The 10 Best Travel Humidors
Your Cigars Want To Travel Comfortably, Too
Like a fine wine, cigars are organic and sensitive to their environment. When they are in their infancy, that environment must be carefully regulated so that it remains at a precise temperature and moisture level to ensure proper development.
When they’re mature, they require a similar environment. That is, if you want your stogies to smoke and taste like they’re supposed to.
It’s not easy to mimic the conditions of a tropical island, on which farmers in Cuba, Nicaragua, and other countries with similar climates grow, ferment, and roll cigars. When you’re traveling, it’s even more difficult to maintain these conditions.
Even when you’re on the road or jetting from airport to airport, your stogies require care and attention. A dry, cracked, stale cigar is of no use to anybody — and if you’re careless, your cigars can end up in that dilapidated state in less than a day.
When cigars leave the factory, the moisture content of each stick falls somewhere between 12 and 15 percent. When you smoke one, the tobacco leaves release sugars and oils that bind to the smoke, which add to its aroma and flavor. At the aforementioned moisture level, it burns smoothly and evenly.
When you draw on a cigar at a moisture level outside of that range, it won’t be a rich, flavorful experience — it will be stale, bland, and unfulfilling. The essential oils will have disappeared, and with them the natural flavor. Dry cigars burn quickly and emit an acrid odor. And once their richness is gone, you can never fully restore it.
Depending on the style of travel humidor you acquire, it should be able to keep your stogies in their sweet spot for anywhere from a weekend to several weeks. A humidor can look flashy or offer a large capacity, but the true measure of its quality is the condition of the sticks inside.
To determine if your cigar has been victimized by excess or insufficient moisture, roll it between your fingers. If it’s brittle and begins to crack, you’ll know it’s too dry. Over-moisturized cigars will feel spongy and soft, which is a bad sign, as well. It should feel resilient and firm, with no ripples or flaking.
As long as the storage conditions are ideal, your cigars won’t go bad as they age. In fact, most will become richer, smoother, and more valuable as time passes.
Seeing Through The Smoke
Some portable humidors look extravagant, and others come in packages riddled with clever-sounding marketing jargon, but the right one for you will be the one that suits your travel and smoking style.
If you’re just planning to bring a couple of sticks to the golf course now and then, that’s one thing — if you’re trying to equip yourself for an extended hiking expedition in the mountains, that’s a whole different ballgame.
For anything from a day to a long weekend, a sturdy metal or carbon fiber case should get the job done. It won’t necessarily provide humidification, but as long as it seals well, your stogies shouldn’t dry out in that amount of time. Some feature clips for attaching to a bag or a belt, which is nice for golfers or tourists who plan to spend a considerable amount of time on foot.
For larger quantities of cigars, you’ll need a more substantial model that will likely resemble a mini-suitcase. Leather and wooden humidors may look rustic and dignified, but they probably won’t offer the same level of protection as a molded plastic one. You’ll also want to assess the interior — models with strong foam cradles will keep cigars secure and help prevent damage during transit.
Many options come with built-in hygrometers, which enable you to continually monitor the humidity level inside to make adjustments if needed. Some high capacity-models may even include a pressure relief valve, which you can trigger after disembarking from an airplane to make it easier to open the container, as the seal may have become tighter while you were in the air.
Lots of cigar fans prefer travel humidors with locks, and the reason is twofold: they prevent the case from inadvertently popping open and spilling the contents, and they deter theft.
The Best Places To Light Up
Before these travel humidors existed, stogie aficionados had to come up with inventive (if usually rather ineffective) methods for keeping their cigars moisture-rich and intact as they moved from place to place. Today’s cigar lovers, however, enjoy greater freedom than ever before, allowing them to get in a celebratory smoke just about anywhere they please with one of these handy accessories.
To someone unfamiliar with the hobby, the thought of cigar smoking may conjure up an image of Tony Soprano and a group of mobster types puffing away in a dimly lit bar as they sit around a poker table, which, while an entertaining notion, isn’t exactly rooted in reality. Most cigar enthusiasts use their passion to enhance activities that they already enjoy.
We’ve mentioned the golf course, which is an atmosphere tailor-made for puffing on a stogie. There's a reason, when you see a photo of Michael Jordan out on the links, you almost always see a cigar dangling from his mouth or lodged between his fingers.
Something about boating lends itself to lighting up, as well. Whether you’re the privileged sort who regularly spends time aboard yachts or an angler who prefers relaxing in an 18-foot fishing boat with your family and friends, it simply tastes sweet and feels natural when you’re out on the water. As an added benefit, you can always ash right off the side of your vessel, too.
Of course, most establishments outlaw smoking, but if you have access to a genuine cigar lounge, it’s tough to find a better ambiance for indulging in a couple of smokes. Posted up on old leather armchairs with a good friend or two, you will have discovered the cigar smoker’s natural habitat.