Our ideal tent for camping

Our ideal tent will be a good quality touring or pop-up style tent that is comfortable and flexible for long and overnight stays, and anything in between. These types of tents suit our brief for the following reasons:
  • They are designed to pitch and pack up quickly to give you the freedom to easily move from place to place during touring holidays.
  • They are comfortable for long stay camping if you are smart about how you organise your tent and utilise any additional annex and awning accessories.
  • They usually have a longer narrow pack size making them suitable for transporting on the roof racks of your car.
  • They can more easily be pitched when you return home to be dried out if need be. This is usually the last thing you want to do at this time, so anything that can help the process is a bonus.

We have currently identified a number of tents that generally meet our brief which we have listed in our tent buying guide. We have researched and selected these tents based on the criteria outlined above and in the previous section.  We have not personally tested most of the tents out, as our idea of actually testing a tent involves an all-day down pour and/or prolonged gale force winds. We aren’t keen on storm chasing to test a tent, and therefore, have to rely on online independent tent reviews and forum comments.

Pole tents versus inflatable air tents

Traditionally, tents have been supported by poles, either steel, fibreglass or aluminium, but in recent years inflatable tents supported by inflated beams are making their mark. They are simply pumped up in a very short amount of time using what looks like a standard pump used for inflatable beds.

Inflatable air tentPole framed tent

Fortunately for us, there are plenty of tents on the market in either category that pretty much tick most of our boxes, especially in terms of weight, floor size and ease of setup and packup. As with a number of the other tents we suggest, we haven't used inflatable tents yet but we haven't come across any particularly critical reviews of them. We gather from our research that they are not as strong as the better quality framed / pole tents and so may not withstand extremely windy conditions as well unless they are well pegged out with all of the guy ropes. At least in windy conditions you won't risk snapping a pole or two!

Without the heavier poles and frames, inflatable tents are particularly light in weight for the amount of floor space they provide compared to the pole tents we suggest. Consequently, inflatable tents we have looked at that are within our preferred weight range (up to 26 kg) will provide sufficient space for sleeping, food preparation and living to negate the need for annex and awning accessories.

Drawbacks include their cost. Inflatable tents are more expensive than your average pole tent but are comparable to the more expensive touring tents on the market. The larger family tents also generally come in a more rounded bag less suited to being strapped directly to the roof racks. They could, however, be accommodated in a roof pod or bag, or alternatively, they could be packed in a longer bag for transporting directly on the roof racks. And as for the inevitable question of how easily they could spring a leak, the suppliers say they are very durable, and on the rare occasion they develop a leak, they are easy to repair. If that is so, then they are a very tempting option.

The above appears to be a glowing endorsement of inflatable tents over the traditional pole tent. This was supposed to be a fair comparison of the two and I'm suprised how promising the inflatable tent is. You may therefore be asking why our preferred tents are all pole framed tents? While inflatable tents look good on paper we haven't yet had a close look at them to see which ones we like best. There'll be more from us on this to come....