Which bell tent do you buy?

Looking to buy a bell tent? Just a bit of advice/my opinions on bell tents....(only my personal opinions so you can take them all with a pinch of salt!) Price Prices vary from £200 (for a 3m.  Ebay bargains come up - I have purchased 2 x 4m tents for this price which were used as wedding tents for 1 day only), to around £400 for a  4m/5m 6m upwards can be anything from £600-£1000 SIG/ZIG (explained below!) are generally more expensive but worth paying for What Size? The standard sizes tend to be 3m, 4m & 5m Although if you shop around you can now buy 6m (Canvas & Cast) and even a 7m (Boutique Camping).  Alternatively Bell Tent UK sell the Emporer (6m x 4m), which although not a bell shape, is the same material and general pitching method as a bell. If you are in Europe (not UK) pop over/order from Obelink, you will get the same spec tents a lot cheaper (they wont deliver to the UK) The Emporer
 
 
There is also the lotus tent available from lotus belle  which has higher walls. Initially I wasn't keen on the shape, and pitching appeared to be a minefield for a solo camper. However, after a loan from Hari at Lotus Belle, I am smitten.  So much so, that the Lotus is now part of my little bell tent family...  Although heavier than most of my bells, the parts can be carried separately, the pitching is straight forward even for one person, and the little onion garlic octopus is now in pride of place in my collection.  There is a full review here:- http://bellsandlabs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/review-lotus-belle.html The Lotus
 
The main standard 285g bell tents are available from several suppliers:- Including soulpad ,  karma canvas , belltentuk, canvascampcamping under the stars There are obviously others out there, but I haven't had any dealings with these so dont really want to put up any recommendations (there is a full list of suppliers if you go to the link at the bottom of this page).   The spec on them is pretty much the same poles, and canvas.  There are a few small tweaks such as slightly thicker poles, mesh doors as standard, and wooden sliders on thicker guys, marginal price differences, so its worth looking at the different sites before you make your choice. Price varies slightly between these but no great difference.   Canvas and Cast are noticeably different.  Very nice heavier canvas and some nice touches with wooden pegs, string fittings, wooden poles - you can usually request something and have it adapted/supplied.    The only downfall with C & C used to be communications and delivery times.  However thay have now been taken over by podpads, and you now get a more reliable service https://podpads.com/canvas-options The 6m bell from Canvas & Cast - I love this tent and the quality is excellent
What colour?? And yes it's purple.... Canvas and Cast sell a few colours (sandstone, green & purple) and Boutique camping do standard 4m & 5m bells in various colours now (blue, coral, green, sandstone,lilac).  But the rest of the suppliers tend to stick with just the cream canvas Then there is the rhubarb and custard striped one available from Glam Camping This was updated to the Strawberry and Cream version, but its still a very similar tent
Be aware if you go for a coloured option, the colour inside is a lot stronger than it appears from the outside!!! This is purple and green canvas and cast outside...
and just a bit brighter inside!
3m Bell Tent Advantages
  • Brilliant for 1 person (and 2 dogs..) 
  • Very stable in any weather.
  • Quick to pitch
  • Easy to heat
  • Ideal for quick weekend camps
Disadvantages
  • Stick 2 adults in there for any longer than 2/3 days and they will kill each other - space is limited
  • You are not going to be able to cook in this one due to lack of room, so will need an awning or kitchen tent in addition
  • No room for a woodburner
 
and inside...(the bed is a double sim, but a fairly tight fit)
 
4m Bell Tent Advantages
  • Good amount of room for 2 adults 
  • Very stable in any weather.
  • Quick to pitch
  • Easy to heat
  • Inners widely available - extend your camping season through the colder weather
Disadvantages
  • If you are taking kids, go for the 5m option - it doesn't sound like much of a difference being 0.5m bigger all round the circumference, but it is the head room that gives the space
Inside the 4m without the inner
and using an inner
5m Bell Tent Advantages
  • Very roomy - will accommodate 2 adults and 2 children
  • Seperate inners are available, also a quarter inner (bijou) can be purchased from soulpad 
  • Quick to pitch
Disadvantages
  • Once the weather gets colder they are very hard to heat - an inner is a must.  If you are looking at woodstoves I would go for a minimum of a 4kw output (forget your pipsqueaks)
  • Although roomy, the sloping walls dont lend themselves to cooking areas (especially if you have kids in there as well)
5m Mr Men Outside
Inside using the inner
Inside without the inner
SIG/ZIG/Separate ground sheets? Not a foreign language, it just means:- SIG - Sewn in groundsheet. Advantages:
  • Quickest off all of them to pitch, as you 'lose' a row of loops so less pegging
  • Secure, so no bugs/rain gets in
Disadvantages:
  • Be careful how you fold it when muddy/wet as you dont want to stain the canvas
  • You cant roll the sides up in the hot weather
  • Nowhere to feed the ehu cable through other than the front entrance
ZIG - Zipped in groundsheet Advantages:
  • Secure so no bugs/rain gets in
  • Unzips when mucky so you can hose and dry separately without messing up the canvas
  • Groundsheet can be packed separately to spread the weight into 2 bags
  • Sides can be raised in the summer
  • The ZIP usually is in 2/3 sections, so you can usually feed the ehu (electrics) cable through, between the start and end of a new zip 
Disadvantages:
  • None really! (I suppose the zip could break!)
  • Quite a lot of canvas to dry if it gets soaked when you are packing up
Separate Ground Sheet Although probably the less attractive of the 3 options, these usually have a fairly good overlap as opposed to most modern tents - There is a pretty good seal all round Advantages:
  • If it gets mucky you can hose and dry separately without messing up the canvas
  • Groundsheet can be packed separately to spread the weight into 2 bags
  • Sides can be raised in the summer
Disadvantages:
  • Rain/bugs can get in, as the join is at ground level
In summary The bells are a quick pitch, graceful looking tent which is a lovely experience to camp in.  On a hot summers day (I think it falls around July 7th for about 6 hours, known as british summertime) the sides can be rolled up - perfect
Take into consideration the groundsheet type & size before buying.  All season camping can get cold and I would try and manage with a 4m if size/room isn't a major issue. Summer campers only? - go with a 5m (pitching time difference is neglible between the 2) Cooking is better done outside under a awning or in a separate kitchen tent (not only safer but the tent doesnt stink of spaghetti bolognese for the next 6 months) Be aware of the English weather - it rains. a lot.  The major downfall with the bells is they have no windows when this happens.  (Canvas & cast do tend to have a small circular one in the doors, but you aren't really inclined to sit up next to it peering out Go with the smaller options if you are more of a weekend camper, drying a 5m canvas is a hassle for just a weekend away.  Althought I tend to have a tent over my dining table more often than a tablecloth Other tents to take into consideration is the Bell Tents Touareg.  I adore this tent!! (and tbh probably use it a lot more than any of the bells) Pitching is simple (same method as the bells) and being a SIG (a separate ground sheet version is also available but not a ZIG version) is very quick The advantage being that you have windows - on both walls - also it works well for me as you have doors on both walls - ideal if you use a motorhome.  You can park right up and use the entrance on one end to the van, and the other is free to get in and out. The space is a lot more usable than the bells, and I have had a kitchen area against one of the flat walls on a short camp
 
A last alternative if funds/space are low is the poly bell tent. Do your homework before buying as some have bad reviews.  If you want to know more, here is my review of the 4m poly I bought http://bellsandlabs.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/somewhere-in-byfield-poly-bells-and.html
Good luck on your bell buying If I think of anything else I'll add it, but I'm sure you'll love it if you get one Theres more info and pics on my tents on the sidebar and in the blog However you can contact me and I'll try and answer any questions you have, but I'm no guru, just a bit nuts about tents!
There seems to be an influx of new and different variations on the bells lately, so hopefully I'll get a bit of updating done, and even review a few (after some kind offers to do so!) The heavier weight canvas seems to be popular now, plus double doors, every increasing sizes, and every colour of the rainbow Unfortunately the blog has filled with my limit of comments on this page, so I have added the majority of recommended bell tent suppliers to this link:- If you have any comments, please use the link on the new page!

219 comments:

  1. Hi Val

    Found your blog after doing some searching for BellTent advice. It's a great blog and I love all that you have done with your tents. I wondered if you were able to give me some advice. I have just bought a 5m Standard Bell from Bell Tent.co.uk and I want to make an alteration but not sure if it will work! Sorry if you are inundated with folk asking for advice! Thanks, Eve

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  2. Hi,

    I am on the verge of purchasing my first bell tent but I am undecided on the size to go for. I was planning on going for the 4m from Bell Tent, they seem to think it's perfect for a family of 4 but now after reading the above I'm not so sure. My 2 children are still quite small but I would like to think I can use the same tent for years if I look after it.

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  3. I would say definitely go for the 5m with 2 children! A few people have bought 4m ones and then regretted afterwards not buying the 5m. Price and pitching time is negligible between them. It will also give you enough room for an inner as they get older, giving a bit of privacy. Only downside is harder to heat, but not a problem if you are only planning 'fair weather' camping

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  4. Thanks for the advice, will definately go for the 5m, I phoned Bell Tent and they also had the same opinion as you. Love your handy work with the decor, I need to find someone with a sewing machine now to make a copy of your airmat cover. :)

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  5. I just love your site Val! It's such great information! Thanks for putitng the time in for everyone to learn and dream about Bells. :-)

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  6. Thanks for the great info and pics. You say canvas & cast do better heavier canvas. Do you think the 285g weight of the karma, soulpad etc tents is adequate and long lasting enough? Cheers, Turny.

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  7. The 285g is more than adequate for holidays. They are just not sold as a long standing living abode. TBH its neglible when you look at the fabric to see any difference

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  8. Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing. Bell tent heaven

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  9. Hi, love your blog, lots of good advice but can't see Baker + Bell www.BakerandBell.com on your list - we sell lovely, good quality but reasonable priced 4 metre bell tents with ZIG and will have 5m ones next year. New stock of 4m ones arriving in time for Christmas. Our tents are made especially for us and go through strict quality control. We also sell some unique accessories such as bell tent mirrors and hooks which fit around the central pole as well as lots of gorgeous glamping kit.

