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Helmet Pumper Shootout: Rugged Radios MAC 3.2 vs MAC-IDA

The helmet pumper, also known as a fresh-air device, is a vital component of any race vehicle. Primary functions include dust suppression for the inner part of your visor, anti-fog, and slight head cooling. For this article we’ll be discussing the two versions offered by Rugged Radios. We do have experience with other brands’ helmet pumpers but given our underwhelming impression of these, we will exclude them from this discussion.

-Team Draco Motorsports
MAC Air (Formerly Mac 3.2)MAC IDA
$225.00 (Helmet Pumper Only)$399.00
3.4 Amps (Per Blower Fan) @ 18,850 RPM2.7 Amps (Per Blower Fan) @ 20,000 RPM
3 lbs2.7 lbs

Let’s get straight to the details on these. Both air pumpers work exceptionally well for fog minimization and dust suppression. The MAC AIR is the flagship version which has been around for several years while the MAC IDA is the newer, more efficient, model. Both will suit your application adequately but both pumpers come with their drawbacks. Let’s discuss:

MAC AIR

  • 40% LESS Expensive
  • Very Similar Blower Output to the MAC IDA
  • The MAC AIR is the Original Rugged Radios Air Pumper Design
  • Nearly Identical Weight to the MAC IDA
  • Less Wires to Deal With

MAC IDA

  • 21% More Efficient Based on Amp Draw. (5.4 Total Amps vs 6.8 Total Amps)
  • Greater Fan RPM = More CFM = Better Cooling and Fog Reduction
  • Larger Air Filter (Extends blower capability in dusty environments between cleanings)
  • Lower Overall Weight
  • Individual Fan Controls (No need for a ‘block-off’ cover if there’s no co-driver).

The MAC IDA

Hands down, this is a phenomenal air pumper. The primary design motivation, as we see it, was to capitalize on several of the drawbacks to the time-tested MAC AIR. We especially love the oversized air filter which keeps the blower motors operating optimally for longer. As with any filter, once the air pumper starts accumulating excessive amounts of dirt efficiency and output falls off. This is particularly true with the micro blower fans that power these pumps- they’re only capable of so much power and will lose efficacy rather quick once the air filter builds with dirt. If you race BITD or King of the Hammers, for instance, you will appreciate the ability of the MAC IDA to maintain its output much longer than most other styles of helmet pumpers. If your thin on available wattage, such as using the factory stator on your UTV and already have excessive accessory draw, the MAC IDA will be an attractive option based on it’s power efficiency over the MAC AIR. Our last point worth mentioning is the dual fan controls: if you constantly switch between having a co-driver and not, you will appreciate the addition of a co-driver pumper switch. With the MAC AIR, you will constantly be looking for that elusive ‘block-off’ plug when there’s no co-driver so that your not losing air to your own helmet. It’s a small thing but certainly matters every now and then.

The MAC AIR

Without a doubt, the MAC AIR is still supreme in our opinion. While your not going to be overly impressed with the CFM the MAC AIR offers, you certainly will love the characteristics that it offers at such an incredible price point. Obviously, the MAC IDA is a superior unit but the budget is an item that can never be overlooked when constructing your race car. The MAC AIR has a noticeably smaller air filter than the MAC IDA which will need cleaning more frequently than the latter. It’s less efficient by a sizeable margin, based on amp draw, but the overall RPM/CFM of the fans is reasonably similar to the MAC IDA. Overall footprint is about the same and ease of mounting is comparable.

So What’s the Deal? Which One Do I Get?

If your a short-course racer, the MAC AIR is an obvious choice.

For the desert racer, enthusiast, or dune-goer you may look to the MAC IDA.

If your on a budget, the MAC AIR will be perfect.

Greg Torney View All

Driver of the #428 Draco Motorsports Polaris RZR. Co-Driver for the #804 Can-Am X3 during King of the Hammers. Ultra4!!

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