How to Choose the Right Inflatable Tent
Inflatable tents can be as simple as a child’s play toy to a shelter from extreme weather. Choosing one can be a little confusing, especially if you don’t know exactly what you should be looking for. We’ve broken down some of the most important features of the best inflatable tents that you should pay attention to before buying one.
Inflatable tents can have continuous air beams or air beams that come in multiple sections. In general, inflatable tents don’t puncture easily. However, in the case of a puncture, having an inflatable tent with different sections means that they won’t all lose air at once.
There are some tents that have one continuous air beam but still give you the option to section it off in case of a puncture. Most tents also come with a puncture repair kit. If you consider a tent with a continuous air beam, these two features are good to have.
Inflatable tents come as small as a one-person tent up to a large, cabin group tent. Choosing the size of your inflatable tent is much like choosing the size of a regular tent. The occupancy of the tent will be given by the manufacturer but you may want to aim for an occupancy that is two more than the actual number in your group so you aren’t sleeping on top of each other.
Be sure to pay attention to the height of the tent. Do you want to be able to stand up straight? Are you okay with stooping or only sitting in the tent? You’ll also want to make sure that the width of the tent can accommodate the tallest person in your group so they can stretch out comfortably when laying down.
Inflatable tents tend to be very lightweight due to a lack of poles. Because of this, weight isn’t usually a big issue with these tents no matter what type of camping you’re doing. However, if you’re going to be backpacking you may want to aim for the lightest inflatable tent that meets your needs.
With lightweight tents, one concern that pops up often is whether or not your tent will fly away in strong wind. Inflatable tents are actually surprisingly resistant to high winds and since they are tethered down like other tents you don’t have to worry about strong wind any more than you would a regular tent.
Inflatable tents are made of the same types of fabric that traditional tents are made of. The most popular fabrics are nylon, polyester, and cotton canvas. Tent fabrics come with a thickness rating, called deniers (D), and a thread count (T). Generally, the higher these numbers, the more durable (and the heavier) the fabric is. You’ll also want to pay attention to the waterproof rating of the tent fabric (mm).
Each fabric type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. A couple of these are:
- Nylon tends to be very lightweight and doesn’t absorb water, making it great for rainy environments and backpack camping. This fabric is also cheap compared to others, so you’ll save money with this type of tent. However, nylon can easily be damaged by the sun if it doesn’t have a good coating and the type of coating can drive the price up. It’s also a good idea to look for ripstop nylon since this helps to prevent “runs” (snags) in the fabric. Keep in mind that nylon tents tend to sag in heavy rain.
- Polyester is a great, heavy-duty tent material. Like nylon, it doesn’t absorb water but it’s more durable than nylon. You also don’t have to worry about the fabric sagging in heavy rain or being affected by sunlight as much as nylon. The disadvantage is that it’s heavier than nylon, but not by much so it’s still good for backpack camping.
With inflatable tents, the most important fabric you’ll want to pay attention to is the air beam’s fabric. Your air beam should be made of a heavy-duty fabric such as an extra-thick polyester or a polyurethane of some type (PU). Some air beams are made with an extra layer of fabric on top, making it similar to a bicycle tire for extra protection.
You can’t use an inflatable tent without an air pump. Some tents come with an air pump and some don’t. The quality of the tent really has nothing to do with whether or not the tent comes with an air pump, but an included air pump is simply convenient because you don’t have to worry about compatibility. However, having air pump adapters allows you to use almost any air pump you have.
While automatic air pumps are convenient, in many cases it can be overkill for an inflatable tent. You also may not have any place to plug them up while you’re in the wild. A manual air pump works wonders and can be less hassle.
The Best Inflatable Tent: The Results
Heimplanet Fistral Inflatable Geodesic 2-Person 3-Season TentHEIMPLANET Original | The Cave 2-3 Person Dome Tent | Inflatable Pop Up Tent – Set Up in Seconds | Waterproof Outdoor Camping – 5000Mm Water Column
- ENTRANCE AND VENTILATION – Five closable ventilation points and the…
- STABILITY – Thanks to the geodesic structure of the frame, the FISTRAL tent…
- MULTI-CHAMBER SAFETY SYSTEM – Two separable chambers offer emergency…
- ONE PUMP SYSTEM – Just unroll, inflate and welcome home! Only a single pump…
- ROOF DESIGN – The tent’s centre becomes an additional supporting point….
