It turns out that three people and two dogs do not fit comfortably in an Outwell Arizona L – a three man dome. This was the discovery I made on a family camping weekend away a few months ago in Peak District. Originally bought for two people (and a dog), what I liked about the Arizona L was that I could stand up in it and it had a porch to shelter from the inevitable rain , but it was time to accept that my needs had outgrown it. So, after a bit of research, I bought a Kampa Carbis 5 from Camping World and took it on my trip to Cornwall.
I wanted a family tent with a sleeping compartment that could comfortably sleep three adults with room to spare, had a decent sized living area, that I could stand up in (I am 6’3), was reasonably priced and would last more than a few years. Initially I started by looking at the larger Outwell tents but was slightly disappointed – whilst the quality was good, the shape of the living area meant that the usable space was less than the actual size of the tent. They were also quite expensive – especially if you wanted extras like a porch or awning.
Then I discovered Kampa – not a brand name I had heard of before (I believe they originally specialised in caravanning equipment). A representative from Camping World told me that their tents, which they have been doing for a couple of years, were proving popular and the feedback was positive, and this was backup by the few reviews I could find on the web.
The Kampa Carbis 5 is a five berth tunnel tent with a three man and a two man compartment, measuring 180cm and 150cm by 210cm, with a dividing zip barrier between the two. The main living space, excluding the sleeping area, is 290cm by 330cm, and there is a porch included (a further 130cm by 330cm). One of the features I really liked the idea of is the removable front door – it’s primary position is between the living area and the porch, however you can move it to the front of the porch increasing the size of the living area (or remove it completely). The tent is available for £339 from Camping World.
On arrival at our campsite, Kinrowan Park in Cornwall (review to follow), we unpacked the beast (it weights 27kg). It was quite simple to put up – essentially consisting of five parallel fibreglass poles that you stretch out (aided by two inner steel poles lengthways) and stake down. The marketing photos do make it look more like a greenhouse (with all the window blinds up), but in the flesh it looks much more tent like. I was impressed with the quality of the tent – the heavy duty zips and taped seams, and the finishing touches: the electrics port and cable ties for a hanging light, the tent organiser and the included poles to turn the side door into a canopy (oddly not advertised as a feature). The Carbis 5 has a bathtub groundsheet but, as the front door is removable, there are Velcro fittings to seal it to the door – these took a few attempts to get a nice seal.
Then it rained, and rained, and rained… all evening and all night.
Generally the tent kept the water out, although there were a few small puddles forming underneath the front two windows – it was hard to identify exactly where the water was leaking in from, either from the seams or where the vent supports put pressure against the tent (the vents were misshaped from being squished in the tent bag). It was a minor annoyance rather than a disaster – the tent instructions also have a paragraph about ‘your expectations’ regarding the seams, and we later found some sealant included with the tent that would have solved the problem.
Unfortunately, after our single night in the tent, disaster struck. Whilst we were out for the day, Cornwall was battered by strong winds and we returned to the camp site (after a call from the owners) to find the tent had collapsed. The wind had changed direction since we put the tent up and was side on, and the winds were so fierce that the entire tent appeared to be bending flat in the strongest gusts (the strongest the camp site owners had seen on their site). Ultimately it proved too much for the fibreglass poles which eventually snapped, shearing the steal poles – later inspection showed the tent was otherwise undamaged other than a small tear in the sleeping compartment that’s easily fixed.
On later analysis, I do not think either the tent nor our pitching were to blame – I am not sure any tent of that type and size would have survived those winds (and the instructions do mention the tent is designed for reasonable weather not storms). I have to give Kampa maximum kudos (and my thanks) – after hearing what had happened on Twitter, they offered to replace the damaged poles free of charge. The camp site also came to the rescue and rented their cottage on site to us at a discounted rate, saving our holiday.
So, on first impressions and after one night, I am thus far pleased with the Kampa Carbis 5, and I am looking forward to future trips in it in the future (hopefully later in the Summer). I am also very impressed with Kampa as a company for their customer service – worth a second look if you are in the market for a new family tent.