Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our
review process here.
We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
When traveling, it doesn’t matter if you’re driving down the block or on a cross country road trip, you never know when one of the best portable jump starters will come in handy. Having a jump starter in the car helps to ensure your safety while commuting. While researching your new easy-access jump starter, remember that this version comes with a rechargeable battery.
Battery life and charging time will be keys to determining which starter is right for you and depending on the model you choose to purchase, expect to pay between $50-$150 on average. Our top pick, NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 at Amazon, is strong (80 jump-starts to a single charge), efficient, and durable, but coming in at $300, it is more on the expensive side of the spectrum.
If you need help choosing a jump starter, jump box, or battery charger, weigh the pros against the cons of each option, however, if you are sure transportable suits your need, keep reading to find the best portable jump starter for you!
The NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 is a portable lithium jump starter that offers a whopping 4,000 amps and up to 80 jump starts on a single charge. At 7.5 pounds, it's on the heavier side, but with good reason: it’s reliable. Its 22500 joules per every three seconds provide enough voltage to restart 10L gas and diesel cars, trucks, boats, commercial vehicles, and other heavy-duty equipment.
It also features a 12-volt power port and 2.1A USB port that can be used for smartphones, tablets, and more. It comes with an integrated digital voltmeter, so you can check your vehicle’s engine voltage and make adjustments. Plus, if you break down after dark, the device is also equipped with a 10X LED flashlight.
Great for big cars
Includes air compressor
Has 270-degree LED swivel light
The STANLEY J5C09 is one of the bigger ended, but still among the best portable jump starters on the list, weighing 18 pounds and measuring 11.2 x 8 x 13.5 inches. However, if you’re driving a larger or heavier car, it's the portable jump starter for you. It offers 500 instant starting amps with a peak of 1,000. It also includes a 120-PSI air compressor, so you can fill up your inflated tires, and a USB port, so you can charge up your mobile devices.
If you happen to be in the pitch dark, this portable jump starter includes an ultra-bright 270-degree LED swivel light, so you can shine light where you need it. On top of that, if you have an improper connection with your car, the J5C09 has a reverse polarity alarm to alert you.
Jumps multiple vehicle types
Charges mobile devices
8 protection modes
Reports of DOA units and failing power banks
One of the worst ways to start or end your day is to get into the car and then realize that your battery is dead. Here to help you get back on the road is the GOOLOO upgraded car jump starter. This compact piece of kit can revitalize almost any car, pickup truck, SUV, ATV, or boat. It also doubles as a power bank, with USB Type-C, and USB 3.0 ports in place to charge your mobile devices.
The body of the jump starter has a rugged design that withstands daily use as well as roadside emergency conditions. A built-in, three-mode flashlight helps you see in the dark and send out an emergency signal if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
The GOOLOO jump starter has eight different protection modes to ensure you can safely use the unit without overcharging it or your car battery. Better yet, it prevents reverse connections, and prevent fire hazards from overheating.
Up to 12-month battery life
30 uses on full charge
Reports of bad LCD screens and DOA units
When you run into a dead car battery or other roadside emergency, you need a jump starter with a power bank you can rely on. The Tacklife T8 can start your car, pickup, SUV, or light diesel truck up to 30 times on a single charge of its internal battery. It also has a manual "OFF" switch to help preserve its charge for up to 12 months, so you always have power when you need it.
There are dual USB ports for charging mobile devices and a 12V adapter to power accessories like air compressors without putting a strain on your car battery. The LCD screen is easy to read and displays the battery levels and current-voltage. In the event of an incorrect connection, the unit will alert you with a loud buzz and flashing lights so you don't ruin your car battery. Meanwhile, you can use the built-in LED light as a flashlight or roadside emergency signal. The unit is backed by a two-year warranty and 24/7 customer service.
Super compact size
Safety mechanisms built-in
Flashlight has SOS patterns
Not as powerful as other options
When placed next to alligator clip cables, it’s almost comical how small this jump starter is. It’s basically the same size as a portable power bank for a smartphone, which is pretty impressive considering it can jump a car with its 5,400 mAh lithium-ion battery. That jump capability does max out at only 300 amps though, so for extra-dead batteries, it might not do the job as well as some of the other options on our list.
It also has a super bright built-in flashlight with some optimized SOS flash patterns for roadside emergencies. The USB port can help you charge your smaller devices, and the boost button will send a bit of extra power while jumping. The included jumper cables have safety mechanisms built in to prevent overcharge or reverse current. You also have the flexibility of charging up this battery either via your wall plug at home or the car-charging cigarette port.
Has carrying handle
The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 is the best-designed jump starter on the market, featuring a heavy-duty case and a carrying handle. It offers 1,700 peak amps and 425 cranking apps, plus features extra-long, 46-inch heavy-duty #2 AWG cables. It’s also equipped with a replaceable PROFORMER battery that’s designed specifically to perform a jump-starting application. On its front, it has lights to show its built-in automatic recharging, so you'll know when it's fully juiced up.
The unit also features a voltmeter dial that checks the status of your battery. Aside from jump-starts, it includes a 12-volt power output with automatic circuit prevention that can power a number of your accessories. Although it's one of the heaviest portable jump starters on the list, weighing 18 pounds, it comes with a 30-day warranty.
What does a jump starter do?
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.
What types of jump starters are there?
