When your car battery dies, traditional jumper cables are a great solution to boost it, assuming you can call roadside assistance or find a kind person who can help you. But having to rely on them isn't always practical for maintaining or repairing your vehicle, especially if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road with no one around.
Fortunately, many manufacturers now offer portable jump starters. These are essentially portable power banks, storing energy to boost your vehicle's battery in an emergency without the need for another car's help. Many feature lightweight and compact designs that are perfect for keeping in your car, while others are big and bulky, with more robust features like built-in air compressors, USB charging, and even wall-style AC outlets.
Also: The best car gadgets of 2023
To help you find the best portable jump starter for your car, I've researched and compared different models for peak amps, size, weight, price, and additional features like flashlights and air compressors. My top pick for best portable jump starter is the Stanley J5C09, since it can be used for different types of vehicles and has a built-in air compressor to help you fill your tires. Read on for the rest of our jump starter choices to find the one that will be right for you.
The best portable jump starters of 2023
- Can be used with multiple vehicle types
- Built-in air compressor
- AC outlet and USB ports
- Built-in flashlight
- Big and heavy
- No LCD display
Stanley J5C09 specs: Peak amps: 1000 amps | Weight: 17.75 pounds | Dimensions: 8 x 11.25 x 13.15 inches | Max engine size: 6L gas, 3L diesel
The Stanley J5C09 is an excellent portable jump starter to keep in your garage or vehicle in case of emergency or for regular maintenance. Its rechargeable internal battery provides up to 1,000 amps of power to help jump start cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, and even boats. It also features a built-in air compressor to help keep your tires properly inflated.
The front of the unit itself has an AC wall-style outlet for plugging in extension cords as well as USB ports for charging devices. This means you can use the J5C09 to keep your phone charged in case of emergency or run small tools and equipment when a wall outlet isn't available. And with the attached LED flashlight, you can illuminate your car's engine compartment for safer working conditions in the dark.
- Under $100
- 2000 peak amps
- Lightweight and compact
- Built-in flashlight and USB charging ports
- No air compressor
- Up to 6-hour recharge time
Nexpow 2000A portable jump starter specs: Peak amps: 2000 amps | Weight: 2.2 pounds | Dimensions: 9 x 3.4 x 1.2 inches | Max engine size: 7L gas, 6.5L diesel
For most people, a portable jump starter isn't a piece of equipment that is going to see frequent use, so you may not want to spend a ton of money on one. The Nexpow 2000A portable jump starter retails for under $100, and still provides plenty of power to help keep your vehicles in running order. It provides up to 2000 amps of peak power, meaning it can handle just about any size car, pickup, or mid-size diesel vehicle.
It also features a super compact design so you can keep it in your glove compartment or center console for quick and easy access in an emergency. It's lightweight as well, so you don't have to worry about lugging a heavy unit across a parking lot to help someone else in need, or from your garage to your car in the dead of winter. The unit not only has three USB ports for keeping your devices charged, but it also has a 3-mode flashlight for illuminating your work space or signaling for help.
- Works with up to 12L diesel engines
- USB charging
- Compact and lightweight
- Reverse polarity alarm
- No LCD screen for status
- No built-in compressor
Avapow 6000A portable jump starter specs: Peak amps: 6000 amps | Weight: 2.75 pounds | Dimensions: 10.98 x 6 x 5.63 inches | Max engine size: All gas, 12L diesel
If you've got commercial vehicles, construction equipment, or large pickup trucks, the Avapow 6000A portable jump starter is a must-have for your tool kit. It's designed specifically for large vehicles with up to a 12L diesel engine, so anyone driving vehicles ranging from farm trucks to long-haul semis can have peace of mind while on the road. It provides up to 6000 amps and has several safety features like reverse polarity alarms and a silicone case to prevent damage and injury.
The unit also acts as a portable power bank with built-in USB ports to keep your phone and other devices charged in an emergency. The clamp cables measure 26 inches long, giving you a bit more leeway when working within large engine compartments where batteries might not be reached easily.
- Built-in compressor
- Work lights and USB charging
- AC charging block
- Integrated handle and cable management
- Big and heavy
- Somewhat short clamp cables
DeWalt DXAEJ14 specs: Peak amps: 1400 amps | Weight: 17.5 pounds | Dimensions: 11.75 x 6 x 13 inches | Max engine size: 6L gas, 5L diesel
If you're like me and don't particularly like the idea of single-purpose tools, the DeWalt DXAEJ14 is an almost perfect multipurpose portable jump starter. Not only does it provide up to 1400 amps of power for jumping everything from your SUV to your grandpa's golf cart, it also has a built-in air compressor, alternator test function, built-in work lights, USB charging ports, and an AC outlet.
An integrated handle and cable management channel makes moving and storing the unit faster and easier. The unit also has a reverse polarity alarm to let you know if the clamps are connected incorrectly to help prevent damage to your battery, as well as to keep you from getting hurt by improper electrical handling.
- Lightweight and compact
- USB charging ports
- Built-in flashlight
- LED battery indicator
- Very short clamp cables
- No reverse polarity alarm
Noco Boost Plus GB40 specs: Peak amps: 1000 amps | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Dimensions: 8.3 x 4.1 x 4.6 inches | Max engine size: 6L gas, 3L diesel
Noco has established itself as one of the premier names in portable jump starters, and its Boost Plus GB40 is the ultimate compact unit. It measures just 8.3 x 4.1 x 4.6 inches, which means not only does it fit in your center console or glove compartment, but you could also potentially slip the main unit comfortably into a pant pocket.
