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Zempire Evo tent series

An open-plan design with multiple ventilation points, the Zempire Evo range is ideal for family camping this summer.

Built to last with SeroLink beam technology and tough 150D fly fabric.

With their small pack size, the Zempire Evo range offers a fantastic combination of flexibility and connectivity.

Zempire EV TXL V2 Tent

The Zempire Evo TXL V2 Tent has a spacious full head-height living area, large front awning and versatile Multi-Room bedroom system. Sleeping 6 (comfort) and 8 (with the optional inner) it is the perfect family tent to get away and relax at the campsite.

Zempire Evo
Zempire Evo TXL V2 Tent 2022

Zempire EV TL V2 Tent

The Zempire Evo TL V2 Tent sleeps 4 (comfort) and 5 (maximum) but with the same fantastic spec as the TXL.

Zempire Evo
Zempire Evo TL V2 Tent 2022

Zempire EV TM V2 Tent

A new look for a mid range tent, the Zempire Evo TM V2 Tent is the perfect tent for couples or small families sleeping 3 (comfort) and 4 (maximum).

Zempire Evo
Zempire Evo TM V2 Tent 2022

The Zempire Evo series offers loads of innovative features to make your camping experience better than ever.

The light-diffusing bedroom fabric means uninterrupted sleep and the low and high ventilation helps reduce condensation and keep the tent at a more comfortable temperature. This range of tents has everything you need for any adventure.

The inflatable airframe makes erecting these tents easier than ever. The Pro Series Pump is included in the bag.

The angled beam construction offers improved wind stability and headspace throughout the tent giving you peace of mind in all weathers. The material is highly waterproof as well as being treated with a UV blocker.

Improve your tent with these optional extras:

Zempire is a New Zealand camping empire built by husband and wife team Richard and Sophie Knauf. From small beginnings, a dedication to smart design has seen this Kiwi company build a global community of devoted fans.

Strength and durability are essentials for any great outdoors product – but it’s the dedication to design that makes Zempire something special. All Zempire products are meticulously constructed for ease of use, packability, and extra comfort. Every detail is considered. What’s more, they look great and are fun to use.

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Buying a Self-Inflating Mat for your Campervan

Getting a good night’s sleep when you’re away camping is really important and helps to make sure the rest of your holiday goes well. So why not upgrade your sleeping setup with a Self-Inflating Mat?

Self-inflating mats have become really popular over the last few years because they’re easy to use and durable. These mats also add a level of comfort and warmth you won’t find with a standard airbed. Available in a range of different thicknesses depending on your needs, starting from the lightweight backpacking 3cm thick up to 10cm/12cm thick for the more glamping campers.

So, what is a self-inflating mat?

The self-inflating part of the mat comes from a sheet of foam inside which the air has been ‘rolled’ out of to give a compact size. All you need to do is unroll the mat, open the valve and let the air be ‘sucked’ back in, it’s that simple. We offer a range of single and double SIMs from Outdoor Revolution, Vango, Outwell and Kampa.

Will one fit in the back of my campervan?

Lots of smaller campervans such as VWT4s and T5s use rock –‘n’ roll beds or have beds that are narrower than a standard double self-inflating mat. Vango and Outdoor Revolution have got around this issue and produced self-inflating mats specifically for campervans.

New For 2022, the Vango California Pop sleeping mat is created from 75 Denier, soft, brushed fabric and constructed from 5cm of insulating foam for a comfortable night’s sleep. It features a twist valve for easy inflation and deflation and a Fast Pack Carry Bag to make putting away your mat really easy.

The Vango California Rock and Roll self-inflating mat features 75D Peach Brushed fabric with soft, elastic fabric sides, ensuring a luxurious sleep. With its 3D construction and thick insulation foam for added warmth and comfort the California provides a real home-from-home sleeping experience.

