Best Inflatable Tent for Family Camping

So what IS an inflatable tent?

Remember how you used to listen to music on your trusty old CD player, but then looked around and noticed that the whole world was suddenly carrying their entire music collection on an MP3 player the size of a cigarette packet? You felt a little ‘behind the times’ right? Well the same thing has been going on in the world of tents and awnings – the old bendy pole technology has transformed into fast inflatable air pipes instead. In this article we outline the main considerations to look for when choosing the best inflatable tent to cater for your particular needs.

Speed of Deployment

The inflatable ‘airbeam’ tents are much quicker to put up (I wanted to say erect here, but I couldn’t without sniggering) than the pole-based alternatives. They are lighter, have less bits in the bag to lose, and are often backed up by a lifetime guarantee against leaks and the dreaded Brewer’s Droop (sorry).

It is true that the inflatable tents are typically slightly more expensive than their pole-based siblings, but that differential is reducing as the technology gets more mature. We feel that the ease of use outweighs the slightly higher cost. The overall weight of the airbeam tents is also typically a bit less than the older tents and they have fewer individual component parts to lose or break. They are simply less hassle!

Kampa Downdraught hand pumpBlowing up an Airbeam Tent

The Airbeam tents typically use vendor-specific valve systems in each archway to which a supplied hand or footpump can be attached and the airbeam pumped up in under a minute.

We’ve found that once the inflatable tent is pumped up and the air valves are correctly closed and capped off that the tent will happily stay up for a week’s holiday without further air being needed. 

Key Features to look for on Inflatable Tents

There are a ridiculous number of tents available on the market at the moment, and it’s difficult for even experienced campers to narrow down the field of choice. In this post we are simply concentrating on family-sized 4, 5 or 6 person Airbeam tents.

We’ve found over the years that if a tent is marketed for a maximum of three people, then the third person has to be on the very small side. It’s therefore typically worth adding ‘+1’ to the number of people you’re looking to accommodate. E.g. if you’re a family of three, we recommend looking for a four-person tent.

In terms of important features to have, the following are top of our ‘must-have’ list:

  • Inflatable Airbeam technology, preferably with lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Decent waterproofness (Hydrostatic Head of >4000mm).
  • Access hatch for electric hookup.
  • Two or more bedroom compartments – it’s our opinion that it’s both warmer and more private to have multiple sleeping quarters within a family tent than all sleeping in the same area. 
  • Blackout material in the bedrooms can aid sleep by restricting light ingress.
  • Useful collection of pockets and storage areas
  • Manageable weight – some of the larger >6 person tents can get seriously heavy at >50kg – not ideal
  • Multiple entrances and exits
  • Front porch area or vestibule
  • Clear windows which you can actually see a nice view through – it’s unbelievable that some tent manufacturers don’t do this. Surely it’s one of the main enjoyments of camping!

These are the essential features we look for in our tent reviews – let’s take a look at the models which we’ve been impressed with recently.

Coleman Weathermaster 6XL Blackout Airbeam Tent

Coleman Weathermaster 6XLSeveral tent manufacturers are now offering tents using specialist blackout material for the bedrooms. This material is designed to stop the morning rays from disturbing your beauty sleep. Coleman are a US company with a great pedigree, and they were one of the first to introduce this innovation.

With their new Weathermaster 4XL, 6XL and 8XL series they have produced a range of family tunnel tents which offer exceptional living spaces. Each model includes a decent-sized enclosed porch area, a large main living space and yes… blackout bedrooms at the rear.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on a 6XL to assess and were immediately impressed with the quality of fabric on offer and the overall layout. It is certaionly not a cheap option but offers a great camping experience and a rig which will last many years of use.

Please note that all the Weathermaster tents are a light pastel green in colour which may not to be everyone’s taste. Personally, we are fans of it as it is more subdued than the previous generation Coleman Valdes 6XL airbeam tent (which is still a great tent if you can get hold of one). However, it may have been nice to include an alternative colour in the Weathermaster lineup.

Coleman Weathermaster 6XL insideSleep well

The Weathermaster tents use a blackout material which can block up to 99% of light  – this certainly helps stack the odds of a good night’s sleep in your favour. What it doesn’t do is block out the sound of the roosters cock-a-doodling, so you may need some ear plugs added to your order too!

What is interesting is that the blackout material also keeps the tent warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather which can be really useful when you’re camping in either extreme.

Coleman Weathermaster 6XL sizingThe diagram opposite shows the layout of the 6XL. At 2.15m in height, the tent is tall enough for all but basketball players. Or Darth Vader, but I’m not sure if he’s a camper.

There are three double bedrooms at the back of the tent which can sleep up to six people lined up in a row. This is great if you’re a family, but might feel a bit odd if two or free couples are sharing the tent.

The larger 8XL is about £100 more to buy and is slightly longer in total length. It also includes a detachable 215 x 140cm sleeping chamber for the extra two berths, which clips into the lounge space opposite the six other berths. Personally I would be tempted to buy the 8XL whether you

In Use

Assembly is a breeze but there are five airbeams to cycle through to inflate. Luckily each individual airbeam is not particularly large volume and so you don’t need to exert yourself as much as pumping the big pipes on some other models.

The weight of the 6XL is 38.4kg which is heavy for a 6-person tent and really requires two people to shift. Pack size is also largeish at 78 x 58 x 53cm, but it will fit in the car boot easily enough. The reason for these high values is that the material and fabrics used are really top notch – exceedingly thick and warm – ideal for UK conditions.

Coleman Weathermaster 6XL view

The 6XL model we tested had fairly subdued lighting inside, even though the windows are large and clear. I think this is because of the blackout section of the rear giving the tent a mellow feel. The lounge area has a large door and window on each side with zippable flyscreens which allows more light in if required. There is also a little rain shelter/vestibule on one side which is handy for heading out in bad weather.

Fabric quality is definitely up there with the best, being both waterproof (4500 mm hydrostatic head) as well as good at blocking the sun. The entire range uses a UV Guard coating which essentially gives ‘factor 50’ protection against sunburn.

There is a handy storage rack for odds and ends at the rear of the tent near the bedroom area, as well as useful hooks on some of the airbeams – this enables lanterns or other dangly objects to be hung up – a nice touch and definitely useful.

