Best Portable Car Jump Starters: Turn Down For Watt

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Top 7 Best Portable Car Jump Starters

Most of us have been there at some point in our life: it’s a cold winter’s morning, you’re rushing out the door thanks to young Johnny needing a last-minute costume change because of that extra bowl of Cocoa Puffs, you twist the car’s ignition key … and come up with a whole fistful of nothing. Nada. The battery is deader than current plotlines of The Walking Dead. Great, just great.

Fear not, because you have a portable car jump starter tucked away in the trunk for such emergencies. If you don’t, you should – these little powerhouses can save your bacon on a stormy morning or simply provide a jolt of juice when none is otherwise available. Offered in all manner of shapes and sizes, we’re here to help you amp your decision making so you’re not shocked when trying to select from the myriad of booster packs available online.

Okay, enough corny puns – here are our picks for the best portable car jump starters.

Table of Contents

1. Editor’s Pick: Schumacher Rechargeable Jump Starter

Sticking with the thought that highly recommended products should be the result of having a bit of skin in the game, this unit is very similar to the one on which your author has splashed his own hard-earned cash. It is a heavy but stout unit that incorporates one important feature - a dedicated on/off switch.

Some jump starters, a few of which are on this list, depend on trace amounts of electricity remaining in the dead battery in order to 'wake up', This renders the device useless when one is trying to revive an ancient Crown Vic for derby car duty. This booster from Schumacher is so designed and better off for it. The 1000 Amp version is fine but do yourself a favor and pop for the 1200 Amp unit.


  • Easy to use, a real on/off button


  • Very heavy

Bottom Line

  • A very practical tool

2. Highly Rated: NEXPOW Battery Starter

This is one of the most highly rated jump starters on Amazon and, if it's good enough for nearly 2000 real-world customers, it should be good enough to make it near the top of our list. This little brute is said to be capable of lighting the fires on engines up to 8.0L in displacement and goes on to specify it doesn't care if the thing is gasoline or diesel-powered.

The booster comes equipped with super bright LEDs functioning as an emergency flashlight. Its blue-red alternate light can function as a traffic hazard warning signal in the event of an accident as well. There are several USB ports providing the juice for smartphones and tablets.


  • Attractive price, stellar reviews


  • Scattered complaints about out-of-box functionality

Bottom Line

  • Power in a small and compact box

3. DEWALT Digital Portable Power Station Jump Starter

Buying a product simply because it bears a popular label isn't always the best idea but it seems to hold a bit of water in this case. Reviews are very positive from a large sample size, due in no small part to this pack's feature count including - joy of joys - an actual on/off switch with which to bring it to life when you need it the most.

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USB ports also pepper the exterior, along with a digital readout for keeping a critical eye on the amount of remaining juice. Beefy alligator clamps mean business, and a solid grab handle means you'll be able to catch the thing before it falls to earth after you forget it on the tailgate of your truck.


  • Physical on/off switch, solid branding


  • Getting expensive

Bottom Line

  • Invest your money instead of spending it

4. Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry Premium 12-Volt Jump Starter

Falling back into the category of tried-and-true traditional tools, this booster pack likely looks like the one your grandfather had in the 1980s, complete with an old school voltage display and big ears on which to wrap the jumper cables. This is not a wholly bad thing.

With 425 cranking amps and thick #2 wiring that is actually good enough for welding, this unit is likely to simply scare your battery into starting without even having to connect the leads. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but the master on/off switch lets you know the thing is working while its 68-inch cables allow the flexibility of reaching batteries stuffed into awkward locations by inconsiderate car designers. You can tell I have experience with this.


  • Ample power, long leads, thick cabling


  • Heavier than a collapsed sun

Bottom Line

  • It's portable-ish

5. DieHard 71326 Gold Shelf Smart Battery Charger and Engine Starter

While it is true that Sears may have gone the way of Studebaker and Enron, some of their house brands have been brought in-house to reputable manufacturers in a bid to capitalize on their name power. This is what’s happened to Craftsman and also, as we see here, DieHard.

