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Did you know that the Lake District hosts the highest concentration of small breweries in the UK?

We’ve enjoyed many amazing walks in the Lakes, and equally had many a happy time in many a Cumbrian pub. So why not combine the two and try one of these great walking routes that feature some of the Lake District’s best beer gardens?

For full details and directions head over to The Beer Garden Map of the Lake District.

Craig Manor, Windermere

“This stylish inn at the heart of Windermere is a popular choice for food and drinks. Family friendly and welcoming dogs in some areas, this is a perfect spot to start and finish a walk and enjoy delicious food.”

The Bridge, Buttermere

“Buttermere is one of the lesser known lakes but is also one of the most beautiful. Walks around the lake, stopping at The Bridge, are available all year except for April to June when nesting Sandpipers need to be undisturbed. The Bridge is always open, though, offering traditional pub grub with a fantastic view across the lake.”

The Crown Inn, Pooley Bridge

“Owned by Thwaites Brewery which was created in the early 1800s, this Inn offers one of the most impressive views in the Lake District. Serving food all day, it is the perfect place to stop off when exploring the surrounding area.”

The Britannia Inn, Elterwater

“This Inn in the centre of the Lake District offers rustic dining with fantastic views. As well as the impressive views from the beer garden, the Britannia also has an annual beer festival and offers alfresco dining all day.”

The Outgate Inn, Ambleside

“This 18th century inn has sold beer since the 1840’s. It is still popular with locals as well as visitors for walking, cycling and climbing in the area. In winter the pub offers blazing fires and in the summer there is an impressive beer garden.”

Do you have a favourite Lake District beer garden?

Read the full article here

The post Top 5 Beer Gardens in The Lake District appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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When we were invited along to experience the first ever Timber Festival I was initially excited, until the reality hit me. It sounded like an amazing weekend, packed full of outdoor family fun, good music and food. Right up our street! However, by that point I would be 36 weeks pregnant and I started to doubt my staying power. A family festival weekend would be amazing, but I felt it would be a little too much. Not wanting to miss out (the programme sounded awesome!) I cheekily asked if we could just go along for one day to experience this brand new, and quite unique, event.

So, we headed up the M1 last Saturday morning, eager to see if Timber Festival would be as good as it promised to be. It was taking place in the National Forest in Derbyshire and so was only about 1hr 20 minutes drive for us. I was glad we had decided not to camp, as fun as it would have undoubtedly been, it was very hot and I struggled to keep my grumpiness completely in check.

The festival was a celebration of all things woodland, featuring a packed programme of art installations, workshops, music, discussion and performances designed to stimulate all of your senses. Being a new addition to the summer festival calendar, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

It turned out to be a brilliant day out.

We were immediately struck by how laid back and friendly the whole site was. We pulled straight in the car park, no queues, no hassle and were able to park fairly close to the entrance. After getting our wristbands we headed into the festival site and spent a few minutes getting our bearings. I had a festival programme and map, but until we got there I had no idea how big-or small-Timber Festival would actually be. I was glad that it was quite compact, meaning we could easily cover all the areas, even with a three year old in tow. There were a few hills, which were a struggle for me in the heat, but under normal circumstances it wouldn’t pose a problem at all.

The first area we came to was The Common.

We headed first to The Common. Here there was a selection of workshops to get stuck into, including willow weaving, woodworking and outdoor survival skills, plus a variety of performances to experience. To one side of The Common, there was Field Notes, a central area with food and drink stands plus a marquee where many of the main events took place. We ended up spending a bit of time here as we enjoyed various refreshments throughout the day. I liked the fact that there was drinking water available for free at a few points around the site, it was very much appreciated and meant we didn’t have to carry around lots of water, or pay for refills. I wish more events would do this.

There’s only one thing for it on a hot day: ice cream!

Seeing as it was so hot, our favourite area was The Canopy which was in the shade of the trees. Before we arrived I had already singled out Museum of the Moon as a must see exhibit.

Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon was a real highlight of Timber Festival

This incredible installation, measuring an impressive seven metres in diameter and featuring NASA imagery of the moon’s surface and surround sound captivated us all. I’m just sorry that we didn’t stay long enough to see it properly lit up.