    Andrea (Baker + Bell)

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  10. Hi Val,
    I just want to thank you for being so informative (and witty) about all things Bell Tent, & helping me make my mind up :-) . Two years ago I bought an Outwell Montanna 6 (poly cotton version) plus optional front canopy & carpet, and I have to say that it was (& still is) a gorgeous tent. However I'm on my own and by last year I was sick of the 2hrs minimum that it took to pitch everytime, so went looking for an 'easy pitch' alternative of comparable standard (starting off I had never heard of bell tents & assumed I would end up with one of their new air beam tents or a trailer tent. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology I learnt all about them, and last October I took the plunge, but because no body sells them over here (I live in Ireland), I took the ferry to Holyhead and then made a holiday out of visiting the different suppliers and was able to look at pitched 3, 4, & 5 mtr ones. And finally purchased a Boutique 6 mtr, the 5mtr was smaller than my Outwell & imagining everything in it I thought better a bit bigger than a bit smaller. Yes there is only myself, but I do like the luxury touches (I don't believe in roughing it lol), and I also got myself a Salamander 4kw Hobbit stove (looked at the typical stoves but just thought it was more suited to Glamping.
    All I need/want now is to pitch it even once, have stood the centre pole up and just can't imagine a tent this tall (3.5 mtrs or 11' 6"), and who knows: one day I might have the bottle to put a hole in the side for the Chimney.
    Best wishes,
    Mark.

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    1. Go for it with the chimney hole, not as daunting as you think, honest! You can always sew a flap on to cover it when not in use. Would love to know how you get on with the 6m from Boutique (you're the second person I know who has bought one lately) - not seen one 'in the flesh'. Agree, just because we solo camp, we still need our nice space :) Not sure if you are Northern or Southern Ireland, what are the campsites like over there?

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  11. I am very impressed with your blog and have read it with fascination and much amusement. I have also fallen in love with the Toerag (as you call it) and am very tempted to buy one! However, we are not fair weather campers by a long shot as we camp every year at what can be a very wet and windy campsite on a cliff (hardcore, I know!! ;) ). Would you suggest the 'Toerag' as a tent that can withstand gale force winds??? This is honestly a serious question... Helen x

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    1. The toerag is fine in 40-50mph gusts. probably looking at a bit hit and miss when you start stretching to 60-70mph ones. Plus its not much fun when you are taking a battering in the wind. It is however, one of the most stable tents i have - probably more so than the bells

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    2. Thank you for the advice. I have gone ahead and bought one and will let you know how we get on after our return in august x

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    3. Well, as promised, I came back from our UK camping holiday unscathed. Despite getting the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, the 'Toerag' held up very well. It had an amazing amount of living space even with a bedroom compartment fitted. Had a slight issue with Belltent UK as they supplied the wrong inner tent but replaced it very quickly. I'm very happy with it! :D Helen x

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  12. Oh my god, you ARE a guru!! Every search I have done on Bell Tents ends up at you! And you are so creative - loving your interiors and the Mr Men paint job. Anyway, now decided on a 4m bell tent and notice that Baker and Bell have an 'early season' deal on but can't find much information about them or any reviews. Any idea is their tents are comparable to Obelink (have a friend in Germany happy to send in on)? Any thoughts?? Many thanks and gratitude for your blog and your expertise... Lisa xx

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    1. Not had any dealings, or know of anyone who has a Baker & Bell, but they did comment on this thread (just above) They seem a fairly credible company. Might be worth a search on reviews, people are always quick to leave a bad one, but unfortunately rarely leave a good one

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    2. 400g canvas is a good weight (obelink etc are 285g for the standard). But they dont appear to do any SIG/ZIG versions

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  13. Hi there, I'm a bit a "bell tent virgin", we're looking for advice on the 6m and huge 7m bell tents. We want to use it as a shelter for children at Forest School, birthday parties, yoga etc etc. Our main question is, do you think the 6m and 7m are sturdy enough? Also, do you think they lend themselves to yoga? (with all that stretching...my husband is a yoga teacher). We're trying to find somewhere in Kent that has them on display so we can take a close look at one in the flesh before parting with our cash, any advice gratefully received....many thanks, Alice:)

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    1. tbh, i think the shape probably works against you a bit for exercise, as there is only so much head height room you will be able to use? It all depends how many you are planning to put in the tent. Not experienced the 7m bells, so not sure how stable they would be in gusts - but yes i would advise to see a 7m pitched before you go for it. Birthday parties and childrens shelter, it would be perfect! Bear in mind if it does get chilly though, its a huge tent to heat

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  14. Hi, great site - lots of really good advice. We're planning on buying our first bell tent and have seen what looks to be a good quality 4m ZIG one on Camping & Canvas at a very reasonable price. We are only planning on using it in good weather for three of us (two adults and one teenager). Do you know if this is a good tent for what we are planning? Many thanks. David

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    1. camping and canvas tents are fine - go for it! The only supplier getting negative customer service that I know of at the moment is belltent.uk. Not sure if they are buried doing refurbs, up to their necks with the bell hotel business, but quite a few unhappy customers

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    2. Hi did you buy a tent from them in the end? i have bought one but although delviery date not yet here i cant contact them on the phone or via e mail.. getting worried

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    3. I think they had some issues with availability. Low stocks meant they couldn't fulfil orders as quickly as they would have liked

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  15. Hi! Thank you for your time in posting all this info!
    Our friends put up their 5m bell for our wedding this weekend and it was beautiful. We have enough wedding money to buy ourselves one, yay!
    Any advice on awnings as we like to cook when camping on sites and/or festivals etc...i've seen the different sizes but worried about headroom and maintaining a coverage around door.
    Your advice is priceless but if you are at a festival we'll buy you breakfast as a thank you1
    Andy&Steph

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  16. Hi,

    Does anyone here have any experience of the 5M Ultimate Bell Tent with ZIG as sold by campingandcanvas.c0.uk? It is substantially cheaper than many others and claims to have the same weight canvas and ground sheet material. I wondered how they compared quality wise to the offerings from Soulpad and the 5M Ultimate from belltent.c0.uk?

    Any help or views greatly appreciated.

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  17. I am also interested in the campingandcanvas.co.uk tents. I noticed an earlier comment where bellsandlabs said that the 4 metre zig tent was ok. I was also wondering what quality they are?

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  18. I would suggest caution if thinking of buying from campingandcanvas.com. When I ordered my tent the website said "Delivery of this product will be made on week commencing 9th June". When I later asked for confirmation they said that I had "misinterpreted" the message, and that the tent would be delivered to their warehouse some time in the week commencing 16th June and I would receive it by the end of June.

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    1. so you havent received your tent then? could you actually spoeak to them as i cant get through on the phone and when you google the address it looks like it is up for rent?

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  19. i have ordered one from camping and canvas but not due till next week. i cant contact them on the phone and now getting a bit worried!

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  20. I actually called them yesterday to ask some questions re: purchasing a tent and got through straight away if that puts your mind at rest. I haven't yet placed an order .... may hold back until I am sure it is all ok??

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    1. As long as the tents are in stock, I don't think there are any issues with quality etc. The main concern appears to have been shipping times/delays, which is mainly down to whether they have stock in, so maybe worth a phone call before ordering

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  21. keep a note on here if you do get problems/crap service? At least it gives other buyers the choice to shop elsewhere. Seems to be quite a few negative comments with quite a few suppliers atm, including the more established ones. Perhaps stocks are just coming in - I know a lot of them are at the mercy of the Chinese suppliers

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  22. I just spoke to Camping and Canvas and got through straight away - they say delivery of 5m ZIG to home address by 24th June.

    Has anybody managed to speak to boutique camping recently? I have left voice messages and emailed them, but no response.

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  23. Anyone heard anything about the quality of obelink? I live in Spain so could be best option and sounds like the cheapest, but don't want to get something that won't last! They look like they have metal poles rather than nice wooden ones but as long as it's good quality I'm happy to be saving over 100 Euros.

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    1. Obelink are fine - reputable and quick delivery. The tents are the same product as bell tent UK sell. Unfortunately there seems to be some contra deal where Obelink wont ship to the UK any of the products that bell tent sell, other than the beige polycotton tarp

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  24. I contacted Camping & Canvas and they answered on the first ring. I wanted to ask why theirs are such a good price compared to the likes of soul pad and Bell Tent UK.

    They said that because they cut out any middlemen they can pass these savings onto the customer. The man i spoke to basically said its not a case of them being cheap, but the other companies being too expensive.

    I always wondered why Bell Tent UK were so much more expensive compared to Obelink but it makes sense if Bell Tent UK are buying from Obelink and adding there markup.

    Anyway, i took the plunge and bought one from them and told them that i must have it by Thursday as i was going away on the Friday (bit late notice i know). They said this will be fine and they will put it on an express delivery on the Wednesday to get it to me on Thursday.

    Had tracking emails on the Wednesday advising it had been dispatched but i noticed that i had given the wrong postcode!! Phoned parcel force to try and sort it out but they said i need to contact the sender.

    I contacted Camping & Canvas and spoke to Karen who couldn't of been more helpful and really calming. The parcel had been on the lorry for delivery but they could not locate the address and sent it back to London Central depot and i live in Oxford.

    This was now 4pm on the Thursday and i said that i needed it for tomorrow morning. Karen quickly contacted parcelforce and spoke to the area manager and then got back to me.

    She advised that parcelforce were refusing to try and deliver again on the Thursday as it was already 4:30 by this time. However, she said she would get a private courier to collect from the Central London depot and have it couriered to my house in Oxford. She said it will take around 90 mins but i was over the moon.

    The courier was actually stuck in traffic so it arrived at 8pm but i was kept informed throughout by the courier and Karen both by email and phone. Karen must of spent about 2hours trying to sort this out for me and she even gave me her personal number for out of hours incase i needed her.

    I've got nothing but good words to say about this company and the tent has also lived up to its great expectations and we are loving every minute of camping under canvas!

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    1. Thanks for the update! Good to know they are reliable if anyone is thinking of using them

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    2. Link for camping and canvas: http://www.campingandcanvas.co.uk/canvas-bell-tents/5m-canvas-bell-tent.html

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    3. From the way the phone is answered on the 0845 number, I suspect CandC run a skeleton internet business model which isn't uncommon these days - order stuff from China, advertise it on the web, have the stuff delivered to a fulfillment company and match the web orders to the deliveries - no need for an office let alone a warehouse. This is a very common on Amazon shops. My only concern is what happens if what they order is faulty since companies using this model are little more than a website. Not sure if the other companies are much different.

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  25. Thinking of using camping and canvas. Just wondered if there was an update on the finished product and it's quality once it was delivered?

