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ARB 12V High Performance Portable Air Compressor [Review]

ARB’s Single Portable Air Compressor Offers Up Convenience, Quality, and Portable Air in a Compact Storage Box

ARB single portable air compressor in use

Having accessible air is a necessity, no matter if traveling on pavement or off the beaten path. Inflating tires is a must. You can pump up your own tires if you get a slow leak or have to patch your own tire. You can also help someone else in need, too. Additionally, a quick inflation after a day of hitting the trails with aired-down tires can get you home safely. The ARB 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor (CKMP12) is a solid piece of kit that we’ve found to be extremely durable, even in the harshest conditions.

1992 Mitsubishi Pajero, Ralli Tractor

The Quest For Better Air

My husband and I own multiple 4×4 rigs and take them each adventuring several times a year. Our need for portable air is critical. From navigating Oregon’s sand dunes to crawling over craggy rocks in Moab—controlling tire pressure quickly and easily is important to us.

We’re not new to the air compressor game. We’ve had both on-board and portable air before. On-board air came to us via ARB’s single air compressor that was mounted in the rear cargo area. This hard-mounted unit assisted the air locker we had in our 2001 Jeep Cherokee. We also used a no-name cheapie portable air compressor. It was slow to fill and huffed and puffed in dissatisfaction every time we used it.

Next up we decided to try out the portable version of the ARB single air compressor.

ARB single portable air compressor CKMP12 box shot


ARB 12V High-Performance Portable Air Compressor

The ARB single portable compressor, model number CKMP12, comes in an evenly-weighted heavy-duty storage box. Its over-sized orange clam-shell box fasteners and carrying handle feel durable, and when you clamp it closed it stays shut. This box tidy storage box cleanly packs into our vehicles and hasn’t shown any wear or tear over the few years we’ve owned it. This portable compressor kit can easily pack into any larger camp box, as its proportions are that of an average-sized tackle box.

ARB’s single air compressor kit contains a side-wall mounted single air compressor with battery clamps. It also includes a 19-foot orange air hose, with a removable metal schrader valve connection, for airing up tires.

Be aware that parts come pre-greased; take care when handling them. We didn’t notice this and got grease on a jacket.

ARB air compressor battery clamps

It’s Easy To Use

1: Fasten the battery clamps to your battery terminals (black to black and red to red)

2: Plug the hose into the compressor

3: Pop the metal ARB nozzle onto the other hose end and put it on your valve stem

4: Push the switch atop the compressor (it’ll start right away)

5: Air up!

ARB air compressor nozzle

Using the compressor is simple, but the unit may fall to one side if you stretch the hose too much. The compressor will still work, but using it in the upright position is recommended.

Be sure to check your tire pressure often as you air up, as you don’t want to overinflate. Use a tire pressure gauge to check your pressure (PSI). If you’re below where your tire’s pressure should be, reattach the air hose and continue airing it up until you hit the desired pressure.

ARB single portable air compressor box closed

Once inflation is done, give your compressor enough time to cool off, as it will be hot from working hard. Stow the hose away from the compressor until the unit is cool to the touch. We stash our hose in a small sack until it’s ready to be reunited with the storage box.

ARB Single Portable Compressor Features

The ARB single portable compressor features dust and moisture resistant sealing. It also boasts high-quality components to allow for quiet operation and an extra-long life. This ARB compressor comes with a two-year warranty from date of purchase. That’s a quality warranty, but luckily one we’ve never had to use on our unit.

Additionally, the motor is internally thermal protected to guard against extreme temperate damage and has a class-leading flow rate (3.08CFM at 0PSI) for fast inflation. No slow-going, here!

ARB single portable air compressor CKMP12 detail shot

ARB Single Air Compressor Review

If you’re in the market for a high-quality air compressor that’s compact, portable, and easy-to-use, then the ARB CKMP12 single portable unit should be considered. We’ve been happy with the performance and durability of ours, and expect many more years’ use out of it. MSRP: $365.00 USD.

You Might Need More Air

We don’t own off-road rigs with tire sizes larger than 33-inches, so inflating our tires was usually quick and easy with the ARB single compressor. But, if you’re running larger rubber, you may want to consider ARB’s higher-powered twin portable compressor, the CKMTP12. It is considerably larger, heavier, and more costly, however.

(Photos by Mercedes Lilienthal)

Mercedes Lilienthal
About Mercedes Lilienthal

Mercedes is an Oregon-based freelancer who specializes in vehicular adventure travel. She and her husband have three right-hand-drive turbo-diesel Mitsubishi 4x4s and two customized subcompact daily drivers. Mercedes enjoys automotive adventure competitions, having competed in the 2018 Rebelle Rally and the 2020 Alcan 5000 Rally. Her freelance work includes writing, editing, photography, social media management, event coverage, and marketing services.