A lot of people carry jumper cables in their vehicles but I think that number is lower than what it used to be. It seems that when I was younger, if someone had a dead battery from cranking their car tunes all night at a party, and that someone yelled out that they needed a jump, half a dozen people would whip out a set of cables. BTW, those cables all had copper wiring but that's a gripe for another day. These days things are a bit different. Jump packs are somewhat popular although not everyone that owns one actually carries it in their vehicle or if they do, it is dead from the last time it was used. There is also a trend in these micro jump packs that might start a small car engine but certainly not a diesel with glow plugs.
I fit into the category of jumper cables but I also have been carrying a small generator.
This old Coleman Ultimite generator is something I picked up for 25 bucks a long time ago. It needed work and if you are at all familiar with their appearance then you can see I modified the jumper cable output. Its not as much overkill as you might think to carry this in the big ass station wagon. I have a big ass tote in the back that has essentials like hooks, tie down straps, trailer hitches, recovery strap, chains, a measuring wheel, etc. Yes, a measuring wheel. I could take the measuring wheel out but if I did then for sure I'd need it to measure something. Hanging on a nail in the garage is the last place I'll ever need it. I already know that nail is eight feet off the floor. Anyway, the generator is light at 23 pounds and small enough to easily fit in the tote. Realistically it takes up about as much space as two standard jump packs. I keep a can of bottled fuel in the tote as well so I never get any stink from a leak. Because its a 2 stroke I don't have to worry about any oily mess from a leak if I get wild and things go flying around and tip over.
The specs on this little unit are kinda impressive for its size. Its a 40cc engine and produces 1100 watts of ac power. It also (and most importantly) can charge 12 volt batteries at 90 amps. There is a 24 volt feature as well. The built in micro processor senses power demand and adjusts the throttle accordingly. Run time is 1.5 hours on that small tank of fuel but that's not really ever gonna happen in my world. Its too loud for camping and not powerful enough for big jobs.
***We interrupt this blog post for an important message and personal pet peeve of mine. Jump starting batteries can be dangerous. Lead acid batteries found in cars, bikes and outdoor power equipment can release explosive gases. These gases can be ignited by a spark created from connecting jumper cables. This is why you should make your last jumper cable connection to a ground like the engine block away from the battery. I just cringe when I see someone that's not even wearing eye protection wiggling a jumper cable trying to make a better connection. End rant. Back to our regularly scheduled blog post.***
I guess more than anything else its like a security blanket. I still remember when they removed kick starters from bikes and I thought "No way! That's ballsy! What if the battery goes dead?!" I felt naked not having that kick starter available. Now if I'm stranded alone with a dead battery I'll be able to fire this bad boy up and charge my vehicle or I can plug in a light and work on the vehicle. (Note to self, put light back in the tote.) I guess in my younger days I operated like this all the time. The truth is I don't get stranded or stuck much at all anymore but my mind still works that way cuz I know how much it sucked when I didn't have the gear needed to get through a situation. At least if there's a problem I can use my cell phone to call for help, and that right there is probably why not as many people carry jumper cables anymore.