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Well, I blinked, and Summer was over, but I did manage to get quite burned on the scorching days we DID have. And as I gave birth to my little girl in late March, I though best to invest in a UV tent for the beach and for days out, as it is recommended to keep babies out of direct sunlight when the sun is at it's hottest (and only for 20 minutes when it is not, so they get their vitamin D boost).
So, hubby and I went for the Coleman Sundome Tent with UV Guard Beach Shelter for a reasonable (at the time) £19 from Amazon.co.uk with free next day delivery with Prime. This we thought was a good price, though I have seen Tesco selling a blue own brand one for around £10 via their Direct catalogue. This one at least, however, is made to last.
The Beach Shelter is sort of like a half-tent, which is put up with very very lightweight fibreglass poles. They are easy to put up (unlike your average tent!) into sand, or soil / grass for use when camping or on a picnic / long walk. It's light to carry at 5kg and large when erected - 55.2 x 13 x 12 cm, enough for myself, husband and baby. It comes complete with a floor mat which is quite thin and not really for comfort, just for cleanliness / dryness sake. You'd need to put something down to sit on, unless you were on soft sand or ground. It's ideal for kids to play on, though.
The colour is a khaki green, typical 'outdoor' colour suitable for all - maybe it would have been nicer to have a choice of colours but it's certainly inoffensive enough and if I'd chosen a bright colour my husband would have been reluctant to take it out!
It's hard-wearing, and sure enough the UV filter meant that my daughter was protected from the sun's harmful rays (though I'd recommend using a sun block and eye protection also on very hot / bright days).
I can see this being very useful not only for those with children but for campers, fishermen, travellers or just for people to sit in the back garden when it's hot, read a book and not burn. Overall I am glad we bought it, yes you can get cheaper versions but this one is very sturdy, well made, and built to last, and we will get many years of use out of it. Four out of five stars, if you are looking for a UV tent, then I really can't find any reason not to recommend this one to you :)
The Coleman Sun Dome is a beach tent / windbreak with UV protection. My one year old doesn't take kindly to having sun lotion smeared on him, and I think those all-in-one total-body-cover sun suits are a bit over the top, so during that 10 days or so last summer when the weather was nice enough for people to start to worry about their kids getting sunburned, one day when we went to the beach we picked up this to act as a somewhat sun-proof shelter on the way.
It cost approx. £20 from the local independent camping shop ('Attwools') and we chose it specifically because the canopy is supposed to block (at least some proportion) of harmful UV rays. The features of the shelter, some of which I was unaware of despite owning the tent, and which I have therefore cut-and-pasted directly from its product page on Amazon.co.uk as these may be of use to other people, are as follows:
-Sand pockets allow the user to anchor the tent down on beaches and soft ground.
- Groundsheet zips on and off the flysheet, keep contents safe and dry when zipped up.
- UV Guard on the flysheet - Certified laboratory testing proves Coleman UV Guard Protection fabrics provide excellent protection against the sun's ultraviolet rays.
- Aluminised PE groundsheet - doesn't get hot and burn your feet.
- Polyester 185T flysheet
- It features fibreglass poles.
- Brass eyelets for pole insertion provide extra strength and reliability.
- Carrybag type: Tubular with draw cord opening
- Living area: 3.4 m², Headroom: 118 cm
My own review continues from this point. In my opinion, the overall colour isn't brilliant. It's a sort of dingy greyish green, I don't know who selected that as being a potentially good idea. It comes in long, flimsy zippered bag - much like most budget-range tents are packaged in. The groundsheet part (made of black, woven, tarpaulin-like material) permanently attached to the grey-green, synthetic 'upper shell'. There are two sets of poles - made of thin flexible plastic lengths, strung on elastic that all slot together in sequence - so that part's all fairly idiot proof.
While the thing is reasonably easy to put up once you have a good idea what the tent's supposed to look like, this isn't immediately obvious the first time you try to erect the sundome, and the instructions that come with it aren't quite detailed enough to make this clear. Initially, it goes up using the same methods as a budget 'dome' tent, ie. you thread the rods through 'tubes' sewn into the fabric of the canopy so there is little room for error, but the rods are secured in place differently to a dome tent. Unfortunately I didn't get a good look at the example sundome they had set up in the shop: once up the canopy sits off the ground like the top part of an open clam shell; in shape it's vaguely reminiscent of one of the sweeping 'hood' shapes from Sydney Opera House. The two ends of the tent poles just 'hang in place' at the highest point of the arch of the open front of the tent (there are sturdy webbing slots sewn to the canopy to keep them in place), keeping the domed structure of the tent erected mainly by the tension in the tent-poles themselves.
The sundome comes with a few guy ropes, and a good number of aluminium tent pegs, which work to some extent to keep the tent in place if you put it up over a patch of hard-packed damp sand. Unfortunately if it's at all windy - and at the beach in Britain when is it not windy - the tent quickly pulls loose from its moorings even if you've pegged it down well into damp sand. There are pockets sewn at the base of the tent that you can fill with sand - or better yet, rocks - to help stabilize it, and there's enough material at the base to allow you to put on additional rocks to anchor it too. Of course once you're sitting in the tent, that'll help keep it in place too.
Inside the tent is surprisingly roomy: you can get a couple of adults lying flat in it (it's actually designated as a three-person shelter, in fact). If you position it correctly on the beach it works well as a windbreak (and if you're lying in it to get out of the wind, that helps stabilize it). It also can be zipped shut to give a notional barrier on the beach against theft - if you happen to leave it unoccupied for a while!
The tent comes down quickly but - as is typical for all budget-type tents - it's unnecessarily difficult to get it back into the bag it came in. You have to roll the fabric part up round the poles very tightly indeed. Given that the fabric used to make the carry-bag is so flimsy, I can't believe it would be expensive to make it just that bit bigger, so that the tent could be re-packed a bit more easily. That would make life a bit more straightforward, when it's time to pack up and go home.
This is a good piece of beach day out / holiday equipment, compact and lightweight (at just under 2kg) enough to take on holiday abroad if you're going somewhere sunny. It can live happily enough in the boot of your car, and even if you have a teeny-tiny-booted model such as a Vauxhall Astra, like we do, it still seems to occupy a negligible amount of space.