User Review: Camp-Tek Microburst
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $39.95
If you've ever owned a pad that ISN'T self-inflating, you've probably asked yourself why you ever bought it in the first place, despite any and all benefits it may have. Buy this, and you'll never ask yourself again.
Consisting of a one-piece plastic fan connected to a rubber nozzle, this compact fan (about the size of two golf balls, side-by-side) does the work for you. Runs on two included AAA batteries.
- Effortless ease of use
- Small and packable size
- Durable one-piece construction
- Quick inflation time (~5 minutes)
- Expensive (considering your lungs can do everything this does)
- May make fellow campers jealous (I'd file this with the "Pros")
I mentioned this pump in my review for Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir Trekker sleeping pads. If you own one — or one similar to it — you'll know it doesn't come easy to inflate the damn thing after a long day on the trail.
I'm a young guy, with two working lungs, and I'll admit — it's admitting defeat a little to go and buy something like this. Once I sucked up my pride, I decided to give one of these a try, and bought it directly from their website for the full retail price (something I almost never do — I'm a king of sales, clearance racks, and Ebay auctions).
SIZE, WEIGHT AND PACKABILITY
If you think a NeoAir Trekker packs down small, well, this will amaze you even more than one of those does. These things are SMALL. About the size of a couple golf balls.
It tips the scale at a not-so-whopping 2.3 ounces (with batteries).
It comes in its own drawstring stuff sack, which — hey — free stuff sack. You can't go wrong with that. A little redundant, considering I wound up just packing it inside the Trekker's included stuff sack, but a nice touch, regardless. Use it for quarters for showers, or whatever other reason you can find.
ITEMS INCLUDED (Except for the yogurt, which is mine...you'll have to buy your own yogurt!)
Also included is a plastic adapter you can connect to the rubber nozzle to make it compatible with WarmLite sleeping pads. If your camping/backpacking buddy uses a WarmLite, I'd say pack this along and be a good pal, and if not, well, spare yourself the weight and bulk and leave it at home. Again, hey — free adapter — that you can't really begrudge a thoughtful company.
BATTERIES AND BATTERY LIFE
The markings on the inside are a little small and difficult to read (I've read that some folks actually mark them with a bold magic marker to make them more visible) but once you know where the pluses and minuses are all going, there's no need.
It runs on 2, included, AAA batteries. Free batteries? Camp Tek is making it rain when it comes to the freebies. I'll admit, it's nice when I don't have to make an extra run to the store for things like this. No complaints, there.
They claim one set of AAA batteries will inflate 25 regular-sized sleeping pads. I'll update this claim with my findings once I'm able to confirm it or not, in the field. I've made it through about a dozen, so far.
HOW IT WORKS
Operation is stupid simple, and they've even put a little thought into it to make sure this pump doesn't decide to start running while it's still in your pack.
Press down on the casing to pop open the door. This automatically starts the pump.
Flip the rubber nozzle into the convex position.
(Or, for your marches-to-the-beat-of-his-own-sleeping-pad friend, add the WarmLite adapater)
Place the nozzle over your sleeping pad's inflation valve.
DO ANYTHING BUT INFLATE YOUR SLEEPING PAD.
You can finish staking-down the guy lines on your rainfly.
Hang your dining tarp.
ANYTHING BUT INFLATING YOUR SLEEPING PAD.
Just come back, less than minutes later, and voila! Your pad's inflated.
When you're done, remove it from the valve on your pad, pop the rubber nozzle back inside, and close the door to shut it off.
Camp-Tek does claim these pumps will fully inflate a pad in 3 minutes. I like my sleeping pads firm, so I usually let my pump run a little longer than that.
- I tend to let mine inflate the pad most of the way, and I use the good 'ol lungs to get it to a full firmness.
- Check and replace the batteries at home to avoid having to replace them on the trail, and if you're thru-hiking, make this a task you save for the mornings. Or mark them with a magic marker, if you want to be a hero about it.
- These pumps are especially handy for the winter months, when you want to keep your breath's condensation from getting inside your sleeping pad.
PRICE AND VALUE
Sure, the $40 is a little much for the same functionality as a set of human lungs. But, as I've mentioned, it's at least five or ten minutes you can spend doing something else (especially handy if daylight is growing short) and five to ten minutes less of work your lungs have to do. If for not other reason than making you more efficient with your time, buy this pump.
I usually pack the pump back in my sleeping pad's stuff sack, and that goes right into the compression bag from my sleeping bag. The "Russian Nesting Doll" approach keeps me from losing anything, keeps it all in one place, and makes it easy to pack away, pre-organized for me.
MY TWO CENTS
Despite the high price, the benefits from using this far outweigh any negatives I could try and come up with, and I'd be hard-pressed to do that.
4.5 stars, simply because I believe by making the WarmLite adapter optional, and by losing the stuff sack, they could probably bring the price down on an otherwise simple little plastic/rubber pump.