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How to Choose an Air Pump

Choosing an air pump for your inflatable kayak or SUP will depend partly on the inflatable watercraft you get and partly on how much effort you want to put in.

Hey this is Emily at Oz Inflatable Kayaks, and I’m here to talk to you about air pumps. I’m really excited about this great range of air pumps that we have for our inflatable kayaks and stand up paddle boards. But a lot of people see this page and just go, whoa – I don’t know which air pump to get!

Well let me lay it out for you, it’s pretty simple once you kind of have an idea of what you’re looking for.

So first and foremost it depends on the pressure you need to get in your kayak. So this here the Bellows Foot pump gets up to about 2.5 PSI. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot of pressure, but that actually hits most of our kayaks, so it’s quicker if I say the kayaks that it doesn’t work for, which is the AirFusion Elite, the AirFusion EVO, anything with a drop stitch floor, so for example the StraightEdge Angler Pro comes with a drop stitch floor and the Advanced Frame Expedition Elite comes with a drop stitch floor.

Then with all of the AdvancedFrame line of kayaks you can buy a drop stitch floor as an optional accessory, in which case the Bellows Foot Pump is no good. But for all of the other kayaks the foot pump is adequate.

Now people look at these foot pumps and go, oh I don’t want that, I want the hand pump. So I think there’s a bit of negative feeling about foot pumps from the 80s when they were tiny and rubbish.

But our foot pumps are quite good. So when I say quite good, what I mean is they’re big, like that is about the size of a dinner plate that thing. It’s fairly hefty, you can get quite a lot of air in the bellow, and then all you have to do is stand upright and use your foot to push.  They are quite an efficient air pump. So when I say stand upright, the hand pump – you’ve got to put your feet either stand and put your hands here, and lift it up and down. So you’ve got to put your back and your legs into it a bit.

Now it’s not hard, I’ve done it a million times trust me. It’s not hard, but for some people who don’t have the strongest backs that’s not appealing. So if you’re getting one of our AdvancedFrame line or one of our StraitEdge Line of kayaks, or Lagoon Line, or any of those kayaks, the foot pump is definitely an option for you. The only problem with the foot pump is it doesn’t come with a pressure gauge. Now when you buy your Advanced Elements kayak or stand up paddle board it comes with this big warning, that says, WARNING! DO NOT OVER INFLATE YOUR KAYAK OR YOU MIGHT DAMAGE IT! Everyone freaks out and under inflates it. The problem with under inflation is you just don’t get good performance. So if your kayaks waggling in the water, or it’s sort of sagging where you’re sitting it’s not got enough pressure in it. The way to resolve it is to use a gauge with your air pump.

So the instruction manual will tell you the pressure you need to get. For most of the kayaks it’s 2 PSI in the main chambers. The way you know is to put this gauge on your air pump. So with the Inline Valve Adaptor – the way it works is this end screws into the spring valve of the kayak and then this end clips onto the end of the air pump hose. So you get a pressure reading, now you get what’s called a continuous pressure reading, so even when you’re not pumping you know what pressure is in your chamber. This is a great option to go with the Bellows Foot Pump.

With this air pump here, the Double Action Hand Pump with Gauge, you don’t even need to buy a gauge, ’cause that little thing on top is a gauge. Funnily enough it’s called a Double Action Hand Pump with Gauge. This works the same way, there’s a screw on attachment so that you can actually get a continuous pressure reading. It’ll give you what’s called a back pressure reading. So they’re really great options. Can you use the Double Action Hand Pump with gauge for the kayaks that don’t need the higher pressure? Yes, absolutely. So this pump does up to about 10 PSI but if you’ve got a kayak, let’s say you’re buying the AdvancedFrame Convertible, which is a tandem kayak that’s a very, very popular inflatable kayak we sell. Now with the regular floor that comes with it, the maximum pressure is 2 PSI, but a lot of people buy this Double Action Hand Pump anyway, they just prefer it. Or they’re using the pump for other things that require higher pressure, absolutely fine. So this air pump is more versatile in that sense, you can use it for more objects, the Bellows Foot Pump is a bit easier on the back though.

Now a lot of people want to know which is faster, well the Double Action Hand Pump is a little bit faster. It’s got a bigger chamber and double action means it pumps on the upstroke and the downstroke so it’s a bit quicker in terms of the movement.

With the foot pump you’ve got to push with your foot, and then you let go with your foot and wait for it to re-expand, now that is not pumping so it’s single action. But there is not a lot in it. So if I look at the AdvancedFrame Sport for example, which is one of our very popular kayaks, maximum PSI is two. If I use this pump it might take me four minutes, if I use this pump the whole process, when I say four minutes I mean from in the bag to on the water, not pumping, you’re not pumping for that long. So this one the whole process is four minutes, this one the whole process might be five minutes. It’s really insignificant, to the point where I mostly used to use the foot pump.

When I say used to mostly use the foot pump that’s because I’ve gone electric. Once you go electric you don’t go back! We sell a really nice range of electric air pumps, these are from a company called Bravo. They’re an Italian manufacturer and they do the best quality air pumps for inflatables on the market, hands down. First things first is pressure, if you’re buying a stand-up paddle board and you want to get to very high pressure, the Bravo 20 is the one you’re looking at. This one goes up to 20 PSI, that’s why it’s called the Bravo 20. The other really nice feature about this one is it’s got a big battery in the base, so you can either charge it at home, it’s got a wall charger. Then you just take it out and plug it into your kayak, you don’t need to worry about a power source. But if you wanted the versatility to connect to your vehicle batter, it comes with alligator clips as you can see, so you’ve got both options.

