For some drone pilots big is necessary and the bigger their bird is the better. It’s a reasonable consideration if the operator needs a heavy payload for filming equipment or to carry supplies. However, there are many reasons why smaller more luggable drones make better sense. The build, technology, and features of smaller crafts today often equal those of bigger models.

Large drones with bigger transmitters are bulkier as well as heavier. They are not realistic for people on the move unless you’re traveling as a film crew or work in search & rescue, as two examples. Most of us want to be able to take our drones—and particularly camera drones—to wherever we fancy with the minimum of fuss. Now you can. Some capable drones fold down to pocket size and don’t even need a remote controller. That’s pretty cool!

Budget
best-budget-portable-drones
Goolsky H37 Mini
4.6/5.0
Range: 40 m
Flight time: 7 minutes
First Person View (FPV) real-time transmission capability.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-portable-drones
Geniusidea Follow
4.7/5.0
Range: 100 m
Flight time: 20 minutes
RTF, face/gesture recognition, easy-to-fly, bonus batteries.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-portable-drones
DJI Mavic Pro
4.7/5.0
Range: 7 km
Flight time: 27 minutes
Smart video features, long transmission range.
Check Amazon

The Aerial Dronie (Selfies) & More

Some makers promote their travel drones as the ultimate aerial selfie or dronie tools. Taking selfie shots of you or others from the sky puts a whole new interesting twist on amateur photography. But many of these amazing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are much more than selfie shooters. They are also serious camera drones that you can easily lug from place to place and even country to country.

Carrying bigger crafts around soon loses its appeal. It’s why smaller drones are in such high demand. Now you can have professional aerial photography and videography potential with you at all times. The words portable, foldable, lightweight, collapsible, and luggable are the new buzzwords in smaller drone technology. Keep reading if you’re thinking about a new pocket-sized travel camera drone.

Before You Buy a Travel Drone

There are a few things to consider before you buy any foldable/collapsible/travel drone. This list gives you an idea of the most important factors. Feel free to add some of your own if they are not here.

  • How luggable is the drone for YOU and YOUR traveling style?
  • How much does the drone (and controller if it’s a separate item) weigh?
  • How user/beginner-friendly is the craft?
  • Battery life: also translated to maximum flight time
  • The cost of spare batteries (spare batteries always recommended)
  • Control range: the distance a drone can fry from its controller
  • Speed: faster speeds enable drones to travel to and from their destination quicker
  • Camera quality for stills and video
  • Image stabilization
  • Drone features (hardware) and available flight modes (software)

A Word About Flight Times

All the points in the list above are important. But one of the biggest gripes with all consumer drones is the restricted flight times. A lot of toy-like drones don’t even give five-minutes. Some of the mid-range camera drones can’t offer much more than 12-15 minutes per fully-charged battery. And even drones that have 30-minutes or more can be frustrating when the power runs out.

It’s always a good idea to invest in a couple of extra batteries with any drone, especially those with shorter flight times. Some manufacturers build their drones to accept cheaper third-party batteries. Others, like DJI for example, lock third-party batteries out of their products. The frustrating thing about this is that DJI batteries are expensive but they are amazing.

You can also buy drone bundles that include combo kits with extra batteries and/or other accessories. It’s just something to think about.

The table below shows my top seven portable travel drones in the order they appear in this guide. There is another table at the end of each review which highlights more specs along with pros and cons. The drones vary in price from less than $60 to just over $1000 so there’s something for all budgets. I’ve organized these reviews starting with the least expensive first

Portable Drones Comparison Table

Make and ModelSize of DroneDrone weightPrice
Goolsky H37 Mini Quadcopter10.4 x 6.8 x 3.8″57g (2 oz.)Check Price
Rabing RC Foldable Camera7 x 5 x 2.4″113g (4 oz.)Check Price
Holy Stone Compact HS160 Shadow2.6 x 5.5 x 1.2″83g (2.9 oz.)Check Price
Geniusidea FOLLOW Quadcopter6.3 x 2 x 6.3″272 g (9.6 oz.)Check Price
DJI Spark, Fly More Combo9.8 x 3 x 8.2″300g (10.6 oz.)Check Price>
DJI Mavic Pro11.4 x 7.1 x 9.4″735g (1.6 lbs.)Check Price
GoPro Karma Plus HERO6 Black5.9 x 17.3 x 11.8″545g (1.2 lbs.)Check Price

Not all these drones are foldable but they are all portable, lightweight, and super-easy to lug around.

