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I returned home from a trip to Cuba in early 2017 with a bag full of Cuban Cigars. Since I only smoke them on special occasions (or give them as gifts), I wasn’t going to use them right away, so I put them in the pantry in a zip lock bag. That is, until I come to find out that doing so was a big mistake. Why? Cigars need to be kept at a certain humidity level or else they’ll lose their flavor. What a waste it would be to let my precious cargo get spoiled! So, how do you keep them at a proper, consistent level of humidity? A Humidor. I did some research looking for humidors, and want to share my findings with fellow aspiring cigar aficionados. Read on to learn more about humidors, how they work, what to look for, and our top picks.
Humidor 101: Setup & Terminology
A humidor is a container (usually a wooden box; typically cedar or cherry) that keeps cigars fresh and prevents them from drying out. While a humidor box might look pretty on the outside, they are only good if they’re doing their job of keeping your cigars moist, breathing and cool. To do so, they are made of high-quality wood and two essential components which help regulate and measure the moisture level:
- Hygrometer – A small instruments that resembles a clock. A hygrometer measures the amount of humidity in your humidor. These are either built into the shell of the box or placed inside the box (with adhesive if kept on the box lid). They can be analog or digital and should stay within 65-70% relative humidity at all times (never over 75% for extended periods; as that may result in the cigars molding, which unlike them drying at too low of a humidity, is not reversible).
- Humidifier – This is a device (can be as simple as salted distilled water) that maintains the relative humidity mentioned above in your humidor. Examples include a sponge in a plastic mesh that traps water (these typically ship with your humidor), gel beads (Humi-Care’s 4 oz jar is a solid choice that will humidify up to 150 cigars for 1-2 months – the exact length of time will vary depending on the relative outdoor humidity in your area), and there’s even fancy electronic options.
In addition to a humidor, hygrometer and humidifier, you’ll also need distilled water (water that’s had the impurities removed through boiling). You can make your own or go the easy route and buy it on Amazon or even at your local grocery store. You’ll need distilled water for your humidifier since tap water can contain minerals and chemicals which may adversely affect your cigars.
Seasoning Your Humidor
Any new humidor (or one that hasn’t been used in awhile) also needs to be “seasoned” to kick start the moisture absorption inside. You can use an unscented sponge soaked in distilled water to lightly wipe down all the exposed wood (including any inserts or trays). Alternatively we recommend using these disposable seasoning wipes by Boveda. Do not overly season the wood, however, one pass over will do.
Calibrating Your Hygrometer
The second step in prepping your humidor is to ensure your hygrometer is accurately reading the humidity level by calibrating it. One calibration method is the salt test – place the hygrometer in an air-tight ziplock bag. Fill a shot glass with distilled water and salt, add it to the bag next to the hygrometer, and seal the bag. After 12 hours it should read 75%. If not, adjust your hygrometer until the reading reaches 75%. It should stay at that percentage once you put your cigars inside the humidifier for several months (you’ll need to re-calibrate every 6 months or so). Clear as mud? Here’s a quick video on how to calibrate your hygrometer courtesy of Cigars International.
Now that you know a little more about the basics of humidors, and the jargon associated with them, let’s get into our in-depth cigar humidor reviews complete with pricing, features, pros and cons for each and our favorites by category.
Best Cigar Humidor
Humidors come in all shapes and sizes. From glass topped ones where you can see inside to ones with organizing compartments. They can store anywhere from 1 in a travel size to over 150 cigars (some are even walk-in rooms that act as giant humidors, you’ll typically run into these in cigar shops). Because of the wide variety of humidors, we’ve picked out the best for each category and price range. So feel free to jump to the specific type you are looking for or keep scrolling to read them all!
Humidors by Type
Humidors by Budget
Our pick for the best desktop humidor is the Quality Importers Capri-Glasstop. An Amazon #1 best seller, this humidor has a beautiful mahogany finish and is lined with premium kiln-dried Spanish cedar for a delicious aroma and great moisture retention. It has a brass-plated, glass, front-mount hygrometer and a scratch-resistant felt-lined bottom which makes for an ideal way to display your cigars on your desk or office. The humidor also features a dual compartment and Quality Importer’s Sureseal technology for proper lid seal on closure.
