HomeInflatableBest Inflatable Tents for Camping – Are Air Tents worth it in 2019?
November 21, 2018
Best Inflatable Tents for Camping – Are Air Tents worth it in 2019?
Best Inflatable Tents for Camping – are Air Tents worth it in 2019?
I was once very skeptical about this question and Inflatable Tents in general, but you may have arrived here for the same reason I have written this article.
We’ve been mind controlled by aliens! Or perhaps more likely, we’ve been convinced by outstanding performance and positive user reviews. In fact the first tent to appear in space was an inflatable tent, courtesy of Vango, so the alien idea wasn’t as far-fetched as it may seem.
Air tents have gone from strength to strength, solidifying their place in the camping world. With this, an abundance of manufacturers have entered the fray, in a bid to claim their piece of the pie. With this in mind, we believe 2019 could be the year of the Air Tent among campers, if they were to give them an opportunity.
This creates an issue for consumers, how could you possibly choose from over 200-300 Inflatable tents? To the untrained eye this is a difficult task with many dangers and pitfalls afoot.
Cue our ultimate guide, our team has set to work, meticulously testing and researching numerous products with an intricate criteria, to filter out the treasure from the trash.
If inflatable tents are still a bit unknown to you, don’t worry, we have a buyer’s guide and FAQ to provide everything you could possibly want to know about these modern tents.
We will start by introducing the most reliable and respected brand names who create inflatable tents on the current market, along with sample and review of their best performing inflatable tent. This may be subject to change in the future.
As mentioned Vango have always been at the forefront of the Inflatable tent movement. With their Airbeam series being testament to their skill and experience in constructing high quality Inflatable tents. Even this year their models picked up 3 awards from Camping Magazine for best inflatable and best luxury tents. Also picking up a best touring tent award for their Vango Amalfi 500 and Vango Amalfi 600. Congratulations to Vango on earning these respected accolades.
The Vango Odyssey line is a quality line of inflatable tents that have performed excellently well in the field and have been met with numerous positive reviews by campers. Their Odyssey 500 hit the stage a while back and did so well, they went on to develop the 600 and now we have the newest model, the 600SC. We like this model as it suits camping trips very well with the sun canopy, awning attachment and large family size dimensions.
This is a very easy pitch tent as far as inflatables go, it has less preparation needed and you can get straight to work with pumping it up via its pressure valve. A rough estimate is around 8 minutes from the car to fully pitched, that’s with it staked and guy lined as well, so you can imagine it’s very quick to pump the tent up itself. Especially if you are using a high pressure pump with a decent PSI range.
A cool feature on this tent is the air beams that replace tent poles in traditional tents are pre-bent, this provides additional strength in the design, making the whole structured more rigid than your average inflatable tent.
Unlike the older Odyssey models, the 600SC comes with a free and attachable sun canopy awning. This is very useful for family camping trips with children, pets or just to store things away from the sun. It creates additional shaded coverage which is very useful during summer camps.
-Fly Sheet and Fabric-
The flysheet has been manufactured with a high quality polyester which has an insane Hydrostatic Head rating of 4000mm. You can rest assured no water will penetrate this material, as long as there are no rips and tears. The Protex 70 Denier material is also fire retardant, so you don’t need to worry about sparks and embers lighting up your tent, it has this concern covered a well.
The Odyssey line has a patented tensioning system named the Vango TBS II, you will see this appear in many of their models and helps to improve the stability by using a tensioning band system to pull and hold the framework in place. The tent has 2 entry methods, from the front and the side. The doors are fully meshed, which is great for ventilating through the open doors while simultaneously keeping those annoying bugs away with the fine mesh. The sun canopy attaches over the side door, not the front door which is quite unique among designs, usually an awning will pitch over the front entry. That being said, those tents rarely have a side door as a choice. Pitch and position accordingly with this in mind.
This is a 6 person inflatable tent, however if you’re looking for a larger size in the same model then you can check out the Vango Odyssey Air 800 model, that sleeps 8. For this model the pack weight is around 17kg and the packed size is 70 x 37 x 36 in cm. This is a reasonable size and weight for an inflatable tent as they do tend to be heavier than pole tents. I’m 5’11 and was able to stand up straight within the tent, I would say it’s well over 6 feet for head height.
Can Set Up Alone
Fantastic Quality Materials
4000mm HH Rating
Sun Canopy Attachment
Repair Patches Included
Said to have blackout rooms, I wouldn’t say they are fully blackout, however they are definitely darker than the other rooms of the tent.
A familiar face rears its beautiful head into our list. Many of you will know Coleman as one of the giants in the camping world. Making quality items for literally everything outdoor related, from Instant Tents to Camping Chairs. Coleman have designed and manufactured a top quality line of inflatable tents known as the Valdes series. We love this line and its top notch, let’s check out some of their best performing models.
The Air Valdes series has been received excellently well by campers and also it picked up an award for innovation back in 2016 from Camping World, for its blackout bedroom feature. Coleman have marked their place in the inflatable tent market with the Valdes 6L and 6XL. A large family tent that can be set up extremely fast and easily. With a host of other features let’s find out why it’s such a big hit.
