Looking for a large eco-friendly inflatable tent for 4 people? Want a tent that is easy to erect, with darkened bedrooms that is highly weather resistant? Like a generous living space plus an awning? Then read this review of Vango Aether Air 450XL tent as it might be the tent for you.
Based in Scotland, Vango launched 1966. They are dedicated to camping equipment and are well known for innovative and high quality tents. Vango’s ethos of reliability, quality, innovation, design and usability has made it a mainstay of the UK outdoors industry.
From the Vango website:
“From campsite to summit, from the trail to mountain, Vango products allow everyone to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Every tent, rucksack, sleeping bag and accessory has been designed by genuine outdoor enthusiasts resulting in gear packed full of experience that epitomises the Vango ethos of reliability, quality, innovation, design and usability. Vango has a long and memorable history in designing and manufacturing outdoor equipment.”
The world’s first inflatable tents were produced by Vango using AirBeam® technology in 2011. This has been expanded into AirAway™ drive-away awnings and AirAwnings™ for campervans, caravans and motorhomes. Always innovative they celebrated 10 years of AirBeam®, with the launch of S.I Pro, which offers single point inflation for their inflatable tents.
Sustainability is at the heart of the Vango ethos with the new Earth Collection. All tents, rucksacks, chairs and sleeping bags in the collection use eco-friendly fabric crafted from recycled single use plastics. The Earth Collection will recycle the equivalent of 1,861,134 500ml plastic bottles this year, and 8,250,000 next.
This tent was tested in my garden over five nights of garden camping in June. We were lucky, for the sake of a comprehensive review, to experience everything from glorious sunshine to rain and wind. I intended to further test the Aether Air 450XL on two other camping trips. But unfortunately a festival was cancelled and I missed another camping holiday due to car issues.
The first test of any new tent is putting it up. This was my first pole free tent so I took a couple of minutes to familiarise myself with the instructions. Basically you peg down the corners and pump up the beams. The tent comes with a double action pump with a pressure gauge which is easy to use and plugs effortlessly into the AirSpeed® valve.
Inflation took less time and far less effort than I expected. Seriously keep an eye on the dial as you are very quickly at the required pressure. The one way valve means no air is lost during unplugging. So unlike other inflatable devices I have used it doesn’t deflate while you desperately try to close the valve.
The four AirBeams were inflated in a few minutes. The only tricky thing was the pump valve adapter popped out a couple of times. But it’s not a big deal to stop and plug it back in. There may also have been a correlation between it popping out and how vigorously I was pumping.
From here erecting the Aether Air 450XL is the same as any tent. Basically finish pegging down the base using the adjustable system which helps you pitch properly on uneven surfaces. Then peg out the high visibility guylines – there was less tripping over them in poor light, but they don’t glow in the dark – as I found out in the middle of the night!
Finally, the pre-attached front awning needed erecting. It is great for sheltering from the rain or sun, and good for storing chairs etc at night. The awning/canopy has a real pole, I assume for stability as one side is open to the elements. It took a few minutes to thread the pole through and make it stable with the guy-ropes.
I could have erected the tent on my own. But it is helpful to have someone to pull the beams up into position while you inflate them. My kids timed me and it took 14 minutes and 33 seconds for me to put the tent up. Although I did not use all the guy ropes at first as the weather was calm.
The upright side walls quickly increase the height of the tent to over two metres. This isn’t just good for taller people but also means you can maximise the internal space of the tent. During this review of Vango Aether Air 450XL I found the double sized living area to be great. There was plenty of room to set up table and chairs and store all your gear.
The king Size Bedrooms provide 70cm sleeping area per person, which is more space per person than most other tents I have owned. There is a bedroom divider / privacy curtain that divides the bedroom in half , it can easily be rolled away if you want one large sleeping area.
With kids an advantage of this large eco-friendly inflatable tent for 4 is the clear access bedrooms. This is a wider opening with a lowered step. This meant less tripping over the entrance by my boys – which not only avoids falls but means there is less chance of them landing on you in the middle of the night (this benefit also helps adults who’ve had a few drinks).
The bedrooms use a darkened material that reduces dawn and dusk light. This helps you all stay asleep quite a bit longer than normal. It is not as effective as this blackout tent in which you could sleep in the middle of the day, but the Aether Air 450 XL will still keep the kids asleep longer.
