Most inflatable boats, SUPs, and kayaks include a pump in their packaging upon purchase.
But, let’s face it. Yes, they can get the job done, but most of these pumps are not as powerful or effective in inflating your inflatables.
So if you’re thinking of upgrading your pump to one with higher performance, look no further. I have researched 9 of the best electric and manual pumps available on today’s market, along with some great tips about inflating your boats, dinghies, SUPs, and kayaks.
Types of Inflatable Boat Pumps
As you may already know, there are two types of pumps you can use for pumping air into your inflatables.
- Electric Pumps
- Manual Pumps
Both of these pumps have their own advantages and disadvantages. But to give you an idea about their features and uses, let us discuss each type further.
An electric pump alleviates the inconvenience and strain of inflating your boats, SUPs, and kayaks. They are relatively easy to use: Plug it in, turn it on, and watch as it easily inflates your boat. Electric pumps save you energy and time in blowing up your inflatables.
However, there is are also downsides in using this efficient little tool.
For starters, an electric pump will need a power source. Most of them need a wall outlet, but some can be powered by cigarette lighters or even car batteries. Some of them even feature a rechargeable battery. This being the case, you cannot be assured that there will always be an available power source for your electric pump.
Next, cheaper electric pumps cannot inflate your inflatable boats and kayaks to its 100% capacity. This is due to its lack of the required pressure power. You may find yourself having to top the chambers up with air from a manual pump in the end.
However, you can use a 2-stage pump as an alternative. These nifty little tools have a higher pressure output, which can conveniently pump air into your boat up to 15-20 PSI.
Nevertheless, 2-stage pumps are more expensive, with an initial starting price of $100.
Manual pumps are further divided into two (2) categories.
- Foot Pump
- Hand Pump
A foot pump, as the name suggests, has to be pumped using your foot. This kind of manual pump is what usually comes with your purchased inflatable boat. You can buy foot pumps at any retailer basically.
Meanwhile, hand pumps require you to pump using your arms. For many manual pump users, hand pumps are the preferred tool over foot pumps. This is because foot pumps usually take more time to inflate because of the limited air output they can produce. Hence, we will be focusing more on hand pumps in this article.
Hand pumps have a lot of advantages over electric pumps:
- In general, they are far more affordable than electric pumps.
- You won’t need to worry about a power source, as they solely rely on mechanical energy – or in simple terms, your energy. However, this can also be a disadvantage: hand pumps are user-friendly, but they can be tiring and strenuous to work with. Especially if you will have to pump air into big inflatables, like kayaks and boats.
- They are pretty dependable.
- Hand pumps alone can inflate your boat up to the proper pressure required.
They do take more time to pump air into your SIB, but they can get the job done effectively.
High-volume vs high-pressure pumping
You may have heard the terms high-volume and high-pressure being thrown around but do not know exactly what they mean.
What is the difference between high-volume and high-pressure inflation?
When we talk about high-volume pumping, we refer to the volume of air being moved from the pump. High-volume pumps move a lot of air quickly but cannot inflate to high pressure.
Vice-versa, high-pressure pumps do not move air as quickly. They force their air into the inflatable to a much higher pressure, which is vital for SUPs and drop stitched air floors.
When you need to inflate a boat, you can first use a high-volume pump to get a lot of air into the tubes quickly. High volume pumps may not produce enough pressure to fully inflate an inflatable boat or SUP, though. You have to top it off with a manual pump or a high-pressure electric pump.
Best Electric Air Pumps for Your Inflatables in 2021
Here is a list of the top electric air pumps you can get at the moment (2021). If you go out onto the water often, getting an electric pump is a really good idea, as it makes setting up easier.
|1.||Best electric pump|
The Shark by OutdoorMaster
Feature packed electric pump for SUPs, boats and kayaks.
|0 - 20 PSI||Details|
BTP Turbo Pump
Reliable and strong even after years of use.
|0 - 14.5 PSI||Details|
|3.||Seamax Electric Pump|
Nice features, but not as dependable.
|0 - 20 PSI||Details|
|4.||BNIXY SUP Pump|
Barebones electric pump that only has an H3 valve.
|0 - 20 PSI||Details|
|5.||Sevylor Water Sport Pump|
The budget friendly electric pump.
|0 - 15 PSI||Details|
I have experience with all of these pumps, so here is a review of each.