Whilst researching the 6XL online prior to receiving it, I was struck by how the Coleman Weathermaster tents have already garnered excellent reviews all over the internet, even though they are relatively new. We have to agree with them. In their green and grey livery, they certainly look the part and have a two year warranty as well. 

If you are after a quality tent for a large family of 4, 5 or even 6 then we feel that the Coleman Weathermaster 6XL or 8XL should definitely be considered. 

9.5Expert Score

The Coleman 6/8XL are great blackout tents for around six people. We really like the way Coleman use top notch materials - the quality of fabric and attention to detail in the Weathermaster range is second to none. Definitely worth a look if you're on the hunt for a decent family airbeam tent and have the budget.

Decathlon Air Seconds 6.3 Fresh and Black Airbeam Tent

Quechua Air Seconds 6.3Decathlon are not typically known for their tents, but attention should certainly be pointed in their direction due to the incredible value for money on offer. With their huge buying power, the French giant can actually design, manufacture and sell tents with similar functionality to more familiar brands at almost half the price. The quality on offer is excellent and backed up by a two year guarantee.

The Air Seconds 6.3 is a product of Decathlon’s in-house Quechua range and is extremely good value for money. It is available for purchase from their online website and so you don’t have to live close to a hyperstore if you don’t have one near your house.

Layout and Inflation

Quechua Air Seconds 6.3 sizingThe Air Seconds 6.3 is a 6-person tent and uses four air beams to supply support to the structure. Pumping up is simple but beware that this tent is the the only one in our list which does not come with its own pump. Instead, you are recommended to separately buy the 7PSI hand pump from Decathlon.

The colour of the tent is a pale peach with off-white airbeams and front porch entrance. It looks stylish with a definite Gallic élan, although I do wonder how the off-white will bear up after a muddy packing-up session.

Quechua Air Seconds 6.3 insideThere is a great amount of size on offer here, with over 7 square metres of living space and 2.1 metres of standing room.

In addition, there are two double bedrooms at the rear and a detachable double sleeping pod for the front area which comes out at night.

When this is not being used, the whole front of the tent can be opened up to create a fantastic air flow and viewing perch. The downside of having to clip in that sleeping pod when required is that you have to make sure there is room for it at the end of each day – forward planning is necessary by keeping furniture out of the way.

The tent is unusual in that the groundsheet can be unzipped from the perimeter of the walls and actually folded back from the door areas. This means that if there is torrential rain, you can stop it from running into the tent area. It will also fully unzip and can be removed if you wish to feel the grass underfoot. A definite nice design touch.

There is a door on one sideof the tent and this ahs a little rain vestibule which is kept in place by a fibre glass bendy pole. There are a couple of windows in the tent, but this is one criticism we have about it – it is designed to have the front open for viewing and the side windows are not the easiest to see out of. 

Blackout sleeping area

Both the permanent rear 4-berth sleeping compartment and detachable pod use Quechua’s ‘Fresh and Black’ technology (F&B) to provide excellent light blocking. This really aids sleeping, and prolongs your sleep in the morning when the sun is piercing through.

As for the Coleman Weathermaster range, the F&B tech also provides protection against sunburn if you’re lucky enough to have searing sunlight during your camping trip.

Quechua Air Seconds 6.3 in forest

Decathlon Air Seconds 6.3 – Key Specifications

Quechua Air Seconds 6.3 sleepingEach of the three bedroom areas of the tent measure 140 x 210cm, and for the rear compartment there is a really useful access hatch to the outside world. This enables an electric hookup cable to be passed through into the tent. In hot climates, this hatch can also promote airflow through the tent which is essential for remaining cool. All the bedroom pods also have mosquito/insect netting.

Both bedroom pods offer some really useful storage pockets for hanging up and hiding away all those bits and pieces which seem to get in the way on every camping trip.

Quechua Air Seconds 6.3 packedFor a 6-berth tent, the Air Seconds weighs a respectable 25.9 kg and packs down into a 128 litre bag measuring 85 x 38 x 38cm. This can be carried reasonably easily by one person if required, although you may end up with larger biceps on one arm than the other!

Waterproof and windproof

Decathlon make a great marketing pitch about the resilience of the Air Seconds tent against rain and wind. They quote 4 hours of  hammering with water at 200 litres per hour per square metre with no leakage. Similarly, they test each design in a wind tunnel on a turntable to ensure that the tent can survive wind battering from any direction, even at 60km/h. Sadly we did not have the opportunity to confirm these numbers.

In summary, the Decathlon Quechua 6.3 Air Seconds Tent is an excellent option for a great value 6-berth family airbeam tent. It will not break the bank but uses quality materials and has some lovely design touches like the blackout sleeping pods, decent storage and rear access hatch/ventilation. Definitely worth checking out at the very least if you’re in the market for a large family air tent.

9.5Expert Score

The Decathlon Air Seconds 6.3 airbeam tent offers a great combination of excellent design, quality materials and very reasonable price. We would seriously recommend that you check out this tent if you're looking for a value for money option to get out camping this year.

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton Tunnel Tent

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton crop

Berghaus have a reputation of making great, high quality outdoor gear. From clothes to climbing gear. They may not be the cheapest, but when you buy a Berghaus product, you know it will accomplish it’s purpose in life with aplomb (whatever a plomb might be!). 

The polycotton-based Berghaus Air 6XL is a case in point. Exceptionally well designed, spacious and made from high quality ‘proper’ tent fabric – this is a tent to last a lifetime. The high £1400 pricetag therefore needs to be looked at as an investment in your family’s future and a potential creator of amazing memories. In that sense it could be considered a bargain!

This Berghaus model actually won the “Best Luxury Tent” award in Camping magazine, and we have to agree with their verdict. It is superb in all departments, from the wheels on the storage bag to the three doors on offer and excellent ventilation.

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton loungeThis layout rocks!

As its name suggests, the 6XL is a 6 person tent, but there is substantial room inside – for once a tent has been designed to comfortably support the number of people it claims!

