Inflating and Deflating Your Inflatable Kayak: a Step-by-Step Guide

Trial Run at Home

  • Utilizing the directions provided, go through a trial run process of inflating and deflating your inflatable kayak.
  • Do this as many times as you feel necessary, relying less each time on the directions for the steps to the whole process.
  • Make note of important details that will need to be remembered separately, such as the pounds per square inch (PSI) level of inflation, how and where the seat sits best, efficient deflation folding techniques, etc.

Inflating Your Inflatable Kayak

Where to Lay Your Inflatable Kayak to Inflate It

Be mindful of where you set up to start inflating your inflatable kayak. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the area a clear and open space? Some of this is out of your hands and just depends on where you go. But, do your best, for safety reasons foremost, to stay clear of cars and other people, while you are preoccupied with pumping up your inflatable kayak.
  • Is the ground surface suitable for your inflatable kayak to lay? If you’ve ever set up a tent before, take the same approach here. You’re not spending a night pumping this thing up, but uneven or wet ground and sharp objects can be trouble regardless, so pick a good spot.
  • Do I have a clear path from here to the water? Your best bet may be the dock to the boat landing, but if it’s not available find a solid second option. Don’t create more work for yourself by choosing an area that is going to require you to carry your fully inflated inflatable kayak further on land. And consider an area that has an entry point that will later allow you to easily transfer your body into the inflatable kayak in the water.

Laying the inflatable kayak out for inflation

  • Spread out the inflatable kayak from end to end.
  • Make sure there are no folds in compartments.
  • Before starting to inflate, scope out how many and where each of the valves to be pumped are.

When self-powered pumping:

  • Be efficient in your movements and effort.
  • Don’t fatigue yourself (especially if it’s a hand pump) before even paddling.
  • Get in a comfortable body position, not all slouched over initiating a sore back for your paddling afterwards.
  • Rapid pumping movements don’t necessarily equal a quicker inflation. Get the most out of each pump.
  • Switch feet for foot pumps and hands for hand pumps to keep things even for effort and any soreness.

Order and Tips for Inflating Compartments

  • Start with the floor compartment, then moving on to the sides.
  • Wait to top off the sides until both are mostly inflated for best practice.
  • Don’t forget any other compartments (including the seat(s) of course).

How Much Air Do You Need for the Compartments?

  • Familiarize yourself with and follow the appropriate level of PSI when inflating compartments.
  • Is the PSI level measured with or without you sitting in the inflatable kayak? Look to your directions, as this may vary by inflatable kayak model, type, and brand.
  • Utilize any tools provided to you in your purchase for measuring PSI.
  • PSI levels may vary between compartments so check before you inflate and take off.

Final Checks Before You’re On Your Way

  • Make sure the side compartments are evenly inflated for better stability and balance while paddling on the water.
  • Double check the tightness of valves to avoid a slow deflation out on the water.
  • Look to the positioning of materials inside your inflatable kayak: What will I need to be in reach when sitting? What will need to stay covered and protected from water and where should they be put?
  • Check your previously used inflation area before pushing off, looking for anything missed of importance (i.e. paddle, life vest, bag, etc.).

Deflating Your Inflatable Kayak

Getting Back on Dry Land

  • Get you and your inflatable kayak out of the water as efficiently as possible. Work with what your environment offers you: step off onto dock, paddle up to shore stepping into shallow and safe water, etc.
  • Set it on an open, cool, flat, and non-poky surface.

Before Deflating: Clearing Out and Cleaning Up

  • Clear out and set aside the seat(s), paddle, and anything else, leaving yourself with the vessel itself.
  • Clean off your inflatable kayak by rinsing water over all areas to it. I would suggest ending with the bottom up, so any water used for rinsing the inside will drain and not pool up.

Before Deflating: Drying as Best as Possible

  • Method of drying is up to the paddler. If you’ve got the time and want to relax before starting the deflating, folding, and packing process, let your inflatable kayak get some air drying in. If you’re in a rush, break out a towel or dry shirt, if your desperate for a manual dry.
  • Air dry: First, is this a good day, weather wise, for an air dry? And consider how your inflatable kayak is positioned compared to the sun, turning it as if you were cooking it over the fire.
  • Manual dry: First, make sure that the ground that your inflatable kayak lays on is actually dry. If you can, avoid ground surfaces that set you back on your previous cleaning efforts, like sand and dirt may. Use a drying object that doesn’t get saturated easily like a towel is designed for.
  • Just make sure to completely dry all areas before deflating, as it is much easier to do so while its inflated.

Deflating Your Inflatable Kayak

  • Slowly deflate compartments by initially partially unscrewing valves and eventually taking out valves completely.
  • Start with the sides before moving onto the floor.
  • Provide some pressure to compartments to get as much air out as possible.
  • Partially screw valves back in before starting to fold and press out remaining air, if you are concerned about getting unwanted materials inside valves.

How to Fold Your Inflatable Kayak

  • Once all compartments are deflated, start folding the inflatable kayak so opened valves are still exposed instead of buried and blocked.
  • Continue folding and pressing out remaining air before closing valves.
  • Fold the inflatable kayak tightly into a shape that will best fit your transport bag.

Packing Into Your Transport Bag

  • Attempt to provide the most efficient shape for packing into your transport bag (varies based on the inflatable kayak, accessories, and the bag).
  • Start with the folded up inflatable kayak, trying to slide it in without ruining the shape of it, like you would slide a pizza into the oven.
  • What else might you have to pack in there? The deflated seat, a paddle, the pump, maybe your life vest, and extra materials and directions most likely.
  • Not everything needs to get packed away in the bag. Consider the transporting efficiency to your bag, how far you need to go with it to your vehicle, and what may be better off carried by any free hands.

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