Why this Guide

This updated guide lists seven of the most popular portable drones around right now. I’ve included three at the bargain end for entry-level users and tight budgets. The others are more sophisticated flying robots. You can carry all the models on this page as easily as a tablet. Whether you just want a drone to capture everyday events or have it there for exciting opportunistic shooting—you’ve got it.

I have selected these picks based on a number of factors. My own personal opinion plays a part but it’s not the only consideration. I have also taken the views of industry experts into account and the feedback from real users. Not all these drones will suit all people, but there is sure to be one or two on this page that will attract the attention of most readers.

1. Goolsky H37 BABY ELFIE Mini Drone

Goolsky H37 BABY ELFIE Mini DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

First up is the Goolsky H37 BABY ELFIE Mini Drone. This is an amazing deal for anyone on a budget who wants a foldable camera quadcopter for fun and travel. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product.

  • Best Feature 1: Foldable arms, easy to pack
  • Best Feature 2: First Person View (FPV) real-time transmission capability
  • Plus Points: Two bonus batteries (3 total), altitude hold, Gravity Induction & Headless modes
  • Minus Points: Short flight time, may take some getting used to

Meet the BABY ELFIE Mini Drone from Goolsky. It’s hard to believe just what you get for the money. Even though it’s still a toy-like drone don’t be put off by the label. This is the upgraded JJRC H37 model and it makes a perfect introduction to drone travel and adventure. It folds down to a small luggable size and provides pilots with a stable flight experience.

Flight Performance

The flight time for the BABY ELFIE is disappointing—though average—at just 6-7 minutes max. The good news is that it comes with three batteries. This effectively triples your flying fun per session to around 20 minutes. The 60-minute recharging time is pretty reasonable too. The flight range is about 40m. You wouldn’t want it to be any further with such short flight times per fully-charged battery.

The tiny controller is intuitive and fun to use. The drone’s powerful air-pressure altitude hold function lets you take your time and compose the perfect footage. You can also fly this puppy using a smartphone. The G-sensor mode makes the quad automatically follow the direction you move the smartphone. It even comes with a headless mode which is perfect for beginner pilots.

The BABY ELFIE Camera

A selfie drone with an inbuilt camera at this price range is not going to give you breathtaking results. That said, the photo and 720P video quality are perfectly viewable and shareable. There are few complaints on that front. You can also adjust the camera angle to set up the perfect shot. And having First Person View (FPV) lets you see what the camera sees before you take photos or record video.

The Conclusion

Compared to costlier foldable camera drones, like the DJI Mavic, the BABY ELFIE would lose on every point. But in its class this is the best, most feature-packed, fun flying robots around right now. It’s one of those rare occasions where I can honestly say you get more than you pay for.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 10.4 x 6.8 x 3.8″
Weight: 57g (2 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 7 minutes
Maximum flight range: 40m (131 ft.)
Battery: 3.7V 400mAh Lipo (x3)
Charging time: 60+ minutes (1+ hrs.)
Camera: 720P
Controller type: WiFi RC / 2.4G
The Pros
Foldable structure easy to carry
Amazon’s Choice product
Easy to fly at any level
Fast battery charging time
First Person View (FPV) capable
2 bonus batteries (3 total)
User-friendly flight modes
The Cons
Short battery life
Average flight range
Average camera

2. Rabing RC Foldable Camera Drone

Rabing RC Foldable Camera DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Rabing RC foldable camera drone is an excellent value travel quadcopter for less than 100 bucks.

  • Best Feature 1: Foldable design easy to unfold and fly
  • Best Feature 2: Intelligent flight modes
  • Plus Points: Sleek design, affordable, beginner/kid-friendly, FPV, popular seller
  • Minus Points: 2MP camera, short flight time

This is a good looking quadcopter that packs a lot in for its price tag. It’s also another of my foldable picks making it a great travel companion. The remote controller comes with an adjustable clamp for your smartphone which gives you more control. You even get to enjoy First Person View (FPV) flying experience. The camera provides perfectly decent video and stills for a quad in this class.

Flight Performance

One of the disappointments has to be with the flight time which is around 10 minutes. Unlike my previous pick, there are no bonus batteries included with this one. You may want to invest in some spare batteries at around 12 bucks a piece. The flight distance is something like 50m which is average for a drone at this price. The battery recharging time is a reasonable 60 minutes.

