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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just purchased a used Aire Super Duper Puma. I'm 45 and was a raft guide for NOC (Southeast US) through college, and am really a whitewater canoeist, but purchased the raft for family trips on runs bigger than work for us in solo boats. We'll run Chattooga IV, Ocoee, Nolichucky, New Gorge, and probably Lower Gauley in the raft, and the Maury, French Broad, New above the gorge, and Chattooga III in our canoes, for example.

I need to pick out a pump. Commercially we always used 120V pumps at the start of the day. I've never used a manual pump.

While sometimes we will pump the raft at home and carry it inflated on the roof, more typically we will have several hardboats on the roof and carry the raft deflated inside as part of a longer trip. Thus, we'll need to pump it up at the put-in. I've no interest in a trailer.

I'm interested in advice between getting a Carlson barrel pump (4" or 6") and just pumping manually, or whether it is better to get a 12V electric pump and a top-off pump.

I don't mind pumping for 10 minutes or so at a moderate pace with a barrel pump, but I just don't have a feel for how much effort it will take. I like the lack of a motor on a barrel pump, and the Super Duper Puma is a modest sized raft (probably a small raft by western standards).

Since I've never rafted non-commercially, I don't have a feel for how it would be one way or the other, and I was hoping to get a perspective from those who pump their raft up at the river.

Thank you.
 

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I recommend a 12-volt blower to go with a top off foot pump. There's lots of good info on pumps here and here.

Unless your blower is better than anything I've ever seen before, never rely on a blower to completely inflate a boat. I've done that before and the boat goes squishy on the rio if the water's much colder than the air temp.

Have fun and be safe!

-AH
 

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Cheap 12v blower pump + top off like the k100.

The best 12v inflators still require a top off pump.

or actually the k-40 is what I have. Love it. Small enough to strap in to a thwart and forget about it. Barrels are $$$ and unweildy on the boat.

If you want a backup plan buy the closeout NRS barrel pumps or even a coleman mattress pump at a mass merchandiser. They arent' durable but they do an OK job if the 12v dies.
 

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Before I trailered I used a lvm pump with a 12v battery I would recharge (think something like a 7 to 12 ah motorcycle battery) and a wonder pump to top off. The lvm's are great because even though they are a bit noisy they get the job done fast and are repairable.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Mountain Buzz mobile app
 

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Even if you have an electric pump that fills your tubes completely you still need a pump on the boat. Temperature changes and repairs are obvious reasons to carry one. I also like the K-pumps but I would get the 200. YMMV


Jim
 

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If you ever do an on-river repair you will hate having just a top off pump - it's all but impossible to fully inflate with one. If you ever have a power issue or your electric pump fails you will hate having a top off pump. Foot pumps suck and k-pumps are less than ideal. Get a Carlson 4". If you store your boat inflated it's all you ever need. If you transport it deflated consider the electric pump as a convenience.
 

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If you ever do an on-river repair you will hate having just a top off pump - it's all but impossible to fully inflate with one.
what the? all but impossible? Like, the pump suddenly fails to move air? I mean a top off pump is optimized for that final topping up pressure, so how on earth is it all but impossible to fully inflate?

I think you mean it is slow and trying to move so little air at a time. But that's hardly "all but impossible!" Crack a beer, take turns, no sweat.

Foot pumps are great for those with sore backs, and work absolutely as well as any other pumps. My 1970's avon footpump works as good as my 4" carlson.

K-pumps are not less than ideal, either, they serve a couple of excellent needs better than any other pump. For example, the 2 stage pumps handle large volume low pressure while filling the tubes, then change gears and deliver 20psi for a dropstitch SUP, all in one pump.

The mini k-pump is the lightest, smallest pump on the market, will fit in a watershed ocoee, and is my on river pump for fly-in IK runs, Raft and cat boat day trips.

The only pump I'd stay away from are wonderpumps. They work great for the money but are misery for your back. They are for the kids to use on the tahitis!!
 

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Paddling in to the Future
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I have an 1500 watt inverter mounted in the back of my suburban. I use it to power a little 1hp shopvac that I use to inflate rafts/ik's etc at the put in, it gets them up to soft pressure, then I top off with a barrel (usually only about 6 to 10 pumps on that to full pressure) the shopvac makes short work of inflating the boats. but some of the 12v high volume pumps could probably do the same thing. I just put the inverter in for car camping. That and I work from home telecommuting, so camping and being able to "work" are a nice combination. :p
 

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what the? all but impossible? Like, the pump suddenly fails to move air? I mean a top off pump is optimized for that final topping up pressure, so how on earth is it all but impossible to fully inflate?

