Family camping is quickly becoming the preferred holiday of choice for many. Some may remember the heavy old canvas tents of old, but things have moved on and these days many tents have inflatable struts instead of fiberglass poles. This makes erection quicker and easier. Futhermore, modern family tents are generally made from waterproof rip-stop nylon, meaning that they are light, easy to transport and carry and will keep their waterproofing for many years.
A family camping holiday often brings out the best in people, the dislocation from today’s connected lifestyle allows premium time for bonding, developing all important relationships and getting to know the natural world better. Many adults will fondly remember camping holidays from their childhood, the making of camp fires, playing cards inside when it rains and the cold wet dew on bare feet as you make your early morning toilet dash. Why lose that experience now? Camping is ideal for teaching both children and adults so much about the world and themselves.
Family Tent Review
As camping equipment has become lighter and better designed the choice has also increased. Unfortunately tents haven’t gotten any cheaper over time and this blog is the result of my research when I wanted to buy a tent for my family’s recent summer holiday camping trip to the New Forest, England. I hope that others who are considering a family camping holiday in 2016 will find these tent reviews useful.
Water column / How waterproof is the tent?
A family tent or house tent should have an all weather water column. The water column tells you how much water pressure the material of the tent can withstand. If the water pressure in heavy rain is higher than the indicated water column, water can push through the outer material into the tent interior. For a small and large tent, a water column of 5000 millimetres is generally sufficient. This information should easily be found on within the sales information for each tent.
But those who wish to camp in areas with heavy rainfall should opt for a tent with at least 8000 millimetres of water column. The minimum requirement of outdoor tents is a water column of about 1300-1500 millimetres. The floor plan of the tent is exposed to the highest mechanical loads, especially since you have your whole weight on it (sitting or standing) and the groundsheet has direct contact with the wet ground.Because of this, groundsheets have 2000 mm water column as the minimum value.
When choosing a good groundsheet, waterproof is by far the best option as it corresponds with a water column of at least 8000 millimetres. It should also be noted that waterproofing and the water column value will decrease over time depending on wear and tear.
Material and coating
Tents are available in many different variations .Here is an overview of used materials and coatings:
Tents made of cotton are still around and group tents especially can be made of this. These days cotton tents are not in high demand which isn’t necessarily justified. A big plus of cotton is the high breathability which creates a far more pleasant climate inside than many synthetic and more modern tents.
Impregnated cotton tents are waterproof, as long as nothing pressing against the tent wall. Cotton is also more UV-resistant and durable than many synthetic tent fabrics. One drawback is that cotton tarpaulins are comparatively heavy and, with comparable material strength, have lower tensile strength than the modern materials.
Tents made of polyester provide high tear and abrasion resistance. Also, when wet, the material does not stretch. In addition, it cannot rot and is relatively resistant to UV.
Nylon also tends not to rot and the material is abrasion and tear resistant. Nylon expands when wet however and the tent must often be tightened in the rain. Furthermore, nylon is not resistant to UV rays.
In order to achieve a better tensile strength and counteract the stretch when wet, strong threads are interwoven and regular intervals (= “ripstop method”). Some nylon tents have silicone coatings in order to increase the UV resistance – this should also increase the lifespan of the tent.
Tents with a coating of polyurethane usually have a high water column but PU coatings are sensitive to ultraviolet rays. With frequent use and in sunny areas, the value of the water column can fall significantly. For the floor plan (groundsheet), the use of polyurethane is certainly worthwhile however, as it is not exposed to the sun’s rays.
Silicone coatings are easy to apply and also stabilise the fabric. SI-coated fabrics do not have as high a water column as PU-coated, but they are more resistant to UV radiation.
A good ventilation system is for all synthetic fibre tents is an absolute must. The top of the tent should have vents to ensure sufficient air exchange and to counteract the formation of condensation. Otherwise you may find that the tent is wetter inside than out – oof.
Family Tent size
Of course the tent size is a fundamental decision criterion for the selection of a suitable tent. In addition, family tents should have a sufficiently large anteroom, where you can all sit around if it’s grim weather outside. Even a 4 person tent should possess an entrance hall or at least provide enough space for storage of camping items. Many customers find that a high headroom is important so that they can stand upright in the middle of the tent.
In most house tents headroom is almost always sufficient even for taller people because of the rectangular shape. For families, tunnel tents aren’t quite as reliable from a height point of view. However, there are tunnel tents which are designed as a 6-person tent or 8-person tent and offer an acceptable headroom.
Family tents usually offer several sleeping cabins/rooms. In this regard, you should consider the extent of the sleeper section before buying. In order to offer a maximum of comfort, the cabin should be large enough for several centimetres of space between the head and the tent wall and feet and the tent wall. This prevents those inside from being uncomfortably cramped and especially from touching the tent walls , letting in dew or rain from outside.
Family tent in the long-term test
As a buyer, it makes sense to read reviews from those who have already owned a specific tent for years. On this website I provide you with some family tent reviews with their advantages and disadvantages. In order to present the tents objectively, I have entered in the customer reviews for each product.
Many of the customers have had the respective tent for some time and were able to test it several times on its durability and waterproofing. It is easy for a camper to be happy with their tent after one use and this doesn’t help us much when we’re looking to buy a tent as it tells us very little about the longevity of the product (not to mention just how difficult it can be to pack a tent away after a few uses!). After repeated use, however, the satisfaction can be reduced and the tent is rated negatively. This is, above all, due to the coating, materials and the processing of seams and zips. On the other hand many family tents survive the long-term test well and I’ll endeavour to help you find the best for you and your family. After all, the quicker you can erect and trust your tent, the quicker you can get around to the important business – roasting marshmallows on the fire!