Outwell Hornet XL Review – Simplifying Family Camping

Outwell Hornet XL Review - Simplifying Family Camping
Our Review

Review Summary
We've used this tent on many camps now, and it's not let us down through wind, rain, and sunshine. The pitching time is fantastic, coupled with Outwell's easy pegging system, means that the whole family can get involved. Pitching the tent is now one of the quickest things to do when setting up camp.
The Good Stuff
The Hornet XL is a good sized family tent that's amazingly fast to pitch thanks to Outwell's SmartAir technology.
The Not So Great
This is a big family tent and so it is large and heavy, so make sure you have space to transport it. The pump is not top quality, but if it breaks, it is easily replaced.
Rating

Overall Rating

Value for Money

Quality

Features

Family Friendly


Last Updated: August 27, 2015

The Outwell Hornet XL is from Outwell’s Smart Air Polyester collection. This means it’s air framed, and all you need to do is pump it up to pitch it. No messing around with tent poles.

Here’s a fun little video we made showing the tent pitching.

OK, so a 5 year old can’t fully pump up the whole tent, but putting up the Outwell Hornet XL is easy.

How fast can the Outwell Hornet XL inflate?

Once out of its bag and in position, with all the valves set and ready to start pumping, it takes only a few minutes for the tent to be up.

Inflating the Outwell Smart Air
If you’re not that fit, it may feel a whole lot longer when pumping, as it gets a bit harder towards the end, but within a handful of minutes your tent is up. (Though not pegged out).

We’ve had many tents. We used to camp for many many years in a Coleman Coastline 6 tunnel tent with fibreglass poles. That is a simple tent but used to take a long time to pitch as threading all the fibreglass poles into their sleeves just took ages.

Our tent prior to this one was the Coleman Da Gama 6. A nice steel framed tent, and although much bigger than a Coleman Coastline, we could pitch it in a fraction of the time; 20 minutes and it was up. That was lightening quick compared to what we were used to.

Well now with the Outwell Hornet XL, it is up in moments (with no stress trying to get fibreglass poles into their sleeves either). Looking back at 20 minutes pitching time for our previous tent (which was a very good time), now looks very slow compared to the Outwell Hornet XL.

There is one tent pole though in the Outwell Hornet XL, and that’s in the eyebrow, which can be a bit stiff to fit the first few attempts. It also reminds you of the days of tent poles, and makes you glad you don’t have tent poles for the whole tent 😉

Camping by a pond
On our first camping trip of the season we set up our kitchen area, which we like to cover with a tarp. That simple tarp took considerably longer than the tent to put up.

Is the speed of pitching worth it?

When you have kids, yes.

They’re exited to get to the campsite, and whilst you can encourage them to help set up the camp, a two hour time to set everything up is just boring to them.

Plus, you’re too knackered to do a lot with them if it takes ages to setup.

So this year we’re on a mission to try and make family camping quicker and easier, and the Outwell Hornet XL fits right in.

What you get with an Outwell Hornet XL?

Kids setting up their bedrooms inside the Outwell Hornet XL
The Outwell Hornet XL is a 3 bedroom tent that is rated for 6 persons, though we recommend it is a lot more comfortable with just 5 people.

We have 3 kids: 2 girls, one boy, plus Mum and Dad of course, and it’s a perfect layout for us.

It is an Outwell tent, and so at the higher end of the market, but you do get a lot of design details that all help with family camping (see this post here on why you may want to choose an Outwell tent).

We put this video together to show you some of the features you get with the tent.

Other Great Features

The bedroom dividers unzip. We only really need to use this to get to our youngest in the night (though not so much now he’s getting older). It’s a really great feature that means you don’t need to get out of your sleeping bag.

The living area in this tent is massive. We could all eat inside and store a lot of clothes for a camping holiday.

Outwell low level window
The windows are tinted. Though that doesn’t sound like much, the tinting works really well as even though the Hornet XL has lots of large windows to let in plenty of light, with the tinting people outside the tent can’t see much of what’s going on inside the tent. (And there’s blinds on all the windows too of course).

The bedroom areas have a darkened roof to help you sleep on those early bright summer mornings. The main tent ceiling is white to help let in lots of light.

Preparing food in the sunny shelter of the Outwell Hornet XL
The porch area provides protection from the rain when getting in and out of the tent. It also acts as a windbreak. When we caught the sun this was a perfect sun trap to sit in.

The entrance step also lays flat, so no more tripping as you get in and out of your tent.

Outwell Guyline Retainer
And, another little tiny design feature but one that makes a big difference when packing away: the guy line tidies. I used to spend ages winding up and tying each guy line. Now I just wind up and secure in place.

Things to watch for

If you are thinking of getting an Outwell Hornet XL (and I recommend you do), then you should know that it comes in a big and heavy bag.

The weight of the tent is about the same as other large family tents of this size (and lighter than polycotton tents of a similar size), plus you don’t have a heavy bag of steel tent poles.

However, the bag is very big.

Outwell have put some compression straps onto the bag, to help minimise the size.

When putting the tent away, we roll it up, then unroll, and roll again. The first roll is to help get the air out, and makes it a lot easier to get it back in the bag.

I roll the tent up using the tent pole bag (see this post on rolling up a tent), but I leave the bag of tent pegs out, as well as the pump to help get the tent back in its bag.

Outwell Hornet XL Bag
So if you are thinking of getting this tent, make sure you have space to transport it, and you have two people to pitch it.

