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Tips and ideas on getting the right tent for a camping holiday in France and Europe

When you are deciding to take the plunge and go camping for the very first time, it is often a good idea to hire a tent that is already pitched on a site such as one of the Haven campsites, so that you can see if you even like the idea of sleeping under canvas, before purchasing a tent and all of the other things you need for camping.

But lets say you do like camping and we will start with the basics.  Yes, we know, the most obvious thing you are going to need is a tent, but there are so many to choose from, how do you decide what is best.

Of course, you have to consider size and whether you just need somewhere to sleep, or like many of the tents available nowadays, they have a living area as well as separate bedroom compartments. These are like the old fashioned bungalow tents or frame tents as they were known, but believe us, the designs now and with technology going in leaps and bounds, the large tents are far less weighty and don't come in numerous bags (our old frame tent had five heavy bags!).

The first thing you will notice with most tents is that they have fibreglass poles which are tough and sturdy, yet flexible and weigh far less than steel poles, plus they are normally colour coded for ease of putting together.  And we can assure you that colour coding is essential on many of the tents, but here is a little tip if the tent you buy does not have colour coded poles..  Just get some different colours of electrical tape and using the diagram and instruction manual that comes with your tent, wind the electrical tape round each of the parts from left to right, so they all go into place exactly where they should next time you put up the tent.

Camping Holidays In France And Europe
Camping Holidays

Something else you will notice is the waterproof rating, which is known as the hydrostatic head and you will see that some only say 2000mm going up to around 5000mm.  Obviously, the higher this number means the more waterproof it is going to be.

Also most tents are made from polyester, but these days they are usually with a PU coating and many have a UV protection as well, which means that even if you are going camping in France or some other country that is prone to some very sudden and heavy downpours, then bright clear skies and gorgeous sun, the tent will last far longer and be far more durable.

Now you may have been looking and realised that some tents have fixed bedroom compartments, whereas others are put up individually within the main structure, and this is what we preferred the idea of.  The reason for this is that you have greater flexibility depending on whether you are going on holiday just as a family or if you are going with friends as well, especially when the children want to take a friend along!

But when we were last on holiday in France we didn't need to put one compartment up, and so we used that space as a complete kitchen area, and that way it still kept the living area free for a table, chairs, etc.  This provided us with a lot more room, especially considering we had three horrendous thunderstorms in our two weeks away, and with this point of bad weather in mind, because of the extra space, it still meant we could cook, relax, have a glass of wine and eat in comfort without getting wet!!

When we were looking at what type of tent to get that would be sensible for us, we realised that after starting to check some of the bedroom sizes, they were not actually big enough for air beds, only those horrible roll out camping beds and not being spring chickens, we did not fancy having a hard mat or being virtually on the floor!

To give you an idea, the bedroom compartment our daughter used could fit two single airbeds in it, or one double airbed in with a little space left for a few clothes, books, etc, and of course it would also fit the proper camping beds as well.  Yet in theory it is supposed to sleep four adults!  So be very cautious and check all the measurements properly before you purchase your tent, or you could be in for a shock!

You are usually supplied with a small repair kit, guy ropes and some tent pegs, so that you can secure your tent.  But to be honest, there never seem to be enough pegs and we would recommend that you get some additional tent pegs and some extra strong ones along with a rubber mallet.  You will definitely need a rubber mallet to bash the pegs into the ground if you are arriving at a campsite where the ground is so hard and dry, like when we went camping in Brittany France, as this is a popular area with a lot of lovely weather.  But do not forget to get the tool that removes the tent pegs (called a peg extractor) when you need to pack up, or you will be struggling and could end up having to ask for help, or worse, cutting the guy ropes!

Now thinking again about extra pegs..  When you purchase a brand new tent there is usually a ground sheet supplied and sometimes these are already fitted to the living area but other groundsheets are loose.  And with the one we got, it was not attached, so we found that having a few extra tent pegs was very usual for keeping the groundsheet in place, but you can also purchase special pegs designed purely for groundsheets.

Also, if you are thinking of going abroad for your holiday, like we often go on camping holidays in France, then the weather can be very warm and of course a tent will get very hot inside.  However, many of the tents do have air vents to allow for circulation, but we found that having a tent that not only has vents you could open and close, but also an entrance on two different sides is even better for allowing the air flow on a very hot day.

Now, for the very last point before we finish, most tents will come with mesh vents or fly nets for protection against bugs and the dreaded mosquitoes, but you can also get fly nets that can quickly be fixed to the doors so that you will still have air coming through without having to have the doors open.  But some tents you can purchase such as the Outwell also have porches as an additional extra, which is a fantastic idea for just keeping smelly trainers or other items outside, but also great when unzipping the tent to get in when it is absolutely pelting down with rain.

Camping Tent

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