My Own Search for the Best Family Tents
My Own Search for the Best Family Tents
The first holiday I could remember:
I was probably four years old, and the family split into two ridge tents; a larger one for three people, and the other smaller one for two. In between them, if I remember correctly, there was a screen so that you could sit outside the tent under a roof. Of course it was crowded, and in bad weather really crowded.
Camping experience in other times in my childhood:
The family bought a frame tent “Las Palmas”, which had two separate sleeping tents in the outer tent. There were a total of about 10 square meters, of which about four square meters each awning (the space in the tent outside sleeping tent). Now we could sit four people on each pallet around a table under a roof, even if it rained and got windy. It was still a little cramped, but we liked it. It was a lifting of the past. After a few years, I had a separate small ridge tent that I slept in which was put next to my parents’. And my dad got the side walls of the tent canopy (a tab you could fold up in good weather) so that the tent was enlarged by approximately 1.50 x 1.80 additional. Now it felt really great, at least compared to other tents we saw on campsites.
Camping Experience during my adolescence and early adulthood:
The family’s view of what is a big tent changed quite radically one summer in the early 1980’s. We went to Holland for the first time, to a campsite called (and still is called) Camping Vogelenzang. Back home in Texas our tent was one of the largest at a campsite. In Holland it was one of the smaller ones. We walked around the camp and looked at the tents, and reflections on the changing tent began to grow strong.
The following year, we went back to the campsite, and now my parents bought a new tent. That was over 4 feet square (at ground level, about 2.5 x 3 meter high ceilings because it was a frame tent, where the side walls leaning quite a lot to the tent to be clear winds). Two sleeping areas and still room for a table and four camping chairs with backs, apart from a few shelves and a two-flame gas powered camping on a special “kitchen furniture”. Now it looked like something.
The holidays we had in the tent was really comfortable, and the weather played no major role. With that said, staying in a spacious tent can be a wonderful experience; much more air, birds singing, fresh and delicious.
I remember with some discomfort the way it used to smell in the mobile homes that some of our friends had. There was often a faint aroma of mold or acidic water for winter storage … No, the tent was much fresher, especially when it was big and comfortable.
When I became an adult, I had “inherited” my parents’ tent, and it was going camping with me and my wife for several more years, until we bought a new tent, also in Holland. Our first “own” tent looked like this:
This was among a dozen holidays of ours. The actual tent was about 4×4 feet in the ground and we had also bought a separate sunroof for it. The tent had a large inner tent with three “bedrooms”. On several other holidays we brought friends as we shared the tent – we slept on the right, the left, and my tent was used for storage of bags and clothes. There was no problem to stay 3-4 adults in the tent on a 3-week-vacation. The tent was relatively light for its capacity; about 45 kg, which you well may say is reasonable, given the size, steel frame and sturdy cotton fabric.
The only boredom with cotton tent was when it had to be taken down in a damp condition. And the Dutch coast, where we usually go camping (Vogelenzang), it is almost always humid in dawn and early morning in July and August. So we had to pack a tent damp and heavy, go home, unpack the tent again the next day and dry it outdoors or in a drying room, before eventually being able to pack it away until next trip.
During the last years, we decided to put up the tent on the evening before departing to some sightseeing, and would only use a small two-person lightweight tent on the last night of the holidays. By doing so, we were able to get away quickly and easily in the morning and come home fairly early in the evening the same day, to avoid drying the tent after arriving.
Our search for the next best family tent in 2003
From autumn 2003, we were looking for a tent that would be a little easier to handle, especially when it was time to go home after the holidays. I guess we have just become a little fond of camping with more comfort.
Occasionally, we would be looking closely at various sites online that offer some information about tents. And we discovered that a lot had happened since the last time we were looking for a tent, at least when we looked at sites from the seller in Holland.
Now there were some pretty big tents, which were still light. But then they were made of polyester instead of cotton. We wanted a tent that was light but still with high durability and water out even during heavy rains, so that we would look for was a tent with PU-coated rip-stop woven polyester, with taped seams and water-resistance of at least 1500 mmvp. We visited a tent show in Molndal, but either were the tents easier, but far too small, or they might have been large enough, but too heavy. And the price of the tent in the class we were used were too high.
