One of the most dreaded parts of camping is pitching a tent with metal poles. Tents with inflatable poles are quicker and simpler to set up, easy to transport, and able to stand up to extreme weather conditions better than traditional tents can.
The Kelty Airlift 4 tent has inflatable poles made of a TPU “inner tube” similar to the ones on a bicycle. The inner tube is surrounded by a thick, sturdy polyester sheath. The sheath protects the inner tube from punctures and abrasions and makes the tent poles stiff when they are inflated.
A pump is used to inflate the poles to 6 to 9 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. The tent also includes valves and Velcro pads to hold the feet of the beams. That makes an inflatable tent significantly heavier than a traditional tent with aluminum, fiberglass, or carbon fiber poles.
Most inflatable tent poles are not free-standing. They need stakes or guy lines to provide tension and keep them upright.
To set up the Kelty Airlift 4 tent, the four corners need to be staked out. The pump is connected to the main x-beam tent structure, and then the x-beam and the vestibule’s smaller u-beam are pumped up. The tent can be assembled in 60 to 90 seconds. The rain fly is stretched across the tops of the poles. The inner tent area where people sleep is hung from the poles. The two layers do not need to be separated.
Inflatable tent poles can withstand strong winds and debris that may fall or be blown on to them. They will simply bend and then bounce back to their original shape.
Inflatable tents are easier to repair than traditional tents if they become damaged during a camping trip. If a pole is punctured, it can be patched by removing the protective polyester sheath and affixing a patch to the hole.
An inflatable tent can pack smaller than a conventional tent and can bend without breaking. It can be collapsed down to the smallest shape possible, making it easier to transport than a traditional tent.