Finn loved ‘Museum of the Moon’ and dragged me back for another look later in the day

The Canopy was also home to The Eyrie Stage, campfire stories (another hit with Finn) and an area where children could be let loose with hammer and chisels to create a woodland playground.

The whole ambiance of Timber Festival was so chilled and intimate. It really was like no other festival.

After cooling down in the cool shade of the trees, we headed back up the hill to see the main stage and the other side of the site.

Although a relatively small festival, Finn needed a helping hand to get around in the heat

The main stage featured a variety of acts throughout the day, and provided a great space to sit down and relax with a cool drink.

The Nightingale Stage was the main music area

Another hit with us was The Coppice. Another chilled out area, featuring some interactive activities, including hula hooping, the coppice maze and stone balancing, which we got involved with.

It was great to see Finn getting stuck into the activities on offer.

Finn was a trooper (as always) and gladly got involved. I would say that Timber Festival is not necessarily aimed at preschool children, however there was plenty that he enjoyed. He did get a bit hot and tired though, and just as it looked like we were on the precipice of a tantrum, he noticed the stones and off he went.

The stone balancing kept Finn occupied for a good while!

Overall, we all had an enjoyable day. We managed to see most of Timber Festival, even though we were taking it easy and not rushing. I did wonder if there was enough there to keep us occupied for a whole weekend, however seeing photos and social media etc, I see that there was plenty happening later and after dark to keep everyone’s attention.

We were impressed with how much was going on, considering it was the first year, and we would definitely like to return next year-hopefully for the whole weekend!

Were you at Timber Festival? What did you think?

We were gifted free day tickets in exchange for this post. All views are my own. 

The post Review: Timber Festival 2018 appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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Hi and welcome back to another round of #AdventureCalling. We’ve been busy here turning our garden into a bird and bee haven for #30DaysWild, while I potter (ok, waddle) about waiting for the start of my maternity leave. I hope that you’ve all been out and about and I can’t wait to read this week’s posts.

If you haven’t joined us before, or if you’re an old hand, welcome to #AdventureCalling, the outdoor linky that I co-host with David from Potty Adventures. This is the place to share any outdoor post, we don’t mind if it’s old or new, a grand adventure or a walk in the park. The idea is that we are compiling some amazing outdoor ideas to get everyone excited about spending time outside.

Each fortnight me and David choose our favourite posts to share on our social media and hopefully get a few more people enjoying some fabulous outdoor writing. It’s always a tough job, but last time I really liked reading about the challenge ahead of  Stories of a Dad in My 3 Peaks Challenge – The Beginning, while David has opted for Four Acorn’s tale of a Wild Camping Weekend. If you haven’t already, please take a minute to check them out.

We don’t have many rules, but there are just a few. If you’re not sure of anything, please just ask, we’re a friendly bunch!

Rules:

  1. Add our #adventurecalling badge to each post that you link up using the code in the sidebar or the code below.
  2. You can link up a maximum of two posts and they can be old or new, we don’t mind!
  3. Comment on each of the hosts’ posts and a minimum of two other posts (of your choice) using the hashtag #adventurecalling when you comment. Me and David will comment on every post.
  4. If you tweet us the post that you’ve linked up using #adventurecalling both myself and David will retweet with pleasure.
  5. We’d love you to follow both Potty Adventures and The Helpful Hiker on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So, grab the linky badge  and lets get inspiring people! If you’re not sure how to attach it just give me a shout and I’ll point you in the right direction.

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The post #AdventureCalling Outdoor Linky: Week 32 appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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Timber Festival is a brand new event on the summer calendar which will bring together music, forests, art and ideas into a brilliant weekend of family-friendly outdoor fun. Created by the National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus (the award-winning team behind the Just So Festival), Timber will take place at Feanedock, a 70 acre woodland site on the border of Leicestershire and Derbyshire, right in the heart of the National Forest.

“An extraordinary new camping festival exploring the transformative impact of forests. Celebrating woodland culture in all its forms, join us for an intoxicating experience where music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an unforgettable, exhilarating weekend.”

