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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Blow Up Tent for Camping: A Guide to Inflatable Tents

The Sönmez London 360 Discover inflatable tent on a recent camping trip.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve tested a number of inflatable tents. Yes – inflatable tents! I know this notion might seem counterintuitive…I mean, isn’t an inflatable tent prone to punctures, if not blowing away in the wind?!

Well, as I’ve discovered, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “no!” The inflatable tents I’ve tested recently – the Sönmez London 360 Discover, the RBM Outdoors Panda medium tent, and the RBM Outdoors Panda large tent – have all proven to be high-quality options that are easy to use, provide lots of room, and are durable in varying conditions.

With that quick preview out of the way, let’s dive deeper into this concept of a blow up tent for camping to see why inflatable tents are such a great option for your outdoor adventures!

Table of Contents

Why You Should Buy a Blow Up Tent for Camping

rbm outdoors panda medium inflatable tent 3

The RBM Outdoors Panda medium inflatable tent is a four-season option that can withstand difficult weather conditions, including strong winds, thanks to ample guy lines.

Inflatable tents have revolutionized the camping experience, offering a convenient and efficient alternative to traditional pole-based tents.

These tents are gaining popularity among outdoor enthusiasts, especially for those new to camping, due to their ease of setup and impressive functionality. The primary feature that sets inflatable tents apart is the absence of rigid poles. Instead, they utilize sturdy, inflatable air beams that form the tent’s structure. This design not only simplifies the pitching process but also reduces the overall weight of the tent, making it a practical choice for you if you’re seeking a hassle-free setup.

rbm outdoors panda large inflatable tent exterior night

The RBM Outdoors Panda large inflatable tent offers an easy setup that takes just a few minutes.

One of the key advantages of a blow up tent for camping is its rapid deployment.

Setting up these tents is remarkably quick and straightforward – you simply use a pump to inflate the air beams, transforming the tent into a robust and secure shelter within minutes. This user-friendly setup makes inflatable tents an excellent option for beginners or those who want to spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time struggling with tent assembly.

Sönmez at night 2

The Sönmez London 360 Discover brings the outdoors in with large windows and skylights.

Beyond ease of use, a blow up tent for camping is often lauded for its durability and stability. The air beams are constructed from rugged materials, ensuring resilience against the elements while providing a stable and reliable structure. Many inflatable tents are designed to withstand challenging weather conditions, too, making them a reliable choice for various camping environments.

In addition to their practical advantages, inflatable tents come in various styles and sizes to accommodate different camping preferences. Whether you’re a solo adventurer, a couple, or a family, there’s likely an inflatable tent that suits your needs. Some models even include multiple rooms or vestibules, providing added space for storage or privacy.

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Blow Up Tent for Camping: Key Considerations When Choosing a Tent

rbm outdoors panda large inflatable tent exterior

The RBM Outdoors Panda large inflatable tent offers superb durability. Above, you can see the rocky terrain where I set the tent up for a weekend of camping.

Before investing in a blow up tent for camping, it’s crucial to consider several factors to ensure that your choice aligns with your needs and preferences. Below are four key considerations to keep in mind before making a purchase.

Durability and Weather Resistance

When selecting an inflatable tent, pay close attention to the materials used in its construction. Opt for models crafted from high-quality, durable materials that can withstand various weather conditions. Look for features like reinforced seams, robust zippers, and waterproof coatings to ensure your tent remains resilient against rain, wind, and other elements.

Additionally, consider the tent’s design and its ability to handle both mild and challenging weather scenarios, especially if you plan to camp in diverse environments.

Pump Mechanism and Setup Process

sonmez london sunset 4

The Sönmez London 360 Discover is a durable option that resists punctures, even in rocky areas or campsites with a lot of tree roots.

Different inflatable tents may come with varying pump mechanisms and setup processes. Assess the type of pump required to inflate the blow up tent for camping you’re considering – some tents come with manual hand pumps, while others utilize electric pumps for faster inflation. Consider the ease of use and efficiency of the pump system, especially if you anticipate setting up the tent frequently or in adverse weather conditions. A straightforward and user-friendly setup process is especially crucial for individuals new to camping, ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable experience right from the start.

Portability and Weight

The portability of your blow up tent for camping is a crucial factor, particularly if you plan on backpacking or hiking to your campsite. Evaluate the overall weight and pack size of the tent when deflated, as this will impact your ability to transport it easily.

Many inflatable tents are designed to be lightweight and compact, making them suitable for campers who prioritize mobility and versatility. However, other inflatable tents are extremely heavy. Consider your mode of transportation to the campsite – whether by car, bike, or on foot – and choose a blow up tent for camping that aligns with your specific needs.

Ventilation and Interior Space

rbm outdoors panda large inflatable tent interior 5

The large RBM Outdoors Panda tent offers space to sleep up to eight people.

Adequate ventilation is essential for a comfortable camping experience, especially in warmer climates. Look for a blow up tent for camping with mesh windows, vents, or other ventilation features to promote airflow and reduce condensation inside the tent.

Additionally, consider the interior space and layout of the tent, ensuring it meets your requirements for sleeping arrangements and storage. Some inflatable tents offer multiple rooms or vestibules, providing added flexibility and privacy for larger groups or families.

By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when choosing an inflatable tent that not only suits your camping style but also enhances your overall outdoor experience.

Pros and Cons of a Blow Up Tent for Camping

rbm outdoors panda medium inflatable tent

The medium-sized RBM Outdoors Panda inflatable tent is easy to set up and offers ample interior space.

At this point, we’ve identified several benefits of a blow up tent for camping, but it’s worth summarizing them (and identifying some cons, too) in one space. From my point of view, there are more benefits than detriments of using an inflatable tent. Moreover, the cons of these tents don’t present any major obstacles, in my opinion.

