Managing air pressure in an inflatable kayak

Inflatable kayaks are light, durable, stable and easily portable compared to the hard-shell kayaks. They are most suited for recreational use for both beginners and skilled kayakers owing to their wide range of benefits.

There are however some important aspects about inflatable kayaks that one should be familiar with. Unlike the hard-shell canoes, inflatable kayaks can be inflated or deflated easily to various sizes. It is important to know that the air pressure plays a vital role in the performance and the safety of the inflatable kayak.

In simple physics, it is noted that air pressure changes with the changing temperatures. Therefore, the air pressure inside an inflatable kayak will change with respect to the weather conditions and type of the material used to make the kayak. For instance, while paddling on warmer waters, the air pressure inside the kayak is bound to rise and the opposite is true in colder conditions.

It is therefore worthy to note that since a majority of the kayaks are inflated while on dry land, their inner pressures will automatically change when the vessel is launched to the waters. Being aware of these changes will therefore enable a kayaker to compensate for the changing air pressure. This will in turn enhance the performance of the vessel while ensuring the safety of the paddler. Using optimum pressure will increase the life of the canoe.

Changes during different times of the day

Most of the people embark on outdoor activities such as recreational kayaking early in the morning. Under normal circumstances, temperatures are low at this time. As the sun rises, the temperatures will also rise, and so is the inner pressure in the inflatable kayak.

Under such circumstances, it is advisable to slightly under inflate the kayak in order to allow room for expansion as the temperatures rise. The pressure can be added if the temperatures tend to remain low throughout the day. Keeping this in mind, it is also important to deflate kayaks that are pulled out of water and left in the sun for a long time.

Impact of over inflating or deflating a kayak

Over inflating a kayak reduces it durability. This is because there is too much stress applied on the material such as cloth, plastic, rubber and their bonding agents used to make these kayaks. It is also a safety risk to ride on an over inflated kayak. Cases of puncture are high in over inflated kayaks. An over inflated kayak tends to lose control especially when they hit on hard objects such as rocks.

On the other hand, an under inflated kayak is difficult to control and their performance is greatly hindered. They tend to be sluggish and non-responsive to paddling. One would require extra calories to maneuver such a kayak.


It is necessary to keep check of the air pressure in an inflatable kayak. This can be done simply by squeezing an area of the tube by hand. The movement of the vessel on waters can also indicate the amount of the air pressure. Carrying a suitable pump either hand or foot pump and a pressure gauge will remedy most of these problems.