Vango Airbeam campervan awning tent

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Add living and sleeping space to a campervan with an attachable Vango awning tent.

If it’s just me and my partner in our VW campervan we can happily survive with our in-van set up of living and sleeping. When we travel with guests or my daughter, or we plan to stop somewhere for more than a couple of nights, we use the Vango Airbeam campervan awning tent.

photo 1 (56)One of the best things about the awning tent is the inflatable poles. Known as AirBeam poles, you simply inflate a tube (where you would normally see a pole) and this helps to form the structure and rigidity of the tent. A double action pump, which comes with the tent, makes inflation easy.

At first I was suspicious of the Airbeam poles but now I have used them in a tent I think they are superb. They create a very rigid structure and they are easy to inflate.

On test: Vango Kela awning tent

There are two tents in the Vango range that suit a campervan or motorhome, the compact Kela and the more generous Sapera. They each come in two sizes, Standard, which fits vehicles up to 2.4m in height, and Tall for vehicles that are between 2.4 metres and 2.9 metres.  All four models are constructed using high quality 150 denier Protex fabric, which is waterproof, durable and breathable.

Vango Kela.

Vango Kela.

Don’t be fooled by the “three minutes build time”. It usually takes around 30 minutes for us to erect the awning tent but that’s still fine (on a dry day!).
There are a variety of systems for attaching the AirAway awnings to your van. Choose from the Kador rail, webbing straps, Velcro tabs or pole and clamps. We went for a mixture of the systems because we do not have a roof rack.

Vango Sapera.

Vango Sapera.

In addition, the tent has Vango’s patented TBS ®II Tension Band System to ensure they stay up even in very windy weather. These detachable bands brace the awning pole, which prevents side movement.

The securing felt pretty good although the straps do annoyingly slap the side of the van at night in high winds. We need to find a way to make the straps tauter.

Another advantage of the awnings is that they can stand up on their own so you can drive the campervan away for the day without having to take the tent down. Make sure you mention this to the campsite owners when booking in because many places like to allocate you to a less windy area.

Vango awning features include:

  • Separate inner bedroom, if you want
  • Fully sewn in ground sheet
  • Clear windows with roll-down shades.

You can also buy extra items such as an awning carpet.

What’s good and not so good

The price for the Vango awning tent ranges from £450 to £600, which might seem like a big initial cost. However, if you plan to make a lot of use of the extra sleeping and living space it would make a great long-term investment,

The alternative for creating more space in a campervan is to have a far-more-expensive pop up roof installed with an extra two-person bed up top or a hammock style bed placed across the front seats for a child.

The Kela Standard offers enough space for an extra couple of adults or kids, plus I liked that you could remove the inner bedroom area if you simply want more living space.

If it’s a wet weather day or week you can all hang out inside the living area tent, yet still feel like you are having an outdoors holiday.

The guy lines and the chunky plastic pegs make the tent feel solid, which is good, especially in windy conditions.

What’s not so easy is packing the tent away into its bag. Why don’t manufacturers make the bag just a little bigger for ease of packing?

The tent is  a hassle to erect for one night of camping but if you are staying for two or more nights it makes a lot of sense.

The tent fabric feels robust and durable.

See Vango. Also see It’s hot: Campervanning.

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