Off-roading is an unpredictable journey. Does it turn you on? Most answers yes but remember! Off-roading includes both un and awkward situations. For instance, the tires might go flat or explode.
Don’t worry because you are safe to go for adventures on off-road provided you have a mighty toolkit.
And one of the must-have items in that toolkit is a good air compressor which we soon tell you how to make the best choice and further, introduce top selling products that we have tested.
But before we make it that far, you should know why we need an air compressor.
Top 5 Best Off-Road Air Compressor For Outdoor Air Pumping
The Importance of Air Compressor in Off-roading
Experienced off-road adventurers won’t doubt the importance of an air compressor. But if you are new to off-roading, you deserve to know why you should have one with you on the trips.
Besides inflating tires, air compressors can guarantee a safe and sound journey by helping more.
What can it help?
If your tires go off the rim, an air compressor can help to reseat them.
There are many things to be powered with an air compressor such as wrenches, screwdrivers or ratchet wrenches in case you cannot find an air pump on off-roads. If you notice, they are all essential for off-roading.
Some off-roaders enhance traction between tires and tough terrains by locking the differential on tires using an air locker. We use an air compressor to run this device.
And more than jobs relevant to off-roading, air compressors can help with camping or powering some appliances such as blenders in case you do not have an electric source around.
Based on the growth of off-roaders, many manufacturers have released models of air compressors. They are for many purposes, in different specifications and for a wide range of budgets.
If you are dazed about so many options, let’s make a checklist of one by one feature that we mention below.
You soon find out what your best off-road air compressor looks like.
Tips to Choose the Right Off-road Air Compressor for Yourself
Circle Ones in Your Budget
The first thing you want to do might be deciding your budget on an air compressor. Like other electrical appliances, air compressors come in a wide range of prices.
Preparing the toolkit for off-road will cost you significantly so be wise.
Let’s Think About Your Frequent Use
Will you use it frequently? As we said before, an air compressor can do more than inflating tires. So if you intend to use it besides off-roading, you must check out its available function in the catalog.
12V or 24V?
Usually, air compressors are produced in 2 main capacities: 12V and 24V. It’s because they are both direct current options (DC) which are convenient for road trips.
12V is more popular to off-roaders because of the practical uses: filling tires. You might expect other applications, but this version might not be heavy duty enough. But, the 12V air compressor can be powered by the existing battery system such as a lighter socket. That’s the reason why we recommend this type for all off-roaders.
For tires change or suspension check, we recommend the 24V type which works better in coping with situations besides an inflator or deflator. If you want a severe investment on off-roading, 24V compressor is not an overspending.
Do You Need a Tank?
There are tanked and tankless air compressors. Which one do you choose for off-roading?
Let’s make a comparison.
An air tank needs time to fill up every time you start the compressor so keep in mind to use it to its best . Usually, with an air container, the compressor will start over less frequently. In return, having an air tank provides lots of CFM.
Having the tank support, the compressor is capable of powering the air suspension system. To sum up, air tanks make the machine more powerful.
On the other hand, tankless compressors run more often because they don’t have to draw a reserve. Besides, the tank-less are more portable to carry on the trips.
Commonly, good DC ones can fulfill all you need during off-roading such as inflating tires, running socket or powering wrenches regardless of having a tank or not.
Is Cooling Fan Necessary?
We would say it’s essential to have a cooling system in the air compressor. Why? It’s to prevent overheating.
Every time you start an engine, not alone air compressors, it produces heat which can fail the operation sometimes. As a consequence, having the cooling fan is necessary to stop your machine from failure.
You might want to check the fans in advance to make sure that you have enough cooling system for the housing and the motor. Off-roading is many things including unexpected, so you’d better prepare the best. In this case, preparation means cooling systems so that compressors will not fail by the peak performance.
You Might Want Extra Features
There are some more accessories in the compressor such as pistons, bearing or valves that we advise you to check carefully.
If you want a lifetime compressor, metal seems the right choice. However, make sure that all parts that come with the compressors are nicely fit and sturdy. Even though you have got a low budget, try to find the best in range!
In case our guideline doesn’t bring you to the right option yet, we have some recommendations that we have selected from tests and comparison charts among many models.
Look what we found!
The Top 5 Best Off-road Air Compressor Review
1. ARB (CKMTP12) 12V Twin Motor High Performance Portable Air Compressor
ARB 12V air compressor is compact but powerful with twin motors and cylinders. The twin compressors promise high flowing while portable for off-roading. For a 12V compressor, it’s too good to be true.
ARB 12V air compressor is a compact but powerful with twin motor and cylinders. The twin compressors promise high flowing while portable for off-roading. For a 12V compressor, it’s too good to be true.
Besides, the kit provides an air tank so you can power other air systems on the journey if necessary. The tank regulates around 135 PSI to 150 PSI, over it, the compressor will stop and not restart until the pressure drops under 130. But by only that pressure, you can air up tires quickly, tie air lockers easily and do a bunch of other jobs.
