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Tent Showcase: Blacks Solace 1 Bell

Tent and Awning Showcase Index  >  Other  >  Blacks Solace 1 Bell Reviews

Current Model?
Berths:
Weight:
RRP on date added:
Bedroom inners:
Living area groundsheet:
Pitching Style:
Yes
4  (more 4 berth tents)
27.00 KG
£470.00
1
Standard
In one
Average User Rating:
8.83/10 from 6 reviews

Viewed: 8701 times

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6 Reviews of the Blacks Solace 1 Bell

By: NLcamper  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2017   Rating:   Date: 31/08/2018

I wanted to add my review earlier, but needed some more experience with the Solace 1 we've purchased last year (2017). Thanks to the great specs and Caligula's excellent review (only one, back then ;-) we took the plunge without even seeing the tent in real life. We live in the Netherlands, so shipping was a bit of an obstacle. Mind you, BoG don't even show pricing or purchasing options on their website when you visit with a non-UK IP address. But there are ways around that (a VPN and a forwarding service), and I managed to get the Solace 1 shipped over here for a reasonable sum. Unfortunately, the heavy groundsheet was not in stock, so I had to order that later. Much to my surprise, BoG kindly ships abroad when you contact them. As Caligula experienced, I can confirm that the BoG (now part of AMG Group) people are super friendly and helpful.

CANVAS

The canvas is polyester/cotton mix, in a 40/60 ratio, but to be honest, I lost the info on which is 60, which is 40. It doesn't really matter. You *want* polyester in your canvas, as it makes the fabric a lot lighter and the tent less prone to sagging when humidity increases (you *don't* want a 100% polyester bell tent though). It's the whitest of Bell tents I've found, and in my opinion it's really much nicer than the sand color most other brands offer. We used the tent in Southern France (Provence) for in total 11 weeks now, and white is an excellent color in hot regions, but also makes for the best ambience inside (not the typical cave-like depressing atmosphere you get inside many heavy canvas tents of yore).

I have to agree with Caligula that the standard lightweight groundsheet is not worthy of the tent. But, when you opt for the heavier ground sheet it does make for a great footprint underneath your tent. Because it's so thin, it's also quite light and has reasonably low packing volume. So we do have found good use for it, and the bottom of our tent stays nice and clean.

DESIGN

The designers of the Solace Bell tents have made some really smart alterations to the classic (apparantly non-patented) bell tent design. Higher side walls and best of all: a higher entrance. I'm 1.90 m, so I think they had me in mind when they raised the entrance to 1.90 m ;-)

The black mesh doors are truly excellent, and standard, not an option. As is the inner tent, which makes it a very complete package. The Solace 1 measures 4 m in diameter, and this is a great size for two. To me, the only real downside of this size is that you can't position your beds radially from the central pole. When you sleep two beds side by side next to the pole, you have a tremendous amount of space left in the inner tent. We don't really use that, but it's nice nonetheless. I think a small child would fit, and perhaps your luggage. We live mainly outside the tent because we opt for places with high temperatures, so we use the tent only for sleeping and storing our clothes (all our kitchen stuff is outside, under tarps).

CLIP-IN GROUNDSHEET: I SAY NO

Okay, this is perhaps the only thing that bothers me with this tent: the clip-in groundsheet. Sounds great on paper, and allowed us to switch the standard, somewhat flimsy polypropylene groundsheet for the heavy duty PVC (?) version. When you start to look around for bell tents, you see those nice pictures where the walls have been rolled up and you think: 'yes, I want to be able to do that'. But in practice, who does? It's a hell of a lot of work, and the Solace has no loops to secure rolled-up walls. Your tent is your shelter, and you want it to be the one place where you don't have to worry about creepy crawlers and other insects that are after you. That's why the mesh doors are so welcome. The clip-in ground sheet makes for an open connection between the inside and outside of the tent. That's not good, especially at ground level. Ants have proven that they can find their way, so luckily we don't store food inside the tent. But in theory, it could also mean water running *over* the ground sheet when it's getting seriously wet. And contrary to our experience over the last 25 years in southern France, this year it got seriously wet a number of times (we could finally use those nifty rain covers over the windows!). So much rain fell in short bursts that puddles started to form at the edges of our tent and I frantically started to check how well the clip-in ground sheet would cope. It managed okay, perhaps because we used the standard ground sheet as a footprint. But we don't see any advantage of this system for regular campers (the BoG scouting tents don't have ground sheets at all, but those scouts are ware more hardcore than we are ;-) We also keep the ground sheet (and inner tent) attached when we take down and store the tent. The clips of the ground sheet and inner tent are not easy to undo BTW. I think these are meant more for clipping ON than clipping OFF.

