Few things can ruin your day as suddenly as trying to start your car and being met with the dead silence of a dead battery. If you’re unlucky, your best bet is to find someone else with a functional car and some jumper cables to help get yours running again. If you’re prepared, though, you can handle it in seconds.
This is where one of my favorite gadgets comes in: a portable battery pack. I keep it in the back of my car and it’s already paid for itself in convenience alone. It’s a 1000-amp, 12-volt battery pack that’s able to jump most cars. The benefits are that simple, but it’s hard to overstate how much of a lifesaver that can be.
Just in Time
This was driven home for me when I was, well, driving home from very far out of state. I had 24 hours of driving that would stretch across several days, so it was the perfect time to discover that my car’s battery was on its last legs. The alternator was fine. The car ran once it was started, but the battery wouldn’t hold enough of a charge. Every third time I started the car, the battery was dead.
Without the battery pack, my options would have been limited. I could’ve taken my car to a shop to get the battery replaced, although that would’ve taken time that would’ve kept me out of state for much longer than I expected to be. Alternatively, I could’ve bought a battery and replaced it myself (it’s a fairly simple process in many cars) but I didn’t have my tools with me, so it would’ve been more expensive than it needed to be.
Plus, in order to do either of those things, I still would’ve needed to call AAA or another service, or wait for someone to come by and jump my car so I could take it anywhere. While it’s always nice to get assistance from a helpful stranger, it’s not exactly an emergency plan.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to do any of that, because I had this battery pack in my car. Fully charged, it wasn’t just capable of jumping the car once, but the several times that I needed to complete the drive home. (Disclaimer: I wouldn’t recommend relying on a battery pack continuously. Please get your dead battery replaced as soon as you can!)
In the end, I was able to get home without extending my trip or shelling out tons of extra cash to fix my car. Once back, it was easy to grab a battery off the shelf and swap it out with my tools at home. The dead battery that could’ve ruined my entire trip was instead a teensy, minor annoyance. It’s hard to put a price tag on that kind of peace of mind, but this pack costs $100 and that seems more than fair.
It’s important to note here that while lithium-ion batteries have a reputation for being a little, well, explosive, this particular battery is rated for storage from -4 degrees Fahrenheit to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. I have no problem keeping it in the trunk of my car full-time, but the risk-benefit equation might change for you if you live in the middle of the desert or in a place with lots of blizzards.
But—as if you needed another incentive—this particular pack comes with a built-in flashlight and can be used to charge your phone. So even if your car has a bigger problem than a dead battery, your phone won’t die too, so you can call for help.