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SaunaBox Review: Why You Should Consider This Portable Steam Sauna

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Last Updated: Apr 04, 2024

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I’m a huge fan of heat therapy and sauna bathing due to their numerous health benefits, and thanks to this blog, I’ve had the opportunity to test and review various sauna types. In fact, we still own and regularly use multiple saunas, including a traditional barrel sauna and a full-spectrum infrared sauna with red light.

The SaunaBox is a portable steam sauna and a relatively new addition to the Kummer home spa. I’ve been using it over the past few weeks to help improve my muscle recovery after intense workouts and to improve my sleep. 

In this article, I’ll explain why the SaunaBox is a convenient and effective way to make heat therapy a regular part of your wellness routine without breaking the bank, as well as how this one-person steam room compares to traditional saunas, including the ones I own.

Here are some key takeaways from my testing and experience:

  • While SaunaBox doesn’t get as hot as a traditional or a full-spectrum infrared sauna, the nearly 100% humidity stresses your cardiovascular system enough to elicit the same health benefits you’d expect from a conventional sauna.
  • The materials are BPA-free and microplastic-free, and are compliant with ROHS and REACH standards. However, the fabric off-gasses, so I recommend letting it air out for several days before your first session.
  • Priced at $449, it’s among the least expensive ways to make sauna bathing a regular part of your wellness routine.
  • It’s easy to set up, clean and disassemble.

SaunaBox Review

I love using SaunaBox to recover quicker after intense workouts.
I love using SaunaBox to recover quicker after intense workouts.

Temperature and Humidity

Unlike traditional saunas, SaunaBox does not have a heater to heat the air inside. Instead, it uses an external steam unit that pumps hot steam via a silicone hose into the enclosed cabin. When using the highest setting (you can select from seven temperature settings), the hot steam heats the interior to 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In other words, the temperature inside SaunaBox is significantly lower than in my full-spectrum infrared and barrel saunas, which heat up to 159 and 230 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. 

However, the nearly 100% humidity inside SaunaBox can make you feel as uncomfortable as you would in a hotter but less humid environment. 

To demonstrate this, I used a Frontier X2 (a high-end heart rate monitor) to measure my cardiovascular response to 30 minutes inside the SaunaBox at its highest setting. 

As you can see in the table below, I experienced a response that was comparable to traditional, wet and infrared saunas.

HR (Max)HRV (Avg)Respiratory Rate (Max)Max Temp.TimeTraining Load
Infrared132 bpm10 ms35 breaths/min160 F30 mins32
Dry sauna128 bpm12 ms31 breaths/min230 F30 min42
Wet sauna135 bpm9 ms33 breaths/min220 F23 mins40
SaunaBox127 bpm11 ms35 breaths/min120 F30 mins36
SaunaBox elicited a similar response from my cardiovascular system, and my perceived exertion was comparable to that of the infrared and dry saunas.

The extremely high heat in the wet sauna (albeit at lower humidity levels than what I had in SaunaBox) was much more challenging, and I had to get out at the 23-minute mark. Had I stayed inside the wet sauna for seven more minutes, my biomarkers would have looked even “worse.”

The bottom line is that SaunaBox gets hot enough to cause enough heat stress to trigger all the health benefits you expect from a sauna session, including vasodilation, boosted immunity, fat burn, improved skin health and respiratory support.

One idea that popped into my head during my recent steam room sessions was to mount a battery-powered fan under SaunaBox’s ceiling to distribute the heat inside the cabin more evenly (considering that hot air rises and accumulates under the ceiling). 

Of course, you could also use the provided towel to achieve the same effect. Another idea was to replace the folding chair with a taller bar stool, allowing me to have more of my head and upper body exposed to the hotter air near the top of the chamber. That could also help create more legroom and enable me to extend my legs (see below).

Space and Comfort

SaunaBox was designed as a personal sauna with just enough space to comfortably seat one adult. I’m six feet tall and have no issues finding enough space inside SaunaBox, but when positioning the included folding chair to face the door, I barely have enough legroom to find a comfortable position for a 30-minute session. That’s why I repositioned the chair diagonally, which gives me a few more inches of legroom and makes extended sauna sessions much more comfortable.

