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Best Portable Air Compressor for Overlanding

Normally portable air compressors and a tire deflator are considered as essentials in overlanding and off roading adventures.

These 2 things should have with you on trails for a journey with peace in mind. There are a lot of different portable air compressors in the market on different price ranges.

So it may be a bit confusing to decide what is the best one for me. 

In this guide I’m going to show you the 3 best portable air compressors for an overlanding journey and their detailed review with their pros and cons.

As a bonus I’ll show you a very useful piece of equipment for your overlanding rig. Especially if you have a travel trailer that will definitely be useful for you. 


Best 3 portable air compressors for overlanding.

Top pick – ARB CKMTA12 Twin Air Compressor

Best overall – Viair 400P Portable Compressor Kit

Budget pick – Smittybilt 2781 Air Compressor

Top pick 

ARB CKMTA12 On-Board Twin High Performance Air Compressor

ARB,portable, air, compressor
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 What I like

  • Compact design
  • High volume and high flow rate, fast filling
  • 100% duty cycle
  • Can use as a onboard unit
  • Can use to activate ARB air lockers
  • Have many safety features
  • Best for heavy use
  • Can use with 4L tank if you want

What I don’t like

  • Have to hold the trigger until filling the tire
  • Length of the power cable is not sufficient in some instances 
  • Have a huge price tag

More details

This is a twin motor design portable air compressor best for fast filling and heavy use.Have 100% duty cycle with 6.16 CFM. 

It was constructed with light weight but high strength materials for quiet operation and durability. There is internal thermal protection to avoid damage when heavy duty use.

Most users set up this as an onboard air compressor under the hood or somewhere in their rig.

Designed to inflate tires as well as air lockers with relevant extra accessories.

Over pressure safety valves give safe operation. Anodized mounting brackets dissipate heat.

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Best overall

Viair 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit

VIAIR , Portable , air, compressor
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What I like

  • Light weight (10.75 lbs) & compact
  • Can inflate upto 150psi max pressure
  • Automatic shut off function 
  • 60 feet total hose length and 8 feet power cable
  • Special tire attachments chucks
  • Inflation gun with 160psi gauge
  • 35 minute duty cycle

What I don’t like

  • High price tag
  • 2.3 CFM is a bit slow rate for huge tires

More details

With this kit you get a VIAIR air compressor which is built on a shock absorbing diamond plate sand tray. With that it won’t walk around when using.

Then you get the battery clamps. This directly connects with the battery of your vehicle.

It’s easy and you don’t have to worry about finding a 12V DC outlet.

There’s a 45° long chuck which is very helpful for filling tires of dual wheel vehicles and a 90° twist on chuck for other purposes.

Specially for small tire filling purposes like bike tires. A built in gauge comes with the chuck.

Two 30′ coil hoses which is great for filling distant tires while easy to store in limited space without hustling to unravel hoses.

Finally it comes with a heavy duty carrying bag for easy storage of everything safely.

This is lightweight and compact. So you don’t have to give a lot of space from your storage space for an air compressor.

The gun comes with a built -in gauge like in gas stations. So it’s easy to read the tire pressure but to get the pressure accurately you have to check the tire pressure after stopping the filling.

While filling you can’t get it accurately.

You get all the accessories with this kit.

That means you can get all the accessories needed to fill your trailer tires, dual tires, bike tires or even basketballs with this.

This is a tankless compressor. So it has a duty cycle of 33%.

This can run only 20 minutes continuously @100 psi before cooling down.

But it can fill a 35 inch tire from 60 – 80psi in about 2 minutes


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Budget pick

Smittybilt 2781 5.65 CFM Universal Air Compressor.

Smittybilt, portable , air , compressor
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What I like

  • Continuous duty cycle of 40 minutes at 40psi
  • Auto thermal cut off switch
  • Price is much lower than both the above compressors
  • 5.65 CFM at 0 psi 

What I don’t like

  • Pressure gauge is worthless.
  • The bag also not heavy duty one 

More details

Smittybilt 2781 is also built on an anti vibration rubber plate which does not shake or dig on sand due to vibration.

Heavy duty bilt. There’s a circuit breaker switch on the top for protection and a sealed on off switch for outdoor rough use.

Directly connected with the battery through clamps.

Power code is 10′ long and coil hose is 24′. Compressor weights 20.3 lbs.

A screw on connector is there with a built in gauge to connect with tires.

But we can’t depend on this gauge because it’s not accurate at all!! There are huge differences with the real pressure and this gauge. 

It says that it’s maximum pressure is 150psi. But when using it can go about 120 – 140psi maximum pressure.

But this compressor inflates tires faster than others in the same price range.

Important thing is this is about twice faster than VIAIR 400P when it comes to filling.

This has 5.65 CFM at 0psi (159.99LPM) filling rate while VIAIR has only 2.3CFM at 0 psi.

So even if the duty cycle is low, this can fill big tires easily due to this high filling rate.

These are the 3 best portable air compressors you can buy for your overlanding vehicle.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this guide there are a lot of portable air compressors in different prices.

You can find more cheap options than my budget pick. But most of them do not work well on the trails.

As examples some have low duty cycles and easily get hot. You may even not be able to fill a huge tire at once.

They can easily stop working in a few days.

So it’s better to invest in a better compressor at once rather than wasting money on cheap items.

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Bonus !!

This is a cool but very useful piece of equipment you may need for overlanding.

Especially if you are overlanding with a trailer this will be a life saver. 

Tymate Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Tymate, TPMS
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This is a wireless tire pressure monitoring system. This shows you the real time tire pressures of your tires.

This is very important if you have a travel trailer you may not be aware about the tire pressure changes when driving.

So accidents and damages can happen to your trailer and vehicle easily.

This wireless system is the best solution for that.

You just have to fit the sensors to the tires of your vehicle or trailer through valves. It’s very easy and can be done in a minute.

They are dust proof and water proof.

Those sensors send the real time tire pressures to the solar powered monitor that can be placed on the dashboard.

It’s that much of a simple process. But it can save you and your properties from a lot of trouble.

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Have fun and safe overlanding!!

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