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  26. I ordered from Camping and Canvas and as promised by them, the tent was delivered this morning. I haven't yet put it up, but will update when I have. I have had good customer service from them so far ... they have kept me up to date with order progress and tracking info well. Fingers crossed!!

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    1. Following on from my earlier comment, the tent went up easily and seems to be fab. I am a happy camper!!

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  27. For the sake of a few pounds i would used the more established suppliers with plenty of reviews and feedback. Camping and canvas products and website text looks very suspect to me. A quick check on the company reveals the director is 21 and a bit of a Del boy! They also own Caravancovershop which has terrible reviews for customer service and products. See link to reviews here. http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/chatter/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=8&TopicID=286467
    Buyers Beware!

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  28. I also was a bit wary of Camping and Canvas, but I got straight through to a helpful lady on the phone last week, whereas the other sites I tried - belltent.co.uk, and strawberryhills.co.uk - I got through to a voicemail, left a message and never heard back from them. The Camping and Canvas lady was very helpful about sizes, colour etc, and explained the tents were coming into stock w/c 16 June, would be quality checked, and then would be shipped out w/c 23 June. I ordered a 5m bell tent, and it has just been delivered today, 24 June. So all was as it should be: I had good customer service from them and the product was delivered when she said it would be. Don't know yet about the product quality - we'll put it up at the weekend and I'll post again if it's bad - but it looks promising and is a nice colour!

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  29. Camping and canvas are run by the same people as Caravancovershop, their customer service is terrible!!!
    Elloit Meads has kept me waiting for my caravan cover for well over a month now. Not answering the phone or any of my emails. See reviews here. http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/chatter/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=6&TopicID=285410&SearchPagePosition=1&search=caravan+cover+shop&searchMode=phrase&searchIn=Topic&forum=0&searchSort=dateDESC&ReturnPage=Search

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    1. Elliot actually contacted me about the caravan cover problems - He is struggling to find out your details to rectify the problem - May be worth a phone call, or email again? It's in his interests to keep the customers happy, as poor press isn't good for anyones business? Hope you got/get it all sorted?

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  30. Hi everyone, apologies if this has been mentioned before but does anyone know whether the camping and canvas 5m inner tent will fit into a 5m soulpad tent?

    Has anyone tried this before?

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    1. some of the inside fittings are a bit different, and things like the windows don't always line up with the inner. I've adapted inners to match before so its not a huge job, but for the sake of a few quid, I'd go with the original supplier

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  31. First, thanks for a terrific blog. I've been researching bells for the last month or so and have been inspired by this site.

    But...I'm having great difficulty getting in touch with any of the sellers. Sometimes they respond once then disappear. I'm across the pond, and I wonder if there's a company more friendly with overseas customers. I'm down to crunch time to get a tent ordered this summer.

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    1. across the pond in Ireland, or Europe? I'd go towards Obelink if they will deliver to you? Or canvascamp are an overseas supplier who deliver to the uk, so pretty sure they will deliver anywhere http://www.canvascamp.com/en

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  32. Farther...I'm in the USA where bell tents are sadly not well-known. Thanks for the link. I will check them out.

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  33. I had my Camping and Canvas tent arrive today on the specified delivery day. Customer service was fine for me and quality of tent is great BUT...

    I also ordered a frontier stove to fit inside the tent and also ordered the tent flashing kit etc.. Now that I have seen the tent I can not bear the thought of taking a pair of scissors to it to fit the flashing kit for fear of cutting the whole thing to shreds!

    Does anyone know of a reputable company who could retro fit the flashing kit to a bell tent? I presume Camping and Canvas do not offer this service as I haven't seen this mentioned on there website but i'll give them a call in the morning.

    Heres the link to the flashing kit if it helps ? - http://www.campingandcanvas.co.uk/stoves/tent-flashing-kit-for-stove.html

    If worst comes to worst, has anyone got experience of doing this and how easy was it?

    Great blog by the way! :)

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    1. Go for it, it's not hard, honest! I've cut a couple of tents now. Just make sure you pitch the tent well, (i.e straight and how you would like it on every trip), position the frontier exactly where you want it - work out where the pipe hits the canvas - trace a circle round the pipe on the outside. cut the small circle out - you will probably need to increase the size of it to clear the pipe when you fit the flashing, but edge on the side of safety and underestimate it to start with - you can always cut more off. Worth also making a patch using the tent bag canvas. Handy if you sell on, or use the tent without the stove

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  34. My Camping&Canvas tent arrived yesterday. Communication during the wait was good- I couldn't get through on the phone on Tuesday but on Wednesday morning first thing I had a phone call from them, followed by an email with the information I'd asked for. I haven't unpacked and put the tent up yet but so far all seems well!
    At over £50 less than its nearest price competitor including the free delivery, and with all the features of that tent (more than most, like mozzie nets), it was a significant saving for me- pushing it into "justifiable" rather than "too expensive", so if as I hope and imagine, it's a beautiful working tent, then I will wholeheartedly recommend the company. I'll come back to update when I've had a play with it!

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  35. Thanks for your great blog, very informative! I'd been researching bell tents for a while before finding your blog and it has helped hugely! great pics too. Have you any experience of BCT's model Cool Haven. I like the fact that the tents from BCT are made by them in Yorkshire. I really like the shape of the bells but also like natural light, so lack of windows is a bit of a problem! The Touareg looks good though. Very useful info ref the ground sheets. Think zig sounds the best and the unfitted one next ,as it can be cleaned away from the canvas. Does it keep the wet out round the edges?! As you can see, I'm ignorant of such detail! Thanks again for a great blog. Best wishes, Cheley

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    1. The SIG and ZIG are a lot better for keeping the rain out. Not only are they sealed, they also follow up the wall for about 4 inch, giving a decent rain barrier. Not seen the cool haven, will take a look! Canvas and Cast tents have small windows in the doors. The pale colours of the bell make them seem light and airy anyway, so windows not really an issue

      Delete
  36. Help does anyone know of any shops I can go view bell tents around nottingham or leeds

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi, has anyone had a problem with a bell tent letting in water? I used my recently purchased bell tent in rain for the first time at the weekend and there was loads of water on the floor. My bell tent is the ZIG version which is supposed to have a water proof ground sheet. It seemed like the water was coming through the groundsheet. There were parts of the tent that had over an inch deep puddles of water.

    Waiting for a callback from the supplier but wondered if this is a common problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not had any problems with any of mine, but a few have had drips/leaks. Generally the zipper is either pulled out too far below the wall (try pegging it further in, so it's covered). Most common problem is failing to put the plastic cap on the a-frame. Water then runs down the pole and pools. Obviously keep everything inside away from the canvas as well. What make is it? Last resort get some seam sealer or fabsil, depending on what the source of the leak is, and just spray/roll it on

      Delete
  38. Thanks for the info.

    I got it from Karma Canvas. It has been used twice, first time one of the spings broke on the a-frame which didn't bother me too much (although surely they shouldn't break on first use) apart from that tent seemed fine but we camped for a few days in really good weather. Second use was for one night when it rained for two hours, tent was left zipped up & when we came back it was full of water!

    The cap was on the a-frame, so I don't think it's down to that. Could be from the zips but there was a deep pool in the centre around the main pole, so it must have either come through the canvas or groundsheet. Luckily we were only staying overnight at a wedding so there wasn't much in the tent, as if there was it would have been underwater! There was also a really deep pool where one of the ends of the a-frame is held in place. It seemed like the water was coming through the groundsheet as when I was walking on it, water looked like it was coming through as I took each step.

    I was promised a call back from the supplier today which didn't materialise, will update on the quality of customer service.







    ReplyDelete
  39. You have shared a great information about Zodiac Tent and Nomadic Tents.Which are very informative for us.Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  40. I have had severely poor service from Belltent.co.uk regarding the delivery and subsequent collection of a bell tent carpet that had no indication when i purchased it, on the packaged size of it. To cut a long story short, when it finally did arrive, it was almost 4 meters long and weighed over 20kgs and could not possibly be packed any smaller to fit into a car. Despite having taken 3 days off work in total for them to deliver it (i was told it would arrive each day, for it not to…) We are now waiting for the 4th attempt to pick it up…the service i received from Belltent.co.uk has been beyond awful. The Manager does not care at the inconvenience and stress of having to take days off work, and refused to offer for the waver of the pick up charges as a gesture of good will. He was quite frankly unfriendly and gave the impression that he really couldn't care. We have to sent them emails and chase them by phone to find out when they are delivering/collecting it - their service is completely unprofessional and awful. BUYERS BEWARE - DO NOT BUY FROM BELLTENT.CO.UK.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi Val, thanks for your great blog. I've been researching bells and have been inspired by your site.
    Thanks for your advice and all beautiful pictures.
    Greets from Germany
    Björn

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hello from Germany, I`m looking for advice before buying. Is a 5m Sibley tent large enough for a family with 3 children or should we go for the 6m? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bjorn! it depends which seasons you plan to camp? a 6m will give you the room but will be harder to heat, and more unstable in windy conditions. It also depends on whether you want to go down the 'glamping' route - if you want a nice open space, as opposed to a functional area? A 5m will sleep you all very comfortably in a conventional way, but you'll struggle to keep it tidy and clear with 3 kids and doesn't leave much room for tables etc. Also if you are considering a stove at any time, i'd go towards the larger option. Pros and cons for both. but pack size, stability, warmth and ease of pitching is better with the 5m. Plus if you have a tarp or a kitchen tent it frees off a lot of room. If the kids are getting older, there's always the option of adding a pup tent as well

      Delete
    2. Hi Val,
      thanks for your advice. I think we go for the 5 m Sibley ultimate from canvascamp and later adding a pup tent. There is still some time until next summer :-)
      Happy x-mas!
      Björn

      Delete
  43. Love your blog & love bell tents...so we created a bell tent awning for campervans! We love ours and go camping all year round now we can stay cosy by the wood burner. Glamping rocks! www.glawning.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hello I'm Hari and I designed the Lotus Belle tent, Ive just read your post and its very informative which is great, i just wondered if you might update the info to say that my tents are sold through my own website - www.lotusbelle.co.uk rather than through canvas and cast, which isn't quite right. That would be ace :) also I'd love to talk tents with you so please feel free to email me on info@lotusbelle.co.uk if you have a spare minute one day.

    Kind regards,
    Hari

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Updated - thanks for the info!

      Delete
    2. Amazing :) that was super efficient of you!

