Tent Showcase: Vango Casa
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1 Reviews of the Casa
By: Molly the One Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2017 Rating: Date: 09/07/2018
As there appears to be not many reviews of the new Vango Casa online I thought I would add one for anyone in the market for a large family tent……
The Vango Casa is a billed as a family sized 7 person tent. It has a unique porch area which is half covered and half open and features super large bedrooms with darkened interiors, sewn in bathtub style groundsheet, ‘Powerflex’ fibre poles, 4000mm hydrostatic head and Vangos ‘TBS II’ Tension Band System. The tents total footprint including porch areas comes in at 725 x 450 cm.
Vango list it at £675 on their website but we bought it from Go Outdoors in June 2018 for £549.99 – at the time of writing in July 2018 the tent is only available from Vango or Go Outdoors.
The tent complete with its poles and pegs is stated as 30kg in a pack that ends up measuring 24cm x 24cm x 78cm after repacking from new – I cant weigh anything that heavy but it definitely feels closer to 40kg to me. The tent is a tight squeeze into its bag after user repacking (I have always wondered how the factory gets it down so tight when new). The bag is quite lightweight but does have compression straps to help you squeeze it down. Like every tent I have owned I always find the bags a tight squeeze and wish manufacturers would add a couple of inches of material. When the weather is great its easy enough to take time to get a tent rolled up tightly but when the weather turns nasty it’s a curse when you have to re-roll the tent a couple of times to get it into its bag. After first use we have left the poles out of the tent bag to reduce the overall weight and I wish Vango had done this in two decent carry bags. 30+kg is a lot of weight to lug up stairs – as we live in a flat we have no choice but to porter our kit up 8 flights of stairs. Lots of people camping don’t have the luxury of a garage to store stuff in or even ground floor access and I wish manufacturers would take that into account.
The tent comprises 5 fibreglass ‘Powerflex ‘poles, flysheet with sewn in groundsheet and a separate groundsheet for the covered element of the porch which is attached using toggles. Pitching was fairly straightforward and took two of us around 60 minutes to set up on both attempts to date. The first was something of a learning experience with a tent of this size and the second attempt we were working with a gusty wind which made pitching a bit awkward. After first pitch we left the bedroom inner installed so we can pitch it in one go.
The pegs supplied are of the standard steel variety with a mix of groundsheet pegs for the band that runs across the porch, standard roundwire pegs and some continental style angled pegs. The continental pegs were of very dubious quality and quite a few were badly bent after just a few blows with a mallet. This is one of my biggest complaints with every tent we have owned and why we normally use our own more solid pegs. Why tent manufacturers supply such nasty cheap pegs is always a mystery to me when to supply decent nylon or plastic pegs would cost pennies in volume. I recently bought 6 luminous pegs for the whopping sum of £1.30 – if these were being ordered in mass by a tent manufacturer the cost would probably be no higher than supplying the cheap steel pegs most tents come with.
We found that getting it pitched perfect was a bit of a challenge – the enclosed part of the porch always seems to pull the pole down a bit and cause a slight lop-sidedness to the tent. To be fair this may have been caused by somewhat uneven ground. In practice it did not cause any problems.
No substantial problems were found in pitching although its worth noting its quite a heavy amount of fabric due to its size and most definitely a 2 person pitch which is pretty normal for a tent of this size.
Even after first pitch the tent was pretty much ok – all the doors opened without problems and there was nothing much wrong that a little bit of adjusting later on wouldn’t sort out.
Rather than two distinct bedrooms the Vango Casa has one large space and a hanging divider curtain that can be set at different spacing so you have very flexible bedroom spaces. Either equally divided or the space divided 70/30. For just two of us the divider curtain was fine but its rather flimsy like a net curtain. Adults with children may prefer better privacy than the Casas sleeping pod(s) would provide. On the upside even with a 50/50 split the bedrooms are large and the spare eyelets for the curtain can be used to hang lamps from with ease. There is a large vent at the rear of the tent for breathability but this cannot be closed which may prove a problem in colder weather. The bedrooms have side pockets along each side of the tent for stowage of items. With the bedrooms split at 70/30 we had plenty of space for camp beds and storage in our bedroom with the smaller room providing ample space for storage of our equipment. We found the darkened interiors were not that dark and no significant advantage over the previous 2 tents we have owned. They are slightly darker at best but not so much I could notice. The two zippered doors for the bedroom space provide separate entry points for left and right bedroom and have their upper part made with a flyscreen which can be zippered closed which allows for good airflow with the flyscreens open during the day and reasonable insulation with the flyscreens zipped up with material at night.
The Lounge/Living Area
The main lounge/living area of the tent is a very generously sized and we found it great to have so much space. Although we used it little on the only long trip to date (the weather was a scorching 30’) it will be much appreciated when it rains forcing us indoors.
