Inflatable Boat Use and Care Instructions
Learn how to properly care for your raft, cataraft or inflatable kayak so it’ll give you season-after-season fun and adventure on the river.
Inflating & Deflating Rafts
To properly inflate an NRS raft, open all the valves and work your way around the boat in a clockwise direction, filling each chamber evenly, until it takes shape. Next go around the boat in a counterclockwise direction bringing each chamber to pressure. The tubes should be filled to a maximum of 2.5 psi (pounds per square inch). After the main chambers are inflated, inflate the thwarts until each thwart takes shape. Then top off until firm (about 2–2.5 psi). If the raft floor is self-bailing, inflate the floor until the pressure relief valve exhausts a small amount of air. A maximum of 2.5 psi is the recommended inflation pressure for NRS floors. A properly inflated boat should still “give” just a bit.
As air temperature changes, the pressure in the raft chambers should be adjusted. Changes in the temperature frequently result in raft over inflation. For example, cold morning temperatures reduce the boat pressure. The boater adds additional air. Later, as the weather warms up, the raft becomes rock hard. This often occurs after lunch breaks when the boat is sitting in the hot sun. You must let some air out because this over pressurization can lead to significant problems.
Today’s high-quality rafts may take substantially higher pressures than suggested by the manufacturer without showing any short-term effects. However, over inflation does strain the seams and can cause problems later in the life of the raft. The greatest danger of over inflation is explosive decompression. If the over inflated raft strikes a sharp object with enough force to puncture the material, the tube may explode. The NRS product warranty does not cover explosive decompression.
To properly deflate an NRS boat, open the valves on the thwarts, floor, and the last chamber that was filled before topping off. This will take the pressure off of all chambers at once. Then continue around the boat opening the remaining valves.
Inflating & Deflating Inflatable Kayaks
To properly inflate an NRS IK, inflate both main tubes until they take shape. Then top off until firm, to a maximum of 2.5 psi. Because of the small tube size slight over inflation of the tubes is acceptable to increase performance. Then inflate the floor until the pressure relief valve exhausts a small amount of air. Finally, inflate the thwarts, again to a maximum of 2.5 psi.
To properly deflate an IK just open all the valves.
Inflating & Deflating Catarafts
To properly inflate an NRS Cataraft, open all valves, inflate the center chamber of each tube until it takes shape. Then inflate the outer chambers to a maximum of 2.5 psi. Last, fill the center chamber to 2.5 psi.
To properly deflate, lock open the center chamber valve of each tube. This will allow pressure to be released from all chambers at once. Then lock open the remaining valve.
Raft Frame Mounting
First, be sure you select the correct frame for your boat by conferring with an NRS Customer Service Representative on model and dimensions. Carefully follow the frame assembly instructions. After assembling the frame, place it on your boat. Generally, the frame will rest on the wear patches, but there are exceptions. (A stern frame rests on the stern tube of the boat). When the frame is positioned where you want it (generally centered on the boat), attach it to the raft’s D-rings with NRS HD Straps. Cinch tight, keeping the frame straight and centered.
Cataraft Frame Mounting
Trial and error is the key phrase here. Generally, you want the weight slightly forward of the lateral center of the tubes. With single seat sport frames, the oarsperson should be sitting forward of the center of the boat. With touring frames that have 2+ seats, the total weight may be closer to the center of the boat. This will increase performance characteristics and prevent the boat from “nosing in” or riding bow high.
Start by positioning the frame so weight is distributed slightly forward. Then strap the outside D-rings to the upper side rails, cinching them until they are snug. Next, strap the inside D-rings to the lower side rails or the front and back yokes for the frame corners. Cinch these down tight. This will pull the tube toward the frame and tighten the outside straps. Align the other tube across from the first and repeat these steps.
All NRS boats built after 1995 have Leafield Valves. Rafts built between 1996 and February, 1999, have the Leafield B7 valve. Rafts built after February, 1999, have the Leafield C7 valve. We feel that these valves are the highest quality and most functional on the market.
Opening and Closing Valves
To open a valve, unscrew the plastic cover. Then press down the spring loaded stem inside the valve and turn counterclockwise. The valve will lock in the open position. To close the valve, push down on the stem and turn clockwise. The stem will pop up into the closed position. Finally, screw the plastic cap back on to create an air and watertight seal.
Pressure Relief Valve (PRV)
All NRS boats with inflatable floor (self-bailing) have a second valve called a pressure relief valve (PRV). This valve is a very important part of the floor system. All NRS inflatable floors have I-beams, which produce the ridges you see in the floor. If the floor is inflated to a pressure higher than 2.5 psi, the life of your boat could be shortened. To solve this problem, we install PRVs, which release any excess pressure above 2.5 psi.
Cleaning Fill Valves
If your valves are not airtight, dirt or sand may have worked into the valve. Cleaning the valve should solve this problem. First deflate the tube of the valve to be cleaned. Blow air into the valve, in the open position, to help dislodge any debris Dip a cotton-tipped swab into 303 Protectant and wipe the inside of the valve. The rubber valve seal in the bottom of the valve stem is the most important part of the valve to clean. After thoroughly cleaning the valve, re-inflate the tube. (You may have to remove the valve from the raft to fully clean. See directions below.)
