As an off-road enthusiast, you should never lack an off-road inflator in your toolkit. The question is, what is the best off road inflator for you?

The best off road inflator is the ARB CKMTP12. This is a powerful, fast-working premium off-road inflator that’s easy to use, has a perfect airflow speed, and durability. This is the top choice if money isn’t an issue. But if on a budget, then the Smittybilt 2781 will be a great fit.

Buying an off-road inflator isn’t that hard since there are so many of these devices out there in the market. The problem, however, lies in getting the best off-road inflator. There are plenty of metrics to look at when it comes to choosing the best off-road inflators. You certainly want to know what each off-road inflator will bring to your off-roading escapades. You want to know about different types of off-road inflators and their features such as price, ease of use, duty cycle, power use, the accuracy of the pressure gauge, the length and quality of the air hose, and many more. Well, this is what this article is all about.

As a lifelong off-road enthusiast and adventure seeker, I’ve developed a keen eye for the best off-road inflators. I’ve researched more than 50 inflators and studied various factors such as dual cycle, ease of use, CFM capacity, portability, max PSI, price, and many more. In addition to my personal experience, I’ve consulted expert reviews from trustworthy and authoritative websites on the subject such as Cnet, New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Overlander, as well as customer reviews on retail sites such as Amazon.

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Table of contents


6 Best Off-Road Inflators

Let’s dive in and look at the 6 best off-road inflators as well as some tips on what to look for when buying an off-road inflator.

1. ARB CKMTP12 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor

Picture of the ARB CKMTP12 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor

ARB is a well-respected manufacturer of off-road accessories and its CKMTP12 12V is a true testament to this. Despite not being your typical budget off-road inflator given its eye-watering price, this unit is the best by a mile. Of course, it will cost you some top dollars, but I can assure you that it’s all you’ll ever need when it comes to inflating your tires in the rough-and-tumble trails.

Thanks to its powerful twin motors, cylinders, and a CFM output of 2.18  at 0 PSI flow rate, this unit will take exactly 90 seconds to go from 20 PSI to 40 PSI, which I find to be satisfactorily fast if not amazing. Its hard-anodized cylinder offers you a maximum working pressure of 150 PSI but that’s just part of the story. Besides inflating your deflated tires, this unit has an air tank that can help you power other air systems such as your tents just in case you need to go camping.

In terms of ease of use, reliability, and durability, nothing beats the ARB CKMTP12 12V. This unit is designed with a Teflon-impregnated carbon fiber piston seal to offer you optimum performance and reliability. Again, it offers a 90% dual cycle (this is contrary to the 100% dual cycle that the manufacturer states), as well as a high-performing cooling fan to ensure that your off-road inflator unit is always working at its best.

As if this isn’t enough, this unit is loaded with a nice waterproof case for durability and a 19-foot long hose to ensure that you can easily reach all four wheels of your vehicle. As an off-roader, you definitely do not want a unit that’s heavy as this can weigh you down. Well, you won’t have such problems with the ARB CKMTP12 12V. At 16lbs, I found it to be a bit easy to move around.


Despite being the best off-road inflator currently available in the market, I’ve to be very honest with you and highlight some of the features that I found to be rather wanting. I did realize that its alligator clips are too small and couldn’t fit snugly over my battery terminal attachments. For its price, I know you’ll agree with me that the manufacturer could have done much better with this.


Although its price is a little scary and the clips are a bit edgy, I must admit that this is a very powerful off-road inflator that offers the best features that any serious or occasional off-roader would appreciate. It’s fast, very portable, and built for rugged terrains.


