arpenaz base m car camping tent sharan 1 - Arpenaz Base M Review (+ video) - a great budget car/tailgate tent

Arpenaz Base M Review (+ video) – a great budget car/tailgate tent

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A year later – it’s still the best car tent. I tested the Arpenaz Base M during our 11 day camping trip in Croatia with 2 days of rain and I’m very happy with it. Considering its price ~130GBP / EUR, compared to other car tents (awnings) that start at 250 and go up to several hundred, it’s a very good option if you want to test if this type of camping is for you. Here’s my experience & review.

Key information

  • Tent type: CAMPING LIVING AREA – single layer
  • Size: Square living room with an area of 6.25 sqm (2.5×2.5m floor) and a maximum height of 2.15 m
  • Tailgate opening size: Newer model 2024 height: 1.4m, width bottom: 1,8m, width top: 1.2m (and it gets wider, 20cm lower it’s about 1,5m) + you can stretch it to some extent to fit the boot nicely – see images below. Older model (pre-2024) height: 1.4m, width bottom: 1,4m, width top: 0.9m (and it gets wider, 20cm lower it’s about 1,1m)
  • Waterproof: Tropical rain laboratory test | Under shower: 200 L of water per hour per sqm
  • Packed size & weight: 57 x 18 cm | 18 litres | 8 kg
  • Openings: 3 (2 doors, 1 window) + each with a mosquito net + a cover (for privacy). Big opening fits a tailgate (1.7m height from the floor, 1.4m height of the opening)
  • Assembly: two poles, best assembled by two people

MY TOP BUDGET CAR TENT – Decathlon Arpenaz Base M

Lukas Cech – Nimblecamper.com

arpenaz base m berlingo2 - Arpenaz Base M Review (+ video) - a great budget car/tailgate tent
If you don’t mind it’s not meant to be used as a car tent – but it actually can do the job pretty well, you’re in for a treat – at only 129.99 GBP / 139.99 EUR, you will get a pretty good tailgate tent – or a side door tent, you can make it fit both. Better for cars like Caddy, Berlingo, Sharan etc – with lower height compared to a Multivan (as most car awnings are made for those). Confirmed to fit most MPVs, barn doors as well. (see images below)
– Very cheap!!
– Height : 2.15 m | Floor area: 6.25 m2 | Comfortable for 6 people
– Openings on 3 sides | 3 mosquito nets
– Waterproof (200L per hour per m2)
– Packed size – rectangular cover | 57 x 18 cm | 18 litres
– Weight 8kg
– Easy set-up with a free-standing structure | Fibreglass poles
– The fabric filters UV radiation with a UPF of 30
– Withstands force 6 winds – around 50 km/h | Wind tunnel test
– doesn’t need a rail to be attached
– will not fit exactly as it’s not meant to be used with a car, but should do the trick – the opening is high enough for the tailgate or most barn doors + the sheet will protect from rain.

129.99 GBP / 139.99 EUR

I haven’t seen a tailgate tent in this price range that works better. Easy to carry, easy to erect and does the job perfectly – you gain a lot of storage space / living room with mosquito nets and window covers for privacy / cover during the rain. Add a tarp to cover the tailgate for extra rain protection and there’s not much missing from this (unintentional) car tent. If you are considering trying car camping with a car tent, this is the one to try. And you may never need another one, unless your family starts to grow 🙂

Available at any Decathlon website for your country.
I recommend buying this foldable table + 4 chairs too – good ratings, price and takes up almost no space.

