Do Portable Saunas Really Work? (With Tips and Recommendations)

The portable version of saunas is a cost-effective way to detoxify, increase your heart rate, and relax your muscles. These are just a few of the many benefits of this sweaty activity, but do portable saunas really work?

Portable saunas do work; they are the mobile version of a traditional infrared and steam sauna, with the same health benefits like detoxification, muscle recovery, and stress reduction. Portable saunas cost between $100-$1000, can heat up to a maximum of 140° F, and some types even have the ability to reach 100% humidity. 

Continue reading to discover the features of portable saunas, find out if infrared or steam saunas really work, and learn about the costs, recommended types, travel tips, and how-tos of each.

What are portable saunas?

To achieve the benefits of a sauna without spending a fortune and taking up too much space in your home or apartment, consider buying a portable version that can be used with ease. Most even come with seats and remote controls!

Portable saunas are one-person, zip-up encasements, typically with slits for your hands, designed to trap 140° F of heat and steam inside and mimic the effects of a regular sauna. They are generally much less expensive than a traditional sauna, are collapsible, and can be plugged into an outlet, making them easier to set up at home or on the road.

Regarding the type of portable sauna you can purchase, you have a couple of options- the most common types being infrared or steam.

Portable infrared saunas

A portable infrared sauna is a travel-friendly method to help cleanse your body, lose weight (while following a recommended plan by your doctor), and reduce pain.

This type of portable sauna uses infrared heaters embedded in the walls, which produce no noise or steam but provide a temperature at around 120-140°F in 5-10 minutes and low humidity with the click of a button. Essentially, these heaters give off the same rays as natural sunlight without the harmful UV radiation. 

You should spend between 15 and 30 minutes in a portable infrared sauna, heating your muscles and tissues deeply for the advantages to be effective.

Portable steam saunas

Portable steam saunas look just like portable infrared saunas, although their features are a bit different.

This tent-like structure has the capacity to heat up to 140°F (in as little as 10 minutes), just like the infrared, although it comes with a remote-controlled steam generator that boils water and releases steam through its vents. The 100% humidity makes this type of sauna much more comfortable and can be used for over 30 minutes.

Like the portable infrared sauna, a push-button control panel in most steam models allows you to adjust the time and temperature while inside.

Do portable infrared saunas really work?

Now that we understand how portable saunas work let’s discuss how effective they really are- starting with portable infrared saunas.

Just like a traditional infrared sauna, yes- they really work. Infrared saunas are kept at 125-155°F with low humidity. They use low-EMF (electromagnetic field) infrared heaters to emit a wavelength of light that is absorbed by the water, fat, and muscle in our body. This causes our temperature to rise, which also increases our heart rate. 

Portable infrared saunas work by the same mechanisms to heat your body from the inside out. The heaters usually operate at an average temperature of 120°F. Lower temperatures allow you to sweat more rapidly and for a more extended period of time. The usual duration of sessions is 20 to 45 minutes, with one or two additional rounds during the day to maximize the benefits.

Some differences I’d like to highlight are that they are obviously portable and collapsible. Also, if you wish, your head (and arms) are exposed through tightly-sealed cut-outs and therefore not receiving the entire benefits of being fully immersed in a typical sauna.

How much do portable infrared saunas cost?

Portable infrared saunas are more cost-friendly than their traditional sauna relative, although there is still a range of price levels.

Most portable infrared saunas range from $100-$1000, depending on the brand and style. This highly reviewed SereneLife model is $199.99, while the Synergy Sauna is close to $1000.00. Most options fall into the $300 range.

Overall, you can find portable infrared saunas at a very reasonable price compared to traditionally built home saunas.

What kind of portable infrared sauna should you get?

So you’re sold on the portable feature, but which portable infrared sauna checks all of your boxes?

The SereneLife Infrared Sauna is a great selection. It’s 27.6″ x 31.5″ x 37.8″ when assembled and weighs just over 19 lbs, making it comfortable for use and easy to store; it even folds into a bag for better transporting! This model has safe, low EMF levels and carbon-fiber infrared heating panels that can heat up to 140°F for 60 minutes of use. 

It also comes with its own chair, a footpad, a programmable timer, and a handheld remote, making it a well-rounded option for anyone looking to give a portable infrared sauna a try!

Check out the latest price on Amazon here!

Besides price, you should consider these factors when selecting the proper portable infrared sauna for you:

  • Size as it relates to comfort and travel capabilities
  • EMF Levels
  • Temperature Ranges
  • Special Features

Can you travel with a portable infrared sauna?

If you’re looking for something portable, that’s a good indication that you plan on traveling with your sauna at some point- but is it possible?

