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If you can think back to 2020—we know, it feels like a decade ago—when everything got shutdown, you had little reason to get in your car to go anywhere. If you were like me and forgot to hook your car’s battery up to a trickle charger, then you probably encountered a dead car battery when it was time to go somewhere again. If that situation didn’t convince you at the time to purchase a portable jump starter, maybe this article will.
The thing is, you never know when you need to jump start a car, whether it’s yours or somebody else’s. I’d argue having to keep jumper cables in your car is mildly annoying, especially given how much real estate they take up in your trunk and the fact that you’ll need another car for them to work. A portable jump starter on the other hand, can fit inside your glovebox. More importantly, many of them can also be used as a battery pack so you can charge your devices on the go. If you’re going to spend money on a product that you’re unlikely going to use all that often for its primary function, you might as well get something that can serve you another purpose.
Portable car jump starters have become more affordable over the last few years, and at this point we’d recommend one to every car owner. Below you’ll find our picks for the best portable jump starters, with an explanation as to how we ranked each one and who they’re best for. You really can’t go wrong with any of our suggestions and it may come down to personal preference and budget. Either way, any of them should get your car back on the road if you need a jump.
1. Top pick: NOCO Boost Plus GB40
In my experience of testing portable car jump starters, one continually stood out from the rest and it’s the NOCO Boost Plus GB40. It’s a unit I’ve used time and time again to jump start a car and I’ve never experienced any issues with it. It’s a compact jump starter with an intuitive design and easy-to-understand labels. It might sound weird to have to mention that, but some of the other jump starters out on the market just aren’t very intuitive.
What you get with this recommendation is a dedicated 1000-amp portable jump starter that is rated for gasoline engines up to 6.0 liters and diesel engines up to 3.0 liters. If you need something more powerful, NOCO has a huge lineup of products, all of which are great quality. We recommend the GB40 since it’s one of the more affordable units and should be sufficient for most Porsche owners. You’ll get up to 20 jump starts on a single charge, although we do recommend making sure it has a full charge from time to time. Don’t let it sit too long without charging it back to full.
Like many portable jump starters, the GB40 can also serve as a portable battery pack, so you can recharge your random USB devices, like your phone. There’s also a built-in LED flashlight with several modes, which could serve as an emergency strobe if necessary. Another reason why I prefer this jump starter over others is its heavy-duty construction. All of its electronics are housed in a rugged and water-resistant enclosure rated at IP65, while a rubberized overmolded casing protects it from scratches. It’s not too hefty either, weighing 2.4 pounds.
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2. Premium option: HULKMAN Alpha85 jump starter
If you are looking for a premium portable jump starter, HULKMAN offers the Alpha85 that boasts 2000 amps peak cranking power to start vehicles with up to 8.5-liter gasoline engines or 6.0-liter diesel engines. The built-in 20000mAh battery pack will let you jump start around 60 times on a single charge, although we doubt you’ll ever use it to that capacity. What that does mean is this jump starter can serve as a very competent battery pack for your mobile devices. In addition, you’ll get 12v ports to power any devices that would normally plug into your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle.
Another standout feature is the Alpha85’s patented 65W Speed Charge, which allows you to charge the jump starter from zero-to-100 percent in under 1.5 hours. More importantly, you just need a bit over 20 percent of power to jump start a car. As expected, this option also has a built-in flashlight with three different modes that can be used in an emergency. It too has an IP65-rated enclosure and an overall rugged design to go with its fancy 3.3-inch LED screen. It is quite a bit more expensive than all of our other recommendations, hence being our premium pick, but if you don’t mind spending more and can take advantage of the larger battery pack, by all means.
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3. Also consider: NEXPOW car jump starter
This recommendation from NEXPOW is pretty consistent with all the other portable jump starters you’d find in today’s market. In fact, I wouldn’t be too surprised to discover that the majority of these devices are produced at just a handful of factories overseas. Regardless, we recommend this charger from NEXPOW due to its quality construction and good customer service, and you can often get it on sale at a good price. It’s a fairly standard 2000A peak jump starter that is capable of jump starting vehicles with up to 7.5-liter gasoline engines or 6.5-liter diesel engines, and can also be used as a battery pack with its 18000mAh capacity.
It features a pair of USB outputs (5V/3A and 5V/2.1A) and a quick charge USB 3.0 port. Again, an LED flashlight with three different modes can be used for emergencies.
