If you’re looking for new camping chairs for your caravan holidays, have you thought about buying some inflatable furniture? When updating your touring gear, blow up furniture is often overlooked, but we think it is well worth considering – so much so that we ran a group product test.

So, why choose an inflatable chair over a conventional, folding one? Well, as a caravanner, you’ll appreciate why a lightweight chair is an advantage. These items are also very affordable and, when deflated, they can be packed down and folded away, making them very simple to store. 

We also think that inflatable chairs can be more comfortable than steel framed chairs. The manufacturers of inflatable chairs have, understandably, struggled to make the backrests of these chairs properly supportive, but advances in recent years have transformed things – if you’re thinking about wobbly old airbeds, think again. Granted, today’s airbeds are nearly as good as your mattress at home and inflatable chair technology hasn’t quite advanced to the stage that it will rival what you have in your lounge at home, but we were impressed – and we reckon you might be as well.

Are there any drawbacks to using blow up furniture? Well, if you’ve nowhere to store them (like, for example, an awning), these might not be the chairs for you, as they can blow away. They can also be rather big and bulky, plus they can be punctured. Finally, any piece of inflatable furniture will have to be topped up with air every couple of days, so do bear this in mind so you get the best from the product.

The Practical Caravan inflatable camping chair group test saw us bring together a number of products and we tested them all in the same way. We were keen to find out how long each takes to inflate and deflate, and we used the same 12V pump every time, so we could be sure that the tests were comparable.

We also assessed these chairs in terms of value for money, comfort, how easy they are to get out of and in to, what they are like for sitting upright in, what they’re like for lounging, how large they are when inflated and how much seating space they provide.

Here’s another unusual design from Bestway. The company seems to specialise in cheap, colourful, unconventional camping chairs – we have also reviewed the Bestway Moda and the Bestway Comfi Cube. And rather like those two, in particular the Moda, we think that it actually performs better than many more conventional seat-like models. This Nestair model is sold in pink and green as well as the blue pictured, so you can co-ordinate it with your other caravan accessories.

Essentially, this is a sloping square ring, in which you sit, that’s supported at the correct angle by a large tube that runs behind it. The seat area itself will prove to be a little narrow for the wider among us, but otherwise works well whether you sit upright or adopt a more relaxed position. Although there isn’t a seat base as such, you end up sitting a good 35cm above the ground. Easily the chair’s biggest downfall is its slow inflation/deflation times (four minutes 42 seconds) – due to the dreaded narrow-diameter valves.

As well as the Bestway products, the Practical Caravan team also reviewed the SunnCamp single flocked sofa, the Easy Camp Movie Seat Double, the Vango Armchair, the Gelert ABD099 and two Intex products, the Beanless Bag and the Café Chaise. The winner was the versatile SunnCamp 5 in 1 sofa bed.