Top 7 Best Portable Car Jump Starters
By | Last updated: November 25, 2020

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.

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.

Pros/Easy to use, a real on/off button
Cons/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.

Pros/Attractive price, stellar reviews
Cons/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.

Pros/Physical on/off switch, solid branding
Cons/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.

Pros/Ample power, long leads, thick cabling
Cons/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.

Pros/Doubles as a battery maintenance tool, allows for alternator testing
Cons/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.

Pros/Power to spare, ginormous alligator clamps, makes you feel like a NASCAR crew chief
Cons/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.

Pros/Small, not expensive
Cons/No good for bigger diesel trucks
Bottom Line/Seems great for commuters

FAQs:

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.

10 Comments on “Turn Down For Watt: Best Portable Car Jump Starters...”


  • avatar
    poggi

    Project farm reviews https://youtu.be/ixWPx79g3yk

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Kinda confusing in that you mixed what I see as 2 different kinds of products. One is something that you have in your garage/basement/tool shed that requires connection to house power to do the job.

    The other is truly portable and does not need to be connected to AC mains to do the job. This is something that you might stash in your car as insurance against battery failure at some inconvenient place. Although I’ve never owned this type of unit, I suppose you should treat it like keeping a spare tire inflated — by keeping its internal battery charged up. And, if its sitting in your car –outside in the cold — its going to be subject to the same power-robbing effects as your car’s regular battery.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    These devices make the most sense for someone traveling into the wilderness, with no hope of getting a jump if needed.

    Around town, or even in a civilized area, a jump from a friendly motorist, summoning the second car in the family, or AAA/911 seem like better options than keeping one of these starters at the ready all the time. In the video review posted by poggi above ^^, some of them are downright unreliable for the (likely) harsh conditions under which you will need a battery.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I tend to agree here, but you’d still want to make sure you have a good set of cables.

      I’m curious, and tell me if this is a nonsense question, but are EVs capable of being jump-started? Do they still have a traditional 12V lead-acid battery?

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes EVs typically have a standard 12v battery and it being dead can prevent the car from “starting” even with a full High Voltage battery. The majority of the standard electrical components like lights, wipers, power windows ect are still 12v as is the power train control computer. Of course it doesn’t take much to “jump” it as all you have to do is have enough power to boot the computer and close the contactors. Once that is done the DC-DC converter will take over and start charging the battery. I have actually jump started my wife’s plug in hybrid and I did it with a small battery I use for testing that has a 20a fuse. I hooked up my scan tool and it immediately showed that it was charging the battery at 50a.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Good summary. On the flip side, I once jumped a Sentra with my Leaf’s 12V battery.

          The nice thing about an EV is that its 12V battery is charged by the drive battery, so I think there would be plenty of reserve. However an EV’s 12V battery eventually needs replacement, just as with any other car.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’ve got a Blue Fuel, the Napa name for the Schumacher Red Fuel units. It is one of the smaller ones and it has done very well. The first time I used it was on my Son’s car that had sat for a couple of weeks in cold weather as it was christmas break and we had some snow. The dome light barely glowed when the door was opened. Hooked it up and it cranked it up quickly.

    Now just the other day I tried to use in on my Pickup. It had glowing dome light but didn’t cut it. So yeah I had to get out the jumper cables to get it going. To be fair I’ve had that unit for 5 years so it is probably due for replacement.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I have the Schumacher and although the review says, “easy to use”, I find it difficult to determine whether you’re charging the reserve or if you use it to charge your car battery it’s not really clear whats going on. My biggest complaint, though, is if you don’t keep the unit charged it loses it’s charge rather quickly and it becomes useless when you need it most. I was kind of disappointed in it, so now it’s on a shelf collecting dust :(

  • avatar
    probert

    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.

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    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 .

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