The Ultimate Guide To Bell Tents
The Seek Society is a community based, earth conscious business specialising in quality camping and outdoor essentials, and bell tents are our specialty. We are adventurers, and travelers ourselves and want to provide other like-minded individuals with practical, high quality and sustainable outdoor products that you can enjoy for many years to come. The Seek Society is 100% Australian owned and family run business and we believe that by offering quality camping and outdoor essentials to those that respect the earth we can all make a difference. We’ve compiled the ultimate reference guide and how to for bell tents in Australia, our home country.
“We are so happy that you’ve found The Seek Society, it means you’re searching for quality goods built to last in the great outdoors. Our bell tents have been designed to withstand the harshest environments here in Australia and abroad. There’s nothing quite like camping under quality canvas and we can’t wait to see where you venture to in your Seek bell tent. Long live simple living, and exploring this beautiful world, let’s get back to nature.” – Charity Turner (MD The Seek Society)
History Of Bell Tents
Many different indigenous people groups have used canvas as a natural and breathable material for shelter for hundreds and hundreds of years. However, the first patented predecessor was the Sibley bell tent. This bell tent was invented by a military officer in the USA, Henry Hopkins Sibley. In the 1850’s after studying the Native American tipi Sibley produced his own compact version and later patented the Sibley bell tent in 1858. Sibley was the first to patent a conical version of this style of tent however it was not the first time a conical tent was used to house troops in various types of warfare. For the first appearance of what is currently known as the bell tent you have to revert back to the Byzantine army and reign of Emperor Maurice, approximately 582 – 602 A.D.
Where Sibley’s design differed greatly from the tipi was in its practicality. A traditional Native American tipi of a similar size (18 ft) would require 12 large, and heavy, wooden poles to form a tripod of sorts on which the canvas sits. The Sibley bell tent was designed to use only one central metal pole, vastly reducing weight, set up time and immeasurably increasing maneuverability.
Reference: Dennis, G.T., Trans., Maurice’s Strategikon, USA, 1984, p. 13 & Wikipedia.
Why A Bell Tent?
We’ve listed a few of the reasons here, apart from the fact that they are quite simply adorable and will last a lifetime:
– Sustainable product, built to last and not end up in land fill if cared for properly
– Very fast to put up and take down (Approximately 10 minutes)
– Canvas tents help to moderate temperature more effectively unlike plastic tents, so you’ll sleep well in the great outdoors
– Can be erected by just one person (One centre pole and one a frame pole)
– Stylish, ideal for people who like to stand out and love good quality
– Interior space is more flexible than many modern tents due to its unique design
– Optional ‘Zip Floor’ style bell tent means the sides can be rolled up, ideal for hot summers days when entertaining, multi use
– There is a large amount of floor space, making bell tents ideal for sleeping lots of people
– Compatible for use with wood burning stoves (you’ll need a proper chimney opening making for this however)
– Can utilise as a more permanent accommodation option if placing on a wooden deck (be sure to water & mould treat it though annually to ensure longevity)
Uses For A Bell Tent
Our Seek Society bell tents are multi use. Whether you are attending a music festival, about to embark on an epic road trip, housing some additional guests in your backyard or property the list is endless:
– Camping Tent, the ultimate shelter
– Air Bnb accommodation for your property or backyard
– Artist space
– Kids chill out zone when you need them out of the house!
– Exterior guest room to your house
– Permanent glamping accommodation for your caravan park or eco tourism operation, we suggest installing a wooden deck to put it on
– Yoga and meditation den, yes you can stand and move around in our bell tents!
– Outdoor undercover lounge room, stylish and complements natural architecture
– Optional ‘Zip Floor’ is the ideal alternative for gazebo events when entertaining
– Community group room at local events
Bell Tent Size Guide
It’s one of the most common questions we get asked at The Seek Society when people are looking at purchasing a bell tent… which size is the perfect size for us? Our most popular size for the everyday bell tent user is our 4m ‘Londonderry’ bell tent. But here’s a quick guide so you can see which bell tent/s may suit your specific needs:
– 3m Bell Tent, The ‘Nomad’: is popular with those regularly on the move or looking for a smaller separate bell tent to house their children in. This is the perfect size tent if don’t require the additional space of our larger bell tent cousins. It can sleep up to three adults comfortably on one double mattresses and a single bed. Weighs 22kg.
– 4m Bell Tent, The ‘Londonderry’: is our most popular in between size. It can sleep up to four adults comfortably on two double mattresses or four singles, with additional space for your luggage and treasures. Weighs 25kg
– 5m Bell Tent, The ‘Odyssey’: Our stylish 5m-canvas bell tent is 5m in diameter and 2.5m high. It can sleep up to six adults comfortably on two queen or double mattresses and two singles, with additional space for your luggage and treasures. Popular with those establishing more permanent camp site setups or pitching tent for consecutive nights. Weighs 28kg.