-Fast Pitch Air-
Amazingly, even the huge 6XL can be set up alone by a single person. You just connect your pump to the valve and pump away, unless you’re using an electric pump then it’s even easier, sit back and wait. The valve is a high pressure valve which allows air intake a much faster and smoother experience than the standard valves. It also helps upon deflation to allow the air to escape easily. The inflatable poles will erect quickly when pumped with air, due to the durable inner tube (TPU) that consists in the framework of all the Air Valdes series, the TPU is then protected by a durable Polyester shell which forms the outer structure. The use of TPU is a sign of high quality and should be sought after when choosing an air tent. The benefit of going with Coleman is the excellent customer service, so for the unfortunate event of a damaged air beam, it can be replaced easily and quickly.
An award winning innovation features on the Air Valdes, the blackout bedroom technology. This works to completely block 99% of sunlight from penetrating any of the sleeping rooms, this creates a dark environment inducing a better, more sound sleep. Not only this, but it directly effects the interior temperature of the bedrooms, decreasing the temperature by up to 5 degrees. If you’re not impressed yet then check this, during the daytime while it blocks the sunlight, it absorbs it. It later will use this energy when the sun dies down to warm the tent by 1 degree, providing a warmer atmosphere to sleep in. It’s clear why this won the innovation award from Camping World.
An additional benefit of the blackout style bedrooms is the bedroom size, they are larger than the average size of rooms. Possibly a clever ploy by the company to integrate their large Double Air Mattress into the sales, but we aren’t mad. You will be using some kind of mattress or bed in these oversized rooms anyway and we as campers benefit from these spacious rooms, which are cooled by the Blackout Technology.
Durable TPU Inner Tube
Blackout Bedroom Technology
High Pressure Valve
XL Sized Rooms
4000mm HH Rating
The groundsheet isn’t breathable in case you visit campsites that require a breathable groundsheet.
You can use an additional breathable tarp groundsheet underneath, to create air circulation between the 2 layers.
Outwell is a Danish company that specialize particularly in family camping and design tents and outdoor equipment for family campers. Their aim is to make family camping simplistic and more enjoyable with quality products. They have released a few model lines within the inflatable tent market, all of which have an above standard quality, gaining popularity quickly among the camping community. Some of the larger family air tents have great build quality and design, especially the Corvette, Harrier and Holidaymaker lines.
We took a look at the Outwell Corvette 7 Air which is an elongated, large family air tent. It can sleep up to 7 in its large spacious rooms. With only 1 size in this model it’s a perfect fit for a family camping trip with enough space for storage and friends. Let’s check out some of its features.
Gothic design with an air beam framework makes this a very unique air tent in shape and appearance. The Gothic influence comes from Outwell’s heritage of being a Danish company, they have integrated their Scandinavian roots into the design of all their tents. Giving an unforgettable appearance which is unlike any other air tent you will find on the market. Consisting of a Power Air Tube System which works to keep the structure strong and stable. This is due to the pre-bent air beams, much like the Vango air tents, which acts more rigid than stiffer beams, resulting in a more stable structure overall.
-Night Sky Ceiling-
Utilizing a cover that works to reduce the sunlight’s penetration which works to protect you from UV rays and also can reduce the heat internally. Useful on hot summer days when camping with the family. Also the material of the tent has been coated with a heat protective coating, which repels the heat from sun rays.
Employing a tunnel design, this gives it that elongated effect with a huge interior bedroom space. Due to the tunnel framework you will also benefit from an increased head height, creating a spacious feel when inside. The tunnel is divided up into 3 room areas, giving you privacy and different possible sleeping arrangements, great for families again.
The quality of protection on the Corvette 7 Air is well above average with a Hydrostatic Head rating of 5000mm, which is actually higher than the Vango and the Coleman. The flysheet has been made with the same material so it also benefits from the same level of protection. The ground sheet is a double layered Polyethylene fabric with a hydrostatic head rating of 10,000mm. This can ensure you stay dry from the ground up no matter the weather, giving you peace of mind while camping in stormy weather.
5000mm HH rating
Unique Gothic Style Design
Cooled Interior Rooms
Tunnel Design Shape
The unique design and intricate details are also reflected in the price tag
Berghaus was founded in the UK and famously created clothing for outdoor enthusiasts. It has become a household name among campers and in time Berghaus has moved into other areas of the outdoor industry, with the same quality as found in their clothing line. They have released a line of Air Tents that range from 4 man up to 8 man, additionally an inflatable porch that can be seen here. Lets check out their larges mode in the Air 8 a bit closer.
We checked out their 8 person inflatable tent as we are keener to find out how the larger models fair in winds and how compatible they are for family camping. We weren’t disappointed by the standard of this tent and the quality is in sync with the quality we are used to from their clothing line. For starters their HH rating is higher than any of the above 3 models, let’s see what else is worth a rave about.
-Inflation and Deflation-
The Air 8 is very easy to set up due to its pressure valve system allowing for smooth air flow in and out of the air tent. The deflation process is also very simplistic with a touch button that can kick off the deflating of the tent. This was impressive to see that even with the larger 8 person air tents, a fast and simple set up is still possible with inflatable tents. Due to the double efficiency pump this works to make inflation that much easier than the standard air tents you may have seen before. The bedroom is also pre-attached to the framework so there is no additional connecting or construction needed during the pitch.
