The 6 Best eReaders for Travel

Breaking the spine, turning the pages, feeling the cover - there’s nothing better than a hardback for self-confessed bookworms (myself included).

I try to read one book per week. As a copywriter, It helps sharpen my tools and lubricate the brain - it makes putting words on the screen (the ones you’re reading right now) that little bit easier.

But carrying enough books for the year (52, by my estimates) is an impossible task for a digital nomad. Unfortunately, my library of dreams will have to wait. Backpack space comes at a premium. That’s where an eReader comes in.

With a battery life of more than 6 weeks, capacity for thousands of books, and audiobook compatibility, eReaders are the modern way to read. It may never beat the charm of a well-loved book, but it’s the perfect practical solution to my minimalist life on the road.

But what are the best eReaders for travel as a digital nomad? Does Amazon still dominate the industry? What about reading at the beach - are they waterproof? Find out all the answers in our guide to the best eReader for travel.

Our Top 6 eReader Picks for Travelers

Top pick

1. Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Best Overall Travel eReader

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Features
  • Screen Size & Resolution: 6.8-inch, 300 PPI
  • Dimensions & Weight: 157.8 x 108.6 x 8.0 mm, 205g
  • Storage Capacity: 16GB
  • Water Resistance: IPX8 rated
  • Front Light: Adjustable front light and dark mode, 17 LEDs
  • File Support: EPUB, PDF, Mobi, Doc, BMP, PRC, AZW, FictionBook, AZW3
Pros
  • IPX8 Waterproof Rating
  • Adjustable warm light
  • Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
  • 10 weeks of battery life
Cons
  • Larger and heavier than the standard Kindle (6.8-inch vs. 6-inch, 205g vs. 158g)
  • Higher price point than the standard Kindle
  • No colour screen

Have a little extra budget to play with and don’t want to opt for the basic model? The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite comes with all the bells and whistles and is our best overall eReader for international travelers.

The increased price means more of - well, just about everything. Instead of the basic 4 LED display, you now get the upgraded adjustable front light with 17 LEDs and a dark mode for night reading. You get full IPX8 water resistance and an upgraded 10-week battery life. It’s the original Kindle but turned up to 11.

But the additional features aren’t good for everyone - the screen is larger (6.8-inch vs. 6-inch) and the weight increases (205g vs. 158g). Is it worth the trade-off for an all-round better product? That depends on just how seriously you take minimalism as a traveler.

If you’re trekking the PCT, the basic Kindle will be plenty. If you’re backpacking around Europe, an extra 50g won’t hurt!

Budget choice

2. Amazon Kindle

Best Value for International Travelers

Amazon Kindle
Features
  • Screen Size & Resolution: 6-inch, 300 PPI
  • Dimensions & Weight: 174 x 125 x 8.1 mm, 205g
  • Storage Capacity: 16GB
  • Front Light: Adjustable front light and dark mode, 4 LEDs
  • File Support: EPUB, PDF, Mobi, Doc, BMP, PRC, AZW, FictionBook, AZW3
Pros
  • Sharp 300 PPI screen with optimized font technology
  • Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
  • 6 weeks of battery life
  • 16GB memory - Hold thousands of books
Cons
  • No adjustable warm light
  • No colour screen
  • No waterproof rating

The standard Amazon Kindle offers more than enough eReader for most digital nomads. It may be the most basic in the lineup, but it’s the best pick for those looking for a direct book replacement.

The Kindle is uber-portable, super affordable, and comes with 16 GB of storage - plenty of room for thousands of books. It’s charged by a USB-C, meaning no worries about carrying extra cables, offers a 6-week battery life, and boasts an ultra-sharp 300 PPI screen. It has everything you need and nothing that you don’t.

Amazon carries a hugely popular and well-stocked digital ebook store. Combine this with the user interface - just how easy it is to find, download, and read new books - and purchasing a Kindle is a real no-brainer.

There are very few products in this world that can be recommended for everyone - the base model Kindle is one of them.

