24/09/2012
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Buying advice: Buying a trailer tent

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  Trailer tents and folding campers: the ultimate guide

WHERE SHOULD I LOOK?
 
Specialist camping shops and dealers are the best place to start: you’ll be able to see a range of trailer tents erected to get an idea of the sort of space you’re likely to need along with an idea of the sort of prices you can expect to pay.
 
Most trailer tent specialists carry an extensive range of new stock and some specialists also have a good selection of used tents taken in part exchange against new models. You’ll pay a bit more for a used tent at a dealer than you would for a private sale, but you should get a warranty and if you do find anything wrong with it when you get home, the dealer should put it right.

Classified adverts in the local press are another good source of used trailer tents and scouring your the small ads might throw up a real bargain if you stumble across a barely used trailer tent which the owner is in a hurry to offload.

By far the widest selection of used trailer tents is to be found online, where various auction websites usually have dozens on offer – from pretty threadbare scrappers for less than £100, right up to nearly new ex-demonstrator models which a dealer wants to sell quickly to make way for new stock.

The volume of items for sale increases quite dramatically in April, when people traditionally dust off their old tent and work out whether they’re going to use it again this year or move it on.

By the middle of May, you can expect to find a choice of a couple of hundred trailer tents on the main auction sites – starting from just a few quid to several thousand pounds.

When browsing onlinBuying a trailer tent onlinee, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking at in terms of the make, model, year and any extras included. Don’t bid on anything you aren’t 100 per cent certain about and check you can see the tent erected at the vendor’s home prior to bidding. Make sure they still have the manual and instructions and if possible, ask if they can connect it up to the car to check the lights.

 
NEW OR USED?
 
There’s good choice of both new and used trailer tents out there, so the decision to buy new or used inevitably comes down to the budget you have available..
 
Various models from Trigano’s huge range of trailer tent are usually readily available via the small ads or internet auction sites. They’re well-built, easy to service and there’s a ready supply of replacement parts if something goes wrong.
 
It’s useful to familiarize yourself with the entire model range and identify which model will meet your needs in terms of berths and overall living space. The company’s website: www.trigano-trailertents.com offers a good introduction to the various models available on the UK market.
 
Upmarket trailer tents from the prestigious manufacturers like Combi-Camp or Camplet command big premiums on the used market and tend to be harder to find, so if you’re set on one of these, it’s likely to take longer to find a good one on the second-hand market and you’ll still pay a premium for it.
 
Buying a new Camplet or Combi-Camp – especially if it’s going to be a long term investment – may be a more convenient option and even if you do decide that trailer tenting isn’t for you, you’ll still get a significant proportion of your money back when you come to sell.
 
For those who are less brand-conscious, the choices open up. There’s a ready supply of five to 10-year-old continental product out there on the second-hand market and as long as you’re prepared to do your homework and put in a bit of legwork, you should be able to bag yourself a bargain.
 
 
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?
 
Under £500

Elderly second-hand tents with strained seams, bent poles and maybe the odd badly patched rip, but you might get lucky. Always a steady supply on internet auction sites

£500 - £1,000

Reasonably modern (2005 and older), well-maintained second-hand tents which should be in good working order. Expect the odd issue, but this should buy you a serviceable tent which will last several more seasons

£1,000 - £2,500

Well looked-after used tents which should be in near-perfect condition. Look for useful accessories such as fridges, lighting and hook-up cables to be included in the price and if buying from a dealer, ask about warranties

£2,500 - £5,000

This sort of money buys a basic new tent or a top-end used tent which will be less than three years old and if purchased from a dealer - it should come with some sort of warranty. Expect perfection at this price. Older Combi-Camps and Camplets will still command this sort of money

£5,000 - £7,500

An excellent choice of new tents and nearly new Combi-Camp and Camplets. Be prepared to haggle, demand a warranty and see if you can get a few extras thrown in.

£7,500 +

This sort of money will buy you the most desirable new trailer tents which are swift to erect and simple to maintain – although the most expensive Combi-Camps can still top £10,000

 
 
WHAT DO I NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR?

There’s nothing too technical to worry about on the average trailer tent, but check the bodywork for dents and dings, which could be an indication of an accident. Have a good look underneath for signs of damage to the chassis.

Many trailer tents are stored outside and while the vendor may insist it’s been stored in a nice, dry garage, uneven fading of the cover or tide marks where puddles have formed on the top are a bit of a giveaway. As long as the tent has been properly dried before being laid up for winter, this isn’t necessarily a problem, but any damp patches in the tent will deteriorate quickly if stored outside over winter.

Check the poles are straight and any mechanisms operate smoothly without the need for excessive force. Pay close attention to the tent itself: check all the seams for unraveling threads or other signs of stress and also inspect any stains or fading. If you find any signs of mildew, look elsewhere.

The odd small rip inbuying a trailer tent non-critical areas is easily repaired, but larger tears or cracks in the window plastic are a more complicated undertaking. Finally, check every zip carefully, as replacing these can be costly.

 
WHAT ABOUT THE EXTRAS?

When buying new, on some budget models, items like the corner steadies, spare wheel and kitchen unit are extras – so check with the dealer rather than assuming that they’re included.

Most family-orientated trailer tents will come with an awning to provide sufficient living space, but more compact models won’t always be supplied with one, so check what’s included in the deal.

Some dealers may throw in a full bottle of gas to clinch the deal and you might want to haggle to get a camping grade extension lead to provide power if your trailer doesn’t have a hook-up point. Don’t attempt to use an indoor extension lead for this purpose – there’s a serious risk of electrocution.

On the second-hand market, you could pick up a whole load of accessories as part of the package. Most vendors will include the gas bottle, pegs, chocks and a few other bits and pieces, but don’t pay over the odds for these – they’re probably included because the vendor no longer needs them.

On more expensive trailers, be wary of any electrical or gas items and get them checked over by a properly accredited fitter.

 

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