Product: Rocket44 Apollo I Mini Pump
Manufacturer’s Stated Weight: 95 grams
Blister’s Measured weight: 105 grams
Size: about 6.3” x 1.1”
Stated Max Pressure: 110psi
Normally a pump isn’t something that I put a whole lot of thought into, but when I was on the hunt for a small, compact pump, Rocket44’s Apollo I fit the bill well. This mini pump fills a niche in that it is (1) small and (2) cheap.
If I can manage it, I prefer to ride without a pack, since packs are hot and they flop around in technical terrain. But packs are really good for carrying things like pumps, which obviously come in handy from time to time. And this where the compact size of the the Apollo I comes in handy; it’s small enough that I can stick it in my pocket without really noticing it while I ride. Particularly when I’m riding lift-served terrain where carrying water, food and other trail essentials is less important, having a small pump, patch kit, and a tire lever or two in my pocket is a nice way to avoid a long walk or some dinged up rims.
In the hunt for a small tire inflating device, some people will opt for CO2 pumps that depend on a supply of CO2 cartridges. While CO2 may be your only option if you’re expecting to re-seat a tubeless bead, in all other scenarios, I prefer carrying a real hand pump because it can’t run out of air.
In my view, the Apollo I’s primary selling point is its size relative to the amount of air it can move. There are smaller pumps on the market, but you’ll be feverishly pumping for several millennia before they’ll actually fill a tire. And bigger pumps, while quicker to inflate a tire, don’t fit nicely in my pocket. Robert Southey would say the Apollo I is “just right”—it strikes a nice, practical balance in that it’s compact, but large enough to fill a tire in a reasonable amount of time.
I don’t have anything particularly exciting to report from my use of the Apollo I. It works as intended. It doesn’t have some of the nice ergonomics of other pumps—there’s no handle that rotates into a T, or hoses that allow you to hold the pump away from the valve stem. But the lack of frills isn’t unusual for a pump of this size (and price).
For its diminutive size, the Apollo I does have a couple of nice design features. First, it has an automatically adjusting head that will work with both Presta and Schrader valves, with no need to mess with adapters or different heads. This is convenient when you’re running Presta, but your flat-prone friend that’s convinced that Schrader valves are better because “if they’re good enough for my Chevy, they’re good enough for my bike” neglected to bring a pump.
Second, the Apollo I has a switch on its base that changes the pump from “high volume” to “high pressure” mode. This allows you to start pumping in high volume mode until it becomes difficult (somewhere a bit north of 20psi), then switch to high pressure mode, making it easier to fully inflate your tire to the desired hardness/pressure. While the high pressure mode does make reaching a higher pressure noticeably easier, I wouldn’t be particularly excited to inflate a tire to a very high pressure with this pump, as it takes a fair amount of effort to work the pump at pressures over ~ 50 psi. The Apollo I is definitely best suited to achieving sub-50 psi pressures, even if it’s theoretically capable of going much higher.
The Apollo I has two siblings: the Apollo II and Apollo III. The II features a pressure gauge, and the III has both a pressure gauge and all-aluminum construction. (The I has an aluminum outer body but plastic inner body.) The addition of a pressure gauge also adds a bit of length to the II and III, which is why I opted for the I.
If you’re in the market for a small pump, the Apollo I is worth a look. It’ll tuck into a pocket nicely, and ought to keep you from walking home if you happen to inadvertently let the air out of your tire.
Visit Rocket44’s product page at rocket44.com