Tent Buying Guide

There are so many different types, shapes and sizes of tent on the market today, that it’s sometimes difficult to know which type of tent to purchase!

To make life a little easier we’ve put together the following useful information. Follow our simple checklist when buying a tent for your camping holiday in France:

With most large purchases you generally get what you pay for so buy the most expensive tent you can afford within your budget. The tent will generally be of better quality and will therefore last a lot longer.

Try to buy a tent that is designed to accommodate not only the members in your group or family but at least one extra person. This advice applies to both the sleeping and living space as you are likely to be at your chosen campsite for a while! You’ll find that the extra space will be invaluable.

The last one is the most important of all. Prior to going on your camping holiday in France, erect your tent in your garden to ensure that you know how to put the tent up, check all the parts are present and season your tent. Seasoning your tent involves spraying it with water and then allowing it to dry. As your tent dries out the stitching will tighten up, sealing the seams and making your tent watertight.

The next two factors to consider when purchasing your tent are size and shape.

Tent Size

The size of a tent is usually described by the maximum number of people that are able to sleep inside it. This is also known as the number of “berths”.

You may think that choosing a tent is simple in that “There are four people in my family therefore I need a four berth tent” but don’t forget…you will be living out of the tent for some time – the tent will be used for living in as well as sleeping.

Always try to buy a tent with at least one more berth than you need.

Many tents have seperate sleeping compartments which not only goes down well with adults but also with children. Many children love to have their own sleeping compartment when on a family camping holiday in France so make sure you consider this when buying your tent.

An important factor that most people forget to take into account is headroom. Smaller tents only allow you to sit in and not stand up in. Its amazing how quickly you will get fed up of not being able to stand up when living out of a tent for a week or two.

Tent Shape

There are various different shapes and styles of tent all of which have different advantages and features over the other.

Tunnel Tents

Tunnel tents are one of the more popular type of family tent found on campsites across France today. They are generally made of several hooped sections joined together forming different compartments for both sleeping and living.

Tunnel tents use flexible poles supporting a nylon flysheet and inner with many including some form of canopy to provide additional outdoor storage space. Tunnel tents tend to be lighter than frame tents and are also quicker to erect.

There are many different tunnel tents available with two of the more popular brands being Vango and Outwell. As stated above we would always recommend you buy the most expensive tent you can afford.

Frame Tents

Frame tents are the stalwart of the family camping scene. Go to any campsite in France and you will more than likely see hundreds of frame tents pitched. Many of the major campsite holiday companies use frame tents due to not only their practicality but also due to their robustness, if well cared for frame tents can last for decades.

Frame tents are generally made from a cotton/canvas type of fabric over a metal sectional rigid frame. They offer lots of living and sleeping space including vast amounts of headroom. This type of tent will generally tend to be heavier and take longer to erect than other types

There are various makes of frame tents available but we especially like Trigano and Sunncamp both of which are great manufacturers and whose tents are of superb quality.

Pod type tents / Vis-a-Vis

Pod type tents and Vis-a-Vis tents are fairly similar in design. Both have a central living area with linked sleeping compartments leading off. The Vis-a-Vis tent is generally designed with 2 sleeping compartments, one at either end, with the living compartment in between. There are many different Pod type tents on the market today and these tend to be some of the largest forms of tent around. Pod type tents generally have a central living area or “Hub” with various separate linked compartments or “Pods” leading off.

For a family both types of tent tend to be very user friendly – a central area for everyone to gather in and separate sleeping areas for each member of the family.

The main point to consider when buying a Pod type tent is the ground area they take up. Each campsite has a specified maximum pitch area you can take up. Due to the size of these tents ensure before you buy, that the tent will not exceed the maximum space. Also consider the time it takes to erect this sort of tent – you may find it takes longer than you think.


There are lots of suppliers of family tents to choose from but we suggest first and foremost you take a look at Go Outdoors. Their range of tents, customer service, prices and special offers are second to none and well worth considering.

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