3. Kobo Clara 2E

Best Kindle Alternative

Kobo Clara 2E
Features
  • Screen Size & Resolution: 6-inch, 300 PPI
  • Dimensions & Weight: 159 x 112 x 85 mm; 171g
  • Storage Capacity: 16GB
  • Water Resistance: IPX8 rated
  • Front Light: ComfortLight PRO - Brightness and colour adjust, Dark mode
  • File Support: EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR
Pros
  • IPX8 Waterproof Rating
  • Made from 85% recycled plastic
  • Bluetooth enabled for audiobook support
  • 12 weeks of battery life
Cons
  • Only Kobo audiobooks supported
  • Sluggish performance compared to Amazon products
  • No colour screen

Amazon’s monopoly in the eReader space has not gone unnoticed. Even our guide mostly consists of the commerce giants' products. They do make great portable eReaders - but they’re not the only option out there.

If you’re hoping for an alternative to the Kindle, it’s the Kobo Clara 2E that stands taller than the rest. The Clara 2E most closely resembles the Paperwhite and offers a similar performance to our Amazon favorite at a similar price point.

There’s a 6-inch, 300 PPI screen, a 16GB memory, and a huge 12-week battery life. Audiobook-friendly Bluetooth is enabled (although only Kobo audiobooks are supported) and at 171g, it’s lighter than the Paperwhite but heavier than the base Kindle.

The exterior is made with over 85% recycled plastic, including 10% ocean-bound plastic. That’s plastic from our rivers and waterways that was destined to wind up in the ocean. It’s an impressive bit of kit - but it has fierce competition in the Kindle lineup.

4. Kobo Libra Colour

Best for Colour

Kobo Libra Colour
Features
  • Screen Size & Resolution: 7-inch, 300 PPI black-and-white / 150 PPI colour
  • Dimensions & Weight: 144.6 x 161 x 8.3 mm, 199.5g
  • Storage Capacity: 32 GB
  • Water Resistance: IPX8 rated
  • Front Light: ComfortLight PRO - Adjustable brightness and color temperature
  • File Support: EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR
Pros
  • Both color and black-and-white supported
  • Storage for 24,000 eBooks or 150 Kobo Audiobooks
  • Customize font style and size
  • 6 weeks of battery life
Cons
  • Only Kobo audiobooks supported
  • Kobo Stylus sold separately
  • 150 PPI display when using color

The Kobo Libra Colour is a great pick for color-loving nomad travelers. It offers a 7-inch, 300 PPI resolution in black-and-white (or 150 PPI in color), making it ideal for those who enjoy comic books or color coding annotations.

The Libra Color has a huge 32GB of storage space, enough to carry 24,000 eBooks, or use Bluetooth connectivity to listen to 150 Kobo Audiobooks. Customize reading options like margins, font size, and style with the Kobo Stylus 2 (sold separately).

Additional features include page-turn buttons, left/right screen rotation, and landscape mode, along with a dark mode and ComfortLight PRO to protect your eyes when reading late into the night.

Books can be borrowed from your local library with OverDrive and Libby integration and annotated with the Kobo Stylus 2 (sold separately), making the Libra Color versatile and functional.

5. Kindle Scribe

Best for Taking Notes

Kindle Scribe
Features
  • Screen Size & Resolution: 10.2-inch, 300 PPI
  • Dimensions & Weight: 196 x 229 x 5.8 mm, 433g
  • Storage Capacity: 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB
  • Water Resistance: IPX8 rated
  • Front Light: Adjustable warm light with auto-adjusting light sensors, 35 LEDs
  • File Support: EPUB, PDF, Mobi, Doc, BMP, PRC, AZW, FictionBook, AZW3
Pros
  • Writing capability and battery-free pen included
  • Auto-adjusting light sensors
  • Auto-rotating page orientation
  • 12 weeks of battery life
Cons
  • High price point
  • Large and heavyweight (relative to other models)
  • Not waterproof

The Kindle Scribe offers what you would call a premium reading experience. It’s the top-of-the-range Kindle and you get a lot more for your money.

