We have a lot of friends will bell tents, so had been considering buying one for a while. After an accident in which I broke my back, we realised that to continue camping we needed something that could be put up by one person, quickly and easily, but that still gave us the space we like.
We settled on a 5m bell tent from Boutique Camping having researched the market thoroughly. We were swayed by the funky colours and patterns and friends told us they were very well made. We’d initially planned on using it only for shorter camping trips and taking our Coleman Fremont 8 if camping for more than a couple of days. We ended up camping in just the bell tent last year. We took approximately 9 camping trips last year (less than normal due to the accident) and used the bell tent every time.
Erecting the tent
Even a 5m bell tent can be put up by 1 person. This comes with a thick wooden pole, in two parts which slot together. To put the tent up, lay it out and flatten the groundsheet, put the pole together and take it into the middle of the tent. Push the pole upwards until vertical and play around with the positioning until it looks straight – it’s handy to have someone outside of the tent to guide you.
The tent is 5m, so technically you could probably easily sleep 6 people in it on single airbeds. There is an immense feeling of space due to the height of the tent, and the first few times I slept in it, it felt a bit like I was sleeping inside a circus big top! A 5m bell tent might seem like overkill for just 2 of us, be we have a full camp kitchen, table and chairs, and furniture and that’s before we’ve added our walking, photography and star-gazing kit.
While the floor space is immense, due to the sloping sides, you do loose some space. Tables and kitchen units feel like they are a bit in the way, leaving quite a bit of unused floor space behind them, which is my main irritation about this tent. I’m also not keen on the height of the doorway which means you have to stoop to get through it, which I find annoying and impracticle, when i’m used to a large tent with doors that are full height, and honestly I do find modern tents a bit better for this reason.
This tent is superb at regulating temperature. We camped very early in the season in this tent and we also camped at the end of September and whilst it being thick canvas it won’t necessarily keep you warm, it does keep heat in a little better than most modern tents and on hot days, you don’t wake up sweltering, which is nice.