The 6 best weighted blanket we tested in 2021

best weighted comforter 2021 brooklinen thumb

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you toss and turn at night or find your mind racing when trying to fall asleep, you might benefit from adding a weighted blanket to your bedding. Usually weighing somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds, weighted blankets provide gentle, constant pressure as you sleep, and recent studies have shown promising results in their ability to ease anxiety and reduce insomnia, though research remains limited.

I spoke with Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher, author, and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She said the reason why weighted blankets tend to work is quite primal. “It really hearkens back to the way we entered the world,” said Robbins. “You were in a womb, compressed on all sides by water and fluid, and so there was a sense of pressure. We try to emulate that with infants by swaddling them. We might look at weighted blankets as the adult version of swaddling or emulating those circumstances where we feel at ease.”

I tested 12 of the most popular weighted blankets on the market to determine the best ones you can buy. I evaluated them for how well I slept while using them, the quality of materials and construction, how easy they were to wash and care for, and how comfy they were.

The best weighted blankets in 2021

Best weighted comforter

best weighted blanket 2021 brooklinen weighted comforter

Brooklinen’s Weighted Comforter has a premium plush design that blends seamlessly with the rest of your bedding.

Pros: Looks just like a normal comforter, lots of plush fill, made of 400-thread-count cotton sateen, has duvet cover loops, accepts returns in any condition within one year of purchase

Cons: Dry clean only, duvet cover sold separately, difficult to adjust while using it

If you don’t want to sleep under a stack of blankets or compromise your bedroom’s look, you’ll want a weighted comforter, and Brooklinen makes the best one I tried. It looks and feels like a traditional plush comforter but with an extra 20 pounds of weight integrated with small glass beads. The blanket itself is made of 400-thread-count cotton sateen, so it’s soft enough to throw on your bed without a duvet cover.

That being said, we recommend adding one — corner loops make it easy to tie on — because the blanket is dry-clean only, which could run you anywhere from $20 to $50.

I found that the 20-pound comforter I tested weighed closer to 24 pounds, but the extra weight didn’t make too much of a difference once I laid it out on the bed. Sleeping under it was pretty dreamy (excuse the pun). I felt enveloped by the cushy fill but not too overwhelmed or overheated. It was somewhat difficult to adjust while lying under it due to the weight and size, but I found this typical for just about every comforter-sized weighted blanket I tested.

Though pricey, this comfortable weighted blanket is worth the investment, especially because it will entirely replace your comforter. If you find it’s not right for you, Brooklinen has an incredibly lenient return policy, accepting returns for any reason in any condition within 365 days of your purchase.

Best extra-heavy weighted blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 gravity blanket heavy

Gravity’s 35-pound weighted blanket evenly distributes weight across your king-size bed and is perfect for those who are looking for some extra heft.

Pros: Great for those who need a heavier blanket, weight is evenly distributed, no beanbag feel, the cover is machine washable, low profile blanket

Cons: Queen/king size only comes in 35 pounds, the cover should be washed before use, too heavy to adjust in the middle of the night, the inner blanket is hand-wash only, customers are responsible for return fees

When I first received the Gravity 35-pound blanket, I thought it would feel way too heavy, but I found it pretty manageable. It did tend to slide down the bed as I was sleeping, and I’d often wake up about a foot lower than usual because I was chasing the blanket around through the night. It was simply too heavy to pull up or adjust while laying under it, though someone stronger than me will likely not have this issue.

One issue with this blanket was that the included micro-plush duvet cover felt oddly greasy out of the package. It left a film on my hands as I tried to smooth it out over the bed. But the zip-on cover is removable and washable, and a run through the wash resolved the issue. I can’t imagine hauling such a heavy blanket into and out of a washing machine, so the removable cover is a huge plus. 

The Gravity blanket is low-profile without any excess fill, so it won’t add a lot of bulk to your bed. That said, it’s not as plush or cozy as the Brooklinen comforter, which does also come in a 35-pound version, though it’s much more expensive.

The brand also makes “single” size weighted blankets that measure 48-inches by 72-inches. I tested a 15-pound one with a cooling cover and found it performed well, but nothing made it stand out from the pack.

Best cooling weighted blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 cooling blanket blanquil chill

The BlanQuil Chill‘s unique cover disperses heat and stays cool to the touch as you fall asleep, but its slick fabric can cause it to slide off the bed.

Pros: Stays cool to the touch, no beanbag feel, glass beads don’t shift, 60-night sleep trial

Cons: Slides off the bed easily; internal blanket is spot-clean only; only one size, one color, and two weights available

I sleep hot, and the BlanQuil Chill is the weighted blanket I have the longest relationship with. It’s been on my bed for about a year and a half, and I’ve had two iterations of the design.

I lined up all the cooling blankets I tested for this guide and ran my hand across each one, and the BlanQuil felt noticeably cooler than all the others. Plus, it did the best job of dissipating heat and getting back to its cool baseline.

Since it’s slightly bigger than a twin bed, it’s not a blanket that’s intended to be shared. Glass beads add weight, but there’s no beanbag feeling, and I’ve never felt them shift in a way that causes the blanket to feel lumpy or uneven.

The zipper on the removable, washable cover of the first version of the design was weak, couldn’t handle the weight of the blanket, and broke just a couple of months into its use. But BlanQuil has since reinforced the zipper, and I’ve yet to have a problem with it. I even stress tested it by holding the weight of the blanket against the zipper, and it held strong.

Though it’s one of the best I’ve used, the cooling cover’s material has a bit of a sheen to it, which makes it slick so it slides off the bed easily — especially if you toss and turn at night. As soon as it gets off-center, the blanket’s weight will cause it to slide.

Best weighted throw blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 bearaby knitted throw blanket

The cocoon-like, knit-woven Bearaby Cotton Napper keeps you cozy yet cool as you lounge on the couch, it’s entirely machine washable, and it’s one of the heftiest blankets we tested.

Pros: Aesthetic design, has significant heft, made from organic cotton, washable and dryable, 30-day return policy if blanket remains unwashed, most versatile weighted blanket I tested

Cons: Doesn’t fit in compact washing machines, takes multiple cycles to dry, open weave may catch toes and fingers, heavier than advertised (though this may be a pro, depending on your preference)

The weight of the Bearaby Napper comes entirely from the dense organic cotton strands hand-knit into one of the most aesthetically minded weighted blankets I’ve ever seen.

This is a really heavy blanket — the blanket I tested, which was advertised as the 15-pound version, actually tipped the scales at 24 pounds. I contacted the company to verify that they sent me the right item, and they assured me they did. 

It’s not necessarily bad that they’re heavier than advertised, but it’s something to keep in mind when you order.

A blanket this heavy — and bulky — can be tough to shift around, and if it’s going to live on your couch, it will take up quite a bit of space. I’ve shifted it to my bed. It drapes nicely over my partner and me, but the open weave makes it prone to stretching if you need to pull it up in the night. It hasn’t become misshapen in any significant way, thankfully.

It’s not quite a cooling blanket — Bearaby does offer one called the Tree Napper that I haven’t tested — but it doesn’t trap heat thanks to the open weave. The holes are quite large, though, so if you are bothered by some toes or fingers poking through, you might want to look elsewhere.

The Napper is fully machine washable and can go in the dryer on a delicate setting. I wanted to see how the blanket washed and dried as part of my test, but it didn’t fit in my space-saving apartment-sized washing machine.

Best budget weighted blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 luna blanket budget affordable cheap

Weighted blankets are typically expensive, but the Luna Weighted Blanket is gentle on your wallet despite being constructed from Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and filled with natural glass beads.

Pros: Excellent quality at a low price; comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and weights; fully machine washable; Oeko-Tex Certified construction; true to weight

Cons: Thinner blanket than some others on our list

Weighted blankets tend to be very expensive, but Luna offers an excellent weighted blanket at an affordable price.

I tested the 15-pound queen-size blanket, and the glass beads inside were barely noticeable, producing no beanbag effect. Where many other cheap weighted blankets are loaded with chemicals, the Luna Weighted Blanket is Oeko-Tex Certified, meaning it contains no harmful materials.

The blanket is much thinner than some of the others I tested, but it stayed breathable and was light enough to easily adjust in the middle of the night. It wasn’t quite as cozy as some others, but it’s a great option to layer with your usual comforter or use during the warmer months.

As I’ve continued to test these blankets, the Luna has become a bit of a travel-sized weighted blanket for me. I wouldn’t recommend taking it on an airplane — it’s a bit bulky for that — but the Luna is thin enough to fold into a car trunk-friendly size. 

The blanket was a true 15 pounds according to my scale, but that weight was dispersed over a queen-size surface area, making it feel lighter. 

It’s also one of the easiest blankets to clean that I tested. The entire thing fits into my compact washer-dryer and was fully dry within one cycle — and it got softer after just one wash.

Best king-size weighted blanket

A dog lying on a bed covered by the HomeSmart weighted blanket

The HomeSmart Products King Size Weighted Blanket is large enough for couples, breathes well to keep you from overheating, and can go in the washer and dryer.

Pros: Breathable organic cotton shell, glass beads sewn into 5-by-5-inch pockets for even weight distribution, machine washable and dryable, the king size is large enough for couples, weight options up to 50 lbs.

Cons: The blanket started to leak beads after 18 months of use, hard to track down customer support

As a big guy, one of the problems I run into with weighted blankets is that they aren’t large enough to cover my whole body. Even queen-size blankets tend to be too small to reach my giant feet. This was not a problem with the HomeSmart Products King Size Weighted Blanket.

At 88 inches by 104 inches and with weight options up to 50 pounds, it’s the ideal blanket for couples who want to enjoy the comfort of a weighted blanket without sacrificing intimacy.

The HomeSmart blanket features micro glass beads sewn into the 400-thread count organic cotton shell with 5-by-5-inch pockets to keep the weight evenly distributed. The blanket is machine washable and dryable, which is a must for me since I don’t use duvet covers. I’ve washed the blanket several times over the last two-and-a-half years and have found it’s an effortless endeavor. If you want to add a duvet cover, the blanket has 10 loops for tying one on.

I tested the 15-pound and 25-pound comforters and enjoyed both, though the 25-pounder was almost too restrictive for me. I prefer the 15-pounder, and it’s what I sleep under when I’m not testing other models. Thanks to its breathability, it’s a great year-round blanket. Even in the summer, overheating has never been an issue.

The HomeSmart Weighted Blanket isn’t without its flaws. The 25-pound blanket started to leak beads after 18 months of use. This was likely due to one of our pets working a hole into it. I tried to reach customer service but couldn’t get a hold of anyone.

-James Brains, reporter

What else we tested

best weighted blanket 2021 what else we tested gravity helix brooklyn bedding
The Gravity Cooling, Helix, and Brooklyn Bedding weighted blankets were among the others we tested.

What we recommend and why 

Baloo Cool Cotton Weighted Blanket: The Baloo weighted blanket struck a great balance between comfort and cost. Its construction and quality felt similar enough to the Luna that we’d rather recommend the one that’s even more affordable.

Gravity Cooling Blanket: The blanket itself is well-built and high-quality, but the cooling cover did little to actually cool me off as I slept. It just felt like any other weighted blanket and didn’t do much to distinguish itself from the other blankets I tried.

Brooklyn Bedding Dual Therapy Weighted Blanket: This blanket is dual-sided — with a silky cooling side and a minky textured side. The silky side stayed cool to the touch, and the bumps on the minky side provided a nice sensory option. It didn’t feel beanbaggy, and the weight was evenly distributed. But it was only available in one size, two weights, and one dark gray color that severely limited how many home decor scenarios it would work within.

What we don’t recommend and why

Yaasa Weighted Blanket: This is a knit-style blanket similar to the Bearaby Napper, but Yaasa’s weave was much tighter and allowed for less airflow. The material also felt spongier and less cozy than the Napper’s. The Yaasa blanket was also dry clean only.

Helix Weighted Blanket: This blanket is dual-sided with a white sherpa fleece side and a gray minky fleece side. I found the sherpa side especially cozy, and so did my cat. But it had one of the worst beanbag effects of any of the blankets I tried, and there is only one size and color option available, though it did come in three weights. If this blanket suits your style, it’s a decent buy for an affordable price.

YnM Weighted Blanket: This is an Amazon bestseller in weighted blankets, so we wanted to put it to the test. It’s a perfectly serviceable budget blanket, but the glass beads created a sort of beanbag effect that the Luna did not. Plus, the Luna is even cheaper and made of Oeko-Tex certified cotton, which isn’t found with the YnM.

Our testing methodology

There are several factors I took into consideration while assessing weighted blankets. Aside from the general coziness and comfort provided by each blanket, I also assessed things like quality of material, value, weight options, and aesthetics. For example, a blanket that came in more color and weight options beat out a blanket of equal quality that came in fewer options. I also considered return policies, sleep trials, and how easy these blankets were to clean.

The following are three tests I ran each blanket through to assess general user experience:

Sleep test: I slept with each weighted blanket on my bed for at least three consecutive nights. I noted how well I slept overall and how the blanket regulated my sleep temperature. I also paid attention to how well the blanket stayed in place as I slept and how easy it was to adjust while lying under it. Part of this test also included making the bed every day (hauling a weighted blanket is harder than it looks).

Wash test: I washed every weighted blanket or cover that was machine washable at least once to ensure they held up well in the wash and didn’t shrink, shed, or otherwise show signs of wear. I noted if the added weight made them more difficult to haul into and out of the washing machine. I also discovered that one of the machine-washable blankets was so bulky it didn’t fit into my washing machine. For those blankets that weren’t machine-washable, I noted the care instructions and factored that into the cons of the blanket as I assessed them.

Weight test: I wanted to ensure each blanket was actually the advertised weight. To get an accurate reading, I weighed myself and then weighed myself again while holding each blanket, noting any discrepancies in the advertised weight versus the actual weight.

What we’re testing next

Bearaby Sleeper: This is the only weighted blanket I’ve discovered designed specifically for couples. While there’s little data available to determine the best weight for a couple to share, Bearaby has eliminated some of that guesswork by weighting the two halves of the blanket differently, allowing you to choose the right weight for each person. This is especially useful if you and your partner are drastically different sizes and would benefit from different blanket weights. The two halves can unzip from each other and become two distinct blankets. Right now, they are sold out, but Bearaby has assured us that they’ll be restocking soon, and we hope to test it once they do.

Luxome Luxury Weighted Blanket: The Luxome weighted blanket comes with a reversible cover with a plush minky fabric on one side and a cooling bamboo fabric on the other. This allows you to customize your blanket with the seasons. I’m curious to see if this versatility makes a difference in how the blanket affects my body temperature. It’s also a nice mid-range option in terms of price, and I’m hoping to add more affordable options to this guide.

Slumber Cloud Weighted Blanket: In my ongoing quest to find a cooling weighted blanket that stays put throughout the night, I’m looking forward to testing the Slumber Cloud. It’s made using thermoregulation technology developed by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their spacesuits. The Outlast technology uses small beads that absorb body heat when you get too hot and release it back to you when you get too cold. I’m fascinated by this concept, and I’m excited to see if it works.

Weighted blanket FAQs

What weight should a weighted blanket be?

It’s recommended that you select a blanket that’s roughly 10% of your body weight. But Robbins adds that there are no clinically established guideposts for choosing a blanket weight. “It’s hard for the one size fits all approach because we’re all just so unique and have different physiologies,” she says.

This is especially true when blankets come in different sizes. A 15-pound throw blanket is going to feel much heavier than a 15-pound comforter since a larger blanket distributes its weight over a larger surface area. Robbins suggests trying out weighted blankets before purchasing them. If you can’t test weighted blankets in a store, look for brands that offer sleep trials or have buyer-friendly return policies like many of our top picks.

What if I’m sharing the weighted blanket with a partner?

If you’re sharing a weighted blanket with a partner, you’ll likely want something a bit heavier, mostly because larger blankets feel lighter than smaller ones. A blog from Layla Sleep advises purchasing a blanket that’s roughly 7.5% of the couple’s combined weight.

I reached out to the brand to determine how they established this number, and a representative responded, “Most suggestions in terms of weight are based on anecdotal evidence. We also factor in the customer satisfaction data that we have when making suggestions, but ultimately the weight that’s right for any one person will depend heavily on personal preference.”

It’s important to note that this parameter hasn’t been established in any clinical trial or scientific study, so take it with a grain of salt. As long as you’re comfortable and can move freely under the blanket, you should choose the weight that works best for you.

What size weighted blanket should I get?

If you’re sharing a blanket with a partner with a similar body weight, you’ll want a weighted blanket that covers your entire bed. Many brands, including almost all of our top picks, offer blankets in multiple sizes to fit standard twin, full, queen, and king beds.

Some weighted blankets in these sizes are a bit smaller than typical comforters so the weighted blanket doesn’t hang off the side of your bed too much. Excess fabric hanging off the side can pull the weighted blanket off-center as you shift around in the night.