These powerful machines also come with a high-performing cooling fan that helps with maintaining a 100% duty cycle.
Speaking of accessories, this ARB twin motor air compressor is packed with 6-meter air hose and a blow gun in a nice waterproof case. The kit is perfect for road trips where you need a compact, portable but multifunctional air compressor.
- Powerful twin motor
- Attached with air tank
- Effective cooling fan to maintain 100% duty cycle
- Durable and waterproof case
- Too expensive
- Bare compressor and wiring, not a complete kit
2. EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
While ARB is too costly for most off-roaders, ER Auto is a much better option with a budget-friendly price. But the quality deserves more than what we pay.
Based on our real modeling tests in the compressor, we have found out outstanding features about this machine.
There are two reasons why we would recommend this device for off-roaders regardless of limited uses. Firstly, users can quickly generate it by the cigarette lighter socket in the car. We see it as a competitive feature for all off-road toolkits because you can rarely find an electric source on isolated roads. Secondly, it comes with a flashlight which comes in handy at night time.
The EPAuto is only suitable for a simple job as an inflator, but it works very well. Besides filling the air in tires, this compressor can help you to cope with flat balls, air bed or some other air tools. They attach a universal valve so you can connect to plenty of air powered stuff.
EPAuto doesn’t work for truck tires, but it’s excellent for all other conventional vehicles.
- Easily powered by cigarette lighter socket in the car
- Convenient universal valve to fill other accessories
- Additional flashlight
- Smart auto shut-off when overloading
- Reasonable price
- Maximum 70PSI, not compatible for truck tires
- Limited uses
3. VIAIR 300P Portable Compressor
VIAIR is a mid-range compressor which is for 31-inch tires at an average price. 31 inch is the popular size for most off-road vehicles, but you’d better get your car checked before spending on one.
Its capacity surprises us because, at an average price, you can hardly get a compressor with 150 PSI but this VIAIR 300P. Besides, the compressor runs on a heavy-duty battery that lasts long enough for day and night trips. More specifically, it can inflate an RV tire in less than 10 minutes.
If you are once disappointed at the 6-meter air hose of ARB, The VIAIR’s 8-meter hose will please you.
Moreover, this compressor operates very quietly. This feature might not help much with off-roading, but you will find it more comfortable in the public area. The tool is sold with an anti-vibration tray so that users can carry it on off-road safe and sound.
We suggest you stop compressors if you want to read the pressure. But some people do not even care about the reading on air compressors, it is not a big deal.
- Powerful with 150 PSI as maximum pressure
- Carry bag and anti-vibration try included
- Long air hose
- Heavy-duty battery- 40 amp
- Fast inflator and deflator (5 to 10 mins for RV tires)
- Quiet operation
- 33% duty cycle
- Not clear pressure reading until the compressor is off
- Deep clamp-on tire chuck
4. California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor, Silver
If you like the quiet operation in VIAIR 300P, you will love this one even more. The California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S is known as one of the quietest compressors with maximum sound is 56 decibels. It’s a perfect option for off-roaders who do not seek attention on the streets.
This compressor is lightweight to bring on the car, and it promises to be long term companion because of 3000-hour lifespan. For your information, standard compressors have a life cycle of 250 hours.
Why could it last so long?
Because this machine is oil-free, the oil-free pump will wear out much more slowly than commonly oil-based machines. Once more points, you can forget about a regular oil change.
CAT-1P1060S is a portable off-road air pump, but it can help you out as much as an ARB. You can ask it to work as an inflator but not something such as powering air lockers.
- Ultra-quiet operation (56 decibels)
- High maintenance with an oil-free pump
- Portable and lightweight air compressor to bring off-road
- Long life cycle: 3000 hours
- Not many uses for off-roading besides inflating tires
- Small obstacles in the air tank can cause wearing faster
5. Makita MAC700 Big Bore 2.0 HP Air Compressor
Makita MAC700 is a compressor that runs on oil-lubricates which seems to create less wear-out. The machine is made of cast iron, so it’s even more long-lasting. But cast iron frame makes it heavy to carry.
However, this air pump performs impressively thanks to the effective combination of the cylinder and pistons. It doesn’t sound too loud, and it is quickly charged, also.
- High maintenance with oil lubricated
- Sturdy cast iron
- Impressive performance by cylinder, piston, and stroke combined
- Less noisy
- Quick charge
- Quite heavy because of the cast iron pump and oil
We must say having an off-road air compressor is crucial for every off-road trip. It saves you from awkward situations relating to air pumping. Moreover, an air pump is helpful in the house, too.
There are many features to check before you decide to spend money on an air compressor. Everyone has their features to look for, but general characteristics are the first to look at. Do not hesitate to share with your experience and current air compressor products so that we can extend this topic for those who might concern.
I am a licensed architect who is passionate about all things home improvement industries, I have been doing DIY painting projects and have developed lots of experience around home improvement over the 10 years.