How to pump up a Paddleboard


What SUP friends? So you've bought your first Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) or you're thinking of getting a SUP and you're wondering 'How do I pump it up'? This blog will look to demystify the equipment and show you, whether you already own one or you're just thinking of getting one, what it does and how it works.


Sunset SUP

Source: Photo by Michael Henry on Unsplash  

There are a number of reasons for getting into paddle boarding - be that exercise, social or perhaps you’re not sure. We get asked alot of questions about the inflation of paddleboards and ‘how does the pump work’? 

Let’s get kicked off with the most common errors made for first time users. The biggest mistake we see is first time users not inflating the board to it’s suggested PSI. They’ll attach the pump and work away, the board will look pumped up, but they’ll leave it there. Think of an airbed, when it’s not fully pumped, it’s harder to sleep as you’ll be sinking into it, now let’s apply that same logic to a paddle board, we want to stand on something firm and rigid.


Inflatable sup

Source: Photo by Iliya Jokic on Unsplash  

Top tip - paddle boards are designed to handle pressure! If the needle is not moving on your gauge, there are two possibilities, one is that it is genuinely broken, but the second (where we are betting most of our chips) is that there is no pressure in the board yet. The solution: keep pumping until you see the gauge move. If you don’t pump it up properly, then it won’t perform properly. The higher the PSI goes, the more rigid the board will be. Inflatable boards have come a long way in catching up to the rigidity of hard boards, but if they aren’t pumped up to their suggested PSI then they are missing out on that sturdiness on the water.

So you’ve started pumping up a board for the first time and you’ve realised that you’re getting a workout... before your intended workout! Which may be a discovery if renting was your first experience as the chances are, you didn’t have to inflate it. Now that you have a board of your own, it’s time to pump up the jam and get those arms to work. Let’s look at strategies for using a manual pump.

The best trick we can share is to start by having your legs straight and letting your arms do the work. Once you start to tire doing it this way, straighten your arms, bend your legs and let your body weight finish the rest of the pumping. Just be sure to read your pump and make sure it is set to inflate as supposed to deflate. You’ll find that once you get the PSI moving on the gauge, it’ll become harder to pump… and that is the pressure we’re looking for. Generally, when it becomes harder to pump, I’ll switch from straightening my legs to my arms. 

When it comes to manual pumps, you’ll want one that works with a Halkey Roberts Valve. That is the name of the valve you will see on most SUP boards. When choosing a pump, you’ll want a Halkey Roberts valve adaptor. If you’re unsure which to get, just ask! All of the boards we sell come with pumps and adaptors. But if you’re looking for something with a bit more bite, make sure it’s biting the right thing.




You might wonder if there is an alternative to manual pumping and your wondering would be correct. There are electric pumps that can be used. There are a few different types of electric pumps, those that need corded power and those that are wireless. For those that need power, you’ll likely need to plug them into a power outlet or in some cases a car cigarette lighter. It’s good practise to think about how far the entry point to the water is from your vehicle. It’s also worth noting what PSI your electric pump can blow upto. We suggest using an electric to get some of the grunt work done, then finishing it off with the hand pump to keep control over the PSI. There are electric pumps that work off a battery, tehse can be charged at home, then taken to your pump up spot. When at home test your electric pump to see how many boards it can pump. One of ours 3 boards exactly before it looses it's batery power. Handy to know!

Personally, I like to use the Ryobi 18V ONE+ High volume power inflator. This can be purchased from Canadian Tire for around $40 + tax. It’s important to note that this does not include the batteries. That will be an additional cost! And these are not the types of batteries you can pick up at the checkout in Dollarama. They are Lithium rechargeable so they cost a little bit more. As I use Ryobi power tools at home, this made it an easier decision for myself. What I like most about this tool is that it is handheld and wireless, which means I can carry it with me in my dry bag. It also has a deflation mode which makes light work after a good paddle.



Source: Photo by Roberto Sorin on Unsplash  

So there you have it, a basic intro to pumping up your board. Technique and things to look out for. If anything else pops up, when in doubt, give us a shout. We know the anatomy of pumps, so if we’re looking at gaskets, grease or O-rings, we’ll be able to help you along the way.


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