TL;DR – These are the Best Travel Keyboards:
1. Logitech K780
Best Travel Keyboard
Logitech has been making keyboards for a long time, and it shows in the K780, which is elegantly designed and works with virtually any device. Thanks to an angled slot, any phone or tablet – even an enormous one, like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro – can sit upright. It comes with a Logitech Unifying USB Receiver for devices without Bluetooth, and can connect to up to three Bluetooth devices. Thanks to the fairly wide design, the keys are spaced like a full-size keyboard, and it has a subtle wedge shape for typing comfort.
You might also know the somewhat less expensive Logitech K380. It’s a very similar model, but the K780 wins out thanks to a sturdier and smarter design. The K380 doesn’t include the slot that holds mobile devices in place, for example, and that’s what makes this the best overall multi-device keyboard.
2. Omoton Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard
Best Budget Travel Keyboard
If your priority for a travel keyboard is low cost, it’s hard to beat the Omoton Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard, which lists for as little as $16 and is routinely available for much less – it sometimes dips as low as about $11, in fact. At this price point, you shouldn’t expect a lot of features, but even so, it’s got everything you need from a Bluetooth keyboard. It’s compatible with most devices via Bluetooth, has a 30-day battery life, and is very compact and lightweight.
And that’s about all you can say about it – after all, it’s a $16 keyboard. It pairs with only one device at a time and you might find it’s incompatible with some devices (like the MacBook Pro). But otherwise, it is a compact and tactile keyboard you can pack and take anywhere.
3. iClever BK03 Bluetooth Keyboard
Best Foldable Travel Keyboard
While iClever sells a number of different keyboard designs, the company’s bread and butter is the tri-fold, which iClever has honed to near-perfection in this simple and inexpensive model. Yes, you can pay more for other models – iClever has an LED backlit mode for about $10 more, for example – but for most people, this keyboard should hit the spot.
The case is made of an attractive aircraft-grade brushed aluminum, and it folds down to just 5.75 x 3.5 x 0.7 inches – about the size of an iPhone 6s. The mechanical hinges give it a sturdy feel, and the keyboard turns on automatically when unfolded – then sleeps again when closed. You will, of course, need to get used to typing on a keyboard only 10 inches across.
4. Nulaxy Rechargeable Bluetooth Keyboard
Best Travel Keyboard for Tablets
Yes, this keyboard looks weird, with a cover that folds up like origami – but that’s this model’s secret weapon. The keyboard comes with a protective cover that, when opened, folds into a shape that serves as a stand for a phone or tablet of virtually any size. It’s kind of genius, and makes this keyboard seem worth a lot more than its modest retail price. It even has a loop to hold a stylus, if your tablet can use one.
Otherwise, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a portable keyboard. It includes an integrated rechargeable battery and gives you a full-sized keyboard in a small form factor, albeit with narrow key spacing that might lead to typos.
5. DIERYA DK63 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Best Mechanical Travel Keyboard
If you know the joy of typing (or gaming) with a mechanical keyboard, it’s hard to go back to a membrane keyboard, even for brief jaunts away from home. The DIERYA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is for people who want to compromise. Not only is it mechanical (loaded with Cherry MX Brown switches – better for typists than gamers), but it’s an LED keyboard as well (though it only has seven colors and eight lighting effects, so don’t expect a full light show). As a 60% keyboard it measures only 12 inches across.
Unlike most travel keyboards, you can use DIERYA wirelessly or wired, and it’ll charge when you’re using it wired. Best of all, though, it has an especially long battery life – it’s good for about 100 hours of use on a charge.
6. Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch TV Keyboard
Best Touchpad Keyboard
This isn’t just a portable keyboard –it’s just as comfortable on the sofa as it is on the road. That’s because the K400 Plus has an integrated touchpad and media controls, which makes it great for controlling your media PC. The touchpad is 3-by-2 inches and is a solid substitute for a mouse when the keyboard is resting in your lap.
Like many Logitech keyboards, this model uses a unified USB controller. Lacking Bluetooth, you can’t control iOS or Android phones. But it does work with other Windows, Mac, Android, and Chrome devices—plus the Xbox One and PS4 too.
7. Microsoft Surface Keyboard
Best Full-Size Travel Keyboard
As the name suggests, the Microsoft Surface Keyboard is intended to let you turn a Surface tablet into a full PC through the addition of a portable keyboard. On that front, it’s likely everything you could ask for; it is a full-size keyboard that offers a desktop-like feel, yet runs on a single set of AAA batteries for about a year.
You can use this keyboard with Windows, Mac, and Android tablets, and even the Windows 10 phone, if you happen to have stolen one of those from a museum.
8. Seenda Ultra Thin Low Profile Rechargeable Keyboard and Mouse
Best Portable Mouse and Keyboard Combo
Yes, you can buy a mouse and keyboard separately. There are plenty of stylish, compact, and slimline mice out there (the Microsoft Surface Arc mouse is particularly cool, for example) but if you want to get a mouse-and-keyboard bundle all at once, Seenda has a great combo. Both mouse and keyboard run for as long as three months at a time before needing a recharge, and both are slim and sleek, easy to pack in a travel bag.
Both devices also work using a single unified wireless USB adapter, conserving USB precious ports – but on the downside, that means this is not a universal keyboard. Your smartphones and tablets won’t be able to connect.
What to Look for in a Travel Keyboard
Keyboards are very personal devices; you want a keyboard that’s comfortable and ergonomic to minimize injuries like repetitive stress and are laid out in a way that keeps your typing errors to a minimum. Travel keyboards can be especially challenging, because a lot of the ergonomics important on the desktop – like angled keyboards, sculpted keys, and generous intra-key spacing – often goes out the window in an effort to make them as portable as possible. It’s always a good idea to try out a keyboard before you commit to it, if that’s possible.
All travel keyboards are wireless, but not all wireless is the same. Some keyboards rely on 2.4GHz USB adapters, which means that phones and tablets won’t work with those models. But for more universal Bluetooth models, you may want to look for models that can pair with up to three devices. That lets you quickly switch among your PC, phone, and tablet.
Then there’s the battery. You’ll find an enormous range of battery performance among keyboards. More convenient models will turn on and off automatically; if you need to remember to slide a power switch manually, you’ll inevitably forget and drain the battery between trips.
I could write an entire article about the keys themselves, but I’ll keep this brief: most keyboards use some variety of membrane keys, but even so, the feel and travel of the keys can make a big difference. A few travel keyboards are mechanical, and these are great for gamers and touch typists. But they’re noisy and make the keyboard both bigger and heavier.
Finally, the single most obvious differentiator: form factor. Some keyboards fold in half or into thirds. Others come with integrated covers for protection, or are built into a folio cover to protect your tablet screen. There are compact 60%keyboards and some that are close to full size. Choose the one that suits how you travel, what kind of travel bag you use, and how you plan to use your keyboard. If you need a larger keyboard with media controls or programmable function keys, you probably won’t want a tiny fold-up keyboard.
Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh