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We bought the Vango Tigris 800 last year as our first family tent. We've camped in it now 6 times (including twice in the garden) and in general we're pretty satisfied with it. It's not the best tent in the world, but for the cost it's proven pretty good.
It's a tunnel style tent and fairly easy to pitch. Vango reckon you can pitch it in about 20 minutes which is fairly true once you know what you're doing with it. At first it took us about 40 minutes to pitch it, but we can get the tent shell up (including footprint) in about 15 -20 minutes now, but with guy ropes it takes more like 30. There's a bit of a technique to it as follows:
- Put down and peg down the footprint - 5 minutes.
- Lay down the tent & peg one end. Make sure the big door is at least a little bit open otherwise you're fighting a vacuum when you try and pull it out - 2-3 minutes.
Put each of the 5 poles in place. We've found that if you push the pole through then attach it to the securing hooks and fold it down over the pegged end (so that you end up with a stacked pile of poles) then this makes it easier to put in the next pole - 5 minutes.
- Open out the tent. It's kind of like opening a concertina so starting at the pegged end you pick up all the poles then walk the tent out until it's fully opened out - 2 minutes.
- peg the other end - 2 minutes.
At this point the tent is basically pitched, though you do then have to peg the million and one guy ropes, plus all poles at both ends. The pegging out takes a little while, but we've started doing it like a production line and it's a bit quicker that way.
We also bought the side canopy which is a little tricker to pitch but worth it for the extra space. We put all our kitchen equipment in the side canopy, and it's a nice place to sit whether it's wet or dry and it also helps to protect your inner tent from muddy shoes and water ingress through open doors.
Once pitched the inner bedrooms are very easy to slot in place - you get enough for 8 people - one large bed area which can sleep 4, with a curtain that you can put up in the middle, and two two man inner tents. We've found the bed spaces quite flexible and once put up there's still quite a lot of space in the interior.
Great things about the tent:
- it's spacious.
- it's fairly easy to pitch.
- it's quite compact - the tent bag isn't massive though I would say you need two people to lift it and pitch it. Still, for an 8 man tent that's not really unexpected.
- it's fairly water tight. We've camped in some hellish conditions (Keswick in a windstorm) and we haven't had any ingress of water. That being said, there are other issues. Read on...
- the interior is quite flexible.
- interior pockets and storage - you get a couple of neat little storage attachments for storing your nick nacks in the tent.
Problems we've had with the tent:
- condensation - this has been a real problem the last couple of camping trips and I'm not convinced the water tightness is as sound as it was last year. When we camped in April we had a puddle of condensation in one corner which took a while to dry out. It was fairly exceptional conditions (down to minus 5 one night) but even so the level of condensation was poor.
- pole breakage - the poles are fairly weak and we've had a few breakages on the past couple of trips. The flexible poles are a bit of a pain.
- the side canopy is a great extra space but it's very difficult to pitch it so that it's tight against the tent. Also, we found that you need to be really aware of the wind direction because if it rains you can get water build up between the tent and the canopy which then runs down inside the canopy. We contacted Vango about this but they were never able to give us any advice on it. My advice is to pitch the canopy facing in the direction of the wind, that way there shouldn't be any build up of water between the tent and the canopy.
- it can be terribly flappy in the wind and a bit noisy.
So a bit of a mixed view. On the whole, for what we paid for it, I think it is a good value tent but not the best in the market. A good start up tent, but one we'll be replacing in the next couple of years.
Our last tent was the 6 man Coleman Coastline Deluxe which was an excellent tent but no longer big enough for our needs given the niggles we had with the third bedroom. It was for this reason we upgraded to the Vango Tigris 800 (it's the navy blue, 2011 model) and set off on our 2 week holiday with our two girls 8 months and 3. So how did the tent hold up? It's on it's way back to the shop for a full refund.
~~ The Vango Tigris ~~
I won't bore you with all of the things the tent claims to be as quite frankly, most of them are untrue. It is an 8 man tent though and it is a very comfortable size and could easily sleep 8 people in the bedrooms with noone being uncomfortable or bothered by the rooms flapping at you all night long (bar should there be a touch of wind, then you might be in trouble if you're in the front end of the tent with the large door..) You can mess around with the bedroom layout too with 3 or 4 rooms depending on how you'd like it. Personally, we had 3 rooms (the two doubles and the third room as a quad) and this worked well as we just threw the junk at one end of our room so the kids' rooms were free to play in. One bedroom had the travel cot in it with our 8 month old and in all honesty you could have fit a second cot in the room along with a suitcase and anything else you saw fit.
The tent claims to be easy pitching in 20 minutes but I'm not sure this is entirely accurate either. It is very easy to pitch with just 5 poles to push through the flysheet and hook in and it just pops up when you pull the bottom of the tent. It isn't, however, possible to fully pitch the tent in just 20 minutes unless you have an army of people with a mallet each working at 100 miles an hour. Vango did supply a few of the bigger T pegs to hold the tent down but the guy lines and sides of the tent were held in by your usual cheap ones that bent like noones business! I'd recommend buying seperate if you're going to be crazy enough to purchase this tent.
There are three doors to the tent (2 if you're using bedrooms at both ends) but only one of these has the porch over the door that stops you being drowned every time you go in or out. This wasn't a problem at the start of our holiday but you can imagine how muddy just outside that door was getting after a week and that was without any rain! The doors do have mesh inners on them though and for the most part it kept out the flies, wasps and any other creature you wouldn't want to live with!
