Bell tents, polycotton, Robens Klondike

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meja

New Member
May 13, 2021
2
1
39
Glasgow
Hi there, we're dreaming of getting a bell tent for getaways with our small child, but we're constrained by currently residing in a small flat with no garden and very limited drying options (communal backcourt, but we live in the West of Scotland so drying outside might not be an option :) ) plus limited car boot space as well. We've gone off the idea of going for 100% cotton canvas for now - polycotton it is.

I've done extensive research and have narrowed it down to the Blacks of Greenock Solace I tent (our dream tent in many ways, partly because of the heavier polycotton and seemingly decent make - but it'll be slow drying at 27+ kg and the groundsheet is clipped in so may leak), a lighter (22kg) 4m polycotton one from Bell Tent Boutique with ZIG (not sure if it's quite the same quality though) or -as the ultimate compromise- the Robens Klondike lightweight(ish) tent with only 35% cotton in the mix and a much more mass produced feel - but industrially tested and much easier to handle.

Basically, our heart is with the Solace, our head says to go for Klondike and the other one would be a middle ground, but as the maker caters mainly to a festival audience, I'm not sure about the quality. If anyone has experience with either of these tents, it'd be helpful to hear your views - in particular,
- if the Solace actually gets water into the bottom and is as hard to dry as I imagine,
- if Bell Tent Boutique (and similar makers) are any good and
- good experiences with the Robens Klondike tent, which used to be sold on here. Is it comparable at all to a proper bell tent with heavier canvas in terms of the atmosphere?

Many thanks in advance!
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,091
4,439
Mid Wales
I have a Robens poly-canvas tent (not the Klondike, one of the smaller tepee style tents); I think it's great. It feels like an old fashioned canvas tent but is much lighter and easier to deal with. For living space I just put up a DD tarp outside it.

We've camped with both grandkids inside - so plenty of room.

IMG_0703 - 2 - 2048 - 25.jpg
 
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meja

New Member
May 13, 2021
2
1
39
Glasgow
Thanks, that's helpful to know that it has a cotton canvas feel to it! I wondered if they might get a bit sweaty.
 
Hi there, we're dreaming of getting a bell tent for getaways with our small child, but we're constrained by currently residing in a small flat with no garden and very limited drying options (communal backcourt, but we live in the West of Scotland so drying outside might not be an option :) ) plus limited car boot space as well. We've gone off the idea of going for 100% cotton canvas for now - polycotton it is.

I've done extensive research and have narrowed it down to the Blacks of Greenock Solace I tent (our dream tent in many ways, partly because of the heavier polycotton and seemingly decent make - but it'll be slow drying at 27+ kg and the groundsheet is clipped in so may leak), a lighter (22kg) 4m polycotton one from Bell Tent Boutique with ZIG (not sure if it's quite the same quality though) or -as the ultimate compromise- the Robens Klondike lightweight(ish) tent with only 35% cotton in the mix and a much more mass produced feel - but industrially tested and much easier to handle.

Basically, our heart is with the Solace, our head says to go for Klondike and the other one would be a middle ground, but as the maker caters mainly to a festival audience, I'm not sure about the quality. If anyone has experience with either of these tents, it'd be helpful to hear your views - in particular,
- if the Solace actually gets water into the bottom and is as hard to dry as I imagine,
- if Bell Tent Boutique (and similar makers) are any good and
- good experiences with the Robens Klondike tent, which used to be sold on here. Is it comparable at all to a proper bell tent with heavier canvas in terms of the atmosphere?

Many thanks in advance!
Meja, may I suggest that you get a roof rack for the car. This will give you more room for the tent, & tied to the roof rack it will help dry it out on the way home, providing of course it is not raining. When you get home you can spread the tent out over your roof rack to dry further, make sure you tie it to the rack. I made a pure heavy cotton wedge tent to use at Rendezvous for the family. It worked very well.
Regards, Keith.
RENDEZVOUS-1.jpg
 

