The Best Portable Foam Roller
Ever tried to dive straight into exercise without unknotting your stiff and sore muscles? It’s not exactly comfortable nor efficient, especially when you’re already sore from the day before.
Warm-ups and exercise are like pants: you can’t have one without the other. Investing in a tool like a foam roller is a great way to address those exercise pains.
Not all foam rollers are built the same, though; some are lighter and more portable than others. Such portable models are excellent for those who are constantly on the move. If you’re one of those people, you ought to stick around, as we’re about to shed light on the best portable foam rollers on the market today.
The 5 Best Portable Foam Rollers in 2021
Before you slide your hamstrings over anything, you need to find the right foam roller for you. Check out our top five picks for the best portable foam rollers below!
1. AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller 36″
On the surface, this AmazonBasic foam roller looks like any other foam roller on the market: black, firm-density, and made of expanded polypropylene (EPP). However, this foam roller stands apart from the rest for two reasons: the affordable price and distinctive texture.
At under $30, this foam roller is budget-friendly, but most importantly, it’s quite dense, so you can expect less rubber and squish, and more hardness, but not too much.
The foam roller is firm enough to provide a rough and reliable grip, but soft enough that it won’t hurt your muscles. Further, it’s pretty long-lasting and incredibly sturdy.
On top of that, it comes in several sizes, which is ideal for travel. We’d suggest the 36-inch for maximum versatility and the 12-inch for maximum portability.
- High-density foam roller with molded edges
- Ideal for balance, strengthening, flexibility, and rehab exercises
- Made from molded polypropylene to maintain firmness
- Lightweight, easy to clean and transport
- Measures approximately 36 x 6 x 6 inches (L x W x H)
- Firm but not too hard
- Long-lasting build
- Reliable grip
- Budget-friendly price
- Might be too basic for some
- Might be painful for overweight users
2. Gaiam Restore Compact Foam Roller
This is one of the best portable foam rollers beginner-friendly, medium-density foam rollers out there. If you’re new to foam rolling, then this may be the one for you. It may not be the longest-lasting option out there, but it’s definitely durable enough to get you through the medium-density phase.
Thanks to its medium firmness, the Styrofoam Gaiam foam roller is perfect for working out those tight knots in your body.
Most importantly, it’s beginner-friendly, with an exterior that’s covered with a rubber sheet that features instructions for rolling. These instructions are joined by clear drawings to illustrate the correct postures and positions.
Best of all, it measures around 18 inches in length and 6 inches in diameter, making it compact and ideal for travel.
- 18-INCH FOAM ROLLER: Massage roller helps to loosen tight muscles, improve mobility and relieve stress
- SEMI-FIRM DENSITY: 18" long x 6 inch diameter foam roller with semi-firm density is great for rolling out knots and tight spots
- GUIDED WORKOUTS PRINTED ON FOAM ROLLER: Self-guided foam roller illustrates the nine most-common moves, providing clear, easy-to-follow visuals for maximum results
- FULL-BODY MASSAGE ROLLER: Ideal size for double arm and double leg work
- DIMENSIONS: 18" x 6-inch diameter
- Firm and smooth
- Compact and portable
- Has a strong chemical smell
3. Tiger Tail Original 18″
Looking for a thin and reliable foam roller? The Tiger Tail Original is right up your alley. This 18-inch handheld foam roller is ideal for traveling.
It might look suspiciously rigid, but have no fear; it’s perfectly smooth. Its small diameter will help you tackle more precise trigger points.
However, it’s important to remember that this is a handheld, small-diameter foam roller. This means you won’t be able to access some muscles with it.
Moreover, you won’t achieve as much pressure with it as you can with other models. You can use it as part of your SMR routine, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you want something more heavy-duty.
- TIGER TAIL USA IS THE FIRST & ORIGINAL HAND-HELD FOAM ROLLER - Tiger Tail USA pioneered making muscle recovery mainstream in the USA and around the world. It is now part of nearly every top-level training room across the country. Look for our “famous orange and black” rollers on the sidelines and training rooms of professional sports teams across the nation!
- MUSCLE FRIENDLY MASSAGE – helps relieve minor muscle knots, aches, and soreness. Condition muscles, reduce stiffness and aid sore muscles before or after workout or activity. Great for athletes and yard warriors alike.
