Review: Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam 5-man tent

Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents
The Vango Monaco 500 tent with Airbeams/ inflatable poles is the quickest large 5-man tent I have put up and is a revelation for me for making short family camping trips much less of a hassle in putting up the tent - leaving more time for the fun stuff :-)


Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent review


This gear review blog post takes on a more family orientated twist. With my daughter now 3, this summer was the perfect time to introduce her to camping and the outdoors (and hopefully set her on the path to joining me on some walking trips in future! We’ll see though eh :-). I’ve had family size / 4-5 man tents before, and as anyone with any experience of putting up these big tents will know - they can take ages and be a bit of a chew on - and so the prospect of using these kind of tents for short camping trips of 1 or 2 nights is a bit off putting to me, and I guess many others.

I had seen and heard about the inflatable beam tents before - they seemed like they may be quicker to put up - but to be honest - the idea of inflatable poles just didn’t sit right with me - I guess because things that are inflatable have a tendency to deflate! Not a good thought of your tent coming down in the middle of the night. But this summer gave the opportunity to try out the Vango Monaco 500 inflatable tent. And after a few goes - I am very much a convert - this tent is great, very quick to put up and robust and I couldn’t go back to more traditional pole tents now. I’m recommending this tent to all my friends who are into camping. To really appreciate how quick and easy it is to put - you have to see it and try it for for yourself.

Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents
After a couple of practice goes - one person could put up this self-standing tent in 5 minutes and then just peg out the guy lines

For those who have seen my reviews before - you know I like to cut to the chase and give straightforward reviews. I'll avoid the technical jargon of tent materials as these can be found on the Vango website.

Pros

  • The tent can be set up in minutes - after your first go to figure things out - it can be put up in well under 10 minutes. I was genuinely surprised just how quick it could be put up - usually these things sound too good to be true.
  • The Vango Monaco 500 is an all-in-one tent - so no putting up external and then inner-tents and the ground sheet is also attached - making for a very straight forward pitch
  • Once the 4 corners are pegged out and airbemas inflated - the tent is self standing and quite rigid - although guy lines should be pegged out for windier conditions
  • You have the option of front or side entry - we preferred the latter as it gave more privacy and shelter from the wind
  • The tent made maximum use of inside space for the tent footprint due to the way the airbeams are curved - so you can stand up inside the tent is most places
  • The tent materials are of quality construction and more than able to stand up to the unpredictable British weather



Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents
One of the valves to the 3 airbeams. It was really easy to attach the pump to these and they can be easily locked and covered up.

Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents
The pump that comes with the Vango Monaco 500 - which comes with the tent (I actually wasn't sure if a pump comes with the tent and had to ask if I needed to buy a separate pump - you don't :-) Due to the pump size each beam could be inflated in seconds.

Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents
From the outside you don't get a sense of the size an rigidness of of the beams - but as you can see they are quite big, strong and robust. It would take an effort to damage one of these I think. You can also see the attached ground-sheet - so really you don't need to purchase anything else to go with this tent - it's ready to go!

We like to use inflatable airbeds on camping trips and you could comfortably get 4 single airbeds in this tents sleeping area

Cons

  • I can't say there are many cons to be honest. I've only had the tent a few months so can't comment on how much longevity I will get out of it - but the tent seems quite robust.
  • The tent is listed as a 5 person tent - personally we like to have a single air-bed per person - and you could only fit 4 of these in the sleeping space - although the space could easily accommodate 5 sleeping bags on standard camping matts. 
  • It could be a challenge for some getting the tent down and back into the tent bag - so read the tip section below. 
  • The bag is also a bit bulky compared to other 5 man tents - but that extra size/weight is well worth it for me
  • Finally - I'm not sure it's a negative as such, but I think it would be a concern of people who haven't used/seen this tent that they would be concerned about the inflatable pole/beam concept - and something going wrong. The thought of that is what put me off these tents before - but having used one - the beams are made of pretty tough material - and I think you'd have to be pretty careless to puncture it with something sharp - or have a 'mate' with a knife who fancies having a laugh :-P


Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents
It can be a challenge packing the tent back into the tent bag - and it is quite weighty so you wouldn't want to be carrying this too far

Tips

  • Peg out the 4 corners first - so the tent just pops up in place when you inflate the 3 airbeams - but don’t peg all the way down into the ground at this stage as you may want to reposition the corners a little and make the tent a little more taught corner to corner once the air beams are fully inflated
  • When taking down the tent - use the supplied manual pump in the deflate setting to suck all the air out the air beams - which will make packing away much easier!
  • When rolling up the tent - fold the tent so that it’s width is the same as the tent bag -  then place the pump and pegs in the centre and roll the tent around those as tight as you can - this should then fit in the tent bag fairly easily but no doubt being a tight squeeze (It’s almost impossible to fold a tent as good as it was when you bought it!)

Vango Monaco 500 Airbeam family tent inflatable best tents

Verdict

This tent is one of the easiest and quickest tents I've put up and that includes small tents! Because of the reduced hassle of putting up this tent it will encourage me to take more frequent 1 or 2 night family camping trips and that is a great thing for us and worth the extra money you would pay for this compared to a cheaper, more standard 5 man pole tent. The tent also has lots of space and will certainly contribute to making a camping trip much more enjoyable. I look forward to using this tent a lot and highly recommend it to others - I don't think you would be disappointed if you bought one of these.


For more info on the tent specs and materials check out http://www.vango.co.uk/gb/vango-airbeam-tents/219-monaco-500.html


Price & buying

The tent has an RRP of £400 - but can be picked up cheaper online, such as for £359.99 on the amazon.co.uk link below






Blog Post by Stuart Hodgson, 'The Hiking Photographer'


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