Banding rubber bladders

When a Nerfer wants to increase the pressure of a bladder, they generally turn to “banding,” the layering of rubber bands on the bladder. I came into this hobby from the similar water gun hobby, and I’ve often wondered why this method is so prevalent in Nerf but not water guns.

It’s not that layering rubber bands doesn’t work. I’m sure it works fine. It’s that layering rubber bands is surely far more difficult than the alternatives that will work even better. In water guns people generally layer bike tubes over bladders to increase the pressure. This is not a new idea—it probably originated in 2000 or 2001. (Water gunners generally call this modification “Colossus” as that’s what it’s traditionally called. See SSC for more information.)

When I asked about this on #nerfchat, the only salient point I heard was that kids are more likely to find rubber bands than bike tubes. I’d like to contest that point. Old bike tubes are not difficult to come by. My father had a ton of them that he kept for various odd projects. Many bike shops give them away for free. Consider the number of tubes needed too. One or two 26 inch bike tires should be more than enough to increase the pressure of a bladder substantially. But to get a similar amount of rubber over a bladder with rubber bands would require tens, maybe even hundreds, of rubber bands. How many rubber bands are people likely to have at home?

Additionally, I previously mentioned that banding is more difficult and time consuming than using bike tubes. Bike tubes generally can be rolled up and slid on a bladder quite rapidly unless one has many layers on the bladder (at which point the modifier should probably stop anyway). Banding requires a lot more effort and time, especially if one wants to ensure that the rubber bands are applied evenly over the bladder so that one part does not inflate while the remainder does not.

I hope my point is clear: Banding should be avoided as layering bike tubes is far easier. Why bike tubes are so foreign to Nerfers but well known to water gun people is not completely clear, but I suspect tradition and a lack of creativity from most people in the hobby has a lot to do with it.

Of course, there are other alternatives as well. Someone could layer latex tubing over the bladder or simply use latex tubing as a bladder. Someone could use a homemade hard pressure vessel with a regulator. There are many options.

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