The Best Portable Saunas Are Like a Pop-Up At-Home Spa
Industry pros love our blanket pick.
Published Jun 22, 2022 6:00 PM
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When you think of a sauna, you probably envision a fancy gym or spa, cloaked with the scent of eucalyptus. Or memberships and appointments, with no outsiders welcome. The best portable saunas, though, allow you to bring that feel-good experience home—so you can sit, stand, or lie down for your sweat session, customizable based on heat and duration.
The only tricky part of creating these wellness-retreat vibes at home? Choosing which option makes the most sense for you. Steam or infrared? Tent, dome, or blanket? We’ve scouted the market and chatted with experts to gather the five best portable saunas, based on material and design, heating source, and ease of assembly. So go on, heat things up.
- Best overall: HeatWave Rejuvenator Portable Sauna
- Best budget-friendly: Nordic Ways At-Home Signature Steam Spa
- Best dome: Sunlighten System Portable Sauna
- Best lower temp: Luminati Infrared Sauna
- Best blanket: HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket
Best Overall: HeatWave Rejuvenator Portable Sauna
Collapsible: Yes | Max temp: 150°F | Heat source: 3 low-EMF carbon panels
What we like:
- Easy, quick assembly
- Foot warmer
- 1-year warranty
- Included chair is very small
- Small exterior pocket
Why we chose it: You’ll be set up and sweating in less time than it takes to check into a spa.
This collapsible one-person sauna is also a value-driven pick that would appeal to anyone looking for a simple and quick session at home. Unfold, plug it in, and (per enthusiastic customer reviews) let it heat for a few minutes before climbing in and zipping up. There are five different heating levels, and a handheld control makes it easy to choose from six timer options—for whatever length of time is right for you. Portable sauna tents are a bit awkward by nature, but this gray polyester looks purposeful for your bathroom or home gym—and it folds away when you don’t want it on display.
Best Budget-Friendly: Nordic Ways At-Home Signature Steam Spa
Collapsible: Yes | Max temp: 122°F | Heat source: Steam
What we like:
- 16 customizable steam options
- 2-year extended warranty
- Sweat liner tray for easy cleanup
- Outdoor use only if 65 degrees Fahrenheit or above
- Takes about 10 minutes to heat
Why we chose it: You choose your steam journey with 16 customizable options.
This lightweight tent allows you to make any room of your home (or outside if it’s over 65 degrees Fahrenheit) a Nordic spa—and the collapsible design makes it easy to tuck away in your gym, bathroom, or garage. You can customize the experience to your liking with 16 programmable steam levels, whether you’re stepping in post-workout or looking for a few minutes of zen. The best part? The benefits of your favorite spa session at a fraction of the cost. Important to note, though—this option doesn’t get as hot as others on the market.
Best Dome: Sunlighten Solo System Portable Sauna
Collapsible: Yes | Max temp: 150°F | Heat source: SoloCarbon infrared panels
What we like:
- Sleek, elevated design
- Built-in chromotherapy lighting
- Pad made with memory foam
- Heavier than some competitors (dome and pad are 59 pounds)
- Not ideal for multitasking (reading, looking at phone, etc.)
Why we chose it: Showing off your new modern-looking toy is (almost) equally as exciting as the spalike experience.
The Solo System looks like something you picked up from your favorite spa and dropped in your home—it has a professional-grade appearance and features, to boot. This dome is ideal for those in the market for serious relaxation. To use, you lie flat on your back (on a cushy memory foam pad called the Solo Pad) with all but your neck and head immersed in the infrared heat. LED lights are included, too, for chromotherapy—a process that uses colors from the sun’s visible light spectrum to help promote balance and mental well-being, according to the brand. Though the Solo System will take up more space than other portable saunas on the market, the Solo Pad folds easily within the dome—which can then be tucked away in a closet or storage space.
Best Lower Temperature: Luminati Infrared Sauna
Collapsible: No | Max temp: N/A | Heat source: Infrared bulb panel
What we like:
- Minimalist design
- 10-year warranty
- Machine washable cover
- Cannot be installed anywhere subject to outdoor humidity
- Cannot lie down in sauna
Why we chose it: It’s worthy of a post on your feed and offers lower temps (a more comfortable heat level for some).
