Fans of music, mud and outdoor living are about to be in their element again. Festival season is approaching, when all that stands between thousands of campers and the unreliable British weather is a thin layer of canvas.
As a keen festival-goer myself, it’s my favourite time of year. But I have a problem. Wrestling with a tent, pegs, ropes and an instruction manual in a soggy field is not for me.
So imagine my relief when a veteran of one of the most famous festivals in the world – Glastonbury – let me into a little secret which could revolutionise my experience – the inflatable tent.
This ingenious new invention by Heimplanet, a German design company, promises ‘intuitive and extremely fast pitching’. So fast, in fact, I can be safely sheltered from the elements in just four minutes.
Heimplanet have three blow-up tents in their range, which cost from £280 for the basic two-man model to £3,800 for their most advanced base camp-style structure.
That one, shown above, is called the Maverick. It’s a staggering 200 times more expensive than some of the cheapest standard tents on the market but is claimed to be ‘extremely stable and robust’ in every weather condition, including wind speeds higher than 110mph – equivalent to a category-two hurricane. Not to be sneezed at, then – but not necessary for the average British festival season, perhaps.
To put the designs to the test, I opted for the company’s middle-of-the-range three-man model, the more affordable £450 Cave, and headed for Devil’s Dyke, a beauty spot on the South Downs near Brighton.
The first setback was realising it doesn’t come with a pump, which must be bought separately. This could seriously deflate any festival-goer’s confidence, along with their chances of a dry weekend. Not to be deterred, however, I managed to obtain one and got to work...
How I got festival version up in just 4 minutes
Start: I’ve found a good spot and begin reading the instruction manual. First things first – I remove the tent from its bag, which is a real faff. It takes 51 seconds to get it all out, and then it has to be unfurled and spread out. A bad start. Now I have to work out which way is up.
One minute: Time to start pumping – but my pump is manual. This is going to make me work up a sweat. But it starts inflating relatively easily and I can see it start to take shape… until I realise that, after three minutes, one of the nozzles is open, preventing it from inflating fully.
Four minutes: A final pump. I’m sweaty, but I have a roof, albeit not a particularly sturdy one. And I think I’m entitled to feel an inflated sense of pride!
After all, I’ve met the four-minute challenge, despite an uncertain start. I remind onlookers not to smoke near my new home for fear of it deflating. I’m not sure I trust my fellow festival revellers to be as thoughtful, though. They may mistake it for a bouncy castle.
Time to peg it into the ground before it blows away.