“ Brand: Blacks / Type: Tent - 3 Man „
I camped a lot as a child (and I mean a hell of a lot, for e.g. most summers we would spend 5 weeks in Ireland, camping!), so like to think I know a thing or two about tents! Having said that, I was not a keen enough camper to attempt it whilst my 3 kids were babies/toddlers, so it had been some time since I had actually purchased any camping equipment when myself and my other half set out to buy a tent, primarily for festivals, back in 2009.
I had a mental "checklist" of all the things I was looking for in our new tent, as well as a bit of paper with the dimensions of our double airbed on it (I am too old to do the carrymat, "proper" camping thing these days..it leaves me unable to walk for a few days afterwards!), and had done a little bit of an internet trawl to research the sort of tent I was looking for, but had found it difficult to tell the quality of a tent from an internet image, not to mention the fact that my other half was getting mightily cheesed off with having to outline tent dimensions with string in the back garden, as I find it almost impossible to visualise the size of something when given nothing but a few measurements to look at! So we decided to purchase our tent the "old fashioned" way and go to some actual, physical shops!
We came across this tent in a branch of Climber & Rambler in Betws-Y-Coed, helpfully already pitched so that I could get a very good idea of what I would be buying, and even more helpfully in the sale, so that we paid around £50 for it back in 2009. Blacks' website is currently retailing the tent at £84.99, which is a huge saving off their normal price of £134.99, so if you are interested in this tent it may be an idea to snap it up sooner rather than later!
Whilst I appreciate that £84.99 is rather a lot to pay for a 3-man tent, my experiences with our one have made me totally convinced that it is worth every penny. I am not normally much of a one for "labels", but had heard of Blacks before, and heard that they were good quality, before I purchased this product, and I have to say that their good reputation is very well deserved in my experience. For anyone interested in the history of the company, I have included a link at the bottom of this review.
The first thing that drew me to this particular tent was its size. The "main room" of the tent easily accommodates a double airbed, with enough room left over to store luggage etc for 2 people for around five days with no problems whatsoever (bearing in mind this was used initially for festivals, and I take tons of baggage to festivals as I am also too old to hang around for days in wet clothes, so tend to take plenty of spare clothing as well as several choices of footwear and, well, if you listen to my other half, just about everything else bar the kitchen sink!) We haven't tested putting 3 single airbeds into it, but I honestly believe this would be possible, with enough room left "length wise" in the tent to store one "hiking for a few days" size rucksack each at the foot of the beds. This was a bit of a surprise to me, as I have often found in the past that tent manufacturers' idea of how much space one person requires in a tent, and my own idea of this, vary considerably, especially when you take luggage and airbeds into consideration, but this is definitely not the case with this tent; it claims to hold 3, and I believe it would do so reasonably comfortably.
Another thing that I liked about this particular tent was the fact that it had a generous porch area attatched to the main body of the tent. Many tents with low man numbers don't seem to have this, and I felt this was something of an essential for us, as we were travelling with friends and liked the idea of having somewhere dry to sit and chat if the weather turned bad, without my having to hide away all my underwear etc for them to go into my, ahem, "bedroom"! We didn't test out camping chairs inside the tent as we didn't actually take those, but we did find that the floor area in the porch was big enough to accommodate a couple of single airbeds for us to sit on and watch the rain! It was also high enough to allow us to peel back a corner of the groundsheet and put the camping gas stove on to make a cuppa whilst we waited for the weather to change! I must say that we had the most horrendous storms with absolute downpours whilst camping in this tent, and never had a problem with leaks.
The main room of the tent has an integral groundsheet, almost, in my opinion, an essential these days and something most tents do seem to have, and the porch area also has a groundsheet, supplied with the tent, which clips onto the legs of the poles. The tent was very simple to erect as it only uses 3 poles which are colour coded. The inner of the "main room" clips to the poles which hold up the outer of the tent and is also very easy to set up; even on our first use of this tent, we had it up in around 15mins (maybe a little bit less). The tent is reasonably lightweight at 6.34kgs, and comes supplied in a bag with handles, so wasn't at all difficult to carry.
Something that this tent has which most tents do not is its "Ring LED Cyba-Lite Tent Lights" system. In all honesty I didn't even notice these to begin with, as we viewed the tent in daylight, but essentially it is a loop of LED lights, powered by a battery pack, for which there is a pocket inside the inner room of the tent. There are strings around the inside of the "bedroom" of the tent to fix the string of lights onto, which illuminate the inside of the tent. In all fairness, I honestly felt this was a bit of a gimmick rather than anything particularly useful, as the light given out by these LEDs wasn't particularly bright, and it certainly wasn't a selling point which would influence me to spend more money on a tent when a perfectly good torch can be purchased for a fiver or less, but we did find it quite convenient when we stumbled home after dark as we knew where the switch for the lights would be, so avoided having to grope about in the dark for a torch!
Overall this is a top notch tent made from fantastic quality materials, with a generous amount of space and even a lovely colour scheme (signature Blacks bright orange guylines excepted!). I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone who wants something stylish, durable and easy to put up which will easily last ten years if the last few years of my owning this are anything to go by. We have used this tent numerous times and it still looks as good as the day we bought it. The price definitely makes it more of an investment than some other tents on the market, but I believe it is totally justified for the excellent quality and design of this product.
The History of Blacks - http://www.blacksleisure.co.uk/About_Us/History/Default.aspx?id=97
Blacks Online Shop - http://www.blacks.co.uk/home.html