Revivalists: The 5 Best Portable Jump Starters

It’s easy to think that just because you have a nice pair of jumper cables that you’re going to be fine should your car suddenly decide to die. It’s a nice idea, but we all know that cars prefer to kick the bucket at the worst possible times, like the middle of the night or when you’re lost in the middle of nowhere. Being stuck in one of these scenarios opens you up to every axe-wielding hitchhiker, or worse, every Deliverance-style lunatic looking for love in all the wrong places. To make sure you aren’t easy prey, you need a jump starter – and specifically one that’s portable.

These are essentially battery packs that can give your vehicle the boost it needs to get back on the road, even if there isn’t another living soul for miles around. They belong in every motorists trunk right along side the spare tire and your first aid kit. It should have plenty of juice to get your car to turn over. It must be easy to use in the dark, and hold a charge for a reasonable period of time. Weighing all of these components, we’ve found the 5 best portable jump starters to keep you rolling.

Clore JNC300XL Jump-N-Carry

Clore JNC300XL ‘Jump-N-Carry’

Pro: Easy to move
Con: Light is weak

Portable Powerhouse: For our money, just about any jump starter from Clore will do a good job. This is one of two in their ‘Jump-N-Carry’ line that really seemed to go above and beyond. It is only 9 pounds, which is light for a really good jumper and easy for anyone to move and to use. It has a built-in flashlight that is better than nothing, but not by much. The clamps are completely full-sized so they can bite through corrosion on your battery posts, and the attached booster cables are a full 4 gauge which allows for a quicker power transfer between the unit and the car battery so you’ll spend less time stranded. With 900 amps at the peak and a cranking amperage a little over 200 it’s good for most passenger vehicles, but if you’re working with a van or truck, you’re better off dedicating space to something with a little more juice. It can usually hold a charge for about a year, but bet on closer to 6 months just to be safe. Expect only about 4 years of longevity. [Purchase: $65]

Antigravity Batteries Micro-Start XP-1

Antigravity Batteries Micro-Start XP-1

Pro: Powerful for
Con: Does not work if stored away

Pocket Rocket: First and foremost it should be said that any of the portable battery packs that include phone and USB chargers along with their ability to “jump start a car” should not be relied upon in a desperate situation. They make fine portable chargers but don’t lean on them when your life is on the line. Among the small fry jump starters, the Micro-Start is top notch with 400 amps and 12 volts of power. It is small enough to fit under the seat of your motorcycle or the storage compartment of your ATV, yet can kick over a 4 banger and even most 6 cylinder cars, so long as it has a full charge. The on-board light isn’t bad and is more than sufficient for finding your battery posts. Make note that the clamps are miniature rather than full-sized which can cause problems if you need to bite through corrosion or have abnormally large terminals on your battery. This isn’t meant to be kept aside for emergencies, since constant use and recharging is what keeps it alive and kicking, so keep it handy as a backup battery and put it to work often. [Purchase: $103]

PowerStation PSX-3

PowerStation PSX-3

Pro: DC outlet, USB port, and air compressor
Con: Compressor nozzle is difficult to use

Multitasker: This is made for the motorist who wants everything put into one package. It not only carries a high-powered 18aH EHP battery that can give you 400 amps of cranking power and 1,000 amps at its peak, but it has a 160 psi air compressor, a DC outlet, and a USB port for charging your portable devices. A bright LED work light is handy even if you are just changing a flat or checking your undercarriage for leaks. The 6 gauge cables are thinner than some, but are comprised of 100% copper rather than copper-plated aluminum for smoother power transference with less energy loss. Simple gauges on the face let you see how much power your battery has and where your tire pressure is at. At 20 pounds it isn’t too cumbersome to move around and the self-contained storage nooks allow it to wrap up right and tight to minimize the space required to store it. [Purchase: $120]

Clore JNC660 Jump-N-Carry

Clore JNC660 ‘Jump-N-Carry’

Pro: Works on industrial grade batteries
Con: Limited additional components

Most for the Money: This is the Clore ‘Jump-N-Carry’ model you want if you take your safety very seriously. It tips the scales at only 18 pounds but still manages to push 1,700 amps at peak power with 425 amps of cranking which will work not only on private commuter vehicles but plenty of commercial, recreational, and industrial equipment with ease. In a pinch, you could probably defibrillate someone, though we never actually tried that because no one had a convenient heart attack. It uses a long cranking cycle which is better for diesel vehicles, especially in colder weather. The cables are 2 gauge, the ideal size for any portable jump starter since they’ll get electricity to the battery much faster. On the unit is a gauge that will tell you whether your battery is completely dead or just hibernating. An on-board DC outlet gives you the option of powering accessories if needed in the event you need more than just a quick jolt. Doesn’t have a compressor or any other gear, just an incredibly powerful, reliable booster ability. [Purchase: $127]

Schumacher PSJ-3612 DSR

Schumacher PSJ-3612 DSR

Pro: Extremely powerful
Con: Digital readout can be confusing

Professional Grade: Any member of the Pro Series from Schumacher will throw down some serious juice, but for a balance of power, long-life, portability, and easy use, we found the 3612 with its 3,600 peak amps, 470 standard cranking amps, and 385 cold cranking amps to be the best deal for anyone who needs a serious piece of hardware with them out on the road. The 3612 comes with two full 18 Ah high-output AGM batteries attached to 2 gauge booster cables with heavy-duty copper-jawed clamps on the end that bite down like a rabid pitbull to juice up even older or mistreated batteries. An alarm will warn you if you accidentally cross the streams and put your clamps on the wrong terminal. The chassis is one of the toughest on the market with an impact resistant rubber bottom that allows it to be jolted and jostled with impunity yet still bring the power in a pinch. The digital readout takes a little acclimation and we suggest you practice with it a bit before disaster strikes so that you know what you’re doing. [Purchase: $274]