Choosing the right tent is essential for your festival as getting a good nights sleep is going to make you feel so much better in the mornings after a busy day watching bands and partying.
Weather is always unpredictable so you need something that will stand up to various weather conditions and you can never trust the weather forecast so don’t assume it will always be sunny. The last thing you need is to have the rain dripping through the tent at night.
You don’t want a tent that’s to small and won’t fit all your gear in, and likewise, it isn’t a great idea to have a huge tent with loads of unnecessary space. So consider your body shape and how much camping gear you expect to have with you. The same applies to anyone you will be sharing your tent with.
So there’s plenty to think about when deciding what tent to buy. Here’s my festival tent review which includes advice, tips and recommendations to help you choose a tent that’s best for you.
How Much to Spend
Unless you only intend to use your tent just the once, and in sunny weather, then it’s best to spend a little extra and get a decent tent that has some useful features as they do need to be hardy to withstand differing weather conditions, and the cheaper ones are not made for that purpose.
You don’t need a premium mountaineer quality tent, but will need something that is going to withstand the elements, keep you to be warm, dry and comfortable and last a few years.
Tip! If you are going to be sharing a tent then clubbing together to buy a decent one that will last a few years is a good idea.
What Size Tent to Take to a Festival
Tent sizes tend to be specified by how many people can sleep in them i.e. 2 person tent. So if there are 2 of you, you might think a 2 person tent is adequate. But in my experience, that would mean 2 persons and no room for any of your camping gear, clothes etc.
So my advice would be to take a tent that will have room for the stated number of people to sleep in and will also have extra room for your gear. So a 2 person tent is ideal for 1 person + gear. A 3 person tent is ideal for 2 persons + gear etc.
Another thing to consider regarding tent size is that it needs to be something that you can put up fairly easily. You don’t want to be struggling on your own putting up a great big tent.
Tip! Do not take a tent that is far too big for your needs as it is likely there will be limited camping space and you won’t be too popular using up space unnecessarily.
Types of Tent and Features
Dome tents tend to be square shaped and the roof is curved in a dome shape. Some will come with an outer weatherproof sheet as the main tent will be quite thin and won’t be particularly waterproof. Dome tents need to have the poles inserted when putting them up.
Pop-up tents have a built in frame that spring open so are very easy to put up. They are usually quite small tents and cater for 1-2 people. Once packed away, they fold flat and circular and fit into a thin carry bag.
Be wary that many Pop-Up tents are quite cheap and not designed to cater for anything but good weather conditions. They may also not come with a groundsheet so this will need to be purchased separately.
Blackout Tents have become very popular for good reason and are highly recommended. They have a black lining to block out light so will help you avoid getting woken up by the daylight early in the morning and removes the need for an eye-mask.
The sun can also make tents very hot so the blackout also helps keep tents cool. An added bonus is the blackout material is quite thick and acts a s noise dampener which can be quite handy if you are camping in a noise festival campsite and want to get some sleep.
A key feature of many tents is that they are windproof. What this basically means is that the tent lined well and if the wind is high, it does not come through the tent. Also, the design will be such that high winds shouldn’t cause the tent to rattle about too much or get dragged about by the wind. Obviously, if you are camping in windy weather, you will need to peg your tent down sufficiently to withstand the wind strength.
Most tents will provide protection from the sun regardless but many specifically claim to protect from the suns rays providing UV Protection of SPF50+
Tents with any sort of porch at the entrance are useful as you have somewhere to leave your muddy boots overnight without bringing them inside the main tent. It’s also a good place to keep your rubbish bag. A large porch is also useful for sheltering in if its raining or for staying out of the sun when its hot.
Vents and Windows
Having a tent with a vent is really useful in all types of weather as it allows some air into the tent to circulate. Good air-flow will help avoid condensation. Most vents have a cover so if its cold they can be covered over.
Some tents will have actual windows that can be opened or rolled back. These are also good for allowing air-flow and reducing condensation.
Most tents will come with a built in groundsheet or at least one that is attachable and doesn’t allow the inside to get wet or damp. Before you buy a tent, check it definitely has a groundsheet else you will need to buy one separately. It’s usually only the small cheaper tents that don’t come with a groundsheet.
Small Tents For Festivals
If you are sleeping on your own and want a budget tent then a 2 Person Tent should be adequate, providing the weather is good. It should provide just enough room for yourself and your belongings.
If you are considering buying a cheap tent, do ensure it comes with a sewn in groundsheet. Otherwise buy one separately or you will likely get cold and damp overnight.
Pop-Up tents are really easy to put up as they spring into shape once removed from the bag and you just need to peg them down.
