Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Welcome to our big inflatable tent test 2021. Here we present all the inflatable tents that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best inflatable tent for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an inflatable tent.




Summary

  • With an inflatable tent, you don't need to lug around poles that can be heavy and difficult to pitch.
  • An inflatable tent is set up very quickly. You can save additional time if you don't inflate it by mouth, but have an air pump.
  • Good inflatable tents start at around 150 to 200 euros. Stability and durability usually increase with the price.

The Best Inflatable Tent: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an inflatable tent

What is an inflatable camping tent and how does it work?

An inflatable camping tent is a normal tent, but instead of being supported by poles, it is supported by air tubes. The air hoses replace the conventional poles 1:1. As with an air mattress, these air shafts can be inflated with normal air pumps and air compressors. The tent can be erected in a very short time. They are very light and offer a lot of advantages compared to tents with poles.

Inflatable tents are currently the latest trend in the camping world and, alongside the "pop-up" tents of recent years, represent modern camping. In the meantime, they are also in the same league in terms of sales figures and have become one of the most popular types of tents. There are several conventional tent types that are also available as inflatable, pole-less versions. Among others, the popular living tents and tunnel tents also make up the most product selection among inflatable tents.

Camper stellen Zelt im Wald auf

With an inflatable tent, you save a lot of time setting it up on site - if you practise the process well. (Photo: rawpixel.com / pexels.com)

What are the characteristics of an inflatable tent?

First of all, an inflatable tent is very quick to set up. In addition, it is very light because there are no heavy poles. The stability of the tent is achieved through an air system in air chambers and thus only through air and the tensioning with pegs. Inflatable tents do not represent a separate type of tent, but they do offer striking differences from previous tents in each model. Instead of muscle power, skill and stamina, you only need an air pump or compressor. These are needed to inflate the air tubes or air chambers, which are attached inside or outside.

It usually takes a matter of seconds, or a few minutes at the most, for the tent to stand up. If you have a compressor, you only have to wait for the air pressure to reach the specified standard. Even if you don't have a compressor, you can still pitch the tent very quickly and with little effort. Another advantage is that the air tubes can adapt aerodynamically to the wind and swing with it, so the tent walls are no longer under so much strain. We will come to the other, more specific characteristics, which will be decisive for your purchase decision, later in the buying criteria.

What does an inflatable tent cost?

Depending on the model, there is a wide range of prices. If you look at the competition, they are similar to tents with poles. Throw tents are on average a little cheaper, which is due to their lower stability. The price of an inflatable tent is also quite reasonable compared to the effort it takes from you. A relatively good and reasonably high-quality model is available from €150-200. As with weight, the rule of thumb is that the larger the tent and the more sleeping cabins it has, the higher the price. However, investing in a good inflatable tent is definitely worthwhile, as its durability makes it a long-term investment.

Can I also rent an inflatable tent?

In the event sector, the rental of inflatable tents is an elementary sales strategy. In the camping tent sector, on the other hand, there are only a few tent rental companies. The clear main part of the camping business is sales. It is mainly local establishments that offer the possibility of renting their own tents.

What kind of terrain is the inflatable tent for?

The type of terrain determines which inflatable tent you choose. Basically, you will always need a certain amount of straight space to pitch your tent. Depending on what kind of camping holiday you are going on, you should consider what kind of space will be available. Tent sites usually have grassy areas. Grass provides an optimal surface for anchoring the pegs firmly in the ground and achieving the necessary stability. If you are not camping on an official campsite, choose a surface that resembles a grassy area. Rocky ground or ground that is too loose and damp are not so suitable, as it will not be possible to tension the tent in the best possible way. The ground on which you pitch your tent should be mainly straight. A sloping ground bears the risk that more water can flow onto the tent floor. In addition, a straight surface is much more comfortable.

How flexible do I need to be with the inflatable tent?

Each type of tent has different comfort levels. Even with the quick and easy to pitch inflatable tents, the bigger the tent, the less flexible you are. So if you are on a tour and only sleep in the same place for one or a few nights, a smaller tunnel tent is more suitable. However, if you are staying in one place for a longer period of time, a living tent offers many advantages in terms of space and comfort that rival even a motorhome. If you are travelling by car, bus or motorhome, awnings can increase your flexibility.

