12 Best Portable Jump Starters in 2018
While we are slowly inching towards a world where electric cars will eventually rule the roads, our gas guzzlers are currently still king of the hill. Regardless of your vehicle choice, it needs a battery, and when that dies, you are out of luck. Well, not if you have a jump starter.
We went on a search for the best portable jump starter, which was a tall task. There are plenty of units to choose from, so we narrowed things down by selecting small models that can easily fit in your glove box or under a seat. We have also included a buying guide below to clear up any confusion when it comes to amperage and connectors.
Top 12 Portable Jump Starters Comparison Table
How Dead Is Your Battery?
When a battery runs dry and your car won’t kick over, most consumers consider it dead. There are different degrees of “dead” however, which directly affects the size of charger you may need. If your battery doesn’t kick over at all or make a peep when you hit the switch, you’re going to require more power than you normally would if you had just left a dome light on overnight. In other words, your battery is actually dead and needs to be charged or boosted with a large box.
If you get a little life from your battery or just have a car that’s slow to start on cold mornings, you should be okay with a jump starter rated to the size of your engine. Don’t go off the battery size, use your engine size as a guideline, and when in doubt, always choose a larger size. You’ll also want to consider how many types of vehicles you may need to jump off. What works great for cars, may not function nearly as well on a big diesel truck.
Consider the Amp Rating
When looking for the best portable jump starter, the main area that causes confusion is the Amp rating. On a full-sized unit, you will always get a rating for Cranking Amps, Cold Cranking Amps, and Peak Amps. While there are still debates between CCA and CA, Peak amps are the maximum amount of power your charger can produce at any given time. Think of it as a “one-time boost” at max power, but don’t think of it if you live in cold weather as it’s a number you will want to ignore more often than not.
As we are dealing with portable units, most double as chargers for other gadgets and will not have Cold Cranking Amps listed at all although some will offer up a Cranking Amp rating. Unfortunately, if the company doesn’t list either number, you will need to aim for the portable jump starter with the highest Peak Amperage just to be safe. You may be able to contact the manufacturer and get the information directly, but some of these are just not rated in the same fashion as their larger counterparts.
What’s in the Kit?
Every jump starter we chose comes with the essential accessories to get you going. That means the booster box itself, a pair of cables that disconnect, and something to charge up your booster with. Most will include a wall jack although some also provide a car charger. It’s also not uncommon to find an all-in-one cable that plugs into your charger and has several different ends for USB and other types of connections.
If you need something a starter box that offers up more than most, you will want to look for a full kit. These always come in a case with the aforementioned accessories, but include extras like additional connector tips for gadgets old and new. Some also have mini compressors included for airing up tires or other items to lend you a hand on the road when your battery goes dark.
Top 5 Best Portable Jump Starter Reviews
Our number one pick for the best portable jump starter comes from Rockford and is a full kit. It carries the model number RFDJS2976DLX and is dubbed a Portable Power Source Mini Jump Starter. While they have several other models to choose from, we felt this one was best suited for consumers that need to kick off a car or small truck and don’t require an extreme amount of power.
Compared to other jump starters on our list, this one is more of a full-fledged gadget than the rest. That’s due to the fact it actually has the cranking amps listed, which shake out to 200CA. The max or peak amps read 400A so that it can jump off cars and some trucks depending on the engine size. The standard accessories are present with a wall charger, a multi-cable, and a set of mini alligator clips. As for the extras, you’ll get a car charger, eight additional connectors, and a sturdy zip-up carrying case.
This unit is small but powerful and will easily fit into most glove boxes or slide under a seat if you have a full or tiny trunk. The only negative is with the cables which may be a little short for some folks liking although it’s a problem that’s common on most jump starters of this size.
Now we are going to take a look at something a wee bit more powerful with the RAV Power Car Jump Starter. This baby has a peak power rating of 1000Amps and will work with “all” 12V Gas and Diesel engines up to 7 Liters according to the manufacturer. Depending on your setup, you’ll want to take that lightly although we can attest to the power you will get from this one.
The company didn’t offer up any information in this units cold starting power, but 1000amps is more than enough to kick start the majority of sedans and light duty trucks on the road. That’s assuming it isn’t totally dead of course. Batteries aside, like the rest of our picks, this tiny box can also fire up all your mobile gadgets including your smartphones and slates. Quick Charge 3.0 promises 75% faster charging speeds for your phone, and there’s even a handy flashlight built into the front as well.
The RAV Power Jump Starter isn’t a full kit, but the 14,000mAh power bank is a solid booster with intelligent feature baked in to keep you from frying your battery. There are not many accessories included with this model however as you’ll only get two USB cables and a wall charger out of the box.
The GOOLOO Car Jump Starter is another portable device geared to jump off smaller cars and top of your gadgets. It’s a little thicker than some, but it’s also large at 18,000mAh which is the equivalent of around 5-6 smartphone batteries. We don’t have any ratings for the cranking amps, so you will have to use the peak amps as your guideline this time around.
GOOLOO’s jumper clocks in at 700 Amps, which the company claims can start a 5.5L diesel or gas engines up to 6.5 Liters. Not only that, it has enough power to kick them off up to 30 times before needing to be recharged. We do not advise you to put that to the test unless you own a car lot or junkyard as you will want this one fully charged when you hit the road. Other fun features to note include an S.O.S. signal light, LED flashlight, and a tiny LCD screen on the front to let you know what’s going on during charging.
This one is in the middle of the pack in terms of power although it should suffice for most folks as long as you’re not driving a big rig or car that requires a considerable amount of juice. Things are slim on the accessory front aside from a car charger, and the clamps on this one are less than stellar but far from the worst we’ve seen on units of this size.
As mentioned, it ‘s hard to get an accurate rating from some of the jump starters on our list as most rely on total power, not cranking amps. We struck out with this one as well, but the Rugged Geek RG1000 has a significant amount of power at the ready when your vehicle is in need of a boost.
Rugged Geek’s box has 1000 Amps of juice and sports Intelliboost cables that are geared to keep you and your car safe while you kick it off. Reverse polarity and other rookie mistakes are taken care of, and we are pleased to say they are thicker than most at 8 gauge. There is an LCD screen that lets you know the current charging and voltage levels and two USB charging ports to go along with a port to juice up your laptop or netbook.
This particular kit is their “Safety” model, which offers up a few extra bells & whistles and a higher overall Amp rating. There is an RG600 that’s a bit cheaper but has less power and another variant of the RG1000 which comes with a small portable compressor and a case for a few extra bucks.
The NOCO Genius is arguably the smartest starter on our list and is also the most powerful. We went for the 2000 Amp model, which is said to provide up to 40 jump starts before needing recharged. That’s going to vary depending on how dead your vehicles are but is impressive nonetheless.
Whether you need to charge a boat, Corvette, motorcycle or just your iPad, NOCO has you covered. Their starter is rated to jump off gas vehicles up to 6 liters and diesel engines up to 8 liters. The unit itself can go from 0 to 100% in around 3 hours, and you’re getting a solid set of cables and clamps to boot. Need a light? Not a problem with a 400 lumen LED flashlight sporting seven different light patterns if you’re in need of assistance. It can also power up tire pumps and other gadgets through its handy 12-volt auxiliary port.
While this one isn’t cheap, it NOCO makes some of the best jump starters on the market, so you’re paying for quality and performance. The NOCO Genius Boost HD charger comes with a 1-year “hassle free” warranty and is available in a 4000 Amp model if you need more power. You can dial it down to 1000 or 400 amps as well.