Are you wondering how to deflate an inflatable boat? Maybe you’re trying to store one for winter or you’re considering buying one but you want to know everything about them before you do.
Your reason for wanting to understand how to deflate and fold an inflatable boat doesn’t matter. Here’s everything you need to know so you can store an inflatable boat safely.
Table of Contents
Can I Leave My Inflatable Boat Inflated?
Different people have different thoughts on this subject. The answer depends on what kind of inflatable boat you have, how often you use your inflatable boat, and what your storage situation looks like.
Most inflatable boats are better off when stored while inflated. This includes rigid inflatable boats (RIBs, like most Zodiac or Intex boats) and dinghies.
However, you need to make sure that your inflatable boat stays pumped up to full pressure when it is stored. Colder weather causes changes in air pressure. This means that your inflatable boat will be less inflated when it’s cold than it was when it was warm.
In addition, air leaks out of things. Even items like scuba tanks often lose air when they are left to sit by themselves.
If your inflatable boat loses air, it will be much easier for it to snag on things or for it to get punctured. Thus, you will need to refill it periodically if you are going to leave it inflated during the winter.
You will also need to check your air pressure when temperatures rise again. When it gets warm, your air pressure will go up. You don’t want to stress the seams on your boat because the air pressure gets too high.
Finally, you will want to make sure that you can store your inflatable boat away from the elements. Even a simple boat cover may be enough to protect it, depending on the weather where you live.
Constant exposure to wind, sun, rain, snow, and more will damage your inflatable boat. It’s better to store it deflated than to store it outside, where it is constantly exposed.
How Do You Deflate an Inflatable Boat?
To deflate your inflatable boat, take the following steps. You can read them or follow along with this video.
- Remove any internal pieces to your inflatable boat, like seats, side rails, or flooring. Keep them well away from the boat while it is deflating. If your boat is not flexible enough to do this while it is fully inflated, wait and perform this step after you open the air valves.
- Remove the cap over the air valve. Usually, you can do this by twisting it counterclockwise about a quarter turn. Make sure you are opening all of the valves on the boat at the same time.
- Push in the valve pin and twist it a quarter turn counterclockwise, too. Air will begin coming out of the valve.
- Wait until most of the air has left the boat. You may want to gently squeeze or put pressure on the tubes to help force more air out.
- If you are in a hurry or you need to get all of the air out of the tubes for storage, use your boat’s pump to deflate it. Turn the pump to the reverse setting so it will suck the air out, rather than pump it in.
- Leave a little bit of air in the tubes no matter what. This makes it easier to fold and manipulate the boat into its storage space.
How Do You Fold an Inflatable Boat or Dinghy?
Most people don’t have the storage space to safely store an inflatable boat away from the weather without folding it in some manner.
Here is how you fold most inflatable boats.
- Press the rigid transom piece down and in, towards the rest of the boat, until it is flat on the ground.
- Fold the deflated parts of the tube that extend beyond the transom piece over the top of that piece.
- Arrange the tubes of the boat so that they are lying flat and are not wider than the transom piece.
- Roll the boat forward, around the transom piece. Some boats will need to be wrapped more tightly than others in order to fit into their storage containers. Try to wrap the boat tightly without stretching it or putting undue pressure on the seams.
- Roll the boat slowly. Make sure that it rolls in a neat package. If your roll gets askew, the boat may not fit into the storage case.
- Push down gently with your bodyweight on each fold. This helps get even more air out of the boat.
- Stop rolling before the front of the boat. Fold the leftover front section in half, tucking the bow into the roll that you have made.
- Lift the back part of the folded boat up and over the folded front section. This should complete your roll.
- Push down on the boat with your bodyweight one more time. This ensures a tight package and eliminates any last bits of air that are still inside the boat.
- If you can pick up the folded boat, do so. Place one end of the roll into the boat box or bag. Pull the rest of the bag over the boat and zip it up.
- If you cannot pick up the boat, bring the bag to the folded boat. Gently place it over the boat and tug it into place. Then zip it up.
- If your boat storage is also made to hold your paddles, seats, or floor pieces, make sure these are stowed properly before you put your boat away.
This video shows how to fold an inflatable boat. You can also watch the second half of the video linked to above, in the section on deflating your boat.
You can store an inflatable boat either inflated or deflated. If you want to store it deflated, follow our directions here to deflate it safely.
Once it is deflated, fold it and fit it inside its storage container. Then, put the container in a cool, dry place.
The next time you want to use your inflatable boat, it should be ready for you! Enjoy your boat and your time out on the water!