Inflatable tents - a buyer's guide

Does the idea of changing from a poled to an inflatable tent send you to your camping chair, tutting, shaking your head and muttering “not on my watch”? For the traditional camper who joyously scowls at the likes of glampers or electric hook-ups, it may be considered to be a step too far. But before completely rejecting the idea, there are many aspects to consider.

There are various brands of inflatable tents available. At BCH Camping we stock ranges of AirBeam® tents which are the pioneering, premium inflatable tent brand. Since its inception in 2011 the popularity of AirBeam® tents has inflated (excuse the pun!) considerably in the family camping market, particularly with the gradual introduction of different size ranges to suit all types of campers – from a 2 person to 8 person tent. For the purpose of this article we’ll focus on the AirBeam® brand to give as much background as possible into the world of inflatable tents.

What is an AirBeam® inflatable tent?

Quite simply, AirBeam® inflatable tents do not require any poles, you just take the tent out of the bag, pop a peg in each corner, pump up the inflatable beams and peg down a few guy lines.

So, how long does an AirBeam® tent take to inflate? It takes 5 to 10 minutes to pitch an AirBeam® tent, depending on how many Airbeams® are to be inflated. Some of the larger AirBeam® tents have Superbeams to produce a really strong frame so they will take longer than other models.

Can I overdo it and explode an AirBeam® inflatable tent?

It is often asked whether an inflatable tent can explode, pop or puncture. The AirBeam® User Guide provides information on the pressure to which an AirBeam® tent should be inflated, depending on the model. As long as the guidelines are followed and the correct supplied pump is used, the AirBeam® inflatable tent will not explode. Although rare, all inflatable tents can be punctured but it’s easily repairable and again, the User Guide provides information on how to do this correctly.

How good are inflatable tents in bad weather?

AirBeam® inflatable tents are extremely resilient to bad weather. Models with a central beam have a lot of structural support and can withstand some seriously bad weather conditions, although they may flex in very strong winds. This shouldn’t be seen a weakness, however. By flexing, the AirBeam® inflatable tent takes the pressure, whereas if winds become too strong for a poled tent, the solid poles can bend and break, perhaps ripping fabric and causing damage. Some ranges of AirBeam® inflatable tents have pre-angled beams rather than a continuous arc to create more useable internal space, with the added benefit of keeping the tent sturdy against strong side winds.
For an AirBeam® inflatable tent to be strong and resistant to popping and punctures, logically the material is much stronger than poled tents. Each AirBeam® inflatable tent in BCH Camping’s range has a hydrostatic head of 6000mm and fly sheets of varying denier, made with Protex Fabric® which has UV protection and is waterproof. The greater the denier – the thickness of the yarns of the fabric – the heavier the tent, however, as there are no poles in an airbeam inflatable tent, the vast majority are lighter to carry than poled tents.

Are inflatable tents easy to maintain?

The answer to this is simply – yes! The User Guide provides step by step information on how to check the pressure, identify and repair punctures, and replace the AirBeams®. BCH Camping provides a range of different sizes of replacement AirBeams®.

Would I end up paying a premium for the technology?

As with everything, you get what you pay for. Inflatable tents are generally more expensive than traditional poled tents but on a par with the top of the range traditional models. Inflatable tents also have a strong resale value so they’re a good investment.

AirBeam® Inflatable Tents at BCH Camping

If our guide has given you the inspiration to make the switch to an inflatable tent, please see our video for AirBeam® tents that we have available.
We are now taking deposits for all 2018 AirBeam® tents so reserve yours today with just a £50 deposit! If you require any information to guide you on your purchase, or you have some nagging doubts, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact us on 01249 661501 or at