Are Canvas Bell Tents Worth Buying?

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If you were to search the internet for ‘in’ tents right now, you wouldn't be able to look past canvas bell tents and this is because they’re extremely popular. Instantly, this might get you wondering whether or not this option is right for you. If this question has been playing on your mind, you now finally have an answer since we’re going to assess the benefits, drawbacks, and everything else you need to know!

First and foremost, you might notice that bell tents certainly stand out and it won’t be hard to find your one in a crowd (although, this really is becoming a trend now!). In more recent times, they seem to have gained the tag ‘hipster’ but, in practical terms, they’re easy to put up and you also get the added durability that doesn’t come with inflatable tents and other trendy options right now.

If you’ve visited an outdoor shop, it can be a tough decision because you can’t exactly see it in action so all you see is the bright panels and funky designs from inside the packaging. With this, we believe the best way to assess this option is to look at the benefits and drawbacks.

Benefits of Choosing a Canvas Bell Tent

  • You can use a wood-burning stove inside this tent as long as you fit a flashing kit and ensure you have a hole in the side of the material.
  • They’re incredibly easy and fast to install and take down.
  • The designs and colours make your tent unique.
  • Canvas can moderate temperature somewhat.
  • You can position the tent depending on your needs rather than being fixed by what you can do inside.
  • Only one person is required for erection (up to five metres).
  • Floor space is vast which helps for groups of people when camping.
  • There are opportunities to introduce a wood-burning stove so long as you set up the chimney and are responsible when in use.

Drawbacks of Choosing a Canvas Bell Tent

  • Can catch the wind since they’re taller than most.
  • No separated area (unless you buy smaller tents to go inside).
  • Bell tents can be out of reach for modest budgets with the starting price at around £350.
  • No windows mean you have to brave the winds and go outside if you’re to enjoy the views outside.
  • Treatment and maintenance is recommended every couple of years.
  • Sloping sides can leave some disappointed with the inside space despite looking large at first.
  • Any tent over five metres will need more than one person for installation.
  • Entrances can be small with many bell tents which makes it tough for those with mobility issues.
  • Beige/white/light colours can show up dirt within just one use and this makes the tent look grubby.

Should I Buy a Bell Tent?

 So, here it is, the magic question. In the UK, you need to think about the weather and, although it can resist light rain, canvas bell tents can never be fully-waterproof on the first use; after the first use, the fabric should knit together. As you can see with most of the drawbacks, they tend to have solutions and they won’t affect everybody. Therefore, the benefits can far outweigh the drawbacks if you’re willing to accept the latter and work with what you have. For example, you might be happy to buy inner tents (or go without separate areas), treat the tent every couple of years, and live without windows.

On the other hand, there might be deal-breakers such as the cost; not everybody can afford a minimum of £350. For others, they simply won’t be able to justify the cost when it won’t be used too often. If you camp frequently, the benefits tick the right boxes, and the drawbacks aren't so important, there’s no reason why you can’t join this trend!

If you looking for something more modern have a read at our buying guide and family tent reviews.

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