To get the most out of your camping trip, you need to have good gear. This includes a tent of course, which is a center piece of a camping trip. Since many different camping tents are available, you have a very nice choice in front of you. Perhaps you already own a conventional tent and want to try out something different and more practical.
It’s important that your new tent provides good protection and easy setup – and inflatable tents offer just that. You get to skip using the poles, and cut the pitching time significantly which leaves you with more time and energy to do things you actually enjoy doing.
When they first appeared, many people were hesitant to give a chance to a pump up tent. They have since made a significant progress and reached a level where they are reliable in every situation. Like with other tents, you can choose size, design, build quality and many other features.
We presented different types of inflatables in our list, so you can easily pick out the best inflatable tent for your intended use. Be sure to check the buying guide too, and get detailed information on what to look for, to be sure you’re getting a durable product you’ll be happy with.
How To Choose The Best Inflatable Tent – Buying Guide
Since a tent is something which has a large influence on the quality of your trip, you should put some thought into selection. Inflatable tents were made to save you time (and also trouble) compared to regular tents. You can set it up without anybody’s help, which isn’t always the case with traditional tents, especially if they are larger.
It’s a great solution when camping with kids for example, because one adult can set up the tent while the other looks after them. On the other hand, depending on the size, some inflatables can be used for backpacking too. However, these inflatable tents can be a bit pricey, so it’s important to learn as much as possible about the features so you don’t regret your purchase later on. Take a look.
The biggest upside of self inflating tents is that you don’t need to deal with poles. The frame supports itself thanks to a system of beams which are filled with air and placed in protective casings. This way you get everything pre-attached and you only have to inflate it. Your new tent should have quality valves which will hold the air inside. Some have dual caps so you can both inflate and deflate the tent quickly.
This type of tent is generally very stable, even though it comes in different shapes. Perhaps the best choice is the geodesic shape if you plan to expose it to more extreme conditions, but they all should work excellent if you anchor it down properly using tent stakes and guylines, as you would do with any other tent.
Design has been improving since these tents first appeared, so they are now much more reliable than they were in the beginning. Damage is not very common, and doesn’t occur more often than with any other tent type. The best air tents come with a repair kit included so you can solve the problem on the go. It’s also a big plus if the manufacturer sells replacement parts if something is to happen to your tent.
Inflation and Deflation
One of the most important things to consider when buying your new tent is how much time you need to inflate and deflate it. Fast setup is one of the main selling points of this type of tent, so be sure you can do it much quicker than pitch a regular tent. In addition, deflation process often takes a bit more time, since you need to remove (almost all) air inside in order to pack it and put it back into the bag.
Air beams require a certain amount of pressure to be able to support the tent. While this varies from one product to another, it’s usually around 6 or 7psi. This is something we aren’t able to achieve with our lungs, so you need a pump to do it. A manual pump will do the job just fine, and some tents come with a pump which is a plus. You can also use an electric pump (given that you have the proper adapter), but this isn’t required as the manual ones are much more budget friendly.
Like with other tent types there is a nice choice when it comes to size, as you had the opportunity to see in our inflatable tent reviews. Manufacturers usually specify the number of occupants the tent can fit, and also the dimensions of it, both packed and fully set up. The number of users usually means a snug fit inside.
If you want a more comfortable fit for example, consider getting a 4-person tent for two or three users. This way you will have room for equipment inside the tent, and also some extra space to move around. There are also products like the Odyssey Air 800 which can accommodate larger groups.
It’s not just the floor space that matters, but the height of the tent too – giving you adequate head space. Some are very tall and allow you to fully stand up inside. The tent should at least be tall enough so you don’t hit your head on the ceiling when sitting up straight.
Even though inflatable tents are often lighter than traditional ones (if they are the same size), these tents are by no means light as a feather. Consider the total tent weight when deflated, especially if you need to carry it to the campsite.
Smart layout can make things better, especially if we’re talking about a large tent for six or eight people. Some compact tents will have a single living space and won’t include a vestibule to leave your shoes and backpacks outside the tent. On the other hand, some will have several living and sleeping spaces as well as a vestibule (or more, if your tent has more than one door).
These separate rooms are something which is a huge upside if you’re sharing the tent with your kids or other adults. You can get some privacy and peace, without other people waking you up. Don’t forget to give this a thought before buying. Even if it means getting a slightly bigger tent, you won’t regret it.
Doors and Windows
Proper positioning and number of doors and windows increases the functionality of your tent. Some tents (especially the larger ones) have more than one door which makes entry and exit much easier while other tent occupants are sleeping in the tent. Door shape also varies from one product to the other, and while a T-shaped door gives you the easiest access, other designs can offer better protection.
Windows are something almost every tent has, but it’s somewhat different when it comes to inflatable tents. Many products have PVC windows which are excellent in keeping the water and bugs out, but won’t allow air circulation. For this reason always check the breathability of your tent, and whether it has some air vents included in the design. Otherwise you may end up with condensation forming on tent walls, which is not very pleasant.
It’s certainly a plus if the windows have a mesh screen on, which allows air to go through but keeps the insects outside. Some windows have fabric flaps which you put on for weather protection and to have less light inside, and then you can roll them to let more sunshine and a breath of fresh air into the tent.
Most manufacturers use polyester as their material of choice for making the largest part of these tents. The body, floor as well as the protective casing for air beams are usually made from this material. It’s a synthetic material which performs great in terms of strength, durability and weather protection. Sometimes a layer of PU (polyurethane) is added to block the water from going through, so you remain completely dry inside your tent even during heavy rainfall.
