Tacklife T8 HeroSource: TACKLIFE

Best Portable Car Battery Chargers iMore 2020

When your car's battery gives out mid-trip or fails to start in cold weather, your day goes south in a hurry. The best portable car battery chargers can save the day by jumpstarting your vehicle, giving you a flashlight to shine a light on the problem, and topping off your smartphone. The TACKLIFE T8 checks all these boxes and more and is the best portable car battery charger this year. I love its compact size, long battery life, and advanced safety features. Ready to invest in a safety device that can save the day? These are my favorite portable car battery chargers this year.

Best Overall: TACKLIFE T8

Tacklife T8 LifestyleSource: TACKLIFE

Powerful and compact aren't words usually used to describe battery chargers. You typically need to choose between lots of power and an unwieldy design and small but underpowered. The TACKLIFE T8 offers the perfect balance of charging power and size. It restarts a dead 12v battery in seconds and can do so up to 30 times on a single charge.

The T8 has a long list of safety features, including spark-proof technology, reverse polarity protection, and a mistake-proof design. The T8 has an LCD screen that displays battery power and voltage, a built-in flashlight and compass, and battery clips with thick grips. You'll also get two USB ports on the charger's side for topping off smartphones, tablets, and other portables. The included directions could be better. They're riddled with errors and incorrect wording, but not so much that new drivers can't figure out what to do.

When you want a reliable portable car charger and power bank in one, you want the TACKLIFE T8. When turned off, the T8 holds a charge for up to one year. It's also small enough to fit in your glove box, so you can keep it at the ready year-round. This kit comes with the T8 charger, smart jumper cables, a wall charger, a USB cable, a cigarette lighter socket adapter, a protective case, and a user manual.

Pros:

  • Small but powerful
  • Includes flashlight and compass
  • Two USB ports
  • Holds a charge up to one year
  • Lots of extra cables included

Cons:

  • Directions aren't the best

Best Overall

TACKLIFE T8

A small powerhouse

When you want a truly compact charger that can restart a battery in seconds and power your devices, you want the T8.

Best Value: NEXPOW G17

Nexpow G17 LifestyleSource: NEXPOW

You'll keep a few extra bills in your wallet and go home with a reliable portable car battery charger when you invest in the NEXPOW G17. Unlike many other models, the G17 features Quick Charge 3.0 and has a Type-C port, which means you can do everything a little faster.

The G17 has 1500A plus 21800mAh capacity. It will jumpstart your vehicle, and it can fully charge laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices at record-breaking speeds. This is a small unit with a few safety features like its spark-proof design, reverse polarity protection, high temperature, and overload protection.

My only gripe with the G17 is that it requires frequent recharging. If you start a dead battery once or twice, you'll need to throw this on a wall outlet to juice it back up again. It's not as power-hungry when charging small devices via USB. This small power bank and car charger has an internal LED flashlight and SOS light for emergencies and comes with a carry case, jumper cables, and a Type-C cable.

Pros:

  • Sturdy but not heavy
  • Good safety features
  • Inexpensive
  • Has USB-C and Quick Charge ports

Cons:

  • Needs frequent recharging

Best Value

NEXPOW G17

A budget model with a few extras

The affordable G17 comes with Quick Charge 3.0 and USB-C ports, plus it will start a flat car battery with ease.

Best in any weather: NOCO Boost Plus GB40

Noco Gb40 LifestyleSource: NOCO

Out of life batteries fire up in seconds with the well-made NOCO Boost Plus GB40. This compact 1000A portable car starter will jump a car or truck up to 20 times before recharging. Unlike most car chargers, which require an AC adapter to recharge, the GB40 uses USB, so it can recharge via a cigarette lighter while you drive. And it takes only a few hours to fully charge. Nice!

The GB40 is a multifunction unit with a mistake-proof design. It has spark-proof tech and reverse polarity protection built-in. It also comes with a 100 lumen LED flashlight with seven light modes, including SOS, and it has one USB out port to top off phone batteries, tablets, and the like.

