Inflatable Tent & Air Tent Buying Guide
Camping really is a wonderful thing. Getting back to nature, kicking back with a cold one, breathing in that clean country air – everything about it is a joy. Except maybe putting up the tent. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just skip that part and get straight to exploring nature or relaxing with a drink?
Read more: 12 UK Campsites You Must Visit
Pitching a tent can be hard work, especially if the weather is a little on the inclement side, but that’s where inflatable tents can help.
Note: This post has been updated to include 2017 product ranges, so you know you’re getting the very latest inflatable tents.
What are inflatable tents?
Inflatable tents (or air tents as they’re otherwise known) are just like any other tents, except for one significant difference. Instead of having traditional poles made from metal, plastic or fibreglass, the tent uses inflatable beams, pumped up to provide the structure.
Vango were the first company to really bring inflatable tents to the mainstream camping market with their AirBeam series, which is still probably the most popular around. Other companies have joined the scene now, however, with tents from Zempire, Outwell, Kampa, and others, all of a very high quality.
They’re inflated just using a pump, meaning you don’t have to worry about poles, that you can’t quite get to bend properly or get lost inside their little sleeve when you’re putting the tent up.
Generally speaking, they’re also a lot faster to erect than traditional tents, and some can go up in literally a few minutes. Some take longer than others, but, on the whole, the process is smoother and more streamlined.
How do inflatable tents work? Check out this video below to see just how easy it is…
Why use an inflatable tent?
Well the most obvious reason is the time it takes to put up and take down. When you get to your pitch, you don’t have to spend nearly as much time erecting it, meaning you’ll have more time for exploring/drinking wine. Just imagine the looks on the faces of your fellow campers as you turn up to the campsite after them and finish putting your tent up before them. Priceless.
And we’re not just talking about the small tents. Even the largest air tents can be erected in literally minutes. You can have a large, high quality, 8 berth family family tent in just 15 minutes. Think of how much time you’ll save.
Being lighter, air tents are easier to lug around with you, which is particularly handy if you have to walk a distance to your pitch.
You also don’t need to worry about broken or bent poles and trying to mend them using duct tape or whatever else you have lying around.
How stable are inflatable tents?
It’s not going to float off in the wind if that’s what you’re worried about. Due to the lack of poles, inflatable tents are lighter than regular tents, but that doesn’t mean they’re unstable. They still require pegging down and securing with guy ropes, just like any tent, and are actually incredibly strong during rough weather, often more so than poled tents.
Are inflatable tents reliable?
We’re not talking about some cheap novelty tent here. Air tents are created to an incredibly high standard and are no less reliable than their poled brethren. Regular tents can withstand a fair bit of battering but will get damaged if not cared for, and the same goes for inflatable tents.
Vango even sent a tent into space and it survived the journey! Check it out…
As for punctures, they are incredibly rare. As with all tents, just be mindful of any particular sharp objects and ensure you pitch the tent on a level surface, clearing away rocks and any other nasties.
Simply, look after it and you won’t have any issues. Most tents comes with a puncture repair kit in the unlikely case you do happen to get a puncture, whilst you can purchase replacement inflatable poles for some models (the Vango AirBeam series, for instance). These replacements are very easy to fit, and can be done with the minimum of fuss.
Some air tents have one continuous airflow through the whole structure, whilst others use separate inflatable poles. However, even if tents with a continuous airflow get a puncture, it won’t collapse on top of you in the middle of the night, as you can close off each section inside the tent.
Which is the best inflatable tent?
Well, that’s somewhat subjective – it really depends exactly what you’re looking for. Do you want something small and cosy or an inflatable tent with rooms for the whole family?
Here are just a few of our favourites…
Vango AirBeam Keswick 600DLX Air Tent
Vango have been one of the leading tent manufacturers for years and now their excellence continues with their fantastic AirBeam tents.
Exclusive to Winfields Outdoors, The Keswick 600DLX air tent is quite simply one of the best value inflatable tents on the market, and few others can compare with the features and specifications it boasts. It’s a 6-person tent, and thanks to the covered extension at the front, provides the perfect balance between outdoor and indoor living space. Ideal for family camping.
Read more about the Vango AirBeam Keswick 600DLX air tent.
Vango AirBeam Lomond 500 Air Tent
Exclusive to Winfields (yes, that’s right EXCLUSIVE), the Vango AirBeam Lomond 500 air tent is a 5-person tent, and also has a surprisingly roomy living area as well. It’s ideal for families or groups of friends away for the weekend camping or something a little longer.
This is without a doubt one of the best value tents on the market right now, especially for an inflatable tent, so you really can’t go wrong with this one.
Read more about the Vango AirBeam Lomond 500 air tent
Kampa Brean 3 Air Tent
The 3-person Kampa Brean 3 air tent is one of best value for money inflatable tents around for its size.
Inflatable in a matter of minutes, this is an ideal tent for couples or young families on short or long stays, and comes with a roomy porch providing plenty of storage or relaxation space.
Read more about the Kampa Brean 3 Air Tent.
Outwell Wolf Lake 9E Air Tent
The Outwell Wolf Lake 9E air tent is a bit of a monster, but is ideal for whole families and large groups of friends, sleeping up to 9 people in 5 bedrooms. There is plenty of room inside to sleep, prep food and generally relax, making it a great choice if you’re spending plenty of time onsite.
This tent does feature two steel poles, but they’re just to prop open the door to use as a canopy – the rest of the poles are inflatable.
Read more about the Outwell Wolf Lake 9E inflatable tent.
These are just three of our extensive selection. See our full range of inflatable tents and find the one that’s perfect for you.