Pro of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Quick and Easy Setup

One of the standout advantages of inflatable tents is their rapid and straightforward setup process. Unlike traditional tents with poles, inflatable tents utilize air beams, allowing campers to inflate the structure in a matter of minutes. This is particularly beneficial if you’re new to camping, eliminating the frustration and complexity often associated with tent assembly. Quick setup means more time to relax and enjoy the camping experience.

Pro of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Portability and Lightweight Design

sonmez london with jeep

The Sönmez London 360 Discover is easy to transport in the back of my Jeep Gladiator.

Inflatable tents are generally designed with portability in mind. The absence of rigid poles contributes to a lighter overall weight, making these tents ideal for you if you prioritize easy transportation. Whether you’re backpacking to a remote site or simply moving your tent within a campsite, the reduced weight enhances maneuverability, especially for beginners who may be unfamiliar with handling bulkier camping equipment.

Pro of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Durable and Weather-Resistant

Many inflatable tents are constructed from robust materials that offer durability and excellent weather resistance. The air beams, typically made from reinforced materials, provide a stable and reliable structure. Additionally, the waterproof coatings and well-designed seams ensure that these tents can withstand rain and other challenging weather conditions, providing peace of mind when you’re facing unpredictable outdoor elements.

Pro of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Versatility in Design

rbm outdoors panda large inflatable tent interior 2

The RBM Outdoors Panda large inflatable tent offers versatility of usage. You can sleep multiple people or take a solo trip with more than enough space for a large bed, a gear storage area, and other amenities.

Inflatable tents come in various designs and sizes to cater to diverse camping preferences. Whether you’re a solo camper, a couple, or a family, there’s likely an inflatable tent that suits your needs.

Some models offer multiple rooms, vestibules, or modular designs, providing flexibility and customization options. This versatility ensures that you can find a tent that accommodates your specific requirements and enhances their overall camping experience.

Pro of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Comfortable Interior Space

Inflatable tents often feature spacious and comfortable interiors, with straighter walls and increased headroom compared to some traditional tents. The design allows for a more comfortable living space, making it easier to move around inside the tent and store camping gear.

Con of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Initial Cost

rbm outdoors panda medium inflatable tent 2

Though inflatable tents like the RBM Outdoors Panda medium shown above are more expensive up front, their long-term durability, large footprint, and four-season construction are well worth the added cost.

One of the primary drawbacks of inflatable tents is their initial cost, which can be higher compared to traditional pole tents. The technology and materials used in inflatable tents contribute to their convenience and durability, but this often comes with a higher price tag. If you’re uncertain about your long-term commitment to camping, the initial investment of a blow up tent for camping might be a consideration when weighing the pros and cons of different tent options.

Con of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Potential for Puncture

While modern inflatable tents are designed with durability in mind, there is always a risk of puncture or damage to the air beams. You must be mindful of the terrain where you pitch your tent to avoid sharp objects that could puncture the tent material. While many inflatable tents come with repair kits, addressing a puncture during a camping trip may still pose a challenge, particularly for those new to the inflatable tent experience.

Con of a Blow Up Tent for Camping: Dependency on Pump Mechanism

Sönmez setup

You’ll need to invest in an electric pump and a power source for the pump if you want to avoid inflating the tent with a manual pump. 

Inflatable tents rely on a pump mechanism for setup, and the efficiency of this process is dependent on the quality and type of pump used. While electric pumps can expedite the inflation process, they require a power source, which may not be available in remote camping locations. Manual hand pumps, on the other hand, can be time-consuming and physically demanding, especially if you aren’t accustomed to the effort required.

It’s important to weigh these pros and cons carefully and consider your specific needs, budget, and camping preferences when deciding whether an inflatable tent is the right choice for your outdoor adventures.

Blow Up Tent for Camping: Sönmez London 360 Discover

sonmez london at dusk

As I noted earlier, one of the inflatable tents I’ve been testing is the Sönmez London 360 Discover. I won’t get deep into the details about this tent here since I have a full review article on that topic.

However, I do want to offer a few highlights of this tent to showcase why I’ve been so impressed with it so far:

  • Inflation takes just a few minutes – setup couldn’t be more simple!
  • It’s 124 inches in length, 124 inches in width, and 84 inches in height, giving me all kinds of space.
  • The abundance of windows and skylights brings the outdoors in.
  • The construction is next-level good.
  • It’s built for extreme environmental conditions (from -40°F to 158°F). The tent also has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 80 (UV standard 801), ensuring a shield against harmful UV rays.

Again, be sure to check out the full review linked above to learn all about this tent. There’s many other impressive features and amenities that make this one of the best inflatable tents on the market!

Blow Up Tent for Camping: RBM Outdoors Panda Medium & Large

rbm outdoors panda large inflatable tent review

 

I have to share a few details about my RBM Outdoors Panda tents, too…

The medium and large-sized Panda tents are the first inflatable tents I ever tested and showed me the possibilities that await when you camp with an inflatable tent. My large and small versions share many of the same top-notch features, such as:

  • Canvas construction that’s durable and breathable
  • Two large doors on either end for easier ingress and egress
  • A stove jack for adding a wood stove for cold-weather camping
  • Robust stakes and guy lines to enhance the tent’s wind resistance
  • Four-weather camping capabilities

rbm outdoors panda large tent desert

You can read my complete review of the large-sized tent for additional details. Just bear in mind that the medium tent has all the same features but comes in a smaller size (118″L x 87″W x 87″H as opposed to the 157.5″L x 118″W x 87″H dimensions of the large version). As such, my review of the large tent is informative of the medium tents’ overall specs as well.

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