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Best Portable Exercise Equipment for 2020

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Keeping fit while you’re on the road can be quite difficult. Not every hotel or Airbnb has a gym and even if yours does, truth be told, sometimes you’d just prefer to stay in your room for the evening.

In this roundup, we’re going to take a look at the best portable exercise equipment. With these items, you’ll be sure to stay in shape no matter where your travels take you.

Portable Exercise Equipment Overview

Before we take a look at the best portable exercise equipment for travel, let’s discuss the market segment as a whole. We’ll cover benefits and what to look for when you purchase portable workout gear.

Benefits of Portable Exercise Equipment

Stay Fit While Traveling

While there’s nothing wrong with taking a little break from the gym during vacation, extended lapses can be harmful. Even professional athletes start to lose muscle mass after only about three weeks away from their routine.

You can avoid that by bringing your gym with you!

Stick to Your Routine (Not Just Whatever Equipment Your Hotel or Airbnb Gym Has)

In all my years of traveling, I’ve never come across a hotel or short-term rental that offers exactly the type of equipment I use at home. That’s fair enough; for many people, exercise is nothing more than a side note while traveling.

For those of us who like to follow detailed exercise plans, though, it can be demotivating. This is particularly true if you can’t see what equipment your housing actually has beforehand.

Instead of hoping you’ll find what you need, why not just bring it yourself? As an added bonus, you won’t have to wait your turn for it either!

More Hygienic Than Public Equipment

Given the recent news cycle surrounding coronavirus, you’ve likely become a lot more conscious about sanitation. Unfortunately, public facilities like hotel gyms can harbor bacteria. This can be disastrous when combined with the ability of stress (which usually abounds while traveling) to suppress your immune system.

You have much greater control over cleaning your own equipment, which should help put your mind at ease.

Portable Equipment is Often Multi-Purpose

By virtue of being compact, portable exercise equipment also often has a lot more functionality than you’d find with traditionally-sized products. You’ll get a much more thorough workout for your money.

Great for More Than Just Travel

Not everyone has enough room in their basement for a full-size gym. If your workout area is also your bedroom and office, you’ll have a hard time fitting large, non-collapsible machines in it.

With portable exercise equipment, you won’t have that problem. Tucking it under your bed or into a closet is even easier than fitting it into your suitcase.

What to Look for in Good Portable Exercise Equipment for Travel

As with any other market segment, you’ll find both good and bad products in this one. Here’s what makes for portable equipment worth considering.

Good Exercise Functionality

First and foremost, you need to be able to get a good workout. That means equipment should be appropriately-sized with a design backed by science. You’ll find that negates a lot of gimmicky infomercial-type products that claim to help you lose 100 pounds without leaving your office chair.

This also eliminates products that are unnecessary. For example, there are many exercises you can do just as effectively without any equipment at all. The best portable equipment, however, makes your workout more efficient and beneficial.

Such equipment typically focuses on at least one of the following exercise groups identified as essential by experts:

  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Endurance

Durable

Portable exercise equipment for travel tends to see a lot more wear and tear than usual. Your luggage gets tossed around, the equipment gets folded and unfolded dozens of times on any given trip, and much more.

As a result, these products need to be very durable. As often as possible, the items on this list are made from primarily metal that can withstand compression and crushing.

Ergonomic

The rigorous use of any exercise equipment can cause strain. While full-sized products get around this by offering more padding and a larger footprint, manufacturers of portable units need to get more creative. You’ll see what I mean when we take a look at the best products.

Lightweight

Portable exercise gear should not be so cumbersome that you feel burnt out just carrying it from the elevator to your room. Rather, you should be able to carry it around in your luggage with relative ease.

Good Warranty

Even the best products occasionally arrive with defects. This can be particularly annoying with portable exercise gear since a faulty unit leaves you with nothing more than a fancy door stop while on the road.

Good manufacturers have international warranties that will help you get a replacement promptly.

Best Portable Exercise Equipment for Travel

Here are five of the best portable exercise products currently on the market.

Gaiam Yoga Mat Folding Travel Fitness & Exercise Mat

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to exercising on the go is finding a suitable surface. This Gaiam Yoga Mat can help.

Pros

Fits Neatly in Your Luggage: While many yoga mats roll up into a cumbersome cylindrical shape, this product from Gaiam folds neatly into a 24 by 68-inch rectangle that can easily fit in your luggage.
Easy to Clean: Laundry can be much more complicated on the road than at home. The Gaiam Folding Fitness Mat has a durable coating that can withstand rigorous scrubbing for years to come.
Versatile: While this is primarily a yoga mat, you can also use it for squats and other types of stationary exercises. Its sticky coating will help you stay in place.

Cons

Needs Washing on Arrival: In response to a few users complaining about this mat arriving with a “slippery” substance on it, Gaiam has recommended giving it a good wash before use. This may be a nuisance for some people.
Prone to Creases: While the fold-up design of this mat makes for easy storage, it also causes creases that can prevent the product from laying completely flat.
Thin Design: In a bid to make this mat ultra-portable, Gaiam removed some of the padding you’d find on other products. For certain yoga poses, this may reduce comfortability.

Kettle Gryp Adjustable Portable Weight Grip

Kettlebells are great for exercising several muscle groups, including your biceps, core, and legs. These weights are also very difficult to carry around, however, which is where the Kettle Gryp comes in handy.

