Taking a hike? This Mini Magnetic Pocket Chess Set, this nifty roll-up-and-go set, and this card chess set are the perfect replacements for your trusty family chess set when the backpacking trails call. 

Just because you’re backpacking or heading out for a camping trip, doesn’t mean that you can’t take the beautiful game of chess with you. From Yellowstone and Yosemite to Zion National Park and everything in between, no matter where your hiking boots take you, you’re sure to find a trusty bring-along chess set in one of the following finds. 

Enjoy, and don’t forget to take in the beautiful view around you while your opponent ponders their next move! 

Take Chess Out for a Walk 

I had a (very dear) middle school friend who loved to read and play chess. So much so, that he never left the house. At first his parents were grateful, because children are cause for worry as it is, and this way they had nothing to worry about (plus, his grades looked spectacular!). 

Then my friend – let’s call him Chester – was soon heading off for high school, and his parents decided that it was time to put their foot down and send Chester off on a backpacking trip so that he can “learn how to socialize”. 

Related Article: Best Portable Chess Set

In true Chester fashion, he took along his normal-sized chess set (which took up all the space in his backpack) so that he could at least play his beloved game with his  fellow travelers. Only, no one could or wanted to play chess with him, so Chester was left lugging around a wooden block and 23 chess pieces for seven days, with not even the reward of a good game of chess at the end of the day. 

Whenever using my digital, one-man chess device, I think of Chester and how much he would’ve loved it. Then the other day, I came across these practical backpacking chess sets, which would’ve made Chester’s life so much easier. 

So Chester, old buddy, old pal, this list is dedicated to you! 

#1. WE Games Travel Mini Magnetic Pocket Chess Set

Amazon rating: 4.6/5 with 383 ratings 

Why I love it: It’s as big as a checkbook and will fit in your pocket. 

Price: Single digits for the chess player on a budget 

Fold your favorite game up like an envelope and get traveling! This magnetic chess set measures at only 5.75 x 3.35 inches when folded, giving a new definition to pocket chess. 

New at chess? This little wonder also includes algebraic notations to teach new chess players the beautiful game. 

This set is also perfect for chess players to use while traveling for a tournament, or even if just traveling for fun. Whether you’re on a plane to Europe and want to kill time, or having a picnic in the park and playing a good ol’ game of chess under an oak tree. 

#2. Pitkin Stearns International, Inc. Genuine Leather Roll-Up Travel Game

Amazon rating: 4.3/5 with 108 ratings 

Why I love it: Comes with a zip-up and roll-up leather bag that gives it that backpacking feel. 

Price: A true steal for any backpacking and chess lover.

I absolutely love this chess set, and it might have something to do with the fact that it was made in collaboration with a backpacking company Sondergut in Germany. With its hand sewn pliable leather chess set and coin-like pieces, this chess set is a beautiful item to have: whether you’re into backpacking or not. 

#3. Pocket Chess Set 

Amazon rating: 4.3/5 with 47 ratings 

Why I love it: It eliminates the bulk of a big chess board. 

Price: It doesn’t come any cheaper than this. 

As a chess fanatic, you often think that you’ve seen everything there is to see about chess. At least, that’s what I thought until I saw these! Chess? Cards? Chess as cards? It’s a match made in heaven. 

This set comes with 32 chessmen cards in four colors, namely black, white, blue and orange. The cards can be used to create your chess board, no matter where you are, and to play using just cards. 

The Benefits of Playing Chess While Backpacking 

Fun meets brain training when you choose to take your chess on the road, and there is an array of benefits to playing chess while backpacking. 

It improves emotional well-being

Chess is a mindful pastime that allows you to relax. Pair that with the wonderful benefits of traveling and being outdoors, and oh-wow you have a winner. 

Related Article: Best Chess Sets Under $100

It elevates creativity

Chess helps develop both sides of your brain, including the part that’s all about creativity. Together with the adventure of a lifetime while backpacking, and your creativity is sure to grow in no time. 

It teaches you to be open-minded 

We all know that chess is all about making your mind stronger, but so is backpacking. It teaches you to be open-minded, because if the movie Monte Carlo has taught us anything it’s that backpacking never goes quite as planned. 

You find lifelong friends

It may take two to tango, but it also takes two to play a game of chess. Both chess and backpacking is all about forming bonds over a mutual interest. If you take a backpacking-friendly chess set (or cards!) with you, you’re sure to find a chess friend for life. 


Backpacking to your heart’s content doesn’t mean you can’t take a good old game of chess with you. From the small but fun Mini Magnetic Pocket Chess Set, to the well-made roll-up-and-go set, and the as-cool-as-in-middle school card chess set, you’re sure to find your backpacking chess set from the list above. 

If you do invest in a backpack-friendly chess set, remember to enjoy each game, no matter where in the world you are. And, in the words of my dad when I asked him to switch over to the Winter Olympics during Super Bowl Sunday, take a hike! 


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