The 8 Best Travel Irons
This wiki has been updated 24 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, these mini travel irons pack almost all the features of a full-size model into compact and portable packages that will fit easily into most luggage. Many include a steam function, and they're also suitable for precision pressing needs at home, like crafting or touch-ups. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 31, 2021:
In this update, we removed the Eversonic Beautural and Conair Travel Smart, as they are both travel steamers, not irons. While steamers serve a similar function for some clothes, there are several situations where only an iron will get the job done, so we opted to stick more closely to the category.
Because a travel iron needs to be compact in order to be easy to pack, many models have an issue where the handle is so close to the heating unit that it gets uncomfortably hot to the touch. We added the Sharper Image SI-755 to the list in order to provide an model with a handle that truly stays cool to the touch, even on the highest setting.
Also new to the list, the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot has a transparent water tank that makes it easy to see when the level is running low, rather than just providing a small window that isn't as noticeable at a glance. It provides many of the features you'd expect from a larger model, like variable temperature, a steam/dry switch, and a steam shot button.
As with any device that's designed to reach high temperatures, an iron can be dangerous if used improperly. If you're going to be traveling abroad, pay close attention to the voltage settings, as different countries have different electrical standards. If you plan on taking your iron on a cruise, check ahead of time to make sure that you're allowed to do so, as this can be an issue on some ships. Never leave an iron unattended while it's plugged in, even if it has an auto-off setting.
March 02, 2020:
Due to the PurSteam PS-510's design, it must be used upright, and cautiously, in order to prevent boiling water spills; for these reasons, we've opted to remove it at this time. Instead, we like the PurSteam Dual Voltage. It has a sleek shape and a large handle that's easy to grip, and unlike some, the steam it produces should get the job done. There's also the Hamilton Beach Portable. Note, though, that its folding handle is a double-edged sword. Yes, this makes it easier to pack, but some find that it also gives it an awkward feeling in the hand. The SteamFast SF-717 can feel a bit awkward, too, but it's so tiny and light that the small hassle is worth it when space is really tight.
For those who want a steamer-only choice, as opposed to a combination of iron and clothes steamer, there's the updated Eversonic Beautural, which is now a handy dual voltage option. Plus, it can be used both horizontally and vertically, something that can't be said of some steamers. We've kept the Conair Travel Smart, as well, even though it could be just a bit more powerful. It's less expensive than the Beautural, however, and the teal styling is handsome.
The Dire Need For Your Own Travel Iron
Hitting the road without an iron to call your own is dangerous business.
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 your vegetable fried rice 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.
Keep in mind, however, that the component most of these units shrink to reduce their size is the water reservoir.
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 and its early competition had no way of controlling the temperatures they produced, so their reliability was shaky at best.
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.