The nozzle may sometimes become loose, but you just have to set it correctly and you’ll avoid this issue.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Very powerful and highly-efficient twin motor
  • Comes with a dual cylindrical design
  • Its 150 PSI makes it the best off-road inflator
  • Its waterproof casing makes it durable
  • It has a tank despite being a 12V inflator


  • It’s faster than other off-road inflators
  • Its 19-feet air hose makes it a lot easier to use
  • Its portable size is convenient for me
  • It regulates pressure from 135 psi to 150 PSI
  • Setting up this unit for use is a breeze
  • It’s very durable thanks to its waterproof casing


  • It’s probably the most expensive off-road inflators
  • Its alligator clips are wanting

2. Smittybilt 2781 Off-Road Air Compressor

Picture of the Smittybilt 2781 Off-Road Air Compressor

Smittybilt is unquestionably one of the first names that come to mind when looking for the best off-road inflator. I found the Smittybilt 2781 to be a cut above the rest when it comes to how fast it is. It took the unit about 2 minutes to go from 5 PSI to 30 PSI, which was obviously very fast.

What impressed me most about this unit is that it’s well-designed with heavy-duty steel, which makes it very durable. And how can I forget its noise levels? Believe it or not, this is arguably the quietest off-road inflator you’ll ever come across.

Its 24-foot air hose makes it a lot easier to use but the cherry on the cake has to be its continuous cycle, which stands at an impressive 40 minutes before the unit overheats. This means that you’ll use it to inflate your tires and any other thing that needs air such as winterizing your RV before leaving it to rest.


Although this is a highly-dependable unit that also doubles up as the quietest off-road air compressor, I did find its proprietary hose fittings to be a complete letdown. As one customer noted, “the designer of this hose fitting should have been fired,” and I completely agree. Imagine such a reliable off-road inflator having issues with its hose fittings. Fortunately, I did consult with some experts in the industry and they confirmed to me that customizing the hose would be an ideal solution.


As an ardent off-roader, I know that you hate using an inflator that’s slow. Well, the Smittybilt 2871 isn’t one of those slow and annoying off-road inflators. This is a super-fast inflator that’s not only affordable but can run for 40 minutes without stopping! This means that it can solve tire problems on multiple vehicles within a short time. I’d recommend you go for this unit if you want an off-road inflator that can hold its own in the most demanding situations.


I did realize that turning on the power of this unit before plugging in the inflator to the tire can cause serious damages to the unit. As such, you should only turn on its power after plugging in the inflator in the tire. Consider doing this no matter the unit you’re using.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It comes with a storage bag
  • It has an auto-thermal cutoff switch to protect its motor from getting damaged
  • It has a continuous cycle time of 40 minutes
  • It has an easy-to-read pressure gauge


  • It offers a long run time
  • It’s very quiet
  • It’s durable and built with a superb finish
  • The 24 feet air hose is long enough
  • It offers the best value for money


  • The quality of the storage bag doesn’t match the unit’s reliability
  • It’s a little heavier at 20 pounds
  • The hose fitting could have been better

3. Viair 400P Onboard Portable Air Compressor

Picture of the Viair 400P Onboard Portable Air Compressor

It’s easy to see why the Viair 400P is one of the most popular air compressors among off-roaders. For such a portable off-road inflator (10.4 pounds), it’s kind of miraculous that it takes less than 3 minutes to go from 35 PSI to 60 PSI! And, of course, it will work continuously for 30 minutes before taking a break to cool off.

I did find it to be among the best thanks to its incredible features such as its open-ended tire inflation hose, which gives you the versatility of injecting air inside the tire in four various ways.  If you think that’s enough, think again. Viair is designed with a 25-foot air hose, which in my many years using these units takes the crown as the longest!

As if that’s not enough, the manufacturer throws in a storage bag for good measure just to ensure that it’s even more portable. It’s also designed with an anti-vibration tray to ensure that it doesn’t take too much damage from too much shaking.


One of the glaring shortcomings of the Viair 400P is that the hose fitting isn’t universal and doesn’t work with various valve stems. While it works perfectly with trucks, SUVs, and cars, a friend of mine noticed that it was way too big for the stem of his Jeep Wrangler’s wheel design. Luckily for him, he did contact the manufacturer’s support department and they recommended a 6ft extension, which turned out to be perfect after his initial frustrations. Again, the motor of this unit is likely to get very hot so do not overuse it.


Unless you’re looking for an off-road inflator that’s built with heavy-duty materials, the Viair 400P is a decent unit. I did love its accurate pressure gauge readings and portability, and I hope you do too. Just make sure that the hose fitting is right for your wheel and do not overwork it.


