We were sitting on a blanket, watching some free jazz music in Socrates Sculpture Park, when my fiancée told me she wanted one of those inflatable couches.
I agreed it would be a good idea, but I had one of those cheap, squeaky, plastic ones in my head, like the ones that are popular at music festivals, that you’d probably pick up for ten bucks.
She went ahead and ordered one. It arrived, and I didn’t even really pay much attention to it. I didn’t even see it until we were heading to an open air movie screening in Astoria Park, and then I was confused. It wasn’t at all like one of those cheap, squeaky, plastic ones. It was actually in a very tidy little carry bag.
I had been told it was inflatable though, so I assumed I’d be tasked with blowing it up with my mouth when we got to the park.
I have to say, I was still pretty confused by the nature of this product right up until I had to use it!
It transpired that you have to use nature’s very own air to inflate it. Well, as I’m sure you appreciate, I was delighted to have avoided huffing and puffing to sort out our seat!
In terms of the design and materials used, it’s essentially a giant dry bag. The material feels pretty similar – so light but durable – and you need to roll down the opening before using the clips to close it. Whereas with a dry bag you get the air out before you secure the clips, with this, you need to try and keep as much air as possible in.
Also, because it seems to be a similar material to a dry bag, it means it’s pretty easy to keep clean. You’ll be able to clean any spilled beer or wine with just a wipe, and I’m confident it would survive the washing machine perfectly fine if it needed a more thorough cleaning.
In terms of size, I was impressed with what a compact solution it is. When it’s rolled up and in its carry bag, I’m sure it’s smaller than most blankets would be. Combine that with the lightweight nature of the fabric used to make it, and you’ve got a thoroughly portable solution, especially with the handles and long strap on the bag. It makes it ideal for those traveling by public transport.
It’s quite clever really.
My fiancée first tried to inflate it, which was fine, as she seemed to know what was going on with it. It was a little awkward because there was absolutely no wind in the park. Not even a gentle breeze!
We both had a go. There was a guy there with a camera videoing the event, so we’re pretty sure video evidence of these bizarre looking efforts exist.
Eventually, she decided that running was the best option. Indeed it was. She wasn’t satisfied that she had got as much air as she could into it, especially when it stayed inflated for a total of about three seconds after we sat on it, so she invited me to have a go.
I obliged. Utilizing the same technique, I don’t think I actually got any more air into it. The main thing I did differently was to roll the opening end down further when I had the air in it. I had to roll it down maybe four or five times. It was just a matter of pushing the air in and compacting it and making sure it wouldn’t escape.
I guess the tip there is that it doesn’t need to appear fully inflated when you capture the air in it.
It was incredibly comfortable to sit on for the few hours of the movie. We had quite a few comments from other attendees saying how great it was.
It was definitely better than a blanket; less squeaky than the plastic ones; and more portable than deck chairs. The carry bag for it is so compact you can sling it over your shoulder, or put it in another bag.
We used this inflatable couch a couple of days later at the beach, where again, it really was an ideal solution. When somebody was in the water, it was very comfortable for the other person to lie down on it.
I would recommend this so much if you’re the kind of person who enjoys lounging outside in the fine weather, and you want a durable, portable, comfortable solution for your summer activities. There are pricier brand names available, but this one from Benkii does what we need.
I expect we’ll have it for a few more years, and that we’ll get great use out of it.