The Berghaus Air line also has TPU integrated into all of the models. As we mentioned before this is a good sign of quality and also helps to keep the structure rigid, strong and stable throughout your camp. Protected from the top and the bottom by way of a flysheet that has been seam sealed and fully taped and from beneath we have a durable and heavy duty groundsheet, keeping the tent base dry.
The tent also features large sized windows that help to air out the tent when needed, creating a nice breeze and some natural sunlight when needed. The windows also come with attachable curtains so you can indeed block the sunlight if needed. The inner bedroom compartment consists of mesh doors as opposed to solid doors. However, they still provide privacy as the mesh is a fine mesh, you can’t really see through it. Additionally it helps to keep air circulation throughout. A solid door will pretty much cut off air circulation if zippered up. There is also a rain hood that sits just above the side door for shelter, shade and rain protection.
The head height is good with this tent, most adults are able to stand tall in here with no issues. The corners of the tent can be staked down with steel pegs with a round wire design, these come with the tent. There are also storage pockets inside ALL of the bedrooms, not just one. This way there should be no arguments among family members on who can store their smartphone in the nearest pocket. A heavy duty carry bag also comes with the tent, which has wheels integrated onto the base. This is helpful in fact as the 8 person air tent has a 30kg weight overall. Probably a bit cumbersome for the average person, especially when we have other gear to carry, this is a welcomed addition.
Quechua will be a familiar brand among camping enthusiasts. If it’s new to you, Quechua are well known for producing the ‘seconds’ line of tents. We have reviewed their ‘two seconds’ model in our Pop Up Tent article, which was a high quality pop up tent of incredible quality. Their inflatable range is of the same standard so we felt it was worth a place in the list.
This particular series has 2 models that have performed outstandingly well among American and UK markets. The Air XL series from Quechua maintains their ‘pop up’ methodology of set up, but utilizing air beam supports instead of the old fiberglass and aluminum framework. This leads to an even easier set up and increased strength in the elements.
The 2 and 3 man air tents are identical in design and features, the only difference lies in the size. With their tent pole version of the 2 second pop up performing so well among campers, we couldn’t help but take a look at this air tent model. Safe to say we were not disappointed, allow us to share our findings.
One of the only tents in our lineup to utilize a inflate pop up pitching system. The beauty of this tent is that without wind there is no need to stake it down, due to the weighty nature of inflatable tents. Thus being free standing you can pivot and change position at will, this makes the set up much faster in good weather. With the air pressure valve integrated into the structure, this also allows for a fast set up if you use a high pressure pump to pump the air in. The valve will fully open allowing all the air to enter quickly, in the same respect upon deflation, the air can escape just as easily.
The Air XL series is well ventilated as well as the design has proper ventilation panels built into the design. This is also mainly due to the fly sheets, they have side panels attached and can be moved and reattached at will, allowing you to create a A-B air circulation route within your tent. Door to window, or window to vent panel for example, a clear route for the air to pass in and then out again makes air circulation in the tent. The rear sheet in particular is cord operated, so you can raise the sheet right up by pulling the cord down, much like blinds or curtain on your window.
You may find peace of mind in the fact that all Quechua tents are well tested. They have all been waterproof tested in a lab by being subjected to 200mm of rainfall per hour, for a total of 5 hours. The Polyester fly sheet and the Polyethylene ground sheet both passed the test, this means we can safely give it a 2000mm hydrostatic head rating. Additionally the seams have all been sealed to protect from water penetrating the weak points in any stitching. Protected internally by an inner tent shell, this keeps you away from the outer layer which can accumulate condensation. So there is no chance of water encroaching internally, even from layer to layer condensation.
The a large D shape door makes up the entry and exit for the Air XL, which is fairly normal for the smaller tents, we wouldn’t expect to see double doors or multiple entries on a 2 and 3 man air tent. Not only this but the material is also UV protected, so it can be used for summer camping as well. The rating for this has been noted at SPF 30. Now if compared with tents designed for the beach, you may commonly find SPF 50, however SPF 30 is decent and for the most part, sufficient.
UV Protected SPF 30
Inflatable Pop Up Design
2 Size Options
It held up well but in the wind it was pretty loud, you might want to take some ear muffs if you are a sensitive sleeper and plan to camp in high wind conditions.
You may have seen The Cave model from Heimplanet bounding around on social media, due to its insane ability to withstand wind speeds of up to and over 100mph. Their designs are also something you will have never seen before, ultra-modern, the kind of thing you may envisage while space hopping around mars. In any case we love the designs, much like the Outwell range, they are totally unique in their design appearance and make no efforts to follow the crowd. Let’s delve a little deeper into some of their best tents.
Let us begin with its first ever and best known inflatable, The Cave 3 person inflatable tent. An epic design you will agree, this air tent has become prolific among backpackers, hikers, cyclists who camp and any outdoor enthusiasts with an affinity for cool stuff. But it’s also caught the eye of less extreme campers due to its insane resistance to winds, this now becomes a debate of value and longevity. Yes it can be more expensive than similar sized inflatable tents, but what if it had the ability to never ever break no matter what the wind speed? A curious question indeed, it now becomes a plausible investment that can stand the test of time as opposed to a quick purchase that may only last a few seasons.
