Tent Show Highlights 2019
It was fantastic to see so many people at the recent Exeter and Bristol tent shows and it was a real pleasure talking to customers about their camping experiences and plans for the season. Those new to camping or revisiting the idea of a camping holiday after many years were intrigued by some of the technology to help make camping so much fun and indeed the simplicity of setting up with minimum fuss.
Below are the most popular tents from the shows and if you missed them we have another tent show in Bristol on 20th and 21st July and tent events in the Exeter store showroom throughout the summer.
Outwell Belleville 7SA and Stone Lake 7ATC
As a seasoned veteran of tent shows I have come to expect the largest tents to be the main attraction and there was plenty to like about the Outwell Belleville 7SA and Stone Lake 7ATC with their cavernous space inside. Darkened bedroom fabrics on many tents caught people’s eye in an effort to gain a little longer in bed in the morning and the Outwell new panoramic door systems throughout the range enables the whole tent to opened up to enjoy the view. Similarly the Vango Valencia Air 600XL has a very large front living area and covered porch and what set this tent apart is the rear storage area and access doors behind the bedroom areas, a really neat idea to hide away the unwanted storage bags and cases etc.
Polycotton tents - Vango Solace TC 400 and 500XL
We have a range of poly cotton tents and there is a marked difference to the internal feel and temperature level of the tent especially when it is sunny. It’s like you are suddenly in the shade and can clearly feel the difference over a polyester tent.
The fabric can breathe so air can pass through it, and as a bonus it feels warmer when it is cool outside so it’s a win win! Although polycotton tents are more expensive, they are a sound investment and will last 5 times longer than a polyester tent. With 0% finance available it also helps to spread the cost.
Popular polycotton models were the Vango Solace Air TC 400 and 500XL. The former offering a compact feel for couples and small families and the latter being big enough for the growing family with a very generous living space. The Outwell Rock Lake 5 and Stone Lake 5 were popular for the same reason and seemed to strike a happy balance of internal space and were not too big as to be unmanageable, particularly for shorter trips away. If I have to choose my favourite family tent from anything we keep, it will definitely be between one of these four.
Drive away awnings
The Vango Galli 111 Compact Low Inflatable awning was attached to a VW T5 at the Bristol show and that gets my vote for the best in this category for this year.
The Galli was favoured by many as it fits parallel to the van, and the extra heavy duty and robust feel of the fabric and the SuperBeams making it very stable. It was certainly handy to have the awnings attached and talk through the various connecting options which can be a little confusing at first.
Bell tents and Tipis
The Bell tents and Tipi shapes were grouped together to compare the various shapes and sizes. There was interest across all the models, although the Nordisk Asgard and Utgard stood out.
There’s nothing quite like seeing these models on display so you can experience the size and space on offer which invariably is way more than you first think, and there are options to use as one large communal space or add bedrooms if required. We added some home comforts and bright colours to dress the tents and show how they could look and this struck a chord with many even those a little less keen on camping!
There was plenty on display for the lightweight backpacking and adventure tents from Vango, Hilleberg, MSR and Robens which spanned a very wide price range to suit all budgets. It was great to see Johan from Hilleberg and Seb from MSR at the show and they spent considerable time chatting to customers about their needs to make sure they were getting the right product. With so much space on hand it proved a good opportunity to demonstrate taking the tent down and setting up again. It’s a simple process but with top tips from the experts it can make life a whole lot easier, especially if you are out in all conditions.
Simon is a keen outdoor enthusiast and the owner of Taunton Leisure and has been involved from the start in 1977. Looking after many of the key areas of the buying and a keen eye for a good tent (or any other product for that matter) and a mere 40 years’ experience to draw from.