If you’re in the market for a geodesic tent, this is a really great, sturdy tent. We like the fact that it is a two-layer tent with two-layer air beams. The inner layer of the tent is a 40D, 210T ripstop nylon fabric which is covered by a pure polyester 40D, 240T ripstop rain fly. The rainfly has a waterproof rating of 2,500mm.
The two layer air beam is made from thermopolyurethane (TPU) and the outer layer of the air beam is made from a high density polyester. The air beams are continuous, but they can be sectioned off once they’re inflated. It doesn’t come with an air pump, but it does come with adapters.
At only 5.5 pounds, this is a great backpacking tent. It’s also designed really well so you can use the vast majority of the 45 square feet of floor space. This means that it will house two people comfortably. Plus it has two doors so each person has their own entrance. Quality-wise, this is one of the best inflatable tents on the market.
- Superb quality and long-lasting.
- Frame can be pumped up in less than a minute.
- Dual-layer air beam covers protect against punctures.
- It’s very expensive.Bottom-Line: This is a high-quality, versatile tent that is a great long-term investment for serious campers.
Vango Odyssey Air 600 6-Person Tent
Best Inflatable TentVango 6 Person Odyssey Air 600 Tent, Epsom
- 6 Person air beam tent with inflatable poles, quick and easy to pitch
- The beams in a Vango air beam create a strong and rigid tent structure….
- Pre-angled air beams – achieves greater internal space than with a standard…
- Linked-in groundsheet, easy to clean and can be attached or detached from…
- Protex 70D 4,000Mm hh polyester flysheet – highly waterproof and durable…
The Vango Odyssey Air 600 is a great inflatable tunnel tent with lots of space. It has a floor space of more than 193 square feet and stands over 6.5 feet tall. It also has a lot of storage pockets and two vestibules.
When it comes to stability, the pre-bent, sloped air beams give it added strength so it’s really good for high-wind areas. The manufacturer boasts an exclusive Vango technology used to make the air beams although it’s not exactly clear what makes the technology special.
One of the most attractive features of the tent is that it has a special “dark rest” area inside the tent while the other area has large, clear PVC windows to let light stream in. It’s like getting a two-in-one deal in one tent. The dark rest area has a divider so it can be split into two rooms, essentially making the tent a three room tent.
- Has an attached ground sheet.
- The tent has four doors.
- The tent can be inflated in less than ten minutes.
- This tent is very heavy, weighing over 36 pounds.
- PVC windows can cause condensation.Bottom-Line: This is one of the best large group tents on the market. The versatility and quality make it well worth the price.
Easy Camp Tempest 500 5-Person Tent
The Easy Camp Tempest 500 is extremely similar to the Vango Odessey Air 600 with only a few minor differences. It’s a little smaller with only around 142 square feet of floor space (which is why it’s labelled as a five-person tent rather than a six-person tent). The air beams are split into three sections instead of one continuous beam. Another difference is the rain fly is fire retardant which is a great safety feature for campers who may be using tent stoves.
The Easy Camp Tempest comes with a two way pump so you don’t have to worry about fumbling with adapters or buying extra equipment. The tent is easily inflatable within a few minutes so you can get to enjoying your camping experience faster.
- The rain fly is fire-retardant.
- Air beams are split into three sections.
- Similar to the Vango Odyssey–basically the same tent for less money.
- The fabric is a bit on the thin side.
- At about 33 pounds, it’s really heavy.
Kelty Sonic 6-Person Airpitch Tent
Best Budget Inflatable Tent
This tent is a great group tent that won’t break your pocket. It’s much smaller than the Vango Odyssey because it doesn’t have the dark rest area, but it has plenty of room to house six people (or four people if you want some personal space). We like this large group tent because it’s so lightweight–only a little over 18 pounds. With this tent, your group can go backpack camping with a tent that’s not weighing anyone down.
The Kelty Sonic 6-person tent is a three-season tent. It’s a single-wall tent so you may have some issues with condensation, but overall it’s a great value. It comes with mesh pockets for storage and the rain fly has two vestibule areas. We would have loved it more if there was more than one door. One door for six people means that you’ll be stepping over some people to get in and out. However we do appreciate the fact that an air pump is included with the tent.
