I make a point of taking a compressor with me every time I go 'bush'. It's part of my essential recovery bag that includes a number of straps, shackles, gloves and other tyre maintenance tools.
The reason for this is simple. There are two kinds of tourer – those who have had a puncture in the past, and those who are certain to have one in the future. Take it a step further and there are two types of people when dealing with a puncture – those who pull their tyre plugs out, and those who swap on a spare and hope they can make the next town for repairs.
I’ll admit, I have and will again take the easy route and swap on a spare, so my reasoning for carrying a compressor is more complex. My LandCruiser has heavy-duty springs installed with towing in mind so its ride is rock-like when unhitched, and one way to make it more palatable on corrugations and offroad is to deflate the tyres. I also dislike getting stuck in sand or worse, mud, so drop my tyres as low as 15psi, a level much too low to safely drive home after my excursions. So out comes the compressor once I’ve left my tracks.
For the last six months I've been using the TJM Portable Compressor. Before that I used a range of borrowed compressors from high-end double piston units to cheaply made eBay specials, and I think with the TJM Portable Compressor I have now found the perfect middle ground.
The TJM is affordable. I have seen one on special for as little as $175, with typical pricing around $195. It is light at 5.5kg including the bag and extras. It is robust, sitting on an alloy base plate with its air intake mounted high to avoid sucking in dust, plus rubber bushes between the body and the base plate to reduce vibration. This robust build helps give it its impressive five-year warranty.
Using it is as simple as connecting the alligator clips to your battery, plugging in the 7.2m hose, and flicking the switch on the body of the compressor.
The hose has an inline gauge and the connections are hard-wearing brass with a screw-on connection to the tyre valve. This means you can connect the hose, flick the switch, and stand back up only leaning back in to check the easy-to-read gauge.
With the compressor comes a few extras I found handy, like a ball inflator and a pair of mattress adaptors to make light work of inflatable beds.
The TJM Portable Compressor has a claimed 72L per minute max air flow at zero psi and 43L per minute at 20psi; which is seriously high for a single pump and more than enough for most. As it can draw up to 30A, I suggest running your engine if you are inflating large tyres from flat or are inflating a high number of tyres, though in testing, I had no issue with my engine off when bringing my 285/70 tyres up from 15 to 30psi. The only other concern, and this is one shared with all compressors, is that the pump housing can get hot, so be careful when picking it up after use.
For the money, I don't think you can beat the TJM Portable Compressor. It comes with a long warranty and, should you need to, it is easily claimed with TJM stores littered around the country. It’s apparent flow rate is very high for a single piston pump and it comes with some good accessories, and is super easy to use. I suppose the biggest endorsement is that I’m not looking for a new one anymore – it does everything a tourer needs very well.