Good sized family tents are worth every penny.
One of the best thing I’ve ever bought is our family tent. It has been an absolute gem in so many ways and not only for taking on holiday.
For example, it’s an extension to our house because when we have guests we vacate our bedroom and sleep in the tent in the garden.
Also, when my son was younger he used to play in it, and pretend to go camping with his friends. I have also used it as a ‘homework den’ to inspire him to get on with his homework.
The list is much longer; but you get the point.
There is an even bigger reason why we love it – our family tent has saved us a fortune on our holidays. Camping is still relatively cheap in the UK, depending on which kind of campsite your go to, and is certainly great fun with a family. But, even better, in Scotland it is perfectly legal to wild camp – so it’s totally free!
This is about my kind of camping – the kind where you get away from it all! That a picture of me in the west of Scotland making a nice cup of tea!
Below are my tips on how to choose a family tent.
We needed a family tent – this is a photo of our perfect dome tent.
My family have always loved the great outdoors and camping, and we have camped in many wonderful places over the years.
Before my son was born we used to have a lightweight two-person tent, which was great – my husband even carried it under his backpack all the way across Bolivia! ( a story for a different article).
However, when our son was born we had to find alternative accommodation! We wasted no time and took him camping when he was only 7 weeks old. Off we went to Scotland to meet granny for the first time.
But our beloved lightweight tent was now useless, and we needed to find a much bigger family tent. We soon realized that what we would lose in compactness and weight, we’d gain in space and height.
We spent quite a bit of time visiting camping shops and researched tents online, and in the end we settled on a dome, which fitted all our requirements really nicely.
It was so big we felt embarrassed the first time we pitched it! However, that feeling didn’t last very long, because we were in absolute luxury!
Our dome tent is the kind that you can put up in the rain because you start with the fly sheet and then hang the tent inside it. That means the inside will always be dry. But these days you can buy more modern designs that pop up all on their own!
We camp in places like this – Isle of Lewis – Hebrides – Scotland.
We always look for the most remote, out of the way places we can find. Scotland is full of them, we never opt for the huge sites with shops and cinemas and swimming pools, as camping villages are not our thing at all.
We like places that are more romantic, beautiful and a wee bit adventurous too and because of this we think it’s important to be able to put you tent up quickly and easily. It’s best to practice before leaving home if you can. If you’re on the move, it may be easier to have a spare, smaller tent that can be taken down quickly too.
I find them by searching terms like: UK campsites that allow real fires, or campsites in the woods, or campsites for tents only.
My Top Tips when choosing a tent
We have camping as a family off to a fine art now, but at the beginning it was quite a chore, we had so much stuff! Finding the right tent was a bit of an ordeal; not quite as bad as finding our first family home, but almost as stressful!!
In the end the style is entirely up to you, but I recommend the following:
- Choose a tent that you can stand up in: you need height because you spend a lot more time inside the tent when you have a baby to care for. Bending down all the time while you’re getting in and out can cause back pain, and having to keep low and bent while you’re inside causes pain in no time at all. So height is extremely important.
- The height helps keep the tent well ventilated, which is important if it’s hot outside. Low tents are warmer, but they get very hot in the summer. Always look for shade. You should never leave a baby unattended inside a tent – so it needs to be very comfortable for both of you.
- The weight of your tent is not important because you won’t be carrying it around. But make sure it’s easy to put up. You’ll need to do this as quickly as possible, because babies or young kiddies don’t like to be kept waiting. Some tents are self erecting, and you can blow others up, but make sure you have the right size and height.
- Choose a tent that has a living space: A living space outside the sleeping part of the tent is vital too. We camp in the UK so we need to be able to get out of the rain. Our tent has a living area that is big enough to fit our table and chairs in so we can eat in comfort no matter what the weather. Of course you should NEVER cook inside your tent. So if the weather is that bad fish and chips are the ideal solution!
- The living space will also be useful to store things in the night and to sleep in if it’s too hot to be in the actual tent.
- Be sure to keep the exit clear – just in case you need to get out quickly.
All modern tents have an integral groundsheet, they should be totally waterproof, and be very strong.
Choose a tent that is bigger than you need: The size is important because you will have a lot of stuff! It’s incredible how much children need. So make sure you buy a tent that the family can grow into. If your child is anything like mine, you’ll be sharing for quite a few years. Mine just didn’t want his own tent – he preferred to snuggle inside with us! So we were grateful for our five person tent as there are only three of us!
Here’s Where We Camped in Scotland!
- G Adventures – Family Tours
Unforgettable family travel experiences in the world’s greatest destinations. Truly amazing holidays that the whole family will love.
- Macs Adventure Walking Holidays and Cycling Holidays
Fabulous active holidays in the UK and all over Europe. Click on the link for details.
I have picked out some perfect tents here:
This is a fantastic Coleman 8 person tent, which has lots of excellent Amazon reviews from happy customers. It’s great value for money.
This instant tent goes up in 1 minute! It is called an instant tent because the poles are already attached to it. It is really roomy with two separate rooms and lots of ventilation. It has some excellent reviews on Amazon.
And this is a great tent for a young family. Big enough and well sheltered. Vango is a brand I would highly recommend .
Other useful products:
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