If you’re interested in exploring more of Britain’s countryside, why not switch up the mountain hikes and cycling routes by taking to the waterways on a kayak instead?
Kayaking is a great way of getting out and seeing more of the country while staying fit as you do. We’re huge fans of the sport, but we also understand that rigid kayaks are heavy, cumbersome things that require significant time and energy to move around. If you would like to get cracking on some summertime paddling but don’t have the means to lug a big kayak around, opt for an inflatable kayak instead.
Collapsed inflatable kayaks weigh just a fraction of their rigid counterparts while taking up less space in the car with a tiny footprint. They make complete sense and they’re not especially expensive, though once you reach your chosen waterway, you’ll need to pump it up. There are plenty of options available too, with kayaks offering the family some water-based transportation, through to one-person inflatable kayaks which are great for solo touring.
When it comes to inflatable kayak pumps, you have a few choices. From electric models to foot pumps, there are hundreds of different options to choose from, so we’ve broken down a few of our favourites from each category for you to check out.
The best digital inflator
This 11 Bar electric air compressor is powered by a 12V DC plug than can be inserted into any 12V
- Powerful air compressor
- Easy to set pressure targets
- Quite a bulky unit
The best for quick inflation
This inflator forms part of Ryobi’s ONE Plus – a family of electrical appliances that all share
- Powerful unit
- Great for large inflatables
- Battery required
- Quite bulky
The best hand pump
If you’d rather relieve yourself of any electrical constraints and inflate your kayak by hand
- Great value
- Many pumps needed to blow up large kayaks
If you’re after an even cheaper alternative, this Air Hammer inflation pump from Bestway also
- Fantastic value
- Adapters to fit most valves
- Small chamber size
Alternatively, you may want to opt for a small camping foot pump to inflate your kayaks with.
- Very compact
- Small capacity
Which inflatable kayak pump should I get?
The right inflatable kayak pump for you depends largely on a few factors, chief among which is the level of energy you’re willing to deploy just to get the boat pumped up.
By selecting an electric or battery-powered pump, you’ll save yourself some serious legwork and with it a great amount of energy too – don’t forget, kayaking can be quite a physically taxing activity. For the less physically capable, we’d recommend opting for an electric pump to save your energy for the water.
On the other hand, if you feel you’d be up to the task of manually blowing your kayak up before each trip, a foot or hand pump will liberate you of any electrical dependence. By opting for one of these options, you’ll free yourself up to take your kayak anywhere, any time without the need to recharge or plugin.
Are kayak pumps universal?
Inflatable kayaks have inflation valves that serve as the bridging point between the kayak and a pump. They allow air to pass through via an adapter, but it’s important to ascertain your pump or valve adapter set has the right shape for the job, as not all are the same.
Many inflatable kayaks feature Boston valves – a three—threaded valve that screws into the surface of the kayak, allowing a valve adapter to be inserted into the boat so that air can pass through from the hose or the pump. These are the most common type, but some inflatable kayaks feature military-style valves or even twist-lok valves that require different adapters.
We highly recommend checking which type of valve your kayak has before purchasing your pump so you can make an informed decision on which pump attachment to get. We also advise picking up a pump with a built-in pressure gauge if possible as this will help negate the risk of over or under-inflation.
How much pressure should I inflate my kayak to?
Owners should check the manual of their inflatable kayak to ascertain the exact pressure to which they should inflate their kayak, but most should be inflated to around the 2.5-3.5 PSI mark. For a foot or hand pump, this could take anywhere between five and 10 minutes while an electric pump will complete the job in under two minutes.
Seth Walton is an automotive product writer for Parkers and CAR. He is a contributor to What's The Best.