5 Best Portable Oxygen Concentrators for Long-Distance Travel

5 Best Portable Oxygen Concentrators for Long-Distance Travel

Most chronic respiratory conditions are considered “debilitating.” What this means is that they have a tendency to make the patient weak and physically incapable of certain tasks like rigorous exercise. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one such condition because it prevents carbon dioxide-rich air from escaping the lungs upon expiration. This results in frequent breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue, and more.


Another reason COPD could be considered a debilitating disease is that it often requires patients to be hooked up to an oxygen machine for a significant portion of the day. People with stage 1 or 2 COPD may only need to use supplemental oxygen for several hours a day, whereas someone with stage 3 or 4 COPD may need to be hooked up to an oxygen device 24/7.


From an outside perspective, this may seem a little daunting. After all, how could you expect to live a normal and full life if you’re expected to be connected to an oxygen device constantly? While this could be the “end of the line” so-to-speak for many other conditions, this is not the case for COPD patients. Fortunately, many years of research have gone into supplemental oxygen therapy and manufacturers are able to offer smaller, lighter, and more portable oxygen delivery machines than ever before.


In 2020, the gold standard in medical oxygen therapy are portable oxygen concentrators. Like the stationary oxygen concentrators which came before them, these are electronic devices. The primary difference, however, is that they run off batteries rather than a wall outlet, meaning you can take them wherever you want. If you’re a COPD patient who’s caught the travel bug, read on as we take a look at the top 5 portable oxygen concentrators for long-distance travel.


If you have any questions at all about any of the units, either follow the link to each product page or reach out to our respiratory specialists who can help you find the concentrator that’s right for you.


The Caire FreeStyle Comfort

Caire FreeStyle Comfort

There really isn’t a whole lot to say about the Caire FreeStyle Comfort that hasn’t already been said. However, we don’t mind repeating ourselves if it means getting the word out to more people about how great of a device this is. Simply put, the FreeStyle Comfort is one of the best portable oxygen concentrators that money can buy as of 2020 and this rings especially true for people who are interested in long-distance travel.


Outstanding Durability

For many people, the most stressful thing about going on a long-distance trip is the thought of losing or breaking something that’s valuable to them. For example, if you break your phone, you might spend half your vacation getting it fixed rather than enjoying your time away from home. Or worse yet, you may find yourself in a situation where you aren’t able to get it fixed. This is why it’s so important to invest in durable and reliable equipment that won’t stop working when you need it most.


Man with Caire FreeStyle Comfort


You may be surprised to know that the Caire FreeStyle Comfort is the one and only portable oxygen concentrator that’s used by the United States armed forces; in other words, it’s the only true “military-grade” portable oxygen concentrator. And while we certainly don’t expect you to be going to boot camp anytime soon, this is most definitely a testament to the quality design that Caire uses on their product.


With the FreeStyle Comfort, you’ll never have to worry about damaging your unit if you happen to bump into something or drop it on accident. While there are a lot of delicate electronic components inside the FreeStyle Comfort, they’re all protected by a solid outer shell. Be aware, however, that this portable oxygen concentrator (along with most other POCs) is not waterproof. The carrying case will help protect it from water a little bit, but it is not water-resistant, so be sure to take care when using it outside.




The Inogen One G5

Inogen One G5

Inogen is one of the top companies in the industry when it comes to pulse dose portable oxygen concentrators. Since their inception, they’ve worked tirelessly to make portable oxygen units lighter, smaller, and more powerful than ever before. Releasing just last year, the Inogen One G5 proved that it’s possible to have a high flow of medical-grade oxygen wherever you go.


High Oxygen Output

Oxygen output is a crucial factor to consider when buying a new portable oxygen concentrator. When your doctor or pulmonologist prescribes you oxygen, he/she will give provide you with an exact volume of oxygen that you need per minute. Pulse dose machines like the Inogen One G5 are measured in milliliters per minute (ml/min). And the G5 has the highest oxygen output of any pulse dose concentrator on the market. Its maximum oxygen output is 1,260 ml/min and a pulse flow setting of 6. That’s about 210 ml/min for each flow setting.  


Inogen One G5 interface


Simply put, a high flow of oxygen means that more people will be able to experience the freedom of owning a lightweight portable oxygen concentrator. And if you’re someone who uses a lower flow setting like a 2 or a 3, you’ll be happy to know that you have some breathing room if you should need to move up for one reason or another. For example, if you check your blood oxygen level using a pulse oximeter and it’s lower than expected, you can simply press a button on the G5 and receive an additional 210 ml/min of oxygen.




Possibly the best part about the Inogen One G5’s high oxygen output is that it doesn’t come at the expense of other features. For example, the G5 puts out 1,260 ml/min of oxygen compared to the Caire FreeStyle Comfort’s 1,050 ml/min of oxygen. Despite that fact, the G5 weighs 0.3 pounds less than the FreeStyle Comfort at just 4.7 pounds with the 8-cell battery. It also doesn’t compromise when it comes to battery life. On a pulse flow setting of 2, the G5 offers up to 5 hours of battery life with the 8-cell battery and 10 hours of battery life with the 16-cell battery. Compare this to the FreeStyle Comfort which offers 4 hours with the 8-cell battery and 8 hours with the 16-cell battery.