There are lots of impressive flight modes and features to exploit too:

  • Track flight
  • 360-degree rolling
  • Headless mode
  • Bright LED lights
  • One key auto-return
  • One key takeoff & landing
  • Altitude hold
  • FPV/VR/mode
  • Gravity sensing mode
  • Speed mode

The Rabing Camera

The most important thing to remember with capable camera drones under $100 is to have reasonable expectations. You won’t get breathtaking photos or amazing video but you will get more than acceptable quality for the price. The stills are 2MP and the video shoots in HD 720P.

The camera lens is 120° wide angle. There’s no mechanical gimbal to stabilize footage but there is the air pressure altitude hold function. This keeps the drone hovering steadily as you compose and shoot.

The Conclusion

The Rabing RC foldable travel drone is a great product of decent quality. It sports many features and functions found on much costlier crafts. It’s easy and fun to fly and makes the perfect beginner UAV. It’s a popular seller on sites like Amazon (at the time of writing) and enjoys plenty of glowing reviews.

If you’re looking for a foldable travel drone under 100 bucks this has to be on your shortlist.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 7 x 5 x 2.4″
Weight: 113g (4 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 8 minutes
Maximum flight range: 50m (164 ft.)
Battery: 3.7V 900mAh Li-po
Charging time: 60+ minutes (1+ hrs.)
Camera: 720P HD 2MP
Controller type: 2.4GHz RC
The Pros
Foldable structure
Easy to carry around
Exceptional value for money
Quiet quad compared to some
Intelligent flight modes
User-friendly craft
The Cons
Short flight time per battery
2MP camera

3. Holy Stone HS160 Foldable Shadow FPV Drone

Holy Stone HS160 Foldable Shadow FPV DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Holy Stone HS160 Shadow is a First Person View (FPV) capable RC drone. It’s foldable, easily fits into a large pocket, and controlled using an intuitive free app and smartphone.

  • Best Feature 1: Foldable, flexible blades reduced drone to palm size
  • Best Feature 2: #1 Amazon Best Seller (at the time of compiling this guide)
  • Plus Points: Bonus battery, app-controlled, 720p HD camera, user-friendly flight modes
  • Minus Points: No headless mode, short battery life, limited flight range

This is the last of my travel/adventure drones for less than 100 bucks (December 2017). You can control it by holding your smartphone or attach the mobile device to the remote controller (included). The RC fits nicely in the hands and even comes with a spare set of control sticks. There’s also two batteries and a bonus thrown in (3 in total) thus extending your flying time.

Flying the HS160 Shadow

The flight time is around 8-minutes at best. It’s the usual frustration with cheaper drones but the extra batteries take the sting out of that. The craft itself has a few useful beginner-friendly flight modes. You’ve got one-key Takeoff & Landing, Altitude Hold Function, Gravity Sensor Mode, four different Speed Modes, and bright LEDs for night flying. Overall it’s a stable and easy-to-fly camera drone.

Photos & Video with the 720P HD Camera

The Holy Stone Shadow comes with an inbuilt FPV 720P HD camera. The stills are surprisingly good for a drone in this class. You can also watch streaming video using the FPV function from the app on your smartphone device.

The Conclusion

This is another amazing flying camera for the money. It’s fun to operate and offers lots of features usually found on costlier camera drones. It’s not the highest quality but then it’s not the highest price. It’s definitely a great introduction to aerial travel photography and video.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 2.6 x 5.5 x 1.2″
Weight: 83g (2.9 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 8 minutes
Maximum flight range: 50 m (164 ft.)
Battery: 3.7V 500mAh Lipo
Charging time: 100 minutes (1:40 min)
Camera: 720p HD
Controller type: 2.4GHz RC
The Pros
Clean design, foldable structure, easy to carry around
Top seller on Amazon
Integrated HD camera
App-controlled
Smooth stable flyer
Failsafe flying modes
Bonus battery
Intuitive remote controller
The Cons
Short flight time
No headless mode
Low average flight range

4. Geniusidea 4K Foldable Follow Drone

Geniusidea 4K Foldable Follow DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The Geniusidea 4K Follow Me Drone takes us away from the cheaper selfie models. You may or may not have heard of this foldable beauty but there’s a lot to like so keep reading.

  • Best Feature 1: Easily portable and lightweight
  • Best Feature 2: Adjustable 4K, 13MP camera
  • Plus Points: RTF, face/gesture recognition, easy-to-fly, bonus batteries
  • Minus Points: No gimbal, short flight time for its class, slow speed

Flight & Aerial Footage

The Geniusidea is a 4K flying First Person View (FPV) camera drone with a 117-degree field of view (FOV) lens. It also sports 13MP stills. These things alone get it off to a great start but there’s much more. There’s face recognition and gesture control technology which is now in great demand. It’s an easy and fun craft to fly and its performance in the air is steady and consistent.

