In this Guide
Whether you’re a lifelong masseuse or a new professional massage therapist, there’s no tool more important to have in your kit than a good portable chair. When you’re seeing clients on the go, or traveling to workshops, you need a portable workstation that’s rugged, reliable, and comfortable for all your clients.
Sadly, there are a lot of lackluster chairs on the market these days, as the longtime pros among you will know. For every sturdy, straightforward workhorse, there are dozens of rickety, frustrating and awkward designs that will waste both your time and money.
We’ve put our team to work, in order to help you out! We’ve gone on a comprehensive search for the absolute best portable massage chairs out there. We’ve drawn on our own expertise, as well as feedback from pros who have actually spent time working with our recommendations.
In this handy guide, you’ll find everything a working pro or first-timer needs to know about portable massage chairs. We’ve written our own in-depth reviews of 3 great models, along with a quick guide to sorting through which one is right for you.
Let’s check out the Top Three:
Best on a Budget
- Our Rating: 4.4
- Popularity: Low
- Our Rating: 4.0
- Popularity: Low
- Our Rating: 4.4
- Popularity: Low
Best Portable Massage Chair Reviews 2018
If you’re shopping for your first portable massage chair, we think the BestMassage is a fantastic choice. It’s an affordable, straightforward option for folks who are starting out and can’t afford something premium. It’s sturdy, reasonably comfy, and has a generous weight capacity. While we don’t recommend it to full-timers or experienced pros, it’s an ideal starter chair.
It’s extremely affordable. You can find the BestMassage available for around the $75 mark, which is ideal for the starting masseuse. It’s an excellent way for you to start working with your first clients without having to dig into your savings. This one will allow you to start making some money before you need to upgrade.
It’s more comfortable than other budget options. Previous buyers said the BestMassage’s 4” cushions were reasonably padded, especially given the price. They didn’t report any complaints about comfort, although this one isn’t quite as plush-feeling as the more expensive options. It also has basic adjustments for height and face angle.
It’s easy to clean. The BestMassage has a PU outer layer, which looks like red leather. You can wipe it clean between sessions, and it sanitizes quickly.
It has a high working weight capacity. This one’s rated for up to 300 pounds working, which is actually higher than the capacity on our midrange choice! It’s a lot of bang for your buck in the weight department.
It packs easily. This one folds down to a compact, easy to carry shape. You can carry it by your side without it feeling awkward, and it’s easy to fit on the back seat of your car.
It also comes with a carrying case. While the case that’s included isn’t premium by any stretch, it’s sturdy and durable. Reviewers said it was very easy to get the folded chair in and out of the case. They also appreciated how light the whole thing was to carry.
It’s a bit rickety. While this model has a relatively high weight capacity, it doesn’t feel as sure as more expensive chairs. We didn’t hear of any complaints about the frame’s durability, but this isn’t a chair we’d test. Most users said that while it did the trick for occasional use, it wouldn’t be a good primary chair for a full-time practice.
It feels relatively cheap. Between the PU coating and the lightweight frame, it doesn’t exactly exude premium quality. While it can be perfectly serviceable, it doesn’t have the reassuring feel a full-time pro wants to provide for clients.
It’s not covered by a warranty.
It’s tricky to put together. Previous buyers said that the instructions were frustrating, but necessary as they couldn’t figure out how to secure the headrest on their own. Obviously, we always recommend following the manual for any new massage chair, since assembling your unit wrong can endanger clients. You need to be very careful to follow the instructions on this one, since the bolts aren’t as intuitively placed as we’d like to see.
The center frame is close to the seat, which means that space can be limited for male clients. Most users will be fine, but buyers advised that one key limitation on this model is the tight groin clearance.
2. Earthlite Vortex
If you’re a full-time massage therapist, we this Earthlite chair is a great midrange choice for your portable sessions. It’s close to the sturdiest of our recommendations, with a light, rugged frame that will last for years of use. Plus, it’s got superior vinyl upholstery that lasts longer and feels better than the cheap PU on our most other chaors. It’s probably overkill for a new masseuse, but it’s a great choice for full-timers, especially if you work primarily with a portable chair.
It’s miles above our cheaper recommendations in terms of build quality. Both in feel and appearance, the Earthlite is by far the best under $300. It uses an aircraft-grade aluminum frame with a special tubing design to provide lightweight ruggedness. The oval tubing adds extra strength while maintaining a slim profile.
The cushions combine thick, adaptive PU foam with a vinyl outer coating. It lasts much longer than the other models, and it won’t flake or discolor over time. It also won’t develop unsightly wrinkles as you wear it in.
It has the same working weight capacity as the BestMassage, at 300 pounds. Plus, this unit feels so much more reassuring than the cheaper model. We found that this one is one of the most popular portable choices among professional massage therapists. They had no problems with their heavier clients.
It’s not just well-made, it’s guaranteed to last. The frame is covered for life, and the cushions and vinyl outer layer are covered for 2 years.
