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Vango Equinox 350 Tent Review

Review Date - Oct 2014

By Ren Withnell

My old Vango tent was getting rather tired. Broken poles, rips, worn zips, you know the thing. I spent an age looking for the perfect tent. It had to be light, sturdy, easy to pack and big enough for the gf and I to spend weeks in rather than just nights. I did an awful lot of looking and an awful lot of research.

my old blue gamma 350 vango tent pitched in the sunshine
My old Vango Gamma 350. Another good tent, but it was showing its age.

Ever since I owned my first tunnel tent with a porch I have liked the layout, it proves ideal to have 2 areas. The sleeping area is the dryest and hopefully the cleanest section. Here you keep the things that need to remain in good order such as clothes and the sleeping bags. In the porch where things are a little less protected under just one layer I can store the cooking stuff, food, helmets and general gubbins. We all have our own ideas but this system works well for me.  

both the porch and the sleeping area. Sleeping bags, bags of stuff all around
There's a lot of "stuff". The porch gives the extra space required.

The Equinox 350 was not a cheap tent. I could purchase similar sized tents of a similar construction for £50, I paid £160 for the Equinox and that took some finding, the RRP was over £200. Why, why would I spend this extra cash? Weight primarily. Most 3 man tunnel tents with a "porch" come in at 6 to 7 kg, the Equinox was just on 5kg. What's a couple of kilogrammes? Why pay all that extra? Because weight was becoming a big issue when loading the bike with the gf's and my own gear.

On first impressions apart from the slight weight saving it really is hard to see anything impressive about the Equinox. It's about the same size, if not a tad smaller than most 3 man tunnel tents with a porch. There's no inspired innovations, no amazing features and no novel ideas. It is only when you look more closely do you see what you're paying for.

the vango equinox 350 tent pitched on a campsite in france
There's nothing remarkable when you first see it. It's just a regular tunnel tent.

First off the poles. Trick alloys replace the usual fibreglass items. These are light and so far have proven more sturdy. My only concern is if I do break one a replacement will be much harder to source than the common fibreglass type. The poles have a quality feel and are a pleasure to use giving a nice snick as they slide into one-another. They're coloured differently to aid erection as one is slightly shorter than the other 2. It's the simple things that make a difference.

There is only a groundsheet in the sleeping area. This is done to presumably save weight and I didn't think it would ever be a problem. How wrong could I be? The gf and I endured a particularly severe deluge on a muddy campsite in France and with no groundsheet in the porch the result was an internal quagmire. A groundsheet would have been a blessing. The groundsheet within the sleeping area seems terribly thin and flimsy, again to save weight, but so far has survived incredibly well and stayed watertight even when pitched on what was basically a marsh. 

a muddy path runs into the tent porch and mud all around
The downside of NOT having a groundsheet in the porch

We have had occasion to camp in very high winds too. While all other tents were being flattened by the gusts the Equinox is fitted with Vango's "Tension Bands" which triangulate within the arc of the poles and keep the structure incredibly secure. They are in fact a very simple idea but stunningly effective. To see dome tents and tunnel tents twisted onto the ground while the Vango stood firm with but a mere flapping of material gave me sense of money well spent. We slept through the night with no issues or concerns.

the tent and the tension band, outlined in red
The tension bands (circled), so simple and brilliant.

One issue I've come across is if the tent is not put up perfectly it can cause puddles to form on the roof. This has never caused ingress into the dry sleeping area but to open my eyes and see a pool of water above me is worrying. This can be reduced by altering and re-aligning the tent but it's hard to get it perfect. Just like any other tent condensation on a cold night will cause dripping from the outer layer. I've never experienced any moisture with the sleeping area but in the porch the drips can dampen anything that is stored in there. It's not a Vango problem, all tents do this.

Erecting the tent is OK. I leave the sleeping area, the "inner" attached to the fly sheet all the time and this has caused no issues so far. You do need to spend a moment making sure the tent is square, it's easy to offset on set of poles and get the whole thing twisted. Otherwise it is no better and no worse than any other tunnel tent to put up or take down. Typically it takes less than 10 minutes with practice. 

Packing my old tents in the past has been nothing short of a nightmare. They always come in the smallest of bags and packed by a professional with a 50 tonne press. You CAN NOT get them back in. The Equinox comes with a big stuff bag. No folding, no fighting, just ram it in, bit by bit into the baggy bag and pull the drawstring closed. At the next site just flop it out onto the ground and put it up again. It is the best one I've ever seen for simple packing.

the tent loaded on the back of the cbf 125
Just ram the tent into the bag, bungee then ride.

We have seen heavy rain, strong winds, sunshine and freezing conditions in this tent. It has seen us through them all. Compared to the cheaper tents I've owned in the past this one has been excellent. I would strongly recommend it. Yes, it costs more than many others but if you're serious about your camping and do a lot of it then it's money well spent.

I can no longer see the Vango Equinox on the Vango website. It appears to have been replaced with the Omega 350 and that comes with...a...groundsheet for the porch! This makes the package oh-so-slightly heavier but I think it makes a great tent even greaterer. They ain't cheap, shop around and you might pick one up for less then the £220 on the Vango website. They ain't cheap, but they're worth it if you do a lot of camping in adverse conditions.


It can take a battering from the wind!

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Reader's Comments

brian mc cormack said :-
why not buy an extra ground sheet .
UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Brian - you are quite correct. When I wrote this piece then re-read it I came to the same conclusion. I started out by thinking I'll get a piece of thick plastic sheeting, it was only upon researching this that I found you can buy...just a groundsheet!
UTC
Rattle said :-
Just googled the Vango Omega 350 price dropped to £152,then had a look at amazon £135 wow .Hope this helps someone
UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Rattle! Seems like a good price for a very good tent :-)
UTC
Gadget said :-
Not easy finding pictching instructions for the original Equinox.
31/01/2017 17:47:07 UTC
 

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