So this is, in my opinion, the only flaw on the Solace tents, and I'm seriously considering to glue or stitch the groundsheet to the polypropylene flap that is stitched around the tent. I will be contacting Black's of Greenock about how to best do this.

Keep in mind that most (if not all) bell tents in this price range are made in China, as are the Solace tents. I have no issue with that.

It's slightly disappointing that the website of Black's of Greenock offers so little details about these tents. The pitching instructions sheet that comes with the tent could use some improvement too (not that it is really important, pitching is very straightforward). But to me, these things make it seem like Black's of Greenock could use some more love from the AMG Group.

We're still thinking about adding the optional Solace Canopy (awning). It's brutally expensive in comparison to the entire tent, but it's probably a nice addition, even if you use it as a free-standing (or hanging) tarpaulin. It will add 7 kg to your luggage though, ouch!

So yes, I think the Solace tents are the best bell tents you can get. Smart alterations to the classic design, many options included standard, so good value. Even with the clip-in groundsheet I'd still say it's the better choice (if only for that beautiful white canvas).
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By: Caligula  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2017   Rating:   Date: 18/06/2018

As a addendum to my previous ramblings, how does the tent perform?

Very belatedly it has now got some proper usage as a base canoe touring the Broads, and very successful it was.

Ease of set up, about as easy as a bell tent can be.One pole, etc. Mine also has the excellent awning, see photos above.

Although the weather was predominantly dry, there were couple of showers, and as you'd expect, there were no problems at all.

One day was very windy, gusts exceeding 30 mph (blew out canoeing) and again, there were no problems at all. Solid.

Blacks unique clip in groundsheet (HD version) was simplicity it self.

The ONLY metaphoric fly, was that although all the zips were fine and worked perfectly, I would have preferred heavier duty ones, particularly on the mesh screen doors. That can be VERY taught at it's apex.

The higher walls proved an absolute boon, making huge amounts of useable floor space, which stood good comparison with a 6 metre tent on site, of reputable make, but very low walls. Also it gives it relatively huge wall windows!

Pegs, guys, metalwork, all fine

The light in the tent is beautiful, hardly used lighting at night time!

Really pleased, and I can thoroughly recommend.

Someone else write something!
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By: Caligula  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2017   Rating:   Date: 15/06/2018

As an addendum to the preceding reviews, I have now at long last and belatedly managed a serious? trip with the Solace, using it as a base for my partner and I to do some canoe touring of the Norfolk broads.

Setting up with the awning.About 1/2 hour. I can get the tent alone up in about 10 mins.But I was faffing!

Weather although good, we did have some showers that kept themselves to night time….Just bliss. No problems at all.

We had a day of winds blowing to 30 mph, which blew out canoeing, but no worries for tent or awning. The clip in groundsheet ( a system unique to this tent) worked well with the HD groundsheet, and was very convenient

The only thing.Possibly….Is I'd like heavier duty zips on the doors and fly screen in particular. The ones it has worked perfectly.It's just bigger would be better in this case.

Perfect. Very comfortable. Very robust.

As a PS, the higher walls (than other bells) and doorway proved a massive boon.
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By: Caligula  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2016   Rating:   Date: 28/04/2017

THE BLACKS OF GREENOCK SOLACE 1 and 2 BELL TENTS

The Solace 1 and 2 are Blacks of Greenock bell tents, built to identical specifications, one is 4 metre in diameter, the other 5. This review is specific to the Solace 1, the 4 metre tent.

These tents are made in a slightly higher weight canvas than is common in many others, at 320 g/m, as opposed to 285g/m.