It has the widest range of adjustments. The Earthlite allows you to massage taller and shorter clients easily, with smooth, secure adjustment knobs. It also has the best headrest adjustments of the three. You can tilt it to precise angles and lock it down snugly.
It’s one of the lightest available, at 15 pounds. That’s especially impressive when you consider that this one feels the most plush and comfortable. The Earthlite one is a breeze to carry around, perfect for full-timers who work primarily on their chair. It fits in its carrying bag easily, and reviewers said this was easier to bring to events than other chairs they’d used in the past.
It’s expensive. The Earthlite will cost you almost $250, and that’s not exactly a casual purchase. We only recommend it to full-time massage therapists, particularly those who work primarily with their chair. It’s probably overkill for new masseuses, and it’s almost certainly cost-prohibitive for folks who don’t make most of their income from their massage work.
There are some quality control/shipping issues. Some previous buyers received chairs with broken or damaged parts from out of the box, either as a result of lax quality control or careless shipping. While Earthlite are quick to respond (especially lately), it’s still a big inconvenience for such an expensive purchase.
Some buyers didn’t think it was so rock solid for their larger clients. You won’t want to go over the 300 pound working weight limit, but the vast majority of buyers said it was very sturdy within its bounds.
Earthlite’s customer service hasn’t always had a great reputation. The company have gotten their act together in the past couple years, but some earlier buyers had poor experiences with Earthlite when their chairs had issues.
3. Stronglite ErgoPro II
The Stronglite ErgoPro II is the best portable massage chair on the market, hands down. It’s as rugged as the Earthlite Apex, but it’s much more adjustable. Actually, we think it’s safe to call this the most adjustable on the market. It’s the most rugged we’ve found, and it’s what the pros swear by!
You’ll pay an arm and a leg for one of these, but if you’re a full-time masseuse, it’s well-worth the investment!
It’s rugged but light, like the best portable massage chairs It’s only 26 pounds in all, despite the fact that it has so many adjustments and doubled tubing for strength. It’s not quite as airy as the Earthlite, but that’s also because it can handle twice the weight.
This thing is as rugged as you could ask for. It’s made from a T6 aluminum alloy, similar to the Vortex’s materials, but it uses a double-tube design for even more strength. The metals are slightly heavier, which adds to the chair’s weight, but the payoff is that it has a massive 600 pound capacity! You won’t have any trouble with larger clients.
The tubing is all covered in a powder-coated finish which lasts very well.
In addition to the massive weight capacity, the Stronglite II makes itself worth the price by being extremely adjustable. It seats anyone from 4′ 6″ to 6′ 6″, and you can accommodate all kinds of body shapes. The chest pad slides and tilts, and you can adjust the face cradle completely. The seat can be raised, lowered, or tilted, which allows you to easily reverse a client.
You can also remove the leg pads, if you need to get creative to accommodate a disabled or injured client!
There are lots of little design features throughout, which make this a true professional’s chair. It has built-in wheels, which are nicely aligned so that the legs won’t dig into a floor at any point. There’s an onboard pouch for you to store valuables while you work, too. All in all, it’s one of those pieces of equipment that you come to really rely on.
It folds up neatly for travel, and there’s a ballistic nylon carrying case included in the package. Unlike the vast majority of factory carrying cases, this one’s not going to need to be replaced! It’s pretty indestructible, and has a padded shoulder strap for comfort.
comes in lots of different colors
It’s covered by a lifetime warranty on the frame, 3 years on the cushions, and has an impeccable track record for durability.
It’s significantly heavier than the Earthlite, but that’s the downside to having something so rugged and versatile.
It’s even more expensive than the Earthlite. This is by far the priciest chair we recommend.
Which Portable Massage Chair Should You Choose?
The BestMassage is the most accessible choice for new massage practitioners. It’s the cheapest chair here by at least $25, and it’s got all the key features you need to get up and running. It has generous cushioning, a high working weight rating, and a better frame than other models. We highly recommend it to people who are starting out and need something cheap without putting clients at risk.
However, it’s simply not as sturdy or rugged as our other recommendations. It also feels somewhat cheap in the upholstery adjustments, and fittings. The biggest downside is that this one isn’t covered by any sort of warranty. It’s a perfectly good first chair, but it probably won’t be your last.
The Earthlite is an affordable, professional-grade chair in for the working massage therapist. It has a very sturdy frame, the most durable fabric outer layer, and really comfy cushioning. Despite all that, it’s the lightest of the three, and the easiest to pack.
The downside is the price, which is pretty steep. This one’s also not nearly as heavy-duty as the ErgoPro II. You won’t be able to deal with as heavy patients, and there aren’t quite so many adjustments. Still, without spending a premium, it’s a very respectable pro chair.
The Stronglite ErgoPro II is the best of the bunch, if you don’t want to worry about weight limits or not being able to fit absolutely everyone comfortably. It’s a premium-priced chair, but you can do just about anything with it. It’s guaranteed to last for life, and has an excellent track record.
