BBC broadcaster, writer, Camping magazine contributor, voice over artist, Weight Watchers ambassador, sometimes comedienne… it’s amazing that Penny Haslam ever finds the time to go camping. But, along with her husband, journalist and cameraman Steve Blears, she wants her family to enjoy her passion for our great pastime to the full and considers Outwell is the perfect partner when it comes to ensuring they get best camping experience possible. Penny takes some out to tell us about her favourite tent of all, an Outwell Louisiana 5P.
I’ve been a happy camper for nearly five years now and have tried a variety of tents over that time. And, a bit like Goldilocks tasting bowls of porridge, it’s been an interesting and sometimes frustrating journey. Our first tent was borrowed, but it was too wobbly and tall. The second one I bought, but it was much too small. The third tent had to be bigger, but it was just too draughty. And then along came a tent that was so perfect we are still telling its story long after we packed it away.
Actually the tale of our new Outwell Louisiana 5P is more like a glowing report, so let’s start extolling its virtues at the very beginning. First off, we had the non-ideal scenario of failing to carry out the essential pre-holiday test-run. I think this is crucial before heading out with a brand new tent to check there’s no damage, nothing missing and to practice putting it up. I find it eradicates the embarrassment of floundering around with pegs and whatnot as darkness approaches on your first night on the campsite.
But time was not our friend that week, so we nervously removed the sturdy wheelie bag from the back of the car. I was also nervous about the size of it – three bedrooms, a ‘dressing room area’ or rear hallway, a large sitting area, a panoramic front area (or vestibule as it became known) – I’d never known such spacious accommodation. But straight away it was easy peasy. Outwell has made it so simple. The poles are all the same, the pegs are colour coded, the instructions are straightforward and we had it nailed (or pegged) within 45 minutes. Next time, it’ll be half that. As for the size, I discovered for the first time in my life that it really doesn’t matter – the same effort is required putting up a small tent as a big one.
Outwell’s superb features of this tent became apparent as the weekend unfolded. It has got cable tidies, zipper cord ties, fluorescent guy ropes and zips, ground height windows in the bedrooms, ventilation flaps that stay open while keeping out the rain, an actual bar from which to hang clothes or dry out damp towels, an integrated ground sheet (no draughts or bugs), doors everywhere, and it’s even got tinted windows – not for VIP campers, but to keep out the scorching sun during the day and make it a bit more private while keeping the views.
This tent was perfect for Goldilocks AND the three bears – the kids had their own roomy sleeping pods across the hall from the larger double. And, given we’re a family prone to serious night time wriggling, the absence of contact between the wobbly walls of a tent was a major advantage in parents getting a good night’s sleep.
Now I’m a picky person, but I cannot find fault with this tent, so I would very much like to shake the hand of the person who designed our Outwell Louisiana 5P because they have frankly thought of everything. In fact, I want them to become my new best friend forever because having spent a long weekend admiring their work I imagine an Outwell designer would make a really great pal. They would always be there for you, be practical, creative, inventive, strong, comfortable, a tower of strength in a storm, with a dry coat and a calm word. Good looking too. What’s not to like?
Below: Penny Haslam gets to grips with her new Louisiana 5P