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So, you’re deciding to spend your vacation in the great outdoors. Oh, and you brought your family? And you’re thinking of buying a tent? Well, aren’t you bold! Stuffing a family first into a car then in a small space like a tent can be very… volatile. Oh, and don’t get us started on setting the tent up. That’s where the blood really starts boiling.
But, does it have to be so?
This may have been true some ten years ago when we didn’t have the wonder and joy that are inflatable tents, but, nowadays, the situation is much different. Inflatable tents are a big thing, and they’re as reliable as traditional tents, but much more easily set up. Not only that, but they’re also very roomy, and very comfortable to sleep and live in.
So if you’re really determined to take your family camping, and if you’re truly unafraid of your children fighting in the back seat all the time, and your partner screaming at them from the front seat, then let us instruct you on how to choose an inflatable family tent, and make a few suggestions as to which tent to buy by taking a closer look at some of the best inflatable tents on the market today.
Buyer’s Guide To Inflatable Tents
What do you need to know about an inflatable tent when deciding whether to buy it or not?
Well, it’s rubber and it’s got air in it, right? Oh, oh! And you use a pump to inflate it!
Well, you’re not wrong… But that’s not everything you need to know about inflatable tents.
That said, inflatable tents are indeed inflated using a pump, and you can also use a regular bicycle pump or an air compressor to do it.
They differ greatly from traditional tents, but not in shape or use. They differ in their very construction. And, no, they’re not made of rubber.
One of the main differences between the two types of tents is that traditional tents use metal or fibreglass poles. This gives the tent structure, as the poles support the weight of the tent. In fact, the poles serve as a skeleton for the tent. However, the poles make setting up the tent much more complicated, as there are many and they need to be put in specific places. If you and your family aren’t experienced campers, and are trying it out for the first time, you’re definitely going to have a difficult time setting the whole thing up properly.
Inflatable tents use nothing of the sort. They don’t require any kind of hard support, including poles. The pressure of the air inside the tent is all the tent requires.
Such tents do have beams to form the skeleton of the tent, but these are hollow and filled with air. This makes setting up quick, easy and painless. Not only that but taking the thing down is also a breeze. This is the very reason why tents such as these have gained so much popularity in recent years.
But, what about when the wind starts blowing? Won’t it flip the tent and blow it away? Well, does a bouncy castle get blown away when there’s wind? No.
Inflatable tents may be lighter than most conventional tents, but they’re not that light. In fact, you can be quite sure that the tent will be more than able to handle a gust of wind. That said, the tent will need tethering. You’ll probably have to anchor it down, as you would anchor regular, traditional tents.
But, what about reliability? Are even the best inflatable tents as reliable as standard tents? Yes, yes they are.
Inflatable tents aren’t balloons that can be popped with a toothpick. The materials used in creating inflatable tents are of the highest quality, thick, flexible and strong. They’re able to withstand physical assault as well as most of what the elements can throw at them. They’re not in the slightest bit easy to puncture. Having said that though, we humbly suggest you don’t drive your knife into the ground in the tent in the style of frontier trappers.
Not only are the top inflatable tents hard to puncture, but you’ll usually receive a repair kit with your product, so you can patch up the tent if you do need to. Some models use replaceable air beams, so you can be sure the tent can be easily and quickly fixed at all times. Oh, and if you want to know just how durable these tents are, then you should know that Vango, the pioneer of inflatable tents and one of the most respected manufacturers of inflatable tents sent one of their products to the edge of space, then dropped it. The tent was unharmed for the whole trip up and down.
Lastly, what about the size?
This seems pretty straight forward – if the manufacturer says the tent is for six people, then it’s for six people. However, that’s not entirely so. The actual rule is the number of persons minus two. Remember, you’re not only carrying yourselves to the tent; you’re also carrying other things, equipment for hiking, maybe, food and clothes. For this reason, you need to reserve some of the room or you won’t be able to stuff yourself and your things in the tent. So, if you see a 6-person tent, you can be sure that you can put four fully equipped people in it.
Best Family Inflatable Tent Reviews
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get on with the reviews themselves. Here are four of the best family inflatable tents on the market that we’ve selected for you.
Vango Unisex Odyssey Air Inflatable Tunnel Tent
- Inflatable AirBeam structure - allows pole free pitching, ensuring your tent is erect within a matter of minutes (double action pump included); pre-attached sun canopy for additional outdoor space
- Protex 70 denier waterproof fire retardant flysheet (4,000 HH) with fully taped seams; durable and reliable fabric that will keep you warm and comfortable
- The Vango patented TBS II tension band system to ensure stability in windy conditions, Pitching Time: 8 minutes
- Front and side entry - full mesh door on front, canopy over side door; linked-in PE groundsheet in living area.