-Simplistic Set Up-
The Cave has the ability to set up within 60 seconds, given that you have a decent pump with a high PSI, it will erect very quickly. Due to the top quality materials used in the manufacture, it’s very sturdy to boot and you will feel secure once it’s fully pumped and staked. One of the main reasons for its fast set up, is the fact that the whole frame has been put together as a unit. All attached and working together in unison, this means that when it begins to fill with air, the whole framework will stand and erect together in one motion. No need for attachment of multiple parts and pieces.
The unique design mainly derives from its Geodesic structure, which is not so common in tents, especially air tents. However, after the results and performance of this model have become evident, we are sure to see this geodesic design pop up more among other inflatable tents. The reason for its stability is due to the ratio of fabric to volume, it’s an efficient structure in this regard. This ‘principle’ is known as IDG among Heimplanet, which means Inflatable Diamond Grid and they have conveyed this principle in the design of all their tents that we have seen thus far, including The Cave and Fistral.
It includes a Multi Chamber system which provides the easy inflation of the whole structure, however it also serves another purpose. It allows the frame to be divided into chambers that are separated from each other. This is a really cool safety feature, because if one part suffers a problem or deflation, the other sections that are separated will stay strong, inflated and support the tent. Giving you time to repair and also withstand any storm that is upon you without falling into panic mode. This also means that if there is a puncture or issue, it’s really easy to locate, you just look for the section that is deflated as all the others will still be up and inflated. It will show itself to you.
As we discussed before, TPU’s are a sign of top quality among inflatable tents and of course we expected them in Heimplanets models. Not only are they included, but the inner tube has an airtight bladder feature, which keeps the air in for longer periods than the standard. The inner tubes are protected from the outer shell which is made from a durable polyester, this is pretty common among high quality double layered air beams.
The valves on the Heimplanet models are slightly different than usual and among many users are considered one of its most practical features. They have what’s called a 2 in 1 valve, this means they benefit from not 1, but 2 closures. One of them is check valve which is used for inflating the air tent and the 2nd is a larger opening, which makes deflating the tent super easy, by allowing much more air volume to escape. The issue with most air tents is that the air goes in much faster than it comes out, making deflation an often slow task. Heimplanet have made appropriate steps to change this with a larger opening for the deflation valve.
A nice addition to this is the value they add. Not only do you get the air tent but they include a variety of goodies like a stuff sack, gear loft and an air pump. Most of the tents do not come with an air pump, of course this alone is not a reason to buy a tent, but it’s a welcomed addition nonetheless. If we are spending in upwards of $600 I think it’s the least they can do. Guy lines, pegs and even a repair kit also comes with The Cave.
They also have a camouflage version of the same model. Your first thought might be why the hell the price is so different if they are the same. Well, the only difference we can see apart from the aesthetic is the fact that the newer models have valves placed in different areas. This is because in the original models, the valves were often placed on the bottom of the frame. Some complained of valves getting stuck with dirt and debris, probably while camping out in some pretty gnarly areas. So in the newer models they have placed the valves in various different areas, higher up on the frame.
We must say that ourselves and many others never had any issue with the lower valves, its pretty standard on air tents for it to be lower down. Again this is down to preference and intended purpose. This might be an important aspect for extreme backpackers and hikers. We will let you decide if it’s worth the extra money.
Withstand over 100mph winds
5000mm HH Rating
Unique Geodesic Design
Air Tight TPU Air Beams
2 in 1 Valve System
Due to the nature of its design, it’s imperative you dry it off properly before storage. The framework is all attached so it can be tricky, with a lot of crevices to make sure are dry.
This air tent form Heimplanet offers the same features as listed above on The Cave, with the same technology and design integrated. However you will notice first of all that the Fistral has a smaller framework resulting in smaller dimensions. This is a 2 man air tent as opposed to the 3 man Cave model.
They also have a camo option with a significantly closer price tag, unlike The Cave camo which is much more expensive due to its more intuitive valve positioning methods. You will find the Fistral Camo a much more affordable inflatable camo tent. Let’s talk about the unique aspect of this tent and that is the measurements.
The head height in the center is 112cm with a 45 square foot ground area. Built as a 2 man air tent the overall height is 132cm with an interior measuring 31 square foot. In total the pack size is 34x20x20 in cm and is really lightweight at only 2.5kg or 5.5 lbs. for a pack weight.
Camo Option is Fairly Priced
Smaller 2 Man Option
Free Repair Kit/Pump Adapter
Utilizes Geodesic Design
The 4 season rating is debatable somewhat
Our last is a bit of a novelty and not really to be used for extreme camping. But they do make one hell of a stargazing tent.
Inflatable Bubble Tents Review
Inflatable bubble tents are a new age breed of inflatable tents, which have surfaced in recent years. With the increase in ‘Glamping’ companies are finding more luxury, unique and albeit exorbitant ways to camp, or glamp as they say.
Utilizing a simplistic set up being an inflatable tent, the bubble tents also create a unique camping experience. Imagine having a transparent view in a full 360 degree rotation, especially if you are camping on a hill or on some kind of elevation, with a clear sky. You are sure to catch some epic views and pictures and perhaps catch a closer glimpse of nature.
