When you’re packing your caravan accessories for your holidays, don’t forget a tyre compressor. In amongst your camping chairs, portable heaters, passive coolboxes and the rest of your touring kit, tyre compressors are essential for safe towing.   

Ensuring the tyres on both your car and your caravan are at the right pressure before heading off on tour won’t only keep you safe – it could also help save you money. Some reports estimate that if your tyre pressures are even just a little bit too low, your fuel economy could be up to 10% worse.

Carrying a portable, powered tyre compressor is also good for taking the strain out of what can otherwise be a quite tiresome job. Having to check the pressures on maybe six or eight tyres could take quite a while with a foot pump, especially as the large tyres on the SUVs many people use to tow their caravans can require a lot of air to fill them.

All the compressors we tested had to inflate a 205/55 x 16 tyre from flat to 30PSI, against the clock. And while this was happening, the Practical Caravan review team was able to assess the user-friendliness of the products. We wanted to know which had the easiest gauges to read, how accurate the gauges were and how quickly the compressors worked.

In using them, we could also determine if their power leads and air hoses were long enough – longer ones make the units easier to position and cordless ones are even better. We also found that the screw-on style couplings were the best and easiest to use.

A good feature on a tyre compressor is a deflate button, so you can deflate a tyre whilst monitoring its pressure. Why would you want to deflate a tyre? Well, the tyres on most tow cars should be hardened up before a tourer is hitched on the back, so after your holidays, you might want to reduce the pressure in them. In addition, some people chose to over-inflate their caravan’s tyres when their van isn’t being used to, in theory, prevent flat-spotting, meaning the tyres will need to be deflated before hitting the road.

Here, the T-Maxx Portable Compressor, which costs £58, is being tested. In 4×4 circles, T-Maxx tyre compressors have a legendary reputation. So it’s perhaps a surprise that this is actually cheaper than Ring’s similar RAC900.

In terms of layout, this T-Maxx product and the RAC900 are practically the same. The compressor’s power leads clamp directly to battery terminals, and the large coiled hose allows plenty of distance between the compressor and the coupling/gauge/deflate button. While the power lead is a smidgen longer than the RAC900’s, the air hose is shorter. And, ultimately, the Ring is the faster unit, with this one taking five seconds short of two minutes in the inflation test. 

Also as part of the Practical Caravan portable, powered tyre compressor group test, in addition to the aforementioned Ring RAC900, we reviewed the Halfords Multi-Purpose Inflator which topped the test and earned a five-star rating. The Michelin Hi-Power Rapid Tyre Inflator was also put through its paces and received four stars, while the Draper 65958 got just one star.