How to properly inflate a PVC boat

Published: 01.11.2021

PVC inflatable boats consist of tubes divided into several hermetic chambers, which are inflated with air using a pump. At a certain pressure, the air gives the hull of a boat shape and rigidity.

Types of pumps for boats

Remember, that every time you go out on the water, whether it’s fishing or hunting, there must be a pump on board. Several types of pumps are used to inflate PVC boats. Let’s describe each of them.

Foot pump

Mostly it is an original pump from the manufacturer of inflatable boats.

The original pump from the KOLIBRI company is made of high-strength plastic, the pump bellows are made of PVC, the upper part of the pump has a ribbed surface that will not let your foot slide when pumping the boat. The pump has a chamber volume of 5 liters and a mode of pumping air in and out. A mechanical foot pump for the KOLIBRI boats is supplied complete with them.

Foot pump

Electric pump

A special pump for inflating boats is a compressor powered by an electric current source or battery. Often it can contain a pressure gauge. To inflate the boat with an electric pump, you should pay special attention so as not to over-inflate the boat, since such pump fills the boat with air very quickly. To be safe, you can reduce the set limit by 10-15% and then simply inflate the boat to the full with a foot pump.

Car compressor

This type of pump is designed for inflating car tires. It can have various nozzles and adapters, a pressure gauge to monitor pressure. It is powered by the on-board electrical network of the car.

We strongly do not recommend inflating boats with a car compressor and other high-pressure devices.

Note that in order to inflate any PVC inflatable boat, the best option to do is to use the original pump from the kit of the manufacturer — it guarantees the right pressure in the tubes, will prolong the life of the watercraft and ensure your safety on the water.

How to inflate a PVC boat

Before inflating any inflatable boat, you need to read the instructions.

KOLIBRI PVC boats have manual, which gives detailed information on how to operate an inflatable boat.

In order to go out on the water on an inflatable boat, regardless of whether it is rowing or motor one, there is a certain sequence of inflating and assembling the boat.

How to inflate a PVC boat

  • Pull the boat out of the packing bag.
  • Place the boat on a flat surface without stones, branches and other sharp objects that can damage the coating fabric.
  • If your boat is equipped with a floorboard, install it on the bottom of the boat before inflating it.
  • The inflating of the boat’s tubes is carried out through inflation valves. To switch the valve to the “inflating-holding air” mode, you need to press the stem once so that it locks to the topmost position. Attach the foot pump fitting to the valve.
  • Inflate the boat slightly to give it some form.
  • Then install the seats. Next, install a hinged transom, if there is one in the kit of your boat model.
  • After that, inflate the boat’s tubes to the nominal pressure recommended by the manufacturer. If there is no pressure gauge, the degree of pumping can be determined by the ringing sound made when patting the surface of the tube with your hand. Close the valve with a lid. Otherwise, sand and other foreign matter may get inside, which may damage the valve.
  • Only after the boat is fully inflated, you can attach the oars.

The inflation sequence of a boat

How to properly inflate a PVC boat? In what sequence should the PVC boat be inflated? Such questions are asked by the owners of inflatable boats.

To begin with, let’s say that an inflatable boat has several inflatable parts – a tube, an inflatable keel and an inflatable bottom (depending on the model).

A tube of an inflatable boat has a different number of chambers and a certain inflation sequence.

The inflation sequence of a boat

A rowing boat in most cases has only two chambers (bow and stern). A motor boat can have from three to five or more chambers of a tube.

According to operating statistics, in most cases people damage the bow of the boat most often, that is why we recommend to inflate the stern of the boat first. Why is that? An inflatable boat has chambers, between which there is a partition (membrane) in the form of a cone. Its function is to equalize pressure in chambers of an inflatable tube. Depending on the sequence of inflating the tubes, the partition moves in the opposite direction, so if you inflated the aft part (back) first and for some reason damaged the bow of the boat, the pressure in the aft part will not decrease, thereby you will be able safely swim to shore.

The inflation sequence of a boat

A motor boat is inflated by the same principle. If your boat is equipped with bypass valves, then the first thing you need to do is to inflate the chambers where the bypass valves are installed. As a rule, bypass valves are installed in the stern of the boat. The keel in the boat should be inflated last.

Nominal pressure in a PVC boat

Before inflating the boat, read the operating instructions, which provide information about the nominal pressure in the boat’s tubes. It is recommended to adhere to the nominal pressure declared by the manufacturer.

The increased pressure in the boat’s tubes leads to excessive tension of the tube and may compromise leakproofness. Reduced pressure in the boat’s tubes leads to loss of rigidity, deterioration of running performance and mechanical damage (scuffs may appear where tubes and flooring are jointed), the aluminum profile (stringer) can be deformed where flooring is jointed.

Therefore, we recommend inflating the boat up to a nominal pressure of 0.15 Bar. The pressure in chambers of a boat should be the same.

Top 5 mistakes when inflating a boat

The main mistakes made when inflating inflatable boats.

  • Using a compressed air source to inflate a boat.
  • Exceeding the nominal pressure in the chambers of a boat’s tubes.
  • Using a boat when the nominal pressure in the tube is lower than recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Using an inflatable boat with open valves.
  • Wrong sequence when inflating a boat.

By knowing all this information, we can assure you, that your boat will last a long time and truly impress you when you decide to water travel, go fishing and have a rest.