I tried it on sand and mud-terrain and it worked perfectly well, so it can be ideal for such terrains. Refrain from touching the motor as it sometimes gets hot and can cause severe burns.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Four air inflation modes
  • Comes with an anti-vibration tray
  • Has a convenient storage bag
  • Comes with 3 extra adapters


  • Comes with four air inflation modes
  • It’s super lightweight
  • Has the longest air hose
  • Very lightweight and easy to move around
  • High-quality alligator clips


  • The motor can get very hot
  • The power cord is short
  • The hose fitting isn’t universal

4. Viair 300P Air Compressor

Picture of the Viair 300P Air Compressor

As one of the fastest off-road inflators out there, the Viair 300P only takes about 78 seconds to go from 18 PSI to 30 PSI while maintaining a maximum pressure of 150 PSI. Just from this description, any off-roader will find this unit to be very convenient and amazingly very powerful. Of course, I did try inflating an RV tire using this unit and it was done in less than 10 minutes!

Like other Viair units, the Viair 300P is designed with premium parts such as an anodized aluminum cylinder, stainless steel valves, and an oilless direct-direct motor. The unit is also designed with high-quality alligators clips and is one of the most portable inflators out there at 8.7 pounds.

If you’ve been looking for a unit with lower noise decibels, you might want to throw a look towards the Viair 300P. That’s because it’s designed with an anti-vibration tray casing to ensure that it goes about its business of keeping you on the road quietly and without much hype.


Although Viair is a leading brand, it seems to have some challenges in designing a competent motor. Like the Viair 400P, this unit is also designed with a motor that can get very hot. As such, you should be very careful and only hold the unit using its ergonomic handle unless you’re very sure that it has cooled down properly.


Viair has cemented its place in the air compressor market as one of the best manufacturers in the world, and the Viair 300P is a true testament to that. Its power and efficiency say it all and its 25-foot hose power is up there with the best. Its quietness may not matter much while out in the wild but will be a big plus if you’re using it in a public area.


Getting accurate pressure gauge reading is of great importance. Unfortunately, most of us are in a hurry and do not stop the inflator before taking these readings. To get accurate readings, you need to stop this unit or any other for that matter.

Reasons Why You’ll Love It

  • Comes with a powerful 150 PSI maximum pressure
  • Comes with a storage bag
  • The battery is heavy-duty at 40 amp


  • It’s very quiet
  • It’s lightweight
  • Its ergonomic handle provides a comfortable grip
  • The tire gauge offers very accurate readings
  • It comes with 3 extra adapters


  • The motor gets very hot after use and can cause severe burns
  • The power cord is a bit short

5. TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor

Picture of the TEROMAS Tire Inflator Air Compressor

As one of the cheapest off-road inflators in the market, I must admit that the TEROMAS Tire Inflator majestically holds its place among the big boys and can be a great option if you’re looking for a superb unit but on a low budget. For its incredible price and very compact size, this unit is up there with the best as it takes just under 4 minutes to go from 5 PSI to 40 PSI.

This is one of the few off-road inflators that’s designed with two sockets both for AC (110V) and DC (12V). This not only makes it a unique unit but also gives it that multipurpose edge over many of its competitors. I find this unit to be quite stylish thanks to its auto-off function. This means that the inflator and its pump will automatically shut off once the pre-set pressure is attained.

It’s also convenient to use at night thanks to its superbly designed digital backlight LCD and LED lighting.


While the availability of both DC and AC makes this off-road inflator quite versatile, it won’t be an ideal option for heavy-duty off-road tires. For example, a friend of mine tried using it to inflate his truck’s tires and the results were frustrating, to say the least. Again, the air hose is quite short and this can be quite limiting if you have to use it on all the tires.


I can’t refute the fact that TEROMAS is perhaps the most affordable off-road inflator you’ll come across. While this may spell doom in other quality assurance areas, it holds well among the best off-road inflators. I’d, however, not recommend it for heavy-duty trucks.


This unit isn’t for heavy-duty use. As such, you should give it about 5 minutes to energize after connecting it to power and about 15 minutes to cool down after use.

