5 Best Portable Chess Sets (Made For Travel)

best portable chess set

We’ve put together a review of the best portable chess set options for chess lovers who want to play on the road.

If you’re anything like us, you can probably identify the pain of being away from your home and feeling the itch to play a game of chess. Sometimes, you bump into a stranger at the park who asks for a game. Sometimes you want to keep the kids entertained with a mini chess tournament during road trips.

There are different aspects of a board to look for considering your needs, like square size, price, and weight. Chess sets that have algebraic notation (coordinates that indicate a piece’s position in the game) printed on the board are best for anyone still learning. The letters and numbers are used to describe moves and record matches.

Check out our detailed review below.

5 Best Travel Chess Sets (Our Review)

House of Staunton Sondergut Roll-up Travel Game (Best Overall)

sondergut roll up

The Sondergut roll-up is a hand-sewn chessboard made with high-quality pliable suede material. Board size is about 10×2 inches when rolled up, and 1×12 when laid out. It doesn’t lie completely flat due to the material, so you can expect some slight hills and valleys that can throw off your pieces.

It’s nicely compact when rolled up. All the pieces fit inside the zipped pouch, so you’re free from worrying about having to buy any additional storage bags.

It weighs next to nothing at less than half a pound, and its design allows you to carry it around on you. It’s great for taking along with you for a casual game of chess at your favorite park or café.

Unlike most travel sets, this chess set is not magnetic. If you’re playing on the road or mid-flight, the board could be shaken up and your game will be ruined. 

The chess pieces are little disks made from melamine and are neither weighted nor magnetized. The pieces were designed for you to have the option of playing checkers as well, you just need to flip them around.

The white squares aren’t built into the board, they’re just stuck to the surface. After some time they may start peeling off so this portable chess set needs to be handled with care. It’s not suitable for young children who’ll probably end up taking the stickers off.

House of Staunton made a fashionable, roll-up board that’s a far cry from their traditional offerings.

Pros

  • Built-in zippered pouch
  • Rolls up nicely
  • Fashionable design
  • Quality suede material

Cons

  • Board doesn’t lie flat
  • Pieces slide off easily

WE Games Travel Mini Magnetic Pocket Chess Set (Best Magnetic)

WE Games Travel Mini Magnetic Pocket Chess Set - 6 x 3.25 in.
  • MAGNETIC CHESS: This trifold magnetic chess set by American Chess  offers a unique format for one of the world’s most beloved games. Measures 5.75 x 3.25 inches when folded and includes 2 extras queens and 2 blank pieces as replacements just in case one goes missing. This set includes algebraic notation on all sides making it a great learning tool for players at all levels.
  • NEW & IMPROVED: Our updated  version includes a third strongly magnetized panel for easy organization of chessmen as opposed to the previous construction with a floppy pocket. Made from high quality flexible vinyl this set will withstand constant travel and use. Love it or enjoy a 60 day guarantee on all WE Games products.
  • ON THE GO: Whether you are walking to the park backpacking across Europe or traveling to a chess tournament this portable set is treasured by chess enthusiasts across the world for its compact checkbook size that fits in your pocket.
  • GOOD FOR YOU: The benefits of chess are enormous. Children who partake in chess boost their  critical thinking problem solving spatial awareness and socialization skills making it a great addition to any classroom or household.
  • WE GAMES: Making the world’s best traditional game since 1977. Our games are crafted with high quality sustainable materials with attention to fine details. WE Games donates time and resources to the Toy Foundation to help children in need who are facing many of life’s most difficult challenges

The board size measures 5×3 inches when folded and weighs only 4 ounces. The 3-way folding chess book is great for convenience and fits right in your pocket.

The third panel is a pad made for storing the magnetic pieces, with each piece getting its own section. A vinyl film covers a thin metal chessboard with algebraic notations which are great for learning the game.

This is one of the best magnetic chess sets on the market. Strong magnets at the bottom of the circular pieces keep them firmly in place during a game. Magnetic boards allow you to play in any situation: on the road or outdoors on a windy day. Since the magnetic pieces are flat, you can stop playing and fold the game up to continue at a later time without losing your place.

One flaw worth mentioning is that it doesn’t fold completely when the chess pieces are on the game board. Also, the pieces are difficult to grip.

The travel chess set includes 2 extra queens and 2 blank pieces to replace any lost ones. The characters are stuck on nicely and shouldn’t come loose, however, they aren’t centered very well. The pieces are a choking hazard so it’s not suitable for children under 3 years.

Pros

  • Board has algebraic notation
  • Board and pieces are magnetic
  • Foldable to the size of a checkbook
  • Extra queens and blank pieces
  • Pieces stay in place while folded

Cons

  • Doesn’t close completely
  • Vinyl panel coverings could break easily

Chesshouse 8’’ Magnetic Travel Chess Set Set In Black And Boxwood (Best Design)

Chesshouse 8’’ Magnetic Travel Chess Set Set In Black And Boxwood

This magnetic Chesshouse travel chess set measures 8×8 inches with a weight of 1.45 lbs, with a king height of 1 ½ inches. The hand-carved wooden chessmen are magnetized and felted at the base to protect the board from any scratches.

The magnets are strong enough to keep the pieces firmly on the board and offer minimal resistance when moving them.

For storage, the board is kept in a zippered storage case. The pouch has a protective canvas with built-in slots designed for each chess piece. This combination ensures they remain secure and in good condition. The slots can be used to store captured pieces during play.

The wooden pieces and black wood board are beautifully crafted which gives this chessboard a classy feel. It has a varnish smell when it’s delivered, but it disappears after being aired out for a few days.

