While mobile jump starters have existed for decades, they were traditionally large, expensive items that weighed several times more than your average car battery and were primarily carried by Overlanders and roadside mechanics. In more recent years, however, battery technology has evolved to the point where manufacturers are now able to deliver small, affordable jump starter — or “boost” — models in compact, practical packages. And with the market more inundated with options than ever before, now seems the perfect time to take a deep dive into the world of mobile battery boosters, examining just what these devices are, what factors to consider when shopping for one, and our selections for the best portable jump starters currently on the market.
The Best Portable Jump Starters
Best Value Pick
NOCO Boost Plus GB40
Best Full-Size Pick
Clore JNC660 Jump-N-Carry
Best Compact Pick
Uncharted Supply Co. The Athena
Most Versatile Pick
mophie powerstation go rugged AC
Best For Large Engines
Defining The Segment
What Exactly Is A Portable Jump Starter?
Like the segment’s name suggests, portable jump starters are compact devices that allow users to jumpstart a dead battery without needing to connect to another vehicle or battery. This is possible thanks to the fact that modern portable jump starters feature enough power and amperage to get an engine to turn over and start. Often coming in the form of a small box, these battery-replenishing gadgets are typically comprised of a main body that houses a battery and features a pair of connected jump cables that can be clamped to a car’s battery terminals. What’s more, today’s portable jump starters are small enough to easily be stored in a car’s trunk, and are light enough to be easily carried and moved around.
Mobile Battery Types 101
What’s The Difference Between A Portable Jump Starter & A Portable Power Bank?
As a result of recent advancements in battery tech, we’ve also seen the market flooded with mobile power banks. Mobile power banks are less specified, more general-use devices that can be used to power just about anything — including motor vehicles, assuming the power bank is large and powerful enough. While power banks to massively range in size, from small models made for charging smartphones, to massive units designed to back up an entire home’s electrical system, portable jump starters tend to be a fairly uniform size, being just big enough to house the necessary juice to jump a battery, and not much more. As such, power banks tend to be markedly more versatile, though are also typically more expensive. Power banks also tend to boast modern smart features such as connectivity to Bluetooth apps for remote monitoring, as well as a myriad of different USB ports and outlets for more easily charging devices when off-grid or during a blackout.
The Traits For A Better Boost
What Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Portable Jump Starter?
Assuming you don’t possess a general knowledge of car batteries, alternators, and starter motors, then it can admittedly be a little intimidating when it comes time to shop for a portable jump starter. The reality, however, is that there are just a handful of key areas that one needs to take into account when shopping — the most important of which we’ve broken down directly below.
Power: Though it is broken down into several different specs, the single most important factor to consider when buying a portable jumpstarter is undoubtedly its power. This includes reviewing a model’s energy (or wattage) output, its voltage, and its amperage, in terms of both cranking amps and cold cranking amps, as well as its peak amperage (or current). Put very simply, peak amperage refers to a portable jumpstarter’s ability to produce a short but powerful jolt of energy that’s needed to give a car battery the initial juice needed to start — at which time the car’s alternator kicks in and continues recharging the cell.
Size & Weight: The vast majority of boosts on the market come in a fairly uniform size, though there are outliers that are significantly larger or smaller — with these latter devices often being no larger than a water bottle, making them fantastic options for smaller cars and even motorcycles. The size and weight of a portable jump starter will also play a major role in a model’s ease of use — another important element that we’ll touch on in more detail below.
Ease of Use: Another important factor to consider is how easy it is to actually use a portable jump starter, as this area can vary a surprising amount, with some requiring specific sequences to function while others use simple single-button, one-and-done arrangements. As touched on above, factors such as the model’s size and weight will play a role in this area, as will the length of its leads.
Weather Resistance: Portable jump starters can also vary pretty substantially in terms of their ability to stand up to the elements. This is especially important to factor into your decision if you live in a region that gets a lot of rain. Additionally, there are also quite a few portable jump starter models on the market that are sold with included or optional protective covers for use in inclement weather.
Safeguards: The vast majority of quality portable jump starters come outfitted with advanced onboard systems and safeguards to prevent overcharging and other electrical malfunctions that can potentially damage a battery or even a vehicle. Many of these systems will even alert uses if its cables have been incorrectly connected. Considering the amount of headache — and money — that these systems can save you, they are well worth looking into when shopping.
Leads: All portable jump starters feature a set of leads that snake out from the housing and culminate in a set of jumper clamps. With that said, leads on these devices can vary in multiple ways. This includes the length of the leads, the gauge and quality of the leads, and the size, type, and quality of the clamps that they come attached to.
Extra & Amenities: It’s become increasingly commonplace to see portable jump starters that come outfitted with additional amenities, features, or functions that all aim to bolster convenience or utility when stuck on the side of the road. These features include items such as integrated LED lights and even built-in air compressors for inflating flat tires. It’s also pretty common to see portable jump starters that come outfitted with USB ports and 12V charging outlets, allowing their user to juice-up their laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other tech while off the grid or away from a hard-wired outlet.
