Best Travel Shaver Review – Top 5 Most Electric List for Aug. 2018 with Buying Guide
One member of the Groom+Style review team who travels regularly uses an electric razor at home, but takes a straight razor whenever he leaves the US. His rationale? “It’s a pain in the neck to have to deal with plugs and adapters, chargers and charging stands. It’s simpler to just pack a disposable razor and some shaving cream.”
In researching this review article, we found that he’s not alone. An enormous number of men (and some women) complain that they’re unable to find the ideal electric shaver for travel.
That motivated us even more than usual to research the electric models available and find the very best travel shaver to take on the road.
Take your time and read the travel razor buying guide information just below. Alternatively, skip ahead by clicking on the following link, to see which models made it onto the best travel shaver top 5 list.
We’ll get to our best travel shaver top 5 list after first looking at the criteria we used to choose them.
The Best Travel Razor Must Shave Effectively
Let’s face it. It doesn’t matter if an electric shaver is incredibly light, charges internally (so an external charger isn’t required), works automatically with any voltage and has a magical plug that can immediately morph into any shape needed to match a wall plug. If a razor doesn’t deliver a good shave, it’s a problem and not a solution.
For that reason, we started by looking at the quality of the shave rather than the mechanics of the razor. As with any electric shaver, you can choose between rotary head and foil models for travel purposes, and that choice is really a matter of personal preference. Generally speaking, foil heads are better for close shaves but aren’t able to closely follow facial contours, while rotary heads can flex to shave almost anywhere with less irritation, but won’t usually give you a quick, close shave.
You’ll see both foil and rotary razors on our top 5 list, because one of our goals was to provide readers with choices that fit their shaving preferences. What you won’t see is a qualitative judgment on whether Foil Shaver A “delivers a better shave” than Rotary Shaver B, because it’s not fair to compare foil and rotary shaves in that way, and the razors that deliver “the best shave” may not be travel-friendly. We simply determined whether Shaver A and Shaver B were among the best razors in their category (foil or rotary) and if they were, we noted their pros and cons and moved on to travel-specific criteria.
How Big Is The Razor?
Rather obvious, we know, but it’s important to consider how much space a shaver will take up in your luggage and how heavy it is. If you’re buying a razor specifically for traveling rather than for use at home as well, you might want to think about purchasing a foil model even if you normally prefer rotary-head units. The rectangular, thinner shape of a foil shaver is much easier to pack into crowded suitcases, toiletry kits or backpacks.
Rechargeable vs. Battery-Powered Travel Razors
We immediately ruled out rechargeable models that require a charging stand or power brick, because those are the biggest enemies of those who travel with electric shavers. That left us with two “standard” choices: rechargeable razors that don’t need a charging station, and shavers which are powered by batteries.
The best of the rechargeable units work quite well and are relatively easy to travel with, since you only need the razor and a cord to plug it into the wall. There are two potential sticking points for travel to other countries, though. One is less of an issue that it might seem, since most of today’s electric razors can handle both 120 and 240 volts. The other is a problem that most international travelers are familiar with; power plugs and receptacles differ in their shapes and prongs from country to country. You’re fine if you’re only traveling within America, within Britain or through most of the EU since you’ll only need one adapter at most. But if you’re traveling through South America or Africa, good luck. Five different types of outlets are used on each of those continents, requiring five different adapters – making even an electric razor with internal charging circuits a logistical nightmare.
One other intriguing possibility is rather new to the market: a rechargeable razor which doesn’t plug into the wall, but charges via USB connection to your laptop, tablet or other compatible device. As long as you can find one (and we have) that’s a quality shaver, it’s a terrific alternative for those who travel with a laptop. Backpackers and others who travel light, however, may find it more trouble than it’s worth.
Shavers powered by replaceable batteries would seem to be the easiest alternative since batteries are inexpensive and available almost everywhere. You have to be careful when choosing, though, because most shavers that run on batteries are of fairly low quality.
Small Features Can Make a Big Difference
Each of these features may not seem like a big deal – until you travel with an electric shaver that doesn’t have them.
Travel lock: This simply prevents the razor from turning on accidentally, and you’ll realize why it’s important the first time you arrive at your destination with an unlocked shaver – and a dead battery.
Protective head cap: These caps can be an annoyance when you only use a razor at home, where most people don’t even bother with them. But shaving heads are very delicate and easily damaged in transport, so it’s important to have a tight-fitting cap for a razor that will most likely be tossed around and jostled when luggage is being loaded and unloaded.
Easy to clean: When you’re on the road, the easier the better. The last thing you want to be doing on vacation is taking apart foils or multiple rotary heads and attacking the inside of a razor with a tiny brush.
Let’s take a trip through our Groom+Style best travel shaver top 5 rankings.
Foil devotees will be delighted to have a Braun M90 in their travel bag. It’s shaped much like a smart phone but a bit smaller, but if that sounds like it might be too small to grip and shave with, Braun has you covered. The top section of the shaver covers the heads for protection and can be locked for travel. However, when you’re ready to shave, it swings down to act as a comfortable handle. Unusual, but effective.
The M90 is powered by two AA batteries which are held in an accessible compartment and are easy to replace. You don’t have to fiddle around with a screwdriver when the batteries need to be changed, and most people will get at least two weeks’ worth of shaves before the batteries run low. Of course, you can also use rechargeable AA batteries but that requires bringing a different plug-in charger, which we’ve been trying to avoid.