- THE ORIGINAL 18” HANDHELD ROLLER – Our patented design features a firm, non-flexible design for superior deep tissue targeting and relief where you need it. Tiger Tail uses medical grade, latex-free material made in the USA
- EASY TO USE – Don’t get down on the floor! Use standing or sitting and reach 95% of muscles by yourself (100% with a partner!) Our Roller is lightweight, portable and travels easily in most gym bags so you can take it with you for use before or after workouts.
- RECOMMENDED by Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Athletic Trainers, and many more as a trigger point release tool and to help muscles warm-up, cool down, and recover quicker.
- Thin, handheld build
- Has a small diameter
- Lightweight design
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t provide much pressure
4. Brazyn Morph Foam Roller
The Brazyn Morph takes the title of the best mini foam roller on the market. The best thing about this roller is that it’s collapsible, which makes it perfect for traveling.
When folded down, this foam roller shrinks down to 1.9 inches thick. Combining this with its weight of only 1.5 lbs, it becomes the ideal option if you’re going to a race or a competition.
One thing you’ll be surprised with is how little effort it takes to expand this foam roller. All you have to do is to tug on two tabs and it’ll pop out on its own. And if you want to collapse it, you simply press on the ends and it folds up to a perfectly compact foam roller.
It has the perfect density as well: not too hard, but not too soft. Just what you need to work out any achy knots. If you like a generally soft yet firm feel, you should consider this foam roller.
- 【FITS IN YOUR EVERYDAY BAG SO YOU CAN ROLL MORE OFTEN】 Your body and mind are your greatest assets. Regular foam rolling has been proven to have huge benefits on both. With the world’s first truly portable roller, you can manage pain and speed your recovery no matter where you are. ROLL MORE, FEEL BETTER, and CONQUER THE DAY with your Morph!
- 【NOT MADE IN CHINA】We get it, $69 may seem like a lot to spend on a foam roller, but The Morph is not your typical roller. It takes a team of European craftsmen (and craftswomen) nearly an hour to assemble over 60 individual pieces into this one of a kind FOLD FLAT mobility tool (no drain pipes covered in foam here). The result is the most convenient and usable roller on the market… making it the most effective foam roller available.
- 【AS EASY AS PULL AND PUSH】 With a quick tug on the easy pull ropes, your Morph will expand into a full size, 5.5” diameter muscle roller. It’s 14.5” long so it will span across your entire back. When you’re finished, push firmly on the disks at the end of the roller and it will collapse back down. It’s now ready to be stashed back into your daily bag. Collapse. Stash. Go.
- 【PORTABLE, STURDY, AND KINDER TO THE ENVIRONMENT】The Morph weighs in at only 1.5 lbs and collapses down to less than 2 inches thick (slimmer than two folded shirts). But don’t let the slender form fool you, The Morph has been tested to support up to 350 lbs. Science! With a form factor that small, there's no reason to leave recovery and mobility training at home. MADE WITH BAMBOO AND RECYCLABLE ALUMINUM. One Roller Per Purchase. AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK.
- 【VERSATILE FOR ALL ATHLETES】 Loved by runners , Cross fit athletes , yoga and Pilates students , swimmers , physical or sports therapy patients. Great for the arch of the foot , and any part of the body but the spine or neck.
- Collapsible design
- Highly portable
- Lightweight build
- Can be uncomfortable for some
5. TriggerPoint CORE Multi-Density Solid Foam Roller
TriggerPoint is known for their reliability, effectiveness, and durability. This is mainly due to the way these foam rollers are designed: the exterior multi-density foam covers a hollow, firm core.
This core can withstand dedicated use for years. Plus, the hollow center makes for excellent storage space. You can easily put your gym clothes inside it.
Even marathon runners will tell you about the TriggerPoint CORE foam roller. More precisely, they’ll tell you about its unique exterior with its grid pattern that’s brilliantly able to mimic real massages and stimulate muscles.
The bumps also help apply concentrated pressure to your body, releasing muscle adhesions faster. However, if you’re prone to bruising, you’d want to avoid this foam roller, as it can be somewhat painful at first. Try to opt for a less intense option like the AmazonBasics roller, if that’s the case.
The best thing about this foam roller is how you can use it to roll out your entire body. You can start by unwinding your spine, and rolling out your legs at the same time. It can even help loosen up your iliotibial band (IT band), which is a common location of knee pain in main active people.
