OUTWELL Starhill 6A tent review
In a nutshell
A well-sized family tent that is easy to set up and take down, offers a spacious living area and handy features, but the ventilation design could be improved
What we tested
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
3.0A star rating of 3.0 out of 5.
- Ease of set-up
5.0A star rating of 5.0 out of 5.
3.9A star rating of 3.9 out of 5.
4.0A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
- Worth the money
3.5A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.
- Easy set-up and take-down, spacious, large windows, useful hook feature, useful storage pockets, rear access for increasing airflow in hot weather
- Poor ventilation for condensation, bedrooms let light in, limited privacy between bedroom sections
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Known for its range of quality camping equipment, Outwell’s collection of family-sized tents includes pole and air-beam options, with capacities from 2 to 8 people.
The Starhill 6A tent is something of any entry-level pricepoint for fans of the brand, with plenty of features to make a sunny camping trip with the kids run smoothly.
Weighing in at a comparatively light 20.2kg, the Starhill is a 4-room tunnel tent with a sewn-in waterproof groundsheet and access from both ends. It has airfilled beams rather than traditional poles, and can sleep up to 6 in a bedroom that can be set up a 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms.
While not as spacious as the fabulously huge Wood Lake 7 ATC, it’s a relatively simple, easy-to-set up space that really impressed our reviewer. However, the lack of ventilation caused condensation issues which put something of a dampener on the overall experience.
Christy tested the Starhill 6A on a beautiful Dorset campsite with her partner and 3 children (aged 3, 8 and 10), where they enjoyed all the elements of a traditional British August break including full sun, strong winds and heavy rain.
As an enthusiastic camper with friends, and despite a less successful family camping debut the year before, Christy is passionate about outdoor living and a particular fan of any household item that comes in ‘camping’ size proportions.
To my relief, the Starhill 6A was considerably smaller and lighter than the tent we had used previously (the whopping and hefty Berghaus Freedom 7 Nightfall) and so much easier to manoeuvre into the house. I wish the storage bag was wheeled to make it even easier to move, but I found it manageable enough.
How long does it take to set up?
Outwell reckon it takes around 17 minutes to pitch, and while I didn’t time it that did feel accurate when we did a test-run in the back garden. When setting it up on a campsite, while fielding questions from 3 bored children (including a flight-risk toddler), it was more like 40 minutes but still felt pretty quick and painless.
How easy is it to set up?
The instructions are quite simple and the online guidance videos are easy to find. To set it up, you:
- Take it out of the storage bag and unfold it
- Peg down the 4 corners
- Remove the cover and pop the button on the end of the beam so it can take in air, attach the pump and pump it up to 9psi (you can see the pressure on the pump)
- Remove the pump and put the covers back on, repeat for the other 2 beams
- Make sure all the doors are zipped up, and then peg out the rest of the tent
My partner and I found it quite easy to unfold, and it was surprisingly quick and easy to inflate the beams. Compared to the 5 large beams we’d inflated using the Berghaus, this felt like we were up and running in no time, I was really impressed.
Does it come with a pump?
Yes the Starhill 6A comes with a pump included, rolled up within the folded tent. You are advised to pump the beams to maximum 9psi, which is easy to see thanks to the gauge on the top of the pump.
Could 1 person pitch it alone?
I’d say it’s not impossible, but would be tricky (and bear in mind Starhill recommend at least 2 people set it up). While it’s not the heaviest tent to move or unfold, and there are only 3 beams to inflate, about halfway through inflating each one I needed my partner to straighten out and prop the beam up from the other side while I pumped. If you have a helpful older child, however, and don’t mind moving it around yourself, then I think you could manage.
If you have used any other tents, how does it compare?
As we were camping with a large group of friends, we were able to compare the Starhill to a number of family-sized tents, as well as the Berghaus Freedom 7 Nightfall we had previously used. The Freedom 7 is designed to accommodate 1 extra person, but its overall footprint is much larger (roughly 7m x 5m, compared to the Starhill’s 5.3m x 4.2m). We found the Starhill’s aerodynamic shape fared better against gusts of wind, but did miss the Berghaus’ huge living space and additional porch area.
The area in which the Starhill 6A really disappointed us compared to other tents was ventilation. Our neighbouring tents had fewer problems with condensation on the ceiling or pooling on the floor, thanks to an additional inner layer throughout the tent, or ventilation panels in the roof.
