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Thread: What's your opinion on the best pumps for inflatables

  1. #1
    Member wyoming dave's Avatar
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    Default What's your opinion on the best pumps for inflatables

    I understand this sounds like an elementary question however, we were hoping to get your opinions on the best, lightest, and most practical pump for a 14' inflatable? (i.e. barrel pump, foot, etc.)

    With all the options and Mfgs. on the market we were hoping to narrow down the field before making a purchase.

    Thank guy's for your time!

    David

  2. #2
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Wonder Pump Super Six

    David,

    I've been using the Wonder Pump Super Six. I like it because it's a double action pump (pumps on both the up-stroke and down-stroke), and because I can use it in standing water (the intake is on the upper part of the unit). It can also be used for pulling that last bit of air out of your boat if you must roll it really tight for flyout.

    Note: it's not generally a good idea to suck all the air out of a boat that you'll be storing a long time, as you can crease the fabric.

    Finally, a side note that raft pumps are helpful in creating a draft for starting fires in damp weather.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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  3. #3

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    Yeah, the wonder pump is a good pump if you need to be light weight. The down side is they have a rep for breaking when you need them and are sized for pygmies. They work for topping off the raft but the seals are a little weak so not the best. they will get the job done for a minimal cost. Keep some spare parts for the the seal and plate in the barrel too.

    Money and bulk well expended is to just drop the cash for a DRE,NRS or Carlson pump though. They weight allot more and are space consuming but ultra reliable/ bomb proof and will save your back from stooping over for a 1/2 hour doinking with a wonder pump and are high volume but allow for effective topping off too. Most will shudder at the $175+ price but it will last 20 years of reliable service. Once you use one,it's tough to go back to foot pumps or wonder pumps.

    Good luck,either way.

  4. #4
    Member wyoming dave's Avatar
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    Default

    Mike,
    We appreciate your time & input regarding the 6" Wonder Pump.
    It's a canadiate!

    Thanks,
    DAvid

  5. #5
    Member wyoming dave's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks indyjones for your opinion on the NRS, DRE & Carlson pumps.
    I make a living with tools and the only cheap tool I can think of I would buy again is a tape measure (and choose that carefully).

    One usually gets what they pay for & I do shudder on the thought of a 175.00 pump however, precious vacation time shouldn't be wasted repairing something if it can be avoided.

    So I will probably do as I always do, think on it a while to soften the blow and then make a purchase.

    So do you have any details regarding a size, or model of a pump from the Mfgs. you mentioned?

    Thanks again,
    David

  6. #6

    Default

    If transportation is not a big cancern a 6" carlson is tough to beat, but in my opinion the only time I would use that big of a pump is with my truck close or in the shop......electric is way too easy to not use if my truck is there. a $20 12v blows my lion 16' boat up in just a few minutes.

    I use the wonder pump like mike when I am worried about weight and space, I don't use it for a hammer as it is a bit more fragile then a carlson especially when cold, but if you pay attention it works fine.

  7. #7
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default One more thing-

    Quote Originally Posted by wyoming dave View Post
    Mike,
    We appreciate your time & input regarding the 6" Wonder Pump.
    It's a canadiate!

    Thanks,
    DAvid
    David,

    I would agree with the bomb-proof aspect of the Carlson barrel pumps, and also that they are heavy and bulky. Great for shop use, but I still would not recommend them for fly-out for the reasons just mentioned.

    I've been using them for over ten years on remote Alaska trips and have not had a malfunction yet. I have three or four of them, including the original one I bought ten years ago. Never had to replace a seal or had any problems at all. That said, the handles do flex a little at times. I am somewhat concerned that one could break off.

    As to the height issue mentioned, I am 6' tall and have no trouble with the Super Six. But the Four might be an issue as it is shorter.

    Different strokes...

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  8. #8

    Default

    Yeah, I've been happy with my NRS 5" barrel pump. It's a size that is a balance between the higher volume of 6" barrels and the easier 4 " pumps for topping off by carlson and DRE. Also,if the insides get gunked up from river life then just clean it out and 303/clean the seal and it works like new. Same with DRE and Carlson too. With a 6" pump you get more filling power but it's harder to top off the raft with the final pumps. The 4" is better for topping off rafts and smaller in size but slower to fill volume.

    They are all quality pumps from quality companies and would be happy to bring any out in the bush without a second thought. NRS just seemed like a good all around size and was $40-50 cheaper then Carlson yet basically the same construction.

