Best Portable Jump Starters Reviewed & Rated
What is in your car’s emergency kit? Road flares, bottled water, blanket, snacks. Those are all very good to have. Jumper cables, portable jump starter…wait, no jump starter? What are the cables for then? Sure, if you’re in an urban area, you should be able to find somebody to help you out, but what about in the country, or in the bush? I grew up in a very cold place. Eight months of cold winter and there were a few times when we went outside to start the car, and it was dead. We didn’t park in a garage, and the cold will do that to you. My dad would just next door, and get a jump. Great. Then, one day in December, we decided that it would be a great idea if we went out and chopped down our own Christmas tree. After we got it strapped to the roof, we jumped in the car, eager to warm up. The car was dead. No phone, no passing cars, nothing. It was a scary moment, especially for an eleven-year-old kid who needed to get home to his video games. That is just one of an endless possibility of scenarios that you don’t want to experience.
Hopefully, you’re now thinking of picking up a portable jump starter. That’s a great idea! Which one though? There are a few different sizes and styles, how do you make the best choice? By reading on a bit while I run down what I feel is a solid selection of the best, most reliable.
10 Best Portable Jump Starters
1. Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC300XL
This is an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) lead-acid battery driven unit. Not Lithium Ion (LION). A critical plus, as if left in a car and gets very cold, most LION powered batteries lose all power at around 20 degrees F. Lead acid batteries do not (though lose much of their capacity at 0 F). This makes a world of difference if being used in a temperate or northern climate where the heavy cold can seasonally be expected and the cold "kills" your battery.
Small, Lightweight, & User-Friendly
Weighing in at only 9 pounds, this jump-n-carry charger is nice and small. Don't let its size fool you though, it really packs a punch! Most people said they could start their car/truck/SUV within 10 seconds of being connected to it. The charger comes with a case for storage and a manual to teach you how to use it. This model even has a built-in flashlight!
Cost and value
This model might seem a little more pricey than other models its size, but just like everything else in sales; you get what you pay for. This model is extremely powerful. You can jump-start any size vehicles and boats; even if the battery is completely dead. The gauge is also really helpful to determine how much battery is left in it so you know when to charge it up.
2. DBPower 600A 18000 mAh Portable Jump Start
You can jump-start your vehicle (up to 6.5L gas or 5.2L diesel engine) up to 20 times with 600 amps of peak current and heavy-duty clamps and cables. Equipped with on/off switch to save its charge when not being used. Best of all, this jump starter is small enough to fit in your glove box or even your purse.
Keeps on going
The new-added LCD screen can show the exact amount of remaining power so you will never again have to guess how much charge is left. The screens are also equipped with a compass that can help you find your way home when you get lost in the wild.
Cost and value
I'm not going to lie, thus jump starter is on the higher end of the scale. It's a solid, reliable starter that won't leave you stranded, and is small enough to take with you anywhere and save you from more then just car battery problems. Can you put a price on peace of mind?
3. Rugged Geek RG1000 Safety 1000A
When you hear the phrase "class leading", you tend to pay attention. In this case it's the rugged exterior shell that houses the wealth of gadgets contain within. I guess if you're going to load ut up you should protect it.
All those ports
Most of the chargers and jump starters I`ve looked at recently have the capability to charge multiple devices at one time, but none that I`ve seen actually have dedicated ports for specific devices. I like that. It just feels like that`s a better way to do things.
Cost and value
For something relatively small and compact, the price will jump out at you just a little bit. Once you take into account the fact that what you're holding us a jump starter/power pack/flashlight/air compressor, you start to feel better about your purchase.
Very heavy Doesn't hold a charge very long
4. Jump-N-Carry JNC 660 1700
Here's a novel idea, when making something as life saving as a portable jump starter, let's try to make sure you include jumper cables long enough reach in almost any circumstance, say 46"? Oh, you already did that. Good.
Tough as nails
For all the help the Jump-N-Carry JNC Jump Starter offers to the downtrodden and otherwise stranded motorist, it would be pretty futile if it wasn't housed in a tough sturdy shell. Luckily, they thought of that too.