4.9

There are three ways how you can fit it over your tailgate or side door:

Overall summary and user experience

I have reviewed various forums and users feedback and summarised their experience here:

The Arpenaz Base M tent has garnered quite a lot of attention since 2021 in the car camping community. Here’s a summary of what users have to say about this product:

  • Setup: One of the most consistent praises for this tent is its ease of setup. Many have commented on how manageable it is to set it up alone, but with help, the process is even faster. One user mentioned that this tent is a breeze to set up, even when done alone. They found it lightweight and efficient for their camping needs. For a few, there were challenges in setting it up alone, especially if one is of shorter stature or faces windy conditions.
  • Versatility: The tent seems to be popular among ‘minicampers’ because of its compact size and suitability for car camping. Users have creatively adapted it to fit the rear or side of different vehicles, from the B-Class to Berlingo. However, there were minor challenges with some vehicle models, particularly in creating a seamless connection between the car and the tent.
  • Quality & Price: Many found the tent to be of good quality, especially considering its price point. It’s also highlighted to be waterproof during heavy rain. However, some users faced issues with its design; for instance, a user pointed out that during rain, one has to close the windows due to the design of the fly mesh and rolling tarp. Another user mentioned that in strong winds, the tent might not hold up very well.
  • Ventilation and Rain: One user pointed out that the tent design could be improved for rainy weather. They mentioned that the rainfly is inside the tent, making it necessary to close the windows during rain. This may affect ventilation.
  • Personal Experiences: Some users shared unique experiences, from struggling to repack the tent to testing it in different weather conditions. One user even considered selling theirs, as they no longer use their car for overnight stays as often.

In conclusion, while many users appreciate the tent’s value for money and its functionality for car camping, potential buyers should be aware of the design quirks and occasional availability issues. As with any product, personal experiences may vary, but this tent seems to be a favourite among many in the car camping community.

How does the Arpenaz Base M fit on a car?

The Arpenaz Base M big opening measurements are:

  • NEWER MODELS (from end of 2023, 2024)
    • height: 140cm
    • width bottom: 180cm
    • width top: 120cm (and it gets wider, 20cm lower it’s about 150cm)
  • OLDER MODELS (before end of 2023)
    • height: 140cm
    • width bottom: 140cm
    • width top: 90cm (and it gets wider, 20cm lower it’s about 110cm)

But you can stretch the materials a bit, so it’ll fit around the boot opening nicely.

It should fit any car / MPV / SUV with its tailgate (where the tent will “hang”) not taller than 180cm. Anything above that and the tent will hang so that the floor adjacent to the car will not touch the ground completely.

The main/big opening cover sheet also makes it possible to fit onto the side door and taller cars. The tailgate won’t be 100% inside but it will cover the entire roof & tailgate. You just need to make sure it’s protected from the sides. See ways to fit it below.

Need something bigger?

If you need something bigger or taller, you could give the Arpenaz Base Fresh (10 people) a try. Its opening is taller and wider so should fit pretty much anything – but you will have to ensure it’s protected against water and mozzies getting in.

There are three ways how you can fit the tent over your tailgate or side door:

The tailgate “full fit” where the tailgate is inside the tent (image 1) or tailgate outside the tent (image 2) or side/sliding door fit (image 3). I find the first (full fit) best as there are almost no gaps – keeps the water and mozzies out the best.

second image thanks to: WILL WALKLEY OUTDOORS, third image: Sweeper Liam

I tested it on my VW Sharan 2013 and it fits perfectly. There are some gaps that you might want to cover in heavy rain or rain with a side wind or to block every single hole for mozzies to enter. In normal rain, it holds very well – it rained twice for hours and the water didn’t get in through the tent.

Where the water does get it is down the sides of the tailgate and then enters the tent by dripping from the rear bumper. It is designed to do this intentionally as car makers don’t expect you to stick the tailgate inside the tent… I wonder whether this would be a problem with a more expensive car tent too?

How to fix that? Easily – just add some kind of thin sheet to lead the dripping water outside of the tent just below the tailgate. I used a small camping mat to do just that:

Confirmed to fit these cars:

(based on this, it will likely fit any MPV tailgate as they tend to be about the same size)

Fellow campers have tested the Arpenaz Base M tent with their campers and shared their photos & experience in various forums. Therefore you can be sure that it will fit these cars. See the gallery at the bottom to see how it fits various of these cars.

