Inflatable tents are a funky newcomer to the camping market. Erected without poles these tents are incredibly light and are fast becoming one of the most popular options for backpackers and weekend campers alike. Now, don’t be put off by the word ‘inflatable’. The best inflatable tent will be as long-lasting, sturdy and comfortable as your traditional polyester and carbon fibre pole option.
Let’s dive straight in and look at some of the best inflatable tent options on the market!
In a hurry......best inflatable tent at a glance
In detail....best inflatable tent
This inflatable tent is a premium option that will suit all your camping needs. With a 5,000mm waterproof rating this tent will keep you dry even in heavy rain. The inflatable geodesic structure ensures outstanding stability and easy setup of The Cave so you can get the maximum out of your trip. The ‘inflate’ system is incredibly easy to use and there is a multi-chamber safety system which ensures that this tent can still be used even if one of the tubes is damaged.
- Multiple sewn-in bags inside the tent offer space for smaller and bigger items.
- A vestibule at the entrance provides room for cooking equipment or for your shoes.
- The excludability of individual chambers offers emergency stability in case of a defect and ensures easy repair.
- Five closable ventilation points and the entrance offer maximum flexibility.
- Weight – 4.8 KG
- Airframe: Recyclable material
Outer layer: Extra stiff and resistant polyester
Inner layer: Flexible thermoplastic polyurethane
Fly Sheet: 100% Polyester 66D 210T Ripstop, PU laminated 5000 mm water column
Inner tent: 100% Nylon 40D 240T Ripstop, breathable
Ground Sheet: 100% Nylon Tafetta 70D 210T, PU laminated 5,000 mm water columnGround area: 5 m2 (54 square feet)
Overall height: 127 cm (50 inch)
Height of inner tent: 102 cm (40 inch)
Pack size: 40 x 32 x 23 cm (16 x 13 x 9 inch)
Weight: 4.8 kg (10.60 lbs)
If you are looking for a budget inflatable tent this could be the option for you. The tent itself is not suitable for harsh conditions but if your going spring/summer camping and are looking for an inflatable tent which is easy to use, lightweight and durable then this tent will suit you. This tent is described as a ‘4-person’ tent but it certainly is on the small size so I would recommend it for 2 people with gear (maybe 3 at a push). Given most inflatable tents come with a large price-tag this is a fantastic option for those looking for a budget inflatable tent.
- External inflation points.
- Large side door with secondary mesh panel.
- No-see-up secondary mesh panels in 4 sides.
- Weather protected ventilation.
- Pockets in inner tents – for storing your essentials.
- Heavy duty zips.
With Hand Air Pump, Easy to Set up Quickly.
- Wind Resistant, With Windproof Ropes, Reinforced pegging and guying points.
- With Bag, Easy to storage and Carrying.
- Materials: 210T Oxford Cloth with PU2000 Glue Strip Materials.
- TPU inner material.
- Size: 210 cm X 240 cm X 160 cm / 82.7 inch X 94.5 inch X 62.9 inch
Packing Size: 50 cm X 20 cm / 19.68 inch X 7.87 inch.
- Net Weight: 3 kg / 6.61 lb.
This inflatable tent is ideal if you are looking for something to take day or weekend camping. It is well-priced and easy to use. This tent is not the most sturdy and it will not withstand medium to heavy rain so you will need to pick and choose when you use it but if your intentions are for summer use in good weather this tent has a lot to offer. What makes this inflatable tent unique is that it has a built-in airbed which is super-comfy.
- The air tent integrated airbed.
- lightweight tent with air mattress for camping comes complete.
- Comes with: storage/travel bag, manual hand pump.
- 2 self-adhesive repair patches.
- Easy to set up.
- Material Tent: POLY
- Airbed: PVC Weight
- Capacity: 450 lbs.
- Total Size of Tent: 82. 5” x 52” x 51” inches
- Total Size of Airbed: 82. 5” x 52” x 10” inches
- Sold as: 1 Weight: 17. 18 lbs.
This inflatable tent is one of the best on the market and is ideal if you are looking for extra room. It is ideal for year-round use with a breathtaking hydrostatic head rating of 5,000mm. The only issue with this tent is the pricetag. It is high and it will put a few people off – but – if you can get over this then you are looking at a fantastic inflatable tent.
- Two entrances, one on each side of the tent, ensure easy access to a protected area that offers space for cooking and equipment.
- Two removable 2-3-person cabins offer great flexibility to create an individual space.
