* Prices may differ from that shown
Vango's Alpha range are entry level dome tents and come in 4 different sizes. The 200 is a 2 man tent but at 120cm wide inside it may become a little cramped which is why Vango offer the 250 which gives an extra foot of width.
A lot of budget tents are single skinned which suffer from condensation build up as vents are minimal to keep the tent rain proof. Single skin also means if you touch the walls moisture will wick through so you can often wake up with a wet sleeping bag. The alpha models are all double skinned and with enough vents keeps you the condensation down for a much more comfortable nights sleep.
One downfall with the alpha is that it is inner pitching first. This means the poles support the bedroom tent with the flysheet (outer skin) draped over the bedroom. Whereas this is ideal for harsh conditions as it makes the tent more streamlined so less distorted by wind, it does mean that pitching in the rain gives a weet bedroom tent which is a real pain for staying dry overnight.
The flysheet is rated at 3000mm of hydrostatic head, which is ample for all but the heaviest and blustery storms (note that the rating was 2000mm on older models, so chack before you buy).
The bedroom is over 2m in length, so someone up to 6 ft 6 should be able to squeeze in. At 60cm wide per person this is enough for even the largest camp mats but take into account where your kit will be stored. Shorter campers will be able to fit it around your feet but the bigger ones may want to look for a bigger model.
The groundsheet is highly waterproof so no chance of leaking (unless you damage it) and it is a bathtub design so it protects around the bottom 4 inches of the bedroom tent also, so even if your camp site becomes a lake you should stay dry. A few pockets on the inside are present to help with organising and a handy hook at the peak is included to hang a torch from.
A small porch at the front is ideal for keeping dirty boots or smelly cooking items outside the bedroom but protected from most of the weather.
The poles are fibreglass which is typical for tents of this price range. Aluminium is preferred for their durability and weight but cost a lot more. I've had some bad experiences with fibreglass poles breaking at the worst moment so i'd advise buying a spare which can cost as little as £2.
At 2.75kg this isn't too much heavier than similar tents multiple times its price. Light enough to carry on a hike between 2.
The tent currently comes in black, blue or green. The green is ideal for wild camping as it blends in nicely. The black is great for those light sleepers who get woken up by the morning sun or for those afternoon naps.
Whether you're after a festival tent that you can rely on, a Duke of Edinburgh expedition tent or are a regular camper you can't really get a tent this good for the price (£25-45).
I camp regularly for pleasure, but I also attend festivals frequently, and bought the Vango Alpha 200 about 8 years ago as a festival tent. I have distinct requirements for a successful festival tent, which are quite different from the tents I prefer to use the rest of the year. Festival tents need to be lightweight and compact, as there is often a considerable distance to walk from the car carrying your gear, they need to be reliably waterproof, as there is no alternative accommodation on site should you find yourself waking up in a puddle (unless you have a good friend willing to share!), and lastly they need to have a separate area to store wet and muddy gear.
When I bought my Vango Alpha 200 it cost around £50, but they can now be found online for under £30. It is available in variety of colours, mine is two shades of blue, but red/black, green/black are also available. The tent comes in a colour-coded, zipped bag with strong carrying handles. Unusually, in my experience, I have had no difficulty getting my tent back into this bag after a camp. This can frequently be a tricky operation involving a considerable struggle, but with my Vango it slips back in easily for storage. The packed tent weighs just 2.75 kgs, so it is relatively easy and comfortable to carry.
The tent has a flysheet made of Protex coated polyester, and the manufacturers' state that it is 3000HH. This means the material has been tested as waterproof with a column of water 3000mm high on top of it, and the HH refers to Hydrostatic Head; the column of water. In practice this is sufficiently waterproof for normal use in UK rain, but I certainly wouldn't want to risk it in a prolonged heavy storm. There is a built-in groundsheet made of polyethylene in the main tent, which it sufficient for normal use, but is definitely not the strongest groundsheet available, this is a clear give-away that it is not a top quality tent, and I always take care not to risk ripping it because it doesn't feel very hardwearing. The inner tent attaches easily to the inside of the flysheet by a series on plastic toggles on elastics, and is made of polyester.
