It seems like there is a never-ending list of upgrades and accessories needed to fully equip an off-road vehicle for a safe day on the trails. Among those many items like recovery gear, the right tires, and aftermarket steel truck bumpers, you should also have some kind of compressed air source, at least if you’re using your tires correctly.
Whether you’re airing down for the mud and trails or airing up again to head back to the highway, your best bet is to be self-reliant and include a compressor in your off-road truck or Jeep. Take a look at the different options and decide which is the best one for you.
Compressed Air Tanks
The simplest solution to carrying compressed air along for the ride is purchasing air tanks that can be stowed in your off-road truck or Jeep. These tanks are available in smaller sizes that can usually carry enough CO2 to inflate a few sets set of tires up to 30 psi or run a power tool for a while, although not much more than that. They are convenient, as they can be used anywhere; however, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
Notable disadvantages include a higher end cost, limited capacity, and the cost of refills which must be done at a professional location that services air tanks. In addition, air tanks are heavy, with a 10-lb tank adding about 30 pounds in weight to your off-road truck or Jeep.
Portable Air Compressor
A second option is purchasing a portable air compressor to stow in your off-road truck. They are much lighter and provide a limitless supply of compressed air. High-performance compressors made for racing, off-road trucks, and other uses offer as high as 150 psi to air up your tires. As long as there is a battery connection, they can be run anywhere since they are not mounted to the vehicle.
A portable air compressor is less expensive than a CO2 tank, although you need to buy a compressor that is powerful enough to fill tires for off-road trucks. Those units for sale at most auto supply stores will only fill up a standard car tire or donut spare.
Some of the disadvantages include longer airing up times than the other options and the need to rest the compressor between uses to keep it from overheating.
On-Board Air Compressor
You can look into mounting an on-board compressor into the back of your off-road truck or Jeep for an endless supply of compressed air when and where you need it. These work the same as any portable compressor, except it is mounted to the truck and hardwired to the battery. On-board air compressors are about the same prices as many portable options with similar duty cycles.
Size is the main advantage of these units, as they can be securely mounted out of the way somewhere in your off-road truck and not forget it at home. You can purchase a CO2 tank to use alongside your on-board compressor as well. On-board units tend to be lighter than portable ones, weighing in at less than 10 pounds. The disadvantage is that the compressor can only be used when the vehicle is running.
Considering these three options, it’s easy for any off-roader to have a compressed air supply with them for airing tires up and down as needed to provide the best traction on different surfaces. Whether you prefer a simple tank that you can refill between rides, a portable compressor unit stowed with your recovery gear, or one mounted right into the back of your off-road truck or Jeep, you’ll have all the air you need to keep on rolling at the right pressure!