Tested: Trail Tech Portable Air Compressor
By Chad de Alva
Trail Tech’s new Portable Air Compressor (PAC) combines a fan cooled air compressor, a 5000 mAh battery, a light, and USB power bank functionality into a unit that’s roughly the same size as a 16 ounce can of Liquid Death. The compressor runs off of the unit’s internal battery, which means it’s a self-contained system – no power cords or running bikes are required. A portable air compressor is a great tool for motorcycle riders to carry to inflate tires after a repair, or to adjust tire pressures to match the surfaces that they’re riding on. Since the PAC is self-contained, its functionality can also be used off the bike as well.
Hold the power button for a few seconds and you’ll turn the unit on, activating its easy to comprehend display. Information such as state of charge, measured pressure, set pressure, and mode are all displayed for the user. With just a few button presses, you can choose the inflating mode, pressure units displayed, and set a cut off pressure. The unit will inflate whatever it’s connected to until it reaches the set pressure, so you’re free to work on other things. The four compressor modes are: sports ball, bicycle, motorcycle and car. Using the included sports ball needle, the Portable Air Compressor can get your soccer ball to the recommended pressure without the risk of over inflating and damaging the ball. The PAC also comes with a presta adapter, so it’s easy to quickly set the tire pressure on any bicycle that uses presta valves. Pro Tip: before you use the PAC, hold down the plus and minus buttons for a couple of seconds to calibrate the unit for the most accurate pressure readings.
Inflating a motorcycle tire is very straightforward. Toggle the unit to motorcycle mode and set your desired inflation pressure. Screw what the manual calls the “American Style Quick Connect Trachea” into the compressor and connect the other end to your bike’s Schrader valve. Press the power button to turn the compressor on, and you’re off to the races. There is no need to run a power cord to your bike, or to run your bike to keep your bike’s starting battery charged. The cordless convenience will spoil you and it’s so nice not to have to breathe exhaust. Pro Tip 2: Spin the wheel for the tire you are inflating so that the PAC can hang from the valve stem. This protects the PAC from ingesting dirt while it’s running.
The Portable Air Compressor also has a mode for inflating car and truck tires, but that comes with a big disclaimer. This compressor doesn’t push a lot of air (CFM) so don’t expect to air up a high volume or high pressure tire to placard pressure on a single charge. I tried airing up a 35-inch all-terrain truck tire from my sand dune tire pressure of 13 psi to my street pressure of 45 psi with the PAC. The compressor ran for 26 minutes inflating the tire to 34.5 psi before completely exhausting its battery and shutting off. In all fairness, the PAC certainly isn’t the right tool for the job here, so users with big tires or vehicles with high street pressures should carry other inflation options.
Battery life on the Portable Air Compressor is completely dependent on how the compressor is used. For example, my phone has the same battery capacity as the PAC, so I could easily use up most of the PAC’s battery to completely charge my phone. Were I attempting to charge my phone when the PAC was cold, I may not even get a full charge, based purely on the fact that batteries do not perform as well when cold. The USB Type-A output on the PAC is rated for 5V/2A, which works out to 10 watts. If you’re used to charging a modern phone at Power Distribution (PD) speeds, know that charging will take longer with the Portable Air Compressor.
When it comes to battery life for inflating moto tires, the answer is once again that it depends. How much pressure you’re adding, and the internal volume of the tire(s) will have a direct impact on how many inflations you can get on a single charge. For a conservative estimate, I used the PAC in a 70 degree shop to inflate a 150/70-18 tire from 20 to 35 PSI, and was able to do so five times before the battery indicator showed 25% state of charge when the unit was resting (allowing the cell voltage to recover after being loaded by the compressor). A bit of bar napkin volumetric math tells us that a 150/70-18 rear tire has 40% more volume than a 90/90-21 front, so let’s call it a safe three rounds of airing up an adventure bike (front and rear tire) from dirt to street pressure before needing to charge the PAC. Charging is handled via the USB-C port on the PAC, which is also rated to 10W. Charging the battery from solid red (10-25% SOC) takes the better part of two hours. It’s important to note that the PAC cannot be used as a compressor while charging.
I would really like to see the next generation of Trail Tech Portable Air Compressor come with a larger battery (at least 10,000 mAh like other options out there) and support for modern USB-PD standards. This would make it a much better power bank, and I’d be willing to bet that a PD input can provide plenty of power to run the compressor. Pro Tip 3: Keep the PAC battery charged. It’s easy to stash the PAC in a tank bag after use and charge it up while riding.
In its current form, the Trail Tech Portable Air Compressor is a solid option for motorcycle use, and the benefits of a self-contained system extend well beyond the world of motorcycles. From having a quick tool to grab to air up your kid’s soccer ball, to having an easy way to top off a spare tire on a trailer or truck if needed, the PAC is a compact compressor solution that is easy to pack with you on all sorts of adventures. Anyone shopping for a PAC should absolutely spring for the optional hard case, which makes the unit much more toss in a bag or shove in moto luggage tolerant, and it’s nice to have a zippered closure ensuring that nothing sneaks out of the case. For more information on the Trail Tech Portable Air Compressor, visit www.trailtech.net