TENTS | Vango AirBeam Solaris 500 Tent Review

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Vango AirBeam Tent
What We Tested

Vango AirBeam Solaris 500 tent 2015
£425

Technical Details

  • AirSpeed® Valve system to inflate your AirBeams with even less effort.
  • 4,000mm with fully taped seams.
  • Flysheet and Inner Pitch Together.
  • Tension Band System ensures that your tent performs in adverse conditions.
  • 3000mm HH Flysheet.
  • Lights Out Inner Tent.
  • Inner Pockets.
  • Diamond Clear Windows.
  • High and low level ventilation panels.
  • AirBeam Pump- a double action pump that will rapidly inflate your tent/awning.
  • Cable Entry points and Tidies.
  • Lantern Hanging Points.
  • 10,000mm HH waterproof fully sewin-in groundsheet.
  • Vango PowerFlex® fibreglass poles.
  • Pre-Attached Sun Canopy.
  • Easypack Carry Bag.

The Lowdown

Vango say that the beams in an AirBeam, create a strong and rigid tent structure combined with a very easy and quick pitch time, so we couldn’t wait to put the Solaris through it’s paces and see how it performed for ourselves.

Vango AirBeam Tent

Having never pitched an inflatable beam tent before, we found the Vango valve system incredibly easy, and inflating the tent was indeed very fast. When we pulled out the pump on the first inflated beam, we’d failed to lock it in place however, and the whole thing deflated on us. We didn’t make the same mistake again!

Whilst Mr. CWS inflated the beams, I set about pegging out the guy ropes, and we found that the whole process was indeed quick.

There are a good number of guy ropes all around the tent, which made the tent feel nice and secure, the tent incorporates Vango’s internal tension system too, giving the tent extra stability in high winds. Once the beams were inflated, they were surprisingly rigid and didn’t take up as much internal space as I’d feared they might.

Vango AirBeam Tent

We tend to go for very large tents usually as a result of our hobby, because we have a lot of costume, props and accessories to take along with us when we camp at events. Having looked at the dimensions, we weren’t convinced the Solaris would be big enough for our usual needs, and expected it to only be suitable for short weekend trips. We were pleasantly surprised however and found the tent extremely spacious.

The tent worked very well for us, and even with our usual furniture, camp kitchen and so on, the tent never felt at all cramped. I previously owned a Vango Icarus 500, with an additional extension, which I used happily for many years, and the Solaris is an ideal, slightly bigger replacement. The addition of the front porch is brilliant, and effectively added to the amount of overall usable living space, and the height of the tent is great too, helping it to feel nice and big.

Our Verdict

The addition of the front porch provided extra living space, perfect for summer evenings. It’s also a great place to retreat to away from the hot sun, and from rain showers too; and we experienced some real extremes in weather over the weekend, and were incredibly grateful to have a covered outdoor area. The manufacturing quality is excellent, as you’d expect from Vango, and we loved the abundant clever design features (see our pictures below).

After using the Solaris, we are absolute converts to AirBeam tents, and certainly won’t be sad to see the back of pole tents (apart from our beloved bell tent of course!). The Solaris is ideal for when my health doesn’t allow me to help with pitching too, as the AirBeam tent is super easy for one person to put up on their own.

We think the Solaris is perfect for anyone wanting to invest in a high quality AirBeam tent, and it provides ample space for couples who glamp, or for smaller families. This is definitely much more than just the weekend tent we thought it would be, and we’d have no hesitation in using this for our longer camping trips.

The Solaris is a truly excellent tent, and we’re already looking forward to camping in it again!

Vango AirBeam Tent

What We Liked

  • We loved the oversized bag, which made packing the tent away easy.
  • Pack size of the tent and pump is good.
  • Super fast pitching time and pumping up the AirBeams was lots of fun.
  • Cable entry points made using our HUBi solar charger effortless.
  • Internal storage pockets.
  • Excellent head space
  • Much bigger inside than the tent looks.
  • Internal storm straps to give the tent extra stability in high winds.
  • Lots of well thought out design features, like pockets to stow doors into, bedroom dividers and hanging points.
  • 2 doors and plenty of windows, make the tent bright and airy.

