* Prices may differ from that shown
I now own what is frankly a ridiculous number of tents - all bought over the years and adapted to the rapidly changing needs of my family, from Duke of Edinburgh expeditions to long family camping holidays. Despite this, I still can't resist a bargain and at the Millets sale this summer I bought yet another tent, downsizing after a recent divorce and having two almost adult children.
The tent that tempted me was the Vango Beta 250 - originally sold at £110 but reduced to £50 in the Millets sale after a dismally wet summer. This tent surprised me with its space, design and quality - it had everything I wanted in a smaller tent except for head room. I cannot stand up in this tent, but I have discovered over the years that finding a small tent with headroom is an almost impossible task.
I really like the colours on this tent - a rather tasteful black inner and outer canvas with green trim gives it a quality look. The guy ropes and peg elastics are a vibrant orange which can clearly be seen.
The tent is a tunnel design usually seen in larger tents - with three hooped poles in a row creating a large and long space. Although this is sold as a two man tent, it really could sleep 3 people for short periods of time and is similar in internal size to small tents that I have seen sold as 3 man tents.
Inside the tent there is a large living area with groundsheet plus large sleeping area. The living area has a very well designed ground sheet which is attached to the sleeping area groundsheet and one end, and has a bathtub design at the other end. This sewn-in bathtub design is a fairly recent advance in tent design and ensures that the tent is not flooded if the canvas blows inwards during hard rain. With traditional groundsheets the tent wall can blow inwards, allowing the rain to pour onto the groundsheet and soak everything inside. With the bathtub design the walls of the tent come underneath the groundsheet and the groundsheet comes up the sides of the walls, attached by toggles. This effectively prevents any water coming in during storms.
The porch area is 190cm long by 160cm wide; not only spacious but also light and airy, with two doors to either side of the tent and two plastic windows with curtains that can be closed if necessary. The highest point of the porch is 120cm. This peak is just outside the sleeping area which makes it well placed for standing up to change clothes, etc.
Inside, the sleeping area is 140cm wide and 210cm long - very roomy and big enough for 3 at a push
When packed up the tent fits into a nice small bag which measures 58 x 19 x 18cm.
~~Erecting my tent~~
I usually don't like tunnel tents as I find the three hoop system a bit fiddly and difficult to balance. This tent is much easier than larger tunnel tents - probably due to its smaller size and I manage to erect the tent on my own in about 20 minutes.
The tent has 3 poles; 2 short and 1 long, and these are colour coded so that they can be threaded through the identical coloured sleeves. This tent requires you to pitch the outer tent first - which I always prefer as it is useful if you are pitching in rain or with the threat of rain.
Once the poles are threaded through and slotted into the key pins at each end, it is easy to peg each of the four corners and then the guy ropes.
The inner tent comes next and is easy to put in as there is no pegging involved. There is an option to keep the inner tent attached when packing away, but you have to be careful the next time you erect the tent as this puts extra weight on the poles. I never like to do this because the whole tent is much more cumbersome and difficult to put up. It is much easier to take the inner tent out and pack it away each time.
There are lots of things I like about this tent - the first of which is the bathtub groundsheet system that prevents flooding. Having suffered from this in the past I find it very reassuring to know that I won't wake up to find my shoes floating away from me in the living area.
I like the ventilation in the tent - there are two external ventilation vents at the back of the tent which can be snapped closed, and one large external vent to the front. In the sleeping area two ventilation sections are protected by insect nets. In addition the two door design of the living area means that any condensation can quickly be cleared from the inside of the tent, and also means that it is possible to cook in the porch if necessary.
Little design extras give this tent a quality feel; the Velcro guy rope tidy on each pole helps to fold the guy ropes away during packing and prevents tangling; there are generous pockets in the sleeping area for valuables.
Finally I like the colour of the tent canvas. The black looks smart with the green and also means that light is blocked out - useful for summer mornings when the daylight pouring into the tent at 5am can wake you up horribly early in a pale coloured tent.
There are very few negatives to this tent, in my opinion. At 5.4 kilos it is a little heavier to carry than some other small tents, but not excessively so. The tunnel design and the three hoop system mean that it is slightly complicated for one person to erect on their own, but again I found that with a little practice this was not a great problem.
They only tiny design fault is the hooks that attach the groundsheet to the porch. They do not attach very firmly and sometimes come out of place with the movement inside the tent. The hook design could be better.
I was surprised at how pleased I was with this tent. It is extremely roomy, very well designed and has the type of quality design and fittings that I have on my much more expensive Outwell tent.
This tent is ideal for one or two people; it looks classy and even when not on sale is good value for money. One of its strongest points is the protection against driving rain - both with the door baffle and the groundsheet baffle.