It is essentially a large tunnel tent with an excellent layout for camping life. The 6XL has three large windows on each side of the tunnel letting in oodles of light. The main front ‘wall’ also has a further two windows and a mesh-backed zipped door which leads into a massive covered front porch area. This is a mansion!

The front porch section with canopy is perfect for outdoors cooking or pulling up a chair to watch the campsite soap opera.

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton dimensionsThe lounge area is expansive – this is your main living space, with a head height of over 2.15m – perfect for taller folk. The lounge measure 270 x 450cm and has two side doors to the outside, one with a neat little shelter (or ‘brow’) above it to get your shoes on without getting soaked. This also stops water dripping in when the door is open – nice!

The sleeping area is well-ventilated and has darkened fabric in this section to reduce incoming light. It can split into one, two or three separate bedrooms and is comfortably-sized for a family of six.

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton bedroomsFive Airbeams

There are five airbeams in total which take a fair bit of pumping because of the height of the overall structure. There’s a lot of air in them there beams!

The 6XL comes with an excellent stirrup pump though, which made pumping fairly simple.

Setup took us around 20 minutes in total, but that was at a fairly leisurely pace. Look at it as a bit of holiday exercise – you can always treat yourself to a glass of wine afterwards!

The feeling of space in the lounge is immense – check out the photograph above from inside the tent.

The windows are excellent and provide clear visibility. There are additional little design flourishes everywhere. From the electric hookup hatches (one on each side), to the handy pockets underneath the windows (see below) and the storage between bedrooms, this is pretty much as good as it gets in the tent world.

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton windowsA word on Polycotton

You may not have heard of polycotton before – it is essentially a 65%/35% mixture of polyester (modern waterproof modern tent fabric) and cotton (traditional breathable canvas). By combining the two you get improved breathability but with similar waterproofing ability, as well as a natural feel.

This latter point – the feel – shouldn’t be underestimated. The Berghaus 6XL feels like a luxury ‘proper’ tent. The kind you used to go off camping in with the scouts. It is a quality item and really will not disappoint. Absolutely no condensation in the mornings either.

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton side

Berghaus Air 6XL Polycotton lounge bagWe were unfortunately not given the Hydrostatic Head information for the 6XL, but can report that our test model was definitely waterproof and will survive a biblical deluge.

The quality of the fabric and the size of the tent means that it’s a hefty weight though – 49.2kg. It is a two-person effort to shift it if you’re not built like Sylvester Stallone. 

We highly recommend spending a little extra and also buying the carpet for the 6XL for a bit of added luxury underfoot.  

All in all, this is a cracker of an inflatable tent which will make you smile each time you’ve got it set up. Yes it costs more than some of our other suggestions but we think it’s worth saving up for.

10Expert Score

The Berghaus Air 6XL is a superb polycotton tent which feels solid, capable and traditional - in fact we'd say it is all you need for a family of up to 6 - A Tent For All Seasons!

kampa-hayling-4-classic-air-tent-1

We’ve been fans of Kampa gear for many years, having owned and loved the lightweight Rally 390 Awning when we were caravan owners. It was therefore not a great surprise when the UK-based Kampa got bought out by Dometic in 2018, and they have gone from strength to strength ever since.

The Kampa Hayling 4 Airbeam tent carries on the theme of that great awning we used to own but in a standalone inflatable tent version which is perfect for a family of three (with an older child), or four (with two young kids).

Subdued colour scheme is refreshingly laid-back

Using an understated colour scheme of greys, creams and blacks, the Hayling 4 is a quality inflatable tent which will see you through the worst UK weather conditions you might encounter. It is available in two versions at slightly different price points – a standard polyester version offers best value for money, but our preference is the uprated Technical Cotton ‘TC’ version which uses more breathable polycotton with a Weathershield protective layer added for improved waterproofing. The polycotton has better durability against UV damage as well as being cooler in hot sun and warmer in the cold.

kampa-hayling-4 layoutThe Hayling tent consists of three sections, logically laid out in an ‘arched tunnel’ format as follows:

  • Front porch area with decent ground sheet. Perfect for sitting on to remove muddy boots
  • Main lounge area (320cm x 190cm) having large side and front doors, each with windows offering great visibility – Kampa use their ‘crystal clear’ tech for this and it works well. 
  • 2 x double sleeping rooms at the back provided by a clipped-in inner tent. Doors to the sleeping pods are zippable.

kampa hayling tent

Set up and features

Assembly of the tent is easily achieved in 15 minutes owing to the use of four arched airbeams (Kampa call it AirFrame technology). A track-style manual pump is provided for the pumping workout, but as the beams are not that large it doesn’t take much effort to fill them up to the correct pressure. One fibre glass extendable pole is used for the front porch.

The Hayling 4 comes with all the features we recommend for tents. – it has an access flap for an electric hookup cable and exceedingly good waterprooofness – the hydrostatic head is 6000mm for the main tent and 10000mm for the groundsheet. You won’t be getting wet!

Weight comes in at a fairly chunky 31kg and the tent can be packed down to a compact 78 x 47 x 45 cm.

9.5Expert Score

The Kampa Hayling 4 and 6 have great layouts with all the features you need. In a direct shootout between polyester and polycotton (the TC versions) we would go for the latter as it just feels a more quality fabric in the hand. Either way, you cannot go wrong with the Hayling in our view. Recommended.

In an exclusive deal with Camping Secrets, use code AFFSAVE3 at the checkout for a further 3% off!

Vango Joro 600XL Air Tent

Vango Joro Air 600XLThe Vango Juro 600XL Air Tent is a new 2021 addition to Vango’s superb Earth Collection. This range of tents uses recycled single-use plastics which have been transformed into rugged 70 denier material for use in tent manufacture. The new fabric is called Sentinel Eco Fabric and it could really transform tent making.

The drive to recycle old plastic is an excellent initiative because it helps reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill and harming the environment for future generations. I’m not particularly “green”, but for me it’s a no-brainer to choose a product which can make a difference in this way – especially when you consider that the Joro 600XL is made with the equivalent of 261 plastic bottles!

Vango Joro Air 600XL dimensionsDimensions and Layout

Let’s talk specs for the Joro. It comes in a rather natty blue colour and is reasonably similar in design to the Coleman Weathermaster 6XL.