- Solid-core, EVA foam roller is more durable than standard polypropylene rollers that can break down and become soft
- Unique multi-density GRID pattern provides targeted compression ideal for self-massage, relieving pain and improving flexibility
- The Versatile 12-inch length is perfect for most muscle groups
- 12-inch Trigger Point CORE foam roller; moderate compression
- Includes access to free online instructional video library on foam rolling exercises from the experts at Trigger Point; approximately 12 x 4 inches; 325 pound weight limit; 1 year manufacturer's warranty
- Grid pattern activates muscle adhesions
- Compact construction
- Extremely durable
- Might be painful for some
How to Pick the Right Best Portable Foam Roller
Now that you’ve seen some good foam rollers, you may be eyeing two or three—or maybe even all of them. Here are some features that’ll help you filter out your buying options.
When looking at foam rollers, this should be the first thing on your mind. Do you want a soft roller, standard-density, or high-density roller?
Most novices prefer to opt for a soft or a standard-density roller. We wouldn’t recommend buying a hard foam roller right off the bat at all. First-time foam rolling can be a little painful sometimes, and you wouldn’t want to increase the pain factor by buying a roller that’s too rigid.
Remember: the rigid ones are mostly intended for experienced users. You have to get used to a roller digging into your muscles after a grueling workout session; only then you can upgrade to firmer rollers.
Texture, combined with firmness, pinpoints the level of intensity and discomfort your roller will give. If you opt for a smooth, flat foam roller, chances are you’re going to face low levels of discomfort.
However, if you opt for foam rollers with a spiky surface, then you’ll have to deal with serious discomfort, especially if you bruise easily.
Spiky rollers can get painful and they can even lead to injuries. Sure, they might be more efficient at targeting deep tissues, but it’s best to wait until you have more experience with foam rolling.
Whether you’re going to a gym or a race, you want to buy something that’s easy to carry around. Luckily for you, most of these foam rollers come in various sizes ranging from 12 to 36 inches.
While the 36-inch ones are better for versatility, the 12-inch ones are ideal for travel. Remember: you want to be able to fit your roller into your bag.
With small hollow foam rollers, you’ve got even more of an advantage. Not only can you carry anything inside a standard suitcase, but you can use the hollow center as storage. Just throw your running socks and gym shorts inside, and you’re good to go.
From the outside, all foam rollers might look suspiciously similar. On the inside, however, is a different story. Careful and precise engineering goes into the making of foam rollers. Let’s go over some of the most popular materials from which foam rollers are made.
EPP foam rollers are a common choice for beginners. They’re mainly preferred for their affordability and high quality. However, they don’t strictly cater to rookies; users of all levels and experiences prefer them for their effectiveness and durability.
They also last way longer than open-cell rollers. However, they’re not quite as durable as EVA foam rollers.
Open-cell foam rollers fall low on the durability scale. They’re appropriate for massage and exercise, but they’re not designed for heavy-duty use at all. This type of foam rollers breaks down much faster than its counterparts.
Their big selling point is that they’re inexpensive. So if you’re working with a limited budget and you want something for light use, then maybe you should consider open-cell rollers. Otherwise, we’d recommend looking into EPP and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam rollers.
When it comes to durability, rollers made from EVA foam have everyone else beat. This is why they’re often used in gyms or large yoga studios. These types of foam rollers are specially designed to withstand repeated use throughout the day.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re only suitable for clinics and pilate studios. They’re also appropriate for home use. In fact, they tend to last longer at home where they’re not subjected to heavy, repeated use like they are in gyms. If you’re looking for longevity, you should look for foam rollers made with EVA foam.
Conclusions on the Best Portable Foam Roller
Before you make your first foam roller purchase, you’ll have to do a bit of thinking. Think about firmness, texture, portability, and construction, and you’ll make the right choice.
If you want a basic high-density foam roller that’ll do the job, we recommend the AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller 36″. It’s firm, smooth, and sturdy.
However, if you want something more lightweight, then we’d suggest considering Tiger Tail Original 18″. This handheld roller is perfect for those looking for maximum portability.
We know you can find the best portable foam roller that will serve you well and last a long time. Good luck!
Other Buying Guides to Help You Pick the Best Foam Roller for You
Check out these very helpful buyers guides directed at helping you to decide which foam roller is best for you and your unique needs.
Last update on 2023-03-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API