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Tents That Float on Water

Floating tents revolutionized camping
Floating tents revolutionized camping

Can you imagine waking up to the sounds of water lapping underneath you? It’s not dream: there are tents that float on water out there, and they’re great! These floating tents allow you to camp right on the water for a unique camping experience.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about these tents, including what makes them perfect for your next camping trip.

What Are Floating Tents?

Floating tents, also called inflatable tent toppers or tent rafts, are essentially tent bases mounted on an inflatable platform that allows you to camp on water. Pretty cool right?

Its air beams inflate and provide a rigid structural support so that your tent can float stably while you sleep.

But How Do Floating Tents Work Exactly?

An inflatable floating tent has two main components:

  • Inflatable base: usually made of durable PVC that you inflate with a pump

    • The base should have high chambers around the edges to provide stability and flotation

  • Tent topper: basically a lightweight tent that attaches to the inflatable floor

    • Many are simple popup designs so that they erect quickly once anchored to the base

Setting up the tent is easy: you just inflate the base until it’s fully rigid, then secure the tent topper on top. Most floating tent platforms also have hooks or attachment points around the edges.

You can place an inflatable floating tent right in the water or on shore – it’s up to you. The durable air beams and tent poles provide ample structure so it doesn’t sink or tip, even with people moving around inside.

When deflated, floating tents pack down surprisingly small for storage and transport, which is extremely convenient.

Where Can You Use a Floating Tent?

Yes, it's possible to camp literally above the water
Yes, it’s possible to camp literally above the water

One of the best things of inflatable tents is that you can use them on almost any calm body of water.

For example, they are made for spots like:

  • Lakes

  • Ponds

  • Rivers

  • Reservoirs

  • Protected ocean coves or harbors

Slow-moving waterways are the best choice since you don’t want to drift too far or deal with waves rocking the tent.

Always make sure you check any regulations on where these shelters are allowed and pick a protected area away from boat traffic for safety.

Finding the Best Spot to Float Your Tent

You bought your first floating tent and can’t wait to try it out. Now what? You carefully pick a spot. How? Think about the following criteria when choosing where you’re going:

  • Water depth: most inflatable tents require at least 2-4 ft depth

    • This allows plenty of clearance beneath the platform while anchored

  • Protection: sheltered coves, harbors, or floating breakwaters block waves and wind that could sway your perch

  • Seclusion: for a private and a quiet environment, don’t anchor right off crowded beaches or marinas

  • Anchoring: ensure that the lake floor allows solid tie downs so you don’t drift away as you sleep

  • Local laws: look for any regulations that prohibit floating shelters in certain areas

What to Bring Aboard

To fully enjoy camping on the water, be sure you bring with you:

  • Sleeping bags & pillows

  • Camp chair(s)

  • Headlamp & lantern

  • Water/drinks & snacks

  • Sunscreen & hat

  • Insect repellent

  • Rain cover/tarp

  • Anchor/tie down system

  • Games or cards for entertainment

Remember to store your gear bags and supplies around the edges of the tent to keep the weight evenly distributed.

It’s also worth noting that since most floating tents have full rainflys and sealed floors, you’ll stay dry inside as long as you pay attention to waves flooding the entrances or heavy rain accumulating.

Safety Tips

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these safety tips are important:

  • Always have at least 2 people present when positioning your tent

  • Keep an eye on weather reports and avoid high winds or storms

  • Securely anchor at least 4-6 tie-down points per tent

  • Clear debris from the setup area that could puncture the tent floor

  • Ensure that there is sufficient depth to avoid hitting the bottom

  • Bring communication devices like phones or walkies

  • Always tell a friend or family member your exact float plan/location

  • Use the provided straps to attach the upper tent to the base

  • Inflate the base very firmly and check for leaks

  • Watch your footing when moving between shore and tent

Floating tents are extremely buoyant and stable when properly anchored, but you need to make sure that wind or waves don’t dislodge your temporary “island” paradise.

Finding the Perfect Floating Tent

When choosing an inflatable platform tent, keep these factors in mind:

  • Size – how many people will be sleeping there?

  • Weight – do you want something lighter you can easily transport or are fine with something heavier?

  • Fabric durability – choose resistant fabrics that can handle punctures and UV damage

  • Windows – you’ll want good ventilation and views

  • Setup time – is this tent a pain to set up?

  • Tie downs – can I anchor this tent properly?

Finally, you should also look for amenities like storage pockets, electrical ports, interchangeable floors for land use and sun shades.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes floating tents float?

Inflatable floating tents, like the unique kind inflatable Shoal Tents in Troy, rely on thick durable vinyl air chambers around the edges to provide flotation and stability when anchored properly in calm waters such as the Great Miami River.

How cold can it get inside a tent that is set up above water?

The water underneath actually helps control temperatures, so floating tents can insulate well against cold. That being said, you should always pack light layers just in case.

Can I mount a floating tent platform on land instead of water?

It always depends on the model, but for some tents that’s possible. Just make sure you check for any specific capabilities when you’re looking at floating tents to buy.