The Joro is longer (705cm vs 665cm) but slightly less wide (380cm vs 450cm) than the Coleman. Height is ample at 210cm.

The total ‘footprint area’ of the two competing tents are about the same, which makes choosing between them difficult. You need to ask yourself – do you prefer girth or length? Actually, it’s probably best not to answer that….

Vango Joro Air 600XL porch

The Joro has a front porch which is almost semi-circular in shape and has a really useful vestibule area. There is ample room to sit and enjoy the sun whilst also offering protection if a shower starts hammering down. You could definitely bring a BBQ or camping stove into this area to cook and there is great visibility with a few large windows.

Actually we should give a shoutout to the windows on the Joro – they are excellent. The plastic ‘glass’ needs to be seen to be believed and the Diamond Clear name they have chosen is very apt. These are up there with the best windows on the tent scene at the moment.

Vango Joro Air 600XL sittingLounge and Sleeping Area

The lounge living space is a rather spacious 290 x 380cm (11 square metres) in area and is a lovely space for chilling out and relaxing.

As mentioned, head height in the Joro is substantial due to the pre-angled airbeams used to support the tent. They give an excellent arch and make walking around easy, even for tall folk like me.

The groundsheet is sewn in and provides a draught-free environment for relaxation. If you prefer the option to remove the groundsheet then checkout the Decathlon Air Seconds 6.3 we’ve reviewed.

Sleeping is where you need to take care to check if the Juro 600XL is the tent for you. Due to the fairly narrow 380cm width of the tent, each of the three double bedrooms in the rear of the tent only get 120cm each.

For my wife and I, this is a little too close for comfort, and we feel slightly more comfortable in the Coleman which has 140cm per bedroom. Definitely bear this in mind when choosing. Of course if there are only 4 of you to sleep then you can unzip one of the bedrooms to make a much bigger master bedroom.

The bedroom design in general is decent and uses Vango’s version of blackout material to provide a good level of light blocking for better sleeping conditions. There are useful pockets available too for storage.

Setting Up

Vango Joro Air 600XL bagThe Vango comes with a decent pump as standard and there are five airbeams to pump up in total, taking around 15 minutes for full inflation if you’re being relaxed about it.

Packed size of the tent is a reasonably svelte 80 x 46 x 46cm and it weighs only 25.5kg – excellent for a 6 person tent. This can be handled by one reasonably strong person and can easily be transported in a car boot or roof box.

Other innovative features of the Joro 600XL Air include:

  • a tension band System to ensure structural integrity in bad weather
  • entry points for your electric hookup cable
  • a flexible doorstep that can be dropped to ground level for ease of access. This helps stop water getting in
  • lantern hanging points in the living area

Vango Joro Air 600XL in use 2

We think the Vango Joro 600XL Air Tent is an excellent choice for a modern airbeam tent with some of the best windows in the business (now there’s an accolade!). Its direct competitor is the Coleman Weathermaster 6XL, and if we’re honest the extra width of the Coleman wins the day due to the extra bedroom comfort. That being said, the Vango is considerably cheaper and could be considered much better value in that respect. Definitely one to check out for your 2021 camping holidays!

9Expert Score

The Vango Joro 600XL is almost a 10/10 tent, but not quite. For larger adults those three double bedrooms are just a little too narrow compared with the Coleman 6XL. However, if you don't fancy splurging over £1000 for the Coleman then the Vango is an excellent alternative and we LOVE the fact that it uses recycled plastic. Buy it with pride!

In an exclusive deal with Camping Secrets, use code AFFSAVE3 at the checkout for a further 3% off!

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent

In terms of buying a high quality 6 person airbeam tent for under that magical £1000 point you really cannot beat the Vango Keswick II 600DLX. Available in both a polyester version as well as a more expensive but longer-lasting polycotton choice, the Keswick offers great functionality coupled with what we consider to be a nicely laid out interior and a superb exterior visual look. It’s a proper tent, that’s for sure!

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent bag 2Weighing in at a fairly hefty 33.4kg (50kg for the polycotton version!) makes it almost certainly a two person job to carry any great distance. If you’re just transferring from a car boot to the ground then you can probably manage it on your own. 

The photograph opposite shows the pack size of the tent in comparison with the optional tarpaulin footprint (front right) and luxury carpet (front left). We would definitely recommend both of these for use with the Keswick – the footprint goes underneath the tent and is perfect for protecting it against rips and tears, especially on gravel pitches. The carpet just feels lovely underfoot too – perfect when stretching out on your blow-up sofa!

General Layout of the Vango Keswick 2

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent dimensionsThe Keswick has a roughly rectangular footprint and measures a decent 7.05m in length and 3.8m in width. There are five air struts to blow up with the supplied pump, but they are not overly voluminous and only take 5 minutes of raised heartrate – consider it your daily exercise!

Sleeping for six is at the back, arranged in two 3-berth rooms which use ‘midnight’ blackout technology to stay dark for a good night’s sleep. We found that it worked well, but you might not want to squeeze 3 bodies into each 1.8m width room – it could be a tight fit at only 60cm per person, and makes us see the Keswick working better as a 4-5 person family tent. If you have a bigger brood to sleep then we’d say go with the Coleman Weathermaster 8XL.

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent frontThe Keswick comes into it’s own though with the layout in front of the bedrooms. Facing the front of the tent there is a really sizeable lounge area with built in groundsheet and a superb side entrance to the left. The porch has a useful ‘eyebrow’ porch for rain protection which we loved.

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent insideTo the right of the living space is a novel ‘sidepod’ storage area which functions as a great place to place rucksacks and boots. We’ve not seen this sort of ‘modular’ functionality very frequently on tents and hope it is a sign of a future industry trend. Really useful.

Something else which is useful on the Keswick are the integrated storage pockets you find dotted around, as well as a dedicated entry point for your electric hook up cable. There’s only one cable entrance though – it would be nice to have one on both sides – manufacturers take note!

Across the ceiling there is a dedicated ‘Skytrack’ rail which allows you to hook up lights or a lantern – fairly simple idea but it’s definitely nice to have.

