- Our Top Picks
- Best Onboard Air Compressor: ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor
- Best Portable: VIAIR – 40045 400P Portable Air Compressor
- Best Budget Portable: Smittybilt 2781 Air Compressor
- Best For Large Tires: ARB Twin High Performance On Board Compressor
- Why Do You Need an Off Road Air Compressor?
- Best Off Road Air Compressors
- Off Road Air Compressor Buyer's Guide
- Types of Off Road Air Compressors
- Tank vs Tankless-Which is Best for Your Needs
- Uses of Off Road Air Compressors
- Air Compressor Ratings and Specifications
- Most Frequently Asked Questions-Busting All the Myths
- Should I go with onboard or portable?
- What size air compressor do I need?
- Bottom Line
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Our Top Picks
The 4Low is your reliable source for the best off road air compressor reviews and buyers guides. Our experts test and rank the best options so you don’t have to.
Our ratings are based on features, customer reviews, hands on testing, price and warranty.
Best Onboard Air Compressor: ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor
This onboard air compressor comes with everything you need for installation and even includes their pump up kit which includes an 18ft long hose.
Best Portable: VIAIR – 40045 400P Portable Air Compressor
This portable off road air compressor features heavy duty inflation gun with gauge.
Best Budget Portable: Smittybilt 2781 Air Compressor
This affordable options boast a 5.65 CFM and can fill a 35″ tire in approximately 2 minutes.
Best For Large Tires: ARB Twin High Performance On Board Compressor
Featuring two motors, this compressor is great for vehicles with 35″+ tires.
Why Do You Need an Off Road Air Compressor?
But once your ready to leave you don’t want to put a lot of highway miles on your tires because it will cause uneven wear patterns and depening on the PSI your aired down to it could be dangerous.
Having an air compressor handy makes filling your tires back up to the appropriate PSI easy and will save you time from having to stop at a gas station to use their air compressor.
Best Off Road Air Compressors
|ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor||Check Amazon Price|
|VIAIR – 40045 400P Portable Air Compressor||Check Amazon Price|
|Smittybilt 2781 Air Compressor||Check Amazon Price|
Best For Larger Tires
|ARB Twin High Performance On Board Compressor||Check Amazon Price|
1. ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor
The ARB CMA12 is a single motor onboard air compressor that includes everything needed to be installed within your vehicle.
It is a high output single motor compressor.
Features a hard-anodized cylinder bore that reduces friction, keeps out moisture, and prevents dust from damaging the piston.
It is compact.
The ARB single motor air compressor has a small body that can be easily mounted in most locations of your vehicle.
It is afordable.
Costing slightly more than a high end portable compressor, you certainly get great value with this option.
As a bonus this compressor includes the ARB pump up kit that includes a 18ft hose, ARB chuck with quick connect fitting, and a T fitting to use it for multiple accessories such as air mattresses or basket balls.
2. VIAIR – 40045 400P Portable Air Compressor
The Viair 400P is a high quality portable off road air compressor that can effeciently air up 35″ tires.
It has a solid base.
If you’ve used a portable air compressor on the trail you will know how much this matters. If the compressor is not supported well it will end up vibrating around or falling over on it’s side.
It is complete.
This off road compressor comes with it’s own carrying case, and air gun to fill your tires.
It has a 33% duty cycle at 100psi.
Which means you should have no problem airing up all four 35″ tires without having to give the compressor a break.
This is a solid portable air compressor that would be a great addition to any tool box for your next adventure. Viair is known for producing exceptional and quality air compressors.
3. Smittybilt 2781 Air Compressor
If you’re looking for a budget and quality portable off road air compressor the Smittybilt 2781 if the perfect option for you.
It has an integrated pressure gauge.
This helps you ensure you air your tires up to the correct pressure every time.
It has a maximum airflow of 72 liters per minute.
Which means this compressor has a duty cycle of 40 minutes at 40psi.
It has auto thermal cutoff.
Incase your airing up on a hot day and the compressor begins to get warm. It will automatically shut off to prevent any damage.
The Smittybilt 2781 is a great option if you need an affordable and reliable air compressor. Smittybilt is known for producing great quality off road parts and having one of the best warranties.