OutdoorMaster The Shark Pump
This newly developed, feature-rich 20 PSI pump is unique on the market right now, as it is the only electric pump that has an active cooling system.
There is a fan that vents the hot air out the bottom of the pump.
This is useful if you want to pump 2 or maybe 3 SUPs in a row, which would not be possible with other electric pumps, as they would overheat and shut off.
There are caveats though:
- The temperature for optimal use is under 80° F. Higher temps cause faster overheating, so take this into consideration on a hot day at the beach. Keeping the pump out of direct sunlight helps in keeping it cooler.
- Pumping above the standard 12-13 PSI of SUPs will also cause faster overheating.
In practice, I’ve found you can pump 2 SUPs in a row. The 3rd one overheats the pump by the end. But trust me, no other electric pump can inflate 2 SUPs in a row.
Besides the cooling system, the pump boasts every feature you can expect from a top-tier electric pump:
- Dual-stage pumping: 1st stage pumps a lot of air fast (at 350L/min), and 2nd stage pumps high-pressure air (at 70L/min).
- Auto shut-off when target pressure is reached. You set the pressure on a digital screen, where you can see how much pressure is in the tube at any time.
- It runs at 12 amps, so it can be connected to a 12V DC car connector.
- Deflation feature to suck every bit of air out of the inflatable, which makes packing away easier.
- 4 nozzles in the package (C7, H3, Boston valve, Pinch valve)
I’ve had this for 2 seasons, it has been good so far. I’ll update this post if something goes wrong.
Feature rich electric pump
Best electric pump
This is my top choice right now. It does what it should well, has a 1-year warranty, and the deflation feature is just so convenient.
It is the cheapest direct from the manufacturer with this unique 20% coupon code they gave us!
Use this 20% discount code now while it still works at checkout:
Sea Eagle BTP Mano Turbo Pump
One of the highest performing electric pumps on the current market is the Bravo 2 Stage Turbo Pump.
This model is specifically designed to meet the needs of high air volume inflatable boats and kayaks. It has high-pressure inflation of up to 14.5 PSI. Depending on the size, it can quickly inflate your gear under three minutes.
The pump draws power from a 12V battery at max 20 amps. You need to connect it to a car’s battery using the alligator clamp included in the package. You also have the option to purchase a 12V battery pack instead. You cannot use it with a car’s power outlet (cigarette lighter), because those are rated for 10-15 amps.
Aside from its effectivity as an electric pump, it is rather well known for its flexibility and compatibility. With the inclusion of some common adapters, it can accommodate several valve types.
The pump has two stages of operation as well:
- In the first stage, it features a high turbine blower that rapidly blows air into your inflatable watercraft until there is significant resistance.
- After this, the second stage begins with a high-pressure piston kicking in, filling the inflatable up to the required PSI value.
You will not have to worry about overinflation as well for it has an auto-shutoff feature, which automatically stops the pump when it reaches the target PSI level. I love that that the dial is not digital, which means less can go wrong.
How long will it take to pump up your inflatables with this electric pump?
- A SUP takes about 3 minutes
- A kayak takes about 4 minutes
- An inflatable boat takes about 8 minutes
This pump deflates as well.
The only negative is the HR valve adapter it comes with, which breaks easily. It pops off at higher pressure, but if you hold it in place, it ends up splitting. Getting a replacement valve fixes this problem though.
BTP 2 Stage Turbo Pump
Reliable and quick
This is another good choice for an electric pump. It is dependable and gets the job done. Too bad it does not deflate.
Check today’s prices on:
Seamax Double Stage Electric Air Pump
The Seamax Double Stage Electric Air Pump is another OK pump.
This used to be my pump of choice, but it failed me after 2 seasons. While it worked, it was good though.
It is constructed with marine grade ABS and nylon materials, which can prevent saltwater oxidation that can result in corrosion.
This pump has a high-pressure inflation range of 20 PSI. It can easily inflate a regular-sized watercraft in no more than 5 minutes.