Moving forward again, there is a double zipped door which opens up into a non-ground sheet porch area which can be fully closed off at the front if required. On nice days this front area can be opened up by tying the front doors back and makes for an excellent observation deck or arena to show off your BBQ skills.

Vango Keswick II 600DLX Air Tent 2

In Use – our thoughts on the Vango Keswick

Overall the Kewsick really fulfilled our hopes and actually exceeded them in many areas. With three of us using the space for a weekend it was like a palace, and we really appreciated the sidepod storage area as well as the big, clear windows and blackout bedrooms. If there are six of you, it might be a squeeze but that needs to be your judgement to make.

Putting the icing on the cake is the fact that Vango offer a 2 year warranty on the Keswick and will extend this for a further year if you simply register your purchase with them. It’s their flagship model, and they have pulled out all the stops here to make it the best tent under £1000 on the market. We love it!

9.5Expert Score

We cannot recommend the Vango Keswick highly enough - if you're after a decent size family air tent then you can probably stop your search here. Coupled with the carpet underfoot, you'll feel like you're in a home from home. Loses half a point for the lack of fly screen on the side door but that is really nitpicking!

In an exclusive deal with Camping Secrets, use code AFFSAVE3 at the checkout for a further 3% off!

Vango Antrim 600XL Air Tent

Antrim 600XL AirThe Vango Antrim 600XL Air Tent is a new 2021 addition to Vango’s superb Earth Collection. This range of tents uses recycled single-use plastics which have been transformed into rugged 70 denier material for use in tent manufacture. The new fabric is called Sentinel Eco Fabric and it could really transform tent making.

The drive to recycle old plastic is an excellent initiative because it helps reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill and harming the environment for future generations. I’m not particularly “green”, but for me it’s a no-brainer to choose a product which can make a difference in this way – especially when you consider that the Antrim 600XL is made with the equivalent of 301 plastic bottles!

Antrim 600XL Air dimensionsDimensions and Layout

Let’s talk specs for the Antrim 600XL. It comes in a rather elegant Navy Blue colour and is reminiscent of the Coleman Weathermaster 6XL in terms of looks and design.

The great thing is that the Antrim is almost £300 cheaper than the Coleman which is about 26% – quite a substantial saving.

The Antrim is slightly shorter than the Coleman however (600cm vs 665cm) and less wide (380cm vs 450cm) which needs to be borne in mind – do you need the extra real estate? Height is ample at 210cm in both.

Vango Antrim 600XL Air outside 2

The Antrim has a sizeable covered front porch area which is a great place to sit. On a sunny day there is ample room to sit and enjoy the view whilst also offering protection if a shower starts hammering down. You could definitely bring a BBQ or camping stove into this area to cook and there is great visibility.

Actually we should give a shoutout to the windows on the Antrim – they are excellent. The ‘glass’ needs to be seen to be believed and the Diamond Clear name they have chosen is very apt. These are up there with the best windows on the tent scene at the moment.

Antrim 600XL Air bedLounge and Sleeping Area

The lounge living space is a decent 275x 380cm (10.45 square metres) in area and is a lovely space for chilling out and relaxing.

As mentioned, head height in the Antrim is substantial due to the pre-angled airbeams used to support the tent. They give an excellent arch and make walking around easy, even for tall folk like me.

The groundsheet is sewn in and provides a draught-free environment for relaxation. If you prefer the option to remove the groundsheet then checkout the Decathlon Air Seconds 6.3 we’ve reviewed.

Sleeping is where you need to take care to check if the Antrim 600XL is the tent for you. Due to the 360cm real-world width of the sleeping area, each of the 3-berth bedrooms in the rear of the tent only get 180cm each. – that’s only 60cm width per person – not much! And three’s a crowd in any case!

It’s probably better to think of the Antrim as more of a 4 person tent with oodles of space, rather than a 6 person tent with cramped quarters.

The bedroom design in general is decent and uses Vango’s version of blackout material (“Nightfall”) to provide a good level of light blocking for better sleeping conditions. There are useful pockets available too for storage as well as a hanging rail.

Setting Up

The Vango comes with a decent pump as standard and there are four airbeams to pump up in total, taking around 15 minutes for full inflation if you’re being relaxed about it.

The porch is supported by one of the old fashioned fibre glass tent pole things. I thought those had died out years ago! 😉

Packed size of the tent is a reasonably svelte 70 x 39 x 43cm and it weighs only 24.3kg – excellent for a 6 person tent. This can be handled by one reasonably strong person and can easily be transported in a car boot or roof box.

Other innovative features of the Antrim 600XL Air include:

  • a tension band System to ensure structural integrity in bad weather
  • entry points for your electric hookup cable
  • a flexible doorstep that can be dropped to ground level for ease of access. This helps stop water getting in
  • lantern hanging points in the living area

Vango Antrim 600XL Air outside

We think the Vango Antrim 600XL Air Tent is an excellent choice for a modern airbeam tent with some of the best windows in the business (now there’s an accolade!). Its direct competitor is the Coleman Weathermaster 6XL, and if we’re honest the extra footprint of the Coleman wins the day due to the extra overall space and comfort. That being said, the Vango is considerably cheaper and could be considered much better value in that respect. Definitely one to check out for your 2021 camping holidays!

9Expert Score

The Vango Antrim 600XL is almost a 10/10 tent, but not quite. For starters it is nowhere near large enough to sleep 6 adults in comfort - more like 4, or 2 adults and 3 kids However, if you don't fancy splurging over £1000 for the Coleman Weathermaster 6xl then the Vango is an excellent alternative and we LOVE the fact that it uses recycled plastic. Buy it with pride!

Portal Alfa 5 Person Air Tent 

Portal alfa tentIn terms of value for money, look no further than the Portal Alfa Inflatable Air Tent. For around £330 you can buy a fully inflatable airbeam tent which is realistically usable for a family of four.

