Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor review

A retro-designed tire inflator with some of the best inflation speeds around

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor
(Image: © Amazon)

Tom's Guide Verdict

A mix of old and new tech, the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor may be big and its retro design a throw-back to a simpler time, but it can fill car and truck tires quickly. On the downside, it requires a direct connection to the vehicle’s battery.

Pros

  • +

    Long hose with extension

  • +

    Fast pumping

  • +

    Includes fuse

  • +

    Comes with bag

Cons

  • -

    Powered by car battery

  • -

    120 PSI maximum pressure

  • -

    Big and heavy

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Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: Specs

Size: 10.2 x 8.5 x 4.5 inches
Weight: 5.8 pounds
Peak pressure: 120 psi
Time to fill a tire: 1:29
Length of cord: 28 feet
Battery: No
USB, AC power ports: No
Light: Yes

Amazon Basics’ line of gear has rightfully made a name for itself with simple, minimalist equipment with affordable price tags to match. The Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor is one such piece of kit. While it may look like this tire inflator came from an earlier period of automotive technology, it still managed to offer a light design and one of the longest air hoses around. 

This inflator can make quick work of filling a tire or football, but the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor is powered by a direct connection with the car’s battery terminals. That makes it particularly awkward for those who strive to never open the hood. 

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: Price and availability

With a $66 price tag, the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor is between more expensive tri-powered designs and lower priced budget inflators. Amazon Basics also sells car floor mats, roof cargo carriers and cleaning supplies.

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: Design and features

Looking like something out of a 1960s shop class, the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor is made of black steel and chrome with its pair of pumping cylinders out in the open. Compared to the covered Carsun or Prow inflators, the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor looks completely naked. 

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor under hood of car

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Slightly smaller than the Craftsman V20 Cordless Inflator, the 10.2 x 8.5 x 4.5 inch design is humongous compared to the likes of the handheld Fanttik A8 Apex compressor. Its 6.0 pound weight is roughly what the tri-powered Craftsman V20 Cordless Inflator weighs.

Unlike the V20 Cordless Inflator and other designs, the Amazon Basics pump lacks batteries, an AC adapter or even a plug for a car’s 12-volt accessory outlet. Instead it’s powered by a pair of clips that are attached directly to the car’s battery terminals. They’re colored red and black with clear polarity markings, so there’s no mistaking what goes where. On the other hand, the insulating plastic clip covers fall off rather easily.

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor battery clamps for power

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the pump has 12.7 feet of power cabling, and the air hose and should be plenty for filling the tires on cars and light trucks, it’s just the start. The Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor adds a 16-foot coiled hose, bringing its reach to more than 28 feet. But unlike the Craftsman V20 Cordless Inflator, there’s no place to coil the hoses during stowage; it does come with a sturdy bag. 

The 1.2-inch monochrome screen is backlit and uses large numerals. Below it is a three-button interface with an “S”, for setting the maximum pressure, plus up- and down-arrows for adjusting the pressure setting. The screen only shows Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) and tops out at 120 PSI, something that shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re a bicycle racer.

The inflator also has a pair of on/off switches: one for turning the pump on and the other for the tri-element LED light. In addition to a needle for inflating a sports ball, the kit comes with an adapter for filling a bicycle tire and a thoughtful 30 Amp fuse to replace the one that comes with it.

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: Setup

Big and heavy, it can be awkward to carry the Amazon Basics pump. There is a nice handle for lugging it around, and it comes with a bag for the pump and accessories.

There’s only one way to power the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: directly from the car’s battery using the included clips. This might reduce its flexibility on the road and is likely not the first choice for a soccer tournament — but the 12-foot power cable helps a little bit.

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: Performance

After I pressed the power switch, the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor started right up. Capable of pumping up to 15.8 gallons of air per minute, twice the rate of the Carsun inflator, the Amazon Basics pump is still limited to a peak pressure of 120 PSI. 

Amazon has managed to offer the speed demon of tire inflators, with the pump taking my flat tire to 30 PSI in just 1 minute and 29 seconds – about half the time of most of the others. It was just as quick inflating the soccer ball to 10 PSI at 4.5 seconds. 

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Portable Air Compressor’s digital pressure gauge was accurate and didn’t swing wildly when the pump was engaged. As is the case with the Carsun tire inflator, the instructions warn against using the unit for more than 10 minutes at a time. If you ever find yourself in that sort of situation you’ll need to let it cool for 10 minutes first. 

The inflator comes with a one-year warranty that falls short of the lifetime protection afforded by the RoofPax pump. 

Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor: Bottom line

While its looks are a throw-back to a simpler age of automotive tools, the Amazon Basics Portable Air Compressor’s speedy inflation speed makes it a great tool for people in a hurry to get back on the road. It only offers a maximum pressure of 120 PSI but that should be plenty for most uses, and its combination of cable and hose adds up to a whopping 28 feet. 

The inflator comes with a storage bag, has a handy light for nighttime work and sells for a mid-range $66. On the downside, the Amazon Basics Portable Air compressor can only be powered by connecting the pump directly to the car’s battery, so is a non-starter for those afraid of what lurks beneath the car’s hood. 

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.