This tent also has a small porch area, with a flap of groundsheet that extends from the main tent and covers most of the floor area of the porch. This porch groundsheet is not built-in, so it is inevitable that rain will blow in under the bottom of the porch area of the tent. This makes the porch unsuitable to store anything perishable or valuable, but it is perfect to keep muddy boots and wet waterproofs overnight. The porch is small; with just enough space for me to fit in sitting cross-legged, with my head bent (I'm 5'8''). To access the main tent through the porch, which is the only way in or out, I need to crawl in on my hands and knees, consequently, this tent is not suitable for anyone with mobility difficulties. The main sleeping area of the tent has sufficient height to sit comfortably and move around, but not to stand up (95cms high). The porch has small clear plastic windows on either side, which have built in colour co-ordinated blinds, handy if you are sitting out a downpour, as this small tent could feel a little isolating without a view onto the outside world.
The tent is erected easily, by threading two long flexible fibreglass poles through colour-coded sleeves diagonally across each other. These poles are the magic wand type, with several separate poles joined by an elastic cord which runs through them, joining them together. The ends of these poles then sit securely in metal rings at the four corners of the main part of the flysheet, causing the main tent to rise up in a very stable dome. Another, shorter, pole is threaded through the material that creates the entrance to the porch, and forms an arch by securing each end in rings attached to the main part of the tent. It is simple to put up, and takes 5 - 10 minutes to erect completely. There are several pre-attached guy lines, but I have replaced the original guy lines because I found them too short to allow me to easily peg around buried boulders (I also prefer fluorescent guy lines as it reduces the chances of someone tripping over them).
Inside the tent the main sleeping area is accessed through the porch, through a D-shaped zipped door in the inner tent. This door has a mesh layer at the top, providing the option of additional ventilation without compromising protection from biting flying creatures. There is a small built in storage pocket inside the sleeping area, which I find handy for keeping things I need easy access to. It also has a small hook at the top to attach a lantern to. There are ventilation flaps in the flysheet, with a mesh layer to prevent bugs from entering, but as with any tent you can expect a degree of condensation to build up overnight. I find this tent is more prone to condensation than any of my other ones, which I presume is down to the material being less breathable. I frequently find a significant amount of condensation on the inside of the porch windows, but again this is to be expected as they are made of plastic.
The Vango Alpha 200 is sold as a 2 man tent. In my opinion they would need to be very small men. I find it offers sufficient space for my needs at a festival, but with a large rucksack in the main area I have no room for anything else apart from a single inflatable mattress. It is certainly not a suitable tent to spend much time in, but as somewhere dry to lay my head in the early hours, it is fine. I prefer dome tents to any other design, as I find them more stable, and this tent has withstood some strong winds and heavy rain admirably. It is not a tent that would be suitable for holidays, but for festivals, or for children with parents in a separate family tent, it is ideal. All in all, a good, reliable basic tent that does its' job, but only for one adult or two children.
As mentioned in my other reviews, my family does enjoy a fair bit of camping now and then but belonging to a family of 8 - and extra when friends come also, requires quite a few tents.
We usually end up having to replace the tents every year due to their poor quality, they tear and damage very easily. This year, when shopping around for some new ones, I persuaded my dad to part with a few more pennies and purchase the Vango Alpha 200. He reluctantly bought one for £30 from Yeoman's in blue, though the product was also available in two other colour variations being black (with green interior) or purple and green.
When we got home we assembled the tent in our front room to see how it looked and the size etc. Well we're usually hopeless at pitching tents but this one was quite straightforward and took just 10 minutes. The tent measures about 260cm in length, 120 in width and 100cm in depth (from floor to top of dome). The tent caters to two people, and excluding the front storage porch area, sleeping space measures 205x120cm.
The tent comes with a mobile handled carry bag, in which the disassembled tent can be placed in. The tent contains crystal clear windows with internal covers that allow maximum light into the living area. The material that makes up the tent, ProTex 2000 is a polyester fabric coated to be waterproof and with its added elasticity the tent is less prone to tearing or sagging should it become wet.
The inner walls contain a breathable fabric with part mesh door and roof which allows the air to circulate easily. The pitching poles are made of the best fibreglass which provides the smoothest travel through sleeves and eyelets without snagging. The tent features conveniently positioned attachment points for easy hanging of a camping lantern or torch. And finally, and thankfully (with my mum's cooking) the tent happens to be fire retardant.
