It’s safe to say that I’m a camping novice, as I’ve never so much as accidentally fell asleep on a train on the way home, let alone survived a night under the nights sky in a tent. But with it being the summer holidays I have my two adventurous children to entertain and camping is something we’ve never tried before so we thought we’d give it a go! Skandika have a fantastic range for everything you could ever need or imagine outdoors, and so we set up camp in the back garden with our five-man tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag.
I was amazed when my doorbell rang and the postman delivered three small parcels containing our camping equipment, as each little duffel bag is hardly as big as a vacuum cleaner in size. And being the kind of person who could build a flat pack box inside out and upside down, I was ecstatic when I managed to erect my own giant tent, and it really is huge. We decided to test our tent out in the back garden for our first camping trip, mostly because I didn’t know if I’d actually be able to get it up, and also because I wasn’t sure of how the children would react to sleeping outdoors, so this way we had access to emergency toys, food and the toilet whilst still being able to enjoy the experience and test the water for a more adventurous second camp night in the woods.
Unfortunately our garden is slightly too small for the Drammen 5 Persons Dome Tent to be properly spaced and pinned, and as a result it isn’t as taut as it could have been, I think we needed an extra metre either side but the house and wall were in the way. Despite this the tent is still huge and the three of us have plenty of space to jump around, play and sleep, with it easily able to take another two or even three adults and it would be amazing for a kids sleepover of several little ones with marshmallows and beanbags.
To erect the tent I was expecting a thick book of fussy instructions, numbers to follow, diagrams and jargon, but the single sheet of paper showed just three sets of poles all joined by string that you set together. With the first two poles you lay them out in an ‘x’ shape on the floor and clip the tent body to it with plastic hooks just like hanging washing, and with the third pole you slip it through a material tube which creates a canopy to cover the entire tent and extended front area. It took me just several minutes to have the tent out of the bag, understand the instructions and pop it up for the kids to jump inside and I think that has to be a world record right there.
The tent peaks at 180cm in height which allows me to stand up in the middle and thankfully not have neck strain from sitting hunched over or feeling claustrophobic, because this is questionably just as big as a small bedroom! with a 3000mm water column it has a very generous weather protection, and despite it spitting with rain outside and the evening temperature dropping we were perfectly warm and dry inside. It has a sewn in groundsheet inside the sleeping cabin so there’s no fear of getting damp or any bugs or creepy crawlies getting in when the mosquito mesh is zipped. The front canopy has its own roll out waterproof floor that provides a handy area for shoes and toys or even a picnic table under shelter, and if you don’t want to use it you can retract it back and roll it up, fixing it out of the way with the ties on the front. Our tent is a mixture of dark and light blue and black and is so big and tall that it’s very easy to spot amongst others, with plenty of fixing points and clips that you could decorate it with some pretty bunting and fairy lights to make it extra special for little ones.
And if we thought popping the tent up was quick and easy, then getting it down was even quicker. We began by popping the poles and pegs out of the ground, lifting off the cover and unhooking the inner sheet. The tent rolls up into a small sausage and zips up into a carry bag slightly longer than a ladies handbag, with the three poles popping apart and folding up, and as they’re all strung together there’s no fear of losing parts or essential pieces. It all fits into the compact bag and can store in the footwell of the car with plenty of space let over for passengers feet.
Within our tent we have a Blue Night Superior Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat which is essentially a foam double bed sewn down the middle that pumps itself up without the need of an air pump or tools, and it rolls back up to the size of a single pillow when you’re done. With a valve fitted on each side all you have to do is unscrew the cap and it begins to whistle as it quickly sucks in the air all by itself. When it’s done you simply screw the cap back up and hey presto, a double bed. The mat is 7.5cm thick which is a great base to even out bumpy ground for a good nights sleep, and being made from polyester it’s tough, hard wearing and lovely to sleep on, along with a non slip base.
Not only does the mat make a great bed for sleeping, it’s also handy to sit on for all day use. With my little ones often playing with sticks and stones that they scavenge I don’t have to worry about them popping it like they might a flimsy air bed, as it very much resembles a sponge or foam mat at a gym, just with air inside too for extra comfort. The children are able to sit, jump, sleep and play on it and it makes all the difference for having a comfortable base to sleep on as there’s nothing worse than back and shoulder pain on a hard floor to ruin your day. To put it away when we’re finished we just undo the two caps, roll it up into a sausage to squeeze out the air and screw the caps back on. It packs neatly away into a waterproof bag with two ties around the middle and my daughter can easily carry it and use it as a pillow in the car.
We also have a Vegas Black And Orange Sleeping Bag which measures 220x110cm and can be zipped to another bag to create a double sleeping bag thanks to its dual zips. The single sleeping bag that we have is generously large and I would compare it more to a snug double in size, rather than a single person as myself and the two children can fit inside to sleep safe and snug.
The bag is incredibly soft and squishy like clouds captured in silk and it feels wonderful on the skin. I always imagined camping equipment to be rather plasticy and stiff as it has to be tough and practical for all weather conditions, but this is more like a cosy duvet at home for comfort with all of the technical design features that you would expect of an outdoor bed. The sleep pod is beautifully warm and snug and we kept ours unzipped to use as more of a blanket because it was a mild evening and there was no wind chill in the tent. It includes an all-round zip baffle, cosy hood and stuff sack to pack it away, and the black outer is practically wipe clean and stitched in a grid to keep constant airflow and warmth throughout. The inner orange lining is surprisingly warm, taking the heat from our bodies and maintaining a warmth that kept us dry without cold and warm without being sweaty. It brings a little home comfort to the great outdoors and is wonderful to sink into after a long day of playing and exploring.
Our first camping trip was a great success thanks to Skandika and we’re now confident to go exploring a little further afield. It makes all the difference to have quality equipment that keeps you warm, safe and dry so that you can sleep in comfort and play all day long. A wonderful way to spend a lazy summer day with the family.