We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›
Is there any better feeling than seeing your vehicle through the trees after an exhausting hike? I don’t think so, but that elation turns to horror in a hurry when you turn the key and nothing happens. But if you invest in a portable jump starter, this no-service nightmare wouldn’t seem so scary. Soon enough that engine would shake back to life and get you headed safely home. If you’re in the market for a jump starter to keep in your car or truck, I’ve narrowed the vast options to a handful of great ones. Here are my picks for the best portable jump starters.
- Best Overall: Hulkman Alpha 85 2000A Jump Starter
- Best All Weather: Noco Boost Plus GB40
- Best Value: Type S 12V 6.0L Battery Jump Starter
- Best for Diesel Trucks: Gooloo GT4000S Jump Starter
- Best Portable Jump Starter with an Air Compressor: DeWalt DXAEPS14 Power Station
How I Chose the Best Portable Jump Starters
I started off the quest for the best portable jump starters by consulting friends and acquaintances in the auto industry and narrowed the results to the repeated recommendations of these professionals. I took down notes on their real world experiences with each product. Then I got my hands on as many of the contenders as I could and used them to jump an intentionally drained battery in a 2015 Ford Escape for small engines and an always dying battery in a 6.0 Liter gasoline V8 in a 2006 GMC Yukon XL for larger engines. Then I tested the utility of the accessories by charging several devices, and filled up pickup and horse trailer tires with those equipped with air compressors.
Keeping in mind the different needs of different users and vehicles, these are my selections for the best portable jump starters.
Best Portable Jump Starters: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Hulkman Alpha 85 2000A Jump Starter
- Peak Amps: 2000
- Battery Size: 20,000 mAH
- Extra Features: Flashlight, one USB-A port, one USB-C port, one 12V DC plug
- Good power
- Good battery
- Good ports
- Quick charging
- A little more expensive
This is the Goldilocks option. With a powerful 2000 peak Amps and a 20,000 mAH battery, the Alpha 85 has the juice to turn over huge gasoline engines and most diesel engines to boot. Besides the usual flashlight and USB ports, there is also a DC 12v plug to power other accessories like a separate air compressor. Maybe most impressive of all is the fact that the Alpha 85 only takes an hour and a half to charge fully. The price is “just right” too at around $150. This option will work for most drivers in most conditions, and industry professionals I spoke to frequently pointed to the Alpha 85 as an easy recommendation.
Best All Weather: Noco Boost Plus GB40
- Peak Amps: 1000
- Battery Size: 2000 mAH
- Extra Features: Flashlight, 1 USB-A Port
- Durable build
- IP65 water resistant
- Good power for size
- Single USB out
- Small battery
This portable jump starter is not only light and compact at 2 pounds, 2 ounces and 8 inches long (without cables), but it is also IP65 water resistant and durably armored. It has a good multi-mode flashlight and a single USB port for charging a phone or other small device. I found the battery cables easy to connect, but they are short at 6 inches. You pretty much need to have the GB40 sitting on the battery to get a connection. At $99 it is a good value. While rated to start larger 6.0 liter gas and smaller 3.0 liter diesel engines, I think it is best for standard gas engines with its somewhat limited 2000 mAH capacity. The GB40 is the perfect solution for somebody with a mid size SUV that also has to get the 17-foot fishing boat started.
Best Value: Type S 12V 6.0L Battery Jump Starter
- Peak Amps: 400
- Battery Size: 8000 mAH
- Extra Features: Flashlight, one USB-A Port, one USB-C Port
- Good battery
- Low Peak Amps
You probably saw this little guy at Costco the last time you picked up toilet paper. At $69.99 it is hard to beat for value. Sure it only has 400 peak Amps available, but you can get repeated start attempts with the 8000 mAH battery. It isn’t as durably built or as powerful as the Noco, but it is a great value, and at 1 pound, 10 ounces and 8.5 inches long in the case, the Type S disappears into a glove box. Unfortunately, there is no manual mode for the Type S starter. The Type S did get the 6.0 liter gas engine started, except when the battery was completely depleted. I had to go to a more powerful jump starter in those cases. The Type S is a good budget choice for those with small to midsize cars and SUVs or need to get smaller boats and ATVs started.
Best for Diesel Trucks: Gooloo GT4000S Jump Starter
- Peak Amps: 4000
- Battery Size: 26,800 mAH
- Extra Features: Flashlight, two USB-A ports, one USB C port, 1 15V DC plug
- Power to spare
- Big battery
Diesel engines are big and heavy. They require a lot of power to get all that mass moving, especially in cold weather. Gooloo has oil-burners covered with the powerful GT4000S Jump Starter. At a whopping 4000 peak amps, and ample 26,800 mAH battery, there is enough juice to turn even the biggest diesel engines in a 3/4 ton pickup. Diesel mechanics I spoke to didn’t hesitate to recommend the GT4000s for the diesel driver’s peace of mind. The GT4000S isn’t just powerful, though; it also comes with a decent flashlight and two USB ports. A big, easy to read, 3.3-inch LCD display keeps you up to date on what’s happening as well. At $209 retail, it is more expensive than smaller, less powerful options, but the cost will be easily worth it to the stranded diesel pickup driver.
