The best portable fans in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (2024)

The best portable fans we tested

Best portable fan: Amacool Stroller Fan

Best pocket-sized portable fan: Jisulife Handheld Fan

Best misting portable fan: O2Cool Elite Handheld Water Misting Fan

Meteorologists predict an abnormally hot summer for most of the US this year, so we’ll need the help of a variety of cooling products like rechargeable portable fans to ward off the heat while on the go, in the car or out camping. Portable fans are cordless, handheld and small enough to slip into a bag or pocket, ready to be whipped out for fresh air whenever the heat index rises. Some are portable misting fans that give off mists of water, while others are hands-free portable neck fans that hang around the neck with a lanyard or strap. (If you want to keep cool at home, check out our review of the best cooling fans.)

Whatever its size, shape or weight, a portable personal fan can be your best friend throughout the summer. For this guide, we tested and reviewed eight highly rated portable fans across five weeks in temperatures ranging from 85 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit in Austin, Texas.

We used them for things like walking outside and sitting or standing stationary indoors. To narrow down our selection of the “best,” we noted their price, power, battery life and efficacy, as well as how easy they were to hold, use and transport. Durability was also a key factor and we judged how well they held up while being tossed in cars, strollers, backpacks, pocketbooks or purses. After this thorough testing, we settled on three top winners.

Best portable fan

During testing, this fan was powerful and easy to secure to a stroller, bike and other flat surfaces. Its tripod-style design with bendable legs and a pivoting head made it easy to angle into the right position for ultimate cooling.

Best pocket-sized portable fan

This fan has a handy blade protector that let us hold it close to our face during testing, without fear of any accident. Plus it displayed a flashing light when the battery was getting low.

Best portable misting fan

This fan really pumped out some mist during testing, cooling us down faster and better than any of the fans we tested. This was thanks to its 5 watts of power and strong pump-action misting spray.

Best portable fan: Amacool Stroller Fan

The best portable fans in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (4)

This was one of the more expensive fans we tested (except for the HandFan) but we loved how much power it had and how easy it was to secure it to a stroller, bike or flat surface. Its tripod-style design with bendable legs and a pivoting head makes it exceptionally easy to angle into the right position for ultimate cooling.

The head contains a light with three shades of brightness, which makes it a great option for summer camping trips, nighttime picnics or other outdoor activities after dark.

The battery lasted for just over four hours when the light wasn’t in use and recharged fully within two to three hours. This was quicker than the other rechargeable fan we liked, the Jisulife model below.

With 5 watts of power, it gives a solid flow of air that worked well to cool us down, even when the temperatures hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels robust and well-constructed, and the trio of blades are safely encased on all sides, so it’s safe to use around children and pets.

The only downsides for us were the lack of a misting feature and the fact it’s too big to stash into a pocket.

Best pocket-sized portable fan: Jisulife Handheld Fan

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This neat lightweight fan can fit comfortably into most pockets and still gives a reasonable amount of power (2.8W) for more than five hours on its strongest setting. It’s not as powerful as the O2Cool or Amacool, but it feels quite mighty for its size and the battery life is exceptionally good. And at just 175 grams, we barely noticed we were holding it.

This model has a handy blade protector that lets you hold it close to your face without fear of any accident. It’s also safe (and refreshing) to hold under clothing for short bursts to circulate air around the body.

Another feature we liked is how it displays a flashing light when the battery is getting low. This is unlike several other brands we tested, which just died without warning. It’s no fun to be caught in the heat without a reliable way of cooling off.

The fan itself is comfortable to hold and has a mini string that can be attached to clothing, bags or wrists when not in use. Its wide base means it stands up firmly on its own, so it can be placed on surfaces near your body when you’re tired of holding it. It also has three speeds total, but we found that only the highest setting gave real relief in anything over 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The downsides are the lack of misting, its lower wattage and the fact it takes up to five hours to charge fully. At $20, it is one of the more expensive fans we tested, but its modern, compact design and robust battery life make it worth the investment.

Best portable misting fan: O2Cool Elite Handheld Water Misting Fan

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This fan cooled us down faster and better than any of the other fans we tested, thanks to its 5W of power and strong pump-action misting spray. While other models we tested, like the HonHey and HandFan, provide mere wisps of water vapor, this one really pumps out some mist.

It holds a decent quantity of water, able to house roughly 6.8 fluid ounces. The HonHey and HandFan hold just under 1 fluid ounce each, so choosing this as one of our best was a no-brainer. During the oppressive heat domes that cause sweltering temperatures in Texas, we found the O2Cool’s extra water a major blessing.

The main drawback is that it takes two AA batteries and is not rechargeable. We got the fan to work for more than four hours, but it only operated at full capacity for around 2.5 hours. After that, it gradually slowed down until we could barely feel the wind. The good news is that the pump action spray works after the power dies, so you can still find relief via the water.

Another drawback is the size and weight. Apart from the Amacool, this is the largest and heaviest fan we tested. It weighs 204 g without water and roughly double that when the tank is full. It’s too large for most pockets and has no lanyard or clothing clips for convenient transportation.