- Four closable ventilation points provide a perfect air flow from top to bottom.
- The unique structure of NIAS combines the advantages of a tunnel tent with the stability of a geodesic design.
- Four separable chambers offer emergency stability in case of a defect and ensure an easy repair.
- Airframe: Recyclable material
- Outer layer: Extra stiff and resistant polyester
- Inner layer: Flexible thermo- plastic polyurethane
- Fly Sheet: 100% Polyester 66D 210T Ripstop, PU laminated 5,000 mm water column
- Inner tent: 100% Nylon 40D 240T Ripstop, breathable
- Ground Sheet: 100% Nylon Tafetta 70D 210T, PU laminated 5,000 mm water column
- Ground area: 2 × 3.5 m2 (Inner tent) + 2.9 m2 (Vestibule) = 9.9 m² (107 ft²)
- Overall height: 153 cm (60 inch)
- Height of inner tent: 118cm (45 inch)
- Pack size: 60 × 30 × 25 cm (24 x 12 x 10 inch)
- Weight: 6.8 kg (13.23 lbs) (individual chamber: 0.94kg / flysheet 2.63)
Inflatable tent: buyer's guide
What is an inflatable tent?
An inflatable tent is a tent without poles. Instead, it has airtight tubes called air beams that can be filled with pressured gas to make the tent pop into shape. This means that they’re usually lighter and you don’t have to carry poles around, and there’s no risk of losing the poles or accidentally snapping them. Some people also find that this makes the tent easier to assemble and disassemble because you don’t have to organise and arrange the poles.
How do inflatable tents work?
Inflatable tents are usually designed in a similar way to regular tents, but instead of having tubes for poles to be inserted into you inflate the tubes using a pump. This means there are lines of pressurised air that bend into shape – kind of like an inflatable ring you might use when swimming. Other than this, inflatable tents are as varied as any other kind: they will need pegs and guy ropes, and you can find options for one person tents or bigger tents, depending on your specific requirements.
Are inflatable tents strong and stable?
Yes. You can pretty much apply the same rules as you do in for any other tent: read the reviews, look at the description and know that if it’s really cheap and cheerful it probably won’t last forever. Inflatable tents can be made of a variety of different materials, usually types of polyester. This means they’re waterproof, should work well in windy weather and will be resistant to light scratches. You may find some damage after heavy use, so make sure you check the warranty, and avoid areas with lots of thorns and sharp rocks.
What features to consider when choosing your inflatable tent?
1. Firstly, let’s look at the waterproof rating. The waterproof degree of tents is determined by the hydrostatic head measurement, which is determined by pouring water over the erected tent at different heights. It’s usually measured in millimeters, and you’ll want a high hydrostatic head measurement, especially if you like to camp in areas with a lot of rainfall.
2. The material. We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth going into more detail. Tents should be made from polyester, poly-cotton blends or canvas, which is also made from cotton. There are advantages and disadvantages to each: polyester is cheap and light, but it can flap around a lot in the rain. Poly-cotton blend can be expensive, but it’s resistant to mildew and doesn’t rip easily. Canvas is the most breathable option, but you do need to make sure it’s dry before you pack it away – unless you’re willing to unpack it and hang it to air out later, which can be annoying.
3. Size. It’s important to make sure you’ve got the right size tent: if it’s too big, you’ll end up with something that’s much heavier than necessary, but a small tent can feel cramped and uncomfortable quite easily. It also makes it feel more humid and sweaty. Inflatable tents are available in all the same sizes as other tents and are usually labelled ‘one person’, ‘two-person’ or ‘family’. If you’re planning on taking your inflatable tent hiking and you have supplies with you to last a few days, getting a slightly larger tent is usually a good idea: a decent backpack can end up taking as much room as another body in the tent, so it’s advisable to get a tent that’s one ‘person’ bigger than you’ve actually got. However, these tents will be larger (when they’re packed down) and bulkier to carry between campsites, so the choice is really up to you.
4. How easy is it to use? That really depends on the design, but they’re actually pretty straightforward when you get used to them. We’d recommend inflating them at home first to practice. If you’ve got any questions you can usually ask at the store where you bought the tent, and they should be able to show you. If not, there are often instructional videos on YouTube or the manufacturer’s website. It’s also important to know that there are two types of inflatable tent: ones you inflate with a handheld pump, and ones you inflate with an electric pump. You might be able to find an option that can accept both handheld or electric, but it’s worth thinking about if you’d prefer to take an electric pump that might be heavier or a handheld that will be more effort. Also, if you use an inflatable mattress see what kind of pump that uses, so you don’t have to take two.
