Jul 07, 2023
6 Mini Trail Pumps for MTB and Gravel, Tested
Getting a flat tire on the trail is never fun, especially if you don’t have a reliable way to put air back into the tire. This summer we tested six different mini bike pumps designed for gravel and
Getting a flat tire on the trail is never fun, especially if you don’t have a reliable way to put air back into the tire. This summer we tested six different mini bike pumps designed for gravel and mountain bike tires, and each one has its own set of pros and cons.
We start off with the Crankbrothers Klic HP Gauge + CO2 air pump. This high-pressure portable hand pump, made of both metal and hard plastic, is recommended for tires 45c and narrower.
What’s nifty about this pump is that it has a removable and stashable hose with an attached pressure gauge. The hose hides inside the tubing of the pump and is concealed when you fold and lock the pump handle. This turns the pump into a compact, 10in-long cylinder that weighs 159g and can be stashed in your pack or using the included bottle cage bracket mount with velcro strap.
The pump has a magnetic head with a twisting clicky collar to conceal it, which prevents debris from getting inside. The hose clicks securely into place and self-aligns thanks to the strong magnet inside the pump head, and a firm tug is needed to remove it.
The built-in gauge has a blue ring that indicates pressure in increments of 10psi and the tip of the gauge unscrews so it can be switched between Presta and Schrader. It took seven pumps to get one psi into my tire. I tried this various times and measured this via my QUARQ TireWyz.
There is also a concealed unscrewable Presta CO2 inflator at the handle. (CO2 cartridge not included.)
I like the innovative features this pump has such as the concealable, removable magnetized hose with threaded Presta/Schrader heads at the tip. The CO2 inflator is perfectly implemented and concealed at the handle while the pump handle itself is a great part of the design and greatly aids in efficiently pumping air into the tire.
My major gripe about this pump is that the hose with built-in gauge is a pain to get into the valve. I found that the design made the air pumping process very tedious. If caught with a flat, this gauged hose would make the situation even more frustrating.
It took the longest out of the six pumps to fiddle around with just to attach it correctly. You first carefully place the hose into the valve and attach it to the magnetized portion of the pump. That’s if the spokes, disk rotor, or 52t cassette don’t get in the way, which they do. A lot of air leaked out during these attempts. I had to fiddle and struggle around so much just to get the hose onto the valve, and it resulted in the tire valve body breaking! Thankfully, the TireWyz didn’t break. Interestingly, I did not have this same issue getting the other pump heads onto the valve. I had to very carefully redo this process on my other wheel to count how many pumps it took to get one psi into the tire. You may have inferred that I am not very happy with this pump as it broke my valve body.
Crankbrothers tried to make this pump unique but I believe its uniqueness is its flaw. They may have focused too much on design rather than function. I can only imagine myself throwing this pump to the ground in frustration if out on the trail with a flat. The $59.99 price tag doesn’t help either as other cheaper pumps in this roundup got the job done quickly and efficiently.
The Park Tool PMP-4.2 mini hand pump is portable and affordable with an aluminum barrel and soft-touch dual density flip out handle. It has a locking head that is compatible with Presta and Schrader valves. Included is an under water bottle cage holder with hardware.
The PMP-4.2 pump is lightweight at 132g and has pretty good pumping power, so good it was actually the second most powerful pump in this roundup. I got one PSI in the tire with just three pumps! There is a maximum pressure of 90 psi (6 bar).
The flip out handle felt very ergonomic in the hand. This handle was also bigger and easier to work with compared to the Crankbrothers Klic HP pump. The Park Tool PMP-4.2 is 10.5in long, making it easy to stash in a pack.
There really aren’t any major quirks or standout features, and I think that’s a good thing! No extra bits to lose or break. Park made sure this pump does one thing right and that’s to get air into tires easily and efficiently. Surely it may not look as good as some other pumps in this roundup but for $22.95 and two colors to choose from (black or blue), this is an easy choice for any rider.
