Inflatable tents used to be a bit of a novelty; something to marvel at in theory, but avoid like the plague due to complex inflation routines (usually requiring an electric pump), fragile air reservoirs and the constant fear that a puncture will come along and cause your entire trip to deflate in an instant.
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However, things have come a long way in the last few years. Today's best inflatable tents are incredibly durable and reliable – not to mention super-easy to put up. Just rock up, peg out your home for the weekend, pump up and enjoy. This is not only low-hassle and speedy, but avoids the many pole-related issues that can ruin a fantastic camping trip, from leaving them at home to having them unexpectedly break, bend or have gone rusty.
The main downside to inflatable tents is that really reliable, robust air poles aren't actually as light as you'd imagine, typically making inflatable tents on the heavier side (if that's an issue, head to our best tents guide for some alternatives). This makes inflatable poles brilliant for larger, family-camping style tents, where weight doesn't matter, and low maintenance and quick-pitching are a real boon. Read on for the latest and best inflatable tents!
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How to choose the best inflatable tent
When choosing the right inflatable tent for you, you have similar considerations to that of buying a pole tent: how many people it sleeps, whether you can stand up inside, and whether it has mosquito netting, for example.
Ventilation isn’t so much of a problem with a traditional tent, but inflatable tents have been found to be a little more restrictive. Make sure the tent has a suitable air vent to allow generous air flow through the tent, enough for the number of people it's capable of sleeping, especially if camping during the summer.
If you’re concerned about bad weather sweeping your tent off into the hills, you needn’t be. In actual fact, inflatable tents tend to hold up better in rough conditions, as you won’t have to worry about poles collapsing on you. The tent will still be fixed down with pegs and guy ropes, just like a traditional tent.
We’ve picked out some of the best inflatable tents for all types of camping adventures, so whether you’re off on a backpacking adventure or just heading to your favourite music festival this summer, make your life easier with one of our recommended products (just don’t forget to take the pump with you!).
The Vango Skye II comes in at the smaller end of inflatable tents, sleeping four in comfort, and weighing in at a respectable 9.6kg, this is a quick option for shorter weekend breaks and the like. Fast to pitch thanks to the Vango airbeam structure and included double-action pump, as well as the integrated groundsheet under the porch, this will provide spacious but weatherproof shelter in a trice. Although only small children will be able to stand up in it, this does mean that the Skye II will shrug off stronger winds and weather with ease (especially with the three-point tension band system) while still having headroom for seating after a long day on your feet. Finally, a blackout sleeping area and privacy curtains give you personal space and a good, long snooze uninterrupted by dawn.
The Coleman Weathermaster XL is hard to beat if your looking for an inflatable tent for family camping. The air poles are individual hoops that hold the tunnel of this tent open, and need pumping up to 7psi with the included pump. Because of those air poles, however, this can be pitched by just one person, and comes in a wheeled carry bag for easy-campsite-portability. As well as being fully weatherproofed, the bedrooms are all blackout treated, letting you get a good long snooze without being woken by the dawn. There's also plenty of headroom, a helpful side entrance, great ventilation, and a roomy porch area that's handy for BBQs and dumping muddy boots and bikes.
This goes right up to the size of a small flat, should you need it, too: the 8XL Air is a beast of a tent, sleeping eight in four separate bedroom pods, racking up a total of 32m2 in space and weighing in at 44.4kg, this is the kind of tent you can see from space. Even at that size, this tent remains strangely manageable thanks to the air poles, making it a great option for large families, or longer trips where a proper indoor seating area is essential.
The Outwell Airville 6SA is not a tent for the shy and retiring, or a quick wild-camping spree in the Highlands. Weighing in at a downright heavy 41.3kg, it unfurls into a vast ballroom of a tent, six individual air tubes, over five metres across and seven and a half metres long, and just over two metres high – large enough to fit a full-size snooker table inside with nearly enough room to play.
More practically there are two bedroom pods out back, a substantial living area, and a beefy porch, giving you and five friends as much space as a small AirB&B flat to relax in – undercover if the elements conspire against you. This is no cheap rental flat either, the bedrooms are blackout (of course), there's the potential to add a 'veranda', as well as a fitted carpet option. Then there's the electric hookup entry point, and a 'HookTrack' system to help with stringing up lighting – this is the kind of tent that has a sofa in one corner. This is essentially a tent for folk who really don't want to miss a single home comfort, while still enjoying the pleasures of the countryside. Which when you put it like that, doesn't sound like such a silly idea – sign us up!
Whether attending a festival or going on a hiking trip, the Vango Odyssey is designed with a strong and sturdy structure that can be pumped up in around 10 minutes. It can sleep five people (although it might be a little bit of a squeeze). It has a room divider for some mild privacy but the full mesh doors ensure you’ll still get fluid airflow throughout the tent. It is stand-up height so there will be no worries about getting in and out and it is said to hold up well in windy weather.
The Berghaus Air 4 XL boasts a generous amount of space so if you really like your privacy you’ll be pleased to know you can adjust the interior walls to create up to four bedrooms in this tent. On the other hand, we think that with this much room, you could definitely fit a few more than four bodies in here, and you have the versatility to be able to adjust the tent to your needs. It has plenty of windows with curtains so you can really make yourself feel at home in this one if camping for long periods of time.
The Vango Taiga 600XL is a tent that you can really get comfy in, so if you’re planning on a long camping trip, users recommend this tent for its all-round ease of use. It features three bedrooms, so you can easily create a space for the kids and a living area for the whole family, and the interior has darker material that is designed to block out bright light so you can expect to have a good night’s sleep and a lie in if you fancy it! The only thing users do mention is that this tent can get quite hot when at full capacity.