Hands-on with the ABOX TrekPow Jump Starter
A close look at this stellar battery jumper.
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I used to think that true gear heads could disassemble engines with their bare hands and handle jump-starting a battery with nothing but a potato. This notion died the night I found myself stranded in a Jimmy Johns parking lot, fearing for my sandwich (and my life), locked out of my Prius that supposedly could never die.
That experience is why I’m always on the lookout for things I can add to my automotive emergency kit. Enter the ABOX TrekPow: a small car jump starter that promises to save lives and sandwiches alike and boasts some impressive specs like 1,500 peak power amps.
Does this little jumper live up to the hype? The fine people of ABOX sent me a unit to test on my perfectly working truck to find out. In the end, I can say the TrekPow is about as close to portable jump-starter perfection as you can get, if you don’t mind playing charades with the instruction manual. It's a powerful jump starter with some room for improvement.
This jump-starter is a clear winner when it comes to user-friendly operation. While the manual can be confusing to follow, it’s pretty easy to figure out as long as you get the plugs connected to the right battery leads before sending some electricity into your vehicle.
- Simple design that is actually easy to set up and use as a portable charter for nearly any car's battery.
- Small profile that packs a decent amount of power (1000 cranking amps) using a lithium-ion battery for gasoline and diesel engines.
- Helpful safety features like over-voltage protection, circuit protection, and reverse polarity protection for spark-proof use that won't short circuit anything out. Also does not use a lead-acid battery.
- The handy carrying case that fits everything.
- The confusing-in-spots user manual that has pretty pictures.
- Doesn’t include a USB charger.
- Short jumper cables with heavy-duty clamps that like to slip off.
If you have ever wanted to have something you can call a "black box," this is it. The design cues of the TrekPow lean towards being simple—a long rectangular case with a heavy-duty exterior and not much else. Besides the obvious "Press Me, I Dare You" red button, some LED power indicator lights, various charging points, and the main LED flashlight, there isn't much else to the TrekPow's design.
For the most part, unless you are looking for something filled with additional features, this is the kind of design you want in an ultraportable car jump starter. When you find yourself in a position to bring your vehicle back from the dead, it's nice not to have to spend a lot of time searching for the right button or port.
With that said, ABOX has gone overboard somewhat in the simplicity department. Assuming you can tell the difference between a 12V DC and USB port power sources, most of the places you can plug something into are fairly obvious. There are a few finer details, however, that you may need to learn via a manual. The USB ports, for example, are color-coded but lack any indication of which one is the faster 3.0 port if you want to use it as a speedy portable charger.
The size of the jump starter falls in line with other competitors but combined with the soft-yet-rigid carrying case, you won't be fitting it into a glove box without sacrificing room for other things. You may find keeping the starter in smaller vehicles to be a challenge unless you're okay with it flopping around in the trunk or under seats.
Using the TrekPow
Getting this thing to actually jump your car is where this lithium jump starter shines. Not only does it look good on paper in terms of power specs, but the process of getting it connected to the battery is also about as simple as it gets.
In testing the TrekPow, I found myself facing a bit of a challenge considering I don't keep dead batteries around to test. Short of running my truck's high beams for a few days straight while blaring my favorite Journey tracks on the stereo, I had to find another way to jump a perfectly good battery.
Turns out all I really needed was a small, little lightbulb… literally. By hooking up a lightbulb between the engine and car's starter, the lightbulb adds enough resistance (similar to dirty or bad cable connections) to prevent the engine from turning on. In other words, no energy for the engine, tons of energy for an unconventional work light setup.
This setup was perfect for an old fashioned jump test. There was no power to the engine, no Journey songs, nothing. Adding the jump starter itself into the equation was simple and straightforward: red clamp on the positive post, black clamp on the negative.
The unit turns on automatically once the plugs are inserted into the car battery jump starter. Once you have the clamps connected to the posts, you can just start the engine as normal, making the whole jumping process convenient during an emergency situation. At the same time, the presence of the magic red button is a bit misleading since it doesn't do anything in the process except turn the power level indicators on.
If you have some experience with jumping cars, the TrekPow will be intuitive to use. You may find the need to refer to the user manual once or twice, however, if you are new to the automotive juicing experience. In my case, I found the need to refer to it mainly to look at the pretty pictures to avoid blowing anything up.
The negatives in using the TrekPow are few and far between. The power cables need to be a bit longer since the negative clamp may be too short to connect to the car's frame instead of the negative post. The clamps, like any others, were also prone to slipping and shifting as the engine cranked up if they weren't in the perfect spot on the battery posts.
The one area where the jump starter doesn't shine, for better or worse, is in the accessories department. While there are plenty of jump starters available that borrow design cues from the 30+ tool Swiss army knives few actual survival experts would carry, meaning you get lots of charging ports for electronic devices, an LED light, a high-psi air compressor, an LCD screen, and barely enough peak amps to offer enough power to the engine, the TrekPow takes a different approach. In short, if you want something that does more than just jump the car battery, it may be best to look elsewhere.
Charging wise, this thing does just as well as any typical power bank or charging stick you may buy to keep with the car in case of power emergencies. The exterior has two USB charging points, one of them being a fast USB 3.0 port and a DC output for 12-volt devices.
There isn't much to say about the flashlight other than it gets the job done. You have to play around with the power button or refer to the user manual to turn it on at first. Speaking of the user manual, this is one area major improvement is needed. If you are a visual learner, the manual isn't much of a problem. The diagrams are good enough to follow/understand and are correctly labeled to avoid confusion.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the actual words ABOX has typed into the directions. A few grammar errors or misspellings might be understandable when making the first draft of the manual, but the final product is awkwardly worded at times. Simply put, when the word "warning" isn't spelled correctly on the power clamp "warning label," you know there's room for improvement.
The problems with the documentation get worse if you speak another language. For example, the Italian and French sections are mislabeled in the table of contents. If you turn to page 27 expecting to see "l'elettricità è pericolosa," you might question your understanding of the Italian language when everything looks literally like French. Thankfully, the TrekPow's simple operation means you won't have to dig too deep into the user manual.
Like the included features, ABOX hasn't included much else in terms of accessories. Inside the great carrying case, you'll find a USB cable, directions, the main power cables, and a warranty card. Questionably, ABOX has left out an actual USB plug to connect to a wall outlet. You can still charge the starter via a laptop or desktop USB port, but you will have to buy the separate power supply ABOX sells (of course) or use one of the many plugs that tend to come with other mobile devices.
Is it the best portable jump starter? If there was a world for perfect jump starters, the ABOX TrekPow would be sitting just outside on the mailbox of Jump Starter Nirvana. It’s not quite perfect, but if you can do without extra goodies like a radio or clearly written instructions, it gets the job done, especially for newbies who haven’t dealt with dead batteries before. With a single charge, it is a reliable portable power source that gets close to being one of the best jump starters available at a good price.
The simple, automatic set up and small body profile are the highlights of the TrekPow. Ignoring the aforementioned instructions, this is a jump starter you can use to get your engine running quickly without the usual hassles of jumping a car.
Final Verdict: The TrekPow is one jump starter to seriously consider if you want a simple way to get your engine going again.