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Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first

guzie

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Looking to outfit my 2021 rubicon XR. I want both eventually but which should be the priority, onboard up/down air system or winch? I have the factory steel bumpers. I was looking at using maximum-3 mount and a new smittybilt XRC gen 3 or X20 gen 3. I would get a cheap smittybilt portable compressor as well. Other option is to hold on the winch and get a dual ARB air compressor along with one of the onboard air options. There are a couple options I have found to mount the compressor and hook up all 4 tires at once to pump up/deflate at the same time. Epic has a new system that mounts under the seat (not my preference) and hoses get connected to the tires from an air port at a bracket along each side of the front seats. The other air system would be Updownair’s gen 2 setup that goes under the hood For the controls. Tire whips connect in the fender wells. The air compressor i could mount in a few locations with this one. My use of the Jeep will be on local Michigan trails, Jeep jamboree this year at Drummond island as well as maybe more trails out of state. It won’t be a mall crawler.
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John VonJeep

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Just get a quality portable compressor (like Viair) instead of OBA. On-board isn’t necessary for pretty much anyone.

A nice little luxury? I guess. But I regularly wheel with people who use OBA and people who use portables and everyone always finishes airing up at basically the same time.
 

brennaman

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Looking to outfit my 2021 rubicon XR. I want both eventually but which should be the priority, onboard up/down air system or winch? I have the factory steel bumpers. I was looking at using maximum-3 mount and a new smittybilt XRC gen 3 or X20 gen 3. I would get a cheap smittybilt portable compressor as well. Other option is to hold on the winch and get a dual ARB air compressor along with one of the onboard air options. There are a couple options I have found to mount the compressor and hook up all 4 tires at once to pump up/deflate at the same time. Epic has a new system that mounts under the seat (not my preference) and hoses get connected to the tires from an air port at a bracket along each side of the front seats. The other air system would be Updownair’s gen 2 setup that goes under the hood For the controls. Tire whips connect in the fender wells. The air compressor i could mount in a few locations with this one. My use of the Jeep will be on local Michigan trails, Jeep jamboree this year at Drummond island as well as maybe more trails out of state. It won’t be a mall crawler.
Great question, and I will tell you what my mindset is.
We just bought our Jeep and we are getting it ready for trips out west later this year. Since I need (or strongly want both), I am buying the winch first, and getting a portable pump. The portable pump is not as nice as having a dedicated on board pump, but I can have both at the same time for just a little more money than just the winch.
That is what I have in mind, but sure would like to see what the pro's think, thanks for starting this thread.
 

vegasblue

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I would say it depends who you wheel with or if you go it alone. If you go with others and they have a winch, I would say go air first. I use mine every single time I go out and sometimes in between to help fellow motorists or fill a pool floaty.

Space is a premium in the Wrangler, honestly two or four door, so I'm a fan of on board air rather than a portable system. I have plenty to carry around as it is. Having the dual compressor under the passenger seat is convenient, and frees up space. It's also a nice butt massager. Ha!

Probably all the reasons I don't have a mounted CB. I find the box annoying so I went portable both with the CB and the GRMS. When I don't need them, they are put away and I have a clean cockpit.

I guess the guys I go with who have portable air systems have inferior systems because I'm usually done first and help others. I use all high flow fittings and have a 50' air hose. I like that it gives me the ability to help others away from the length of the battery connectors.
 

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Definitely the winch. I have a VIAIR portable and it's just fine - as others have stated, I'm usually aired up around the same time as those with OBA anyways.

The winch is going to potentially save you and/or others with you from getting stuck or getting $$$$ in damage, whereas the OBA is just going to save you maybe a few minutes here and there.
 

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guzie

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I would say it depends who you wheel with or if you go it alone. If you go with others and they have a winch, I would say go air first. I use mine every single time I go out and sometimes in between to help fellow motorists or fill a pool floaty.

Space is a premium in the Wrangler, honestly two or four door, so I'm a fan of on board air rather than a portable system. I have plenty to carry around as it is. Having the dual compressor under the passenger seat is convenient, and frees up space. It's also a nice butt massager. Ha!

Probably all the reasons I don't have a mounted CB. I find the box annoying so I went portable both with the CB and the GRMS. When I don't need them, they are put away and I have a clean cockpit.

I guess the guys I go with who have portable air systems have inferior systems because I'm usually done first and help others. I use all high flow fittings and have a 50' air hose. I like that it gives me the ability to help others away from the length of the battery connectors.
Thanks for the input from everyone so far. I do like onboard for space savings and one less thing I need to load in/ move around. I also know the need of a winch can be critical at times if someone in the group doesn’t have one and you or someone else is stuck.
what onboard setup are you running? Do you still fill each tire individually or do you use some sort of multi fill setup?
 

