Tent buying guide - The Camping and Caravanning Club
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Tent Buying Guide

There are many ways to choose and buy your tent. Here are the most popular, with a few examples to get you started. Benefit from tailored help and advice from our experts when you join the Club and you can pick up some tips from our video on how to choose a camping starter kit. 

Buying from a specialist retailer

This should be one of the best ways to get a good deal and expert service. But how do you find a reputable specialist retailer? The best way is, without doubt, by personal recommendation.

High street chains like Blacks and Millets are popular but can’t always show you your chosen tent erected. Specialist camping dealers with bigger premises often have lots of tents - even big ones - up in their showrooms or even pitched on the grass outside. Some larger caravan or motorhome dealers have a tent department.

Buying at a show

Exhibitions and shows are great places to see a wide range of new tents. You’ll see all the latest colours and styles.

Caravan shows sometimes have a fair display of conventional tents too, and are also a good place to see trailer tents and folding campers.

There are lots of outdoor shows, often run by local dealers, in spring and early summer, and many are situated on spare land near garden centres.

These give you a good chance to see tents erected and at the end of the show, sample tents are often sold off at bargain prices, though you’ll need to check their condition carefully.

Buying online

Auction sites such as eBay have hundreds of new and secondhand tents for sale and some of them are undoubtedly good value. But you do need to be careful to avoid picking up faulty goods or a dodgy deal. Always try to buy from someone near enough to collect your tent - that way you can see it erected before you part with your money. 

There are also web-based tent retailers who usually offer good prices, though will not be able to give you face-to-face advice. 

Buying at local shops and supermarkets

High street catalogue shops and supermarkets often have bargain camping kit at the start of the season - don’t rule them out. If you're on a very tight budget and just want to try camping in good weather conditions, you could do a lot worse. Though don't expect them to withstand heavy rain or gusty winds as well as a more expensive unit. You're also unlikely to be able to buy any matching spares if part of the tent breaks. And it's not unusual to accidentally break a pole when you're pitching or taking down your tent.

Halfords and some DIY chains also sell camping equipment, although the choice can be limited. You'll definitely get a better selection from a specialist outdoor retailer in your local town.

Buying privately from a classified advert

The Camping and Caravanning Club magazine has tents advertised for sale in its classified advert section. It is far better if you can go along and see the tent erected before you hand over your hard-earned cash.

From a boot sale

Don’t laugh, people do buy tents and other camping equipment at local boot sales where there are some real bargains to be had. Just make sure you check the tent carefully and see it erected if you possibly can because you won’t be able to take it back if there turns out to be something wrong with it.

So, let's continue to talk about how you go about choosing and buying your tent.