Enjoying the simple life with the Outwell Hornet XL

Outwell Hornet XL Dimensions

Outwell Hornet XL Dimensions

Some useful links for the Outwell Hornet XL

Outwell Hornet XL Specs

– Sleeps: Sleeps 6
– Bedrooms: 3
– Frame Type: Air Frame
– Tent Fabric: 6000HH Polyester (HH = Hydrostatic Head) (Click here for pros and cons of 6000HH Polyester)
– Width: 400cm
– Length: 665cm
– Height: 225cm
– Weight: 34.3kg Recommend two of you pitch.

Disclaimer: A lot of thanks to Outwell for supplying us with an Outwell Hornet XL so we can do this long-term real-world test of one of their SmartAir tents under real family conditions. All opinions are our own.

 


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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

@getoutkids

Family adventures, activities, camping, holidays,days out OS #GetOutSide champions 2017 #DofE brand ambassador @Craghoppers Partnership @campandcarvan @_elddis_
Nice simple activity that doesn't cost a penny - Go cloud spotting today #GetOutside #outdoorplay #outdoorfamilieshttps://t.co/mMnnWMdrrw - 10 hours ago
Gav Grayston
11 Comments
  1. Hi Gav – thank again for your thorough review and advice for those of us with young kids. We got our brand new Hornet XL yesterday and did our trial pitch this afternoon. So easy compared to steel poles.

    I thought it might be worth saying that you can get a big discount at Cotswold Outdoors if you are a member of YHA or Camping and Caravanning Club. I took out YHA membership (£15 to join) which gave me a code for Cotswold Outdoor which gave me 15% of all purchases. So the Hornet cost £892, a nice saving of £157…

    Hope that helps someone!

    Mark

    9:26 pm on June 24, 2015
    • Hi Mark,

      So glad you like the Hornet XL and thanks for the top on the Cotswold Outdoor discount.
      I’m going to see if we can automatically mention it each time we find a price from Cotswold Outdoor as I’m sure it’s going to help a lot of parents save money 🙂

      Cheers,
      Gav

      9:30 am on June 27, 2015
    • PS – having now properly ‘road tested’ this tent for 2 weeks in France, I can report it is absolutely fantastic! We had some heavy downpours and 2 or 3 very windy days, but the tent was unfazed.

      The one thing that I’m not happy with however is the pump. it broke on our 3rd use. Very poor quality – seems strange given how good the rest of the package was!!

      I’d be interested to know if you have had a similar problem? The pump was replaced but I think we’re going to look for something a bit more solid. Any suggestions?

      Cheers,

      Mark

      11:37 am on August 26, 2015
      • Hi Mark,

        Yes, the pump is surprisingly low quality compared to the tent.

        Although out pump has not broken and is still in use, we’ve found if you pull up too fast then the top of the pump comes off.

        We have a similar design of pump from Sevylor, and it’s much better quality. http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/recommended-air-pump/

        Although Outwell don’t recommend it, I know some people have bought an electric pump that has an auto-cut off when it gets to the right pressure.
        They’re a more expensive option, but those who have one of these says it makes pitching the Hornet XL even easier.

        Cheers,
        Gav

        5:36 pm on August 27, 2015
  2. Firstly, thanks Gav for the great review.

    We’ve just bought the Hornet XL after much research into inflatable tents. Can honestly say that it’s an amazing piece of kit and the build quality is outstanding. This was right at the top end of our budget (well, actually quite a bit over!) but once I’d read all of the reviews and watched countless online pitching videos, I knew that it had to be Outwell and it had to be inflatable. We’d spent ages looking at large family, steel framed tents in Go outdoors and other well known camping shops and although the steel framed tents are great, I just couldn’t get my head around putting one up in the rain with 3 little kids impatiently running around. Although we’ve not been out in it yet on a proper trip, we had a practice pitch in the garden and I can honestly say that once you’ve pegged the 4 corners down, closed off the valves and connected the pump, it goes up in around 2-3 minutes with moderate pumping. Yes you then have to peg out the numerous guy-lines which I’d allow another 10 minutes for but this is done after the tent is pitched, leaving the other half and the kids to set up inside. The only downside, and this isn’t really a downside as such, is that the bag is massive and pretty heavy (although I did manage to squeeze it into the boot of my Golf!) but this is obvious and expected with a tent of this size as already pointed out in Gav’s review. I’ll post back on here with an update after we’ve used it properly.

    11:33 am on May 14, 2015
    • So glad you like the Hornet XL and congratulations on getting into the boot of your Golf! 😉

      All the air tents of this size are pretty heavy, as the material for the air tubes is thick and strong.

      We’ve got a trailer and put our Hornet XL it in that. Usually requires two of us to lift it out carefully 🙂

      Pop back and post some pictures of your Hornet XL.

      Cheers,
      Gav

      2:23 pm on May 14, 2015
  3. Been ‘umming and ‘arring for ages about which tent to go with. This was always towards the top of our list for a family of five. I think you’ve swung it for us – looks great! 🙂

    1:39 pm on April 27, 2015
  4. I’ve seen a few inflatable tents, but never used one. I was surprised by how rigid the beams are. Great stuff! Shared the review to my camping with style followers 😀

    10:46 am on August 20, 2014
    • Yes, they are quite sturdy. The Outwell tent has cross bracing between the beams making it quite solid, plus withthe isolation valves between each air tube, it should still keep up if the worst does happen.

      5:20 pm on August 20, 2014
  5. We love Outwell tents and products. The idea of an inflatable tent sounds brilliant!

    10:36 am on April 25, 2014

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