  • Sharan
  • Touran
  • Berlingo
  • Caddy
  • all estates / combis
  • Kangoo
  • Partner
  • Opel Combo
  • most SUVs
  • based on above, should fit all MPVs too

If you need something bigger, you could give the Arpenaz Base Fresh (10 people) a try. It’s opening is taller and wider so should fit pretty much anything – but you will have to ensure it’s protected against water and mozzies getting in.

User testimonials

(I’ve collected these across various FB car camping groups)

Berlingo
Had our first trip away overnight to the beautiful Loch Morlich. ????????
Never thought I’d be camping in November in Scotland, but the wee Kampa heater, multiple layers and the fluffy dog kept me cosy. Even though there was frost on the van when I woke up ????❄
Elle
Ford Partner
If anyone is looking at a cheap awning the Decathlon Quechua is brilliant.
Thomas
Berlingo
Went to largs to try out new decathlon quechua base m
Torrential rain and blowing a hoolie but not a problem
Best £80 spent
Kelly
Caddy Maxi – barn doors
I have one with a maxi and have taken the zip out so it fits better. It will go but it’s tight to close the doors. I’ve seen some not reverse into it as far and of course, it’s probably better on lowered suspension.
Susan
Multivan (or similar)
First weekend away with the Quechua tent. Need to work on fixing the door to the van but first experience was great. Great value for money and easy to put up. And it took a good wind Saturday afternoon. Highly recommended! Got out on the boat and randomly landed when there was a Hot Rod meet at
Park Foot Holiday Park . Was the icing on the cake chatting and seeing all the cars.
Berlingo
I’ve been having problems practicing erecting the Obelink Trinity prior to my trip to Scarborough on Monday so decide to purchase the Quechua Repenaz Base M, this might upset some people but the Base M is far superior in quality, ease of erection and fit, so no contest, the Base M is my goto awning for this season. (It’s on the driveway so not pegged down).
Barry

How does the Arpenaz Base M tent work with barn doors?

If you have a Caddy Maxi, it is going to be a tighter fit, but here’s how one Caddy Maxi user describes it:

“I have one with a maxi and have taken the zip out so it fits better. It will go but it’s tight to close the doors. I’ve seen some not reverse into it as far and of course, it’s probably better on lowered suspension.”

Caddy Maxi is taller than a Berlingo, so this shouldn’t be such an issue with a Berlingo. Perhaps, reversing fully inside is doable, but closing the barn doors will probably require lifting the tent sheet hanging over the doors first (the one with the zipper).

But once open, it should be fine. Or you could pull the tarp over the barn doors and leave the car further away from the tent so that the tarp + open barn doors will create a corridor between the car and the tent.

And of course, you can always use the 2nd or 3rd way if you won’t like how it fits the barn doors – see both in my video:

Video walkthrough:

Post author:

Lukas

Founder of NimbleCamper.com, avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast. Car camping and microcamping allows me to keep traveling and exploring with a much greater level of freedom & privacy – to go anywhere and sleep anywhere. I didn’t have 30K to buy a VW Multivan, so found my way to the world of everyday car camping conversions. Here I share my experiences and what I learn.

Check out my thoughts on a balanced life: sensimism.com

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12 Comments

  1. Hey Lukas,

    Do you see any reason why this can’t be used as a glamping tent? Thanks for doing the review.

    Best,

    Ken

    1. Hi Ken,

      sorry, your comment slipped my attention. Not sure what you mean by “used as a glamping tent” – glamping tents are big, luxurious, heavy and not compact to carry around.

      This is a cheap, single layer tent, so the only way to make it a glamping tent is to put a comfy sofa, lush carpet and a TV inside 🙂

      Lukas

    1. Hi Jack,

      should work fine – the Caddys barn door is about 114cm tall and 118cm wide (https://www.vanguide.co.uk/vw-caddy-dimensions). As you an see on the arpenaz tent opening dimensions image, it’s 140cm tall and 140cm wide at the bottom / 110cm wide at the top.