New from Outdoor Revolution, the Camp Star Top of the Pop self-inflating sleeping mat is designed to fit in the roof space of your van. Ideal for the Pop Top bed however because of the extra deep 7.5cm dimensions, it will need to be taken out and folded away when not in use. The mat is inflated through 2 simple and reliable brass inflation valves located in the bottom corners which screw tight to lock in the air overnight. Easy to use, compact and more comfortable than other specific Pop Top self-inflating mats on the market. Available in 100mm and 75mm widths.

The Outdoor Revolution Camp Star Rock and Roll self-inflating mat allows you to get a more comfortable night’s sleep in the van. It features a robust Peach polyester on both the fabric top and base making it reversible and can be used in Continental campervans. Constructed from a 10cm deep flat foam with horizontal drill holes making it lighter and more compressible in use. The mat is inflated through 2 patented one-way Cyclone Valves located at the bottom of the mat that effortlessly inflate and deflate the mat quickly and efficiently.

In this video, Roger shows you the Outdoor Revolution Camp Star Rock’n’Roll Self-Inflating mat:

If like us, the rock ‘n’ roll bed in your campervan is wider than 100mm, then take a look at the Outwell Dreamspell Double Airbed. This airbed has a deep profile 3D shape for a great night’s sleep. It also features the Outwell Flat High-Flow Valve and mattress-like home from home sleep comfort. Lightweight and compact pack size make it ideal for any camping trip.

Roger took a look at the Dreamspell Double Airbed and demonstrates how it fits brilliantly in our van:

Our experienced team can help you to choose the right self-inflating mat for your campervan. We have a great selection instore and we’re always happy to take time to discuss your requirements and show you around.

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Choosing a tent

Whether you’re buying your very first tent, or upgrading to bigger and better things, choosing a tent can be daunting.

As we’re experienced campers with years of practise in camping as a couple and as a family we can help you to choose the best style and make of tent for you and your family. Here we’ve put together our top tips for choosing a tent…

If it’s at all possible, try and have a look around at a tent display, especially if you’ve got no ideas at all as to your preference. It can really help to visualise the size too. Our tent display is open now and we erect many different styles and sizes of tents.

choosing a tent - our tent display in Barnstaple
A small part of our Barnstaple tent display

Look closely at the differences between air tents and poled tents – with an air tent the steel or fibre glass poles are replaced with a beam that is inflated with an electric or hand pump.   Whichever pump you choose, the tent goes up in a matter of minutes – just peg out and you’re done. 

Air tents come as a single unit that you plug in a pump and in a matter of minutes you have a solid free-standing structure to peg out and you’re done. 

Traditional poled tents usually take a little longer to assemble as you’ll need to thread the poles through the sleeves on the tent before guying the tent out. 

In terms of pitching, the benefits lie with the air tent as one person can take care of it with relative ease. However just bear in mind, that it can be heavier, as the tent will be in one bag, unlike your poled tent which will usually be split across two bags making it easier to carry.

  • We advise that you ignore the number of berths suggested by the manufacturer and look closely at the size of the bedroom areas instead. For a comfortable space, allow approximately 80cm width for a single air bed and 140cm for a double. 

When you’re choosing a tent, think about how many people you’ll be sleeping, allowing for a bit of extra room to move around too.

  • Where are the bedrooms? Do you want them adjacent to each other or separate? If the bedrooms are separate then each area has a bit more privacy but adjacent is good if you have younger children and might need to get to them quickly in the night.  Often adjacent bedrooms mean that two bedrooms can be opened up so that you have one large room – a useful option if you’re not sure how small children will cope on their first camping trip.

Some tents now have blackout bedrooms, which make them very dark – so dark that you really can’t see very much at all!  If your family have a habit of waking early in the mornings, this may be an advantage.