- Lights out inner tent - darker fabric reduces the amount of early morning light
Naturally, we’re starting off our list with a Vango tent. We already mentioned in the guide above that Vango was one of the first manufacturers to start producing inflatable tents. And this appears to have been a wise business decision, as inflatable tents caught on very quickly and became a hit for all the reasons we explained above. Their Odyssey Air 600 is one of the best inflatable family tents you can find due to its durability, spaciousness, weight and price.
Starting with the construction, the tent is made of Portex 70 Denier polyester. This is a very tough material, very solid and hard to rip or puncture. Not only that, but the material is also fire-retardant, so you don’t have to worry when you’re cooking or smoking inside. Still, may we suggest that you keep the camp fire outside of the tent? The material is also waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about rain interrupting your family’s sleep.
The same material is also used for the tent’s AirBeams. We mentioned these earlier; they’re the invention of the designers and engineers at Vango. These beams serve the same purpose as the poles, except they’re inflated. However, because they’re inflated, they’re much more flexible and make setting up very easy. This entire 6-person tent can be pitched in only 8 minutes. These AirBeams can also be easily replaced too if they’re punctured.
The Odyssey 600 also features one of the best tension band systems, the Vango TBS II tension band system, giving the tent extra stability and resilience.
The tent has two entrances, one in the front and one in the side, so you and your family can move easily in and out, without having to jump over each other. The front door is covered by a very breathable but very tightly woven mesh that stops all curious critters in their tracks. The side door features a simple canopy that can be pulled over the entrance and, basically, becomes another wall.
Ah, yes, that’s right! The tent is actually made to look like a miniature home. It features a living area and a bedroom. Both the bedroom and the living area have an integral groundsheet. The bedroom is described as being blackout, but that’s not entirely true. Instead, it’s very, very dark. Like we said, this is a tent intended to hold 6 people, but, in reality, it’s better suited to only four people.
As far as the price goes, this tent’s price is average, costing just over £400 pounds. The tent is very well made, and we haven’t really found any defects or problems, except with the groundsheet in the living area. The sheet is only attached along the bedroom wall, while the other three sides sit atop the groundsheet from the walls. This is not usually a problem, but, if there is massive water build-up, it may just seep through. Not only that but if you happen to pitch on an anthill, you’re going to have some uninvited guests.
- Made of Portex 70 Denier polyester.
- Fireproof and waterproof.
- AirBeam technology.
- Pitches in 8 minutes.
- Has two entrances.
- Has a bedroom and a living room.
- Bedrooms are not completely blackout.
- Living area groundsheet only attached on single side.
Easy Camp Tornado 500 Air Tent
- Two-way pump for fast inflation
- Separate inflatable tubes with external inflation valves
- Living area detachable bathtub groundsheet
Our second product comes from Easy Camp. Easy Camp is a subsidiary of Oase Outdoors, a very successful Danish company. It’s a business run by a family of campers, and they bring their camping experience and expertise into their products. They also have a rich online community where you can socialize with other fellow campers and which the manufacturer uses to gather more information about their products and improve their design.
Now, let’s take a look at the tent itself. The Tornado 500 is our most affordable product. It will cost you about £360, which is more than a decent price for such a great product. It’s made of 190T 100% polyester with PU coating. The polyester is very hard to rip, and the PU coating gives it fire-retarding capabilities and makes it waterproof.
The seams, too, are made waterproof as they’re taped over. This ensures that they won’t let any water through, but also increases their tensile strength, making them virtually unbreakable. The polyester is also made breathable so that moisture doesn’t collect inside the tent while you’re spending time in it.
The Tornado 500 uses air tubes for poles. These air tubes work similarly to AirBeams, but they can’t be removed. They’re usually inflated to 4.5 psi. The tubes are made from the same type of polyester as the rest of the tent, ensuring that they won’t get punctured and compromise the tent’s structural integrity.
As far as size goes, the tent is quite spacious. It’s got room for about 5 people, but, in reality, the true comfortable number is closer to four.
TheTornado features, unlike the tents we’ve reviewed so far, three rooms – one living room and two bedrooms. The tent is also tall enough for a 180 cm person to stand up.
The living room is in front of the bedrooms, with the bedrooms being closed off by screen doors. This living area has two entrances, one on the front and one on the side.
The tent has a very neat divider between the bedrooms, which can be, or course, taken down to give you a little extra space.
