23 July 2018

REVIEW: Coleman Valdes 6L Inflatable Tent

Blowing up the world of camping

We write these words mere hours after returning from a weekend of camping. As the UK is currently in the midst of a heat wave, it was a bloody hot one, as well as being exceptionally bright and sunny - even at 4am! However, whereas usually this might have made for an comfortable time to camp out, our experience was made more than enjoyable thanks to the thing we were sleeping in. We check out the Coleman Valdes 6L Inflatable tent.

Behold it in all its huge glory. Yep, the Valdes 6L is not a small tent, but it is a very clever one. As you might have guessed, it has been designed to comfortably sleep six adults, but does so in such a way to maximise the internal space. And, as you also might have guessed, it is inflatable, using the the Fast Pitch air pole technology we've seen before on the previously reviewed (and liked) Air Valdes 6.

However, this larger (and far heavier - more on that later) tent also employs two traditional poles to create a large canopy on the front - something no other Coleman tent that we've seen has had. Other than the five air poles that require pumping up with the included hand pump, pitching the Vlades 6L is a fairly typically affair of pegging out the corners and later using guy ropes to secure the structure to the ground.

As we've written about before in the Vlades 6 review, the Fast Pitch air pump technique is very impressive, meaning each pole (or rather arch) requires only a few hard pumps to get it erect (tee hee). It isn't back-breaking work to pump the whole thing up, and thanks to the valves at the base of all the arches, once the air is in, it stays in.

When up and secure, the Coleman Valdes 6L features a rigid front door (you use two smaller poles to give it rigidity) which saves you have to zip and unzip every time you want entry. On the inside there a huge amount of space, although, quite unusually, there is something of an entrance corridor. That is because the bedrooms of the tent are spilt into four and two person sleeping compartments, with the two-person taking up the forward section of the tent. So the living space, outside of the bedrooms, is L-shaped.

The bedrooms are of the wonderful 'black-out' type that we've seen before on other Colemen tents (including last year's Rocky Mountain 5) which not only stop daylight seeping in (handy at 4am!) but also help to regulate the bedroom temperature. We found that it was significantly cooler in there than the rest of the tent during the day, and ever so slightly warmer at night (so long as you try your best to keep the doors zipped closed).

The four-person bedroom comes with a dividing screen to split the space in two, and the other two-person compartment can very easily and quickly be taken down, enlarging the main living space. If you do so, it also reveals another window on the front next to the rigid door, letting in more light. We left ours up all the time as the L-shape was room enough for us, but should you want more space, and in the event you're stuck in the tent during a sudden downpour and need more room, it's an easy thing to remove.

Now here's a complaint: it's &£$@ing heavy. The Coleman Valdes 6L says on the included carry sack that it is 26.6kg in weight. That is rubbish, and it felt far, far heavier - like lifting an entire other adult heavy. This is not the type of thing a single person is going to be able to lug around very far, and we damn near did ourselves a few injuries getting it in the back of the car. The reason for all that weight is not because it's a larger tent, but because of those air poles. We found this also with the Valdes 6: inflatable tents are significantly heavier than their traditional pole-using counterparts. Significantly. It might not be an issue for most families who pack up the car and drive to the place where they are pitching up, but moving this thing just a few feet is arduous, and packed up it takes a lot of space. Like, washing machine-type space.

And that's our main beef with it. Don't get us wrong, the Valdes 6L is probably the best tent we've yet to review, both in terms of layout and comfort, but we tend to camp only a few nights out of the year. The rest of the time the camping equipment is packed away, and a tent of this size and weight will cause issues if you're lacking on storage. However, if you have the space to keep it, and the strength (or friends) to move it around, it will serve you well for years to come.

So, the Colemen Valdes 6L is very much a family tent for boot-to-pitch excursions and fun. We love the flexibility of the bedrooms, and the speed at which you can get this thing up - and down - will certainly appeal to many.


Available from www.amazon.co.uk

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