Carlson 6 inch Raft Barrel Pump, Ten Year Warranty. The Carlson 6″ Raft Pumps and Inflatable Kayak Pumps have been produced continuously for longer than any other make of full size barrel pump. We’ve dabbled with building barrel pumps ourselves over the years for rentals and the problem that keeps plaguing us is shrinking piston O-rings. The pumps work fine for a while, and then no air output. We had to keep manually re-stretching the O-rings. This is something we’ve never experiences with the Carlsons.
Bob Carlson’s pumps are bored to a perfect circle with a large honing tool to polish the interior of the pvc tube. This extra measure combined with large output valves insure that no barrel pump takes less effort to use than a Carlson. These pumps have a ten year warranty. The 6″ Carlson runs $239. If you own a raft or several boats and do not use an electric pump, get this size. If you do have an electric pump or only own inflatable kayaks or a tiny raft, the 4″ is far easier to top off with.
Commercial outfitters set a bad example when they take large barrel pumps along in their rafts on the river, and we don’t advise anyone to do this for three reasons. First off a Carlson-type barrel pump in a paddle raft is a great way to injure someone because they’re not exactly cushy when you slam one with your face. Second, with the exception of the little Wonder/double action pumps, they are not water tight. This means if you use one wet you will blow water inside your boat. Water is not only difficult to remove, it can also be highly damaging if you have an inflatable that uses bare cloth seam tape on the interior. This type of seam tape will mildew and then delaminate, leaving you with a very leaky raft. The third problem is that the water will mix with & congeal the pump grease, making it hard to operate. Foot pumps are a far better bet for the river since you can stow them in a small drybag, or you can go with something like the EZ- or K-Pumps we carry, which have their own small splash proof stow bags.