Best car foot pumps 2021

We pile on the pressure by testing eight traditional twin-barrel car foot pumps

We all know that under-inflated tyres make driving more dangerous and expensive. Handling and braking deteriorate, and being just a few pounds per square inch (psi) too low can result in a drop in economy. So checking pressures should be part of your regular driving routine.

Service station pumps are notoriously inaccurate thanks to clumsy misuse, and with your own inflator you can take care of your tyres when you want. Electric compressors, either cordless or 12V, are easiest but can be pricey, while a good foot pump can be quicker and cheaper.

Unless there’s a slow puncture or faulty valve, a tyre usually only needs a few psi to top up, so using a foot pump isn’t a great hardship, especially with the more powerful twin-cylinder types we’re testing here.

How we tested them

Each pump needed to be stable in use, with a large tread plate and some form of lock to keep it compact when not in use. We also expected an accurate, clearly legible gauge.

For efficiency, we pumped a 225/70 15 tyre 20 times from a start figure of 25psi and checked the final pressure, logging the gauge readings at the start and finish. Longer hoses were preferred, as were slim hose couplings and those that prevented excessive pressure loss during disconnection. We also noted the build quality, instructions, number of adapters/on-board storage and weight. Prices quoted are from a range of online sources.

Verdict

Despite a price hike, the plus points were enough to keep the Michelin 12209 at the top. We rate the Ring RFP2 as the best analogue device and, although the Halfords Essential isn’t perfect, its price makes it a good budget buy.

  1. Michelin 12209 Digital Double-Barrel Footpump
  2. Ring Double Footpump RFP2
  3. Halfords Essential Twin Barrel Footpump & Gauge

Reviews

Michelin 12209 Digital Double-Barrel Footpump

  • Price: Around £28
  • Increase in 20 pumps: 3psi
  • Contact: www.halfords.com
  • Rating: 5 stars

Our previous winner is a hefty £6 pricier than it was in 2018 but that barely detracted from its great features, starting with the tyre-tread-patterned rubber foot plate – the largest here, at 294cm square. The screw-on connection fits most valves and the three-scale, digital display was spot-on for accuracy. The three adapters fit into clips under the gauge, there’s a snap-in locator for the valve connector when stored and the foot plate is locked by a couple of plastic sliders. Still a great package, even at the higher price.

Buy now from Halfords

Ring Double Footpump RFP2

The Ring started well by having a grippy rubber covering to its large 195cm square tread plate. At 65cm, the hose was long enough and, although the large, plastic valve connection was bulky, it sealed well and popped off easily, losing virtually no pressure. Its analogue gauge read 2psi low both before and after the pumping test, which at least had the benefit of consistency. The neat, Velcro-fastened cloth bag which housed the four adapters and the rubber feet positioned at all four corners were good, but we would have liked to see some sort of instructions.

Buy now from Amazon

Halfords Essential Twin Barrel Footpump & Gauge

  • Price: Around 13
  • Increase in 20 pumps: 3psi
  • Contact: www.halfords.com
  • Rating: 4 stars

This is part of Halfords’ Essential range, so is a no-frills device. The hose was plain rubber and one of the shortest, at 61cm, with a valve connector that was a basic, metal/plastic thumblock. It worked reasonably well, but tended to stick when removed, releasing air. There were simple instructions on one barrel, although nothing about checking cold tyres. Its performance was good and the reading was just 1psi adrift in the two checks. Unlike all the others it had no leisure adapters, but that low price pushed it up the ranking.

Buy now from Halfords

Michelin 12203 Digital Double Barrel Footpump

  • Price: Around £32
  • Increase in 20 pumps: 3psi
  • Contact: www.argos.co.uk
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

Another impressive Michelin device, with a three-scale digital gauge, albeit showing 1.5psi difference across the two readings. As with our winner we liked the large, rubber-covered tread plate and easy-to-use rotary plastic locking knobs. The instructions were good – both Michelin pumps were the only ones to mention checking pressures at ambient temperature. A plastic box held the three adapters and clipped on the pump frame. But it lost points thanks to its price – the highest on test and more than twice the cheapest option.

Buy now from Amazon

Laser 4411 Double Barrel Foot Pump with Gauge

Laser’s entry has a decent 195cm-square tread plate which, although not rubber covered, is made from grippy chequer plate. An increase of 3psi was good, but it was reading 3psi and 4psi under at the start and finish respectively, which was a worry. The three-scale, analogue gauge didn’t have a target needle and there were no instructions, but there are four rubber feet to help prevent movement. The large plastic valve connector could be tricky to fit on some rims, but it worked well on our test wheel.

Buy now from Amazon

Clarke Racing FP300 Twin Cylinder Foot Pump

The Clarke was almost identical to the Laser (above) in design, featuring another large chequer tread plate. The instruction leaflet led on general pressure info, but didn’t mention the need for cold tyres, nor was there any information on the barrel in case the booklet was lost. At 66cm, the hose was a good length and the analogue gauge featured three scales (psi, kg/cm2 and bar) but no target needle and it was consistently 4psi low at both test points. Again, the thumblock valve connector wasn’t the most wieldy, but it didn’t release air when removed.

Buy now from Machine Mart

Draper Double Cylinder Foot Pump 25996

The Draper was clearly related to the Halfords and is very basic: essentially just a frame with two rubber feet at the rear. The tread plate was full width but narrow, and didn’t offer much grip. The hose was joint shortest at 61cm, which could mean having to move a wheel to help access, and the valve connector was a conventional metal/plastic fitting, which was clumsy to fit and remove. It managed a 2.5psi increase, but the twin-scale gauge was 3.5psi adrift over the two test points.

Buy now from Amazon

Sealey FP2 Twin Barrel Foot Pump

  • Price: Around £16
  • Increase in 20 pumps: 1.5psi
  • Contact: www.sealey.co.uk
  • Rating: 2.5 stars

Another Halfords lookalike, the Sealey scored extra points for its grippy rubber cover on the narrow tread plate. Basic instructions appeared on one barrel, although they related more to its use than tyre safety. Again, we didn’t rate the short 61cm hose or thumblock, which felt low-rent. There seemed to be plenty of pressure available, but it only raised the tyre by 1.5psi. The gauge was reasonable, with just 1.5psi difference overall, which brought its score close to the Draper’s.

Buy now from Amazon

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