      Thanks,

      Hari

      Delete
  45. Hello,

    Your blog is much appreciated. After hours of looking at different bell tent company websites and reviews, I have some unanswered questions:

    Is a 4.5 m bell going to be a bit warmer than a 5m?
    Is a 4.5 m bell going to accomodate 2 adults, 2 kids and a large dog?
    Is 350g canvas going to be warmer than 280g canvas?

    current logic is to invest a bit more money in a heavier canvas 4.5m bell from BCT, Podpads without inner tent as opposed to a 5m bell with lighter canvas but with an inner to increase warmth. Both work out at about the same price. Which option would you go for?

    Is your Tourareg draughty?

    Comments gratefully received.

    ReplyDelete
  46. The 4m is quite a bit warmer than the 5m, but then you do lose space. The BCT site doesnt seem to mention a 4.5m, so its hard to know what the centre pole height is? This will have a bearing on space as well (canvas and cast are lower than standard, so the their 4.5m is negligible on additional space, compared to a standard 4m from most suppliers).
    It will fit you all fine, but not a lot of additional living space in the day - I would go more towards the 5m tbh. Do you planning on cooking outside under an awning or kitchen tent? Also consider whether you may want a stove in the future, as the more space you have available the safer it will be (especially with kids)

    Go with the heavier weight canvas, as long as you have somewhere to dry it, and are happy to pitch the additional weight - its always going to be the better option (it's not generally that much more noticeable in weight when pitching/carrying).
    If you are going with the BCT and money allows, go for the ZIP groundsheet - a lot quicker and more secure tent pitch than a separate one.

    And no, the Touareg isnt draughty at all! Its been on many winter camps

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Centre pole height on BCT 4.5m bell is 2550mm. Would a 5m tent with inner tent be warmer than a 4.5m without an inner? Trying to juggle cost control on purchase with accomodating future family camping holidays - two growing kids and one dog. And a wife that gets cold in tents!! Will consider a stove - not sure if it starts to get unsafe in a 4.5m tent compared to a 5m.

      Delete
    2. I'd go with the 5m and the inner. It's a lot easier to heat the inner up than a whole tent. Plus the extra space is a lot more use to you.

      Stoves while nice to have, aren't the be all and end all tbh. Its a large outlay (£400 with the flue etc), it takes a lot of room in the car, and some sites wont allow them anyway (depends where you go obviously, and we do always aim for campfire sites, so its not an issue). I never leave mine burning overnight, I just use it to heat the tent up prior to going to bed. And yes it uses up floor space, and adds an element of care required, with the kids and dog.

      A suitcase stove (about £20) in a 5m inner will take the chill off just as easily!

      Delete
    3. That's really useful advice. Thank you so much. I just have to find out what a suitcase stove is now….!

      Delete
  47. Hi there, amazing blog. I keep researching and think I've found the best one then I see another one that has something slightly different!

    We're a family of 4. 2 adults and a 5 & 1 yr old. Honest opinion, which company to get it from and what size!? Also, is a SIG better? I'd like one with a mesh screen on the main door. So far I've whittled it down to Boutique Camping and Soul Pad. Or do you recommend another? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any of the large suppliers, belltentuk, soulpad, karma, are all very much the same quality/tents.

      SIG is easier to pitch as there are less loops, but the ideal is probably the ZIG - purely because you can unzip and clean the groundsheet separately - also helps to disperse the weight into two bags.

      Bear in mind you cant have the walls up in the summer either (not that we have much sun...)

      Go for a 5m with the 2 little ones - Larger is good if you are happy with weight, being able to dry it, and go to campsites with a large unmarked pitch size.

      A separate kitchen tent would work well as well

      Delete
  48. Not sure if you picked this up previously apologies if you have ..... do you have any knowledge / feedback on Pukka tents I am looking for a 5m with mesh and heavier canvas they are advertising a 340g ZIG for circa £600. thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No personal experience - I can ask around. On the same count I havent heard anything negative either!

      I'll update if anyone has purchased and has any feedback

      Delete
    2. Bit of an update on pukka tents - not good evidently!

      Comms were a bit surly

      A few problems with leakage (quite heavy) and the customers were just advised to weather them before use.

      There shouldn't be heavy leakage tbh on a new tent, so I would personally avoid (small seam/a frame drips are fairly common on a first pitch, and usually rectify themselves after the first shower, which swells and shrinks the fabric)

      Delete
    3. Another comment received, and they were actually pleased with the pukka tent. evidently after 2-3 pitches the waterproofing did sort itself out.

      also mentioned that these tents are quite 'white', as opposed to being the more creamy beige colour

      Delete
  49. Hello. Thank you for your blog... all my research keeps bringing me back here.

    I wondered if you had heard anything further about camping and canvas tents? I have done a fair bit of research and am down to either these or soulpad. The soul pads are well reviewed but I can find nothing on c&c. They do have a thinner central pole, but otherwise have some great extras.

    Wondered if you had heard any news about how folks are getting on with theirs and whether they are a comparable quality.

    Thank you... Sorry, have to post as anon as do not have an account.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't personally bought from Camping & Canvas, but there are quite a few on the forums who have - I haven't seen any negative feedback - Quality seems the same/comparable to the main suppliers such as belltentuk/soulpad etc. With regards to the thinner pole, i always carry a spare anyway - You can buy a thicker pole direct from belltentuk if in any doubt.
      In windy weather I tend to cable tie a spare metal pole to the centre anyway - as long as it covers the joins, it will give it any re-inforcement it needs.

      I am hoping to trial a camping and canvas tent over the next couple of months, so will do a full write up then

      Delete
    2. The only negative comments I have seen was re: communications and stock levels. May be worth a phone call first to see what, and when stock is available. Most of the suppliers appear to be waiting for deliveries atm

      Delete
    3. Thank you, that is helpful, and I look forward to seeing your review.

      The Canvas & Camp Tent is 20cm shorter in height than Soulpad & Bell Tent UK so the pole would need a chop if I did get a spare from there, but I am sure my Dad would be able to step in with his trusty swiss army

      Good tip about carrying a spare pole - my friend had to end a camping trip early last summer after her Tipee pole snapped, I shall factor that in to my budgeting!

      Delete
  50. Hello. Seems like a few of us are doing our pre season purchase homework. Thank you for your blog - it is a huge help.

    I've narrowed the heavier canvas tent suppliers to BCT, Canvas and Cast (bell tent.biz) and Canvascamp in Belgium.

    It then gets tricky as the only way to compare products is to rely on reviews and website pictures. There doesn't seem to be a way to physically view these products at the moment. I'm sure there are others like me in this position. Only BCT was prepared to send canvas samples, but the tents can't be seen before purchase, even though their factory is in Bradford.

    Any feedback is very much appreciated. I think we need a bell tent exhibition where products can be physically compared. In the meantime, we are reliant on this excellent blog for guidance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A showroom would be amazing!

      There is a BCT tent for sale on Ebay at the moment from a glamping provider. They sell their entire stock every January so they say. It may be worth sending them a message to see what they think of them as it sounds like they have lots.

      Delete
  51. canvascamp in Belgium stock the same tents as belltentuk. Usually slightly cheaper, but they have started refusing UK sales, so it may be worth checking they are ok to despatch to UK still. The quality of these tents is fine - I wouldnt worry on that respect.

    Canvas & Cast again, lovely quality tents - sometimes the centre pole is lower than other companies, it may be worth noting if you are going for anything smaller than a 5m, as the decreased head space isnt great. Not sure if it applies to all their tents, but it's worth checking the spec/dimensions

    BCT, i havent purchased from, but they have been around and established for years, so wouldnt envisage any problems

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Canvascamp emailed me and confirmed they do ship to the UK.

      Delete
    2. That's good news! They were starting to refer people to belltentuk for UK sales. No difference in quality so go with whichever is cheapest, factoring in conversion rate and delivery charges obviously

      Delete
  52. Hi thanks for all the useful advice and tips. We are looking around to buy a Bell Tent or possibly a Tourag ?? Can you advise what would be big enough - 2 adults, 3 kids under 10, plus a Labrador, we had an old canvas tent but have outgrown this and it took over 2 hours to put up. Looking for a large tent for July and August only with an inner tent. We contacted Boutique Camping and pointed out their web page was wrong i.e. they were showing bell tents that can accommodate inner tents when in fact they couldn't because they didn't have the fittings. We asked for a price for up to £1000 of tent and accessories, They never replied which is very poor customer service. Would you recommend anyone else??
    Many thanks

    ReplyDelete
  53. I made the comment earlier about Canvascamp in Belgium. I took the plunge and ordered a 5 m Ultimate Pro from them last week and it was delivered in a couple of days. Customer service was good. I've not put the tent up yet, but the canvas feels very tough and looks like it will keep us cosy. Be aware the pack size is 1.2m length and the tent weighs 39kg! It did work out cheaper than buying from a UK supplier as the Euro is weakening vs the pound.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hello,

    Thanks so much for your great blog, really useful and informative. I've been doing lots of research in the a variety of canvas tents and think Ive finally decided to buy the Cool Haven from BCT. When I called them to ask for information etc they were very helpful and friendly. They sent me through some good quality and informative brochures too. I like the Cool Haven as its a bell tent with an extension to allow for extra standing room and useable space. It also comes in a brown colour which could be a good option RE marks and stains. I only want to buy one tent and I want this tent to last a long time. I'm happy to spend around £1000 including inner tent etc, but obviously want to get my purchase right before such a big financial layout. Does anyone have any feedback on BCT products or the Cool Haven tent at all. Any advice of information would be very much appreciated.

    Best wishes,

    Lou

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just had a look at the Cool Haven, and that is different! Looks like a very sturdy set up and for long time use its ideal. BCT are well established and have no doubts about the quality of the tent.

      However, the large front is quite a high flat wall, so it will be taking a lot of force in poor windy conditions - might be worth bearing in mind (never a fan of strong winds, these are my pet hate out of any weather)


      But I'm thinking perhaps its not as practical as a standard bell tent to pitch regularly - the pitching looks a lot more complex than a single pole, and I can't see a weight for the entire tent? Just be careful that you don't go too complex on the spec, that it has the disadvantage of making a quick weekend away seem a bit of a chore?

