The last steel poled tent we bought was a used Amazon 600 Signature Edition.
To this day, it remains one of our all time favourite tents, so much so, I could not bear to sell it and gave it to friends of ours – who now love it just like we did, however after pitching on a windy day and hubby getting whacked with a pole in the nether regions, thanks to a gust of wind, it’s been little fibreglass poles or big airbeams ever since in our little tent collection – and our Fibreglass Outwell Glenwood (my favourite) is wonderful but aging now, and probably due for an upgrade, so always looking for a bargain, we saw one and headed to Go Outdoors.
Our second choice…but definitely better than our first!
The Vanguard was not love at first sight and, as Outwell fans, we were initially tempted by the cheap price of the Outwell Harwood in Go Outdoors. We snapped it up, low price, great colour, nice size – and on test pitch an hour later found the worst quality I have ever experienced in a brand new tent, frayed pole clips, literally tent clips falling off threadbare straps, broken pole ferrules, missing toggles and frankly a poor finish overall. What a waste of money! We raced back to Go Outdoors to take their awful Outwell tent back to them and in fairness had no issues, with the offer of a refund or replacement (as you would expect). I won’t repeat what the manager said about return levels on the Harwood, but will suggest fellow campers give the Harwood a very wide berth and look at other ranges in store like we did – and this tent is definitely a worthy competitor.
Rock steady in a storm won the day…
Having taken back our brand new tent and feeling quite bereft and disappointed, in a moment of madness, (and during severe rain and wind storms which seemed to arrive out of nowhere), we went outdoors to look at alternatives and saw the Vanguard holding rock solid, while tents three times the price were struggling in the poor weather conditions. It was around the same price as the Harwood including carpet, footprint and porch, it was pretty cavernous and 5 minutes later we found ourselves struggling to fit this big combo into my little Skoda!
Now, as the somewhat reluctant owners of another metal poled tent, which I swore blind I would never buy again, I’m doing a review on it!
So here goes.
Talking about the tent…
The tent itself is awesome, at 5.2m x 6m, there is a massive amount of space. It has a great hydrostatic head, the poles are easy, Mark pitched it mostly single handed, with a little help to hold it steady while he pegged it down, and we were pitching for the first time in the rain and it still wasn’t difficult (although with the dog barking like a loony, both of us soaking wet and being surrounded by camper vans that just pulled up and got the kettle on, at the time I swore I hated Mark, the tent and camping in general!) In fact, I would say it takes no longer to pitch than our Outwell Corvette, an airbeam which comes in two pieces.
This tent is also great in terms of accessories available to buy, including a wardrobe that is super easy to clip in and a good quality carpet.
There are a few things which are indicative of the bargain price, including cheap toggles on the curtains, an annoying front door which lets the rain pour in when opening if you don’t use the porch awning, and lastly, maybe the biggest bugbear for us, the bedrooms were too short to accommodate our large airbed, as you can see below, but honestly, don’t let that put you off, this is a lot of tent for your money – and in fact probably way too big for two, but hey, welcome to camping with the Bakers…..!
What the two bedrooms lose in length, they certainly gain in width, though sleeping 4 in each may be tight.
Normally we use a spare bedroom for the loo, but it seemed a waste of such a lovely big space so we found a handy spot to the left of the wardrobe for that, instead using the spare bedroom to create a lovely little dark lounge space for our inflatable sofa, footrest and Outwell Kimberley side table. This meant there was a massive space in main living area of the tent, which on this occasion only held our table and chairs, however there’s easily enough space to keep a family entertained here. The tent is also really well ventilated.
As far as the tent goes, for around £550 all in, you can’t fault the tent or the value, and it’s fair to say we are pretty impressed with it. It also has mesh on both doors (mesh on all doors is a must for us). We’d like to see zip up curtains, a flat rather than sloping front door and longer bedrooms but this is a great tent and exceptional value for money.
The sad little porch awning is another matter.
We’d normally use a porch awning to cook in but little chance of doing that here. It looks a lot bigger in the picture than it is in real life, the slope of the tent means the porch adds very little practical space.
Apart from covering the door (which you will appreciate, as it is the tent’s biggest flaw) and offering a little space to stick boots, the porch brings nothing else. The old Frontier 8 porch was absolutely amazing (and still available but sadly won’t fit this tent), but you’d never think this came from the same manufacturer. If you can get it as part of the all-in deal, by all means do, but if you have to pay extra, don’t bother and buy a generic tarp.
Kitchen-wise, forget sticking it in the awning, but thankfully this was not an issue as we brought along a 4.5m x 4.5m Coleman event shelter…
We don’t bring it with the Corvette, because the porch area is fantastic but with this one, you’ll be putting any kitchen cupboards in the main tent through necessity not choice – something to bear in mind if there are 8 of you in the tent (maybe skip the wardrobe)
Overall, I’d rate this tent a 8/10 for the tent, 10/10 for the other accessories and a 4/10 for the porch. All in all, if space is what you want, along with stability and easy pitching you won’t go far wrong with this. There are lots of tents out there – but fewer in stock everywhere this year.
If you want a big tent to hit the field, you won’t be disappointed with this one and in our experience, we’ve always found friendly, helpful staff at Go Outdoors, this is a great tent and well worth the money.
However, if it’s an airbeam you are after, or you have a bigger budget and are looking for an upgrade tent, we’d recommend heading to Damian at Newquay Camping, or the lovely Mike at Attwoolls, where you will, in our experience, get a wider choice, and still get fabulous service, a warm smile and plenty of help.
(For fans of the Swearing Welshman on YouTube, he has done a video, and we’ll link it when it’s ready!)