Here at Practical Caravan, we’re always on the look out for new and innovative caravan accessories, which is why we decided to conduct an inflatable furniture group test. As you can see from the image, the Easy Camp Movie Seat Double is a bright, fun looking product – and at £20 it is very affordable, too. But surely conventional camping chairs are better items to pack on your caravan holidays? Read on to find out.

We don’t think that comfort should be compromised when on tour. While your caravanning chairs are unlikely to rival what you’ve got at home, we all still want to be able to relax and enjoy time in and around our vans – and inflatables might be one solution. No longer is blow up furniture the reserve of children’s playrooms and swimming pools. Technology has moved on. Admittedly, while today’s airbeds offer almost the same levels of support and comfort as their domestic equivalents, due to their height, inflatable furniture still has some way to go. Having said that, inflatables have a number of advantages when touring.

For a start, they’re often pretty cheap. They are also very compact and light when deflated and folded away, making them simple to store in your van. In addition, these products are often brightly coloured and fun to look at – you could even co-ordinate them with your other caravan accessories.

The drawbacks? Well, you’ll probably need an awning in which to store them, as an inflatable chair left outside will just blow away. A little care in use is needed, too, as they can puncture – and don’t forget to top them up with air every few days.

Every item of inflatable furniture in the Practical Caravan group test was subjected to the same regime. We wanted to see how long it took for each product to inflate or deflate, always using the same basic 12V pump to ensure inflation times were fair. On the best models, the valve can be removed completely, significantly speeding up deflation time. Comfort was another factor, taking into account sitting height, ease of standing up from them and how they perform when our testers sit upright or lean back and lounge in them.

Some inflatable camping chairs are rather large once blown up, so we also took this into consideration, as well as the amount of seating space each product offered. Finally, and crucially, we looked at value for money.

Here we review the Easy Camp Movie Seat Double, a green, PCV chair for two. However, as you can see, it only received a two-star rating. Why? The Practical Caravan testers didn’t like the very low, 20cm sitting height, nor were they fans of the pointless ring that raises your knees unnecessarily. These factors combine to make this a chair you’re happy to get out of – not that doing so is particularly easy. We tried sitting straight, lounging back and all manner of other sitting postures. None was remotely comfortable. 

What makes this so sad is that the plastics used, the flock finish, the large-diameter valves and the small footprint make this appear to be an ideal camping seat – at least on paper!

Faring slightly better and receiving three-star ratings were the Intex Café Chaise and Intex Beanless Bag, and three products from Bestway, the Moda, the Nestair and the Comfi Cube, while we gave four stars to the Vango armchair and the SunnCamp single flocked sofa, but just one to the Gelert ABD099. However the winner of the Practical Caravan group test was the very versatile SunnCamp 5 in 1 sofa bed, which scored five out of five.