The Luminati sauna uses ThermaLight bulbs that produce full-spectrum infrared light that have a similar distribution to sunlight—minus the harmful UV rays and blue light. The bulbs heat your body directly versus heating the air in the sauna, which means the Luminati doesn’t get as intensely hot as some others on the market—which (depending on your preference) may be more comfortable. You can choose from five cover colors to fit your home’s aesthetic, and the tentlike exterior is reminiscent of something you’d find at a trendy wellness retreat. Though the tent is more of a presence than other portable saunas, you can move it from room to room easily.
Best Sauna Blanket: HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket
Collapsible: N/A | Max temp: 158°F | Heat source: Low EMF far infrared
What we like:
- Simple design
- Can lie in it in bed
- Folds up like a normal blanket
- Blanket needs to be left open to dry and cool down before folding
- Need a barrier between your body and the blanket
- Least heating zones on the list
Why we chose it: A sleek sleeping bag–esque detox that you can lay out on a yoga mat or any heat-resistant surface.
Irisha Steele, spa director at the luxe Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma, California, uses HigherDose blankets in the hotel’s spa—and also in her own home. Zipping yourself inside the blanket is supposed to increase the body’s thermal energy, spurring relaxation and glowing skin benefits; it’s also low in EMF (electromagnetic field) and also ELF (extremely low frequency) currents. Since it folds like a normal blanket, adding HigherDose to your everyday routine is quick and convenient.
How We Chose These Products
The best portable saunas strike a balance of convenience (think: easy setup and quick to tuck away) and performance. We dove into the market for saunas and sauna blankets, with a few major specifications in mind: size and material, heat source (infrared panels? steam?), and ease of assembly. Design was also an important factor; while many portable saunas are not designed to be the focal point of any space, we chose options that could’ve been plucked from your favorite spas (or quickly stored out of sight). We tapped Steele and aesthetician Shamara Bondaroff, founder of SB Skin, for what they use at home, as well as insight into how personal saunas can add to your regular relaxation routine.
Our Shopping Checklist
Design and Size
The design of the best portable sauna for you is dependent on your priorities. Are you cool with a collapsable tent and folding chair? Do you prefer lying down or sitting? Steele recommends taking the size of the portable sauna into consideration—think about where you want to place yours and where you might store it when not in use. The collapsible models and blankets are ideal for smaller spaces, whereas the dome and more structured tents may be better suited for roomier areas. It’s important to consider material, too. “What your sauna is made out of matters,” says Bondaroff.
The appeal of a portable sauna is being able to easily set it up at home. When you’re looking for your own, be mindful of what the assembly is like—does it unfold and pop up? Are there multiple parts to keep track of? Ideally, prepping is quick and relatively simple (and putting it away should be equally easy). Both Steele and Bondaroff use the HigherDose sauna blanket, which Steele says is perfect for travel and city living—and can easily be folded and stored. If you’ve got more space to work with, try the Luminati Infrared Sauna or Nordic Ways At-Home Signature Steam Sauna.
One of the most important features to look for in a portable sauna is one infused with infrared therapy, says Steele: “It helps muscle recovery, enhances deep relaxation, and promotes healthy and glowing skin.” According to the Mayo Clinic, infrared saunas heat the body directly versus traditional saunas—which use heat to warm the air, which in turn heats the body. Infrared saunas use dry heat instead of steam for what Tim Waanders, P.T., D.P.T., of Finish Line Physical Therapy describes as a gentler and more comfortable sauna experience.
Q: How do I clean a personal sauna?
It varies depending on the model, but some are equipped with sweat liners or trays that allow you to easily empty and wipe down after each session (which you should!). Be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand, because some portable saunas advise against excess moisture within the chamber to avoid damage. In other models, it may be helpful to place a towel down before you sit to help keep the area cleaner.
Q: What type of sauna is best for at-home use?
The best type of sauna for at-home use depends on your lifestyle and the space available to you. The sauna Bondaroff uses at home has full-spectrum infrared heat coverage and low EMF. ”This is the type of sauna you go into without a phone to totally decompress,” she says. Some options, like the blankets or tents, allow you to read, watch TV, or do other stationary activities simultaneously. A dome, on the other hand, is a nice middle ground between a stationary sauna and blanket. “I like the domes for deep relaxation and how portable they are,” she adds.
The Last Word
When choosing one of the best portable saunas, focus on the type of experience you’re aiming for—whether it’s jumping in quickly post-workout or a slow, daily session to optimize relaxation. Your sauna should be convenient to set up and operate and a seamless addition to your everyday routine. If you’re ready to get your sauna going ASAP, opt for the HeatWave. Turn on your latest bingeable show, pop up the tent, and climb in for an almost effortless sauna sesh.