NOCO Boost Plus GB40
- Can jumpstart engines as large as 6.0 liters
- Includes built-in 100-lumen LED flashlight
- Features an IP65 water resistance rating
- Ultra-compact size & weight
- Super simple user interface
- Lacks power & amperage of pricier models
Best Value Pick: Measuring 3.16” x 7.72” x 1.71” and tipping the scales at under 2.5lbs, the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 is a small but potent Lithium-ion portable jump starter that packs an impressive punch despite its tiny footprint. With up to 1,000 peak amps on tap, the Boost Plus GB40 is capable of jump-starting gas engines of up to 6.0 liters in displacement — or diesel engines of up to 3.0 liters. Boasting an ultra-intuitive and easy-to-use interface, the device sports simple three-button setup that comes supplemented via a set of color-coded LED indicator lights that show battery level. Onboard charging protection comes as standard, too, as does a a red warning LED light. Also included is an onboard 100-lumen LED flashlight that features several brightness settings as well as strobe, blink, and SOS functions. IP65-rated (with its ports closed), this portable jump starter also comes with an included 12-volt car charger, microfiber storage bag, and micro-USB charging cable. It may lack the power of some of its costlier counterparts, though for its size and price, the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 truly is hard to beat.
Peak Amps: 1,000
Clore JNC660 Jump-N-Carry
- Packs an impressive 1,700 peak amps
- Features extra-long 46” 2-gauge cable leads
- Uses 22-Ah Clore PROFORMER battery platform
- Much larger & heavier than other
- Cover sold separately
Best Full-Size Pick: 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.
Peak Amps: 1,700
Uncharted Supply Co. The Athena
- Can jumpstart 6.0L engines 15 times on 1 charge
- Is dust-proof, shockproof, & IP67-rated
- Has 8 built-in protections
- Includes built-in LED flashlight & multiple Micro-USB & USB-C ports
- Very short cable leads
Best Compact Pick: Shockproof, dust-proof, and waterproof (with an IP67 rating), The Athena from Uncharted Supply Co. is a modern portable jump starter that’s just as conducive to getting your car back on the road as it is to juicing up your smartphone and other gadgets thanks to its ultra-compact size. Thanks to a 16,000-mAh battery and 1,200 peak amps, The Athena is not only capable of jumpstarting a 6.0-liter engine, but can also do so a whopping 15 times before needing to be recharged. This same cell also enables it to juice up the latest iPhone Pro Max model a cool four times. The device also boasts eight different built-in protections including over-charge protection and reverse polarity protection. Rounding out this model is a built-in three-in-one LED flashlight. With its compact size, impressive potency, and multiple built-in charging ports, The Athena is also fantastic for both camping and EDC use.
Peak Amps: 1,200
mophie powerstation go rugged AC
- Has digital LCD display
- Ultra-fool-proof design w/ multiple built-in protections
- Super compact size also makes it great for EDC & charging mobile devices
- Limited peak amps
Most Versatile Pick: The mophie powerstation go rugged AC is another highly-compact portable jump starter that might not boast the most impressive peak amperage, but more than makes up for this shortcoming with its size, versatility, ease-of-use, and cutting-edge tech. Utilizing a two-button arrangement and a built-in digital LCD display, this sub-two-pound device packs a 55.5-mWh internal battery that’s big enough to get an engine to turn over, or to juice up your laptop or smartphone several times over. In addition to a built-in LED flashlight, this model also comes loaded with spark-proof jump cables and built-in automatic safety checks that regularly scan the device’s operation. These factors ultimately result in a wildly easy-to-use, fool-proof design. What’s more, mophie also sells a slightly larger version of its powerstation that comes loaded with an onboard air compressor.
Peak Amps: 800
- Can jumpstart gas & Diesel engines as large s 10-liters
- Works on tractors, trucks, & other large vehicles
- Has “BOOST” button that forces car to restart
- Has a whopping 4,000 peak amps on tap
- Onboard 26,800-mAh battery offers 60 boosts on a single charge
- Expensive price
Best For Large Engines: Though it isn’t much larger than other compact Lithium portable jump starter models, the GOOLOO GP4000 is, as they say, “built different.” Weighing less than four pounds, the GP4000 features a 26,800-mAh battery that offers a cool 4,000 peak amps. These figures ultimately allow it to jumpstart even the largest of engines, with the ability to crank over 10-liter mills, whether of the gas or diesel variety. This capability is made all the more impressive by the fact that the GP4000 can boost a vehicle’s battery a whopping 60 times before needing to be recharged itself. Additionally, this cutting-edge portable jump starter also boasts a “BOOST” button that automatically forces the car that it’s connected to to restart. This product also comes sold with an included EVA storage box, along with several USB cords.
Peak Amps: 4,000
The Best Emergency Roadside Kits To Keep In Your Car
Interested in checking out some other must-have items to keep in your vehicle? Then be sure to cruise over to our guide to the best emergency roadside kits for a curated selection of tool kits, first aid kits, and other bundled essentials.