– 6m Bell Tent, The ‘Pioneer’: Our epic 6m-canvas bell tent is 6m in diameter and 3m high ceiling. It can sleep up to eight adults comfortably on three queen or double mattresses and two singles, with additional space for your luggage and treasures. Popular with those establishing more permanent camp site setups, hosting major events or requiring the grand tent with a sitting room. Can sleep up to 12 kids or holds up to 20 people sitting. Weighs 55kg. Upon request.
Bell Tents In Australia
Bell tents are increasingly becoming popular as the go to shelter with Australian campers and festival goers. The timeless design and user friendly ten minute setup ensures the most novice camper can now camp out in style and comfort.
With overnight stays significantly on the rise over the last 24 months, purchasers looking for quality and longevity of product, and the birth of the the wanderlust culture the bell tent is on the rise among Australians young and old. The Seek Society bell tents aim to provide grey nomads, families and the most avid travelers with access to the highest quality bell tents, which are both affordable and built for the harsh Australian conditions.
Popular with car campers and 4wd travelers now in Australia, and featured by the nations most reputable titles, The Seek Society bell tents are the ultimate shelter rain, hail or shine. Made from the highest quality army grade canvas, UV and mould treated, fire retardant, and water proofed the classic charm of a bell tent beckons even those that that traditionally dislike camping in the great outdoors.
Setting up The Seek Society bell tent is as easy as 3 simple steps!
We suggest you have a brief read through the instruction booklet prior to taking it out on your first adventure and do a test run setup to season the canvas prior to first camp out as suggested in our bell tent guide. First time setup will take approximately 15 minutes as you’re learning to adjust the guy lines for the first time, but after that an average of 10 minutes. Our best advice is to make sure the ground sheet is pegged in super tight, you’re on flat ground, and that the guy lines are in line with the seams of the tent (this will ensure the canvas is tight and doesn’t bunch) and always remember a hammer.
It’s a simple three step process:
1/ Peg in the ground sheet (start on one end pulling tight and work your way systematically around the circle, smaller pegs for groundsheet)
2/ Put the centre pole in and then the a frame front pole in
3/ Peg in and adjust the guy lines tightly (larger pegs for guy lines, daily guy line maintenance is suggested)
We know you’ll just love The Seek Society bell tents and they’ll become part of your upcoming adventures!
More information and to buy bell tents click here. We ship worldwide.
To help you maximise the life span of your bell tent please remember the golden rule: Always store your bell tent bone dry! We’ve provided below some details to assist in caring for your bell tent to help it last a lifetime:
• The canvas must be bone dry before storing the tent.
• Never keep the tent stored away wet for longer than two days otherwise fungus can affect the canvas, which will then create permanent little, black dots which are mould spores.
• The canvas has been impregnated with anti-fungi and made waterproof that is effective for up to 6 months of use. Once you have passed this period of camping you will need to re-proof the fabric in order to keep your tent as new.
• Maintenance starts when setting up your tent. If a tent has not been set up correctly uneven forces will pull on the canvas. This could eventually lead to damage. To ensure your tent stays set up correctly daily guy rope maintenance is necessary.
• It is in your best interests to keep the canvas as clean as possible and remove stains as soon as they appear. Dust and dried mud is best removed once the canvas is dry by brushing with a clean hard brush like a floor scrubbing brush or dustpan brush.
Zippers sometimes have to endure extreme tension caused by wind, incorrect tent set ups or pressures caused by people or objects leaning into the tent.
In order to limit damage to the zippers:
• Close all zippers before setting up your tent
• Handle the zippers with care
• Protect them by treating them with silicone once in a while
• Verify zippers before setting up your tent, as there is no insurance on them after use
Fungus and stains:
Due to insufficient ventilation, fungus can affect the canvas. It is important to store your tent dry so no fungus or other stains can appear. If you have to temporarily store the tent wet be sure to remove the mud and dirt from the bottom of the tent put your tent back out to dry within 48 hours.
In order to limit fungus and stains on your tent: Store your tent 100% dry.
When dealing with fungus use a soft brush or sponge and a lot of fresh water. Only use specialised tent-cleaning products to remove difficult stains as other chemical products can cause the cotton to leak. We suggest you have your tent re-impregnated with water proofer if any area has been cleaned using a cleaning product.
Cotton can, when new, let some air through and leak around the seams. After the canvas has been wet once this will no longer happen because of the cotton expanding. Very light stains can appear on a wet tent – these stains cause no problems. In order to preserve your tent’s water resistance and prolong its lifespan after a considerable amount of use, the outside of the canvas can be re-treated with a sealant. There are many good spray can sealants on the market.
Cotton canvas shrinks when wet, making itself waterproof when it rains. The first time your tent gets wet it may leak a little, don’t worry – THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL! Once it dries out for the first time that shrinkage closes up any little holes to ensure it won’t happen again. The canvas has been impregnated to protect it from dirt, ultraviolet radiation and fungus. This makes it mould resistant but not mould proof.
If the canvas remains damp in a place where mould can grow, eventually mould will grow. If you put your tent up in a damp corner of the garden next to a hedge or under a tree long term it will eventually get mouldy (as would a car or anything left there). Therefore, it’s worth considering the right spot that has some ventilation, as mould is not covered by our warranty.