John VonJeep

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A couple more things to consider:

1. A winch adds a lot of cantilevered weight off the front of your rig. This will often require stronger front springs to compensate for sag, which then raises a cascade of questions about other suspension mods you might want to make.

2. Good recovery boards and a shovel can solve a lot of problems if you’re really willing to put your back into it. A buddy of mine has basically stopped using his winch (and he used to use it all the time, especially in the snow) now that he figured out how to optimize the boards + shovel.

Also consider that Tom Sheppard, who has done hundreds-of-thousands of miles overlanding, and has literally written the book on the subject, doesn’t run a winch.

None of this means you shouldn’t run one. I‘m getting ready to install my old Zeon 10 on my personal XR! But just to say that winches aren’t as necessary as some overlanders seem to think.
 

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There’s plenty of reasons to install OBA. Space savings isn’t one of them. It’s a myth and a lie. It takes up as much, and maybe even more space than a portable does.

I’d say get the winch and a portable compressor. Wait 6 months and see if you really think having OBA is worth spending more money. If it is - go for it.
 

AcesandEights

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Go here: https://www.viaircorp.com/portables, click this: https://www.viaircorp.com/portables/440p and then find a link to purchase. Having a portable compressor is much more convenient and compressors take the same amount of space whether they are hard mounted or portable. Portable means you can move it to another vehicle, which can be very convenient.

ETA: I'm sorry, I didn't address the real question. You should be airing up and down much more often than using a winch, and in most cases a winch won't be necessary, as you can use a tow strap, shovel, recovery boards, etc. If you find yourself in situations where you "need" a winch, even once, then you can buy one, but you should find yourself in the situation that you need a compressor the first time you take the Jeep out in the dirt. So, get the compressor first, no question.
 
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John VonJeep

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You can easily spend $1000 on an on-board air setup and it does exactly what a $100 smittybilt compressor can do but on-board will save you 15-20 minutes depending on tire size. If you splurge for the $170 smittybilt the time saved drops significantly, down to 5-7 minutes saved. I’ve been running with a low end smittybilt and it fills my 35s reliably every time I wheel. Oh and my winch, yeah it pulled me up two icey and snow covered hills last weekend when I was stuck in the middle of the woods alone with my fiancée. If you want to wheel with confidence you NEED a way to fill your tires AND pull yourself. Don’t spend $1000 on air system when you can spend $200 to get a very capable compressor and $800 for a very capable winch. It seems like a budget is in play due to even asking the question, this will get you the biggest increase in functionality for your buck. If the compressor setup isn’t cutting it you can always sell it and cover at least 50% of your cost, or keep it as a backup or loaner to fellow Jeepers. Oh and remember no matter how fast you can air up, you’ll still have to wait around for the guy in your group using a 12v air compressor 😂, unless you wheel alone or with all on-board air guys then you won’t realize a time saving.
 

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You'll use the air more. Buy it first. Couple of things regarding OBA:

1. If you have more than one Jeep that you wheel, you'll need to buy one for each Jeep rather than simply moving a portable to another Jeep.

2. Are you really going to remove and re-install it when your lease is over or you trade Jeeps?

3. If it breaks, it's harder to work on or replace.

Considering winches....I have one but never used it. If you wheel alone (which you really shouldn't), get a winch for that one time you have to self-recover; otherwise, get a good quality recovery strap so your buddy can pull you out (unless he has a Bronco. Then you're both out of luck).
 

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I built my own tire inflation system for about $90 and bought the NAPA pump for $114.
I also found a waterproof box to put it all in.
Jeep Wrangler JL Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first IMG_1234

Faster than the big names, plenty of YouTube videos on that. Now I have something I can use for boat, trailer, farm equipment and so on.
That being said, my first installed aftermarket will be my winch and bumper along with Rubicon take offs in the next few weeks as it gets warm enough to work outside.
Jeep Wrangler JL Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first IMG_1235

Rugged Ridge Arcus NIB found locally for $400 with a Badlands 12k with synthetic rope for $489 out the door.
Jeep Wrangler JL Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first IMG_1236

I use another box for recovery gear. Nice and neat and able to be tied down,
 
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guzie

guzie

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I built my own tire inflation system for about $90 and bought the NAPA pump for $114.
I also found a waterproof box to put it all in.
Jeep Wrangler JL Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first IMG_1236

Faster than the big names, plenty of YouTube videos on that. Now I have something I can use for boat, trailer, farm equipment and so on.
That being said, my first installed aftermarket will be my winch and bumper along with Rubicon take offs in the next few weeks as it gets warm enough to work outside.
Jeep Wrangler JL Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first IMG_1236

Rugged Ridge Arcus NIB found locally for $400 with a Badlands 12k with synthetic rope for $489 out the door.
Jeep Wrangler JL Onboard air up/down system or winch- what to buy first IMG_1236

I use another box for recovery gear. Nice and neat and able to be tied down,
What’s the airline setup you have there? Looks like you can run them all at once to your portable
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