The Portal uses three inflatable arches to create two main rooms within – a front 300 x 260 cm lounge area having windows to the front and both sides, and a single large bedroom at the rear measuring 210 x 300cm. Blowing up the airbeams is a simple affair using the supplied hand pump and only takes a minute or two.

layout portal alfa tentWe like the layout of the Portal Alfa and the understated colour scheme. The polyester used for the main outer covering is waterproofed to 4000mm hydrostatic head and so should survive any thunderstorm. For a supposedly ‘5 person’ tent, it is remarkably light at 12kg and can be easily transported to your campsite.

alfa inside

 

Sleeping Quarters

The bedroom area is a suspended inner cotton tent and as mentioned above, is just a single room – you really are all in this together! Personally we prefer two separate bedrooms for adults and children, but that is very much a personal choice. We had no problems with light streaming in on a sunny morning and were able to sleep well. 

There is an access hatch for the electric hookup cable to be passed through, which seems like an easy feature to include, but is missed by many manufacturers – we need our mod cons! 

Maybe not for the tallest campers

There are a few design points that it’s worth being aware of before you buy the Portal Alfa. The height is limited to 190cm (about 6ft2) in the front and 180cm (about 5ft 11) in the bedroom. This means that if you’re taller than this then you will be stooping a little inside. Not necessarily a massive issue, but worth pointing out. Secondly, the side windows in the lounge area are quite high up and not that large. Consequently, it can feel a little dark inside if the sun isn’t shining outside. The front windows are fine, but can be a little creased. However, for the price you are paying this is definitely not a bad compromise.

packed up alfa tentPacking up is easy and the supplied bag is large enough to squeeze the tent into without giving yourself a hernia. This is a definite plus point. 

Overall, the Portal Alfa is a lightweight family tent which won’t break the bank. Couple it with some bargain comfy chairs and a table, and you’ll have yourself an awesome setup for under £500. Just do it and get out there!  

8Expert Score

The Portal Alfa is a great value, lightweight family tent. It ticks all the boxes and would suit a family of 3 or 4 on a budget. Our only concern would be reliability and strength during really heavy storms. Definitely recommended for summer camping in UK and Western Europe.

Berghaus Air 4XL Tunnel Tent

Berghaus 4 XL air tent

Berghaus have a reputation of making great, high quality outdoor gear. From clothes to climbing gear. They may not be the cheapest, but when you buy a Berghaus product, you know it will accomplish it’s purpose in life with aplomb (whatever a plomb might be!). 

The Berghaus Air 4XL is a case in point. Exceptionally well designed, spacious and made from high quality fabric – this is a tent to last a lifetime. The £675 pricetag (£615 on Ebay at time of writing) therefore needs to be looked at as an investment in your family’s future and a potential creator of amazing memories. In that sense it could be considered a bargain!

berghaus from insideThis layout rocks!

As its name suggests, the 4XL is a 4 person tent, but there is so much room inside. It is truly an excellent layout with six large windows letting in oodles of light. A front porch section with canopy is perfect for outdoors cooking or pulling up a chair to watch the campsite soap opera.

Walking through the front door leads into an expansive lounge area – this is your main living space, with a head height of over 2m – perfect for taller folk. The lounge measure 270 x 300cm and has two side doors to the outside, one with a neat little shelter (or ‘brow’) above it to get your shoes on without getting soaked. It also stops water coming in when the door is open – nice!

The sleeping area is well-ventilated and has darkened fabric in this section to reduce incoming light. It can split into two separate bedrooms and is comfortably-sized for a family of four.

Berghaus great designFour Airbeams

Four seems to be the theme of this inflatable tent – there are four airbeams in total which take a fair bit of pumping because of the height of the overall structure. There’s a lot of air in them there beams! Look at it as a bit of holiday exercise – you can always treat yourself to a glass of wine afterwards!

The feeling of space in the lounge is immense – check out the photograph from inside the tent. The windows are excellent and provide clear visibility. There are additional little design flourishes everywhere. From the electric hookup hatches (one on each side), to the handy pockets and storage between the bedrooms this is pretty much as good as it gets in the tent world.

Berghaus cup cupboardThe outer covering has a 6000mm hydrostatic head which means it’s extremely waterproof and will survive a biblical deluge. The quality of the fabric and the size of the tent means that it’s a hefty weight though – 28.3kg. Could be a two-person effort to shift it if you’re not built like Sylvester Stallone. 

We highly recommend spending a little extra and buying the 4xl carpet for a bit of added luxury underfoot.  

carpet 4xl

All in all, this is a cracker of an inflatable tent which will make you smile each time you’ve got it set up. Yes it costs more than some of our other value suggestions (which knocks a point off the score), but we think it’s worth saving up for.

9Expert Score

The Berghaus 4xl is a cracker of a tent - in fact we'd say its all you need for a family of 2, 3 or 4 - A Tent For All Seasons!

Dometic Ascension FTX 601 TC Air Tent

Dometic Ascension studio

We were lucky enough to spend a few hours with the new Dometic Ascension FTX 601 TC Air Tent recently and can truly say that it is the Rolls Royce of air tents.

Yes it’s phenomenally expensive (tipping over the psychological £2000 barrier), but if you think about it for a minute this is not an unreasonable amount of money to spend on a tent which uses the highest quality materials and has an attention to detail in terms of features which is unheard of on the cheaper choices we cover in this roundup.

It is a polycotten airbeam tent having a fairly unique ‘Safari Tent’ appearance which offers great internal space and height. We feel it approaches the comfort of a caravan and yet costs a tenth of the price of one and does not sit on your drive taking up masses of space when you’re not using it!

The Ascension feels very well made, with quality zips, clips and pop-covers used for all adjustable items (curtains, storage etc). If you are lucky enough to be able to afford it then it will undoubtedly many, many years of safe, comfortable camping. We thoroughly loved it in all honesty.

General Layout of the Dometic Ascension FTX 601 TC

Dometic Ascension dimensionsThe Ascension is a proper 6-person tent with a 4.4m bedroom width split between the six people. This is a significant space of 73cm average width per person – much higher than the typical 60cm given to each person in cheaper tents. The bedroom areas use Dometic’s ‘Sleep Tight’ tech in order to give very good blackout for decent sleeping.

