As with all of our tent reviews, we like to actually go camping in them before we talk about them. We’ve used Coleman FastPitch Air Valdez 6XL tent on a couple of camping trips now, staying at Three Cliffs (Gower, Swansea, 4 days, 3 adults) and also Stubcroft Farm (Chichester, East Wittering, 5 days, 2 adults, 2 teens, 2 dogs).
As the name suggests, pitching this tent is easy-peasy. Mrs TentLife put this tent up on her own when staying in Gower, much to the wonderment of a lady on a nearby pitch. The porch section is poled and is also erected very quickly. This huge tent (4.4m wide and 7.4m long) can be easily pitched and pegged out in about 30 minute.
There are many tents with the same layout as the Valdes 6XL, bedrooms across the back, living area in the middle and porch area at the front, but this tent has some rather nifty features that sets it apart from it’s competition. Read on and we will go into a bit more detail.
This is a 6 man tent with 3 bedrooms across the back that sleep 2 people in each. This configuration allows for the central living space to be vast and spacious.
The configuration of the bedrooms is clever in that they consist of 2 separate pods. The small pod that sleeps 2 can be totally removed if you fancy, ideal if you want more storage space. The larger pod has a room divider in it, which we removed to make one large bedroom for us parents to sleep in with a little more room.
The Valdes 6XL features Blackout Bedrooms, that are said to block out up to 99% light resulting in better sleep. These are great, and when we say they work, they really work. The rooms are so dark inside and they do help you to sleep in longer in the mornings, but there is an added bonus. The summer of 2018 saw some really really hot weather (wet weather too), and temperatures inside tents built up to unbearable levels but inside these bedrooms it was considerably cooler. On a number of occasions after a day out we returned to a tent as hot as an oven, but upon unzipping the BlackOut Bedrooms you could feel how much cooler they were inside.
A nice touch on the outside of the back wall of the bedroom is the ventilation. These meshed panels can be completely unzipped and rolled up, which is a really great idea for keeping the bedrooms cool on hot days.
Inside the bedrooms there are lots of handy storage pockets sewn inside for putting all your stuff into so it doesn’t get squashed or lost in the dark. Just remember to check them all at the end of your trip so you don’t pack something important away.
One more handy feature of the bedrooms (in fact you will find it on all the tents zips), is rather a genius safety feature. The zips have stop points on them (indicated by fluorescent material), a point at which the zips meet and stop. This means that when finding the zips to open them in an emergency or in the dark, they will always be at the same point thus helping you get out easier and faster.
There are two large side doors with mesh inners, one on each side of the tent. In the hot weather, we had both doors open (just leaving the mesh because of the dogs), and it helped to get some fresh air inside.
Next to each door is a large side window, complete with roll-away blinds. On the front wall is the large front door with more windows each side.
When all the windows blinds are opened up, you get a really bright living space with a wide open and airy feel to it. The grey tent material on the roof helps with the lighting too, and the area is more than big enough for the family’s chairs and the dogs fabric crate too.
There is a handy hook on the centre beam, which we used for hanging our rechargeable light.
The top half of the front door can also be unzipped to reveal a large mesh panel. You could leave this panel open in the daytime for ventilation and to cool the tent down.
Canopy / Front area
This is the first tent we have tested that has an open front area. We were used to having a kitchen/front area that can be zipped up, so we were more than a little curious as to how it would work out for us.
Turns out that we quite liked it and it worked rather well. The porch area is rather large, meaning that your stuff doesn’t get wet when it rains and neither do you. It was really nice to have the choice of sitting outside but still being sheltered a little from the canopy.
We fitted our large Outwell Claros table on the one side of it along with our storage boxes and there was still plenty of room for 4 good sized chairs. We often ate our tea in that area and enjoyed sitting out there with a fire blazing just a few feet away.
Clearly in bad weather you may have to move more stuff further inside the canopy or temporarily indoors. The canopy does look as though it would cope fine with some wind/rain as there are plenty of guy lines to hold everything in place. In future we, we would probably also make use of a windbreak to give a little bit more separation/privacy but that is just our personal choice and everyone camps differently.
A Tent with many handy features
One of our favourite features of this tent is the Hobbit Hole as we’ve affectionately named it. The big round front door is a unique feature to some of the tents in the Coleman range and there is no other manufacturer with anything similar (they are missing a trick here). As we have young dogs that like to get out of the tent at any given opportunity, you find yourself not being able to have the tent doors open. It can get rather tedious (and annoying) zipping and unzipping doors every 5 minutes, but this lightweight framed door is held closed with a strip of tent fabric around the frame that you just run your hand under to lift it into place (it does have a zip too). I shall try and add a video/photo to explain better, but it is really handy and I would also imagine useful if you had small adventurous children too.s
It has a handy toggle for holding the hobbit door wide open, and there is also an easy to grab handle on the outside of the door too, for pulling it open.
I’ve already mentioned the zip-stop feature and it’s safety advantages. However this feature is even better if you have dogs or children as it means you can leave the bottom half of the door zipped to keep the dogs or kids in and then when you want to go through the door you can just step over and through.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a big difference and some of the features on this tent have been well thought through. They all come together to make an excellent package and on whole, an excellent family tent.