Inogen Connect application


Another great benefit of the G5 is something called the Inogen Connect. This is a smartphone application that connects to your POC through Bluetooth. Once the devices are paired, you’ll be able to view information about your flow setting, remaining battery life, and more. You can even view the device manual if you end up needing to troubleshoot it. This app is especially useful if you’re using the Inogen One G5 backpack and you don’t want to stop constantly to check your G5. Simply pull out your phone and adjust the settings that way.


The Inogen One G3

Inogen One G3

While the Inogen One G3 came out quite a few years ago, it still holds up in 2020 as one of the top pulse dose portable oxygen devices on the market. The G3 is a slight downgrade from the G5 in terms of size and oxygen output, however, it more than makes up for this with an array of high-quality accessories that allow you to customize your supplemental oxygen therapy.


Options to Suit Your Lifestyle

One of the best things about owning an Inogen One G3 is that you don’t just have to settle with what you get right out of the box. There are plenty of accessories that you can use to make your supplemental oxygen more tailored to your preferences. For example, if you’re getting ready to travel long distance, you might choose to upgrade the carrying case that comes with the G3 to something like the Inogen One G3 backpack which will allow you to carry your G3 on your back instead of at your side. What’s more, you’ll have lots of extra space in the bag for personal belongings like your keys, wallet, or passport. 

G3 backpack


Another similar option to the G3 backpack is the Inogen One G3 Rolling Backpack. This has shoulder straps just like the other one but it also has wheels and an extendable handle so you can pull it around like a suitcase. This is ideal if you’re going to be traveling by plane and you’re bringing a lot of other accessories such as an additional battery, external battery charger, or additional charging cables.


GO2 Carryalls


Last but not least, the GO2 Carryalls are another carrying option available to G3 owners. Unlike the backpacks which are designed to provide users with more convenience and carrying space, the GO2 Carryalls provide a more stylish carrying bag for the G3. At first glance, they look like an ordinary purse or handbag, but upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that they are precisely designed for the G3. The user interface is easily accessible via the top zipper, the sides are made of mesh material so that the devices air intake vents aren’t blocked, and there are several extra pockets where you can store personal items.


The Inogen One G4

If you’re someone with early-stage COPD, you’re likely not going to need a huge amount of oxygen throughout the day. If this is the case, you’re probably not going to want to lug around a large POC if it’s not absolutely needed. If this sounds like you then the Inogen One G4 might be right up your alley.


Inogen One G4 next to apple


The Inogen One G4 weighs in at just 2.8 pounds making it the second lightest portable oxygen concentrator ever made, behind the AirSep Focus. The G4 goes up to a flow setting of 3 with a maximum oxygen output of 630 ml/min. This is exactly half of what the Inogen One G5 offers. 


The Respironics SimplyGo

Respironics SimplyGo

The one thing that all of the above machines have in common is that they’re all pulse flow portable oxygen concentrators. These POCs tend to be much smaller and lighter than continuous flow oxygen concentrators, making them ideal for long-distance travel. However, there is one continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator that we’d recommend for travel — the Respironics SimplyGo. 


The reason we’d recommend this over other continuous flow units is because it’s far lighter and smaller than other options out there. For example, the SimplyGo weighs only 10 pounds, but other popular continuous flow units like the Oxlife Independence weigh in at 19.4 pounds. This is nearly twice the weight and it doesn’t have much to compensate for it when it comes to oxygen output or battery life either.

Respironics SimplyGo in carrying case.


The SimplyGo is one of the few continuous flow machines that can be carried on your shoulder and you’ll find it easy and convenient to take on a flight, cruise ship, or whatever mode of transportation you choose. Since the SimplyGo offers both continuous and pulse flow settings, you’ll have more options for how you’d like to receive your supplemental oxygen on the go.




One more benefit of taking a continuous flow portable oxygen concentrator with you on a long trip is that it’s compatible with CPAP and BiPAP machines. So if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or any other sleep disorder, you’ll be able to attach your SimplyGo and get a better night’s sleep while you’re away from home. 


CPAP machine


Are Portable Oxygen Cylinders an Option?

Now that you know about some of the best portable oxygen concentrators for long-distance travel, you might be wondering what’s wrong with portable oxygen cylinders. These are the small oxygen tanks that you’ve likely seen people carrying around on their backs or wheeling around with a carrying cart. While these can be convenient in some cases, they’re a very poor choice for long-distance travel.

Portable oxygen cylinder


Firstly, they are not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for in-flight use. What this means is that — no matter what airline you choose — you will not be able to fly with an oxygen tank. You’ll either have to approve with your doctor first that you’re able to travel without oxygen or find another way to travel which can be difficult and time-consuming.


Tips for Flying with Portable Oxygen

Tips for Traveling with Portable Oxygen


We live in unprecedented times for oxygen patients. In the past, being diagnosed with COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, or other chronic respiratory conditions meant giving up your basic freedoms. However, in this day and age, it’s possible for oxygen patients to experience significant freedom by investing in a portable oxygen device that matches their lifestyle.


There are plenty of great options available to you, but you may be having trouble narrowing down your choices. When you’re ready, give our respiratory specialists here at LPT Medical a call and we’ll walk you through the whole process.

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