Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Trailer Tents: best of both worlds

What sleeping arrangements are the best fit for you and your family’s travel and camping needs? Trailer tents might just be the sweet spot between a costlier off-road caravan and the limited space of a rooftop tent.

Sleeping arrangements are a top priority when camping, especially when you want to keep the entire family happy.
There’s no reason not to expect a comfortable night’s sleep for all, and the space to cook and relax when the
weather is not great.

What are the choices then? You could narrow that down to a ground tent, rooftop tent, full-size off-road caravan
or trailer tent. According to Theuns van der Kolff, who works in the corporate sales division of Tentco, what you
decide to get really depends on your needs. “The truth is there is no wrong or right answer in this debate,” he laughs. “While many customers swear by a rooftop tent due to its easy set-up and relative affordability, others say they will not camp in anything but their off-road caravans. The rest feel a trailer tent gives them the best of both worlds.”

Theuns cautions that before you start thinking about the trailer tent, you need to understand what your trailer can manage. “For example, many people think you can add a trailer tent to a luggage trailer, which is not the case. The height of your trailer plays a crucial part in the selection of your trailer tent – in the case of our available tents, it should ideally be around 1.6m off the ground.”

A suitable trailer should also be built tough enough to travel to the places where your family prefers to camp. The larger camping trailers will have plenty of packing space available inside, enough for all the family luggage, cooking equipment, a fridge and all the clutter that usually comes along. If you want to add a trailer tent up top, be sure you can access the interior space from the sides or the rear door of the trailer.

As Theuns points out, there are distinct advantages to the trailer tent, including relatively low weight, ease of set-up, a comfortable double bed on top of the trailer, and a large living area depending on the size chosen. What’s more, one can easily purchase add-ons to increase the area under shade, add walls for extra protection from the elements, and even include a shower/bathroom cubicle.

Tentco manufactures trailer tents in a range of sizes, and offers a range of add-ons to help you customise the set-up. The Tentco formula is simple and effective. Each of the tents uses a 1.4 x 2.0m base bolted to the trailer lid, which provides the platform for a standard-sized double bed. A framework of aluminium poles pivots off the base, with extra supports for the integrated tent ‘room’, which is held in place with two poles and guy ropes. The fly sheet is integrated, and raises off the inner roof automatically during set-up, providing a needed cooling space. The integrated awning on the other side of the trailer is simply pegged out, providing additional shade. There is an excellent instructional video on the Tentco website, showing two people set up a Senior trailer tent in under three minutes.

What are those four sizes? The differences are measured on the floorspace of the integrated tent room, with the Junior tent (in 1.3 and 1.45m sizes) at 2m x 2m (with five windows and one door), the Senior at 2.2m x 2m (with four windows and adding a door), while the largest Family version has a 4.m x 2m floorspace (by including an extra 2m x 2m room). The tent weights from from 83kg for the Junior to 106kg for the Family. Typical add-ons include a 2m x 3.2m awning for the Junior tent, and a 2m x 5m awning for the Family, with the option of extra sides. Both the Family and Senior options can accommodate a shower cubicle.

As ever, with Tentco the construction is top drawer. The trailer tents use 260gsm Howard Safari Ripstop canvas, allied
to an integrated groundsheet on the inner tent of heavy-duty 340gsm PVC. The folding frames in this case are aluminium, the zippers all high-quality YKK items, while the awning poles are 19mm electroplated steel. Packed size on top of the trailer is 215cm x 148cm x 35cm, once the PVC covering has been properly cinched down using the supplied tie-down straps. The double mattress and bedding can remain inside the tent, along with the included ladder to get to the double bed, adding to convenience. There are plenty of pockets on the supplied internal skirt, plus flaps to allow electrical cords to be plugged in, making for an all-round quality experience. What sleeping arrangements are the best fit for you and your family’s travel and camping needs? Trailer tents might just be the sweet spot between a costlier off-road caravan and the limited space of a rooftop tent.

The checklist

If you are leaning toward a trailer tent, there are plenty of positive reasons for doing so. We have put together our top six reasons to consider a trailer tent:

Purchase price: A trailer tent is a relativelyaffordable way to get started on a budget, ranging from R15 000.
Trailer costs: A typical small off-road trailer is far cheaper to purchase than a large off-road caravan, in addition to which it takes up less storage space – it can easily be pushed to the back of a garage. Licensing and servicing costs will also be lower, and it will require less maintenance if kept under cover.
Licensing issues: An ordinary Code B licence only allows drivers to tow a trailer with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of less than 750kg. Trailer tents are ideally suited to smaller trailers. For anything larger, such as a caravan or larger off-road trailer, a Code EB is required, along with a proficiency test.
Easy handling: The smaller size and lighter weight of the trailer tent make for much easier handling on the road. So, if you’re a nervous driver or new to towing, trailer tents will provide a much easier introduction to towing than a larger caravan.
Smaller tow vehicle: The combined light weight of a small trailer and tent will allow you to get away with a smaller tow vehicle. Be careful how you load the trailer, but you might be able to use a mid-sized passenger car or compact
SUV.
Ease of use: One of the biggest pluses when it comes to trailer tents is the convenience. A trailer can usually get to more remote campsites than you could in a standard caravan, and once there, it’s easy to unhitch and head out to explore the area in your vehicle. Setting up, realistically, could take under 15 minutes for the Tentco Junior,
and, depending on what you will be using, about 25 minutes for the Family.

*For all your camping-related needs, pop over to Tentco’s website to find a retailer near you: http://www.tentco.co.za

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