One more material which often goes into the combination is nylon, especially ripstop nylon. It’s sometimes used for the floor because it has added strength and it’s more difficult to tear. The air beams are usually made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) or some similar material. It’s important that it doesn’t puncture or tear quickly, while also being completely air-tight so your tent doesn’t deflate.
Materials used are in direct connection with the overall quality of your tent, which makes sense. While the best inflatable tent isn’t necessarily the most expensive one, always think about what you’re getting even if you pay a bit more because it will pay off in the long run.
It’s always nice when your tent has some added features which make your stay better. Mesh pockets are a big plus, because they allow you to keep some small things close at hand – a mobile phone, flashlight, or your multi-tool. In addition to pockets, some tents have gear lofts, which are overhead compartments where you can place some of your equipment and keep the floors more organized. The walls on some tents have special zippered ports used to bring through an electric cable (if you have it available).
As for included extras, it’s much easier for you if the package comes with tent stakes and guylines. This way everything is in the same bag, and you don’t have to worry about bringing additional equipment from home (and possibly forgetting it). Like we mentioned earlier, some products come with a pump included, while for others you need to buy it separately. It’s a plus if the pump also has a reverse function, which helps you deflate the tent.
Q: What Is An Inflatable Tent?
A: It’s a specially designed tent which has a frame made from air beams which give it support, instead of traditional tent poles made from aluminum or fiberglass. You use a pump to pitch the tent, which is very easy to do. You completely avoid assembly, which is a huge upside for some people. In addition, the air beams give the tent excellent stability too.
Q: Why Use An Inflatable Tent?
A: There are many upsides to it. Most often you can do the pitching on your own, even if it’s a large tent for 6 or 8 people. You won’t need anybody’s help to hold the bits and pieces. The setup is very fast – most inflatable tents are up in under 10 minutes, you just need to spread it out and inflate. In terms of practicality, it’s almost at the top of the list, along with pop-up tents. As a bonus, you don’t need to study the instruction manual thoroughly in order to successfully put it up.
Depending on the material of course, inflatable tents can perform remarkably well in harsh weather conditions. And if something happens, you can often fix it on your own right there on the spot, which you wouldn’t be able to be if a pole breaks on your conventional tent. These tents often come in oversized bags, so they are pretty easy to pack up. However, it needs to be noted that because of all these features and the unconventional design, inflatable tents tend to cost more than other types.
Q: How Stable Are Inflatable Tents?
A: As we discussed earlier, despite having parts which are filled with air these tents have a certain amount of weight which keeps them down. When you add stakes and guylines to that combo, you get a product which is in no way inferior to a pole tent, so you really have nothing to worry about. In addition, inflatable air beams are very flexible and can’t be damaged by wind, while metal or fiberglass poles can get permanently bent if the wind becomes too strong.
Q: Are Inflatable Tents Reliable?
A: Yes, they most certainly are. There are some high quality products in this category, which are definitely made to last. They can withstand a good share of wear and tear, and aren’t more prone to damage than any other alternative out there. However, make sure you get to know the particular product so you know what to expect. Like we mentioned, replacement parts are available for inflatables like for any other tent.
Q: How Do I Set Up An Inflatable Tent?
A: It’s very similar to setting up a regular tent, without the complicated assembly of course. You should first clear the area where you plan to put the tent. Remove sharp objects like rocks on branches which might puncture the tent floor, or create discomfort when you are inside. Afterwards spread out the tent footprint, if you have one. This is very useful because it serves as additional protection to the floor, and also keeps the tent dry and clean from underneath. If you don’t have a footprint, you can use a tarp instead.
After this, open the base of the tent and position it properly. Secure it using the stakes, so it doesn’t move around when you inflate it later on. Connect the pump to the valve and start inflating. Some tents can be inflated using only one valve, while others have beams with separate valves.
In this case, it’s easiest to start somewhere in the middle and work your way to the sides. Independent air beams are probably a better solution because if one gets punctured the tent will still remain standing. Make sure to insert the remaining stakes as well as connect and anchor the guylines, so the tent becomes fully stable.
Q: What Are The Most Common Issues With Air Tents?
A: As you would assume, the most common issue you can encounter is having a puncture in one of the air beams. Luckily, this problem is not that common. If something like this does happen, you can locate the puncture and fix it yourself.
Remove the air beam from the protective casing, and if you cannot locate the hole by sound or with your fingers, you can put it in a bucket of water, where the small air bubbles will be visible. Then you should use the repair kit as suggested, place a patch on it, put it back into its place and reinflate it.
The air inside your tent can change volume in relation to outside temperature. This can create problems, because in cold temperatures the tent may be flimsy, while the pressure inside the beams can become too large when exposed to the sun. A certain variation in pressure does occur during different times of day, so it’s best to inflate to a point specified in the instructions.
Globo Surf Overview
Acquiring an inflatable tent is a very good choice for anyone who wants to save time and try something a bit different. This tent design has made great progress over the years. In addition to reliable manufacturers like Vango many others are now making excellent tents in this category. If you decide to buy one, you’ll be making a smart investment which will last for years and make you smile each time you go on a camping trip. You now have the knowledge to pick out the best air tent from our list above, and we’re certain you’ll be happy with it.
More Camping Reviews:
- Ultralight Tent
- Personal Locator Beacon
- Camping Lantern
- First Aid Kit
- Sleeping Bag Liner
- Bear Spray
- Canvas Tent
- Survival Gear
- Glamping Tents
- Tent Air Conditioner
Have you tried an inflatable tent that made it onto our list? Which model did you get? How spacious is your tent? Did it perform well in different circumstances? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.
Globo Surf Inflatable Tents Reviews