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A Bit Of Luxury

I love listening to the birds. I love watching the sunrise. I love walking barefoot through grassy fields. I love the outdoors. So, it’s no surprise that I also love camping. Whether that’s out on the bike carrying the Alpkit Soloist, or pitching the Vango Banshee 300 after driving to a campsite, I just love being out in a tent.

Something I’ve never really done is camp in a tent that has rooms, though. In fact, I’ve never been able to properly stand up in any tent I’ve ever owned. I’ve always kept a little bit of discomfort in camping. Not because I’m a survivalist who always wants the most challenging experience – far from it – but because I’ve always associated camping with having less. Less cookware, less clothing, less decisions. For me, camping has always been about simplifying life and getting away from luxuries for a few days. Over the weekend, that changed. Sort of.

My wife also likes camping and, for the better part of 14 years, has put up with the way I camp. She’s no stranger to camping, having been in the scouts as a teenager, and doesn’t mind roughing it at all. However, her eyes lit up when we saw the Vango Icarus 500 DLX in Go Outdoors. “I’ll be able to actually stand up and we wouldn’t have to hide under a tarp if it was pissing it down. I’d probably camp more often with something like this,” she added whilst we stood inside the show tent. I couldn’t argue with her. We would be able to stand up and for the 10 days in Devon we’ve been spending under canvas frequently, it did make sense. And when the rain comes down sideways, even my best tarp pitching couldn’t keep us warm and dry. So we bought it.

We really did go luxury, at least in my eyes. We zipped off the smaller of the bedrooms to use as storage for bags, boots, and clothes – walk-in wardrobe style. I’ve been shooting some bits with Anker so we took their fridge/freezer, a massive power-bank, and their solar panels. Heck, we even took the goose-neck kettle and coffee scales so that I could make a proper brew in the morning. Honestly, compared with what I’m used to, it felt like we’d barely left anything at home.

On the drive to the campsite on the edge of the North York Moors, I played through the weekend in advance. We’d arrive, pitch up, chill out in the evening and then find that we’d brought too many things to really connect to nature. I was sure of it. Before we’d even got there I’d half decided that it wasn’t going to be as good as with the smaller tents and lack of equipment that I was used to. At least I’d brought my walking boots and a good book so I could boycott the luxury and sit outside the tent if I hated it as much as I thought I would.

You’ve probably gathered by now that my thoughts on camping were misplaced. The front door and side entrance were both unzipped entirely so that we were basically sitting outside anyway. I chucked my phone in the bottom of a bag and, aside from the fridge, the only other piece of digital equipment I used was my camera. And, despite having the space and an internal carpet, the connection to the sounds and the breeze was just as pleasant as it would’ve been if I’d opted for a smaller tent. To top it all, being able to stand up in the morning to get dressed was indeed a pleasant change. It seems my wife was right after all (but don’t tell her that).

Ultimately, I think I’ve now found another small change, or rather an addition, to the way I’ll continue to experience the outdoors. Will this new five-man tent replace my beloved backpacking options? No, definitely not. But will I limit myself to smaller tents only? Absolutely not. Taking a tent with space to shelter inside when needed, without having to lay down, will likely mean that I spend more time outside overall and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

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