Picture: Heimplanet – Exclusive Inflatable Tent – THE CAVE, CAIRO CAMO
What is an Inflatable Tent?
Tent technology is continuously on the move. The most recent significant invention for camping and outdoor adventure has been the move to inflatable tents. At first, this sounds like a silly idea but has proven to be both functional and popular.
An Inflatable Tent (or air tent) is just like other tents, except for one significant difference. Instead of having traditional poles made from metal, plastic, or fiberglass, they use inflatable beams pumped up to provide the structure. Installing and set-up of an Inflatable tent is way faster (80-90 % faster) and has more advantages with regards to handling.
The term inflatable tent might sound a bit like a bouncy house, but in reality, it’s the general term for a tent with inflatable beams rather than fiberglass poles. That is the reason these tents are also called air tents or inflatable beam tents. Inflatable tents are ideal for camping solo or with your family.
The whole pop up idea that you get with smaller tents which have traditional plastic or fiberglass poles that can be pitched in seconds is excellent, but that doesn’t work that well with a tent that needs to house six or more people. That can get a little awkward. These inflatable tents simply need to be unfolded, pumped up, and pegged down. It may take 10-15 minutes the first time.
Subsequently, pitching was a little quicker once I had worked out how the tent was oriented. There are some crass supports inside that can be attached for added stability, although I didn’t find these necessary.
What is an Air Beam Tent?
An Air Beam tent is the general term for a tent with inflatable beams rather than fiberglass poles. Air beam tents are also known as air tents or inflatable tents. An air beam is surprisingly uncomplicated and straightforward.
Air Beam tents have the following parts:
- Outer Tent/ Rain-fly
- Inner Tent/ Tent Body
- The inner tube or inflatable tube
- One-way or non-return valve(s)
- Guy Lines
- Tent pegs
Are Inflatable Tents any Good?
Honestly, the first time I heard about inflatable tents, I thought about an inflatable castle and beach slippers. So I didn’t expect much from them. But that changed after I tried one out. In my opinion, an inflatable tent is ideal. That is the reason these tents are becoming more and more popular over the years.
Yes. Inflatable tents are better than other poles tent.
I doubted these air tents would withstand much in the way of strong winds. But that was a crazy assumption based only on my experience of pole tents.
Surprisingly, the inflatable tent took a little effort to set up. While the first time, it took a bit more time (changed and added) to set up. Instead of using tent poles for support, the tent had air beams, which supported it quite well. But, one should also use guy lines to keep it in position. No more hassle with pitching and dealing with poles, with inflatable tents it’s very easy, no struggle at all, and safe to set-up your inflatable tent.
All you need to do is peg out the base, then pump up the huge tubes running across the tent by using the supplied pump. These won’t take more than max 15 minutes to pump up. Air tents are created to an incredibly high standard and are as reliable as traditional pole tents. They also can withstand a fair bit of battering.
Are Air Tents – Inflatable Tents Better Than Pole Tents?
In the recent couple of years, inflatable air tents have been getting lot of attention in the outdoor gear market. Though the European trekking scene has enjoyed them for some time and getting extremely popular, the American market is now starting to heat up too!
Often inflatable air tents are much more comfortable to set up and use than a traditional pole tent, particularly to those who are new to camping. Air tents come with air beams, which is the main conventional pole tent. Rather than having a concrete tent pole, these tents inflate flexible tubes with pressurized air. This keeps them standing.
While this might seem like it would cause issues with structural stability and weather resistance, air beams are as reliable and durable as plastic, metal of fiberglass tent poles. They can also stand with air, which is a good deal. The price of and air tent measures the quality of the tent. The tents’ costs depends upon the brand and model of tent you want to buy.
Like traditional pole tents, there are inflatable tents that are lower quality and cheaper, and there are models that are more expensive but with higher quality on the market. HEIMPLANET products are superior in quality.
Are Inflatable Tents Good in the Wind?
Many people research on the internet or google to check if inflatable tents are useful in the wind or not. Good Quality air tents come with sturdy beams, which give them the support they need to withstand strong winds. Yes, they are excellent tents to use in the wind.
Same as with a traditional pole tent, you will have additional guy ropes to help keep your tent in position. In case of a massive gust of wind, your air tent will bend and torque in the wind. As a result, it will be much less likely to get damaged because nothing can snap… as with a pole tent. Additionally, most manufacturers make their products from durable and weather-resistant material at the top end of the market.