Over the course of the weekend, the festival will host more than 200 activities, including a plethora of music performed across three stunning bespoke wooden stages (including the enchanting Eyrie Stage raised between the trees) and around the campfire. There will also be an exciting array of art, from the premiere of Tree and Wood, a new interactive performance exploring our relationship to trees and forests, to comedy, spoken word, films and a fire garden.

At Timber you can explore all sides of the moon in the greenfield festival premiere of Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon

“Artists, musicians, scientists and thinkers from across the world will dive into the poetry of nature, explore what forests and woodlands can mean to us and our relationship with nature.”

There will be a whole host of family friendly activities, from outdoor theatre, workshops, interactive sessions and performances to make sure that the youngest visitors are fully immersed in the experience.

As well as being a feast for the senses, Timber Festival also has an impressive line up of speakers, debates and sessions designed to stimulate the mind and get us all thinking differently about the world around us. Stuart Maconie will deliver the keynote speech on Sunday in his role as President of the Ramblers, where he’ll muse on the changing nature of the landscape in a post-industrial Britain and the great pull of the natural world.

After all that excitement, there’s plenty of provision for rest and relaxation. From bathing under the stars, yoga and tai chi, to hanging around in Tentsile Tree Tents hung high up in among the leaves, everyone will leave Timber with a sense of well being.

Why not take the chance to bathe under the sky at Timber Festival?

We’ll be heading up to experience Timber for ourselves, if you fancy joining us head over to the website now for the full line up (I could only cover a fraction here!) and to book tickets.

Timber Festival runs from the 6th-8th of July 2018 at Feanedock,DE12 6DQ. Tickets are £130 for an adult weekend camping ticket, £45 for a child weekend camping ticket, £40 for an adult day ticket and £15 for a child day ticket. Under 3s go free. Residents of the National Forest are eligible for a discount.

Will you be at Timber this year?

The post Preview: Timber Festival 6th-8th July 2018 appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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With many of our trips, the main focus is the location, and this was definitely true of our last camping trip. We had decided to head away for a couple of nights, and as we were taking some extra family members along, I thought that it was probably wise to stay within a couple of hours of home. After researching some family friendly areas, I decided that the New Forest would be ideal. I hadn’t been there since a rather eventful Brownie pack holiday in the mid 90’s, so I was more than ready for a return visit!

Location

I picked out a site, again mainly going by location, and so we headed to Long Meadow Campsite for a well earned change of scenery. I had been enticed by the fact that Long Meadow was right in the heart of the New Forest National Park, with easy access to woodland walks. Also, being right between the villages of Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst, it was easy to pick up supplies if we needed anything.

Pitches

There is an area for caravans, and then the main field which is dominated by tents and is large and flat with allocated pitches. There are a few electric hook ups available, although we went without this time due to our short stay. Luckily, we had one of the more scenic pitches right on the edge of the campsite. I thought that the tent pitches were a good size, but quite close together. Fortunately, we had no neighbours on one side so we didn’t feel too hemmed in.  Although it was half term week, the site wasn’t too crowded and everybody stuck to the quiet times. The view from our tent was gorgeous, and it was great to be able to see deer and ponies from our pitch. The campsite keep a large clear area free around the edge of the site, so it really feels nice and open, plus there is plenty of space for children to play away from the tents.

Unusually, we went without EHU this time, but it did mean that we got a more scenic pitch. You can see how much space is kept free around the edge of the site

Long Meadow is right in the heart of the New Forest

Facilities

The toilet and shower facilities at Long Meadow were clean and well maintained. There was plenty of hot water and lots of space in the cubicles (important when you have a toddler), although there is also a family shower room if needed.

The washing up area and toilet block

The reception offers a warm welcome and lots of helpful information on the local area, although there isn’t a shop. We are the sort of family who always forgets something, so it would have been useful to be able to buy a few essentials, but it wasn’t too much of an issue as we could at least drive to a local shop. They will also freeze ice blocks for you, you just need to ask.

Final Thoughts

Although Long Meadow may not have the facilities (eg shop and playground) of other sites, it does offer a beautiful, relaxed campsite in a stunning location. There is plenty of space, plus the site leads directly into the woodlands nearby.