As mentioned, the ‘safari tent’ structure offered by the five high pressure airbeams gives excellent internal space, with a large 3m x 4.6m lounge area and a 1.8m x 4.6m front porch area. In addition, there is a large full-width storage space located behind the three bedrooms where stacks of clothes and luggage can be stowed away.

rear storage Dometic Ascension

The Ascension can also expand to offer additional space by allowing a side annexe to be optionally added in to create a ‘wardrobe’ area. There is also an internal 1-person sleeping pod if you need to sleep 7.

Packed Size and Weight

Dometic Ascension packed sizeThere’s no denying it – the Ascension is large and heavy, even when packed away. The weight is 67.5kg and the packed size is 100 x 64 x 58 cm. This is definitely a 2-person job to shift from the car to the pitch, and will take a large proportion of your bootspace during transport. 

Pitching time is around 20 minutes, but surprisingly it is fairly straightforward. As soon as the five airbeams are pumped up (hand pump included) then the main structure is automatically created and just requires pegging out and storm straps attached if required.

Windows and Doors

Dometic Ascension insideWe love the windows and doors on the Ascension. The windows each have a mesh section at the top and bottom for full air-flow, with a large crystal-clear window panel in between. Outside visibility is excellent and there is none of the distortion seen on cheaper windows. Each window also has a curtain which can be tucked away underneath in a dedicated storage area which can pop close – very nice touch and feels quality.

In terms of doors, there is two sets of ‘tri-folding doors’ – one separating the lounge from the porch, and one separating the porch from the outside world. These can either be completely removed or partially opened at one of three partition points. Very well designed and offers so much flexibility for cooking or relaxing etc under different weather conditions. There are also standard sized doors on both sides of the tent, with an initial side canopy to keep the rain off when putting boots on etc.

That extra ‘Je Ne Said Quoi’ – Class Leading Features

As mentioned, there are numerous features in the Ascension which add to that reassuring feeling of supreme quality and value for money.  Our eyes were immediately drawn to the three cable entry ports for mains hookup or other extension cables for portable generators. The polycotten ‘TC’ material feels thick and warm to the touch and definitely gave a cooler atmosphere inside on the scorching hot day we were looking around.

We loved the carabiners which have been included at strategic points in the living areas – these are great for hanging camping lanterns on, and is something often missing from other tents. Similarly, less obvious features like the fasten-down covers everywhere for neatness and useful lines drawn underneath the tent to show where to fold for simple packing – the attention to detail is impressive and most welcome.

Dometic Ascension front

The Dometic Ascension in use with the optional side annexe attached.

In Use – our thoughts on the Dometic Ascension FTX 601 TC

As mentioned above, we had access to the Ascension for around two hours on a scorching day in July. This is the most expensive tent we’ve ever reviewed and to be honest we were not expecting it to be able to justify the price tag. However, we cannot deny that Dometic have thought about nearly every detail which has bugged us about other tents on the market. The Safari tent design, attention to detail and polycotton fabric make it a truly lovely place to spend a large amount of time. If you can afford the price tag then we don’t feel you could ever be disappointed, and it will definitely last a lifetime of use, and probably retain a decent second hand value too. A great tent!

10Expert Score

We don't say it lightly, but there is no denying that you get what you pay for. The Dometic Ascension FTX 601 TC air tent is a palace and will offer you exceptional space for 6 adults. We love the hidden features and attention to detail everywhere and can highly recommend it. Just check it will fit in your car boot!

In an exclusive deal with Camping Secrets, use code AFFSAVE3 at the checkout for a further 3% off!

Eurohike Air 600 Inflatable Tent

Eurohike Air 600 studio

The Eurohike Air 600 inflatable tent is the lowest-price 6-person tent we’ve found and it is available from Go Outdoors, Blacks and Amazon. It weighs 18.7kg and uses three airbeams in total for a quick and simple erection (ooh matron!).

On getting the Air 600 out of the bag, I was immediately struck by the deep navy blue colour of the canvas. I was also struck by how poor the instructions are which come with the tent. Luckily I’ve put up a few airbeam tents before, and this is one is no different to the rest.

As with all the inflatable tents we’ve reviewed, the Air 600 comes with a fully sewn-in groundsheet and a 4000mm hydrostatic head waterproof flysheet. Dimensions are 465cm (L) x 385cm (width) x 210m (height) which is not the largest for a 6-person tent. However, the width at nearly 4m is substantial.

eurohike 600 insideThe interior layout is reasonably basic, with a very large rear bedroom area which can be divided into two rooms if required. The height of the tent means you can actually stand up straight in the bedrooms – this is a nice bonus for a tent in this price range. The bedrooms also use blackout material and so the sleeping conditions are great. 

There is a a ladder of five pockets attached to the bedroom inner tent which provides useful storage.

Entry to the tent is achieved via a large door on one side, but there is no ‘porch roof’ to allow shelter when putting your boots on.

eurohike 600 front rolled up

The front of the Eurohike contains a couple of large plastic windows which provide great visibility. There are also two large air vents for ventilation. In a nice design touch, the whole front section of the tent can also be rolled up for summer camping fresh air – we love this flexibility, but do miss having a covered porch area. There is also carpet available for this tent which really helps with interior comfort.

Overall, the Eurohike Air 600 inflatable tent is an excellent value 6-person tent, but in reality it would struggle to hold that many people in comfort. If you’re a family of 5 then it’s pretty much perfect for the money if you’re happy to not have a covered porch or outdoor area. Also, watch out for those terrible instructions!

8Expert Score

For the price you're paying, the Eurohike 600 shouldn't be this good. It is excellent value for money. We love the front roll-up section but would ideally like an extra door on the side and perhaps a covered porch area above it. Nice tent!

Pavillo Sierra Ridge 4 Inflatable Tent

Pavillo Bestway Sierra Ridge Air 4

The Pavillo Sierra Ridge 4 is an excellent value budget 4-person inflatable air tent, costing only £311 at the time of writing. It weighs a mere 15kg in weight and has room for three people to camp in comfort.

Pavillo Bestway Sierra Ridge Air 4 bedroomsFor the money, you are getting some pretty good specifications too. The tent canvas has a hydrostatic head of 5000mm which makes it more waterproof than some of our more expensive recommendations. It is also quick to inflate as it only has 3 airbeams and they are not large volume pipes. The pump is of course included, and it has a decent pressure gauge which was very appreciated by us.