Pros

Super Useful: The Kettle Gryp is a handle that wraps around any dumbbell, converting it into an instant kettlebell weight. It’s almost comically simple yet makes possible exercises that would otherwise be impractical on the road.
Easy on Your Wrists: The design of traditional kettlebells exposes you to wrist and forearm strain, necessitating additional products like guards. While ‘travel’ versions of equipment tend to be a compromise, the Kettle Gryp’s adjustability actually helps it out-perform its conventional counterparts.
Very Well-Rated: With a 4.5-star rating out of 855 reviews on Amazon, the Kettle Gryp’s reputation inspires confidence.
Easy Storage: Typical kettlebells are bulky and don’t fit neatly into your luggage. You can easily remove the Kettle Gryp from your dumbbell and store each separately.

Cons

You’ll Need to Buy a Dumbell: The Kettle Gryp does not come ready-to-use with a dumbbell. What you’ll likely want to do is travel with the product to your destination and then buy a dumbbell on arrival.
Won’t Fit All Dumbbells: If your weight’s handle is flared (such as with the Bowflex SelectTech 522s), it won’t fit in the Kettle Gryp. As such, be sure to double-check for compatibility before buying this product.

GoFitness Push Down Bar

This product from GoFitness ranks among the best portable resistance exercise equipment. Instead of relying on weights for strength-building, it uses a spring-based design.

Pros

Durable and Light Enough for Travel: The GoFitness Push Down Bar Machine offers confidence-inspiring solidity thanks to its full-metal design. It also manages to be extremely light, weighing in at just under four pounds.
Great for Resistance Training: This product offers up to 110 pounds of resistance. It’s almost surprising, given how light the machine is.
Get a Full Upper Body Workout: Part of what makes this product the best piece of portable resistance exercise equipment out there is its ability to be the only gear you pack. You can exercise your chest, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and abs.

Cons

Won’t Fit in Your Carry-On: The elongated nature of this equipment means you’ll have a hard time fitting it into smaller suitcases, such as your carry-on. At about 30 inches long, you’ll find it fits most comfortably in full-sized suitcases.
Resistance is not Adjustable: You’ll have to buy multiple variants of the GoFitness Push Down Bar if you plan on exercising at different levels of resistance. It comes in 70, 90, and 110-pound options.

Fitness Insanity Resistance Band Set

According to experts, resistance bands are great for everything from rigorous muscle toning to physical rehabilitation. Here’s why this set from Fitness Insanity is among the best portable resistance exercise equipment available.

Pros

Eliminates the Need for Bulky Gear: The Fitness Insanity Resistance Band Set can help you perform exercises (like lat and tricep pulldowns) that might seem impossible without bulky gear. The set can be easily fixed to your door frame, replicating full-sized equipment.
Longer-Lasting than Typical Resistance Bands: Most bands consist of thin elastic that can easily tear. This product from Fitness Insanity, however, is made from reinforced tubes of “anti-snap” latex. Indeed, reviews indicate that these bands last quite long.
Very Easy to Store: Each band wraps up neatly and can be stored in the side pocket of your luggage quite easily. Handles and other accessories are also detachable, helping with portability.
Lifetime Warranty: Fitness Insanity offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee for life on these bands. This is quite rare; most portable workout equipment manufacturers offer much more limited warranties.

Cons

Occasional Quality Control Issues: While this product’s 2,400+ ratings are overwhelmingly positive, some users have received kits with improperly sized bands and other issues. For their part, Fitness Insanity appears engaged in resolving issues and continually updating their product.

Wonder Core Smart Body Muscle Toning and Cardio

Portable cardio exercise equipment can be hard to come by. This product is one of the few good options out there.

Pros

Another Great All-in-One Option: In addition to being great for cardio, the Wonder Core Smart Fitness machine can give you a good arm, leg, and ab workout. If you’re looking for a single piece of small portable exercise equipment, this might be it.
Complimentary App Makes Things Fun: While most exercise gear comes with a printed manual, Wonder Core’s app is much more useful. You’ll see live demonstrations of exercises, which can be a huge advantage over diagrams.
Highly Ergonomic: Thick padding on this product makes it very comfortable to use, reducing the strain of the intended exercises.
Cardio Training: This is one of the few good pieces of portable exercise equipment with which you can perform cardio workouts. Given cardio’s importance, this is a very nice feature.

Cons

Unsuitable for Heavy Packers: If you find yourself struggling to fit your luggage within weight restrictions, this product’s 16-pound heft will be an obstacle. It’s really suited more towards light packers who have lots of room to spare.
Won’t Work for Very Heavy Individuals: The Wonder Core Smart Fitness machine is rated for people weighing 250 pounds or less. If you weigh more than that, you’ll need to find something more robust.

Conclusion

Unlike many of our other product roundups, the items mentioned here don’t compete directly with one another. As such, which product is best for you all depends on your fitness goals.

That said, the best all-around product would have to be the Wonder Core Smart Body Fitness machine. It’s a truly standalone unit offering both cardio and muscle toning capabilities.

To further explain why it’s the best option, let’s refer back to the points I mentioned in this article’s second section.

Firstly, we have functionality. Wonder Core’s product undoubtedly performs well here, allowing you to exercise your core, back, legs, biceps, triceps, and even get a full cardio workout in.

As far as durability goes, the Wonder Core has a rigid metal frame and thick foam padding that should last for years is quite ergonomic.

The product suffers a bit in the “lightweight” category due to its 16-pound heft. You’ll need to pack creatively but it can certainly be done.

Lastly, Wonder Core sells this product directly themselves, negating any fears you might have about the sort of third-party warranties that are common with Amazon products.