Air Tents / Tips You Should Know:
Air tents are the new camping must have and Air Tents are a very well designed. O'Meara Camping believe that there are a couple of things everyone should know before considering buying an Air Tent.
- New to the Market.
Air Tents are relatively new to the industry and there is not as many Air Tents in circulation as there are Pole Tents. People may know very little about Air tents. If something goes wrong customers may not know how to fix them or have the relevant tools or parts on site to make the repair. As air tents are relatively new we do not know yet what the life span of the air tubes are before full replacement bladders will be needed.
- More Expensive.
The cost to produce an Air tent is still an expensive process and therefore the sale price of these tents reflect this. Many people believe that the Air tent due to its cost price should be indestructible. Please remember the Air tents are still only held up by “Air”. Camping in the elements, heavy rain and the Irish winds it’s worth remembering that no tent is “bricks and mortar”. The cost of producing air tents is not coming down in price any time soon.
- Heavier & Bulky.
The Air tents are heavier and bulkier than the pole tents of the same or similar model.
- The fabric is generally a heavier grade normally 150Denier. But some companies have produced the air tents in a lighter material, but this will affect its durability also so please be aware that price is always affected by reduced features or quality.
- The Air tubes are zipped into the tent and are not stored separately. They generally come in 1 bag which can be considerably heavy. The bags over time may not be durable enough for the weight of the tent if you drag the bag on lift with only 1 handle.
4. Convenience Tent.
Air Tents are a convenience product they allow a once awkward size tent which may have been heavy and time consuming to put up now a tent that is easy and suitable for 1 person or a loan parent to do. Convenience does not mean that air tents are stronger. They are durable and very reliable, but they can bend, and they can even burst on occasion.
Air Tent Pros:
- Easy to put up. An air tent can be very quickly set up by 1 person no matter the size of the air tent you purchased. You can now purchase a tent for a family of 8 and not need any help to erect it. Major plus.
- You can also take down and put away your tent yourself. This might take a little bit of practise as the bags provided for all tents are tight. Rolling it correctly and to the size of the tent will take time to get it right.
- Peg First + Pump + Guy ropes = Done.
- Air tubes can bend but don’t break in wind so you should no longer ever have the issues of having to replace a pole mid camping.
- Modern, different, easy, an air tent stands out from the rest of tents on site.
- Fast to put up and again take down just minutes. What more could you ask for?
Air Tent Cons:
- More expensive then the same size tent in a Fibreglass version. In many cases, almost double the price.
- The weight is heavier than the fibreglass pole tent. Air Tents can range up to 45Kgs in weight if not more.
- You will need enough boot space as the air tent takes up a large amount of room.
- Requires a pump. So, don’t forget this and always have a spare.
- Air tubes can bend in heavy wind and if strong winds hit the tent at a 45 degree angle the tubes will collapse in on the tent until that wind subsides.
- Tubes can have air leaks and it is always good to have a patch kit with you if not a spare bladder and in that case then also a spare cap for the tube. You don’t want to be in the south of France and realise that you are missing a cap and unable to pump up your tent.
Air Tents are a convenience tent. They are not as strong as Steel pole tents. For us we believe that the Pros out weight the Cons of a air tent and once you the consumer know that if you purchase a Air Tent you have chosen Convenience over Stability.
Situations O'Meara camping have come across:
Air Tubes Deflating Possible Reasons:
- The close off cap / air intake valve is not closed fully or tightened enough.
- The rubber behind the self- sealing valve is loose, missing, bent or cracked. Rubber not sealing can allow air out of your tube.
- You have over pumped your tubes and caused your rubber bladder to stretch or expand beyond its specification. Thus, the tube has perhaps burst or started to leak air.
- Your air tube is faulty. Replacement tubes can take a couple of days to order in. They would not always be available on the day of ordering.
- Your air tube has a hole in it. Holes can be patched on site like a bicycle tube. Patch kit is normally provided with new air tents by the supplier. if they are not supplied, we advise you do not go camping without first getting one.
Air Tubes Bending Possible Reasons:
- On most of the Air Tent models I have seen the tubes are internal and sit on a Velcro base at each side of the tent. The tubes can move and come away from these Velcro base sections causing the tube to bend or look offline. It is easy to fix just deflate the tube slightly and place the tube back in the correct position. Re pump.
