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What’s a Boston valve?

Q. Hey Gear Guy! I am thinking about buying an inflatable boat. I checked all of the safety regulations, laws, details, etc. The only thing I’m not quite sure about is how to inflate it. It says it comes with two Boston valves for easy inflation. Do I attach them to a hand pump, like the one for my sports balls? Or do I need a special pump? Please say no! HELP!
— Worried Ralph, Wayne, NJ

A. Hey Ralph. Good on you for doing your research before buying. That’s what I’d call being prepared.

O.K., so here’s the deal on the Boston valve: It’s used on lots of inflatable boats, blow-up beds and water toys. Basically it’s a one-way valve with two caps. Pop off the top cap and you can fill the boat up with air. The valve let’s air in, but won’t let any air escape.

Unfortunately though, yes, you’ll have to use a different type of pump than the one you’re probably using to blow up your sports balls. Your best bet is to get a dual-action hand pump with a Boston valve adaptor, which has a small round opening about the size of a dime (most pumps come with one as it’s a common adapter). A good option is a hand pump like the Coleman Large Dual Action QuickPump ($12; If your mom or dad has a vacuum, like a Shop-Vac, that can be put in reverse (to blow air) you might be able to use that too.

When you want to let out all the air out of the boat, you simply remove both caps. Happy inflating (and paddling)!

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6 Comments on What’s a Boston valve?

  1. Tweety5225 // March 26, 2019 at 9:26 pm // Reply

    The instructions for my kayak say to inflate the floor to 1 psi. But since the Boston Valve is one way, the pressure gauge doesn’t tell me when I have achieved 1psi. What am I doing wrong?

  2. my boston valves are not one way and so all the air escapes b4 i get the top on, what do i do?

  3. I recently received a ‘Boston Valve’ kit. It contains 2 valves, plus 4 small white inserts(?). I put the right-sized valve in my air mattress and it works fine. I still cannot figure out where the 4 small white inserts(?)are to placed and their function is. The valve works for inflation and deflation as it should. Obviously 2 of the inserts are for one valve and the other 2 for the other valve. Help Me, Pls…..

  4. can i control the amount of air going thruogh the boston valve

  5. what is the biggest boston valve and where can i get it

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