We asked Zoe Vanderstay, Co-Founder of SoulPad, to share their story and let us know what makes the perfect wild camping trip.
What was the inspiration behind SoulPad?
My husband Mark and I purchased a big, heavy military bell tent as a communal tent to use with friends. At that time we were using nylon structures to camp in. Together with our friends we re-designed that monstrous, hairy military tent every time we used it. We knew it could make a great family camping tent if it was lighter, had a smaller pack size and so on. We found a reputable factory who wanted to work on this project with us and who shared our enthusiasm and ideas. We developed our lightweight, durable canvas and switched out the old heavy components for modern new ones (e.g. wooden slides for modern nylon slides), with a little further tweaking we landed on the product as you see it today. Very little has changed in terms of design and materials since we started in 2006.
What is your next big project?
Camping Pods, aimed at campsite owners for all-season use, or private individuals needing extra space at home.
We’re really excited about this as it feels like we’re extending the summer.
What are your essentials for a great camping trip?
I think it’s essential to leave all the things we deem to be essential at home. The kids will thank you in the long-run for not allowing them to take their gadgets. It took me a long time personally to realise I need to assign time to camping with my family, and although it is possible to carry on with emails from a field in the middle of nowhere, it’s really important that you don’t.
Besides, leaving all those gadgets at home makes way for other important things like rugs, fairy lights and bunting. These things soon become synonymous with good times, just like reacquainting yourself with Christmas tree decorations at Christmas. Throw in some familiar bits from around the home (I’m talking cushions, blankets and anything soft and squishy) and you’ll all feel like you’re in your home-from-home. Small children respond well to familiar tokens like these, and happy, settled little ones make for a great start to a holiday. Don’t take airbeds though, they are the work of the devil. Self-inflating mats are where it’s at (5cm depth+ for a good nights sleep). Unlike an airbed this area is then also usable by day as squishy floor.
What is the best adventure you have had in a SoulPad tent so far?
When we did this photoshoot here. It was on Lord Iveagh’s estate in Suffolk. We arranged for the photographers to be there for a day-long shoot under our supervision. We had to take our children along because it was the summer holidays and we couldn’t get childcare. Our eldest daughter ended up being in some of the shots (which she loved). When the photographers left we were supposed to de-camp and leave, but decided to stay the night since an awesome camp had been set-up. We didn’t tell anyone we would be doing this, so don’t tell Lord Iveagh will you?! There was a plush caravan on site, but we chose the SoulPad. It was the best camp-out ever. Just us and a big open space surrounded by woodland. The sounds were amazing.
A one night impromptu camp-out, under the stars, eating the sausages we had taken along as props, being in the middle of nowhere on the Elveden Estate, being visited by muntjac deer…but best of all seeing the joy on our daughters face when we let her take charge of the campfire for the first time. We’ve always intended to wild camp since, but haven’t managed it yet. I look forward to that next adventure though.
What would be your perfect wild summer escape?
Wild camping on a remote island in Scotland, accessible only by Canadian canoe. If any readers are open to helping this to happen, I’m all ears!
Don’t forget to share your wild camping pictures in our #mywildsummer competition