4. ARB Twin High Performance On Board Compressor
The ARB twin high performance on board air compressor is the ultimate addition to your off road rig.
It has extremely high output.
This air compressor can easily air up tires over 35″ and support front and rear locking differentials.
It is compact.
Even though it’s output is high, it’s size is still quite small and it can be mounted an many different locations.
It has built in protection.
Internally thermal protected, over-pressure safety valve, and maxi-fuses for in line circuit protection in case of fault.
If you’re looking for a quality air compressor that you will only need to purchase once, the ARB twin high performance compressor is what you’re looking for. ARB is known for their premium quality off road products and you certainly will not be disappointed.
Off Road Air Compressor Buyer’s Guide
Off road enthusiasts know that having an off road air compressor on hand is a must. Whether you’re airing up your tires after a tough ride or fixing a flat, having an air compressor can come in handy. But with so many different models and types of compressors on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
This guide will help you choose the best off road air compressor for your needs. We’ll go over the different types of compressors, their features, and what to look for when shopping. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly which air compressor is right for your off roading needs.
So, let’s get started!
Types of Off Road Air Compressors
Before we get into the specifics of choosing an air compressor, let’s first go over the different types of compressors.
Onboard Vs Portable
Portable air compressors are smaller and lighter than onboard compressors. They’re also less expensive, making them a popular choice for people who only use their compressor occasionally. They are powered by an electric motor, so they can be used anywhere there’s an outlet.
Onboard air compressors are permanently mounted to your vehicle, so they’re always there when you need them. They’re more powerful than portable compressors, so they can fill up a tire faster. These are also more expensive and require more installation, but they’re a good choice for people who use their compressor frequently.
If you plan on getting air lockers in the future, an onboard air compressor is a must-have. So before you purchase one, plan out your build so you’re not throwing money down the drain.
Tank vs Tankless-Which is Best for Your Needs
The next thing to consider is whether you want a tank or tankless air compressor. Tanked air compressors have a larger tank that stores compressed air, making them more powerful than tankless compressors. They can fill up a tire faster, but they’re also more expensive and require more installation.
Tankless ones are easier to use because they’re portable and can just be plugged into your car’s charging port. They’re also lightweight and can be taken with you wherever you go.
Portable CO2 and Nitrogen Tanks
Another option to consider is a portable CO2 or nitrogen tank. These tanks are smaller and lighter than traditional air compressors, making them more convenient to take with you on the go.
Uses of Off Road Air Compressors
Now that we’ve gone over the different types of off road air compressors, let’s talk about how you can use them.
Airing up Tires
One of the most common uses for an air compressor is airing up your tires after the trails. If you’ve been riding on rough terrain, it’s best to inspect your tires when airing back up to look for any sidewall damage or punctures.
Some off road vehicles have air lockers, which are used to engage and lock the front or rear axle.
An air compressor is used to fill the air locker with air, so it can be engaged or disengaged as needed.
This is a great feature to have if you’re going to be doing any off-roading.
Some off road vehicles have air suspension systems. These systems use air compressors to fill the airbags, so they can be adjusted as needed.
Air Compressor Ratings and Specifications
When you’re shopping for an air compressor, you’ll want to pay attention to the following ratings and specifications:
This is the amount of air that the compressor can produce per minute. The higher the flow rate, the faster the compressor can fill up a tire.
As the name suggests, this is the amount of pressure that the compressor can produce. The higher the pressure, the faster the compressor can fill up a tire.
Some off road air compressors have a built-in regulator that can be used to adjust the pressure.
This is the size of the tank on the compressor. The larger the tank, the more air it can store.
The tank size is only important if you’re considering a tanked air compressor. If you’re not, then this one would be irrelevant to your compressor.
Compressors come in two different voltages: 12-volt and 120-volt. Most off road vehicles have a 12-volt power outlet or directly off the battery, so you’ll want to choose a 12-volt compressor.
Some compressors can be plugged into a 120-volt outlet, but they typically come with a power adapter so they can be used universally.
Pounds Per Square Inch(PSI):
PSI is the unit of measurement for pressure. Most off road air compressors have a PSI rating of 150 or less. It’s important to choose a compressor with the right PSI rating for your needs.
