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Kit review: Freedom Trail Airedale family tent

Written by Fiona July 22 2011

Freedom Trail Airedale 4 family tent

Forty minutes of sunshine, one helper, a nosey whippety pup and some lessons learned from previous experiences and I had the Freedom Trail Airedale 4 family tent up and ready for use. And I like the look of it!

I’ve owned a few tents (and I have several two and one-man tents in the cupboard or on loan at the moment) but having given away the last family-sized tent and found that another, older purchase is now leaking badly, it was time to get a new one.

I have a hankering to go camping with Little Miss Outdoors, her pal and some friends this summer – and it pays to plan ahead. Trying to put up a tent for the first time when you arrive at the campsite (possibly in wind and rain and with dozens of other campers watching you) is a horrible experience. Been there!

So this afternoon we had a test run of erecting the new tent in the garden.

I’m not planning to go camping if the forecast is anything other than kind-of-sunny so I didn’t need to break the bank. Tents are pretty cheap these days (unless you’re looking for hi-tech, lightweight, carry into the wilderness type) and at £99 (down from £150 at Go Outdoors) the Freedom Trail Airedale looked just about right. In fact, the kind folks from Go Outdoors decided to send me this one for free so that I could review it for them. 🙂

Forty minutes is not too long for erecting a tent, although it could have been quicker if we’d had a picture of the tent in the instructions. Yes, I could have gone on-line to check out what the finished tent would look like but it would have been helpful to have instructions that included pics and not just words. Just a wee point, Freedom tent makers.

Still, Little Miss and I have put up a few similar-style tents over the years and we simply started with the colour-coded poles and worked it out as we went along.

Up and ready: Little Miss gives the tent her thumbs up

Once the poles are slotted through the sleeves and attached to the pins (this needs a bit of strength and perseverance but it’s the same with most tents) then the whole tent suddenly seems to spring into shape. A few tent pegs later and the tent was, well,  really looking like a tent!

Little Miss wasn’t so sure it was going to be big enough for mum, herself and a pal but as we pushed in the pegs and pulled out the guy ropes and then hooked in the two internal “bedrooms” it became apparent that there would be more than enough space for the three of us. If the G-Force decides he can spare a few days with us then he’d easily fit in too.

The bedrooms have space for a double air bed each and more than enough space for two adults or two kids. “And Wispa the Wonder Whippet,” Little Miss Reminded me.

At that monent, WWW was attacking a guy rope and trampling over a section of unsecured tent material but hopefully we can get her tent-trained before we head off on holiday.

The tent has a fair sized living area in between the bedrooms with more than enough space for putting your bags, cooking kit etc… and perhaps a dog bed (although I can’t imagine a whippet lying in a bed on its own when there is someone in a sleeping bag to snuggle in with!). The height of the tent is especially good. I can stand up in the middle section and the bedrooms have a good “ceiling” height too. I don’t mind camping in a small, low-level tent if it’s just the G-Force and I away for a couple of nights of wild camping, but for a camping hol with the family a bit of standing room and decent head height is vital. This tent gets my thumbs up.

Little Miss and Wispa the Wonder Whippet go camping in the back garden

There’s also a useful awning for the daytime or for, presumably, when it’s raining outside and you want to be dry indoors while cooking. There’s also a huge groundsheet that goes under one of the bedrooms and spreads across the living area. Small groundsheets, as I’ve found previously, are really annoying as they crumple up and come away from the edges of the tent. This large groundsheet is an unexpected bonus in such an affordable tent.

I like the colour of the tent, too. I know this shouldn’t really matter but when you’re at a campsite and trying to locate your own tent among many others it’s good to have distinctive colour. The bright green makes a change from the usual blues, greys and blacks. The guy ropes are also in a bright colour so that you can see them in the dark (well, I’ll check this out later!) and there are plenty of spare pegs.

The packed away tent isn’t as big as others I’ve come across and nowhere near as heavy, but it would still be the kind of tent you’d pack into a car when travelling on holiday. You’d need a big, strong person to carry it around with all your other luggage if travelling by public transport or on bikes.

Wispa eyes the tent suspiciously.

In conclusion, for families with one or two kids (and maybe a dog) this is a great summer camping tent at a superb price.

I plan to leave it up to see how it performs in the rain. Amazingly, since erecting the tent it’s been dry and quite sunny. Perhaps summer is arriving!

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