Inflatable tents were created to allow solo campers the ease of putting up a tent without struggling with poles, ropes and more. Though there are plenty of questions that come with new technology such as inflatable tents.
Inflatable tents are not easily punctured but it can still be possible. The materials that have been used to produce the inflatable tents are tough and are made to withstand contact from external bodies such as plants, insects and ground.
In this article we are going to talk about the different elements of an inflatable tent, if they can puncture and how to fix them.
What Is an Inflatable Tent?
An inflatable tent is similar to traditional tents, but the key difference is that instead of using regular poles made up of either plastic, metal, or fiberglass to keep it standing, it relies on inflatable beams, which are filled with are to give it structure.
All you need is a pump to inflate the tents, making them easier to handle than traditional tents. When putting regular tents up, you have to ensure you place the poles properly, which could require help from someone else (making it almost impossible to set up all by yourself).
In addition to the fact that one person can successfully mount an inflatable tent by themselves, they will spend less time doing so than traditional tents. However, they do not all take the same amount of time to inflate as the process depends on the tent’s size and the kind of pump used.
Nonetheless, the process of setting up the tent is smoother and more straightforward.
Convenience was the primary reason the type of tent was created. Before they were made, campers would arrive at the campgrounds and spend considerable time “fighting” with their tents. Unfortunately, they cannot skip this step because it is the first thing to do when unpacking your things.
People who have embraced inflatable tents make others go green when they arrive at campsites after having their tent standing in no time.
This does not apply to only small tents. Even large, family-sized, high-quality inflatable tents can be up and running in about 12 minutes. That saves energy and gives one time to do other things with their time.
Inflatable tents are more lightweight and would be easier to carry if you have to walk some distance from your car or RV to where you will be setting up. When working with traditional tents, you might accidentally break some of the poles needed to give them structure because of prolonged usage.
This would lead to you either spending money to replace them or making makeshift solutions – like using duct tape – to mend them.
Even though inflatable tents are lightweight, they are sturdy enough to be kept on the ground. Do not imagine them as something similar to balloons that would float off with the wind without much hesitation.
After inflation, the tents need to be pegged down at strategic points and secured with guy ropes to stay resilient in harsh weather conditions, sometimes better than traditional tents.
Can You Puncture Inflatable Tents?
Inflatable tents are not some cheap alternative to traditional tents. They were made to be better and more convenient than regular tents, and thus, they are made to be high-quality and not a step down to what they were created to replace. However, this does not mean inflatable tents are indestructible.
Traditional tents hold up well against harsh environmental conditions and give way if they are not adequately cared for. The same applies to inflatable tents. They are reliable, generally speaking, but inadequate maintenance would wear them out.
Inflatable tents are not easily punctured, but that is not to say it is impossible. The materials used to make the tent are tough to withstand contact from external bodies like plants, insects, pebbles, and other things of the sort. It would not rip open carelessly, but that is not an invitation to push it to its limits.
It would always be a good idea to place inflatable tents – or any other tent for that matter – on flat-level surfaces clear of twigs, sticks, rocks, etc., because it reduces the likelihood of it being punctured.
If you do not do anything out of the ordinary with your inflatable tent, it should not get punctured. To deal with this problem, if it arises, some inflatable tent manufacturers have resorted to including a puncture repair kit in the package their tent comes in so campers can quickly fix their tent and not let an unfortunate puncture incident ruin their camping trip.
Most puncture repair kits are easy to use, provided the holes they are to be used on are not too large. If your inflatable tent does not come with its own puncture repair kit, you get one from an online store like Amazon.
It is also essential to know how the air will be distributed throughout the tent after being pumped in. For some inflatable tents, there would be continuous airflow throughout its structure, which means air needs to be pumped in through only one channel, but in other cases, the tents would have separate inflatable poles.
Regardless of the type of inflatable tent you use, the entire structure would not collapse on you if it suffers a puncture at midnight since you can close off each section of the first type of tent at will. The second type of tent is already partitioned by design.
How to Repair A Punctured Inflatable Tent?
If you have sufficient camping experience, you should be aware that some of your gear or kits can suffer damage, so it would be best to have spares.
This rule of thumb also applies to tents – whether traditional or inflatable – because the same way regular tent poles can break, that is the same way inflatable tent air tubes can get damaged. The air tubes are built to last for several years, but sometimes they might get punctured accidentally.
It is expected that a camper should have spare air tubes or patching tape with them at the campsite in case this happens because if their inflatable tent suffers damage and they do not have, they might have to leave the campground early than they planned.
Before thinking of the possibility of repairing your inflatable tent when it gets damaged, remember that prevention is better than cure and should be careful not to pitch your inflatable tent in an area where there are rocks, sticks, or other sharp objects that are unfriendly to air tubes.
It is rare to get unexpected punctures on your air tent if you proactively take steps to prevent them, but if your tent gets punctured, there are ways to fix it yourself on-site.
Methods For Fixing A Punctured Air Tube
Now we have figured out whether an inflatable tent can be punctured you might want to know ways in which you can fix a puncture if you happen to get one. Here are two ways in which you can repair a puncture and restore life back into your inflatable tent.
