Thursday, 24 February 2011

The inflatable tent experiment

On previous trips I have slept in a variety of accommodation including, closed garage fore courts, a fishing hut in Dijon, cheap and expensive hotels, friends houses and of course camped. The latter is the subject of this post. I found out very early on in my touring career that when a tent manufacturer states that their tent is a one man tent, that apart from being sexist, they obviously are not talking about a 16 stone Western bloke. Even the two man tent is optimistic, unless you leave half your kit outside. So three person tent is the way forward, sorted. I have also learned to my peril, when camping in a copse on the Ridgeway, not to park the bike next to the tent on the side stand. Yep, you guessed it, it rained during the night and my bike decided to lay down next to me, narrowly missing occupants and creating another door in the tent in the process. Needless to say, that tent made a very good fire lighter in the morning and a few words where said at the cremation. New three person igloo tent purchased. Don't waste money on an expensive tent, they all deteriorate with the effects of the suns UV.

The bug bear with these type of tents given the daily erection, (no not morning duvet tent !) is the fiddly threading of poles through the sleeves of the inner tent fabric. This is an irritating delay to having a cool beer after the days ride and getting in the camp site pool. Bar and pool are criteria priority one and two when it comes to selecting a camp site. Equally irritating when packing away, eager to leave the following day. So this year I've had a brain wave. Inflatable tent.

A search on the Internet and I found two alternatives. One was discounted because, although it looked to be good quality and made in Europe, was expensive and made from canvas which would make it too heavy. The other which had a Chinese origin (AT03 - 1a), via EBay, was reasonably priced and although 8kg was conventional fire lighter material and so purchased. Apart from taking it out of it's delivered packaging the tent has been languishing in the corner of my room for 3 months. Last weekend I decided to check it out. The first thing I noticed in the bag was a massive yellow stirrup pump. That had to go, it takes up too much space and manual labour must be limited to beer drinking. I did use it however to put the tent up. The tent looked impressive in the middle of the lounge. Off to local camping shop to buy a 12v electric pump and also, an air bed repair kit, just in case my fellow biking buddies get jealous and take revenge. Mean while my wife had returned home to find that her lounge was now either a travelers camp or impromptu music festival.

I have also ditched the standard pegs that always appear to be made of malleable wire that bend the first time they are used in the hard ground of sunnier climes. My pegs look similar to six inch nails and work well with my plastic mallet. I usually only use six pegs anyway.

Oh well so much for the theory, the real test will, literally, be in the field.

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