16 Best Air Pumps for Inflatable Boats [2023 Edition]

16 Best Air Pumps for Inflatable Boats [2023 Edition] 1

Many manual and electric air pumps are on the market today, and not all are good products. What is the best air pump for inflatables?

What is the best air pump for inflatable boats?

The best overall is probably the Airhead AHP-120. It is both small and powerful, and it has no real drawbacks compared to other electric air pumps. None of the electric air pumps are one-sidedly better than the others, but the Airhead AHP-120 comes the closest.

As someone who sold inflatable boats and related products for years, I know a lot about the air pumps on the market. Some of them aren’t good at all, others are good for some people, and some are great for most buyers. Learn a little first so you can choose the right inflatable air pump. 

Why the Right Air Pump is Important

Inflatable boats are great for many reasons, including that they don’t take much space to store. You can get an inflatable boat even if you have a small living space.

They take up remarkably little room when they are deflated and folded. 

However, you have to pump up the inflatable boat before you can use it. This takes time, and it’s easier if you have a better pump. A lot of the pumps on the market aren’t good and will make it a hassle to inflate your boat fully.

Usually, a powerful electric pump is the best air pump because you can fill up your boat quickly. Manual air pumps can produce more than enough pressure, but it takes time and effort to inflate your boat with a manual pump.

You might also get a rechargeable air pump that runs on batteries if you won’t be near a wall outlet. 

Using an Electric Pump

First, you need to plug the pump into a wall outlet. Then, connect the hose to the inflatable boat and turn the pump on.

Let it continue to pump until all of the air chambers in the boat are completely filled. Then, close the air hole on the boat completely. 

Most electric air pumps are very simple to use. There might be a few settings to change, such as the maximum pressure the pump should reach before it shuts off. 

What to Look for in an Air Pump

More than anything else, an air pump should work properly. It should also be durable, reliable, and good for its price. It might have a pressure relief valve and/or a digital pressure gauge. 

Air pumps should be easy to use and compatible with your boat. You might also want a light/small/portable mini air pump. There are different types of air pumps with advantages and disadvantages. 

16 Best Air Pumps for Inflatable Boats [2023 Edition] 2

Trustworthy Brands

Some of the better-known and trusted brands are:

  • Airhead
  • Intex
  • Sanipoe
  • Wow World
  • Etekcity
  • Serene Life
  • Rave Sports
  • Micronovelty
  • Seamax

If a pump is from an unknown company, be skeptical. You probably shouldn’t buy a pump from a company that is unknown and has very few online reviews. Even if the few online reviews are positive, you can’t necessarily trust them. 

Intex Quick-Fill Air Pump Series

Reasons to Buy

  • Rapid 1100L per minute fill rate
  • Three different nozzles for different valves
  • Works with or without batteries


  • Louder than most air pumps

The Intex Quick-Fill can fill your inflatable boat up with air quickly so you can get your boat out on the water quickly. No one wants an air pump that provides weak airflow and fills your inflatable boat up slowly. 

The Intex produces twice as much airflow as many other air pumps. The pump can fill inflatable kayaks, balls, beds, boats, and toys fully and quickly. 

You can also use the pump to deflate your boat fast so you can fold it up and put it away. Your boat will deflate slowly if you don’t use a pump to remove the air. 

Intex Offers Many Choices

There are six models available, so you should learn a little about them and pick the best one. The high-flow wall plug might be the best idea. It can fill up an inflatable boat in a few minutes or less. 

The high-flow wall plug air pump moves air into your boat at an incredible 1100L per minute rate. There are three different nozzles, so one of them will quite likely fit your boat’s valves. If you need to switch to a different valve halfway through inflating your boat, you can do this without problems. 

Two Sources of Power

The pump also works either with or without batteries. If you aren’t near a source of power, you can rely on batteries. If your batteries are not charged but you are at home, you can plug the pump into the wall instead of charging up your batteries first. 

Are There Any Drawbacks?

One drawback is that the pump is loud. It is almost like running a vacuum, many other pumps are much quieter. 

However, this is a minor flaw, especially since you can pump up your boat so quickly. It may be louder than average because it is more powerful than average. 