Reasons Why You’ll Love It

  • The AC and DC ports make it convenient
  • Its speed isn’t bad for its price
  • The auto-function is top-notch


  • Super easy to use
  • Very versatile
  • You can preset the desired pressure
  • Comes with a quality storage bag


  • Not very durable
  • The power button is weak
  • Can’t handle heavy-duty jobs

6. Tirewell 12V Tire Inflator

Picture of the Tirewell 12V Tire Inflator

As a company, Tirewell isn’t well-established as a household name in the air compressor industry. However, it’s getting there bit by bit thanks to its amazing units such as the Tirewell 12V Tire Inflator. With a maximum PSI of 150 and a CFM of 2.12 at 0 PSI, Tirewell is another superfast off-road inflator that will serve you just right while out there.

In addition to its affordable price, this unit brings forth impressive features that will only help in raising its stock in the industry. Designed as a 12V off-road inflator, this unit is designed with a direct-drive motor with two pistons to ensure that it maintains its main feature: being fast.

Tipping the weights at 7.26 pounds, this is perhaps the lightest off-road inflator you’ll ever come across. This makes it a lot easier to use and carry around.


Although this is a nice little off-road inflator, it will disappoint you if you are planning to use it on a truck with huge tires. It will irritate you with its noise but the tire pressure will remain the same.


Who said that off-roading has to be just about 4x4 trucks? Well, if you ever wanted to go out there on a motorbike or even a golf cart (if it can), then this is the right off-road inflator for such automobiles. It’s lightweight, compact, and works as great as any other unit on this list. Just avoid it for heavy-duty tire inflation.        

Reasons Why You’ll Love It

  • Easy to install and use
  • Fully stable air pump
  • Comes with a double cylinder inflation pump
  • Very power efficient


  • It’s very stable and quiet
  • Relatively affordable
  • Ideal for smaller automobiles such as your off-road dirt bike


  • It’s noisy
  • The power lead is very short

Types of Off-Road Inflators

There’s a wide range of off-road inflators in the market. Let’s briefly discuss some common types of inflators.

Portable Inflators

Portable inflators are some of the cheapest off-road inflators in the market. They’ll generally cost you less than $100 but you’ll have to do without some advanced features. These are the most common units in the market and are a lot easier to manage than other types of inflators. They require very little effort to use as connecting them to your vehicle’s battery is very easy.

Single Onboard Inflators

These are among the best inflators in the market. Although they'll cost you more than $100, they’re superb units especially if you’re looking for a high-end off-road inflator. Of course, these units are more powerful than portable inflators and can inflate 35s in less than 3 minutes.

These types of single onboard inflators are hardwired to a battery and mounted to your vehicle. They offer very strong airflows and can be used for applications other than inflating your tires. You have to note that installing single onboard inflators can be costly and time-consuming. But even with that, hardcore off-roaders generally prefer these units, especially for multiple applications.

Apart from quality and price, the difference between portable inflators and onboard inflators comes down to whether you have air lockers fixed on your car’s axle differential. If you have them installed or are planning to have them installed, then going for single onboard inflators can be a great option. Differently, portable inflators are not only affordable but are a more flexible option if your vehicle doesn’t have air lockers.

Dual 12V Inflators

These are some of the fastest and most effective inflators in the market. Although they can be a bit expensive and noisy, they’re very powerful and can be a great option for 37s and 40s tires.

Parts of an Off-Road Inflator

Most off-roaders know the importance of having a solid off-road inflator as part of their off-roading accessories. However, they don’t know the key parts of air compressors. In this section, I’ll briefly highlight the various parts of an off-road inflator to make it a lot easier to operate these units.


Available on reciprocating inflators, the motor plays an important role in powering the pistons in the compression mechanism.


This is a cylinder that allows air to be drawn by the piston before forcing it through the air hose and into the tire.

Air Hose

An air hose is a pipe that’s designed to carry air from the compressor to the tire. I always recommend that you go for an off-road inflator with a long air hose that can reach all your tires with ease.

