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Monday, 18 June 2018

REVIEW: Star Bell Tent from Boutique Camping








So here we have something a bit different from the standard 5m bell tents....the Star Bell Tent from Boutique Camping

Finally there was a dry weekend forecast, and as we were having a bunch of mates from the Crafty Campers Group meeting up, I took it along.

So I laid everything out, and worked out what was a bit different from the normal

The star bell has an inbuilt canopy, so the extra five minutes you spend pitching this one, are justified in that you don't need to put a tarp or anything else at the front.

The canopy whilst not massively deep (about 500-750mm), is big enough to shield the doorway from rain etc, and gives some protection for shoes, wood and other bits

The actual doorway itself is also larger than a standard bell - in summer this is a really nice bonus (not that summer lasts more than 48 hours generally)

Contents




Mallet - Initial thoughts were 'YAYYY, I got a free mallet'

Pegs - Decent strong pegs supplied (enough to peg the groundsheet once, but elastics share the same peg.  In fairness most suppliers only ever supply one set of pegs for this purpose)

Guy ropes - seem to have been upgraded with little metal barrel sliders. The same 'boutique purple' guy rope


Rain Cap - Simple things! - They added a screw to the rain cap, so you just screw it on and off! No more lost rain cap, and it secures the canvas down

screwy rain cap
Purple Guys and metal runner

Centre Pole
Canopy pole





Canvas - Nice deeper sandstone colour, and same quality as most credible bells

Groundsheet & zips - again, fairly standard, thick and decent quality

Packaging straps - Nice quality, decent straps for pulling the canvas tight for packing














Poles - Made of aluminium, rather than the normal steel.  Centre pole is in 4 sections with the button type push out joins, which work just as well, if not better than the standard springs (which always break anyway).  The hook on the centre pole doesn't look as sturdy as the usual steel ones, but its easy enough to add a bolt if you wanted anything more substantial.  The A-frame is made of the same aluminium.  Lighter and look fine, my only gripe would be the ease of them sliding into each other - they tend to be a bit 'sticky' when you push them in.  Perhaps after a few uses, this will wear off, and connecting will be simple....


Pitching



1. As normal, peg down the groundsheet - as there are fewer panels than a standard bell, this is a bit quicker.  The info sheet advise to then do the elastics - I don't. Why pull the canvas taught, before inserting the centre pole?  I always do the elastics around the edges, after the centre pole has been positioned

2. Sling exciting new lovely free broken mallet in bin, and dig out stronger mallet from the van

Arghhh


3. Once the groundsheet is pegged, you then slide the long thin pole through the edge of the front of the canopy, and push the ends over the 2 pins at the end of the canopy edges - this gives it its shape.

4.  Insert the centre pole.

5.  Then you do the A-frame. Except it isnt. It's a H frame. Now if I am going to have any whinge about this tent (and in honesty, I really like it), its the bloody H frame!!!  This part of the process took me longer than pitching the rest of it.  The H frame falls as you are trying to slip it into two pockets, which go at right angles in the corners of the tent.  You have to place the frame into the entrance, then add the extra section at the bottom on either side.  This was a total ball ache.  As I said previously, the pole is quite stiff/sticky to slide into each section, so the frame didn't want to go together properly, until it was locked into place, and tied into position.

I had a H style frame on my canvas and cast, and was never very impressed with them then, either.






















I am presuming it has to be this shape, to get the entrance of the star bell in position, as the standard A frame wouldn't work (but is a lot quicker)  It probably didn't take that long to do it, but it doesn't take much for me to throw my rattle out

Then you go round and guy the star portions of the outside of the canvas.  Now rather than guy ropes, you insert the peg into a webbing strap at the end of each of the star points.  Read the info leaflet for this.  I tried to put the peg into the open strap at the end. Went back, read the info, and realised you need to make a loop behind the buckle at the top. The peg then goes in there.  The beauty of these points is that the tent feels a lot more stable and secure (windy weather etc), and as the points cover a lot of the wall canvas, there is less chance of leakage around the ZIP




Overall


Pros


The tent has the standard mesh door nets included

The stability seems sturdier than a standard bell

The aesthetics (in my opinion) are nicer than a standard bell

The canopy at the front is incorporated into the design, so you dont need to faff with tarps and canopies, to give some protection to the door entrance

Pitching time is probably similar to a standard bell

At 29kg, its no heavier than any other 5m 285g bell, despite having the canopy

The walls are higher than other bells - always a bonus

No crouching to get into the entrance

The bag was generally larger than normal, so it was easy enough to pack away

Higher Walls
Lantern Holder

Large Entrance 




Cons


The H Frame.  Farty thing

No inner tent available at the moment (if you are handy with a sewing needle, you could probably easily adapt an inner)  The plastic rings are in place for an inner to hook to, so I am presuming there is one in the pipeline

I'm not sure you would get clearance with a wall exit wood stove - It would take a bit of manouevering to get it into a decent clear space (roof exit would be fine)

It you want fit a larger tarp to the front, for kitchen use etc, you would struggle to fit it against the existing porch

Standard lantern holders won't fit around the bigger centre pole



Summary



So overall, yes ok , I am sold on it.  If I was starting out and wanted a 5m bell - I would go for this option rather than the regular shape

As it was a decent weekend for weather, I can't comment yet on waterproofing etc (thankfully, no rain)  So I will pitch it again, when I can go through the lovely chore of camping in horrible wet conditions.  I will pray that summer comes on the day I take it down

Link to the seller:


https://www.boutiquecamping.com/tents-c1/star-range-c64/5m-sandstone-star-bell-tent-p995






The standard manufacturers blurb is:


  • Brand new Boutique Camping 5m Star Bell Tent design 
  • All Boutique Camping tents come with zipped In groundsheet (ZIG)
  • Luxury bell tent with heavy duty zipped in water resistant, extra thick groundsheet (540g per sqm)
  • Total weight 5m = 29kg 
  • 3m lightweight 35mm diameter Aluminium centre pole.
  • Centre pole has a loop to hang chandeliers
  • This bell tent does not fit our current, standard inner tent.
  • 3 Extra thick 5mm guy ropes for the canopy entrance
  • 360 netting around the 75cm walls, can be rolled up for airflow
  • Heavy Duty Pegs; 6mm groundsheet pegs and 8mm robust groundsheet pegs
  • Packed downsize (105cm x 36cm x 36cm)
  • Big entrance door 2m high & 2.90cm wide
  • Bendy pole for canopy
  • Integrated canopy with a 50cm overhang at the entrance
  • Breathable and durable polycotton canvas 285g per sqm, with reinforced double stitched seams. For more information, please click here.
  • Webbing to secure the tent to the ground
  • Double-sided zippers
  • 3 way zips with loops that can be easily padlocked for extra security
  • Secondary zipped mosquito door
  • 4 zipped windows for airflow and ventilation with mesh cover to keep insects away
  • Canvas tents are renowned for retaining heat and their cooling effect, as they are a breathable material.
  • Canvas is treated with UV, mildew, rot & water repellent
  • All our bell tents will fit a wood burning stove, however, you will need to create the opening yourself
  • Can sleep up to 6 adults on airbeds comfortably with space for luggage, furniture or a walkway
  • Easy to assemble – one person can assemble in under 15 min
  • Comes with 12 months manufacturers warranty
Alcohol is flowing




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