By: Petemillis Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2009 Rating: Date: 13/09/2009
A few years ago we (wife, I and 4 kids) went camping in my North Face Bedrock 55 - a lightweight, synthetic dome tent. But Mrs M wouldn't sleep in it and ended up sleeping in our 'bus instead. So, I got to thinking about what make for a better camping experience for the family. We looked at various tunnel tents and dome tents but nothing really appealed to us, except we learned that we REALLY wanted poly/cotton or canvas. So I started a search for canvas tents, and the bell tents really jumped out at me.
After some reading and phoning around, I settle on a 5 metre 'Ultimate' from belltent.Co.Uk . It's the only bell tent with a zip in groundsheet (ZIG) and this has proved to be real boon as it gives the best of both worlds - a sheet that can be removed or undone and the sides of the bell tent rolled up, or zipped in it provides great comfort keeping out the drafts and the bugs! We also opted for the inner tent - again from belltent.Co.Uk - and this also proved to be excellent. It easily slept 6 of us on 3 double mattresses, and when the doors of the inner tent up zipped open it still retains a great deal of openness within the tent.
The whole bell tent experience has really worked well. I got hold of a lovely large natural coir rug for the living area and really adds to the comfort.
The quality of this tent is fantastic - it's great having a tent made of heavy canvas as it doesn't rustle and flap in the wind. It was completely watertight and stable even in extremely heavy downpours and very strong gusty winds. All in all I spent the best part of Â£600 on the tent with ZIG, the inner tent and the canvas malu (tarp shelter) as shown in my pictures above - this is less that the cost of most decent poly/cotton tents yet it gave us the most comfortable and spacious camping experience ever. There is definitely no way now that I would ever go back to more modern designs and synthetic materials for anything other than lightweight backpacking, which now I have a family ain't gonna be happening for some time - not till my kids decide they want to go and drag me along with them :)
Forgot to mention.Tent quality is fantastic. Extremely durable with a really heavy ground sheet and heavy duty zips. Good stitching. Heavy duty centre pole. Honestly can't fault it, and service from the supplier was spot on too. There are many debates concerning savings to be made by buying these bell tents from Obelink, but the fact is that belltent.Co.Uk are the only supplier who offer a ZIG version, and the savings aren't really that massive anyway. I'd be more than happy to answer any questions anyone may have about this tent - post in the 'tent talk, advice, info and recommendations' forum http://www.Ukcampsite.Co.Uk/chatter/display_forum_topics.Asp?ForumID=32&PagePosition=1&ThreadPage=83 and I'll find your questions. Pete
5 from 5 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Brijjy Reason: I've used one Made in: 2007 Rating: Date: 30/03/2010
I use one of these for work and we camp in it all year round. They are hard wearing and hard working tents. They stay up in every kind of weather, as long as you pitch it correctly. We keep ours waterproofed with Nikwax which works a treat. We do have to take the groundsheet out though as the kind of people we work with would totally trash it. This is added later if needed. Altogether a great tent.
2 from 2 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Valbarley Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2009 Rating: Date: 13/04/2010
Excellent quality canvas, ZIG is thick and good quality zip - can also unzip and raise the walls in the summer
Door A frame was no trouble at all (was a bit wary as have read about problems with bell tents)
Quick to pitch even on my own (5'8' female) and a totally different camping experience staying in one
Belltent.Co.Uk were really helpful both prior to me buying the tent and since (whatever stupid question I ask them) Told me where I could source a bamboo pole if I wanted one and were willing to help with any queries
I was a few tent pegs short, so check you have enough before your first pitch (i had spare deltas and pegs anyway so wasn't a problem)
Inner tent is easy to attach and warms the interior, but I prefer the look of it and the open space without using it. Could fit 4 double airbeds without the inner, would make a great kids party stopover tent
Not too keen on the white nylon guy ropes would have preferred rope and wood, but that's my only niggle!
8 from 8 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Godking Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 09/05/2010
My Wife (and I) had been looking for a replacement after some larcenous fellows boosted our trailer, complete with most of our gear, including our prize possession, a Vango Aspen 700DLX. Swines! Anyway, after much searching on tinterweb, we eventually bit the bullet and shelled out for the tent and stove.
The tent is too big to erect in our garden, so I had to put it up at work one Saturday, but bottled out of cutting a hole in the wall to accommodate the stove. As I pointed out to my darling before we bought it, it is a canvas barn, and if the weather was less than warm, it would take a lot to heat it.
