Proper inflation is the key to safety and performance of your Airhead inflatable.
Want your inflatable to last for several seasons? Then make sure it's full of air!
Photo A- shows a severely underinflated tube. Note how the adult sinks in when standing on the tube. Under-inflation causes the towable to sit low in the water. Additional stress is applied to the tube, cover, rope and boat/watercraft, by being dragged through the water instead of pulled across it. This stress causes the air in tubes to be displaced and the tube may rupture. The same stress causes nylon covers to tear and ropes to stretch. The boat/watercraft cannot plane off and extra gas is consumed.
Photo B- shows a properly inflated tube. Note how the cover is taut with few wrinkles, and how the adult barely sinks in when standing on the tube. This tube would ride high on the water, providing you with an exciting ride - less stress on the tube, cover, rope, and boat/watercraft. Proper inflation will insure a longer life-span for your product.
Finally, it is not enough to simply fill it up and go! It is important to monitor the amount of air in this product as heat will cause the bladder to expand, possibly causing damage to the seams or I-beams. If you leave a full tube sitting in the sun for any length of time, it will expand. Either store it in the shade, or let some air out. Don’t let it sit on the beach, dock, or boat/watercraft full of air! At the same time, if it is stored out of the sun in a cool place, you may need to add air. Check and adjust inflation levels each time you use your tube. You’ll have more fun, and your products will last longer.
In general, the tube is full when it is very firm. Covered tubes should be wrinkle free. An adult should be able to stand on the tube and only sink a couple of inches. In order to achieve this level of inflation, the PVC must stretch, which is why the choice of inflators is so important. It has to pump a high volume of air while having enough pressure to stretch the PVC. Again, very firm, wrinkle free, and you’ll be riding high and having the time of your life! Towable tubes need to be full of air and properly maintained for long product life and ultimate performance. In order to properly inflate and maintain tubes, you must have the proper equipment.
First, it is important to know that tubes do not require high pressure; they are low pressure / high volume products. Most towable tubes can be inflated using one good electric pump or a combination of 12 volt and hand pumps. Some of the newer 12-volt inflators have been designed specifically to inflate beds or tubes, but will still not fully inflate some of the bigger tubes now on the market. (Most 12-volt compressors, while doing an excellent job of filling a bicycle or car tire, do not have the volume capacity to inflate many towables.) If you are filling your toys at the lake, some of the bigger tubes on the market require a hand pump in addition to the 12-volt inflator that plugs into your boat’s cigarette lighter. The inflator will do most of the hard work, and the hand pump can be used to top off the tube and maintain proper inflation levels.