      Delete
  55. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thanks for replying so quickly and for the sound advice. I hadn't considered the flat front being problematic in high winds. The other option I was considering is the Emperor bell tent from belltent.co.uk, they seem to be the only company that offer a tent of this shape and size. I am looking for decent useable room inside, inner sleeping tents as well as good build quality. I did stay in an Emperor bell tent on a glamping holiday and it was great in terms of space. The only downside was that it was difficult to keep warm, did leak in places and was very heavy to manoeuvre. If anyone can suggest a good alternative it'd be much appreciated.

    Thanks again for your advice.

    Best wishes,

    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  57. This is a fantastic blog and full of great advice. I'd already done a bit of looking around and liked the belltentuk products. Reading this blog I then contacted canvascamp in Belgium and a 5 metre ZIG (the Ultimate) with a double inner tent and awning cost about £700 delivered. Easy to use website and really pleased with the service - ordered 10pm Tuesday and it was delivered on Friday afternoon. Thank you for all the effort you've put into this amazing site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you got everything you needed, now get out there and enjoy it :)

      Always happy for feedback, negative or positive, about any of the suppliers

      Delete
  58. This is an amazing blog! I have been looking for a Bell tent for months and this blog has really helped me.
    Finally, I decided to contact Canvascamp after reading your blog and the comments in this page and I think it has been the best option I could have. The customer service was really good and helpful. I live in France and I bought a Sibley 400 Ultimate and its inner tent and ordered on friday 28th and I got it on tuesday 3rd (taking into account the weekend in between).
    Thank you again for making such a good site!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks :) Glad to help

      Its quite hard keeping on top of what is out there - I probably need to update with some of the double doors, and bigger sizes etc

      Delete
  59. I love your site - its so helpful and clearly impartial. Thanks.

    We camp mainly in Scotland (!) and have 3 kids + 2 dogs and have narrowed the search to a 5m ultimate or the Touareg.
    I like fact the Touareg has windows and 2 doors, but worried it doesn't have removable groundsheet.
    I talked to very helpful guy at Belltents.co.uk and he thought the Touareg may be less usable in terms of internal space for the 5 of us than the 5m ultimate...
    Just wondering what your thoughts / recommendation would be?? or even if you'd recommend something else for us?
    Many thanks for any suggestions.
    Doug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends what you want the tent for - if its just a sleeping space, either will do the job nicely. The inner tent is small on the Touareg so it would limit to just 2 adults - whereas an inner in the 5m would take 2 adults and 3 kids. Worth bearing in mind if you want to camp out of season.

      The removable groundsheet isn't really a deal breaker - I use a plastic tarp underneath as a footprint, so it doesn't get dirty.
      In honesty I think I have rolled up the bell tent walls about twice in 5 years, so although the idea sounds idyllic, its not really used that much - bear in mind you have to move things away from the walls. Then if you go out its all open etc.

      My personal choice is the Touareg, I love the space, barn door type doors, and windows - but there is only 2 adults and 2 labradors in mine. The 5m bell will probably give you the better room that you will need.

      It also depends on your childrens ages - you can always consider a pup tent (nice little 3m bell?!) for them if they are starting to reach teens. They will want their own space, and I'm sure you will enjoy yours!

      Delete
  60. As the owner of a glamping site in the Costa Brava, I have a rather chequered history with Bell tents in all sizes and from several Bell tent suppliers. After quite a few bad experiences with tent companies who turned out to be specialised in remakes instead of the real deal, I can finally say that after about 3 years of fiddling around I now own a range of high-quality Bell tents equal in quality, look and feel to the original old-fashioned cotton canvas bell tent. I ended up buying them from Canvascamp, although I initially did not intend to, as I was looking closer to home – I am originally from a little town in the UK. But honestly, it is the best decision I have made when it comes to bell tents. Before I purchased those, I ordered tents from three other companies: first Soulpad – whose tents turned out to be of despicable quality and impossible to be pitched tight. Not only did they appear to be plasticized on the inside, I also had to deal with condensation and severe mould issues after no more than 2 months. Secondly, I went knocking on Belltent’s door, who were not only too busy to reply to any of my emails and did not once pick up their phone, yet whose tents were also much more expensive than the first. I eventually cancelled my order because of their poor customer service, although I do believe their tents’ quality is much better than Soulpad’s. As if I hadn’t endured enough re Bell tents, the soft pink tent I purchased from Boutique Camping as the eyecatcher of my campsite turned out to be a badly finished bright pink remake of the same poor quality as my old Soulpad tents. All in all, I would definitely recommend a CanvasCamp Bell tent (or as they call it: Sibley Tent), and maybe BellTent’s tents too – although I cannot talk from experience when it comes to the latter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback, really useful!

      I can vouch for belltentuk quality as I have one, and also know they use the same supplier as Canvascamp .

      Boutique quality has been questioned a few times, but interesting about the soulpad comments. Soulpad are usually a favourite with buyers, and it's often questioned if there is any difference between their stock and belltentuk's.

      Delete
    2. Out of curiousity, did you go for the heavier weight canvas rather than the 285g for the Sibley one?

      Delete
    3. As for your comment on Soulpad, it’s kind of hard to believe there isn’t. I know that they couldn’t be more different to Canvascamp’s in every aspect. As my tents are left outside for the better part of the year, I purchased the heavier canvas pros, of 360g. I don’t know if Belltent buy their tents from Canvascamp, yet I do know that Canvascamp is the official manufacturer of the pro tents.

      Delete
    4. I think canvascamp and belltent uk use the same supplier/manufacturer.

      Its quite hard to judge the pro at 360g against a standard 285g though

      Delete
  61. I have been looking for some websites trying to clear my mind reading the reviews from different Bell Tent manufacturers and I reached here. I am from Spain and here Bell Tents are hardly known so I have to look for an advice here on the internet or in blogs like this – which, btw, is very useful for people that we have no means to know more about Bell Tents so, first of all, thank you.
    I have read your whole post and the comments below and I am still hesitating about which is the best place to purchase a tent. According to the comments I have seen, Canvas camp seems a good option, I heard about them because of burning man festival but, being honest, I had no much more idea about them. What do you think? Do you think is a good option? Besides, as I am from Spain, maybe it is better buying the tent from them that with another UK supplier because of shipping issues.

    Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hey. I am wanting to buy a bell tent, but I am still researching/trying to decide which would be the best. We are situated on the coast so it can get windy.. how sturdy are these tents? and are the 4m still spacious? If the occupancy was 2/3 people? This is one of my main issues, 4 or 5m... I still cant decide.. Look forward to your reply!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 4m is a lot more stable, but you do gain a lot of headroom, as well as floor space in a 5m. 2 adults and a child would be fine in a 4m, but would look to going to the 5m if its 3 adults and you are planning to cook etc inside the tent?

      For stability in strong winds double guy the guy ropes, invest in some delta pegs http://www.deltagroundanchors.co.uk/ and take a spare piece of pole.

      Cable tie the spare pole to the existing one - as long as you cover the joints it will strengthen the weakest part of the tent.

      The a-frame tends to be the other vulnerable part. Strong winds blow it out of synch and rip the top of the canvas in the doorway - double guy it, or add an awning to the front for protection.

      If you go for a SIG/ZIG pile the heavy items around the edges in strong winds, it will keep the groundsheet down and stop the pegs rising.

      Anything up to 40-50mph gusts is usually annoying but fine. Once you start going higher it becomes more of a risk

      Delete
  63. Always come back to this post even though I have my bell tent (from Dusky Deer https://duskydeer.co.uk/, love it) to see what else I can buy :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not had any feedback on dusky door? Are they standard 285g ones (soulpad/belltent uk type)?

      Delete
    2. Didn't see your reply sorry! They're basically like ultimate spec belltentuk ones but with thicker poles I think. I really adore mine although I am going to end up getting a Touareg style for the door, bell tent shape just isn't ideal for me.

      I like that DuskyDeer actually give you a full set of pegs so there's enough to pin the groundsheet and the rubber loops properly, always seems such a weird thing to skimp on from other companies. Also came with the wooden guy sliders, although I haven't used them myself, and a wooden dollie for the a-frame spike which looks very cute.

      Delete
  64. Hola from Costa Rica!!
    We are starting a glamping surf camp right on the beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The property is shaded for the most part. What do you recommend? We need something very durable and fresh, as it is extremely hot in these parts of the country. We have 4 months of heavy rain every year. We want then to be very waterproof, as we get some crazy storms here sometimes. We don't want them to be too hot and be able to ventilate well, nothing that might mold. What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There isn't a lot to pick and choose between the main suppliers - obelink are cheaper and carry the same spec as Belltentuk. CanvasCamp are european, so may ship out to you as well (some of the uk suppliers may also ship, but they tend to be dearer tents of the same spec, as the european ones)


      I'd look towards the 400g pro tents

      However, most bells left up all season will look pretty sorry for themselves at the end of it. A lot of the glamping sites buy for the season, then sell them off at the end - they have a good second hand returns price.

      Then just upgrade/renew the following year.

      The main weakness with storms tends to be the a-frame falling in and ripping the front canvas - advise you double guy the fronts. The other weak point tends to be the centre pole. Again if you strengthen this by adding another pole - cable tie or tape a shorter pole to the main pole - as long as it covers the joints in the main pole it will hold it in place a lot better, during storms.

      Consistant heavy rain can sometimes lead to a bit of leakage - as long as they have chance to try out between showers they should be fine though

      Delete
  65. Great site. thank you for your advice and input, let our search begin! Very excited :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi.
      Great site. I want a bell tent instead off the tired nylon drive away awning I currently use with my camper van and I am undecided between the Toureg and the Glawning (which is a 4m bell tent with additional panel to attaché to camper van). The Glawning does seem quite expensive at £800. What would you recommend?

      Thanks Jacki

      Delete
    2. I've seen the pics of the glawning and ruled it out - mainly beause i thought it was overpriced, and also because the 2 door openings (the one to the van and main door) leave very little room to actually position anything inside.

      The Touareg works brilliantly with the camper as both doors are accessed easily, but you still have a really good use of space. I tend to clip an awning on one side, and you could easily sew a channel into it, so you could figure of 8, or pole it into the gutter of the van

      Delete
  66. Your blog has inspired me to purchase the Toureg. So now I have to decide who to buy it from- Bell tent UK or Camping and Canvas (who have the one with the integrated ground sheet.) We thought we would be better with a separate ground sheet, what do you advise? My one concern is how do you dry the Toureg? I have an old fashioned horse for drying my clothes but it would pull it down!
    Thanks again for your speedy reply! Jacki

    ReplyDelete
  67. We recently received our new 5m ZIG bell tent from Camping and Canvas. No problems with them at all. I ordered as a pre-order and got a nice discount and they delivered exactly when they said they would. Tent arrived in all its heavy glory. We took it for a spin this Bank Holiday and it was great. I can't fault the quality so far - all looks very nicely put together. It very conveniently rained with a decent wind most of the night and then nice hot sun the next day to dry it all out. No leaks, no condensation, all good.