The Scribe boasts an enormous 10.2-inch screen with that crisp 300 PPI we see in the other models. A huge 35 LEDs power the adjustable warm light and auto-adjusting light sensors set the perfect brightness to suit the changing atmospheric light. It looks great and works hard to give you the best performance.

But there’s one major benefit the Scribe holds over the competition - the ability to make notes. A handy stylus is provided with the Scribe and a notebook section is perfect for creating to-do lists, sketches, or doodles. It’s great for those who love the practicality of a notepad but hate carrying them around.

Travelers that regularly work with .pdfs will be pleased to see the file type supported. Edit and sign documents with the stylus before emailing them over to your Kindle email. It’s an incredibly helpful feature and the reason to spend the extra on a Kindle Scribe.

6. Kobo Elipsa 2E

Best Big Screen Amazon Alternative

Kobo Elipsa 2E
Features
  • Screen Size & Resolution: 10.3-inch, 227 PPI
  • Dimensions & Weight: 193 x 227 x 7.5 mm, 390g
  • Storage Capacity: 32 GB
  • Water Resistance: -
  • Front Light: ComfortLight PRO - Adjustable brightness and color temperature
  • File Support: EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR
Pros
  • Write directly on eBooks and PDFs
  • Kobo Stylus 2 included
  • Storage for 24,000 eBooks or 150 Kobo Audiobooks
  • 12 different fonts and 50+ styles
Cons
  • Only Kobo audiobooks supported
  • Not a waterproof eReader
  • 227 PPI vs. the Amazon Scribe’s 300 PPI

The Amazon Scribe may be the best big-screen eReader, but the Kobo Elipsa 2E gives the eCommerce giant a run for its money.

The 32GB of storage is enough for 24,000 eBooks or 150 Kobo Audiobooks. Users can also borrow eBooks directly from their local library thanks to the integrations with OverDrive and Libby.

But it’s that screen that offers the biggest benefits to nomads. The Elipsa 2E boasts a 10.3-inch screen with a 227 PPI resolution. It’s not quite as impressive as the Scribe’s 300 PPI - but it’s a good display that travelers will be no doubt pleased with. Add the ability to choose 12 different fonts and 50+ styles and it’s suddenly an impressive bit of kit.

The Kobo Stylus 2 is included as standard with the Elipsa 2E and with it - the ability to write on both eBooks and PDFs. That’s hugely powerful for taking notes, annotating textbooks, and signing documents on the go.


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How We Picked The Best Travel eReaders

Although a popular travel accessory, only a handful of companies make eReaders. Amazon is, of course, the best-known of the page-turning alternatives. But Barnes & Noble and Kobo are the only real alternatives.

Here’s what we looked for when comparing the brands (and models) to choose the best eReaders for digital nomads.

Screen Size & Resolution

The most common screen size of an eReader is 6 inches. We found this offers the perfect balance between readability and portability.

We looked for lightweight eReaders with a desired resolution of 300 pixels per inch. Any lower and the on-screen display begins to struggle. The details are noticeably less crisp and are of lower quality.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is nice to have - but it’s not an absolute must for an eReader.

If you’re a nomad who spends a lot of time by the pool, on the beach, or around boats - a waterproof device might come in handy for unexpected cannonballs and rogue waves.

Storage Capacity & File Support

The capacity of a travel eReader typically lies between 8GB and 32GB of storage - plenty for storing more ebooks than you could read in a lifetime.

eReaders need access to a quality library - without it, they’re just another shiny object. The majority of eReaders will support audiobooks and .pdf files. Any that don’t were quickly discarded from our top list.

Battery life

Most eReaders promote a long battery life of between six and eight weeks. There’s little to gain from comparing such a long time between charges - unless of course comparing to the Kindle App on an iPad or other tablet.

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