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4. Best heavy-duty option: Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry
Don’t care for all the fancy bells and whistles and don’t need a portable battery pack? Or you’re just looking for a more traditional jump starter that is still somewhat portable? The Jump-n-Carry from Clore Automotive is our heavy-duty pick and is a more traditional jump starter. It offers 1700 peak amps and 425 cranking amps with a built-in 3 amp automatic charger. What we do like about this charger is the longer cables, which measure 68 inches. Most of the portable jump starters we recommend here have rather short leads on their jumper cables, mainly because that’s what is necessary for smaller jump starters to work. So if you need a jump starter with longer cables, this would be our pick.
The PowerJaw clamps are also easier to use than most of the clamps found on portable jump starters, which means less fussing around on some batteries. Not surprisingly, you’ll also be able to charge your USB devices if needed through its pair of USB outlets (1.1A and 2.1A) or power a 12v device. And yes, it also has a built-in LED light.
If being extremely portable isn’t at the top of your list of needs for a jump starter, we’d recommend the Jump-N-Carry. Keep it in your garage or your trunk and you won’t be disappointed when you need it.
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5. Honorable mention: Rugged Geek RG3000 HD portable jump starter
This 3000 peak amp portable jump starter from Rugged Geek is capable of jump starting gasoline engines up to 10.0 liters and diesel engines up to 8.0 liters. Boasting an IP65 rating, this heavy duty device features rubber corners and covered parts, making it live up to its “Rugged” brand name. Metal frame clamps are welcomed over the plastic clamps found on other jump starters, while INTELLIBOOST safety technology ensures safe jump starting, although similar technology is found in other products.
When you don’t need it as a jump starter, it can serve as a portable battery bank with USB Type-C ports for both input and output. There is also a pair of USB Type-A ports for devices that do not support USB Type-C. A built-in LED flashlight with solid, strobe, and SOS modes is pretty typical for these types of products, but it’s worth noting that Rugged Geek’s unit does have it.
This device also includes a 12-volt DC out adapter so you can power your 12-volt devices that would normally plug into your car’s cigarette lighter receptacle. It’s a pretty feature-rich portable jump starter that also includes a USB Type-A to Type-C charging cable, USB Type-C charging cable, a carrying case, and a USB Type-A wall charger. It’s a bit more expensive than some of our other recommendations, but a great option if you want a heavy-duty portable jump starter. Rugged Geek also includes a 12-month limited warranty with its RG3000 HD.
How many amps do I need to jump start my car?
You’ll notice that many of our recommendations have a rating for peak amps. Generally, most portable jump starters will specify the engine size it’s capable of jump starting but that doesn’t take into account the age of your vehicle. Naturally, newer cars with newer batteries won’t require as much power to jump start as an older car with an older battery. Most of our recommendations should cover the majority of vehicles, but when in doubt get something more powerful.
Does storage capacity matter?
Along with peak amps, you’ll also notice some of our portable jump starters have a storage capacity, often specified in mAh. That only really matters if you plan on using the device as a portable battery bank. The larger the number, the more electrical storage capacity it has. Keep in mind that using it as a jump starter will require a bit of its battery storage, so if you plan on using as a portable charger, make sure you have enough juice to jump start your car or fully charge the jump starter afterwards.
How do you use a portable jump starter?
Before you begin, you’ll want to read the instructions on your specific portable jump starter just in case there are any special functions or features it has to jump start a car. For example, one of the units I tested had a “boost” button that needed to be used for some cars. Otherwise, most portable jump starters are pretty straightforward:
- Make sure your device has enough charge to jump start a car.
- Locate your car’s battery, which is typically in the engine bay. Some vehicles however, have it in the trunk.
- Identify the positive (red) and negative (black) terminals on your battery.
- Connect the positive and negative clamps to their respective terminals on your battery.
- If needed, turn on your portable jump starter and enable any special functions that are required.
- Your portable jump starter should confirm that you’ve hooked up the cables correctly, and should give you an error if you swapped the two.
- Try to start your car!
- If successful, let it run for a couple of minutes before disconnecting your jump starter.
Updated (3:15 p.m. EDT, 09/22/2022): Removed our DBPOWER recommendation and replaced it with the Rugged Geek RG3000 HD portable jump starter. Added more information about portable jump starters.