The canvas is a tight quality weave and is utterly waterproof. All the pressure points are reinforced and seams double stitched as a minimum. The tents are well cut and set very nicely without saggy panels.

The designs have a higher than is usual entrance and the 4 metre tent entrance is nearly 6 feet, to mix up the units of measurement, or 1.8 metres. Many others are 1.5m or less. This is quite significant because then the ridge that follows from tent apex to door apex will be that much higher with commensurate increase in space. It makes a surprising difference.

I am 6’ 4” and there is loads of standing room in this tent for me.

The front doors (with a 3 way zip) have full size mesh doors with their own 3 way zips, which again, many other bell tents do not have. This is part of a very comprehensive ventilation and insect ingress prevention system for the tent which includes 3 very large half-moon windows in the walls. These have zip in canvas closures and again full mesh inserts. Ideally, these too, like the doors, could be zipped, but they are not, they are fixed. On the outside, uniquely, the windows have clear plastic roll up covers for extra rain protection if required.

In the apex, are three further, mesh and cowled vents. With all this, ventilation is excellent and insect exclusion is as good as it can be.

The walls have large “sods” made from woven polyethylene on the bottom which go under the groundsheet. These in their turn are covered by canvas cowls which pin down with the walls on the outside. Whilst perfectly adequate in woven polyethylene, I would have preferred the sods to have been the same plasticised material as the HD groundsheet in a tent of this quality.

Inside the front doors on the walls are 2 rows, 1 row each side of the doors, of useful odds and sods storage pockets for keys, cards, phones, maps or whatever.

The groundsheet design on the tents is again unique to Blacks: they clip in. This gives the versatility of zip in groundsheets without the risk of damaging a zip and the inherent cost, the simplicity of peg in groundsheets, without the inconvenience of all those pegs. I would have preferred the clips to be a couple of inches higher and the groundsheet to be slightly “trayed”.

The standard groundsheet is again, a lightweight woven polyethylene affair, but a fabulous ripstop woven and plasticised heavy duty sheet is available, sometimes offered f.O.C. This is highly recommended.

All poles (with hanging points) are robust and sprung connected for ease of assembly and the pegs, at least for the 4 metre variant, perfectly good and strong. Blacks supply with the tent a couple of spare guys, but it would be nice to include a few spare pegs, bearing in mind that this tent is sold at the more premium end of the market. They do include a mallet as standard.

The tent also includes as standard, again unlike many others, an inner tent which clips in and has its own mesh doors, This, and the groundsheet, are pale grey, but the anti-insect mesh is dark grey, and it is this which makes the tent interiors look dark in the photos. It is far from the case in reality, and the tents have a lovely light ambience.

The inner tent is made from a lightweight nylon open weave, that allows it to breath, and allows it to pack up very small. It has its own sewn in lightweight groundsheet and access panels to the tent window(s). The doors have two way zips with zipped mesh doors behind, so you can have even further insect protection or be completely shut from the rest of the tent. The inner tent is quickly and easily suspended from colour coded clips.

With the Solace 1 it forms a large room taking 50 % of the tent, in the Solace 2, it forms 2 bedrooms. A really well thought out piece of design, light and yet tough. I just wish it were cotton?

The tents are supplied in a nylon zip up bag with webbing carry straps, which is plenty big enough, though I would have preferred a canvas one.

On the options list is a large canopy or awning, made of the same high quality canvas, which is supplied with its own pegs and pole, and in its own bag. This gives a large covered area for storage, cooking, dining, socialising or whatever.

When one looks at the whole package, the specification and the quality thereof, the tent suddenly begins to look like very good value for money, compared to many of its competitors. Despite some very heavy and prolonged hosing in order to “weather” it (for I have yet to use it in heavy rain), as Blacks advise, it did not leak at all. Not at all.

I am one very happy customer. The service, attention, and the willingness to answer all my queries before finally purchasing were much appreciated, and played a significant part in finalising my decision to buy directly from Blacks of Greenock.

This seems a good, strong, robust, quality tent. Yes I may want a couple of tweaks as it were: who wouldn’t?

How long to pitch? Fifteen minutes on my own, on first attempt. Couldn’t really be easier.

