Many caravanners take awnings to pitch on tour, but day tents or event shelters? Yes, these are increasingly seen on campsites, because they are a great way of increasing your living, storage and socialising space. But if you’re looking at day tents for sale, what features should you be keeping an eye out for and which are the best buys? Practical Caravan is here to help.

We’ve put a number of these day tents/event shelters to the test. They can be very useful additions to your camping accessories, especially when holidaying with friends or family, or if you have a few visitors for a night or two. These areas can be used as temporary sleeping quarters, outdoor yet sheltered kitchens or perhaps as communal get-together areas that don’t encroach on anyone’s personal space.

However, choosing the right product for you can be a tricky task. You can easily be tempted by the cheap, pop-up versions that can be bought in supermarkets and are used for parties in back gardens, but with reports of these taking off in high winds and causing damage on both their ascent and their subsequent descent, some campsites don’t permit them. If you’re looking for something to keep the wind, sun or rain off, day tents are a great and durable alternative.

So, how did we test them? Weather resistance was, of course, crucial. We preferred day tents that could be left up in typical UK holiday conditions – and even better if they could be fully weatherproofed. A lot can’t, but if they can be used to store kit and protect it from the elements, that’s a bonus.

We were also looking for tents that can give the true gazebo experience, so we wanted to see if the sides can be opened, left as windows, made into canopies or left as screen nets – the latter are great as they can cut stronger gusts down into refreshing, gentle breezes.

Additional features also gained products brownie points. Is there a floor or groundsheet? Can bedroom inner tents be added? And then we considered pack-down size and weight, as you’re going to have to find space for this day tent in your caravan or tow car when you’re on the road.

Finally, how much usable space is there in each day tent/event shelter? If the sides are heavily arched or sloping, they often render the edges usable only for floor-based storage.

Here we are testing the Quest Elite Instant Spring Up Screen House 6 – and we were astonished. Even on a first attempt this took less than a minute to pitch, and not much longer to collapse. You get it out of the bag, stand it on its centre boss, wait for the legs to fall to the ground, pull out the sides to ping them into shape, and then walk inside to push up the central roof boss. There are two poles to insert – one each side of the door. And if the clever design doesn’t have you reaching for your wallet, something about the erected product certainly will.

Maybe it’s the hexagonal shape, the screen walls, or just the obvious high quality and summer colours, but no other shelter we reviewed looks so inviting. Once inside, the protruding walls mean that every inch of floor space is fully usable, and the 3.5m between sides gives more room than you might imagine. Sadly, the shelter cannot be made fully watertight, but Velcro-on panels (which cost £19.99 a pair) add privacy, guard against wind and sun, and block out most of the rain.

It’s a great product, but if you’d like to see what else is out there, we also reviewed the £150 Kampa Cabana, the Coleman Event Shelter 12 x 12 which costs £130, as well as the Khyam Day Shelter 300, which was our group test winner and received a five-star rating – and it costs just £145. Or how about another product by Khyam, the massive Megatop at a mighty £800? There’s a budget Khyam day tent that we rather like, too – the Kyham Screenhouse, which can be used either as a gazebo or fitted out with an extra inner tent to sleep four!

For speed, we like the Quest Elite Instant Spring Up Screen House 6, though we’re not sure the Quest Elite Instant Spring Up Screen House 4 is big enough for us. We’ve also tested the Easy Camp Pavilion. Happy browsing!