When camping, a tent is top of the list of essential items. But finding the right one can be a hard task. For this year's Camp Bestival, we purchased an Aventura 4 Man Tunnel tent. What did we think?
As an ex-Girl Guide, I like to think of myself as a tent expert. I have camped in some very old, shaky tents which took hours to put up, and I've also camped in the newer, much easier to put up modern style too. Such is my prowess with a tent, I was once given a challenge on an outward bound course to put a tent up blindfold with help from someone else, and managed to do so with ease and little help from my non-blindfolded team mate.
We did have a very good Halfords tent for five years, the review of which can be found here, but it was a casualty of last year's Camp Bestival so went in the bin.
It was the obvious choice once again to grab a tent from Halfords, and we found the Aventura 4 Man Tunnel tent for £50, reduced from £100.
We wanted a simpler tent without losing some of the size, and we felt sure the specs of this tent were what we were looking for, and the price was great too.
It came in a compact bag, as we were travelling lighter this year having taken far too much stuff in previous years, and we arrived on Thursday of last week to put it up.
Now, we've put tents up and down in appalling conditions, rain, high winds, the lot, there was a bit of a wind behind us which is typical of the campsite as its at the bottom of two steep hills.
The instructions were pretty straight forward, and the tent consisted of two shorter poles and two longer ones, with a middle area for "living" and two pods for "sleeping."
It went up pretty simply but it didn't look as big as stated on the website at all. To be honest I've slept in bigger two man tents, and couldn't see how on earth you'd fit two air beds in either pod.
The worst part though was when we tried to zip the middle door up. This comprised two zips on either side of a flap.
Except that it became clear that one was already broken.. Not a great result- we'd travelled for three hours, it was late, we were all hungry, and now we had a tent which was broken. To make matters worse, the groundsheet was far too small so the cold had yet another point to come in at, and any clothes had to be put in the -already tiny- sleeping pods to try and stop them getting damp.
We made the best of it whilst we weighed up our options and grabbed a bite to eat.
On returning, the tent was freezing! We tried to put an airbed in one of the pods whilst it was inflated and couldn't get it in there without first taking the air out and only half inflating it whilst in the pod. To make matters worse, the two single air beds wouldn't both squeeze in at all in the other pod, so one had to be left in the middle living area. Not a problem so much if both zips had been able to shut, but not great when one is broken and flapping in the wind.
We all spent a rather cold uncomfortable night in the tent, annoyed to have wasted £50 on something that was ready, straightaway, for the bin and disappointed that Halfords and Aventura had marketed a tent that clearly was meant for two at best as a four person tent. Considering two of our group are 7 and 9, the very idea that four grown adults can fit in this tent is laughable.
The next big issue down to the zip was that, inevitably, the condensation which worked its way into the pods, which has left all of us with stinking chest infections.
It was also a complete farce trying to live in the tent, as the middle area offered no room to stand up, so getting dressed or leaving the tent to go to the loo was the stuff of nightmares.
On day two, the second zip broke too, we were shutting it to grab some breakfast and it just came apart in my hand. We had been forced to improvise with the other broken zip and had used our flag- meant to mark out our tent for ease of finding it on the walk back- to cover it, but now we were screwed.
The problem was, Lulworth is in the middle of nowhere, you can't even get a reception on your phone there with our network, and the nearest town is a good 45 minute drive away, so we were stuck in the middle of a tiny village, with a tent which wouldn't do up.
Another "feature" is a porch arrangement, but this never even went up, it was impossible to work out and we gave up.
I'm sorry to say this tent, had we just been on a camping holiday, would have ruined our holiday, it's just lucky that we were at Camp Bestival and could enjoy the music and fun until late and had two children who were so sleepy when they got back at night.
I was asked by Halfords to return the tent, but it went in the bin, I wasn't going to drag it back to Reading and take up space trying to fold the appalling thing back in it's bag- the only zip on the thing which didn't break.
Don't waste your money on this tent, it should be recalled as its not safe and its not as described at all.