If you’re taller than me or have bad knees that start aching if you can’t extend your legs, the limited space inside SaunaBox could be a problem (unless you swap out the chair for a taller bar stool, as mentioned above). Everyone else should have no trouble finding a comfortable spot inside the tent.

Setup (What’s In the Box)

After unboxing everything, it took me less than 15 minutes to set up SaunaBox.
After unboxing everything, it took me less than 15 minutes to set up SaunaBox.

SaunaBox arrives with the following: 

  • Portable steam unit.
  • Heat-insulated ThermoShield frame cover. 
  • Fiberglass poles with plastic connectors to build the frame.
  • Portable chair.
  • Washable floor mat.
  • Microfiber towel to wipe the bottom after each use.
  • Carrying case.

Thanks to the individually labeled fiberglass poles and plastic connectors, setting up SaunaBox took less than 15 minutes. I assembled it inside (thinking I’d leave it in our family room) but then moved it to our covered patio because we didn’t want to deal with the excess humidity. 

The assembled SaunaBox is a bit bulky but lightweight, which made it easy for me and my wife to move it outside.

I haven’t needed to disassemble SaunaBox yet, but I suspect that doing so would be even quicker than putting it together. In fact, SaunaBox was designed with sports teams in mind who want to bring the entire unit with them to competitions or training camps to allow athletes to recover quicker. The included carrying case makes that easy.

One thing I should mention is that you can use SaunaBox inside or outside. But if you plan on using the sauna inside, I recommend placing it on a floor that can handle humidity, because there is a chance of condensation underneath the sauna fabric. 

We have hardwood floors, which is one of the reasons we decided against using SaunaBox inside the house. The other reason is excess humidity. So make sure the area in which you plan to use SaunaBox is well-ventilated to avoid the possibility of mold or mildew caused by the humid air escaping the sauna tent at the end of a session.

If you plan on using SaunaBox outside, I recommend a covered area that doesn’t directly expose the fabric and steam unit to the elements. Rain, snow and UV light can cause damage to the fabric, potentially reducing its lifespan. The steam unit is also not 100% waterproof and should be connected to an outdoor-rated GFCI outlet (when used outside).

We ended up positioning SaunaBox on our covered patio to avoid direct sun and rain exposure. The only downside of doing so is that heavy winds can tip it over, especially when the sauna door is unzipped and airing out after a session. 

We’ve had that happen several times, so I need to find a way to tie the unit down with rope or place a sandbag inside.

Materials (Durability and Toxicity)

The materials used inside of SaunaBox are non-toxic and prevent mold growth.
The materials used inside of SaunaBox are non-toxic and prevent mold growth.

SaunaBox is made from durable, non-toxic materials, but there is room for improvement. 

I haven’t experienced any issues so far. However, I could envision the plastic components that connect the fiberglass poles (to make up the frame) cracking if you take down and reassemble the SaunaBox frequently (e.g., if you’re part of a sports team and travel a lot).

Considering how snug the cover fits around the fiberglass frame, I could also see issues with the zipper. I shared my concerns with SaunaBox, and they confirmed that they’re working on implementing more durable tees (plastic connectors) and YKK-branded zippers. Meanwhile, SaunaBox reassured me that they’re very generous with their warranty policy and will always replace parts that aren’t operating perfectly.

SaunaBox has tested its materials using third-party labs to ensure the sauna is safe and free of BPA and microplastics. SaunaBox is also ROHS and REACH compliant, two certifications that ensure the product is free of hazardous substances and harmful chemicals. You can verify the individual lab reports and certifications on saunabox.com.

The company also claims that SaunaBox doesn’t emit a chemical smell, but I noticed some off-gassing during the first few sessions. I’m also concerned about volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but unfortunately, none of the lab tests and certifications the company offers have tested specifically for VOCs. 

I recommend letting SaunaBox air out for several days and even running it through a few steam sessions before you use it. I did that, and it eliminated the “plastic smell.”

Pricing

The portable Therasage 360 infrared sauna I own costs over $1,000, and even the arguably less effective sauna blanket we own retails for $500.