Seconds away from our tent was this beautiful woodland. There is also a scenic walk to the nearby village of Brockenhurst

There are plenty of family friendly walks and cycle ways leading from the campsite

The New Forest is definitely a place that we would love to come back to once our children are older and able to walk and cycle with us.

A two night stay with a large tent and awning cost us £60, which is definitely the higher end of what I’m willing to pay. Having said that, we were staying in a prime location during a school holiday, so I know that comes at a premium, and it wouldn’t put me off returning. It wasn’t an issue for us this time, but it is also worth noting that due to the proximity to woodland, there are no campfires allowed.

Have you ever camped in the New Forest? Any other sites that you would recommend?

The post Review: Long Meadow Campsite appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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We recently spent a couple of days camping in the New Forest and, unlike us, we opted to go without an electric hook-up. As it was only a short trip and a warm time of year, I was sure we’d manage, however we do have a few devices that need charging. Despite my love of the outdoors and desire to not rely on screens all the time, as a blogger (and owner of a smart phone with a rapidly degrading battery) a way to keep things charged is a must. We have a couple of small power banks, which are ideal for taking out on walks, but we really needed something more powerful for a camping trip.

As a blogger, I rely on my phone to take photos and maintain my many social media accounts when outdoors

With rather fortunate timing, I was contacted by OUTXE to see if I would like to review their Savage 20000mAh Rugged Power Bank. It claims to be able to recharge an iPhone 8 7 times, so would it power all of our devices for the duration of a camping trip?

I charged it up at home, it had about half a charge already and a couple of hours later it was fully charged. I particularly liked the 6 green lights which tell you how much charge is left (either input or output).

It is a solid and heavy power bank weighing over 500kg, so definitely not one for back packing trips, however for car campers like us, it’s a great option. I also like the fact that it feels really robust due to the rubberized shell, is waterproof, shockproof and pretty much unbreakable. Always handy with a marauding child around! Also, it never got hot, even when used for a long period of time.

OUTXE Savage 20000mAh Power Bank Rugged Test - YouTube

Furthermore, it has a built in LED torch, so you don’t have to scrabble around in your tent in the dark and comes with a couple of carabiners so you can hang it up.

So, it looks good and we know it’s well made, but how does it perform?

Over the course of our trip it charged my phone (an elderly and huge Samsung Note 3 with a dodgy battery) twice and our Samsung tablet twice. Considering the size of our devices, I was very impressed with this. It also charges really quickly, it’s quicker than any other charger we have at home. It has dual output points so you can charge two devices at once.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the OUTXE power bank and I can definitely see it becoming a staple piece of camping gear for us. It easily lasted us throughout the trip and kept everything topped up. I will still use our smaller power banks for when we’re out and about, but the OUTXE will stay back at base and be used as our main charger.

If you fancy one of these great bits of kit for yourself (and who wouldn’t?!) you can buy here (affiliate link)

We were gifted an OUTXE rugged power bank for the purposes of this review, as ever all opinions are my own.

The post Review: OUTXE Savage 20000mAh Rugged Power Bank appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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Choosing what to wear outdoors in the British springtime can be a minefield. This year we had an unusually cold winter, with widespread freezing weather and snow well into March, yet the early May bank holiday was the warmest on record! I’ve mentioned many time before that layers are your friend, and that’s certainly still my advice. It’s also well worth investing in a decent waterproof jacket, even in the spring and summer. A lightweight raincoat will keep you warm and dry when outside in the inevitable showers, while still keeping you comfortable.

Luke has been trying out a Musto Esssential Crew BR1 jacket recently from Marine Superstore and it’s proven to be the perfect item of outdoor clothing for this time of year.

A lightweight waterproof jacket is invaluable during the spring and summer months

Our recent trip to the New Forest was the ideal time to put it to the test. Our drive down was almost entirely in torrential rain, and although it stayed largely dry until we left, the skies remained ominously grey throughout.