We are not trying to compare the bubble tents or even put them in the same league as the above inflatable tents for camping, we are just merely introducing them as another unique avenue of camping. Rather Glamping. So it that’s more your taste, then you could consider a bubble tent for a weekend away stargazing with your closest people.
Useful Gear for Camping with an Inflatable Tent:
Keeping in line with the inflatable theme, an inflatable mattress is a good idea, so you can utilize your pump in more ways and have a strong and comfortable surface to sleep on. It will also pack down well after deflation and store with the rest of your gear.
Probably the most important piece, the pump! Some of the tents do indeed come with a pump but we’ve noticed many do not. There are a few choices, you can go for the manual foot or hand pump, or you could opt for the electric style pump that will do all the work for you. The choice is yours.
Why use an Inflatable Tent? Inflatable Tent vs. Conventional Pole Tent
A question that has posed many a debate among outdoor enthusiasts, however with the modernization of the inflatable tent designs, they have convinced skeptics worldwide. So we are still left with an even more competitive question.
I make no bones in my choice of an inflatable tent over a conventional pole tent for a number of reasons, which make my own personal camping experience a lot easier. I just find it easier to deal with punctures in inflatables as opposed to broken tent poles for example.
This is a minor, personal factor that pushes me to choose a preference. When looking at the bigger picture comparatively, there are a variety of pros and cons to answer this questions, let’s dig into them.
You will find that an Inflatable can set up much faster than any conventional or traditional style tent. This is because with the use of a high pressure air pump, you can pump air into the framework at a speed so fast, it can rival any Pop Up Tent on the market. Agree for the smaller tents a pop up may win in terms of pure speed. However, you will not find a pop up that has multiple rooms and large sizes, 8-14 person, which will go up as fast as an inflatable. In fact you will be hard pressed to even find one with a fast pitch design consisting of such dimensions. With inflatable, it’s all possible, which really blew me away the first time I saw a large family tent going up in minutes.
You may assume that a traditional tent will in fact be sturdier due to its denser material on the framework. But this doesn’t equate to strength in the field, especially when we are talking wind speeds. The air tents have the ability to flex and bend under the pressure and strength of the wind, however as you know conventional tents cannot. They will bend and eventually, when under too much pressure, splinter or break. The rumor of Inflatable Tents withstanding high wind speeds has never been truer, since the testing done on the Heimplanet cave tent, which apparently withstood up to 120kmh wind speeds. There are convincing videos to consolidate this claim, even up to 80-90kmh wind speeds is an achievement in itself, I know most traditional tents would be in tatters after 50mph winds.
As we talked about before, when a traditional tent faces sudden strong winds or storms, the poles have a tendency to splinter or snap. This creates a difficult repair job on the field and not one that the majority of campers are familiar with. In comparison, how many of you have ever fixed a puncture on your bike? I’m guessing most of you have at least some experience with this. This puts you in the zone of familiarity if you ever come across an issue with your Inflatable tent. The most common issue with Inflatable is puncturing, not breakages. For me this was a win, I’m much more comfortable repairing things in this area, as opposed to breakages and snapped poles.
In the defense of traditional tents, as we aren’t trying to be biased, they are generally much lighter. This is because the pole tents have pretty lightweight framework, especially fiberglass frames. Then the tent material itself is not a burden, resulting in a lightweight package all round. However, with inflatables you will find them to be heavier, generally speaking. This is because of the supporting frame has a TPU in most, which is like an inner tube running through all the framework. This adds additional weight to the whole piece, so it will outweigh a pole tent for the most part.
It’s commonly seen that even though the inflatable tents have a strong supportive central beam running across the middle, they often aren’t capable of achieving sizes often seen in the pole tent models. This is due to design, tent poles have a way of creating solid wall designs and peaked rooftops, much like a cabin. This gives a taller center height and a larger, more spacious interior feeling. Inflatable Tents can also achieve large spaces and Coverage, but if we were to compare, pole tents can have larger sizes generally. But again, they are harder to pitch and require multiple people. Any size of Inflatable tent can be set up by 1 person and a pump, it’s definitely food for thought.
Funnily enough, even though they are heavier they do store away in a smaller compact way as opposed to a traditional tent. This is probably due to the whole tent being inflatable, it is easily rolled up, decompressed and packed away tightly into its storage bag. Traditional tents may often have elongated tent poles, which indeed snap and fold down, but may still require quite a long minimum length, to retain its strength. You would benefit from more compact storage with an Inflatable, even if it is a little heavier.
Something most of us think about first of all, is the price. Right off the bat, in our experience Inflatable tents are generally more expensive than pole tents, this is true. I think if we were comparing to some ultra light and top quality backpacking tents, it might be more comparable. However, when looking at the standard pole tent vs. a standard inflatable tent, you will notice a significant difference in price. This isn’t down to some novelty aspect of having a cool, modern inflatable tent. It’s because for the most part, they are far superior in durability, strength and resistance. I would feel more comfortable putting $600 into an Inflatable tent that would last me years, no matter the weather. As opposed to putting $200 into a pole tent that might need replacing every year.
