Off-roading is a trip that is never the same. Does it get you excited? Most people say yes, but don’t forget! Off-roading can put you in both strange and uncomfortable situations. For example, one or more of the tires could go flat or blow up.
Don’t worry, you’re safe to go on off-road adventures as long as you have a strong toolkit.
And a good air compressor is an essential part of that toolkit. We’ll soon tell you how to choose the best one, and we’ll also show you some of the best ones we’ve tried.
But before we get there, you need to understand why we need an air compressor.
Table of Contents
Why an air compressor is important for off-roading
Off-roaders who have done it before know how important an air compressor is. But if you have never been off-roading before, you should know why you should bring one with you.
Air compressors can do more than just pump up your tires to make sure you have a safe trip.
How will it help?
If your tires come off the rim, you can put them back on with the help of an air compressor.
If you are off-roading and can’t find an air pump, you can use an air compressor to power tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, and ratchet wrenches. All of these things are important for off-roading, as you can see.
Some off-roaders use an air locker to lock the differential on their tires and improve their grip on rough terrain. The air compressor is what makes this thing work.
Even if you don’t use it for off-roading, an air compressor can help you when you’re camping or if you don’t have a power source nearby and want to use something like a blender.
Because the number of off-roaders has grown, many companies have made new types of air compressors. They can be used for many different things, come in different sizes, and fit a wide range of budgets.
If you don’t know where to start with so many choices, let’s make a list of each feature we list below.
You soon figure out what your best off-road air compressor looks like.
How to Choose the Right Off-Road Air Compressor for Yourself
Your Budget Circle Ones
You might want to start by figuring out how much you can spend on an air compressor. Air compressors have a wide range of prices, just like other electrical items.
Getting the toolkit ready for off-road will cost a lot, so be smart.
Think about how often you use it.
How often will you use it? We’ve already talked about how an air compressor can do more than just pump up tires. So, if you want to use it for something other than off-roading, you should look in the catalog to see what you can do with it.
12V or 24V?
Most air compressors come in two different sizes: 12V and 24V. They are both direct current (DC) options, which are good for road trips.
Off-roaders prefer 12V because it is more useful for things like filling tires. You might be looking for other uses, but this version might not be strong enough. But the 12V air compressor can be powered by a lighter socket or the car’s existing battery system. Because of this, we recommend this type to everyone who drives off-road.
We recommend the 24V type for changing tires or checking the suspension because it works better in more situations than an inflator or deflator. If you want to put a lot of money into off-roading, a 24V compressor is not too much.
Have You got a Tank?
There are air compressors with tanks and ones that don’t. Which one is better for off-roading?
Let’s make a comparison.
Every time you turn on the compressor, the air tank needs time to fill up, so keep that in mind if you want to get the most out of it. When there is an air container, the compressor will usually have to start up less often. In exchange, having a tank gives you a lot of CFM.
With the support of the tank, the compressor can power the air suspension system. To put it all together, air tanks make the machine stronger.
Tankless compressors, on the other hand, run more often because they don’t need to draw from a reserve. Also, the tankless ones are easier to take on trips because they are smaller.
Most of the time, good DC ones can do everything you need when off-roading, like inflate tires, run sockets, or power wrenches, whether you have a tank or not.
Do I Need a Cooling Fan?
We would say that it is very important for the air compressor to have a cooling system. Why? So it doesn’t get too hot.
When you turn on any engine, including air compressors, heat is made, which can sometimes stop the machine from working. Because of this, you need a cooling fan to keep your machine from breaking down.
You might want to check the fans ahead of time to make sure that the housing and the motor have enough cooling systems. Off-roading is full of surprises, so you should be as ready as you can be. In this case, getting ready means making sure that the cooling systems work so that the compressors don’t break down at peak performance.
You might want more things.
There are a few more parts in the compressor, like pistons, bearings, and valves, that you should check out carefully.
Metal seems to be the best choice if you want a compressor that will last a long time. But make sure that all of the parts that come with the compressors fit together well and are strong. Even though your budget is small, try to find the best in your price range.
If our guide doesn’t lead you to the right choice yet, we also have some suggestions based on tests and comparison charts of many different models.
Best Off-Road Air Compressor For Outdoor Air Pumping
1. ARB (CKMTP12) 12V Twin Motor High Performance Portable Air Compressor
The ARB 12V air compressor is small, but it has two motors and cylinders that give it a lot of power. The two compressors promise to move a lot of air while being small enough to take off-road. It’s too good to be true for a 12V compressor.
The ARB 12V air compressor is small, but it has two motors and cylinders that make it strong. The two compressors promise to move a lot of air while being small enough to take off-road. It’s too good to be true for a 12V compressor.
Also, the kit comes with an air tank, so if you need to, you can use it to power other air systems on the trip. When the pressure in the tank goes over 135 PSI to 150 PSI, the compressor will stop. It won’t start again until the pressure drops below 130 PSI. But with just that pressure, you can quickly fill tires with air, easily tie air lockers and do a lot of other things.
