A couple of years ago we reviewed a portable tire inflator that plugs into a car’s DC outlet for power, and while it worked reasonably well, its power cord tether made it somewhat of a hassle to use.
This Craftsman Nextec 12V inflator, on the other hand, is vastly more portable and convenient to use. Its 12V Max lithium-ion battery pack holds a charge for months at a time, making it great for spontaneous use.
You can use this inflator on your car tires, bicycle ties, and inflatable toys, and other such objects.
If Craftsman discontinues their Nextec line of compact 12V li-ion power tools, which seems possible now that all Nextec tools are marked as being on clearance at my local Sears, this is the one tool they should bring back as a standalone product.
This is the best portable cordless tire inflator I have ever used, or even seen.
Craftsman designed the inflator to be simple and easy yo use. There’s an on/off switch, (+) and (-) pressure adjust buttons, a pressure gauge reset button, and power push button.
Step 1: Slide switch to on position
Step 2: Attach tire chuck to tire
Step 3: Dial in desired pressure in PSI
Step 4: Push power button on handle
If the pressure is set to 40 PSI or less, then the inflator will shut off once it reaches that pressure.
With my vehicle, I have to set the desired pressure 2.0 PSI higher, possibly due to the tire pressure monitoring system, but the gauge will still read the proper pressure. For instance, to get to 35 PSI, I set the inflation pressure to 37 PSI. The gauge will climb to 37 PSI while inflating the tires, and then after the unit automatically shuts off, the reading will say 35 PSI.
Runtime is actually pretty good too. I was able to bring all four of my tires from 30 to 35 PSI, and the fuel gauge was still green. In earlier testing, I was able to inflate my leaky tire once every two days for about two weeks until I had a chance to get it fixed.
During those two weeks, I kept the inflator in my trunk, and also used it to help inflate a woman’s full-flat tire enough to get her out of a parking garage so someone could meet her outside with a spare or for a tow.
- Automatic shutoff at user-set pressure, up to 40 PSI
- Manual inflation at up to 200 PSI
- 18-inch hose with standard Schrader tire chuck
- Onboard hose and adapter storage
- (4) nozzles, pins, accessories
- LED worklight
- Built-in fuel gauge
- Rubberized housing accents
The inflator features an 18-inch hose that wraps around for storage, and the tire chuck is protected inside its own docking area.
18-inches is just the right length. Any shorter would be too short, and any longer would make the inflator less portable.
My initial impression was that the chuck felt a little plasticky, but its has proven to be quite durable.
The battery fuel gauge LED lights up green when you’re good to go, and orange when power drops below a certain level – possibly 50%. When it turns red, you’re just about out of juice and should either find a spare battery or return to the charger.
I checked the accuracy of the digital pressure gauge against my Joes racing gauge, and it continues to be spot-on. It has 0.5 PSI resolution
The Nextec inflator comes with a black plastic nozzle, presumably for use with inflatable toys, air mattresses, and furniture; a sports ball pin adapter; what looks to be a small Schrader valve core wrench, and what I believe to be a Presta bike tire valve adapter.
A hinged plastic door keeps the adapters safe and sound in their storage compartment.
Craftsman sells the inflator without a 12V Nextec battery or charger. This is why I rated its value as only 4/5.
The list price is $40 for the inflator, but you can typically find it on sale for $34, sometimes less.
Typical pricing for a QuickBoost battery charger and Li-ion battery are $34 and $20, when on sale, but you could alternatively pick up a Nextec drill/driver kit for $50 or less.
To be completely honest, this is not something I would have purchased. But, after using it regularly to adjust and maintain my car’s tire pressure, and occasionally in between to counter leaks until I could afford the time for to get them patched at the local shop, I now consider this inflator to be indispensable.
Craftsman’s Nextec air inflator is easy to use, durable, portable, and convenient. I consider it a MUST-BUY.
The only one negative is that Craftsman does not offer the inflator as part of a kit. This means that you either have to spend $50-60 on a separate charger and battery, or $45+ on a Nextec tool kit that comes with a drill/driver or other tool, 12V battery, and charger.
Buy Now(via Sears)
Thank you to Craftsman for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.