  • Storage is an important consideration, especially if you are camping with the family. Extra bedrooms and annexes are good for keeping items like clothing, rucksacks and toys out of the way.
  • What’s the standing height like? Unless you’re very restricted on pack size and weight, there is no reason to have a tent that you can’t stand up in. Check that the inner height of the tent (not the outer figures which are sometimes shown) is greater than your actual height. The height in the sleeping areas is sometimes lower which is usually fine, as you’re lying down for the majority of the time.
  • What’s the inside space like? If you are able to take a look around the erected tent in advance, go inside, zip it up and imagine you and your family all inside when it’s raining outside. Is it big enough? Will you feel claustrophobic or can you sit the family down around a table and play some board games to keep yourself entertained? 

Also have a look and see whether the tent you like has a canopy or doors that can be used as a canopy. These are useful as it means the doors can be left open even during a shower of rain, giving you a dry entry point, prevents soggy gear and means your view of the outside isn’t hampered.

  • We never advise cooking inside your tent.  Safety must come first, so a good-sized porch or a separate day tent is a sensible idea for your camp kitchen.
  • Think about how you’ll transport your tent from home to the campsite. Take a look at the packed size and weight.  Will it fit in your car along with all your other camping equipment, clothes and food. 
  • You may want to consider the size of tent you need compared to the size you want!  You can pay more for a bigger pitch at certain campsites.
  • Do you need to be able to pitch the tent on your own?  If so, you may want to consider buying a smaller more manageable tent, or consider buying an air tent.  These can be pitched very quickly and easily by one person.
  • Most family tents pitch outer first.  But if you are looking at buying a small tent, consider whether it is inner or outer pitch first.  If it’s inner first, then it’s harder to keep the inside dry if it’s raining whilst you’re pitching it.
  • Water resistance or proofing in nylon and synthetic tents is rated in HH figures i.e. HH3000, HH4000 etc. We advise that anything over 3000HH will be adequate. Don’t get confused by the rating of the groundsheet which is sometimes given (this is usually much higher) – it is the flysheet HH rating that you need to check.
  • Nearly all bedroom pods have a built-in groundsheet to keep bugs and draughts out while you sleep. In most modern family tents this is extended to the living space as well and is called a sewn-in groundsheet or SIG. The other option is a loose or removable groundsheet in the living area which might not be quite so cosy. 
  • A porch can be a godsend if you need to keep wet and muddy pets or things like pushchairs and bikes out of the main tent. Porches usually have removable groundsheets so you can take them out to clean them or just leave them out altogether.
  • In the UK it’s important to think about rainy weather when you’re choosing a tent but it’s also a good idea to give some thought to really hot weather (we do have some occasionally!)  Look for good ventilation to avoid too much condensation.  This is unavoidable at times when the weather is particularly cold and damp at night, especially if your tent is full to capacity with people and pets.  Good ventilation also helps keep the tent cooler in summer.  Fly mesh on doors can also help reduce condensation, as doors can be left open, but insects will be kept out.

Canvas and cotton tents are more breathable than polyester and so stay cooler in the summer.  If a hotter destination is on the cards, it’s definitely something to consider.

  • Is your tent of choice from a reliable and reputable manufacturer? There’s a good reason why some companies have been around for many years and that’s because they produce good quality products that will give you the best time on your precious holidays. 

Read the reviews! You’ll find invaluable information and first-hand recommendations from people actually using the product.

We understand that choosing a tent can be an investment, and with so many different types, shapes, sizes and features on offer it can be quite daunting. Our experienced team are here to help whether it’s in store or online – you only have to ask!

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Vango Earth Collection

Have you checked out the Vango Earth range of tents made from single use waste plastic?

Vango have invested a lot of time in developing signature quality products that have a positive impact on the environment.

A key focus for a long time at Vango has been the environment, leading to the introduction of the new 2021 Earth Collection, bringing a collection of AirBeam® and poled tents together, with one key theme, they are all made from recycled single use plastics. The collection launches our new Sentinel Eco fabric, reducing plastic waste from the environment.

Find out more about the process by having a look at the Vango blog

Vango Joro

Available for pre-order is the Vango Joro 4 and 6 man poled and air tents

Vango Joro Air 600XL Tent 2021
Vango Earth collection

Vango Aether

Available for pre-order is the Vango Aether 4 man poled tent as well as 6 man poled and air tents

Vango Aether Air 600XL Tent 2021
Vango Earth collection

Roger took a closer look at the collection in this video

Our range of Vango tents includes the Earth range which are available to preorder now.

