What happens if you’re in the middle of an off-road adventure and get a flat tire? You might not have a phone signal - and if you do, it could be hours before help arrives.
A portable air compressor is a perfect solution in this situation. Below, we’ve got a guide to the best portable air compressors for overland adventures. Check each of them out, paying close attention to the pros and cons!
What is a portable air compressor & why do you need one?
A portable air compressor is a device that can pump pressurized air into various tools and objects. They’re commonly used on building sites to power drills and other pneumatic devices. However, you can also use one to pump up a deflated tire in an instant.
Will you need a portable air compressor? That depends, do you go on many off-road trips where you’re driving overland? If so, there’s a big chance you’ll end up with a flat tire after going over rough terrain.
Featured Product: Rhino USA 100PSI Tire Inflator Gauge
More to the point, off-roading requires a different level of tire pressure than traveling on a proper road. Typically, you want to reduce your tire pressure slightly when overlanding to help the suspension and offer a more comfortable ride. Then, when you get back on a smooth road, you need to inflate the tires back up to their regular pressure.
This is where a portable air compressor really comes in handy. It lets you get the optimal tire pressure depending on the terrain you’re driving on. So, even if your tires don’t go flat, you could still use one of these devices throughout your trip.
The 7 Best Portable Air Compressors
Some products are much better than others. When searching for the best air compressor, you need to consider the following features:
- Air pressure
- Run time
With that in mind, here are the seven best options on the market right now:
ARB 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor
Most experts agree that the ARB 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor is the best around. It offers very fast inflation - you can go from 20 PSI to 40 PSI in just 90 seconds! It has a maximum working pressure of 150 PSI and this all comes in a nicely portable kit. Seriously, you can fit the whole thing in your trunk or under a seat without taking up any room at all. ARB products are always reliable and this one has been built specifically for off-road use.
- Extremely fast
- A long air hose (19 ft)
- Easy for anyone to use
- Highly durable
- Very portable
- Might be too expensive for some people
- The nozzle can sometimes come loose if you don’t set it perfectly
Viair 400P Air compressor
The 400P is the first of two Viair products on this list. This is the slightly more updated and modern version of another one we’ll look at later. It has all the features you need in a portable air compressor for overlanding. There are bags of power packed into this tiny product, and it can almost double your tire pressure in just a couple of minutes. A massive 25-foot air hose means you can get to every tire without needing to constantly move the product around. At a relatively affordable price, it’s hard to ignore such a viable contender.
- Excellent price
- Really long air hose
- Great power and speed
- Has an anti-vibration tray to reduce damage
- Works for 30 minutes straight
- Only weighs 10lbs
- Doesn’t work with some valve stems
- Only works with tires up to 35 inches
Smittybilt 2780 Universal Air Compressor
The Smittybilt 2780 Air Compressor is a brilliant choice if you want a trustworthy brand and a long-lasting product. It’s so well made; you can be confident this will last many off-roading trips. You’ll inflate your tires in mere seconds - it’s arguably the fastest portable air compressor out there right now. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s one of the quietest!
- Solid steel construction feels really durable
- Can run for 40 minutes without any problems
- Really user-friendly
- Automatically switches the motor off when it gets too hot
- Rapidly fast
- At the more expensive end of the scale
- Quite heavy compared to other products
GSPSCN Portable Heavy-Duty Tire Inflator
If you want a budget-friendly option the GSPSCN Portable Heavy-Duty Tire Inflator is right up your straight. It’s very affordable yet has some awesome features. You get a maximum PSI of 150, and your tires can be inflated in under two minutes. This is a very well-built product that doesn’t take up a lot of space and can handle the natural bumps of an overland adventure.
- Really good price
- Fast inflation rate
- Comes with a nice case
- Needs a 10-minute break after every 20 minutes of use
- Isn’t as fast as other products
Slime 40026 2X Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator
The Slime 40026 is on this list as it is super user-friendly. If you’ve never used a portable air compressor before, this will be the easiest one to get to grips with. It doesn’t have too many accessories, making it easy to understand what needs to go where. This comes with a long 30-foot air hose and a thermal break system that stops it from overheating. We also really like the handle on this, making it very easy to move around.
- Great value for money
- User-friendly & a massive pressure gauge to clearly see the readings
- Built-in thermal cut-off system
- LED lights to use in the dark
- Long air hose
- Is a tiny bit slower than other products in the same price category
- Very loud
- Doesn’t specify the max PSI
Viair 300P Air Compressor
You’ve seen the 400P, and now here’s the 300P. It’s the younger brother of the 400P, meaning it’s slightly smaller - but still comes with great capabilities. A wonderful budget product that can be bought for well under $200 at the time of writing, it boasts the fastest speeds on the market. You can inflate your tires with a maximum pressure of 150 PSI in just over a minute. It’s incredibly convenient and does seem to be durable.
- Trusted manufacturer
- Durable design
- Outrageously fast at inflating
- Made from premium materials
- Anti-vibration tray
- The motor gets very hot and can overheat if you’re not careful
- Short power cord
TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor
Finally, we have the TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor. Another cheaper product and this one looks really cool and modern. The unique design certainly makes it stand out, and you still get a decent tire inflation speed. It’ll turn off automatically when the ideal pressure is reached, ensuring you never overinflate your tires.
- Highly affordable
- Unique and stylish design
- Auto-off feature
- Lighting for use in the dark
- Probably the slowest of the options here today
- Lacks the same level of durability as other portable air compressors
- Struggles in severe off-road conditions
In all honesty, every single one of the products above will be worth getting if you need a portable air compressor for off-road adventures. Be sure to check each option and weigh up the pros and cons compared to your requirements. This’ll help you make the right choice! In any case, when using a portable air compressor to reinflate your tires, an inflator gauge is necessary to allow for control of the air flow to the tire. Check out Rhino USA's 100PSI Tire inflator gauge, the best tire inflator gauge on the market!
Featured Product: Rhino USA 100PSI Tire Inflator Gauge
If you’re looking for more off-road recovery gear to make your trip a breeze, check out Rhino USA. We have a full range of recovery kits and accessories that’ll come in handy whenever you set off. Avoid common issues and enjoy your next escapade overland by browsing our full online catalog today!