Decision: What types of inflatable tents are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three types of inflatable tents:

  • Tunnel tent
  • Living tent
  • Car/camper tent

What distinguishes a tunnel tent and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The tunnel tent is a tent construction that connects several chambers by an accordion principle and thus resembles a tunnel. Parallel arches give the tent the necessary support and stability. However, tunnel tents have a very large broadside, which can lead to instability in strong winds. When pitching, it is therefore advantageous to know which way the wind is blowing and to pitch the broadside accordingly in opposite directions. As the tents usually have several sleeping cabins, they are particularly suitable for several people.

Advantages
  • Well suited for several people
  • Several sleeping cabins
  • Quick to pitch
  • Awning
Disadvantages
  • Large broadside
  • Unstable in strong winds

The larger the tents, the longer it takes to pitch them. Overall, however, the tunnel tents are quite quick to pitch in comparison. You should practise pitching them before using them for the first time so that you have fewer problems when camping yourself. Tunnel tents are also very popular at festivals. One advantage is the practical awning, where you can store and shelter many things.

What distinguishes a tent and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Above all, a living tent offers space. Space for several sleeping cabins and also a large lounge and enough storage space for everything you need when camping. In a way, it is the big brother of the tunnel tent and complements its advantages with some extra comfort. Especially for families and longer stays, it is probably the most comfortable way to camp. It is much roomier than the other tents, so you can walk upright in the tent. The lounge provides a spacious retreat if the weather is not so kind. Thanks to its stable construction, it can withstand even the most adverse conditions.

Advantages
  • Plenty of space
  • Storage space also available
  • Comfort
  • Top for families and long stays
  • Stable construction
Disadvantages
  • Takes a long time to set up and can be complicated
  • Requires a lot of free space
  • Less flexibility
  • More expensive

However, it is clear that a lot of space is needed and that assembly is somewhat more complicated and takes longer. Of course, this also affects flexibility on holiday. You also have to pay more for the comfort.

What distinguishes a car/motorhome awning and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Bus/motorhome awnings offer an anteroom to stay in or also for extra sleeping cabins. They come in many different sizes and functions, so the right tent can be chosen for every need. The more people are travelling and the rainier the weather, the more space the bus awning should offer. Four-legged friends travelling with you also like to use a covered space to relax. Bus awnings can also be used to store supplies and camping furniture in a dry place. Thanks to the connection, it has a very stable front and is also well protected from strong gusts of wind.

Advantages
  • Lots of space
  • Various sizes available
  • Withstands wind well
Disadvantages
  • Less flexible
  • Can only be used with a vehicle

However, the awning cannot be used independently, but only in conjunction with a vehicle. This inhibits flexibility because you can't easily go somewhere in between. On the other hand, you can always pitch it wherever you stop. Attaching the awning is often tricky, but with enough practice it works very well over time.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate inflatable tents

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate inflatable tents. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

  • Protection from water and wind
  • Ventilation options
  • Material
  • UV radiation protection
  • Setup and dismantling
  • Number and size of cabins

Protection from water and wind

Every tent must be able to withstand the elements. The tent water column plays a special role in this. It indicates how much water the tent can keep out. A tent is considered waterproof from a water column of 1500 mm. As a rule, every tent on sale reaches this value. Up to 5000 mm is possible, but a good average value of around 3000 mm is always good. In addition to the water column of the flysheet, however, it is just as important that the tent can be well tensioned. If the rain comes from the side due to the wind, the flysheet must be tensioned in such a way that as little water as possible gets onto the less resistant lower tent walls. Withstanding the elements also means that it must be windproof. In this respect, you should pay attention to the wind direction and align the tent accordingly. The broadside is usually the largest area of a tent, so it should be pitched against the wind direction. The tent should also be well braced to protect it from the wind.

Ventilation options

Especially in summer, it can quickly become very warm in a tent. There must therefore be a functioning ventilation system that lets fresh air into the tent interior but at the same time does not let insects or water through. The ventilation in the tents varies. There are ceiling vents and side vents. There are only a few differences in the ventilation results. In the end, what is important is that the ventilation is good and yet the vents and ventilation surfaces remain tight and no water can get in.

