In this post, we’ll dive into the world of backpacking air pumps. We’ll explore their advantages, and help you decide whether they deserve a spot in your backpack.
I decided to write this post after reading discussions on different ultralight backpacking forums where this little device sparked quite a few heated debates.
So, is this gadget an ultralight backpacker’s best friend, or just extra baggage? Let’s find out.
Backpacking air pumps are compact and useful tools created for inflating items such as sleeping pads and pillows. These devices are straightforward, with only a few components.
They are designed to fill your sleeping pad approximately 6-8 times before requiring a recharge, thanks to their small battery, which is about half the size of your smartphone.
Unlike traditional methods that involve blowing air directly from your mouth into these gear, air pumps offer a more efficient and hygienic alternative.
When you blow air into your gear with your breath, the warm, moist air can lead to condensation inside, potentially causing mold over time. Air pumps help prevent this issue by using the drier air from the environment.
Thus, the primary role of backpacking air pumps is evident: they simplify the inflation process for your sleeping gear along with other benefits:
While backpacking air pumps have advantages, consider drawbacks and factors before adding one to your gear. Here are key points to remember:
Additionally, it’s important to note that some models may have a relatively lengthy inflation time of 3-4 minutes for your sleeping pad. Furthermore, if the pump is connected to your power bank, you cannot run it while charging; it simply won’t turn on while plugged in.
In addition to relying on an electronic air pump or your lungs, you have the option to enhance the durability of your inflatable gear by using a pump sack. Let’s explore the pros and cons:
As evident, pump sacks offer similar performance to backpacking air pumps but may demand a bit more skill for inflating your gear.
On average, there’s a slight weight advantage to using a pump sack, and a notable advantage is that it never runs out of battery.
Given the versatility of electronic pumps, which can even serve the dual purpose of kindling a fire, it might be advisable for beginners to opt for an electronic pump. We’ve observed that some beginners encounter challenges with using a pump sack and often switch to inflating with their lungs halfway through.
However, if you’re an experienced ultralight backpacker who values every ounce and appreciates a more simplistic approach, the pump sack remains the superior choice.
Whether you choose electronic pumps or manual methods, ensuring well-inflated gear is essential for a comfortable outdoor experience. Both options have their merits, so consider your preferences and experience level when making a decision.
Electric backpacking air pumps offer several benefits for campers. They provide efficient and hassle-free inflation, saving time and effort compared to manual methods. These pumps excel in moisture control, preventing condensation inside gear, which can lead to mold over time. In cold weather, they maintain consistent inflation levels, and at high altitudes, they offer a safer and more comfortable option. Many also come with various nozzle attachments and extra features, adding versatility to your gear. Despite some noise, the convenience and efficiency make them a valuable addition to your camping gear.
A pump sack operates through a straightforward manual process: you capture air by either scooping it or letting the wind fill the sack, seal it, attach the nozzle to your camping gear’s valve, and then squeeze or roll the sack to transfer the air into your gear, inflating it. This method is lightweight, compact, and doesn’t rely on batteries or electricity, making it a convenient choice for campers. However, it does require physical effort and may take longer for larger items compared to electric pumps.