ARB Compressor Review

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Airing down before a desert or beach drive is a must! Also, when you are overlanding, you can get to the best, most hidden camping spots usually through tougher trails that might also require you to reduce the air pressure in your tires.

That means you will also have to pump up your tires once you’re back on a normal road where traction is plenty. If you can do that quickly and reliably with one of the best 12V air compressors, it will save you a lot of time and effort to pump the tires of your Jeep to the right PSI.Welcome to our best air compressor for tires review.

In the below ARB compressor review we will highlight why the CKMA12 or the CKMTP12 may be your best choice if you are looking for the best 12-volt air compressor for your rig.

The CKMTP12 has been a reliable and immensly useful tool on all of our trips since 2017! I cannot emphasize how happy I am with my own ARB air compressor as it saved us several times (5 flat tires in Canada and Alaska!) and it makes us able to air down on rougher roads and deserts (knowing we can air back up any time we want).

Are ARB compressors any good?

An ARB Compressor is a great compressor choice if you’re looking for performance and portability while on the road. The little ARB compressors are high quality, nice and sturdy, and have good compressor ratings even for larger tires.

ARB CKMA12 Review

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  • Durable Construction
  • Easy Wiring
  • Two-Year Warranty
  • Quality build


  • Hose And Pressure Dial Not Included
  • Unit Is Less Effective On Tires Over 35-Inches

Key Features Of The ARB CMKA12

The CKMA12 comes with a wiring harness that allows you to hardwire and permanently install the air compressor in a short period of time. This mid-range offering from ARB is compact in size and quiet in operation.

The rugged design should supply enough power to air up four tires in the 35-inch range per duty cycle. The manufacturer offers a variety of optional accessories as well as a two-year warranty. As you would expect from the manufacturer of the best air compressor for tires.

On Sale
ARB CKMA12 On-Board Air Compressor High Performance 12 Volt for Air Locker Differentials and Tire Inflation
  • Constructed entirely of lightweight, high strength engineering grade materials
  • Quality components for quiet operation and extra long life
  • Hard-anodized cylinder bore for reduced friction
  • Sealed for moisture and dust resistance
  • Heavy duty maxi-fuse equipped for professional in-line circuit protection

What Comes With The Kit

The pre-assembled air compressor and wiring loom should make installation both easier and faster.

The Air Locker™ pressure switch and compressor isolating switch are designed to plug directly into the loom, which is advantageous for those not familiar with wiring.

The air filter is relocatable and washable, great features that offer more options for installation and easier maintenance.

ARB 12v compressor review

The Single Cylinder Unit Is Less Effective On Tires Over 35-Inches

What Does Not Come With The Kit

ARB has not included a deflator, hose, or pressure dial with this kit. While this proves to be a minor inconvenience, ARB does sell these components together in a set.

Specialized equipment like the EVO-1097 Mount Kit JK (for use on Jeep Wrangler JK 2007 or newer) are also available separately. Owners can also purchase alternatives from a variety of outlets.

An alternative to the ARB CMKA12: the CKMP12. Essentially it is the same compressor but comes in a sturdy portable case.

Makes it easy to store in case you don’t want your compressor to be hard-wired and mounted in your rig.

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Build And Design Quality

The CKMA12 is made out of is engineering-grade materials, including aerospace and military-grade parts. The anodized cylinder bore and carbon fiber piston is designed to help reduce friction.

The ball bearing engine has a linear brush pre-load system that should generate less heat and noise, which is a great feature for those looking to install the compressor inside the cab.

The components are fully sealed against dust and moisture, which could prove critical for those who install the unit in the engine compartment. Hardwiring is often the case in Jeep Wranglers and Toyota 4Runners. The appropriate mount is widely available. 

arb compressor review

Design Features of best air compressor for tires

The anodized mounting bracket not only dissipates motor heat, it allows the compressor to be repositioned 180º. This should prove beneficial when having to install the compressor in tight spaces.

The air filter is splash-resistant and relocatable, allowing for versatile waterproof positioning. The bronze air filter element is high flow and washable, helping to supply air that is both cooler and cleaner.

Safety features include a motor that is thermally protected against extreme temperature damage, in-line circuit protection, and an over-pressure safety valve.

Compressor Power

The CKMA12’s compact design may well be the highest flowing compressor for its size and voltage.

Rated at 100 psi maximum pressure, this unit should prove ideal for filling four 35-inch tires in one duty cycle.

Each tire can be filled in as fast as two minutes. This is handy for those looking to spend less time getting back on the road after spending time off of it.

ARB compressor review
Road tire pressures reset with best off-road air compressor

What Previous Buyers Say about the best air compressor for tires

This compressor has proven a popular choice for off-road enthusiasts. They have found it easy to install and operate while giving them the durability and power they need.

They have discovered that the availability of accessories is an acceptable trade-off for any components that weren’t included.

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In Conclusion: ARB CMKA12

The small size and weight of the ARB CKMA12 may be ideal for those looking for equipment that does not take up a lot of space while providing the air they need.

The wire harness can make installation easy for a novice.