Dark Horse Dave

Full Member
Apr 5, 2007
1,724
60
Surrey / South West London
I have no direct experience of the other two brands you mention, but can tell you that we've had a Klondyke for 3 years or so We are very happy with it. We've used it up to a fortnight at a time. It feels light and airy inside and is quite quick drying.
We maintain its water resistance with an annual dose of Fabsil, which we've found to be very effective (quick tip I've learned: apply it using a garden pump spray with wand). Like you we don't have space to set it up at our house, but at least have parents nearby with a garden for an occasional airing.
We did get one small rip above a guying point in a particularly strong wind a while ago, but at least it was easy & cheap to patch.
Ours came in a package with an inner tent, though we've never actually used that part as we glamp it up with a tent stove; makes for a super cosy atmosphere.
A luxurious amount of space inside for 2 adults with camp beds, chairs & all the rest, so obviously so you could fit more people (comfortably) in if you took less kit.
It's relatively light to lug around and straightforward to put up & take down.
All in all we really like it, would buy another and would recommend for a practical bell-type tent.

My cousin has a full-on canvas bell tent - possibly from the Boutique but I'm not certain; it's certainly lovely when it's sunny buts looks to be a bit of a pain drying it out if you come home with it wet.
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,606
1,550
Bedfordshire
....
We maintain its water resistance with an annual dose of Fabsil, which we've found to be very effective (quick tip I've learned: apply it using a garden pump spray with wand)....
From personal experience doing the same thing, it is really important to clean the pump and particularly the wand (disassemble the valve adjustment knob) with plenty of detergent afterwards. All garden pump sprays that I have seen state they are not for spirit based treatments. I didn't pay attention and in the course of a year the spirit solvent left in my spray attacked the wand o-rings so that the next time I used it it widdled as much treatment out of the wand adjuster knob all over my hand as it put out the nozzle. Had that happen with two pumps before I got wise and replaced the seals with solvent resistant ones.
 

Woody girl

Full Member
Mar 31, 2018
3,251
2,318
63
Exmoor
I have a Robens poly-canvas tent (not the Klondike, one of the smaller tepee style tents); I think it's great. It feels like an old fashioned canvas tent but is much lighter and easier to deal with. For living space I just put up a DD tarp outside it.

We've camped with both grandkids inside - so plenty of room.

View attachment 66641

I have this tent too, robens fairbanks.
I too have limited drying space but find this fairly easy to dry indoors if needed.
I also have a 3m bell, and a 4m bell. The 4m is a real hassle to dry, and I have to borrow a friends garden. Its also bulky and heavy.
Have only just got the 3m bell, so can't say with that yet as I havnt had a chance to use it.
canvas, or polycotton both need to be realy dry when put away, and are always heavier, but they both have a better ambience and that old school feel that I realy enjoy. They are warmer in cool weather, and cooler in hot weather than nylon type tents.
 
Apr 8, 2009
1,133
117
Ashdown Forest
After deliberating over a similar choice after we had our first child, ultimately we went for a large nylon tent, and I must admit, i haven't looked back. The packing size/weight to erected size ratio just blows anything canvas or polycotton out of the water, and the living space in an average nylon family tent, with segregated sleeping areas, sufficient height to stand up across most of the footprint etc. just means that life during a wet week camping (especially as the kids get bigger/older) is just so much more pleasurable. Key downsides of nylon is the light it lets in meaning the kids wake up at the crack of dawn, and the speed at which it heats up when the sun is out in the morning.

In most cases i really think a cotton/polycotton tent in this day and age is for most applications a real heart vs head choice, and certainly for most family scenarios I'm not convinced the compromise is often worth it. With your situation having no dedicated garden (or garage?) to dry the tent out in, unfortunately i do think its a bit of a no brainer to stay away from the romanticism of any bell tent style tent for the immediate future.

Having typed this and reflected, i appreciate that i've done exactly what irritates me with negative posts in other threads - so do feel free to take with a pinch of salt the above - only you will know the extent of the draw of the bell tent style for yourself, and that may well outweigh some of the negatives!
 
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leealanr

Full Member
Apr 17, 2006
136
4
64
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
I have had a 5m dull canvas and a 3m Polycotton, both from Soulpad in Norfolk. The 5m was massive and cateeed easily for our rapidly geowing family of 5. Nevee really had any drying problems as qe had a house with a garden. Eventually sold it as it wasnt getting the use anymore.

I still have the 3m polycotton and it is perfect for cross eurooe trips with up to 3 out if the 4 of us. Plenty of space, standing headroom to get changes etc. Use it withan awning from BCT which gives useful cooking and storage space.

Poor night time picture, but think it is the only one I have at the moment.
 

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