Travel irons may not be a necessity -- after all, most hotels have an iron and ironing board in even the tiniest closet -- but they do have their place.
Our top pick in travel irons is not a travel iron at all, it's a portable clothes steamer, but there's a good reason for that. Travelers overwhelmingly say they don't need an iron when they travel, and they don't like having to hassle with hauling out the hotel's iron and ironing board. Rather, they need a method for steaming suitcase wrinkles out of their clothes that's as quick and easy as possible.
For those weary (but wrinkled) wanderers, we recommend the Jiffy Esteam Travel Steamer (Est. $60) . It gets raves from professional and consumer reviewers who say it performs well, heats quickly and produces a steady 15 minutes of steam -- plenty for a couple of suits.
The 2-pound Jiffy Esteam is easy to use: Simply fill it with water and plug it in. It does not have an on/off switch, which seems to be the only criticism it garners. Because it is lightweight and compact, the Esteam is easy to pack, but many reviewers say they bought it for use at home because it doesn't take up valuable storage space and does a great job on curtains and drapes. Longtime owners also attest to its sturdiness and durability.
Durability issues are the reason the Rowenta First Class Travel Compact Steam Iron ($40) is a runner-up in this category, even though it is a true travel iron. Professional reviewers say it packs the power of a full-sized iron in a compact and lightweight travel size, but far too many consumer reviewers report that it dies after a relatively short time. Complaints include problems with heating, steam, leaks and broken handles. Others say the 2.4-ounce water tank has to be filled too frequently during ironing jobs. Still, this Rowenta travel iron is very popular with hobbyists, particularly quilters, who praise its ability to heat up and steam well, as well as its crisp, professional results. It includes a travel/storage case.
If you're a serious quilter who wants to travel light but have the benefits of a full-size, professional-results iron, buy the Rowenta -- although you may have to buy it frequently. For the traveler who just needs to remove creases from clothes smooshed into a suitcase, the Jiffy Esteam will work just fine and will do so for years.