Air tracks are not cheap and there is nothing worse than investing in a piece of kit that doesn’t last very long. On the other hand, well-maintained Air Tracks can last for five or six years or longer. I’ve even been able to keep Air Tracks in good working order for up to 10 years by maintaining them properly.
If you want to extend the life of your Air Track, carefully follow the steps I have laid out in this guide.
Table of Contents
- Choose a good quality Air Track
- Use your Air Track on the right surface
- Don’t wear shoes on an Air Track
- One person at a time on an air track
- Cleaning your air track
- Folding your air track correctly
- How to store your air track
- Have a repair kit
- Final thoughts
Choose a good quality Air Track
If you want a product that is going to last longer you should be prepared to spend a little bit more. My top brands for inflatable mats and Air Tracks at home are Air Track Factory, FB Sport and Air Track Nordic. They are made from premium quality material with a thickness that won’t pop easily. You can read more about why I recommend them in this article.
The cost of an air track will depend on the length you want but to give a rough idea, a good quality 16ft mat will cost between $300-$500. Anything less than that may not be made to last.
Also, check the warranty on the products. Air Track Factory gives a 5-year warranty which is excellent and shows they believe in their own product.
Use your Air Track on the right surface
Air tracks can be used on a range of surfaces both inside and outside including grass, sand or even water.
But before inflating your air track carefully check the ground for any sharp objects that could potentially damage or rip the material. If you are outside you will need to clear twigs, tree branches, stones and litter. If you are inside the house check that there are no sharp edges or dirt on the floor.
Also, be aware that on extremely hot days the surface under your air track will heat up and potentially damage the material. For this reason, I would avoid using an air track on concrete or asphalt. These types of rough surfaces are more likely to rip the material even on cooler days.
In a professional gymnastics facility, an air track will usually be set up on top of a carpeted surface like a sprung floor or tumble track. My recommendation would be to also set up an air track at home on a carpeted surface wherever possible.
Don’t wear shoes on an Air Track
Some people may disagree with me on this one but if you are serious about having a long-lasting Air Track you should use it without shoes. Outdoor shoes can pick up dirt and small objects and without realizing they could be transferred onto the air track and cause damage. It’s also more hygenic to remove shoes!
For anyone who insists on flipping with shoes, I would recommend having a set of shoes that are not worn outside.
One person at a time on an air track
Having multiple people on an air track will put added pressure on the seams that hold the material together. Over a period of time, these seams will eventually give way and air will escape or worse still the air track will completely pop.
For this reason, I recommend only one person at a time uses an air track.
There’s also a safety factor with this rule as collisions are more likely to happen with multiple people flipping and tumbling together at the same time.
Cleaning your air track
Clean your air track regularly to keep it free from dirt and mold that can potentially damage your air track. Ideally, clean it after every use but if you don’t have enough time try and clean it at least once a week. To clean an air track wipe it down with a cloth and disinfectant spray. Check the instructions that came with your air track in case they have specific products that can’t be used. I’ve always used a regular bottle of spray from the store without a problem.
After cleaning it is very important to allow the air track to dry completely before folding it or storing it.
Folding your air track correctly
When you have finished using your air track it’s super important to fold it carefully and correctly before storing it away. The best way to fold your particular air track will be to do it in exactly the same way it was delivered to you from the factory when brand new!
As a rule, most air tracks will fold in thirds lengthwise along the track.
Firstly ensure the air track is completely deflated and the valve is open.
Then begin to fold the air track over, pressing down to help push out any remaining air. Ensure there are no creases in the fabric and it is completely flat once folded lengthwise. Longer air tracks (12 meters plus) are usually rolled into a cylindrical shape whereas shorter, lighter air tracks will be folded in straight lines two or three times across the width.
This should make the air track small enough to be stored. If you are finding it difficult to fold your air track it’s usually because of air still trapped inside so re-check the valve is open.
How to store your air track
Once your air track is folded correctly, it’s ready to be stored. Air Tracks can easily be damaged while not being used so storage is important. For storage the air must be stored:
- Dry- use a towel or dry cloth to wipe down. Any mositure will eventually turn to mold.
- Away from direct sunlight – this cam cause loss of shape to the material
- Inside – away from the weather elements that can cause damage
- In a clear space – don’t place other objects on top or next to it, especially ones that can rip the material
The pump also needs to be stored somewhere safe to avoid damage. As much as the pump can be replaced easily it can cost around $100 to buy a new one.
Have a repair kit
Hopefully, you will never need to use it, but air track punctures can be repaired in a very similar way to bicycle punctures. A repair kit will consist of some spare material and strong glue that can be placed over a small rip or tear. If you can’t find where the air is escaping from use water and look for any bubbles.
On older air tracks, air will eventually start to leak through the seams which are almost impossible to repair. Once your air track reaches this point and is becoming too soft, it’s probably time to buy a new one!
The more time you spend maintaining your air track properly, the longer it will last. With a good quality product, you should be aiming to get at least 5 or 6 years’ lifespan from it.