Fast Set Up
1 Person Set Up
Higher Wind Resistance
More Compact Storage
Can Bend without Breaking
More Expensive Generally
Less Spacious than some Large Cabin Style Pole Tents
Buyers Guide: How to choose an Inflatable Tent?
Let’s look over the criteria which is important to consider when choosing an inflatable tent.
Size always being an important factor when choosing a tent and it doesn’t change with an inflatable. You should still be employing the +1 or +2 rule when considering size. If there’s a family of 4, take a 6-8 man air tent. If you’re camping alone a 2-3 man air tent should suffice. You want to have space for your gear and other components.
Given the large variety in design among air tents it’s important to try and decide on a shape. Deciding on what kind of camping you will be doing prior will really help with this. If you are doing extreme backpacking and will be facing some brutal winds, you can opt for a geodesic inflatable tent. These are fantastic against high winds. If you are doing large family camping then the spacious cabin style tents would be a good choice. Perhaps an air tent with multiple rooms would be useful to separate up the group with privacy.
Inflatable tents are actually all priced competitively, none of the top brands veer too far away from the market price. In our experience the top quality inflatable tents will generally start around $500 and can reach in upwards of $1200. The factors that will separate this price are firstly size and lastly features and quality. A 4 man air tent would be priced higher than the 3 man of the exact same model and brand. You will see a difference in price between brands however, this will be due to things like patented designs, unique features and appearance.
Look out for this acronym when searching for your new inflatable tent, this represents top quality inner tubes that will run through the air beams. It’s commonly seen as a sign of quality among air tents so be sure to find a tent with this feature integrated into the framework. This will also make the structure more rigid and sturdy than usual.
-Wind and Water-
If the tents have been tested this is even better, see if they have any trial videos on the page or on YouTube, proving their resistance. For example we have below Heimplanets The Cave withstanding gale force winds, this is a strong signal that the tent can perform as well as advertised. We also want the tent to be waterproof so look out for tents that have a ‘HH Rating’ (Hydrostatic Head Rating), this is a key indicator of its ability to resist water penetration and rain in general. A rating in upwards of 2000mm is fantastic and will serve you well on regular camping trips. For extreme conditions you can look for 4000mm+ for the best results.
-Set Up (valves)-
One of the best things about air tents is the quickness and simplicity of their set up. We don’t want to spend money on an Inflatable tent that is difficult and cumbersome to set up, this defeats the object. Also look for a tent that has ‘pressure valves’ these help to intake air much faster than usual, which results in a faster pitch. In the same way it also helps the air to escape faster upon deflation, making the pack up a quicker process overall.
Inflatable tents are often geared towards family camping, especially for some brands who focus solely on this. For this reason you will see air tents with porches, awnings and canopies quite often.
This is a really nice feature for family camping as it offers additional coverage from the rain and shade from the sun. Perfect for popping a few camping chairs underneath.
Tunnels are often seen integrated into the design of the larger Inflatable tents, such as the 6 and 8 man air tents. This offers a nice space for movement around the tent and also aids in air circulation. A tunnel also provides a solid structure running through the center of the tent to hold everything together.
Evident in many of the models above, is the blackout technology featuring in mainly the bedroom areas of the tents. This works to reduce the temperature by absorbing the heat during the daytime and using that heat to warm you during the cool night time. Some brands don’t have exactly the blackout technology, but they have taken steps to use thicker, darker material on the bedroom build that can help to reduce temperature and block sun rays as well. So just lookout for this kind of feature in general. It’s not imperative but it can help if you are camping in the summer or are a sensitive sleeper.
Inflatable tents can be used for a variety of purposes. However I would go as far to say that predominantly they are family camping tents, if we look at the general trend of all air tents on the market.
However, they have some unique uses such as use on water.
For use with a vehicle or as an awning for a car or truck.
They have also become popular as a lawn tent given the simplicity of set up and use.
Also as a trusty bit of gear for extreme backpackers and hikers worldwide, reaching allusive locations with the help of these highly resistant geodesic air tents.
The extra-large Inflatable tents can be used also for events such as trade shows or weddings, given the sturdy structure and ease of use, they have taken the place of some traditionally used canopies in this respect.
They’ve also been known to be used as Toilet Tents and potentially Shower Tents as well given the pop up nature, they have replaced some of the older designs in traditional pole tents.
A general tip and this is for ALL inflatable tents regardless of size and design, is the temperature. During cold nights the pressure will generally drop inside the air beams, this is perfectly normal to see. Likewise during extreme heat you may see a rise in pressure in the beams. You can keep on top of this manually by just pumping a little extra air into the air beams the morning after a cold evening. Likewise if you have been suffering a lot of heat during the day, you can release pressure from within the tent in the same way, through the pressure valve.
What is an Inflatable Tent and How Does it Work?
An Inflatable tent or otherwise known as an air tent, is a tent that utilizes air to fill its structure, erecting it up into position. They do not employ traditional tent poles in its set up, so no more fiberglass or metal framework to deal with. The supporting frame work will be pumped with air, pumping up the tent along with it, much like other Inflatable objects.