Then if we come down in pressure a bit to the kayaks, and you can arguably use these for stand-up’s, they’ll get you to about 12 to 14 PSI, which for most stand-up’s is rigid anyway. Our stand-up’s they say 15 to 17 PSI but honestly if you put 12 PSI you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So these ones can be used for those, and these are the two really popular ones we stock. The Manometer has alligator clips to connect to your vehicle battery, it does not connect to the wall socket. So it doesn’t have a battery in it, now the big advantage of that is first of all it’s cheaper than having a battery. Second of all it’s much lighter, and it’s quite snug, it’s a small little thing. If you have a space and a weight constraint this is a great one.

This one is the BST 12 Battery, this ones bigger and heavier because it’s got a huge battery down the bottom. Funnily enough that’s why it’s called Battery. So there’s no alligator clips for this one, you can only plug it into the wall but it’s really convenient. It sits in the bag, like you don’t even take it out the bag, you just plug it into the wall and then leave it charged basically. Then you whip it out and away you go. It’ll pump up several kayaks, or stand-up paddle boards, it’s a very powerful air pump. These are all very, very powerful pumps.

The BP 12 will get you up to 12 PSI, a little bit less powerful than the Manometer but similar in the sense that it is again, very small, very light, doesn’t have a battery and it’s got the alligator clips. The other difference is it doesn’t have a filter in it, so this ones got a sand filter in it, if you know you’re going to be going to the beach a lot, it’s worth a bit extra to get the Manometer.

Now all of these pumps are from Bravo Australia, they come with a 12 month manufactures warranty, they are excellent quality, very powerful. They come with a huge range of adapters so that they fit almost everything you could possibly want to pump up. Even other brands of stand-up paddle boards and other brands of kayaks, are really good for these pumps, they’re just great. So I use them all the time, I just love the convenience and the speed of it, they all have a great feature where you can set the PSI. So I use the Bravo a lot ’cause I have stand-up paddle boards as well in my fleet. What you do with this gauge here is you turn it around to the PSI you want, ’cause they all have pressure gauges in them. Then when it gets to that pressure it shuts off automatically, it’s great. Now it has an on and off button, in case you want to manually turn it off in the meantime, if you want to check something. But it’s really, really wonderful, you can basically push and set, it’ll know when to turn it off, it’s great.

These ones, the Manometer and the Bravo have this light up, so they light up with green when they say, yup I’ve got enough power to meet that. Then they start to go orange, and then when they run out of battery they start to go red. But all of them you can actually set the PSI and walk away, it’s great.

Now this one here the Double Action Hand Pump this is very similar to the Double Action Hand Pump with Gauge only it doesn’t have a gauge, funnily enough it’s called just Hand Pump. It’s also slightly shorter chamber, so again if you have a bit of a space constraint but you really want a hand pump it’s a great option.

The Boston Pin Adaptor, now this is a device that allows you to get what’s called a back pressure reading from Boston Valve. So a Boston Valve is not a spring valve, it’s a valve that we use on the floor of the regular StraitEdge, and the StraitEdge 2. It’s used on the AirFusion Elite as well.

Now where you have a Boston Valve it only lets air in, it doesn’t let air out. It’s got a flap inside, so because there’s a flap the pressure doesn’t come back to tell the pump, or the pressure gauge what your pressure is. So how on earth do you know what your pressure is? Well this pin here pushes through the flap and allows back pressure to come back through the air pump to give you a pressure reading. So if you’re buying an AirFusion Elite inflatable kayak, or you’re buying a StraitEdge, or a StraitEdge 2, you want to grab this Boston pin adaptor to get a pressure reading. But feel free to give me a call if you’re a little bit confused about that

Now this pump here is a 12 Volt Electric Pump, it’s an electric air pump but it’s nowhere near as powerful as these ones here, as the Bravo pumps. So what that means is you can plug it into a cigarette lighter, which is great, it’s convenient, you don’t have to access your vehicle battery or you don’t want to charge it at home. The downside is it doesn’t actually get up to the required pressure. So it’ll only get you a bit above one PSI. That means you can pump up your kayak with most of the air (because believe it or not, it takes a while to get to 1 PSI, and then the needle goes up quicker and quicker, so the PSI’s escalate quickly), then you can basically finish it off with a foot pump or hand pump. So that’s up to you, we’ve got them in stock, some people just love, having that bit of extra work done without the hassle of a big pump. So that’s a great option for that.

Then we have the Packlite Bellows Foot Pump, so this is basically a tiny foot pump for people that are really space and weight constrained. So we sell this a lot to backpackers, people that are hiking into remote lacks or remote areas. Or people sometimes with caravans, it just takes longer because it’s small, so that’s something to remember.

Now you can find all of the details of all of our pumps by clicking in and they’ve got all of the specifications on the specifications tab. So scroll down, actually I’ve got the weight just there, 431 grams, and I’ve got the packed and deflated dimensions. But also if you jump into the specifications it gives you all of the details there.

Okay so that’s it for pumps, if in doubt give me a call, my number is 0401 048 084 or send me an email, it’s emily@ozinflatablekayaks.com.au and I will help you out.