Yes- portable saunas are designed for travel. They are great for vacations and even a quick trip to the gym. If you’re considering a portable sauna, especially when flying, be sure to look at the dimensions and weight of your model and ensure it complies with airline requirements. Most can be disassembled and weigh less than 50 lbs.

Hot Tip: bring a plug travel adapter set when traveling abroad.

How to use a portable infrared sauna

This video is an excellent how-to for any new portable infrared sauna users.

Step 1: Assemble your select portable infrared sauna according to the instructions provided in a safe, well-ventilated area with outlet access.

Step 2: Now, you can put your chair, footpad, and a towel inside. Make sure the remote is plugged in and reachable for when you’re inside.

Step 3: Plug your sauna into an outlet in the wall and turn it on. Allow for it to heat up according to the directions.

Step 4: Once your infrared sauna is at the desired temperature (usually around 120°F), unzip the head collar, step inside, and re-zip yourself in. The arm sockets can be unzipped from the inside for easy access to the remote. You can adjust your timer from here too!

Step 5: Be sure to unplug your sauna after use. It may be necessary to clean according to the specific model’s manual after one or a few uses to keep your portable sauna functioning properly. 

As with any sauna session, stay hydrated and get out if you ever feel uncomfortable or too hot. Watch out for outlets that are deteriorating or look unsafe as they may cause electrical issues.

Do portable steam saunas really work?

Portable steam saunas are relatively new to the market, but do they really work? Let’s take a look at a traditional steam room first.

Portable steam saunas work like traditional steam saunas, optimized at 110-115°F heat and high humidity, but in a more convenient package. They function by pumping steam through a small opening via a water-filled steam tank and can reach 100% humidity to be enjoyed for 30+ minutes. Moist heat has also been shown to improve circulation. 

Quick Tip: To maintain the high humidity in a portable steam sauna, be mindful of keeping the head and arms openings tightly sealed.

How much do portable steam saunas cost?

Like the portable infrared sauna, the portable steam sauna is less costly than a traditional steam sauna.

Portable steam saunas cost anywhere from $100-$1000, though most are around $150 (a little cheaper than a portable infrared sauna). Some even come with a hood for your head. 

What kind of portable steam sauna should you get?

There are a few different options when deciding which portable steam sauna is suitable for you.

I recommend getting the WILLOWYBE Portable Steam Personal Sauna. It falls right under that $150 mark, has a hood, and is only 24 x 14 x 9.6 inches and 10 lbs. This steam sauna can fill up with steam in 10 minutes, reach 140°F and run for up to 60 minutes with its 2-liter steam pot. 

Check out the latest price on Amazon here!

Here are some things to consider when selecting a portable steam sauna:

  • Size as it relates to comfort and travel capabilities
  • Size of the steam tank
  • Temperature Ranges
  • Special Features

Decide which factors are most important to you, and take your pick!

Can you travel with a portable steam sauna?

The option to travel with your portable steam sauna is essential for many. A vacation doesn’t seem complete without it.

You can bring a portable steam sauna on your flight because most are under 50lbs and can be disassembled and folded up small enough to be checked like a bag. If you’re traveling by car, all models fit easily in the back seat. 

How to use a portable steam sauna

This is a great video detailing the assembly, disassembly, and benefits of a portable steam sauna.

Step 1: Assemble your portable steam sauna according to the directions in a safe, well-ventilated area with outlet access.

Step 2: Put your chair and a towel inside. Make sure the remote is plugged in and reachable for when you’re inside. Due to the added moisture, make sure the bottom of the steam sauna is well-covered with towels. 

Step 3: Fill your steam pot to the indicated line, plug it into an outlet in the wall, turn it on, and hook it up to your steam sauna tent. Add essential oils for more benefits! The timer can be set on the pot or via remote control depending on the model. 

Step 4: Allow it to heat up according to the instructions (typically takes 10 minutes). Keep everything sealed until you are ready to enter. Steam coming from the holes is a good indicator that it’s ready.

Step 5: Once your steam sauna is at the desired temperature (usually around 112°F), unzip the head collar, step inside, and re-zip yourself in! The arm sockets can be unzipped from the inside for easy access to the remote. Keep a hand towel nearby to wipe water and sweat.

Step 6: Be sure to unplug your sauna after use. It may be necessary to clean according to the specific model’s manual and lay it on its side to drain. Remove and wash the soaked towels.

Stay hydrated while using your sauna, and never push yourself to stay inside if you start to feel sick.

Now that we’ve covered all the bases, it’s up to you to decide if using traditional steam or infrared sauna is a better fit for your lifestyle or if you’d rather have a portable option to keep at home and bring with you on the go.

Rest assured, if you choose the latter- portable saunas really do work and provide all the same benefits as their traditional counterparts!