5. Do you need a porch area? No, but it is nice! If you’re camping for a few days and have some time to kill during wet weather, sitting in the porch and watching the rain is one of the nicest, calmest things ever. Bring a book, if you like. On the other end of the spectrum, a porch can provide shade on a hot day without requiring you to actually get into the tent, which can often become sweltering and uncomfortable. Porches are also good for storing boots or other dirty things that you don’t actually want in the tent, but also don’t want to get wet or stolen.
6. Price. This can really vary between different options, and things like size and material will affect the cost. You should be able to find inflatable tents for less than £100 for one person and more expensive tents for full families. You should think about how often your tent will be used, and what sort of weather conditions it will be exposed to. Take some time to look for different options, and remember to check in stores and online to find the best deals.
7. Safety features. There is one, really important feature to look out for: your tent should be fire-resistant. Between cigarettes, barbeques and campfires, it’s not unusual to have sparks near a tent. However, it can be really dangerous and flammable tents can trap you in a truly nightmarish way. Remember to never, EVER smoke in a tent, and we would strongly advise you to find tents with fire resistant material. Also, make sure that all fires are fully extinguished before you go to bed. Additionally, you can find tents with UV protection to stop anyone in the tent from getting sunburned. Not all tents have this, and it can wear off, so if you’re not a fan of suncream it’s a good idea to check for it before you buy the tent. (Clara’s note- I couldn’t find anything about tent safety features online – they kept talking about tent heaters! Anyway, if you’d like me to add anything let me know)
How to stay safe when using camping with your inflatable tent?
- If there are bears, store your food in a tree. Yes, this is unlikely to happen on your weeklong trip to the Isle of Wight, but if you’re camping in North America or certain parts of Europe and Asia (ok, mainly Russia) you should know that bears can be a threat. Depending on where you are, you might get something especially dangerous like a grizzly bear, or something that’s only really interested in your food, like a black bear. Either way, storing your food away from your tent and up a tree is a good precaution to take. We’d recommend doing this as soon as you’ve had your evening meal so you don’t have to fumble around in the dark. (Clara’s note- based on a true story. Didn’t see a bear, but did see a moose!)
- Be extremely careful with fire. Tents can be flammable, and if you’re not careful you could end up starting a forest fire. There’s a risk to yourself, your property and the surrounding area, not to mention the time and resources of the local emergency services. Having a few beers around a campfire is a lot of fun, but it’s a good idea to have one sober person to make sure that the fire is put out completely and safely. Also, try to use water instead of sand to extinguish the flames, as sand can trap heat and burn people and animals for several hours. We’d suggest having a bucket of water nearby before you even get a match out.
- Bring a spare pump! Inflatable tents are great, innovative and can be really useful for campers. But there’s going to be a problem if your pump stops working, so we’d suggest having one of the following things: 1- a decent pair of lungs, and a tent that can be blown up with your mouth if necessary. 2- a spare pump. This might take up more room than you’ve allocated, so it’s best if you’ve got a car nearby to keep things in. 3- something to fix a broken pump with. It really depends how the pump breaks, but a bit of duct tape over a leaky pipe could help a lot.
- Don’t keep valuables in your tent. This is a big problem for anyone who camps at festivals. You can (and should) bring a little padlock and lock the zips on the opening to your tent together, but remember that determined thieves could easily cut through the tent lining to get to your stuff. We recommend either storing your valuables in your car if you have one; asking if the campsite has lockers or a safe area in the office for smaller items or simply leaving things at home. Taking a phone and debit card with you is a good idea, but you probably don’t need all of your grandmother’s jewellery.
- Be careful about what you drink. If there’s freshwater nearby and you’re thirsty, it can look pretty appetising, but there are all sorts of nasty things that could make you very unwell. (Clara’s note- could link to the water filter article). There are lots of options for safe water, from purification tablets to simply boiling it and allowing it to cool, but it’s important to prioritise your health and make sure that you don’t accidentally get poisoned.
- Bring a first aid kit. You’re absolutely going to get scratched at some point, and there’s a good chance you’ll get bitten by mosquitos, but more serious cuts do happen, and there’s also plenty of opportunities to break or sprain limbs. Having a first aid kit handy can be extremely useful, even if it’s only for temporary use whilst you’re travelling to a hospital.
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