    My only concern is that I think we should have bought a 6m one. With all my research on the net, pacing 5m out in our garden, looking at the frankly unrealistic sleeping layouts on the Soulpad site and all those photos on the various bell tent sites I was a bit disappointed how small 5m actually is once you've put 4 single beds in it. With canvas I don't think you want bedding to be pressed up against and so a gap is needed which further eats into the space. We're a family of 4 with kids under 10 and I think it's about right but could easily do with being larger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the heads up on camping and canvas - hoping to get one this week to review

      a few families have said they struggle for space in the 5m - there is always the option of a separate kitchen tent and/or a pup tent if they are older kids.

      whilst I love my 6m, you still have a heavier larger pitch and less stability in strong winds than the 5m. Bear in mind also, it is a large area to heat if the weather turns cold.
      With any tent the manufacturers they always tend to 'oversell' the space, so they are never the 10 person tents they claim - unless you are a 2ft Pygmy in a maggot style sleeping bag

      Delete
    2. Obviously one never has the right tent, that goes without saying! I think it'll be fine. It doesn't help that we're using decent sized camp beds to sleep on which raise you up most of the wall height. But then they have the advantage of being able to store everything under them, out of site. I'll look out for your review with interest

      Delete
  68. Hello, I was wondering what your thoughts on awnings are. We are going to buy a 5m bell. I want to get a awning attached/next to for the rain,sun and wind for cooking and lounging around. Which design do you recommend?
    Many thanks J

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a few options. It depends how large you want the awning? Obviously a smaller awning which covers the doorway (so if it rains you can leave the doors open) is going to be more solid than a large awning at the front for setting up a kitchen etc.

      My favourite awning didn't come cheap, is fairly small in terms of cooking space, but the quality is excellent and it never budges in any conditions: http://www.diejurte.com/product/universal-bell-tent-porch/

      For a larger malu thinner awning, I would go towards the obelink tarp (belltentuk sell the same one, but a much higher mark up) 375cmx375cm gives a good amount of space. The 2 upright poles are very sturdy, but an additional 2 would be useful. You can shape this into all sorts of configurations with extra poles and clingons: http://www.obelink.co.uk/tents/tent-canopies-tarps/tarp-beige-tc.html

      There are some heavy cotton tarps available on ebay, (german company) but they get very heavy when waterlogged, dont appear to have a waterproof finishing, go mouldy within 48 hours. Unless you are prepared to spend money on waterproofing (and even then it may not work), I wouldn't really go for them. Its a shame as they sell them in some good sizes, with quite a range: http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/zelte-max_de?_trksid=p2047675.l2559

      Delete
  69. Hi, brilliant blog - so inspiring, in fact so much so that I'm now the owner of a 4 Metre bell from Canvascamp - pitched in the garden ready for fettling and rain.

    First impressions are good - quality seems reasonable (its the Pro version) and it pitches really nice. My only concern at the moment are the windows in the wall, I can't believe they won't let water in to the tent without a cover of some sort over the zip - I notice some of your tents have the same sort of design so am wondering if you've had any problems...

    As for Canvascamp - Excellent service throughout, can't really fault them..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry about the half moon windows! The skirt protects them anyway, and I've never had one leak there.

      tbh the biggest cause of leaks is things pushed onto the walls of the tent, makes a wick that seeps into the Trent. Make sure your stuff inside isn't touching the canvas walls, and you should be fine

      Delete
    2. Wow, so quick, thanks for that - really enjoying pimping the bell and looking forward to taking it to west coast next week..

      Delete
  70. Amazing blog by the way. Love the pictures. We are a family of 6 - one is of university age and the little one is only 6. We love camping, mainly in the UK. We need a new tent and I love the look of the bell tents and would I think go for a zip one, however, I'm a bit concerned about room as there will be 5 or sometimes 6 of us. I called Boutique Camping and spoke to someone about sizes and she recommended the 4m but I am not convinced after reading your blog! I wasn't really convinced she knew what she was talking about. Am wondering if I should get a 5m plus a pup tent - but need more info on this as not sure how they connect etc. Or perhaps a different style of tent entirely - I love the Touareg but it's too small for us I think? Also, would love your thoughts on potential suppliers Boutique Camping, Bell Tent, Canvas Camp (in Belgium) or Canvas and Cast? - Would love your sound advice. Many thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4m for 6 people would be awful. A 5m isn't exactly awash with space for a family of 4. You might get 6 in a 5m but there would be little to no free room for standing or storage. I'd say you'd want a 6m or Emperor. The suppliers give the impression these are massive tents and the fish-eye photos of empty tents they take don't help. Belltent.co.uk keep banging on about things like "the average large car is 5 metres long so you could easily fit two inside this tent. The 6m Ultimate truly is a GIGANTIC tent". It isn't in practical terms. The space you can actually use is not the same as the floor area.

      They are not any bigger than any other family tent except taller. Our old £30 polyester job off ebay was actually bigger in terms of footprint so I wouldn't worry about going as big as you like. The guys on bell tents don't go out very far from the tent unlike other tents so the actual pitch space required is no different from what I've seen.

      The other thing to consider with older children is whether you really all want to be sleeping in one room, close up to each other with no privacy. With little kids it's fun but you'd want to think it through I think. Two tents might be better.

      Delete
    2. I agree, 4m is way too small for a family of 6

      Ideally a 5m plus a 3m pup tent would be good? Or even the Touareg and a 3m.

      It does also depend on the ages of the kids, do they/you need privacy etc? You can get round it with inners

      A separate kitchen tent will also free off a lot of space

      With regards to suppliers:-

      Boutique - Get mixed reviews
      Karma - continual good reviews
      Bell Tent UK - Tents good, comms can be poor
      Soulpad - Mainly good reviews, but a few waterproofing/mould issues
      Camping & Canvas - Fairly new, but good reviews of the tents so far. Previously had comms issues, but these seem to be rectified
      CanvasCamp - Good reviews, and lower price for the same spec tent as belltentuk and obelink sell
      Canvas & Cast - Tents tend to be superior quality and do differ from all the others. Used to have an issue with comms, but appear to be ok lately. More expensive cost reflects the quality though

      Delete
  71. Fantantisc Blog

    After reading your blog I have decided to go for a Obelink form Holland I am lucky a friend is bringing a 4 meter back in the car
    I have ordered some bunting and would like to be able to rig a mosquito net like the one in our blog I have found one that is square and I can see how to rig the front using the bunting but how do you rig the back any advice greatly received

    Thanks again great advice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ran string from the top of the pole down the side panels, and joined at the top of the wall where the inner loops are.

      I then tied the four corners of the mosi net to these strings!

      The bunting was put up afterwards

      Simple, honest!

      Have fun with your new tent

      Delete
    2. Thanks Bells & Labs one more question I have found someone who can furnish me with a Bamboo pole however it will not be collapsable I noticed you have wooden collapsable poles do they come with tent or can you purchase them separately. I would like to get some nice natural hemp rope and tie a rolling hitch to hang things from the pole as opposed to the metal pole and hook

      Delete
    3. My wooden pole came with the canvas and cast tent.

      R L Trim used to supply poles in several sections, and had a website, but its no longer working. I'm not sure if they have stopped, but it may be worth contacting them and asking?

      R.L Trim
      Acreman St, DT2 7LD
      Tel: 01300 341209

      Delete
  72. Sorry not our blog your blog

    ReplyDelete
  73. Thanks Bells & Labs might see you at Standon in July if you are going? I think I say some of you tents there last year with the Mr men and flowers on, we will be camped up with the Dig it Bike

    ReplyDelete
  74. Hello, we are looking at buying our first bell tent and must say this site is brill. We have a budget of about £1200 total and want the best quality we can get.
    We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 girls age 6 ,9. I have been looking at the 5m Sibley pro from Canvascamp and the 5m one on belltent biz (canvas and cast) site with the round windows. I was wondering if you could comment on the material of the later in comparison to the sibley. The site states that its 350gsm fabric (before treatment) at a 65/35 poly-cotton mix. This seems rather a low cotton mix ? never had a bell tent before so I'm a bit confused but would the material in the Sibley being 100% cotton not be better. I really like the look of the bell tent biz one and the 2015 is apparently also getting front mesh doors. Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  75. If you like the bell tent biz one I would go for that. The canvas on my canvas and cast was superior to all my other tents, so i wouldnt worry about the poly cotton mix. Never had any leakage etc, and there are a lot of nice quality touches with c&c. The sibley is the same as belltentuk and everyone else is selling - yes it is a bit heavier than the previous standard 285g ones, but tbh, its not a lot different.

    I think the c&c ones are a lot more unique. The guy ropes, windows and general finish is just nicer all round

    The belltent biz ones may have changed slightly from when i bought mine (5 years ago), as they have different ownership now - however people who have recently purchased have nothing negative to say about them

    The only other thing to look at, is the centre pole height. C&C tend to be lower, so you could lose some head room, if either of you are tall? It just might be worth checking

    ReplyDelete
  76. Thank you very much for your fast reply. I am 6'6" but there only seems to be 200mm difference in centre pole height, if the C&C one is that much better quality I can live with that. Do you thing 5m would be a good size for us, we have 2 double vango air beds, would like to use the bedding compartment at times with them also. Thanks for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might struggle to get both into the inner, but could probably do it at a squeeze. There is a picture here of 2 double beds in the belltentuk 5m bell - might give you a better idea

      http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n129/valbarley/Pillaton%20Meet/P1050697800x600.jpg

      The other option is one bed in the inner, and one outside. The inner can be moved around with a bit of shuffling, to sit at an angle (i.e. front of the inner can line up with the a-frame) - this gives a lot more usable room in the rest of the tent then.

      Delete
  77. Hi I have finally decided to get a bell tent for me my partner and daughter. I am wondering if you know if there is anywhere I can go and see some set up. I am based in Oxford but will travel as this will be an investment so I want to make sure we get the right tent for us. Fantastic blog by the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few suppliers have small displays, but the easiest way is to probably visit any campsite now, there are always some there!