The PDW Cloud Cap is a beautifully designed, robust all-metal gravel and mountain bike tire hand pump with a built-in CO2 inflator that is Presta and Schrader valve compatible and can be stashed away in the included protective carry bag.
There is no arguing that this pump has the best build quality out of the six in this roundup, and it just looks and feels nice to use. You know your pump is fancy when it comes with a carrying case. For 182g and all-metal build, it’s surprisingly not the heaviest in the roundup especially with the dimensions of 9.75 x 1in.
After I was done staring at the build quality, I decided to get pumpin’. I unthreaded the reversed thread nozzle head to use on my Presta valve, (no need to unthread for a Schrader valve) which releases the head. This allowed me to then thread the head onto the valve for a tight seal. After testing this pump, I’d suggest users to make sure the top CO2 control knob head is fully closed before you start pumping or else air will leak out; you can release air if you wish by slowly opening the control knob.
Holding the head of the pump with one hand while pumping with the other seems to be the best way to get consistent pumps in. It only took five strokes to get one psi into the tire. There is a small rubberized grip around the body of the pump to avoid slippage when in action; it’s small but helps greatly.
To use the CO2 inflator, you screw your cartridge all the way in with the control knob in the closed position and then slowly turn the control knob to open to release CO2 into the tire. You of course must already have the nozzle head screwed into your air valve. It’s pretty easy if you know how a CO2 inflator works, but if you haven’t done this before, check out some videos online first.
PDW really kept this pump simple and focused on excellent build quality and design. There are no fancy extra bits to lose or break. I forgot to use my included carry bag and the pump is showing some battle scars from moving around my bag so I would like to see a raw metal version of this pump.
If you fancy boutique bike tools and are willing to pay a top shelf price of $89 then this pump might be for you.
The Silca Gravelo Mini Pump is a lightweight aluminum handle and barrel mini hand pump with a retractable hose that is Presta and Schrader valve compatible. It includes a direct-mount bracket with a rubber retaining strap and hardware to attach to your gravel or mountain bike.
The Gravelo Mini Pump offers a clean look for a pump with a retractable hose. The sturdy yet flexible hose can be easily accessed by removing the tiny rubber cap and pulling it out. But my favorite method is by just giving the mini pump a hard pump making the hose pop out. I’m not sure if my method is how Silca designed it but it works! When needing to pump tires in a pinch, I pump aggressively and having a hose prevents damaging the valve stems.
The hose has a reversible threaded chuck that’s easy to swap when you need to go between Presta and Schrader valves. The operation is easy and once you connect to the valve, there is a thumb lock to prevent the head from coming out. Silca says the Gravelero mini-pump has a 35% increased stroke volume compared to their Tattico Mini Pump for more efficient inflation. After multiple tests on the QUARQ Tirewyz, I got about one psi per seven strokes.
The Gravelo mini pump is 9.5 x 1in with the hose retracted and 15in long with the hose extended out. It weighs 142g according to my digital scale.
The pump feels sturdy through every stroke. There are not many components to fiddle with, so it’s a pretty straightforward pump.
My only small complaint is about the rubber tip that covers the hose. It is quite small and can come off if yanked too hard. While it is easy to put back on, you risk losing it when out on the trail. There is a gray rubber lock-ring around the top of the handle that helps create a tight seal when storing, but when you start pumping air it causes a funny air “pop” sound every stroke.
The Silca Gravelo Mini-Pump exceeded my expectations. It’s well built and easy to use from the get-go. The direct-mount bracket is pretty solid, keeping the pump in place and rattle-free. The retractable hose is well executed and my favorite part of it all is the thumb-lock that keeps the hose attached to the valve. At $75, it may be a hard decision for some.
The Specialized Air Tool Big Bore Pump is a powerful and versatile mini bike pump specifically designed for fat and semi-fat tires, but it can really be used on any tire size.
