How to set up and pack away your Sandbanks Style inflatable Kayak

Inflatable dropstitch kayaks on the river stour, Dorset
Getting started with a Sandbanks Style Inflatable Kayak
If you have used a more traditional inflatable kayak before then you will most definitely notice a few differences when it comes to setting up your new Sandbanks Style drop-stitch kayak, especially when it comes to the valve system and higher pressure requirements that these inflatable kayaks come with. Admittedly, on the first attempt it can be a little more effort to set up these high pressure kayaks but you will notice a huge difference in the performance when you get out onto the water. 

Setting up your Sandbanks Style Kayak

What comes with your inflatable kayak will vary slightly depending on the model.

The Sandbanks Style Explorer kayak package will contain:

  • Explorer kayak
  • Wheeled storage bag
  • Double action hand pump
  • 4 piece kayak paddle(s)
  • Seat(s)
  • Clip in fin
  • Foot rest(s)
  • Repair kit including valve spanner
  • Splash guard

The Sandbanks Style Optimal kayak package will contain:

  • Optimal Kayak 
  • Wheeled storage bag
  • Double action hand pump
  • 4 piece kayak paddle(s)
  • Seat(s)
  • Clip in fin
  • Repair kit including valve spanner

If you follow our step by guide to setting up your Sandbanks Style kayak you will be out on the water in no time.


  1. Close the Valve: Before you attach the pump hose to the valve you need to make sure that you have closed the valve so that the air remains in the kayak when you have finished pumping. When the valve is closed the spring loaded pin will be in its upmost position (push and twist the pin and it will pop up)
  2. Attach the hose to the inflation port on the pump: Simply screw on the pump hose to the inflation (INF) port on the pump making sure you screw it on flat so no air can escape
  3. Attach pump hose to the the first chamber: Push the pump hose onto the valve and twist to lock it onto the valve. It does not matter which chamber of the inflatable kayak you inflate first.
  4. Set the pump to double action: Double action is the most efficient method of pumping. The pump will inflate the kayak on both the up stroke and the down stroke of the pump.
  5. Start Pumping: As you begin pumping the kayak, it may take a while for the gauge to register the pressure although the kayak looks inflated, this is normal and you will need to keep pumping until the gauge shows a reading.
  6. Switch the pump to single action: Once you get to a certain pressure you may notice that pumping on double action gets too hard for you. Swap to single action to finish off the rest of the chamber. 
  7. Pump up until the gauge reads 10-12 psi.
  8. Remove the pump hose and secure the dust cap: To remove the pump hose twist and lift it off of the kayak valve.
  9. Repeat with the other chambers.
  10. Place the seat into the kayak.
  11. Clip the rear straps to the rear D-rings. The straps that are closer to the base of the backrest are the rear straps and these attach to the set of D-rings behind the seat. These are the straps that determine how far forward or backwards you place the seat depending on your height.
  12. Clip the front straps to the front D-rings These straps determine the angle of the back support. If it is your first time setting up your kayak its is a good idea to sit in at and adjust the seat to the most comfortable position for yourself before putting the boat in the water.
  13. Slide in the fin and clip to secure.
  14. Attach the foot rest(s): Choose which position suits your height best and hook each end of the foot rest into the foot rest holder on the kayak (Explorer model only)
  15. Insert splash guard (Explorer model only)
  16. Assemble middle pieces of the 4 piece paddle.
  17. Attach the paddle blades to either end of the paddle shaft.
  18. Go Paddling: Once you have got your gear together, you are ready to take your inflatable kayak for its maiden voyage!

Packing away your Sandbanks Style Kayak

The great thing about full drop stitch kayaks is that you can get the same performance as a solid kayak but you can still pack them away and put them in the back of your vehicle after your adventure for easy transportation and storage when you arrive home. We get a lot of people asking the easiest way to pack away their full drop-stitch kayaks so here is a step by step guide of how we do it. 


  1.  Remove accessories and place the kayak on its side: Dismantle the paddle and remove the accessories from the boat making sure that you wash them off with fresh water, particularly any metal work which can seize up if salt water is not washed off. With the Explorer kayak we find the easiest way to deflate the kayak is by starting with it on its side.
  2. Open each valve and let the kayak flatten: To open the valve push down the spring loaded pin down and twist it. 
  3. Make the first fold just after the finbox.
  4. Make another fold the same size as the first one.
  5. Make a small fold to fold in the other nose cone.
  6. Fold this section on top of the rest of the kayak
  7. Secure with the kayak strap.
  8. Tighten the strap to secure the kayak
  9. Place the kayak in the bag with all of the accessories ready for your next adventure.

We have produced this step by step guide for the Explorer model kayak as it is the model which we get the most questions about setting up and packing away. While you can follow most of the same procedure with the Sandbanks Style Optimal model you do not need to put the kayak on it's side when deflating the Optimal kayak. Simply deflate (you can use the deflation mode on the pump to get the last bits of air out) and roll the optimal kayak up before securing with the kayak strap and putting it away in the bag

 A couple of common mistakes that most of us make when pumping up dropstitch kayaks for the first time:
  • Not making sure that the valve is in the correct position before attaching the pump: 
    If you do not close the valve by putting the spring loaded pin in the upright position then when you have finished pumping and remove the pump all of the air will escape and you will have to pump the kayak chamber up again so make sure it's in the correct position when you start.
  • Thinking that the kayak is fully inflated and the pump gauge is not working:
    The pump gauge will not register a reading until you have reached about 4 or 5 psi. It is easy to assume that the kayak chamber is fully pumped up at a couple of psi as it feels solid however if you take the kayak on the water at this pressure it will bend and not perform well. For the first couple of times you pump if you're not out of breath then you probably haven't pumped enough! It does get easier!

Safety First:

  • We strongly advise always wearing an approved personal flotation device
  • Familiarise yourself with the location you are paddling in before heading out in your kayak and be aware of any local hazards.
  • Check the conditions first including weather, wind and tides. If you are not sure if you are proficient enough for the conditions then don't risk it.

The full Sandbanks Style kayak manual can be found here 


Written by Kristy Hobart

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