In comparison, SaunaBox retails for $449, and is sometimes on sale. That’s an incredible price considering the benefits of using this portable steam sauna, including relaxation and stress relief, improved circulation and respiratory health, detoxification, improved sleep, skin rejuvenation, and more.

Shop SaunaBox

Using code MICHAELKUMMER to get an additional 10% off makes SaunaBox even more affordable.

It’s also worth noting that SaunaBox offers what the company calls an “Ultimate Recovery Bundle,” consisting of the SaunaBox and a cold plunge (PlungeBox). This bundle allows you to combine heat and cold therapy (aka contrast therapy). You can also purchase PlungeBox separately for $249 (on sale for $149 as of this writing).

In case you’re wondering, SaunaBox is currently not available on Amazon.

Maintenance

The floor mat locks in sweat and moisture and is machine washable.
The floor mat locks in sweat and moisture and is machine washable.

Keeping SaunaBox clean is relatively straightforward. After each session, remove the chair and floor mat and let them dry. Then, wipe down any excess water on the floor and let everything air dry. 

Note that the floor mat is machine-washable, but the frame cover is not. However, the inside of the cover is made from a material that inhibits mold growth. Combined with the relatively high heat during sauna sessions, I don’t foresee anything harmful growing inside SaunaBox.

How I’ve Been Using SaunaBox

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using SaunaBox to get in a great sweat after working out and, in the evening, to improve my sleep. I enjoy the extremely high humidity inside SaunaBox because it helps hydrate both my skin and my airways, the second of which can dry out after intense CrossFit workouts requiring rapid mouth breathing. If you’re into CrossFit you might be familiar with the term “Fran cough,” named after one of CrossFit’s benchmark workouts that gives you a dry cough that can last for hours.

Aside from that, one of the things I have particularly come to enjoy when using SaunaBox is the lack of distractions. There is no tablet to watch a show on Netflix (as there is in our Sunlighten mPulse infrared sauna) and no heater with sauna stones that require me to pour water over them every couple of minutes. It’s just me and my thoughts. 

In other words, it provides an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness or meditation, both of which can help you endure the relatively high heat and humidity for a longer period of time.

At the highest temperature, 15 to 20 minutes inside SaunaBox is usually enough for me, but I stay inside for up to 30 minutes when I want to push myself. 

Miscellaneous

The steam unit looks like a rice cooker but is easy to use.
The steam unit looks like a rice cooker but is easy to use.

The steam unit is easy to operate and has only four buttons to change the session time and temperature settings. The longest session time you can set is 60 minutes (in five minute increments), and the temperature settings range from one (lowest) to seven (highest). 

You also get a battery-powered remote control to set the session time and temperature without using the buttons on the main unit. That’s convenient if you want to change either setting from inside SaunaBox (e.g., to lower the temperature and extend your session time).

Both the silicone hose and the small puck-shaped steam outlet on the inside get incredibly hot, so be careful not to touch them by accident (with your foot). 

Summary and Final Verdict

Frequent heat exposure in the form of sauna bathing has numerous health benefits and few potential side effects when done correctly.

Unfortunately, many high-quality saunas are expensive, and many of the personal steam saunas on the market don’t get hot enough to offer any meaningful health benefits. 

So I’m glad I stumbled across SaunaBox. The quality of its craftsmanship, combined with its ease of use and affordable pricing, make it an attractive alternative to conventional saunas. 

Have you used a personal steam sauna before, or are planning on purchasing one? Let me know in the comments below!

Medical Disclaimer

The information shared on this blog is for educational purposes only, is not a substitute for the advice of medical doctors or registered dieticians (which we are not) and should not be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any condition. Consult with a physician before starting a fitness regimen, adding supplements to your diet, or making other changes that may affect your medications, treatment plan or overall health. MichaelKummer.com and its owner MK Media Group, LLC are not liable for how you use and implement the information shared here, which is based on the opinions of the authors formed after engaging in personal use and research. We recommend products, services, or programs and are sometimes compensated for doing so as affiliates. Please read our Terms and Conditions for further information, including our privacy policy.

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