The majority of inflatable tents will have a TPU integrated into the design, which is basically a secondary tube which is thinner, that runs along the interior of the air beams. Yes, it’s very similar to the design of a bicycle tyre, so you may already feel familiar with this design.
For me personally, this gave me piece of mind as I have been pumping, changing and repairing punctures on bicycles since I was a young kid, I already felt much more confident with my Inflatable Tent after learning the design method. Dealing with fractured tent poles isn’t my strong point, but a punctured inner tube is.
The inner tube, like a bicycle tyre, is protected by an outer cover which is larger in dimensions and utilizes a much more rugged material, generally Polyester. This is because the outer material has to deal with all the outer elements and hard surfaces that we are used to seeing while camping. Not only this, but the polyester shell also contributes to the strength of the whole structure in general. Providing a solid support to the framework of the air tent.
Employing guy-lines and tent stakes just like your traditional tent for stability, you can set them up in the exact same way as you have been used to. Although definitely a modern tent, you are not losing too much familiarity or traditional methods when camping with one.
The key part to the inflatable tent are its valves. The valves are where we bring the tent to life, by pumping air through. This is also where the air will be pushed out when we are deflating the tent.
There is some more detailed information on working with valves below, for now this should give a general answer to what an inflatable tent is and how they function.
What is the Best Inflatable Tent?
Again this really comes down to what you intend to use it for. As we saw in the buyer’s guide there are all manner of uses, from a full 5 roomed inflatable tent for camping in groups to a more subtle lawn tent. Even an inflatable bubble is not a bad choice if the weather is nice and you fancy a weekend away stargazing.
Alas, we will try to answer this commonly posed question.
Vango have always been at the forefront of the inflatable tent movement, they even had one of their tents put in space. Which is a phenomenal achievement, you would agree. As inflatable tents gained more popularity, more brands emerged and existing companies began to design their own model of Inflatable tents.
Respectable brands to look out for as well as Vango are Outwell,Kelty Mach, Berghaus, Easy Camp (their Hurricane Series) and Quechua. Heimplanet have also created an amazing Inflatable cave tent that has some serious features, which we will show below in the wind test.
As you can see we are really spoilt for choice in regards to brands. However, to set some kind of scenario to answer this question, if we were only able to buy 1 inflatable tent from 1 company, we would probably have to choose Vango. We are not knocking the others by any means, we mention their names in high regards and they offer exceptional quality inflatable tents as well. But in a scenario where we had 1 choice, we would go with Vango and the AirBeam Series. We feel the superior experience in Inflatable Tents and as they were the ones pushing the movement originally, is worth something. They also had a tent in space I mean come on!
Are Inflatable Tents Strong and Stable?
Yes. You might assume that because it’s inflated with air it might not stand strong. This isn’t true, in fact air tents have unbelievable strength against even the strongest of winds.
Look at this amazing video of the Heimplanet Cave withstanding insanely strong winds.
The key to their strength is that they are malleable in wind, whereas pole tents aren’t able to bend with the wind, they try to directly resist it. If the wind speed picks up high enough, it will just snap and break tent poles. Air beam supports can’t snap or break, they flow and bend with the wind, this results in a much higher resistance to strong winds. If you combine this with an aerodynamic design, such as the Heimplanet Cave, you are left with something very special. A tent that can supposedly withstand wind speeds of over 100kmh, who would have thought that would ever be possible? Not me for one.
Another thing to remember is temperature and pressure levels when dealing with an inflatable tent. Often in cool temperatures, in time, the pressure may fall slightly from within the tent. This is normal, ever so slight and easily countered by a quick top up via the valve with your trusty pressure air pump. Forgetfulness of this occurrence could lead to a slumped and slack tent frame, it’s just something you need to be aware of during long camps. Likewise if you’ve pumped it up way too high and it’s bursting, a scorching hot afternoon could increase the pressure inside the tent, in this case you can depressurize it by opening up the valve. Allowing some of the compacted air to escape, allowing the framework to settle. Over-pressurized air breams are just as dangerous as slack ones, so be sure to maintain this aspect during a camp.
How to Pitch an Inflatable Tent?
Well, if you thoughtPop up Tents or Instant Tents were easy to set up, prepare to be amazed. Inflatable Tents are some of the only designs that can have a large tent with multiple rooms set up in minutes, you would never see this in the pop up or instant designs, they usually max out at about 8 person size.
With an Inflatable Tent, everything is possible in terms of size and fast pitching. Especially if you have an electric/automatic pump on hand, it can be up in minutes. My mind was blown the first time I saw this huge family tent flying up. Check it out.
You see how it works, the pump is connected into the valve then you simply begin to pump the air in.
It’s simplistic and simple, but know this, common belief is that it’s possible to pump up with your mouth, this isn’t true.
In general inflatable tents require pressure of around 5-7 PSI, some even higher. However, the human body is only capable of exhaling with a full force of up to around 2 PSI, 3 for an incredibly strong pair of lungs.
A high pressure foot pump can also easily pump over the PSI requirement, making a nice and easy manual method.
However if you have a large inflatable tent and you’re a bit tired from all those hours of driving or hiking, you may want an electric or automatic air pump to help you out here.
How to Deflate and Pack an Inflatable Tent?
