Even the best tents can be a pain to set up, and there are times when I wish that tent poles just weren't a thing. Enter the inflatable tent, a modern pole-less option that uses inflatable air bladders for support.
Granted, I haven't used a whole lot of these, but I've been impressed with the ones that I have tested. Although on the pricey side, they tend to be durable, very easy to set up and pack away, and have plenty of extra features.
In this article, I've listed five of the best inflatable tents on the Australian market today. Which one will be right for your next camping trip?
My Review Process
To bring you the following list of the best inflatable tents, I've reviewed countless options. Some stood out as poor choices immediately, while others, like the Vango Odyssey, clearly warranted a mention here.
The best inflatable tents should be durable, easy to set up and pack away, and small and light for transport. They should also have decent windows, enough space for you and your gear, and be able to stand up to wild weather.
Every model on this list excels in at least one of these criteria, and many perform excellently in all of them.
Sometimes, something just stands out so far ahead of the competition that it's almost impossible not to choose it. This is the case with the Vango Odyssey Air inflatable tent, which sleeps up to five people with plenty of storage space under the built-in sun canopy.
With its inflatable AirBeam design, this larger, family-camping style tent forgoes traditional poles. To set it up, you simply have to use the included double-action pump to inflate the air bladders. These form rigid supports that will keep your tent upright, even in windy conditions.
What's more, the Odyssey Air features large windows and plenty of ventilation. There are two rooms for extra privacy, and the entire tent is constructed with durable polyethylene fabric.
The main downside is that the groundsheet isn't sewn in, which can cause slight leaks in bad weather, but this isn't a dealbreaker. Apart from this, it's a nice durable tent. It's also a little pricey, but no more than other large air pole tents.
All things considered, the Vango Odyssey Air stands out clearly as the best inflatable tent on the Australian market.
If you're looking for a budget-friendly tent, most inflatable models will be out of your price range. However, the Zealwind 2-Person inflatable bubble tent is an excellent cheap option.
As you might expect, a low-cost tent like this doesn't have the greatest feature list. At 2.45kg, it's rather lightweight, which makes it a decent option for backpacking or taking on your next hiking trip. The included pump is quite compact, and it enables you to inflate your tent in a fast, efficient way.
I also like the spacious interior. This is marketed as a two-person tent, but there's plenty of room inside for your gear, or even for a third person. It's fully waterproof and features great UV protection, and I especially like how breathable it is.
Don't expect too many bells and whistles if you go with this Zempire air tent, but it's a leading option if you're on a tight budget.
Coleman is an industry leader in the tent market, and its Meadowwood Air tent is no exception. It boasts three large inflatable bladders which support the tent, along with a wide awning space and plenty of windows.
One thing I really like about this tent is that it blocks up to 99% of daylight when the mesh windows are closed. This makes it great for sleeping during the day or around bright light, and it also adds an extra layer of privacy.
On top of this, the two-room design provides plenty of personal space, and you can sleep up to four people comfortably. There's also loads of head space with the high ceiling.
Once again, the price tag is the main issue here, as it will be well out of most people's budget.
This small, lightweight inflatable tent is one of the best hiking models I've seen. It comes in at just 1.5kg, rivalling the best ultralight traditional tents for portability. There's a single inflatable air bladder that, when pegged out appropriately, will provide adequate support for your entire tent.
There's an air pump included, and it shouldn't take you more than a minute or two to get your tent set up. There's also a small carry bag that enables you to pack it away into a small, compact bundle. This makes it an excellent tent for folk who like backpacking or hiking for days at a time.
On top of this, the double-layer design features a large mesh door and windows for maximum ventilation. The main downside is that this Wiedao tent is really only big enough for one person, but it remains a super affordable option that's worth considering.
The HEIMPLANET 4-person inflatable dome tent is one of the most unique-looking tents I've ever seen. It uses a network of inflatable beams that are connected to the outside of the tent for support, and this makes it look something like a UFO from a distance.
But all jokes aside, this is a classy option for anyone looking for a premium tent. It's super stable and rated to wind speeds of up to 180km/h, which you will only ever see in a cyclone.
On top of this, there are 3-season and 4-season models available. It comes with a pump and pegs for extra stability, and the double-layered air struts are puncture resistant and can be isolated if damage occurs.
This pump-up tent is expensive, yes, but I'd seriously recommend having a close look at it if you've got a large budget.
How To Choose The Best Inflatable Tent
Choosing the right inflatable tent can be difficult at the best of times. On average, they are more expensive than your typical tent, and there isn't a whole lot of choice. To help you make the right choice, I've put together the following list of important decision-making factors.
Before you even think about buying an inflatable tent, you need to decide if you can afford one. Most models cost upwards of $1000, and although there are a few cheaper options, these tend to be quite basic.
If you do decide to go with an inflatable model over a traditional tent, I'd suggest setting your budget and sticking to it so you don't be tempted to spend more than you can afford.
As with all tents, you need to purchase an inflatable tent that's durable enough to stand up to Australia's tough conditions. Be careful of imported models, as these aren't always suited to our harsh sun, and look for a decent manufacturer's warranty.
Performance In Bad Weather
Since they don't have the support of traditional poles, not all air tents perform well in harsh weather conditions. That's not to say they all don't, though, as some are rated to 150km/h plus winds. If you're only planning to camp in nice summer weather, you probably won't have to worry about this. But be careful if you want a decent 4-season tent.
On average, inflatable tents are much heavier than traditional tents. This is because of the relatively heavy fabric that's required for the air bladder supports. Keep this in mind if you're looking for a lightweight tent for backpacking or hiking.
This one's relatively self-explanatory, but it's important to make sure that the tent you buy is big enough. It's often a good idea to buy one that's a size or two larger than you think you'll need so you have plenty of space for socials and storing your gear.
Decent ventilation is important to ensure your tent doesn't get stuffy and to reduce condensation. In smaller tents, plenty of windows is a good start. In larger tents, things like ceiling mesh windows and zippered mesh skylights are neat features to look out for.
Ease Of Repair
Last, but certainly not least, you need to ensure you purchase an inflatable tent that's easy to repair. The chances are that you will experience a puncture in one of your air bladders if you use your tent for any extended period of time, and it's important to be able to fix them. If you can't, you could find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere with no shelter.
The best inflatable tent on the market is the Vango Odyssey Air, a family-sized air tent with loads of space and large windows. It’s closely followed by the budget-friendly Zealwind Instant Camping Tent, and the other three models on this list are definitely worth looking at.
A good inflatable tent is a long-term investment, so make sure you take your time choosing the right model. You will be glad you did next time you’re out camping!
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.