Its official specs say that its 1st stage max speed is 350L/min, and the 2nd stage max speed is 70L/min. These are maximum speeds, meaning that inflation slows as the tube gets more and more air into it. Regardless, I don’t have any problems with its speed.
This pump has a deflation feature as well, so you don’t need to go around the boat pushing all the air out of it. The pump sucks the air out.
It also features a digital pressure gauge that shows the pumping progress of the machine. It also has an automatic shutoff feature that ceases the operation after reaching the desired PSI level.
It is also programmed to shut off after 20 minutes of operation as a safety feature.
By default, the Seamax Electric Pump is only compatible with Halkey-Roberts and Bravo valves. However, the package includes 5 universal adapters, which allows it to work well with other types of valves.
I bought this pump on Amazon.
NIXY Paddle Board Electric Pump
In contrast to its name, NIXY Paddle Board Electric Pump is not just for SUPs.
It is an efficient air pump for all inflatable boards and kayaks that have H3 valves. Nevertheless, you can also use it for other models, but you will have to purchase a universal adapter.
This electric pump draws power from vehicle accessory outlets (ex. car’s cigarette lighter outlet) and the vehicle’s battery itself using the alligator clamp included in the package.
It features high-pressure inflation of up to 20 PSI, and has an auto-shutoff feature that enables it to automatically stop when it reaches the inputted PSI level.
Comparatively, it is a little slower compared to other electric pumps, but it does produce less noise compared to others also.
The pump operates in 2 stages. The initial stage is less noisy and it rapidly pumps air into your inflatable up to at least 1 PSI. After this, the second compressor kicks in; this is the second stage of inflating. It will noticeably produce louder noise as it pumps air into your inflatable boat, board, or kayak the rest of the way.
The NIXY pump is available on Amazon.
Sevylor SUP & Water Sport Pump
The Sevylor SUP and Water Sport Pump is a high-performance electric pump, with a reasonable price tag.
It has a pressure output range of up to 15 PSI, but in practice, I found it had difficulty going above 10 PSI, so I had to top off the SUP by hand.
It handled low PSI inflatable boat inflation fine though, took about 8 minutes to fill an Intex Excursion.
It comes with 2 air hoses, one for low pressure and the other for high pressure. Why do they just not provide 1 hose like all other pumps? I do not know…
To operate, it has to be connected to the cigarette lighter outlet of your vehicle.
The Sevylor electric pump has H3 connectors, but has included adapters that are compatible with Double Lock, Mini Double Lock, Boston, and Pinch valves. This makes it compatible with most inflatable watercraft.
Another convenient feature it is equipped with is the option to input values of PSI, KPA, or bar on the LCD pressure gauge.
It also has an automatic shutoff feature that enables the machine to shut down upon reaching the desired pressure level.
You can buy this pump on Amazon as well.
Best Manual Air Pumps for your Inflatable Boat
These are the best manual pumps you can get in 2021. They can be used to inflate a boat, SUP, or a kayak. All of them have adapters for different valves, so you’ll be ready to go out of the box.
|1.||Best manual pump|
NRS Super 2 HP Pump
Durable double action pump, inflates to 25 PSI. Hands down, the best choice.
|0 - 25 PSI||Details|
|2.||Good to have|
Good pump to keep in your boat in case you need to top off.
|0 - 9 PSI||Details|
A dependable and strong hand pump.
|0 - 25 PSI||Details|
|4.||Advanced Elements |
Budget-friendly double action manual pump.
|0 - 12 PSI||Details|
Here are my reviews of these manual pumps.
NRS Super 2 HP Pump
This NRS Super 2 HP Pump is a durable high performing manual hand pump, which features a polypropylene housing and an aluminum shaft.
This is my hand pump of choice, it really has everything!
It is a must-have upgrade of the foot pumps inflatables come with, as it will inflate your boat, kayak, or SUP in 1/3 of the time. No joke!
It is convertible to a double action pump, which means it can pump in the air on both up and down motions by pushing the AIR MAX button. Normally, it can push out 1.4 liters per stroke. But when converted to its double-action mode, it can push out up to 3.8 liters per double stroke.
