The humble inflatable pontoon can be a wonderful recreational watercraft that offers excellent versatility and functionality without being too hard on the pocket. Since they’re pretty simple and easy to use, you won’t really have to buy too many accessories for them, so they turn out to be much cheaper in the long run.
However because of their unique design, the inflatable pontoon boat calls for a distinct piece of equipment that traditional pontoons don’t need -- and that’s the pump. There are tons of choices on the market these days, and the purpose of this guide is to help you find the best inflatable pontoon boat pumps money can buy.
Different Types of Inflatable Pontoon Boat Pumps
Before you get to buying, it helps to know what kinds of inflatable pontoon boat pumps are available. In general, there are three major types of pumps you’ll find, and they’re all categorized based on how you can make them work.
Electric Inflatable Boat Pump
As the name suggests, these boat pumps work automatically by way of a battery. They’re great for boat owners who don’t want to put in the extra physical effort to get their boat ready for the water. Although they do tend to be heavier than other types of pumps, they definitely work much faster.
Electric pontoon boat pumps can either come with batteries, or they can connect to a power source like your car battery or a traditional outlet.
If you’re thinking of carrying an electric inflatable boat pump on board in case of an emergency, it helps to know that they might not be designed for that purpose. If anything, they’re great for boat owners who want to drive down to the water with a deflated boat, and then quickly plump it up for use when they’re within walking distance of the water.
Do note that if you’re buying an electric pontoon pump, you’re going to need a battery to go with it. While different models call for different battery sizes, most of them will work fine with a 12-volt battery like this one.
Others try to cut out that added expense by coming equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery for added convenience as well.
Manual Hand Pump
The manual hand pump provides easy inflating power that you can use almost anywhere. And that’s precisely why they make the best choice if you’re looking to bring along a pump in case you need to perform a minor repair while you’re out on the water.
That said, most inflatable boat owners typically have a primary pump at home, and a manual hand pump on board just in case.
The reason why the manual hand pump often isn’t the pump of choice for non-emergency purposes is because they can get really tiring to use if you’re trying to fully inflate a boat from zero. But hey, if you’re on a really tight budget or if you don’t mind spending time on those hand exercises, then it might work out as a primary pump.
Manual Foot Pump
The difference between a foot pump and a hand pump is pretty obvious -- the foot pump operates via a step of your foot. These can be great for boat owners who want something they can use without tiring themselves out too much, but don’t want to rely on something that calls for a battery or a power source.
They also work much faster than a hand pump, and can be easily operated by older boat owners who might not have the same energy or stamina as younger boaters who can manage with a hand pump.
And in terms of cost and longevity, the manual foot pump kind of trumps out both the hand and electric pump for obvious reasons.
The Best Inflatable Pontoon Boat Pumps
1. Bravo! BP12 Single Stage Electric Pump
Portable, compact, and lightweight, the Bravo! BP12 hopes to answer all of your boat inflating needs. It comes with a high pressure piston pump that delivers a strong surge of wind to get your boat inflated within minutes. What’s nice is that you can even leave it to work on its own since it automatically shuts off once it reaches the maximum pressure.
Weighing a mere 2.6lbs, this electric pump operates with a 12 volt battery. It also conveniently comes with alligator clips that you can hook up to your car battery to pump up your pontoon in case your 12 volt runs out of juice.
2. Classic Accessories Inflatable Boat Hand Pump
Classic Accessories has been recognized as one of the best manufacturers of boating and pontoon accessories, so it really comes as no surprise that their hand pump trumps many others on the market. Coming in a bright yellow color, the pump was designed for emergency use, and touts compact construction that makes it great for bringing on board.
Complete with a comfortable handle for easy operation, and built from sturdy, non-corrosive plastic, this simple essential weighs in at a mere 1.7lbs for easy carry. It also touts three different nozzle heads to match different boat designs, and pumps air both during the up and down strokes to cut your pumping time in half.
3. AIRHEAD Foot Pump
Although it might be pretty cheap compared to the others on our list, the AIRHEAD Foot Pump is anything but flimsy. This reliable workhorse provides lasting performance that you can count on for years down the line. The simplified design allows effortless use that reduces the physical stress that comes with pumping a full sized inflatable pontoon.
Each pump delivers high-volume surges of air that can inflate the largest boats in a matter of minutes. And because it collapses easily for storage, it can simply slip under your seat so you can take it with you just in case of an emergency.
Easy, Breezy Boat Inflation
Unless you’ve got lungs of steel, you might want to consider getting an inflatable pontoon boat pump for your boat. These essential accessories make it possible for you to use your boat in the first place, and may help you avert major disaster out on the water.