The secret behind the air tents’ durability is the use of high-quality material. But in case of if a tube does puncture, it is unlikely your tent will collapse. Also, if your tent is held with a guy line and has other beams, then the chances of collapse will decrease to a more considerable extent.
Tents with air beams are no better or worse than any other tent in the wind. A tent with guy lines around it should withstand heavy weather conditions. When the guy lines start to fail, or the ground is too saturated, the pegs might start to pull. This will be the case for any type of tent.
Do Inflatable Tents Burst?
Good quality inflatable tents are of the same quality as good quality pole tents. They are durable and reliable, but they can bend, and they can even burst when there is a big cut in the material, more likely is a small leak due to a small puncture. The benefit compared with a pole tent is that an inflatable tent can easily be repaired without too much hassle. A pole tent with a broken pole is most likely the end of your camping adventure. Inflatable tents are not only very convenient but also easy to repair.
There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the possibility of an inflatable tent bursting or leakages. These tents do not puncture as quickly as people think. The popularity of these tents is due to the use of high-quality material. That is the reason these tents do not burst easily. But in case of a tube burst, the tent might collapse if your guy lines are not attached to the tents.
As explained, a repair of an air-tube is super easy and can be compared with repairs of a flat bicycle tire.
How Do You Erect an Air Tent or How To Inflate an Inflatable Tent?
Everyone who is wondering about how to erect an air tent or how to inflate an inflatable tent; Here are some easy steps to follow so you know how toy can pitch or erect your air tent or inflatable tent.
Read the instructions carefully
Most companies or manufacturers provide complete details or guides about the pitching or erecting air or inflatable tents on their website, or some deliver a manual along with the product.
By following the manual or guide, you should be fine. Here is an overview what to expect when setting up your inflatable tent:
Always try to clean up the pitch area from dirt and debris.
To make sure your air tent won’t be damaged due to sharp branches, rocks or other stuff on the ground that might damage your tent.
Lay the tent out flat
Unfold the tent, find the door of the tent and place where you want it. Lay it out flat and peg down the corners. If you are using a groundsheet, the tent will be placed on top of the groundsheet / tarp first. This will help you keeping your tent clean from dirt. When you use a groundsheet, you need to peg the groundsheet / tarp first.
Find the valves
When you have fixed the groundsheet and tent corners you can prepare to pump the tent with air. Different brands will have valves in various places in the tent. Some have a single valve; others have one for each beam. When you are using 1 valve, ensure all other valves are closed!
Attach the pump
Depending on your model, the fitting will either screw-in, click in, or push into the valve. Often there are multiple types of fittings delivered with the pump. Ensure you have checked all this before you even pack your gear!
Make sure you do not pump too much air into the beam – ideally, use a pump with a pressure gauge and don’t exceed the manufacturer’s recommended pressure level. You will recognize that the amount of air pressure used can be high, this is because the materials used are of high quality and forms a strong base as a whole.
Push the beams into shape
If it’s a bit breezy, you might need a helping hand here – especially if you’ve got a large or heavy tent. Normally the beams will fold into place while air is pumped inside them but it can happen you need to help positioning the beams a bit.
Peg out the guy lines
Unravel the guy ropes and peg them loosely around the tent before tightening them up.
Clean up the area to ensure all is safe and Relax!
Fifteen minutes later, and you’ve done it. Well done!
Inflatable Tent Problems
A tent can be a significant investment and if you’re a beginner to camping, you of course will be careful and keep a close eye on the state of your tent. Here is some information on common ‘worries’ that can be easily rectified/prevented or may not be an issue at all.
New to the Market.
Inflatable Air Tents are relatively new to the industry, and there are not as many Air Tents in circulation as there are Pole Tents. People may know very little about inflatable tents; if something goes wrong, people may not know how to fix them, but more and more people understand that in case of a repair, it’s a super easy job to do.
More people decide to buy an inflatable tent because they are very convenient, super easy to set-up and definitely will make your outdoor sleeping experience a lot more comfortable.
The cost to produce an Air tent is still a more costly process than producing a pole tent and therefore the sale price of these air tents reflects this. However, pricing is coming down over the past years and more quality suppliers are present, HEIMPLANET is by far one of the most exclusive and high-quality suppliers of durable quality inflatable tents out there.
Heavier & Bulky?
The air tents are heavier and bulkier than the pole tents of the same or similar model.
The fabric is generally a heavier grade, normally 150 Denier. But some companies, like HEIMPLANET, have air tents in a lighter material, without losing quality and durability, they deliver true innovative high-quality inflatable tents.