Cost and value
In its class, this one of the better values. Why? The combination of a lower price point and high end functionality all packed into a sturdy housing. You'll buy a jump starter for insurance, you'll buy this one for everything you need.
Doesn't hold a charge very long
5. Noco Genius G750 6V/12V .75A
Most of the time, you have no idea what's happening with your chargers. You just have to blindly hope everything works out. Not this time. NOCO threw on a visual diagnostic tool so you can always be in the know.
Waste not want not
Not every situation requires full power, yet most jump starters just give juice indiscriminately, regardless of needs. The NOCO Genius UltraSafe Smart Battery Charger decided not to be wasteful, and will actually minimizes consumption when it makes sense.
Cost and value
It doesn't offer the greatest range of power and versatility, but boy oh boy is it incredibly well priced. It's a trusted product, it's cheap, so it's totally worth it to pick this one up and just throw in your car for emergencies.
6. Gooloo 500A Peak
This isn't the only jump starter to come with a flashlight, but that doesn't mean this isn't a handy feature. You try dealing with a dead battery in the dark, then let me know how unimportant it is.
Let's hope this feature gets used very seldomly. I can't imagine the situation required to make use of this feature, but on the off chance it is needed, you'll be forever thankful you had this versatile tool at your side.
Cost and value
For what you're getting when you purchase the GOOLOO 450A Peak Car Jump Starter, it's very reasonably priced. While it isn't necessarily the top of the line, it also won't put you out a bunch of money. Perfect for getting the job done without many bells and whistles.
7. Noco GB40 1000 Amp 12V
When I was a kid, we had a very old car that often needed a jump, and would always spark. Scared the heck out of me. So imagine my surprise to learn that these clamps are spark proof. No more cowering for me!
A lot of jump starters claim high amperage performance, yet have a separate number in their ratings that represents the actual amount being used, and it's usually disappointing. Not so with this one. This kind of transparency is the mark of a quality product.
Cost and value
Wow. Everything about this otherwise miniscule NOCO offering is big. Power, functionality, reliability, everything. That includes the price tag, but if you need trustworthy power without messing around, count on this one.
8. DbPower 500A Peak 12000mAh
Having an LCD display on your jump pack should almost be a no-brainer, yet so few actually have this feature. By adding it on their product, DBPower enables you to know exactly what's going on at all times.
Where are you?
This is a feature I never thought I’d see on a jump pack, yet there are a couple models that offer them. Breaking down is bad enough, add in an unfamiliar environment, and that’s scary. NOw you never have to worry about finding your way.
Cost and Value
Just based on looks alone, I would say that this charger is built to last. Luckily, it is, and it will hold up in any situation, making it absolutely worth the few dollars more that you will spend.
9. Beatit 800A Peak
That's not a cocky statement, but rather it's a sign of confidence. That confidence is warranted too, as this jump starter is meant to jump everything from cars and trucks, to boats and motorcycles. You've got a vehicle that needs charging? This is the charger for you.
Twice as fast
When I looked at the smaller version of this charger, I mentioned something about the power bank. Not only can you charge your phone or whatnot, but you'll be able to do it up to 2x faster than most other power banks. That's a neat little bonus.
Cost and value
This isn't expensive. The other one I reviewed isn't expensive. This company likes to make high-quality affordable products meant to help you out of a jam. How nice of them!
10. Nekteck Multifunction Car Starter
It looks like it was well constructed and it feels nice and sturdy. This tells me that we've got a product on our hands that is going to last a very long time, providing power without fail.
Reverse polarity protection
I've seen that a lot while researching for this buying guide, and I've learned that it is absolutely critical for the safety of the charger, your car, and yourself. It helps prevent power surges, over-charging, and any number of potential hazards.
Cost and value
Nektek's product description for this starter emphasizes its ability to get you going in times of need. To compliment that dedication is a very reasonable cost, leaving little reason not to have one in your car.
