All Wrangler rock-crawlers and trail-riders know that over-size trail tires need to be deflated to less than 15psi for traction and then re-inflated to about 30psi for the drive home.By Scott Phillips – December 8, 2015

This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).

If you have ever watched a cheap tire inflator jump and dance like a Jack Russell Terrier hopped up on glucosamine when the doorbell rings, then you’ll appreciate the quality of the air compressors reviewed here.

Primary factors to consider:

  • Amperage draw: Higher amp draw will inflate faster, but it’s important to have a good battery and run the engine to prevent the compressor from exhausting the battery.
  • Duty cycle: Compressors run hot and they must have time to cool off. The duty cycle shows how much ON and OFF time the compressor needs. Note that only the ExtremeAire is rated to run continuously, which is quite beneficial when airing up several Wranglers on a trail ride.
  • CFM: Cubic feet per minute of airflow can be deceptive as it is sometimes reported with no restriction. To see a compressor’s true airflow, always check CFM ratings at a given pressure.
  • PSI: Pounds per square inch of air pressure show how hard a compressor is able to work. Keep in mind, however, that most tire inflation is done at about 30psi, not 150psi.
  • Wire and hose length: Consider how far you will need to reach when using your compressor.

Keep in mind that each manufacturer makes portable compressors in all of the price categories below. The unit reviewed is well regarded in that price point, but has competitors from the other companies. The Superflow HV-55 is included as a trail back-up to the more capable units and as good road-side inflator for your family’s daily drivers.

Portable, 12 Volt, On-board Air Compressors

ExtremeAire 007-001ARB CKMP12Viair 300PSmittybilt 2780Tuff Stuff TS-AC-150Superflow HV-35 (Emergency back-up)
Price$570$335$130$80$60$35
Amp Draw30A at 35psi
49A at 100psi
25A at 29psi24A at 30psi30A maximum33A maximum14A maximum
Duty CycleContinuous ON30 minutes ON, 30 minutes OFF33% ON, 67% OFF40 minutes ON, 20 minutes OFF40% ON
60% OFF
20 minutes ON,
30 minutes OFF
CFM3.2cfm at 30psi; 1.5cfm at 100psi2.3cfm at 29psi1.6cfm at 30psi;
0.9cfm at 100psi
2.5cfm at 30psi1.3cfm at 40psi;
0.9 cfm at 90psi
0.8cfm at 29psi
PSI150psi continuous
200psi maximum
100psi maximum150psi maximum40psi for 40 minutes,
150psi maximum
150psi maximum140psi maximum
Electrical ConnectionBattery clampsBattery clampsBattery clampsBattery clampsBattery clampsCigarette type power outlet
Power Wire Length10ft of 10ga cable7ft8ft8ft10ft10ft
Air Hose Length30ft of polyurethane hose20ft25ft16ft25ft3ft
Carry ContainerWeatherproof steel boxSturdy plastic boxNylon bagNylon bagNylon bagNylon bag

Best Quality: ExtremeAire 007-001

Best Value: Smittybilt 2780

ExtremeAire 007-001

Price – $570

Size – 20″ long, 8″ wide, 9″ tall

Weight – 34 lbs

Inflation Performance – 37″ tire in 3 minutes

Reported Lifespan – Over 5 years

Warranty – 1 year

The ExtremeAire 007-01 could inflate the Goodyear blimp, and raise it over Daytona Motor Speedway before Nascar fans could finish singing the Star Spangled Banner. That’s only a slight exaggeration. The ExtremeAire will inflate the largest trail tires in minutes. It has a replaceable metal air filter, sealed bearings and solid brass fittings for operation in the rough. With no run-time limit and plenty of hose reach, the ExtremeAire will fill pressure tanks, run air tools, and reset tire beads. It Includes a flashlight and tire gauge tool; both made of stainless steel, and it all comes in a steel, weatherproof box. It is, however, more than twice as heavy as any portable reviewed here and it may be more capable than the recreational off-roader needs. But if you can afford it, the ExtremeAir 007-001 is an excellent tool that will always be in demand on the trail. Goodyear blimp not included.

Recommended for those who want the end all, be all air compressor solution for their trail rigs.

