Travelling With A Trailer Tent

Trailer tents are a lighter and less expensive alternative for those who are new to camping, allowing you to tow a load that is less than a caravan but still has everything you need for a camping trip.

Trailer tents essentially fold out of a trailer that you tow behind your car, and are assembled in much the same way as a tent, using poles and pegs to erect your shelter for the duration of your holiday.

What Types Of Trailer Tents Are There?

There are a number of different designs of trailer tent, all of which can be towed easily behind a car or RV:

  • Trailer Tent

Basic trailer tents are constructed of canvas, which can be folded out of the trailer and assembled much like you would in a tent. Often, they are driven to a campsite and erected on a pitch so that the outside can look like a huge tent.

Varying in size, trailer tents can be simple like a tent or have additional compartments for separate sleeping spaces inside, as well as external awnings for additional covered space for outside, perfect for when you need to dash inside if it starts raining.

  • Flip-top trailer tent

Flip-top trailers are quick and easy to set up once you get to the campsite, folding out from the trailer and providing shelter almost instantly with little need for pegging, and the trailer itself folds outwards to become part of the floor of the tent.

Extras such as awnings are available to provide more room should you need additional space during your trip.

  • Folding camper

Folding campers offer more facilities than a basic trailer tent, extending from a base unit that contains sleeping space, cooking facilities and a washroom with toilet – much like the base of a caravan.

The difference is that the unit will often be constructed of canvas, with awnings and extensions that open out to provide more internal space with no need for additional pegging.

So after deciding what kind of trailer tent will suit you, the next part before you set off on a journey is to make sure you and your vehicle are legal to tow the trailer en route to the campsite.

Checking You And Your Vehicle Is Legal To Tow

The first thing to check before you set off is whether you are allowed to tow the vehicle on your current licence, and the year you passed your test can affect your entitlement to be allowed to tow.

The combination of the weight of the vehicle and the weight of the trailer and its contents is known as the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) and is used to calculate the weight of that you’ll be travelling with as a unit.

If you passed your test before the 1st January 1997, you would automatically have C1 status on your driving licence. C1 classification allows you to drive a vehicle/trailer combination of up to 8.25 tonnes.

If you’ve passed your licence after the 1st January 1997, you’ll have B + B1 classification on your driving licence. This allows you to tow a trailer of more than 750kg, provided your MAM is less than 3.5 tonnes. If you want to tow heavier loads, you’ll have to pass an additional test to achieve C1 status on your licence.

Brakes Or No Brakes?

When selecting a trailer, there are two types to think about, those with brakes and those without. Whichever type you pick can affect not just the movement of the trailer, but also the risk factor when it comes to making your journey.

By law, trailers without brakes must not be loaded to more than half of the unladen weight of the trailer and must be driven with a degree of care. It is advisable to try not to exceed more than 85% of your total kerb weight when loading your car and trailer for a journey.

Check Your Weight

Check your vehicles’ kerb weight or ‘gross train weight’ by looking in your owners’ manual or logbook, alternatively, you can look for your vehicles’ VIN.

Look for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate on your vehicle, usually found under the bonnet or on the inside of one of the door panels. This will give you an idea of vehicle weight and the MAM of the vehicle, allowing you to work out how much you’re able to tow.

Kerb weight, or unladen weight, is essentially the weight of the vehicle when it’s not carrying passengers or goods – including oil, coolant and a full tank of petrol.

By ensuring you’re not overloading your trailer when you travel you can ensure a safer journey for yourself and your fellow road users.

Securing Your Trailer Tent

Because of their basic nature and build materials, trailer tents are seemingly less secure than caravans and motorhomes, putting users more at risk of theft and damage from weather conditions.

Taking out some trailer tent insurance is a useful way of ensuring that, should the worst happen, your tent and equipment will be covered.

Additional security features such as hitch locks and wheel clamps can help to deter thieves by keeping your trailer tent secure while pitched.

Driving Abroad

If you’re looking to drive your trailer tent to a campsite within the EU, you must ensure you have prepared not only your trailer but also your documents for the journey. Compulsory documents include:

Much like travelling with a caravan or motorhome, the following bits of equipment are needed to drive within the EU legally:

  • GB stickers or a GB number plate
  • Extending mirrors
  • Headlight stickers or adjusted headlight beams – fit these on the ferry
  • Warning triangles and high-visibility jackets
  • First Aid Kit and Travel Pack
  • Toolkit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Spare bulbs

If you’re stopping at campsites in Europe, be sure to look into membership to services such as Camping Key Europe, which will offer discounted pitch prices at campsites throughout the EU, including at high season.

By taking the time to check all aspects of your vehicle, your trailer and your documentation before you embark on your holiday, you can ensure a safe journey to and from the campsite, which will lead to a happy holiday for you and your family.

