The Vango Stargrove air tents are fairly new on the market and there are not many reviews of any of the Stargrove Airbeam tents. Are they good, bad, worth buying?
Given the circumstances we can safely assume that not many people invested in a new airbeam tent in 2020.
Coming this camping season, well, it seems a bit more cheerful, so let’s have a look the Vango Stargrove airbeam tents. There are two air beam models in the range, the 4-person Stargrove II Air 450 and the 6-person Stargrove Air 600 XL.
In this Vango Stargrove II 450 & 650XL Review
- Vango Air tents 101
- Who are they for?
- Size, Layout
- Protection from weather
- Where to buy them?
Note, that most of the observations made on these two airbeam models would apply to the poled models – Stargrove 450 and Stargrove 600XL as well.
Vango Air Tents 101
For those who are new to the world of inflatable tents, Vango was probably the first to come out with the idea (and design) of airbeam, that replace the ordinary fibreglass poles. The idea was, that having inflatable beams, erecting the tent would be easier; you just need to inflate the beams, no fiddling with the fibreglass poles. They are less prone to damage, deformation etc.
Especially on bigger tents, where you’d spend hours trying to fit all the pieces together, there’s a huge benefit: setting up takes 20-25 minutes including everything. The tents themselves can be inflated in 10-15 minutes. They all come with a handpump, or you can the 12V socket of your car to run any electric pump like this Kampa 12V electric pump
So the Stargrove II air tents come with this heritage, the experience of making airbeam tents before everyone else.
Who are the Vango Stargrove II Air Tents for?
As I said, the smaller sibling is a 4-person tent, while the 600XL is a 6-person tent. The size of the rooms themselves are average in this price range, and the living area is decent.
The Stargrove 450 is ideal for couples and smaller families with up to 2 kids, while the 600XL can accomodate larger families (up to 6), or a group of up to 6 but that would be a bit tight for everyone. It is safer to say that the Vango Stargrove II 600 XL is comfortable for up to 4 adults and their packs. (Details on the versatility later on.)
Vango Stargrove – Pitching
The Stargrove 450 comes in a 19.6 kg oversized bag. It’s good on one hand – makes it easier to pack it away – but takes up quite a lot of boot space: the size of the pack is 80 * 43 * 43 cm.
The Stargrove 600 XL is only slightly bigger, 80 * 46 * 46 cm and it weighs 25 kgs.
Pitching them is easy and should not take longer than 15 minutes with a bit of practice. The smaller Stargrove has 4 airbeams to fill with air, while the 600 XL has 5 of them. They all come with Vango’s AirSpeed Valve.
It must be noted that the traditional fibre-pole Stargrove tents come in slightly smaller bags and they weigh slightly less, however, you can expect to at least double the pitching time.
The Vango Stargrove 450 Air occupies a 600 x 300 cm land which is 18 sqm, most of that is taken up by a significant living area (just shy of 6 sqm) and an equally large porch.
The Stargrove II 600 XL Air is not just wider by almost a metre, but is longer by a metre. So you need almost 27 square metres of flat surface to pitch this 6-person tent (I am not sure that my garden would be big enough to pitch it just for the kids to have fun).
The smaller Stargrove has 2 bedrooms of equal size, 140 cms wide each. This allows 70 cms per head, which is average among tents of this size and it’s equal to the size of a standard UK double bed.
The 6-person sibling has 3 bedrooms located side-by-side, however, these are smaller bedrooms than the ones in the Stargrove 450. There’s only 65 cms per head available in each room, so you need narrow mattresses placed tightly, or sleep on the ground the sleeping bags. I must admit having only 65 cms per head is not uncommon when we look at other 6-person tents, however, it somewhat limits the fun-factor.
The bedrooms are separated by a toggled divider (or dividers on the Stargrove 600XL), which is less than inspiring at this price range. They do the job though, so you can open up to have one big bedroom, or have a master and a 2nd bedroom in the Stargrove 600XL.
On the sunny side, there is plenty of headroom in both Stargrove tents, the headroom is 210 cms at the entrance and despite sloping slightly, there’s still 190 cms right at the back of the room.
The are storage pockets in each room, and one cable entry point to hook up your small appliances.
The bedrooms have dark fabric walls and Vango calls them Nightfall bedrooms – this is the name for the bedrooms that do not fully block out light. If you don’t know if it is important to you or not, have a read of this post on Blackout Bedrooms (history, function, and what they are called by the different tent-makers)
Related post: Air Tents with Blackout Bedrooms
What the Stargrove 600 XL loses with the bedrooms, wins it back on the living room. There’s only one word to describe it: it is BIG.
