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Pocket Jump Starters vs Heavy Duty Packs - Which Are Better?

Pocket Jump Starters vs Heavy Duty Packs

Portable jump starters can be divided into one of two types based on the technology of their batteries. A pocket jump starter, which is much smaller and often times more powerful than its counterpart, uses lithium-ion batteries. On the other hand, a heavy-duty pack uses lead-acid technology.

Although they can both jump-start a vehicle or charge your electronics, there are several important difference between portable (pocket) jump starters and large heavy-duty booster packs.

Pocket Jump Starters vs Heavy Duty Packs

Pocket Jump Starter Heavy-Duty Pack
Battery Technology Lithium-ion Lead-acid
Size (inches) Small (avg. 6"x2"x2") Large (avg. 12"x12"x5")
Weight (pounds) Light (avg. <1 lbs) Heavy (up to 40lbs.)
Price $-$$ $$-$$$$
Portable YES NO
Best For Everyone Home/Commercial use
Charge Rate 3-5 hours (efficient) 4-8 hours (slow)
Lifespan 1000 - 1500 cycles 400 - 600 cycles
Starting Current 300 - 500 amps 400 - 850 amps
Peak Current 600 - 2000 amps 850 - 4000 amps
Start Small/Medium Vehicles YES YES
Start Large/Commercial Vehicles NO YES
Boost Up To 30 cars in one charge 30+ cars in one charge
Booster Cables Length Shorter Longer
Extreme Temperature Performance Average Good
Depth of Discharge Up to 80% Only 40%
Air Compressor YES YES
USB Ports YES Not always
Flashlight YES Not always
Shop Now Shop Jump Starters

Pocket jump starter explained

A pocket jump starter, also known as a portable jump starter, portable booster pack, car booster or portable boost, is a small and lightweight device with a powerful lithium-ion battery that can boost your car and power your electronics.

Slightly bigger than an iPhone and resembling a portable power pack typically used to charge electronics on the go, a pocket jump starter has a 12-volt port to which specialized booster cables plug into.

By drawing power from the lithium battery inside the device, the booster cables transfer energy to your vehicle's discharged battery, allowing your engine to start again. The mechanics behind this process is identical to a traditional boosting experience but without the need of another car and booster cables.

These devices generally also come equipped with one more or more USB ports, an LED flashlight and may come with extra features such as laptop charger adaptors, an air compressor, emergency hammer and more.

Visit our resource pages to learn more about pocket jump starters or to learn how to boost your car the easy way with our step-by-step guide and walkthrough video tutorial.

Who should use pocket jump starters?

A pocket jump starter is like having a first aid kit or a roadside assistance service in the trunk of your car, so we definitely recommend that every driver keeps one in their car, even those with heavy-duty jump starters at home. Our portable jump starters even come with a small air compressor!

These devices are not only extremely simple to use, portable, small and compact, but they can be used for a lot more than just cars. Many people buy pocket jump starters for their boats, jet skis and snowmobiles, for which traditional battery boosting is not an option, especially for watercraft.

The best part is that pocket jump starters are really not expensive, running you about 150 bucks. A roadside assistance membership costs $75 - $300  per year and can take several hours before coming to serve you. And if you live in a rural area or you're visiting your cabin in the country, these services are not even available.

Heavy-duty jump starter pack explained

A heavy-duty booster pack is a medium-to-large-sized lead-acid battery pack designed to power small-to-large vehicles and in some cases, power tools.

Heavy-duty packs are bigger than a shoebox and can weight up to 40 pounds and although wireless, not exactly so portable due to their weight and size.

Like its pocket jump starter counterpart, these devices come with 12-volt port and specialized booster cables. Although not as common in heavy-duty packs, some models come with USB outlets, an air compressor, a flashlight and occasionally an AM/FM radio.

Heavy-duty packs work just like pocket jump starters, drawing power from the lead-acid battery inside the device and transferring the power to the discharged batter via the booster cables.

Who should use heavy-duty booster packs?

As you may have guessed by the name, heavy-duty jump starters are geared towards commercial users. These jump starters were designed for larger vehicles, commercial trucks, power tools and the like.

Needless to say, these large devices will absolutely boost a normal car, SUV or pickup truck just like a pocket jump starter. However, due to their size and weight, they are not very portable so most people don't keep these in their cars for emergency situations while on the road.

In fact, many people have both a heavy-duty pack at home and a pocket jump starter in their car for emergency situations while on the road.

Heavy-duty packs are best for home use, some even come with wheels so you can easily move them around your garage, yard and around the house. Tow trucks and roadside assistance services may carry these in their large commercial vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are pocket jump starters better than heavy-duty packs?

The short answer to this question is it depends but overall, they are better. Pocket jump starters are equipped with superior lithium-ion battery technology. Lithium is much lighter, maintains its charge longer, charges faster and transmits power quicker than lead.

So, for normal non-commercial vehicles, pocket jump starters are better but for larger commercial vehicles, you will be better off with a heavy-duty pack.

Can a pocket jump starter really boost my car battery?

Yes, they can! Due to their very small size, many people have a hard time believing that these devices can jump-start a car's discharged battery. Unless you drive a car, pickup truck or SUV with a massive engine, your average pocket jump starter will get your car back on the road in minutes.

Should I buy a pocket or heavy-duty jump starter?

If you're looking to boost a normal car battery, we recommend going with a pocket jump starter. This device is slick and small enough to go unnoticed in the trunk of your car. If you are looking to jump-start larger, commercial vehicles, you are better off buying a heavy-duty jump starter.

Is a heavy-duty pack more expensive than a pocket jump starter?

Generally speaking, heavy-duty packs are 30% to 50% more expensive than their smaller counterparts. However, some premium pocket jump starters can cost more (and perform better) than lower end heavy-duty packs.

Do bigger jump starters have more power?

Not always and generally speaking, size is more representative of the battery's capacity (how long it will last) rather than power.

When looking at portable jump starters, larger models generally have a higher battery capacity but not necessarily more power (Amps). You can find smaller models with more power but less battery capacity than larger models. Further, some premium pocket jump starters are more powerful than the large heavy-duty packs and measure just a fraction of their size.

As for heavy-duty packs, size does not represent power either. Some models are larger because they come with an integrated air compressor, for example, which is not representative of capacity or power.