Jump starters come in both portable and plug-in varieties. Portable models have a built-in battery for extra convenience, but their main negative is that they need to be charged after use, which can take several hours. Plug-in chargers, on the other hand, are far less portable because they need to be connected to a power outlet—meaning that if you’re stuck on the road with a dead battery, you're out of luck.
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.
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. Thankfully, if this does happen, there are ways to give your car the kick it needs to get going again.
While you could simply rely on jumper cables, that assumes that you’re going to be able to find someone else to help you out—which may not always be the case. Alternatively, 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.
As you might expect, there are a bunch of factors to consider when shopping for a jump starter. First, think about the type of jump starter you want to buy—whether it be a portable jump starter, a plug-in jump starter, or a battery charger. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. After that, there are dozens of other things to keep in mind when it comes to features.
Read on for everything you should consider when buying a jump starter.
Before thinking about what features you want, consider the type of jump starter you need. Not all models are the same, and the type you choose can have a significant impact on how much it'll help in certain situations.
A jump starter does exactly what it sounds like: it gives your car a jump, allowing it to turn on. After the jump, your car's alternator should take over, charging your car’s battery as you drive. It’s important to clear up a few common misconceptions, though. 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.
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.
There are a few advantages to jump starters, generally. They allow you to get on the road almost instantly and, in many cases, can also be used to supply power to other devices in a pinch. For example, you could use one to recharge your phone if you need it in an emergency. 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.
However, if you do need to jump-start your car, here's a step-by-step guide to how to do so safely.
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.
Once you've decided what type of jump starter you want, there are dozens of other features to consider. Here’s what you should be thinking about.
Jumper cables are an important part of any jump starter—without them, you don’t have anything to connect the jump starter to. 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.
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.
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.
Like many other features on this list, the air compressor does need to be powered—so if you have a battery-powered device, it will take up some of that capacity when in use. Still, the likelihood of needing to pump up a tire and having to jump start your car before you have a chance to recharge your jump starter is pretty low.
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.
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.
Many jump starters have other types of emergency lights, too. For example, some that allow you to see where you’re placing the jumper cables, which is handy for those who haven’t done a whole lot of jump-starting before. Last but not least, others have lights designed to be used as simple flashlights—perfect for almost any other situation where light is required.
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.
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.
A power inverter turns the DC current from the jump starter’s battery into an AC current that you can use to power other devices like smartphones and tablets. Often, jump starters with an inverter will also have a built-in power outlet. Of course, considering the fact that some jump starters are battery-powered, you won’t want to run anything too power-hungry, as it’ll eat up that battery much faster than you might want. Still, an inverter is perfect for those who want a little power when they’re camping or on the road.
Charging modes apply more to battery chargers than to jump starters, but if you’ve chosen to buy a battery charger, charging modes might be worth considering. Car battery chargers usually offer a few different modes.
Automatic charging is perhaps the most common. When in automatic charging mode, the battery will charge its remaining capacity and switch to maintain mode when it's fully charged. Maintain mode keeps your car’s battery topped up by delivering a small current whenever necessary; this mode is also known as float charge. Lastly, in manual charging mode, a car battery charger won’t cycle down, even when the car’s battery is full. In other words, you’ll need to disconnect the charger to stop it from charging—and if you don’t, it could do damage to your car’s battery.
Those who want a little more control over their car battery charger might want to find a device with at least a few charging modes, but most people will be perfectly fine with a device that only offers automatic charging.
Amperage also relates more to car battery chargers than to jump starters, so you can safely move on if you’ve decided on buying a jump starter.
The amperage of a car battery charger determines how quickly it can charge a flat battery. For example, a battery charger with a charge of 2 amps can charge a standard 48 amp car battery in 24 hours. Thankfully, car battery chargers range higher than 2 amps—in fact, some go as high as 10 amps, which will help charge your car battery much faster.
In other words, if you want to charge your car’s battery quickly, select a battery charger with a higher amperage.
There are a number of companies that make reliable, high-quality jump starters and battery chargers. 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. The Jump-n-Carry JNC660, for example, offers a reliable output power for jump-starting engines thanks to the included PROFORMER battery technology and the heavy duty cables. The Beatit 800A Peak Jump Starter, on the other hand, is a little more portable, yet still offers enough power to jump start up to a 7L engine.
Some of the same brands also make car battery chargers, but there are also a few others to consider in that area, too. For example, both Black & Decker and Schumacher are both known for their car battery chargers.
How much you spend on a car jump starter or battery charger largely depends on the features you’re looking for. If you want a jump starter that's completely decked out with an inverter, emergency lights, a radio, and so on, you’re going to pay more than you would for a basic jump starter.
If you’re buying a jump starter, you should be able to get a decent one starting at around $50 or $60—though devices in that price range won’t deliver huge amounts of power and will be limited on features. On the other hand, if you decide you want a more sophisticated, feature-rich model, you can expect to pay up to $150 or more.
When it comes to battery chargers, prices start a little lower, though again, only for lower-capacity devices that may or may not meet your needs. You can get a cheap battery charger for around $30, though if you want a larger device with a bit more oomph, expect to pay $50 or $60.
These are many things to keep in mind when buying a jump starter. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you know a little more about what you want. The good news? There are hundreds of options on the market, so no matter what you’re looking for, you should be able to find one that suits your needs and budget.