Folding them back up into the required shape to fit them back in their bag is another matter. You need to follow the instructions carefully and practise a few times so you can remember after the festival exactly how to do it. Once you have mastered the art, it becomes quite simple and you can then be the one laughing at other campers trying to fold up their tents and have them springing out all over the place.
My Recommended 2 Person Tent
The REGATTA MALAWI Pop-Up Tent always appears ranked highly in many tent reviews and forums. It is priced well for those on a tight budget and you get value for money as the tent is well made and should provide adequate protection in difficult weather conditions.
The tent is light to carry and comes with a fitted groundsheet. Once it has been removed from its carrying bag and popped open, it just needs pegging down. As I have mentioned previously, it is a 2 man tent so ideal for 1 person and camping gear.
Medium Sized Festival Tents
Medium sized tents are available in various shapes and can be a bit more elaborate than the basic smaller tents. Some have shelters at the entrance and may have pouches and small compartments inside. Many have blackout fabric and also UV Sun protection so it’s good to try and have these features when looking for your tent. Consider that to put up the bigger tents, it will likely need more than 1 person.
My Recommended Medium Sized Tents
The COLEMAN OAK CANYON 4 is a 4-man tent that has a decent size porch and blackout fabric bedrooms which block 99% of sunlight so is ideal for festival camping. It has 5 star ratings on most websites it is featured on and has been recommended by real owners in various festival forums.
The porch area is big enough for a table and chairs to fit so ideal for sheltering from either rain or hot sun. It is lightweight and easy top put up. The tent is 100% waterproof and additionally has a UVGuard to protect from the suns rays.
I also highly recommend the COLEMAN FESTIVAL RANGE of tents. They come in different sizes for 2-4 persons and have blackout lining and UV Protection. Inside they are very roomy and there is a porch area for your camping gear and to allow more room in the bedroom area.
These are well built very hardy tents. I have seen many of these on festival campsites and the online reviews are very good.
Large Festival Tents
Large tents are really classed as being for 4 or more people. They will need more than one person to put them up and will come with plenty of poles and framework to help the tent stand firmly upright. You will need plenty of Tent Pegs too.
Remember to make sure you will have enough room not only for everyone sleeping in the tent but all their belongings and camping gear too. You also need to allow space for people to simply manoeuvre about inside the tent without treading on people or things.
Many of the bigger tents are quite elaborate and have large porches at the entrance that you can stand in or put chairs in. They tend to have separate sleeping compartments and lots of useful pockets and pouches to put things in.
Remember that a bigger tent is going to be heavier to carry than the smaller tents so make sure you have someone to help with the lifting or you are going to have a tough time getting to the campsite on foot.
My Recommended Large Festival Tent
There are numerous large tents that are good quality and offer value for money and I have selected the COLEMAN MONTANA 8 as my recommendation.
It is a spacious 8 person tent that has plenty of room (even for standing in) and is a reliable tent for camping in all-weathers. It ranks highly in website reviews and is recommended in forums by owners.
The Montana has a hinged door, and a patented WeatherTec system that keeps water out. It is priced at under £200 which is outstanding value for money for such a great tent.
There are many outdoor camping equipment brands and from talking to other campers and reading the festival forums, tents by these 3 brands always come highly recommended:
Make sure you don’t turn up at your festival without all the necessary tent accessories. Your tent won’t be of much use if it blows away or won’t stay upright!
Ensure you have the right number of Tent Poles and did not leave any behind from a previous festival. Check their condition too as they can crack and get damaged.
Ensure you have enough Tent Pegs and plenty of spares as they often get bent in the hard ground. Don’t leave bent or unwanted pegs in the ground though as they become a hazard.
Consider taking a Lightweight Mallet to bang the tent pegs into hard ground. It’s far easier than using your hands or feet and gives you more chance of avoiding bending the pegs.
Tip! A few weeks before your festival, do a practise run of putting up your tent and packing it away. It will save you time at the festival and ensure your tent is still fit for purpose and that you have enough poles and pegs.
Tip! Having a unique identifier for your tent is invaluable when at night you are trying to find your tent amongst hundreds of other similar looking tents. Attach a flag, banner or something similar.
Tip! Once you have returned home from your festival, unpack your tent, wipe it down thoroughly and let it completely dry before packing it up again.
What Happens to Tents Left Behind at Festivals?
Tents left behind at festivals usually go to landfill and not to charity as you may believe. So unless the festival organisers specifically say otherwise and have disposal arrangements, you are not doing anyone any favours by buying a cheap tent with the intention of leaving it behind after the festival.
In addition, tents contain a considerable amount of plastic so are not environmentally friendly. Do consider the environment if you are considering buying a cheap single-use tent.