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Charge or jump start your car’s battery with this rig, featuring intelligent charge technology which sounds like a legal process but actually deploys a microprocessor to avoid overcharging the dead battery. A maintenance mode allows the DieHard to also act as a battery maintainer, handy if you’re tucking a sports car away for the winter months. LED indicators and a couple of non-descript buttons allow users to choose between charging, boosting, and engine starting duties – although it remains unclear as to the difference between the latter two. It also has the ability to test a car’s alternator tester, if you’re into that type of stuff.


  • Doubles as a battery maintenance tool, allows for alternator testing


  • No extra power ports, the brand is deader than the battery you’re trying to boost

Bottom Line

  • DieHard charger to go with your DieHard battery

6. Schumacher SC1309 Wheeled Fully Automatic Battery Charger

We’re unsure why this device bears the surname of a famous F1 driver but it is safe to say there is little to no connection between the two. While this battery pack will certainly get you on your way, its large size and lardbutt weight probably won’t help your lap times around the streets of Monaco.

Designed for semi-permanent placement in a shop or garage, this wheeled unit can be trotted out when needed to be called upon to boost a dead car. You can be sure it will do so with much élan, as its large size allows it to pack an enormous punch in the form of a 200A engine start for immediate gratification. Auto-voltage detection automatically figures out if the machine you’re boosting has a 6 or 12-volt battery to avoid a reducing everything to a veneer of cinder dust. A 12-foot total reach is handy and the 8-gauge output cables will likely stay flexible in cold weather.


  • Power to spare, ginormous alligator clamps, makes you feel like a NASCAR crew chief


  • Decidedly not portable, cables should be of a stronger gauge given the amount of power

Bottom Line

  • Really stretching it when it comes to the word portable

7. Jumtop Portable Car Starter

Being very specific in stating its maximum capabilities, the makers of this booster pack say it is able to start gasoline engines up to 7.0L in displacement. Those running an oil burner are limited to 5.0L however, making it useless for most HD pickup trucks such as those from the Detroit Three.

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Nevertheless, this could get you out of a jam when you need it the most. So-called intelligent protection clamps are said to guard against short-circuiting, plus offer over-temperature and over-charge protection. At just fifty bucks, your credit card won't be overcharged, either.


  • Small, not expensive


  • No good for bigger diesel trucks

Bottom Line

  • Seems great for commuters


Aren't they all alike?

It is wise to select a jump starter that features a dedicated on/off master switch instead of one which relies on a faint electrical charge from a nearly-dead battery in order to “wake up.” Experience has taught your author that if a booster pack is needed, the battery in question is likely to flatter than the Prairies with no life left in it whatsoever, rendering a raise-to-wake jump starter completely useless.

Store them properly

Try to keep these units out of frigid temperatures, as finger-numbing cold can reduce its lifespan. Don’t manhandle the cables and alligator clips, either – damaged units can fail to transmit enough power to start a dead car or create enough electrical resistance to produce dangerous levels of heat.

Are they really worth the money?

For the sake of a reasonable cost of entry, a jump starter is cheap insurance against shivering in a parking lot waiting for the tow truck to arrive. In this case, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Probert Probert on Nov 29, 2020

    You can buy a lithium jumper that can fit in your coat pocket and it will jump start an effing f16. Why are people still messing with this sort of stuff.

  • SnarkyRichard SnarkyRichard on Nov 29, 2020

    I have a Stanley 1000 peak amp/500 watt/120 psi unit that has been going strong since I bought it in 2013 . I use it mainly for the compressor feature for car tires/lawn tractor/snowblower/bicycle/hand truck tires . Never really needed the jump start feature , but have used the USB outlet to power a dead laptop and mp3 player during power outages . If the battery ever dies a whole new unit is less than 10 bucks more than the 83 dollars I paid over 7 years ago . It's more than earned it's keep over the years .

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.