The 10 Best Travel Irons
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in April of 2016. Perfect for maintaining a smooth and wrinkle-free appearance while away on business trips or on vacation, some of these mini travel irons pack almost all of the features of a full-size model, including variable steam functions, into compact and portable packages that will fit easily into most luggage. They're also suitable for precision pressing needs at home, like crafting or touch-ups. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best travel iron on Amazon.
The Dire Need For Your Own Travel Iron
It heats up reliably, and you start to feel pretty good about yourself.
You wear your backup shirt, and your corresponding confidence level is low.
Hitting the road without an iron to call your own is dangerous business. You could easily end up in a hotel that doesn’t offer any kind of cleaning or pressing services for your garments, which may have spent the last 14 hours crammed into your carry-on bag. If it’s late at night and you have a meeting in the morning, you can’t count on any dry cleaners to be open, let alone trust them with your lucky shirt.
You could always reach for that hotel iron. They were kind enough to provide you with it after all. So, you pour a little water in there and fire it up. It heats up reliably, and you start to feel pretty good about yourself. You carefully lay your shirt down on the ironing board, test the steam ejection of the iron, and settle in to perfect your outfit. Then, something strange happens. While in contact with your shirt, the iron begins to hiss and squeal, a reddish brown ooze begins leeching out of the unit’s holes, and you fail to notice this grotesque emission until whatever the substance is has already been deeply burned into the fabric. There goes your lucky shirt.
The next day plays out how you would imagine. You wear your backup shirt, and your corresponding confidence level is low. The shirt, of course, is wrinkled, since you couldn’t use that hotel iron on it. You lose the client and get fired, you miss one too many mortgage payments and lose the house, your spouse leaves you and takes the kids, and the vegetable fried rice you bought with your last $3 didn’t even come with a fortune cookie — because you have no future.
Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but smaller things than not having your own travel iron have set off more dastardly courses of events. Do yourself a favor, and avoid calamity by picking up one of these convenient units. Future you will be mighty grateful.
Which Travel Iron Is Right For You?
Choosing from among a list of travel irons might seem like a pretty trivial exercise. After all, how different can one travel iron be from another, right? You may be surprised by the variety of features available in this market when you really dig into the differences, and what might satisfy one traveler could drive another mad.
There’s nothing to wrap your hand around, so you don’t get quite as much control here as you would with a handled model.
The first thing you’ll want to consider when evaluating a travel iron is its handle. If you find your iron uncomfortable to use, you might try to get away with whatever wrinkles you’d otherwise work out. That could have disastrous fashion consequences. Some travel irons have free-floating handles that attach to the body of the unit at only one point. These allow you to wrap your entire hand around the handle, and give you the most control. Other models present themselves as one solid piece, with a spot for your palm to rest and some texturing along the side of the iron's body to support your fingers. There’s nothing to wrap your hand around, so you don’t get quite as much control here as you would with a handled model.
Overall size is another big aspect to consider. Some business travelers pride themselves on being able to pack everything they need for a week’s worth of meetings in a single carry-on. The last thing one such traveler wants is an item that will force them to upgrade to a larger bag and slow them down at the airport. Keep in mind, however, that the component most of these units shrink to reduce their size is the water reservoir. If you choose a smaller model, be sure to fill it regularly as you iron.
Steam production is also a major concern with travel irons, as it is with any iron. Some options on the market produce steam automatically when held at an angle perpendicular to the ironing board. These vary in reliability. To offset this variance, many models offer a water spray that can moisten the garment in the space ahead of the iron, but these often leave a lot of dry spots where fabric might suffer damage. The best options often have buttons that will result in the expulsion of steam, as these provide the most consistent moisture to safeguard your garment while effectively removing wrinkles. Keep in mind, however, that a small travel iron can quickly run out of water when using a lot of steam.
A Brief History Of The Iron
The first irons humans used to flatten the wrinkles out of their clothes were little more than metal pans filled with hot coals. For the majority of the iron’s history, the device consisted of a piece of metal and a wooden handle. One way or another, either by placing it near an open flame, sitting it atop a wood-burning stove, or filling a chamber inside with particularly hot materials, the irons would get hot enough to vanquish wrinkles.
This model kicked off a modest war among a select few manufacturers whose innovations led to the designs we have today.
Henry W. Seeley invented the first resistively heated electric iron in New York City back in 1882. This and its early competition had no way of controlling the temperatures they produced, so their reliability was shaky at best. These irons also held no water and produced no steam.
1926 saw the arrival of the steam iron, invented by Thomas Sears and brought to market by a dry cleaning company out of New York. This model kicked off a modest war among a select few manufacturers whose innovations led to the designs we have today. The biggest difference between these early models and our modern options is the materials used in construction. While steel is often used in lieu of iron for the plate, the rest of the components — previously metals and wood — have been replaced by plastics.
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