Hand pumps are a great way to warm up before paddling, but sometimes you just want to save your energy for the water. This is where electric pumps come into play.
When I rent stand up paddle boards, I like to pump them up upon delivery to demonstrate how to set the board up and to confirm that I am providing a board that doesn't leak. What I don't like to do is pump them up by hand. I have other tasks to complete before the renter is completely outfitted, and I don't want to keep a customer waiting any longer than necessary. Additionally, I often rent more than one board at a time and pumping by hand simply isn't efficient. Because I have pumps available to support my rental operations, I have also come to appreciate them for personal use as well.
If you've ever paddled with someone who has a hard board, you will be aware that it takes longer to for the paddler on an inflatable board to hit the water. While the hard board user just has to pull their board off their roof rack and get themselves ready to paddle, an inflatable board user has to pump up their board first before getting themselves ready. What this means is that when the hardboard user is ready to go, you might still be getting changed or throwing on sunblock. An electric pump is a great equalizer, as it can pump up your board while you get ready. When it's done, you'll be ready to hit the water too.
Good electric pumps even allow you to set your desired pressure and will automatically stop when they hit that pressure. It is a good idea to periodically test that this function is working properly by connecting your hand pump and confirming the pressure is correct. You never want to over-pressurize a board, so don't leave your pump unattended.
Electric pumps run off the 12V circuit in your car or connect to your car battery directly, and this means there are a few things to be aware of. First, if you are planning to use a 12V power outlet/lighter socket in your vehicle, it must be rated for the pumps power draw. For the pumps I use, that means 120 Watts. If you don't have a suitable power outlet you will have to connect to the battery directly; which requires an adapter often sold separately. If doing this, I would recommend connecting to the positive terminal first then connecting to the negative terminal. Even better, connect the negative clip to the frame of the vehicle (which the battery should be grounded to). This reduces the risk of sparks near the battery. Lastly, electric pumps are power hungry. If you have a small battery, I would not recommend pumping up more than one board with the vehicle turned off. If your battery is failing, leave the car running. The last thing you want is a car that won't start once you're finished your paddle!
So what do I use? In my search for a reliable, but inexpensive pump, I've settled on the Seamax SUP20D PRO. The pump is also available under the "Nalanda" brand name. I've used both (the Nalanda version is pictured in the lead photo) and I believe they are identical to each other (other than in colour). That said, Seamax is a Canadian company and offers a better warranty; so that is the one I'm recommending. I've also included the less expensive Seamax SUP20S. This is a single stage pump instead of dual stage. It will reach the same maximum pressure, but just take a little longer to get there. I've included links to the products below:
Seamax SUP20D PRO
12V alligator clips
Note: I participate in affiliate programs, and can earn a commission on qualifying purchases.
Chad writes about Edmonton, SUP, travel and his van. We participate in affiliate programs, and can earn a commission on qualifying products linked in the blog.