Power Cord

Also known as wiring, this connects the compressor to a power source (probably your car battery) or a cigarette lighter.

Tire Chuck

Part of a compressor that connects to the valve system of your car tires. It should have an inline pressure gauge and a built-in deflator.

What to Look for When Buying an Off-Road Inflator

As I mentioned earlier, buying the best off-road inflator for you is no mean task. In addition to dozens of options available in the market, there are features that you have to look at when choosing the best off-road inflator. Here are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind when looking for the best off-road inflator.


The performance of an off-road inflator can be determined in various ways. The most common ways include PSI and CFM. Let's break it down for you.

Airflow/CFM Capacity

This refers to the amount of air that the inflator can send to a tire during inflation. This is a crucial way of measuring the performance of that particular inflator and it’s measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). CFM is important when inflating your tires and an inflator with a higher CFM means that it will inflate the tires faster.

Air Pressure

Typically measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), the maximum air pressure that an inflator can deliver is another crucial way of measuring the performance of a particular unit. The PSI of the inflator should always overcome the PSI in the tire for it to be inflated. As such, you should always go for an off-road inflator with a high maximum PSI.

Duty Cycle

To put it in a very simple way, the duty cycle of an off-road inflator tells how long the unit can run before it needs to stop either to cool down or to recharge its storage tank in an hour. The manufacturer can choose to show this either as time or as a percentage.

For example, an off-road inflator with a duty cycle of 35 minutes can perform for 35 minutes out of 60 minutes and get rested for the remaining 15 minutes before operating again. Similarly, an inflator with a duty cycle of 33% can run for close to 20 minutes (which is a third of an hour) before resting for the remainder of the hour (40 minutes). That being said, you should go for an off-road inflator with a higher duty cycle.

Price Range

Some of the best off-road inflators can cost top dollars but this will depend on your budget and how much you’re willing to spend. Of course, a low-end air compressor won’t cost you as much as a high-end air compressor. Another thing that may influence the price of an off-road inflator is the warranty offered by the manufacturer. An inflator with an extended warranty will obviously cost more than an inflator with less or no warranty.

Noise Levels

When using an off-road inflator, you’ll probably be kneeling or squatting next to it to keep an eye on the pressure gauge. Unfortunately, a noisy inflator can be annoying. Worst still, it can affect your hearing. This is why I believe you should go for an off-road inflator with low noise levels.

The quietest unit should have noise levels of about 60 decibels. Anything higher than 70 decibels can be quite annoying. You also have to keep in mind that bigger inflators are generally louder than lighter units.

Build Quality

As I was going through customer reviews of various off-road inflators, I realized that many people were complaining about their units malfunctioning after a short time. While it’s impossible to quantify the durability of these units, we can attest that some units are built with much better quality than others.

In other words, some units are properly assembled and are very sturdy. On the other hand, some will start vibrating after relatively little use and this is a sign of low quality. As such, you should always look at the quality of any off-road inflator before spending your money.


You shouldn’t forget that you’ll be carrying the inflator around with you, so you should consider its weight. Of course, larger units will weigh more than smaller units and might be a bit difficult to carry around. If you have to go for a larger unit, consider choosing one with wheels for easier mobility.

Tire Size

Tires with larger sizes require inflators with higher airflow capacity. This means that you should go for larger inflators if your vehicle has large tires. On the other hand, smaller tires can be filled with inflators with moderate airflow capacity. As such, you should choose the best off-road inflator depending on the size of your vehicle.

The Importance of Having Inflators for Your Off-Road Adventures

Hardcore off-roaders will have no doubt about the importance of an inflator. But if you’re new to off-roading, you should know the importance of having a reliable inflator for your off-road trips.

In addition to inflating your tires, an inflator gives you peace of mind knowing that your journey will be safe and sound. An inflator can also help reset your tires if they go off the rim. You can also use an inflator to enhance the traction between the tires and tough terrains. You can do this by locking the differential on the tires using an air locker. It can also be a great tool for powering various appliances during camping such as blenders if you do not have an alternative electric source.

More importantly, an inflator will save you from those frustrating and awkward situations relating to tire inflation.