Tag Archives: K-Pump for kayaks

Pumps for inflatable kayaks

Inflation valves and PRVs are here

barrel or stirrup pump isn’t something you’d want to tour with and is designed for pumping up high volume/low pressure things like rafts, lots of IKs or kite wings. Pumping air on both strokes, they can fill your boat more quickly, but work best on flat, firm ground where you can stand on the stirrup plates and get stuck in. The Bravo 4 Kite pump above was only about £20 but pumps up an IK in 5 minutes.


Later, I received a Bravo 6 with my Seawave but found it hard work – who knows why. The cheaper Bravo 4 does claim to be an ‘R.E.D’ (‘reduced effort device’) and I can confirm that this isn’t some gimmicky acronym. Pumping up is effortless and they still cost under well £20 in the UK, last time I looked. Like the Bravo foot pump, the other port on the Bravos’ pump handle can be used to deflate and suck air out of the kayak so it rolls up good and flat; you can see creases forming in the hull as you suck away.
I left my Bravo 4 at home one time so bought a Sevylor RB2500G barrel pump for only a tenner posted off ebay. Same size as the Bravo barrels, it looks as well made and worked well for the awkward topping-up of my Semperit’s lilo plugs. It came with push-fit, lilo-plug and bayonet adaptors and will suck as well as pump. But pumping up my Seawave from flat was exhausting due to friction or the effort towards the end; I actually got out of breath and had to rest. Morale of this fascinating story: get a Bravo 4 Kite pump and the right adaptor for your boat.

Not all these barrels have a built-in pressure gauge which you’ll find dead handy in getting the right pressure without needing to faff about and lose a bit of air using a separate manometer (see bottom of page). I’d say it’s worth the extra fiver or tenner to get a built-in gauge, especially with D/S boats. Or, you can try and splice in a manometre if you already have one into a plastic T-piece.


The K-Pump Mini (above right) is a handy top-up pump or compact 600-g travel pump. It takes 15 minutes to pump up my Seawave; the push-fit nozzle works on any IK with one-way valves. You have to press the body of the pump against the valve. Using it a lot one time, I got the feeling it might break something or wear out the seal (which needs regreasing once in a while). Fuller review of the K-Pump Mini here. Hard to find in the UK, the long, and slim US-made K-Pump 200 (right) may also be suited to D/S applications.

High pressure pumps

More and more IKs feature super-rigid, high-pressure drop-stitch hulls – either just floors or the entire hull which runs 2–5 times higher pressures than regular IKs. Your old Bravo footpump will rupture itself trying to reach the typical 7-10psi.
Barrel pumps with slim and long bodies (as opposed to some of the shorter, stockier examples above) put out less volume (D/S IKs have less volume anyway) but can attain higher pressures. You don’t need a super high-pressure iSup board pump. Anything rated 50% more than whatever your IK runs should do the job. Some of these pumps may be double action, but at a certain psi will become single action to help gain higher pressures. Whatever you get for your D/S IK, make sure it is rated to comfortably exceed your D/S boat’s pressure rating by say 50%.

Left; Bravo Alu RED – middle Bravo 110 – right Itiwit (Decathlon)

Suited to low-pressure (non-dropstitch) Gumotex IKs and the like, the cheap and popular Bravo foot pump initially looks a bit crap, but I found lasted well and was fairly travel-compact. Occasionally the yellow tube splits near either end if packed too tightly or if left screwed in, so it needed taping up (left) of cutting down and got shorter and shorter over the years.
After many years a crease in the back of the bellows wore through, though it’s also easily fixed with duct tape. It’s a shame the Bravo pump is a tight squeeze into the Gumotex drybag’s outer pocket. If you use a Bravo footpump very frequently it just plain wears out, so if you’re using the car to get to the water, a stirrup aka barrel pump is better.


Pressure gauge (manometer)
Until I got the Grabner which has no PRVs but ran a relatively high, 0.3 bar (4.3 psi), I never bothered with a pressure gauge (manometer, left) and just pumped up by feel. Since then I got a Gumotex Seawave and fitted PRVs to all chambers. That means I don’t need a pressure gauge to get the right pressure – I simply keep pumping until each PRV hisses: the boat is then at operating pressure.
With high-pressure D/S IKs you probably do want a pressure gauge as the boat will perform best at the right pressure which may be higher than you’re used to.

Midsummer Paddle to Nowhere

Midsummer’s Day with over 18 hours of daylight. You’d think they’d be something to celebrate up here. But sadly the skies were clad in a cold, watery porridge.
Some Feathercrafters were passing through; Micheal and Steve with his yellow Big Kahuna I tried on the Medway, and a 15-year-old red K-Light, force-christened ‘Stanley’ to appease the river police on the Elbe one time. We hatched a plan to paddle from the main road near Elphin to Suilven southside, 5 miles up the length of Loch Veyatie as on the map, here. Most put in at the fish farm out of Elphin onto Loch Veyatie with slight parking issues, but we figured we’d go up the road a bit and drop into the Ledbeg River which leads into Cam Loch, and deal with the gorge and waterfall portage linking Cam to Veyatie, just by the fish farm.
ms-sailAn east wind was blowing, so had we got onto Loch Veyatie it could have been good sailing for me until the return leg. I’ve now found my folded sail slots neatly and firmly in the back floor, so it can come on every trip now without getting in the way. With no hatches in which to stash stuff, I’m slowly seeing the value of using the big Lomo bag to hold everything for the K40: deck battens and coaming, spray skirt, bilge pump – even the Incept itself will fit in there. Having forgotten vital things like pumps before, it’s good to get into the habit of shoving it all in the Lomo and know that each time all you need is to grab the boat and the big bag. In fact I’d forgotten the Bravo foot pump for the g-friend’s Solar, but interestingly, as long as you have the arm power, you can pump up the Gumotex Solar more firmly with the K-Pump than with the leg-powered Bravo. It must be that the hardbodied K-Pump puts all your energy into inflation and not the creaking, flexing bellows and hose of the Bravo. And it’s nearly as quick too.
In the end a late lunch just before the first waterfall turned into a pronged siesta. Under the heavy skies and chilly wind our midsummer motivation for the portage and the long schlep up-loch seaped away. That’s the trouble with these long days – you think you have daylight to spare, start late and get rather slack. We backed up a bit from the current next to the falls and hacked back the way we came against the wind, past little fern-clad isles and back up the Ledbeg river’s light current to the road bridge. It’s nice not to burn yourself out some days. We finished up with tea and cake in the Elphin Tea Rooms where the guy gave us the lowdown on the mysterious Suilven dry stone wall. According to him it was indeed to keep sheep from straying onto the summit pasture as well as a form of job creation.
It’s always nice to go for a paddle, even if you don’t get very far. Suilven and Loch V’ will still be there next time.

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