If you and your partner are very different weights, consider opting for two smaller separate blankets in a throw or twin size. This way, you can each get the weight that’s most comfortable for you. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of not having to worry about blanket theft in the middle of the night.

How do I choose a weighted blanket?

In addition to weight and size considerations (see above), you’ll also want to consider how easy the blanket is to clean and what type of fill it uses. A duvet cover will be easier to wash than a weighted blanket, but with a cover, you have to deal with the hassle of removing it and putting it back on. Even with ties to keep it in place, the blanket may still bunch up inside the cover.

Weighted blankets rely on glass beads, plastic pellets, or, less commonly, steel shot beads. What you prefer is a matter of personal preference. Comforters with plastic pellets tend to be cheaper, but it’s a less eco-friendly material.

How often should I wash my weighted blanket?

Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President at The American Cleaning Institute, recommends you treat your weighted blanket like any comforter, washing it once or twice a year, provided it’s covered by a duvet cover that you’re washing monthly. If it doesn’t have a removable cover, the entire blanket should be washed roughly once a month.

Are weighted blankets good for anxiety?

In theory, the answer is yes. However, there are no randomized clinical trials that can speak to the efficacy of weighted blankets in the treatment of anxiety. This is because it would be obvious once participants curl up under one of the blankets that they’re either in the control group or the weighted blanket group. 

The theory is that weighted blankets help reduce some anxiety symptoms, like quickened breathing or heart rate, by putting your autonomic nervous system at ease. 

Anecdotally, my wife and I have both been diagnosed with anxiety disorders. We’ve found lounging with a weighted blanket helps us unwind.

The bottom line is weighted blankets may help with anxiety, but there isn’t any hard science to back it up.

 

Check out our other sleep and bedding guides

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The 3 best food processors we tested in 2021

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Group photo of all of the food processor models we tested on a table
  • A good food processor can slice, shred, ground, chop, emulsify, knead, and mix food effortlessly.
  • We put seven food processors through seven distinct prep tasks to find the best ones on the market.
  • The Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro is our top pick with its powerful motor and useful accessories.
  • Find out more about how Insider Reviews tests and reviews kitchen products.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Are you working on a soup that requires loads of chopped vegetables? Want to turn steak into ground beef but don’t have a meat grinder? Are you tired of shredding cheese by hand?

Home cooks can perform these tasks in a matter of seconds with a food processor. When you have one of these marvelous appliances, you can easily make mayonnaise and pesto that far surpasses what you’d get at the store, and it costs less too.

A food processor consists of a base housing the motor and controls, a bowl for ingredients, a spinning blade, and a lid with a feed tube for adding ingredients. These appliances come with accessories, usually at least a shredding and slicing disc. And, they have safety measures that keep your hand away from the spinning blade.

To test food processors, I sliced 7 pounds of potatoes, grated a pound of parmesan, made seven batches of basil pesto, ground 10 pounds of beef, shredded 4 pounds of mozzarella cheese, emulsified eight batches of mayonnaise, mixed and kneaded seven batches of pizza dough, and chopped 7 pounds of onion, a pound of celery, and 2 pounds of carrots in seven food processors.

I also consulted with Nicki Sizemore, author of The Food Processor Family Cookbook.

I have tested kitchen appliances for four years and have developed several objective tests to determine which models are best for specific needs.

In addition to our top picks, we list other models we recommend, what we look forward to testing, and common FAQs at the end of the guide.

Here are the best food processors:

The best food processor overall

The Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor with accessories

In addition to coming with lots of useful extras, the Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor has a powerful motor that makes quick work of most tasks and a large feed tube, so you don’t always have to precut ingredients.

Pros: Easy to use, quiet operation, dishwasher-safe, long warranty, great blade placement, quick-start pulse, large feed tube, many useful accessories that fit in storage case, outstanding job of emulsifying mayo and grinding beef, powerful motor

Cons: Didn’t do well mixing dough, pulse comes to a slow stop, shredding discs are hard to clean

The large-capacity Breville Sous Chef 16 Pro Food Processor (model BFP800XL) was the most expensive unit we tested, and it was clearly the best. What strikes you first is its size. It’s big, yet it’s short enough to fit on a counter under standard cabinets. The heavy base stays put while in use. 

The Breville Sous Chef comes with a separate storage case to organize the many attachments. My favorite attachment is the variable slicing disc that has 24 width settings. I also like the 2.5-cup mini bowl and blade that is perfect for smaller jobs.

The Breville BFP800XL is simple to use since there are just five buttons: power, start, pulse, and up and down time adjustments. The easy-to-read LCD screen counts the time up or down. There’s only one processing speed that starts immediately when you press the pulse button. 

The only food test the Breville Sous Chef didn’t do well in was mixing and kneading dough. Using the dough attachment, I kneaded pizza dough for a minute, scraping down the sides halfway through. After that time, there was still unmixed flour along the sides. Though, the dough was still usable.

The processor’s emulsifying attachment made the best mayonnaise. It was also one of the best at grinding beef. The Sous Chef did a good job of chopping mirepoix, but it left a few large chunks of carrot and celery. Though it worked quickly, uniformity was an issue when shredding mozzarella. 

Only the Cuisinart did a better job with pesto. And, thanks to the large feed tube, slicing potatoes was fast and easy. The only confusing part was that the large pusher needed to be inserted into the tube for the processor to run. Once I figured that out, it was effortless.

The Breville was one of the quietest processors at about 67 decibels, which is quieter than a shower. Its S-blade came the closest to the sides and bottom of the bowl, allowing it to reach contents easily

All of the elements of the Sous Chef aside from the base are top-rack dishwasher-safe. However, Breville recommends washing the components by hand to extend their life. For the most part, handwashing was easy. The only problem was cheese tended to wedge into crevices on the shredding discs.

Best budget food processor

Hamilton Beach food processor on a white background

For under $60, the Hamilton Beach Food Processor is simple to use and clean and features a helpful tool for scraping the sides of the bowl without stopping.

Pros: Easy to clean and use, grinds beef well, comes with a useful bowl scraper, easy to store, quick-starting pulse

Cons: Loud operation, failed at making mayonnaise, poor job of shredding cheese

The Hamilton Beach Food Processor (model 70730) was the cheapest model we tested, and while its performance was noticeably inferior to our other picks, it performed admirably for a sub-$60 processor. 

One feature that stuck out was a scraper that sits in the bowl and operates using a lever on the lid. It lets you scrape down the sides without stopping the unit. None of the other models we tested had this.

Operating the Hamilton Beach processor is simple. There’s a dial on the base with four settings: off, pulse, speed one, and speed two. The base has suction cups on its feet, but they weren’t enough to keep the lightweight unit in place during operation. 

The Hamilton Beach 70730 did a great job grinding beef, but it struggled shredding mozzarella, producing a mix of shreds and chunks. It also failed to emulsify the mayonnaise. The appliance did an okay job of processing pesto, potatoes, dough, and the carrot, onion, and celery mix. 

This processor was the loudest we tested at 98.5 decibels. That’s almost as loud as a chainsaw. On the plus side, the pulse starts at high speed the moment you turn the knob, though it comes to a slow stop. And, the chopping blade comes close to the sides of the bowl, though there’s a wide gap between the blade and the bottom of the bowl.

All of the components except for the base are dishwasher-safe. I found cleaning the unit was effortless whether I tossed it in the dishwasher or tackled the job by hand. And, all of the components can be stored in the bowl.

Best blender food processor combo

Vitamix food processor attachment installed and ready to run on an Ascent series base

If you own an Ascent or Venturist series Vitamix blender or are thinking of buying one, the Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment is your best bet with its exceptional performance and ease of use.

Pros: Easy to clean and use, large feed tube, comes with disc storage case, 3-year warranty, outstanding job slicing potatoes, passed other food processing tests, great blade placement

Cons: Loud operation, pulse starts and stops slowly, may not fit under above-counter cabinets, only compatible with five Vitamix blender bases

Okay, so the Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment isn’t technically a “blender food processor combo.” However, it works with Ascent and Venturist motor bases (sold separately) so you can upgrade an already-great Vitamix blender to be an outstanding food processor. I tested the attachment with the base for the A3500

Setting up the attachment was effortless. You just set the bowl on the base and use the controls like you would for blending. For safety, the base detects if the lid and large feed tube are in place before it will run. 

The two reversible shredding/slicing discs store easily in the included storage case. However, storage isn’t completely effortless. With the base I used, the attachment has a height of 20 inches, which is higher than the standard under-cabinet space of 18 inches. 

The Vitamix attachment was the only processor that didn’t do poorly in any of the processing tests. It was the best at slicing potatoes producing consistent slices in a split second. And, thanks to its large feed tube, the potatoes required minimal pre-cutting. 

The attachment’s weakest performance was shredding cheese. The results were not very uniform, and I had to stop and free up chunks that jammed the disc. Yet, with the pesto, ground beef, mirepoix, dough, and mayo, it produced consistent, quality results.

One factor that likely helped with performance was the excellent placement of the S-blade. The blades come within 1.5 millimeters of the sides and 3 millimeters of the bottom of the bowl. And, I didn’t find any unprocessed food debris in the bowl during the testing period.  

The Vitamix 12-Cup Food Processor Attachment was loud at 86.9 decibels, which is similar to a noisy restaurant. Also, when pressing the pulse button, the processor took a beat to ramp up to high speed and slowly twirled to a stop when the button was released.

Clean-up was a snap since all of the components are dishwasher-safe. Even when I washed them by hand, the debris came off easily.

What else we tested

Group photo of all of the food processor models we tested against a white background

We tested seven food processors for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.

What else we recommend and why:

Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor, Model DFP-14BCNY ($249.95): If we had a category for the second-best overall food processor, the Cuisinart would be the easy pick. The Breville is the only unit that performed better. The Cuisinart was the best with dough and shredding mozzarella. It was quieter than a normal conversation at 58.8 decibels, and the pulse started and stopped faster than the other units. The Cuisinart just wasn’t as easy to use or as clean as the Breville. The lid has a counterintuitive fit with the feed tube at the back of the machine, the shredding discs trapped debris, and the accessories don’t store easily with the unit. If these negatives don’t bother you, consider saving $150 and going with the Cuisinart over the Breville.

What we don’t recommend and why:

Magiccos 7 in 1 Food Processor ($99.99): The Magiccos food processor was easy to clean by hand and in the dishwasher, and it was one of the best at shredding mozzarella. But, those are the only two positives. It comes with a bunch of attachments, including a juicer, but no way to store them easily. It was one of the worst at making dough, chopping mirepoix, and slicing potatoes. The pulse wasn’t responsive, and the blades didn’t come very close to the sides or bottom of the bowl.

Ninja Professional Plus Food Processor, Model BN601 ($89.99): Ninja blenders and processors have a unique four-blade system that’s supposed to make quick work of ingredients. It did a good job of grinding beef and chopping mirepoix vegetables. However, it’s hard to clean the sharp blades by hand without coming into contact with them. They’re dishwasher safe, but machine washing will dull the blades faster. The unit also had a tiny feed tube, poor blade reach, and didn’t do well pureeing pesto, shredding cheese, or slicing potatoes.

Ninja Foodi Power Blender & Processor System, Model SS351 ($179.99): This is just a blender masquerading as a food processor. There’s no slicing blade or shredding disc. It wasn’t good at chopping, leaving lots of large chunks untouched. And, as with other Ninjas, you’re going to have a hard time cleaning the blades by hand without cutting yourself. 

Our testing methodology

Two food processors being tested by chopping the same vegetables

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Ease of use: When testing the food processors, I focused on what made setting up and using each unit complicated or straightforward. I looked for specific characteristics: a heavy base, whether the base stayed put or slid around, if it was easy to see the contents, and if the base, bowl, and attachments could be stored together effortlessly.

Food processing: I processed the following foods and noted how uniform the results were on a scale of 1 (virtually no uniformity) to 5 (perfectly uniform):

  • Pesto (including grating parmesan)
  • Ground beef from chuck steak
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (using the shredding disc)
  • Onions, carrots, and celery chopped together (as for a mirepoix)
  • Yukon gold potatoes (using a slicing disc)
  • Pizza dough (using a dough blade when supplied)
  • Mayonnaise (using an emulsifying disc when included)

Here are the test results for our top picks:

Food Item

Breville Sous Chef

Hamilton Beach

Vitamix Attachment

Pesto

4

3.5

4

Ground beef

5

5

4.5

Shredded cheese

3.5

2.5

3.5

Chopped vegetables

4

3.5

4

Sliced potatoes

4.5

4.5

5

Pizza dough

3.5

4.5

4.5

Mayonnaise

5

1

4.5

Noise: I held a sound meter 2 feet from the food processor as it ran at high speed. All but two of the units registered over 85 decibels. The Cuisinart and Breville units were the only two that didn’t drown out my speakers as I listened to an audiobook.

Pulse speed: Some tasks require a pulse function that starts and stops quickly to achieve uniform results. I pressed the pulse and observed whether the blade immediately hit top speeds or if it ramped up. I also looked at how quickly it slowed down. The Cuisinart did the best at starting and stopping, while the Vitamix attachment was the worst.

Blade position: The blades need to be able to reach as much of the bowl’s interior as possible, so you don’t end up with big, unprocessed pieces. Using pennies, I measured how close the blades got to the sides and bottom of the bowl. A penny is approximately 1.5 millimeters thick. Armed with this information and five cents, I measured the positioning of the blades.

Cleaning: One of the main reasons people shy away from food processors is that they don’t want to clean them afterward. I washed all of the food processors in the dishwasher (top rack only) and by hand and assessed how easy the process was. 

What we look forward to testing

Product image of the Magimix by Robot-Coupe 14-Cup Food Processor with accessories

We’re always testing new food processors and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:

KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Food Chopper ($54.99): We didn’t test any mini food processors for this guide. This small, affordable unit would be a good candidate for a “best small food processor” category, especially since KitchenAid makes a few of our favorite kitchen appliances in other categories, including its stand mixer

Magimix by Robot-Coupe 14-Cup Food Processor ($399.95): Magimix was one of the first food processors. It comes with several attractive features, including medium and small bowls for smaller tasks, two grating discs, two slicing discs, and a 950W motor. We’re curious to see if this unit’s performance lives up to its hefty price.

Breville 12-Cup Sous Chef Plus Food Processor ($329.95): This is a smaller, more affordable version of our top pick. It’s missing the emulsifying disc, but it has the 2.5-cup mini bowl and variable slice disc that we like. Since a 16-cup bowl is more than most home chefs need, we want to see if this is a good alternative to our top pick.

FAQs

An ice cube tray filled with pesto

What’s the difference between a food processor and a blender?

Nicki Sizemore, the author of The Food Processor Family Cookbook, said the main difference between blenders and food processors is the circulation of the blade. “The nice thing about food processors is you’ve got a wider workspace, and things circulate around the blade easier,” she said. With a blender, you need to add liquid to get the food to circulate around the blade. When you don’t need liquid, you’re free to chop, dice, and otherwise pulverize solid ingredients.

Sizemore also noted that it’s easier to scrape out all of the food in a food processor’s bowl. “When you make something like hummus in a blender, the food gets stuck under the blade,” she said. “Whereas you can pull out the food processor blade and scrape it off and get into the corners of the bowl.”


 What should you look for when shopping for a food processor?

Sizemore recommends simpler food processors. Look for a sturdy work bowl and a nice large sharp blade. “The S-blade is really the only blade you need to be concerned with as well as the slicing disc and shredding disc attachments,” she said. She warns against being wooed by extra attachments since they’re unlikely to work better than the basic components, you’re unlikely to use them, and they can add to kitchen clutter.

Sizemore suggested choosing a unit with a heavy base so it stays put while it operates. But, since it’s so heavy, you’ll want to devote counter space to it. So, measure the cabinet and shelf clearance where you’re likely to keep your appliance and make sure the dimensions of the model you’re interested in will fit. You’ll also want to choose a finish that matches your decor. 

You might also consider a mini food processor. Sizemore has one for small tasks, such as making salad dressings and chopping nuts. Our top pick, the Breville Sous Chef, features a mini bowl that fits into the full-size bowl so you can do tiny jobs.

Check out our other small appliance guides

Several blenders prepared to make smoothies with leafy greens
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The 5 best kitchen knives we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Putting your knife set together piecemeal is the best way to go, and a quality chef’s knife is absolutely essential.
  • The Wusthof Classic Ikon 8″ Chef’s Knife is our favorite, but we also like Victorinox, Shun, and more.

There may be no more important tool in your kitchen than your chef’s knife. It is the one-stop-shop for all of your slicing, chopping, dicing, and trimming needs. Sure, there are other kitchen knives well worth their steel, but we can’t stress this enough: if you’re going to put your money into any one knife, or if you’re considering buying a knife set, think about a single, high-quality chef’s knife to start.

