It's always been a rule in our family that every vehicle always has a set of battery cables onboard. That rule has served us well over the years, but this week it struck me (in one of those "Duh!" moments) that there's now a better, possibly cheaper way to deal with the risk of a dead battery.
Special jumper batteries have flooded the automotive market in recent years. They are nothing more than compact, sealed batteries specially designed to (1) hold a charge for extended periods of time, and (2) release that charge in large, quick bursts. I've had for three years a JNC 300XL jumper battery manufactured by Clore Automotive. It's smaller than a loaf for bread and weighs less than 10 pounds. It has hard-wired cables with nice big alligator clamps on the ends, as well as a built-in charge indicator and a nice carrying handle. I charge it once a year and it's always ready to jump-start a faulty lawn mower or personal vehicle.
My "Duh!" moment came when I realized that it's cheaper and more efficient to put a JNC 300XL in each of our vehicles than it is to keep the battery cables. With battery cables my wife or I end up standing in a parking lot looking for a generous soul to provide a "jump". With a battery pack, we just pop the hood, clamp the cables to appropriate battery terminals, and hit the key switch. A good set of 15-foot long battery cables with 12 guage wire and good alligator clamps costs from $60 to $100. You can buy a JNC 300XL online for $58.
I could say I'm noble, and doing this so my wife won't have to stand in the school parking lot holding her battery cables, hoping someone will share their battery with her. In truth, if she's got a jumper battery she's self-sufficient, a modern woman in control of her life, in need of no man.
Though there's still a good chance I'll get a phone call and end up driving to town to hook up the battery pack's cables so she won't get her good clothes dirty...