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Can You Inflate a Paddle Board With a Car Tire Pump

While a car tire pump or air compressor can technically be used to inflate your paddle board, it’s definitely not an option I recommend. 

Car tire pumps are not designed for paddle boards, or other inflatable boats in general. These pumps can often pack too big a punch and can overheat, overinflate and damage your board. 

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of why a SUP pump beats a compressor every time.. 

RELATED: What is the best SUP pump to inflate your paddle board?

Car Tire Pump vs. SUP Pump 

A car tire pump (or an air compressor as it’s commonly called) is very different from a paddle board pump or an inflatable boat pump. An air compressor will typically include a tank filled with compressed air. Along with the tank, you’ll also find a connector hose and a PSI gauge. 

A SUP pump Is similar to an air compressor in that it includes a connector hose and most include a PSI gauge. SUP pumps don’t store compressed air. However, they do typically have a dual action pumping system that allows you to pressurize the air as you pump. This is what allows your board to reach a higher PSI.

Electric pumps designed specifically for iSUPs are by far the better option if you’re looking for an easy and pain free way to inflate your board. Electric pumps are easier to operate than manual ones,, saving you time and energy (but they are, unsurprisingly, more expensive). 

A Car Tire Pump Might Damage Your SUP 

The main concern with using a car tire pump to inflate your SUP is that you might damage your board. A car tire pump is designed to move pressurized air into a cavity that can withstand that pressurized air. 

Typically, a car tire is meant to be set at a PSI of 30 to 35. Even with an extremely rigid inflatable paddle, you only need to reach a PSI of 12 to 15 at most. 

If you use a pump that is designed for higher pressure output, you could very easily overinflate your paddle board. Overinflation can cause long lasting issues with the construction of the paddleboard. You might even unintentionally test or damage the integrity of the board’s internal seams. 

ALSO READ: Can you use a bike pump to inflate a paddle board?

Difficulty With a Compatible Valve Adapter

You also run the risk of damaging your board when it comes to finding a proper valve adapter. Air compressors have a unique connector hose designed specifically for tires. In order to use it with your paddle board, you’ll need to attach an adapter. 

The problem is, you’ll likely have a difficult time finding a compatible adapter. If you do find an adapter, you’ll also likely run into issues with getting it to connect to your board. Trying to force in a valve adaptor or using an attachment not meant for the job could cause damage. You might end up damaging your air compress as well as your board’s inflation system. 

Beware of Moisture Collection 

Another main concern with using a car tire pump on your SUP board is moisture collection. Pressurized air from an air compressor increases the chances of moisture moving into the cavity of your paddleboard.

Once the inside of your paddle board has collected moisture, it can damage the material of your board. Plus, it can be incredibly taxing to dry the inside of your board out. Avoid this headache all together by steering clear of car tire pumps. 

Alternatives to a Car Tire Pump

In order to inflate to the proper PSI and not damage your paddle board in general, it’s best to avoid using a car tire pump. Instead, invest in a quality pump that will get the job done. Here are alternatives to using car tire pumps and air compressors. 

Invest in a Quality Electric SUP Pump

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If you want to cut down on time, then looking into some quality SUP electric pumps is the way to go. Electric pumps offer the convenience of quickly and effectively inflating your board. 

With electric pumps, you don’t have to worry about too much power, overheating (as compressors usually do), or connector issues. A majority of electric SUP pumps come with an array of valve adaptors too This allows you to use the pump on a range of inflatables, not just paddleboards.

Use a Manual SUP Pump 

One of the easiest pumps to operate is a manual SUP pump. It’s easy because the setup is pretty straightforward and you don’t have to deal with any electrical power sources. Also, because these pumps are manually powered, you will have the greatest control over the inflation process when using one. 

Portable Pumps Can Help in the Event of an Emergency 

It’s always handy to have a portable pump on hand in case of an emergency. Portable pumps can be both electric and manually powered. Because these pumps are a lot smaller, it typically takes more effort to inflate your paddle board. 


If you’re in a bind and don’t have a SUP pump on hand, it can be tempting to use a car tire pump. While it might seem like a quick fix, it could also be the start to a very expensive problem.

Avoid the potential of damaging your paddle board by not using an air compressor to inflate your board. Instead, invest in a quality SUP pump so that you can always be sure you are ready to go.

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