Sanipoe Electric Air Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • Exceptional fill rate
  • Quiet despite its power
  • Works well for many kinds of large inflatables
  • Can deflate as well as inflate quickly  


  • Make sure it is compatible first 

The Sanipoe Electric Air Pump works best for inflatable kayaks, inflatable mattresses, and inflatable pools. It includes a long and thin nozzle that works great for the right boat. 

There are also two other nozzles if the long and thin nozzle won’t work. Make sure your boat is compatible with one of the nozzles first. Not every pump works for every boat. 

You can use the Sanipoe to rapidly deflate a boat. You can connect it to your car as well as to a power supply at home.

Quiet for its Power

If you want a quiet but still powerful air pump, the Sanipoe might be the right choice. It doesn’t make a lot of noise and it doesn’t lack power. It doesn’t give off an odd smell when you run it, or do anything else that annoys the user. 

A Decent Warranty

The quality is high enough that the Sanipoe can be backed by a strong warranty. While the full money-back guarantee only lasts for 30 days, there is a 180-day replacement warranty and customer service for life. 

Intex 66631E Electric Air Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • Two sources of power
  • Durable and reliable
  • Fills up your boat fast
  • Reasonably small


  • Fairly loud

The Intex 66631E works well either at home or if you are traveling. It comes with two plugs, one for a wall socket and one for your car’s cigarette lighter. You can use the cigarette lighter outlet to run the device using your car’s 12V electrical system. 

I have used the Intex to inflate an air mattress as well as my boat and it works equally well for either purpose. The Intex 66631E is a durable, reliable, long-lasting product that you won’t have to repair or replace for a long time.  

The Intex can fill a large inflatable boat quickly. You will be amazed by how much air it can move in only two or three minutes. It is a very powerful machine. 

Small and Compact

The air pump is small and compact despite its power. It is great when you are camping or traveling.

Space is often very scarce when you are going on a camping trip. The Intex was designed to take up as little space as possible without sacrificing power. You can drive to the lake/river/beach and pump up your boat using the car’s electrical system. 

The Intex works to deflate as well as inflate your boat and comes with three different nozzles. It’s only drawback is that it’s louder than average. 

SereneLife SLPUMP25 Air Compressor

Reasons to Buy

  • Adjustable pressure
  • Digital display and buttons for easy use
  • Powerful battery
  • Doesn’t take up much space


  • Doesn’t work to deflate your boat

The SereneLife offers an adjustable pressure setting. You can set it to anywhere from 0 to 16 pounds per square inch, letting you inflate your boat enough without overinflating it. The adjustable pressure setting is enough to make the SereneLife a stand-out product.

The SereneLife is also portable, battery-powered, and easy to carry around. The air pump is fairly small, so you can fit it into a vehicle without a lot of space easily. 

It has a long hose, but the hose is so flexible that it doesn’t take up much room. It is also easy to carry the SereneLife because it is lightweight and has a good handle. 

Powerful Battery

The powerful 4000 mAh lithium-ion battery takes 8 hours to charge but is quite powerful. You can pump up more than one boat and do other things with the pump without worrying about the battery running out. The pump runs on 110 watts of power. 

Removable Nozze

You can remove the nozzle on the air pump and replace it with several other nozzles. You quite likely won’t have any trouble pumping up your boat with the Serenelife.

The SereneLife is fully wireless, so you can use it at the beach or anywhere else. Until the battery runs out, you don’t need a source of power. 

Easy-to-Use Digital Display

Using the pump is easy. It has a digital LCD display and buttons to make operation easy. 

You can use the pump indoors, outdoors, on a camping trip, or anywhere else. The pump works for inflatable boats, paddleboards, rescue boats, pool ring toys, and air beds. 

Cannot Be Used to Deflate Your Boat

Unfortunately, you cannot use this pump to deflate a boat or an air mattress quickly. You will have to let it deflate slowly or use another pump for that. 

Seamax SUP 20PSI Electric Air Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • High-tech sensors to prevent overpressurizing your boat
  • Sensors also prevent overheating
  • Small, light, and portable pump
  • Seven nozzles to choose from
  • Two pump stages, one to fill the boat with air and the next to raise the pressure to at most 20 PSI


  • More than a few negative reviews
  • Possible manufacturing defects

The Seamax Double Stage Electric Air Pump automatically stops at 15 pounds per square inch, so you won’t have to worry about overinflating your boat. It is also super lightweight. The Seamax company is always improving its products, so if you have an older Seamax pump, a newer one will be significantly better. 