ARB CKMP12

Price – $335

Size – 17.3″ long, 9.4″ wide, 8.2″ tall

Weight – 14.5 lbs

Inflation Performance – 35″ tire in 3 minutes

Reported Lifespan – 4 to 5 years

Warranty – 2 years

The ARB CKMP12 Teflon is well made. With its teflon impregnated, carbon fiber piston seal and washable, sintered-bronze air filter element, it runs powerfully and quietly. However, the clip-on valve stem connector requires attention to attach correctly and the pressure gauge may need to be cross-checked with a back-up pocket gauge. Although the overall reach is a bit short, the ARB CKMP12 is a well-regarded unit that will give long service and has twice the warranty of the ExtremeAire.

Recommended for those who require a physically durable unit that won’t fail on the trail.

Viair 300P

Price – $130

Size – 10″ long, 5″ wide, 7.5″ tall

Weight – 8.7 lbs

Inflation Performance – 33″ tire in 3.5 minutes

Reported Lifespan – 2 to 3 years

Warranty – 1 year

The oil-less direct drive motor, PTFE piston ring, stainless steel valves and vibration isolators are quality components that run the Viair 300P smoothly and quietly. Its quick-connect valve stem fitting helps fill tires fast. That’s important because the duty cycle rest time is twice as long as the run time. The 33 foot reach is restricted by the tightly coiled hose that makes stretching it out difficult and the additional $20 extension hose is recommended. Viair states plainly that the 300P is only meant for tires up to 33″, but don’t be deterred—the Viair 300P will fill a 37″ tire in about 6 minutes.

Recommended for those who want to keep their compressors mounted to their trail rigs and use the long air hose.

Smittybilt 2780

Price – $80

Size – 13″ long, 9″ wide, 10″ tall

Weight – 13 lbs

Inflation Performance – 33″ tire in 2.5 minutes

Reported Lifespan – 2 to 3 years

Warranty – 1 year

With its oil-less direct drive motor, the Smittybilt 2780 is remarkably quiet for its price point and comes with a competitive one year warranty. The brass EZ-twist valve stem connector is the best of this group, but the overall hose reach is the shortest of the main units reviewed. The gauge is not very accurate, so cross-check it with a good one. While the 2780 serves best on tires up to 33″, its long duty cycle run time will get the larger tires done and its short rest time will get you back in action faster. Because it is powerful, quiet and reliable, with a good duty cycle and is highly regarded by users, the Smittybilt 2780 is the best dollar value of this group.

Recommended for someone who wants the middle of the road option with quiet, consistent performance.

Tuff Stuff TS-AC-150

Price – $60

Size – 15.5″ long, 7″ wide, 9.5″ tall

Weight – 12 lbs

Inflation Performance – 33″ tire in 3 minutes

Reported Lifespan – 1 to 2 years

Warranty – 90 days

The Tuff Stuff TS-AC-150 has the second longest reach of this group and reaches 11 feet farther than the Smittybilt, which can be an important advantage on the trail. Its a very affordable choice for servicing tires up to 33″. On larger tires, the duty cycle may slow things down and if the overheat shutoff is tripped, it takes a while to cool and reset. Also, note that it has the shortest warranty of the group. The Tuff Stuff TS-AC-150 is an economical choice for the occasional off-roader.

Recommended for those who need the extra hose length, and don’t mind the budget minded compressor performance.

Superflow HV-35

Price – $35

Size – 9″ long, 7.5″ wide, 4.5″ tall

Weight – 4.6 lbs

Inflation Performance – 33″ tire in 8 to 10 minutes

Reported Lifespan – 1 to 2 years

Warranty – 3 years

The best compressor you can carry is subject to Murphy’s Law: if a single piece of it gets broken, you could be stuck in the lunar boonies. The Superflow HV-35 is an affordable back-up to ensure you always have air. It plugs into the cigarette-lighter outlet and the valve stem connector screws on for leak-free simplicity. Because the power outlet is in the passenger compartment, current is limited to 14 amps and the flow is lower, but the high PSI rating will get the job done. With the longest warranty in this group (3 years), the Superflow HV-35 is a good back-up compressor for off-roading and an economical choice for each of your family’s daily drivers.

Note: Before storing the Superflow in any vehicle, test that it will reach and inflate all four tires without blowing the power outlet fuse. The Wrangler JK has a 20A power outlet fuse, but some cars may have only 10A protecting the power outlet.

Recommended as a back-up, easily portable unit, and as the most budget-conscious solution.

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