Pumps for IKs and Packrafts
Update May 2022.
Charged Max Pump packed up after a year/20 uses. Slide switch was off so not accidentally discharged. Plugged into computer; no charge light. Plugged into USB wall socket (as have done before): very bright light followed by smoke… Replaced with the boxy, orange, heavier, notionally waterproof Max Pump Plus for £23.
In a line Cheap, light, compact, USB rechargeable and fast, for when air-bagging is a faff or awkward.
Cost Max Pump £24 on amazon.
Max Pump Plus £23
Weight 148g + nozzle 8g.
Max Pump Plus 170g + nozzles
(Packraft airbag 110g).
Where used around UK
Faster than clumsy air-bagging – handy on a narrow bank/shore
Can suck (vacuum) as well as inflate
Ought to do > 15 fills
Max Pump as a conventional stiff slide switch, not ‘touchy’ inductive switch on the newer Max 2 version. Max Pump Plus has a silicon covered press switch.
Will do other stuff, like airbed mats and fire embers
Newer models can be used as a power pack, have LED lights, are IPX7 rated and can be programmed to sing Waltzing Matilda.
None of the supplied nozzles with Max Pump jammed nicely into a Boston valve
My Max Pump packed after less than a year and about 20 uses. Replaced with bulkier Max Pump Plus
Only replaces air-bagging; still need to top up by mouth and/or hand pump
Will discharge eventually, unlike manual methods, and will eventually die for good
What they say
My name is Max Pump 2020. I can quickly inflate and deflate your swimming tube. air mattress. and other inflatables. With vacuum bags .I can create more capacity for your suitcase and wardrobe at home. When in outdoor.I can provide oxygen for your burning ovens. enabling you to enjoy your food more easily.
An electric pump to save a couple of minutes’ packraft air-bagging? Do me a favour! That’s what I think when applied to bulkier IKs where a two-way barrel pump is fast and easy. But factor in cost, weight, size, USB rechargeability plus supplementary uses and, for a packraft, FlextailGear’s range of pumps (above) is worth a punt.
Air-bagging is a clever idea to inflate a typical packraft, but on some days it’s not the most intuitive of actions, perched on seaweed covered boulders. Once a day is fine, but on a trip where you’re airing up and down a few times a day, the effortlessness of the Max Pump is welcome. A good case to point was my paddle on the Wye where accessing my Rebel 2K’s internal storage pockets to get to the camping gear each night meant re-inflating the boat every morning. The Flex pump would have made this less tiresome. Another example is getting back from a tiring sea paddle and wanting to reinflate the boat to rinse and dry properly. Plug in the Flexy and get on with other after-paddle chores.
Out of the box
With Max Pump I got the pump, four nozzles, a short USB-A lead and a small bag. While one nozzle loosely fitted a Boston valve’s threaded airbag port / dump valve, nothing fitted the one-way valve body. You’d think with Boston valves so common on Chinese-made slackrafts, packrafts and cheaper IKs, this Chinese brand would include a Boston valve nozzle. Luckily, I’ve amassed loads of adaptors and nozzles, and one 16mm (5/8″) adaptor fitted the pump’s main nozzle and jammed into the Boston port. [The orange Max Pump Plus included a nozzle for the valved port].
Off a computer allow two hours to fully charge the pump out of the box. After just three fills (12 mins?), it took just hour or less to get the green light. Off the mains is faster.
I estimate the volume of my Rebel 2K was 240 litres, (12 jerricans) so at the claimed flow rate of 300 L/min (currently the highest in Flextailgear’s range of mini pumps), that ought to take less than a minute. In fact it took 2:30s to reach the equivalent of airbag pressure (full volume; above).
But this was pushing through the one-way valve, (like a car tyre) not direct into the hull via the airbag port / dump valve which has no resistance.
Now with a bigger TXL with a volume of around 350 litres, I inflate directly through the screw port into the hull: 2:20s and if you’re quick you don’t lose much air screwing the cap on. Then I Flex for another 30s via the valve (or do 20 breaths to save the battery) and finish off with the handpump.
According to the Flextailgear table above, my heavier orange Max Pump Plus has 10% less power and max pressure than the Max Pump, but it’s hard to verify any of this data other than weight. The fact is, either pump does a packraft in a couple of minutes.
My comfy full-length Exped Synmat XP 9LW – which also needs air-bagging to avoid humid breath – inflates in just 25s. And as many will know, air-bagging a sleeping mat in a cramped tent when you’re worn out is not one of the joys of camping.
The Max 2020’s 3600mAH lithium battery is claimed to run for 40 minutes, so that ought to do at least 10-15 raft fills plus a few mats, when camping. I imagine the Max Plus will be the same.
Deflating either of these items is of course as easy as rolling them up, but getting the last bit of air out can be tricky, even though it can save a lot of packed volume. Pump suction definitely works on my Seawave IK because the one-way valve can be pulled open with the bayonet nozzle. On the packraft and mat, you have to suck from the unvalved airbag port, and by the time you’ve plugged that, some air gets drawn back in. I find just rolling up, squeezing, then sucking the last of the air by mouth works best, as your hands are free to get to the valve cap fast.
Last word to Sven from Anfibio: “Can’t live without one anymore. Cannot remember when I last used an inflation bag.”
These young people, honestly.
[Max Pump Plus: 170g + nozzles] [Max Pump Plus: 170g + nozzles]