The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Silca Pocket Impero Review

A boutique looking mini pump - at a high price.
Silca Pocket Impero
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Price:  $120 List | $120.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, nice looking, high quality
Cons:  Pumping performance, expensive
Manufacturer:   Silca
By Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 17, 2016
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 14
  • Pumping Performance - 30% 5
  • Ease of Use - 30% 6
  • Portability - 20% 8
  • Looks and Design - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 9

The Skinny

The Silca Pocket Impero is a high-quality, well-crafted mini pump. It is essentially a shorter version of the Silca Impero Ultimate, winner of our Top Pick Award for Frame Pumps. The Pocket Impero uses the same pump head, leather cup washer, and 19mm piston of its big brother, the Impero Ultimate. The Pocket Impero is designed to work well for both pressure and volume applications. Due to this design, it falls short of task-specific pumps like Lezyne's Road Drive and their Gauge Drive HV in pumping performance for specific applications. Read on for our in-depth analysis and test results.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

With a traditional integrated pump head and all good all-around pumping performance, the Pocket Impero was well liked by many of our testers. While it lacks specificity, it is a good all-rounder and is comparable to the Pro Bike Mini Tool in terms of performance. The Pocket Impero is the most expensive mini pump we tested and its quality is unquestionable. Class-leading durability and design are product highlights. When it comes to pumping performance, other pumps we tested out-performed the Impero, in both pressure and volume applications.

Performance Comparison


The Silica Pocket Impero fits nicely in a hydration pack.
The Silica Pocket Impero fits nicely in a hydration pack.

Ease of Use


The Pocket Impero utilizes a press-on integrated pump head with a dual stage seal. It does not employ a locking lever like other pumps with integrated heads. This press-on pump head eliminates the extra step of flipping a locking lever while maintaining an equal, and in some cases better, seal than the pumps we tested that rely on a locking lever for a valve seal.

Our highest scoring mini pumps for ease of use have a flex hose design with a thread-on air chuck, such as the Lezyne Road Drive. The flexible hose design allows the user to get into a more comfortable position for inflation, as they do not need to support the head of the pump at the valve. Ease of pumping on the Pocket Impero was a highlight, with a very gradual increase in pumping effort as pressure increases, similar to what we found with the high scoring Lezyne Road Drive.

Pumping Performance


Pumping performance with the Pocket Impero was reasonable but falls short of the best road-specific and mountain-bike-specific pumps we tested. We were only able to reach 50psi at 200 pump strokes in a 25c road tire versus 70psi reached in the same test using the Lezyne Road Drive.

The Pro Bike Tool High Pressure Gauge also outperformed the Pocket Impero, reaching 66psi in our road tire test. In a mountain bike tire test the Pocket Impero hit 16psi while our highest scoring mountain-bike-specific mini pump, the Lezyne Gauge Drive, got us up to 37psi. On a positive note, the Pocket Impero will bring a road tire up over 90psi, it just takes a long time to get there. We do like the feel of the pump during inflation; it is smooth with a minimal increase in stroke effort up to around 90 psi.

The Silica Pocket Impero has a press-on pump head with a dual stage valve seal. The pump head is identical to that found on the Impero Ultimate.
The Silica Pocket Impero has a press-on pump head with a dual stage valve seal. The pump head is identical to that found on the Impero Ultimate.

Looks/Design


This contender has the same great stealth black understated looks of the Silca Impero Ultimate. The materials and internal components of the pump exude quality. However, when it comes to mini pumps we prefer the flexible hose design found on the Lezyne Road Drive and the Pro Bike Tool. The flexible hose provides a much better platform for pumping and user ergonomics than the integrated head design, particularly with a short pump stroke length. There is also the added benefit of not putting unnecessary lateral pressure on the valve stem that could potently damage the stem.

Another design feature of the Pocket Impero we are not particularly fond of is the silicone pump chamber sleeve. The sleeve is designed to insulate the user's hand from heat buildup, and also serves as a retention device for the handle. In theory, we like the idea, but it is difficult to get the pump handle fully engaged on the silicone sleeve after use, and the sleeve tends to slip around while holding the pump body during inflation. As the sleeve slips back toward the pump handle, it impedes the length of the pump stroke and requires frequent adjustment.

The Silica Pocket Impero is a compact classy looking pump.  As it's name suggests it is intended to be carried in a pocket and does not come with a frame mount.
The Silica Pocket Impero is a compact classy looking pump. As it's name suggests it is intended to be carried in a pocket and does not come with a frame mount.

Portability


It's the perfect size for stowing in a jersey pocket. The short length makes it easy to carry, and it does not stick out as much as other pumps we tested, such as the Lezyne Road Drive. It will also fit in almost any hydration pack, including small hip packs popular with enduro riders. When it comes to weight, it is one of the heaviest mini pumps we tested at 151g, compared to the 87g Topeak Race Rocket HP, which was the lightest mini pump we tested.

The Silica Pocket Impero fits nicely in a jersey pocket.
The Silica Pocket Impero fits nicely in a jersey pocket.

Durability


This pump scores high here, with top-notch construction and high-end materials. It's almost entirely made of aluminum and has alloy internals, including a brass check valve in the pump head. The leather cup washers are known for being long lasting and providing consistent pump efficiency even at elevated pump chamber temperatures. All of the high wear components of the pump are replaceable and easily obtained via the Silca website. Silca pumps are built to last.

Best Applications


The Pocket Impero is best suited to road and cyclocross use. While it is designed to fall somewhere in between on the pressure to volume spectrum, it falls more towards the high-pressure end of the mix, with better performance on road tires than on mountain tires.

Value


It retails for $120, more than twice the price of the Lezyne Road Drive and four times the price of the Pro Bike Tool. It is a high-quality durable pump and one of the nicer looking mini pumps available. Unfortunately, the pumping performance was below par when compared to other mini pumps we tested. We do not feel that the Pocket Impero is a good value compared to other options on the market.

Conclusion


The Silica Pocket Impero has the same diameter piston and pump chamber as the Impero Ultimate.
The Silica Pocket Impero has the same diameter piston and pump chamber as the Impero Ultimate.

The Pocket Impero is stylish, beautiful mini pump. It is designed to perform well for both pressure and volume applications. Due to this design it treads water right in the middle of the spectrum for both applications, excelling at neither. We applaud the attention to detail, and quality construction, but it is hard to make a case for a pump that retails for $120 when our Best Buy Award winner, the Pro Bike Tool, outperforms it for $29.99.


Curtis Smith