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; www.coleman.com). 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)!