If you paint en plein air, a portable easel is essential. Finding a reliable one can be tricky, as a winning model should have enough weight to provide stability as you work but also be light enough to carry out to the field. A portable easel is also ideal for painters who want to bring their own to classes or transport it to and from their studio. Save some cash and purchase a bundled easel set that comes with its own carry case—or at least, a strap and a handle. After all, finding a bag to accommodate the awkward shape of a collapsed easel can be its own challenge. We’re here to help with our picks below.
1. Meeden Painting Easel with Carrying Case
This easel collapses with ease and sets up to form a very sturdy painting support. Made of beechwood, it’s finished with brass-plated screws and firm knobs for adjusting its angle, individual legs, and height, which can reach a maximum length of 75 ½ inches. It’s great for painting large, being capable of holding canvases up to 44 inches tall. You can even position the easel to use as a flat surface. Weighing just under nine pounds, this model is also convenient to carry. It comes with a durable zippered nylon case with pockets that can be carried with a handle or via a shoulder strap.
2. Mont Marte Signature Tabletop Easel
If you often paint on small- to mid-sized canvases, consider picking up a tabletop easel. This aluminum one, which comes assembled, has an attractive black finish and consists of a solidly constructed triangular frame that can hold canvases up to 20 inches tall. It also features two arms that swivel outwards to provide additional backing support to canvases. The entire structure weighs about 2.5 pounds and folds up to fit into the included cylindrical soft bag that measures less than two feet long. This fabric case is finished with a drawstring for quick access and closure and is very lightweight for comfortable travel.
3. Meeden Tripod Field Painting Easel with Carrying Case
Another beechwood easel, this adjustable model can extend to a height of nearly 72 inches, and it is designed to hold canvases 34 inches tall and less. It is lighter than our top pick, weighing under five pounds, due to its simpler structure, which lacks a horizontal bar to reinforce the two front legs. Despite this, this easel remains impressively stable whether fully extended or positioned so the work surface is at a 180˚ angle. Rubber-tipped feet provide additional traction. When you’re done painting, it folds smoothly to fit into the included canvas bag, which is heavy-duty and finished with a hand and a shoulder strap.
4. Creative Mark Paris Deluxe Artist Easel
If you prefer to not deal with an additional bag, consider this easel. It’s designed with integrated straps and a handle so you can fold it up and carry it, not unlike a briefcase. The straps are made out of durable, handsome leather, and the easel is made out of smooth beechwood. Being a French-style easel, it features a roomy sketchbox to hold your painting supplies. While convenient to carry, this model is quite heavy, weighing just over 16 pounds, which makes it a bit more challenging to have on your person for long distances. It also doesn’t provide that extra layer of protection that a bag does.
5. SoHo Urban Artist Travel Painting Field Easel
This aluminum easel might not have a traditional look, but it weighs just 3.5 pounds and collapses down to a length of just 25 inches. It’s incredibly easy to set up and adjust, and its legs extend to a maxim height of 66 inches to accommodate canvases up to 50 inches tall. Similar to a tripod, the sturdy legs can be adjusted individually if you’re on uneven ground, and modifying them is a breeze due to the flip-style plastic locks. The carry bag that comes with the easel is roomy so fitting it in is effortless, and it’s finished with one hardwearing shoulder strap.