The tent claims to have a HH of 4000 which we were lead to believe was pretty water tight... cough.
~~ The problems started ~~
The first problem we noticed with the tent was a little hole next to one of the side doors that almost looked as if someone had put their fingernail through it. We weren't exactly happy about it but in the grand scheme of things it was a tiny hole and we just weren't going to mention it so long as the rain didn't come in. It remained leak proof so we just ignored it and got on with the holiday.
The doors soon became a problem as Vango had included a strip of material around the door that would sit on top of the zips to stop the rain coming in but it also meant the zip would get caught in it and you'd spend a good while sorting it all out. Again, not a big problem and not something you'd complain about on its own.
The bedrooms clip in using orange clips at the back of the tent and a mix of orange clips and little hooks at the front end. This became a problem too as the bedroom we'd used as a quad kept undoing in the tent end and you'd find yourself stepping over material that had moved as it was no longer clipped in. Why they couldn't have used clips all around it I don't know? Again, not a big problem but another little niggle.
There were several other little things wrong with the tent (like the straps in the tent snapping) that weren't worth mentioning on their own but were really beginning to make us wonder what we'd bought. The "puddle" that appeared under our bed after a little bit (and I mean a little shower) of rain didn't help but I stupidly assumed my other half had spilt our water and not been man enough to admit it. Boy did I regret that assumption.
~~ Catastrophe struck!! ~~
We'd been in Northampton in baking heats of almost 30 degrees so had a spectacular weeks camping with only one tiny day of showers but it was time to leave. The tent packed up easily, fitted into the bag easily and away we went off to the Lake District as a short stay to our journey back to Scotland. It was here we thought we'd get a nice relaxing break to the journey and a couple of good nights sleep. How wrong would we be?
The sunshine was well gone and into the second day came the heavy rain. We'd gone out for the day to visit my relatives that stayed about 20 minutes away and on returning to the tent we found puddles inside all down one end of the tent and in the bedroom completely soaking the bed, suitcase, electrical items (we had electric hook up) and pretty much everything else we had in there. To say we were shocked was an understatement! It did explain the puddle we'd found in the shower in Northampton but that was absolutely no consolation! It was 7pm by now and with two children to get to bed it became operation clean up. All of our towels (and I mean all of them) and two rolls of kitchen roll were used to mop up the mess and I took the risk of plugging in my hairdryer so that we could salvage the bed and have somewhere to sleep for the night.
We did look to find where the leak was coming from to try to stem it as the rain was heavy and it seems they hadn't sealed the seam around that front bedroom so the water was literally running into the tent. Eventually, I ended up taking the soaked bedroom down completely as there was literally nothing left we could do to salvage it and we ended up sleeping in the main living area with kitchen roll, pans and bottles lined up along the floor trying to catch some of the water. This didn't work either as the rain started dripping through into the other bedrooms and into the main living area. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep! It still didn't end there though.
It did get quite windy and in the end it turned into a thunder storm which is never a pleasant experience when camping but is just double the trouble when in an already leaking tent! What else could we wrong we joked. Where do we start? The big T pegs that Vango had supplied a few of came unhooked leaving one end of the tent just flapping around in the wind - I'd blame this on the storm but every other tent there was doing just fine! Vango have a patent on their TBS system too which is supposed to make the tent handle something like 100mph winds without a problem but I can tell you now that isn't true! My proof? Read on..
The kids had slept through most of the night (with the baby in our bed after her room getting too wet) so when they woke up we decided to just cut the holiday short and leave there and then. Who could blame us? Packing the tent in the rain was the worst experience ever and considering everything was already wet we were drowned by the time it came to the last fold of the tent with only the rolling it up and shoving it in the car to go. Disaster struck again. I did the final fold only to find something that looked suspiciously like a pole still stuck inside the tent. Vango's brilliant fibreglass poles had indeed snapped on us and we had to unfold the tent to find out where it was. How had we not noticed? Who knows! It could have been the rain, lack of sleep or sheer annoyance that our holiday was ruined but it added a good 20 minutes onto our leaving time which stressed out the already upset kids and made us want to scream.
~~ The verdict ~~
It turned into a rather expensive holiday in the end as the towels and things were just too wet to put into the car for a 6 hour journey and were left behind in a bin along with several other things that had been in our bedroom and impossible to save. Vango were supposed to be one of the better brands of tents and had been recommended to us by a friend but boy we were let down! The tent is currently on the way back to the retailer we purchased it from who can't apologise enough for what's happened and hopefully the refund will do something to cheer us up after such a dreadful experience. The only thing Vango should be happy about is we haven't billed them for everything they effectively destroyed and the stress it's caused to us and our children who never want to go camping again! I did begin to wonder at some point if we were on some kind of hidden tv show with the world laughing at us if got that bad. I'm not one for reality tv but I bet you'd have laughed your socks off watching that!
Would I recommend the Vango Tigris to anyone? Sure. The CEO, members of the Board and any employee that had anything to do with making the tent that ruined an otherwise perfect holiday. Their quality control department obviously needs a bit of a revamp too as that tent shouldn't have been let out with a hole in it, let alone the rest of the problems we encountered! The RRP for the tent is £425 so it isn't cheap. I can tell you one thing though, I'll never buy a Vango product again after this experience as I can't afford to replace all of my belongings again on what was supposed to be a cheap family holiday!
I do apologise for the essay above :) One Star is an overly generous rating though...