With less heat and noise generation, this compressor may prove the perfect fit for an interior installation with hard wiring.

Given the price, size, and brand, we consider this as a candidate to be the best off-road air compressor. However, we have another candidate… read on! The next product in our article is also a candate for being the best air compressor for tires.

best air compressor

Our CMKA12 was immensely useful both in Africa as well as in Central Asia

ARB CKMTP12 Review

The ARB Twin High Performance 12 volt Portable Air Compressor is designed for those exact moments when you’re leaving the nice camping spot on the beach and ready to inflate your tire pressures back to the normal road conditions.

Many off-road vehicles use larger tires that can be difficult to fill.

This 12V compressor is heavy-duty, providing plenty of power and quick inflation. It can also run air-powered tools!

Just as the ARB CKMP12, the ARB CKMTP12 compressor is riveted into a strong case that holds everything you will need.  

The portability of this compressor allows for its transfer between vehicles or storage in the garage.  Let’s take a closer look at the features of ARB’s 12-volt air compressor.

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  • Provides fast inflation of small through large-sized tires
  • Produces sufficient output to operate air-powered tools
  • The 20-foot hose allows for optimal access for all tires
  • The case makes it portable and very easy to store inside the vehicle. 
  • Easy to connect to the battery with the provided clamps


  • This 12V air compressor is heavy
  • Compressor kicks in often while idle

Key Features of the 12V ARB Air Compressor

This heavy-duty portable air compressor can produce a high flow rate to quickly inflate larger vehicle tires.

The air supply is capable of operating air-powered tools requiring 6.16 CFM of continuous output. 

The durable and waterproof case contains the accessories needed for operation straight out of the box.

ARB Compressor

Build And Design Quality of the best air compressor for tires

This ARB portable air compressor is compact (17.3 x 9.8 x 8.7 inches) and heavy (16 pounds). It is constructed with aerospace and military-grade components that provide durability.

The high price point stems from the motors, both of which are water sealed and ball-bearing equipped (no bushings here).

It generates low heat while providing pressure between 135 to 150 PSI, making it ideal for a variety of inflation and air-powered tools.

Sealed to resist dust and moisture, an additional air element protects against off-road conditions.

Ease of Use of the best air compressor for tires

Air-style couplings make connections with accessories a snap. The power switch lights up in blue, preventing fumbling for it in the dark.

An abrasive/heat-resistant hose offers 20 feet of access across the vehicle.

The accessories are functional, but could be improved on (they include a high-flow tire attachment with stop valve as well as extra nozzle attachments for inflating balls, mattresses, etc.).  

Simply attach the clips to the battery posts, switch it on, and begin to use!

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Additional Safety Features

Each compressor is tested by the manufacturer and is both CE and C-Tick compliant.

The motors are protected against extreme temperature damage with a thermal cut-off.

Relays and a pressure switch prevent continuous operation but do cause the compressor to kick on every five seconds.

Heavy-duty fuses offer in-line circuit protection and redundancy.

What Other Buyers Say

Most reviews stress the dependability of the compressor. Weight is a noted negative but should be expected with this level of performance.

While some users expressed difficulty attaching the hose to a tire, we tend to agree with the majority that this compressor is very easy to use.

A couple of reviewers complained of a lack of mounting hardware, but we feel a permanent mount defeats the product’s portability.

desert drive requires the best 12 volt air compressor

In Conclusion: The 12 volt ARB CKMTP12 Twin High-Performance Compressor

This portable air compressor operates on 12 volts, making it a great tool to keep on hand for on and off-road tire deflation and inflation.

The higher price can be justified not only by the product’s durable design but also by the incredible power the dual motors provide.

Inflation of even larger tires is quick, and it can even operate air-powered tools on remote job sites.

ARB (CKMTP12) 12V Twin Motor High Performance Portable Air Compressor
  • Ultra compact twin motor, dual cylinder design makes this the high flowing portable compressor of its size on the market at 6.16 CFM (no load) and 4.65 CFM (at 29 PSI)
  • Integrated aluminum air tank and pressure switch regulates pressure between 135 PSI and 150 PSI which is suited to most air powered tools
  • Mounted in a waterproof carry case constructed from a durable impact resistant polymer; the carry case has convenient compartments for storing the air hose and other compressor accessories
  • Ducted IP55 sealed brushed DC cooling fan and anodized aluminum motor mounting brackets effectively dissipate heat from the motors, heads and electronics allowing for a 100 percent duty cycle (under room temperature conditions)
  • IDEAL FOR INFLATING TIRES ON THE GO OR TO HAVE HANDY WHEN USING MOST AIR TOOLS. Kit includes: Water proof case, twin compressor, air tank, canvas organizer, 20 feet air hose and blow gun

This particular kit includes a waterproof case, twin compressor, air tank, canvas organizer, 20 feet air hose, tire inflator, and blowgun making it a complete package for what can potentially be the best 12-volt air compressor on the market.

For more product information, click on this Amazon link. It is better to be safe than sorry out in the middle of nowhere on your next overland trip!

Photo of author
Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.
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