Here are some of the Geniusidea’s key features at a glance:

  • Fixed Point Surrounding
  • Visual Following
  • Palm Take-off
  • One-key Takeoff and Landing
  • Altitude Hold
  • Gesture Mode
  • Gravity-Sensor Mode
  • Low Voltage Protection
  • Flight Data Logging Support
  • LED Light
  • 360° Flips

One of the main gripes is the maximum 20-minute flight time. It would have been nice to see a longer battery life for a UAV in this price range. The good news is that the Geniusidea comes with a bonus battery. That’s just as well considering the long 180-minute charging time. Still, every consumer drone has its pros and cons (see below), and that’s why we need these reviews.

There’s a lot to explore but getting used to this amazing little adventure drone doesn’t take long. It’s fun to fly, easy to lug, and produces wonderful aerial video and stills to boot.

The Conclusion

If the Geniusidea 4K Follow Me Drone is within budget and checks enough of your boxes then put it on your shortlist of options. It’s getting some glowing reviews right now. It’s even giving the famous DJI Spark a run for its money—not something we see too often.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 6.3 x 2 x 6.3″
Weight: 272 g (9.6 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 20 minutes
Maximum flight range: 100m (328 ft.)
Battery: 7.4v 2500mah lithium-ion
Charging time: 180+ minutes (3+ hrs.)
Camera: 4K, 13MP
Controller type: Smartphone + app
The Pros
Foldable, lightweight and easily portable
Face recognition, gesture controls
Includes custom carrycase
User/beginner-friendly
Built-in 4K, 13MP camera w/ adjustable lens
Stabilizing sensors
Lots of great features and flight modes
The Cons
No mechanical gimbal stabilization
Exaggerated flight time
Can’t fly very fast

5. DJI Spark Palm Launch Travel Selfie Drone

DJI Spark Palm Launch Travel Selfie DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

The DJI Spark is no stranger to anyone who knows anything about flying camera drones. The Spark has been around for a while now and it’s still holding steady. Here’s why:

  • Best Feature 1: Small size, compact design, luggable
  • Best Feature 2: Can fly without a remote controller (RC)
  • Plus Points: Facial recognition, gesture control, intelligent flight modes, intuitive controls
  • Minus Points: No 4K version (as of December 2017), disappointing max flight time

The DJI Spark is a cute (for want of a better word) selfie/travel/adventure drone. It’s easy to fly and comes equipped with obstacle avoidance. You can even launch and land it in the palm of your hand. This beauty can fly within local proximity using only gesture controls (hand movements). That means you don’t even need a smartphone though you still have that option if you want it.

There’s nothing that irritates camera drone pilots more than short flight times. At just 12-15 minutes the DJI Spark has a disappointing battery life. DJI batteries are not cheap either and no third-party products can take their place. That’s the only real gripe with the Spark. Charging time is better than average at just 80-minutes. And the flight range of 500m is pretty good for a tiny craft.

Camera Capability

It doesn’t take long to become comfortable flying and recording footage with the DJI Spark. Its photo and aerial video is all the more impressive thanks to the wide-angle lens, 1/2.3” sensor, and mechanical 2-axis gimbal. Stable video is at 1080p and it shoots vivid, sharp photos at 12 megapixels.

The Conclusion

The DJI Spark didn’t use to have any competition but there are more choices around today. The good thing about the Spark is that it’s stood the test of time and you know you’ll get a quality travel/adventure drone for the money. Some of the other brands have yet to prove themselves.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 9.8 x 3 x 8.2″
Weight: 300g (10.6 oz.)
Maximum flight time: 12-15 minutes
Maximum flight range: 500m (1640 ft.)
Battery: LiPo 3S Spark 1480 mAh
Charging time: 80 minutes (1:20 min)
Camera: 12MP stills / 1080P
Controller type: RC not included
The Pros
Compact and lightweight travel/adventure craft
Excellent selfie drone
Hand gesture controls
Gimbal stabilized camera
Forward facing obstacle avoidance
Smart flight modes, easy for beginners
Return to base feature
Dual-band GPS
The Cons
No 4K video version (yet)
Short flight time (battery life)

6. DJI Mavic Pro Foldable Travel Drone

DJI Mavic Pro Foldable Travel DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The capable DJI Mavic is another quality foldable camera drone that exceeds expectations.