The lack of sharp edges, the felted pieces, and board, and its durability make this a chess set that children can happily and safely use.

Pros

  • Quality finish
  • Hand handcrafted chessmen
  • Bag has slots for chessmen
  • Strong magnets

Cons

  • Strong wood varnish smell
  • A bit heavy

15” Wooden Chess And Checkers Folding Board (Best Two-In-One)

15" Folding Wooden Chess & Checkers Set (2 in 1) w/ 3" King Height Chess Pieces / 2 Extra Queen / German Knight Staunton Wooden Chessmen / Beech Box w/ Walnut & Maple Inlay / Classic Board Game
  • CLASSIC PIECES: German knight Staunton wooden chess pieces are handcrafted and made from birch. With King Height 3.0", Queen Height 2.75". Each playing piece is made with eleganly intricate details. Include extra 2 Queen. Contents includes 24 pieces of Wooden Checkers: one dozen light colored, one dozen reddish brown colored.
  • FOLDING CHESS&CHECKERS BOARD WITH LOCK: The board is handmade with fine beech wood, Walnut & Maple inlaid. The smooth surface ensures touch comfort that chess enthusiasts will appreciate. The board measures 15" x 15" x 1"(38 x 38 x 2.75 CM), measurement when closed is 15" x 12.5"x 2"(38 x 19 x 5.5 CM). Easy close with high-quality brass lock and hinges. Ideal for travel.
  • 2 in 1 BOARDGAME GIFT: This game set includes both Chess and Checkers. You can enjoy two games in one purchase. It will be a great gift as one buy double fun!
  • ANTI-SCRATCHING: Smooth processing was used at the bottom of each chessman, lower the sound while moving, ensure the surface of the board will not be scratched by the chessman, protect the board all the time. Each Chessmen is stored in individual slots, no rattling, no lost pieces, no more mess after your chess game.
  • 100% SATISFACTION OR YOUR MONEY BACK - That’s our unconditional guarantee! If you’re not 100% satisfied with your purchase, we promise to offer you a prompt and full refund or ship you a replacement, so you can buy it with confidence.

It has handcrafted German Knight Staunton chessmen made from birch. King height is 3 inches, with the queen at 2.7 inches. They add 2 extra queens as well as wood checkers pieces.

This chess set is 15×15 inches when laid out and 15×7 inches when folded in half. Square size is 1.6 x 1.6 inches per square. The board is made from beech wood and walnut with a maple wood inlay. There’s a box for you to store the chess and checkers pieces on the underside of the fold.

The board weighs 3.2 pounds and every inch of wood is smoothed to the touch with no sharp edges. 

There are no handles for transportation. Instead, when folded it remains shut with brass locks and hinges that ensure the pieces remain secure in the box.  After folding, it fits neatly inside a bag.

It’s an added convenience having storage built into the board, as it protects the Staunton pieces from damage during transportation.

The downside to this storage design is that to lay the board flat for games of chess, all the pieces, including the checkers’ ones, need to be removed. It’ll leave you with a bunch of checkers pieces lying around which is a problem if you’re playing outdoors.

Since it’s not magnetic, this set isn’t great for on-the-road play. But it’s great if you want a well-crafted chess set that’s closer to traditional full-sized tournament chess sets. 

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Foldable
  • Black velvet storage compartment
  • Hinges to lock in place when folded

Cons

  • Can’t store pieces in play
  • Quality of chessmen fluctuates

iCore Electronic Talking Chess Set (Best Electronic)

iCore Chess Computer Voice Chess Master Talking Chess Games Computer 8 in 1 LCD Display 100 Program Practice
  • Chess Tutor Function, Multiple skill levels for each game.
  • Teaching Voice System in Chess Mode
  • 100 pre-set Chess Exercises for Practive, Play against a friend or the computer
  • Sensory Chess Board and large LCD display
  • 8 Challenging Brain Games: Chess-Checkers-Reversi-Halma-4 in1 a row-Fox&Geese-Northcote's Game & Nim

The iCore Talking Chess Set has a 10×7 inch board and it weighs 1.6 pounds. The set is magnetic and paired with its portability it makes for a good travel set.

What makes this portable chessboard special is its interactive nature. The chessboard is touch-sensitive which allows the board to interact with the player and offer advice and assistance if wanted.

The board is best for teaching strategy in easy, step-by-step processes. You can even challenge the chess set. This works through the LCD screen. It makes its moves through algebraic notation and you move the piece to its suggested position.

Unfortunately, the LCD screen is compact and poorly lit. Though it has many handy settings, getting them set up in the first place can be confusing. 

The interactive nature of this set makes it the best portable chess set for anyone new to the game and in need of a little guidance. It’s also a good option if you’re looking to play chess but don’t have anyone to play against.

Pros

  • Interactive computer
  • Magnetic
  • Portable
  • Has 8 other games built-in

Cons

  • Set-up can be complicated
  • The screen is small and not well lit 

Best Portable Chess Set FAQs

Are magnetic chess sets good?

A magnetic chess set allows you to play chess on the road or in the air. If you have a match on an unsteady surface, then magnetic chessboards are the best. The magnet strength varies from set to set though, so be sure to check that it’s up to your standards.

How much does a good chess set cost?

Chess sets can easily go from under $10 for portable sets to over a thousand or tournament ones. However, you don’t need to go to the very end of the cost spectrum to find the best portable chess set. You can find a good chessboard at a fairly low price.

What should I look for when buying a chess set?

If you’re looking for the best portable chess set you need to pay attention to the length and weight of the board, its durability, and the weight of the board pieces. The best options come with storage and magnetic chess pieces for easy travel and play.

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