Best Cheap Air Compressor for Tire Inflation at the Trail Head?

nwoods

Expedition Leader
For many years, I've used the trusty (but slow and noisy) MV-50 Air Compressor. This unit is sold under many, many different names, but the model number is pretty consistently MV-50 and its usually around $70 or so (edit: now $85, thanks Joe). I recently gave mine away to someone with two flat tires including their spare and really crappy tire plug job (that I did for them) out in the boonies of Death Valley, so now I need to replace it. My primary source of air is a 10 lbs CO2 tank, so my search for a cheap air compressor is just a back up, and something I hand to that person tagging along that is unprepared.
1647470724784.png

Rules: Must be under $100

Nice things to have:

- Gauge, reliably consistent even if inaccurate.
- Quick fitting to snap onto valve stem
- long leads to battery so compressor can sit on ground
- Self contained bag or case

What are your recommendations?

I have noticed a new dual piston design seems to be the modern equivalent of the MV-50. There are at least 10 different brands on Amazon all selling the same general unit. Looks like this (link). Anyone used this?

1647470960688.png
 
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llamalander

Active member
...So what's wrong with the MV-50?
Anything that uses a lighter plug won't be fast enough.
Anything that is faster than an MV-50 will cost over $100 & if it doesn't it probably only has a duty-cycle for bicycles.
Big-box stores have inflators for under $50, they just take forever, so you might as well give it away so you don't have to hang around.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
...So what's wrong with the MV-50?
Nothing, other than its loud and slow, with inaccurate gauges. It's been 10+ years since I did any diligent searching on this topic, I thought there was a good chance that perhaps maybe there was something new and better on the market.
 

Superduty

Adventurer
MV90 is a bit better than the 50 and will do the trick. I used one for a bit and it worked fine. Eventually I wanted a compressor that was hard mounted/wired.
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
The MV-50 is still likely the best bargain to be had. And I wouldnt sweat the duty cycle, as many of us, including myself, have run them not stop refilling oversized and/or high PSI tires without incident. Still, they are dirt cheap and QC comes into play. So your mileage may vary. ;)
 

highwest

Active member
Viair 88P? Mine did the job for a number of years without ever hitting its duty cycle shutoff. Probably equivalent to the MV50.
 

bluejeep

just a guy
110V unit from harbor freight, plus 1200 watt inverter (good for multiple uses). Runs much slower rpm so should last longer. Had mine for 20 years now, no issues. Albeit use is infrequent. But I like it better than the 12V outlet units that seem to spin uber fast
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
@Metcalf - that is one of the twin compressors I was noticing being very popular right now. The NAPA unit is the same as the Summit Offroad version (though they want $185)
And also the Morriflate ($229): https://morrflate.com/shop/air-sour...-tensix-portable-12v-off-road-air-compressor/
(includes multi-tire inflating/deflation kit)
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
@Metcalf - that is one of the twin compressors I was noticing being very popular right now. The NAPA unit is the same as the Summit Offroad version (though they want $185)
And also the Morriflate ($229): https://morrflate.com/shop/air-sour...-tensix-portable-12v-off-road-air-compressor/
(includes multi-tire inflating/deflation kit)
Yup, the Napa price was just knocking the others out of the water. I hope they come back in stock. I would love to buy a few to replace some older MV-50s in my daily type drivers.
 

DaveInDenver

Luddite
...So what's wrong with the MV-50?
Maybe the NAPA unit if you can wait and find one.

But, honestly, the answer seems self evident to "What cheap compressor should I buy to replace the cheap one that lasted me a decade?"

Yes, the MV-50 gauge stinks. But in a way you know how it stinks. Plus it'll probably get broken and replaced eventually anyway.

Do they benefit from a tear-down, a little work with a file and emery cloth and grease? You betcha. Also a rewiring isn't a bad thing. A ton of experience to be found there.

For your $85 and a couple of beers worth of shop time you have a compressor worth carrying.
 
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