  • Best Feature 1: Foldable arms, easy to travel with
  • Best Feature 2: True 4K video, 12MP stills
  • Plus Points: Smart video features, long transmission range, decent flight time
  • Minus Points: Doesn’t have good ground clearance, potential flyaway issues

This is another quality DJI product that’s been around long enough to prove itself. It’s not the cheapest but then you do get a lot of bang for your buck. And it’s all put together neatly in a feature-packed product. The foldable arms make it really easy to travel with too. The Mavic doesn’t take much more space than a 1ltr water bottle. It’s a flying camera drone that’s stable, reliable, and safe.

The Mavic Camera

The Mavic’s camera shoots true 4K video. You have TapFly ActiveTrack and a few other features to help produce amazing aerial footage. DJI stabilizes the camera using a 3-axis mechanical gimbal. The precise positioning is thanks to vision positioning combined with GPS/GLONASS. And the OcuSync transmission system lets you fly the Mavic up to 7km away from the controller—but take heed.

There have been a few reports of the dreaded flyway in FPV mode when reaching outer range limits. You don’t want this to happen with any craft and especially one that costs close to 1000 bucks. My advice is to be careful and try not to push those outer limits. Flight time is an impressive 27 minutes and the battery charging time is equally impressive at around one-hour per charge.

The Conclusion

The Mavic Pro is an amazing travel drone that meets or exceeds people’s expectations despite a few gripes from some users. The 100s of user reviews and high star ratings speak for themselves.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 11.4 x 7.1 x 9.4″
Weight: 735g (1.6 lbs.)
Maximum flight time: 27 minutes
Maximum flight range: 4.3 mile (7 km)
Battery: 2970mAh
Charging time: 60+ minutes (1+ hr.)
Camera: Built-in 4K stabilized by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal
Controller type: Pocket-sized 2.4GHz RC
The Pros
Small light & foldable travel drone
Quality 4K camera w/ gimbal
FPV capable
Obstacle avoidance
Long battery life and quick battery charging
Long flight range
Smartphone controllable
Intuitive flight modes
The Cons
Shallow ground clearance
Flights affected in blustery weather conditions

7. GoPro Karma Foldable Adventure Drone

GoPro Karma Foldable Adventure DroneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4/5

We all know GoPro for their high-quality action cameras. They haven’t made quite the same splash with their Karma foldable adventure drone though. Yet it’s still a quality product so keep reading.

  • Best Feature 1: Foldable travel drone fits into custom case, easy to carry
  • Best Feature 2: Uses GoPro cameras which provide amazing aerial footage
  • Plus Points: Proven brand, user-friendly, quality gimbal, intuitive flight simulator
  • Minus Points: High price tag, doesn’t have obstacle avoidance

You can buy the GoPro Karma in various bundles like you can most other drones. This one comes with the HERO6 Black camera, an extra battery, and the Karma grip, which works with all GoPro mounts. Although it’s an easy drone for newbies to master it’s actually a serious traveling camera quad. It’s more for those passionate about capturing amazing aerial footage.

The flight time is not spectacular at 20 minutes but the extra battery in this kit takes some of the disappointment away. The 60-minute charging time is also pleasing as is the 3km flight range. The camera quality needs little introduction as GoPro has been the world leader in high-quality action cameras. The first model Karma got off to a shaky start but this updated bird has made up for it.

The Conclusion

The GoPro Karma is foldable and super-easy to lug around. It’s also a nice stable flyer that produces amazing aerial footage. The Karma grip adds another dimension to this craft. It works with the built-in shoulder mount (attached to the Karma case) to produce body-mounted ground-level footage.

amazon

Tech Specs
Drone dimensions: 5.9 x 17.3 x 11.8″
Weight: 545g (1.2 lbs.)
Maximum flight time: 20 minutes
Maximum flight range: 1.9 miles (3 km)
Battery: 5100mAh 14.8V
Charging time: 60+ minutes (1+ hr.)
Camera: Not included
Controller type: Karma Controller w/ touchscreen display
The Pros
Foldable and easy to transport
Uses compatible GoPro cameras
Amazing photo and video quality
Gimbal stabilized
Works with Karma grip (included)
Virtual tutorials for beginner pilots
Return to Home and Follow Me modes
Intuitive remote with LCD display
Automated flight features
The Cons
No obstacle avoidance
High price tag
Low average battery life
5/51 rating