Best Jump Starter with an Air Compressor: DeWalt DXAEPS14 Power Station
- Peak Amps: 1600
- Battery Size: Lead acid battery
- Extra Features: Area light, four USB-A ports, two 120 volt DC outlets (integrated inverter), air compressor, alternator check
- Lots of features and utility
- It’s huge
- User has to keep track of proprietary charger
Now here is a portable jump starter with a long list of features. The Power Station doesn’t just have 1600 Peak Amps that are good for even large gas engines, but a light, four USB A ports, two DC outlets from an integrated inverter, an alternator check feature, and … a 120 PSI air compressor. Sure, it is 20 pounds and over a foot tall, but that air compressor can help you limp your Tacoma with a slow leak in the rear tire out of the woods. You set the desired pressure and it quits inflating when it reaches that pressure. I tested this feature several times and it worked perfectly for me.
For jumping your truck, the Power Station’s 2-foot cords are much longer than the others in this evaluation, which I really appreciated. You have to work around the Power Station’s considerable bulk. Besides the bulk, the Power Station has the downside of a dedicated charger cord that needs to be kept track of (and no compartment for it in the Power Station itself). Speaking of the charging cord, I am concerned about the durability of the flimsy connection where the cord connects to the Power Station. With these caveats, the Power Station still has a lot of bases covered for a retail price around $200. The Power Station is a good choice for full-size pickup owners that have the room to store it and value the extra features.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Portable Jump Starter
Jump starters can help you out for more than just reanimating your dead rig. Besides saving you the time and inconvenience of being stranded, jump starters can save you on towing and roadside assistance fees. They are pretty inexpensive insurance and often pay for themselves on the first use. You can also swoop in to rescue another motorist in trouble.
The size of your car’s engine will determine the size of the portable jump starter you need. Small engines need less power to turn the moving parts of the engine to get it running, while larger engines require greater energy. Most jump starters advertise the largest engines they are rated to start, but buyers should know this is under ideal conditions, and those driving large gas or diesel engines should “size up” to account for cold weather and other jump starting challenges.
The peak amps is the amount of current that the jump starter can provide. The higher the peak amp rating, the better the jump starter will be able to start a dead battery, and the larger the engine it will start.
This is the amount of energy stored in the jump starter’s battery, usually denoted in milliampere/hour (mAH). The higher the mAH rating, the more jumps the jump starter can provide without recharging.
The best portable jump starters have additional features, such as USB ports, flashlights, and even air compressors. These features add real functionality for a wide variety of situations in addition to a dead battery. Sometimes out in the woods, charging a phone or satellite communicator can be as much of a lifesaver as getting your vehicle running.
Safety and Reliability
A jump starter is of no use if it isn’t charged. Most of the jump starters in this review will hold a charge for six months or longer, but it is a good idea to set an alert in your phone to check them and top them off regularly.
It is important to note that you should never touch the positive and negative terminals of the battery with the clamps at the same time. This can create a spark that could ignite the hydrogen gas that is released from the battery.
Do not smoke or have open flames near the battery.
If the battery is leaking, don’t attempt to jump it.
“Override” or “Manual” Modes
Some jump starters often detect the remaining voltage in the vehicle battery before they can activate their jump functionality. If they detect too low of voltage (usually around 2 volts) they won’t activate. In these cases they often have an override or manual mode that lets the user force current to the battery. This is a great feature especially when cold weather has drained the battery completely.
How to Use a Portable Jump Starter
It is important to follow the instructions provided with your particular jump starter, but they all generally follow the following sequence:
- Turn off any draws on the battery like AC, radio, accessories, etc.
- Connect the red positive clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
- Connect the black negative clamp to the negative terminal of the dead battery.
- Turn on the car jump starter.
- Start the car.
- Once the car is started, disconnect the car jump starter.
Q: How do portable jump starters work?
A car jump starter is a portable device that can be used to start a car that has a dead battery. Car jump starters work by providing a surge of electrical current to the car’s battery. This surge of current is enough to activate the starter on the engine and get the engine running. The engine then runs on electricity generated by the vehicle’s alternator, and the jump starter is removed.
Q: How much does a car jump starter cost?
The cost of a portable jump starter varies depending on the size, CCA rating, and features of the jump starter. Portable jump starters typically cost between $50 and $200, with some models with high starting power or equipped with an air compressor stretch a bit higher.
Q: What is the best AMP for a jump starter?
Match the size of your engine to the peak amps of the jump starter. If you have a small displacement gasoline engine, 400-1000 Amps may be sufficient, but there is no harm in hedging on the big side. If you have a big diesel engine, mechanics say 1000 Amps is the minimum, but 2000-4000 is better.
Q: What is the difference between a jump starter and booster?
Nothing! The terms are interchangeable and refer to the same types of devices.
Q: What are the different types of jump starters?
There are two main types of jump starter batteries: lithium ion and lead acid. Lithium ion are the small rechargeable jump starters found in most of the choices here. They charge quickly and are small and portable, but often have really short cables. Lead acid batteries like the one in the DeWalt are big and heavy, but provide lots of power and have longer, more convenient battery cables.
Why Trust Outdoor Life?
Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.
Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.
The best portable jump starter is the perfect preventative investment for those enjoying the outdoors away from the busy sights and sounds of town. Once you match up your budget and needs, you can find the right jump starter to get a car, truck, or boat back on the road or waterway from a dead battery at the trailhead or fishing access.