Portable Air Compressors for 4x4 Travel in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide

Why Travel with an Air Compressor?

When it comes to 4x4 travel in Australia, one accessory stands out as a must-have: a portable air compressor. These handy devices offer a wealth of benefits, making them an essential part of any off-road adventure.

Firstly, they provide inflation convenience. Most popularly, 12-volt electric air compressors can be mounted permanently in your 4WD or used as a portable unit. This allows travelers to inflate their tyres whenever necessary without seeking professional help.

Secondly, they improve traction and provide a smoother ride. Having an air compressor allows you to adjust your tyre pressure according to the terrain. This aids in traction, makes the ride smoother, and puts less stress on your vehicle and the environment.

Lastly, they are essential for emergency puncture repair. If you carry tire plugs, an air compressor can help you get back on the road without needing a tow.

Why Carry a Portable Air Compressor?

The reasons for carrying a portable air compressor while traveling offroad in Australia are numerous. They offer versatility in different terrains, allowing for better traction and performance in various offroad conditions. They are practically essential for offroad recovery, as they can be used to inflate tyres after deflation for sand driving or in case of a puncture. Furthermore, portable off-road air compressors are more cost-effective and offer more flexibility than onboard units, as you can use them between vehicles and they're easy to move around.

When to Adjust Tyre Pressures

Knowing when to adjust tyre pressures while traveling offroad in Australia is crucial. For sand driving, tyre pressures can be lowered even further anywhere from 15 up to 20 psi. This will give you far more traction and prevent your tyres from digging into the sand. For well-maintained dirt tracks, set tyre pressure between 28 and 36 psi, and for bumpy gravel tracks set from 26 to 32 psi. For most 4x4, a PSI between 14-18 will do the trick, although you might need to lower it a bit further for certain terrains.

Types and Sizes of Compressors Available

When it comes to four-wheel driving, having the right equipment is crucial. One such piece of equipment is a portable air compressor. The types and sizes of portable air compressors for four-wheel drive use vary, and understanding their features can help you make an informed decision.

Types of Portable Air Compressors

Portable air compressors come in different types, each with its unique features and benefits. The most common types include single-stage, two-stage, and rotary screw compressors. Single-stage compressors are ideal for light-duty tasks, while two-stage compressors are better suited for heavy-duty applications. Rotary screw compressors, on the other hand, are known for their efficiency and reliability.

Sizes of Portable Air Compressors

The size of a portable air compressor is determined by its tank capacity, which is typically measured in gallons. Smaller compressors may have a tank capacity of 1-6 gallons, making them lightweight and easy to carry. Medium-sized compressors usually have a tank capacity of 6-20 gallons, offering a balance between portability and power. Large compressors, with a tank capacity of 20-30 gallons, provide the most power but are less portable.

Features of Portable Air Compressors

When choosing a portable air compressor for four-wheel drive use, several features should be considered:

  1. Air Flow Rates: The air flow rate, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), indicates how much air the compressor can deliver. A higher CFM means the compressor can inflate tires faster.

  2. Weight: The weight of the compressor affects its portability. Lighter compressors are easier to carry and store, making them ideal for off-road adventures.

  3. Number of Cylinders: The number of cylinders in a compressor affects its performance. Dual-cylinder compressors are typically more powerful and efficient than single-cylinder models.

  4. Power Current Draw: This refers to the amount of electrical current the compressor draws during operation. A lower power current draw is generally more energy-efficient.

  5. Fitting Types: The type of fittings on the compressor should be compatible with your vehicle's tires. Common fitting types include industrial, automotive, and ARO.

In conclusion, the best portable air compressor for four-wheel drive use depends on your specific needs and preferences. By considering the types, sizes, and features of different compressors, you can find the one that's right for you.

Specific Products of Portable Air Compressors

There are several specific products of portable air compressors suitable for 4x4 travel in Australia. ARB Air Compressors are available in both portable and vehicle-mounted kits. The Viair 480C Air Compressor is a top pick because it offers the best price value for the quality you get. The Sherpa Big Air Compressor is a heavy-duty, simple to use, portable air compressor with impressive performance specifications. It's available in both 12V and 24V options. The OUTBAC 12V Car Air Compressor is a portable inflator suitable for 4x4 tyre deflation. It's a good choice for offroad travel.


  1. ARB High Output Compressor: This is the most popular model in the ARB range. It is constructed entirely of lightweight, high-grade materials and is available in both portable and vehicle-mounted configurations. With a class-leading flow rate, this compressor has been designed for Air Locker activation (on-board model), fast tyre inflation, and a range of other functions. The vehicle-mounted kit comes with a full wiring loom and mounting hardware for easy installation, while the portable kit includes a 6-meter air hose, battery clamps, inflation kit, and a durable carry case. It is equipped with a motor that is internally thermal protected against extreme temperature damage and a heavy-duty maxi-fuse for professional in-line circuit protection. It is available in either a 12V or 24V configuration. 

arb compressor

  1. ARB Twin Compressor: This model provides optimum power with its twin motor design, delivering class-leading air flow for fast inflation purposes. It is constructed of lightweight, high-strength engineering grade materials and incorporates quality components for quiet operation and extended durability. The twin motors incorporate internal thermal protection against extreme temperature damage while a heavy-duty in-line maxi fuse for each motor provides professional circuit protection. It is available as either a portable kit with a 4L air tank, inflation accessories, and a durable carry case or a vehicle-mounted kit with associated wiring loom and mounting hardware.

arb twin compressor

  1. Viair 480C Air Compressor: This is a truly rated, 200 PSI-rated compressor. It features horizontal cooling fins and a trapezoidal head design, a standard 3/8” stainless steel braided leader hose with 3/8” NPT inline check valve, and insulated wiring. It has a 12-Volt permanent magnetic motor with a duty cycle of 100% @ 100 PSI (50% @ 200 PSI). It is equipped with a thermal overload protector and comes with vibration isolators, mounting hardware, and an air line for remote mount air filter.

Viair compressor

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