Saturday, September 23, 2023


RV gadget: You need a jump starter. Seriously.

You should have a portable jump starter. Seriously. But why, you ask? Many reasons. 

I have had a portable jump start device that lives in my truck for years. The most obvious reason to have one is to jump start a vehicle with a dead or weak battery. But it can serve a lot of other purposes as well. 

Jump starting

The most obvious reason to have one of these is, of course, because the battery that starts your vehicle is low. With the way the universe works, this normally happens on a cold and rainy night when you’re in a big hurry. Of course. 

I’ve also watched too many detective shows where someone is the victim of a crime after they can’t start their car in a dark alley. 

As with any device that involves vehicle batteries, it’s a really, really good idea to be familiar with how to use this device with your vehicle. While the assumption is that you simply place this on your car’s battery, push the button and get in and start it, that may not be how it actually works on your vehicle. 

I also like the units that have a polarity protection function so if you somehow do mix the negative with the positive, you don’t end up with a very, very bad situation. Vehicle batteries can explode for a variety of reasons, so it’s good to know what you’re doing. But it’s also good to have a device that works with you to reduce the chances of something very bad happening. 

While I’m pretty meticulous about keeping my vehicle battery clean and well maintained, I’ve used mine several times to come to the aid of others. It’s always nice to be able to be of assistance. People are also pretty surprised that a relatively small jump start box can actually get a vehicle started, but it can. 

More functions

While I haven’t used the jump start function all that often, I have used the flashlight on the jump starter on several occasions. Since there’s a relatively beefy battery in the jump start device, it stands to reason that the somewhat bright light on mine will run for some time. 

Thus far, it hasn’t let me down in this department. Mine also can flash the light in an SOS pattern (three short bursts, three long bursts, three short bursts). Someone out there may know what that means, but it’s a flashing bright light for everyone. 

Lastly, this also offers the ability to charge USB devices. If you are stuck somewhere with a dead battery, it’s pretty likely that your phone, too, will be suffering the same fate. 

Again, those detective shows.

So being able to bring your phone back to life is pretty valuable as you can call whatever roadside assistance program you have so that they can get there hours later. I know. I’ve called roadside assistance before. 

What to get

Looking on Amazon, I noticed that there are a few different brands of these with a variety of capacities, none of which is the brand that I have owned for years. But they share the functionality of being able to charge USB devices, have a flashlight and offer protection in the event that they’re not properly connected or that they detect another issue. 

The ones from a company called NOCO Boost seem pretty highly rated with lots of reviews and offer all the features I mentioned. Further, there are different capacities with prices ranging from under $100 up to over $200. 

I bought mine at the local auto parts store and, as written, have been happy with it. I think this is one of those essential things you put in your vehicle and hope you don’t have to use it. But it certainly is nice to have if you do. 

And that way you won’t be the starring victim in one of those late-night detective shows. 


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


  1. I have a Schumacher SL1517 1200amp. It amazes me still that this device, about 3 times the thickness and a little bigger than a large cell phone, can easily start a big Cummins Diesel that had a battery showing 8 volts. I’ve used it once myself and 4 times to help others in the year I’ve had it. It will charge my cellphone to 100% from 12% and still show 99% on its state of charge screen. The light is BRIGHT! It travels with us in the toad so it is always available if needed. Just under a C-note at Wal-Mart.

  2. I have a Halo Bolt battery charger with 12v ports, ac plug, and a flashlight. I travel in my adventure van, often by myself. It saved me in Baja, on a remote beach, far from any other people or services. I wouldn’t leave home without!

  3. Look at the GOOLOO 4000S which will turn over a good size diesel engine. I purchased one to carry and also own a Cummins ISL-400 in my coach. Won’t leave home without itl

    • I have the GooLoo 4000A starter (will start a 10L diesel). I’ve used it to start my engine, as well as power an air compressor to inflate one of my tires. So easy to use and SO nice to have.

  4. Tony,
    My take from your article is: 1) don’t park in dark alleys, 2) don’t watch detective shows, 3) keep a 99 cent HF LED flashlight in the glove compartment, and 4) always keep your phone plugged into the dash USB port while driving. More seriously though, every RVer should run their TV, toad, and/or MH at least monthly when parked to keep the chassis battery charged and should make house and chassis battery testing and charging a normal part of their pre-trip routine. Both are easily accomplished in very little time and all that’s needed is a $5 HF multitester. Do my references to HF make me sound cheap? You got it!

  5. We have the NOCO Boost GB150, we have been COMPLETELY satisfied with the performance of this device. Primarily purchased to revive our Jeep Grand Cherokee which has a tendency to be DOA no matter how much we check to ensure everything is off while it is being towed on our travel days. Easy to use, easy to charge, strong enough that it could jump our RV (or a tractor) if needed and we bought the protective cover to store it in.

  6. I bought one of these for my lady friend when we first started dating after she told me about waiting 3 hours for her som or son in law to come to her aide with jumper cables, luckily she was stranded at home and not on the road. I don’t know if the jump starter had anything to do with it, but 8 months we got married, I’d call that a handy device. Lol

  7. I have three tacklife jump starters I purchased off eBay for some years now, works excellent with all safety features for only $45. My son uses the 22000 on his tractors it handles large motors. Love this thing and can’t see spending 100s on NOCO.

