The best portable battery chargers and jump starters

Portable jump starters and power packs are a must for the car. The good news is that good ones are now very portable indeed and pack a punch.

Jumper cables connected to a car battery

by Ryan Gilmore |

Flat batteries are a real pain, not only do they totally immobilise your car but they're also so easy to avoid. Fortunately, top-quality jump starters and portable power packs are shrinking in size and increasing in versatility.

Jump to:

Why buy a jump starter power pack?

A reliable portable jump starter should mean you're never left stranded. Obviously, if your battery is going flat regularly then it's probably time for a replacement, but a jump starter is a great thing to keep in your car for when your battery needs a little persuasion.

We've recommended our favourite jump starters and portable power packs to you. They all differ slightly in order to cater for people's various requirements. This means there will certainly be one here for you.

But before we dive into that, familiarise yourself with the important features of jump starters and power packs and think about what your needs are with help from our guide below.

What should I consider before I buy one?

Your biggest concern when looking for a portable battery charger is whether it's powerful enough to deal with your engine, a bigger engine will require more power to run. Thankfully our choices cover every new petrol or diesel car on sale today so you should be fine with any of our picks (unless you run a Dodge Viper that is). You should also note that some of these battery boosters don't pair well with Start-Stop systems, so check before buying.

Another thing you should consider is the size of your car. While these are portable units, some are bigger than others and may eat valuable storage space if you run a car with a smaller boot.

What other features should I look for?

One of the best features that most of these chargers offer is that they'll also act as power banks for other electronics. These will usually have USB slots that'll allow you to charge up your mobile phone if you're broken down.

Another feature that is common for portable battery boosters is a torch. Again, this is a useful feature if you find yourself stranded, especially at night.

Some offer built-in air compressors but these tend to be more expensive and take up more room than other battery boosters.

The best jump starters and power packs:

NOCO Boost X GBX45

Editoru2019s pick
NOCO Boost X GBX45

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To refer to that overused clichu00e9, 'at the cutting edge', American brand NOCO is in fact the one that is sharpening the blade. Its new Boost X range rule supreme in the world of jump starters and power packs.

The GBX45 is the smallest in the range and the one we recommend to most people because it's small; light; powerful for essentially any car or indeed vehicle you might own; robust (IP65 rated); and very easy to use.

Beyond jump starting a car in a jiffy, the GBX45 features a 100 lumen LED flashlight and acts as a regular power bank. It uses USB-C connection and can be fully recharged in under an hour.

Weight 0.59kg
Dimensions 17.3cm (L) x 8.3cm (W) x 5.3cm (H)
Max engine capacity 6.5-litre petrol/4.0-litre diesel
Amps 1250A
Flashlight Yes
Pros Cons
• Very robust • Overkill if you only own a supermini
• Compact
• Flawless performance

Ring RPPL250

Best value
Ring RPPL250

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Smaller and lighter than the NOCO GBX45, the RPPL250 from Ring Automotive is best suited to those with small vehicles.

The RPPL250 is able to jump start petrol engines up to 2.5-litres and diesel up to 1.8-litres. It's about the size of a smartphone and thus tucks easily and neatly away and it's a clean, simple design too, which we like.

While it can't match the GBX45 for punch the RPPL250 also bears a flashlight and acts as a power bank. However, its real party piece is the ability to wirelessly charge your phone. Though not as robust as the GBX45, the RPPL250 comes from a very reputable manufacturer. For example, our favourite tyre inflator, the RAC610, comes from Ring Automotive.

Weight 0.5kg
Dimensions 16.4cm (L) x 8.6cm (W) x 3.0cm (H)
Max engine capacity 2.5-litre petrol/1.8-litre diesel
Amps 500A
Flashlight Yes
Pros Cons
• Sleek design • 2.0-litres for diesel would be better
• Ideal for small cars
• Wireless phone charging

CTEK CS FREE Portable Battery Charger

Best portable battery charger
CTEK Portable Battery Charger Maintainer

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This unit from Swedish firm CTEK is a little different to the other products recommended here because it is a charger rather than a boost jump starter. Yet, it's here because the CS FREE is very efficient.

Call it a hybrid if you wish, the CS FREE can be hooked up to a car battery and will maintain it using mains or solar. But then, if you suffer from a flat battery, the CS FREE will charge said battery to a point where it can start within 15 minutes.

Naturally, it can act as a power bank too and is both USB-A and USB-C compatible. Superb device.

Weight 1.4kg
Dimensions 24.8cm (L) x 9.8cm (W) x 7.8cm (H)
Max engine capacity N/A
Amps N/A
Flashlight No
Pros Cons
• Clever dual-purpose • Bigger and heavier than the NOCO and Ring units
• Adaptive Boost works very well
• Tremendous build quality

Hyundai HYJS-950

Most versatile
Hyundai HYJS-950 12v Jump Starter

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At five kilograms, this unit is hefty compared to the others above. Very hefty. But the trade-off is that the HYJS-950 is also the most versatile unit

Not only does it jump start vehicles (up to 2.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel), charge devices via its USB ports, and bear a flashlight, it is an air compressor too with a maximum air pressure of 150psi/10.3bar.

If you have the space for it, the HYJS-950 is fantastic all-in-one.

Weight 5kg
Dimensions 20cm (L) x 20cm (W) x 30cm (H)
Max engine capacity 2.5-litre petrol/2.0-litre diesel
Amps 950A
Flashlight Yes
Pros Cons
• True all-in-one • Relatively bulky
• All features work well – not compromised

NOCO Boost X GBX75

Best for large vehicles
NOCO Boost X GBX75

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Take the GBX45 above, pump it up a bit and you have the GBX75. Double the amps to 2500; engine capacity increases to 8.5-litre petrol and 6.5-litre diesel; the flashlight upgrades from 100 to 400 lumens. Therefore, if you have a larger vehicle such as a campervan, or want a bigger unit that can jump start smaller engines a great many time on a charge, this is the unit for you.

Other than the extra power and larger physical size, the GBX75 has the same robust specs as the smaller GBX45.

Weight 1.71kg
Dimensions 21.3cm (L) x 13.7cm (W) x 6.5cm (H)
Max engine capacity 8.5-litre petrol/6.5-litre diesel
Amps 2500A
Flashlight Yes
Pros Cons
• Very powerful • Overkill for most
• Very robust
• Great design

How to use a jump starter power pack:

Before you even get to hooking up a jump starter, you need to make sure the power pack itself is charged with enough power to jump start a vehicle. And remember, the bigger the engine, the more power is needed to start it.

Before using a jump starter, read the manual of both the jump starter and the car in order to understand both how the jump starter works and if there are any particular requirements you need to adhere to when jump starting that particular vehicle.

Connect the jump starter to the battery terminals, making sure both the vehicle and the jump starter are off beforehand. Then switch the jump starter on and subsequently, start the vehicle, following the specific instructions of the jump starter.

Turn off the jump starter, disconnect it, and you're good to go.

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