We could walk from our campsite into the nearby woodland so made the most of enjoying some family strolls. It was humid and the weather was changeable, so we all took jackets with us just in case. The Musto Essential Crew BR1 jacket was very light and so was easy to roll up and carry in a rucksack. It was very comfortable, offering a loose fit without being baggy. It’s obviously good quality, with taped seams keeping Luke dry and the ripstop fabric offering durability. My main complaint with cheaper waterproofs is that they tend to get very sweaty, however, the mesh lining ensured that this wasn’t the case with this better quality jacket.

A day spent by the river at Buckler’s Hard proved to be a great test for the Musto Crew BR1 jacket as we dodged showers and wilted in the humidity

The details on this Musto jacket, like the two side pockets with weather-proof zips and fleece lining on the collar, make all the difference and show just how it is worth investing in a few key pieces of outdoor gear to see you through every eventuality. This is a great addition to anyone’s spring/summer outdoor wardrobe and Luke has really got a lot of wear out of it already.

A good quality waterproof means you can stay active whatever the weather

Do you have any tips for dealing with the UK weather? How do you stay cool and dry in the spring showers?

The post Review: Musto Essential Crew BR1 Jacket appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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Back at the end of April we had a brilliant short break in The Malvern Hills. We discovered that it’s the perfect destination for an outdoor loving family, and we enjoyed our Alpaca trekking adventure. Another aspect that impressed us was our wonderful accommodation at Pitlands Farm in Clifton-upon-Teme. There is a wealth of options in the area, from hotels to camping, glamping and everything in between. As a family with a young child, we find that self catering is a great choice and allows us more freedom to follow our own routine. It also tends to be a good value option, and this is certainly true of Pitlands, with a week’s holiday starting from £345.

Despite the grey skies, the view from our bungalow was beautiful.

We stayed in ‘Pippin’ bungalow for two nights and found it to be the perfect base for exploring The Malverns. Our accommodation consisted of a roomy open plan lounge and kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom.

*Mum comment alert* I loved the fact that the kitchen had both a dishwasher and washing machine

The double bedroom

The second bedroom had two twin beds

I liked the fact that the bungalow had some games and books, plus lots of information on the local area. It also had a private outdoor patio, which now boasts a private hot tub as well as a stunning view. Unfortunately, we just missed out on the hot tub, but that means we’ve got a good excuse to go back! The farm complex features a range of accommodation for different sized parties, plus fishing ponds and a games room which also doubles as a breakfast room. I can personally confirm that the cooked breakfasts are absolutely delicious and well worth booking. It’s also worth noting that Pitlands Farm is pet friendly (up to two pets allowed for a supplement), which makes it ideal for family breaks.

There are a few animals dotted around that Finn loved meeting as we strolled around the grounds, including goats, alpacas, ponies and chickens.

Finn making friends with our neighbours (pun intended!) at Pitlands Farm Holidays

Pitlands Farm is located between Clifton-upon-Teme and Martley and is within easy reach of Worcester and Great Malvern, making it a great base if you plan on exploring the Malvern Hills.

Are you a fan of self catering? What are your tips for a perfect family break?

The post Review: Pitlands Farm Holidays appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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I don’t know about you, but I always find it hard choosing a gift for my Dad on Father’s Day. I tend to go with something unoriginal and every year vow to do better. Well, fear not, this year I have gathered together some amazing gifts that are sure to impress any outdoor Dad. If you’re still struggling, I’ve gone one step better and put together a great bundle of gifts that you can win in time for the big day on Sunday 17th June.

VARTA LED Outdoor Sports Torch (around £30)

What is not to like about this torch from VARTA? A perfect gift for any outdoor Dad, it’s water resistant, shock proof, features 2 different beams, it glows in the dark and, wait for it, it even has a bottle opener in the handle!

ArmorAll 7 Piece Valeting Bucket (£18.99)

I’m really bad at cleaning my car, but since trying out ArmorAll products I have actually started to take some pride in having a clean car! They do a massive range of car care products, including a whole range of wipes for inside and outside of your vehicle, which make the process a breeze!