So for starters you want to make sure you have unzipped all the doors and leave them open, allowing any trapped air to escape.
Secondly open up all the valves on the air tent, this will allow the air to escape from inside the tent accordingly.
Okay, so we now have air escaping from the inside the tent frame and also the interior of the shell. You now want to double check all the valves, especially any isolation valves, are opened and the airs completely escaping from all the support beams.
You can help the air out of the beams by walking along the beams with your bare feet, socks (don’t wear any shoes for obvious reasons) or even pressing lightly with your hands. It is imperative to make sure all air is out before moving onto the next step.
Folding the air tent is the next step. 2 key things to remember here, the first being that when you roll the tent up, try to roll it sideways and also make sure that you are rolling towards the valves. Not with the valves underneath you, this could cause some issue and it also may hold air inside, roll towards the valves to also ease out any trapped air simultaneously. The second is to have your storage bag lined up and open, this way you can judge the exact size needed for storage when rolling. It can be difficult to judge this without the bag out and open for comparison.
You can place your tent poles alongside the tent, in the position you will begin to roll. This can act as a strong and stiff support, allowing the material to wrap around as you roll. It’s useful for a nice tight roll and also it can help to push out any trapped air while you are rolling.
Slow and steady wins the race here, don’t wrap it up like bubble wrap. Take your time, remembering to push down after each slow turn, to push out any trapped air. We want the roll to be airtight so it’s easier to put back in storage after.
Don’t be afraid of having to roll it back and roll it up again. In actual fact this can help to create a much more airtight roll, giving that remaining trapped air a second run, or even third. To make sure it’s all completely out of there. Sometimes this will be necessary so don’t worry if this happens, you aren’t doing it wrong. If it fits on the first roll, happy days, if not, just roll again until it’s ready.
Tie and Store. Now with a night airtight roll, you can tie it up and secure where necessary and drop it securely into its storage bag. Again be extra careful when placing it inside its storage and if you feel it’s still too big, just give it another re-roll. At this price it’s not worth saving the extra few minutes just to cram it in and get home.
Here is a cool breakdown of it in a visual way.
How to Repair an Inflatable Tent?
If you do happen to locate a puncture in your tent or feel that you are losing pressure too quickly. You can start a thorough puncture search on the tent. The most efficient way to locate a puncture is to remove the air beams from the tent itself, which is usually detachable in most cases. Then delve the beam into a bucket of water and watch for air bubbles appearing from the puncture, if you’ve found bubbles, you’ve found the puncture.
You can then take the necessary steps to fix the puncture by using a puncture repair kit. This is a simple task, much like repairing a puncture on your bicycle, you can mark the puncture with the crayon so you don’t lose its position.
Then begin covering the puncture with strong, adhesive material that will adhere to the air beams material, creating a strong and waterproof seal.
Bear in mind as mentioned before, most decent Inflatable tents have an inner tube, so check these as a priority for punctures, not only the outer layer.
If it’s one of those Inflatable tents that have a full circulation design, as opposed to beams only, it may be trickier to find the puncture. We would still use the same method, but you may need to deflate the whole tent first, then pull the tent through the water like a conveyor or belt, searching for the bubbles.
You can speed up the whole process by having someone help you with an additional bucket and water.
Secondly focus your search on the seams first, especially if you’re dealing with a larger tent with a lot of material to cover, punctures would be more prone to appear here naturally.
If it’s due to some sharp object penetrating the material by accident, then it’s most likely to appear from the underneath of the tent, so be sure to check the ground area first.
Was an Inflatable Tent used in Space?
Absolutely and you can see here in this video this actually happened, it’s even more amazing when you see it in the video.
This was in fact The First Tent in Space and it’s courtesy of Vango via a mission put together by them, with their organization VASA. Vango really pushed the inflatable tent movement and have a serious line of air tents available, some of which we have reviewed above. The fact that the inflatable was the first tent chosen to perform in space is testament to its quality.
Can an Inflatable Tent be used on Water?
Well you can’t just pop any old inflatable tent in the water, this would be ludicrous. But the rumors are true, there are indeed air tents designed specifically for life on the water.
The difference is that they are made with seriously heavy duty bases and waterproof materials, given that they spend the majority of their life on water. You would really need to tie this to something as the dangers and hazards of using these are clear. However in a secure safe area with no dangers, perhaps a lake or quiet river, this could be an amazing experience to try.
We had a lot of fun writing this piece on inflatable and air tents and we hope you enjoyed reading it to.
This was really educational for ourselves and if you learned something about inflatable tents here, then our job is done.
It’s clear in 2018, inflatable tents have really come along way and have finally gained our trust in a really convincing way. Perhaps even going as far to say that they have overtaken there traditional pole tent brethren in many ways, with this in mind we truly think they are worth a shot moving into 2019. Perhaps you could find the perfect set up for family camping with an air tent by your side.
Of course whether you use a pole tent or an inflatable tent will ultimately be down to preference and what you feel comfortable with. I think our point here was trying to get people to open their minds to the possibility of using an inflatable tent and perhaps, be pleasantly surprised by their performance and to do away with the old views of skepticism.
If you fancy doing some more reading you could check out some of our other articles on Pop up Tents or Instant Tents here at The Tent Hub.