What is an Inflatable Tent?

We answer your questions about inflatable tents

With inflatable tents becoming more and more popular, and with numerous brands now creating their own versions of this concept, we thought we’d answer some of the frequently asked questions we get in regard to this great new technology.

The term ‘inflatable tent‘ might sound a bit like a bouncy castle, but in reality it’s the general term for a tent with inflatable beams rather than fibreglass poles. These tents can also be known as air tents or inflatable beam tents, amongst other names..

We stick with a general name for these tents, as each brand has a different name for their own technology. You may have heard the names ‘Airbeam’ by Vango, ‘Airgo’ by Hi Gear or ‘SmartAir’ by Outwell to name just a few. Though they’re all different in their own ways, each finish with the same idea: a tent without poles that you pump up to pitch.

Take a look at the Hi Gear Nimbus 8 Airgo tent as an example

Inflatable tents are a big step forward for family tents. The whole pop-up idea that you get with smaller tents that can be pitched in seconds is great, but it doesn’t work that well with a tent that can house 6 or more people – it just gets a little awkward. An inflatable tent simply needs to be unfolded, pumped up and pegged down.

We took to Facebook and asked our customers what their main concerns were about this new type of tent.


1) “ I like the idea of an air tent for easy erection, but am wary of buying one as every inflatable item I have ever bought has leaked air and the valves look suspiciously like those found on cheap plastic airbeds. I know the beams are tough but with my luck the valves would fail.” – Missy

We’ve all had problems with inflatables, but the reason inflatable tents are a little more expensive than your standard tent, is that they are made from a much stronger material. Think of it as buying a much more reliable airbed, you’d probably expect it to cost a little more than your standard budget airbed. We had the Vango inflatable tents pitched outside/inside some of our stores in 2013 and we’ve actually been out sleeping in the Hi Gear ones this year while out filming, and we can say that we haven’t had the tent deflate on us in the night just yet. The beams are one of the most important aspects of these tents, so it’s something that each brand has certainly worked on to make sure they are reliable.

2) “I don’t know about the airbeam tents? Air can’t be as strong as fibreglass or steel, a good strong wind and I’d think they’d be all over the place?” – Mark

When you think of inflatables, you think of the beach shop at the seaside with all those dinghies and inflatable crocs etc. going wild in the wind, right? Don’t worry, the beams on these tents inflate to become really quite sturdy. These tents have pitched outside our stores over a whole summer (and you know how unpredictable the British summer can be) with minimal issues. Don’t take our word for it though, we heard back from somebody who had an inflatable tent already and they had this to say:

we have the Vango Evoque 400 too. Brilliant in one word. Used last summer through France, Italy, Austria & Germany, oh, and UK also…withstands really strong wind with ease, woke one morning after fierce storm, went outside, nothing had moved, guy ropes still taught, kept perfect shape….& it’s the most waterproof tent I have used in over 33 years of Camping” – Rob

Last year we went all over the place in horrid wet weather and 90 m.p.h winds ,the tent took it all and I stayed warm & dry throughout. All Vango parts are guaranteed ( not had a problem)” – Anne

Fibreglass poles can be known to fail in high wind if the tent is pitched under too much pressure, the main benefit that inflatable tents have is that there’s no chance of this kind of issue occurring.

3) “I’d be afraid of getting a puncture and the whole thing collapsing on me in the night!” – Emma

For this type of tent to be as sturdy as they are, they have to be made from a hard wearing material, this ensures that they aren’t as easy to puncture as you might think. However if punctures do occur, they’re simple to fix (unlike a pole snap) – simply use the repair kit provided, much like you would a bike tyre.

4) “A concern I would have is kids letting them down ??” – Rose

The Hi Gear Airgo tents have one pump point (for fast inflation) but numerous stop valves, and the Vango Airbeams have multiple pump points, so all of the beams shouldn’t deflate at once. We wouldn’t say that there is any more risk than a normal tent, which can also be taken down from the outside by unplugging the pole from the pin. You should be fine.

5) Are inflatable tents better than ‘normal’ tents??” – Sam

Fibreglass tents and steel poled tents are popular for a reason – they’re great! Whether inflatable tents are better is entirely down to you, the camper. If you’re looking for a large family tent that can be pitched by one person, quickly, then an inflatable tent is ideal. If you’re a camper who’s had a bad experience with snapping poles during a camping trip, then an inflatable tent is ideal. If you’re a family on a budget, or you’re relatively new to camping and not looking to spend as much on a tent, then we’d recommend looking at a fibreglass poled tent.

The right tent for you, may not be the right tent for somebody else. Take into account where you will be camping, whether or not you’ll have help to pitch, how much space you need, and what sort of budget you have to spend.

Do you want to know more?

If you have any more questions about inflatable tents, don’t hesitate to comment below, ask us on Facebook and Twitter, or head into store to speak with our camping guys – they’ll even be able to offer a demonstration on pitching if the store isn’t too busy at the time.



I like the idea of an air tent for easy erection, but am wary of buying one as every inflatable item I have ever bought has leaked air and the valves look suspiciously like those found on cheap plastic airbeds. I know the beams are tough but with my luck the valves would fail.