High-Tech Sensors

The Seamax’s sensors will notice if the pump is overheating or if the pressure in the boat is too high. The Seamax does not overheat easily – it can fill up to 3 paddle boards without getting too hot. 

However, if it does overheat, it will shut off automatically and make a warning sound. The digital pressure sensors are also accurate to 0.01 PSI, so the pump will shut off at the right time. 

Two Pump Stages

The pump first uses a turbofan to get a bit of air into the boat and raise the pressure to 1.2 PSI. After that pressure is reached, it switches to the second pumping stage. A cylinder-type compressor then turns on and raises the pressure to a max of 20 PSI. 

Seven Nozzles

The compressor has nozzles for everything from boats to yoga balls. The different nozzles are:

  • An inflatable sofa nozzle
  • An inflatable tent nozzle
  • A yoga ball nozzle
  • Leafield C7&D7 nozzles
  • Inflatable car bed nozzle
  • Floating row nozzle
  • A nozzle for paddle boards


Some customers report manufacturing defects. The pump worked perfectly well for me, but some Amazon reviewers report problems the first time they try the pump.

Airhead AHP-12 High-Pressure Air Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • Made of quality materials
  • Light and portable


  • Fills your boat at a reasonable but not fast speed
  • Only powered by your car and not a wall outlet

The Airhead High-Pressure Air Pump is another great pump for anyone who wants a small and portable pump you can run from your car battery. It doesn’t take up too much room, it isn’t heavy at all, and it can fill up an inflatable boat fairly quickly. 

Unfortunately, it does not connect to a wall outlet. You have to have a car with you to use the pump, which is too much of a flaw for some people.

If you can overlook that drawback, the pump works well. It may be the right choice if you expect to always be near your car whenever you pump up your inflatable boat. 

Running the Pump With a Car Battery

Another advantage is that you can power it with your car or truck battery. You don’t use the cigarette lighter outlet. 

Instead, you use alligator clips to ruin the machine. This is similar to jump-starting a car, so you have to open the hood.

Alligator clips are included. While this is more time-consuming than using the cigarette lighter, it is nonetheless effective. Whenever you have a car battery with any power left, you can run the pump.

How Powerful is It?

The pump can push 290 L of air into your boat each minute. That isn’t underpowered, but it isn’t high power either. It may take five minutes and not two or three minutes to pressurize your boat with this pump. 

Quality Materials

If there’s anything that makes the Airhead High-Pressure Pump stand out, it is the quality of the materials. This is a well-made, reasonably priced product. It comes with three nozzles. 

Airhead AHP-120v

Reasons to Buy

  • Best value for its price
  • Made of durable materials
  • Powerful


  • Enough pressure for boats, but not basketballs or paddleboards

The Airhead AHP-120 is my favorite inflatable boat pump. Unlike the AHP-12, it uses a 120V wall outlet and not a car’s 12V power. It is powerful, inexpensive, reliable, and has no significant disadvantages. 

Mostly, I love the AHP-120 because it is so cheap and so reliable. Despite its low price, it is built to last and made of high-quality materials. 

Other Advantages

The AHP-120 is as simple and easy to use as it gets. You can use it right out of the box without having to read any instructions.

It has a both flexible and durable accordion-style hose that you can bend to reach the boat if this is necessary. The hose can be removed from the pump for storage but will lock in place on the pump and never disconnect accidentally. 

There is also a long 10-foot power cord, and there are certainly some situations where a longer cord is helpful. A pressure-release valve prevents you from overinflating your boat. 

Great Selection of Nozzles

Another plus is that the pump comes with seven and not only three or four nozzles. You can use it to pump up boats with different valves, plus kayaks and much more. 

Enough Pressure for Boats

The pump is designed to move air quickly, not to achieve high pressure. Therefore, it fills your boat fast but maxes out at 2.5 PSI. 2.5 PSI or somewhat less than that is the ideal pressure for inflatable boats. You won’t have trouble filling up a boat firmly with this pump. 

However, it is far too weak for a paddleboard, which needs 15PSI. It also won’t work for basketballs and some other inflatables. 

WOW Air Pump for Inflatables

Reasons to Buy

  • High power
  • Durable and reliable
  • Five nozzles 
  • Flexible air hose and long power cord


  • Only runs on 120V wall outlet power and not batteries or car batteries

The WOW Air Pump for Inflatables is a powerful machine that requires 120V wall-outlet power to work. This makes it unsuitable for situations where you don’t have access to a wall outlet.

However, if you will always have a wall outlet wherever you take the WOW Air Pump, it is a powerful and reliable choice. You may also be able to use an inverter to make the pump run on 12V power, but will have to buy the inverter separately. 

How Powerful is It?

The pump can push 600 liters of air into your boat per minute. This is often enough to fill up an inflatable boat in a few minutes. The cord is 12 feet long, so you can use it in a situation where you can’t be right beside the wall outlet. 

Other Advantages

The pump also has a flexible air hose. This, like having a long cord, makes a difference. You could easily be in a situation where it’s a hassle to pump up your boat without a long cord or flexible air hose. 

There are also five nozzles to choose from. You can fill up rafts, boats, waterbeds, towable tubes, and other large inflatable objects. The pump weighs 3.8 pounds and is 8 by 8 inches in size.  

RAVE Sports High-Pressure Inflator/Deflator

Reasons to Buy

  • Won’t overheat
  • High max run time
  • Wall outlet or car battery power
  • Inflated or deflated your boat fast


  • Max pressure is too low at least for paddle boards 

While many high-powered air pumps overheat if you run them for more than a little while, the RAVE Sports Inflator/Deflator doesn’t. You can fill up a large boat or more than one boat in a row without the machine overheating. 

Two Sources of Power

The Rave Sports Inflator/Deflator works with either your car battery or a wall outlet. You need to use alligator clips (included with the pump) to charge it from your car battery.

Relatively Low Maximum Pressure

The pump can fill anything inflatable with air, but it cannot achieve high pressure. The pump is not designed to do this and will never have the power to compress the air much. The maximum pressure is 2.5 PSI, compared to 15 or 20 PSI for many other air pumps.

However, 2.5 PSI is often good enough for your boat. In fact, many inflatable boats warn against inflating past 2.5 PSI. The pump may be powerful enough to pump up inflatable boats and not any more powerful than it needs to be.

Is a 2.5 Pounds Per Square Inch Pump Too Weak?

It isn’t necessarily weak, it depends on your boat. Find out what the recommended pressure is – it might be 2.5 PSI or less. If the recommended pressure is higher, you need another pump. 

The pump also won’t work for other uses that require high pressure. For example, a basketball should be pumped up to 8 PSI or nearly that. 

If you can find a nozzle that fits the hose and has a needle at the end to pump up a ball, it won’t work. This might not be the best choice if you want to use your pump for a lot of different tasks. 

Five Nozzles

The Rave has five nozzles including a Halkey-Roberts adaptor. A Halkey-Roberts adaptor is a valve that can prevent air from leaking out when you remove the nozzle.

This is great if you insist on getting the pressure just right. No air will escape when you remove the nozzle with the Halkey-Roberts adaptor. 

The hose that the nozzles attach to, although only two feet long, is quite good. It is reinforced and resistant to damage, so you don’t have to be that careful or gentle with it. 

Quick Inflation and Deflation

Despite the low maximum pressure, the Rave is powerful. It can move a lot of air into your boat very fast and fill a large boat in a couple of minutes. You can also use it to deflate your boats quickly. 

High Max Run Time

The Rave Sports Inflator/Deflator can run for a long time without overheating or running into other problems. You can use it to fill up a few large boats in a row without problems. 

Another advantage is that you can put your finger over the air release hole towards the end of filling up your boat. This allows you to get the pressure exactly where you want it. 

MicroNovelty GIGA Air Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • Remarkably small, simple, and lightweight
  • Powerful battery
  • Decent fill rate


  • Limited run time
  • Limited pressure

The MicroNovelty is a particularly lightweight air pump used by hikers. It is battery-powered and very small and lightweight. However, it still has the power to pump up a boat. 

The pump runs only on batteries and not on wall outlet power. It has an advanced lithium-ion battery that lasts surprisingly long. You can charge the battery using a USB charger. 

Amazingly Small and Light

The GIGA pump weighs only 4.7 ounces, so you can easily fit it in a backpack even if you don’t have a lot of space. It is box-shaped and doesn’t have a hose. You attach the nozzle to the box.

There is also no charging cord, only a USB slot. The small company did a great job making the GIGA as small as possible. 

Limited Run Time

While it is strong enough to fill up a boat, you can’t fill up a few boats in a row with the GIGA. It should not be used for more than 10 minutes at a time. 

Surprisingly Fast Fill Rate

Despite its small size, it can move a lot of air in a short time. You can run it for long enough to fill up a boat. 

However, the max pressure isn’t great and isn’t enough for every boat. You can use the pump to fill the boat almost all the way up and then blow into it to fill it fully. 

The GIGA pump is best if you need to save space – a good larger pump is more powerful. The GIGA pump is tiny and very simple to use. 

Etekcity Air Pump for Inflatables

Reasons to Buy

  • Remarkably long-lasting battery
  • Can be charged with either a wall outlet or car battery power
  • Easy to use
  • Reasonably quiet


  • Not good for high-pressure inflatables such as basketballs
  • Cannot be used while charging

The Etekcity is a battery-powered air pump that lasts remarkably long. You might be able to fill up a few tubes and then fill up a few mattresses in a row without running out of power. 

You can charge the Etekcity from either a car cigarette lighter or a wall outlet. If you don’t have a wall outlet, you can charge it from your car and if you don’t have a power source, it takes a lot of use to drain the batteries. 

It works for both inflation and deflation. There are two air ports, one of which sucks air out and deflates your boat. The three nozzles fit many boats and other inflatables. 

High Speed

The Etekcity fills up a large inflatable craft quickly. You will be able to get right in the water shortly and won’t have to wait for your boat to fill up. 

Reasonably Quiet

Despite its power, the Etekcity isn’t loud. The high-tech batteries are relatively environmentally friendly and help the pump not make too much noise. 

Other Advantages

The Etekcity also has an ergonomic handle for traveling and is reasonably small and light. Since there are three sources of power (a wall outlet, a car cigarette outlet, and the power stored in the batteries), it is very travel-friendly. It comes with a small, medium, and large nozzle. 

Not Suitable for Everything

The Etekcity works well for inflatable boats of all kinds. You can also use it to inflate airbeds, pool floats/toys, inflatable furniture, and swimming rings.

However, the pump doesn’t work well for basketballs, tires, or balloons. You need a different pump for high-pressure inflatables. Another drawback is that you can’t use the pump while you are charging it. 

Sevylor SUP and Water Sport Electric Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • High enough max pressure for rigid paddle boards
  • Low-pressure and high-pressure hoses
  • Display that lets you choose different pressure measurements
  • Adjustable auto-shutoff feature


  • Only one power source

The Sevylor is a high-pressure pump that you can use to inflate paddle boards and not only boats. It maxes out at 15 PSI, which is enough to fully inflate the most rigid stand-up paddle boards. 

The Sevylor also lets you get the pressure exactly right. There is an adjustable auto-shutoff feature that stops the pump when your boat reaches a certain pressure you set.

Two Hoses for Different Inflatables

You can use a high-pressure hose for high-pressure inflatables and a low-pressure hose for low-pressure ones. You can use this pump for a wide variety of tasks.

Choose Units of Measurement

The display measures the pressure in PSI, kPa, or bar. You can toggle between the three measurements of pressure.

This way, you won’t have to do the math to calculate the right pressure. With most pumps, you might be trying to reach a certain level of kPa or bar and only have a PSI measurement. 

Power Source

The Sevylor only runs on 12V car cigarette outlet power. It cannot plug into a wall and does not have a battery. 

Is a Manual Pump a Good Choice?

Usually, you are better off with an electric pump. Using a manual pump takes significantly more time and effort. 

However, a manual air pump doesn’t need a power source other than your muscles. You might choose to have a manual pump as a backup. 

There could be a power outage or something else that prevents you from using your electric pump. Manual pumps are often powerful – you won’t have trouble reaching a high PSI with a manual pump. 

NRS Super 2 H2 Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • Much faster than most other manual pumps
  • Good selection of valves
  • Convertible between double-action and single-action mode
  • Pressure gauge
  • High maximum pressure 


  • No real disadvantages

The NRS Super 2 is in some ways the best you can get if you want a manual pump. If the manual pump that came with your boat is inadequate, the NRS Super 2 can pump up your boat up to 3 times faster than usual. It isn’t as easy as using an electric pump, but manual pumps are the most reliable. 

The NRS is a double-action pump, so both the upward and downward strokes push air into your inflatable boat. You can also switch the NRS to a single-action pump. At higher pressures, it is easier to pump if you convert it to a single-action pump. 

There is also a pressure gauge, so you can get the pressure just right for your boat. The pressure gauge goes all the way up to 25 PSI, which is far more than necessary for an inflatable boat. You won’t run into a situation where you can’t get the pressure high enough like you might with some electric pumps.

K-Pump Mini

Reasons to Buy

  • Small enough to use while you are on your boat
  • High enough maximum pressure
  • Very simple to use


  • Not as fast as some other pumps

While the K-Pump Mini is not powerful, you can use it while you are out on the water with your boat. It is tiny and simple, and it works well to pump your boat up without going to the shore. You might buy the K-Pump Mini in addition to an electric pump or a more powerful manual pump. 

The max pressure is 9 PSI, which is impressive for such a tiny and simple pump. That isn’t enough for a paddleboard, but it’s more than enough for an inflatable boat. 

K-Pump 220

Reasons to Buy

  • High maximum pressure
  • Switch between high-pressure and high-volume mode
  • Durable


  • More expensive than the NRS Super 2

The K-Pump 220 looks similar to the K-Pump Mini but is larger and more powerful. You can use it as your main pump as it is not too slow. The K-Pump is also made from durable materials. 

The best thing about it is that you can switch between high-volume mode and high-pressure mode. When you are filling up your inflatable boat, you can use high-volume mode to inflate it fast. After it is mostly full, you can switch to high-pressure mode. 

Switching between the two modes requires only a simple twisting motion. Since the high-pressure mode maxes out at 25 PSI, you can pump up paddle boards and other high-pressure inflatables. 

Airhead Watersports Hand Pump

Reasons to Buy

  • 2 liters of air per stroke
  • Affordable
  • 4 valve adapters


  • Maximum pressure is high enough for boats but not always high enough for paddle boards 

The Airhead Hand Pump is powerful enough to pump 2 liters of air per stroke, a few times what a weaker manual pump produces. The pump is also inexpensive and comes with four-valve adapters for a variety of inflatables. 

The maximum pressure is 14 PSI, which is good enough. 12 PSI is always more than enough for an inflatable boat. However, a stand-up paddleboard needs 15 PSI, so it might be just a little bit weak for paddle boards.

Remember that a manual pump is always slow compared to the best electric air pump. Even reasonably fast manual pumps are not nearly as good as electric air pumps. 

What is the Best Air Pump for Inflatables?

16 Best Air Pumps for Inflatable Boats [2023 Edition] 3

Again, the cheap, powerful, and durable Airhead AHP-120 is probably the best. 

If you want a smaller and more portable air pump, try the K-Pump Mini even though it is a manual pump. It is very reliable and you can use it to pump up your boat even while you are in the water. 

I also like the Intex pumps and the Sanipoe Electric Air Pump. There are many good products available. 

Should You Buy an Inflatable Boat?

Yes, inflatable boats are worth buying. First off, inflatable boats are vastly cheaper than rigid fiberglass boats. A rigid boat may cost fifty or a hundred thousand dollars, an inflatable boat only $200 to $2000. 

Don’t assume that you can’t afford a boat. Inflatable boats are cheap, work well, and are easy to transport. They don’t last nearly as long as rigid boats, but they are cheap to repair or replace.


An inflatable boat doesn’t always perform worse than a rigid boat. They perform better in many situations. They are more maneuverable, so you can turn the inflatable boat around without a lot of space. 

Inflatable boats are also fast, and they cut through waves easier than fiberglass boats. If you get into a tight spot, it’s easier to get out of it with an inflatable boat. 

Easy Transportation

Usually, you need a trailer to transport a rigid boat. However, you only need a vehicle to transport an inflatable one. They get very small with the air removed and you can usually fit them in a car trunk.

Easy Storage

You also might not have the space to store a rigid boat in your home, and paying for storage is expensive. Inflatable boats are much better – you can probably fit an inflatable boat in a closet. 

Easy Maintenance

Inflatable boats do require maintenance – you have to clean/wax the hull and maintain the motor. However, maintenance for fiberglass boats is more time-consuming and expensive. 


A lot of the time, inflatable boats handle better in rougher waters than fiberglass boats do. An inflatable boat will flex when a wave hits it, this will soften the impact. If the same wave hits an inflexible rigid boat, it will hit a lot harder.

How Do Air Pumps Work?

Electric air pumps use similar parts and principles as manually-operated pumps. Pumps use impellers (sort of like propellers) to suck air into the pump. The compressed air is then pushed out the hose to inflate your boat. 

With a manual pump, a human provides the power to spin the impeller, and a motor is used with an electric pump. The impeller first creates a vacuum in the pump, which sucks air into it. The air is then pressurized and then pushed out of the pump. 

Other parts besides impellers are sometimes used to draw in and pressurize the air. Some pumps use diaphragms, blades, or pistons to pull in the air. 

Air Pumps Are Multi-Purpose

Air pumps do more than inflate boats and other inflatable objects. If you have an aquarium, you need an air pump to oxygenate the water, or else the fish and plants will die. Vacuum cleaners and countless other inventions use air pumps. 

What is PSI?

PSI, or pounds per square inch, is a way to measure pressure. Pressure gauges measure the pressure inside an object. It is used both for gasses and liquids. 

Many of the air pumps listed here have many times the minimum pressure required to pump up an inflatable boat. Different inflatables need different levels of pressure. Some examples are:

  • 2.5 PSI for the main tubes of an inflatable boat
  • Up to 15 PSI for inflatable stand-up paddle boards (SUPs)
  • Anywhere from 1PSI to 8+PSI for an air mattress (it depends on your mattress and how firm you want it to be)
  • 7.5 to 8 PSI for a basketball
  • 8.5 to 15.6 PSI for a soccer ball
  • 4.26 to 4.61 PSI for an indoor volleyball
  • 2.5 to 3.2 PSI for a beach volleyball
  • 30 to 50 PSI for mountain bike tires
  • 32 to 35 PSI for car tires 

A high volume air pump isn’t the same thing as a high pressure air pump. A pump that can move a lot of air quickly might have a low maximum air pressure. 

Hotter Weather Raises the Pressure

Don’t push more air into your boat than necessary. Direct sunlight can heat your boat up and raise the temperature inside it. This can make the pressure dangerously high if the boat was already overinflated. 

Sometimes, you might be out with your boat on a cloudy day instead of the sunny days you’re used to. This will lead to lower-than-normal pressure. 

You might have to inflate your boat a little more than normal on a cloudy day. If you measure the PSI, you can easily adjust for the change in pressure from a sunny day to a cloudy one. 

Cold Water Also Lowers PSI

If you put your boat into cool water, the air inside it will cool off. Cold molecules don’t move around much, which lowers the pressure. The pressure might be high when you get in the boat but then decrease.

Sometimes, keeping a small battery-powered electric pump or a hand pump in your boat is a good idea. That way, you can easily stop your boat and raise the pressure to where you want it.

Is a Drop in Pressure Dangerous?

Usually not. If your boat isn’t pressurized enough, it will slow down. However, it will still float, so this won’t put you in danger.

The only time somewhat lower than ideal pressure is dangerous is if you have to control your boat to avoid danger. For example, if you are going down a fast river, poor control can lead to an accident and injuries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Key Takeaways

  • The Airhead AHP-12 may be the best electric air pump. 
  • The K-Pump 220 may be the best manual air pump. 
  • Electric air pumps are faster than manual pumps, so they are usually better. 
  • However, manual air pumps are in some ways more reliable. 
  • Your boat might come with an inflatable boat air pump, but not a good one.