- It’s very light weight for a tunnel tent.
- It has taped seams.
- The fabric is only 68D with only an 1800mm waterproof rating.
- The tent only has one door and one mesh-covered window.Bottom-Line: Sometimes you just need a basic tent and you aren’t concerned with all the bells and whistles. This tent may not have a lot of features, but what it does have works extremely well.
Moose Outdoors Inflatable Tunnel Tent 10MOOSE OUTDOORS Inflatable Tent, Extra Large Room for 8-10 Person, Fast Set Up in 3 Minutes,Family Camping Tent with Air Flow Vents, Waterproot, Windproof and Sewn-in Groundsheet (2210L)
- Quick 3 Minute Set-Up: Unlike traditional tents, Moose Outdoor tents are…
- Superior Stability: Moose Outdoor Company tents are made with durable…
- Large Capacity: Our tent measures a spacious 19 x 9.2 x 6.6 ft. The family…
- Suitable for All Occasions: The tent is design for multi-purpose use. It is…
- Satisfaction Guaranteed: Moose Outdoor Company is committed to providing…
We wouldn’t recommend that you look for the absolute cheapest tent you can find, but if you’re on a budget, this tent can give you lots of great features without breaking the bank. First, this tent has one of the fastest set up times you’ll find in an inflatable tent. It’s made with three separate air beams which are very easy to inflate. It also comes with an air pump.
The manufacturer doesn’t give details on the fabric denier or threadcount, but the tent is pretty durable and features taped seams to prevent leaks. It has a sewn-in ground cover and pre-attached rain fly.
Note that this tent is advertised as a 10-person tent, but the only way you’ll get ten people in here is if everyone sleeps on their side and squeezes together like sardines. Measuring 19 x 9.2 x 6.6 feet, we would recommend six to eight people for the tent.
- The tent has three doors.
- It’s extremely light weight for a large tunnel tent.
- It’s so easy to set up that even kids could do it by themselves.
- You can’t use bicycle pumps on this tent.
- The bright orange color makes it difficult to blend in with your surroundings.Bottom-Line: If you are on a tight budget, this is a great tent for your family camping adventure. It’s cheap and you get what you pay for, so don’t expect it to last with heavy use.
Ryno Tuff 4-Person Camping TentRyno Tuff, Camping Tent, 4 Person Tent with Inflatable Poles, 8 by 8 Feet Wide and 5 Feet High, Durable, Waterproof Materials with Full Coverage Rain Fly and Mosquito Mesh, Inflatable Tent for Camping
- TOUGH, TOP-QUALITY, WATERPROOF MATERIALS – The breathable inner tent has…
- EASY TO SET UP, EASY TO PACK, AND EVEN EASIER TO ENJOY – Incredibly easy…
- LARGE TENT SUITABLE FOR FAMILIES – This family tent when fully set up is…
- UNIQUE INFLATABLE AIR TUBES – There are no rigid metal poles that make…
- PLANT A TREE AND HELP US SAVE THE PLANET! Yes, we are tough on the outside…
The list wouldn’t be complete without a great dome tent. The Ryno Tuff tent is made of a 170T polyester taffeta fabric which is pretty durable despite the fact that the manufacturer doesn’t list the fabric’s denier rating. Like the Easycamp tent, the fabric is fire retardant so you can comfortably and safely use a tent heater in this tent.
Other features that make this tent desirable include a lantern hook at the top of the tent, taped seams for extra waterproofing, and mesh pockets for holding small items. There are only two small mesh pockets, so it doesn’t have a lot of storage space but it at least has something.
The biggest reason we included this tent in the list is because of its portability. The tent packs down to a mere 16.5 x 14 x 8 inches and weighs less than 12 pounds. This is a perfect tent for backpack camping, especially since it’s so easy to set up. If compactness is a priority for you, the Ryno Tuff is a great choice.
- It’s constructed very well and is built to last.
- It has a large rain fly that is made of a strong 190T polyester fabric.
- Sometimes the air beams don’t inflate like they should.
- The rain fly only has a 1,000mm waterproof rating.Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a tent that won’t take up too much room in your gear, don’t overlook this option. It’s a great, lightweight tent that is great for family camping trips.