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5 Reasons to Avoid an Inflatable Tent

Are you drawn to the allure of an inflatable tent? The ability to set up camp with the push of a button sure sounds convenient.

We’ve all been there when a pole breaks or we’re trying to set up camp by our headlights as darkness sets in. But are these tents really worth it?

Today, we’re comparing the options to see if these inflatable tents are all they’re blown up to be. 

Let’s jump in!

What is an Inflatable Tent?

There are so many types of tents available today, and you want to choose something that works for your camping preferences. Inflatable tents are another option for your outdoor or backyard recreation. So, what makes them special? 

An inflatable tent uses air tubes to hold the tent up instead of plastic or metallic rods. You have a typical camping shelter without hauling around the bulky tent poles. The tents date back to the 1980s but have become more popular with recent improvements.

Here’s an example on Amazon.

These camping setups may seem like a novelty, but they’re made of the same rugged materials as other shelters. They’re easy to use.

You simply unpack the tent and then pump it full of air. 

With the right equipment, one person can easily set up a campsite in minutes. No poles mean no hassle trying to understand what goes where. The air tent also holds up to the rigors of wind, so you won’t have to buy costly replacements due to breakage. 

We want you to enjoy the great outdoors with little hassle. As convenient as all these features sound, here are five reasons you might want to avoid an inflatable tent. 

Pro Tip: Inflatable tent or not, make sure to never commit any of these 7 Deadly Sins of Tent Camping.

Setting up inflatable tent
Depending on your camping style, an inflatable tent may not be for you.

#1 Inflatable Tents Are Heavy

While fancy and easy to set up, inflatable tents are heavy. If you compare a pole tent with an air tent, the former is much lighter.

It might seem contrary, but inflatables are 30% to 50% heavier overall. This is due to the pump and the extra fabric used to manufacture the air tubes. These tents use a thicker canvas to reduce the risk of punctures and tears. 

Portability also impacts weight. A traditional tent may pack into more than one sack, making it easier to cart around. The air tent folds into one bulky bag. And if you have a larger model, you’ll lug around even more weight. You’ll need to decide whether to prioritize convenience or mobility.

#2 They Come in Limited Sizes

Standard tents come in so many shapes, sizes, and varieties, and some even attach to RVs or truck beds. But when it comes to an inflatable tent, you have limited choices, and they include a small range of shapes and sizes. 

Blow-up tents tend toward the typical dome or arched rectangle shape, and most models can only accommodate four to eight people. If it’s just you and your sweetheart camping, smaller is great.

But if you have a bigger family or need to store more gear, you may not find what you need. And keep in mind that the bigger your inflatable tent, the heavier it’ll be.

#3 Inflatable Tents Have a Short Life Expectancy

You probably have a friend who boasts of still owning their first tent. After 15 or 20 years, their nylon, polyester, canvas, or even poly-cotton tent may still be durable. If well-cared for, some may last even longer. 

No extensive testing results are available because inflatable tents are still a novelty. Still, people who bought them report they don’t hold up like other camping supplies on the market. They’re slightly more fragile despite their more rugged construction. 

Depending on your air tent’s material, you may need to waterproof it more often. In some cases, you may find the tubing holds moisture. Without more maintenance, you could find your investment degrading faster than with a standard tent. 

Inflatable tent and pump
An inflatable tent is a significant investment.

#4 You Have to Carry a Pump for Inflatable Tents

A blow-up tent means you don’t have to worry about hauling around poles, breaking or losing them. Great! On the flip side, you must carry a pump with you. 

You have two pump choices, one operated by hand or another through electricity. Save a little weight and money by getting the manual pump, but you’ll pay when it comes time to set up. Manual pumps can be exhausting to inflate. And if you have a larger tent, or more than one, the effort required is even more of a chore.

Electric pumps work faster and tend to be slightly heavier. But what if you don’t have access to electricity? In that case, you’ll need another option, such as something compatible with your car battery. 

#5 Inflatable Tents Are Expensive

Inflatable tents are more costly than traditional tents because they use premium materials. Instead of smaller compartments, air tent construction is one single unit. 

The new technology used for the air tubes also adds expense. Before release on the market, the product must meet a higher standard and get tested more thoroughly. All of this results in higher prices when they hit the shelves.

Trendy posh items tend to be pricier before they become mainstream. But inflatable tents may stay niche and on the pricier side. Only time will tell.

Pro Tip: Before you pitch your tent, make sure you know Do RV Parks Allow Tent Camping?

Are Inflatable Tents Worth It?

As you make that significant investment, you want to consider the pros and cons of an inflatable tent. Perhaps it’s just the size and ease you need for that perfect outdoor escape. Or maybe you’re a trendsetter and look forward to showing off the latest camping style. 

You may also need a tent that suits your needs better. If you have a large family on a budget or want to camp solo on the trail, an inflatable tent might not work for you.

As always, check a product’s review before buying. 

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