Electric razors are arguably the best option for shaving on the go: they’re practical, portable and fuss-free to operate.
But mobile shavers also exhibit some specific limitations, so choosing the right travel electric razor must take into account various aspects.
In this article we’ll take a look at what makes a good travel razor and what are their pros and cons; we’ll also check out some of the more popular models on the market.
What to look for in travel electric razor?
There are a few hallmarks of a quality travel razor. Here’s a quick rundown of what to look for when buying one.
- Travel lock and protective cap. This one is pretty self-explanatory and of great importance in my opinion. An electric razor that is suitable for traveling must incorporate a locking mechanism to avoid turning it on by accident. Also, the shaving head, particularly in the case of foil shavers, is very sensitive to mechanical shocks, so a protective cap is a must when traveling.
- Replaceable batteries. I personally think that regular batteries are the optimal solution when it comes to travel razors. These batteries are cheap and readily available. Moreover, this eliminates the need of a power brick and that’s an extra item to be carried around. Not to mention that you can easily forget about it and leave it at home. Or in your hotel room.
- Compact size. Portability is the one of the main reasons one would buy a travel razor, so look for one that is compact in size and lightweight.
- Small power brick. If your razor doesn’t use regular batteries, then at least make sure that it has an automatic worldwide voltage converter (100 – 240v) and that the charger is compact in size.
- Decent performance and low price. Performance-wise, a travel razor can’t match a full-fledged electric razor. However, some of them are better than others.
Choosing the best travel electric razor
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular mobile shavers you can buy and decide which one would suit you the best.
The M90 from Braun’s line of mobile shavers is in my opinion the best electric razor for its intended purpose. And this little razor has quite a few aces down the sleeve that make it a very compelling option for a travel shaver. Here are the most important ones:
Integrated protective cap and travel lock. This is one of the most brilliant solutions you’ll find on any electric shaver. Braun has masterfully integrated a rotating protective cap that also acts as a travel lock: when it covers the foil, the ON/OFF switch is locked in place and can’t be operated.
Integrated trimmer. This is a rare find on travel razors; while it is very small and only suitable for touch-ups and light grooming, it is definitely a welcome addition.
Battery powered. The M90 is powered by regular AA batteries, making it very versatile and great to be used on the go.
Fully waterproof. This shaver can be safely rinsed with water as rubbers gasket are used around the battery cover and other parts to keep water away from the internals.
Integrated cleaning brush. Another sample of an innovative and simple design solution is the integrated cleaning brush that stays securely attached to the back of the razor.
Solid build quality. The M90 is remarkably well built and feels very sturdy. I would even go as far as saying that you don’t really need a travel case for it. The foil is also very well protected by the sturdy plastic cap.
The performance is what you would expect from a small, inexpensive mobile shaver. It is good enough for daily shaving, but don’t expect too much in terms of closeness. It will get the job done, but you’ll have to spend more time to complete a shave than you would with a proper electric razor that has a more powerful motor and multiple cutting elements.
Overall, the M90 represents the best package as far as travel razors go. You can also check out my in-depth review of the M90 here.
This Panasonic is my second recommendation for an electric travel razor. And it has a few advantages over the Braun M90 above, but also some shortcomings.
First let’s check out the good parts.
Powerful 8500 cpm motor. The Panasonic ES3831K is powered by a snappy 8500 linear motor, a significant bump in performance compared to the M90. This will translate in faster and closer shaves. Don’t expect Arc3 level of performance, but definitely good enough for a travel razor.
Wet & dry operation. While the Braun M90 is fully waterproof for cleaning purposes, it can only be used dry. The Panasonic however can be used with shaving cream, which can improve the comfort and the closeness of the shave. I don’t personally think that many men would go through the trouble of carrying and using shaving cream when traveling – after all, you buy a travel shaver to get rid of that – but it’s nice to know you have that option.
Regular AA batteries. Just like the M90, the ES3831K uses two AA batteries.
Inexpensive. The price of the Panasonic ES3831K is significantly lower compared to the M90. The replacement foil and blades are also much cheaper.
Protective cap and travel lock. The ES3831K also ticks this box, even though Panasonic’s implementation isn’t nearly as impressive as the one from Braun.
As for disadvantages, there’s no pop-up trimmer, which is a bit of a bummer. The build quality also seems to be better in the case of the M90.
These are minor drawbacks considering the overall features and reasonable price. Choosing this one or the M90 comes down to personal preference. The Braun has the edge in terms of versatility and build quality, while the Panasonic has the advantage of a more powerful motor and lower price.
Either way, these two are probably the overall best travel electric shavers you can buy. If you prefer rotary razors, then the Shaver 510 (formerly PQ208/40) from Philips Norelco is another good option. Performance-wise they’re again pretty similar.
Should you use a travel electric razor?
Well, it depends. Some men can even get away with using a travel razor as their main, daily shaver, while others can’t stand using one for a few days when traveling.
Travel razors generally feel under-powered and usually have a single cutting element (in the case of foil shavers) or two shaving heads (rotary shavers), so completing a shave takes more time.
If you want a close, comfortable and fast shave or you have coarse facial hair then just go for a more capable, regular electric razor. The same goes for men that don’t want to shave daily as travel razors don’t fare well with long hair.
Using your regular electric razor when traveling
I prefer to give up a bit of space in my luggage for a proper electric razor and enjoy a decent shave. When I am away for shorter periods I also leave the power brick at home as a fully charged razor should easily last for a few days of shaving. I only recommend doing so for short voyages.
My personal pick is the Panasonic Arc4 ES-LF-51. It is surprisingly compact for a 4 blade shaver, features a travel lock, protective cap, integrated pop-up trimmer and comes with a handy faux leather travel pouch. The performance of this electric razor is also very good, a huge step from any travel razor.
I also own a Braun M90, but I rarely find myself using it. It’s very practical as you can just toss it in your glove box, gym bag or keep in a drawer for some impromptu shaving sessions. But using it constantly, even for just a few days in a row, simply does not work for me.
The best argument for travel razors is the price and convenience of replaceable batteries. If it gets damaged or lost it won’t be that big of a problem.
In the end, the right electric travel razor can either be just your regular shaver or a dedicated mobile one.
The decision is entirely personal. You might as well use both depending on the circumstances. Something like the Braun M90 works great if you want to travel light for just a few days. But if a few cubic centimeters in your luggage are not a big deal, then you can bring along a proper razor and treat yourself.
Just make sure to consider the must have features of a travel razor outlined in this article if you decide to choose one.