SUP Electric Pump vs. Manual Pump


SUP Electric Pump vs. Manual Pump

Inflatable stand up paddle boards (or iSUPs) are awesome recreational devices. They enable anyone who has some available closet space the vehicle to get out onto the water; exploring, exercising, and enjoying, whenever they like. While their portability is their biggest advantage over rigid paddle boards, they do, of course, also have to get inflated before use! Below, we cover the different types of pumps available such a SUP electric pump.

Manual Pump

Since the introduction of the Halkey-Roberts valve on the paddle board itself, nearly all manufacturers of SUP electric pumps offer compatible attachments, as do their manual counterparts.

It’s a common misconception that a SUP electric pump will get your board inflated and out onto the water faster. Stats can vary across devices, though, and this isn’t always necessarily the case- manual pumping is quite efficient. But electric pumps definitely help you save your energy and effort for paddling; we’ve all had those days where it feels like we’ve been pumping for *hours* and nothing is happening!

Most new boards (and also rentals) will come with a hand pump of some sort as part of the package. Ideally, that pump will have double chambers and double action, and offer multiple inflation settlings to make different phases of the inflation slightly easier on the pumper. (Double action means that air moves into the board on both the up motion and the down motion, inflating the board in half the time). 

The K-Pump is another type of manual pump that is efficient, compact, and lightweight. While it doesn’t have a PSI gauge built-in like other manual pumps, those who are familiar with their boards know what it feels like when it reaches the proper PSI and rigidity, and aren’t thrown off by this. However, you could also just purchase the small, handheld pressure gauge also offered by the company as a separate attachment that’s easily stoweable in your gear bag.

12v SUP Electric Pump

The most cost-effective choice of the electric options, a 12-volt pump easily works anywhere your car goes. It plugs into your cigarette lighter, or into a rear 12V outlet in the trunk area, (which, fortunately for recreation enthusiasts, more and more vehicles are offering in their standard package).

This type of pump typically comes with a digital pressure selector so you can set your desired PSI, and automatically shuts itself off when that pressure is reached. This is obviously a great feature, as it prevents overinflation of your board, and ensures that the pressure is right every time. 

Any electric pump is a bonus piece of gear when it comes to inflating multiple boards, as it can truly get exhausting manually pumping up four boards for your whole family! Many of these pumps need a break after a few boards, but are back in action quickly. 

However, the drawback of this SUP electric pump is that you either need a loose 12 Volt battery with alligator clips in order to operate the pump, or you can only operate it wherever your vehicle is. 

For most folks, this isn’t an issue, as boat launches typically have adequate parking, and carrying your board 100 feet or so to the water’s edge is no biggie. 

However, if you’re camping or exploring a lake or body of water that’s a bit away from parking access, it could be labor intensive to haul your fully inflated board a long distance. For this scenario, and for flexibility of inflation in general, you could consider a battery-powered, rechargeable pump. 

Rechargeable SUP Electric Pump

For obvious reasons, there are benefits to not being tethered to your power source. You could pump up your board on a dock, poolside for a training session, or in the sand at water’s edge. 

Additionally, rechargeable pumps can usually also inflate several boards before needing to be recharged (like the 12 Volt pump), though the exact number depends on the size of the board and the type of pump. It might not be the right choice for you if you have a large family, as you’d have to make multiple pump purchases (vs just a single 12v pump).

While generally the same as a 12v pump in terms of operation (also featuring both a digital read out and pressure selector), these do require charging from either your car or a wall outlet, and forgetting to do so can really put a delay in your day’s plans!

Our choice

This is the SUP electric pump we recommend for all our customers- it’s has been tested and proven by our staff to be well-constructed and reliable over extended periods of time. It’s made with quality components that don’t melt down or malfunction with use, and has all the features you want from a pump:

  • Adjustable PSI Setting - Set it and forget it!
  • 10’ cord for ease of inflation - No need to hang the board halfway into your car so it reaches the outlet- the manufacturers give you plenty of cord length to comfortably inflate the board alongside your vehicle and still be able to maneuver around it to get the rest of your gear ready. 
  • Digital LCD screen with clear buttons - Easy and clear to use- no confusion involved. 
  • Inflates at 20-minute intervals, so depending on the size of your board, this pump can inflate 2-4 boards before needing a rest (Which is just 20 minutes, then it’s back in action!).

General Tips

  • Make sure the valve is in the correct position before starting to inflate your board. You want the valve to be in the “closed” position so that it retains the air you’ve pushed into it once the hose is disconnected. With the standard Halkey-Roberts valve, you want the center to be up, not down, when you connect the hose. This ensures that when you remove the hose, the valve stays closed and keeps the pressure trapped inside.
  • Make sure your vehicle is on if using a 12v SUP electric pump; sometimes you can accidentally drain your starter battery if you don’t! While newer vehicles don’t always allow you to pull power from a 12V outlet without the vehicle on, some older vehicles have no such block, and we’ve seen many a friend need a jump at the boat launch from this blunder!
  • Make sure you’re inflating to the ideal PSI for your conditions. If it’s especially cold water, lean on the side of a higher PSI, as there will be a contraction of the gases inside when the board hits the cold water, and you may lose valuable pressure and rigidity. 

Drop us a line if you have any questions about pumps and what we can offer you!

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