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Camping with a dog

Camping with a dog

If you’re looking for some company on your next camping trip, then look no further than man’s best friend. Camping with a dog is like taking them on the best way they’ve ever had!

Tips for camping with a dog

Camping with your dog can be a fantastic experience. Masses of outdoor space to explore, sniff, run around in, mark out some territory. 

If you’re camping on your own then you’ll have some great company and a security guard, while families will have an energetic playmate for the kids. 

If you’re thinking of camping with your dog for the first time, then it’s a good idea to prepare properly. Your dog, of course, needs to be healthy, vaccinated, good with people and other dogs and have good recall.

And of course, you must clean up after them.

Lots of campsites that allow dogs, ask that they’re kept on a lead, especially if it’s on a farm with livestock. You must be respectful of these rules.

Some campsites offer dog-walking areas so you can exercise away from the other campers. 

The Camping & Caravanning Club have a great list of dog friendly campsites on their website here.

It’s also a good idea to check any restrictions in the area. For example, many beaches ban dogs at certain times so it’s useful to know where you can and can’t go together. These rules are often relaxed in the autumn. If you’re going to visit the beach for the day, portable dog tents are a great way of providing some shade – these should have plenty of ventilation though.  These can be used back at the tent too – a space of their own to relax in.

As well as poo bags, make sure you bring a supply of towels in case your dog needs a clean-up before they’re allowed in the main tent.

Have a think about sleeping arrangements too. Ideally, you’d invest in a tent with a porch or separate compartment for the dog to sleep but make sure there’s no gaps so that you can keep him secure at night.  Sewn in groundsheets will help with this.

Never leave your dog unattended in the tent – it can get very hot under canvas!

Windbreaks act as a good form of enclosure.  If you can set them up correctly, eliminating gaps and providing some shade, they are often a great way to ensure your best friend safely gets some air.

Here’s a list of things you should definitely take with you on your doggy camping trip:

  • A collar with your contact number and leads – particularly if you’re at a campsite where dogs must be kept on a lead.
  • Food (and water if your campsite doesn’t have a standpipe)
  • Dog bowls
  • Poop bags – make sure you dispose of the responsibly too.
  • Towels
  • A dog tent, portable crate, a favourite rug or basket
  • A method of securely tethering your dog at night or while you’re cooking or eating.
  • Energy for plenty of walks!
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Enjoy wet weather camping

Wet weather camping needn’t be a drag. A camping holiday is a fantastic escape from the stresses and strains of real life. Hanging out altogether, as a family and exhausted at night from all the fresh air and fun!

The reality can be a little bit different, however. Make sure that if the rain doesn’t stop play with our top ideas for wet weather camping 

1. Invest in proper rain gear

Where would we all be without wellies and waterproofs? Rather than take shower-proof jackets on your trip invest in proper waterproof gear, including trousers, for the whole family. Tucked into boots they’ll keep kids warm and completely dry, opening up a world of outdoor fun in the downpour. 

2. Book a campsite with a good laundry facilities

No one wants to put on damp clothes or soggy footwear. You’ll have a bunch of unhappy campers on your hands if they’re pulling on wet gear. Drying out clothing can be a challenge for wet weather campers. Make sure you do your research and book a campsite with decent laundry facilities and covered drying areas. 

3. Pack plenty of newspaper to help dry footwear

Footwear always dries out best when toes are stuffed with newspapers. Help boots along by having an old newspaper or two stashed in the car. Be sure to pack extra socks too. There’s nothing like cold, wet feet to put everyone in a bad mood.

4. Shine a light on things

Rainy weather can bring dark skies and poor light, even in the middle of the day. Pack extra batteries for torches which may get lots of use. 

