Few feelings are worse than going to start your car, and the engine not turning over. If you’re fortunate enough to have a vehicle with a manual transmission, you’d be able to bump start your automobile, but most people don’t have that luxury. Dead batteries leave countless motorists stranded everyday, but with a portable jump starters, you can get back on the road in no time.
What to Consider
Thankfully, portable jump starters are quite simple to compare to one another. These devices, sometimes called battery jump starters, are essentially heavy-duty backup batteries equipped with jumper cables, so you can look at metrics like capacity, amperage, and interface ports.
Battery capacity is important because larger packs will be able to refire a greater number of vehicles and devices before needing to be recharged—bigger numbers equate to more capacity. Although some manufacturers measure battery capacity in terms of how many vehicles or devices it can charge, the standard unit of measure is milliampere hours (mAh). We recommend looking for jump starters that have at least 10,000 mAh of capacity.
Along with capacity, peak amperage is another important metric to look out for. This measures how much electricity the battery can supply in a given moment. More amperage generally leads to faster charge times and the ability to start bigger engines—as long as your vehicle can handle it. However, this will play a much bigger role in starting your vehicle, as anything above 1,000 amps would fry your mobile device in an instant.
Outside of their main function, battery jump starters can also recharge phones, tablets, and other portable tech, so pay attention to the interface ports. Most jump starters provide a number of USB ports, but the real kicker is to look for a 12-volt outlet. Along with faster charging, a 12-V rail expands the range of devices that you’ll be able to power.
How We Evaluated
Having flown racing drones for four years now, I’ve spent countless hours charging batteries with different chemistries—I also evaluate all manner of cars and accessories as the Autos Editor. Whether that’s lithium-polymer, lithium-ion, or nickel-metal hydride, I know my way around batteries and how to charge them.Along with my personal experience, I read through hundreds of Amazon reviews to separate good jump starters from great ones. After comparing the capacity, peak amperage, and ports for each model, I developed this list of six of the best portable jump starters that money can buy.
Autogen Lithium Jump Starter
Capacity: 32,000 mAh
Peak Amperage: 4,000 A
Ports: 2 USB Type-A and 1 12-V outlet
With its mighty impressive capacity and performance, it didn’t take long to figure out that Autogen’s portable jump starter is the best of the bunch. Along with putting down superior numbers, the mobile jumper is one of the only that packs a built-in 12-volt outlet, along with two USB Type-A ports. The USB output is optimized for rapidly recharging your device, with Autogen promising 75 percent faster charge times.
Built in 12-volt outlet
Superior capacity and charging performance
Some reviews complained about warranty issues
Avapow Jump Starter
Capacity: 27,800 mAh
Peak Amperage: 4,000 A
Ports: 2 USB Type-A
For just over $100, Avapow’s jump starter matches the peak amperage of our top recommendation at 4,000 amps. Along with having the power to start any vehicle with up to a 10-liter engine, this battery pack is the best of the bunch when it comes to preventing the risk of electric shock or fire. Reverse polarity protection is standard fare when it comes to jump starters, but Avapow also looks out for you when it comes to a reverse connection, overcurrent, overvoltage, overcharge, and short circuiting. If that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a flashlight.
Eight intelligent protection systems to prevent electrical shock
No onboard 12-volt outlet
Michelin Jump Starter and Power Bank
Capacity: 10,000 mAh
Peak Amperage: 500 A
Ports: 2 USB Type-A
Michelin’s jump starter can’t compete with others when it comes to outright performance, but it does have several clever features to bridge the gap. Most notably, the jumper cables have reverse polarity protection to prevent electric shock. Also included is a flashlight with three different modes: beam, strobe, and SOS. Unique to Michelin’s jump starter, the package comes with three replaceable lithium-ion batteries. While many would see having to swap batteries as an inconvenience, it eliminates the issue of a faulty battery killing the entire jump starter.
Reverse polarity protection
Lackluster connectivity without 12-volt outlet
Imazing Portable Jump Starter
Capacity: 18,000 mAh
Peak Amperage: 2,000 A
Ports: 2 USB Type-A, 1 USB-C, and 1 12-V outlet
Sitting as the least expensive starter on the list, Imazing’s latest model doesn’t offer inferior performance—quite the opposite, actually. Coming in at roughly $40 less than Michelin’s offering, this model brings four times the peak amperage and nearly twice the capacity. With two onboard USB Type-A ports, one USB-C port, and a 12-volt connection that pairs with a cigarette lighter dongle, it’s tough to find a better package at a more competitive price point.
Several ports allow for good connectivity
Included charging cable is very short
Noco Boost Plus Jump Starter
Capacity: 2,000 mAh
Peak Amperage: 1,000 A
Ports: 1 USB Type-A and 1 12-V outlet
Noco’s Boost Plus is one of two jump starters on this list with IP65 water resistance, thanks to the rubberized over-molded casing. Despite the extra protection, the Boost Plus is one of the lightest jump starters on the list at just 2.4 pounds. It also has a 100-lumen flashlight with seven different modes. While the specs of Noco’s jump starter aren’t super competitive, it remains an affordable model that’s good in bad weather.
Hulkman Alpha85 Jump Starter
Capacity: 20,000 mAh
Peak Amperage: 2,000 A
Ports: 1 USB Type-A, 1 USB-C, and 1 12-V outlet
Hulkman’s Alpha85 presents solid performance, but the clear party piece is its 3.3-inch digital display. The backlit screen makes it easy to read at any time of day, adding peace of mind for nighttime emergencies. Even with a sizable screen on the exterior, all of the internals are protected by an IP65-rated water-resistant shroud. Unlike many of the other starters on the list, the Alpha 85 can fully charge in a speedy 1.5 hours, and as long as it’s charged to 20 percent, you can start your vehicle.
Bright digital screen is easy to read
Difficult to reach customer service
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