Zelte auf Schipiste

If you're camping in the snow, the extra air in parts of the tent can give you extra protection from the cold. (Photo: Todd Diemer / unsplash.com)

Material

The tarpaulin of camping tents is mainly made of polyester. However, nylon and cotton can also be used. Here is a brief overview:

Tent tarpaulin material Advantages Disadvantages
Polyester More moisture-resistant than other material, good tear strength, high UV resistance Expensive to produce
Cotton Breathable Expands when wet, requires more care than other material
Nylon Lightweight, cheap to produce Expands when wet, not as tear-resistant as polyester, lower UV resistance than polyester

The T in the descriptions stands for Threadcount and indicates the thread density. The greater the thread density, the more tear-resistant the fabric of the outer tent. A very good and tear-resistant material is elementary, especially for air tubes. Normally, an outer tent with 180 - 190T polyester is completely sufficient. In rare cases, cotton can also be found as an outer shell. It is much more breathable, but expands when wet and requires more care. Sometimes nylon is also used. The advantage is, of course, that the fabric is much lighter. However, nylon expands when wet, so the tent needs to be retensioned frequently. For this reason, we recommend tents made of polyester.

UV radiation protection

The material of the outer walls also needs good UV protection to protect the skin from dangerous UV rays of the sun, especially in summer.

Erection and dismantling

Setting up a tent can be a tedious and lengthy affair. One of the biggest advantages of inflatable tents is the uncomplicated and short set-up time. Depending on the type of camping trip and the prevailing weather, inflatable tents have such clear advantages. However, there are also different pitching times between the different inflatable tent types. Basically, the bigger the tent, the longer it takes to pitch. For flexible use, easy dismantling is just as important, but the manufacturers usually do not specify the dismantling time. In any case, you should always have the instructions with you, as they are not always self-explanatory. It also helps to ask a salesperson explicitly.

Number of cabins and cabin size

The biggest differences are in the dimensions. For camping tents, the dimensions naturally depend on the number of sleeping cabins. If you want to buy a camping tent, the weight plays an important role. Depending on the transport options and the travel route, every kilo or space saved can be decisive. Depending on the tent type and size, the number of cabins and their size varies greatly. You have to weigh up how many people need space and how important headroom is to you. Also, not every tent has an awning or a lounge area and anteroom. Depending on the weather, you have to think about which type is the most suitable. The number of sleeping cabins is closely related to the number of people. Many normal camping tents only have one sleeping cabin. They can be used by 1 - 4 people. Some manufacturers cheat a little with the space specifications, so that you should assume one person less than specified, otherwise it can become quite cramped. A one-man tent, for example, should measure 2.6 x 1.5 m, while a three-man tent needs at least 4.3 x 2 m to accommodate luggage and tent accessories. The situation is somewhat different for family tents. Here there are very large tents that are equipped for 8 people with 4 sleeping chambers.

Facts worth knowing about inflatable tents

How long has the tent been around and how did it develop?

The tent has been around since the Stone Age. From 40000 BC onwards, tents were the main dwelling for humans. These pre-Christian tents were simple wooden constructions covered with leaves and animal skins. Some reconstructions assume up to 40 animal skins and a weight of 230 kg. From 9600 BC, wooden huts took over as the most common form of dwelling. In the Greek classical period, as well as in the times of the Roman Empire, tents were mainly used for military purposes. The medical tent also had its beginnings in this period. This can be seen in illustrations on vases, for example. It is also known that the Persians used large festival tents.

In the middle of the 20th century, private tents were introduced for camping. In the 21st century, pole tents, throw tents and inflatable tents have emerged. Tents are still used as dwellings only by some primitive peoples and nomads in North America, Africa or East Asia. Event tents are probably the newest category of tent use. Here, technical development is also progressing rapidly. Gigantic dimensions and spectacular shapes push the tent into new dimensions.

Inflatable tents in particular offer unimagined possibilities. In the event sector, they clearly represent the future. From gigantic trade fair towers to small individual promotion stands, they offer companies flexible and individual possibilities. In terms of technical presentation, inflatable tents also offer enormous advantages by creating small new worlds, according to the principle of space within space. Individual forms of advertising, such as a football or a beer bottle, can also be easily designed. Below are some fascinating examples of inflatable event tents:

What do I need for a tent holiday or camping trip?

So that you can have a carefree and relaxed holiday, we have compiled a small checklist of the most important camping utensils for you:

  • Tent
  • Tent pegs
  • Awning
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camping mat/air mattress
  • Carp lounger
  • Camping chair
  • Pillow
  • Backpack or bags
  • Tools (screwdriver and hammer)
  • Camera
  • Ground sheet / tent pad (the tent will then be less wet from underneath)
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Sewing kit
  • Gas cooker with lighter
  • Tableware
  • Towels
  • Water bottle
  • Clothes for all weather conditions
  • Hiking boots
  • Medicine bag

Photo credit: Snapwire / pexels.com

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