Cleaning Pressure Relief Valves (PRVs)
Because of its position in the boat, the PRV tends to need cleaning more often than fill valves. It needs to be cleaned when the floor does not stay at inflated pressure for an extended period of time. The PRV is easy to clean. With the floor inflated, loosen the PRV with your valve wrench, turning counterclockwise, until a small volume of air begins to hiss out. Then fully deflate the floor by opening the floor fill valve. Now unscrew the PRV from the floor. Be sure not to lose the plastic nut inside the floor. Rinse the inside of the PRV with clean water. Blowing air through the PRV will aid cleaning. Hand screw the PRV into place, then re-inflate the floor and tighten the PRV with your valve wrench. Note: If after cleaning, the PRV still does not hold air pressure, fit the rubber stopper from the repair kit over the PRV opening to stop it from leaking. Until you can replace the PRV, you will have to monitor the pressure in the floor to make sure it does not over inflate.
Valve Cleaning / Replacement for Leafield B7 Fill Valve
(Used on NRS Boats 1996–Feb. 1999)
If a B7 fill valve will still not hold air after the cleaning recommended above, you need to unscrew the valve to check the inside of the valve. This includes the plastic stem, spring, and the rubber valve seal at the base of the stem. With the tube inflated, turn the valve wrench counterclockwise to loosen the valve, then deflate the tube. After deflating the tube, unscrew the valve completely. Be sure not to lose the bottom portion of the valve inside the tube. The valve stem assembly is in the inner portion of the valve, which makes working on it somewhat of a challenge. Push in the valve stem and twist it counterclockwise so it is held in the open position. Flip the valve upside down so the rubber valve seat is facing up towards the hole. Examine the sealing surface of the rubber valve seat for any debris that wasn’t removed by the external cleaning procedure. If debris is found, it’s easy to clean out with a swab dipped in 303 Protectant or alcohol.
If no debris is found, check for any tears or flaws in the rubber valve seal. If the seal is defective, the stem assembly can be replaced with the B7 & A7 Leafield Valve Repair Kit. The white plastic stem and rubber valve seal that come in this kit screw together. These same parts in your original valve are molded together. To replace these parts you will have to snap off the old stem. Remove the old stem, spring and rubber seal. Insert the new stem and spring into the valve casing and twist into the open position. Invert the valve and screw the new rubber valve seal onto the stem. Twist the valve into the closed position, invert the valve again, and position it in the valve hole. Screw on the top half of the valve hand tight. Inflate the tube and tighten the valve with your valve wrench.
Valve Cleaning/Replacement for Leafield C7 Valves
(Used on NRS Boats after Feb. 1999)
The C7 valve assembly includes a plastic stem, spring, and the rubber valve seal at the base of the stem. If the external cleaning procedure outlined above has not cured the leak, you will need to unscrew the valve. All the moving parts of the valve are contained in the outer portion of the valve, so they are easy to access and clean. With the tube inflated, loosen the valve by turning the valve wrench counter-clockwise, then deflate the tube. After deflating the tube, unscrew the valve completely. Be sure not to lose the gray plastic base inside the tube. Examine the sealing surface of the rubber valve seat for any debris that wasn’t removed by the external cleaning procedure. If debris is found, it’s easy to clean out with a swab dipped in 303 Protectant or alcohol.
If no debris is found, check for any tears or flaws in the rubber valve seal. If the seal is defective, the stem assembly can be replaced with the C7 Leafield Valve Repair Kit. The rubber valve seal pops onto the expanded tip at the base of the valve stem, so it is simple to replace the whole valve stem assembly. Screw the valve back into the gray base inside the tube, hand tight. Then inflate the tube and fully tighten the valve with your valve wrench.
Maintenance & Cleaning
Avoiding or eliminating moisture inside boat tubes and the floor is the owner’s responsibility. Repairs on the river might unavoidably leave some moisture in tubes. Leaving valves open in wet weather can allow moisture to accumulate in tubes and the floor. Leaving any moisture in tubes for extended periods can cause mildew and deterioration. To prevent any accumulation of moisture or mildew, open the chamber’s valve and dry by blowing air into the tube with a vacuum or pump. Exchange air several times to drive moisture out. If possible, remove the valve and insert the air hose through the valve hole. Let air flow continually for several hours until all moisture is gone. Proper care and maintenance improves the boat’s appearance and longevity. Clean and inspect the boat after each use. NRS recommends 303 Protectant for long-term boat care. Coating your boat with 303 periodically will increase the longevity of the fabric.
For step by step instructions with illustrations see our Hypalon® Boat Repair Instructions
When transporting, take all precautions to keep water out of the tubes. If you are transporting your boat inflated, bleed off air pressure so the boat “gives” under hand pressure. Remember the caution about temperature changes affecting pressure, especially in direct sunlight. Boaters sometimes do not think about the effects of higher altitude on pressure. Before driving into higher altitudes, reduce pressure. Whether transporting your boat inflated or deflated, ensure all valve caps are in place. Inspect the load for any articles which could rub, abrade, or puncture the boat’s fabric. Remember that any sand or other debris left in the boat could cause wear on the fabric during transport, especially if the boat is deflated. The NRS Boat Bag is a great way to keep debris out of your inflatable during transportation.
If possible, let your boat dry before deflating. Roll up and pack the boat with natural air remaining in the tubes. Do not use a vacuum to suck out the remaining air unless packing procedures absolutely require it. Make sure all valve caps are in place before storing. If possible, store the boat spread out in a cool place with some air in the tubes. If this is not possible, store loosely rolled under the same conditions.
NRS Limited Warranty
All NRS boats are fully guaranteed to the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship, under the terms listed below. Please find specific NRS Inflatable Warranty details here.