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Review: Halfords Family Tent Pack

Written by Fiona June 28 2010

I was doubtful that 9pm on a Friday evening was the best time to begin putting up a new tent. I doubted, too, that the previously consumed large G&T would be the greatest aid. And I couldn’t be sure that two giggly girls (Little Miss Outdoors and her pal) would be much help either. But, still, The Two Gigglers had somehow managed to persuade me to give up my seat in front of the TV and a second gin – to drag me outside into our garden to erect the Halfords family tent.

Unbelievably it actually took me just 30 minutes from start to finish – and, as I’d predicted, with only the smallest of assistance from The Two Gigglers.

I admit I have erected a similar style of tent before but, even so, this two-bedroomed, four-person tent – that also has a living area  – caused very little head scratching and the minimum of brute strength.

Once I’d worked out the difference between the main part of the tent and the smaller, inner compartments (i.e. the bedrooms) there wasn’t much to the process. Simply post the colour-coded poles through the colour-coded pole sleeves.  It is useful to have someone at the other side assisting but I managed solo. (To be honest, the colour coding could have been a bit more imaginative than black and grey – say, bright primary colours for easier identification –  but it still did the job!)

Great space for two sleepers

Your own private bedroom space

I am not the strongest person and so I did struggle a little fitting two of the pole ends into the rings but with a bit of material wiggling and a few “aarghurrrumphs” I managed it. With two adults doing this part of the tent-build it would be no trouble at all.

At first it’s a little baffling, trying to see how the flat tent and poles will turn into a fully-fledged tent for four people but once the ends of the poles have been pushed into their corresponding end-of-pole rings the whole construction really starts to take shape.

Pulling the tent into shape did require some help from The Two Gigglers, but only to stand holding a pole each for a few minutes while I quickly went around the tent pushing in tent pegs to hold the base to the ground and flinging up a few guy lines. The Two Gigglers then went back to playing on the garden swing (and giggling) while I then spent a few more minutes properly securing all the pegs and making the guy lines more secure.

So that was the outer part of the tent built in about 20 minutes. Inside I fitted a ground sheet to the living area and two bedroom compartments. Toggles and elastic loops made the whole procedure fairly straightforward and I was only forced to crawl around on all fours  three times; once for the ground sheet and once to affix each of the two bedrooms to the outside of the tent. Novice tent builders will definitely take longer to work through this part of the build but the instructions were reasonable and it shouldn’t take too much de-puzzling.

As I sorted out the porch entrance and (again) tightened all the guy lines, The Two Gigglers suddenly reappeared ready to “set up camp”. In went the rest of the kit that comes with the Halfords Family Tent Pack (currently reduced from £239 to £89.99). £89.99 is amazing value for the whole tent pack (it’s about the same as filling your car with petrol! And certainly less than a weekly food shop). The pack includes the four-man tent, two double-sized blow-up mattresses, four sleeping bags and two mini lanterns (Little Miss Outdoors spotted a neat lantern hanging loop in each bedroom. “So cool, ” she remarked.) The whole kit fits neatly into a big bag that is easily transported thanks to two wheels and a long handle. Perfect!

I also noticed on the Halfords website that for £119 you can buy the tent pack, a cooking set and a tent accessory pack. This seems like really good value.

My only slight quibbles were that the sleeping bags were very lightweight in a one-size-fits-all rectangle shape and would only really suit warm weather camping. And I’m not sure if a larger bloke will manage to wriggle into the bags but you could always throw in a duvet instead. Also you need to remember to pack a load of batteries if you want the mini lanterns to work.

Another tip is to invest in an electric pump (one that runs off the car’s battery) if you want to avoid an hour of foot pumping to inflate the mattresses.

At well under £100 for the Halfords tent pack I think this model is a great bargain for a family looking for a fun weekend or week away in good weather. The tent isn’t the largest four-person tent I’ve seen and would best suit two medium-build adults and two younger kids but you could always add another mattress to the living area if you want to be spaced out a bit.

If you did need to spend more than a day or so indoors because of poor weather then I think that even the happiest of families might end up feeling a little cramped but this tent is great value for its size. In other words, I have certainly seen bigger and more robust family tents on the market, but these are pricier. In most cases, at least double the price.

The Halfords family tent also has the bonus of having enough roof height in the living area for an average adult to stand upright. Why do so many  tent manufacturers forget this small but important detail?

Our Halfords family tent has now been sitting in the garden for a week. It’s been rained on. There’s been a fair bit of wind. Plus Little Miss Outdoors has played “camp” in it with her pals on a number of occasions.. and still the tent looks like it’s just been erected. Now that the school holidays have started Little Miss is already badgering me for a family camping trip. I mustn’t forget the gin!

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