The 8 Best Portable Jump Starters of 2021

Be your own lifeline when your car battery dies

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If you just need a basic jump starter, our experts say you should just buy the NOCO Genius Boost HD GB70 2000A Jump Starter. Testers say not only will the NOCO Genius Boost get your car going, it can also jump dozens of others (or your own car over and over if you just like leaving the headlights on) before it needs recharging.

The best portable jump starters can be literal lifesavers. They'll all jump-start your car when the battery is flat, of course, but many of them bring extras along with them that can just as useful. One of the biggest problems with needing a jump start using just cables is needing someone else (and their car) there with you. That's not always possible, so a portable jump starter puts you (back) in the driver's seat.

When you do need to jump-start your car, here's a step-by-step guide to how to jump-start your car safely.

The Rundown
While this jump starter is on the more expensive side, we still think it’s the one most people should get.
Best for Large Cars:
STANLEY J5C09 1000 at Amazon
The STANLEY J5C09 1000 is heavy because it’s also an air compressor, so if your tires are low on air, you can fill them up.
Best Power Bank:
Tacklife T8 at Walmart
The Tacklife T8 can jump start your car, charge your phone, and even point you in the right direction with its built-in compass.
This jump starter is about as small as they come, so why not toss one into a portable emergency pack?
The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 really earns its name by being a compact jump starter with places to store everything and a nice design.
The Pro series can jump-start a car, truck, boat, big rig, and basically anything else that doesn't have wings.
Best Versatility:
Audew 2000A at Walmart
It’s a handy device for charging your everyday devices as well as jump starting your car.
This one will jump start the car, fill up tires that are low on air, charge devices, and let you see what you are doing with its light.

Best Overall: NOCO Genius Boost HD GB70 2000A Jump Starter

NOCO Genius Boost HD GB70 2000A
What We Like
  • Works fast

  • Ultra-wide flashlight

  • Charging via USB

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Weak USB charging

The NOCO Genius Boost HD GB70 2000A is a small (but not glove-compartment small) jump starter that actually comes in two sizes. The 3000A (see our review) is for bigger vehicles, but most folks will find the 2000A meets their needs.

There is a USB port on the charger for items like your phone, but our reviewer found it charged a phone s l o w l y. There’s also a built-in light to help you find something inside your car, but it won’t illuminate the side of the road, for instance.

While this jump starter is on the more expensive side, we still think it’s the one most people should get.

Peak Amps: 2000 | Dimensions: 6x2.5x8.6 inches | Weight: 5 lbs.

"The jump starter allowed for the car to start more readily than with any other model that we recently tested." Tony Mitera, Product Tester

NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150

Lifewire / Tony Mitera

Best for Large Cars: STANLEY J5C09 1000 Peak Amp Jump Starter

The Stanley J5C09 JUMPiT Portable Power Station will jumpstart your car.
What We Like
  • LED light you can aim

  • Built in Air compressor

  • High peak and starting amps

What We Don't Like
  • Requires frequent recharges

  • Tricky compressor switch

  • Hose not long

At a bulky 18 pounds you might ask yourself, “What kind of utility am I getting out of this?” If you want a portable jump starter and a built-in swively light you’re in luck—BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The STANLEY J5C09 1000 is heavy because it’s also an air compressor, so if you find your tires are low on air, you can fill them right back up. Now, our testing did reveal the jumper cables are kind of short (they aren’t long enough to set the jump starter on the ground) and the air compressor hose is likewise short, but the unit did jump a car each time we tried it. Cables aside, it wasn’t short on performance.

Peak Amps: 1000 | Dimensions: 11.25x8x3.5  inches | Weight: 17.2 lbs.

"The unit was able to provide a reliable jump start every time it was tried, but not without some caveats."Tony Mitera, Product Tester

STANLEY J5C09

Lifewire / Tony Mitera

Best Power Bank: Tacklife T8

Tacklife Portable Jump Starter
What We Like
  • Digital readout

  • Compass

  • Two USB charging ports

What We Don't Like
  • No USB-C

The Tacklife T8 can jump start your car, charge your phone, light up the interior of your car, and even point you in the right direction with its built-in compass (assuming you know which direction to go).

A dedicated switch on the unit will allow it to keep a charge in place for up to one year. The compromise with this unit is if it falls below a 50 percent charge, it likely won’t jump start your car.

Peak Amps: 800 | Dimensions: 9.45x4.53x3.94 inches | Weight: 1.21 lbs.

Most Compact: Scosche PowerUp 700 Portable Jump Starter

Scosche - Portable Car Jump Starter
What We Like
  • Small built

  • Charges via USB

  • 365-day standby

What We Don't Like
  • Short cables

This jump starter is about as small as they come, so why not toss one into a portable emergency pack? It won't be able to jump start your car dozens of times before it needs to be recharged, but if all goes well, you should need it only to get the car going just the one time, right?