While we do offer a guide to the best knife sets – and recommend some budget-friendly options like the Victorinox Fibrox Pro set (a staple in many commercial kitchens) – you can end up with a lot of filler pieces if you go the pre-packaged route. Everyone we’ve spoken with on the matter, from famed butcher Pat LaFrieda to late gourmand and chef Anthony Bourdain, has been quick to the point: most knife sets are a waste of money. And having knocked around enough commercial bars and kitchens myself, I can’t agree more. Rarely do you see a chef, sous chef, or line cook, fiddling with anything but a chef’s knife.

For this guide, we focused on chef’s knives for the reasons above, but we also ran through dozens of paring, boning, utility, and bread knives to recommend one of each of those as well.

Here are the best kitchen knives of 2021

The best chef’s knife overall

Our favorite chef’s knife, Wüsthof’s Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife on a kitchen countertop

Hefty but balanced, The traditional German design of Wüsthof’s Classic Ikon 8″ Chef’s Knife suits most hands and stands up to just about every kitchen task.

Pros: Great for chopping and dicing, agreeable handle for most, rust- and chip-resistant

Cons: Requires regular sharpening

The Wüsthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife is the most traditional western knife there is: It’s big, it’s heavy, and it’s made with relatively soft, rust-, and chip-resistant stainless steel. 

As far as quality knives go, this is the knife we’ve found to handle the most difficult tasks while also still offering agility and precision.

Before we go further, we should mention one caveat: Ahead of investing in a chef’s knife, know that of all the kitchen knives you might purchase, it is the most personal choice you’re going to have to make.

No matter which knife you choose, your chef’s knife is the one you’ll rely upon most. It offers the most surface area for larger chopping and slicing jobs, and it also handles the most force for hardier root vegetables, meat, and poultry. Different designs might favor chopping and dicing over slicing (and vice-versa), but we like the only slightly rounded belly of the Wüsthof Classic Ikon, which strikes a happy medium for the two tasks.

We also like the modified handle of the Ikon series knives in general, which isn’t quite German, but not quite Japanese, either. It seems to be a hybrid of the two and fits most hands comfortably (we placed our top pick in several different palms).

All in all, this is a great knife for the average household in which kitchen knives aren’t generally taken care of, and no matter who gets a hold of this thing or what they do with or to it, you’ll be able to bring it back up to snuff. That and the fact that it’s a relatively thin and agile blade as far as German knives go make it the best all-around pick based on our testing.

The best budget chef’s knife

The Victorinox Fibrox Chef’s Knife on a kitchen counter.

Popular in busy commercial kitchens and homes alike, Victorinox’s Fibrox has a highly ergonomic handle and stands up to rough use like few others.

Pros: Maneuverable, comfortable handle, decent edge retention

Cons: Not razor-sharp straight out of the factory, takes some work to sharpen, not perfectly balanced 

Victorinox’s entire Fibrox line is a favorite in commercial kitchens because its knives are among the few that can pass through numerous line cooks’ hands and accidental trips through the dishwasher unscathed. The Fibrox Chef’s Knife is budget-friendly, but it’s also perfect for short-term rentals, first apartments, and more generally, people who don’t necessarily want to spend time taking care of their kitchen tools. 

My kitchen sees a lot of “chefs,” and for that reason, I have my knives squirreled away separately from the communal kitchen knives, which are entirely from Victorinox. This way, I don’t have to worry about someone slicing a lemon and leaving an expensive knife on the counter, not only wet but coated in citric acid, or trying to pry open a lid via a Japanese blade, which is horrific to think about. 

And even though the Fibrox Chef’s Knife has withstood the abuse mentioned above (and more), there’s neither a single stain nor chip on it. Sure, it’s a bit scratched (coarse sponges are terrible for stainless steel, but more on care below), but all I do is give it a sharpening every couple of months, which with diligence gets it sharper than it was from the factory, and it performs impressively.

We also find it to be a little on the safer side thanks to the ultra-grippy Fibrox handle, which is easy to hold even when wet or greasy.

Read more about the Fibrox line in our guide to the best knife sets (even though we generally don’t recommend sets, this one is an exception).

The best paring knife

Victorinox’s Classic 3.25” paring knife on a kitchen countertop.

A paring knife is a simple tool for lighter tasks, and Victorinox’s 3.25″ Straight Paring Knife offers everything you need of it and nothing you don’t.

Pros: Resilient, relatively rust-proof, dishwasher-safe

Cons: Very lightweight, requires regular sharpening

You really, really don’t need to spend a fortune on a paring knife. We think Victorinox’s 3.25″ Straight Paring Knife does the job about as well as anything because it’s not the blade you’re going to rely on for heavier-duty tasks.  

Hulling strawberries, slicing a small bit of garlic, and peeling and seeding fruit is about all you’re going to use it for, and while they’re not the most demanding tasks, this knife handles them every bit as well as you’d hope anything would. Sure, you can spend a lot more and get a weightier paring knife, but it’s far from necessary.

And while, again, it’s about as cheap as any kitchen knife gets, it’s also much more resilient than pricier picks. Years ago, one of our testers admitted to running it through the dishwasher regularly, and has found only one small speck of rust since. 

The only other issue that arises with this knife is that you’ll have to sharpen it as regularly as our budget pick for a chef’s knife. Depending upon how often you put it to work, that could range from every month to every few months. 

Otherwise, keep this knife clean and dry like any other and it will work and last like any other.

The best bread knife

Victorinox’s Fibrox Bread Knife on a granite countertop.

A long, thin blade with shallow serrations makes the surprisingly affordable Victorinox Fibrox 10″ Bread Knife a precise tool for slicing bread and more.

Pros: Nicely weighted (for a budget-friendly knife), great grip

Cons: Not as heavy as top-of-the-line bread knives, not as sharp out of the factory

It’s debatable whether you want to spend much on a bread knife depending on how often you’ll be using it, but Victorinox’s Fibrox Bread Knife is a quality tool at a reasonable price. It withstands the same amount of rough use as the rest of our recommendations from that line, but thanks to the larger handle and longer blade it carries a little more weight than the more budget-friendly options we considered. 

In our tests, which involved slicing less-than-forgiving, homemade, no-knead bread, it fared as well as everything we tried until we reached the $200 range, which is an absurd price for a bread knife for most people. That pretty much settled it. 

We also can’t lend enough praise to the Fibrox handles in general, which everyone seems to appreciate, and apart from their ergonomic qualities, instill a sense of security with their non-slip grips.

Because this blade is not only thin but also only shallowly serrated, you won’t have as much trouble sharpening it on your own as you would with, say, a deep-scalloped one that doesn’t take to a simple pull-through sharpener as well. It also turns out that this knife isn’t bad for slicing softer fruits and carving meat and poultry.

If you’re looking for something a little more on the affordable side, our previous pick (which we retested against this one) is the Mercer Culinary Millennia Wavy Edge 10-inch Wide Bread Knife. It has a slightly thicker blade and a deeper serration, so it’s not going to be as precise, but it’s got a similar handle and costs half the price.

The best utility knife

Shun’s VG-Max 6” utility knife on a granite countertop.

With VG Max steel wrapped in layered Damascus steel, Shun’s Classic 6″ Utility Knife is sharper and retains a better edge than most German-style knives, and is perfect for trimming and more precise cuts.

Pros: Extremely sharp, great edge retention, rust-resistant, very well-balanced

Cons: Slightly brittle and easier to chip than German steel, small, D-shaped handle favors right-handers

A utility knife needs to be extra sharp for more precise cuts and trimming without tearing foods, and Shun’s Classic 6″ Utility Knife uses VG-Max Damascus steel, effectively offering the best of both worlds between Japanese-style and German-style blades.

Damascus steel is made by forging and hammering carbon-rich steel (in this case, VG-Max) at a low temperature, cranking up the heat, and then cooling it abruptly. The material is known for its flexibility and corrosion resistance, not to mention its signature swirly “damask” pattern that tends to woo one and all. While its beauty is something to behold, the important takeaway is that you get a knife that holds a stronger edge than carbon steel but flexes better than stainless steel. 

While we veered away from Japanese steel for our chef’s knife top pick, and didn’t recommend a Damascus or VG Max steel option because of the cost, a smaller utility knife from Shun makes that type of pricier steel more affordable.

Apart from being remarkably more rust-resistant than other Japanese and Japanese-style knives we tried, this knife isn’t so brittle that we’ve had trouble with chipping or dinging. Still, you’ll want to keep it away from harder foods and surfaces, and especially bones. Where this knife shines is with smaller, in-between tasks where a chef’s knife is overkill and a paring knife is painfully laborious. Think slicing tomatoes or dicing shallots. It’s not a necessary knife for everyone, but behind those two knives and a bread knife, it’s the next most important one for most kitchens. On that note, it did offer enough flexibility for me to not necessarily fillet, but skin and trim boneless meat. 

Shun’s knives are made with a material known as Pakka wood, which is really a wood-and-plastic composite that looks an awful lot like walnut. Purists might cringe, but it gives the look without bringing along the worry of the handle splitting.

If you’re really averse to owning a Japanese knife for one reason or another (either the handle or the extra care required), look to the utility knife version of our top-recommended chef’s knife, the 6″ Wüsthof Ikon.

What else we tested

A pile of chef’s, paring, bread, and utility knives on a granite countertop.

Shun: Probably the most popular Japanese knife in the US, Shun offers relatively affordable VG- and Damascus-steel knives. Apart from recommending the brand’s utility knife, one of my personal favorite knives is the 8″ Chef’s knife.

Korin: Another mid-range Japanese knife similar to Shun, Korin is a favorite of Pat LaFrieda and Andrew Zimmern, and is competitive with Mac.

J.A. Henckels: One of the veritable classics in German knives, J.A. Henckels’ knives were a little thicker in the blade than our other picks, but you really can’t go wrong here.

Dexter-Russell: Similar to Victorinox’s Fibrox series, Dexter-Russell offers a line of similarly iconic white-handled knives at a great price point, and which you’ll find in commercial kitchens all over. We just found that the handles on the Fibrox knives are much grippier.

Mac: This company makes an outstanding chef’s knife, especially for the price. The only reason we couldn’t recommend this as an overall pick was its delicacy. At the hands of most people, this knife isn’t going to stay in great shape for long. If you care for your knives, on the other hand, we can’t recommend it enough.

Made In: These, like many other DTC-brand knives, are made with X50CrMoV15 steel and are a great deal for the price. Like the others, they didn’t exactly wow us, but we found nothing really wrong with them, either. The rounded handle seems to work well with many hands.

Material: These knives are made with “high-carbon” steel, but we wouldn’t call it high-quality. They have a hybrid handle that should suit most hands, and they’re easy enough to sharpen and perfectly serviceable knives.

Misen: More X50CrMoV15 steel and a great deal for the price. These are extremely popular for a reason, and we like them plenty, too.

Our Place: Another DTC brand making X50CrMoV15 steel blades, Our Place’s knives are more than satisfactory. We liked the hybrid handle, but not as much as others. If the handle looks like it’ll suit you, these are nicely designed and balanced knives.

Steelport Knife Co.: This is a much fancier, carbon-steel option for someone who wants to invest in a gorgeous and impossibly sharp blade. We love it, but we also recognize that it requires care. 

Our methodology

A pile of knives sit next to sliced paper as part of testing for the best kitchen knife set in 2021

We finely sliced tomatoes and onions with chef’s knives, minced garlic and shallots with utility and paring knives, hulled strawberries with paring knives, and sliced hard-crusted no-knead bread with serrated slicing knives. We then dulled each blade by rapping them repeatedly on a glass cutting board (word to the wise, never use one of these) and returned to each knife’s respective task to note any dulling or chipping.

We also made sure to put each knife into as many different hands as possible, ranging from professional cooks to hobbyists.

Lastly, we consulted a series of chefs, butchers, and metallurgists, including Chef Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen, Pat LaFrieda, and Michael J Tarkanian, a professor of metallurgy at MIT.

A word on Japanese knives

We took Japanese knives out of the running for our top chef’s knife pick. While they’re a personal favorite, they’re notoriously difficult to maintain, and therefore not suited for most kitchens. Simply put, if you’re starting to invest in your kitchen knives, we don’t want to recommend a fine knife that will easily be misused.

“High-carbon stainless steel” is a bit of a buzzword in reaction to the popularity of Japanese-style knives, which can attain notoriously sharper edges than their German-style counterparts. The delicacy of Japanese knives has to do with the hardness of the standard high-carbon stainless steel, which allows for a finer and sharper but proportionally brittler edge.

Still, if you’re the type of person who takes particularly good care of your tools (and aren’t sharing a kitchen with someone who won’t), you may prefer a Japanese knife. But know that they require meticulous cleaning and drying, as well as careful storage, or they’ll end up with rusted and/or chipped blades.

Other considerations:

Edge retention: Our knife-testing process involved slicing fresh tomatoes and taking note of the ease with which each chef’s knife handled the task. After we had sufficient data, we took each chef’s knife to a glass cutting board and ran it over the surface 200 times. Some knives held their edge, others not so much. We looked at the edges after running the knives and noted if there were any visible changes. 

We then returned to the tomatoes, cutting a few more and seeing how much resistance we felt compared with the performance of the knives straight out of the packaging. Knives that held their edges passed on to further rounds of consideration.

Alloy, and the HRC (hardness rating): We consulted several experts in the field, but the most informative source we encountered was Michael J Tarkanian, a professor of metallurgy at MIT. With his help, we were able to cut through the marketing and the scientific terminology behind different alloys and what allows a knife to retain an edge.

We looked for a hardness rating of around 60 HRC, which offers great edge retention while still allowing for an edge of around 15 degrees (though up to 20 degrees, which is duller than 15, was still considered sufficient).

Ergonomics: For a knife to work well, you have to be able to hold it comfortably in your hand. We asked several people to pick up knives and decide which ones were the easiest to grip; across the board, they went for the ones with heavier, rounded, almost bulbous handles.

Balance: The weight of the handle and the blade is also somewhat critical. Pricier knives almost always offer better balance because that extra cost goes into using denser and often more desirable materials, like layered Damascus steel. 

A well-balanced knife with a good blade will cut through vegetables with minimal pressure, like our top pick from Wusthof. A not-so-well-balanced knife will take a little force to get started.

What we look forward to testing

Mac’s Mighty 80 chef’s knife on a kitchen counter

We’re looking forward to testing Santoku knives and more Japanese chef’s knives for our next update. While they’re superior in certain ways, they don’t stand up to the rough handling that they’ll endure at the hands of the average home cook, so we’ll have separate picks coming soon. Until then, we’re big fans of Shun, Global, Korin, and MAC. Just know that while you might not have to sharpen them as much as softer-steeled German blades, they’re slightly more prone to rust (due to higher carbon levels) and chipping (due to their increased hardness).

We’re also going to recommend a boning knife for those who need to trim and debone meat but in the meantime, Victorinox’s Fibrox Pro is an affordable option, and the Wüsthof Classic Ikon is a pricier step up which we like so far.

FAQs

A pile of knives on a granite countertop.

How to choose a knife

The most important thing about a knife, and especially a chef’s knife, is how it fits in your hand. So long as you spend at least $50 on a chef’s knife, it’s going to be sharp (and sharpenable) enough to get most any job done. Decide what kind of handle you want first. German-style knives are generally more molded to the palm with a pronounced butt end, while Japanese-style knives are almost uniformly cylindrical and smaller. Both designs work for everyone; it just depends on the feel you prefer and, to some degree, how you hold the knife.

The type of steel you choose should be based on the kind of care you’re (realistically) going to give your knife. If you don’t envision yourself sharpening and perfectly drying and storing your knife after every use, German stainless steel (e.g., 440, 420) is going to be much more forgiving, though softer and quicker to dull.

If you are a tool fanatic and know that you’ll take good care of your knives and are also confident that they won’t find their way into the wrong hands, carbon steel is a great pick because it’s incredibly sharp. Just know that it’s likely to rust and chip more easily.

In between, you have VG-10 and VG-Max (proprietary to Shun, but about the same as VG-10), which have added alloys (tungsten, vanadium) that make them a little more stain-resistant and less brittle. They’re great for those who want a Japanese-style knife without having to care so devoutly for it.

Then there’s Damascus steel, which is made by forging and hammering carbon-rich steel at a low temperature, cranking up the heat, and then cooling it abruptly. Damascus steel is known for its flexibility and corrosion resistance, and we recommend it, but be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals. A lot of manufacturers will etch the mesmerizing swirls into a blade without performing the time-consuming and expensive hammering process.


Why (or why not) buy a knife set

In general, things that come in sets tend to involve compromised quality, and often contain filler pieces. In the case of knife sets, you’re probably going to receive a bunch of knives and other gadgets (including a large woodblock) that you may never use. 

A lot of newer (and older) DTC brands recognize that consumers are growing wiser and learning that sets are generally a ripoff. As a result, there are lots of two- to five-piece sets on the market. If you’re looking in the budget range, we’re all for them, and we’ve pretty much tried them all. The steel is almost always the same quality, so choose based on the handle style you like.