Spreading across 11 square metres (3.8 metres by 2.9 metres), it is comparable in size to a studio flat in London.
Access is easy through the wide side door or through the porch, which is separated by double meshed doors. The doors can be ‘dropped’ to allow easy access wide wheel-chair or a pram (and there’s no sill when you enter the bedrooms either)
The walls are upright, this increases the height within the tent allowing you to fully maximise the internal space. There’s plenty of light coming in through the clear windows, and there are toggled privacy curtains to cover them.
If it wasn’t enough, there as an optional side-awning to maximise the living space.
The porch is just big enough on both Stargrove air tents to leave you mucky gear protected from rain, yet out of the living room.
The most notable feature of the porch is that there’s no groundsheet covering this area (240 by 190 cms on the Stargrove 450, 280 by 190 cms on the Stargrove 600 XL). It is important to highlight that it is not like on other tents, where you can roll back the groundsheet; there is no groundsheet under the porch.
Having said that, it is not a big a issue at all.
What’s more important is that you have large entrance doors that are fully meshed, and that you can further extend the porch by a canopy (sold separately).
Protection from weather
The Stargrove tents sit on the lower end of the imaginary scale of Vango fabrics. The flysheet on the Stargrove tents is made of Sentinel Active, which is a 70D polyester fabric with 3000mm HH rating (see more on acronyms and what’s what in the tent lingo here), all seems are factory-taped so you don’t need to worry about proofing them.
As it is made of polyester, it dries easily, but it does not have great thermal properties: will be hot inside in the summer, and will be fresh inside on a cooler autumn morning. It is also very likely that condensation will build up on the inside wall of the flysheet in colder weather. This is something you’ll have to live with, although this ultra quiet dehumidifier or this Kampa camping heater may help a bit.
The UV protection is rated at UPF30+, meaning it blocks out 96.7% of UVA and UVB rays.
There is little to no information on the thickness of the groundsheet, but it tells a lot that groundsheet protector and carpet are sold separately – and I strongly suggest to invest in at least one of them to ensure that water does not seep through a small rip on the groundsheet.
As mentioned before, there is no groundsheet under the porch area, but otherwise it’s fully sewn in.
Related post: Best Air Tents with Sewn-in Groundsheet
Despite not being able to say anything exciting about the materials used, it must be noted that the Stargrove tents come standard with Vango’s storm protection system, which is called TBS. This is an acronym for the inner tension band system, which increases the stability of the tent (they can be tucked away when not needed).
To make sure that the tent stays stationary in high winds, you have good quality high-viz guylines. These are the thin types that are not thicker than a shoelace, and the pegs are pretty standard too. Having said that, Vangos are tried and tested up to 55 mph windspeed (more on the topic in this post), but if you regularly camp in windy areas you might want to invest in these storm proof straps and pegs for a peace of mind.
All in all, the Stargrove tents should withstand weather that you’d rarely wish to experience while camping.
Related post: Best Air Tents in Wind
Alternatives to consider
The Vango Stargrove Air tents cut under the competition with their pricing, there are very few air tents currently available with the same feature for a similar price.
The closest alternative to the Stargrove 600XL may be the Outdoor Revolution Airedale 6.0S – the Airedale may have ‘better’ fabrics, but the bedrooms are the same size as the Stargrove’s (they are small), the living area is considerably smaller and the price is slightly higher. I have reviewed the Joro 600XL in this post, and other (in-house) alternatives in this post.
The competition for the Stargrove II 450 Air comes from in house – the Vango Aether 450 XL is exactly the same size, but it features the Sentinel Eco fabric that is made of recycled plastic. It also has some features like zipped privacy curtains, that puts it slightly ahead of the Stragrove 450, for literally the same price.
In terms of versatility and value for money paid, the Stargrove 600XL is hard to beat. It cuts under the competition massively, and it’s still a Vango with 3 years warranty.
The Stargrove 450 feels a bit more average, there’s nothing really outstanding about it. It does the job for a very good price and you won’t regret placing your trust in it. It is like a grey eminence who does it all without you noticing. But it’s green. Sorry, herbal.
Where to buy the Vango Stargrove II Air tents?
Vango Stargrove at Winfields Outdoors
Vango Stargrove at Taunton Leisure
Vango Stargrove at Leisure Outlet
Vango Stargrove on Ebay
Vango Stargrove on Amazon