We looked at various tents and it was during our trip to a camping place in Neston, Wirral where they had all the popular larger tents up in one place that we decided on the Aspen 700. Weíre a family of three looking to use a tent a lot and therefore wish to be comfortable for stays up to a week.
The first thing you notice when you walk into one of these tents is how light and airy they feel, the light blue of the canvas makes them really light inside. They have a large living area to the front of the tent and you can have both side doors open too, so they really do have an open feel to them. In,
say, the Diablo 900 I could image feeling a bit claustrophobic with the living area being right inside the middle of the tent, plus it was darker inside too.
We went for the 700 because although the 500 looked great too, itís only when you see them side by side that you see how much more roomy the 700 is. Also I compared bag sizes in the shop and thereís not much in it. You still lose just about the same boot space with the 500 so for the extra £65 we thought it worth it. That said, if there was no 700 I would have been just as happy with the 500, maybe still even over the Diablo 900 as that tent has such a huge foot print yet the 500 aspen still has that feeling of more space.
The other thing we liked about the Aspens too was the sheer size of the bedrooms, all three are big but the middle master especially is good and you can stand up in them all too, just look at the roomÖ
*** Vango Aspen 700 Family Tent ***
The two tent bags are large and the pole bag especially is very heavy. I would not like to carry it much further than the front door to the car. Not really a problem as when you get to a site you just pull it out the boot and almost straight onto the ground.
I have a Mondeo and the pole bag would go across the front of the boot towards the tailgate, and the tent bag would push in lengthways along the side of the boot leaving a reasonable area for other stuff to go in, eg. Folding table, chairs, gas stove and bottle. Our suit case will just fit on top. That leaves bedding, mats, sleeping bags to all get squashed up in the back seat of the car with our daughter. Other bits to go under seats and in the front passenger well with my wife. A squeeze I know and not ideal but I reckon weíll manage it.
Getting it Up!
We emptied the bags on the grass and assembled all the poles first, easy because they are wired so you just unfold them and push them all together. The poles have coloured plastic bands on them that correspond to coloured bands on the inner tent sleeves.
We unfolded the inner and layed it out nice and flatish and because it was a wee bit windy just lightly pegged each corner, no need usually.
Now taking assembled yellow and green roof poles we carefully slid them through the corresponding roof sleeves of the inner tent. Yellows and greens first which go across the tent (3 lengths) and then reds which go front to back (2 lengths), also a blue fibreglass pole that goes down the middle of the roof but doesnít seem to fit, seems too long until you start getting the roof lifted up and supported then it can be closed in with itís Velcro fastener. Take care pushing the poles through the sleeves, I supported the weight and pushed slightly while my wife fed them through. Two people can assemble the tent. Once all the roof poles are in place and lying on the ground itís a case of lifting up the sides in turn to first attach the down poles or legs. Someone can stand inside to help hold the pole up while another fits the legs in turn, it can be a bit awkward but not too problematic. We just went around each one in turn, first the two sides, then the front and back legs were fitted until we had an awkward looking free standing inner. I say this because until they are attached to the inner tent and pinned down the whole thing is very collapsible looking *lol*
Just go around each leg in turn attaching the clips of the inner tent to the poles first as in the picture
below, you can see the plastic clips of the inner hooked onto the leg poles and also the colour coding system is clearly visible too.
At this stage we got a bit worried because when we looked inside the tent it was all distorted looking and the bedrooms were all ďpulledĒ tight across the middle.
Part of the problem was the inner was still pegged out at the corners from when we first layed it out, undoing all these then just carefully going around the tent and adjusting where the legs sit on the ground and just generally pulling it about here and there (being careful mind) got it all looking quite nice. When finished your erected inner tent then should look like this. Note the outer tent sitting in front waiting to be pulled
To me getting the inner up and getting it right is the main part of it all, once this is erected and free standing and secure the rest is a
doddle, so I say take your time over the inner, donít rush it or risk damaging it by over stretching seems and fasteners. Once the inner is right and even all round thatís 90% of it because the outer is just a doddle for two people to sort of throw over the front of the tent and roll it back over towards the rear, pulling it all down evenly and getting the stiched seems roughly in line with the poles and pegging it out. Also by having the inner tent erected correctly and sitting right means the outer sits correctly over the top of it too. So do get the inner tent up nice and right. Itís worth the extra time.
This tent has the ring and pin system to locate the lower inner ties to the bottom of the poles. It can be awkward and a bit of a stretch but basically you have to pull that pin downwards and hold the leg up to insert it from the bottom, it just sort of snaps up inside the hollow of the leg leaving the end bit outside. Go around doing this to all the pins, inserting them up inside the hollow leg poles. Not too difficult but can be a bit of a stretch.
On the front of the inner tent, porch area are two rings one either side with TWO pins attached, we couldnít work out why there was two pins on these rings until we realised the long bendy porch pole uses one each side to locate itself and stop itís ends springing outwards as shown, one pin is in the main steel pole and the other is up inside the fibreglass pole.
When erecting the inner, the instructions say to peg out the sown in ground sheet in the corners. At first glance this would appear to help in windy conditions but it serves another purpose we found. When erecting
it was so calm we didnít bother because you have to usually un-peg it anyway when the tent is up to get the tensions and dimensions correct. By not doing this we found it really difficult to erect the inner, the frame was just too sloppy and the poles kept falling over and coming apart due to too much movement. So we then pegged out the inner in the corners which this time just gave it that bit of stability to allow me to ring and pin before it all collapsed again.
Once the frame is up and standing on itís own, itís the ring and pin system that gives it itís rigidity by connecting the inner tent to the frame at the bottom.
We found pulling the outer tent over from the front to the back the easiest method. Although the tent is high with two of us, one on each side we just kind of shook it over and allowed the breeze to give it some lift as we slid it back over the frame.
The outer tent also has some ties which tie around the steel frame poles, once pulled over my wife just sort of pushed up the outer and reached inside between the two tents to tie up the upper one and then when done reached up to tie the lower one to the poles.
She is a beautiful tent, very roomy and comfortable. We fitted everything in with space to spare. The porch area makes an ideal kitchen for the camping gaz stove etc, thereby also keeping the gas bottle out of the tent and sown in ground sheet area. We had two tables and three chairs inside with a 10Ē portable tv and electric hook up and room to walk around them. Due to the light blue colour she is very bright inside, so much so that even at night especially under a moonlit sky you can see inside really well. Very handy for getting up and using the chemical loo in the area of the third bedroom. Itís a handy room with a partition that divides it up into a rear toilet area and front wardrobe with hanging pole or it can just be used as a bedroom of course. This tent was as close to a home from home as tents get.
So I hope this is of some help to those thinking of buying or wanting to know how to put up an Aspen 700/500 series tent. It may look daunting but really itís one of those instances where thinking about it is actually worse than just going ahead and doing it. Itís really not too bad to put up, just spend your time getting that inner tent erected nice and straight with the bedrooms looking right and the sewn in ground sheet sitting right and the rest is easy. The outer goes on easy by pulling it over front to back and just going around pulling it down and straightening it up, pegging down etc.
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