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Family frame tents

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					Family frame tents

Inside out or outside in?
As well as different shapes and different materials there’s another important difference between various kinds of tents: do you pitch the inner or the outer first? Basically, the two variations mean you either pitch the inner tent first and then cover it with a flysheet, or pitch the outer first and then fit interior rooms. Which is best? Campers have argued that one around the campfire long into the night. One advantage of tents that are pitched flysheet or outer tent first is that once this part is up you’re out of the weather, out of the rain, and the rest of the tent erection can be done in comfort. However, this kind of tent often has groundsheets that are loose or only cover the bottom of the inner tent or tents. Tents where you pitch the inner first will often have fitted groundsheets over the whole area of the tent floor, and these keep out dampness and – sometimes more important – all sorts of creepy-crawlies. They are, however, much more difficult to keep clean. French tentmaker Cabanon, often the first with radical new ideas, have a fitted groundsheet that zips out for cleaning and zips back in to give you a guaranteed bugproof seal – top marks Cabanon! As with so much in the world of camping, take advice, talk to other campers, and then make up your own mind.

Above: The French made Cabanon range of frame tents has models in all shapes and sizes. Right: Even a medium size of frame tent can take up a good deal of space in you car boot. Below: The frame of this kind of tent can be complicated. Most makers link the poles with springs but these can break or come undone. Always replace or repair them straightaway. It is also a great idea to mark the frame to show how it goes together. We explain how this can be done on page 50. Below right: Most frame tents will have windows but not all. These two Trigano models show that this manufacturer offers both options.

Frame tents have been the mainstream of family camping for more than 50 years and they are still popular today. You just can’t beat the average family frame tent for both room and, particularly, headroom, which reaches right to the edges of the roof. Frame tents can be very large indeed, but there’s also a good range available in more manageable sizes. When you’re thinking about how big a frame tent to buy remember they’re usually bigger and heavier than most other tents. They take up a lot of room and can be heavy to move about and load. Like all tents, you can find a variety of qualities and prices when shopping for a frame tent. Most still use steel frames (the gold colour in our picture is plating to stop

rust). Other manufacturers use painted or aluminium poles and some use composite poles, often known as fibreglass. Even plated or painted, steel poles can still rust, particularly if they get chipped, scratched, or damaged. Touch up the damage with either paint or varnish, because rust can stain the tent canvas and rust stains are usually there for life. Different frame tents have different ways of dealing with groundsheets.

Most have none in the main tent but have fitted groundsheets in the individual interior tents. Check the strength of the groundsheet fabric and the depth of the turn-up at the sides. Some groundsheets zip into place. You can fit individual rooms inside a frame tent, for sleeping or even, if you have small children, for use as an inside toilet. Fitted wardrobes can be installed, giving hanging storage space for clothes and waterproofs. Although we’ve told you that virtually all tents are now made in China there’s one major exception: the longestablished firm of Cabanon still makes all of its tents in Northern France. Cabanon’s quality is second to none.
Above: This groundsheet from Cabanon has a generous turn up and zips into position when needed. Below: This fabric wardrobe uses a simple metal frame and simply ties to the main tent frame for stability. Right: Many frame tents come complete with colourful curtains and trim.

Top tip
Even sturdy frame tents can be damaged by weather. Tents are only temporary structures and a sudden squall or a howling gale can cause damage that’s unlikely to be covered by the guarantee. Damage can also be caused by stray animals and plain run-of-the-mill accidents. It’s therefore a good idea to think about insuring your tent. The Camping and Caravanning Club has suitable policies, or your household insurer may be prepared to cover your tent. Other tent insurance specialists can be found in the pages of the camping press.

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The Camping Manual

The Camping Manual

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