How many people is the tent designed to accommodate, and how realistic is this for a comfortable family holiday?
The Starhill 6A is a six-person tent, with 3 double bedrooms measuring 120cm wide each (i.e. 60cm per person). We used 2 self-inflating double mattresses which were each 136cm, which left space for our travel cot. This worked fine for us a family of 5, but we’d need to buy 3 narrower double mattresses if we wanted to squeeze in 6 people.
There wasn’t much space in the bedrooms for our clothing, but we got round this by a quick tidy up every morning to keep everyone’s things in their respective bags.
The living area felt spacious enough to hold us, even on a wet morning with our table, 2 adult and 3 kids camping chairs, and various bags inside.
What are the bedrooms like?
Designed to fit six people, the bedrooms section can be used as a large single space, or split into 2 or 3 sections. These are divided by drop-down thin sheets which attach to the walls with ties.
This makes them quick and easy to use, whether you want to divide the space or open it back up by quickly rolling the panel up and tying it out of the way. However, it also means there’s not a lot of privacy compared to compartments with zipped dividers, as the panels can flap about causing gaps at the sides. Again, as our children are younger this wasn’t too much of a problem, but if you’re sharing a space with adults or teenagers who prefer privacy, it’s not the best style.
The inner sheet, including the dividers, is made from a thin, dark fabric, which helped reduce daylight a little but were by no means blackout blinds. Our toddler was distracted by his older sister using a booklight in the next compartment, for example, and it was very clear when the sun had risen in the morning. We were generally rising early, but I feel a darker blackout-style inner would have been helpful for the odd lie-in on longer trips, and when the kids are older, as well as convincing the toddler that it’s bedtime on the light summer evenings.
The two outer bedrooms had a line of 3 net pockets along the wall, which I found really useful for keeping small items like my phone at night, and my daughters enjoyed using for their books, earplugs and bedsocks.
The bedroom compartment is pegged to the main tent fabric, with 3 doors that can be zipped shut. Having the 3 separate doors was useful when we divided the space into 3, so you could enter and exit your bedroom without stepping into anyone else’s space. I found the zips were fairly quiet, which was handy when taking our earlybird youngest into the living area to play while the others slept.
How waterproof and windproof did the tent feel?
We tested the tent in pretty wet and windy conditions (as you’d expect from a UK south coast holiday in August!). One on day there were gusts of up to 43mph, and a night where it rained quite heavily from around 6am-11am.
At worst, the wind and rain were pretty noisy, and you could feel the walls and ceiling shaking and flapping with every gust. But we managed to sleep well enough, and some (perhaps not my husband) would say it’s part of the fun of camping.
In the wind, the aerodynamic design meant although it was noisy, the walls held their structure and we didn’t have to repeg it at all. I’d definitely recommend this shape over our friend’s retro-style Berghaus tent, where the vertical walls struggled to withstand strong gusts.
One feature I really envied in other tents was better ventilation. Unlike the bedrooms section, there is no inner sheet in the Starhill’s living area (ie a second layer of fabric to reduce condensation dripping down). And while we didn’t have any leaks as such, we definitely had a problem with ventilation in these conditions.
On the morning it had been raining since 6am, we found the interior walls were damp with (presumably) condensation, or suspended rainwater. The Starhill instructions advise that you avoid touching the inside surface in rainy conditions, but that of course does not allow for the wind shaking them. So unfortunately, every time the wind blew the tent it shook the water down, and it literally looked like it was raining straight into the living section of the tent. This made for a pretty depressing breakfast, and dampened our spirits as well as our clothes bags. The latter luckily dried out as the sun came out throughout that day, but I definitely wouldn’t want to repeat the experience for a series of rainy days.
I’d love to see a separate inner layer to act as a barrier in this instance, or a ventilation panel at the top of the walls to let condensation out to reduce the problem.
Are there any storage compartments/pockets integrated in the tent, and if so how useful are they?
Yes, as well as 3 pockets on each side of the bedroom, there are 2 sets of pockets on each side of the living room. Again, these were really useful for keeping smaller items safe like headtorches, phone chargers and so on. They aren’t really large enough to store anything bigger like clothing, but perfect for those items that you want to have to hand, and kept in one spot.
How comfortable were the living areas?
