When you’ve had a long drive to your campsite, nothing sounds more appealing than relaxing with a nice cold beer (or a soothing cuppa) and putting your feet up. But then you remember you have to put the tent up first!
Pitching a tent can be hard work. Especially if you’re rushing to get everything set up before the rains starts, or if you have a screaming toddler who’s also demanding your attention. For many, putting the tent up is all part of the fun when going camping. But that’s not the case for everyone.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could pitch your large family tent in a matter of minutes, without having to wrestle with tent poles and metres of fabric to construct some sort of shelter? Well that’s where inflatable tents come in.
This guide features the best air tents for 2021 so you can enjoy getting back to nature this summer.
What are inflatable tents?
Camping is great fun, and having the right tent can make it even more enjoyable. But not everyone enjoys pitching a tent, so an inflatable air tent could be the perfect answer.
Inflatable tents—also known as air tents—are just like any other tent. But instead of having traditional poles, air tents use inflatable beams to provide the structure. They’re inflated using just a pump, and they’re generally a lot easier and faster to pitch compared to traditional poled tents.
Pop-up tents are also quick to pitch, but they usually come in smaller sizes so tend not to be suitable for large families or groups of friends. Inflatable tents are great for families, comfortably housing six or more people, and they often come with separate bedrooms and living areas, creating a real home from home.
Are inflatable tents any good?
Inflatable tents have become incredibly popular as they’re so quick and easy to pitch. And they’ve come a long way in recent years, with vast improvements in design, materials and the technologies behind them. Let’s look at some of the benefits of owning an inflatable tent:
- Quick to pitch: Some big family tents can take an hour or more to pitch, but you can pump up an inflatable tent in as little as 10 minutes - no matter how huge it is!
- Easy to put up and take down: Most large family tents are at least a two-person job. But you only really need one person to pitch an inflatable tent, as you don’t need someone standing there to hold poles in place. This is especially important if you’re camping with young children.
- Very durable: Inflatable tents are made of tough, heavy-duty materials which are wear-resistant and puncture-resistant. They also come fitted with pressure releasing valves for safety, to ensure they don’t burst under excessive pressure.
- Stable in high winds: The tubes of air that support inflatable tents hold up surprisingly well in high winds. Even the best poled tents will struggle in strong winds, especially larger family tents. Windy weather can cause solid poles to bend and become misshapen or even snap – potentially ripping the flysheet in the process.
- Compact when deflated: Inflatable tents are often heavier than solid pole tents, but they can be rolled up like a large sleeping bag and packed away for easy transport and storage. This makes it easy for a backpacker to squeeze their inflatable tent into their rucksack.
- Cheap and easy to repair: Although inflatable tents are made from tough, high quality materials, they can get a puncture from time to time. But a puncture doesn't need to mean the end of your camping trip. Thankfully, inflatable tents are easy to repair yourself with a simple puncture repair kit.
Are air tents better than pole tents?
Traditional pole tents have been around for thousands of years, and many people still swear by them. But with inflatable tents now becoming more common on camping sites, we’re comparing both styles to see which is best.
Each style of tent comes with its own pros and cons, and everyone will have their own preference. If you want ease of pitching then go for an inflatable air tent. If you want more space for your money, then go for a tent with poles
How do you put up an inflatable tent?
You can have a large, high-quality, eight-berth family tent pitched in just 15 minutes - think of how much time you'll save! To put up an inflatable tent you simply unfold it, secure the base of the tent down with pegs, pump up the inflatable poles, and peg the supporting guy lines. It really is that easy!
And taking down an inflatable tent is even easier: take out the guy lines, open up the valves to deflate, and un-peg the rest of the tent stakes.
Read more on how to pack away your tent.
What are the best inflatable tents?
At Decathlon, we have inflatable tents to suit every type of camping, and every budget. Our range of Quechua inflatable tents are ideal for those who want to go camping, but have always hated the idea of pitching tents.
We’ve put a list together of the best inflatable tents for 2021, so you can spend less time pitching your tent and more time enjoying your holiday.
1. Best for families
This award-winning inflatable tent is designed for four people who want plenty of space, and something that’s easy to assemble and pack away. It has two bedrooms, a large living room you can stand up in, a detachable zip-in ground sheet and it’s equipped with blackout technology boasting up to 99% darkness so you won’t have trouble sleeping!
2. Best for couples
This inflatable air tent is ideal for four campers, wanting one bedroom and a spacious living room. It’s easy to pitch and features Fresh&Black (blackout) technology. The Fresh fabric reduces heat inside your tent in the sun, and the Black fabric guarantees 99% darkness in your bedrooms for a good night’s sleep.
3. Lots of living space
This inflatable air tent has been designed for six campers, wanting three separate rooms and a spacious living area. It’s easy to pitch and features Fresh&Black technology. It’s fully waterproof and can withstand winds of up to around 60 km/h, so your camping trip doesn’t have to end if the weather changes!
4. Best for large families
This easy-to-pitch inflatable air tent is large enough for eight campers, wanting four separate bedrooms and a spacious living room. It features Fresh&Black technology, a foldaway basin-shape groundsheet at the entrance in case of rain, and transparent shuttered windows. The bedrooms on the right can also be removed to create an even bigger living area.
5. Most luxurious
This inflatable air tent is ideal for six campers, wanting a little bit of luxury on their camping trip.
It has three separate bedrooms and a spacious living room. And the polycotton fabric reduces heat inside your tent in the sun, keeping you cool and comfortable. It comes with an insulating mat to set up in the living room, and it can be packed away in its trolley bag for easy transportation.
Choosing an inflatable tent is a big decision. It can be quite an investment, so take your time in choosing your tent. Try out different tents in store, and take the whole family with you so you can check you have enough space for everyone. And don’t forget to buy a pump too. The same pump can be used to inflate your tent, and any inflatable mattresses too, so you and your family will be all set up in no time at all.