.
Mr C has fully researched inflatable tents and was convinced from an early stage that they were the way to go. I was a tad worried that they were a bit of a modern gimmick, but now I’ve read more about them I can see where he is coming from. Vango have been in the Airbeam for a while now and I was very impressed with what I saw. I could also see a big advantage in how quickly you can get an Airbeam tent up – an important thing when you are camping with children.
Buying at the show meant that we got a special show package with the footprint and carpet for the tent thrown in. Definitely made it worth the price of show tickets and the diesel to get there, even if I hadn’t even know that you could get carpets for tents two weeks earlier!
When we got home I then discovered that one of my best friends from school had also been at the show with her family, shopping for a new tent. Having kids a bit older than ours they are quite seasoned family campers so I was rather pleased to discover that they too went for an Edoras 600XL. Kind of validated our purchase choice if you see what I mean.
A couple of weeks after ordering the tent at the show it was delivered to our home and the first weekend opportunity that we had we tried erecting it in our back garden. It only just fit though!
It did take Mr C slightly more than the advertised ten minutes to erect the Edoras, but I figure he’ll get quicker with practice! It was great though to get it all up and see how the space really works when there are just the four of us in there – rather than all the people wandering in and out when we were looking at it at the show.
We’re really pleased with it – even if I can’t quite carry the bag with it in!
But choosing and buying a tent is just the first step in our camping adventures. There’s been so much more to understand and source before booking our first campsite, but I’ll save all that for another blog post. I’m very pleased to say though that apart from needing to buy some plastic crockery and new wellies for Master C we’re pretty much ready for our first camping trip. Good news seeing as it’s booked for later this month! Feeling brave though I’ve also booked a second trip for May half term. It’s now very much a case of have tent, will camp.