Darche AT-6 Tent Review

Darche Airvolution AT-6.  2017 model (latest version), which was upgraded from Darche’s earlier design to include air poles along the length of the tent; this no doubt significantly improves stability. 

 

Pros:

  • Relatively quick setup, though I had hoped it would be even quicker.  I can set it up by myself in 15 to 17 minutes on average, which is quite acceptable for a family sized tent.  Pack up is quicker – just undo the valves and the air-poles deflate immediately and the tent drops to the ground.  It can be back in its bag in under 10 minutes.

  • Most of the time guy ropes are not required.  The air-pole frame is stable enough to support the tent well, even in reasonably breezy conditions. 
     

  • The bedroom area can take two double/queen size (130cm wide each)  mattresses across - which is ample sleeping area for my family of five.  This leaves the front room completely free to be used as a living room area.
     

  • It’s a true 4 season design.  Almost every panel, including the inner-roof, can be either solid or mesh - the entire tent can be setup near to a mesh room for ultimate ventilation.  It features three gusseted windows that permit ventilation and waterproofness at the same time.
     

  • It is robustly made.  The floor is a very heavy duty sealed PVC tub and the tent material is 210 denier – about three times the thickness of regular family camping type tents.  I wouldn’t worry about puncturing the air poles - they are very robust and don’t appear difficult to mend if they did manage to get punctured.  A more realistic concern would be damaging the pump, as you can’t readily get the tent up without it.
     

  • It has a double (tropical) roof built in and the entire tent assembles as one piece.  I.e. no separate fly to throw over the tent, which is especially a plus when setting up in the rain.
     

Cons:
 

  • Whilst the guy ropes only need to be pegged out in high wind conditions, there are quite a few of them – which is actually a positive – but it takes extra time that I didn’t account for in the set up times given above.
     

  • The normal setup (not counting guy ropes) requires lots of pegs.  If setting up in hard/rocky ground this can add considerably to the setup time owing to the sheer number of pegs needed compared to other designs.  It may pay to upgrade the pegs, even though those provided are amply good enough for most terrains.
     

  • I’ve yet to decide if I am fully satisfied with its performance in extremely strong wind.  Whilst it has performed admirably with the guy ropes out in very gusty conditions, there has also been occasion when very strong side wind has been enough to buckle the poles and partially collapse the tent.  That said, a big positive feature is that whereas regular fibreglass poles will break when their tolerance is exceeded, Darche’s air poles do not break and can simply be pushed back out.
     

  • Finally, it’s heavy and there are much lighter tents available.  Again this is really another compromise rather than a clear negative, as this is the price to pay for the extra durable materials the tent is constructed from.  Any other similarly durable full size tent will also be heavy.  
     

  • The tent is supplied with a large zip on awning and three aluminium poles.  This is all high quality, however the design is such that in moderate to heavy rain the awning is likely to pool water and therefore would need to be taken down.  This isn't an issue for me because I rely on the 270 degree Batwing awning fitted to the vehicle instead.

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