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Old 03-02-2016   #1
yesimapirate's Avatar
Denver-ish, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 739
Boat Transport via Trailer

I'm guessing we have roughly a month left before good snowmelt starts in most states. Figured we could use another winter-time blues topic.

For years when I've transported my boat on my trailer I have it fully inflated (plus/minus some PSI for mtn passes). But in my travels I've noticed that some folks chose to carry their boats in a very very squishy state(almost flat) usually with frame and gear attached. Why do this? Is there some advantage I'm unaware of? Wouldn't your boat get some serious abrasion wear?

It's always seemed odd to me. Am I alone on this?


“HOLD THE DOOR!” — Hodor
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Old 03-02-2016   #2
nastysauce's Avatar
SeaTown, NW
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 97
Originally Posted by yesimapirate View Post

It's always seemed odd to me. Am I alone on this?
Your not alone. As someone who tries to be as lazy as possible while being safe, i almost always leave my boat inflated.

I see people do it with pontoon boats all the time.

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Old 03-02-2016   #3
LongmontRafter's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 168
what's your secret?

So I have a trailer for my 13' rig. I have to admit that on some trips I don't trailer the boat just because of the elevation change/loose tube wear ect...

For those who don't live here, there is about a 5000 foot elevation change to get to boating on the other side of the divide from the front range...this requires knowing the state of your tubes inflation pressure as you go up and down...

When I do trailer the boat, I typically fully inflate the boat when I leave town. Assuming I am heading up to the Upper C or is the routine...
Once I get to I70, I typically stop at the Dinosaur ride-share lots and deflate the tubes partially and re-tighten the straps...then on to around the intersection of 40 and I adjust air pressure and straps...then on to around Georgetown for another adjustment...then through the tunnel and down to Silverthorne where I now have to stop again to tighten the straps on very flaccid tubes...I have put air in the tubes here in the past but lately I've just continued on to the put-in to re-adjust...this does cause a lot of frame wear as the loose tubes bounce all over the place...

sorry for the novel but this has caused some concern over the years...

I would love to hear what others do...
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Old 03-02-2016   #4
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,908
You'll gain about 2.5 psi between Denver and the Divide. I make sure the boat's a little on the soft side when I leave home, then usually stop at Dotsero or Grizzley Creek and top it off before going lower in elevation. Or topping it off wherever I'm launching the boat on the other side of the hill.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 03-02-2016   #5
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 60
When I first bought a trailer (worth their weight in gold btw) I was running my cat "squishy" because I was so afraid of heat / pass expansion and blowing a chamber/tube. squishy might be silly but blown is expensive! I've since learned that they can handle much more psi than I thought. Maybe that is what your seeing??
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Old 03-03-2016   #6
yesimapirate's Avatar
Denver-ish, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 739
I wish I had a photo of what I'm talking about. I get leaving a little squishy for mtn passes, but what I meant was the boats that look like a pancake. Like someone unrolled their boat, and gave like 6-10 pumps on the barrel pump. Like a floppy noodle with a frame on it. Like jello on a trailer. I just looks like bad news to me, but I may be wrong.

On the side topic, some may call it risky but I don't let out any air on my way up the passes. I let out the top-off air(probably 2psi) at the take out, and that's it. Knock on wood - I haven't had any issues. To Andy's point about losing air going down in elevation, I usually stop and cinch down straps once on the western slope.

“HOLD THE DOOR!” — Hodor
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Old 03-03-2016   #7
Osprey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
Depends on the boat too. If it was an Aire with a bladder or fishing pontoon with a shell/bladder setup I'd be more concerned with sewn seams/zippers blowing out. A normal one layer raft can take quite a bit of pressure.

I generally start off a bit on the soft side like the others, I might stop at the chain up area going up to blow some air off, boat is pretty solid by then. then just top it off at the put in. If I'm going further I might air up stopping in Eagle for gas or something.

Coming back this way I generally won't stop but by the time I hit denver again the boat's maybe half full and looking pretty sad lol. At that point you are too lazy to stop again and just want to get home! Mine sits on smooth metal bars on the trailer so I haven't had a wear issue. I loop NRS straps around boat frame and around the trailer bars so it's not going anywhere but it looks pretty bouncy.

If I wanted to get fancy I might get some large springs to incorporate into the system that would help the straps expand/contract as the boat does.
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Old 03-04-2016   #8
yesimapirate's Avatar
Denver-ish, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by Osprey View Post
If I wanted to get fancy I might get some large springs to incorporate into the system that would help the straps expand/contract as the boat does.
If you do end up making this self tightening strap system, please share some details. Google gave me no good results when searching self tightening strap.

“HOLD THE DOOR!” — Hodor
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Old 03-04-2016   #9
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,659
I know what you're talking about pirate, when my wife takes the boat alone it usually ends up looking like that when it comes home. I've made her paranoid about blowing baffles.

I've spent a little time examining my boat on the road, even used a pressure gage to get a feel for how it changes. I now adjust the pressure very little. I've gotten to the point where when I'm concerned, I let 3 seconds of air out of each chamber when I take out and put 20 pumps with my k pump in when in the water at the put in. Most of the time I do nothing, as long as the temp swing isn't more than 20-25 degrees. That typically does it for me but we don't have the elevation changes you Coloradans have, typically 2-3k is max on my trips.

We do see massive temp changes though, often in the summer it can be 45 degrees when we leave the house in the morning and 90+ when we get to the river (on longer trips). That's when I get more paranoid and deflate a little extra some where along the way. I do let air out at home when it's going to be sitting for a while, it can get very hot in my garage and its just nice to not wonder. I do things in that 3 second blow off, 20 pump increment. So If I let extra air out, it's another 3 seconds out, that way when I'm to the ramp I can tell someone to put 20 or 40 pumps in, which ever is required. That ratio just works well for my boat and gets other people "involved" at the ramp.
Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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Old 03-04-2016   #10
seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 90
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 355
It's all about those M.P.G's man.

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