These powerful machines also come with a cooling fan that works well and helps keep the duty cycle at 100%.
When it comes to extras, this ARB twin motor air compressor comes with a 6-meter air hose and a blow gun in a nice waterproof case. The kit is great for road trips where you need a small, portable air compressor that can do more than one thing.
- Strong two-motor
- Comes with an air tank
- A cooling fan that works well enough to stay on 100% of the time
- A waterproof and strong case
- Too expensive
- Not a full kit, just the compressor and wiring.
2. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
Most off-roaders can’t afford ARB, but ER Auto is a much better choice with a price that won’t break the bank. But the price is too low for what we get.
Based on the real modeling tests we did on the compressor, we’ve found that this machine has some great qualities.
Even though it only has a few uses, there are two reasons why we would recommend this device to off-roaders. First, it can be quickly made by plugging it into the cigarette lighter in a car. We think it’s a good feature for all off-road toolkits to have because it’s hard to find a power source on remote roads. It also comes with a flashlight, which is useful at night.
The EPAuto can only do a simple job as an air pump, but it does that job very well. This compressor can do more than just pump air into tires. It can also help you deal with flat balls, an air bed, or other air tools. They put a universal valve on it so that you can connect it to a wide range of air-powered things.
EPAuto doesn’t work for truck tires, but it’s great for tires on all other cars.
- Easy to power from the car’s cigarette lighter plug
- The universal valve makes it easy to fill other accessories.
- Extra light source
- Automatically turns off when it gets too hot.
- Price was fair
- No truck tires can be used with more than 70PSI.
- Limited uses
3. VIAIR 300P Portable Compressor
VIAIR is a middle-of-the-road compressor that works for 31-inch tires and costs about the same. The most common size for off-road vehicles is 31 inches, but you should have your car checked out before buying one.
Its size surprises us because, for a price like this VIAIR 300P, it’s hard to find a compressor with 150 PSI. The compressor is also powered by a heavy-duty battery that lasts long enough for trips during the day and at night. More specifically, it can fill an RV tire in less than 10 minutes.
If the 6-meter air hose from ARB made you unhappy, the 8-meter hose from VIAIR will make you happy.
This compressor is also very quiet when it is working. This feature might not help you much when you are off-roading, but it will make you feel better when you are in public. The tool comes with a tray that stops vibrations so that people can carry it safely off-road.
If you want to read the pressure, you should stop the compressors. But some people don’t even care about what they read about air compressors, they don’t think it’s that important.
- Max pressure of 150 PSI makes it strong.
- There is a carry bag and an anti-vibration try.
- Long tube for air
- 40 amp heavy-duty battery
- Fast pump-up and pump-down (5 to 10 mins for RV tires)
- Work goes on quietly
- 33% duty cycle
- Not clear until the compressor is turned off.
- Deep tire chuck with a clamp
4. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
If you like how quietly the VIAIR 300P works, this one will be even better. With a maximum noise level of 56 decibels, the California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is known as one of the quietest compressors. It’s a great choice for off-roaders who don’t want to stand out on the road.
This compressor is small enough to fit in a car, and its 3000-hour lifespan makes it a good choice for a long-term friend. Standard compressors have a life cycle of 250 hours, just so you know.
Why did it go on for so long?
The oil-free pump on this machine will wear out much more slowly than pumps on machines that usually use oil. If you get a few more points, you don’t need to change the oil as often.
The CAT-1P1060S is a portable off-road air pump that works as well as an ARB. You can use it as an air pump, but you can’t use it to power air lockers.
- Ultra-quiet operation (56 decibels)
- A pump that doesn’t need oil is hard to keep up.
- Off-road, you can bring a small, portable air compressor.
- 3000 hours is a long time:
- Off-roading is not very useful besides pumping up tires.
- Small things in the air tank can speed up the wear and tear.
5. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor
The Makita MAC700 is a compressor that is lubricated by oil, which seems to make it last longer. Since the machine is made of cast iron, it will last even longer. But the frame is made of cast iron, which makes it heavy.
But this air pump works very well because of how well the cylinder and pistons work together. It doesn’t make too much noise, and it charges quickly, too.
- High maintenance and it runs on oil.
- Cast iron is strong.
- The cylinder, piston, and stroke all working together did a great job.
- Less noisy
- The cast iron pump and oil make it quite heavy.
We have to say that every off-road trip needs to have an air compressor. It keeps you from having to deal with awkward situations when pumping air. Also, an air pump is useful around the house.
Before you spend money on an air compressor, there are many things you should look at. Everyone has their own things to look for, but the first things to look at are general traits. Don’t be afraid to tell us about your experience and the air compressors you use now so that we can make this topic more interesting to people who might be interested.