If you read the blog often, you know I recently fell in love with my Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping pad. The thick, insulated, and lightweight pad has found a permanent spot in my backpacking gear lineup. The only problem I found is that the thickness of the pad, makes inflation a chore. Especially since I have grown accustom to my two blow inflation of my Klymit Inertia X Lite (still my favorite pad for fast and super light adventures). Lucky for me the thinkers at Big Agnes felt my pain also and have developed a solution for inflating a thick pad. Enter the Big Agnes PumpHouse.
Initial Impressions- The Big Agnes Pumphouse is a 1.5oz stuff sack made from lightweight Cordura fabric. The material is a lightweight variation of the stuff used for MSR Dromedary bags which I also love. Designed to be durable, without sacrificing weight. The top of the sack is your standard roll top, designed to reduce the chance of water wetting your gear. The bottom of the sack has a small opening with a pull cord. To use the bag you simply slide the small opening over your sleeping pad valve and cinch it down. Make sure the valve is open, and fill the Pumphouse with air. Seal the top of the sack and force the air into your pad. It is a simple solution, but like all things Big Agnes produces, it was well thought out. The dual purpose sack, means that you can use it for storage during the day and when empty you can inflate your pad.
Use- The Big Agnes Pumphouse works. End of story. The build quality is solid and it is really easy to use. I replaced one of my single use stuff sacks with this and actually ended up saving a little weight. Not to mention that fact that I saved some weight not having to carry a stuff sack and a pump. The design of the valve opening means that it can be universally used with other brands. The Pumphouse easily fills half of it's capacity just by opening the larger end. If you give a simple blow the sack fills substantially more. Even with the added effort of inflating the sack manually, it still ends up being substantially easier then inflating with the traditional method. The Pumphouse does speed up the inflation time slightly, but not by much. The real selling point is how easy it makes inflation. After most the pad is filled, one or two breaths will add the desired firmness to the your pad. The only thing I found annoying with the pump, really had nothing to do with it. When inflating your pad Big Agnes valves are 'two way' valves. Meaning air travels easily in and easily out. If the valve on their pads were 'one-way' (locking valves allow air to enter but not exit, unless you turn the valve and allow air to exit). Other then that the pump worked great.
Final Thoughts- The Big Agnes Pumphouse is a lightweight, dual purpose pump for backpacking. The ease of use and simple design makes it a no brainer. Regardless of your brand of choice for a pad the Pumphouse will work. Big Agnes makes great gear and this is no exception. If you are tired of inflating your pad manually, or spend time backpacking in elevation this maybe the solution. You can find out more about the Big Agnes Pumphouse here.
*This item was purchased for testing.