We continued to search the web for “our” tent at tent sales in many other camping stores. In autumn 2004, we discovered the company Obelink (the Netherlands).
It is Europe’s largest supplier of camping equipment and tents, with several hundred tent models in stock, no supplier in our town even comes close
And best of all: We found a tent that appeared to correspond to our wishes, by far, even. A really big tunnel tent. Nebraska.
Sure it looks nice? The color might be somewhat boring, but not so much when looking from the inside with the bright ceiling and the relatively large windows with mosquito netting on all four side windows; this we thought would make even an extended stay in a warm climate pleasant.
And the size was not bad: 4.95 long, 3.50 wide and 2.05 high in the middle. Since the walls of a tunnel tent is relatively vertical at the bottom there isn’t much less of the surface area (at shoulder height, sitting, which of course is the most common indoor) in a frame tent with sides tilted all the way down to the ground. That it was “limited warranty” on the tent but we thought it was probably not very important. And 1500 mm water column is sufficient for all normal rainfall. It said nothing about the taped seams, but in case of emergency we could seal them with silicone ourselves if that was needed. This was interesting. So I sent an email and asked if they export tents to the US. The answer was unfortunately no. We said, oh well, we just need to look further.
To my surprise I found a German site where almost exactly the same set of tents was marketed as the Dutch site. Well, some were missing, including the cheap Nebraska-tent.
But they had one that was very similar, but just a little bigger, a little nicer and with full warranty. It was called Athene. Promotional picture looked like this:
It was done using the right material (Polyester Ripstop), was taped seams, very good ventilation, flooring for the entire surface, fiberglass poles, removable front wall, two separate sleeping tents with 40 cm between the tents (where our clothe storage fits), longitudinal stabilizer bars and more.
The dimension was 500 x 380 x 210 cm and weight 20.6 kg.
The tent was described as “Very spacious, extremely durable tent with standing room. Material: Polyester 4000mm.” The last figure is indicating water-resistant. (An extremely good value indeed!)
Same Kept poles: The long fiberglass rods (which run in the arches over the tent) consist of short pieces that are tied together with elastic bands, and all four arcs of equal length. The longitudinal metal tubes (which sit above the side windows and stabilize the tent in length) are held together with coil springs. This one simply cannot go wrong, there’s nothing you might mistake. Putting up the tent in 20 minutes if one is two, and it goes on for half an hour for a single person. A picture showing the “layout”, pack size and water pressure resistance:
Now we had found the tent we wanted: Large, waterproof, good looking, stable and durable.
Note: On Obelinks site writes that the tent is 340 cm wide. But ours is 380th, and on a site tents-tents.com states that the tent has a side door. Ours doesn’t.
Then (2005) was, as I said just a German-language site that could export. We sold our previous tent and hit on this. It was a little tricky to order and pay (SWIFT or bank transfer back then, which now is solved thanks to internet payment system). Overall, it went … and after a few days after the payment was complete, the delivery guy came with the tent to our home.
We have used the tent for about 20 weeks in total. It has been subjected to almost 40 ° in the shade, a brief thunder storm in Germany when the pine trees shed their heavy cones over the tent while the downpour. Then there were some sunny and warm days in Holland in 2008 when we set up the tent during a powerful storm in a fairly open campsite (but it did – after half an hour, it was nailed down and ready for occupancy).
And the tent is 2011 still like new except for a small injury when I had to cook, after driving a tent peg through the fabric. Otherwise, there would have been no errors at all. Perfect rain resistance and tent fabric has not faded or shrunk. So after six years, we are completely satisfied. Soon it’s time again, and we look forward to another enjoyable holiday in our spacious and comfortable – yet inexpensive – tents.
Next time we go shop for the best family tent, someone says Amazon is the best place to get one that’s at affordable price. Another nice thing is the secure and fast payment system with free delivery nation-wide in most cases!