The power of the compressor is measured in horsepower (HP). The higher the HP, the more powerful the compressor.
Cubic feet per minute is the measure of the compressor’s flow rate. The higher the CFM, the faster the compressor can fill up a tire. And off road air compressors typically have a CFM rating of 2.0 or less.
The duty cycle is the amount of time that the compressor can run before it needs to rest. For example, a duty cycle of 50% means that the compressor can run for 30 seconds before it needs to rest for 30 seconds.
You’ll want to choose a compressor with a duty cycle that meets your needs.
Some compressors are louder than others. If you’re going to be using your compressor in an area where noise is a concern, you’ll want to choose a model that has a low noise level.
Some compressors are more portable than others. If you’re going to be using your compressor in different locations, you’ll want to choose a model that is easy to move around.
Most Frequently Asked Questions-Busting All the Myths
People often ask the same questions when they are looking to buy an off road air compressor. And we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision.
How do I choose an air compressor?
The best way to choose an air compressor is to consider your needs and then find a model that meets those needs.
The first thing to look at is your tire size. The larger the tire, the more work the air compressor will need to do fill it.
Secondly, is fill rate. How long are you will to wait to air up your tire? This is where CFM plays a big role. An air compressor with 2.3CFM will fill a 31″ x 10.5″ tire from 0 -30PSI in about 2.5 minutes, a 33″ x 12.5″ in 4 minutes, and a 35″ x 12.5″ in approximately 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Keep in mind when your air up your tires it’s not from 0PSI. Most of the time you should be airing down to 8-15 psi depending on the trail conditions.
Lastly, is deciding between onboard or portable. This really comes down to price range, and if you’re going to install lockers. If your budget allows for it, onboard systems are easier to use and generally higher CFM.
What is the difference between a 12-volt and 120-volt air compressor?
The answer is Simple. Most off road vehicles have a 12-volt power outlet, so you’ll want to choose a 12-volt compressor. Some compressors can be plugged into a 120-volt outlet, but they typically come with a power adapter.
Should I go with onboard or portable?
Onboard air compressors are permanently mounted in your vehicle, while portable air compressors can be taken with you wherever you go. If you do a lot of off-roading, an onboard air compressor is a good choice. On-board compressors are more powerful than portable models and can inflate your tires quickly. Portable air compressors are a good choice for those who don’t do a lot of off-roading. They’re less expensive than onboard models and can be easily stored in your vehicle. Plus, they’re easy to use – just plug them into your cigarette lighter and you’re good to go.
What size air compressor do I need?
The size of air compressor you need depends on the type of vehicle you have and how much off-roading you do.
If you have a small vehicle, such as a Jeep Wrangler, you can get away with a smaller air compressor. A portable air compressor will be more than enough to inflate your tires.
However, If you have a larger vehicle, such as a truck or SUV, you’ll need a more powerful air compressor. An onboard air compressor is a good choice for larger vehicles.
How long do I want to wait for my tires to fill?
The time it takes to fill your tires depends on the size of the compressor and the PSI (pounds per square inch) rating. A larger compressor will fill your tires faster than a smaller one. And a higher PSI rating means the compressor can fill your tires in less time.
How big are my tires?
The size of your tires will also affect the time it takes to fill them. A larger tire will take longer to fill than a smaller one. So, if you have big tires, you’ll need a powerful compressor that can fill them quickly.
What PSI Do You Need For A Portable Air Compressor?
For a portable air compressor, you’ll want a PSI rating of at least 120. This will be enough to fill most tires quickly. However, if you have larger tires, you’ll need a compressor with a higher PSI rating.
Where can I mount an onboard air compressor?
On-board air compressors can be mounted in a variety of locations. The most common spot is under the hood, but it can also be mounted in the trunk or bed of your vehicle. There are many vehicle specific brackets available.
And that’s it! Off road compressor guide to help you choose the best off road air compressor for your needs. Be sure to take into account the size of your vehicle, the type of tires you have, and how much off-roading you do when choosing a compressor. And don’t forget to factor in the cost.
We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help.