Smittybilt 2.54 CFM Air Compressor Review


One of the most valuable pieces of gear you can have if you are into off-roading or overlanding is a quality portable compressor. There’s often a need in the wild to air down for sections of the trails, but what do you use to reinflate when it’s time to get back on the pavement?

With many new cars today, you might not even have a spare tire, just a can of Fix-a-Flat and hoping a tire shop is within safe driving distance. Something like this Smittybilt air compressor, one that’s on paper a lot more robust than others The Drive has tested, could be perfect to have with you all the time.

How long are you willing to take to inflate your tires? Can your current unit do all four tires quickly? What if they’re 33-inch or larger tires? Can your air compressor do so without overheating or shutting down?

The Guides & Gear team wanted to find out if the right solution was to spend a little more money ($115 or so at the time of writing) on a Smittybilt 2.54-cfm air compressor. A lot more expensive than the other portable
compressors we’ve recently tested. We wanted to find out if you could just buy one and not worry about it again, rather than constantly buying less expensive units and hoping for the best. 

Unboxing the Smittybilt 2.54-CFM Air Compressor

We purchased the Smittybilt from, and when it showed up, I could tell it was a more serious piece of kit than other compressors we have reviewed. The shipping label on the box listed the weight as 14 pounds; compare that to the five pounds and less crowd we’ve tested.

Opening the box, I was happy to see that this Smittybilt came with a nylon storage bag with two zippered pockets to keep everything organized. The larger of the two contained the compressor itself, along with a 30-inch hose with a built-in air pressure gauge and a valve-stem fitting. 

In the smaller zippered pocket was a 16-foot coiled air hose, along with a small ziplock bag containing three adapters for inflating other types of things such as sports equipment and water-flotation items, as well as two spare 30-amp fuses.

The actual compressor checks in at 10.2 pounds, but it doesn’t feel that heavy. Physically, the unit is 10 inches long, 5.5 inches wide, and 7.5 inches tall. It’s not powered by your average 12-volt outlet but by your battery terminals with clip connectors. The power cord is seven feet long, so between that length and the 16 feet of coiled hose, you should be able to easily position this compressor to fill any tires on your vehicle, trailer, or RV.

There is an information plate on the unit that gives you some of the basic stats. It will pull a maximum voltage of 13.8 volts and 30 amps max. It’s rated for up to 150 psi and can flow 2.54 cubic feet per minute (72 liters of air per minute). Not listed on the plate but in the small instruction booklet is a maximum run time of 40 minutes with at least 20 minutes of cooling-off time before you use it again.

The compressor has rubber footings, and when it was running in my driveway, it didn’t move or buzz around. You can remove the plate that connects the footings to the compressor to permanently mount and hard-wire the Smittybilt to your vehicle for hardcore off-roaders. But for this review, I didn’t do that.

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