Air compressors are an important part of any off road or overland equipment list. They allow you to air down your tires on the trail for protection and comfort, and the use the air compressor to air your tires back up before getting on the paved road. We recently purchased the Smittybilt 2781 Portable Air Compressor and ran it through its paces.
What To Look For in a Portable Air Compressor:
- CFM – the air that a compressor pushes is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. The higher the CFM the faster it will inflate your tire.
- Duty Cycle – essentially how long the air compressor can run before needing to turn off and cool down. The longer the duty cycle the more uninterupted inflation time you’ll have.
- Noise – all compressors make noise and while some are relatively quiet, some can be quite loud. Using a loud air compressor at a campground can easily annoy your neighbors and the wildlife.
- Portability – air compressors can be permanently mounted, can be portable, or some allow for both portable and permanent installations. If you need to use your air compressor in more than one vehicle consider a portable option.
- Price – Cask is King but you also Get What You Paid For! There are many cheap, inferior air compressors available so choose wisely.
- Extras like air adapters, air gauges, a long air hose, and the ability to air up things like mattresses, kayaks, stand up paddle boards or even to run air tools.
We went looking for an air compressor that checked all the boxes from above. We looked at models from Viair, ARB and Smittybilt. Prices ranged from about $100 up to several hundreds of dollars.
In the end, we selected the Smittybilt 2781 because:
- Class leading High CFM at 5.6 CFM
- Long Duty Cycle – 40% at 40psi at @ 75 degrees
- Relatively quiet operation at 71db
- Extremely portable
- Priced right at $189
- Plenty of extras!
We used the Smittybilt 2781 Portable Air Compressor at Northwest OHV park to air up our Lexus GX tires after a day on the trails. It aired up the 32.4″ tires up from 20psi to 32psi in 40 seconds per tire. That’s way faster than our Viair 450C and ARB CKMA12 compressors!
So far the Smittybilt 2781 has worked extremely well and has earned a permanent spot in our off road and overlanding equipment list. Check out the video to learn more!