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Vango Aether Air tent 600XL

A spacious investment-buy for families who want a tent that will last for years to come ­– and who have room in the car to transport it.

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
The Vango Aether Air 600XL is a great buy for families seeking to invest

Our review

For those looking for space, head room and a good night’s sleep in all weather conditions, this could be the family tent for you. It’s easy to put up, well made and has a lower-than-normal environmental footprint, being made from recycled plastic.
Pros: Very easy to put up
Spacious
Blackout sleep section
Durable – good quality seams
Made from recycled plastic bottles
Cons: No floor-to-ceiling pockets
Bulky and heavy (but standard for air tents)

The Vango Aether Air tent is a great choice for families looking for a spacious tent that’s easy to put up and will stand the test of time. At £800 it’s an investment, so perhaps something to consider if you know that camping is going to be a perennial event and want a tent that’s well made and will last for years to come.

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As with most air tents, it is heavy and requires a bit of muscle (or a wheelbarrow) getting it to the site where you’re going to be camping. This is not one to attempt to take on the train.

It’s extremely easy to put up – we did it in about 20 minutes – and the instructions are clear. You simply lay it out, attach the pump into the holes in the four beams, pump them up and watch it inflate. Secure it with guy ropes and tent pegs. It would be possible to do this with one person, but its size means it’s much easier with two of you holding it up.

When it came to taking it down, it took us a good five minutes to work out how to deflate the beams – there is a different valve to plug in that sucks the air out instead.

The tent is made from recycled plastic bottles, which is a real tick for the environment and the whole ethos of circular economies. The sleeping compartment has a decently dark blackout inner section and divides into two if you choose, or one if your children don’t want to be separate from you.

I was impressed by the porch, which protrudes enough to shelter four chairs from rain and baking sun when overhead. It’s possible to buy a Vango family shelter – essentially a large tarpaulin that stretches across the front of your tent and provides extra cover for stormier or hotter weather. You can also buy an add-on compartment, turning the tent into a multi-room space.

The tent was watertight and wasn’t bothered by the wind. There are several lantern hooks dotted throughout the tent on the air beams. We didn’t use the electrical hook-up, but there is a mains charging access point with an overlying lip to keep the rain out.

What I didn’t like about the tent was the lack of floor-to-ceiling pockets on the inner tent in the living space – this is a common feature with tunnel tents of this size. However there are pockets inside the inner tent at a lower level, so you’ll have somewhere to put your book and jewellery when you bed down for the night.

What we really like about this tent is how easy it was to put up, and how well made it is. (The high-visibility guy ropes were also a bonus.) Space is a wonderful thing to have, especially on rainy days when you’re simply hanging out in the living area, but it comes at the cost of space in the car – and air tents are bulkier than pole tents because there is usually a pump included, plus the beams take up more room and are made of heavier fabric. Families with small cars who are serious about camping may want to consider a roof box to put all the sleeping bags and bulky but lightweight items in, freeing up space in the boot for a family tent.

Facts at a glance

  • Sleeps: 6
  • Type of tent: Tunnel pole tent
  • Pack size: 73cm x 45cm x 45cm
  • Weight: 23.85kg
  • Poles: Airbeam
  • Flysheet: Polyester (recycled)
  • Taping: Taped
  • Groundsheet: Sewn in
  • Hydrostatic Head: 3000mm
  • Standing room: 210cm
  • Inner tent: Sentinel eco (recycled polyester)
  • Floor Inner: Sentinel eco (recycled polyester)
  • Groundsheet: Sentinel eco (recycled polyester)
  • Colours: Blue, grey

Also consider

Easy Camp Palmdale 600 Lux tent

If you’re not sure you’re going to get on with camping, consider Easy Camp’s Palmdale 600 Lux tunnel tent. It houses six people and uses fibreglass poles, which keeps the cost and the boot space down. With a similar amount of living space and dark inner tent, it’s perfect for families to test-run the experience, or those looking to keep costs down. It also has plenty of pockets in the inner tent, which is a very handy feature when you just need to keep some things off the floor.

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