Anything We Didn’t Like?

  • We’d have liked mesh on the large front door, apart from that though, the Solaris has everything we look for in a quality tent.

We love this!

More pictures of the tent

Vango AirBeam Tent

Pitching the AirBeam

AirBeam

Vango tent review

Vengo tension straps

Vango Tension Bands

Air Flow Vents

Venting to allow air to flow through the tent

Inside the tent

The kitchen/living area inside the tent

vango-airbeam-solaris-tent-review04

One of the AirBeam’s inside the tent

Clever internal pockets

Clever internal door pockets

Vango AirBeam Tent

Inside the bedroom pod. The tent sleeps 5, our pictures shows a single campbed and a twin airbed

Large vango Windows

Large side window

Vango tent

Venting inside the bedroom area

Clever tent features

More clever features, the tension straps tidy away in these pockets

Lantern hanging point

Lantern hanging points inside the tent

Cable entry point
Cable entry point used for the HUBi solar hub

vango-airbeam-solaris-tent-review07
Vango AirBeam Solaris 500 tent

Thank you to Vango who supplied the Solaris tent for us to test.

Save

  • Alistair Davitt

    Still don’t get how quick & easy it was to put up, even with my little accident with the valve. I’m torn between this and the bell tent.

  • I think the air beam tents are a great idea – no poles to worry about threading through little nylon tubes. £500 seems a lot of money though, makes you realise getting a decent camping set up does not make this a cheap holiday until you’ve been doing it a little while!

    • Thanks Zoe, yes good point. For camping to be a cheap holiday/weekend break option, you definitely need to go away frequently.

      £500 is slightly over what i’d normally spend on a tent, but with the Solaris, you can see the quality and it feels like it’s worth the extra. AirBeams were horribly expensive when they first came out, but there are cheaper models being introduced all the time, and prices seem to be coming down a little each year, making them more affordable.

      I think you’d get a good 5 years use out of this (based on the 5 years I got out of my old Vango Icarus tent), and if you use it a few times each year, it’s not bad value at all compared to other accommodation choices.

      It’s really great to be able to put it up easily with just one person; so AirBeams are a big bonus for single parents, or anyone traveling alone or with a disabled partner.

      • It’s the same with lots of new technology found in outdoors equipment (and in fact anywhere) – when it’s new it’s SO expensive but it does eventually find its way into more products and the cost comes down. If we were going to do this kind of camping as our main holidays I would definitely be looking at an air beam type, I can definitely see the benefits. Although I think this one is a bit big to fit on the back of a motorcycle 🙂

  • This looks great. Mr Tin Box has been lusting after an inflatable awning for a while now. I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to helping set up as the kids are usually in need of feeding or changing after our journey to wherever we’re going. So anything that makes things a bit easier for Mr TB is well worth it. It won’t be long before we get one 🙂

  • Christine

    Am I the only person struggling to enjoy this tent? We have used this tent four times now each time hoping for a better outcome, however this is not the case! We have been unfortunate enough to encounter rain on all four trips which has resulted in pooling in the living area and bedroom roof?? Even dripping through into the living area??? Regardless off how tight the guys are pulled and making sure the beams are up to the specified psi! I’m also finding the front porch very ‘baggy’ too.

    This time around I took my sister (an avid camper for 17years) along and she was baffled as she had recommended the Vango brand after having an airbeam for 4 years, she also struggled to get any tension on the top and canopy and commented on the squarish shape beams that does not help when it comes to the rain draining off! After an almost £1000 spend on a 600 with footprint and large extension I’m left frustrated with these issues!!

    • Oh my goodness, what a shame – I wonder if yours is faulty? We had some rain, but not heavy. The waterproof rating suggests it should be more than capable; it might well be worth talking to Vango though?

  • Tracey Rooke

    Have been to look at one of these quite sturdy to say there is no poles this is my favourite of all now the kids have flown the nest just me and the hubby and grandaughter

  • Orange Peel

    I am thinking about buying an Airbeam Solaris 500 but a bit concerned about how the pre attached canopy will cope with wind. Can you roll it up and stow it securely while the tent is up?

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