The only downside is the high price, and you’ll need to consider the extra weight this one carries over the Earthlite.
While we think the Earthlite offers the working professional a sturdy station at a reasonable price, it’s not quite the best portable chair we’ve ever seen. That honor goes without hesitation to the Stronglite ErgoPro.
It hasn’t made our top three because it’s so darn expensive (more than $100 over the price of the Earthlite). Price aside, though, it’s the closest thing to ideal we’ve seen so far. With a sturdy aluminum frame that holds up to 600 pounds working weight, it’s sturdier than any other portable option. It also has the highest-quality cushions we’ve seen on a folding model. They’re all adjustable, so you can get a comfortable fit for any client.
Best of all, the whole thing weighs just 19 pounds. It’s the go-to of many longtime massage therapists, and while it’s cost-prohibitive for many buyers, it’s our Ultimate choice for full-timers who don’t need to worry about price.
How to Choose the Right Portable Massage Chair for You
Decide on your budget:
Portable massage chairs are generally available from about $50 to $500. Unlike a lot of other massage products, you don’t get many extra features at the higher end of the price range. On the other hand, each standard feature gets steadily better and more user-friendly the more you spend.
So, you should spend proportionally to how much you’ll use your chair, and how long you’ve been working in the profession. Remember that half the client’s experience is sitting in the chair, so make sure you’re not limiting the quality of your work by skimping on a good chair.
If you’re buying your first chair, or buying something to use while you’re in massage school, you can do pretty well with something under $100. Aim to spend around $75 for something with decent cushioning, basic adjustments, and a sturdy frame that can last you awhile.
We think working pros should spend at least $100. That’s where you’ll start to see models that can last for years, and provide a more comfortable experience for clients.
If you work primarily from a studio or other practice, and only use it occasionally, you probably don’t need to spend more than $200.
If you work primarily on the go, you should invest in a top-notch, premium model ($200+). You’ll really notice even the smallest ergonomic design flaws if you’re folding and unfolding it on a daily basis. You’ll also be putting a lot more wear and tear on the frame, so you shouldn’t accept any substandard build quality.
You’ll find that $200+ models are a pleasure to use, and eliminate a lot of the ergonomic frustrations and limitations of the less expensive options. They’re also easier to adapt to a range of different body shapes, which makes them more comfortable for everyone involved.
Look for a sturdy frame:
No matter how much you’re spending on your new portable massage chair, you shouldn’t skimp on the frame. You can always supplement or switch out the cushioning, but you can’t substitute for a good frame. Look for a rugged, all-metal frame with reinforced joints, sturdy bolts, and a high weight capacity. Nobody should be working with a portable model that has a weight capacity below 200 pounds.
Be sure to check that you’re looking specifically at “working weight” as a measure of capacity. Many manufacturers of shoddy chairs list “static weight” instead, which can be much higher.
You shouldn’t base anything on that rating, so look for working weight capacity instead. Working weight ratings tell you how much a chair can handle with some pressure from you, and with some lateral movement as the client shifts around.
Aim for 200 pounds as a minimum. Make sure you think about your clientele as you shop, too. If you have a larger client, be sure they’re not excluded or put at risk!
While you’re comparing frames, balance portability with capacity. The heavier model you buy, the more weight it can usually support. You should aim to buy the lightest model that can handle your required capacity.
Look for comfortable, resilient cushions:
The cushions on a portable massage chair are harder to compare than the frame. Comfort is subjective, while safety is easy to rate with cold, hard numbers.
In general, you’ll want to look for a cushion material that has a bit of give, but some firm structure as well. Look for foam materials rather than fiber stuffing, since foam stands up better over time. PU and memory foam are the most common materials. While we love memory foam, you’ll probably only want it for the outer layer, since it doesn’t have the sturdy resilience of PU structural foam. On the outside of the cushions, you should opt for a comfortable but cleanable material.
Vinyl, PU synthetics, and and imitation leather tend to be best. Avoid natural fabrics unless, you’ll be able to wash at least the headrest covering between clients. In any case, it’s best to go for something synthetic that’s easy to wipe down and sanitize.
Look for plenty of adjustments:
In addition to making sure it has the strength to handle your clients’ weight, you’ll want to be sure it can handle their general body shape. Look for plenty of adjustments to the knee rests height, headrest angle, and so forth. The more adjustments, the more comfortable each patient will be! Ideally, adjustment bolts will be easy to move around, but hard to loosen accidentally.
Make sure you’re covered for the long term:
Anytime you’re buying a trade tool like this, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got warranty coverage for the long term. Check the manufacturer’s warranty policy and be sure to read the whole thing, paying attention to any exceptions. If possible, purchase additional coverage at the checkout.
Add-on warranty coverage is a great way to get more out of your investment for a minimal extra cost. Plus, you can deal with a helpful third party for repairs or replacements, rather than having to deal with the manufacturer.