Otherwise, though, sets don’t make a lot of sense for most people. Invest in a chef’s knife, first and foremost, with which, by the way, you can tackle all of your kitchen tasks, minus maybe slicing bread. Next, a paring knife is probably the most sensible purchase, but since it’s not doing a lot of the heavy work, we say go cheap. That said, feel free to spend what you’d like; there is something to be said for a weightier, sharper blade in the case of every knife.

A slicing and/or bread knife may or may not be important to you depending upon whether or not you consume much bread or slice much meat. You can find one that does the job for as little as $20, or, again, the sky’s the limit. For most people, we like the $40-$60 range.

Beyond the above, you’re getting into specific tasks most people don’t really take on at home. Fillet knives, boning knives, santoku knives, and shears are all further considerations. Even if you want all of those knives, you’re still likely better off purchasing them piecemeal. It’ll be more affordable, and you’ll also be able to budget so that you can put your money where it counts.

Glossary

A diagram of a chef’s knife pointing out each feature.

Heal: The corner of the blade where the edge meets the bolster.

Edge: The sharpened, business side of the blade.

Tang: The part of the blade that runs to or through the handle. “Full-tang” is a common term, which means the blade steel is a single piece of steel that runs through the handle.

Rivets: The pins holding the handle together (more common in German handles).

Bolster: Above the heel, a spacer where the blade meets the handle, and an area to grab or choke up on when performing finer tasks.

Tip: The pointy, or front end of the knife opposite the handle.

High-carbon steel: Steel with at least 0.55% carbon content.

Stainless steel: An alloy of iron, chromium, and sometimes other metals. This is a very general term, but it’s the basic steel with which German knives are made.

VG10, VG-Max: A high-carbon steel blended with tungsten and vanadium, and sometimes other metals to lend flexibility and rust resistance.

Damascus Steel: A two-plus-millennia-old process, Damascus steel is made by forging and hammering carbon-rich steel at a low temperature, cranking up the heat, and then cooling it abruptly, repeatedly (generally dozens of times). Damascus steel is known for its flexibility and corrosion resistance while still retaining a superior edge, which is why it is traditionally (and famously) used for samurai swords.

Check out more related guides

9 knife sets lined up on a granite countertop
Too many knives.

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The 85 truly unique gifts for your girlfriend that she will actually love, from personalized jewelry to unique subscription boxes

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Check out all 85 gifts for your girlfriend:

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ClassPass Gift Card, from $15

Boutique fitness classes are expensive, which can make trying new workouts — either for variety or to figure out what we like — less appealing. 

ClassPass solves both issues. It’s relatively affordable, and members can access a neverending catalog of great workouts with small class sizes. If your partner is getting back into fitness after over a year of at-home workouts, we’d highly recommend a gift card here for whenever they’re ready to use it.

Leggings fit for workouts and lounge sessions

Woman wearing Vuori's daily leggings.

Vuori Daily Legging, from $59

Vuori is known for its smooth, soft fabrics and flattering fits — and the Daily Legging is no exception. Combining the leisure and comfort of a jogger with the function and stretch of a legging, your girlfriend can wear these for both workouts and weekend lounging. 

*Sponsored by Vuori

A disposable camera that doesn’t take you out of the moment

A green disposable Fujifilm camera.

Disposable camera, $45

Interested in preserving memories without taking yourself out of them? A good disposable camera or a film camera can take the pressure away from perfection so you and your girlfriend can focus on just savoring experiences together.

The best electric toothbrush

Three Hum Electric Toothbrushes on a red background

Electric toothbrush, $39.99

If your girlfriend is more interested in gifts she needs as well as wants, an electric toothbrush is a good option. We’ve tested our fair share of electric toothbrushes, and we think Colgate’s Hum is the best value. It cleans thoroughly and offers advanced features and modern design for $70 — which is considerably more affordable than options with fancy features you may not use enough. 

A planned trip for the two of you to take together

An Airbnb glass house with a man inside, set in a snowy landscape.

Airbnb Gift Card, available at Airbnb, from $25

If you want to gift an experience you and your girlfriend can enjoy together, grab a card, a gift card to Airbnb, and come up with a few location ideas to choose from. 

You can also book a hotel in your city on Booking.com or Expedia for a sweet staycation. 

*This gift can be saved and used at a later date.

A versatile Exercise Dress

Woman wearing the outdoor voices exercise dress in black

The Exercise Dress, available on Outdoor Voices, $100

Given the popularity of the Exercise Dress, we wouldn’t be surprised if this was on your girlfriend’s wish list. The Exercise Dress is comfortable, versatile, and cute — which has made it a cult-favorite item. If she’s a fan of dresses, outdoor voices, or clothes she can wear all day long, this may be a good option. 

Her favorite specialty food straight from the source

A stacked roast beef sandwich from Goldbelly.

Order her favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $28

Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy your girlfriend’s most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior’s, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration. 

A streaming bundle that checks off all the boxes

The Disney+ bundle showing logos for Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+

Hulu, Disney+ ESPN+ Bundle, available at Disney+ESPN+, and Hulu, from $13.99 per month

If canceled sporting events or trips to Disney have you feeling down, you can gift Disney+, ESPN, and Hulu together to ensure the next few months include plenty of entertainment options. If your partner is not too fond of ads, this bundle can also be purchased with the ad-free version of Hulu.

A small skincare tool that removes 99.5% of dirt, oil, and makeup residue

The foreo luna facial brush in blue

Foreo Luna Play Plus 2, available at Foreo, $59

In the category of things your girlfriend may love but hasn’t asked for yet: Foreo facial brushes. Our team swears by these gentle yet effective cleansing devices. They have hygienic silicone bristles and come in five different models for different skin types. The Luna is small enough to bring on the go, so your partner can maintain their skincare routine while traveling. 

A thoughtful book she’ll love

red book cover of cheryl strayed's tiny beautiful things book

“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed, available on Amazon, $12.42

Pick up one of your all-time favorite books that you think she’d like, or browse some of the books we love to gift. This collection of Dear Sugar advice columns is a heartfelt favorite. Its topics are diverse, its letters to Dear Sugar are intimate and relatable, and Cheryl Strayed’s responses are both witty and extraordinarily compassionate.

A membership to a huge outdoor co-op

Woman outdoors in a helmet on a bike petting a white dog

REI Co-Op Lifetime Membership, $20, available at REI

An REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. If your girlfriend loves the outdoors, this is an option she can enjoy solo and with you. 

A Dutch oven to elevate their bread game

Red Enameled Dutch Oven

Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, available at Walmart, $79.90

Did your girlfriend get into baking bread and, miraculously, stay committed to it? If so, a really nice Dutch oven can help elevate her experience. You can get something great for under $100, or you can splurge on a beautiful Le Creuset. Other meaningful upgrades include a cooling rackaccording to the famous baker Apollonia Poilâne.

A subscription that sends her a six-month world tour of teas

indonesia atlas tea club gift subscription of two teas, tea cup, and a photo of indonesia set against a white background

Atlas Tea Club 6 Month Subscription, available on Atlas Tea Club, $109

This subscription sends your girlfriend single-origin teas from the best tea-growing regions in the world for six months. She’ll get two delicious options sent to her home each month.

Festive matching underwear from one of the internet’s favorite startups

gifts for girlfriend

Matching Underwear, available at MeUndies, $42

Get yourself and your girlfriend festive matching underwear — which also happen to be some of the most comfortable pairs we’ve ever found. MeUndies gives you the options to create your own personalized set — two styles listed for women, two styles listed for men, a mix, and whichever length or cut you and your partner prefer. 

A standing desk for a home office upgrade

Gifts for girlfriend Jarvis Standing Desk

Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk, available at Fully, from $569

If she’s working from home, your girlfriend might love a home office upgrade the most. We ranked the Fully Jarvis the best standing desk; it provides the right blend of features and reliable performance. Its customizations for style, height, and accessories make it adaptable to pretty much any need. 

A framed keepsake of a favorite memory

Framebridge sale

Framed photo, available at Framebridge, from $45

Gift Card, available at Framebridge, from $25

Framebridge makes custom framing a bit more affordable. You can print or paint something on your own and have it framed, or have them print and frame it, and you can take advantage of the team of designers for help deciding what frame to get. 

The best socks she’ll ever wear

Women's Performance Running Ankle Sock 3 Pack

Bombas Women’s Performance Running Ankle Sock 3-Pack, $49.50

Bombas makes the best socks we’ve ever tried, and they’re a gift we find ourselves giving every year to loved ones. They’re lightweight, moisture-wicking, and built to circumvent annoyances like uncomfortable seams and heel slipping.

A powerful, customizable massage gun

Theragun

Theragun PRO, available at Therabody, $599

This is the best massage gun we’ve tested — though it’s also on the higher end of what you would expect to pay. We loved it in part due to its two-year warranty, adjustable massage arm, customizable speeds, 60 lbs of no-stall force, six different heads, an extra battery, and how easy it is to use. If you can’t give your girlfriend an unlimited pass to professional massages, this is a nice in-between option. 

A nice gold vermeil and sapphire zodiac sign necklace

Mejuri, $80

Aquarius Necklace, available at Mejuri, $395

Mejuri is a Canadian startup created in 2015 to make fine jewelry affordable to buy — and it has racked up waitlists with more than 40,000 people before. Their popular Zodiac Necklace is cool, minimalist, and something she can wear every day. It’s made in gold vermeil with AAA quality white sapphires. Mejuri’s affordable pricing means the estimated traditional retail price of the same necklace elsewhere would be closer to $235.  

The best bathrobe that money can buy

Gifts for girlfriend Snowe bathrobe

Bathrobe, available at Snowe, $100

Snowe’s unisex bathrobe has been called the best and most absorbent terry robe on the market, and I’m just one more fervent believer. The cotton fiber traps air for extra absorbency and is soft and plush, and the unisex sizing means it will feel like a blanket-turned-robe. Perfect functionality, and extra points for coziness.

A tracker for finding cell phones and wallets quickly

Tile Pro

Tile Pro, available at Amazon, $34.99

When your girlfriend can’t find her phone, all she has to do is click the Tile button to make her phone ring, even if it’s on silent. We’ve found them especially useful lately

A monogrammed jewelry case from a minimalist fashion startup

cuyana, $115

Leather Jewelry Case, available at Cuyana, $85 (+ $15 for monogram)

Keeping track of tiny and delicate jewelry is difficult — but jewelry cases are a pretty and useful solution. This is a thoughtful and personalized gift, especially if you’ve gotten your girlfriend jewelry in the past, or plan to in the future. It’s made from premium leather, comes in many colors, and can be monogrammed with her initials. Cuyana is a cool leather bag startup she may have already heard of. 

A pair of blue light-blocking glasses that look good enough to wear outside of the house

Felix Gray

Faraday Glasses, available at Felix Gray, from $95

If she’s ever complained about strain from constant screens, you can help mitigate it with a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. They might even help with sleep.

The convenience of Apple AirPods

Apple Airpods

Apple AirPods, available at Best Buy, $129.99

When it comes to convenience, truly wireless earbuds are the best. And Apple’s AirPods are very popular with iPhone and Android users alike. They look subtle compared to other bigger options, and they’re easy to use. For the latest option, you can pick up AirPods Pro for $199.99 on Best Buy too. 

A 215-piece art kit for creative projects

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Art 101 215-Piece Wood Art Set, available at Amazon, $49.99

If your girlfriend loves to create art, this 215-Piece art kit includes everything she’ll need for projects: crayons, colored pencils, oil pastels, fine line markers, watercolor cakes, and acrylic paint.

A year-long MasterClass membership to learn about things she’s passionate about

masterclass serena williams

Annual Membership, available at MasterClass, from $180/year

If your dinner table conversations often include talk of photography, or tennis, or screenwriting, or another passion, consider getting your girlfriend a gift that helps her spend time with her hobbies. We love MasterClass because it kind of feels like entertainment. Classes are short, there’s no homework, and she can listen to the audio like its a podcast or watch the videos. 

The site hosts classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders — from Neil deGrasse Tyson teaching Scientific Thinking and Communication to Malcolm Gladwell on Writing, Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television, and Bob Iger on Business Strategy and Leadership. You can read our full review here.

A one-size-fits-all lid that instantly declutters the cabinets

Made In frying pan lid

Silicone Universal Lid Kit, available at Made In, $59

This was one of the gifts that professional chefs recommended to us for avid home cooks. If your girlfriend loves to cook and has a plethora of differently sized pots and pans with all the corresponding lids, having one universal lid can declutter and streamline their space in one move. 

A convenient phone sanitizer

PhoneSoap Black Friday

PhoneSoap 3 Smartphone UV Sanitizer, available at PhoneSoap, $79.95

This small, easy-to-use device uses UV-C light to sanitize a phone, killing 99.9% of common household germs.

A bottle (or two) of wine

McBride Sisters wine

McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Wine, starting at $19.99

As the largest black-owned wine company in the United States, the McBride Sisters Collection is the perfect place to find a wine gift for your girlfriend. The Black Girl Magic collection in particular is inspired by the resilience of black women and includes varieties from Rosé to Merlot. 

The new Sonos Move portable speaker

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Sonos Move, available at Best Buy, $399.99

The Sonos Move is one of the best speakers on the market. It’s powerful, can be controlled by voice or an app, and has Amazon Alexa built-in so on WiFi you can play music, check the news, set alarms, get your questions answered, and more, without much effort.

16 highly-rated sheet masks

Gifts for girlfriend Dermal

Sheet Mask Set, available at Amazon, $22.99

Grab 39 sheet masks to make it easier for your girlfriend to have a frequent and well-deserved “treat yourself” day. These are highly-rated and have both vitamin E and collagen included for healthy, happy skin.   

A weighted blanket for better rest

ynm weighted blanket

YnM Weighted Blanket, available at YnM, from $39.50

Weighted blankets help create more restful sleep by “grounding” the body, and YnM makes some of the most popular and affordable weighted blankets on the internet. There are multiple sizes and weights for the ideal fit and width (they recommend picking whichever is about 10% of your body weight), and the segmented design allows you to move around without displacing all the weighted beads inside. 

A mini multipurpose tool

mini multipurpose 12 in 1 knife tool

Mini Multitool Knife 12 in 1, available on Amazon, $8.99

This lightweight multitool has a knife, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, scissors, and a bottle opener — so it’s nine times as many opportunities for being useful as your average gift. 

A sleek fitness tracker that includes heart rate monitoring

Gift for friend Fitbit Inspire 2

Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Best Buy, $99.95

Fitbit’s affordable Inspire 2 tracker has no shortage of useful features to keep someone informed about their physical activity — tracking calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones.

An 8-in-1 pan that helps to declutter your home

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Always Pan, available at Our Place, $115

If you’re spending more time at home cooking together — or re-organizing the kitchen — she may appreciate a good 8-in-1 cookware hack.

The Always Pan from startup Our Place is a frying pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest in the space of a single pan. In other words, a clever generalist that’s extremely convenient for small spaces or minimalist cooks. You can read our review here.

A video message from someone she loves almost as much as you

Gifts for girlfriend Cameo; gifts for dad

Cameo Video Messages, available at Cameo, from $15

Whether it’s your girlfriend’s favorite actor, comedian, or athlete, you’re likely to find someone she admires on Cameo. Cameo allows celebrities to send custom video messages to recipients for nearly any occasion, and a personalized video is a gift that she’ll never forget. 

Personalized cartoon couple mugs

Personalized Family Mugs

Personalized Family Mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, from $30

These cute mugs can be personalized for what you’re like as a couple, making for a special weekend morning coffee routine or just a nice reminder in the kitchen cabinet. On the back, you can add a family name and the year the couple was established if you’d like. 

Silky, breathable leggings

Everlane Performance Leggings

Everlane Leggings, $68

Everlane’s Perform Leggings are some of our all-time favorites — they’re breathable and silky, like a slightly less expensive version of Alo leggings. You can read a full review of the Everlane Perform Leggings and see pictures of them here.

Beautiful candles from a cool startup

Gifts for girlfriend Otherland

Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36

Otherland is a candle company started by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. If you want to give your girlfriend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from a startup that she’s probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option. Find our full review here.

The last weekend bag you’ll ever need to buy her

Rothy's The Weekender Bag

Rothy’s The Weekender, available at Rothy’s, $550

With its large, padded top handles and roomy interior, Rothy’s The Weekender might be the last overnight bag your partner ever needs. It’s got multiple pockets and a sturdy insert that helps it maintain its shape. You’ll be shocked by how much you can fit in this bag — definitely enough for a long weekend. It’s made of recycled plastic pulled from the ocean and is machine washable.  

The “world’s most comfortable shoes”

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Women’s Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $98

The classic Wool Runners make a great gift for the uninitiated, though we’d also highly recommend the brand’s casual cup sole Wool Piper for everyday wear if that’s more your partner’s style. You can find our full review of the Runners here, and the Wool Pipers here.

