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Inflatable Kite Pumps: All You Need to Know

Guides | Kitesurfing

Every kitesurfer needs an inflatable kite pump. There are various types and brands to choose from, but which one should you get? What is the correct action to save lower back pain while pumping up a kite? How long should they last? And how do you clean them or repair them if needed?

Most of us kitesurfers go for the cheapest option available and use it until it no longer works. Then rinse and repeat this cycle. But what other routes can we take to avoid being wasteful consumers?

In this blog post, we will answer all these questions and more! We hope that by the end, you’ll have enough information about inflatable kite pumps so that you can make your own informed decision!

Manual kite pumps 

These are the most common types of pump you will see kitesurfers using to inflate their kites, but they are not all created equal.

They work by creating dual action as you operate them, meaning air flows into the tubes as you push and pull on the handle. Pumps with aluminium shafts are signals of better quality and durability.

You are more likely to be using a manual kite pump if you have never owned one before, or it is your first time out with the kit.

This type of pump requires greater effort and can take longer than electric pumps. To get enough air pressure into your kite for good flight performance, they may require multiple tweaks and adjustments for those unfamiliar with their equipment.

Read: Buyers Guide To Manual Kite Pumps

Electric kite pumps 

Getting an electric air pump will definitely save your energy levels if you need to pump up a larger kite.

They work in the same way as a manual pump, except they replace those arms (and back, more on that later) of yours with electricity. Models that feature batteries and which run off 12V are available. Making your life at the beach easier.

They are considerably more expensive than manual pumps. However, they have been coming down in price recently, and they can be used for a whole range of applications. 

The most important thing is to find a pump that’s easy to use and will fit in your car or truck without taking up too much space.

How hard do I have to inflate my kite?

Leading-edge inflatable kites are specifically designed to be pumped to a certain pressure. Each brand develops its kites to a different measurement of pressure. But they typically fall anywhere between 6-8 PSI (0.41-0.62 bar).

If the pressure in the bladder is not within the range of the manufacturers stated pressure, then the performance will suffer.

Relaunch Capability
6 PSI (0.41 bar)
Jumping Capability
8 PSI (0.62 bar)

Knowing how hard to pump your kite depends entirely on what your requirements are. For example, a kiteschool needing maximum relaunch capability might opt for pressure below 6 PSI (0.41 bar). A rider looking to do jumps & loops in strong winds will look at 8 PSI (0.62 bar).

Difference between Psi and Bar

Psi and bar are different units of measurement of pressure. Psi is a unit that measures the pressure as 1-pound force applied on an area with 1-square inch, 

A bar is a unit that measures the pressure as the force applied perpendicularly on a surface.

So when looking at which pump to buy, it’s best practice to get something that has a gauge so that you can be sure. There is nothing worse than having to land your kite to top up the pressure because you underinflated it the first time!

How long does a kite pump last?

A pump will last about as long as you decide to take care of it. Well, this applies to manual pumps, at least.

Manual pumps have very few parts that need a periodic inspection. So even when it would appear the pump no longer works, you can usually resurrect a trusty pump with a basic clean.

The number one enemy of any pump is going to be salt and sand. And since you spend your time pumping up on the beach, sand is the one to look out for. Try not to throw your pump aside as you finish inflating and instead place it on a towel of your empty kite bag.

Electric air pumps, on the other hand, have other variables that set the life expectancy. Everything from the electrical connections to the life of the batteries will determine how long you can expect a pump to last.

So if you are going to spend the extra cash, it’s worth doing some homework about brand quality, so you don’t end up disappointed.

How do you clean a kite pump?

  1. Unscrew the pump from the body so you can take out the handle and plunger. The top may be difficult to remove, so use a towel for extra grip if needed.
  2. Inspect the components for any debris that might be clogging up the intake or output areas. If any of the parts are damaged, you may need to search for replacements if available.
  3. Wipe down all surfaces with a dry cloth and make sure to get into hard-to-reach places like the base.
  4. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any dust bunnies you missed in step 3
  5. Lubricate interior components and the inside of the pump with silicon spray or lithium grease. Do not use WD40 because this will damage the plastic seals and components.
  6. Reassemble everything and test it by pumping air through it several times.
  7. If you’re still not getting enough pressure. Try unscrewing the top again and inspect the parts until you find what’s blocking the airflow (this will involve removing the top again).

How to repair your pump?

So you followed the 7 steps to maintain and clean your manual pump, correct? Great, and you made sure to use a silicon spray and not WD40? Brilliant. You don’t need a replacement, then.

If you did, however, use WD40, it is likely the o-rings are shot. These are pretty much the only parts you can buy and replace. So a trip to your local hardware store is in order.

Everything else is honestly not worth the bother of sourcing and shipping. Instead, just cough up the dough and buy a new pump.

This is where electric air pumps beat manual pumps. Any reputable manufacturer will warranty their product. You should be able to get it repaired no problem by sending it back to them.

How to NOT mess up your back when pumping your kite?

This is a widespread complaint among kitesurfers, both young and old. But lower back pain from pumping up a kite is the result of poor form!

It does not matter if you have a waist height pump that says it’s designed to save you lower back pain or a pump that barely gets up to your shins. It is the form that you pump with that will save your back.

If you are experiencing pain in your lower back while pumping up a kite, the following steps will help.

– Bend your knees and assume a squat position. Grip the pump’s handle. Then start moving the handle up and down by moving your legs in and out of the squatting position. There is a reason why the ‘toddler’ position is considered good form. If you do not bend and straighten your back to inflate the kite, there is no strain on your lower back.

– Do not bend or straighten your back to inflate the kite. Bending over and using your arms to inflate the kite is slightly better than using your back to do the work. If you do like to use your arms, getting a taller pump is a good idea.

Final Thoughts

We hope this blog post has helped you understand the importance of getting a kite pump that’s right for your needs.

Whether you’re looking to inflate small and medium-sized kites or larger ones, we’ve tried our best to cover all bases regarding what styles are available on the market today.

We also want to make sure that when it comes time for maintenance, cleaning, or repairing any issues with your current pumps – we have discussed some tips.

Thanks again for reading, and if you want to know which kite pump to buy, then check out our latest buying guide for manual and electric pumps below.
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