The Tornado 500 also features a lantern holder, and a bunch of pockets all along the base of the walls and on the pole dividing the bedrooms, allowing you to stow at least some minor things here. The tent features a multi-piece groundsheet, with the living area groundsheet being detachable.
So, what kind of cons can you expect from this tent? Well, not many. The only thing we could think of are the doors. Like with the Skandika, the doors don’t lead into the bedrooms, and you’ll maybe stumble over people coming out. However, because you technically have two rooms, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with that.
- 190T 100% polyester construction.
- Enough room for four people.
- 180 cm standing room.
- Taped over seams.
- Three rooms (one living room and two bedrooms)
- Detachable groundsheet.
- Pockets for your things.
- Two entrances.
- No door leads directly into the bedrooms.
Coleman FastPitch Air Valdes Inflatable Tent
- FAST PITCH AIR TENT: pole free pitching, ensuring your tent is erected easily within a matter of minutes by just one person; simply inflate the 5 durable air-poles; double action hand pump included
- THREE XXL BLACK OUT BEDROOMS: with 99% of daylight being blocked out from the bedroom you will be sure to get a great night’s sleep and not wake with the first light; up to 5°C cooler during the day
- LARGE LIVING AREA + PORCH: spacious enough to take a family table and chairs; features large PVC windows with covers, offering the ultimate balance of light and privacy; hinged door for easy access
- 100% WATERPROOF & UV GUARD: 4500mm HH combined with taped seams and fully sewn-in groundsheet will keep you dry, whatever the weather; UVGuard providing high SPF 50 protection from the sun’s rays
- SUPERIOR SIZE: 7.4 x 4.4 x 2 m (LxWxH); 3 bedrooms: 8.8m²+ living room: 12.3m² + porch 8m² = total 29m²; pack size: 78 x 58 x 48 cm (30.5kg); tent pegs + sturdy wheeled carry bag included
The FastPitch Valdes tent is one of the best tents on the market. It has some outstanding features that other tents here don’t. However, all that extra luxury comes at a price – namely Valdes costs more than twice all other products cost. The Valdes 6 person XL will set you back some £800. However, there are smaller variations of the tent, and you can get a Valdes for as little as £460 but you’ll also lose some of the tent’s features.
This tent is very fast to set up, and a single person can pitch the tent within 10 minutes. Coleman also provided you with a pump and a manometer, so you don’t have to spend any extra cash buying those. The tent is made of polyester, as usual, which is fire retardant, and waterproof, able to withstand up to 4000 mm of rainfall. The tent features a bathsheet that keeps the insects and water out at all times. It also features air vents that will help with condensation, as well as additional power pockets that let you run a cable through the tent for some extra luxury while camping.
This tent also features two doors, one on the front and one on the side. While the side door is closed with a simple canopy, the front entrance features a special hinged hatch. This makes opening and closing much easier and you can keep the door open with a little latch. As usual, the Valdes features loops for the lighting and pockets all over for your things.
As far as space is concerned, this is a 6 person tent. It has a living area and two bedrooms. The bedrooms are separated by a divider that can be taken down to form a single XL bedroom. However, the bedroom can only fit 4 people, so, where would you put the other two? Well, the tent comes with an additional removable bedroom that can be set up in the living area and can house two more people. The bedrooms block 99% of the light out too, so you can get some well-deserved rest.
The Coleman FastPitch Air Valde’s ceiling is 180 cm high, so you can stand up to your full height (or almost full height; you might be taller than 180cm, we don’t know…).
It must be said that there are a few minor issues with the product. Not with the tent itself, but with the additional stuff you get with it. Quite a few customers have reported that their pump broke down after a single use, and that’s concerning, especially if you don’t have a spare pump. In that case, it’s best to pitch the tent in your backyard, if you can, and test out the pump. Also, the additional bedroom is not blackout, but a regular room.
- 2+1 bedrooms, one living area.
- Hinged door.
- 100% fire retardant and waterproof polyester.
- Taped over seams.
- Can fit up to 6 people.
- Two entrances.
- Pitches in 10 minutes.
- Air vents.
- The pump is known to be flimsy.
- Additional room not blackout.
Well, there you have it, three of the very best inflatable tents for families and a few words of advice on how to pick one. The tents here are much of a muchness with similar features and the only major difference being their price. Our recommendation is the Coleman tent, although the pump you get with the tent besmirches its good name. If you do go for the Coleman you may want to take a spare pump with you, just in case. Naturally, we recommend it only if you can afford it, as it is expensive – and if you can’t, go for one of the more affordable ones. Whatever you choose, each of the tents featured here is an excellent piece of outdoor equipment.