The Basics of Canoes and Kayaks

Canoeing is a wonderful way of getting outside and keeping fit which can be particularly peaceful if you know where to paddle. With thousands of miles of canals and rivers to explore, as well as picturesque lakes in national parks such as the Lake District, canoeists and kayakers are spoilt for choice – providing you have the correct licences of course.

But what about if you’re new to canoeing and are looking to take the plunge by buying your first craft? When you’re first starting, seek out a local canoe or kayak club in your local area, many will run taster sessions on local waterways or even in leisure centre swimming pools to give you an idea of what the experience feels like.

Research is key when it comes to buying a canoe, so here’s a few hints and tips for when you’re buying a canoe or kayak:

Kayak? Canoe? What’s The Difference?

There are many different types of canoe and kayak; each will be suited to a different type of paddler. So whether you’re looking to leisurely cruise down rivers or take it up as a competitive sport you’ll need to think about what kind of canoe is suitable for you, and this can depend on what kind of rider you want to be.

Canoes and kayaks are essentially open-topped vessels for travelling on the water, but there are a number of designs depending on what you want to use them for:

Canoes

Canoes are large, open-topped vessels which were once used by hunting parties in Native American and Inuit cultures, and allow you the chance to travel with luggage or with spare equipment.

You paddle a canoe using a single paddle, as opposed to a dual-blade paddle which is used by kayakers. Canoes allow for a gentle paddling pace that allows you to cover a large distance at a leisurely pace, ideal for combined camping trips.

Wooden Or Modern?

Canoes traditionally used to be constructed from wood, but over the years more modern materials such as fibreglass, polycarbonate and even aluminium have been used to make canoes that can be used for a variety of reasons, and are usually used by those who offer tours and wilderness cruises.

There is, however, still a demand for traditional wooden canoes, and there are companies which can build-to-order if you prefer the feel of a more traditional wooden canoe to a kayak or modern canoe.

Modern canoes are used nowadays for anything from fishing trips to guided tours on rivers, particularly in the United States and Canada, but they can also be used for combining camping excursions with travelling by a river to make for an interesting holiday in the wild.

Kayaks

Kayaks are smaller vessels designed for a single person, although there are many different types available depending on the type of rider you want to be. Usually constructed from durable plastic, kayaks have a variety of uses to suit all kinds of users – from beginners to sports kayakers.

Unlike a canoe, kayaks are powered using a double-bladed paddle, which allows for quicker changes of direction – ideal if you’re looking to get into racing or white-water kayaking.

General purpose kayak

General purpose kayaks are ideal for beginners and those who are looking to buy their first craft. They can be a good starting point to get the feeling when you’re learning how to kayak.

Usually constructed from lightweight plastic, kayaks are designed to be transported easily and can be ideal for those who are new to the hobby.

Sit-on-top kayak

Sit-on-top kayaks are as their name suggests, and as such are more portable than a regular all-purpose kayak, so can fit on a roof rack easily. Sit-ons can be ideal for beginners because they’re easier to initially get on board, as well as being a cheaper alternative to a standard kayak.

If you’re looking at taking up kayaking as a hobby, it can be worth starting out with a sit-on-top kayak to get used to being on the water, finding your paddling rhythm and practising what to do should you fall off.

Touring kayak

Touring kayaks are designed to carry not just a rider but their luggage as well, making them ideal vessels for those who like to combine camping with canoeing. Many vessels will have storage compartments at the front and rear to store (and keep dry) small bags for clothing, food and camping equipment.

Sea kayak

Compared to a touring kayak, sea kayaks are longer and more streamlined to cut through the waves and surf near shores and on inland rivers. Much like a touring kayak they also have storage for additional equipment and camping supplies, making them ideal for those who like island-hopping.

White-water kayak

In contrast, a white-water or sports kayak is short in length to help with manoeuvrability and are usually made of thicker material to withstand rough choppy waters. These tough and durable kayaks usually have reinforced hulls and additional padding around the rider to keep them better protected from the rough waters.

Safety

Safety is essential when you’re on the water, so it’s important to make sure that you have the right safety gear before you set about getting afloat. Ensure that you have a lifejacket and a wetsuit before you take to the water.

Also ensure that you keep a spare set of warm and dry clothes for when you have finished to stay warm, dry and lessen your chances of catching a cold after a day on the water.

Insuring Your Craft

Having just spent a lot rather on a vessel, you’ll want to make sure it’s protected against theft or accidental damage, so look into adding it to your existing home insurance policy, or there are specialist canoe insurance brokers who can help to insure your new vessel.

Research is key when it comes to buying a canoe or kayak, so by taking the time to look around and finding a vessel that suits your type of use – whether for recreation or competition – you could ensure that you not only get the best from it but that your vessel will last a while before you have to replace or upgrade.