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6 Tips to Inflate a Kayak more effective

Inflatable kayaks are gaining popularity from season to season. In the meantime the so-called inflatables occupy a large part of the places on the bestseller list. This is reason enough to take a closer look at inflating. In this article, we present a selection of tips to help you inflate and we’ll look at possible problems.

1. The valve

All types of pumps must be connected to the kayak via a special valve. The systems used may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. You are on the safe side if you use the supplied air pump or a model of the same brand.

The actual connection is very simple. Often the hose of the air pump is simply connected to the valve of the kayak and fixed by turning it. Then you can already pump.

2. When should the kayak be inflated?

The best time to inflate the kayak depends on the way you transport it.

If you have to drive the kayak to the water in your car, you should inflate it on site first. Enthusiastic kayakers who have already mounted roof racks on their cars for transporting kayaks can also transport an inflated kayak.

In this way, the kayak can remain inflated all the time. This is also better for durability. We recommend storing the kayak inflated anyway. Kayak wall mounts are particularly helpful for space-saving storage.

The ideal storage location for kayaks should not be exposed to direct sunlight, particularly humid or cold air. A well insulated or heated garage, for example, is well suited. With the space-saving wall mounts, a kayak can also be easily hung on the living room wall.

Over time, the kayak loses air pressure. Before the next use you should measure the air pressure with a manometer and if necessary pump a little until the PSI value is in the desired range again.

3. Which air chamber should be pumped up first?

Modern inflatable kayaks have three separate air chambers. Typically this is a central air chamber for the bottom of the kayak and two side chambers.

It is best to inflate the bottom of the kayak first. The two side chambers will follow. When inflating the side chambers, it does no harm to change sides from time to time in order to gradually fill both chambers with air.

If one chamber is immediately inflated to full strength, the material may warp. Once the side chambers are full enough for the kayak to take its final shape, the side chambers can be fully inflated.

Note: Some systems require the fin to be inflated in the uninflated position.
condition into the kayak.

4. The correct handling of the kayak

At this point it is time for a small appeal. In fact, the handling of the kayak also plays an important role. Much of the damage to the hull, seams and valves is not due to manufacturing errors but to improper use.

When inflated as well as when not inflated, the kayak should under no circumstances be sanded over the ground. Small stones could drill deep into the hull, damage the hull and shorten the life of the kayak.

5. Right pump

What kind of pump you choose is ultimately a personal decision that is influenced by other factors such as the available time and space in the kayak backpack alongside the rest of the equipment.

For example, you can’t run an electric pump without electricity. If you want to reduce the time it takes to inflate your kayak, you should also use an electric kayak pump.

In the following, we will go into the individual types of air pumps for kayaks in more detail.

Foot pumps

Foot pumps are a good choice to inflate the kayak quickly. A big advantage in direct comparison to conventional hand pumps is that the arms and back muscles are completely protected. As a result, you can give more power when paddling.

In our experience, however, foot pumps are also somewhat more susceptible to soiling. Dirt and grains of sand quickly have a negative impact on efficiency. Too much force during pumping has also led to destroyed pumps.

All in all, foot pumps are an exciting choice for inflatable kayaks. The easy transport and the focus on the leg muscles, which are less trained when kayaking, distinguish these models.

Electric pumps

Electric pumps are unbeaten when it comes to the time it takes to inflate. The kayak is completely ready for use in 2 to 4 minutes without any effort on your part. The motor of the electric kayak pumps is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery or by electricity from a car battery or cigarette lighter.

The shortcoming of electric pumps is the costly transport. The batteries are heavy and several cables have to be considered. In addition, electric air pumps are significantly more expensive than hand or foot operated pumps.

Hand pumps

Hand-operated air pumps are the most commonly used. A hand pump is included with almost all inflatable kayaks. When pumping it is very important that you get down on your knees. The force should not only come from the back. Instead, the whole body has to be pumped.

From unpacking to the ready-to-use kayak, it takes about 5 to 15 minutes to set up the kayak. The exact time depends on the capacity of the kayak, your air pump and the frequency with which you pump.

Double action pumps

Double action pumps are a kind of further development of classic hand pumps. Typically, hand pumps only pump air into the shell of the kayak when the piston is pushed downwards. Double action pumps, on the other hand, pump air into the kayak when the piston is pushed down or pulled up.

The time required for inflation is not halved, but it is much shorter. Especially with the right procedure you can save a lot of time…

6. How to pump effectively

With a double lift pump you can significantly shorten the time it takes for the kayak to be fully inflated. The first step is to provide volume in double-stroke mode. In other words: as long as there is not much air in the kayak, pumping is not very exhausting because there is hardly any pressure. Only when the pumping becomes really exhausting do you switch to single stroke mode to reach the last stripes on the pressure gauge.

In our experience, double stroke pumps are about 50% to 66% faster than comparable single stroke pumps. If the time for inflating the kayak with a classic air pump was 10 minutes, with a double stroke pump you would probably need only 6 to 7 minutes.


With our list of tips we should have given you a better overview of how to inflate a kayak properly. If you have specific questions about your kayak or pump, please refer to the instruction manual or the manufacturer’s website.

On the manufacturer’s website you will often also find further information about the products on offer (such as the exact name of the valve used and a list of compatible systems).

At first, even inflating the kayak seems to be complicated, but after a few times a routine will appear. On the next tours it all happens subconsciously and you can focus completely on kayaking!




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