    Here is a link that shows the different types:

    http://nrsweb.com/shop/product_list.asp?deptid=1113

    http://www.downriverequip.com/asp/pr...sp?prodtype=75

    Also, as previously stated by several people...these pumps are pigs!!! I wouldn't go into the bush without one,as well. It just gives me piece of mind that I don't have with wonder pumps so worth making a bush pilot groan abit...
    Last edited by indyjones; 01-29-2007 at 18:25.

  9. #9
    Member wyoming dave's Avatar
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    Default Pumps Continued

    Weight is a definite issue to be concerned with, an electric pump would be great for shop use or a drop off where their is a vehicle however, a fly in is another matter altogether.

    I'll get the specs re: the weight for the mentioned pumps.

    It's also interesting to note Mike hasn't had any problems with his wonder pump in ten years, that's not bad at all for an inexpensive pump.

    Thanks agin for your input guys!
    David

  10. #10

    Default

    yeah, here is a link to the spare parts for a wonder pump,if you decide to go that way:

    http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product_list.asp?deptid=1896

    Keep the inside clean, put some 303 protectant on the seals to keep them from dry rotting and pick up a few extra seals and a spare piston and you should be be okay. Just be careful on the last top off pumps that's where you run the most risk of breakage at the handle/piston or tearing the seal.

    Good luck.

  11. #11

    Default

    Last thing to remember, there are few peices of equipment that if they break and you need it to work that will actually leave you stranded,helpless and need the pilot to locate you or other parties to hopefully come along at some point and bail you out... a pump is one of those pieces!

  12. #12
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    Default K-pump

    Check out the new K-pumps. They are very well made & come in several sizes. Very compact, come in a case and no bulky hoses to deal with.

  13. #13
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default TOpping off the raft

    Quote Originally Posted by indyjones View Post
    yeah, here is a link to the spare parts for a wonder pump,if you decide to go that way:

    http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product_list.asp?deptid=1896

    Keep the inside clean, put some 303 protectant on the seals to keep them from dry rotting and pick up a few extra seals and a spare piston and you should be be okay. Just be careful on the last top off pumps that's where you run the most risk of breakage at the handle/piston or tearing the seal.

    Good luck.
    I've seen you mention that the Wonder Pump isn't too good for topping a raft off, and I'm still trying to sort that out, because it is contrary to what I've experienced. Perhaps you ended up with a bad one.

    I have a metro inflator for highway trips where I can use it to inflate my cataraft to shape, but I have ALWAYS used the Wonder Pump for topping my boats off drum-tight with no ill effects, malfunctions or mishaps. None of my Wonder Pumps have ever blown a seal or given me any trouble at all, and as I said earlier, I have been using some of the same ones for ten years. In fact, one year on the Dishna we encountered a party that blew out a foot pump on the first stroke. I loaned them one of my Wonder Pumps (I always bring a spare), and we got it back at the end of the float hunt. It saved their trip, so they said.

    Anyway, before everyone starts thinking that the Wonder Pump won't perform as advertised, or that it's some sort of a junior version, I thought I'd reiterate that it has served me very well for many years. It's light, rugged, and ideal for flyout trips to remote locations.

    As always, bring two pumps (of any kind) just in case one fails.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  14. #14

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    Yeah, I used my wonder pump for less than a season before I upgraded due the overall lack of confidence in it and pygmie design. It did fine and got the job done, as stated before. When topping off, the seals tended to make...well... farting sounds allot though as the seals could not handle the pressure, the flexing nearing top off never inspired any confindence, it always seemed much more difficult getting to that top off PSI and seemed like it was stressing the pump every top off vs. the ease when using my present pump to get to the same normal spec PSI. The death nail was soon after hearing the many stories from more experienced rafters I boat with of the breakage problems...Based on my experience with it and the words of discouragement from the vets, I put mine into my Gear Whore Room where it still sits.

    Handles snapping, spiral breaks down the shaft, base plates cracking, seals ripping are all the problems that I've heard from many different experienced boaters over the years.

    I have also heard plenty of people say the same thing as you. Never failed me,ect.

    Two opposing camps on them,for sure.

    They just are not for me and I don't view them as profesional quality equipment.

    Once again,Mike,agree to disagree,I guess.

    SYOTR.

