Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Camp-Tek Microburst Mini Air Pump

What you didn't know you needed: A tiny fan for inflating your sleeping pad, freeing your mind to contemplate the alpenglow.

I was a little skeptical to try this, but after a few weeks of rigorous testing, its convenience and simplicity won me over. The Microburst, a battery-powered (two AAAs) compact fan about half the size of a Twinkie, inflates your sleeping pad effortlessly in about the time it takes to boil water. Here’s how it works: Pop open the door on the end of the unit, pull out the flexible nozzle, fit it over your pad’s inflation valve, and let it work its magic.

It’s a hands-free operation, leaving you to go about the evening’s chores. The little door on the end doubles as an on/off switch and prevents the fan from being inadvertently switched on in your pack. No amount of tumbling about in a half-full pack caused it to open. Over a dozen inflations later, the Microburst was still blowing up pads as fast as they were hooked onto this mighty little unit. The batteries, lithium, for added longevity and less weight, inflated a full-length Therm-a-Rest NeoAir in just under 4 minutes. Tip: Use the Microburst to get a pad to around 90% firmness, then use your lungs to fine-tune it to your likeness.

Yay: Works perfectly with Stephenson Warmlite, Nemo, Big Agnes, and all Therm-a-Rest pads.

Nay: The nozzle is not compatible with the valve on Exped mats; it makes horrible whining noise like a cheap hairdryer.

The Specs:

Cost: $30

Weight: 2.6 oz.