  8. I have a NOCO and these things are amazing. They will often start vehicles that wouldn’t jump with regular cables. Plus, you can jump a battery when you can’t park close enough to use regular jumper cables.
    here’s a story, a few years ago we were camped at Crater Lake National Park . After a 3 hour boat tour on the lake ( highly recommend ) we were driving back to our campsite around the ring road ( late afternoon ) when we came upon a stopped car with hood up. We stopped….young couple said car wouldn’t start. Lights, radio etc wouldn’t work and no cell service ( long ways away from help ….yikes ) I’m not a mechanic , but for some reason I knew to check battery cable connectors……sure enough, the positive was slightly loose. I carry a few tools and a half turn with right sized wrench and Vroom vroom, started instantly when I told him to try.
    So, if you try to give someone a boost and nothing happens. Check the connectors.
    Happy Trails

  9. Absolutely. I have used a few times on my car and twice on my pontoon boats. Gave them to my kids and always ask if they keep it charged

  10. I have a 22 AH Viking Brand Lead Acid, Wish I had researched it a bit more and bought a Lithium. I use mine to power my air compressor when pumping up tires and to power my macerater when mooch docking at my friends house and the dump is 100 feet away. Easier than carrying an extra battery or positioning the car which I use to do.

  11. I have an Autogen booster. I made sure to get one rated for the Ford V10 engine I have in my Newmar 40′ class A. I have needed it because the 3.5A solar unit on the roof does not do its job keeping the chassis battery charged. Works like a charm.

    • Hey Doc, perhaps your solar charger is actually charging your house batteries, not your chassis batteries! Hope this helps!

  12. I’ve used a Halo for at least 6 years. Started my vehicles many times and helped out a lot of others. I keep a couple of them in my RV for emergencies and have used them while boondocking to run my CPAP.

  13. I’ve had a NOCO for 3 years, and it has never failed to start a vehicle that it is rated for. (They have different models depending on engine size)
    Be aware, they want you to make sure the amperage draws (headlights, AC, heated seats, etc) are off.
    It works great & I’d never be without it.

  14. Thanks for the article – it reminded me to check mine for charge. After 9 months it is just 1/5th down but still enough to start the V8 in my RV. Daughter got it for me at Bass Pro. It is a WeeGo. About the size of a multimeter and comes in a metal “lunch box” a bit smaller than my old Roy Rogers lunch box of the 1950s. All accessories included within the box. A bit pricy for me, but why daughter got it for me for birthday one year. Have used once on my RV and once on another’s car. Check the specs before buying as instructions state the size of both gasoline and diesel engines that it will handle. Light, USB, etc. able as well.

  15. My pre-trip list includes making sure my NOCO GB50 is fully charged before I leave. When my plan includes boon docking in the desert where I am unlikely to be able to reach someone or find someone to “jump start” my car, I wouldn’t travel without it.
    I am also thinking it will keep things running longer in my travel trailer.

  16. Usually when needed the battery is dead. Recently I acquired another one and it’s battery was dead . As usual! I checked into cost of new battery and almost cost of new jumper. Maybe the new lithium battery may be better but I’d never invest in one. I carry a 20 foot set of jumpers.

  17. I recently purchased a NOCO boost on Amazon and love the compact size, the power as a jump starter for a dead battery and the many other practical functions it has.

  18. Hi Guys, I’ve been using jump starters for over 25 years for a variety of reasons: camping power source, jump starting my Ford Ranger, jump starting my 30′ Class A motorhome, helping out other people in need, etc, etc. I would not be without one. I boondock with the Ranger and the motorhome. I keep 2 in my motorhome (34 Ah and 17 Ah AGM batteries. l slow charge at 2 amps) and currently expecting another 34 Ah jump starter from Amazon any day now. That will be my dedicated Ranger jump starter. I keep the rv batteries hooked up to a charger permanently. Anytime the genny runs it tops off both batteries. Important tip: the 17 Ah battery is for light duty use!!! The 34 Ah batteries are the real deal. They’ll turn over most anything. They are heavy and rather expensive but they last for years and years. Mine are over 20 years old. Solar/Truck Pak brand (ES 6000) and Clore Automotive brand (JNC 9500). As I said, I wouldn’t leave home without them.

  19. I first ran into one of these several years ago. Pulled into a rest area and coach would not restart. A friend came over with the small battery jumper and coach started immediately. Bought one next stop. Lives in my Towd.
    At this current rally, a guy’s towd battery was dead. Portable battery to the rescue. Could not jump from a SUV because their battery was under seat. Impossible for jumper cables.
    Get one, when you need it, you will love it.

  20. Since mostly RVers are reading this, how about using it to supplement your RV battery in boondocking situations. Is this recommended?

    • I use my Halo to run my CPAP overnight if my RV battery is running low. I have solar and lithium batteries but after a couple of cloudy rainy days I was running them down and having to charge with the vehicle.

    • Not generally. These often have a provision to shut down the power after a set time.

      For CPAP I would more recommend a solar generator and there are models that also incorporate a jump start function.

  21. Project Farm on YouTube has a review of jump starters. The cold weather test is particularly revealing. Some units failed to jump vehicles when frozen. Worth a look.

  22. I just recently purchased a NOCO boost on Amazon. Comes with a nice case and keep it in your car. However, if it is really cold, like in the winter months, I would suggest it kept in a warmer place than in your car at night while it sits. Just food for thought!

  23. I have also used my NOCO Boost HD to power my spare RV water pump when I needed to pump water from a tank to our fifth wheel. I also have been able to start a number of stranded trucks over the last three years. As was stated in the article, I don’t use it much but when I need it I am glad that I have it.


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