OK, I admit it: The closest I got to being a Boy Scout was becoming a Webeloand I made it through that penultimate stage mainly because I wanted to shoot the Arrow of Light, a decidedly anticlimactic experience. Perhaps that's why I never learned to adhere to the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. But I'll be damned if those two words don't offer sage advice, as I discovered two decades later at the far end of a ten-mile figure-eight singletrack loop, where rugged terrain left me with scratched legs, a bruised ego, and a blown rear tire. I did have patches, but no pump; and since even my heavy breathing can't penetrate a presta valve, I was left with a very long walk.
If only I'd had the wisdom back then to carry Crank Brothers' new Power Pump Ultra. This 5.6-inch-long device proves that size doesn't matter, thanks to an innovative dial setting at the base that lets you switch between high-volume and high-pressure modes. The former gives you more huff and puff than an army of hungry wolves, and saves your arms from pump fatigue, while the latter mode allows for that extra push as the tube reaches maximum capacity. The twin-head construction accommodates both presta and Schrader valves without the hassle of manipulating the guts of the pump, and seals air-tight with the twist of a T-shaped toggle to deliver 115 psi of pumping pressure. It doesn't come with a frame mount, but at 4.2 ounces, the all-aluminum pump is light enough for stow-and-forget convenience in a backpack or jersey pocket. Simply put, dealing with midride flats has never been easierand the lifetime warranty and modest price tag make the Power Pump Ultra a solid long-term investment.
Since that long walk back to the car some four summers ago, I have learned my lesson. The Power Pump Ultra (along with patches and a spare tube) joins me on every ride, from half-day singletrack grinds to round-the-corner grocery runs. And while I certainly don't welcome another flat, I know that the pump will provide when the inevitable happens once again. $30; www.crankbrothers.com