I don’t remember exactly when I first realized I was regularly heading into and back out of situations when a substantially lower tire pressure greatly improved either traction or comfort (or both). I assume that newsflash hit me during one of those excursions where I ended up deflating and then reinflating my tires at least three times in one day. I figured that, in general, being able to easily deflate and reinflate my tires was a useful and time saving option so decided to get the tools to make that as easy and seamless as possible. As a start I figured we would need a way to quickly deflate the tires to a desired PSI range and ideally do it without me having to stand by each tire, one at a time during the process. We chose a set of Coyote Auto Tire Deflators and they have worked great and we still use them regularly. The other side of the equation is airing back up.
At first I used my existing Slime brand compressor, an earlier version of this (do not buy this) and worth every penny of that $18. It struggled to inflate one of our (at the time) 31″ tires without overheating and took a about 10 minutes per tire. Granted, it is made for inflating a “normal” street tire on a passenger car during those rare occasions when you get a flat and not for twelve or more inflations in a day. I trickled it down to my sister for her more standard travels and she has thankfully never yet had to use it. I replaced that with “better” 12 volt compressor, the MV50 from Q Industries. I cannot even find it anymore at Amazon under that name but this is exactly what it looked like at at the same price: GSPSCN Portable 12V Air Compressor. (Also do not buy this) When the first attribute on Amazon says, and I quote, “PROFESSIONAL FAST INFLATORING” then heed that as an indicator that actual Professionals do not use this. Actually I am sure it means Made and Marketed by Chinese Nationals who do not speak English natively but still. Yes, this was one small step “better” than the Slime POS but that translates to “can fill up two tires of my older, smaller size before overheating and still takes 20 minutes to do that.” With a pressure gauge that was at least 10 PSI off and connectors that rusted and/or simply broke if you looked at them sideways this lasted all of two trips before I consigned it to the garbage heap of history.
So…what did I replace this with you may ask. Well, I decided that two strikes was enough (this isn’t baseball) and that the time had come to make an actual investment in a quality piece of gear. I had heard good things about VIAIR stuff but saw, at most, 3 CFM (Cubic Feet a Minute) and that was at zero PSI and it went down from there the higher the pressure in the tire was. I decided I was going to get the fastest portable compressor available and so ended up with the ARB Twin High Performance Portable Compressor.
To get the air into the tires we purchased at the same time the ARB Digital Tire Pressure Gauge.
The online price of the compressor looks to be about $200 more than when we bought it a few years ago so it is probably a good idea to do a whole lot of research before purchasing if you are in the market as this was (and still is) a spendy investment.
For the price I paid I expected a quality tool in a tough case that would not only survive the conditions it travels in but just work each and every time we call on it. And that it has. Since 2018 we have certainly used the compressor and tire gauge hundreds of times, both on our Tacoma and on the vehicles of friends, fellow travelers and helpless strangers we’ve come across during our adventures. Its specs say it puts out 6.16 CFM (at no load) and 4.65 CFM (at 29 PSI). We inflate to a bit higher than that but even then, those numbers are easily twice as good as anything I have seen from Viair or any other manufacturer of portable air compressor systems. With 100 percent duty cycle I have never worried about overheating or premature stoppage in the middle of airing up.
Tire punctures are a part of overlanding. I have so far been lucky and not yet needed to use it but I did buy the ARB Speedy Seal 2 Heavy Duty Tire Repair Kit to keep next to the compressor “just in case.”
I have read the included instructions and watched a few online videos of this kit in action and it seems easy and straight-forward enough. If I ever have to use it at least I should be a bit familiar with the kit and the process for using it.
A couple of years ago in Anza-Borrego for the Super Bloom we met up with some friends and decided, just for fun, to have an air up contest. They with a CO2 Powertank versus us with this dual compressor. Both vehicles had the same tires (KO2) in the same size (285/75-16) at the same deflated pressure (18 PSI). With one minute on the clock we were off. At the bell (his wife looking at her watch and yelling “Time!”) we both stopped refilling the tire we were working on and looked at our resulting PSI. His was at 30 PSI and mine was at 32! After about 10 more minutes we both had all four of our tires aired up to where we wanted them for highway service (~35 PSI) and continued on to our next stop. I have heard that there are options for faster inflating or deflating by means of pulling the valve stem but that is a relatively small, fragile and easy to loose item prone to dirt collection and then failure. We decided to leave that method for those in the know and remain more than happy with the 5-fold increase in speed we gained from the last compressor we used.
The 1lb aluminum tank included with the kit is supposedly for if you want to use air tools but I have no need for that at the moment. Right now I use it with the included “blow gun” to blast dust/water off anything that needs blasting as a way to empty the tank after I use it so that I am not carrying around a little pressure bomb sitting right behind my driver’s seat in the rare possibility of a catastrophic, crushing crash.
The whole system is big and heavy weighing in at an indicated 32lbs. The handle on the case will (and has) pinched the shit out of a finger if you hold it incorrectly but, I eventually learned how not to be a dummy and put a finger where it can get pinched. The piece of mind knowing I can air down and back up at will, numerous times a day and help friends or others in need means that to me it was money well spent. I expect years more of trouble-free service from this tool.