How do I inflate the boat and how long does it take?

Inflating the boat can be a frustrating experience if you do not know how to open the valves. There are 3 inflation valves (typically). One on the floor and one on each side.

Take the cover off the valve and place your right hand thumb on the orange button. You do not have to press it, just place. Turn the orange button to the left until it springs open, standing tall. This opens the valve.

Starting with the floor, screw in the air hose, and fill up the floor. You do not need to touch the valve again becuase it will not leak. Put the cover back on the valve, and repeat on each side.

Understanding Proper Inflation

After doing some research I could not find anything indicating how to know the proper inflation. I understand the pressure should be 3psi. But how does one know when this pressure is reached?

About inflation pressure, the working pressure is 3 pounds per square inch. Every foot bellows pump that I have seen, except some specialized pumps for high-pressure Zodiac floors, can only inflate to about 3 psi (that is, unless you perform a circus act by jumping onto your foot pump from a high platform).

Therefore, inflate your boat as much as you can with your footpump, until the inflation becomes inefficient. Then reach down and squeeze the chamber with your hand to register what that correct pressure feels like. You can actually judge pressure changes within about 10% just by feel.

There are a couple of obvious conditions that will alter the original inflation pressure. Anytime the boat heats or cools from the original temperature when you inflated it, the pressure will change. So if you inflate the boat on a hot beach, and then put it into very cold water, the boat may get a little soft. This is no threat to the chambers, of course, but you may want to top off the boat when it has adjusted to the cold water. Conversely, let’s say you inflate your boat on a cool, cloudy morning, then paddle for half a day, hauling out onto a hot sunny beach with no shade — then the tubes will heat up and the pressure will increase above 3 psi. The boats are individually tested at 4.5 psi, so there is a safety margin, but I recommend venting a little air from the chambers while you are having lunch as a precautionary measure. If you take your foot pump with you, then you can top off the kayak before resuming paddling.

By the way, we do sell gauges that work like tire gauges. You stick one end in the open valve and read the pressure on a dial indicator. You get insignificant air loss with this gauge.

Inflating Seat Chambers and Footrests

When inflating the seat chambers and the footrest I had a lot of trouble preventing air from escaping before I could plug the hole. Is there a trick to do this without having to try and re-try for a zillion times? I tried with the foot pump and it’s really difficult. Once those are inflated it’s really easy to inflate the main chambers.

I realize that these plugs can be vexing.

One technique is to inflate the chamber using the small nozzle, then pinch with your thumb and forefinger about an inch behind the plug hole. This will pinch off the air loss until you can get the plug in. In new boats the hole is quite tight, and I put a little saliva on the plug for a little lube (sorry to be gross, but it works).

The other technique is to inflate the chamber, keeping some pressure on the pump, then position your forefinger right next to the nozzle. You can then quickly pull out the nozzle and move your finger to cover the hole opening. Grasp the white plug with your free hand and move it right next to your covering finger and make a quick switch. (Think Indiana Jones in the first movie, when he switches a sand bag for a relic on an altar — except a big ball won’t come rolling after you.)