There pretty much all the same, bell tent.co.uk, soul pad and obelink (shop in holland, they don't ship to the uk). The big question is the size and type of bell tent.
How many of you are there? 3? Then I'd say the 4m is ok, but if 4 or more (or planning to be 4 or more) then I'd go for the 5m.
You can get the standard, cheapest and has a separate groundsheet, you fold the sides under I believe. Many mumnetter a have this and are very happy. You can raise the sides in hot weather or keep them down. The upsides to this one is its cheaper, easier to clean the groundsheet when it's muddy, downsides, the groundsheet is not as thick as the zipped in one and I think that's it!
Then you have the sewn in groundsheet, which does what it says on the tin! Upside to this is that you don't have to fad around folding the tent under the groundsheet, you're completely enclosed so less likely for creepy crawlies to get in, we'll through the sides anyway, cos we ll know that they get in somehow! The downside is, you can't raise the sides in hot weather, if its been a very muddy camp, it's more difficult to clean the groundsheet and any muck can more easily get on you're tent.
You still with me?!
Lastly there is my tent, the zipped in. You have the beauty of both worlds, you can be completely enclosed then with a quick unzip, you can raise the sides up in the not weather. Upsides, heavy duty groundsheet, a lot thicker and heavier duty than the separate. Again easy to clean it.downside, it's the most expensive! For us it was worth it.
Just general stuff now, bell tents are very easy to put up. I'm 5'2" and can do it completely by myself, it takes about 30mins but when dh and I do it together no more than 20mins. They are heavy, but if you get the one with separate or zipped in groundsheet, I would recommend getting a second bag and packing the tent and gs separately. They do take longer to dry out but this has never been a problem for us. If we need to put it up again to dry out, not a problem as its goes up (and down) so quickly!
There are mixed reviews re customer service with bell tent.co.uk, mainly good ones with soul pad. I know people who've bought from both and it's the same tent pretty much.
What I discovered was that they're all exactly the same, with the exception of canvas and cast ones, which are a heavier fabric
All the others are identical, just differently branded
Soulpad didn't have the one I wanted in stock at the time which swayed my decision
The best way to get one is via a friend or relative who lives overseas. Obelink are in the Netherlands and are the main supplier to all the uk sellers. They well them for around £100 less on their Netherlands website but have got some kind of antimonoploy racket going on with UK suppliers and so won't ship to the uk, although they will to everywhere else
This made me cross and I was going to get sent via a friend in Spain but in the event it was a bit too much Hassle so I bit the bullet and got one from karma canvas who's website was slightly less twatty than soulpad
Yes that's right. Some of them have an attached ground sheet. That's fine if you don't go camping anywhere particularly warm. Have a look at the Soulpad website. It has some good explanations of the differences between them all.
Re that price, I would guess that it is a fairly small one. You will need to work out what size you need.
Erm, by my reckoning there's no difference. Soulpad is a brand. I bought from them because I had heard really good stuff about their customer service. It was all true.
Re the zip off groundsheet; we went for that option because it is the most versatile. I reckon that either of the other two ways would be good also. Although, if you are thinking about taking the tent to sunnier climes than the British isles then the ability to let the sides down is a real boon.
How exciting! There are others on this board who know far more about it than I do. i'm sure that they will be along in a bit but I thought that I would give you my pearls of wisdom in the meantime.
We bought ours from soul pad, it's a 4 metre one with the zip off groundsheet and we have been thrilled with it since day one.
They are very easy to set up, but they are heavy and bulky to transport. This is more than compensated for quality of stay you get in them. No stuffy mornings and plenty of space.
Our 4 metre one has been plenty big enough for the three of us and I know that it will comfortably accommodate our new ds and all his baby paraphernalia (he'll be around 7 months this summer). Let me know if you have any further questions. Happy camping!