Inflatable tents, yep they’re a thing.
Picture this scene… You cram all your camping gear into your vehicle Friday night after work, and it takes a couple hours. You’re running behind schedule and that’s fine, it’s not gonna stop you heading out for your weekend camping trip. You hit the road and traffic is shit, not surprising, it is Friday and it feels like everyone in town had the same idea as you.
You keep on truckin, heading down the highway full of excitement and anticipation for a weekend full of adventure and laughter. A few hours later you pull into camp and see all the familiar vehicles of your closest friends and that gets your adrenaline pumping.
It’s dark and the tedious task of setting up your tent is next, blah. The time to fight those flimsy poles into those itty bitty holes has arrived. You’ve done it a million times before, and it’s still a pain in the ass. That’s where the inflatable tent comes in.
What is an Inflatable Tent?
A tent without poles… Obviously.
Well, to be more accurate, no plastic or metal poles. Those old janky metal poles are replaced by tubes that fill with air and act as tent poles. It’s basically a blow-up tent and compared with a traditional tent and they are unbelievably easy to set up.
They are growing in popularity in recent years, with a falloff each winter due to seasonality. This growth in popularity is due to a couple of factors…
They are easy to set up and are relatively new to the market. VanGo was the first to bring them to us with their AirBeam series. After their first introduction, a number of companies have brought quality tents into the mix.
The only thing you need is 10 kids with fresh lungs and a lot of time, or an air compressor. If you camp enough, you should already have one.
Benefits of inflatable tents
Do inflatable tents live up to the hype?
They have undergone a number of improvements over the years making them a great replacement for the standard tent with poles, here are some of the reasons why.
1. No tent poles
The worst part of camping is fumbling around with tent poles and struggling to get the tent up. Even if you’re an experienced camper, pitching a tent is still a tedious task. An inflatable tent uses air as poles and eliminates the need for tent poles.
2. Easy to pitch
Pitching an inflatable tent, or rather, blowing an inflatable tent up takes little to no practice. All you need to do is find the air hole, pump it up, and you’re ready to go in no time.
3. Only take 1 person to set up
One of the biggest pain points in pitching a large tent is the fact that it takes a couple people to get up. An inflatable tent, more or less, pitches itself. The air does most of the work and you get to stand back and let the magic happen.
4. Don’t need any practice
When you buy a new tent, the first thing that you should do is set it up in the backyard. This gives you a chance to work out all the kinks and ensures that when you get to the campsite it goes up without any problems. An inflatable tent eliminates the need for the standard backyard pitch, they go up easy the first time and the tenth time.
5. Can handle bad weather
High winds and rain are a constant concern among campers all around the globe. Inflatable tents bend to the wind but don’t break. Tent poles have a tendency to bend and break during high winds, while the air filled beams of inflatable tents spring back to their original shape.
Inflatable tent buying guide
Inflatable tents are a decent alternative to the classic tent and pole setup. When
Why use an inflatable tent?
First and foremost, so you can get your first cold beer as fast as possible. In other words, time, the one thing you can’t get back. Depending on the size of the inflatable, it will go up in a matter of minutes. Even the largest inflatable tents which can hold over ten people will blow up in under 20 minutes.
The lack of poles makes them easier to store, just roll em up neatly and your job is finished. Sure, you have an air pump to add to the mix, most likely, you pack one already. This is assuming you are car camping, I don’t know any ultralight backpacker who’s willing to add the weight of an air pump to their pack.
Do inflatable tents rupture easily?
Conventional wisdom says yes they rupture easily, as they are just air beams holding up your tent. You wouldn’t have been wrong in the early days of inflatables. in the beginning, there were issues with the temperature rising and the air expanding, forcing blowouts in the support tubes.
In recent years, however, the manufacturers heard this complaint and developed inflatable tents that compensate for the early troubles. Now the tubes are built to withstand twice the recommended psi that is required to support the structure.
With anything in life, they require care. Punctures, in general, do not happen regularly. You want to take precautions, such as avoiding sharp objects and rocks when blowing up your new toy.
So, no, they do not rupture easily.
Are inflatable tents repairable?
Most, if not all of the inflatable tents come with a blowout repair kit. Yes, a blowout can be a total pain in the ass but it’s not the end of the world nor a reason to not consider an inflatable tent. The upside outweighs the downside, which is the slim chance that you have a blowout.
If for some reason you don’t have a repair kit, you can purchase one online that will work fine. Most blowouts can be field mended, however, there is the rare case in which you have to send it back to the manufacturer to repair or replace the tubes.
Are they stable?
You know that movie UP, where he floated away while holding a handful of balloons? That won’t happen to your inflatable tent. They are as stable as any other tent, and they require tent stakes and guy lines to hold them down just the same.
This obviously depends on the weather conditions at hand. In extreme conditions the strongest tent on the planet is going to fall apart or blow away, nature always wins. For your average, to heavy conditions, your inflatable tent will hold up. Keep in mind that the tubes will flex and bounce back, when a tent pole may break under pressure.
What sizes do they come in?
They make inflatable tents of all sizes these days. Ranging from a 2 person tent all the way to 10 people. The newer and larger models some in a single tube, rather than multiple tubes, which means they blow up in just a matter a few minutes. Granted you have to replace the entire tube system if you have a catastrophic hole, those blowouts are few and far between.
The Best Inflatable Tents
When looking for an inflatable tent, there are a number of considerations to account for. After careful consideration, we put together a list of the top 5 inflatable tents that you can use for your next outdoor adventure.
