Picking the right travel paint box isn't always easy. It is a project that ends up being trial and error, what works for one artist may not be the best for you. I have two favorites. Both are strong, well built, easy to use, and come from great companies. The top picture is my Open M Box. It is so well crafted, light weight, fast to put up. You can get a cool carrying box but that was too heavy for my purposes. This attaches to my tripod in seconds. It will hold fairly large panels too- and if you need a bit large you can use a small bungee cord to keep the panel steady.www.openboxm.com is the website, all the easels are made by hand so expect a fast turnaround. I think for the quality the price is very fair. This easel should last me my lifetime and then I will pass it down to someone else who better take care of it! This is a family owned small business in Cody, Wyoming. There are all kinds of cool extras you can get too- not needed but fun-
The other easel photo on the right is from Judson Art Supply. It is a guerrilla box and they mean it. This is by far the most sturdy of any paintbox I have seen. This one is the cute thumbox, 6"x8" and perfect for when you want everything to fit into one box, and you are painting on small panels. The little devise you see are what allows you to paint on 4"x6 or 5"x7" or 6"x8". It's great and it hold my wet panels, brushes (cut down) spirits, paint. You can sit in a cafe, paint and no one notice. If you use the spirits from Gamblin called Gamsol no one can smell you either!
If you can try out a friends box, if they trust to enough. But even if you bought one of these boxes and didn't like them you would have no trouble selling them to another artist. But I really think if you plan to paint from life, and you should, you will probably want a couple different types of paint boxes for different scenarios. This summer when I head out to paint New Mexico and Colorado both boxes will be in my truck. When I head to Catalina Island for my workshop both will go on the ferry. Each for a different reason. Check out both website and give them a call with questions, both companies excell in customer service.