However, you’ll want to turn the double-action mode off when you get to higher pressures, because pulling upwards becomes difficult.
This nifty tool has a built-in pressure gauge that informs you of the pressure level, eliminating the need to guess how much pressure is still required. The pressure gauge is important to have on this pump, as it can inflate up to 25 PSI!
In terms of compatibility, it has adapters for both Leafield C7 & D7 valve, Halkey-Roberts New Short / Summit 2 and H3 valves.
NRS Super 2 HP Pump
Strong and dependable, my top pick
Best manual pump
The redesigned NRS Super Pump is hands down, the best manual pump you can buy in 2021. It can inflate to 25 psi and has a double chamber design for faster inflation.
The K-Pump Mini is a compact hand pump, which is meant to be kept in your boat out on the water.
It is both compact and portable, making it convenient to bring anywhere. Thanks to its small size, you can carry it with you in your boat on longer trips, in case you need to top it off.
Trust me. If you do inflatable boating, you need one in your raft, just in case.
This is a high-volume pump, it does not have the high-pressure conversion that the bigger K-Pumps have. Despite this, the K-Pump Mini can pump up to a very respectable 9 psi.
Good to have in your boat
If you’re going out further or on a longer boat/kayak trip, you should alway have a K-Pump Mini in your boat.
Check today’s prices on:
Save 10% with this discount code at checkout on OutdoorPlay.com:
Regardless, if you need to reach high pressure, you will need either the bigger K-Pump 220 or one of the pumps below.
K-Pump K220 HP SUP & Kayak Pump
It is constructed with marine grade ABS, giving it a durable exterior that can last a long time.
It weighs around 3 lbs, and is 33 inches long, 11 inches larger than its predecessor, the K-20.
The K-Pump K220 has a unique two-stage design consisting of the high-volume and high-pressure modes. The modes are interchangeable by a simple twist of the wrist.
It works like two-stage pumps do: In the high volume mode, the pump allows quick inflating of the inflatable watercraft up to 9 PSI. Afterward, you can make use of the high-pressure mode to reach up to 25(!) PSI.
This manual hand pump includes an adapter for Leafield valves and an additional adapter for Halkey-Roberts valves, making it compatible with most inflatable watercraft on the market.
The K-Pump K220 is more expensive (check the price here) than the NRS Super Pump, but it is very dependable and won’t let you down.
Advanced Elements Double Action Kayak Pump with Gauge
This pump is manufactured by Advanced Elements, maker of awesome inflatable kayaks.
It is a powerful manual pump that can push out 2 liters per stroke; this is 4 times the amount of what a normal foot pump can produce.
It is also known as a “double-action” pump because of its ability to continuously pump air on both the push-down and the pull-up of the handle.
It has a peak pressure of 12 PSI, which is more than enough to effectively inflate any inflatable watercraft.
This model comes with 4 universal valve adapters, which makes it compatible with various types of valves.
It is also equipped with a long hose that is 5 ft in length, so you can comfortably pump air in your inflatables at a considerable distance.
This is an inexpensive pump, check the current price here.
4 Tips for Inflating your Inflatable Watercrafts
- Read our article on how to correctly inflate your SIB and this other one on how to inflate a kayak.
- When inflating your inflatable boat, do not fully inflate the first chamber to its 100% capacity. Instead, fill it up to its 90% and move on to the next chamber; fill it up to its 100%, and then top up the first chamber to its 100% as well. This can help prevent damage to the connecting fabric of the tubes.
- High temperatures from direct sunlight can cause the air in the tubes to warm up, which leads to an increase in pressure. As a precaution, learn when to vent out some air off your boat if you are using your boat in hot areas or during hot weather conditions; this can protect your boat from overinflation.
- Putting an inflated watercraft on the water can sometimes lower the air pressure in the tubes; this is due to the difference in temperature of the air and water – water usually has a lower temperature. In this case, a manual hand pump can be handy to top off some air into your chambers.
Pro Tip: Most people just opt to get either an electric pump or a manual pump; however, it is wise to have both types of pumps. This can give you flexibility in dealing with various inflation issues you might encounter. Right now, I own a Shark electric pump, an NRS Super Pump 2, and a K-Pump Mini.