      Try Uffington or Greenhills?

      Bell tenters are generally a friendly lot and quite proud of their tents, so sure they would be happy to give a guided tour!

      Delete
  78. I posted the comments back in February. Have just tried the Canvascamp Ultimate Pro 5m on a very cold and wet weekend (6degrees overnight). conclusions:
    1. Glad we went for a 5m and inner tent (family of 4 + large dog).
    2. Heavy weight canvas made the tent feel insulated in stormy weather ( and no flapping at night).
    3. Stove in the tent would have been a bit risky as space is limited with the family and dog in there. Glad we took the advice of this blog and not buy one.
    5. Zip quality is ok, but stiff in places.
    6. Tent is quite heavy and is a struggle to put back in the bag supplied. I woul hate to have to repackage if it was wet.
    7. Awning very useful to store wellies, etc.

    I previously had an large expensive Dutch tent which was very good quality but took ages to pitch. This tent was up and set out in under an hour. Although the general quality of the Sibley was not quite the same as the Nomad, it is an easier tent to put up and a lot warmer. If you buy an inner, check the loop that attaches to the pole. Ours tore and collapsed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comments, always good to have some reviews on other suppliers.

      With packing I usually follow the same procedure:-

      Fold the bell in half, then fold longways again until the width is the same as the bag (or even slightly longer - it will still go in the bag, with a bit sticking out the top!). So you have a long thin rectangular strip.

      Pack the poles into their bag, and then roll the canvas around the pole bag. It gives you a lot better grip and enables the canvas to go tighter as you roll.

      Tie it at the top and bottom with some spare guy line/ties/rope, and it usually all goes back in the bag ok.

      If its wet, fold it up and lob it in a wheelie bin plastic liner till you get home!

      Delete
  79. Hi there, very useful blog! Just wondering if you'd had chance to try the tents from Camping and Canvas yet? Thinking of purchasing a 5m ZIG from them as they appear to be approx £80 cheaper than Bell Tent Uk etc / come with a 2 year guarantee. I also like the look of the wooden guy rope sliders which they appear to come with. Do you happen to know what pegs they come with? Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - Yes I have trialed the Camping & Canvas Bell (will do a write up soon!).

      I wouldn' t hesitate to recommend them, really pleased with the quality, canvas, thicker centre pole, mesh doors and wooden sliders

      Had a brief shower, but not a downpour, so need to get it pretty wet to be totally conclusive - but at the moment more than happy.

      The only other negative I have heard (but not witnessed) is that the guy ropes slip - the nylon rope may be slightly smaller than needed for the size of the wooden slider holes. This may be a wet weather development, but in honesty, its not the end of the world replacing with some polyhemp rope from Timko, if it is an issue

      http://www.ropesandtwines.com/products.asp?cat=34

      Delete
    2. Sorry, pegs are standard metal ones. As with most companies they only supply enough to do the groundsheet and guy ropes. You will need additional ones if you peg your elastics over the ZIP separately from the groundsheet ones.

      Delete
  80. Hi - does anyone know whether the SIBLEY Ultimate quarter inner will fit other bell tents?
    If so I have a Brand new one for SALE. Is there a specialist forum on which I could sell it?
    Thanks :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most can be adapted with a couple of elastics etc.

      if you are on facebook, there is a group 'bell tent bazaar' for buying and selling bell/camping goods

      Delete
  81. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Thank you for your very informative writing, and also for introducing us to the idea of "toerag" tents. We are currently trying to decide what would best suit us. The leading contender at the moment is a larger version of the touareg called the madjai -https://m.facebook.com/569528059823949/albums/717381471705273/ which we thought might be of interest to you as well!

    We haven't been able to find any reviews if this tent or the company supplying it (though we have been there to see a bell and touareg that they had in stock). We were wondering if you had any thoughts on either the company or the design, spec and quality?

    Thank you in advance for any time you take in replying - it's hard to know what to look for as a ' beginner'!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi..!
      I have seen the Madjai advertised on facebook, but don't know of anyone who has actually purchased one yet. John who owns Gloucester tents sells a very wide variety of items - some have positive feedback, but there are very few reviews of the tents atm.
      It has the advantage of being slightly larger than the touareg, but I'm not keen on the poly windows, or that the stable doors have been 'lost' in this larger version.
      On the same note if you are happy with the spec, it may be worth taking a chance - are there any guarantees or refunds mentioned? I know the gloucester tent web site has been down for months, so it's very hard to see a clear picture of spec, terms and conditions etc.

      If you decide to go for it, please 'report back' and let me know what you think of it!.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your comments!

      Please could you elaborate on your thoughts about the poly windows? It was sold to us as being a benefit for rainy days, so we could still see out, and be dry inside. It's not something I have seen on other canvas tents do it did make me a little nervous

      Delete
    3. I would just worry about condensation, and I don't like the compete lack of privacy - anyone walking past can see everything!

      I personally prefer the mesh

      Delete
  83. Hello!

    I need to make a decision (for my Guide unit) as quickly as possible (last week, in fact!); is 285gsm or 350gsm the way to go, please?

    We're looking at 5m bells with zipped-in groundsheets, there will be no shortage of people to help put them up, the weight of the package won't be an issue as we'll only be carrying them from the car, we camp 3 or 4 times a year in all weathers (well, mostly wind and rain!), and the Guides can be pretty heavy-handed with tents.

    Big, big thanks for any help! =]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If cost and the small extra weight isn't a problem, then definitely go with the 350g.

      also worth looking to see if the mesh doors are included or not - handy for bugs!

      Delete
    2. That's ideal, thank you for your reply, and of course for the really useful article. =]

      Delete
  84. Hi, we are a family of 2 adults and 2 toddlers and looking for a weekend tent. I doubt the 4 meter will be big enough for us especially if we have to move things into the tent when it rains. I love the look of the bell but do wonder if it's worth the hassle drying 5 meter tent in my smallish London flat after only a night or two of camping. Of course a polyester tent would be much easier to dry out but lacks the wonderful experience of camping in a lovely bell tent. Can you share your thoughts on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to be a bit resourceful but there's always a way to dry it! banisters or stairwells? School halls, landings.

      If it's really sopping, throw in a bin liner till you get home. Stick it in the bath and rotate it, it will remove a lot of water. People have them draped over clothes airers, dining tables etc

      spare room is useful, but obviously a luxury. do you have a communal washing line etc? (Might be a bit heavy tho)

      If you go for a zig, the groundsheet will unzip, so you can dry this separately from the canvas.

      a de humidifier works wonders as well!

      where there's a will there's a way

      Delete
  85. Thanks! Would you recommend that I go for the bell or simple polyester tent for weekends?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just use the bell! Honest, you won't want to use the poly. it's a 10 minute pitch.

      You could consider a poly bell, but I'd just go for a canvas one.

      Even if you decide you hate it, there sell on value is neglible from their original cost

      Delete
    2. Do you know where I can view an erected bell tent? I live in London. Will be nice to see one before buying (never seen one real life).

      Delete
    3. Try belltentuk? It may be worth contacting first, but i think they have a showroom with pre-erected ones

      Bell Tent UK
      Unit 10 College Fields
      Prince Georges Road
      Colliers Wood
      London
      SW19 2PT


      Telephone:
      07830355993

      Delete
    4. As requested, I am reporting back after our first trip at Badgells Wood just over the weekend. What an amazing experience!! :) :) Thank you for advising us to go for the bell tent. We are now proud owners of a 5m bell from Camping and Canvas. We found the quality and service both to be very good.

      The first night our tent was up, we had a serious thunderstorm with lightning and thunder through the night. We were quite concern with the tent weathering but Praise God it gave us no problem. The inside of the tent fabric felt damp but no leaks. The next morning we saw some tents destroyed by the storm. Admittedly we were reasonably sheltered by the trees on the side instead of being exposed in the open, it was still 1 crazy storm. I wasn't even aware how bad it was as it was so still inside our tent bar the flashes of lighting and thunder one can hear.

      We love our first camp and looking forward to the next in Wales. I must say though, it's imperative to have a tarp especially with kids. While we were striking, we had another round of rain and really had nowhere to put our stuff and kids in order to take down the tent.

      If you are reading through this long post, can you give me your thoughts on a polyester tarp with a bell? Do you think it will just KILL the look? Was about to get the ebay german tarp at 4x4 when I saw your earlier post about it not being fully waterproofed. In a dilemma on where to get a big canvas tarp now (DD tarp is 4x4 but polyester).

      Delete
  86. hi there , loads of info on here, thanks for doing it all . i have a 4m bell tent from canvas and casts and i am about to buy a 6m quad door from boutique camping but before i did i was wondering what you thought of them . best regards mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Canvas & Cast Quality is higher than the other manufacturers, so it may be a drop in spec.

      Obviously you will have a lot more floor space room, and C&C tend to be slightly lower centre poles than the other companies - so height will be noticable as well

      Delete
  87. Hi, I have found your blog so useful, its great, thank you! I am getting married in August and we are having a festival style wedding. We wanted to hire a bell tent for our wedding night but for the price of hiring, delivery and set up we realised that we could actually buy one! I have pretty much decided to go for the 5m from Camping & Canvas, it is definitely the cheapest but with the mesh doors and your earlier review I can't see any reason to go for the others. What I would like to ask about is flooring, there seems to be an option for coir matting but it seems quite expensive, have you got any recommendations? There also seems to be a few rolled, quilted mattresses but are these any better than an air bed? My final question is about one of your photos that I saw, you managed to create a four poster bed effect with voiles, how is that done? That would be brilliant for my wedding night! Any advice would be appreciated, especially on how to make it a romantic space. Thank you, Cat x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The coir mat is expensive and heavy - I tend to cover with other tent carpets (outwell etc)

      Alternatively try furniture dust sheets to cover the general area, but purchase some nice large rugs. You need to get the felt style furniture cover, as if its too thin you will be sliding everywhere!

      The roll up mattresses are aesthetically pleasing, but I wouldn't recommend for sleeping on tbh. More of a chill area.

      The four poster was a 2m gazebo frame - if its too high, cut the legs were slightly down to fit. It works better centrally, as opposed to pushing right to the back of the canvas

      Have a wicked wedding!

