Before you head off on your caravan holidays, ensuring that the tyres on both your tourer and your tow car are sufficiently inflated is crucial. This is important from a safety perspective, but could also impact upon your fuel economy. According to some studies, mpg can drop by as much as 10% even if the tyres are just a few PSI below what they ought to be.

Tyre compressors are must-have caravan accessories, because this is an essential but admittedly rather tedious task. Having to check and inflate or deflate maybe six or eight tyres using a foot pump can be a very time-consuming process, and while a big SUV can make a fantastic tow car, its tyres are going to need a lot of air to inflate them. Therefore, here at Practical Caravan, we’ve put a range of portable, powered tyre compressors to the test.

So, what features were we looking for when deciding what the best tyre compressor on the market is? We wanted the tyre pressure gauge to be both accurate and easy to read – digital displays, we found, are easy to read at a glance. We’re also a fan of compressors that feature an auto-stop function which will automatically turn the compressor off when the required pressure is reached, because you can set the unit off and leave it going, while you do something else. A compressor which inflates and deflates a tyre quickly is also a boon.

We would also like to see lights, which are handy when dealing with tyre pressures after dark. In addition, an integral high-volume low-pressure pump – for rapidly dealing with inflatables – is a bonus, because this means you won’t need to take a separate pump away with you.

Every tyre compressor was put through the same test. We started by timing how long it took each unit to inflate a 205/55 x 16 tyre from flat to 30PSI. During this process we were able to assess the user-friendliness of each product. For example, a compressor that has a long power lead and air hose is easier to position, and a cordless device is even better. Also, some of the higher powered products attach directly to a battery’s terminals, handy when tackling a tourer’s tyres due to the fact that the leisure battery is nearby.

We also discovered that screw-on style couplings were more simple to use. Deflate buttons are useful, too, as is being able to monitor a tyre’s pressure during deflation.

So, how did the Halfords Multi-Purpose Inflator, which retails at £54.99 (when tested), perform? Thanks to its internal battery, allowing fully cordless operation, this is the most convenient-to-use compressor on test.

The lack of a power cord is just one advantage of this Halfords compressor. The built-in high-volume low-pressure air pump, for instance, is perfect for blowing up, or deflating, large inflatables. The internal battery can be used for powering other accessories thanks to both USB and traditional cigarette lighter-style sockets. Add in respectable tyre-inflating performance, an accurate pressure gauge, plus auto-stop technology, and this is one difficult package to beat.

We also reviewed the Michelin Hi-Power Rapid Tyre Inflator which received a four-star rating and two three-star products, the T-Maxx Portable Compressor and the Ring RAC900, while the Draper 65958 scored just one out of five.