Most people would agree that Outwell is one of the leaders for family camping. However, the premium tents that they are well known for also come with a premium price tag. So, are they worth the money?
Outwell tents are highly rated for family camping, and most people would agree they’re pretty much the leaders in family camping. Unfortunately, a lot of people see the price of the top end models and think again.
In this post we look at what makes an Outwell tent so special, and start with the first question: “Why are Outwell tents so expensive?”
Why are Outwell tents so expensive?
Well the old adage is “you get what you pay for” or “quality” will be often quoted.
Those statements are true, but it there is more too it than that.
features that make family camping betterOutwell have designed many features that make family camping better. Some of these features are small, but when you add them all up, they make for excellent family camping holidays.
What’s more, if you’ve been camping with the family for a few years, you’ll see that Outwell has solved a lot of problems you may have encountered. You can tell that the guys at Outwell are family campers too.
BTW, you can get entry level Outwell tents. Check out the Amarillo 6 for example. However, it’s the premium tents that carry the most design features….as you would expect.
Is an Outwell tent right for everyone?
No. If you want to backpack, then an Outwell not right for you. (Though they do have some good popup tents – look at the Outwell Fusion 400 if you need something that’s quick to pitch when touring with your car).
f you have a family, want to give them a great camping holiday, you need places for people to sleep, places to store all their gear, places to cook, eat, etc., etc., then I recommend you look at what Outwell have to offer.
if you have kids and want to go on holiday to Spain for a couple of weeks, how much would that cost?
And if you have kids and want to go on holiday to Spain for a couple of weeks, how much would that cost? An Outwell tent looks somewhat reasonable now 😉
Here’s a video I put together as an example of an Outwell tent.
What do you get with an Outwell tent?
So we’ve got a brand new Outwell Hornet XL, which we’re going to unbox and show you just what you get with the tent.
The Hornet XL is one of the new polyester Smart Air tents for 2014. Inflating a tent is a lot quicker and easier than pitching with tent poles.
Although Outwell didn’t pioneer the inflatable tent, they have polished the design, and it also goes right along with their philosophy of making things easier with family camping – less time setting everything up, and more time camping with the family.
This tent is a six-person tent (though we recommend it’s better suited as a five-person). It’s a big tent. It has a big bag. With all the bits inside, the bag is around 40KG, so you’ll need two people to pitch.
The weight of family tents is always a consideration. As your family gets bigger, so does your tent. Make sure you can transport it and pitch it OK.
A nice little touch is the QR Code on the printed pitching instructions inside the bag. Just scan the code, and you can watch a video on how to pitch the tent…..but it’s straightforward.
With this particular tent you get:
- an air pump with a pressure gauge
- a spare valve in case you should need to replace one
- a bag of tent poles – although it’s air framed there is an eyebrow on this tent, and there’s a couple of steel poles so you can erect a canopy
- tent pegs – a lot of tent pegs
- and of course, an Outwell doormat for your tent
The Outwell Easy Pegging System
Outwell are one of the few manufacturers that ship their tent with some decent tent pegs.
The different coloured pegs are known as the Outwell Easy Pegging System, making pegging out very straightforward.
The four metal tent pegs go into the four corners of your tent. You’ll find grey pegging points on the tent where these pegs go.
The black tent pegs go at the base of your tent. There are black pegging points around the base of your tent.
Finally, the luminous tent pegs go with the luminous guy lines.
While talking of pegging it’s worth mentioning that this tent has tensioners at each of the pegging points. This enables you to get the tent nice and taught so that water easily rolls off if the dreaded rain comes.
The tent also has a valance around the base, which keeps any rain falling off your tent away from the sewn-in groundsheet.
Pumping instead of pitching
The Outwell Hornet XL is one of Outwell’s Smart Air tents, which means you pump up air into beams around the tent instead of the more traditional tent poles.
Air framed tents are very popular at the moment and make it even easier to pitch.
For this tent you use the supplied pump and inflate the tent to around 0.6 to 0.8 bar, using the pressure gauge that attaches to the pump.
Pumping was easy (I even got one of the kids to do it), though it does get more difficult when the beams come up to pressure. It appeared to require less pumping than our inflatable canoe.
The tent was up in a couple of minutes.
We found it went up quicker with someone going into the tent as it started to inflate and just pushing up the beams. The tent was up in a couple of minutes.
There are a few other air framed tent designs on the market, such as Vango‘s AirBeam range of tents.
One thing we particularly like about the Outwell Smart Air system is that you only have to inflate one of the beams, and all the others inflate too. With some other brands, you have to go to each beam individually and pump up.