Very, it felt spacious enough to hold our family of 5 and our kit quite easily. In addition to the bedrooms, the Starhill has a single living area, with large windows on the side (covered by peg-up curtains), and a large front door. It’s all lined by the sewn-in groundsheet, and we added the Starhill carpet on top for extra comfort.
I did miss having an additional grassy porch area, which is a really useful entry space for removing and storing wellies as well as expanding your living area. However, I felt the Starhill living room gave us plenty of space as a family of five. We kept a largish table inside the tent to hold our kitchen equipment and food, and stored our clothing in bags beneath it. At night it also held 2 adult and 3 children’s camping chairs, and didn’t feel too crowded at all.
How long does it take to take down and pack away the tent?
It took around 40 minutes to deflate and pack up the tent. Although deflating the beams is a wonderfully quick job (just open the caps and pop the button so it lets the air out), pulling up all the pegs, rolling the air out of the inside, and carefully folding it so it fitted back in the bag took some time. However, it was pretty straightforward – our 3 year old loved rolling around to “help” push the air out, and I was delighted to find the tent fits back into its storage bag very easily.
How robust and durable does it feel?
The Starhill feels like a well-made, durable tent and I would expect it to last. I was impressed by how well it held up in strong winds, but I do wish it had better ventilation so those winds didn’t shake moisture back into the tent.
Does it come with a storage box/bag?
The Outwell Starhill comes in a large storage bag. It doesn’t have wheels, but I found I could pick the tent up fairly easily. The tent fits comfortably inside the bag, and we could also fit in the pump, mallet and the rolled-up carpet. I like the fact you can then tighten the side straps to make it more secure and compact, a bit like a sleeping bag sack.
Are there any design elements or features you find particularly useful?
The tent has Outwell’s clever Hooktrack system – sets of tracks running along each side of the ceiling to which you can clip the included hooks. This was great as we could position the hooks wherever we wanted to, and they were really handy for hanging up coats and lights.
The tent and the bedroom inners also have cable entry points, really useful if you choose a pitch with electric hook up.
What’s in the box?
- Storage bag
- Repair kit
- 10-pack of Hooktrack hooks
What accessories are available?
As well as different types of repair kits, you can buy an additional awning, lounge tent connector and a footprint. We also tested the Starhill flat woven carpet, designed to fit neatly into the living space. It’s very thin and light, so easy to pack but in my opinion a really nice accessory. It felt soft underfoot, and made the tent feel more homely. It’s a shame it can’t be clipped or tied into place, as I found with three young children trampling across it daily it kept shifting out of place rather than staying flat on the floor. However, it certainly was more pleasant underfoot or to sit on, and made it feel more homely, than the functional groundsheet.
Who would this product be most useful for?
I think this is a nice option for families looking to camp occasionally in fine weather, particularly those with younger children where you’re happy to sleep in one room or with limited privacy.
For families with teenagers who want a bit more privacy, those who enjoy a lie-in, or all-weather campers, I think there are better alternatives with securely divided bedrooms with blackout lining, and more effective ventilation.
Is this product worth the money?
Compared to other Outwell tents, this is at the budget end of the market and has some useful features and a spacious set up that offer value for money. However, having looked at tents from other brands on the site, which have a number of features our family would appreciate (such as the Quechua 8-man inflatable blackout tent), I think there are better value options out there.
Where can I buy the Outwell Starhill 6A tent?
We enjoyed using the Starhill and it has a lot of features that make it for a pleasant camping trip. I was particularly impressed by how easy it is to set up and take down, the spacious living area, and useful details like flexible hook positioning and storage pockets. While inflatable tents can often be bulky, the Starhill feels quite compact and relatively lightweight. It’s size is a real bonus when you’re trying to squeeze it into the car boot with all-weather clothing for 5, chairs, camping kit and the obligatory winebox.
While it’s a nice living space for five in fine weather, I’d probably look for a design offering more privacy and blackout options in the bedrooms as the kids get older. But the main concern for us was the ventilation – even if you follow the advice and don’t touch the sides of the tent in wet weather, you can’t prevent the wind from shaking the moisture down into the tent. So personally I’d prefer something with better ventilation options.
Christy is MadeForMums’ Head of Consumer Content
|Model||Starhill 6A tent|
|Made from||Inner tent: breathable polyester; Floor inner: PU coated Taffeta polyester; Groundsheet: Double-coated waterproof polyethylene|