What is a Portable Sauna?

A portable sauna is exactly what its name implies – it’s a sauna that you can transport around. It is generally constructed of a woven tent frame that can be folded out for use, and then collapsed when you’re done. The aesthetics are not ideal, but most who use saunas use them for the heat that they provide, not for their looks! Portable saunas are typically heated by infrared heat, though some use steam heat to provide their significant warmth.

How Does a Portable Sauna Work?

This sauna works very easily. To use it, you usually need to set up a chair inside so you can sit in it. You can then place the portable sauna chamber around you, zip it up, and then turn it on with a remote attached either on the exterior or interior. After turning it on, the interior of the portable sauna will start to heat up thanks to the heating system.

Types of Portable Saunas 

Infrared Portable Saunas

Infrared saunas are by far the most common type of portable sauna and are probably the best choice in most circumstances. The system works by providing infrared heat to the inside of the tent. Infrared heat is dry heat and is reasonably similar to the traditional-style charcoal heat that one might find in an actual sauna building. However, a charcoal sauna will likely have a system to provide steam moisture to the room, allowing for finer control over the moisture level. Portable infrared saunas don’t provide an option like this.

Steam Portable Saunas

As you can see, steam portable saunas look very similar to portable infrared saunas. However, attached to a steam sauna is an object that looks a lot like a rice cooker. This container holds water, which is heated, and channeled through the tent area, heating the tent with steam directly. This heat is very moist and isn’t quite the same as what you would encounter in a traditional sauna. Steam heating is convection heating, and steam heats the air around the body, not just the body itself as an infrared sauna would. It is great for those who suffer from frequent congestion, though. And some simply love highly humid heating.

They’re also a bit easier to combine with sauna essential oils than infrared saunas are. Additionally, these saunas are typically cheaper than infrared saunas, which is always nice! It’s not clear whether the famed longevity and general health benefits associated with regular sauna use carry over to steam saunas since the type of heat is so different. However, steam saunas are fantastic for clearing congestion, and may well result in the same sorts of health benefits that are commonly found in other types of saunas.

Do Portable Saunas Really Work?

For most users, we would suggest sticking with a portable infrared sauna as opposed to going with a steam version. These units provide an experience that is pretty similar to what you’d get in a full-scale, two-person infrared sauna for many hundreds of dollars more. Steam may be slightly cheaper, but the infrared sauna will more closely approximate the traditional setup.

Sure, the Dynamic Saunas one above looks nicer than a tent-style portable sauna. But in the end, the heat and dryness levels are the same because the infrared heater is essentially the same as what you get with a portable infrared sauna! The housing for the setup is clearly not as nice, but the functionality is the same.

Parts of a Portable Sauna


Some models come with a chair you can use, although many tend to buy a fold-up chair to use inside it. However, many find that the chairs that come with these saunas are unsatisfactory. Consider purchasing a more stylish and comfortable sauna chair if you are finding that you use the sauna frequently.

Tent Chamber

This is the main part of the portable sauna. It contains panels inside where the infrared heaters are or piping from the steam pot in the case of a steam sauna. The chamber also has a zipper in the front so you can easily step inside, sit down, and zip the chamber panels up. Sometimes you’ll even find holes in the front so you can read or play on your phone while sitting inside.

Heating Footpad

Not every portable sauna has a heating footpad, but many do. This pad is located on the bottom of the chamber and helps to heat up your feet, a place where some of the infrared heat doesn’t always reach.

A Timer/Remote

The timer or remote tends to be located on the exterior of the portable sauna. With it, you can time sessions to last for a certain amount of time and then automatically turn the sauna off. Sometimes you can also adjust the temperature and other settings of the sauna with the remote.

Benefits of Using A Portable Sauna

There are multiple benefits that come with using a portable sauna compared to other sauna formats, whether it is a steam version or an infrared version. Below are a few of them.

They Are Compact

Portable saunas are extremely compact. You can open it up to sit inside without it taking up much space and fold it up and put it away without it making a mess. This makes them ideal to use in one’s home or even in a space that might not have much room. You can set it up semi-permanently in the bathroom, in the basement, on a carpet, on wood, or concrete floor. And set up and take down are typically accomplished in just a few minutes.

They are Inexpensive

Unlike traditional saunas which tend to come with high costs, portable saunas are very inexpensive. Better yet, they come with many of the same benefits as regular saunas but at a much more affordable price. Steam saunas are even less expensive than infrared saunas, but in general, it’s best to spend slightly more money and go with infrared.

They are Easy to Use

Another great thing about portable saunas is that they are easy to use. You just sit inside, zip it up, and control the settings with the remote attached. It’s not hard to figure out or use making it the perfect device for those who don’t want to spend much time trying to set it up. Certainly, they’re much easier to set up and get going than a full-scale two-person sauna system.

They Can Help You Relax

One benefit they certainly provide is relaxation if used correctly. As mentioned above, try to use your time in the sauna as me time, as the saying goes. Light a few candles, put on some soft music, and let the heat take you away. You’ll feel restored and energized after your time in the sauna, and not necessarily due to the heat itself!