But just in case there’s an accident and one of the beams gets punctured, there are shut off valves on the beams, so your tent remains pitched even if one of the beams fails.
Aren’t Steel Frame Tents more stable than Air Framed Tents?
Yes, a large steel frame tent should be very stable, but that doesn’t mean the Smart Air tents aren’t.
The Smart Air design includes cross beams to help keep the tent stable. Outwell also conduct wind tests on all their tents. So your Smart Air tent is a properly engineered structure, and not like a cheap inflatable lye low!
Other features you may find on your Outwell tent
Guyline retainers are just a simple little idea but can help by making it quicker to pitch the next time as you don’t have to waste any time untangling guy lines.
We’ve tripped our way in and out of many different tents with bathtub style groundsheets. The problem with most bathtub groundsheet designs is that you have to step over the upturned groundsheet at the doorway.
We usually have some rubber car mats to put over the entrance. The weight of the mats holds the groundsheet down a little bit…but it does stretch the tent where it’s not intended to be stretched.
Outwell have solved this by making the groundsheet lay flat at the main entrance door. You zip up the door, and it turns into a bathtub groundsheet again.
A simple little design tweak that takes one less niggle out of things.
There are a lot of different Outwell tent layouts. Some have built-in porches and shelters. This may be just enough to make a good entrance to the tent in bad weather, or a much larger outside/inside living space – where you won’t need to buy an additional tent extension.
Some of the premium tents that have large porches also have hanging rails in them. If you’ve done any family camping in British weather, you’ll end up at some point returning to your tent with soaking wet raincoats and muddy boots.
With these tents, you can leave all your wet gear in the porch and hang your raincoats up to drip dry.
And you can also roll back the groundsheet so that you don’t create a puddle inside.
On some of the top-end Outwell tents, you get a walk-in wardrobe.
Now that may sound a little excessive, but when you have kids on holiday, you have lots of gear.
The wardrobe gives you somewhere to tidy a lot of the stuff away.
It also comes with a hanging rail. Now combine this with another Outwell innovation, the Luggage, and you can simply pack the family’s clothes in a bag at home, and after you get the tent pitched you can immediately hang the Luggage, unzip it, and you instantly have your clothes put away but ready to use.
Some of the Outwell tents have this low-level window. You can unzip the inner tent in the bedroom and look outside. Great for checking the weather or what’s going on outside without even leaving the comfort of your warm sleeping bag.
Outwell aren’t the only tent manufacturer to offer a range of materials, but they do have a good range.
You can get a cotton canvas, polycotton, and polyester – with some higher than most hydrostatic head values for much of the range.
The Outwell Hornet XL in this example uses polyester fabric which has a 6000mm hydrostatic head and a 10000mm hydrostatic head on the groundsheet.
Not sure what all that means? Click here to read the pros and cons of different tent fabrics, and click here for an explanation of Hydrostatic Head.
Conclusion – Should you get an Outwell tent?
I recommend that you seriously look at Outwell tents, especially if you are planning camping holidays.
There are other brands of course, and we still like our Coleman Da Gama 6 (which even has some features the Outwell Hornet XL doesn’t have – the reflective guy lines and the bug mesh on the front door).
Weigh up the type of camping you’ll be doing (i.e. just weekend or holidays), the layout you need, the features you want (including frame and fabric), and what budget you can afford.
a decent Outwell tent could make things make things a little easier
If you are just starting with family camping and have the budget, a decent Outwell tent could make things make things a little easier, and you should be able to recover that investment over a number of years.
If you don’t have the budget, then start with something else. An Outwell tent may be something work towards. You could always try an Easy Camp tent (I recommend you have a look at the Easy Camp Boston). Easy Camp is a sister company to Outwell.
Outwell also have their entry-level Privilege Range, though you won’t get all the features mentioned above.
If you aren’t new to family camping, you may agree with me that the Outwell tent has a lot of features that will save you time.
I also recommend you check out some of the Outwell camping equipment. Look at the Outwell Luggage for example (mentioned above), which illustrates how Outwell thinks about more than just tents. I think it must be nearly a decade that we’ve been using our Outwell kitchen. One of the quickest items to put up.
Finally, there’s quite an active and friendly Outwell Camping Club community. You can find them here on Facebook.
Other Outwell Reviews
Disclaimer: With thanks to Outwell for providing us with an Outwell Hornet XL so that we could see what their new Smart Air collection is like under real family camping conditions. All opinions are our own (we were recommending Outwell items long before they sent us the Hornet XL – they’ve got some excellent items for family camping).
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