      Delete
  88. Poppy, I heard Pukka Tents recently erected some bell tents for viewing. It's 350g with some uniq designs. Maybe worth a look, just Google it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi - great blog! I've just read through this whole blog and I'd like to say that we went to view these tents recently - we ended up buying a 4m with added awning - lovely feeling tents with thick beige coloured canvas (not white). Def worth a look. We camped straight away, with no weathering that they recommend - had heavy rain and not a bit inside the tent. We're really pleased with this and think it'll last us a long time.

      Delete
    2. Hi I left the last reply but realised I should also have mentioned the details. Excellent and high quality in our opinion: mesh on the doors and windows is a nice beige colour (not white), window mesh actually unzips to open up the windows completely, storm covers over window zips, wood sliders with thick ropes, pegs and zips top quality, centre pole is thick with push-button fixings. Impressed!

      Delete
    3. Hi Michael, I missed your post and went ahead to buy our tent from Camping and Canvas. Was a good purchase. That said, we bought a 4x4 pukka canvas tarp on sale to be used as a tent carpet. Horror of horror, the canvas arrived by post and look nearly white! White flooring and camping just does not go, does it? :p Bad news is that the fabric seems pretty thin (not entirely confident if it will hold up well in the rain), good news is that means I can chuck it into the washing machine when it gets dirty (am sure it will VERY soon). No regrets. Love having canvas under the feet.

      Wondering if the anonymous poster here can comment on her experience with her awning. I am keen to get a canvas tarp that holds up well in heavy rain.

      Delete
    4. Hi Poppy, glad you got a good deal from Camping and Canvas who sell their bell tents at reasonable price. From the review of this blog, it seems nice quality also. I heard the Pukka 4x4m tarp from different channel manufacturing which could be under clearance right now. Their 2015 uniq design bell tent and Tri awning much thicker and durable in camel color. I would suggest you compare them on site before purchasing.

      Delete
  89. Brilliant Blog,
    Bit of advice needed. How many people do you think you can get sat around inside a 4m bell tent? And how many can you comfortably sleep inside on on camping mats? We are taking a new Bell tent to Glasto and im trying to decide between a 4m and spending the extra on a 5m. The rest of the year it will just be me the girlfriend and the dog!

    ReplyDelete
  90. The 4m would prob sleep about 6 on mats alone, seating around 8.

    The difference in weight, pitching and cost is fairly neglible between the 4 and 5m. The 5 m however gives a lot more room. bear in mind not just the additional floor space, but the higher centre pole, gives a lot more head room.

    Most people tend to regret buying a 4m and often sell and rebuy a 5. Selling on value is probably slightly higher on a 5m as well.

    Ease of heating, wind resistance etc are the positives on the 4m. And yes it will easily accomodate two adults and a dog!

    Very much a personal choice, but if in doubt, I would say plump for the 5m, if you aren't planning much out of season camping

    ReplyDelete
  91. Also bear in mind , you will need a 7m circular pitch to accomodate a 5m tent.

    I'd get to Glastonbury pretty early!

    ReplyDelete
  92. Hello,

    I have bought a 4m but havent opened it yet as im worried about space. With the 4m, can i fit in a double bed before the pole? and an ottomon the other side of the pole? Or am i best ordering the 5m for an extra £100? Would i be losing a lot of heat?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can just fit a double bed nose to pole, and an ottoman the other side, but if you are worried about room, I'd go for the 5m

      You can always get an inner if you are planning out of season camps

      Delete
  93. I want to thank you for your great blog, knowledge and advice on tents. I came across your blog when looking for a new tent, someone had linked to it on a sales page somewhere (sorry I cant remember who or where I looked at so many). I was considering a bell tent but had no idea about them but after reading your post about the 4m poly bell tent you purchased from Germany, I was ingrigued. I ended up buying from the same company, only through Ebay and purchased the 6m, 12 man poly bell with inner and its absolutely brilliant. We used it for the first time last weekend at a music fesitval and it was awesome.
    So much space, being able to actually stand up straight in a tent is a novelty, and as we are only a family of 4, a 12 man tent leaves up plenty of room to move about and not get in each others way.
    It was lovely and warm (too warm at times) inside
    I love how easy it is to erect and did in fact almost have it up by myself before the rest of the family had got the rest of the stuff out of the car.
    It chucked it down with rain most of the weekend and there wasnt one leak, no sagging it was fantastic specially as my last tent used to rain inside when it rained outside LOL
    The only thing I am going to do is make two partitions inside the inner so we have a separate 'bedroom' from the kids and a smaller one for a 'loo/storage' area.

    Thanks again for the great blog !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for all the feedback, very useful!

      Glad to get some on the polys, as they are more of an 'unknown' atm. They make great summer season tents, but I think the poly 6m would be a bit vulnerable in very windy out of season camping

      Be good to see the partitions once they are done!

      Delete
  94. I bought a 5m belltent last sept on ebay from someone with a glamping site selling off their old stock. About to buy an inner tent from Belltentuk and suddenly realised I have no idea if it has the loops or not. Do they all have loops? ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not all do - the main suppliers soulpad, belltentuk, karma, camping and canvas etc do.

      The smaller unknown brands off ebay, and some of the older bells dont always have them

      Delete
  95. hiya...love you're blog.

    I live in southern spain and am thinking of buying 2 bell tents (lotus bells yum) but too much money ..... have you any updates on the best companies to buy from .

    It gets so incredibly hot here and I worry about the damage the heat will cause to the tents...... what ya think...??? over reaction on my part?

    any updates welcome.

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    1. I'm not sure if you are looking at long term usage on a site, or just personal use? If long term, aim for a heavier weight 400g canvas, and sell/rotate them each season (they hold their value well, and it means yours tents dont get seriously tatty looking!)

      Sun shouldnt be too harsh on it - u v rays tend to breakdown poly tents, but I dont think it will do a lot of damage to canvas. Rain and strong winds tend to be the more disastrous weather threats for the bell

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  96. Hi. Thanks for such a useful (and amusing) blog. After much research (the majority of which was on Bells & Labs) we took the plunge and bought a 5m Bell tent from Camping and Canvas. No problems with delivery or communications as some very early comments suggested. We've just returned from our second one nighter to get our 3 and 4 year olds used to camping before we take "Bertha" out for a longer stint later in the summer. A couple of showers on both our trips and we remained nice and dry. Easy to put up and plenty of room for 2 adults, 2 children, 4 My Little Ponies, 5 Thomas the Tank Engines.......... We all loved it (I'm relieved to say), so now we are just trying to get her dry now ready for our next trip :) There are some dirt marks on the canvas now, and some sap marks from nearby trees. Do you have any advice on what to use to clean/re-proof (if that is needed)? Thanks again for all the advice.

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    1. Let it dry and try a stiff brush and just water (NEVER detergent/washing powder etc)

      If that doesn't work (stains also fade slightly over time), then look for graingers canvas cleaner or a sail cleaner. It will need re-waterproofing afterwards though - just use Fabsil (not the Gold) to re-waterproof

      Only other alternative is a professional cleaner, but check for reviews first (or post on here), as some of the companies have poor results/communications

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  97. What a great blog!
    I wondered if you had ever taken a look at the dutch pyramid tents - we swapped from a Bell to a De Waard because the speace was alot more useful, but it still had the beauty of the bell from behind.
    You would be welcome to come and take a look at our 'Bodichon' http://www.canopyandstars.co.uk/britain/england/sussex/glottenham-castle/bodichon

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    1. The De Waards are lovely (but expensive) tents, and the Bodichon looks a nice size (a lot tend to be fairly cramped) I had the Cabanon Barbados pyramid tent, but it got very little use - mainly because it took a lot longer to peg all the guys!

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    2. Yes, the pyramids do take a long time to pitch correctly, but then I am a little anal about my guy ropes being 'exactly right' and tend to take the help proffered by anyone around, but then go around again repositioning the lines to my liking!
      The Bodichon is the 'zilvermeuw' which is the Albatross' big brother, with 2 poles rather than the single one. As it has the thick rubberised groundsheet we took the 3 bedroom compartments out and kept it as an open space. We can fit the double bed and 3 campbeds in, and still have some space in front of the double bed. This year we have used one of our unused coir carpets under the canopy at the front, which has certainly made a big difference. The canopy adds a huge area.

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    3. Thanks for confirming the make, we were debating if it was the Albatross, as we could only see one pole

      The site looks lovely, but unfortunately no good for me, as I never camp without the dog!

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    4. ahh, I see a confusion, as some of the interior shot ARE of our Albatross, but then we upgraded to the bigger Zilvermeuw and had some more photos taken. The canopy is certainly wonderful and adds a whole extra useable area to the front, and this year we have put a rubber backed coir carpet down under the canopied area, which has given it some extra oomph.
      I have half an eye on your 6m purple bell!!

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  98. Hi. Thanks for all your great handy tips. I'm thinking of purchasing a bell tent to offer as a glamping option on our farm for families. It will stay erected for a few months so want a sturdy, good one. I would really appreciate your views on which to go for? I thank you in advance.

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    1. Answered on the other thread you posted!

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  99. We are a Native American owned large acreage working sheep ranch and off grid Glamping B&B on the Navajo nation overlooking Lake Powell in northen Arizona. We are transitioning from wall tents to bell tents for the 2016 season. Additionally we've a hogan and a small cabin. Can you please advise on the best quality bell tent manufacturer for commercial applications? Can a 6m or 7m bell tent with sewn in ground sheet and screened secondary door be found? We are a dry climate - medium to high desert. However, we do get rain.

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  100. So much so, that the Lotus is now part of my little bell tent family... Although heavier than most of my bells, the parts can be carried separately, the pitching is straight forward even for one person, and the little onion garlic octopus is now in pride of place in my collection.
    camping tents

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  101. hi Val
    thanks for all the info, it's very generous of you to share your time and experience like this.
    I have just ordered a bell tent- yay! I really like the look of some of the ways you have accessorised yours and am hoping you can give me some tips?

    Firstly, I love the awning on the 1st picture on your blog and am wondering where I could find one like this? I haven't seen that style so far!

    Also, I love the drapes, that look like they are made of coloured netting, that you have on a couple of your interiors. Have you made these yourself? If so, have you any tips?
    You also have an orangey coloured tent liner/bedroom in one picture, it looks really inviting being a warm colour- did you dye a plain bought one or did you buy a coloured one?

    Thanks again
    Jo

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    ReplyDelete

REVIEW: 'Camping under the Stars' 5m Bell Tent

Camping Under The Stars 12 months ago, Tommy approached me and asked if I would like to review one of his bell tents. No problem.. ...