There is a decent set of storage pockets inside, adjacent to the rear bedroom section. These are easily accessible from the mid-tent lounge area. A fully zippable door on each side of the lounge provides excellent accessibility for getting in and out of the tent.

Pavillo Bestway Sierra Ridge Air 4 in use

The front of the Sierra Ridge is interesting. It consists of a large windowed section which provides great views of the outside world. The window can be handily covered up with an in-built blind to stop light shining in (or to stop people ogling!).  On nice days, the whole of the front can be rolled up, providing great views and airflow. One thing to note is that the front section is not fully zipped (it uses velcro at the bottom) and so you have to be careful how you peg it out to avoid rain water seeping in.

Overall, the Pavillo Sierra Ridge Air Pro 4 is an excellent tent for the money, and the front opening section is great on warm, sunny days. The downside is that water can get in if you’re not careful with the setup. However, for £300, we think this is a bargain purchase.

7.5Expert Score

Superb value for money - this is the lowest price inflatable airbeam tent we've reviewed. If budget is your top priority then the Sierra Ridge works well, but some of the materials don't feel quite as rugged as the more expensive brands. A great starter tent and it's so easy to use and lightweight.

coleman 6XL inflatable tentSeveral tent manufacturers are now offering blackout tents with specialist material for the bedrooms designed to keep the morning rays from disturbing your beauty sleep. Coleman are a US company with a great pedigree, and they were one of the first to introduce this innovation.

With the Valdes 6L and 6XL inflatable tents they have produced a range of high quality, large six-person family tunnel tents. Both tents in the range have a decent-sized covered porch, main living space and yes… blackout bedrooms! The Coleman blackout material can block up to 99% of light and so you are guaranteed a good night sleep. What it doesn’t do is block out the sound of the roosters cock-a-doodling, so you may need some ear plugs added to your order too!

dimensions coleman 6XLThe photo opposite shows the layout of the 6XL. At 2.15m in height, the Coleman is tall enough for all but basketball players.

There are two double bedrooms at the back of the tent which can sleep up to four people and then an optional third which can clip into the 300 x 360cm lounge area.

Differences between the 6L and 6XL Coleman Tents

The main difference between the 6L and 6XL is the dimensions. The 6L measures 820cm (L) x 300cm (W) x 200cm (H). The 6XL switches this around a bit by being 740cm (L) x 440cm (W) x 215cm (H). As a family, we found the 6XL to be the better layout for the way we like to live in a tent. 

In Use

Assembly is a breeze as you would expect using the supplied manual pump. Weight of the 6L is 29kG which is actually pretty good for a 6-person tent. The XL increases this slightly to 30.5kg.

Coleman Valdes 6 airbeam tent set upIn keeping with it’s blackout credentials, the Valdes tents have fairly subdued lighting throughout which gives them a mellow feel. The lounge area has a large door and window on each side with zippable flyscreens which allows more light in if required. 

Fabric quality is good, being both waterproof (4500 mm hydrostatic head) as well as good at blocking the sun. The Valdes has a UV Guard protection which essentially gives ‘factor 50’ protection against sunburn. Not always a concern in the great UK conditions….

The Coleman’s include a handy storage ‘rack’ close to the rear bedrooms as well as useful hooks under the lounge airbeam – this enables lanterns or other dangly objects to be hung up – a nice touch and definitely useful.

Coleman Valdes 6 blackout

On looking at our review model, I was struck by how the Valdes range have garnered such excellent reviews all over the internet. We have to agree with them. In their green and grey colours, they certainly look the part. 

If you are after a quality tent for a large family of 4, 5 or even 6 then we feel that the Coleman Valdes 6L or 6XL  Inflatable Tents should definitely be considered. 

9Expert Score

Definitely a great blackout tent for up to six people. We really like the way Coleman build tents - the quality of fabric and attention to detail is second to none. Definitely worth a look if you're on the hunt for a decent 6 person family airbeam tent and you have the budget.

Vango Ringstead Air 400

Vango Ringstead Air 400 airbeam tent

Vango quality comes at a premium, but the Vango Ringstead Air 100 is a 4 season warm tent with extra thick canvas. As a result, it weighs 17.3kg. It uses an aerodynamic design to allow high speed wind and buffeting gales to flow over the tent and not disturb the occupants inside – definitely an inflatable tent for the more adventurous of us. I love it.

Vango Ringstead Air 400 airbeam tent inside 2The Ringstead Air has a slightly unusual layout in that the bedroom areas are completely separated, with room for two people at each end of the tent. Families with slightly older kids might appreciate this as the children feel like they’ve got their own little ‘room’ to enjoy on their own. The bedrooms use full blackout material and sleeping in the Vango was easy.

The central lounge area is fairly compact (1.5m by 2.5m) and has a large zippable door (with mesh layer for blocking bugs) on one side and a neat window on the other which is part mesh, part ‘diamond-clear’ plastic. It all feels extremely high quality, and during a stay in North Wales we were kept dry in some pelting rain.

Vango Ringstead Air 400 airbeam tent in use

I was slightly surprised to find out that the Vango Ringstead only has 3000mm of hydrostatic head waterproofing. As I say, there was no sign of any leaking, and so either Vango are underplaying it or other manufacturers are over-exaggerating their numbers (more likely). I counted 3 air vents in total in the tent which allowed great air flow, and there was no condensation build-up even when the weather was humid.

Overall, the Vango Ringstead Air 400 is an excellent ‘adventure’ tent, capable of surviving the worst of what the UK weather system can throw at it. The airbeams work well and the tent can be fully set-up in around 10-15 minutes. Perfect!

9.5Expert Score

We were really taken with the Vango Ringstead tent. We loved the separate bedroom for our daughter, and the feeling of security and snugness inside was a real change from normal family tents. The Ringstead felt like it could survive anything. Yes it's a bit more cash, but it's cash well spent in our view. Recommended, but sadly difficult to find for sale at the moment.

We hope you enjoyed our overview of Airbeam tents and our picks for best inflatable camping tent in terms of value, weight and quality. Once you’ve got your tent then of course you need a table and chairs, so please check out our reviews for the best value options of those too.

Happy Camping!

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