My favorite feature is the rugged, water-resistant build, rated at IP65. You can safely use this charger in the rain, snow, or hot or cold temperatures. I wish there was more than one USB port for charging external devices, but that's my only complaint. The GB40 is a safe, portable car battery charger with its own storage bag and charging cables.

Pros:

  • Recharges quickly
  • Starts flat battery in seconds
  • Recharges over USB
  • Quality jumper cables
  • Small and lightweight

Cons:

  • Only one USB port

Best in any weather

NOCO Boost Plus GB40

Works in any weather

With an IP65 rating, the GB40 works reliably in the rain, snow, and extreme temps.

Best Pro Level Power: DEWALT DXAEJ14

Dewalt LifestyleiiSource: DEWALT

When you need a do-everything portable charger, go with the DEWALT DXAEJ14. It'll jumpstart your vehicle, run an alternator check, pump up your tires, and recharges two USB devices at once. How's that for handy? It's like having your mechanic in your trunk!

This DEWALT portable charger has a carry handle on top, so you can store it in the trunk or garage and grab it and go when needed. A brightly lit LED on the front gives an accurate readout of battery life, tire pressure, and more. This handy little model has 1400A and has no trouble starting up lifeless car or truck batteries.

You'd expect something this functional to be heavy-duty, and it is. It's also downright heavy. At 18 pounds, this can be a chore to pull out of the trunk for older or smaller users. Aside from that, if you want a tool that will cover all your bases, air your tires, and jumpstart your ride, this is it.

Pros:

  • Jumps vehicles quickly
  • 120PSI built-in air compressor
  • Heavy-duty design
  • Alternator checker
  • Two USB ports

Cons:

  • Weighs 18 pounds

Best Pro Level Power

DEWALT DXAEJ14

It does everything but windows

The DEWALT checks your alternator, jumps batteries, airs up tires, and charges two USB devices at once.

Best for Small Cars: Scosche PBJ700-1

Scosche Battery Charger LifestyleSource: Scosche

If you have a small car, there's no need to invest in a giant power supply. The SCOSCHE is a battery booster that works on vehicles up to eight cylinders, outputting 700 amps of power quickly. It's compact, and lightweight build is rugged enough to last for years but sleek enough to store in the glove compartment or under the front seat.

There are many safety features with the SCOSCHE, including polarity, overheating, overcharging, and short circuit protection. Dual USB ports keep your portables in working order when you're on the road, and the built-in flashlight is handy. There's also a battery indicator level, so you know exactly when to top this charger up.

The SCOSCHE's shortcoming is with the weather. While it will hold up to rain and snow, this model will struggle to jumpstart any car if the temp dips below freezing. It'll boost a struggling battery, but may or may not get a dead in the water battery back on the road. If that's not a concern for you, this is a rugged little charger that works well.

Pros:

  • Battery level indicator
  • Flashlight
  • Two USB ports
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons:

  • Not reliable in cold weather

Best for Small Cars

Scosche PBJ700-1

A good 3-season charger

It's not for winter, but this little charger works well in three seasons and two USB ports.

Bottom line

Magnetic mounts and cigarette lighter style chargers are some of the best iPhone car accessories on the market. Still, sometimes you need a multitasking tool that also works in emergencies. And this is where portable car battery chargers really shine. They'll charge up your phone and tablet, plus restart your car's ailing battery.

The TACKLIFE T8 is the best in show. It's a combo charger with 800A peak current, so it starts a dead car battery in seconds, plus a 18000mAh power bank with dual USB outputs for phones, tablets, laptops, and other portables.

The directions are subpar on this model, but the fool-proof design helps even newbies figure things out quickly. In standby mode, this bad boy holds a charge for up to a year. When in use, like when topping off your iPhone, you'll get a solid 4.5 hours of charging power. The T8 is small enough to fit in your glove box but still has enough juice to start a dead battery. It's perfect for cars, watercraft, ATVs and UTVs, and snowmobiles.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Jodi Owan is a freelance writer and photographer. Connect with her on Instagram and her website.

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