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Electric SUP pumps: which is best?

Electric SUP pumps: which is best?

For a while, there’s been a settled view amongst experienced paddlers that the 12v pump in grey is the most reliable and fastest pump out there in the £75 – £150 bracket. Admittedly, it has its detractors, with some people having melted pistons and had switch and valve failures. But on balance it seemed to be the most reliable out of a bad bunch.

But then came along a new challenger. It had more striking livery, it had a digital display, and there were claims it was faster, quieter, and would make you paddle faster than Michael Booth. But we’d heard it all before. Every new pump on the market claimed to be better, and they rarely were.

This time however, things were different it seemed. A number of reviews from reasonably reliable sources seemed to confirm they were indeed faster and quieter. And we haven’t heard many negative things about them on the grapevine.

So we’ve got our hands on a few to test. And with an absence of objective side by side tests out there, we put them up against one another in a head to head race to 20PSI.

  • We used the same vehicle (A Ford Transit Custom DCIV if you’re interested – great vehicle, with, importantly, two identical 12V sockets)
  • We started the pumps at the same time – therefore environmental conditions were the same
  • We inflated both to 20PSI

So what did we find out?

The hose on the older pump looks less fragile than the new hose. The new hose seems a little more brittle, and probably won’t survive your van parking on it (as the old pump hose has done twice now). The fittings on both pumps are sturdy and solid.

Both units appear well made from the outside – well finished.

The new pump is slightly ligther than the old one.

The young upstart was definitely the quieter of the pumps when the first stage (high volume) compressor kicks in. Although we didn’t have a noise monitor, the difference was quite obvious. It has just an annoying whiney pitch sadly.

The second stage compressor (the loud one) kicked in about 30 seconds earlier on the new pump.

The second stage pump on both units were about the same noisiness. The new pump might have been very slightly quieter, but it was just as intrusive in a quiet neighbourhood. The use of either pump before dawn or after dusk is likely to draw the ire of neighbours.

They inflated at approximately the same rate. The new pump reached 7psi noticeably quicker, but then the old pump started to catch up. Although doing a direct comparison during inflation is difficult because the gauge needle bounces around so much on the old pump.

And the winner is…

Well, we don’t actually know. It was very, very close. To the extent that we don’t actually know which one finished first; they finished within two seconds of each other with a time of 11 minutes 30 (ish) seconds!

So in conclusion, there is very little to separate these pumps in terms of performance. And only time will tell if the new young upstart is more or less reliable than the old one!

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