If you have sleep apnea and you travel frequently—for business or for fun—you know that bringing a CPAP machine can be a real inconvenience. In a standard carry-on bag with wheels, it’s not uncommon to find that your full-size CPAP kit takes up half the available space, leaving little room for packing clothes, shoes, and toiletries.
Carting around the full-size CPAP kit can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. However, it’s a mistake to forgo your sleep apnea therapy, even for one night. Studies show that skipping even just a single night of CPAP treatment can erase the gains you’ve made in daytime alertness.
In response to this reality, many manufacturers are now making a mini CPAP machine that is easy to take on the go—some are even small enough to hold in your palm. The only bad news about portable and mini CPAPs is this: After reading this article, your excuses for not using your CPAP on vacation may disappear.
The Best Portable CPAP Machine
What are the best styles and brands of portable and mini CPAP machines? Every individual with sleep apnea has different needs and preferences (and a different budget). However, based on sales data and feedback from customers, we know that the following mini CPAP machines are popular with users who are looking for something portable.
Read on for a brief overview of three small, convenient CPAP styles that are catching on with frequent flyers and travelers.
The Transcend Line of CPAP machines ($449 and up)
The Transcend line of MiniCPAP™ machines, manufactured by Somnetics, is a popular choice with people who travel often for work or live in or visit areas with irregular or unreliable power. The Transcend line can be used with an AC power source or a battery, and all are suitable either for travel or every night use.
Transcend CPAPs are prized for their quiet sound, long-lasting multi-night battery life, solar charging options, and smaller size. They automatically adjust to changes in altitude up to 8,000 feet, and all come equipped with four plug adapters for use in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Australia, and New Zealand. Somnetics has also manufactured a wide variety of compatible masks, tubing, and accessories.
- Transcend Auto miniCPAP™ Machine with EZEX ($499). This is the first Auto-Adjusting model in the Transcend line and one of the smallest Auto CPAP machines on the market today. Numerous reviewers give it high ratings for use when camping, including hiking and camping at altitude. All EXEZ models come with a pressure relief comfort feature that changes pressure on a breath by breath basis during use.
- Transcend EZEX miniCPAP™ Machine ($479). Weighing less than one pound, this travel-friendly CPAP is nearly identical to the Transcend Auto but is more suitable for users who don’t need auto-adjusting levels.
- Transcend© miniCPAP™ Machine ($449). One of the smallest and lightest CPAPs available, this popular model can be used for travel or every night use. The Transcend line has always been a popular choice for users who may lose power frequently; when plugged in, it will switch from AC to battery automatically, ensuring you get a good night’s sleep without interruption of your therapy.
ResMed AirMini™ ($849)
For those concerned with space, ResMed offers the ultra-tiny AirMini™ AutoSet™ Travel CPAP Machine. The AirMini™ is hardly bigger than a set of car keys. At a mere 0.66 pounds, it’s smaller than the comparable Transcend Auto miniCPAP™ while offering many of the same features. ResMed bills the AirMini™ as the smallest travel CPAP on the market.
- Pressure relief features, including Ramp and EPR
- BlueTooth connection to an app that allows you to read your data
- The ability to run the machine in either CPAP or APAP mode
ResMed also offers a HumidX™ waterless component into the tubing of two of their compatible masks, which means users can benefit from humidified air without needing to pack a humidifier.
Numerous users who’ve tried all the available portable options on the market praise the ResMed AirMini for its sleek size and quietness.
Z1 Travel CPAP Machines ($479-549)
At 6.5 inches long and just 10 ounces, Human Medical Design’s Z1 travel CPAP machines are popular choices for travelers. They come with Z-Breathe Pressure Relief, Auto Altitude Adjusting, and a Ramp Feature, much like the other portable models. Unique to the Z1 is the optional PowerShell with Extended Life Battery.
The Powershell holds the machine and its battery in a single, compact bundle. The Z1 can either run off the battery or switch over in the case of power failure.
Customers praise these machines for their portability, and users who don’t want to fuss with an app sometimes prefer the Z1 over the even smaller ResMed device because it comes with a display right on the machine.
Though quiet overall, a slight wheezing sound upon exhaling may take some getting used to, though many users report that it’s easy to ignore with earplugs, a manufacturer’s sound muffling device, or a white noise generator.
A number of portable CPAP machines exist today to help users keep treating their apnea while on vacation or when traveling. Some people even prefer the smaller sized machines for every night use, particularly when they have the option of automatically switching from AC power to battery in the case of power outages.
Portable CPAPs have many positives to recommend them: smaller size, lighter weight, quieter sound, solar charge abilities, multi-night batteries, and even Bluetooth-enabled apps to help track your data via your smartphone. Thanks to these advances there’s little reason not to order a travel CPAP.
David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.