Bell tent guide – All you need to know to buy a bell tent

Buying a bell tent can be as serious as buying a car or a house. The fact is that you may well be spending a lot of time in your bell tent. Family camping trips, camping in the garden, out for a couple’s retreat or attending a festival. Your bell tent can be a home a way from home, so taking the plunge and making a decision about buying one should not be taken lightly.

Like buying a car, you have to look at the features, the ups and the downs. There are many types of bell tents out there and they all have different prices, different features, so why don’t we look under the bonnet and find out which is best for you.

Bell tents are a perfect addition to a family, they are great for home use perhaps in the garden. Also they are a great and stylish tent to use when camping. You will stand out of the crowd with the imposing shape and bold colour options.

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Canvas bell tents

The king of all occasions, weddings, festivals, parties, camping – you name it. The most commonly used fabric on a bell tent is cotton, but there are other bell tents made from poly-cotton and polyester. Most canvas bell tents are 100% cotton, and they are the most popular as they are hard wearing, long lasting and most importantly breathable. 

The cotton fabric is perfect all for all weather conditions. In the rain it excels as the woven cotton fabric locks out the moisture and does not penetrate through the fabric once weathered. In the hot weather the canvas fabric keeps you cool as the fabric is breathable.

What should you be looking for in a canvas fabric? A canvas tent can be a great companion and a great investment. If you get the right one to suit your needs then it can be a tent to be treasured for many years to come.

The canvas weight can vary from 200g per square metre up to 800g.

Lightweight canvas; From around 200g – 260g per square metre.

The lightweight canvas bell tents provide the benefit of doing just that, being lightweight. That makes them more portable, easier to carry, perfect on those all important hiking trips. Also these lightweight canvas tents tend to be cheaper in price, as well as having quick drying times even after heavy rain.

The downside of these lightweight canvas bell tents is that they are more prone to rips, therefore they are not as durable. They let in a lot more light which is bad for those mornings you want to stay in bed just a little while longer.

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Middleweight canvas; 285g – 320g per square metre.

This weight canvas is the best all rounder as it shares the benefits of both the light weight and the heavy duty canvas tents. The canvas tents in this weight range have quick drying times, as the canvas is not too thick or too heavy. Also it is light enough to carry, but best of all the canvas is very hardwearing.

There is really no down side to this type of canvas, they have the quality and the durability of a heavy duty canvas and ability to be transported easily.

Heavy duty canvas; From around 400g – 800g per square metre.

The heavy duty canvas have the benefit of being really robust and durable, and they are very good at keeping the light at bay and not letting too much light in giving you that extra piece of mind in the mornings.

The downside of these is that they are quite heavy to carry around, it also takes a long time to dry due to the thickness of the canvas.

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Weathering canvas tents

Weathering your tent is a very important step that some bell tents newbies may miss. When purchasing your bell tent make sure that you do not miss this step before embarking on your first adventure.

The fact is that some brand new canvas tents will leak if they have not been weathered, so this is an important step to take after you have received your new canvas tent.

All you have to do is make the canvas water tight by hosing down your tent with water, making sure to cover all areas of your canvas. Then simply let the canvas dry all the way though. Ensure that the hose your using is set to a light sprinkle, and all the cotton fibres in the weave will swell and nestle into each other causing the canvas to be completely weathered.

Poly-cotton bell tents

Poly-cotton bell tents are a mix of natural cotton with polyester. The tents made with this fabric are great if you want to have the benefits of a cotton canvas but more affordable and easier to transport. This is due to their lightweight fabric and their smaller pack down size.

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Polyester bell tents

Polyester tents tend to be the cheaper in price,  lighter in weight, and quick to dry out. They tent not to be so good as an insulator in comparison to the canvas. They can get very warm in warm weather especially if you don’t have the option of having the side wall rolled up.

Benefits of the polyester tents are that they are light and very easier to carry. They also dry quicker from the rain, and they are breathable. The polyester bell tests tent to be durable as it requires less maintenance, however they do need to be stored in a dry place.

Ground sheets

Ground sheets are an element of the bell tents that are very important and one must pay close attention to when making choice of bell tent. There are lightweight and heavy duty ground sheets.

The difference is that the lightweight ground sheets are more fragile, so in constant use the fabric may rip easier. Bell tents with these lightweight ground sheets are usually priced in the lower side as they are not as hardwearing.

The heavy duty ground sheets (540g) are more robust and a better quality. Most ground sheets are made out of PVC but thee are some others that have a nylon mix to ensure that it can support and sustain weather and different terrain.

The ground sheets in most modern bell tents are detachable and come zipped in. There are also sewn in ground sheet and pegged ground sheets. The sewn ground sheets have the inability to have the sides rolled up for ventilation, but they are very easy to erect and they are durable.

Pegged ground sheets are much more difficult to use as the tent has to be pegged down after the ground sheet is down. Then the tent can be tucked under to be secured. The downside is that rain or mud can be tracked in if not accurately pegged which it is quite tricky to do.

The zipped in groundsheets are great as they have the ability to be rolled up for ventilation, and it is easy to peg down when erecting the tent as it is zipped into the bell tent.

Centre poles

The centre poles are sometimes overlooked, you must pay attention to the diameter of the centre pole. A singular pole on a bell tent can vary from 28mm to 35mm. Another thing to look for, is the actual thickens of the metal it can also vary from 0.8mm-1.2mm.

Basically the thicker the metal the more sturdy and less likely it is to brake and it will keep your tent from swaying from side to side in windy weather.

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Guy ropes and Pegs

Guy ropes should be strong and thick in order for them to be durable in frequent use and when packed away. You must look for guy ropes that are 5mm in thickness, these will withstand adverse weather conditions and rough terrain.

Boutique Camping has 2 types of pegs as standard. The smaller type are normally used to peg down the groundsheet (6mm). The thinner kind are general pegs to help with the there are also thicker pegs that are more robust. They are be able to take the strain of the guys ropes (8mm).

Mosquito nets

The vents and windows are great for ventilation, most current bell tents will have them installed. They are great addition to all bell tents as they give you another way of keeping cool in the summer, or ventilation in whilst using stoves in the tent.

A great feature Boutique Camping on the tents is a mosquito door. This unique feature allows the tent to be ventilated via the entrance door but having the ability of keeping the door closed. No more insects in your tents, but you can still enjoy the view.

Bell tent storage

The canvas and the groundsheet must be dry before storing your Bell Tent. Never keep your bell tent stored away wet or damp for longer than two days otherwise fungus can affect the canvas which will create little black irremovable dots.

Bell tent Cleaning

There are many canvas cleaning companies out there, however this can be expensive. There are many cleaning and reproofing agents being sold that are perfect for bell tents. The best way to remove mud is to let it completely dry and then use a stiff brush. Its very simple but very effective.

Bell tent accessories

The bell tents are best for glamping. They are stylish, spacious and fun, but also they are able to host a great amount of glamping goods. From stoves, to lamps, chairs, beds, cushions, bunting the list is endless!! Once you have purchased the bell tent of your dreams all you would have to concentrate on is how to furnish or add to your tent.

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