" Viair's 88P and 85P portable air compressors offer compelling performance, solid components, and excellent reliability at a reasonable price. "

Got air? Our review of the Viair 88P portable compressor

So you’re in the market for a new portable air compressor.

Maybe you need something to air up your tires after a long day on the trails. Maybe you just need something to top up your tires every now and then. In either case, Viair’s 88P and 85P portable air compressors offer compelling performance, solid components, and excellent reliability at a reasonable price.

When it comes to air compressors, especially the portable variety, not all are created equal. Most cheap air compressors you’ll find on Amazon today use plastic components that quickly overheat and seize up after just a few minutes of use. Sure they’re cheap, but they won’t hold up to more than a few uses.

That’s where compressors from companies like Viair come into play. The company offers a wide variety of compressors ranging from light to heavy duty. The Viair 88P sits at the top heap of their small portable compressor line.

Design

Specifications

Duty Cycle: 25 minutes at 30PSI
CFM: 1.25 at 30PSI
Max Working Pressure: 120PSI
Max Amp Draw: 20 Amps
Max operating temperature: 158° F
Min operating temperature: -4° F
Weight: 4.75 lbs
Power cord length: 10 ft
Air hose length: 16 ft

For better or worse, what you see is what you get with Viair’s 88P.

The 88P has a simple directly driven piston. It doesn’t hide what it is behind a shroud of plastic. On top, a large gauge makes getting a reading easy, though it’s important to note the compressor has to be off to get an accurate one.

The whole compressor rests on rubber feet and the heavy duty design long piston stroke means it doesn’t vibrate nearly as violently or loudly as other compressors.

The piston head features an integrated heat sink that does an excellent job of helping the compressor keep cool, and that’s important. This thing gets scalding hot in a hurry.

The 88P’s 20 Amp draw means you won’t be plugging it into any of your accessory ports, at least not without blowing a few fuses. Instead, power is delivered directly from the battery. An inline 20-amp fuse adds an extra layer of protection to your vehicle’s electrical system.

The 88P’s 16-foot air hose and 10-foot power cord makes reaching all four tires easy. However, the air hose and power cord are permanently attached to the pump making it nearly impossible to replace them should they fail.

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Why air down off-road?

Off-road, airing down your tires can improve your vehicle’s performance as well as ride comfort. On asphalt, however, running your tires at low pressures can lead to blow outs. That makes finding a reliable compressor for airing up after a day on the trail all the more important.

Performance

When it comes to performance, the 88P is really quite impressive considering its size.

At 0 PSI, Viair claims the 88P delivers 1.47 cubic feet per minute of compressed air. However, this is a little misleading because the amount of air a compressor is able to move around falls off as the pressure increases.

At 30 PSI, the 88P manages a still impressive 1.25 CFM of air and at its max operating pressure of 120 PSI, it should still manage a modest  0.35 CFM.

In our testing, this translated to the 88P managing to inflate our 31.5 inch Nitto Terra Grapplers from 15 PSI to 35 PSI in 2:15 minutes, and to 45 PSI in just over 3:30 minutes.

A 45 percent duty cycle means the compressor can run for up to 25 minutes at 30 PSI before needing to cool for 35 minutes. Unless you’re running your tires at really high pressures, you shouldn’t get anywhere near these limits. In theory, the 88P should be able to air up all four tires in just over 10 minutes.

I expect that for those running larger tires the 88P may struggle, but for our modest application, it performed admirably.

What we liked

  • Long hose and electrical cable
  • Excellent 45 percent duty cycle
  • Inexpensive
  • Quiet
  • Small

What we didn’t

  • It’s not the fastest compressor on the market
  • Hose and power cord are permanently attached
  • No carrying case is included (We picked up this inexpensive mechanics bag for it from Rothco)
  • The compressor must be off to get an accurate pressure reading.

GET THE VIAIR 88P

The 88P’s little brother the 85P

Viair 85P

Specifications

Duty Cycle: 20 minutes at 30 PSI
CFM: 1.25 at 30PSI
Max Working Pressure: 60 PSI
Max Amp Draw: 15 Amps
Max operating temperature: 158° F
Min operating temperature: -4° F
Weight: 4.30 lbs
Power cord length: 10 ft
Air hose length: 3 ft

Don’t have 33-inch tires? Don’t want to pop the hood every time you need to air up? Then maybe the 88P’s smaller less expensive little brother the 85P is a better match for you.

Unlike the 88P, the 85 gets power from your vehicle’s 15-watt 12-volt accessory port. Just make sure the vehicle is running otherwise you risk blowing a fuse.

The smaller 85P still boasts an impressive 33 percent duty cycle, allowing it to run for up to 20 minutes before needing to cool for about 40 minutes.

The 85 does have a few downsides. Its air hose is significantly shorter at just three feet. This may make it difficult to reach all four of your tires without having to move the compressor around to the other side of the vehicle.

The 85 also comes with a small accessory bag that the larger 88P doesn’t get.

GET THE VIAIR 85P

Further Reading

Enjoy this post? Check out these other awesome posts we think you’ll enjoy:

Please comment and share

So tell us in the comments section:

  • What are your thoughts on the Viair 88P?
  • What air compressor do you use? Why do you like it?
  • What factors are important to you when considering a new air compressor?

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8 Comments

  • One man and his Mustang

    I could do with one of them.

    August 10, 2017 - 3:26 pm Reply
    • tobiasmann

      I can highly recommend it. There are bigger and faster units out there but Viair is well known in the air compressor world. There are even systems that can be used to run air tools. For your Mustang the 88P might be a little overkill. If your Mustang doesn’t have an accessory port the 87P is the same as the 85P but it runs right off the battery. Plus either the 85P or 87P are running around $40 on Amazon these days. http://amzn.to/2vQy4Wk

      August 20, 2017 - 8:04 pm Reply
      • One man and his Mustang

        Thanks for the info. ?

        August 21, 2017 - 2:48 am Reply
        • tobiasmann

          Glad to help. Looking forward to your next post by the way. That mustang keeps getting better and better.

          August 21, 2017 - 8:12 am Reply
  • usathroughoureyes

    This is great timing that you note this. We have just been looking at these gadgets along with the portable jumper boxes. Important equipment to have when hitting the back roads.

    August 11, 2017 - 9:29 am Reply
    • tobiasmann

      We’re looking into an isolated dual battery system for the Wrangler. This would allow us to power a small portable fridge freezer and run power tools. It would also allow us to jump the car without having to pop the hood. That’s a little ways off for us as dual battery systems typically run between $300 and $400. We’re considering a small Lithium Ion jumper that woul fit in the glovebox.

      As for air compressors. I would avoid cheap ones or combination inflator jump packs. They aren’t designed to dissipate heat and are prone to premature failure when used for anything but emergencies. Good luck on your search. – Tobias

      August 20, 2017 - 8:07 pm Reply
      • usathroughoureyes

        Tobias, its awesome you mention these gadgets. We are in the process of getting one of the portable lithium jumper gadgets and they are incredibly inexpensive and a must for off the grid camping where there is no cell signal or folks to get a jump off. We just replaced our dual batteries and they were $500.00. They are a must though for those true off the grid experiences you and us enjoy.

        August 24, 2017 - 10:53 am Reply

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