A customized map of her favorite place

grafomap, $49+

Custom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, from $49

Grafomap lets you design custom maps of anywhere in the world — like the first place you met, the best trip you ever took together, or the hometown she couldn’t wait to show you. It’s unique, thoughtful, and pretty inexpensive.  You can find our full review here.

A gift card to a popular wine subscription club

Winc, from $60

Gift Card, available at Winc, from $29.95

Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think it’s the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. 

Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions. 

An exercise bike for staying active indoors

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Commercial S22i Studio Cycle, available at NordicTrack, $1,999

If money is of no object and your partner is trying to figure out how to exercise while staying indoors, an exercise bike is a particularly thoughtful and useful gift right now. 

We like the NordicTrack option the most overall, but we also like and recommend options that are under $200

A large print on fine art paper of a favorite memory

Gifts for girlfriend Artifact Uprising

Large Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising, from $22

Artifact Uprising makes luxury prints at accessible prices — and they make especially thoughtful gifts that look like they should cost much more. Get one of their favorite photos printed on archival fine art paper for $20 and up, or thoughtful cards for as little as $1 per custom card. You can also make a color series photo book for $22, a set of prints for $9, and a personalized calendar on a handcrafted wood clipboard for $30.

A mug that keeps hot drinks hot for up to six hours straight

hydro flask $29.95

Hydro Flask Mug, 12 oz, available at Hydro Flask, from $24.95

This mug is a common desk companion for the Insider Reviews team. The 12-ounce coffee mug has the company’s proprietary TempShield insulation that made its water bottles famous. This mug will keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours, and cold drinks cold up to 24 hours. Read our full review of it here.

A gift card for delicious, healthy meals she can make in about 30 seconds

Daily Harvest meal delivery - gift for her

Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50

Daily Harvest is a food startup that makes it possible to eat healthy, delicious meals for less than $10 each even if you only have 30 seconds to spare for prep time. Meals are pre-portioned, delicious, and designed by both a chef and a nutritionist to make sure they’re tasty and good for you. It addressed most of my healthy eating roadblocks

The best hair dryer ever invented

gifts for girlfriend

Dyson Blow Dryer, available at Ulta, $399.99

This gift may seem inexplicably expensive, but the Dyson blow dryer is lauded as the best one ever invented, making it a cult favorite. It prevents hair damage by measuring air temperature 20 times per second, has a specially designed Dyson motor for fast drying, and reduces static, breakage, and makes hair look smooth and shiny.

Comfy, high-end sheets at the best price on the market

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Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, from $240

Brooklinen is one of our favorite companies, point-blank. We think they make the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Reviews team uses Brooklinen on their own beds.

The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in plenty of colors and patterns, and you can mix and match them to suit your taste. Grab a gift card if you want to give her more freedom. If you opt for a sheet bundle, she’ll receive a core sheet set (fitted, flat, two pillowcases), duvet cover, and two extra pillowcases in soft, smooth 480-thread-count weave.

This cozy loungewear set that she’ll never want to take off

Knix Cozzzy Track Suit

Knix Cozzzy Track Pants, available at Knix, $46.75

Cozy and warm, the Cozzzy Track Pants from Knix are comfortable enough to wear around the house while also being cute enough to wear to the market. The ultra-soft fabric feels like the softest terry cloth washcloth you’ve ever used, and its slouchy fit is modern and luxe. She’ll love the joggers with cuffed legs that are sleek without being overly tight. Comes in cream and gray.

The internet’s favorite olive oil

Gifts for girlfriend Brightland

Awake Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37

Brightland’s olive oils make great gifts for cooks and anyone else who loves to entertain. The white bottles protect the EVOO from light damage and look nice displayed on a countertop. Find a full review here

A comfortable cable-knit sweater

United By Blue

United By Blue Recycled Cotton Fisherman Sweater, $99.99

A cable-knit or fisherman’s sweater is a wardrobe staple that’ll last for years. United By Blue’s take on the classic piece is made from recycled cotton and is super soft, so your girlfriend has a feel-good cozy staple.

A high-tech towel that keeps her from slipping around during yoga classes

Gifts for girlfriend Manduka

Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, from $58

Manduka is known for making the best yoga products, and their Yogitoes towel is one of the most loved. It has tiny 100% silicone nubs on one side that grab yoga mats and keep yogis from slipping around during the exercise. Having a good towel can make a big difference

It also comes in 19 great colors and gets eco-friendly points. Each Yogitoes towel is made from eight recycled plastic water bottles, and made with dyes free of azo, lead, or heavy metal. 

A card game that’s meant to deepen personal connections

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We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game, available at Urban Outfitters, $30

This card game, from the popular Instagram account We’re Not Really Strangers, is designed to enhance connections between people with different levels: perceptions, connection, and reflection. Not only is it a card game you haven’t played before, but it’s also a thoughtful activity you can enjoy with your girlfriend.

A cooking class from one of the nation’s top chefs

cozymeal thumb

Gift Card, available at Cozymeal, from $50

With a Cozymeal class, you and your girlfriend can learn how to make anything from fresh pasta to Argentinian staple dishes from the nation’s top chefs. In addition to cooking classes, Cozymeal offers food tours in various cities (when it’s safe to do so). 

A satin-lined beanie

Kink & Coil Satin-Lined Beanie

Kink & Coil Satin-Lined Beanie, $37

Most people with naturally curly hair avoid wearing hats to reduce frizz, but Kink and Coil’s satin-lined beanie solves that issue. Just like a silk pillowcase or a bonnet, the inside of the beanie is designed to protect your hair from frizz and damage. On top of that, the pom-pom can be removed, if she’d prefer to wear the hat without it.

We spoke with a trichologist to learn more about how satin- and silk-lined beanies can benefit anyone with curly or high-porosity hair

Rihanna’s bestselling Fenty skincare set

Fenty Skin Start'rs Full Size Bundle

Fenty Skin Start’rs Full-Size Bundle, $75

Rihanna’s bestselling skincare bundle from her brand Fenty includes everything she’ll need to maintain healthy skin. The kit includes a facial cleanser, toner, and two-in-one sunscreen moisturizer. Read our full review of the Fenty skincare set here.

A cashmere crew from Everlane that she’ll own forever

Woman wearing cashmere crewneck sweater in "blue lagoon" color.

The Cashmere Crew, available at Everlane, from $120

For a closet staple she’ll own for years to come, Everlane’s $120 Cashmere Crew (available in various colors) is about the safest choice you can make. Everlane has plenty of great gifts (you can find the Everlane basics we wear repeatedly here), so you can’t really go wrong. 

A small cold brew coffee maker

cold brew coffee gifts for girlfriend

Airtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, available at Walmart, $37.55

This small cold brew maker (available in 1-liter and 1.5-liter options) makes coffee’s less acidic, smoother cousin cold brew in 12 hours in the fridge, so there’s minimal hassle and always a treat ready in the morning on your girlfriend’s way out the door to work. 

A stylish leather makeup pouch that’s thoughtful and easy to travel with

Dagne Dover neoprene toiletry bags in a dusty rose color.

Hunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40

Dagne Dover is quickly becoming one of the best women’s handbag companies to know, and its toiletry pouches are a great and relatively affordable gift. The small size holds a handful of go-to toiletries, and the large should have enough space for all of the grooming essentials.

A comfy zip-up for the months ahead

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Better Sweater, available at Patagonia, from $139

Patagonia makes our favorite athleisure options overall, and that definitely includes the Better Sweater. It works in pretty much any environment — in the office, at home, on a hike, or on a casual night out — and has zippered pockets to keep hands warm in the cold months. We’re also big fans of the 1/4 Zip option.

A new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite for reading anywhere

amazon kindle paperwhite $130

Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $84.99

If your girlfriend is a reader, we’d suggest looking at Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite; it’s the company’s thinnest and lightest yet, with double the storage. Perhaps the best features are that it’s waterproof and has a built-in adjustable light for the perfect reading environment indoors or outdoors, day or night. If she loves a nice, relaxing bath, pair this with a caddy, bath bombs, and a glass of wine for a relaxing night in that you’ve already taken care of.

A cult-favorite hair towel that reduces damage and cuts drying time by 50%

Aquis, $21

Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, from $30

Aquis’ cult-favorite hair towels can cut the amount of time it takes for her hair to dry in half — a claim we’re happy to report holds up. The proprietary fabric also means there’s less damage to wet hair while it dries. 

A fun, unique local date

Gifts under $10 Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb Experiences, available at Airbnb, from $10

Airbnb started offering experience programming online. You can book from thousands of experiences that range from workouts with Olympic athletes over Zoom to cooking classes with chefs you’d normally have to hop on a flight to meet. We tested a a tango class and a Moroccan cooking class.

It’s also an under-utilized part of Airbnb, making it a thoughtful and unusual gift — and one you may keep using with your girlfriend for out-of-the-box date nights in the future. 

As states and countries slowly begin reopening, Airbnb listings and in-person activities are becoming options again, but you can still participate in online activities from home if you’re not ready to travel yet or just want a fun activity. 

A houseplant that arrives already potted and is easy to care for

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Silver Evergreen, available at Leon & George, from $149

Leon & George is a San Francisco startup that will send beautiful plants — potted in stylish, minimalist pots — to your girlfriend’s door. All she has to do is to occasionally add water. Flowers are wonderful, but houseplants have a much longer shelf life, and most of Leon & George’s options are very easy to care for. 

We’d also recommend checking out Bloomscape for small plant trios under $70.  

Beautiful earrings she’ll own forever

Sparkle Diamond Cluster Huggies

Sparkle Diamond Cluster Huggies, available at Stone and Strand, $395

They’re solid gold, conflict-free, and made locally. Plus, the style is versatile enough that your girlfriend can wear them every day.

A membership to a popular skincare and makeup subscription that sends new, cool, and bestselling products once per month

birchbox

Birchbox Gift Subscription, available at Birchbox, from $45

Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products to subscribers so they can find products they love without much commitment or cost upfront. Makeup and skincare products can be expensive, so this is a particularly helpful service. 

A funny and unique card

Gifts for girlfriend Etsy

You Take My Breath Away, available at Etsy, from $4.19

You can pick up a card from Walgreens on your way to exchange gifts, but it’ll mean more if you think just a few days ahead. Etsy has great options for cheap, unique, handmade gifts that are cool and thoughtful. This one is perfect for a couple who appreciates a “The Office” deep cut. 

A leather wallet from the same manufacturer as Prada for a fraction of the price

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Brynn Zip Around Wallet, available at Italic, $50

Italic is a startup that makes unbranded luxury goods from the same factories that produce designs for brands like Givenchy or scents for Le Labo — minus the markup. The Zip-Around Wallet is made from soft, calfskin leather and comes in four classic colors.

It comes from the same manufacturer as Celine and Prada, and Italic estimates it would cost $295-$300 in traditional retail. It’s also good to note that the company plants one tree for every order. You can find a full review of the company’s leather goods here, and of their candles here

A streaming stick that gives you access to hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick +, available at Best Buy, $44.99

Roku’s Streaming Stick+ is exceptional for its 4K, HDR, and HD streaming, and long-range wireless receiver. Installing it is an easy process and starts by plugging the stick into his TV.

A great foam roller

TB12 vibrating pliability foam roller

Vibrating Pliability Roller, available on TB12, $160

If your girlfriend is very physically active, a foam roller is a nice gift to aid in her workout recovery and soreness. This one is our favorite because it has four levels of vibration, a pattern that targets muscle groups, and a durable exterior. But, if your budget doesn’t fit a $160 foam roller, never fear — we like some under-$20 options too. 

A subscription to a book club that sends her great hardcovers once per month

book of the month $44.99

3-Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99

If she’s a bookworm, Book of the Month is an especially thoughtful and unique gift — it’s a book club that has been around since 1926, and it’s credited with discovering some of the most beloved books of all time (“Gone with the Wind” and “Catcher in the Rye” to name a couple). 

If you gift her a subscription, she’ll receive a hardcover book delivered to her door once a month. Books are selected by a team of experts and celebrity guest judges.

If she’s really more into audiobooks or e-reading now rather than hardcovers, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).

Fancy popcorn and a movie night

gifts for her

Amish Popcorn Gift Set, available at Williams Sonoma, $29.95

Make a reservation at a nice outdoor restaurant, stock up on your girlfriend’s favorite movie candy and some fun drinks ahead of time (wrap them for an extra wow-factor), and create your own in-house cinema experience. Or, perhaps even better, order a bunch of take-out from your favorite local restaurants.

A gift set of a dozen decadent bath bombs

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Bath Bomb Gift Set, available at Walmart, $40.01

This bath bomb gift set comes with 12 handcrafted bath bombs that range from mango-papaya to lavender in scent, and some of which include flower petals. They’re a great addition to a long bath, as is a bamboo bathtub tray. 

A subscription to a coffee service that sends coffees specifically for her taste preferences

Driftaway, $40

3-Month Subscription, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $75

If your girlfriend loves coffee, she’ll probably love to try Driftaway. It’s a gourmet coffee subscription that gets smarter the longer you use it, remembering your preferences and steering you towards increasingly accurate brews for your specific tastes. The first shipment will be a tasting kit with four coffee profiles, which she’ll rate online or in the app to start getting personalized options.

A book of love letters written by history’s great men

Amazon gifts under $50 LLOGM

Love Letters of Great Men, available at Amazon, $13.95

It can be hard to do yourself justice in words — whether they’re spoken or written in a card. This compilation of love letters written by great men can help you say it without actually technically saying it. Bonus points if you write your own, or mark the ones in the book that most closely resemble your own feelings.  

A beautiful diamond necklace she’ll have forever

Gifts for girlfriend Aurate

Diamond Bezel Necklace, available at AUrate, from $320

A diamond necklace doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars, as fine jewelry startups like AUrate are proving. This necklace is something she can keep and wear forever, and both the solid gold and conflict-free diamonds are of the highest quality. 

Lush, subtly scented body wash

necessaire body products 2

Necessaire — The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25

New startup Necessaire formulates its body care products with nourishing vitamins and clean ingredients. The subtly scented Body Wash will leave her skin feeling clean, soft, and nourished. 

Hand sanitizer that smells good

a hand holding touchland sanitizer spray

Touchland Power Mist Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $9

Many of us are using hand sanitizer a lot these days. Why not pick one they’d enjoy using? This version from Touchland is a little moisturizing and doesn’t smell like alcohol or make hands sticky. Read our full review here.

A stylish weekender to keep her organized on the go

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Caraa Studio Tote Large, available at Caraa, $250

Caraa Sport makes some of the most functional and best-looking gym bags on the market. This one can transition from tote to backpack by adding straps. It also has a hidden shoe compartment and a waterproof and antimicrobial lining.

An award-winning at-home facial

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Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80

This is an award-winning mask with a big following in the beauty and skincare community. It’s $80, but it’s an at-home pro-quality facial your girlfriend can use anytime — which is a fraction of the price required for regular facials.

Kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods

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Wine Pairing Towel, available at Wolf & Badger, $20

If your girlfriend loves having a nice glass of wine and/or cooking, she’ll appreciate the thought behind this unique wine pairing towel. Grab a bottle and some corresponding ingredients for a fun night in for the two of you.

A stylish, savvy carry-on with an external battery pack

Away Luggage Monogram

Carry-On, available at Away, from $225

Away’s hyper-popular suitcases deserve their hype. Their hard shell is lightweight but durable, their 360° spinner wheels make for seamless traveling, and the external (and ejectable and TSA-compliant) battery pack included can charge a smartphone five times over so she never has to sit behind a trash can at the airport for access to an outlet again. It’s also guaranteed for life by Away. Find our full review here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best cordless vacuum cleaners of 2021 – and Dyson didn’t make the cut

Five cordless vacuums that were tested to find the best cordless vacuum, standing on a wooden floor

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Cordless vacuums are convenient, but they shouldn’t sacrifice cleaning power or comfort.
  • The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum picks up all kinds of particles on a variety of surfaces.
  • It reaches low and deep under furniture and has a cleaning path light. It’s also reasonably priced.

Compared to a clunky corded vacuum, a sleek cordless stick vacuum is a lot more convenient. Cordless vacuums tend to be lighter and more compact, and they don’t have a long cord to trail behind you or trip you up. While the downside is that they have a limited battery life, we still love cordless vacuums for making the dreaded task of cleaning a bit easier – maybe even enjoyable.

As with any other type of vacuum, the cleaning ability and suction power of a cordless vacuum are top considerations. The best cordless vac for most people should handle all kinds of small particles on a variety of surfaces, from smooth hardwood to thick carpet. Some cordless vacs are better suited to pick up pet hair or excel on hardwood floors, so it’s also important to think about where and when you’d use your vacuum the most, and shop accordingly.

Josh Mutlow, the Design Manager at Dyson, said, “The motor, cleaner head, cyclone, and filtration are the main key technologies that achieve the essential jobs of a vacuum cleaner.”

