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I'm off to a Festival in late august and am looking for a cheap festival tent. I'm not exactly asking you guys what I should buy, more about the considerations I should take into account.

Some details:

  • Preferably under £50 and obtainable in the UK (ideally online)
  • I'll throw it away after one use
  • Preferably lightweight and extremely easy to set up. I would literally like to throw it on the floor and it pops up.
  • Size doesn't matter, as long as it can fit myself in comfortably (5'9)
  • I don't particularly care for comfort, but I don't want to get wet, the tent to break, etc.

What do I need to look for in a tent? Where are the best sites? Amazon? Any tents that are known for being awesome for festivals?

  • 2
    Why not just rent one? – whatsisname Jul 25 '14 at 1:15
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    @whatsisname also distinct chance it will get broken when some drunk person falls right on it. – nivag Jul 25 '14 at 8:36
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    If you throw the tent away recycle it. Don't just leave it in the field for someone else to clean up for you, please! – user2766 Jul 25 '14 at 9:00
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    Yeah just do the usual festival thing of chucking/littering the brand new tent after one use, thats just STUPID. Save the tent for later or sell it (or don't buy one) – Wilf Jul 28 '14 at 23:01
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    £50 sounds quite pricey for a one-man "disposable" festival tent?! I saw a display of a load of tents at the local garden centre recently (UK) and there was a small "festival tent" for less than £20 - it was pink though! Why throw it away? I've taken my tent to several festivals around the UK in the past (Glasters, Reading, ...) and it's survived pretty good! ;) – MrWhite Aug 10 '14 at 2:12
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Blacks / Millets do festival pop up tents (take it out the bag and it literally pops up) and pole system tents in your price range by Eurohike and Vango, who are both good well known brands. Bear in mind for that price range I don't see you getting anything that will have brilliant reviews.

You'll be able to buy them brand new so shouldn't have to worry about leaks / getting too wet. But remember it's a festival in the UK, the Gods of British Camping and Festivals will likely make it rain, and with all those people it will get muddy - but you can't blame the tent for that if it seeps through when you are only going to spend £50.

Since you are only planning to throw it away after you might even go for the £20 on sale tents they have on offer. I wouldn't say at this price range you really need to worry about what to look for - especially since you are going to use and bin it.

Blacks Festival Tents also @user3840692 also linked to Sports Direct which is where I get a lot of my Karrimor gear from.

What my fiance an I usually look for in a tent (based on a mix of Car Camping and planning to future Wild Camp):

  • Space inside
  • Hydrostatic Head (Ours is only 2000mm - this is to do with how much water it can take before leaking > Hydrostatic Heads)
  • Footprints/groundsheets + their Hydrostatic Heads - our groundsheet is 5000mm
  • How heavy the tent is
  • Size dimentions when the tent is up (in the UK you can in some campsites pay more for a bigger tent pitch, happened to us at Haven)

Bear in mind at a festival you might not get to choose your pitch like you can in some campsites. I don't know which one you are going to but usually they are just rented out farmers fields, but if you can be picky with your pitch:

  • Try and avoid any stones or overly bumpy ground, many people put extra footprints or tarp under their tents to help protect the tent itself but you will not likely be able to do this at a festival.
  • Try and avoid being in a big dip in the ground, although we're flat here in the UK in places many fields are also floodplains.
  • Nice detailed answer. – Tom Collins Jul 25 '14 at 11:51
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In Germany, cheaper pop-up tents like this are quite popular for festivals. I would never buy one, though, for the following reasons:

  • Every tent of those I have seen have been very prone to breaking. A friend of mine just discovered his (brand new one) was broken when he arrived on the campground. Because the poles are fixed inside you can´t even improvise and repair them with duct tape.

  • They are often more expensive than comparable cheap tents.

  • Setting up a modern, regular tent, even a very cheap one, is done in five minutes. Not that much of discomfort, especially compared with repairing broken poles on a throw tent.

  • They often have a strange form when packed (big, wheel-shaped), which can´t be fit in any backpack. Probably not a problem if you get there by car, but for public transport or hitch-hiking or if you have to walk to get to the campground I wouldn´t like it.

I would strongly advise against buying any pop-up tents. Many festivals, although short and not comparable with "real" outdoor use, are a rough ground where many things can break due to alcohol and other drugs. And these tents are ridiculously unstable.

The tent I have used for many festivals without any problems is a standard two-person iglu tent like the one shown below, available for around 25€, well below your price margin. It is easy to set up (5 minutes), more robust and cheaper than pop-up tents and gets the job done. You will have to look for a reseller on your own, though, but probably just searching for iglu tent will do the job.

For ecological reasons, you might consider buying a used tent, so you don´t throw away something brand new.

2 person iglu tent

  • Good answer, but your link doesn't seem to work. – henning May 11 '17 at 5:26
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I also hadn't thought of tent hire.

Quick search gives http://www.tent2hire.co.uk/ and http://www.campinggearhire.co.uk/ for UK services.

Cost about £20-30 for a weekend + ~£100 deposit for a 2-3 man tent. The deposit would make me nervous about taking a tent like that to a festival. Depends what sort of festival it is though...

As mentioned by Aravona I would probably get a cheap/popup tent from Blacks/Millets.

  • 1
    Deposit would worry me also, especially with drunk festival goers and the usual post festival pictures you see, but still an option. – Aravona Jul 25 '14 at 11:16
4

Most small tents these days are pretty easy to set up, but you will have to do a little more than just "throw it at the ground". :-)

In the US, we have a retail chain called Walmart that sells pretty cheap stuff. This is where I would go. I don't think they're in the UK. Maybe you have something similar.

Some things to look for:

  • What kind of weather will it be. If it's going to be warm/hot, you'll want something that has big windows to catch any breeze.
  • Do you need to store your gear inside your tent? If so, plan on that space. Some tents have a vestibule outside that will protect your gear from rain, so you don't have to store inside the tent.
  • Is it possible you'll have company? If so, plan on that as well.

Have fun

  • Walmart is in the UK under the chain Asda. – Aravona Jul 25 '14 at 7:32
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    If it's going to be warm/hot totally never been to a festival in the UK. Mud and rain are your biggest concerns. – user2766 Jul 25 '14 at 8:56
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I would look for a 2 person tent for a single Person. So you have more comfort and also more space for your backpack and things. The shape is not very important for a festival. Only bring some color tapes with you to mark the strings, otherwise all people will walk over and into your strings and then destroy your tent.

If you want something that is very fast look for pop up tents. They are open in a sec. You can throw them in the air and they will open itself.

On this webshop you should find some of this tents.

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