Camping kit that has a number of uses is a fine thing. That’s why we’re keen on the idea of a utility tent, screenhouse or shelter to add to our packing list.
Here’s our round-up of easy-to-put-up, airy things that can be gazebos, dining tents, sunshades, rain shelters or driveaway awnings for campervans….
Latest update: February 2020
Now here’s an idea. The Sheltapod is an awning, tent and sunshelter all in one. It will fit on any vehicle (including cars) from 170cm to 240cm.
It’s based on a roll-up system so that you can be totally enclosed, as in a tent, or open to the air and sunshine. It has aluminium poles and comes with privacy panels, window blinds, a door panel, a groundsheet and an inner tent included.
All those panels and bits and pieces do make it a bit faffy, but putting it up is fairly quick. You need a large area to be able to handle the VERY long poles.
‘The company has been bought by a bigger tent manufacturer with a view to selling worldwide. Stock is limited at the moment. Check out their website,
- Size: 230 x 200 x 180cm
- Pack size: 84 x 24 x 22.5cm
- Weight: 11.2kg
- Price: From £195 and 10% off for Campfire Mag readers with code CAMPFIRE10
Campervan owners looking for an instant, light and affordable shelter to use in place of an awning absolutely loved Quechua’s old Base pop-up. Sadly, it’s not made any more (despite our appeals direct to Decathlon on your behalf!).
Now, there’s an alternative. The Cinch Hub
10T Outdoor shelter
The Pavilionia Arona is a gazebo and mosquito screen with good UV protection too. Plus it’s BIG and less than £120. You can roll up two sides for entrances and there’s mesh to keep out the midges.
- Floor size: 540 x 470cm
- Height: 220cm
- Pack size: 75 x 25 x 20cm
- Weight: 15.5kg
- Price: £115
Not a known brand, but a very affordable shelter with zip-in walls. And under £100.
You’ll see it’s marketed under a number of different brand names too. We’re guessing it’s not top-quality, but it’s big, light and might just work for you.
- Floor size: 330x330cm
- Max height: 255cm
- Weight: 7.5kg
- Pack size: 69x19x15cm
- Price: Around £90
- Floor size: 350 x 350cm
- Max height: 220cm
- Weight: 9.5kg
- Pack size: 65 x 23 x 21cm
- Price: Around £180
Coleman make shelters that provide protection from the sun, the wind and the rain, thanks to their WindStrong™ system. The range has shelters of all sizes with vented canopies, shock-corded poles, patent-pending hubs and guylines.
A range of sizes – from family-sized to massive with sunwalls and groundsheet options. There’s a fast-pitch model in two sizes as well.
- Floor size: From around 300×300 to 460x460cm
- Max height: Around 230cm
- Weight: 15 to 22kg
- Pack size: 30 x 23 x 83cm to 100 x 22 x 35cm
- Price: From around £120 to £350
The Coleman Event Dome is a lighter version of the shelter, and there are two sizes available. Weatherproof and foldable walls give more shelter from rain and wind.
- Floor size: From around 350×350 to 450x450cm
- Max height: Around 218/228cm
- Weight: 11 to 15kg
- Pack size: 64 x 22.5 x 22.5cm and 65 x 26 x 26cm
- Price: From around £130
Not exactly a shelter, but a tent with versatility – and one of our favourite tents, in fact.
The Coleman Cortes Octagon has six large windows and hinged doors that open like real doors. The flysheet can be removed to transform the tent into a bug-proof screenroom.
- Floor size: 396 x 396 cm
- Max height: 215cm
- Weight: 20.7kg
- Pack size: 85 x 30 x 30cm
- Price: From around £185
What a lovely-looking gazebo shelter. In a choice of colours, a single inflation point (three valves), three large side doors and six mesh windows. Detachable groundsheet and pump included.
- Floor size: 340 x 390xm
- Max height: 240cm
- Weight: 14kg
- Pack size: 70 x 37 x 37xm
- Price: Around £360
Vango Hogan and Odyssey shelters
An event shelter that can be totally open or fitted with (included) side panels. Pole and sleeve construction in a choice of large or medium size. Groundsheet available separately.
Large and airy pop-up options from Quest. They say the spring-up frame system allows one person to get these set up in under a minute. It did take us a tad longer, but practice, practice!
Getting it back down…that’s always the tricky part. There are Pro versions too, which are more refined.
The standard screenhouses have optional sidewall blinds. Pro versions have zipped, roll-down side walls.
- Floor size: 244x244cm
- Max height: 220cm
- Pack size: 173 x 15 x 15 cm (173 x 20 x 25 cm)
- Weight: 8.5kg (10.8kg)
- Price: £180/£255
No longer recommended
Sad to say, we can’t recommend the Zempire shelter or the similar dome shelters by Trespass and Outsunny. They looked promising, but haven’t stood up to use. The Airgo shelter is also, in our opinion, a no-go, at least in anything above a light breeze!
AND don’t forget the multipurpose tarp!
A simple tarpaulin, a couple of poles and some rope could be all you need to create shelter from the rain, a sunshade, a bit of extra space….we use this Decathlon Fresh tarp for UV and rain protection.