The Boost Plus GB40 provides up to 1000 amps of peak power, making it great for most residential cars, trucks, SUVs, as well as boats and ATVs. It also features a built-in flashlight for working in dim lighting or in the dark on the side of the road, as well as USB ports for keeping your devices charged in an emergency. The front of the unit features no-nonsense controls as well as easy-to-read LED indicators for battery charge and connections. The unit is also rated IP65 for water resistance, so you don't have to worry about splashes, spills, or even a bit of rain.
I chose the Stanley J5C09 as the best portable jump starter for several reasons: it has a peak output of 1000 amps, making it perfect for most cars, pickup trucks, and smaller vehicles like ATVs and motorcycles. It also is compatible with several different types of batteries and has a built-in air compressor to help keep your tires inflated properly. The front of the unit has an LED display for battery status, and LED flashlight, and an AC outlet for use with an extension cord.
Best portable jump starter
Max engine size
6L gas, 3L diesel
7L gas, 6.5L diesel
All gas, 12L diesel
6L gas, 5L diesel
Noco Boost Plus GB40
6L gas, 3L diesel
The best portable jump starter for your needs is one that has a both a peak and sustain amperage output that is suitable for your vehicle. Smaller cars, light pickup trucks, and things like ATVs don't need as much power as a diesel engine pickup or semi. For typical drivers, a jump starter with a peak output between 1000 and 1400 amps should be more than enough power. But if you have a fleet of commercial vehicles, construction equipment, or even marine vehicles, you'll want something with an output of up to 6000 amps.
Buy this portable jump starter...
If you need...
A well-rounded portable jump starter. It also has a built-in tire inflator as well as USB ports for charging devices.
A budget-friendly portable jump starter. This model from Nexpow retails under $100 while still providing a 2000 amp output and quick-charging.
A portable jump starter for large vehicles. It has an output of up to 6000 amps, which means you can use it on vehicles with up to a 12 liter diesel engine.
A unit that does more than jump start your battery. It features a built-in tire inflator, USB ports, an alternator check function, and a reverse-polarity alarm.
Noco Boost Plus GB40
A compact portable jump starter. It measures just 8.3 x 4.1 x 4.6 inches, making it perfect for keeping in your glove box or center console.
Aside from price, there were several other factors I considered when comparing portable jump starters for this list.
- Size: Not every car or garage has the space to store large, bulky portable jump starters or battery chargers. I made sure to include compact models as well as larger ones.
- Power output: Not all portable jump starters are created equal. If you have a large truck or commercial vehicle, you'll need a jump starter with a higher amperage output than one you would use on your grandma's ancient Crown Victoria. Conversely, if you drive an ultra-compact car or have small engine equipment like ATVs, you'll need something with a weaker output so you don't burn up your battery or alternator.
- Multiple uses and other features: Several brands like Stanley and DeWalt make portable jump starters that also act as tire inflators, power banks for charging devices, radios, and even flashlights. I made sure to include a few of these for anyone who doesn't like the idea of a single-purpose device.
A jump starter is a piece of equipment that is meant to give a short, powerful burst of energy to your battery in order to get the engine to turn over. After your battery is successfully jump started, you should let your car run for at least 30 minutes so the alternator can recharge the battery.
A battery charger, however, is designed to deliver a slow, steady, much lower level of energy to safely recharge a battery from depletion or to perform regular battery conditioning for peak performance.
Alternators are pretty resilient pieces of equipment, and are built to be resistant to all kinds of outside influences. However, you can severely damage it when trying to jump start your car if you have the cables connected to the wrong battery nodes or if you have the incorrect battery type. Always make sure your cables are connected correctly and that the battery is the correct size and power for your vehicle.
Absolutely. Batteries, including car and truck batteries, aren't meant to hold a charge forever. And factors such as time, temperature, and even how often you use your vehicle can affect how the battery discharges. If a battery sits for years or experiences extreme temperatures, the battery will slowly discharge energy, which can lead to it not holding enough of a charge to even be jump started. If this happens, the only option is to replace the battery with a brand new one. Fortunately, many places offer discounts for bringing in old batteries or recycling programs to keep dangerous chemicals from leaking batteries out of landfills.
In this review of the best portable jump starters to keep in your car, we looked at products that are designed for average-sized passenger cars. But if you need something for smaller vehicles or something that can charge devices as well, check out our list below:
Best alternative to charge your devices
Not only can you give your car battery a boost if you need it, but the Halo Bolt also features 2 USB ports to keep your devices charged as well. This is perfect for if you need to call for roadside assistance or keep in touch with friends and family while traveling and wall outlets are hard to come by.
Best alternative for small engines
Noco Boost Sport GB20
The Noco Boost Sport GB20 is an almost perfect choice for a portable jump started to keep on-hand for smaller engines and batteries. With a peak output of just 500 amps, you can safely and easily boost ultra-compact cars, ATVs, boats, and more.
Best alternative for larger diesel vehicles
This portable jump starter is great for larger diesel vehicles, providing enough power to start 10L diesel engines. It provides up to 4,000 starting amps, and just 5 minutes of charging time gives you enough power to help your engine turn over.