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We test Coleman's biggest FastPitch blow-up tent, the cavernous 6-person FastPitch Air Valdes, to see how well it lives up to its name. Could this be the best 6-person tent money can buy?

Price
£839
Value
8
Quality
10
Performance
10
Looks
10
Comfort
10
Overall Score
10
+
Excellent size, blackout rooms and pitching speed
At this weight the bag needs wheels!
amazon.co.uk

AT Editors pick opIf the first time you encounter Coleman's Air Valdes involves moving it anywhere in its carry bag, you'd be forgiven for pulling a face: this bagged up tent is big, heavy, and awkward to move. At 30kg the weight is not back-breaking but the size (78x58x48cm) and fairly minimal duffel bag that it comes in means shifting it is very much a two-person job.

Of course, a tent this size is made for unloading from your car straight onto a pitch but there are always short transfers to be made when loading and unloading. Now, if only the bag had a set of wheels on one corner, this would be a whole different story altogether.

Once on the pitch though, the Valdes is a dream. You simply roll down the duffel bag, spread out the tent and peg its corners down and then inflate the four TPU air arches which create the shape and structure of the tent.

The very first time we pitched it took 15 minutes including final pegging out - and at least five minutes of that was spent reinflating the first 'pole' three times as we hadn't bothered to read the instructions to find out how the valve worked.

Just so you know - each valve has a centre button which when pushed once keeps the valve open for letting the air out, and then when pushed again closes on a spring, so that air can go in but not out. Not knowing this made for frustratingly frantic couple of seconds trying to get the plug in after removing the pump before all the air rushes out again. Next time we'll read the instructions.

10 minutes later the tent is up, with the sewn-in ground sheet tensioned and three rooms already pre-hung in the back of the tent. You will need a few extra minutes to insert the three poles though. Two of them are for the handy hinging front door, which although not essential for access - you could use one of the two huge zippered side panels - does make for a very civilised and convenient entrance for the tent without loads of tedious (not to mention noisy) zipping and unzipping.

The third pole is a must though, as it forms the porch at the front of the Valdes which needs to be kept in tension for the roof to remain taut and stop water pooling on top.

Inside all three room have their own full height zipper doors, the top third of each housing a separate zipped panel which can be opened to increase ventilation while still leaving a mosquito netting panel in place. If you only need two rooms, the fabric panel between the middle room and the one on the left can be folded away.

In fact all the rooms are made from a breathable polyester fabric which despite being breathable claims to block out 99 percent of daylight - great for those who like to sleep in absolute darkness and for giving you the best possible chance of a lie-in. It doesn't block out the dawn chorus though - this is still only a tent, after all.

The Valdes' living space is simply wonderful, with a huge main 'living room' created and good head clearance throughout, even for our 6ft 2in tester. It's a nice place to relax too, with loads of light coming in from the two huge, clear side panels and two front windows, even without the big side panels opened and tied back.

All said, a wonderfully faff-free camping solution for friends and family with an admittedly high price, which is at least partly justified by its ease of use and impressive liveability.

The Coleman Air Valdes won Active traveller Editor's Pick in the 2016 issue of Active Traveller.

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