Vango Capri 600 XL
- QUICK and EASY to INFLATE
- 70D 4,000mm Polyester Flysheet
- Pre-attached front extension - offering generous EXTRA LIVING SPACE
- Patented Vango TBS II (Tension Band System) IMPROVES STABILITY in adverse conditions
Brought to you by the makers of the first inflatable tents, the Vango Capri 600 XL is the ideal choice for large families. It’s a large tent with divisions of space that give you privacy and convenience. Pitching this tent only takes 5-10 minutes depending on the size and number of poles that need to be blown up.
There is added stability in the form of internal connection points which aid in bracing the air tubes in windy conditions. The connection points are click and play, similar to the straps on a backpack. The beams or air tubes come pre-angled giving this tent unique shape and size.
There’s also an awning that extends out past the two doors, giving you shade in the afternoon and a mudroom to keep the dirt out.
- 1 person setup
- Tough to repack
- No mesh door
- Difficult to pump
Nemo Equipment Morpho 2-Person Air Supported Tent
- NEMO AirSupported Technology is a system of low pressure inflatable tubes
- Morpho 2P has a Boot Cut in the front which offers a dry storage space for muddy boots
- 2010 tent has new OSMO fabric, new lighter weight mesh and new vents built into the main zipper flaps
- ExoFly retractable vestibule provides extra storage space
Nemo is a company who specializes in making all kinds of gear with air-supported technology. Their experience shows, the morpho 2 person tent uses their AirSupported technology with low-pressure inflatable tubes. This tent sets up quickly, in or under 5 minutes, and that only gets faster with practice.
This is a 2-person tent with a bootcut in the front which offers a little dry storage that is separate from the living quarters for your dirty hiking boots and other gear. Made for two, it is even more spacious as a solo tent, and it is designed so you can inflate it from the inside, protecting you in bad weather.
It is made with OSMO fabric and new lightweight mesh which has vents built into the zipper flaps for extra ventilation.
- Easy to pump
- Unique design
- Lots of straps
- Lacks ventilation
- Tough to repack
- TWO VESTIBULES - These offer enough space for your personal gear and cooking equipment. Interior pockets help to organise your equipment inside the tent.
- STABILITY - Thanks to the geodesic structure of the frame, the FISTRAL tent is extremely stable. The high-quality materials make it durable and waterproof (5000mm). If you think an Inflatable tent can’t be stable, know that our biggest tent can take wind speeds up to 110mph.
- MULTI-CHAMBER SAFETY SYSTEM - Two separable chambers offer emergency stability in case of a defect and ensure an easy repair/replacement of parts of the Inflatable Diamond Grid (IDG).
- ONE PUMP SYSTEM - Just unroll, inflate and welcome home! Only a single pump is necessary to set this tent up.
The Heimplanet Fistral inflatable geodesic tent is designed for 2 people. It sets up extremely quickly, once you get the hang of it you will have this baby pumped up in under a minute. The entire tent from the frame to the air beams need to be set up when you first receive the tent, after that, it’s a quick and seamless inflation each and every time.
Sure, this tent is designed for 2 people, but it is best suited for a solo traveler. There is enough space for you and all your gear comfortably. If you are on a long distance biking adventure or long distance trek (and willing to carry the extra weight) this tent is perfect for you. It has pockets on the inside for storage and a hook for a light up top.
The air beams have a multi-chamber design. Each of the beams is separated by a valve, so if you do get a puncture, the entire tent won’t come crashing down.
- Multi chamber air beams
- Built for extremes
- Awesome design
- No pump included
- Challenging assembly
- Tough to repack
Moose Outdoors Inflatable Family Tent
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The moose outdoors inflatable tent is a 4 person tent with a quick frame inflation system. It comes with 3 individual pre-bent air beams that need to be inflated, which means pumping in 3 places. Even with the three individual pumping points, you can still inflate the entire tent in 5 minutes.
Inside the tent, there are storage compartments for your cell phone, sunglasses, and wallet. One of the nicest things about this inflatable tent is the fact it is tall throughout, so unless your Shaq you should have no problem standing up.
It has 2 doors, one being a full mesh front door and another being a door on the side with a canopy extending out for coverage. It’s made of 100& polyester material and is waterproof with sealed seams to keep you protected from the elements.
- 2 doors
- High ceilings
- 1 person setup
- 3 pump points
- Not enough windows
- Challenge to repack
This one made the list because of how cool it looks, there’s no way we could leave it off. This is designed specifically for EXTREME conditions, it is designed to handle wind speeds of up to 180 km/h or 111.8 mph. It has 10 air chambers, in the case that one or two fail the tent will still stand.
It is specifically designed for base camps in snowy conditions and for large groups of people or gear. The inflatable frame offers insane stability, and the geodesic design means that guy lines aren’t needed unless it blows like crazy.
It sleeps up to 10 people and has snow flaps to ensure that you are protected from wind or sand at all times. It comes with 5 doors and the same number of closable TPU windows, offering great ventilation when needed, and added protection if necessary.
- Fits 10 people
- 5 doors
- Great ventilation
- High price
- Very large
- Challenge to setup
Inflatable tents are designed to take the work out of setting up your campsite. After a long drive to a sweet camping spot, the last thing you want to waste time on is fumbling around with flimsy tent poles. Sure, after regular use you will have it down to a science but that takes time.
Skip the hassle and try an inflatable, they pump up in a matter of minutes. Each has its own unique design that sets them apart from your traditional dome tents. You’ll be the talk of the town, or uh… Campsite. As they say, keep calm and camp on.