Air Tents are a convenience product. They contribute to comfort, exclusivity and when the weather can be extreme, you have set-up your tent in a heartbeat. Durability and quality standards are high, that is why the air tent or inflatable tent is getting more popular.
Inflatable Tent Pros:
- Easy to set up. An air tent can be very quickly set up by one person no matter the size of the air tent you purchased. You can now buy a tent for a family of 8 and not need any help to erect it. Major plus.
- You can also take down and put away an air tent yourself. This might take a little bit of practice as the bags provided for air tents are tight. Rolling up the tent correctly and to the size of the bag might take some time to get it right. Practice makes perfect!
- Peg First + Pump + Guy ropes = Done.
- Air tubes can bend but don’t break in the wind, so you should no longer have the issue of having to replace a pole mid camping.
- Modern, different, comfortable, air tent stands out from the rest of the tents on the camp site.
- Fast to put up and again take down in just minutes. What more could you ask for?
Air Tent Cons:
- More expensive than the same size tent in a fiberglass version.
- The weight of some inflatable tents can be higher than a fiberglass pole tent.
- When packed, an inflatable tent can take up more space than a traditional pole tent. However, the tents of HEIMPLANET are an excellent buy, due to their choice of material.
- There is always need for a pump. So, don’t forget this and always have a spare.
- Air tubes can bend in heavy wind, and if strong winds hit the tent at a 45-degree angle, the pipes can collapse in on the tent until that wind subsides. The advantage is that nothing will break or snap, as with pole tents.
- Tubes can have air leaks, so it is always good to have a patch kit with you or a spare rubber bladder and also an extra cap for the tube.
How Can I Protect the Bottom of My Tent?
The bottom of your tent can often get scuffed or, in the worst-case scenario, ripped if your pitch is not cleared from dirt and gravel. Many larger tents have additional extras called ‘footprints’; these sit under your tent and prevent these scrapes and damages. They also add an extra layer to prevent the cold coming up through your groundsheet.
If your tent does not have a specially made footprint available, you can use an area of tarp that is cut or folded to your tent’s shape. Ensure your ground sheet or tarp is not larger than the dimensions of the tent base, as this will collect rainwater and direct it under your tent.
To protect the inside of your tent, you can decide to use a tent carpet, this can protect the tent groundsheet, and will add another layer of insulation.
Inflatable Tent User Feedback and Tips
Air Tubes Deflating Possible Reasons:
- The close off cap/air intake valve is not closed fully or tightened enough.
- The rubber behind the self-sealing valve is loose, missing, bent, or cracked. Rubber not sealing can allow air out of your tube.
- You have over-pumped your tubes and caused your rubber bladder to stretch or expand beyond its specification. Thus, the tube has perhaps burst or started to leak air.
- Your air tube is faulty. Replacement tubes can take a couple of days to order in. They might not always be available on the day of ordering.
- Your air tube has a hole in it. Cavities can be patched on-site like a bicycle tube. The patch kit is generally provided with new air tent by the supplier. If they are not supplied, we advise you do not go camping without first getting one.
Air Tubes Bending Possible Reasons:
- On most of the Air Tent models, we have seen that the tubes are internal and sit on a Velcro base at each side of the tent. The pipes can move and come away from these Velcro base sections causing the tube to bend or look offline. It is easy to fix. Just deflate the tube slightly and place the tube back in the correct position, re-pump.
- Air Tubes also tend to twist within its zipped compartment. This usually only happens to models that have an internal air connection valve. It can even occur in older models of air tents. The Air Tube has a natural angle or bends, just like a steel pole would have. The angles are positioned at the top right- and left-hand side of the tube. If the lines twist, then this angle is wrong and starts to face in the wrong direction. The air tubes will begin to bend inwards rather than outwards.
Front or Back Tube Collapsing in on Your Tent:
- Most tent models come equipped with Guy Ropes or Buckle Straps, which give tension to the tents’ front and back. If the buckle straps are not supplied and suggested as “An Extra Option,” I advise that you get them. These buckle straps are essential to use as the front tube and back tube slant to the ground. Because of these big sails of fabric (front & back of the tent), the wind tends to force this fabric inwards.
- Without the guy ropes or buckle straps in position and well pegged with good strong pegs, the “wind will win.” You should have these ropes in place and peg. Air Tubes have been well tested and do stand up to some extreme weather conditions. Straps must be pegged tight but not over tight. If you over tension your guy line or buckle strap, you can help create a bend in your air tube. They are there to brace your tent from side winds.