We have just returned from Inside Park at Blandford Forum, where it was decidedly chilly for the 1st week in May. On the first night we relied on an ancient and venerable Tilley parabolic heater, which struggled to heat such an enormous space. The next morning we became determined to sort out the stove, only to find that I had misplaced the instructions- oh, was I flavour of the month! After much deliberation and examination of the bits we decided to phone Bell Tent, not least because we couldn't make the flue set fit together. The problem appeared to be that the raincowl was the wrong size. We were talked through the entire setup, and were told that it was probable that we had been issued the wrong raincowl, and if we emailed some pics, they would sort out a replacement. Inspired with confidence, we, meaning my wife, cut the hole, and completed the flue as best we could. It worked! After the initial lighting, just to check that we had fitted it together properly, I 'acquired' a can that had once held dog food, and jury-rigged a sleeve to allow us to use the raincowl.
Oh, the joy and rapture that evening, when everyone else on the site was complaining of the cold, to be able to sit in the heated comfort of a large living space. The dogs lay out flat on their beds, instead of curled up to conserve body heat. We sat rosy-cheeked, chuckling away in stockinged feet, doing our bit to diminish the European winelake.
On our final night the light of my life got two small roasting tins filled with vegetables, covered in tinfoil, and sat them on the stove for 30 mins. Delicious with the steaks which I cooked outside. I wouldn't recommend frying on it, just because the smell will permeate the canvas, not to mention the hot fat spitting around the place, but slow cooking a stew or casserole is definitely on the agenda for the next outing, unless a heatwave appears in the 1st week in July!
If you want a quality piece of kit that will last for years, AND will turn heads wherever you pitch, then you could walk a lot further and do a lot worse than this. The amount of space for two adults and three large dogs is extravagant, and unless you only intend to camp when the weather is very warm, a woodburner is definitely needed.
9 from 9 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Glamp girl Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 16/06/2010
This is a fantastic tent, we are very keen campers and go away with our 2 young children 6-7 times a year. We had a nylon modern expensive house style tent and it was taking 45 minutes for 2 people to put it up while the kids wailed. The bell tent takes my husband 12 minutes while I hand out snacks balls and other distractions to the children. It took 30 minutes this weekend from arriving at the site to having everything (bedding, kitchen, rugs, chairs, tables) fully installed and ready to go! The tent it roomy enough for 4 of us, we have the inner which is great to keep the mud out of the beds. It is versatile and has been used to sleep 6 kids and 3 adults without the inner.
It is such a more cosy experience then sleeping in a canvas tent.
We have the Malu awning as well which you can cook under so we are covered for wet camping. All in all I am glad I spent the money, it was well worth it and I would recommend a bell tent. The only downside is the weight, I cannot lift it so I need my husband to do that. It could do with some little wheels on the carry bag so I can drag is from the garage to the car.
4 from 4 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Renloudrew Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 22/06/2010
We had a little girl last year so decided we needed a tent to holiday in for the next 10 years! Had heard of the Bell Tents and went to see them at British Outdoor Exhibition at Windsor. Looking at the price of a 6 berth conventional nylon tent compared to our 5m Ultimate, the numbers added up in favour of the Bell tent! We also bought the malu awning and have just spent 2 weeks in France in all weather conditions and enjoyed it thoroughly!
We put it up 3 times in that 2 weeks and with practice and a 10 month year old helping managed to get it up in 15 minutes!
We haven't opted for the inner room as yet which is very brave of my husband as he hates 'flappy things' but he survived and I honestly don't think we will bother. The space is great and for us who stand either side of 6 foot the height is wonderful.
The awning was a great purchase as we used it in various positions and have also used it at home in the garden and park. All in all a great purchase and one that I'm sure will last for 10 years. My tent envy was quashed for a while but we've just seen their website and they have developed a new 7m Emperor tent that might have the green eyes flashing!
2 from 2 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Clamont Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 11/07/2010
Buying the Belltent Ultimate was our third attempt in two years to find a tent that we were happy with and we were not disappointed. We have just spent a week in Cornwall with our new tent and it was the star of the camp site. Everybody came over to have a look at it! Somebody even described it as a mobile bedsit!
We didn't buy an inner because it was just the two of us this time but for future trips with our granddaughter we are going to have to look at our options as the inner does not split into compartments (something to look at Belltent!) But we did buy the carpet and the tealight chandelier - well worth it. The carpet allowed us to wear shoes in the tent (always a plus not having to keep taking shoes off when it is wet outside) and the chandelier not only made it feel very homely it also provide a bit of extra heat when the nights set in.
We also bought the canopy which not only provided my husband with some welcome shade but also ensured that the entrance to the tent was always dry - even after we had a full day of torrential rain.
