Best tents for any budget in 2021: Outwell to Decathlon Leave a comment

The side room is large enough for a couple of chairs, but is equally practical as a dumping ground for all your bags and kit. The main communal area has a generous head height, and the big porch is the ideal place for wet shoes and one of those flatpack camping kitchens if you like to keep camp organised.   

It’s an inflatable design – with individually inflated tubes – so requires very little brain power, or subsequent marriage counselling, to pitch, and the beams are incredibly rigid. It’s not the easiest to pack away again, as removing all the air takes patience and proper procedure, but this is the same for all inflatable designs.

It’s not the only reason to buy, but the use of magnetic fastening on the bedroom and main compartment doors is a thing of genius. If you’ve ever stumbled back late from a festival only to be met with the world’s noisiest zip, or indeed, need to get up to use the facilities and don’t want to disturb anyone, you will understand the brilliance of these doors. Outwell isn’t the only brand offering them,  but in our mind they should be a legal requirement for all family tents.

There’s also a neat track system for hanging up lights and stowing yet more kit, there’s inlets for power cables if you want an electric hook-up, the groundsheet is handily sewn in, and the bedrooms can be made into one large space, and, while we don’t actually want to spend much time inside, the large tinted windows keep it bright, and the huge amount of bug-proof ventilation prevents overheating. 

The ideal long weekend tent, and as a result, if you are camping for two weeks with older kids and the weather is questionable, you might find the Oakdale 5PA a little small, but  aside from that it’s a fantastically designed tent. 

Pros: Magnetic closures; generous communal areas; huge porch; inflatable

Cons: Nothing worth mentioning 

Price: £1,049 | Check price on Outwell | Alpine Trek

Decathlon Arpenaz Family 4.2 F&B

The best value (young) family tent

Person size: 4 person | Standing room: Yes | Bedrooms: 2 | Pitch time: 20-25 minutes | Weight: 12.3kg | Waterproofing: 2000mm HH | Packed dimensions: 60 x 30 x 30cm

Thanks to  inflatable tent designs grabbing all the headlines, traditional pole tents – especially family sized designs – have plummeted in price, meaning you can find absolute bargains like this vis a vis tunnel tent from the world’s largest outdoor brand Decathlon.

We’ve raved about the original Arpenaz Family 4.2 (£150) tent before, and at £150 remains a complete bargain and highly recommended, but sadly it’s lacking blackout bedrooms. The Arpenaz Family 4.2 F&B (£219) version costs £70 more, which feels like a lot, until that is, you and the rest of your family wake up at 9:30am fresh as a daisy.

It’s a great tent especially for a young family, with two double bedrooms and a communal space for kit and 1.9m headroom, which makes getting changed so much easier. All in, there’s 3.9sqm of space, and the communal zone in the middle has a waterproof groundsheet and is just large enough for two adults and two young children to sit in and see out a downpour.

Each bedroom can fit a double inflatable mattress, although it’s worth inflating them in situ as it is quite a tight squeeze. Once inside, the bedrooms feel more akin to being in a backpacking tent, but just remember the price and pack weight payoff. 

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