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I have tried a variety of camping footpumps over the years, always looking for that perfect device that would inflate my mattress quickly and silently. Unfortunately up until now my search has been in vain. Hand pumps at one stage seemed to be the answer, but I quickly found that the push-pull bending action needed made my back seize up for the entire holiday. Little buzzing electric pumps that attached to the lighter in my car just hummed away annoyingly for hours, doing apparently nothing. When I finally found the Argos Bellows footpump for £7.99 all my problems were over; I had discovered a pump that was efficient and quick - and all the strain was taken through my legs and not my back.
The bellows footpump is cleverly designed to pack flat during transport via a rectangular plastic clasp that has the dual purpose of keeping the hose in place and keeping the pump flat. This clasp is permanently attached to the hose so that it is impossible to lose.
When fully inflated the pump is 21cm high; when depressed and kept flat by the clasp it is 3cm high, making it easy to store away in the boot when packing the car.
The pump is 26cm long, making it comfortable for even the biggest shoe size to rest on when pumping takes place. The top has a ridged footprint for extra grip so that the shoe does not slip off the pump.
Beneath the footprint are two holes which accommodate the hose. The hose is attached to either the IN or OUT hole through a twist and lock action. The OUT hole is used to deflate the airbed thoroughly to pack it flat.
For storage, the hose can be wound round the pump and kept in place by the same clasp the keeps the whole pump flat.
There are three nozzle sizes provided with the hose; the original very large nozzle is an integral part of the hose itself. In addition there are two extra nozzles, a medium and small that will fit almost any size inflatable. In a brilliant design tweak, these nozzles are permanently attached to the hose by a flexible plastic lead, which can be twisted to allow any of the nozzles to be attached to the hose without allowing them to be removed or lost.
Using the footpump is very easy; the rather high level of the fully extended bellows mean that each push downwards is extremely effective, and I found that I could easily pump up my airbed in less than 5 minutes. Unlike the similarly designed Argos handpump, the footpump only expels air on the downwards push and not the upwards return, but I did not find this to be a problem as the time taken to fully pump up my mattress was still very fast.
I have two airbeds, each with a different fitting, but I found that the nozzle selection was fine for both beds, and fitted each hole securely, not falling out during inflation like some cheaper models.
Strangely, inflation is completely silent using the smaller nozzle, but when the largest nozzle is used a hideously loud shriek emits from the pump at each push downwards, attracting the attention of the entire campsite and more than a few sniggers. Looking at the reviews on the Argos website I can see that I am not the only person to experience this - but the slight embarrassment is worth it when the mattress is inflated so quickly and efficiently.
Efficient and quick, this pump is very good value for money and has now become an essential part of my camping kit. I like the practicality of the design, and the way that all essential extras are permanently attached to the pump. I have only too often arrived at a campsite to find that an essential nozzle or stopper is missing from my camping kit.
At £7.99 this pump may seem expensive to some people, considering that electric and hand pumps are very close to this in price - but I have found that the quality is very good; the pump is robust and shows no sign of splitting or wearing. All together a highly recommended purchase for rapid and efficient pumping of any inflatable.