“Some [other] basic things to consider when you begin your search are the vacuum’s dimensions, weight, canister size, and how long the cordless vacuum can run between charges,” said Chris Doscher, a rep for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Learn more about the differences between corded and cordless vacuums, additional features to consider, and vacuum FAQs.

For our first major rewrite of this guide, we tested seven cordless vacuum models and landed on the top five. We’re planning to test many more down the line. Here’s how we tested the contenders on cleaning ability, ease of use, and battery life.

Here are the best cordless vacuum cleaners in 2021

The best cordless vacuum overall

image of a hand holding the shark vertex cordless vacuum, our pick for the best cordless vacuum overall in 2021

The Shark Vertex DuoClean Cordless Vacuum is a strong performer all around, picking up particles of most sizes on a variety of surfaces in a smooth and efficient fashion. We also love the light that illuminates your cleaning path and the flexible hose that lets you reach under low spaces better than any other cordless vac.

Pros: Versatile, strong suction, cleaning path light, great for under-furniture cleaning, comes with attachments 

Cons: Loud and high-pitched noise, thick grip that may be uncomfortable for small hands, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  

This Shark vacuum isn’t perfect and we can’t guarantee it’ll pick up every size particle you throw its way, but it gets pretty close and has the best overall cleaning performance of all our contenders. 

On hardwood and tile, it picked up every last bit of flour, cat litter, ground coffee, and dog hair with no problem, and it was the best at sucking up whole Cheerios (most of the other vacuums just pushed these large crumbs around). On a high-pile rug, it had a little difficulty moving back and forth smoothly, so you should only get this vacuum if you have low-pile rugs and carpeting, or if you’re okay with buying a second vacuum for your carpet. 

It has a thick grip and somewhat heavy dust bin, making it a bit uncomfortable to use for long cleaning sessions. However, several other features make up for the slight discomfort. There are distinct settings for hardwood and carpet located near the grip and they’re easy to slide between. There’s also a power boost trigger that you can hold down whenever you need some extra suction power. 

Rolling the cleaning head around hardwood and tile feels very smooth and soft, instead of clunky and abrasive. The cleaning head also has two useful features: a light that shows you exactly what you’re cleaning and highlights small particles you might’ve otherwise missed, and a green alert button that turns red when a blockage occurs, so you can address the problem right away. 

My favorite part of using the vacuum is how low and flat it can get. In other cordless vacuums, the stick can’t be moved or repositioned, meaning you still have to bend down to reach under furniture. The Shark has a great design where you click a button in the middle of the stick and it bends into a flexible hose “elbow,” allowing the entire bottom half of the stick to lay flat and get under beds, couches, chairs, and other tricky spots. Instead of bending my knees or waist, I could just drop my arm and continue cleaning with little disruption.

The best cordless vacuum on a budget

image of the hoover onepwr cordless vacuum our pick for the best budget value cordless vacuum in 2021 in front of a pile of coffee grounds

This affordable Hoover vacuum impressed us with its quiet but strong cleaning power. It feels light and easy to maneuver since the dust bin is located at the base of the vacuum, though this design also prevents you from cleaning under low spaces.

Pros: Quiet, cleans well on all surfaces, less tiring to use because dust bin is located at base of vacuum, large dust bin 

Cons: Doesn’t come with attachments, dust bin location means you can’t get under low spots, a little heavy 

You won’t compromise cleaning ability and price in this budget-friendly vacuum. Though it may not come with bells and whistles like a storage dock and extra attachments and batteries, it picks up most small and fine particles effectively on carpet, hardwood, and tile. Faced with Cheerios, its performance is disappointing and it merely pushes the cereal around, so you’ll be better off sweeping up with a broom. But for all other materials, the vacuum does an easy and thorough job. 

The vacuum is on the heavier side compared to others, but it doesn’t feel like it because the dust bin is located near the cleaner head, rather than the handle. This makes vacuuming feel more comfortable and less tiring. It’s also really quiet and smooth as it cleans, and you can barely tell it’s picking small particles up (rest assured, it is). 

The dust bin placement does have its drawbacks. It obstructs access to low spaces under furniture, so you’ll need to figure out another way to clean under your bed and couches. In addition, the power and various mode buttons are located on top of the dust bin, so you need to bend down any time you want to turn your vacuum on and off or change modes. 

Still, I loved this vacuum for its consistent and reliable cleaning ability, reasonable battery life (that’s actually longer than the Shark’s), and quiet motor. If you don’t want to spend more than $200 or you only need a basic vacuum, this vacuum will meet your needs and exceed your expectations. Along with our other Hoover pick in this guide, it’s part of Hoover’s ONEPWR collection, which was a 2020 Product of the Year winner

The best cordless vacuum for pet owners

image of the tineco vacuum our pick for the best cordless vacuum for pet hair in 2021 in front of clumps of dog hair on a rug

Owners of constantly shedding pets will benefit from the lightweight yet powerful Tineco Pure One X, which picks up fine pet hairs from floors with its standard cleaning head, but also comes with attachments to get hair off of furniture, car seats, and delicate decor.

Pros: Really light, quiet, regular cleaning head and attachments all work well with fine pet hairs 

Cons: Small dust bin, feels a little cheap, weaker on high-pile carpet and rug  

For the pet hair portion of the test, I spread clumps as well as individual hairs of my friend’s Pekingese dog over various surfaces. All the vacuums I tested actually did a thorough job of picking up these long, fine hairs, but the Tineco stood out for its super lightweight and useful attachments. 

As any pet owner knows, you spend a lot of time picking up after your constantly shedding pets, which is why we recommend a vacuum that’s comfortable to carry around and comes with specialized tools for those especially stubborn bits of hair.

The Tineco has the smallest cleaning head and dustbin of our best picks, so you might need to empty it out a few times if you’re cleaning a large house. However, the light weight and easy maneuverability more than make up for it. While you must press down the trigger every time to start the vacuum, there’s a locking mechanism you can use if you don’t want to hold a trigger the whole time. 

I knew exactly when I picked up dirt, hair, and other particles because there’s a ring that lights up red when the vacuum is sucking up something and turns blue once the cleaning path is clear again. This vacuum also has a cleaning head light to illuminate your path. It’s generally pretty quiet, but I noticed the wheels squeaked a little from time to time. 

The attachments also make cleaning pet hair from every surface other than your floor more manageable. The mini power brush is strong and goes deep into fabric upholstery and mattresses to pick up particles and hair you didn’t even know were there, while the dusting tool lets you pick up errant hair sitting on shelves and blinds. The crevice tool fits into the cracks and crevices of your car, so you can take your pet on car trips without dreading the clean up afterward. It was when I was wriggling around my car seats that I really appreciated the light and compact design of the Tineco. The combo of convenience and suction power made the process so much faster, easier, and more comfortable. 

This vacuum is technically a “smart” one — it pairs with an app to provide cleaning performance information and maintenance reports, but I personally didn’t find it useful and the vacuum itself is enough reason to justify the purchase.

The best cordless vacuum for hardwood floors

image of a hand holding the lg cordzero mop vacuum our pick for the best cordless vacuum for hardwood floors in 2021

The LG Cordzero A9 is a vacuum that can turn into a mop, letting you clean your hardwood floors gently but thoroughly with just one appliance. It shines when cleaning super tiny particles like flour.

Pros: Fairly light, adjustable stick, easy-to-use mop feature, comes with extra battery 

Cons: Struggles with large particles like Cheerios, disposal method could be more sanitary  

This LG cordless vacuum is a sleek and beautiful model that gives you an all-in-one cleaning solution. In addition to the vacuum itself, you get tons of extra accessories like a wall mount, extra battery, and the unique Power Mop nozzle. 

It was one of the best performers in our flour test and picked up every last bit of flour on hardwood and tile, even in the cracks. It also did really well on high-pile rug, sucking flour out of the tall, loose loops. The only challenge might be with large particles like Cheerios; you’ll have better luck picking those up with a manual sweep. 

For a truly thorough clean of your hardwood floors, the Power Mop nozzle is very useful. The process involves wetting and attaching the soft mop pads (the pack comes with four total), filling the water tank in the nozzle, and choosing the setting for more or less water. Then, when you start the vacuum, it starts to slowly spin the mop pads instead of activating suction. They’re gentle and won’t damage your floors. The attachment also has a built-in light so you can see what you’re mopping. 

The vacuum is on the lighter side of all those we tested, and it has a comfortable grip. There’s no trigger, just an on/off button. The stick and cleaning head pivot smoothly, and you can extend or shorten the stick depending on your height and how far you need to reach the vacuum. 

While I liked all the cleaning capabilities of the vacuum, the dust bin disposal design could be more sanitary. After clicking open the bottom of the bin, there’s a lever that you push down to release the bin’s contents. The problem is that the contents sometimes don’t come out quickly, and you have to shake the bin quite a bit or reach inside. Other times, they spill out immediately. Either way, it’s not a pleasant experience and we recommend wearing gloves when dealing with the dust bin after your cleaning session.

The best cordless vacuum for carpet

image of the hoover bagged cordless vacuum our pick for the best cordless vacuum for carpet in 2021

The Hoover HEPA+ vacuum has all the advantages of a trusty bagged vacuum cleaner: large cleaning head, large dust bag capacity, and powerful suction that easily takes on high-pile carpet and rug.

Pros: Powerful, can cover a lot of area, bagged design is more sanitary

Cons: Heavy, can’t reach under low spaces

The Hoover HEPA+ bears the most resemblance to a traditional corded vacuum. The only difference is the cord-free convenience. It’s an all-around powerful performer and cleaned everything from finely ground coffee to grainy cat litter almost perfectly, every single time. And whereas I could tell some of the vacuums struggled on high-pile rug, the Hoover HEPA+ rolled over the rug smoothly and got deep between the rug fibers. 

The large cleaner head and bag make the vacuum heavy and unable to clean under low spaces. Plus, it’s loud. But since the bag is so big, it’ll take a long time before you have to replace it, and you can just throw it away directly without interacting with all the dust and other bits. Hoover also throws in an extra bag for you. 

The vacuum’s power switch and two mode buttons (carpet and hardwood) are located at the large and ergonomic handle. The vacuum will also stop running if you bring it back to the upright standing position. Like a few of our other top picks, the cleaning head has a built-in light to show your cleaning path. 

Unfortunately, this vacuum doesn’t come with attachments, so you’ll need to supplement it with a handheld vacuum for your other needs. As a main vacuum for a large house with lots of ground to cover, it’s a reliable choice.

What else we tested

image of hand holding the dyson v11 outsize torque a cordless vacuum we do not recommend in 2021

What else we recommend and why

Dyson V11 Torque Drive ($359.99, currently out of stock): This Dyson model is powerful, reasonably priced, and has a long battery life (around 60 minutes on Eco mode). As a newer Dyson vac, it has a special LCD screen that lets you know exactly how much battery you have left on each mode (Eco, Normal, Boost). Because you must hold down a trigger to start the vacuum, it can be tiring on your hands. 

Dyson V11 Animal ($599.99): Based on testing from my colleague James, the V11 Animal is another great choice for picking up pet hair. It costs a lot more than the Tineco, it’s less comfortable to hold, and the battery life is short, but it does do a thorough job at sucking up all kinds of pet hair on a variety of surfaces. 

What we don’t recommend and why 

Dyson V11 Outsize ($799.99): For most households, this large and heavy vacuum is probably overkill. Though it has a great battery life (around 72 minutes on Eco mode), it’s uncomfortable to hold and use for that long. In our testing, the cleaning ability and suction power did not outperform the other contenders. It was also difficult to move back and forth on a high-pile rug.

Our testing methodology

various materials like cat litter flour cheerios cereal and ground coffee scattered on the ground to test the best cordless vacuums 2021

1. Vacuuming ability: I tested each of the vacuums against five materials (flour, ground coffee, cat litter, whole Cheerios, and dog hair) on three different surfaces (carpet/rug, hardwood, and tile). I scattered half a cup of each material on each surface — resulting in 15 tests for each vacuum — and rated each vacuum on its ability to suck up the material powerfully, cleanly, and thoroughly. If the vacuum came with attachments, I also tested the attachments on appropriate surfaces (e.g. crevice tool on furniture cushions and car seats) and rated their effectiveness. 

An example of one of the test results:

Cat litter test Carpet Hardwood Tile
Shark Anti-Allergen Cordless Vacuum 3/5: Powerful and thorough, but could only push forward. Got stuck when I tried to move backwards 5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head 5/5; Sucked up all particles completely and quickly, cat litter did not fall back out of cleaning head

2. Battery life: I used each vacuum until its battery died and compared the actual battery life to the advertised battery life. 

3. Comfort and ease of use: I noted the ergonomics of each vacuum: how tiring it is to hold, how easy it is to maneuver, and the effort required to activate the power button. I also noted whether it could fit under low spaces and any additional helpful features like a headlight to illuminate your cleaning path. 

4. Disposal method: I evaluated the cleanliness and ease of emptying the dustbin after a cleaning session. How is the bin opened? Do I have to reach inside and touch dirt and dust that didn’t empty out completely? 

5. Storage: I noted how the vacuum breaks down into multiple parts and whether it comes with a wall mount or docking station. 

6. Warranty and customer service: I registered each vacuum, noted warranty terms, and spoke to customer service reps to evaluate the ease of registration and quality of service.

What we’re testing next

image of dog and hand holding the roborock h6 a cordless vacuum we'll be testing next in 2021

Eufy HomeVac S11 Go: We love Eufy’s robot vacuums and we’re interested in seeing how its cordless vacs compare. It has a lightweight body, powerful suction, and 40-minute run time, and it’s reasonably priced for everything you get (a wall mount and attachments are also included). 

Roborock H6: This vacuum is efficient, quiet, and easily maneuverable, though some reviewers say it doesn’t do well on tile so we’re looking to test that directly. It has a five-stage HEPA filter purification system and a 90-minute advertised battery life.

What to consider when buying a cordless vacuum

image of three cordless vacuum dust bins side by side while testing the best cordless vacuums in 2021
The dust bin is often located at the top of a cordless vacuum, a design that lets your vac reach under low spaces but can also become tiring to hold. To power your vacuum, you may need to hold down a trigger or simply press an on/off button.

Cordless vacuum vs corded vacuum: how do they compare?

  Cordless vacuum Corded vacuum
Power source Rechargeable battery Electrical outlet
Weight Lighter; 3-8 pounds on average Heavier; 8-15 pounds on average
Size More slim and compact; width of 10 inches on average Larger; width of 14 inches on average
Noise Usually more quiet Louder
Price Usually more expensive; $200-$300 on average More affordable; $75-$150 on average

Features to look for in a cordless vacuum 

Weight/distribution of weight: A cordless vacuum will feel heavier or lighter, and less comfortable or more comfortable, depending on where the bulk of the weight is. To allow for better flexibility and access, brands often place the dust bin near the top and handle of the vacuum. This can make it tiring to use a cordless vacuum over a long period of time. If the bin is placed at the bottom, near the cleaning head, the weight will be less of a burden, but that placement may get in the way of your cleaning. 

Size: Keep the size of your living space in mind as you shop for a cordless vac. If you live by yourself in a studio, for example, you can look for vacs with smaller cleaning heads and dust bins. Also pay attention to the length of the vacuum and whether it will be comfortable for your height. Some vacuums have adjustable sticks. 

Battery: Read product info carefully to see whether the advertised battery life refers to that of one battery or multiple batteries. Generally, we’ve found that advertised battery life is longer than actual battery life. Follow manufacturer directions on how to care for and dispose of batteries. 

Docking/storage: Cordless vacuums are typically composed of two to three parts that you put together yourself (not including separate attachments). This design also makes it easy to store your vacuum in a compact space. Some vacuums may come with a wall dock or mount, so you can hang your vacuum on the wall. 

Inclusion of other cleaning tools: Consider whether you might need additional attachments, such as a crevice tool or dusting brush. These may come with your vacuum, or can be available for separate purchase. 

Warranty: Look for a one year warranty (at minimum) on both parts and labor of your entire vacuum. Beyond that, the manufacturer may offer additional warranties on specific parts like the motor. Once you receive your vacuum, register it online to speed up the warranty process later. 

If you’re comfortable shopping for a vacuum in the store, “there’s no substitute for trying it out and seeing for yourself how it operates. Ask the retailer if you can turn on the vacuum and try it out before you make a choice,” said Doscher. 

The best time to buy a cordless vacuum

Cordless vacuums tend to be more expensive than corded ones. The good news is that most brands discount their cordless vacuums around Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday/Cyber Weekend. We typically see discounts of $50 to $200 off Dyson, Hoover, and Shark cordless vacuums. If you’re able to wait, your patience will pay off in big savings.

Cordless vacuum FAQs

image of hand holding a dirty filter from a cordless vacuum in 2021
Here’s your sign to check and clean your vacuum filter.