5. Make sure you don’t get cabin fever

Whether you’re staying in a caravan, mobile home, campervan or tent, rainy weather can bring cabin fever. You may need to hide out temporarily, but if the rain looks set to be a long-term prospect you really will need to get everyone on a trip outdoors. If you’ve packed the right gear you can set off exploring knowing everyone will remain relatively dry. 

6.Have a Plan B for barbecuing

Take a stash of non-perishable food that can tide you over if barbecuing is a no-no. Pack plenty of snacks too which can re-energise water-weary children. If bad weather prevents any outdoor cooking at all make sure you a bit of an emergency budget set aside for a dash to the local chippy!

7. Make fun of the rain

A wet weather walk can be great fun, so long as you don’t make it too long for younger members of the family. Forests, beaches, lakes and villages all change in the rain. Encourage splashing in puddles and games of poo sticks off bridges. By making the rain a feature of your games it becomes a fun thing rather than an annoyance. 

8. Plan a rainy-day bag

Camping is all about travelling light, no matter whether you’re pitching a tent or enjoying a fully furnished mobile home. However, it would be foolish to leave home without a rainy-day bag. This can be your survival kit for days when you’re stuck indoors. Depending on the kids’ ages include colouring books, paper, pens, puzzle books and card games. A favourite family board game is always a winner but avoid one with lots of little pieces which may get lost. 

9. Bring a laptop, for emergencies only!

As a last resort a fully charged portable DVD player or laptop can be used for movie time. Camping allows kids to escape the technology that increasingly dominates their lives, so only fall back on this one as a last resort. 

10. Try swimming in the rain

Swimming in the rain is a wonderful experience – find an outdoor pool and give it a try! 

You can’t predict the weather for your next camping trip, but you can adopt the Scout’s motto and ‘be prepared’. Rain doesn’t mean your holiday is a wash-out. 

Do be sensible and stay safe though and avoid camping in storm force winds!

We’d love to hear your top rainy camping tips!

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Campsite cooking recipes and tips

Campsite cooking can be an afterthought when you’re on a holiday or you might think it’s just too much of an effort to cook under canvas and head for the local chippy.

But there are few things more satisfying than cooking a hearty, healthy meal for the family to enjoy using an outdoor camping stove or barbecue. With just a little organisation and planning, you can eat like a king and avoid overpriced and often not-so-tasty take aways.

Let’s get cooking…

A camp stove is an essential. Bring a coffee pot, two lightweight pans – one for liquids the other for frying – and bring the lids too. We stock plates and mugs that are perfect for camping. 

Remember to pack cutlery, a small chopping board, a sharp knife, a spatula and a large spoon

Don’t forget matches or a lighter, and a plastic bag for rubbish. Pack everything in a plastic container, throw in a few tea towels and some cleaning equipment and you’re all set.

Keeping cool…

You’ll need a cool box to store your frozen and refrigerated items, try to open it as little as possible. 

Another top tip is to freeze a few things in advance: a pint of milk or orange juice for example. As it gradually defrosts it will help to keep your other food items cold. 

Plan your meals…

Plan your meals efficiently and only bring what you need. Reusable silicone bags and Tupperware containers of pre-measured and prepped ingredients will make your life a lot easier.

A couple of weekends ago we had a visit from Jo Dunbavin from the Two Tarts Cookery School. She gave some live demos of meals that are perfect for camping (or cooking up in the garden at home). 

Jo gave us some fantastic campsite cooking ideas so follow the links below for downloadable recipe cards with ingredients and instructions for each meal:
• Camping Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya
• Camping Chicken Noodle Pots
• Camping Crispy Pork with Coriander Rice
• Camping Lamb Kofta Kebabs
• Camping Sweet Potato Dahl
• Camping Summer Fruit Fool with Crunchy Oats

So, if you are trying to find food your kids will eat while camping and caravanning, planning a solo backpacking or festival trip or just looking for ideas to cook and eat alfresco at home, we have everything you need to eat like a king (except of course, the ingredients!)