Inflatable Tents: Should I really consider one?

Inflatable TentMany serious campers dismiss inflatable tents as a bit of a joke. But is there really anything inherently inferior about a tent that uses inflatable tubes to provide the structure rather than poles? As more and more of the leading manufacturers refine and perfect the technologies involved and bring out new, better and more affordable models of inflatable tent, it seems that more campers are deciding to give them a go. There is a lot of information floating about and a sea of opinion on camping forums. But what is the truth about inflatable tents? Are they worth our consideration?

The Benefits of Inflatable Tents:

When considering the benefits of inflatable tents it is important to remember that there have not been as many years spent in perfecting them as there have been spent perfecting other tenting technologies. These benefits work on the assumption that the build quality and design is good (which I am sure not all models currently are). Still, taking that into account, it still does seem that there are many benefits to the latest inflatable tents:

- Speed of Pitching

- Solo Pitching of Large Tents Made Far Easier

- Superior in Windy Conditions (According to anecdote.)

- Easier On-Site Repair (No bent poles to contend with!)

- Galvanised Modern Designers and Engineers (Having new technologies to perfect attracts the best minds in the business.)

The Potential Issues with Inflatable Tents:

- Accidental Deflation

- Deliberate Deflation! (By kids or drunken louts, or even your friends as a practical joke.)

- Less in-the-field Trial Time (How long will the tents sold over the last few years last?)

- Expense (Though costs are already lowering and will continue to do so.)


Personally, I feel that an inflatable tent could be worth while trying, especially for a family who have a large tent to pitch. I have seen families literally take an hour to assemble and fix the poles on one of those. Of course, the rest of the tent still has to be pitched in the same way as one with poles. But being able to peg down before inflation on a windy day, which I understand that you can do with at least some models by major tent manufacturers, makes things a lot easier.

I am not currently in the market for a new tent, but when we do get a new one I would not rule out purchasing an inflatable one. In particular, I am drawn by the superior wind performance of top range inflatables which would come in especially handy on trips to the West Coast and Islands of Scotland and Wales, where we have suffered bent poles on more than one occasion.

Whether or not you are interested in an inflatable tent will very much depend on what sort of camping you do, where and when you go. I think the biggest market will be families looking to lessen the workload on family holidays, though others should not, in my opinion, rule out an inflatable tent just yet.