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Field Tested: ARB’s Digital Tire Inflator

ARB has been launching a whole slew of new equipment recently, and some of them have really been home runs. Take their Adventure Light for example, a simple yet effective product that had us all trading up from their old model. So when a box arrived in the mail carrying a new Digital Tire Inflator, I eagerly tossed it in my bag and set out for a trip.

At first glance the new inflator isn’t vastly different from the old one. They’ve clearly swapped the analog dial for a screen, and the classic blue has been exchanged for red, but overall it feels the same. Of course, it’s not, and there are several changes worth noting.  The first and most obvious is that this new inflator is digital. It runs on two AAA batteries, has an estimated run time of 200 hours, and can be toggled between PSI, Bar, and KPA. This gives you a greater degree of accuracy, and the ability to read tenths as well as whole units (25.4 pounds per square inch instead of just 25). Of course, none of us really need that much accuracy, so I feel the bigger benefit to the screen is the backlighting. It’s fantastic when rolling out early in the morning or late at night, and makes the job of adjusting air pressure in the dark a more manageable task.

Many people probably overlooked the second change, but I was thrilled to see it. Besides being coated in PVC, the braided air hose has been extended a full 10.5 inches to 23.5 inches in total. Why should you care? Because this means we no longer have to crouch down by the tire to inflate it. With the extra length it’s now possible to stand upright and hold the inflator by your side while the compressor runs. For those of us with bad knees or bad backs, this is a lifesaver.

As big of an improvement as that is, I still wish that they had included a lockout switch of some kind to hold the air valve open when inflating. With their standard air chuck, the one with no gauge, a user can simply clamp it onto the valve and walk away while the compressor runs. With the inflator, you must physically stand there and hold it open. It’s not a big deal, especially now that there’s a longer hose, but it would be a nice touch when you find yourself airing up a large number of tires.  All in all the new digital gauge is a nice update to their standard inflator, but not nice enough that I’d recommend everyone run out to upgrade right away. It feels a little unnecessary given that their standard model works so well, costs half as much, and doesn’t share the risk of electronic failures. That being said, it’s worth every cent of the $55 retail price for those of us with back or knee problems. I’ve gladly added one to my compressor bag, and will now have one less reason to dislike the ends of our trips. It’s all about the little victories.

For more information on the digital tire inflator, check out ARB’s website here.

The Digital Tire Inflator is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars from 105 customer reviews on Amazon.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Senior Editor while living full-time on the road.