Included are a couple of USB ports for charging kid-quieting devices and a flashlight to see who, exactly, is touching who.

Peak Amps: 700 | Dimensions: 9.8x6.9x3.6 inches | Weight: 2.5 lbs.

Best Design: Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700 Peak Amp 12V Jump Starter

Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700 Peak Amp 12V Jump Starter
What We Like
  • Built-in plug

  • Replaceable battery

  • Long cables

What We Don't Like
  • No extras

The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 really earns its name by being a compact jump starter with places to store everything and a nice design. The built-in handle and holders for the cables keep this jump starter neat and organized in your garage or trunk. There's a meter on the front to show how much power you're working with, and even a built-in plug for charging the battery with an AC cable.

This is the only jump starter on the list that allows you to replace the battery when it starts to wear down. And if you're in charge of a fleet of vehicles, you may have to replace the battery somewhat frequently. When you need to recharge, the plug is built right in.

But what's missing is the extras we typically see in a jump starter. There's no flashlight, no USB ports for your phone, and no air pump. Jump starters are great, but we really like versatile devices here, so the lack of extras is disappointing.

Peak Amps: 1700 | Dimensions: 16.3x14.1x5.1inches | Weight: 18 lbs.

Best Heavy Duty: Schumacher DSR115 ProSeries

Schumacher DSR ProSeries DSR115 4400
What We Like
  • Extremely versatile

  • Can set it to 12 or 24 volts

  • Long cables

What We Don't Like
  • Extremely heavy

  • No wheels

When it comes to jump starters, you get various shapes and sizes. The Schumacher DSR ProSeries is another jump starter that earns its name. The Pro series can jump-start a car, truck, boat, big rig, and basically anything else that doesn't have wings.

The device reports on the battery and alternator performance, and informs you if maintenance is needed. The cables themselves are over 5 feet long, so they can go anywhere on any size vehicle.

All of that is great, but it comes at the cost of being exceptionally heavy at over 40 pounds. That's not unusual considering the power in this jump starter. As much as we don't want to see additional weight put onto this body, wheels would have been a nice addition. This is not the kind of starter you put in the trunk of your Toyota Camry. This is the kind of starter you use to jump-start the truck that will tow your Camry.

Peak Amps: 4400 | Dimensions: 14x10x8 inches | Weight: 41.2 lbs.

Best Versatility: Audew 2000A Upgraded Car Jump Starter

Audew Car Jump Starter
What We Like
  • USB-C

  • Two USB-A ports

  • Large battery

  • Bright flashlight

What We Don't Like
  • 30-day charge cycle

The versatility of the Audew 2000A Upgraded Car Jump Starter comes at a big cost. You might find that cost to be worth it since it’s a handy device for charging your everyday devices as well as jump starting your car, and it's small enough to fit into your pocket, bag, or glove box.

The cost we’re talking about is needing to recharge your jump starter every 30 days. And if you forget just one time, you might be stuck in a parking lot. At least if it can’t start your car, it’ll keep you company (and your phone charged) while you wait for help. See? Versatile.

Peak Amps: 2000 | Dimensions: 8.7x3.5x1.1 inches | Weight: 1.3 lbs.

Best Combo: Wagan EL7552 Jumpboost V8 Air Jump Starter with Air Compressor

The Wagan EL7552 Jumpboost V8 can jump start your car and inflate your tires
What We Like
  • Built-in air compressor

  • Bright flashlight

  • Recharge with AC or DC

What We Don't Like
  • Some build issues

  • DC cable not included

We liked this one because it’s a jack of all trades. Like the STANLEY J5C09 1000 above, this one will jump start the car, fill up tires that are low on air, charge up portable devices, and let you see what you are doing with its built-in light. Neither device will do your taxes and, while we won’t take points off, we don’t feel it’s too much to ask.

Peak Amps: 1000 | Dimensions: 11x11x7 inches | Weight: 10 lbs.

In a hurry? Here's our verdict

Final Verdict

Part of being a car owner is being a responsible car owner. And a responsible car owner will feel good about having the Noco Boost HD GB70 charger (view at Amazon) in case of emergency. It’s a great value, thanks to its versatility. If you either maintain a fleet of cars or charge a variety of (non-flying) vehicles, the Schumacher DSR 115 ProSeries (view at Amazon) is the one to get.

FAQ
  • What is a jump starter?

    When your car's battery is dead, a jump starter gives it a jolt of power so you can turn your car on. From there, start driving, and your car's alternator will charge the battery as you go along.

  • How do you use a jump starter?

    First, connect the positive jumper cable to the positive terminal on the battery and connect the negative cable to the engine block. Then, place the jump box in a secure, out-of-the-way location, and try to start your car. Once your car is running, disconnect both cables and secure them to the jump box.

  • How much does a jump starter cost?

    Prices for jump starters range depending on what features they have, but it should be possible to find a decent option for $50 or $60. If you decide you do want a more sophisticated model, expect to pay about $150 or more.

