Camping with Air – we look at Outwell’s new Air Collection

Camping with Air

Air framed tents have made family camping a lot easier. No longer do you need to spend time inserting tent poles. Instead you have more time for what matters: having fun.

Air framed tents have made family camping a lot easier
Last year we went to a great many campsites with an Outwell Hornet XL, part of Outwell’s Smart Air Polyester Collection. This has proved to be a fantastic family tent, and when pitched alongside a relatively fast pitching steel-framed tent, the Hornet XL was up in next to no time, while the other tent was still getting its poles inserted.

This year Outwell has introduced a new range of air-framed tents called the Air Collection.

a new range of air-framed tents called the Air Collection
Along side their Smart Air Polyester Collection and the more premium polycotton Smart Air Collection, and not forgetting the Vango Air Beam tents, there’s an ever-increasing and confusing list options for the family camper wanting to take advantage of this time-saving way to pitch a tent.

So with another range of air-framed tents to choose from, we have a closer look at Outwell’s Air Collection to help you decide if any of these tents are right for you.

Air Collection vs. Smart Air Collection

The obvious difference most people will immediately spot between these collections is the colour.

For 2015 the Air Collection tents are green, the Smart Air Polyester Collection is blue, and the Smart Air Collection is Mocha having been green the previous 2 years.

Differences are more than just skin deep. Here are the main things that set the Air Collection apart.

  1. Price – The Air Collection is a slightly lower spec than Outwell’s other air-framed tents, which is reflected in the price. Whilst air-framed tents are still much more of an investment than most tents with poles, the Air Collection may be more reachable than the more expensive Outwell Smart Air Collection or larger Vango AirBeams.
    You pump each tube on the Air Collection
  2. Inflation Method – The Smart Air Collection has a fast pitching method as you can inflate the entire tent from one point. The Air Collection is different, requiring you to inflate each air tube individually (just like on Vango’s AirBeam range). In practice, this could make pitching slightly slower than the equivalent Smart Air tents, but still significantly faster than more traditional tents. In our opinion, this is not something worth worrying too much about and is a good feature to trade for the lower price point.
  3. Hydrostatic Head – The tent fabric has a slightly lower Hydrostatic Head (click here if you are not sure what Hydrostatic Head means). However, this should not be a great concern as it still has a 5000mm HH, so more than adequate for most British weather. The material is also slightly thinner than the Smart Air Polyester collection, but at 75D it’s still as thick or thicker than some similar tents from other brands.

Best Family Tents in the Air Collection

Whilst we’ve not yet tried an Air tent ourselves yet (as we write, they’re not even in the shops!), I was lucky enough to get an early preview of the collection, and so had a good look at the new models.

The collection sports familiar Outwell tent layouts, but there are two models in particular that I think are particularly good for the family camper: the Outwell Corvette XL and the Outwell Clipper XL.

Outwell Corvette XL Tent

The Outwell Corvette XL is in many ways similar to the Outwell Hornet XL tent in the Smart Air Polyester collection, but the layout has been slightly tweaked, and to my mind, the Corvette XL improves on the layout in the Hornet XL.

Outwell Corvette XL Review 2015

We really like the way the living area has been divided up in this tent to create a large porch.

Inside the porch area of the Corvette XL
For us, and many other families, some of the time camping is spent in the tent but mainly time is spent outside. The large sheltered area makes things easier by providing cover from breezes or showers. Plus it’s a good place for the kids to leave their muddy boots so they don’t walk through the tent with them still on 😉

Main bedroom on the Outwell Corvette XL
you actually get more tent for the money
Technically the Outwell Corvette XL is a 7 Person tent, but as one bedroom is slightly smaller, using it as a 6 or 5 person tent will provide you with a lot more space. So despite it being a slightly lower spec than the equivalent Hornet XL Smart Air Polyester tent, you actually get more tent for the money.

Inside the living area of the Outwell Corvette XL
A tent of this size is great for camping holidays when you’ll be spending a number of nights away from home. With the fast pitching nature of airframe, you could also use this tent for weekend camping – we certainly did with the Hornet XL tent with no problems at all.

Vango makes a similar sized AirBeam. Click here to read a comparison.

Corvette XL vs. Hornet XL vs. Harrier XL

To give you a better comparison of where the Air Collection tent sits in the Outwell range, the table below compares three similar style inflatable tents from Outwell.

Outwell Clipper XL

The Outwell Clipper XL tent uses a popular Outwell layout for family camping.

The tent is small enough to make it super easy for a quick weekend getaway and has an optional awning to convert it into a much bigger tent for longer family breaks.

Outwell Clipper XL 2015 Review

…ideal if you have 2 to 3 kids…
The layout of this tent is ideal if you have 2 to 3 kids that don’t mind sharing.

Compared to the Corvette XL, expect to pay at least a few hundred pounds less but do factor in the cost of the Clipper XL Awning if you do need that extra space for longer camping trips, as the Corvette does come with one already built-in 😉

Our Verdict

…an investment…for quicker and easier family camping…
These tents still require a large chunk of your hard earned cash, but it may be an investment you’re prepared to make for the sake of quicker and easier family camping.

Whilst the Air Collection is Outwell’s lowest spec air-framed tent collection, as you can see, you’ll not be loosing too much in terms of features, and with Outwell’s reputation for quality, the Air collection of tents might be an easier way for you to join many other families who are now camping this way.

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Gav Grayston
Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.
Gav Grayston


Family adventures, activities, camping, holidays, OS #GetOutSide champions 2017 & 2018 #DofE brand ambassador @Craghoppers Partnership @campandcarvan @_elddis_
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