I think you mean it is slow and trying to move so little air at a time. But that's hardly "all but impossible!" Crack a beer, take turns, no sweat.

Foot pumps are great for those with sore backs, and work absolutely as well as any other pumps. My 1970's avon footpump works as good as my 4" carlson.

K-pumps are not less than ideal, either, they serve a couple of excellent needs better than any other pump. For example, the 2 stage pumps handle large volume low pressure while filling the tubes, then change gears and deliver 20psi for a dropstitch SUP, all in one pump.

The mini k-pump is the lightest, smallest pump on the market, will fit in a watershed ocoee, and is my on river pump for fly-in IK runs, Raft and cat boat day trips.

The only pump I'd stay away from are wonderpumps. They work great for the money but are misery for your back. They are for the kids to use on the tahitis!!
Here we go again. I feel like I've had this discussion ten times on here. This will be the last - from now on people will have to use the "search" function if they want this good advice.

Top off pumps take hours (plural) to inflate a full sized raft. The cheap 2-way top off pumps I've seen break eventually and this is certainly likely with the thousands of pumps required to fully fill a boat. I promise you'll wish you had bought a barrel pump before the raft is 1/4 full. If you have already burned a day fixing a raft you probably want to pump it up and get going - not spend time taking turns and drinking beers while you wonder if it's working (and if the patch is good). For remote locations a cheap, low volume pump is just not the right tool.

Foot pumps are shit. I've seen more broken foot pumps than working foot pumps. They are low volume and prone to failure - just like the pumps mentioned above. That's all I have to say about foot pumps. Buy one if you want a ghetto method for inflation. Thousands on a raft and $20 for a pool-toy inflator?

K Pumps are not the best choice for your raft if it has exterior valves because you can't top off while on the water. Now in previous discussions some clever soul has always chimed in and noted that they have found a way to outfit their K Pump with a hose. Wonderful - you've created a harder-to-pump Carlson, why not just buy one in the first place? K Pumps use just the arms and not the whole body and exhausting to inflate a full-sized raft with.

I use a K Pump mini for my IKs as well ( I love it. It's well made by good people), but for the pump on a raft they are absolutely "less than ideal". I once tried to use a K Pump mini to inflate a 14 foot boat. I was selling the boat and only had to pump it up one time. I stopped after an hour and went to CKS to buy a 4" barrel pump for $100 because it was barely doing anything. Too much volume in a full sized raft for that little pump! To recap: this broke raft guide would rather spend $100 than pump up a raft with a little K Pump Mini.

Most K Pumps don't have a check valve either - and I like my pump to be functional for every raft on the trip, even if it has old military valves. This also defeats the "but I have a Sotar and my valves are on the inside." Redundant equipment on a trip is safer and more convenient for everyone and every boat.

The Carlson 4" Barrel Pump is definitely compact enough for storage on a raft. It can easily inflate the entire boat in minutes at the put-in. It can top off in a few moments - allowing more time on the water. Most importantly - it is the standard for durability in pumps; it will last for decades with proper care. Why would you chose a lesser tool for half the price?
 

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Raft pump

I own a Super Duper Puma and use a LVM 12 volt electric pump for initial inflation and a medium K pump for top off and while on the river. I have used a large barrel Carlson/NRS barrel pump but don't own one (yet); expensive! To me the LVM is invaluable. Don't try to hand pump it, it's harder than you think. My 2 cents. Daniel
 

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Barrel pumps are awesome and make surprisingly quick work filling even large boats. I love having one for the fleet on multi days but I don't carry one in my Spider and more often than not I carry my K-pump on day trips. I don't deflate my boats but if I do I use a 12volt at the put in. Slick horn is right, yes you can fill a boat with a K-pump or foot pump. It will not be a good time but a SDP isn't a big boat either. I suggest you buy a 12v http://downriverequip.com/shop-products/?id=2245. I have used this one for about 25 years and buy a k200 for top off and to carry on the boat. To think that you must be inside the boat to top off is ridiculous. Most pumps with hoses take two people for topping off anyway so where's the wonderful advantage in that. And I guess if you plan on buying some antiquated boat with some obsolete military style valves well, then at that time you should consider a different style pump for that boat.