      The 8cm difference might stretch the top a bit but shouldn’t interfere with normal use.

      Saying that, I haven’t tested it myself on a barn door. Have asked other campers and will update here once I know more.

  2. Do you think it would workm9n a Honda jazz , 5 door hatch back? I believe the height of the car is 155cm

    1. Hi Mike, it should work fine – as you can see here, you will be able to reverse almost the entire Honda Jazz into it: https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/arpenas-base-m-big-opening-measurements-size.webp.

      Here’s the tent on a Mazda 5 (about 166cm tall): https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/arpenaz-base-m-mazda.webp. Your Honda’s 10cm height difference shouldn’t matter.

      I’m presuming that ground clearance is about 25cm, which is about the height of the bottom zip in the big opening.

      You will be able to cover half or more of the car with the cover sheet just above the tent’s big opening.

  3. Hi Lucas.
    Do you know if this will fit around my Berlingo multispace. It’s a 71 plate so it may be a bit taller and wider than older Berlingos.
    Regards Andrew.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Yes, the 2021 Berlingo Multispace is around 186cm tall, compared to my Sharan 172cm, but you can see that people have used it with a Caddy Life here (about 180cm): https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/arpenaz-base-m-caddy-life2.webp and judging by the rear lights, a newer Berlingo too: https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/arpenaz-base-m-car-camping-berlingo3.webp and an NV200 (186cm) here: https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/arpenaz-base-m-mpv2.webp.

      One user (the Caddy Life one) also suggested a hack – dig a hole for each rear wheel, so it’ll sit a bit lower 🙂 You can easily lose 10cm like that.

      So I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. If anything, you will lift the end of the tent closer to the car slightly off the ground when you open the tailgate, but I had some wiggle room on my Sharan, so the additional 16cm won’t stretch it too much – or you let it slide up on the bumper, so it will hang on the tailgate basically.

      Or – there’s always a bigger option:
      https://nimblecamper.com/basefreshtent
      https://nimblecamper.com/airsecondsbaseconnect

      Worst case scenario, you can always use it like this: https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/arpenaz-base-m-camper-alternative-tailgate-fit.webp – regardless of the car height.

      Let me know how it went should you decide to buy the Base M (or send some pics, I’ll add them for others as a reference).

  4. A question received via the contact form, but relevant for this page, so pasting it here:
    ——————————————-
    Good evening, just stumbled across your site the other day looking for a car tent, I have a Peugeot 3008 on a 63 plate and was wondering if the Arpenaz Base M would fit the tail gate, the sizes in your site are a lot smaller than what my car is, I was under the impression that the car would go inside the tent but if I was to do that it would not fit. Is it a case of just putting the car against the tent and try sealing it up, I have checked my sizes and it would appear that my tailgate will not go inside the tent, in the past I have been using a 2mtr gazebo, but I don’t have a way of sealing up the side at the tailgate, any advice would be appreciated , thanking you Craig
    —————————————————

    1. Hi Craig,

      thanks for reaching out!

      It’s a Peugeot 3008 2013 right? Then it’s height should be 1.64 meters: https://www.automobiledimension.com/photos/peugeot-3008-2013.jpg

      Then you shouldn’t have a problem as I’m using it with my Sharan, which is 1.72m: https://www.automobiledimension.com/photos/volkswagen-sharan-2015.jpg

      You don’t need to fit the entire car into the main tent opening (1.4×1.4m) – only the boot opening + the open tailgate. The tent is 2.15m tall, so the tailgate has enough room to open up. Should your tailgate open higher than my Sharan one, you might need to stop it, so it won’t lift the tent up too much – either by weighing it down with something, or by using a string to stop it from opening all the way up.

      But as you can see here, my car is taller than yours and it fits nicely: https://nimblecamper.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/sharan-arpenaz-base-m2.webp + the tent is taller than the actual tent opening, so enough room for the tailgate.

      Send some pics if you decide to go ahead with the Arpenaz Base M 🙂