The tent has a front door with separate flyscreen and a side door with no flyscreen plus a zippered door into the front part of the enclosed porch. The front door zips around on two sides only and the foot of the door is not zipped – this area is covered by the separate flyscreen door. I would have thought it would have made more sense for the flyscreen to be part of the main door which would give one zip to open rather than two to get in and out of the tent.
There are 6 vents either side of the tent just above ground level for airflow plus three zippered openings for power distribution. One at the rear left hand side adjacent to the bedroom inner at ground level for power access plus another ground level zippered power access into the open area of the porch plus a ceiling level zippered access into the enclosed part of the porch (these latter two are not mentioned on the tent specs) these could be used for running a mains powered lamp into the enclosed part of the porch and for running mains into or out of the tent on the open part of the porch. This will be useful for us when working with astronomy equipment as it will allow us to feed out our 12v cables from the mains supply in the tent. The could be used for other purposes of course. The lounge area has two positions for hanging lights/lanterns with a ring being centred on the poles immediately adjacent to the bedrooms and another ring centrally located to the lounge. This is good news as I often find tents have the lantern hanging point next to a tent wall which restricts the power of the bulb and also forces the use of low power bulbs so you don’t fry any fabric. This is less of a problem now that cold LEDs are so readily available but its still welcome for a central light position to get even spread of illumination in the tent.
There are also some Velcro tabs between the centreline of the tent and the electrical access point for taping down any mains cables that need to run to the tents lights.
The biggest headache we found is that given very hot weather the side door has no flyscreen which means it’s hard to get good ventilation without the tent filling up with bugs. I personally think this is the biggest single omission on tents generally. If your camping then it’s likely to be summer and if its summer there will be bugs so why not have a flyscreen on ALL doors. Its compounded on the Casa because the enclosed part of the porch also has an external door which also lacks a flyscreen.
A more minor gripe is the lack of any sort of tent organiser in the lounge area which means you have to go into the bedrooms for the side pockets which are not great as stowage as they are not very transparent. We will buy an add on for this as we find a tent organiser for all the small stuff that you need almost constant access to very useful. It’s a pity it wasn’t built in especially so as there is a perfect wall for an organiser between the lounge and the enclosed part of the porch.
The lounge does have nice large windows which would give plenty of daylight with curtains that can be toggled at the halfway or fully closed position. These are of a substantial size with a smaller window facing the open area of the porch.
Inside the lounge there are two groups of “TBS II” Tension band system straps. These run across the tent from side to side one set adjavent to the sleeping inner and one at the midpoint of the lounge and anchor at the ceiling midpoint and are intended to help stabilise the tent in high winds. They also come in handy to hang lightweight items off to dry but with them up they are a definite hazard. We lost count of the amount of times one of us walked into them. Still better than having a tent collapse .
The Enclosed Half of the Porch (Galley, Bedroom, Wetroom, Ante Room)
The unique partially enclosed front porch was what sold the tent to us. It can be used in a variety of ways as either a galley to keep all the cooking stuff and food out of the main lounge or as a wetroom/ante room when you come back soaked after a long hike – a great place to dump all the wet gear before getting into the tent or could be used as a second bedroom for guests – for our astronomy it could be used a computer control area for the telescopes and other electronic gear. On this trip we used it as our galley area with a stove, food cupboards and assorted cooking and cleaning equipment. It worked well and its much larger than you may think looking at photographs. Even with the cooker pulled way back from the front wall of the tent to avoid any chance of burning holes in things there was sufficient space for two of us to cook away happily. This area also has a lantern hanging point on its front wall which is a welcome feature.
It has doors for accessing the main lounge area and one for opening to the outside.
It is however not without its headaches. Its lack of a flyscreen to the outside door means it can get roasting hot and you most definitely don’t want flies buzzing around your food. This seems a strange omission and in some ways dents the usability of this space. The bathtub style groundsheet is attached by toggles and we found it a bit prone to being tripped over, stretched in the wrong places and trodden down compromising it as a barrier and ultimately it is a potential weak spot when it gets wet – creepy crawlies can also roam freely as they can get in easy enough.
Like the rest of the tent it has two large full sized windows for light and these would work well – we had them closed most of the time as it was so hot.
Despite the omission of the flyscreen we still found it a useful addition as it provides a nice covered space for cooking which is better than in a conventional open porch as you are completely out of the elements. Due care please people for gas/electrical safety in this kind of environment.
