Hands-on review: Atmos mini air pump
Image credit: Atmos
Can’t agree what tech to make room for when packing for a trip? Save your breath - this compact gadget’s ability to inflate and deflate as required could earn it a place in your luggage.
There are so many neat little ‘travel’ versions around these days of the gadgets we’ve discovered we can’t live without that packing for a trip – long or short – can become an exercise in deciding which bit of kit you can afford to leave at home. Adding to the dilemma is the Atmos mini air pump, a super-compact device designed for a range of applications that’s going to be vying for space in your sports bag as well as your suitcase or backpack.
What, you’re probably wondering, do I need an electric pump for while I’m away from home? Before moving on to that, let’s look at what you get.
Forget about those bulky pumps you can buy to blow up air beds if you like a little comfort while camping. Whereas they rely on a 12V car source or several batteries, Atmos is small enough to actually slip in a pocket of a jacket or backpack and has a 1000mAh lithium battery cell that charges in around an hour from a wall socket or USB source. Its manufacturer claims that’s enough for up to 60 minutes' use, which in the manner of these things they equate to enough puff to inflate 25 basketballs.
What most potential users will find more appealing though is that Atmos can suck as well as blow. Vacuum bags are a great way of fitting a few days’ luggage in a bag small enough to take on a flight as carry-on, or maximise space in rucksack for backpacking, but once opened you’re going to need to get everything back in again. Most pumps are big enough to not be worth considering, but Atmos is just small enough to justify taking with you.
Each Atmos is supplied with an adapter that’s compatible with most vacuum bags on the market. If you want to buy them, official Atmos-friendly Flextail bags come in small (40 x 60cm), medium (50 x 70cm) and large (60 x 80 cm) sizes. If you don’t have 25 basketballs that need inflating, a full charge should deal with 8 vacuum bags.
Operation isn’t as quick as with a mains-powered pump or bags designed to work with vacuum cleaner attachments. Five minutes is a small sacrifice to make if you’re halving the space your clothes take up, though, and once closed the seal remained airtight until we were ready to unpack. (A neat idea is that once emptied on arrival, bags can be pumped up to double as pillows, handy when you’re camping with limited luggage capacity.)
At home, inflating a single football on the rare occasions you want to enjoy a family kickabout isn’t much trouble. Serious coaches though will appreciate the fact that Atmos can pump up several balls that need a needle valve, whether for volleyball, rugby or whatever, with less effort. To be spot on you’ll need to invest in a separate pressure gauge, but the pump will fit easily into the pocket of a sports bag.
Finally, and least obviously, there’s a place for Atmos in your kitchen drawer. Purchase a few storage bags with suitable valves and it’s a matter of seconds to vacuum pack small quantities of food – raw or cooked – to extend its lifetime or minimise volume to let you pack more into your freezer.
If you’re wondering how you’ve managed without this nifty device, a $24 pledge on the Atmos Kickstarter page gets you the basic pump, four needle connections, a vacuum bag nozzle and micro USB charge cable. Extras like additional storage bags are available at an additional charge.
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