Care and Feeding of Your Airbeam tent.
The latest piece for the Charles Camping website this month focuses on how to get the most out of an increasingly popular style of family camping tent.
Inflatable tents and awnings are here. After a decade on the market they aren't a thing that could catch on and become a big deal one day. They're a big deal now. They are the thoroughbreds in the family camping handicap and like any thoroughbred should be properly looked after to get the best out of them. This article will highlight the most common mistakes that people make and the things most likely to go wrong with an inflatable tent or awning. After several years of inflatable experience we have learned a thing or two and the following info will help you get the most out of your tent or awning for many years to come.
All of the quality brands offer at least a twelve month warranty on new inflatable tents but Vango go a couple of steps further. Firstly, they give a two year guarantee as standard and then on top of that they give a third year free to anyone who bothers filling out the warranty page on the Vango website (https://www.vango.co.uk/gb/product-registration). This guarantee covers replacement beams, fabric problems, stitching damage and quite a lot more. It is better than for any other kind of tent on the market. Not registering means that you lose out on the extra year but it also means that it takes longer to sort out problems if they do arise. Registering gives you something for nothing so don't put it off.
Read the manual.
I can't really stress this enough. Most tents have an instruction sheet stitched into the carry bag. They may not always be the best but that is hardly a reason to completely ignore a source of information. Videos from manufacturers, retailers and enthusiasts are all over YouTube and some do a great job of demonstrating how to pitch and in some cases how to strike Airbeam tents easily. If in doubt pop into the shop, give us a call or send us an email with your query and we will help as best we can.
Check the contents.
Airbeam tents and awnings, like every tent we sell come packaged in a bag which should contain; the tent, a variety of pegs, the pump, a basic repair kit or patch and, some other possibilities such as a mallet or king poles. Before heading off on a trip you should check that everything which should be in the bag is in the bag. For the first time this year some companies have started to sell inflatable tents without the pump being included. This saves a few euro off the headline price but does render the thing pretty useless. A pump is one of those things that you just can’t have too many of but not having one is a real problem akin to buying a car without wheels. If sourcing a pump other than from the tent manufacturer do make sure that the nozzle fits the tent valves as there are a couple of different varieties.
Use the pressure gauge.
Although problems with Airbeams are pretty minimal we do find that the most common hassle is both self-inflicted and, completely avoidable. Inflating beyond the maximum permitted pressure will, not might but will, cause problems. Beams almost never burst but overinflation will cause the tube to expand beyond the confines of the tent sleeve requiring the tent to be returned to the manufacturer for repair. This produces a repair which is absolutely as good as new but it's never a fast process so just don't overdo the pumping. Use the supplied pressure gauge to make sure that you are within sensible limits.
The maximum safe pressure on tent beams is usually about 7 psi. Maximum. Not recommended but maximum. Anything between five and six psi will be plenty of pressure to keep your tent up and hassle free. Remember that, 5 not 11. You don't run your car tyres at fifty or sixty psi because they would be forced off the rims at such a high pressure. The physics is exactly the same for tents so don't get carried away.
The pressure gauge is also extremely useful for checking that the pressure in the beams hasn't increased due to direct hot sunlight. Stick the pump into the valve and see where the needle settles. If it is too high let some air out and if the reverse is true then pump it up a little. Not normally much of a problem in Ireland but in the summer of 2018, it was certainly something to bear in mind. Electric pumps can be set to a maximum pressure and will cut off automatically at the appropriate point.
So, to recap: Over five psi no problem, over seven psi no point and always use the pressure gauge.
In a humid country like Ireland condensation is a fact of life in tents. People generate moisture and that moisture evaporates into the air and condenses on the inside of tent fabric at the point where the warm air inside the tent meets cold air outside the tent. In a traditional poled tent this moisture tends to be spread all around the inside of the fabric overnight and generally dissipates during the day. Drips only happen on pointed sections or junctions in the fabric. On airbeam tents condensation is mostly concentrated on the beams themselves. This concentration means that in extreme cases with little ventilation moisture can build up to the point where it will flow down the beam.
Curing the symptoms would involve wiping down the walls or perhaps putting a towel down at the foot of the beams. A much better solution though is to solve the problem at source. Condensation hates ventilation. A good flow of air pretty much eliminates the problem on all but the dampest, most still days. Keep all the vents wide open. Leave some door zips slightly open or just use the mosquito net if possible. Avoid using heaters within the tent as this just increases the difference in temperature between the inside and outside air and ultimately produces more condensation. The other thing to do is try to keep all wet gear outside the main tent in the porch whenever possible. A large pile of rainwear, wetsuits or wellies provides a massive damp reservoir that ensures a good supply of condensation. Keep them outside and the supply is cut off.
Further information can be found here https://www.vango.co.uk/gb/content/25-faqs
This last point is not specific to inflatable tents nor is it critical for brand new tents and awnings but is certainly relevant once they have had two or three years use. UV light has a damaging effect on all fabrics over time. As exposure increases the fabric loses strength and flexibility and is more likely to fade and tear. Cleaning the flysheet and re-coating with Grangers Fabsil or Nikwax tent & gear Solarproof will keep the water repellency in top condition and minimise the effect of UV light.
We hope you find this article useful but if you have any questions or need further information then get in touch by phone on 045 865 351 or email me at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.