Raft Pumps: Why do they empty my wallet?? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-28-2006   #1
Blue Shiver, CO, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 41
Raft Pumps: Why do they empty my wallet??

Why are raft pumps so ungodly expensive??? I mean PVC Pipe doesn't cost that much and a check valve can't be that much either. My question is are those $30-35 "super six" or whatever double action pumps horrible or is it worth the $220 for a Carlson??

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Old 02-28-2006   #2
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,635
The El-Cheapo pumps REALLY ARE THAT BAD. I couldn't (and still can't) bring myself to throw down $160 - $200 for a good one and so I went through several cheap ones from Mall-Wart, my local raft shop (where I got a "Hyside" brand pump that was just as bad as the rest), etc. The cheap pumps all crapped out after a month or two. For awhile there I was pretty good at taking them apart and fixing the seals or re-attaching the dual-action air tubing inside the barrels - just what I like to do when I'm not boating...

I've always used an electric inflator hooked up to the car battery to air up the boat and then topped off with a manual pump. I ditched the cheap pump and got a foot pump to top off my boat a few years ago. The $35 foot pump has worked beautifully for several years and only now is showing signs of wearing out where the baffle is starting to leak. I've also replaced the cheap corrugated hose with radiator hose which will never crack and leak.

I recommend that you either:

A) throw down the big bucks for a good, high volume PVC pump if you think you'll be airing up the boat more than 12 ft from your car,

B) buy a $35 electric inflator and a $35 foot pump to top the boat off with (do NOT try to top off with the electric inflator - it doesn't work and you'll burn out the motor),

C) Spend $35 on about 3 or 4 consecutive cheap pumps, then bite the bullet in frustration and spend even more $$ for a good one or use an alternate scheme (B).


PS - I've heard of guys making their own pumps out of 4" PVC so if you've got more time than money, and a workshop that may be your preferred route. Sounds like a real PITA to me...
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 02-28-2006   #3
on your sister, ...
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 137
Yeah, plunking down for one of those things sucks but it seems inevitable that you will eventually.

The only good thing is that they are pretty much a one shot expense because unlike the BS wonder pumps they will last forever unless you drive over them with your car. NRS has one for around $175 and is what I use. Very good and don't regret plunking down. Plus it is a 5 inch barrel which seems ideal too me. Just clean out the inner barrel and 303 the seal every now and then and it will work like new again and again.

Also, your back will thank you for not pumping with those short wonder pumps. The extra height of the NRS /Carlson is really nice and humane.
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Old 03-03-2006   #4
I'm right 50% of the time
brendodendo's Avatar
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 899
My raft came with a wonder pump 4. Its great on the river and for multiday trips. Not good for put in. Best advice i ever got was from COSurfGod. He and wifey went through many junk pumps. When I got my rubber he told me to buy a good pump. Done deal. I have it and will not part with it. Wonder is great if you have a trailer and do not mind pumping for an hour and a half. NRS barrel is the ticket. 75 pumps on 2 chambers, 90 on the floor and 110 for third chamber and I'm ready to float.
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Old 03-08-2006   #5
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 14
The double actions barely work-even as a back up-they suck. Throw down and get a carlson 4" pump-not a 6". You'll save a few bucks and be able to get the air pressure you want with less effort than using a 6"er. It's a lot for a pump and I procrastinated for years, but it is worth it.
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Old 03-08-2006   #6
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 335
Good Question!!!!How can something so low tech made from cheap components be so much of a ream job!!!
Andy excellent idea about the radiator hose.Those car battery pumps suck too,barely pumps a ducky to half pressure 'topping off ' with a foot pump is a major understatement,may as well do the whole thing by foot.They could be worth it for a raft save time and your back.Can't bring myself to buy the expensive good one{it's too damn bulky for a ducky} butseems like a no brainer if you bought a raft.
I fill my boat hard ,set it in the water to shrink the tubes while I am gearing up,then top it off and only carry a hose with a fitting to top off by mouth on the river. I have noticed that most dukyists do not inflate thier boats near hard enough,negatively affecting performance,just be careful about sun expansion,monitor the pressure periodically.
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Old 03-09-2006   #7
G.J., CO
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 46
After owning a raft for a number of years and topping it off with one of those cheapy pumps I bought a used Downriver Pump from Boulder Outdoor Center. I used to wear myself out just getting my boat topped off. Now it's topped off in half the time, firmer, and I'm not tired. It was well worth the 100 bucks and my cheapy pump can rot in my raft shed.
Although, I still use my orange battery pump to get the bulk of raft pumped up.
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