  • Why do I need a jump starter?

    There aren’t many worse feelings than the one you have after walking out to your car in the morning, turning the key, and realizing that it’s out of battery.

    While you could simply rely on jumper cables, you could keep a jump starter in your car, which allows you to jump-start your car easily without losing more than a few minutes of your day.

  • How does a jump starter work?

    A jump starter does not recharge your car’s battery itself. Instead, it gives the battery enough kick to turn the car on—you’ll need to drive your car to power it back up again. On the other hand, most car alternators aren’t built to recharge a car’s battery fully from zero, and forcing one to do so can shorten its lifespan. In other words, it might be the way to go in a pinch, but if you can avoid jump starting your car, it’s probably best to do so.

  • Do I need to buy a battery charger as well?

    Unlike a jump starter, a battery charger actually recharges your car’s battery—which comes in handy in a different set of situations. Battery chargers take at least a few hours to recharge a car battery, meaning they’re not ideal for those who might need to get on the road quickly. They also have to plug into a power outlet, meaning they're not as portable. Plus, they can come to the rescue if you have a faulty alternator, as they can allow you to get your car up and running without having to worry about your alternator recharging your battery.

    Our recommendation? Having both a jump starter and a battery charger can be helpful. A battery charger is better if you have access to a power outlet and have enough time to charge the battery, while a jump starter is better in a pinch for those who need to get on the road right away.

STANLEY J5C09

Lifewire / Tony Mitera 

What to Look For in a Portable Jump Starter

There are a few factors to think about when it comes to picking the right jump starter for you. Do you have a big truck or a smaller car? Do you have a fleet of vehicles to maintain? Do you have storage in the vehicle or in your garage? Where are you most likely to need the jump starter: At your home base or on the road? How much space do you have to dedicate to a device you hopefully will never need? Whatever your circumstances our experts have found a jump starter for you.

STANLEY J5C09

Lifewire / Tony Mitera 

Jump starters come in both portable and plug-in varieties. Portable jump starters have a built-in battery, meaning they can be used on the go whenever you need them. The only downside is that after they’re used, they have to be charged, which can take a number of hours. Plug-in chargers, on the other hand, are much less portable. Instead of having a decent-sized battery built-in, you have to connect them to a power outlet—meaning that if you’re in a parking lot with a dead battery, you’re largely out of luck. We generally recommend buying a portable jump starter over a plug-in one. The portability outweighs the downside of having to keep the device charged up.

Other Features to look for

Cables

Jumper cables are an important part of any jump starter. You might think that jumper cables are all the same, and to an extent that’s true—they’re copper wires that deliver power. Some cables, however, are better than others.

STANLEY J5C09

Lifewire / Tony Mitera

For instance, cables can have different lengths. Generally, they range from around 10 to 35 feet. Don't think you need to go for extra-long cables, though— for most people, 15 feet will be perfectly fine. Another differentiator is a cable’s wire gauge, which refers to the thickness of the wire inside. Thicker wire is better at delivering more power, which can be important if you’re trying to jump-start a vehicle with a bigger battery. For smaller vehicles, like most cars, a cable with at least an 8 gauge will be fine, though larger batteries might need a 6 or 4 gauge cable.

Air Compressor

An air compressor is what you’d use to pump up a car’s flat tire if it's been deflated. A built-in compressor may not matter when you’re jump-starting your car, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come in handy.

If you’re strapped for cash, a built-in compressor is something you can avoid, but if you have the money to spend on a device with an air compressor, we recommend doing so.

Emergency Lights

Being stuck on the side of the road at night is never a preferable situation. With low visibility and distracted drivers, you could easily find yourself in a dangerous spot. That’s where emergency lights can come in. When a jump starter has emergency lights, you’ll be able to place it near your car to alert other drivers to the fact that you’re there.

We definitely recommend buying a jump starter with emergency lights of some kind, especially considering the fact that they could end up saving your life.

Radios

Some jump starters have built-in emergency radios, which will help you keep up-to-date with local events in case of an emergency or a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane. If you live in an area that's prone to these types of events, this feature might be incredibly helpful.

NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150

 Lifewire / Tony Mitera

Brands to Consider

Generally, it's worth buying something from an established brand instead of a newer company without a track record—not only because the product will likely work better, but also because the company may offer a better warranty in case the device doesn’t work as expected.

When it comes to jump starters, known brands include the likes of Noco, Stanley, Beatit, and Jump-n-Carry, all of which offer slightly different takes on the jump starter.

About Our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. Taylor has also previously worked with MTD Products, where she assembled and repaired robotic, riding, and push lawn mowers.

Tony Mitera has a passion for helping people make informed decisions with his knowledge of how things work. Tony is both an IT and auto mechanics nerd, and enjoys tinkering with both computers and cars. When not writing, Tony is a Membership Director of the SCCA Nebraska Region, participating in autocross events.

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