The Vango Airbeam

Can camping get any easier than this?

Today someone asked me to look at the new range of Vango AirBeam tents for 2011.  They have no poles!  No, they’re not flimsy single-skin pop-up tents, those take a highly skilled knack and the strength of the British Army to fold back into their storage disc bags. These ones actually have inflatable poles!

I see the appeal… no problems working out which pole goes where, no poking people in the eye while you wave your massive long pole around trying to find the entrance to the sheath (oo-er!), and probably altogether easier for the inexperienced camper.  So I had a look.

The Velocity 400 looks almost EXACTLY the same as my Beta 450 – both by Vango.  Only I would have expected a tent with no poles to be lighter, but no. The inflatable one is about 2kg heavier!

But even so, the design of the Beta is probably the best use of space in a small family tent you can get. I am a big fan.  My Beta takes about 10 minutes to pitch, so I reckon the Velocity would be about half that.

So if it’s speed and simplicity you’re after, and you like being ahead of the game, maybe you will be tempted to invest more than 3 times the price of a Beta.  Well… it does look cool (if you can spot the difference that is!)

Vango Beta 450
Vango Velocity 400

On the plus side, the hydrostatic head is pretty impressive on the Velocity too – a whopping 6000HH! And as you would expect with a Vango tent, it has been rigourously tested in winds up to 75mph.  And you get a free pump…

On the down side it costs significantly more and weighs a little bit more. It also has a fabric strip along the bottom of the door – perfect for tripping over 😉


You will definitely be the talking point of the campsite. And you’ll make lots of new friends as they all come flocking over to have a closer look.

And here’s the real WOW! The Air Beam range extends to really big family tents too!  So while it might not be worth all that extra money just to shave a couple of minutes off your pitching time for a 4-man tent, what about when pitching an 8-man tent?  The Centara 800 is a huge tent and you can still pitch it in around 5 minutes… Now that really is something to wow about!

3 thoughts on “The Vango Airbeam

  1. The Vango AirBeam tents come with a puncture kit to repair puntured beams – though it would take a good stab with a knife to get through the protective coating, which is why the inflatable tents are not lighter than normal ones. Also the tent structure will stay fairly erect (ahem) even if one of the poles does go down! Just plain marvellous 🙂 I’m trying one out this weekend!

    1. I’ve pitched a few different tents a few times since writing this and I couldn’t help thinking wistfully about the AirBeam and pondering whether actually it would be so much easier to have blow-up poles… I’m very jealous of you getting to try one out – please let us know how you got on. There’s been a lot of people reading this post – it’s one of my most-read articles!

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