There you have an extended look at the best portable jump starters on the market. Hopefully, you also have more of an idea of how critical something like this can be, especially if you spend an extended period of time in more isolated areas. So if you don’t already have one, I’d suggest hopping in your car and picking one up soon. They’re portable, so in most cases, the only room they take up is in your glove box or console. How ironic would it be, if when you go out to your car, finally determined to get one, stick the key in the ignition, and it won’t turn over? You left your lights on overnight. What now? Well hopefully in that scenario you’re just at home, so you can just make a phone call or ask a neighbor, but what about next time? I’d hate to say I told you so. You’ll never need a portable jump starter more than when you don’t have it, and that can be a bad situation.
Criteria to Select the Best Portable Jump Starters
Size and portability
Most cars and trucks are pretty limited for space, so you need to be very discerning when planning what to store with you on the road. Fortunately, most portable jump starters today offer a fairly large capacity while not taking up any more room than the palm of your hand. Of course, this isn’t true of all chargers, since some vehicles require much larger amounts of power than a compact model can provide. Even those, however, are able to easily fit into most car trunks or truck beds.
While in most cases, the output of jump packs relative to their size, there are exceptions. Many of the pocket-sized versions offer outputs of between 500-1000 amps, enabling them to jump start and charge most makes of personal vehicle. These ones are literally pocket-sized and can fit anywhere you may have a bit of extra room.
For larger autos, such as logging trucks or construction equipment, there are much larger and therefore more powerful portable jump starters out there. These, like the Schumacher SE-4022 2/10/40/200 Amp Manual Wheeled Battery Charger on the list above, can provide enough charge to jump-start several large vehicles, making them ideal for fleet operations. As such, they are larger than the rest and are usually mounted on wheels to make them easier to transport from place to place.
For more in-between needs, there is a variety of “backpack” sized jump starters, that aren’t meant for big trucks, but rather for anything that you might fancy having at home. This includes your car or truck, obviously, but also extends to recreational vehicles such as boats, quads, or even small aircraft. Since they are meant for the home, the backpack size offers the ideal level of portability.
Once again, size does equal power, but not always. For the average commuter, all they need is reliable power at a moment’s notice, and enough of it to get through the day. In that case, the small, pocket-sized chargers that can easily fit into a console or glove compartment are the ideal choice. Most of them are versatile enough to fully charge practically any type of personal vehicle on the road today. They can work with either gasoline or diesel engines and large capacity ones at that. A lot of them can go up to 7.0L gas, or 5.5L diesel, which equates to most of the smaller to midsize trucks you’re likely to find.
Sometimes, that just isn’t enough power. That’s where moving up in size will help you, but keep in mind that you are going to be sacrificing weight and portability. However, if that’s not an issue, or if you have no other options and you need the power, the larger jump starters can start everything from large trucks to RV’s and boats, and even semi trucks for the largest models.
Price & Functionality
Price isn’t the biggest deciding factor in choosing a jump starter since most of the options don’t tend to stray outside of their range. The smaller models will generally only run you a few dollars, whereas the big boys can run into the hundreds.
Surprisingly, the amount of relative power doesn’t have as much to do with it as you’d think. In reality, it’s all about what else they can do. While power does affect the price with large output differences, the aspect that really ups the price is the extra stuff.
The vast majority of jump starters found on the market today do a lot more. So much more, in fact, that often, the jump starting capabilities are secondary to some of the other, more exciting features. Many jump packs also act as charging stations for your personal electronic devices, ensuring that you will almost never be out of the loop.
Aside from the additional charging capabilities, which are a bit obvious given what they were originally intended to do, there are several other special features present in many of the newer chargers. Much like the smartphone, jump starters are becoming multifunction hubs where all your needs are met in one place.
A lot of them come with flashlights now, and even those tend to serve more than one purpose. Not content with just lighting your path, they also can function as emergency beacons, emitting either a strobe effect or giving off a pattern resembling Morse code.
Not as common, and mainly found on larger models, is an air compressor. This makes a lot of sense actually, as a lot of people carry these in their vehicles for many reasons. The compressors found on jump packs often have a high PSI rate, allowing you to pump up a flat, or, for more recreational purposes, fill up a flotation device for the beach.
