The facilities used to shelter from the outdoors play a key role in camping, and complicated and highly time consuming tents to pitch could dwarf the regularity of those participating within this activity. That's why this tent, the Vango Velocity 400, really captured our expectations of nimble and simplistic pitching when it popped into our studio and claimed it could be pitched in four minutes. It uses a technology called AirBeam which harnesses the tent's structure via simply pumping up three inflatable beams. It's priced at around the £300-£441 mark on Amazon.co.uk.
We unpacked the tent from the supplied zipped bag with handles, attached the reflective guy ropes, inserted the sleeping area to the interior and put four minutes on the stop watch App. The setup process went like this: lay the tent out on the ground in the direction desired, peg all four corners of the tent (more than enough pegs supplied), access inflating points which are found under zipped doorways, then pump each AirBeam individually and peg guy ropes. The inflating process is very rewarding and gloriously quick; the beams, one by one, build the tent's structure! The Vango Velocity does come with a supplied pump with pressure gauge which the manual states should reach 7psi and not exceed 8psi in pressure for every beam. Literally just a few pumps, which take around ten-fifteen seconds, and an AirBeam is fully inflated. We managed to pitch the tent in around three minutes, so a minute less than that already attractive Vango claim.
When it came to taking the the tent down it was quick too, the supplied pump deflates as well as inflates and this ensures the AirBeams are tightly deflated and that the tent can be folded up and stored within the supplied bag neatly but not necessarily quickly. We had a few attempts at getting the tent back into the bag with the pegs and the pump itself, but in the end we succeeded. We'd recommend not putting the pump back into the bag as it makes things tight and difficult, keeping it separate speeds up and eases the process.
Rigidity & Quality
The structure of the Velocity is rigid and rugged, with the Vango patented TBS II (Tension Band System), which uses internal webbing and then reflective guy ropes to harness an even more definite and secure structure alongside the AirBeams, undoubtably standing its own against pole based tents. We've left ours out in the wilderness and pitched for well over a month, and even with exceptionally harsh winds and heavy rain it hasn't stumbled into any trouble. The ProTex 4000mm 70D polyester flysheet is versatile and boldly waterproof as the specifications imply; the 4000mm water column is high and will provide shelter from fast and heavy downpours. During the blue skied exceptionally sunny days that the tent was also left out the exterior material hasn't faded. If any harm comes to the tent and AirBeams a repair kit is supplied.
Vango Velocity Model Differences
The AirBeam technology is something Vango really should be proud of, and by incorporating the inflatable technology into a wide array of tents that suit large groups, families, couples and individuals this charmingly simple technology is accessible to all who desire it. In this instance the Vango Velocity 400 is a spacious tent that will sleep 4 persons, ideal for families and groups of four. A Vango Velocity 200 tent is also available and is essentially a scaled down 400 that sleeps two people. A 300 3 person tent also appears to have existed at some point but Vango don’t appear to be selling it anymore.
The shape of the Velocity is tunnel-like with sweeping ends. Similar to the Skandika Västervik tent we reviewed a little while ago. The Velocity 400 measures 480cm in length, 270cm in width and 155cm at peak height. We couldn’t stand up in it but could comfortably move around and do things without feeling constrained from the height. Two colours of the Velocity series exist, one in a green which we have and another in volcano red. The design and colour schemes look smart and simple.
Doors & Windows
The front incorporates two zipped doors, the zippers are very easy to whisk around without them catching on the tent's flysheet. The inner tent sleeping area has a zipped door too, along the top of this door is a half circular cutout which has a thinner mesh layer for improved ventilation. All doors can be neatly wrapped within the doorway for neatness, one door also includes a zipped mesh layer for free-flowing air within the tent but without the visits from bugs, insects etc. Two large PVC windows with curtains for privacy, which allowed us to change our clothes discretely, are located along the front. We liked having natural light from the outdoors enter the tent - it makes it a lighter and generally nicer place to stay in during the day when needed.
Interior Space & Features
When using the Velocity 400 with the sleeping area, the front becomes an awning. This is an area that is spacious for storing all your camping equipment and belongings, but also presents room to use sunchairs and inhabit when the weather is bad. The sleeping pod also makes the most of its area and has many internal pockets, perfect for storing things like magazines, phones, cameras, etc. On the ceiling is a hanging loop that we used to hang a light from.
The sleeping area is an element that has to be attached either before or after erecting the tent. Once attached it never has to be removed unless desired. When the sleeping area isn't attached the tent appears to be exceptionally large inside as you can see from our photo and could confidently sleep eight people. The entire tent has a sewn-in groundsheet, ensuring you and your belongings don't get wet and that critters don't have easy access into the tent. At the studio this caused some differences of opinion, some of us preferred using the tent with the sleeping area attached and others prefer using the tent with it not attached.
Admittedly the open area provides freedom to do what you like within, but the sleeping area is a separate entity that has its own sewn-in groundsheet and breathable 190T polyester that truly keeps all tiny visitors from the outdoors away. Whereas, when not in the sleeping area, insects and such can enter into the tent through a gap overlay at the base of both doorways - and where we pitched the tent they did. The fact the material is breathable discourages a stuffy atmosphere, making the interior very pleasant but also keeping us relatively warm during chilly evenings.
It’s difficult to look at camping in the same light after using the Vango AirBeam technology. Its simplicity is unquestionably the future of camping and truly makes the activity far less troublesome. The Velocity 400 is the tent to have for a family or group of four.