The Open Half of the Porch
The open half of the porch is much larger than you might suppose from pictures with enough space for two adults in sizeable camping chairs to get together under it. Given the extreme conditions we were camping in with phenomenal sunshine and heat we found it did not offer enough protection. The side window in our view should not be there and it should just be blanked off which we will do as an afterthought. We found the sun just streamed through it and made the porch a sun trap rather than a shade – it was so hot it felt as if we were in an oven in the porch. Lesson learnt and we have now bought a tarp to mask off the window and create a larger shaded area. A more normal British summer (ie cloudy and raining or at least merely temperate) would not have caused a problem.
We bought the Vango Casa footprint for the tent. It’s a weird thing with one large decent quality footprint for the main tent plus a strange lower quality thing for the front porch areas which seemed extremely badly thought out. It runs the full width of the tent which would create a footprint into the open part of the porch – perfect for funnelling water into the non-sewn in groundsheet area of the front room/enclosed area. Further if this were rolled out to the full width the of then it would provide no openings for some of the tent pegs in the porch area. We just folded it in half and put it under the enclosed part of the porch groundsheet but it seemed a bit of a botch. Its not the end of the world by any means but just very strangely/badly thought out.
We opted out of the Vango Casa Carpet as its not fitted in any sense it’s just a rug that occupies the centre area of the living room. I do like my comfort and wanted wall to wall carpet so we bought a carpet from another tent that was a close approximation. As it turned out the carpet we bought was rubbish and its backing peeled away after a single weeks use (Hi Gear frontier 8 carpet from Go Outdoors) so we have now bought a Kampa Studland 8 carpet which is a close approximation of the Casas size and is a good match for colours. It just seems weird that Vango launch a supposedly primo tent and don’t supply a proper made to measure carpet. Perhaps there is one in the pipeline – I would like to think so.
Living in the tent – 10 days in Exmoor
We found the tent very roomy with full standing height through almost the entire tent– we bought such a large tent as we are hikers and also astronomers and rocketeers and quite often need a lot of storage space (telescopes, backpacks, rockets, cameras, cables and power supplies) which can rapidly reduce our living space. Our previous tent was a 5 person tent and we found it was too cramped when carrying lots of equipment for our hobbies. It was ok when the weather was fine but a few rainy days stuck in a small tent becomes a bit like living in a sensory deprivation chamber. That’s why we bought super large this time and we don’t regret it one bit.
We found the tent roomy enough and would easily accommodate 4-6 adults if need be. Personally I always think tent manufacturers, much like boat builders and airlines over egg the claims on capacity. You could get probably 30 in the Casa at least if you didn’t mind a crush. Vango state 7 which would be believable and would work but it would seem crowded. We like our space so its just for the two of us and its great. With so much space on offer it meant we weren’t elbowing each other all the time and gave us space to stretch out and read a book, make a cup of tea and toast, fiddle with equipment and generally mess about without getting in each others way all the time.
The bedrooms were great even allowing for them not being as dark as I had hoped – we had the rooms split 70/30 which gave us plenty of bedroom space for camp beds and getting dressed without a squeeze plus a junk/storage room for our hiking gear and storage of equipment boxes and with the addition of the useful front room as a galley it left the lounge area free for lounging, dining, laying out maps etc.
Where we were it was very windy just after sunrise and for a few hours before sunset. The tent got very active and to be on the safe side we plugged in the TBS II straps which did seem to settle the tent a bit. Whether they were needed we have no idea but we felt we would rather be safe than sorry. The straps come in handy to hang stuff on as well when drying out lightweight items like socks and undies.
Our Conclusion / Verdict
The Vango Casa really did provide the space we were looking for and taking it on the whole it’s a reasonable bit of kit for a reasonable price for its size and features. We found no major problems but the niggly issues of lack of inbuilt storage in the lounge , no flyscreen on side and porch door, lack of available fitted carpet and the bizarre footprint seemed to spoil the whole thing a little. A bit of fine tuning would make this tent really awesome. We will just have to put in that bit of effort ourselves but it’s a shame that these aren’t done at the factory to really make this tent something special. We would rate it at 8/10 though for its serious size and relatively low cost for a tent which meets about 85-90% of our needs but we have struck a few points for the lack of flyscreens and lack of properly fitted carpet for the tent.
The Vango site has a fantastic virtual walk through tour of the tent if you want to have a closer look. Check it out https://www.Vango.Co.Uk/gb/tents/1993-casa.Html and click on the virtual tour icon.
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New for 2018 the Casa is a true home from home allowing you to personalise the tent to your needs due to it's registered, innovative design. This large poled family tent has an abundance of space which includes an enclosed porch area, extra-large living room and two super-king bedrooms. Recommended for up to 7 people, with plenty of room to spare. This tent was named Casa because it truly emphasises the homely feel you have within this tent and is perfect to socialise with friends and family, Mi casa es su casa.
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