It’s worth noting that the blades of this fan are not encased with plastic at the front, so you need to be careful that hair, fingers, etc. don’t get in the way. It did feel safer than the HonHey, which has two completely exposed rubber blades. Still, we recommend being careful when using this one. It also only has a single speed setting, but this wasn’t a problem for us even in the extreme temps we tested it in.

Suzanne Kattau/CNN Underscored Related article The best cooling fans of 2024, tested by editors

How we tested

The best portable fans in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (8)

We researched a large selection of highly rated portable fans and chose a testing pool of eight brands to assess during five unseasonably scorching early summer weeks in Austin, Texas. We evaluated each fan by using the following criteria.

  • Cooling ability: We monitored the portable fans’ power capacity and how effectively they cooled us down in full sun and shade. With the misting options, we examined how much water they held and how strong and refreshing the spritzes felt.
  • Ease of use and portability: We checked the fans’ size, controls, weight, stand-alone capabilities, attachments for hanging and clips for fixing onto clothing or bags (or lack thereof).
  • Aesthetics: We examined the design and color options available for each brand.
  • Noise: Most of the fans we tested sat between about 20 and 40 decibels (dB); that’s louder than normal breathing and whispering but quieter than the hum of a refrigerator.
  • Battery life: Apart from the O2Cool, which takes two AA batteries, each fan we tested is battery-operated and rechargeable with a standard USB-C to USB-A cable. We ran each portable fan on its highest setting and timed how long it took for the batteries to die.
  • Price: The fans we tested cost between $9 and $40. We explored how much breeze we got for our buck regarding wattage and battery life.
  • Return policy: Every portable fan we tested is covered under Amazon’s 30-day return policy.
Isla Harvey/CNN Underscored Related article The best neck fans in 2024, tried and tested

How to choose a portable fan

The best portable fans in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (10)

Wattage (W) is the main factor when choosing a portable or personal fan. Anything under 2W won’t be powerful enough and will feel unsatisfying in temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a climate that regularly gets over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, opt for at least 4W or more and try to test the fan first. You could even buy one that’s returnable because some brands we tested that claimed to be over 4W still didn’t bring much relief (namely the Binwo and Gaiatop).

Choose a portable fan with covered blades if you have long hair or like to wear dangling jewelry or loose clothing. We accidentally got our fingers in the way of the HonHey’s blades a couple of times and while it didn’t cause any injury (they’re made of soft plastic), it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. If you spend time with children, then it’s highly important to choose a fan with completely encased blades.

Battery life, charging time and misting options are other important factors to consider. If you like misting fans (and don’t care about the hair frizz they cause), then be sure to choose one that holds a sufficient quantity of water, or carry a separate water bottle to refill it during the day.

If you don’t usually carry a bag, then opt for a pocket-sized portable fan rather than one of the larger options.

Other portable fans we tested

This little lollipop fan looks cute but wasn’t powerful enough to make the cut for us. It’s advertised as 6 watts (W) on Amazon but the box says it's 3W and it doesn’t feel like anything close to 6W. We liked the long lanyard for transportation and the option of 12 ice cream color shades, but the battery quit after 2.5 hours and it only has two speed settings. The lowest setting was useless in the temperatures we tested in. Its small base means it doesn’t stand up well, so it’s not a good option for placing on nearby surfaces, unlike the Amacool, Jisulife and Gaiatop.

This was the most expensive fan we tested, but the light misting it gave was hardly noticeable in the conditions we tested it in. We enjoyed the 4W of power and how the fan can fold at the waist to transport or help angle it into the desired position. But the battery died after just over two hours and we found the control button quite fiddly to adjust. It needs to be held for 1.5 seconds while in use to turn the mist on or off and it’s easy to get it wrong. It also doesn’t hold much water (less than 1 fluid ounce) and the detachable metal stand is flimsy and falls off easily.

We love how this fan looks, with its sleek matte finish and folding design, but the exposed blades and lack of power prevented it from making our winners list. Most sensible people don’t feel comfortable with rapidly rotating blades held near their faces, even if they are made of a soft-ish material, and this fan did make us feel a little unsafe. Our fingers accidentally collided with the blades several times during testing, which wasn’t painful, but it could easily break a nail, and you wouldn't want one of those blades going near your eyes. Amazon says it’s 2W but the box says it's 3W. Either way, it wasn’t enough to cool us down effectively and the water mist was so puny it was pointless. We also found navigating the fan’s three speeds and two misting options to be a bit tricky with one button.

The box states that this fan is 6W (the Amazon description says 5W) but it felt more like 2W or 3W when put to the test on its highest setting. When it was hung around the neck, hardly any cool air reached our face. It often swung around annoyingly when we were on the move, too. Its fans are protected by a plastic grid, though, making it able to be placed easily on its side or held close to your face without worry. The battery held out for less than two hours, which was a major failure.

We love the design of this dinky, quiet and lightweight pocket fan and the range of colors, but the lack of power is a letdown. The box says it’s 4W (Amazon says 5W), but it didn’t feel that powerful because the blades are so small and the battery only lasted roughly two hours. It comes with a little stand, which is helpful, but it's small and would be easy to lose while traveling. The mini lanyard is useful for attaching to a belt or bag and it's the least expensive fan we tested. It’s just not nearly effective enough to make our cut.

The best portable fans in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (2024)
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