Capacity: 20-50 Cigars
Looking for a starter humidor that’s on the smaller side? The Scorch Torch Huxley box is the perfect sized humidor for the novice smoker. With a compact shape and cherry finish, it’s both classic and timeless. It comes with a humidifier and adhesive Velcro to attach it to the top of the inside, but please that note you must purchase a hygrometer separately. It claims to hold 10, but depending on their size and how you orientate them, you can fit up to 24.
Capacity: 10-24 Cigars
While there are lots of travel humidors to pick from, we chose the La Cubana Leather humidor because it was highly recommended on several websites and has great reviews. And unlike other travel humidors which are made of leather or plastic, this one has a wood interior which is ideal for maximum freshness. With a humidifier, hygrometer, syphones cutter that pops in the inside of the top, you’ll have all the tools you need while smoking on the go. Its beautiful leather exterior has stitching and a brass key and lock. The interior features a velcro strap to keep your cigars safe and sound while on the go. This humidor is great for business travelers (or to give as a gift).
Capacity: 6-15 Cigars
The Whynter stainless steel cigar cooler is our pick for the best electronic humidor. It’s vibration-free, quiet thermoelectric cooling system is designed to automatically keep the humidity range between 62% and 75% while remaining at room temperature (using the LCD digital display and exterior control). It has a humidification tray (for use with your preferred solution or moisture beads), two Spanish Cedar flat shelves and a spacious drawer with an elegant analog hygrometer. In addition, there’s a fan to ensure even circulation of air and it’s backed by a 1-year warranty. The cigars aren’t as easy to organize given the limited visibility, but with a storage size of 1.2 cubic feet, it’s big enough to put at least three large cigar boxes and stores over 250 cigars. This humidor requires power and would make a great addition to a man cave or wet bar.
Capacity: Up to 250+ cigars
Having a growing cigar collection can be a good thing until you run out of storage room. This multi-level dark mahogany humidor has three removable shelves that can hold up to 125 cigars. And with glass on all four sides, it’s a nice way to display your cigars while keeping them fresh. It also features a lock and key for extra security, two humidifiers and an external hygrometer for easy monitoring.
Capacity: Up to 125 Cigars
Looking for an affordable humidor? The best budget humidor is Prestige Import’s 25-50 sized model. For the cost, you can’t beat this high-quality wood box made with genuine Spanish cedar and brass plated hygrometer & humidifier all in one. We also love that it has a movable (and removable) divider so you can separate your high-end smokes from your everyday ones. It also has a scratch resistant felt bottom. It’s simple but everything you need in a humidor. Perfect entry-level humidor. In fact, this is the same one I purchased (but mine is black).
Capacity: 25-50 cigars
If you want to take your humidor up a notch, La Cubana’s solid wood oak humidor is a solid choice. It also comes in a larger size in a cherry wood finish with golden metal (versus stainless steel) as well, and both are under $100. Because of the quality of the reclaimed wood, it’s durable, scratch-resistant and provides the perfect conditions for exceptional aromas and moisture preservation. It has a sleek design including a solid metal hinge and an inset hygrometer and humidifier which makes it feel more premium. Like the Prestige Import Group, this has a felt-lined bottom and divider inside. And because it comes in a black cardboard gift box, it makes for a perfect gift!
Capacity: Up to 30 Cigars (Cherry finish is up to 50)
The Cuban Crafter’s high gloss piano finish rosewood with exotic wood inlay on top is the best cigar humidor under $200. It too has an inset hygrometer and humidifier but also has a removable storage tray and lower level storage for accessories. This humidor also has a lock and key to secure your collection of cigars and brass inset handles for easy transportation. With 12 coats of lacquer, an ornate detailed design made with exotic woods this is sure to impress your friends (in addition to keeping your cigars well-protected). To top it off, it’s fully guaranteed and backed by the best warranty in the industry.
Capacity: Up to 150
Enjoy Your New Cigar Humidor
No matter which humidor you go with it’s important to remember that, while it’s tempting to show it off, make sure to keep it in a cool, dry place, not near a window where it can be exposed to damaging rays that will warp or damage your box. Also open your humidor at least every couple weeks to let air circulate (and so you can enjoy the fine aroma of your aging cigars). And if you take into account how much you spend in time and money on your cigars, don’t let them go to waste by skimping on their home (ie. your humidor). Cheap humidors are not going to be up to snuff (or puff) for your cigars. Are your cigars lonely and in need of some companions? Check out our Cigar of the Month Club Review where we share some of the top places to get cigars delivered to your door on a regular basis.
What tips do you have for storing cigars?