25 July 2016

REVIEW: Coleman FastPitch Air Valdes 6 Tent

Pitch perfect.

If you're out into the wilds this summer, you'll need a shelter that can take the harshest weather Mother Nature might decide to throw at you, while also being fast to put up and get down. We recently spent some time getting back to nature, and did so in the Coleman FastPitch AirValdes 6 Tent. This is what we thought of it.

We're fans of Coleman tents here at The Test Pit, having reviewed their fancy 'glamping' tent, the Cortes Octagon 8, last summer. This year we decided to try something new, and boy did we get it. The Coleman FastPitch Air Valdes 6 Tent is quite different to what we've experienced before, namely because the whole thing took only five minutes to put up.

As the name suggests this tent is a 'FastPitch' thanks to the inflatable nature of the poles. Yes, instead of those awkward fibreglass poles that you have to assemble and slide into position (before bending into all manner of difficult shapes) on a normal modern tent, this tent comes with a foot pump to inflate the four thick column-like poles. Each 'pole' takes just a few seconds to inflate and afterwards they are as hard as rock.

Seriously, the most surprising thing was just how stiff those air-filled supports are. As you can see in the picture we were able to hang a heavy lantern from the central one, with absolutely no bend or give to the structure. If you thought sleeping in an inflatable tent was a bit dodgy, especially in a strong wind, think again.

As the name also alludes, this tent is for six people – kinda. Once we pegged it out and inflated it (no joke, guys – five minutes max!) we entered to find a double sleeping compartment, good for four people, and also another smaller one for two. However, the compartment for two people can be unclipped from the surrounds of the tent and pushed to one side to allow the main front door to be accessible – leave it up and you'll only get to use either of the side doors It isn't a complaint, but on a hot day (as it was when we slept in it) it would have been nice to somehow have a much larger door at the side, to keep the two man sleeping compartment up all the time.

An important thing to note about the four-man section are Colemans innovative 'Blackout Bedrooms'. This basically means that the inner skin that creates the sleeping section (which also has a further removable divide to split it down the middle) blocks light almost completely, keeping the bedrooms cooler during the day, and warmer at night. Certainly the coolest part of the tent during the hot day was inside those bedrooms, and sleeping in them at night was comfortable and peaceful. It also meant we weren't woken up by the rising sun (at 4am!) as the light could barely penetrate.

In the living section there are two 'windows', both with privacy screens, two doors (which can be fitted with the tent's only fibreglass poles to create a small canopy), and a few handy pockets hanging from between the blackout doors of the bedrooms. As the night was warm enough, one of our party actually slept out there, and there is so much space that – if you needed to – four or five extra bodies could comfortably kip there too, as well as the standard six in the bedrooms.

A slight downside to all this is that the Coleman FastPitch Air Valdes 6 Tent is definitely not a tent you can sling on your back and head out on foot. This is definitely a tent that you take in the car, as all that extra material to make the air-filled poles increases the storage size. Broken-down conventional poles don't take up much space, but for the convenience of that fast inflate, you pay with size and weight. For families driving to their camping spot there's no issue; but for those of you wanting to drive and then carry it to a remote place, you might need a few extra hands to help lug it about.

By far the most impressive tent we've yet to review, we're big fans of Coleman's FastPitch Air system, and the great night's sleep the Valdes 6 gave us. Check it out.


Available from www.amazon.co.uk

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