Family camping and cycle get away!
Vango are a Scottish company. They provide tents to the Scouts, and I think thats a pretty big claim as to how good their kit is. I was a dubious wannabe camper with a family pushing to get a tent and go camping.
So what makes Vango different? For a start, their connection to the Scouts speaks volumes. Any company that aims to get kids outdoors is a good thing. They make affordable kit, which is another point for families to note. Not everyone can afford to glamp, but we can certainly have all the comfort if we shop around.
We got to trial the Calder 400 because its a four person tent, and big enough to hold our bikes. My one stipulation about going camping was that we mix it up with cycling. The tent arrived and we decided to have a dry run in the garden so we knew how to put it up when we went camping. It was huge, much bigger than expected (not a bad thing) and had instructions sewn into the main bag. A great little feature so you never lose them.
We booked a campsite less than an hours drive from home, so that if it was all too much we could leave. We arrived and pitched the tent, sorted out sleeping mats, blew up our furniture, hung fairy lights and it all took less than an hour. So far so good.
We went for a little bike ride, played at the beach then headed back to make dinner. Cooking on a one burner stove actually proved really easy. I managed to feed us all and was pretty impressed with the experience. Then I got to sit down and read. This never happens at home. The camping magic was beginning.
The Calder 400 tent itself has some great features. From darker material in the bedrooms (to lessen early morning sun) to a sewn in ground sheet for extra warmth. It has ventilation points, lantern hanging straps, a tensions system for extra support in the wind and good rain resistance. These are all really good, but more importantly is how it worked with a cycling family.
The bedroom areas have pockets down the side, which are brilliant for storing gloves, glasses and any other small bits. The tent has two doors which make getting bikes in and out really easy. You can go in one side and out the front so no need to have to swing your bike around awkwardly. The straps meant for lantern became helmet hangers, and the living room became bike storage overnight.
Obviously the walls of the Calder 400 are fabric so you don't want to lean your bike right against it. We rested ours up against our camping table, which meant they were stable. We did have to put our inflatable furniture out the tent over night, thankfully campsites don't tend to be full of people wanting to steal a blow up sofa. If we had normal camping chairs, there would have been loads of room inside to store it all. But I choose comfort over practical.
The Calder 400 tent has a sun canopy which is perfect for sitting under during the hot part of the day. If you didn't want to keep your bikes inside over night, you could double this as storage and lock your bikes together and keep them secure under it.
Night time was the part I was dreading the most. By day I could cycle and relax, but I was worried we would all be cold come night time. I cannot stress the wonders of self inflating sleep mats. We slept on the Vango Comfort Double and it worked so well. Air mattresses are notoriously cold, and regular camping mats are not comfortable. This mat combines the two, helping lock in body heat whilst providing good support. That mixed with a good 3 season sleeping bag and we all slept like babies.
The extra darkness of the bedroom mixed with fresh air and cycling meant the kids slept until 8am, and if you are in a tent thats good going. Meaning we woke up ready to go and explore on our bikes again. Mixing cycling with camping is a great way to spend quality family time together and to explore new trails I never knew existed.
This tent is brilliant. It has everything you could need for a comfortable camping experience. Vango offer some great kit (not just the tent) and are affordable.
With storage, warmth and plenty of room for four (people and bikes) this tent is a keeper. We loved it so much we are booked in for another camping break in two weeks.
Easy to put up
Price: £270, available from Vango
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