Beyond the add-ons that make life a bit easier, many jump starters include more superfluous bonuses, hoping to give consumers that much more bang for their buck. The most practical of these extras, in my opinion, is the compass. The worst thing that can happen is your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, on a back road or in the bush. On top of the stress from having to attempt to restart your vehicle, not knowing where you are or at least where to go can be terrifying. With the addition of a compass, though, you can at least make sense of your location.
There are so many added features with modern jump starters, that the decision of which one to go with depends on what the specific needs of the user are. All the combinations available can either make that task easier, or more difficult than it ever needs to be.
SOS: This is the international Morse code distress signal that many jump starters are now capable of transmitting through a built-in flashlight.
Jumpstart: The method of starting a vehicle that has a dead battery through the use of jumper cables connected to a power source, such as another vehicle or a jump pack.
Cranking amps: The number of amps a battery can deliver for thirty seconds while maintaining at least 1.2 volts per cell. Essentially, how much power it is available to start a car.
Peak current: Peak current is the maximum value of power that a waveform can attain for a certain period of time.
Lithium-ion battery: A very popular type of battery used in electronics today because it is capable of a high charge. It also doesn’t lose a lot of energy while idle and is widely available and cheap to produce.
Joules: Named after Physicist James Prescott Joule, it is a derived unit of energy equal to the amount of energy transferred to an object when a force of one newton acts on it in the direction of motion. It is also the energy dissipated as heat when a current of one ampere passes through a resistance of one ohm per second.
Ampere: A unit of electric current equal to the flow of one coulomb per second. Also known as an amp, it is used to measure electric current.
LED: Light Emitting Diode. A two-lead semiconductor light source used as indicators on many electronic instruments.
Reverse polarity: Can occur when charging a battery that is completely drained, and can result in a shock, and will essentially ruin the battery.
Voltmeter: Also known as a voltage meter, it is an instrument used to measure the voltage between two points in an electrical circuit. Voltmeters can be analog or digital. The analog meters consort of a sensitive galvanometer in series with a high resistance. A digital voltmeter shows voltage directly as numbers on a digital display.
PSI: Pounds per Square Inch. You may see this term come up occasionally because some jump starters come with air compressors. This is usually only found on the larger portable models.
Power bank: A power bank is comprised of a battery with a special circuit to control the flow of power. Since a portable jump starter is basically just a specialized power bank, many jumper packs include the ability to charge and power many various electronics.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can portable jump starters jump every vehicle?
A: Portable jump starters aren’t universal in the sense that any charger will work on any vehicle. While the smaller models will jump most of the personal vehicles available today, there are some larger or more specialized vehicles that require a more power, and therefore a specific type of jump starter.
Q: Do all jump starters have flashlights?
A: Not every jump starter is going to have a built-in flashlight, but most of them are, and it may only be a matter of time before they all do. Not only do they make working in the dark a possibility, but they are finding added purpose as an SOS signal device.
Q: How do I charge my jump starter?
A: Most portable jump starters can be charged by plugging them into any basic wall outlet. Many jump packs also offer the option of charging them with your vehicle’s AC outlet. Less commonly, some even allow you to charge them via solar energy.
Q: Do the larger jump starters have more power?
A: Generally speaking, the larger jump starters will have a greater capacity than the smaller versions. However, in recent times the smaller models have been able to cram much more power than they have in the past.
Q: My battery dies a lot. Should I get a jump starter?
A: While most of the time a jump starter will take care of the problem, if the battery dies frequently, even after recently being charged to full capacity, it may be time to look into a new battery. Some jump starters can actually analyze the battery while charging and will alert you when a replacement is then necessary.
- Lifewire.com – Choosing a Car Jump Starter
- Toolnerds.com – Everything You Need to Know About the Best Portable Jump Starters
- Carbatterychargerscentral.com – Jump Starter Battery: Key Functionality You Need To Know
- Itstillruns.com – The Jump Starter or Booster Pack
- Familyhandyman.com – How to Jumpstart a Car: Batteries in Cars Built After Year 2000