  15. #15
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default The funny thing about gear-

    Quote Originally Posted by indyjones View Post
    Yeah, I used my wonder pump for less than a season before I upgraded due the overall lack of confidence in it and pygmie design. It did fine and got the job done, as stated before. When topping off, the seals tended to make...well... farting sounds allot though as the seals could not handle the pressure, the flexing nearing top off never inspired any confindence, it always seemed much more difficult getting to that top off PSI and seemed like it was stressing the pump every top off vs. the ease when using my present pump to get to the same normal spec PSI. The death nail was soon after hearing the many stories from more experienced rafters I boat with of the breakage problems...Based on my experience with it and the words of discouragement from the vets, I put mine into my Gear Whore Room where it still sits.

    Handles snapping, spiral breaks down the shaft, base plates cracking, seals ripping are all the problems that I've heard from many different experienced boaters over the years.

    I have also heard plenty of people say the same thing as you. Never failed me,ect.

    Two opposing camps on them,for sure.

    They just are not for me and I don't view them as profesional quality equipment.

    Once again,Mike,agree to disagree,I guess.

    SYOTR.
    One thing I've learned about gear is that everyone seems to have good experiences and bad, and sometimes our experiences are the opposite. Can't tell you how many times I've advised people against Cabela's Guide Model tents, yet there's always someone out there who has had good experiences with them.

    In this case, I don't know if you're rafting Alaska or somewhere else. If you're down south, this could perhaps be a temperature issue. Even during the peak of summer here in Alaska it's rare to have really hot temps on the river. Perhaps that explains it, if you are rafting warmer areas. I dunno.

    No problem, agree to disagree... it's all good.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  16. #16
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    Default

    I've mostly used the 6" Wonder Pump. I had two of them that I always took along until one broke last year. Not bad for 12 year's use, and it broke while in the trailer. Got smashed by something big I think. But as has been noted, anecdotal evidence is not exactly proof of durability.

    The problem I have with a Wonder Pump is all the work involved in filling a raft. They are fairly quick, but I'm just too old for that stuff. This usually only happens with a fly in, as I use a cheap (less than $20) small 12 volt pump for the bulk of the filling if an auto is near. (I buy two of them just in case, as I have no confidence in a $20 pump. I've gone through several of those over the years.) But I digress...

    I find a foot pump to be less work than the Wonder Pump, but the foot pump can't easily put out much pressure to top things off, so I usually bring both. I've also used a 6" Carlson pump when we weren't flying in. It's a great pump, but it is bulky for both the plane and the boat ride. So I prefer not to use it.

    The one pump innovation I've used in recent fly-in trips is a cheap Coleman battery powered pump. It uses 4 D cells, and will slowly fill two 16 foot rafts on one set of batteries. Both of these cheap pumps can be found at Walmart and Fred Meyer. I still have to top them off with the Wonder Pump, but from there it's a quick job. As slow as these battery pumps are, they are still faster than I am with a Carlson. But then, I tire easily.

  17. #17

    Default Pumps

    I started out with a Wonder Pump when I first started rafting, it broke under pretty heavy use and I hated the short size. I am usually on the river 80 - 160 days a year. I went to a large Carlson and wish I had the smaller one but I have to say it pumps up a raft pretty fast. Topping off with that thing is a dream.

    I have friends with something called the Suck and Blow (you should get it just for the name!) and it seems to work just as well. I have been told it is made in Grand Junction, Colorado.

    Another friend has the DRE barrel pump and it works as well and seems as bomber as the Carlson besides being significantly cheaper.

    My 2 cents

    Lori

  18. #18
    Member wyoming dave's Avatar
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    Default

    I would like once again to thank all of you for your insite, opinions, and experiences with different pumps.

    Seems if 2 pumps are the way to go on a fly in, then this negates the need for spare parts. Course then again there is always "Murphy's Law".

    I've seen the battery operated pumps at WalMart and the idea did arouse my curosity.

    Thanks again everyone!!!!!

  19. #19

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    What's the trick with the cheap battery powered pumps? I've tried them on my raft and they just dont have enough oomph to fill it at all. Could it be the valve position on the raft? What position do you put the valve into on the raft? open or closed? Probably a dumb question but I couldn't figure out how to suck all the air out until somebody told me I needed to open the valve. Duh!

    thanks

    Rick

  20. #20

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    rick, I have to top my boats off with a hand pump, the battery pump will get it real closeand prolly enough to float on but not enough for big water or big loads.

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