Inflatable Tents: Pros and Cons 

Photo of author
Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Inflatable Tents: Pros and Cons 

What is an Inflatable Tent?

Inflatable tents were first released back in 2011 by Vango. They are different from pole tents in that they don’t use poles. Instead, the poles are replaced by inflatable tubes. When the tubes are filled with air through air pumps, they provide support and structure for your tent.

Inflatable tents are generally larger in size than pole tents and are geared towards larger groups or families. There has been a rise in its popularity as more campers switch to inflatable tents for its easy set up and durability.

Inflatable Tent Pros 

Easy to set up and take down

Due to the nature of inflatable tents, you don’t have to spend much time unloading and connecting tent poles. You just have to turn on your air pump and plug it in the air valves of the tent and to take the tent down you just open the valves and watch the tubes deflate. It is so easy and fast that even camping beginners can do it without problem. 

Easy to repair

As inflatable tents do not need poles there is no risk of broken poles to connect. However, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be damaged or punctured. They can easily be repaired. Just purchase and bring with you a puncture repair kit and you should be good to go. You may have to repair your tent once during the camping trip but rarely will it happen a second time.

Sturdy

Inflatable tents do not puncture as easily as tent poles can break. Due to the nature of these tents, the materials used are quite sturdy and even weather-resistant. If the air inside the valves get too hot and in danger of bursting, there are pressure release valves that let out a little bit of air. 

Can take on bad or windy weather

The air tubes or valves in inflatable tents are made of strong durable material that is designed to withstand pressure. This results in tent flexes with the wind. The material just snaps back when it bends even during windy weather. Pole tents can have their poles broken or bent during bad weather but inflatable tents can take it on and just return to their original shape.

Inflatable Tent Cons

More expensive

Inflatable tents have a higher price point than pole tents. This is due to the new technology that is utilized in the tent’s features. As air tubes are the ones that hold up the tent, the material used to make it has to withstand pressure to ensure that the tent does not bend or puncture easily.

Hard to clean

The beauty of pole tents is that you can clean them easily because all the parts detach from each other. You can just shake it out, clean it, or air dry it. With inflatable tents, it is harder because the parts are not so easy to separate.

Heavier than pole tents

Unless you are planning to take a car with you, inflatable tents can be too heavy to carry. Pole tent parts can be separated and divided among the campers to carry. But inflatable tents have parts that are not easy to separate, so they have to be carried as one whole tent.

What are inflatable tents best suited for?

Inflatable tents are a recent innovation on the camping scene and they have improved much when compared to the first models of air tents. More and more campers are turning to air tents because they are modern and comfortable. 

Family Camping or Solo camping 

Inflatable tents are great for family outings. Today, there are air tents that can fit groups of up to 8 people. If you’re with your family:

  • These tents even have rooms or partitions for privacy. 
  • Your kids can even help you set up the tent
  • No more worrying about repairing broken tent poles

Inflatable tents are also great for solo camping. It’s easy to set up so you won’t be spending half your tent pitching time fiddling with poles.

Beginner Campers

In order to set up an inflatable tent, you will only need an air pump. The pegs and the guy ropes come with the tent. The process is easy and quick. Although it may take some practice, even beginner campers can learn how to pitch the tent. 

  • Lay down your tent.
  • Peg it to the ground.
  • Use the air pump to inflate the air valves.
  • Attach or secure the guy ropes of the tent.

This easy way to set up tents benefits beginner campers who have to follow only a few steps in order to erect a shelter.

Deflating and folding your tent also takes some practice, but in the end, it is a fast process:

  • Detach the guy lines
  • Open up the air valves
  • Let the valves deflate
  • Take out the pegs from the ground
  • Fold your tent and pack it into its bag.

This means that you won’t have to spend time packing individual parts like regular pole tents. 

Inclement weather

Inflatable tents are more sturdy in the face of extreme weather, so campers don’t have to replace or repair broken poles while in the middle of a camping trip. You don’t have to worry about their tent poles snapping and your tent collapsing over you as you sleep during windy weather.

What are inflatable tents not well suited for?

Money-conscious campers

Although inflatable tents are durable and sturdy, they can cost a pretty penny. Buying this type of tent is an investment that the money-conscious camper has to think through. Good quality inflatable tents can last as much or even longer than good quality pole tents if properly cared for. 

Backpackers

If you are a backpacker, inflatable tents may not be for you. They are heavier and bulkier than regular pole tents and you cannot separate them to share the load with other campers. Plus, you also have to always carry an air pump to set up your tent. If you are planning to travel light, air tents can give you more to carry than pole tents.