How do inflatable tents work

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Jamming around the campfire, gobbling down roasted marshmallows, and falling asleep under the starry night- who wouldn’t love camping?

Everything about camping with your family and friends screams fun, except the initial part of pitching a tent. Not only is it difficult to pitch a tent, but ensuring that it stays sturdy throughout is another challenge. 

Thanks to the increasing popularity of inflatable tents, anyone can enjoy camping, minus the effort. But, you might be wondering: how do inflatable tents work? This guide will answer all of your questions about this revolutionary tent design.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

What Is An Inflatable Camping Tent?

Inflatable tents look just like regular tents. However, instead of the typical metal or plastic poles, inflatable tents feature beams that can be pumped with air. This negates the difficulty of setting up poles, inserting them into sleeves, and so on. 

Vango is the forerunner in manufacturing inflatable tents, followed by Outwell and Zempire

How Do Inflatable Tents Work?

An inflatable tent replaces the need for poles with its all-pillar construction. These pillars are pumped with high-pressure air, which gives structure to the tent. So, instead of figuring out multiple poles and the respective positions, all you have to do is use an air pump, and your tent will be ready in minutes.

Two Types Of Valve Systems

Inflatable tents are equipped with a valve that needs to be pumped to set up the tent. Despite being a simple concept, it successfully reduces the time and effort required to pitch a traditional tent.

While every brand sports a unique design and pump valve, the two most common types of valves are as follows

Airbeam-twist Valve

Originally designed by Vango, this type of valve dons a lock that can be twisted open whenever you need to inflate the tent. As soon as you remove the air pump, the valve gets locked automatically. 

Deflating is even easier as all you have to do is twist the white point on the valve which opens it. Then allow the air to escape completely before packing and storing the tent.

Push Button Valve

Such a valve has a white button that needs to be pushed to close the valve. Once the air pump is inserted, the valve opens and allows the high-pressure air to enter. On removing the pump, the opening shuts itself.

In this mechanism, you must ensure that you push the opening outwards to close the valve, or else the tent may deflate.

Type Of Inflation

Besides the type of valves, inflatable tents can be differentiated based on inflation too. Here’s a brief breakdown of the different types of inflation systems, so you can pick the right one for yourself.

Single Inflation Point

The single inflation tent is the easiest to put up in any setting. It features interconnected beams, so you have to pump the air from one beam only.

Apart from being quick and easy, the bracer beams in such tents ensure a sturdier structure. In hindsight, single inflation point tents are harder to deflate and repair since it is difficult to detect the defective point. Moreover, since the beams are interconnected, these tents are more prone to damage.

Multiple Inflation Points

As the name suggests, a tent with multiple inflation points has one beam per structure. This makes it easier to deflate and repair. Finding the faulty beam is also a no brainer, and replacing the single beam will make your tent as good as new. Thus, overall, this type of inflatable tent is easier to maintain.

However, it is not free of faults. Most multiple-point tents do not sport bracer beams, making them less rigid. Also, due to the multiple air-filled “posts,” assembling and pitching takes longer than the previous type of inflation tent.

Do Inflatable Air Tents Leak Or Burst?

Due to the strong material used in making inflatable tents, chances of leaks or bursts are low. Most brands use thermoplastic polyurethane, which provides optimum durability, especially during winter and rainy seasons. Additionally, the material is slightly elastic, making it less prone to wear and tear.

However, if you do find a leak, you can always fix it with a commercial seam sealant. Just ensure that the tent is completely dry before and after applying the sealant.

In case of bursts, you can use a self-adhesive waterproof patch and top it off with some reproofing spray. 

But, as mentioned before, these situations are uncommon for regular air tent users. A highly probable occurrence, though, is the case of condensation, especially in winter. This is because the air inside the “poles” is warm, which comes in contact with the cool outer surface of the tent. As a result, you may notice water pooling or damp corners.

Why Are Inflatable Tents So Expensive?

It is a bummer that inflatable tents are not as cheap as traditional polyester tents. However, that’s because the former is much more structurally solid, especially against heavy winds.

Surprised that an air-filled tent won’t be gone with the wind during rough weather? Well, inflatable tents are far more suitable for windy days since they can bend yet stay put. On the other hand, there’s only so much pressure that a pole (in traditional tents) can take.

Plus, most of these tents sport at least ten guy lines, thus increasing contact points. So, unless you are struck with terrible luck, an inflatable tent will never deflate on you!

However, some budget-friendly options include Vango Airbeam Odyssey Air Tent and Outwell Corvette Family Tent. Or you can watch out for a discount from some of the well-known brands mentioned above.


We hope this guide was helpful in introducing you to the concept of inflatable tents. With the durability and reliability on offer, it is no surprise that inflatable tents are quickly becoming every camper’s best companion. 

Deciding whether inflatable tents are better than traditional tents is a matter of personal preference. However, since these inflatable variants are not exactly cheap, we suggest investing in them if you already own an air pump. This is because most brands only offer a pump adaptor for different sizes of pumps. 

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Matt Scofield
Matt Scofield

Hi! I’m Matt, an adventure freak who lives and breathes the great outdoors. Spending time under the open sky always appealed to me, even as a kid. Perhaps that’s why I liked camping with my dad so much. The days spent hiking and the nights around the campfire are times I’ll cherish forever.

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