- Air Tubes can also tend to twist within its zipped compartment. This usually only happens to models which have an internal air connection valve. It can also happen on older models of air tents. The Air Tube has a natural angle or bend just like a steel pole would have. The angles are positioned at the top right- and left-hand side of the tube. If the tubes twist, then this angle will be wrong and start to face in the wrong direction. The air tubes will start to bend inwards rather than outwards.
Front or Back Tube Collapsing in on your tent: (Our Notes)
- Most tent models come equipped with Guy Ropes or Buckle Straps which give tension to the front and the back of the tents. If the buckle straps are not supplied and suggested as “An Optional Extra” I advise that you get them. These buckle straps are very important to use as the front tube and back tube slant to the ground. Because of these big sails of fabric (Front & back of tent) the wind tends to force this fabric inwards.
- Without the guy ropes or buckle straps in position and well pegged with good strong pegs the “wind will win”. You must have these ropes in place and pegged. Air Tubes have been well tested and do stand up to some extreme weather conditions. Straps must be pegged tight but not over tight if you over tension your guy line or buckle strap you can help to create a bend in your air tube. They are there to brace your tent from side winds.
- But if strong winds hit your tent at a 45 degree angle your air tube could bend in quite badly until the wind subsides. The heavier the material such as Cotton will bend more than Polyester. The same size and weight tube / bladder hold up both types of fabric. Even though the Cotton material is better long term it will bend more in heavy strong winds.
Under Inflated Tube:
- Your Air tube can sag or not support the material properly if under inflated, Experience is the best teacher in this case.
- Your tent will be sold with a PSI rating for the air tube. This PSI is the air pressure your tent is supposed to take. Therefore, if you have a tent which has a 8PSI rating and you pump to 6PSI then your tent air tubes will feel soft to the touch or you will be able to squeeze them. This would mean they are under inflated.
- Most Air tents come with their own manual pump with a PSI gauge reading on it. Use this gauge but test your tube yourself once pumped and make sure that your tube feels fully pumped. Pumps can fail the gauge can break or the pump itself can break. There are better pumps available or a spare is advisable.
Zips broken or will not close:
- Most air tents when you first buy them the zips are preclosed. Please peg your tent fully at this stage. Tent doorways especially should only be pegged when closed. If pegged when open, you could over tension the zips.
- I would then advise opening the doorways when pumping your tent as it allows air to flow into the tent body helping the tent take shape and stand up otherwise there will be a vacuum effect when your tent stands up.
- There are zips on all bladders of your air tent. As you pump the bladders expand to fill the space. Do not over inflate your tubes as you will be putting undue pressure on your zips. If you over inflate or use a compressor pump you can cause your zips to burst and your bladder to explode. Your warranty does not cover the use of a compressor pump.
Leaking Water / Condensation:
- Leaking is something Air Tube tents have battled with since the beginning. The Tubes are pumped with cold air from a manual pump and generally at a pressure of somewhere between 5-8 psi. At night, the outside temperature drops, and most campers have a heater on inside their tents. Air in the Tubes is still cold and when the hotter warmer moist air hits the cold tubes it turns to moisture. The moisture can then either drip or run down the tube. The moisture can even puddle at the base of the tubes. It may not have been raining at all for this phenomenon to occur. Even if it was raining you must see is it water that is leaking through from outside or is it the moisture / condensation on the tubes. It is almost certainly condensation.
- There is very little you can do about condensation other than ventilation and camping at night can be cold. Either live with a small bit of moisture or turn off the heaters. If your tent is leaking rainwater, then of course it is covered under a 12-month warranty. If you are outside your warranty and your tent has started to leak rainwater; you may have to reproof your tent or see if there is any damage to the skin of your tent. Reproofing is a good practise to follow always.
- Do No clean your tent material with any solution like baby wipes, Dettol wipes or washing up liquid doing this may remove your tents water barrier allowing rain to come through.
Most tent manufacturer’s supply their Air Tent models with a Double Action Hand Pump. Double action meaning the pump will continue to pump air into the tube on the Up and Down motion. Some pumps will have a built-in PSI reader on the pump letting you know how much air you have pumped into your tent. Most people have purchased 12 volt or electric pumps for size and convenience, but these DO NOT work on the air tubes. Any plastic hand pump can break! and trust me they do. Please we recommend that you have at least 2 hand pumps with you when going camping with an Air Tent. Most pumps have been damaged in storage or transport. Some pumps fail when you are either too strong or too forceful with them. Compressor Pumps are not suitable for Air Tents.