Follow these tried-and-tested tips for a happier family camping trip.
Be realistic: If you are new to camping or normally camp in a simple two-man tent, think about what you realistically need in a family tent. There are large multi-bedroomed tents that can cater for large groups but do you need all that room? The more compact the tent and the less separate rooms it has the easier it will be, on average, to erect. So, a tent that has just one larger or two smaller sleeping areas and a living area will be quicker and simpler to put up than a four-bedroomed tented construction.
Quality counts: A good quality tent with long-lasting components and easy-to-follow instructions will probably cost more but it will be worth it in the long-term.
See the truth: Read the reviews of tents online. People tend to post a review if they are not happy so the views might be negatively weighted but you will find out from those who have used the tent what they think about its uses and quality.
Ask friends: Camping friends will have recommendations of their favourite tents so ask them before buying. They might even lend you a tent to try first.
Practice makes perfect: Before you go on a camping holiday find the time and space to put up the tent. Some tents have online videos to show you how to pitch the tent. Follow instructions and make notes of anything that you might find tricky or complex.
Choose roles: Tents are easier to put up if there are two of you but it is better to each have tent-pitching roles, rather than both scrabbling around to share tasks. One of you could deal with the poles, the other with initial pegging out. Then there’s the guy lines, further pegging out, the room dividers and putting out bedding etc. If you work together you are less likely to argue!
The future is a footprint: A tent footprint is the ground sheet that fits under tents to prevent the wear and tear of the tent against the ground. It can also help you to decide and align the initial pitching of the tent.
Blow ups: Some tents, such as Airbeams made by Vango, have blow-up poles. While this might seem like a ridiculous idea they actually provide a simple and strong basis for a family tent construction.
Weighty matters: If you are camping from car to campsite, the weight of the tent will be less important than if you plan to walk to your camping spot. Check the total weight of the tent in its bag before buying.
Give the kids some space: If you have older kids let them sleep in small tents next your tent. This means you can reduce the size and complexity of the main tent and enjoy a bit of space without the teenagers. You could even pitch a main tent as solely a living area while everyone else has a one or two-man tent to themselves.
Keep the instructions: Losing the instructions is a recipe for disaster. See above.