The wide, floating foil head does a decent job of shaving your beard. It won’t fully measure up to one of Braun’s full-sized foil shavers designed for home use, but that’s not really what you should expect from an electric travel shaver. You should hope for a good-but-not exceptionally-close shave, and that’s what the M90 delivers. It isn’t a fully wet/dry model, but it can be held under running water for a quick cleanup. This Braun has a slide-out beard and sideburn trimmer too, an unusual add-on for a mobile shaver.
The Braun M90 is one of the best travel shavers you’ll find, well-designed and with all of the features you’ll need. The AA batteries eliminate the issue of recharging, and the price is more than reasonable.
Facts and figures for the Braun M90 Mobile Shaver:
2. Philips Norelco PQ208/40 Travel Electric Razor (also sold as the Shaver 510)
Here’s our top recommendation for those who prefer rotary razors. The Philips Norelco travel shaver features two independently-floating rotary heads which do a very nice job of hugging the contours of the face. Again, the shave won’t be as quite as clean or quick as it is with the three-head Norelco razor you may have at home so you may have to make several passes, but it’s comfortable and more than fine for travel purposes, particularly since the steel blades are self-sharpening.
Like the Braun, the Shaver 510 works on two AA batteries which will supply enough juice for 2-3 weeks of daily shaves on the road. It’s quieter than the Braun, though, because a whirring rotary shaver will always make less noise than a vibrating foil head.
The Norelco is odd-shaped (as all rotary models are) but smaller and lighter than the Braun, easy to travel with. The ergonomic grip is comfortable; there’s a travel lock and a head cover (which doesn’t secure as well as it should) and a travel bag that comes with the shaver.
The Norelco PQ208/40 (Shaver 510) is comfortable, convenient, gives travelers a good rotary shave without having to be attached to an outlet, and it’s even less expensive than the Braun.
Details for the Philips Norelco PQ208/40 Travel Electric Razor (Shaver 510):
3. Shavetech USB Electric Razor
We mentioned USB charging earlier, and the review team believes this is the best electric shaver that takes advantage of that capability. The Shavetech will only run for 30 minutes before needing to recharged, but you don’t have to mess around with adapters and power cables to do it. You only have to pull out the retractable USB jack and plug it in to any device with a USB port. A charge takes about four hours.
This is a foil razor with one head, and since it’s smaller than a smartphone you can tuck it into a pocket or briefcase, as well as your toiletry kit or suitcase. The Shavetech is not at its best when cutting longer hair, but it works quite well for touchups or regular shaves on lighter beards (twice a day is best, because of the somewhat-low power of this razor). Of course, like any foil razor it can’t get into the nooks and crannies on your face as easily as a rotary model will.
To clean the Shavetech you must remove the head cover and use a brush, which is less convenient than the faucet cleanup you can do with the Braun. It also comes without a lock or a head cover, just a soft carry case, which may be deal breakers for some. But the USB charging is definitely a cool approach. It sells for approximately the same price as the Braun.
The Shavetech is not the best shaver you can buy, but for many travelers, the USB charging function will be much more convenient than regularly changing disposable batteries or plugging cables and adapters into the wall.
More info on the Shavetech USB Electric Razor:
4. Panasonic ES3831K Electric Travel Shaver
Quite similar to the Braun but larger, with a more conventional shape and build, this Panasonic foil shaver has a single floating blade and a more powerful motor than the other models Groom+Style has reviewed. It delivers as good a shave as you’ll get from a travel razor, feels good in the hand and runs on two AA batteries which can be replaced in a jiffy.
The head cover clips on (and can fall off too easily) and there’s no safety lock, only a travel pouch. On the plus side, however, the ES3831K is a bona fide wet/dry shaver and can be used in the shower or for gel and wet shaves anywhere you choose. It cleans under the faucet with no muss, no fuss. The shaver doesn’t feel as solid in your hand and might not hold up for years, but at the bargain price that Panasonic charges you won’t feel any pain if you have to replace it after a while.
The AA battery powered Panasonic ES3831K is small enough to fit just about anywhere when you’re traveling, it shaves well and can be used in the shower. That’s quite a trifecta for its very low price.
Digging deeper on the Panasonic ES3831K Electric Travel Shaver:
5. Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4 Men’s Electric Razor
Yes, this razor plugs into the wall and does require a charger – it’s a small box that’s attached to the AC power cord, so you’ll need power adapters for use outside of America. And it costs about four times as much as the battery-powered models we’ve already reviewed.
But if you want to look your best when traveling for business and need a high-quality electric razor to take with you, this is the one. It’s a wet/dry, four-blade foil model with the foils able to pivot as you shave, complete with precision-honed Nanotech blades delivering a very close and satisfying shave. The ES-LA63-S has a high-performance dual motor that’s more powerful than a replaceable-battery unit, plus a pop-up trimmer and a cool LED indicator in the handle that shows how much power is left in the charge.
Why do we consider this a good travel shaver? Even though it doesn’t have a lock or a blade cover it’s very light, it works on universal voltages from 120-240 volts, it recharges in only an hour and the cord/charger is easy to manage.
Those who have found battery-powered shavers flimsy or unsatisfactory will find a friend in the Panasonic ES-LA63-S. It’s a full-featured razor suitable for home use as well as travel, and as long as you have the right power adapter it’s convenient and will serve you quite well on the road.
More info on the Panasonic ES-LA63-S Arc4 Men’s Electric Razor: