Camping chairs are essential caravan accessories – and here at Practical Caravan, we think inflatable furniture is well worth considering.

No longer are such items the reserve of children’s bedrooms. These can be affordable, easy to pack options. Are they comfortable? Well, some might argue that nothing you can ever pack in your tourer will come close to rivalling that which you have at home, however we don’t think comfort needs to be compromised when on holiday – and today’s inflatable furniture really can do the job.

Think inflatables and wibbly-wobbly items that you roll or bounce off might come to mind, but no longer. Companies such as Vango, reviewed here, as well as SunnCamp, Intex, Bestway and others have developed advanced blow up furniture which might just surprise you. While modern airbeds often come close to matching the support and comfort you’ll get at home in your own bed, it has to be said that because of their height, the designers and manufacturers of inflatable chairs haven’t quite managed to work all the wobble from their items, and giving you a truly supportive backrest has proved another huge challenge – but we were impressed and we think you will be too. Indeed, we feel that many of the inflatables we tested are better for lounging in than metal framed camping chairs.

Of course, these items have other advantages when you’re holidaying in a caravan. Once deflated, they fold away very small, they’re also light so easy to carry about. However, remember that once inflated they can be big and bulky – and you might have to erect an awning in which to store them, as you can’t leave them outside because they’ll blow away. Care is also needed when using these items as they’re liable to puncture, and you must remember to top them up with air.

So, how did we evaluate the inflatable chairs in our group test? To make sure that the tests were fair and inflation times comparable, we used the same 12V pump for every chair review. We wanted to know how long each product took to inflate and to deflate. We also appraised them for how comfortable they were, what the sitting height was, how simple they were to get out of, what they were like to sit upright in and to lounge in, and with an eye on practicality we considered how large they were once inflated and how much seating area each provides. Value for money was another consideration.

This Vango armchair is priced at £21 – not the cheapest we tested, but also not the most expensive. We have to admit that we weren’t fans of its sobre colours. Many rivals are fun and bright, but this is very much a subjective decision and you might like the Vango chair’s tones. 

Compared to rivals, this chair is slightly fiddlier and slower to inflate. That’s because its base support ring has to be inflated separately, and it’s fitted with a narrow-diameter valve. Fortunately, this extra chamber is small and it only adds 30 seconds to the overall time taken to get the armchair ready for use. And despite this, at the end of our Vango armchair review, we gave it a very strong four out of five rating, so if you can live with its monochrome look, it’s well worth considering.

We tried a number of products for this group test, so why not check out the Practical Caravan reviews of the Easy Camp Movie Seat Double, the Gelert ABD099, the unusual Bestway Moda and Bestway Nestair, the SunnCamp single flocked sofa, the Intex Café Chaise, the cute (and very affordable!) Bestway Comfi Cube and the Intex Beanless Bag. The Editor’s Choice and our group test winner was the SunnCamp 5 in 1 sofa bed