What Happens to Inflatable Kayak Air Pressure and Why?

Sevylore 2 man Inflatable kayakWhen using an inflatable kayak or canoe, it should be kept in mind that the inner air pressure plays a major role in both the performance and safety of the craft.
Air pressure will change according to temperatures governed by weather conditions for all inflatable kayak and canoe types. For example, in very warm conditions the inner air pressure of any inflatable kayak or product will rise with the opposite occurring in colder conditions.
It should also be kept in mind that because the majority of the  inflatable kayak units and boats are inflated while on dry land, the air pressure will very likely change once the boat has been launched into the water where it’s very likely that the temperature of the water will be significantly different to the air on land.
Keeping in mind that only the bottom portion of the boat will be in contact with the water, the air temperature inside an inflatable kayak will change as it circulates with the motion of the boat and it’s passenger or pilot and thus in all likelihood decrease the boat’s air pressure.
Being aware of how to compensate for changing air pressures due to changing temperatures will ensure that an inflatable kayak or canoe will perform to its maximum capabilities as well as ensuring safety and longevity of the craft’s life.


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A few Inflatable Kayak Time of day tips.

If embarking on an outing in the early morning in an inflatable kayak, it’s very likely under normal circumstances that as the sun rises so will the air temperature and as a consequence, so will the air pressure in an inflatable product.
In this scenario, when inflating the craft initially it would be wise to slightly under-inflate to provide space for air expansion with rising air temperature. Should the pressure remain too low after several hours, more air can be added.
Keeping the above in mind, it may also be necessary to reduce air pressure in conditions where the inflatable kayak or boat is pulled from the water and left to stand in the hot sun for extended periods will cause the inner air to expand and thus raising the inner air pressure.
Over inflated kayaks and boats tend to have a shorter life because of over stress levels on construction materials such plastics, cloth, rubber and bonding agents.

inflatable kayakOver inflation can also be a safety factor in situation where a hard object such as a sharp rock is struck by the inflatable kayak hull and is more likely to puncture if the air pressure is too high, whereas if the air pressure is lower, the materials will tend to yield allowing the craft to slide off the object with no damage

By contrast, if an inflatable kayak or canoe is under inflated, it become difficult to to control in that it will tend to be sluggish and non-responsive.

How often to check Air pressure in an Inflatable Kayak?
Determining how often to check the air pressure comes to the user with practice but a simple guide is to check every hour or so while the air temperature is rising until about noon when the sun is at its zenith and hottest. With practice an experienced inflatable user can determine the correct pressure in several ways.


  • Firstly, simply by feel by squeezing an area of the tubes
  • Secondly, by judging the performance of the craft in the water when paddling or trolling. (many inflatables come with the ability to fit a small outboard or electric motor to the stern or through the “floor”
  • And thirdly, by using a suitable portable mechanical or electronic air pressure gauge.

The consequences of incorrect air pressure in an inflatable kayak or small craft can vary in significance

The materials used to manufacture such crafts in modern times is tough, resilient, hardy, reliable and well able to withstand pressures far exceeding the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, constantly abusing their recommendation will eventually lead to dire and long lasting consequences which will cause significant damage to the boat and shorten its usable life so care should be taken to preserve the life of any inflatable kayak or small boat.

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