Whilst on the trip we found ourselves constantly fighting over who was going to get the Vango tent, as the rest were literally falling apart - especially when it later began raining torrentially.
I'd without a doubt recommend this tent, and all those in the Vango range for that matter having bought quite a few now not once have we been let down. The tents are ideal for not just for campers, but festival-goers and bicycle or motorcycle campers. Portable, compact, easy to assemble, and full to the brim of quality features, this is a great value tent for all!
The Vango Alpha 200 is a 2-man tent. It is designed for festivals and short camping trips, and is easy to put up. That is what I understood and read from the several reviews of the tent that I read prior to buying it. But do I agree?
** The Tent **
The tent is called a two-man tent. It has a separate sleeping space with its own zipped door. There are two pockets sewn into the inside of this tent on either side to allow you to store your valuables. These pockets are quite small and would probably only fit your mobile and ipod.
The tent opens onto a porch area with a groundsheet base for you to store your belongings. There is another zipped door from this area outside. The porch also has two windows on either side.
** A 2-man tent **
The description says a two man tent. This to me means that two fully grown men should be able to fit in the tent comfortably enough to sleep. I slept in the tent with my sister and I would not even call it a two woman tent. My sister and I are slim and about 1.65 each, yet both of us had our head touching one end of the tent and our feet touching the other end. We also spent most of the night sleeping side by side like sardines not really being able to move, and trying not to touch the sides as it was raining. Therefore, to me the tent is a one (short person) tent. I have absolutely no idea how two normal sized men of average height would be able to sleep in that tent. Consequently, I would not recommend the tent for that reason alone unless you're quite short and sleeping in it on your own.
The dimensions given suggest that two adults should be able to fit in the tent easily, but as the tent slopes in at the head and feet end, it is not possible to sleep as far forward/back as the dimensions would suggest. It is possible to sit up in the tent in the centre but you cannot stand in the tent. Getting dressed in the tent is near impossible and we only managed it with one of us standing outside the tent while the other sort of dressed half sitting/lying down.
** Tent Access **
Entry to the tent is via a zipped door from the porch. It is a little like crawling through a tunnel entrance which is off the ground and kept resulting in either my sister or myself falling into which ever side we were climbing into. It is not possible to go through the door in any dignified manner.
** Tent Porch **
The tent has a very small porch where you can store your belongings. In fact, you have to store your belongings in the porch as they will not fit in the tent with you. My sister and I had daypacks and a pair of shoes each and both had to be left on the porch when we fell into the tent to sleep. The porch is covered but the side parts and door do not reach the ground allowing air to circulate. This is quite a good idea although it also meant that we had a fox able to enter the tent (thankfully we were not inside).
** Style / Design**
My tent is two different shades of blue, but the tent also comes in pink (named raspberry fandango for some strange reason) and green. I think the blue looks the most normal which is why I went for this colour. The tent looks good but when next to other small tents, looks like a dwarf tent.
A major design flaw in the tent design I would say is the porch roof. The porch roof is largely flat and therefore this allows rain to collect on the surface. This is not a problem except when you try and leave the tent after it has rained. Whatever you do, at least one part of your body will hit the underside of the porch roof as you fall out of first the tent door, and then onto your belongings in the porch, and then out the porch door. As soon as that body part hits the underside, not only does it get very wet, but the porch roof starts to drip water over all your belongings in the porch.
** Ease **
The tent is easy to put up. It is a pole style tent so you makes the poles and attach first the tent layer, and then the oversheet porch layer to these. Hook/pegs are provided to secure the tent to the ground. All in all, it's possible for one person to put the tent up on their own.
The tent when packed away is a rectangular shape and therefore easy to store. It comes with its own bag with handle.
** Cost **
The tent cost me about £35 and to me this is a reasonable cost. I am aware that at that price I cannot expect a wonderful tent, but I do expect a tent that fulfils its description.
** Overall **
A low cost tent fine for small people for a maximum of a couple of nights at a time camping during the summer months.
The inside space is very small, and the porch leaks. If you can store your belongings in a car or somewhere else, you would be able to use the porch to sit on. Not a tent to use in rainy weather or when you have lots of belongings.
Probably an ideal tent for festivals as light, packs up small, and if you're camping at a festival, you probably don't care as long as you have somewhere to sleep.