Are cordless vacuums worth it?

In a word, yes. Cordless vacuums offer flexibility and ease of use that you just can’t get from a corded vacuum. Modern cordless vacuums can be every bit as powerful as corded models, and allow you to effortlessly move from room to room without worrying about cords or outlets. They’re also usually slimmer and quieter than corded models.

How often should you clean and change your vacuum filter? 

The guidance varies model by model and there are different kinds of filters (cartridge, disk, foam, cloth), so you should check your product manual. Generally, you should wash and dry it when you notice a smell or if you observe a decline in vacuum performance. Some vacuums will also alert you when you need to change the filter. A clean filter is important for effective cleaning; a dirty filter restricts airflow and decreases suction power. 

Which cordless vacuums are allergy- or asthma-friendly? 

Look for cordless vacuums with HEPA filters, which are recommended for allergy and asthma sufferers. Without a HEPA filter, these small particles are likely to be released back into the air after being sucked up. All the vacuums we recommend are equipped with HEPA filters. 

What does a HEPA filter do? 

A true HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns. According to the EPA, 0.3 microns is the most penetrating particle size, so this specification refers to the worst case. If the particle is larger or smaller than 0.3 microns, it will be trapped with even higher efficiency. 

Why is my vacuum’s battery life decreasing?

If your vacuum’s rechargeable battery is made from nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH), then it can experience “memory effect.” Memory effect happens if you charge the battery when there’s still some power left. Your battery starts holding less charge over time because it “remembers” how full it was the last time you charged it and won’t charge past that point the next time. Even though the original power of the battery is the same, the maximum battery voltage has decreased. To prevent memory effect, you should drain your nickel-based battery completely before charging it. Lithium-ion batteries do not experience this effect. 

What’s the difference between amps, watts, and volts? Which one matters most for cordless vacuums? 

Amps, watts, and volts are related to each other. Amperage is the electrical current (or volume of electrons), wattage is the rate of power flow (or how much power the motor is using), and voltage is speed at which electrons pass a specific point within a closed circuit (or the amount of power needed to support an electrical current). Watts = volts x amps. 

A high wattage means the vacuum will use a lot of energy, and thus more battery. Since the type of motor can also affect vacuum power, high wattage doesn’t automatically equate to a powerful vacuum. Instead, you should focus on suction. “The motor is at the heart of driving the performance of a vacuum cleaner. The motor takes electrical power from the power source and converts it into mechanical power, or suction. So, the more powerful your motor is, the more air you’re able to pull through the machine,” said Mutlow.  

We’ve decided to leave quantitative specs like wattage and voltage out of our reviews because they’re not useful as standalone numbers. Instead, we focused on suction and evaluated that based on how well the vacuums sucked up different kinds of particles.

Glossary

image of cordless vacuum attachments and brushroll side by side in 2021

HEPA: Stands for high efficiency particulate air. A HEPA filter traps and removes at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, dirt, mold, bacteria, and other airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns and can be found in air purifiers and vacuums. 

Whole machine filtration: The entire machine is sealed to prevent unfiltered particles from escaping. All air passes through the filter before it is expelled. 

Dustbin: Where all the dust, dirt, and hair are stored as you vacuum. The dustbin should be emptied out into the trash after you’re done cleaning. 

Brush roll: A cylinder with bristles located in the cleaning head that rotates and helps release dirt from carpets and rugs. The bristles of a brush roll may leave scratches on hardwood and tile, so you should turn off the brush roll if possible. Replace your brush roll when the bristles wear out (like on your toothbrush). 

Crevice tool: A long, flat attachment with an angled tip. It’s good for getting into tight corners including baseboards and stairs and between couch cushions. 

Dust brush tool: A small attachment with soft bristles. It’s good for blinds, windowsills, and delicate objects. 

Upholstery tool: A wide, flat attachment that allows for strong suction. It’s good for furniture with fabric upholstery like mattresses, chairs, and couches. 

Lithium ion battery: A type of rechargeable battery that uses lithium ions and can store high amounts of energy and deliver higher voltage than nickel-based batteries. It doesn’t display memory effect, but it is less stable than nickel-based batteries and has a tendency to overheat. 

Nickel battery: A type of rechargeable battery that comes in either nickel-cadmium (Ni-Ca) or nickel-metal-hydride (Ni-MH) form. It can store high amounts of energy, is more difficult to damage than Li-ion batteries, and suffers from memory effect.

Check out our other guides to great vacuum cleaners

image of irobot roomba 690 robot vacuum on a hardwood floor

For cleaning the rest of your floors, check out these guides

Man cleaning house mopping mop chores housework
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26 iPhone accessories that make great gifts in 2021

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Apple Airpods on a Red background
If the iPhone user in your life doesn’t have AirPods yet, they make a great gift.

We use our phones for almost everything, so it’s no surprise that there are so many accessories to choose from. From high-end headphones and durable Lightning cables to a magnetic tripod and even a game controller, there are plenty of products out there that make perfect gifts for iPhone owners.

At Insider Reviews, we’ve tested tons of devices and researched many others. Here’s a look at some of the best gift ideas for the iPhone owner in your life, from affordable cases to the Apple Watch.

A tripod with MagSafe for shooting steady video on a new iPhone

Joby GripTight GorillaPod for MagSafe

Joby GripTight GorillaPod for MagSafe, available at Joby, $69.95

Apple’s new iPhone 13 lineup boasts some cool camera features. With a new Cinematic mode and the ability to shift focus in videos, new iPhone owners might want to try shooting their own homemade films. A tripod with MagSafe capabilities is an ideal gift to help amateur filmmakers capture steady shots on their iPhone.

Joby’s GripTight GorillaPod for MagSafe magnetically attaches to iPhone 12 and 13 models. The unique tripod has two clamps for an even more secure smartphone grip. Gorillapod stands are flexible and help users film from unique angles.

A cleaning kit for dirty, finger-smudged screens

WHOOSH

Whoosh! Screen Cleaner Kit, available at Amazon, $14.99

Fingerprints can easily get all over an iPhone. You can help your gift recipient keep their phone smudge-free with a screen cleaning kit. This bundle from Whoosh! includes a 3.4 ounce bottle, a 0.8 ounce bottle that can fit in pockets, and three microfiber cloths.

The cleaner is even alcohol and ammonia free, so you can rest easy that it’s safe to use on a phone screen without stripping the factory coating.

Apple’s MagSafe leather wallet to keep your ID and other cards close

apple_iphone 12_mag safe leather wallet_10132020

Apple iPhone Leather Wallet with MagSafe, available at Apple, $59

A stylish leather wallet from Apple will help iPhone 12 and 13 owners get the most out of their device’s MagSafe capabilities. The wallet stores three cards and attaches directly to the back of the phone or onto any case compatible with MagSafe.

You can find the perfect match for your giftee’s iPhone and personality with color options like golden brown, dark cherry, and sequoia green.

A PopSockets PopGrip to make handling your phone easier

popsocket

PopSockets PopGrip, available at PopSockets, from $8

It seems like iPhones get bigger every year, so why not buy a nice sturdy PopSockets PopGrip and save your loved one the pinky strain? These handy grips stick on the back of most iPhone cases with ease and pop out twice to provide excellent grip. Your giftee can even use them to prop up their phone so it stands alone as they watch videos.

PopSockets PopGrips come in more patterns, colors, and styles than I can count, so you’ll be sure to find one that matches the personality of your loved one. I personally love my PopSockets PopGrip so much that I can’t imagine life without it.

Apple’s tracking device so that you never lose your wallet or keys

Apple’s AirTags help you find lost items using the company’s network of 1 billion iPhones

Apple AirTags, available at Apple, $29

If the person you’re shopping for can’t seem to keep track of their belongings, try gifting them an AirTag. The accessory from Apple is a tiny Bluetooth tracker that you can use to keep tabs on belongings like keys, wallets, and bags. But what really distinguishes AirTags from Tile is the fact that it can use nearby iPhones to find your lost items when they’re out of Bluetooth range.

Unfortunately, you’ll need to purchase an accessory to add AirTags to your keychain. But AirTags’ ability to leverage other iPhones as a finding network still makes them the most useful Bluetooth trackers for Apple fans.

A pair of glasses to make your iPhone’s screen easier on the eyes

Felix Gray

Felix Gray Glasses, available at Felix Gray, $95

Whether you’re reading work emails, binging Netflix, or playing a game, a pair of blue light filtering glasses can make your phone’s screen much easier on the eyes. Felix Gray made a name for itself early on in this space, and it’s one of our top choices for blue light filtering specs thanks to the company’s relatively affordable prices and stylish designs. Frames start at $95, and they’re available in prescription and non-prescription versions.

A long, weighted iPhone cable

Native Union Night Cable

Native Union Night Cable, available at Amazon, $39.99

There are two things wrong with the Lightning cable Apple includes in the box with each new iPhone: The cable is too short and it’s too weak. Native Union’s Night Cable solves both those problems with a 10-foot-long durable cable that can easily reach to charge your phone.

It also has a handy knotted weight on it that you can move up and down the cable to ensure that your iPhone stays on the table while it charges without falling or moving. It’s our favorite long iPhone cable.

A gorgeous leather case

Nomad iphone case

Nomad iPhone cases, available at Nomad, from $24.95

There’s nothing better than a leather iPhone case and Nomad makes our favorite ones. Not only are they durable and protective, but the cases are also made with soft Horween leather that ages beautifully. Nomad cases are also easy to clean and maintain, so you don’t have to worry if they pick up a little dirt, dust, or debris. We can’t recommend these cases enough.

A fun case

case mate case

Case-Mate iPhone cases, available at Amazon, from $6.95

Case-Mate makes lots of fun iPhone cases, so there’s sure to be one that your iPhone fan will like. From sparkly cases and iridescent ones to retro Kodak and camo cases, Case-Mate has a ton of designs. The cases are protective, too, but the prices will vary depending on the case and phone model. 

A Bluetooth speaker for listening to music anywhere

Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II

Bose SoundLink Revolve+II, available at Amazon, $329

With its convenient handle for easy carrying, water resistance, and extra-long battery life, the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is a speaker you can truly take anywhere. Those qualities alone makes it a great choice for anyone who loves listening to music on-the-go. But Bose’s compact music player also impresses with excellent sound quality and useful features like the ability to take calls and trigger your phone’s virtual assistant, making it one of our favorite portable Bluetooth speakers.

A wireless charger that can power your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at once

Belkin Boost Charge

Belkin Boost Charge 3-in-1, available at Apple, $139.95

Charging multiple devices can be an annoyance, but that’s where devices like Belkin’s 3-in-1 dock come in handy. Not only does it wirelessly charge your iPhone, but there’s also an Apple Watch dock and charging pad for your AirPods. We’ve crowned it our favorite charging device for powering up multiple Apple devices, thanks to its sleek design, 4.5-foot power cord, and  90-degree Apple Watch stand placement, which makes it ideal for using the watch in Nightstand Mode. Just be sure that the person you’re shopping for has the wireless charging case for their AirPods.

Stylish on-ear wireless headphones

B&O H4

Bang & Olufsen H4 headphones, available at Amazon, $250.58

Bang & Olufsen makes gorgeous wireless headphones that look as great as they sound. They are expensive, but the sound quality, classy design, and stable Bluetooth connectivity make them a great choice — especially for people who have an iPhone 7 or newer without the headphone jack.

An affordable smart watch

Apple Watch SE Turquoise

Apple Watch SE, available at Best Buy, starting at $279

Just about every iPhone owner will love to have an Apple Watch, so this is really a fail-safe gift. Although it’s not as advanced as the brand-new Apple Watch Series 7, the Apple Watch SE has most of the features people want for less. It can track fitness metrics, keep tabs on heart rate and health, go swimming, buzz with notifications, and so much more. It’s a true companion to the iPhone for an affordable price.

A dedicated iPhone gaming controller

iPhone accessory gifts SteelSeries

SteelSeries Nimbus+ for iOS and Apple TV, available on Amazon, $59.99

For the mobile gamer in your life, chances are they’d appreciate some dedicated controls for their favorite games. As excellent as Apple’s touchscreens may be, they just don’t compare to buttons and joysticks for games. A controller like the SteelSeries Nimbus+, which was designed specifically for Apple devices, should make gaming on the iPhone feel much more console-like.

An effective waterproof case

Lifeproof fre

Lifeproof Fré Case, available at Amazon, $49.99-$89.99

If your loved one lives a life aquatic — or is just a lovable klutz — they need the Lifeproof Fré iPhone case. This case is fully submersible in water that’s up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) deep for one hour. It’s also fully sealed with its built-in screen protector and port covers, so it’s safe from the elements.

These waterproof cases are currently available for the iPhone 6 through the iPhone 12. On the Lifeproof product pages, you can sign up to be notified when iPhone 13 sizes become available.

A pair of touchscreen gloves so that you can keep using your iPhone in the cold

iPhone accessory gifts The North Face

North Face Etip Gloves, available at North Face in men’s and women’s sizes, $45

Whether you’re in the car or out for a walk this winter, these gloves from North Face are a great choice for anyone that wants to keep their phone handy on-the-go. We love these gloves because they have a natural fit and allow you to use your phone with any finger, not just your index finger or thumb. 

A fast charger and USB-C-to-Lightning cable

belkin

Belkin USB-C-to-Lightning Cable, available at Amazon, $13.08

Belkin USB-C Wall Adapter, available at Amazon, $16.99

With Belkin’s USB-C-to-Lightning Cable and USB-C Wall Adapter, anyone who has a newer iPhone can take advantage of faster charging speeds. The cable is also durable and well made, plus, it’s MFi certified by Apple to be safe.

An easy, durable screen protector

InvisibleShield scree protector

InvisibleShield Screen Protectors, available at Zagg, from $39.99

It’s so easy to scratch or crack a phone screen by accident, so we recommend picking up a screen protector as a small, practical gift. Zagg is famous for its screen protectors because they are durable, easy to apply, and some offer special features like blue light blocking and privacy shields. Price and availability may vary depending on which iPhone model you’re shopping for. Screen protectors for newer iPhones are typically more expensive. 

The most ubiquitous wireless earbuds

Airpods

Apple Airpods, available at Amazon, $129.00

Although there are true wireless earbuds that sound better, Apple’s Airpods are among the best you can buy because they are just so simple and easy to use with an iPhone. They pair effortlessly, never lose connection, and they come in a wirelessly charging case that charges them.

Apple’s ultimate AirPods

airpods pro

Apple AirPods Pro, available at Amazon, $179.00

For those that either have more expensive taste or want the absolute best and latest Apple tech, whoever you’re gifting will definitely appreciate the AirPods Pro — especially for its water resistance and active noise cancelling, neither of which the traditional AirPods have.

A portable battery pack

Elecjet_PowerPie

Elecjet PowerPie Battery pack, available at Amazon, $49.99

Although iPhone battery life has improved markedly over the years, it’s still a good idea to have a portable battery pack on hand for charging emergencies. Elecjet makes our favorite battery pack with its 20,000mAh of capacity that can charge up iPhones, tablets, and even laptops.

A camera lens for capturing unique shots

Moment Fisheye Lens

Moment Fisheye 14mm Lens, available at Moment, $129.99

Our iPhones already have excellent cameras, but nothing beats having a dedicated lens. Moment’s Fisheye 14mm Lens lets you shoot images from a wider 170-degree perspective than you’d normally be able to get, even on the iPhone 12 series, which has an ultra-wide lens with a 120-degree field of view. We recommend the Fisheye lens because it offers a perspective that you can’t already get with the iPhone. However, Moment’s lenses are expensive and they require a compatible case from the company to work, so we’d only suggest this if you’re buying for someone who truly loves photography, especially street photography.

A clever way to expand storage

SanDisk iExpand

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive 64GB for iPhone, available at Amazon, $20.98

There is nothing worse than running out of storage on your iPhone or struggling to transfer photos and files from your phone to your laptop. SanDisk’s iXpand Flash Drive for iPhone solves both problems with an elegant solution that works effortlessly.

The drive has a regular USB-A end that will fit in most laptops and a lightning end that fits all iPhones so you can offload files and transfer them back and forth. It’s great for extra photo storage.

A portable photo printer

lifeprint

Lifeprint 3 x 4.5 Portable Photo and Video Printer, available at Amazon, $129.99

Although sharing digital photos is fun, sharing physical photos is wonderful. Lifeprint’s portable photo printer can reproduce high-quality photos on special photo paper in a 3-by-4.5-inch size that’s perfect for sharing.

You can do lots of fun things with the app, too, and make your Live iPhone photos come to life as animated GIFs as you hold your phone above the printed photo. Lifeprint’s printers can communicate with each other, too, so if both you and your loved one have a Lifeprint printer, you can send photos to print at each other’s printers.

A straight-up fitness tracker

Fitbit charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4, available at Best Buy, $129.99

When it comes to fitness trackers, Fitbit is the most well-known brand and the Charge 4 is an excellent gift for iPhone owners who want to get and stay fit.