The Art of Fire: Step by step guide to starting, building and handling fires by Daniel Hume (£9.99)

The ability to accurately and quickly light a fire is one of the most important skills anyone setting off on a wilderness adventure could possess, yet very little has been written about it-that is until now. Through his narrative Hume also meditates on the wider topics surrounding fire and how it shapes the world around us.

If you would like to win a bundle of prizes featuring a VARTA LED sports torch, a copy of Fire by Daniel Hume and a whole heap of ArmorAll care products, just head over to my facebook page NOW!

You could win all of this just in time for Father’s Day!

Here’s a few other ideas that are sure to impress any outdoor loving Dad!

OS Maps Subscription

I’ve written about my love for OS Maps before, and it’s certainly a great idea for any outdoor enthusiast. A 12 month subscription starts from £19.99, comes with a whole host of brilliant features an includes ordnance survey maps for the whole of the UK.

A Good Outdoor Book

I wrote a list of great outdoor books at the end of last year, and I still think that they’re the best, so head over and see the post here.

What are you getting your Dad this year?

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and subsequently make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. There is no extra charge to you.

The post Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoor Dads & Giveaway appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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Anyone who reads this blog knows that we are massive camping fans, and love heading off with our family tent for a few days under canvas. Up until now, we’ve shied away from smaller backpacking style tents in favour of a rather more luxurious setup. This approach has it’s drawbacks however. We currently have to take Luke’s van away with us due to the size of our current tent and the ridiculous amount of gear we have. We originally fell in love with camping due to how simple it is and how much we enjoyed spending a few days outdoors getting back to basics. In recent times, both me and Luke have discussed getting a smaller tent and spending time at more rustic, semi wild campsites. We’ve even mentioned the possibility of trying some proper wild camping at some point, but all that would involve having to seriously downsize and invest in a new tent.

With that in mind, when Ellis Brigham got in touch to see if we wanted to try out the Vango Helix 300, we jumped at the chance.

First Impressions

Weighing in the realms of 2.5kg, the Helix 300 is tiny compared to what we’re used to (our gargantuan Outwell Montana 6AC) and it was a revelation having a tent that I could carry around. Although fairly big in terms of backpacking tents, as this sleeps 3 it could easily be carried by a couple of people with no issues at all.

Using my three year old for scale, the Vango Helix 300 packs down very small.

Pitching

It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with anything other than our airtent, so I was pleasantly surprised that, even though I’m out of practice, the Helix 300 was incredibly easy to pitch on my own. Depending on the conditions, there is the option to pitch flysheet or inner first. We’ve always gone inner first and found it very straightforward.

Pitching inner first is easy due to the colour coded poles

The Helix 300 consists of a classic tunnel design and has 2 poles; one long that goes at the front and a shorter one that goes at the rear. The corners can then be pegged out and you have your basic tent up in minutes.

Pitching the Helix 300 is quick and easy. In this photo you can also see the mesh vents at the front and the internal storage pockets

The flysheet can then be put on and clipped into place at each corner.

I love the front porch of the Helix 300, it’s so useful for storage and makes this tent really versatile

Features

This might be more basic than we’re used to, but there are plenty of features that make this tent so versatile. First and foremost, it’s very spacious inside. Both me and Luke fit easily with room to spare. Even though he’s a wriggler, there’s even enough space for Finn to join us as well. This means that it’s a great option for when we just want to head off for a day or two, and taking mountains of stuff is too much like hard work. Likewise, our dream of wild camping is now within reach. If we ever manage a child free night, we’re heading straight out to the hills with this tent!

(Excuse my massive pregnant belly and complete lack of grace in this video)

Review: Vango Helix 300 - YouTube

Final Thoughts

As much as we love this tent, (and we all really do, I haven’t found any negative points as of yet) I’m not quite ready to ditch our car camping ways entirely. A couple of times a year we’ll still head off for a week with our full set up, but I’m so excited about the fact that we have so many more options. If we fancy a spontaneous night or two away, we can now head off with minimal equipment and the Vango Helix 300. I also won’t feel so silly pitching up at a smaller, more basic campsite with this little beauty.

This tent was gifted by Ellis Brigham for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

The post Review: Vango Helix 300 Tent appeared first on The Helpful Hiker.

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