It is extremely quick and easy to put up and take down. The only downside is that at 35kg it is a bit heavy but nowhere near what our Outwell Wolf Lake weighed and I as the woman of the house I am still able to manage it on my own.
Overall a superb tent that we wont be looking to change for a long time to come!
6 from 6 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Tattygina Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 10/08/2010
Have just used my bell tent for the first time and I love it! It is everything I need in a tent.
We had a Vermont xl before this tent but am now in the position that I am the only adult on our trips. The Vermont would have been too much for me on my own but this is great - I can put it up and take it down on my own with no hassle (well the tent pegs wouldn't come out but that is not the tents fault!)
It looks great, prompted lots of positive comments from people on the site.
I really like the tent being canvas, it seemed to not be as cold at night and it didn't get as 'stuffy' during the day.
We have the inner bedroom tent as well as I like to 'go to bed'! It does take up quite a lot of room in the tent but I felt it was worth it.
Would highly recommend this tent.
5 from 6 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Sleedale Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 24/08/2010
The easiest tent to pitch by far, can be done by one person - even a short person (me). The quality is exceptional and instead of flapping in the wind, this tent breathes, gently and quietly. The shape and design make it a great space to be in, when it's raining outside, staying in isn't cramped or dark or dreary, rather relaxing and restful. The light through the canvas creates moving pictures and when it's lit at night it looks amazing from the outside. Fill it with rugs and comfy seats, low down if you are young enough, and it's luxury camping at it's best. In a downpour it proved to be totally watertight, and wind seems to roll around it instead of whipping it about and trying to flatten it as with dome or tunnel tents. The best tenting experience by far and it will also make a great home camping shelter or extra outside space when not being used for trips away. We intend to get the Malu awning too, simply because it's beautiful and versatile; extra rugs and mood lighting.
6 from 6 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
By: Maxf Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2010 Rating: Date: 28/08/2010
After much research into tents, we decided on the Bell Tent 5m ultimate. We have two Great Danes so any tent we purchased needed to have plenty of space and the wide open space of the Bell Tent fits the bill exactly. We love it and the dogs can't wait to get into it! We were undecided about the inner tent, and after sleeping in the tent a few times we have definitely decided against buying an inner tent - the structure is beautiful and I love gazing up to the apex and watching the tent move gently with the wind.
Pitching the tent is really quick and simple. The two of us working together can have the tent up and ready in under 9 minutes. The first time my husband put it up on his own it still only took 15 minutes.
We have done a fair amount of 'pimping' - I have made mosquito netting to attach around the entrance and a canvas awning. We have replaced the metal pole with a bamboo pole and my husband has made a wood-burning stove out of an old gas cylinder, which will really extend our camping season.
In common with other reviewers, the only downside is the weight of the tent. We keep the groundsheet in a separate bag from the canvas tent in order to make it more manageable.
7 from 7 people found this review helpful, was it helpful to you?
19 User Reviews of the 5m Ultimate - Showing 01 to 10 Page:
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* A deluxe Bell Tent with a zip that lets you roll up the walls on a scorching summer afternoon * Lightweight but strong 285 g/ m²) high quality cotton canvas (think of new denim jeans thickness) * Weighs 31.5kg (This is a serious bit of kit so you don't want to be carrying it too far.) * New for 09 all our bell tents have all the loops and attachments to fit one of our inner tents should you decide you want to add one. This is unique to Bell Tent UK and other bell tents don't have these fittings. * Has a metal hoop on central pole, great for hanging things from. * All packs down into matching canvas bag small enough to go on the back of a Smart Car. (approx 100cm - 45cm - 45cm) * Fabulous Colour (no bright white nightmares) giving a warm and gentle vide inside * Material is treated to be water, UV and mould resistant for up to 60 weeks constant use. ( re-proof liquid costs around £15) * A frame covered Entrance. Unlike some bell tents this has an A frame entrance which creates a porch to stop the rain coming in. Those without this feature leak all the way up the entrance flap i.e. to the middle of the tent! * Takes 2 people around 9 minutes to erect (Ok it took us 4 goes to get it that fast) * Can be erected by one person in around 13 minutes * Heavy Duty Waterproof Integral ground sheet that comes up the side creating a waterproof "bath". * Ideal for those non fair weather campers who like to get out and about come rain or shine * Beautifully made, quality build * Unzip able windows / air vents complete with mosquito nets * Heavy Duty Zipped front door for fast access * Door can be "locked" by padlocking the three door zips together * Can be fitted with the Bell Tent Stove * Updated A frame footing and door flap to avoid tripping