CAMPING | A Weekend In the 5m Oxford Canvas Bell Tent from Boutique Camping

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5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique CampingThe Oxford bell tent from Boutique Camping

What is it?

5m Oxford Canvas Bell Tent
Boutique Camping, from £449.99
Buy it here

Technical Details

  • Luxury grey bell tent with taped seams and a heavy duty zipped-in extra thick ground sheet
  • Waterproof, mold resistant PU canvas coating
  • Extra thick 5mm guy ropes, heavy duty Pegs; 6mm ground sheet pegs and 8mm robust groundsheets
  • Spring loaded 32mm diameter centre pole with a robust 1.2mm metal thickness
  • New extra large vents for ventilation
  • 3 way zips with loops that can be easily pad locked for extra security
  • 3 inside pockets for extra storage
  • Comes with 12 months manufacturers warranty
  • 60cm walls can be unzipped and rolled up for airflow
  • Secondary zipped mosquito door
  • 4 zipped windows for airflow and ventilation with mesh cover to keep insects away
  • Fittings to add optional inner tent

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping In the bootThe Oxford bell tent packed away into the boot of the car

The new Oxford canvas tent is exclusive to Boutique Camping, and features a limited-edition PU treated canvas fabric that provides extra durability plus all of the features of their canvas bell tents, but at a more affordable price – roughly £100 less than cotton canvas bell tents.

What did we think?

We turned to bell tents a few years ago, and since then have purchased a 5m bell tent from Boutique Camping, and more recently have been using their fantastic 6m rainbow bell tent, so we were keen to see how the new Oxford canvas would compare.

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping internal shotInside the Oxford bell tent

At first look, it’s just like the other canvas bell tents that we are used to. Get up close though and when you touch the fabric you can tell that it’s been specially coated, but aesthetically, we think it looks just as nice as traditional canvas.

5m Oxford Bell Tent

Inside the Boutique Camping branded carry bag, there’s an instruction manual, the tent with pre-attached zipped in groundsheet, a bag containing two different kinds of tent pegs and a pole bag that contains, the centre pole and the A frame for the doorway.

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping

We find bell tents very easy to put up and the Oxford bell goes up just like any other. It’s simply a matter of lying the tent out, then pegging the groundsheet loops to the ground. In goes the centre pole, we then peg out a few guy ropes using the heavy duty pegs before popping in the A-frame to create the doorway, pegging in the remaining guy ropes.

5m Oxford Bell Tent ceiling ventsCentre pole with attachment loops

First time around setting the tent up takes a little longer as each of the guy ropes need to be tied on, but in general two people can erect this tent in 15 minutes. The centre pole includes a loop, which we use for hanging our HUBi light, but it also acts as an anchor point should you wish to use an inner tent (purchased separately), with additional anchor points all around the base of the tent so you can position the inner tent wherever you want.

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping internal detailsLeft: Loops that allow you to roll the sides of the tent up Right: Groundsheet anchor points for an inner tent

Several hours of heavy rain when using a new bell tent generally results in puddles and leaks. That’s because to be totally waterproof, the canvas needs to be wet and then dried for the canvas to tighten and become properly water-tight. Had we been in a new canvas bell tent, the amount of rain we had on the first night would have definitely left us with puddles inside, but the specially coated Oxford canvas along with its taped seams meat no first-use leaks whatsoever.

5m Oxford Bell Tent branding on the tent

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping door toggle

Why you should consider it

The new Oxford fabric is easier to care for than traditional canvas and it won’t rot or attract mildew spots. Our coloured bell tents have both faded over time, but the new Oxford canvas will hold colour for longer and is essentially more durable than traditional canvas.

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping rain on fabric

When we read that the Oxford fabric was grey, we weren’t certain we’d like it, but once up, we found we actually prefer the contemporary light grey colour to the usual cream/beige colour of bell tents.

5m Oxford Bell Tent

The Oxford bell has all the same features as the existing range of Boutique Camping bell tents, including a great quality groundsheet, robust zips, ceiling vents, mesh insect covers for doors and windows and heavy duty tent pegs. All of these things, together with it’s lower price point makes it an attractive proposition, especially for those who are new to bell tents.

The limited edition Oxford bell tent is available in either 4 or 5 metre sizes, priced at £359 and £449 respectively.

Find out more at Boutique Camping.

5m Oxford Bell Tent from Boutique Camping

Thank you to Boutique Camping for providing the Oxford bell tent to review.

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  • Robert Beamish

    Thank you for this review. I am looking to buy a bell tent potentially from boutique camping and am a bit torn! This would be our first bell tent but I have camped as a lad in canvas patrol tents for many years so am used to canvas. I am torn between the Oxford tent you review here, as I like the price and durability, but presume it is not as breathable or something a bit brighter like the rainbow tent or the harlequin. from your experience what would you do?! Is the grey too grey and boring or is it classy and shady?! Is the colour fade on the coloured tents a problem?! I was also thinking of using an inner tent in the colder periods, as don’t fancy using a stove with the children. Any thoughts?! Sorry many questions…thank you so much…Rob

    • Hi Robert sorry fo the delayed response. Although the Oxford canvas is coated, it still felt more like traditional canvas than modern nylon if that makes sense, so it did still feel breathable.

      I personally really liked the grey colour, I think it’s a bit more contemporary than the traditional cream/beige colour (I can’t stand that colour and would never buy anything that bland!), so whilst the grey could seem a bit bland, it still stands out more than the beige bell tents you see so often so colour wise that would get my pick. It definitely wasn’t at all dark either, it was very light and airy still.

      My first flower pattern bell tent did fade quite a bit after 3 years, but it still looked pretty and didn’t make the tent look old or naff, it just made it look loved and used! We’ve had the rainbow bell tent just over a year now, and I don’t feel like it’s faded as much, though I’m sure if I put it next to a brand new one you’d see the difference, it’s not massively noticeable and it’s actually nice that it’s mellowed the colour out a wee bit….it is very bright and not for the faint hearted! Whenever we use it kids wander in and ask if it’s a circus tent.

      I do think that the big difference with a bell tent is that you’ve got a much larger space, so potentially, if you are camping when it’s cold you’d find a 5 or 6m bell is quite hard to get warm inside – that said, they do hold on to heat well. I actually wouldn’t recommend a wood burner with kids; they get so hot and it’s very easy to stumble or trip over or brush past it if you aren’t really careful, though you can get little fold out guards that go around them, to make them safe for kids. I’d personally recommend an inner tent for warmth. We bought one, but due to the amount of gear we take, found we just didn’t have space and weren’t really using it an awful lot, but I think if you are taking children, then yes, and inner tent is a great idea, it means there is less space to warm up and with all of you inside it at night, it should be much snugger than without.

      I hope that all helps Rob, let me know if you have any other questions and I’d love to know what you finally choose! 😀

      • Robert Beamish

        Thank you so much for your very full response, I really appreciate it. Very helpful on the issues of colour fade and the burner etc. thank you and I will let you know what we do. The only slight spanner is that my wife has now expressed an interest in a camper van! so we may be looking for a bell tent type awning instead of a standalone tent, we will see! I will let you know…Thanks,rob