The Vango Icarus 500 DLX is small tunnel tent with 2 bedrooms for 5 people and a large living area. It is lightweight, easy to pitch and has a reputable weather protection. Shortly, it is, it has always been a good little tent.
Well, that’s the problem.
It has been around for – I don’t know – 7 years maybe? Tents have evolved so much in the last 5 years, so the real question is this: is the Vango Icarus 500 DLX still a good little tent like it used to be, or is it an old model that should have been discontinued years ago? Well, it’s not black and white, there’s never a simple answer to these kind of questions. From this Vango Icarus 500 Dlx review you’ll see that this tent still has a lot of value.
But be careful.
The updated Vango Icarus 500 DLX can be found at one retailer only, while there are older models available across the internet- for the same price.
After this lengthy introduction, let’s see what the 2021 model can offer, and where to buy it to avoid the older models.
Vango Icarus 500 DLX review – table of contents
- Who is the Vango Icarus 500 DLX for
- Transport, pitching
- Flysheet, weather protection
- Verdict & Where to buy
Who is the Vango Icarus 500 DLX for
The Vango Icarus 500 DLX is literally the ideal family tent for a small family of up to 4. It is still okay for a family of 5 though, and of course, the space on offer is more than generous for any group less of 4. It is easy to pitch, comfortable and spacious, making it suitable for beginners and occasional campers.
The Vango Icarus 500 DLX comes in a 70cm x 30cm x 31cm carrybag that weighs 15.5 kilograms (slightly heavier than earlier models). This means it is relatively easy to carry, and does not take up a lot of precious boot space in the back of your car. Alternatively, it fits into a medium size roofbox and upwards.
Erects as one piece with pre-attached guylines – for easy pitching. There are only 3 poles, so with a bit of practice, pitching time can easily stay under 15 minutes. Maybe it’s worth mentioning, that the Vango Icarus 500 dlx is erected ‘flysheet first’, meaning that the bedrooms, that are not waterproof, stay under the protective and waterproof flysheet. This comes extremely handy when you need to pitch the Vango Icarus 500 dlx in rain.
The carrybag is oversized, which means it is easy to pack the tent away once you’ve rolled it up.
The Vango Icarus 500 DLX is one those ‘old-school’ tents that try to deliver on the promise of being a 5-berth tent. (From this respect, it reminds me a bit of the Berghaus air tents).
We’ve got two bedrooms here, a normal double and a ‘master’ bedroom that’s a 3-berth. Normally, these 3-berth master bedrooms would never accommodate 3 adults; however, in this instance, the Vango Icarus 500DLX just might. There are more than 60 cms allocated per head, so the master bedroom is around 190 cms wide. This is actually enough to put three beds in it.
The seconds bedroom is slightly over 120 cms in width, so you’d not fit a normal double mattress in it, but a small double like this would slide in easily.
Or you can remove the detachable divider and have one large bedroom for the whole family.
There are quite a few options, that’s why I prefer 5-berth tents over the 4-berth tents, and, in some cases, they can be more versatile than a 6-berth tent.
When in the tent, it feels quite spacious, which is helped by the large front and side door too.
The front door can be turned into a sun canopy – although the poles are not part of the package, it is easy to get a pair of them from Amazon.
The front and side doors are fully meshed, while the bedroom doors are part mesh, so it’s relatively easy to keep the tent well-ventilated.
Flysheet, weather protection
The 2021 model comes with the Sentinel Active Plus flysheet. Sentinel Active Plus is a 70D polyester flysheet that is strong, waterproof to a 4000mm HH rating. It’s a little bit best of both worlds: decent weather protection yet still lightweight.
The older models come with a ProTex 70D flysheet with 3000mm HH rating. Not so much of a difference, but just bear in mind…
If you are not sure what does the HH rating means, I recommend this explainer post: Tent materials, fabrics, specifications and all the acronyms. FAQ.
Vango tents are famous for their storm protection system called TBS: short for tension band system, that increases the stability of the tent when required (and can be tucked away when not needed). The Vango Icarus 500 DLX – the current model at least – is equipped with the 2nd generation TBS II system.
Older models – especially the ones sold on Amazon – come equipped with the previous TBS system.
The groundsheet is fully sewn-in and has a 10,000mm HH waterproof rating, which is outstanding even among other Vango tents, yet alone compared to other manufacturers.
As for camping in hot or cold weather, well, bad news, polyester does not have great thermal properties: it won’t keep you cool when it’s hot outside and and won’t keep you warm when it’s cold outside. This also makes polyester prone to condensation building up on the inside of the flysheet, which can soak the bedrooms walls quickly even if it has not rained.
To regulate the temperature inside the tent, the Icarus 500 DLX has plenty of ventilation vents, as well as full mesh front and side doors (and half mesh bedroom doors).
If you plan to camp in cooler weather, this Kampa camping heater is more than recommended to fight cold and condensation.
The Icarus Vango 500 deluxe is one of those tents that have plenty of accessories.
First of all, there are the ‘usual’ tent carpet and footprint, though it is easy to forget how NOT typical it is to have bespoke accessories…other tents in this category tend to come with ‘universal’ accessories.
Secondly, maybe more importantly, there is a tent awning available separately. It fits onto the front of the Vango Icarus 500 DLX, adding an extra 10 square metres to the already spacious living space, increasing the overall size to above 15 square metres. The awning comes with a groundsheet too. And, don’t forget, even if you don’t opt for the awning, there’s the front door – turn – sun canopy…
The Vango Icarus 500 with awning is still under £400 at the time of writing this post, so if your budget allows it, it is definitely worth adding the awning to your camping pack.
What seems to be an issue is the replacement pole: while there are many available on Amazon, those appear to be compatible with older models only.
There aren’t many 5-person tents that can compete with the Vango Icarus 500DLX.
If you haven’t made up your mind yet, it may be worth considering the Coleman Mosedale 5 with similarly good weather protection, although it is a bit more pricy than the Icarus 500.
Related post: Coleman Mosedale 5 Review & Buying Guide
The Eurohike Rydal 500 on the other hand is less expensive, although less attractive in its features. It could be a great budget tent though that could last for 2-3 camping seasons.
Related post: Eurohike Rydal 500 Review
You could also consider the Eurohike Sendero 6, which you’d think is slightly bigger as a 6-berth tent, but actually, it is not. It is also less expensive than the Vango Icarus 500 DLX.
Verdict and Where to buy the Vango Icarus 500 DLX
The Vango Icarus 500 has proven throughout the years, and is still a great value for money family tent. It is inexpensive, has plenty of accessories and versatile enough to serve the whole family, providing more than enough space, comfort, and weather protection.
According to the Vango website, the Vango Icarus 500 DLX is exclusive to GoOutdoors (so as the accessories). Having said that, GO and Blacks have been syncing their stocks for a while now, so you can get a Vango Icarus 500 DLX from the latter (Blacks, Millets or Ultimate Outdoors)
You can also try Amazon for an Icarus 500 DLX but be careful, some listings are selling older models, so make sure you read the description and/or buy directly from the Vango Amazon store.