Jim
 

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I have many pumps. When I got my super puma, it came with a Wonder 4. Great top off pump, horrible fill pump. I bought an NRS barrel and it is great, but way to big to take on the raft. I got a cheap multi stage electric pump with high pressure, low volume and high volume, low pressure. It works OK. I bought a cheap rechargeable Coleman pump at Target and modified the outlet with some vinyl pipe so that it fits the valves. It is probably one om my favorite ways to inflate. Can fill 2 or 3 boats with a single charge. Cost $29. I recently bought a K-mini. Fits in my thwart bag without any extra hose to store and tops of nicely. Would not ever use it to fully inflate. I have also used a $35 shop vac and modified some pipe to make a fill nozzle. Buy a 4 or 5 in barrel and a k200 and look around for a decent electric, but you can use a cheap one to get by.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I appreciate all of the real-world responses from private rafters. It sounds like an electric plus top-off is recommended given I'll often transport the boat deflated.

Except for a few races out West I've nearly exclusively boated in the East, where private rafts are few and far between compared to hardboats.
 

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dang laura. :oops:

PITA != impossible. Any idjit who intentionally has only a top off pump for a large raft isn't going to enjoy his experience. We agree on that. But it will work, in a pinch. smaller the boat, the more so.

Your ire toward foot pumps, though, is misplaced. Foot pumps, like all good design, exhibit the best ergonomics of any pump.

A plastic rio bravo is not a foot pump. Proper footpumps are well made with marine plywood and raft material bellows, through-bolted with stainless hardwear. There's nothing to lube and they last forever. I've boated for thousands of river miles, using military valves in conjunction with good foot pumps. Why does a pump need a check valve? The more boats have two way valves, the less the pumps need to have them.

Lee still sells one: Sierra Marine Ply Foot Pump for Rafts and Kayaks, made in USA Nice price too.

I enjoy sipping my morning warm bevrage, watching the light on the walls change, while my legs get shaken loose with the foot pump.

Eyes and hands free beats wobbling on a vertically-challenged pogo-stick, which is the user experience of most barrel pumps. :p

Regardless of your your pump of choice though, do we all agree that pumps should be kept DRY when packed on-river?
 

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I rarely pump, but when I do it is a big fat DRE barrel pump. I use 4 pumps. A cheap electric pump to inflate and deflate in the garage. I pack an NRS high volume electric pump in my truck just in case. I keep a small two way pump in my dry box for river use. I've picked them up over the years and each one of them has niche. The river pumping is the duty of my passengers who are getting a free trip down the river.
 

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4 inch barrel, NRS or Carlson or AAA. NRS barrel pump works well but the Carlson is built better. I got a Carlson after my NRS hose kept coming off. NRS paid for shipping, then repaired it for free, I then gave it to a friend. The AAA pump is pretty stout too. The only annoying part is the people with the k-pump keep asking to use my pump when their boat needs a topping. I think they're wasting space carrying that pump around they don't wanna use. I can inflate a 16' raft just as fast as most electrics aside from the 110 volt blowers you see some commercials with. Remember to grease the pump gasket and these pumps will last as long as your boat.
 

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I can pump a 14' cat start to finish with a k-40 in about 30 minutes. It really isn't that bad. Would I be stoked to do a 14' raft with a top off pump? no.
I own a barrel pump. It is gathering dust.

For me the ratio I think about is this-
Number of major repairs I have experienced on the river: 0
Number of times a barrel pump has become annoying on the boat: all of them
My willingness to risk having to pump my boat with a slightly smaller pump to avoid carrying a larger pump: Very High

I ONCE repaired a drop stitch floor on a 16' raft on the river. Took 10 minutes to find, an hour to glue. Left it overnight. In the morning I took a K pump to it. Maybe 20 minutes later it was ready to load. I threw the pump in the drybox and that was that.

I once carried a CHEAP foot pump as my sole source of air on a solo trip. my valve leaked on day 1. The foot pump failed to function. I spent a very frustrating evening trying to resurrect my foot pump enough to limp along. I threw it out after the trip. I really like the size:weight:usability ratio. Bummer it was junk. A good foot pump would be cool though.

If it takes literally hours to inflate a raft with the pump you carry I agree that a terrible tool is involved.
 
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