Its eye-catching design looks the part, but read the Practical Caravan Coleman Event Shelter 12 x 12 review to find out how this £130 day tent performs

Overview

Many caravanners erect awnings on tour, to give them more space, as well as protection from the elements when sitting outside or enjoying a spot of al fresco dining. But now these are sometimes being joined by day tents and event shelters.

Why? These can be a huge help if you're touring as part of a group, providing additional room for relaxing, dining, socialising and storing items, without disturbing anyone's personal space. However, some of the cheaper versions you might have seen at supermarkets have been banned by some campsite owners, as they've been known to take off in windy conditions, which can cause injury and damage. So here at Practical Caravan, we've conducted a group test of a collection of day tents and event shelters, to help you buy the best, and to let you know what features you should look for when considering day tents for sale.

Every item reviewed was put through the same test. If you want to add one of these to your stock of essential camping equipment, you'll want to know that it can withstand the British weather – and if it can be made completely weatherproof, even better – so this was something we tested.

Now, day tents and event shelters can be very handy, but you don't want to have to spend a long time erecting or collapsing them, so a crucial part of our group test was timing how long it took us to do this. Some stunned us by how quick and easy they were to pitch – you'll be surprised!

Another consideration was whether the product on test could deliver the true gazebo experience. In other words, are its sides fixed, can they be opened, can they be left as windows, can they provide the protection of a screen net, or can they be made into canopies? If adding sides also added to the day tent's price, we also took this into account when delivering our verdict.

Of course, extra features gained a product bonus points. These might include the ability to insert bedroom inner tents. We also considered the product's pack-down size, the floor area offered and how much of it can be used, and the height – can six-footers stand inside with ease?

Here we review the Coleman Event Shelter 12 x 12, which comes in at £130. This is probably the definitive event shelter of recent times and it’s easy to see why.

The design is as clever and durable as it is eye-catching, even down to a giant one-way valve at the peak that lets any wind pressure under the flysheet leach out. In fact everything, from the tough, curved-steel frame members to the giant feet, which can be secured in place with up to five pegs, seems to have been designed with weather-beating form in mind.

Erecting this shelter is much like building a frame tent: you build the top frame, loosely attach the fabric, raise the frame, attach the fabric properly, then nail the whole lot to the ground. So it’s all straightforward, if time consuming – allow at least half an hour. But we like the 3.65m x 3.65m area covered, most of which is usable space. And it’s nice to know that sides and a groundsheet are available, even at £14.97 per side and £27.97, respectively.

Technical specs

Pack-down size99.3cm x 31.1cm x 28.6cm
Weight16kg
Living area3.65m x 3.65m

Verdict

When we'd completed our Coleman Event Shelter 12 x 12 review, our testers gave it a three-star rating. If you'd like to check out some of the other event shelters/day tents tested, we also tried the Kyham Screenhouse, the Khyam Day Shelter 300, Quest Elite Instant Spring Up Screen House 6, Quest Elite Instant Spring Up Screen House 4Kampa Cabana and Easy Camp Pavilion. Happy holidays!

Conclusion

Pros

  • It's a strong, robust design
  • It gives you a good amount of floor space

Cons

  • It takes about 30 minutes to erect
  • A groundsheet costs extra
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