Nomad Travel Tent

Review by Matt Heason
Wednesday 17th January 2007

Nomad Travel Cot

Not your average bit of planetFear review kit this, but something we think a lot of people will be interested in hearing about. If you've got, or are soon to have, a baby then you will either have or be thinking of getting a travel cot of some description. By and large these are a pretty neat folding contraptions that you can sling in the back of the car and put up in a spare room or even a large tent. The problem is that they weigh up to 18kg! Try taking that on a Ryan Air flight to El Chorro in addition to our normal luggage and you'll appreciate the Nomad.

It has various components. First and foremost are the cot itself and its poles. Yes, I said poles. In essence it is a miniature tent, with two robust poles which cross the middle and affix to the four corners of the cot base. Obviously these two bits are essential! There are then two optional extras: a fitted sleeping bag and a Thermarest style blow-up mattress. Talk about sleeping in style!

Let’s look at each component individually. The poles are robust aluminium, of a grade it would appear difficult to bend. This is important as it is often necessary to lean on a cot so the whole thing needs to have structure. The poles pack away into their own bag, however there are 4 aluminium feet which stay fixed to the cot corners. These are what the main poles slot into. They are about 8 inches long and each have a bend in them which helps give the cot stability when erected. It’s mildly frustrating having to ‘fold’ these into the main cot material when packing away, and would have been easier if they were treated as part of the poles, perhaps slotting into pockets or eyelets in the corners like many tents. Furthermore, perhaps the most frustrating thing about the cot is fitting the poles through the sleeves and getting the material sorted so that you can actually bend the poles and fix them to their feet. Strangely it is almost as difficult to undo this process. Once you’ve done it a few times though, you get the knack. Basically there seems to be a fair bit of friction between the aluminium poles and the cot material. It now takes about 2 minutes to put up and a similar time to take down and pack up.

On to the cot. Basically it is a very cool little tent. I say little, but it’s designed to sleep babies up to 3 years old and it’s big enough for a grown adult to climb into, albeit crunched up! With the poles in place it’s a simple matter of pulling on two tensioning straps to make the whole thing rigid and safe to lean on. It is remarkably stable. Note that it includes 4 pegs to pin it down if you are using it outside! There are effectively 5 ‘faces’ to the cot, the two end ones being too small to be of any use, the top, and the two long sides. One of the sides and the top feature fully zipped oval entrances that are plenty big enough for you to lift your baby in and out of. The zips are on the outside so that older kids can not let themselves out. The ‘doors’ are both made of midge grade UV-protected mosquito netting thereby letting in plenty of light. Each door has a stow-away area if you choose to leave them open (a toggle for the side and a pocket for the top), and there is also a discreet pocket on one of the end walls to stow the stuff sacks that the whole thing is packaged into when not in use. All neat features.

Of the two optional extras I would say that the sleeping bag is the most important because beneath this bag the base of the cot is a Pertex like material which proves very slippery to anything that isn’t fixed in place. The sleeping bag is rectangular, with toggles at each corner and mid way down each long side which affix to matching toggles in the cot. This works very well and means that in the morning you don’t wake up to see your baby down in the bottom corner in a mess of blankets. I would have thought poppers would be easier to use than toggles, especially in the fiddly corners.

The base of the cot is actually double layered Pertex, with an opening at one end which takes a custom sized Thermarest style self-inflating mat. You could obviously place anything you like under the cot, but bear in mind that it has been designed with this mat in mind. Once in its sleeve there are Velcro tabs to fasten it in place. On our model these tabs are a little on the tight side which meant that one night they un-did themselves very loudly to wake the sleeping occupant. We now leave them open. You can also buy a foam mattress that doesn't self inflate for a little less money.

So how does it work in practice? Very, very well on the whole. At 2.8kg it’s light enough to take on holiday with you, if a little bulky (if you take the bag and mat too). Unlike other cots the side door means that you can get down to the same level as your baby to help soothe it, and to lift it in and out. The four corner feet are actually removable via a fiddly procedure, but this at least means you can wash the cot. One thing to have clear in your head is that the corner feet mean that you need a fairly large area to put the cot down. On the same note it can be difficult to feed the poles in in a confined room without waving the ends around and risking damaging things (it is possible if you feed them in in sections, though obviously more of a fiddle). My main issue with the design is with the zips. Our baby is a light sleeper. It is very difficult to put him in the cot, get him to sleep and then zip up the door without waking him. I would suggest a series of toggles in addition to the zip for client closure. This is only really an issue for the side door. I mentioned previously that it comes with pegs for outdoor use. The material is not waterproof so it should never be used outside other than during the day under a watchful eye. Each component comes in its own flame retardant bag complete with carry strap.

Highly recommended.

Size: Assembled: L118 x W65 x H78 cm. Packed: 40 x 16 cm.
Weight: 2.8kg (without sleeping bag and mat)
RRP: Around £115 with the mat and an extra £40 for the sleeping bag. £129 for all three.
Stockist: Mountain Buggy

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