When an air tube gets spoilt, the best solution is to replace it with a new one (or a spare), but if you cannot do that at the moment, you should settle for repairing it. While it will be a temporary solution, it is a reliable one to take you through the rest of your trip.
Note that taking the air tube out of the inflatable tent should be a last resort and an action taken only when you are 100% sure that it has been punctured and needs repair.
- Firstly, you take the air tube out of the tent and deflate it completely. When all the air has been expelled, then you remove it from its protective sleeve.
- Air tubes have two parts; the first is the internal bladder – which is the plastic tube gets inflated when air is fed into the tube – and a case that can be zipped open and shot. Take the internal bladder – the first part gives the entire air tube its shape – out of its casing.
- Check the valve to verify if it has any problems or not. If it is okay, then you can move to the next step.
- Examine the internal bladder to see all the spots that are leaking. If none are, then you can put the bladder in its casing.
- When you have spotted the holes, stretch the internal bladder out on a flat surface as much as possible and apply tape on the affected areas. There are repair tapes sold on online stores like Amazon specifically for this purpose, but duct tape should work too.
- Ensure the tape is firmly attached to the internal bladder and there are no pockets of space in the tape where air can use as an escape route.
- If all is now in good shape, you have to put the internal bladder back in its case and return the air tube to the inflatable tent.
If you suspect that your inflatable tent is punctured, note that the air pressure loss might be because of several environmental factors such as low atmospheric temperature. When the temperature is low, the air pressure will drop, leading one to feel the tent has been punctured.
In this case, you need to pump in more air to make the inflatable tent sturdy again.
If adding more air does not do the trick, you can check the valve to see if grit or dust prevents it from closing entirely and letting air escape. If that still does not work, you might have a puncture situation on your hands, and here is what you should do.
- Deflate the affected air tube and proceed to remove it from the tent’s flysheet. Open the air tube and take out the internal bladder.
- Look out for visible signs of puncture on the bladder, and there is not any, gently pump some air into it and listen for some noise that indicates air is leaking. Alternatively, you can put the internal bladder against your face to feel the spot where the air is escaping from.
- An old trick to locate is small puncture is to dip the suspected affected area in a small bowl of water and watch where the bubble escapes from.
- Once the affected area has been spotted, mark around it with a marker and let it deflate entirely.
- Wipe the area around the puncture gently but thoroughly with an alcohol swab to remove any grease trace and then leave it to dry.
- Get a repair patch made for sealing punctures and cut out a sizable portion that will adequately cover the affected area, and use it to seal the hole.
- Ensure there are no creases or air bubbles on the patch used to seal the puncture.
- Let the repair patch dry as per the instructions given by the manufacturer.
- Once this patch is dry, pump some air into the bladder and gently squeeze to see if the air would escape through the area that was just worked on.
- Put back the internal bladder in its casing such that it will not twist, and watch out for the zip.
- Inflate the air tube before putting it back in the tent’s flysheet and leave it to stand overnight to ensure no more problems.
- If everything is all good the morning after, then you can fix the air tube back into the flysheet and use it again.
Steps To Replace An Air Tube
Replacing the air tube is always better than repairing a puncture, as mentioned before. If you want to get it changed, the steps to do so would be discussed here. You might have tried to repair the air tube yourself, but you have to replace the thing entirely if it does not work.
- Firstly, you should deflate the air tube to replaced and unzip it from inside the inflatable tent’s flysheet.
- When it is deflated, you should remove the plastic internal bladder from its casing just like you would when trying to repair a puncture in the air tube.
- Place the new internal bladder down on the ground alongside the old one. Please insert it into the air tube casing, making sure it does not twist on the way in. Note that if you let the bladder rotate, it could either block air being pumped into it or give the air tube an unnatural shape.
- Lock the internal bladder in place by attaching the valve to the socket through the casing and into the bladder.
- Zip the casing closed after fitting the new internal bladder into it. Be careful not to get it caught in the zip during the process.
- Put the air tube back into the flysheet of the inflatable tent. To make this easy, you can inflate the air tube a little to give it shape, which would make the installation easier.
- Insert the air tube and line the valve up correctly. After, close the tent sleeve around the air tube and inflate it fully.
Tips for repairing a punctured air tube on-site
- Avoid the temptation of inflating an air tube when it is not inside its case, and do not open the case any time the air tube is inflated.
- When you repair a punctured air tube, place it carefully into the tent’s flysheet and inflate it slowly.
- When you are reinflating the air tube, keep an eye on the air pressure to ensure there is minimal stress on the patched-up portion of the tube.
- Keep in mind that repairs are always temporary so prepare to get a replacement as soon as your camping trip is over.
- Repair tapes – and sometimes duct tape – will be sufficient to cover almost all punctures inflatable tents can suffer.
- If you are not confident in repairing an air tube yourself, get help because you could end up doing more harm than good to it.
- As mentioned earlier, always have a spare air tube handy so you can change a punctured air tube if the need arises because it would be more reliable that repairing an existing one.