You can get some fantastic inflatable family tents these days. Some are massive. It’s amazing how much the inflatable tubes can hold whereas, in the past, we would have had to use heavy steel tent poles.
Why inflatable tents can be difficult to put away
As much as we’ve loved many of the inflatable tents we’ve tested, there is one problem with all of them, especially the larger ones, and that’s this: getting them back in their bag can be a nightmare!
getting them back in their bag can be a nightmare!
When we used to use steel tent poles, we would often store the tent poles separately to the bag holding the tent. This would give a bit more space in the tent bag, and also made the tent bag lighter.
The downside, of course, is forgetting to bring the separate bag of tent poles with you when you go to the campsite!
Of course, air framed tents don’t have many tent poles, apart from maybe a few for porch shelters over the door or canopies, so splitting your tent into separate bags is not possible.
It has always been a challenge getting large polyester tents back in their bag. That’s because air gets trapped inside them.
We’ve covered before the technique of rolling up the tent to get it back in its bag. But with inflatable tents, the problem is a little worse, since you now have air in the ‘poles’ too.
An Eight-Step Process for Getting Your Tent Back in its Bag
Here’s a simple eight-step process that we’ve found helps get an inflatable tent back in its bag.
1. Open all the doors before deflating.
This sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many times this simple step can be forgotten in the rush to pack away at the campsite.
Unzip all the doors so there’s less chance of air getting trapped in your tent.
2. Open the valves and let your tent deflate.
3. [OPTIONAL] Walk the air tubes WITH CAUTION !!
This is a technique we introduced this year, and if you do this, I would do so with extreme caution. It could even invalidate any warranty on your tent!
Basically, we take shoes off and carefully walk along the air tubes in the direction of the open valve.
We’ve found this help get the air out of the tubes and check that all the internal valves have been opened. This last step is particular to the Outwell Smart Air range of tents.
In our Outwell Montana 6SA, it has isolation valves. If they’ve not been opened, the cross-bracing beams in the Outwell Smart Air tents will still be full of air. Checking the tent over before starting to fold it is a good check to make sure all the valves are open, and the air can escape.
4. Start folding the tent
We used to fold and roll the tent lengthways. However, with inflatable tents, it’s best to roll them sideways towards the open valves.
Place your tent bag down next to your tent, and start folding the ends of the tent inwards, until you have a folded tent that’s the same width (or a bit less) than your tent bag.
5. Roll the tent
If you do have a bag of some tent poles, place them on the folded tent at the opposite end to the valves, then use them to start rolling up the tent.
The extra weight of the poles will help expel the air.
Roll the tent slowly, stopping at every turn to put some weight on the roll to force the air out.
Continue until you reach the bag.
6. Re-roll, if required
You might be lucky to get the rolled up tent the perfect size on your first attempt. Chances are though that there’s still a bit too much air left in there.
Do a quick re-roll. Re-rolling won’t take very long.
Just unroll the tent, and start again. It will be a lot easier and faster the second time, and you’ll end up with a much tighter tent roll.
7. Tie up the rolled-up tent
When you first opened your tent, chances are there was some straps or ribbon tied around your tent. You did keep these, didn’t you?
You’ll want to use these now to tie your bundle up so it doesn’t come unrolled.
The best tent tie-up we’ve seen has been with the Zempire tents. This was a strap that could be easily tightened to help force the air out of the tent. I might try and make myself something similar.
8. Get your tent back in its bag
By now, you should have a bundle that will fit into its bag.
For the Outwell Montana 6SA shown in this photo, we can simply roll the bundle into the bag.
For some other tents, you’ll need to ‘drop’ the tent into the bag….though don’t do that. Instead, start at one end of the tent bundle, working the bag over the tent. When you are over half the way there, turn the tent the other way up, and you should be able to pull the rest of it into the bag.
If you follow these simple steps, you will hopefully get your tent back in its bag.
Don’t get too frustrated though if it doesn’t work the first time for you. It doesn’t always for us.
On some days, the tents just don’t want to cooperate!
On some days, the tents just don’t want to cooperate! 😉
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