The bedroom has some useful pockets to store the bits and pieces that you’ll generally misplace camping. There are also convenient points from which you can hang lanterns to light the interior. Plus if you like to camp with an electrical hook up there is a zipped Tidies cable entry point.
In the old days a tents door left open was also it’s window. And the floor was an unattached ground sheet or tarpaulin. How things have changed!
First up this Large eco-friendly inflatable tent for 4 doesn’t just have windows but six diamond clear windows. All of which leads to a bright and airy living space. Each window has curtains which using toggles can provide shade and privacy or be rolled away when not needed to admire the view.
There are two doors, both are extra large with drop down step entry to again save on the ‘one to many G&T’ trips and tumbles. But also useful for prams and and wheelchairs. The doors have mesh windows to allow airflow while stopping bugs. During this review of Vango Aether Air 450XL I found all the door zippers very easy to use with one hand.
These days most tents come with a fully sewn-in groundsheet and the Aether is no different. The fully waterproof PE material is attached to the flysheet with a raised skirt to protect from water flowing over it (the problem old groundsheets had). The groundsheet is robust and doesn’t feel like it will puncture or tear even if your kids start poking it with sticks.
Yes it is very weatherproof. The Aether Air 450XL has been weather tested to the EN ISO 5912 standard (not by me!). Meaning it is suitable for camping in wet and windy weather. Although the Vango site says, “Cautionary level storms and extreme weather should be avoided.”
We had a torrential 24 hours of rain, and some fairly strong winds during this test. During which the kids had begged me to sleep out in the garden on their own… I half expected them to come in wet and cold part way through the night. But not only did they last the entire night but there were no leaks or condensation.
This is mainly due to the Sentinel Eco Fabric – which is made from recycled single-use plastic bottles. It has a 3000mm hydrostatic head rating meaning water will not get in. The factory taped seams means the flysheet has an additional watertight seal at every joint. It is all very robust and durable, the high quality you’d expect from Vango.
Of course the groundsheet (mentioned above) helps keep everything dry under foot.
Keeping moisture out is only half the battle. You also need to let moisture escape otherwise the inside of the tent will become wet with condensation. To combat this the Vango AirZone™ provides high and low level ventilation panels. They generate a comfortable flow of air through the tent pretty much eliminating condensation.
The awning come in very useful during rain. Not only can you shelter under it, but you can remove shoes and wet weather gear there so you don’t take moisture into the tent. When there is moisture on the outside of the tent, the door into the awning stays dry so you can exit the Aether Air 450XL without a wet flap of fabric brushing against you.
For additional protection the TBS®II tension band system provides more stability in strong and changeable winds. When tightened these interior straps brace the AirBeam poles at three points, and reduce sideways movement. They kept the tent stable during the strong winds we experienced. They can be stowed away in calm weather.
What does up must come down… Some tents are easier erected than they are dismantled. But this large eco-friendly inflatable tent for 4 was a breeze to take down. You just open the valves and most of the air comes out quickly and I had it down and away within ten minutes.
You can use the pump in reverse to fully deflate them the beams. Just remember to close the valves before inflating them again. One note, if you fully deflate with the pump I found it difficult to then close the valves, I assume due to negative pressure. Once you reinflate it a little it is easy to close the valve.
With most tents getting it back in the bag is like trying to squeeze a python into a smarty tube. But the Aether Air 450XL comes with an oversized carry bag that makes packing a doddle – it went in first time. It is made using just 15% more material which creates 50% more volume.
This is an excellent tent. Easy to erect and take down. Large, spacious and full of useful features that make camping a highly pleasurable experience. It is weather proof to EN ISO 5912 standard and fire retardant to the European EN5912 safety requirement – which is all rather reassuring.
To conclude this review of Vango Aether Air 450XL I thoroughly recommend this large eco-friendly inflatable tent for 4. It is by far the easiest and quickest big tent I have owned to put up and take down.
The darkened bedroom makes a noticeable difference in the mornings and kept the kids asleep an extra hour or so. Finally, it feels very well made and I am sure it will last many years all while having a lower impact on the environment than other tents.
I hope you found this Vango Aether Air 450XL review useful. This large inflatable tent for 4 is available direct from Vango or from camping retailers. The RRP is £695. Find out more here: www.vango.co.uk/aether-air-450xl