The pump’s inverted barrel design maximizes volume while maintaining a compact size, and the coarse machined aluminum barrel provides excellent grip. This pump has an oversized press-on Schrader and Presta head that is attached to a retractable hose, and the two-sided head allows for a secure valve fit once pressed in.
The head is pretty user-friendly and easy to use even with gloves on. This is a unique design I personally have not seen in other pumps before. All you need to do is push out the black valve head piece to switch between Schrader and Presta. Once that black piece is inserted into the valve, you firmly press the head to lock it into place. When you are done pumping, you firmly pull back the head which will unlock and release the head from the valve. It can take some fiddling at first but it gets easier to use.
What I like about the Air Tool Big Bore Pump is the secure connection thanks to its oversized head. Although this may seem like a big pump, it only weighs 157g as per my digital scale. The flexibility of the hose attachment is also a standout feature, allowing me to pump aggressively without worrying the head will come off while pumping. This pump got the most air into the tire out of the six pumps in this review. After multiple tests on the QUARQ Tirewyz, I got about one psi of pressure for every two strokes!
As for dislikes, there isn’t much to complain about with the Air Tool Big Bore Pump. However, it’s worth noting that the maximum pressure of 50psi (3.5 bar) may not be sufficient for riders who require higher pressures for their specific bike tires or preferences. I would have preferred the hose to be a tad bit longer. In addition, when you retract the hose, the head clips onto the pump for a secure fit; unclipping it can take some force though, which was quite annoying to do every time I needed to use the pump.
The Specialized Air Tool Big Bore Pump is an impressive mini bike pump designed for fat and semi-fat tires that will work with any tire size you throw at it. With its user-friendly features, secure valve connection, and sturdy build, it’s a reliable companion for off-road adventures. Priced at $50, it offers excellent value for the money, making it a worthwhile investment for those looking for a dependable pump.
The Topeak Mountain 2Stage is a two-in-one digital pump: a tire pump and a suspension pump. This pump offers a lighter, more affordable alternative to carrying two separate pumps, and has become my go-to pump.
The intuitive ‘2Stage’ switch is easy to use, and switching between Schrader and Presta only requires threading and unthreading the valve head. Its compact size and lightweight design make it highly packable, easily fitting into a backpack. There is a high-volume setting to help more volume per stroke and a high pressure setting for a more dialed pressure. This setting can be switched by easily twisting the bottom of the pump onto each corresponding setting. Ideally the high-volume setting should be used on bike tires and the high-pressure setting on suspension. With the help of my QUARQ Tirewyz I was able to get one psi per five strokes in the high volume setting.
Using the valve head is straightforward; threading it onto Schrader and Presta valves eliminates pressure leaks when pumping air. To switch between Schrader and Presta, you’ll need to thread or unthread the Kashima-like coated head. Unthreaded out for Presta, thread back in for Schrader. It’s a bit confusing at first, but gets easier over time.
The pump features a large digital screen that toggles through PSI, bar, and KG/CM. It uses a replaceable CR2032 battery providing user-friendly operation and replacement of the battery. The pressure relief valve allows for precise pressure adjustments all while the digital gauge proves to be accurate.
There are a couple things that would make this pump even better. It would be great if the digital screen toggle button was larger and would allow the user to turn the screen off with a long button press. In my case, I had to wait for the screen to auto shut off. I also do believe this type of screen should have a mini solar panel (like a calculator).
The pump maxes out at 300psi, so if you’re running higher pressures on your suspension, this pump won’t read out past that. At times, unscrewing the two halves of the valve head can be difficult with gloves on, so making both halves knurled would make the process easier. I noticed the pump lost about 4psi when disconnecting from the shock/fork. Weighing 222g on my digital scale, this was the heaviest pump out of the six.
The Topeak Mountain 2Stage digital pump can actually save both money and space compared to carrying two pumps in your pack. If you don’t want to carry two pumps for your mountain bike, this decently priced multifunction digital pump offers well thought off features to make pumping air a breeze before, during, or after your ride.