The groundsheets and mesh doors/panels and inner tent are pale grey.It works really well but makes the photos (on some websites) of the interior dark and pokey. It is far from it. Light without glaring.

There's some unique features to this tent that reading around, a lot of potential bell tent buyers should consider.
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By: Caligula  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2016   Rating:   Date: 30/03/2017

PART 2

The tent has now had it's first setting up for weathering, and I'm very impressed with the quality, the stitching and the weight of the canvas (320 g/m as opposed to 285g/m).

It went up on my own in about 15 minutes the first time.

Inside there are useful stowage pockets, and ties for the zip down windows (3) with no-see-um mesh and roll up clear plastic exteriors, a unique feature.One of a couple of unique features.

The main doors are higher than many other makes(it's worth checking the heights out) and is supported by an easy to assemble A type frame, so there is no central pole in the door way. They also have full size mesh inner doors. Too.

The Solace has a unique system for the groundsheet; it's a clip in system, which has many advantages over others.

Yes you can roll up the walls in hot weather, but there is no risk to damaging a zip and the inherent inconvenience/cost that may cause; nor do you have to lift pegs like the peg in groundsheets. However, I think Blacks have missed a trick and should have raised the sides like a shallow tray. There is a substantial overlap though with a the substantial polypropylene 'sods', that go underneath.

The tent came with a lightweight polyprop. Groundsheet, and a free very heavy duty affair, quite superb.

I have had the hose on it for ages, at very high pressure to weather it, and even doing this, it didn't leak a drop. Not one.

I cannot understand why one doesn't see more about these tents, as the overall package has just been, it seems, superb. (Free delivery, inner tent, canopy extension and heavy duty groundsheet.And a slightly heavier duty tent to start with! And excellent service with all my enquiries and researching.)

I WILL get some photos here.
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By: Caligula  Reason: I own(ed) one  Made in: 2010   Rating:   Date: 27/01/2017

NB Blacks of Greenock and some tents listed as 'Blacks' may not be the same company.

UNBOXING PREVIEW: this is just quickie 1st impression on unboxing a SOLACE 1 Bell tent, as it won't get used for a while.

Canvas cotton, cream colour. A heavier weave than many, though not all. Most are 285 gm/m, this is 320gm/m.

It is a good tight high quality weave with good straight and apparently secure stitching. No missed and loose ends. Many reinforced points.

Poles are steel and very robust with rubber feet.

Pegs are way better than expected with good long steel v style pegs and steel pins for groundsheet. Not some lightweight bendy alloy things. A mallet is included. Guylines are thick polypropylene with nice metal runners.

Three way zips, good quality, again well secured. Excellent fine and strong mesh in doors and windows in wall, which have the unique additions of roll up outside windows and roll up inner canvas closures. Again inner pole is a massive sprung steel pole as is A frame for doorway. The doorwayaccess is higher in this tent than many.

Standard lightweight groundsheet is a grey woven polypropylene affair, and a slight disappointment. However the tent also came with an optional heavy duty sheet which is a different beast altogether and is excellent. (This at the time of writing is a FREE offer) The groundsheet is attached with a unique clip in system, so the walls can be rolled up, and the tent packed clean and separate from the sheet.

Nylon carry bags included, which are large and easy to use.

Altogether, Blacks of G. Advertise this as a premium tent, although deals can be struck. Mine included HD groundsheet and awning and poles and inner tent. It certainly looks on initial inspection to be just that, a premium product.

When it's up, I'll take some photos and expand on this as I find.

I have had many conversations with Blacks of G prior to purchase, and they have proved very helpful, unlike some others I have spoken to.
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Manufacturer's Description

This luxury polycotton canvas Bell Tent is perfect for glamping, camping in style, and for those who like to take a traditional approach to the outdoors. The Solace I measures a 4m in diameter, which provides living for up to 4 people. Unique to any other bell tent on the market and packed full of features and oozing quality, including a fully removable inner tent, and a “clip in” lightweight groundsheet. Made from luscious high quality, proofed polycotton canvas, and like all our tents, comes with our Lifetime Guarantee. There are optional extras of a Canopy to extend the living space and a heavier weight “clipped in” groundsheet

https://www.blacksofgreenock.co.uk/

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