- If strong winds hit your tent at a 45-degree angle, your air tube could bend in quite badly until the wind subsides. The heavier material, such as Cotton, will bend more than lighter material such as Polyester. The same size and weight tube/bladder hold up both types of fabric. Even though the Cotton material is better long term, it will bend more in heavy, strong winds.
Under Inflated Tube:
- Your Air tube can sag or not support the material properly if under-inflated; experience is the best teacher in this case.
- Your tent will be sold with a PSI rating for the air tube. This PSI is the air pressure your tent is supposed to take in. Therefore, if you have a tent with an 8PSI rating and you pump to 6PSI, then your tent air tubes will feel soft to the touch, or you will be able to squeeze them. This would mean they are underinflated.
- Most Air tents come with their manual pump with a PSI gauge reading on it. Use this gauge but test your tubes yourself once pumped and make sure that your tubes feel fully pumped. Pumps can fail, the indicator can break, or the pump itself can break. There are good-quality pumps available, or otherwise, a spare pump is advisable.
Zips Broken or Will not Close:
- In most air tents, when you first buy them, the zips are closed. Please peg your tent entirely at this stage. Tent doorways mostly should only be pegged when closed. If pegged when open, you could get over-tension on the zips.
- I would then advise opening the doorways when pumping your tent as it allows air to flow into the tent body, helping the tent take shape and stand up; otherwise, there will be a vacuum effect when your tent stands up.
- There are zips on all bladders of your air tent. As you pump, the bladders expand to fill the space. Do not over-inflate your tubes as you will be putting unnecessary pressure on your zips. If you over-inflate or use a compressor pump, you can cause your zips to burst and your bladder to explode.
Leaking Water / Condensation:
- Leaking is something Air Tube Tents have battled with since the beginning. The Tubes are pumped with cold air from a manual pump and generally at a pressure of somewhere between 5-8 psi. At night, the outside temperature drops, and some campers have a heater inside their tent or the inside of the tent warms up due to body warmth. The air in the tubes is still cold, and when the hotter, warmer, moist air hits the stern tubes, it turns to moisture. The moisture than either drip or run down the tube. The humidity can even puddle at the base of the tubes. It may not have been raining at all for this phenomenon to occur. Even if it was raining, you must see if it is leaking through from outside or is it the moisture/condensation on the tubes. It is almost certainly condensation.
- You can do very little about condensation other than ventilation and camping at night can be cold. Either live with a small bit of moisture or turn off the heaters. If your tent is leaking rainwater, then, of course, it is covered under a 12-month warranty. If you are outside your warranty and your tent has started to leak rainwater, you may have to reproof your tent or see any damage to your tent’s skin. Reproofing is an excellent practice to follow, always.
- Do Not clean your tent material with any solution like baby wipes, Dettol wipes, or washing up liquid. Doing this may remove your tents’ water barrier allowing rain to come through.
Inflatable Tent Air Pumps:
Most tent manufacturers supply their Air Tent models with a Double Action Hand Pump. Double action means the pump will continue to pump air into the Up and Down motion tube. Some pumps will have a built-in PSI reader on the pump, letting you know how much air you have pumped into your tent.
Any plastic hand pump can break! And trust me, they do. We recommend that you have at least a two hand pump with you when going camping with an Air Tent. Most pumps have been damaged in storage or transport. Some pumps fail when you are either too strong or too forceful with them. Compressor Pumps are not advised for Air Tents.
Conclusion – Inflatable Tents
- Easy to use and install, very safe and not much that can go wrong or even break.
- Inflatable tents are great for camping in strong wind or rainy weather.
- Inflatable tents are designed professionally and is an innovative product as light-weight material is more and more used during production without losing integrity.
- The guy lines or ropes hold the tent in case of tube puncture. A tube puncture can be repaired quickly and easy.
- These tents withstand strong winds avoiding damages.
- The material used in these air tents are of high quality and durable; that is why these inflatable tents are strong and are used more often during extreme outdoor adventures.
- More inflatable air tent producers are jumping on the inflatable tent train, ensure you investigate the specs, HEIMPLANET is a great supplier with detailed technical details available, confirming they are on top of the required safety, durability and comfort that people look for when buying an inflatable air tent.
- The process of pitching an inflatable tent is without question one of the easiest and safest exercises out there, compared to ordinary pole tents.