An effective and reliable car mount

iottie car phone mount

iOttie Easy One Touch 5 Air Vent Car Mount Phone Holder, available at Amazon, $24.95

Driving without a car mount for your phone is a recipe for disaster, but luckily, you can get your loved one a phone mount like this one from iOttie for a great price. It adjusts to fit any iPhone and it’ll fit in any car’s air vent. It’s easy to angle any which way so you can see the phone properly when you drive. It’s a godsend for when you need GPS for driving directions.

Read the original article on Business Insider

86 gifts for your girlfriend that show you truly know her, from personalized jewelry to unique subscription boxes

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Airbnb glass house
If you’re looking to wow, plan an activity or staycation on Airbnb.

Giving gifts as a couple can be a lot of fun. You know your partner: What they love, what rituals they enjoy, what small daily annoyances you could possibly solve with a thoughtful gift. You also know how much they’ll appreciate the gift coming from you.

Odds are you want to give them something wonderful – whatever your price range is. All most of us need is a little direction and a few great options to pick from, so we put together a list of our favorite gift ideas for girlfriends of all personalities to help guide you, below.

Check out all 86 gifts for your girlfriend:

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Vuori. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

Earrings made with her birthstone

Amethyst Flat Sphere Studs

Amethyst Flat Sphere Studs, available on Mejuri, $180

If she wears jewelry, birthstone earrings that she can keep forever are a thoughtful, personalized gift she can use often. 

Delicious sweets from a famous NYC bakery

Tiemless gifts Milk Bar sampler

Milk Bar Treats, from $22

Milk Bar delivers its decadent cakes, cookies, and truffles to your doorstep.

A pass to get into a bunch of boutique fitness classes

classpass

ClassPass Gift Card, from $15

Boutique fitness classes are expensive, which can make trying new workouts — either for variety or to figure out what we like — less appealing. 

ClassPass solves both issues. It’s relatively affordable, and members can access a neverending catalog of great workouts with small class sizes. If your partner is getting back into fitness after over a year of at-home workouts, we’d highly recommend a gift card here for whenever they’re ready to use it.

Leggings fit for workouts and lounge sessions

vuori daily legging

Vuori Daily Legging, from $59

Vuori is known for its smooth, soft fabrics and flattering fits — and the Daily Legging is no exception. Combining the leisure and comfort of a jogger with the function and stretch of a legging, they’ll be reaching for these for both workouts and weekend lounging. 

*Sponsored by Vuori

A disposable camera that doesn’t take you out of the moment

disposable camera

Disposable camera, $45

Interested in preserving memories without taking yourself out of them? A good disposable camera or a film camera can take the pressure away from perfection and editing so you can savor your experiences together.

The best electric toothbrush

Three Hum Electric Toothbrushes on a red background

Electric toothbrush, $39.99

We’ve tested our fair share of electric toothbrushes, and we think Colgate’s Hum is the best value. It cleans thoroughly and offers advanced features and modern design for $70 — which is considerably more affordable than options with fancy features you may not use enough. 

A planned trip for the two of you to take together

Airbnb glass house
If you’re looking to wow, plan an activity or staycation on Airbnb.

Airbnb Gift Card, available at Airbnb, from $25

If you want to gift an experience for the two of you to enjoy together, grab a birthday card, a gift card to Airbnb, and come up with a few location ideas to choose from. 

You can also book a hotel in your city on Booking.com or Expedia for a sweet staycation. 

*This gift can be saved and used at a later date.

A versatile Exercise Dress

outdoor voices exercise dress in black

The Exercise Dress, available on Outdoor Voices, $100

Given the popularity of the Exercise Dress, we wouldn’t be surprised if this was on her wish list. The Exercise Dress is comfortable, versatile, and cute — which has made it a cult-favorite item. If she’s a fan of dresses, outdoor voices, or clothes she can wear all day long, this may be a good option. 

Her favorite specialty food straight from the source

Gift for friend goldbelly

Order her favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $28

Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior’s, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration. 

A streaming bundle that checks off all the boxes

Gifts for girlfriend Disney+ bundle

Hulu, Disney+ ESPN+ Bundle, available at Disney+ESPN+, and Hulu, from $13.99 per month

If canceled sporting events or trips to Disney have you feeling down, you can gift Disney+, ESPN, and Hulu together to ensure the next few months include plenty of entertainment options. If your partner is not too fond of ads, this bundle can also be purchased with the ad-free version of Hulu.

A small skincare tool that removes 99.5% of dirt, oil, and makeup residue

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Foreo Luna Play Plus 2, available at Foreo, $59

Our team swears by these gentle yet effective cleansing brushes. They have hygienic silicone bristles and come in five different models for different skin types. The Luna is small enough to bring on the go, so they can maintain their skincare routine while traveling. 

A thoughtful book she’ll love

tiny beautiful things book

“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed, available on Amazon, $12.42

Pick up one of your favorites that you think she’d like, or browse some of the books we love to gift. This collection of Dear Sugar advice columns is a heartfelt favorite. Its topics are diverse, its letters to Dear Sugar are intimate and relatable, and Cheryl Strayed’s responses are both witty and extraordinarily compassionate. 

A membership to a huge outdoor co-op

REI lifetime membership

REI Co-Op Lifetime Membership, $20, available at REI

An REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. Find out more here.

A Dutch oven to elevate their bread game

Enameled Dutch Oven

Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, available at Walmart, $79.90

Did they get into baking bread and, miraculously, stay committed to it? If so, a really nice Dutch oven can help elevate their game. You can get something great for under $100, or you can splurge on a beautiful Le Creuset. Other meaningful upgrades include a cooling rackaccording to the famous baker Apollonia Poilâne.

A subscription that sends her a six-month world tour of teas

indonesia atlas tea club gift subscription

Atlas Tea Club 6 Month Subscription, available on Atlas Tea Club, $109

This subscription sends her single-origin teas from the best tea-growing regions in the world for six months. She’ll get two delicious options sent to her home each month.

Festive matching underwear from one of the internet’s favorite startups

gifts for girlfriend

Matching Underwear, available at MeUndies, $42

Get yourself and your girlfriend festive matching underwear — which also happen to be some of the most comfortable pairs we’ve ever found. MeUndies gives you the options to create your own personalized set — two styles listed for women, two styles listed for men, a mix, and whichever length or cut you and your partner prefer. 

A standing desk for a home office upgrade

Gifts for girlfriend Jarvis Standing Desk

Jarvis Bamboo Standing Desk, available at Fully, from $569

If they’re working from home, they might love a home office upgrade the most. We ranked the Fully Jarvis the best standing desk; it provides the right blend of features and reliable performance. Its customizations for style, height, and accessories make it adaptable to pretty much any need. 

A framed keepsake of a favorite memory

Framebridge sale

Framed photo, available at Framebridge, from $45

Gift Card, available at Framebridge, from $25

Framebridge makes custom framing for not-custom-framing prices. You can print or paint something on your own and have it framed, or have them print and frame it, and you can take advantage of the team of designers for help deciding what frame to get. 

The best socks she’ll ever wear

Women's Performance Running Ankle Sock 3 Pack

Bombas Women’s Performance Running Ankle Sock 3-Pack, $49.50

Bombas makes the best socks we’ve ever tried, and they’re a gift we find ourselves giving every year to loved ones. They’re lightweight, moisture-wicking, and built to circumvent annoyances like uncomfortable seams and heel slipping.

A powerful, customizable massage gun

Theragun

Theragun PRO, available at Therabody, $599

This is the best massage gun we’ve tested — though it’s also on the higher end of what you would expect to pay. We loved it in part due to its two-year warranty, adjustable massage arm, customizable speeds, 60 lbs of no-stall force, six different heads, an extra battery, and how easy it is to use.

A nice gold vermeil and sapphire zodiac sign necklace

Mejuri, $80

Aquarius Necklace, available at Mejuri, $395

Mejuri is a Canadian startup created in 2015 to make fine jewelry affordable to buy — and it has racked up waitlists with more than 40,000 people before. Their popular Zodiac Necklace is cool, minimalist, and something she can wear every day. It’s made in gold vermeil with AAA quality white sapphires. Mejuri’s affordable pricing means the estimated traditional retail price of the same necklace elsewhere would be closer to $235.  

The best bathrobe that money can buy

Gifts for girlfriend Snowe bathrobe

Bathrobe, available at Snowe, $100

Snowe’s unisex bathrobe has been called the best and most absorbent terry robe on the market, and I’m just one more fervent believer. The cotton fiber traps air for extra absorbency, is soft and plush, and the unisex sizing means it will feel like a blanket-turned-robe. Perfect functionality, and extra points for coziness.

A tracker for finding cell phones and wallets quickly

Tile Pro

Tile Pro, available at Amazon, $34.99

When they can’t find their phone, all they have to do is click their Tile button to make their phone ring, even if it’s on silent. We’ve found them especially useful lately

A monogrammed jewelry case from a minimalist fashion startup

cuyana, $115

Leather Jewelry Case, available at Cuyana, $85 (+ $15 for monogram)

Keeping track of tiny and delicate jewelry is difficult — but jewelry cases are a pretty and useful solution. This is a thoughtful and personalized gift, especially if you’ve gotten her jewelry in the past, or plan to in the future. It’s made from premium leather, comes in six colors, and can be monogrammed with her initials. Cuyana is a cool leather bag startup she may have already heard of. 

A pair of blue light-blocking glasses that look good enough to wear outside of the house

Felix Gray

Faraday Glasses, available at Felix Gray, from $95

Help mitigate some of the strain from constant screens with a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses. They might even help with their sleep.

The convenience of Apple AirPods

Apple Airpods

Apple AirPods, available at Best Buy, $129.99

When it comes to convenience, truly wireless earbuds are the best. And Apple’s AirPods are very popular with iPhone and Android users alike. They look subtle compared to other bigger options, and they’re incredibly easy to use. For the latest option, you can pick up AirPods Pro for $199.99 on Best Buy too. 

A 215-piece art kit for creative projects

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Art 101 215-Piece Wood Art Set, available at Amazon, $49.99

This 215-Piece art kit includes crayons, colored pencils, oil pastels, fine line markers, watercolor cakes, and acrylic paint for endless art projects. 

A year-long MasterClass membership to learn about things she’s passionate about

masterclass serena williams

Annual Membership, available at MasterClass, from $180/year

If your dinner table conversations often include talk of photography, or tennis, or screenwriting, or another passion, consider getting her a gift that helps her spend time in that hobby. We love MasterClass because it kind of feels like entertainment. Classes are short, there’s no homework, and she can listen to the audio like its a podcast or watch the videos. 

The site hosts classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders — from Neil deGrasse Tyson teaching Scientific Thinking and Communication to Malcolm Gladwell on Writing, Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television, and Bob Iger on Business Strategy and Leadership. You can read our full review here.

A one-size-fits-all lid that instantly declutters the cabinets

Made In frying pan lid

Silicone Universal Lid Kit, available at Made In, $59

This was one of the gifts that professional chefs recommended to us for avid home cooks. If they love to cook and have a plethora of differently sized pots and pans with all the corresponding lids, having one universal lid can declutter and streamline their space in one move. 

A convenient phone sanitizer

PhoneSoap Black Friday

PhoneSoap 3 Smartphone UV Sanitizer, available at PhoneSoap, $79.95

This small device uses UV-C light to sanitize a phone, killing 99.9% of common household germs. It’s easy to use, and it could help give you and your partner a bit more peace of mind.

The new Sonos Move portable speaker

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Sonos Move, available at Best Buy, $399.99

The Sonos Move is one of the best speakers on the market. It’s powerful, can be controlled by your voice or an app, and has Amazon Alexa built-in so on WiFi you can play music, check the news, set alarms, get your questions answered, and more, without much effort.

16 highly-rated sheet masks

Gifts for girlfriend Dermal

Sheet Mask Set, available at Amazon, $22.99

Grab them 39 sheet masks to make it easier for them to have a frequent and well-deserved “treat yourself” day. These are highly-rated and have both vitamin E and collagen included for healthy, happy skin.   

A weighted blanket for better rest

ynm weighted blanket

YnM Weighted Blanket, available at YnM, from $39.50

Weighted blankets help create more restful sleep by “grounding” the body, and YnM makes some of the most popular and affordable weighted blankets on the internet. There are multiple sizes and weights for the ideal fit and width (they recommend picking whichever is about 10% of your body weight), and the segmented design allows you to move around without displacing all the weighted beads inside. 

A mini multipurpose tool

mini multipurpose 12 in 1 knife tool

Mini Multitool Knife 12 in 1, available on Amazon, $8.99

This lightweight multitool has a knife, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, scissors, and a bottle opener — so it’s nine times as many opportunities for being useful as your average gift. 

A sleek fitness tracker that includes heart rate monitoring

Gift for friend Fitbit Inspire 2

Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Best Buy, $99.95

Fitbit’s affordable Inspire 2 tracker has no shortage of useful features to keep them informed about their physical activity. The heart rate monitor lets them be more strategic about their workouts by tracking calorie burn, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones.

An 8-in-1 pan that helps to declutter your home

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Always Pan, available at Our Place, $115

If you’re spending more time at home cooking together — or re-organizing the kitchen — they can definitely appreciate a beautiful 8-in-1 cookware hack.

The Always Pan from startup Our Place is a frying pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest in the space of a single pan. In other words, a clever generalist that’s extremely convenient for small spaces or minimalist cooks. You can read our review here.

A video message from someone she loves almost as much as you

Gifts for girlfriend Cameo; gifts for dad

Cameo Video Messages, available at Cameo, from $15

Whether it’s her favorite actor, comedian, or athlete, you’re likely to find someone she admires on Cameo. Cameo allows celebrities to send custom video messages to recipients for nearly any occasion, and a personalized video is a gift that she’ll never forget. 

Silky, breathable leggings

Everlane Performance Leggings

Everlane Leggings, $68

Everlane’s Perform Leggings are some of our all-time favorites — they’re breathable and silky, like a slightly less expensive version of Alo leggings. You can read a full review of the Everlane Perform Leggings and see pictures of them here.

Beautiful candles from a cool startup

Gifts for girlfriend Otherland

Otherland Candles, available at Otherland, $36

Otherland is a candle company started by Abigail Cook Stone, a former art buyer for Ralph Lauren. If you want to give your girlfriend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from a startup that she’s probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option. Find our full review here.

The last weekend bag you’ll ever need to buy her

Rothy's The Weekender Bag

Rothy’s The Weekender, available at Rothy’s, $550

With its large, padded top handles and roomy interior, Rothy’s The Weekender might be the last overnight bag your partner ever needs. It’s got multiple pockets and a sturdy insert that helps it maintain its shape. You’ll be shocked by how much you can fit in this bag — definitely enough for a long weekend. It’s made of recycled plastic pulled from the ocean and is machine washable.  

The “world’s most comfortable shoes”

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Women’s Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $98

The classic Wool Runners make a great gift for the uninitiated, though we’d also highly recommend the brand’s casual cup sole Wool Piper for everyday wear if that’s more your partner’s style. You can find our full review of the Runners here, and the Wool Pipers here.

A customized map of her favorite place

grafomap, $49+

Custom Map Poster, available at Grafomap, from $49

Grafomap lets you design custom maps of anywhere in the world — like the first place you met, the best trip you ever took together, or the hometown she couldn’t wait to show you. It’s unique, thoughtful, and pretty inexpensive.  You can find our full review here.

A gift card to a popular wine subscription club

Winc, from $60

Gift Card, available at Winc, from $29.95

Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think it’s the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. 

Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions. 

An exercise bike for staying active indoors

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Commercial S22i Studio Cycle, available at NordicTrack, $1,999

If money is of no object and your partner is trying to figure out how to exercise while staying indoors, an exercise bike is a particularly thoughtful and useful gift right now. 

We like the NordicTrack option the most overall, but we also like and recommend options that are under $200

A large print on fine art paper of a favorite memory

Gifts for girlfriend Artifact Uprising

Large Format Prints, available at Artifact Uprising, from $22

Artifact Uprising makes luxury prints at accessible prices — and they make especially thoughtful gifts that look like they should cost much more. Get one of their favorite photos printed on archival fine art paper for $20 and up, or thoughtful cards for as little as $1 per custom card. You can also make a color series photo book for $22, a set of prints for $9, and a personalized calendar on a handcrafted wood clipboard for $30.

A mug that keeps hot drinks hot for up to six hours straight

hydro flask $29.95

Hydro Flask Mug, 12 oz, available at Hydro Flask, from $24.95

This mug is a common desk companion for the Insider Reviews team. The 12-ounce coffee mug has the company’s proprietary TempShield insulation that made its water bottles famous. This mug will keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours, and cold drinks cold up to 24 hours. Read our full review of it here.

A gift card for delicious, healthy meals she can make in about 30 seconds

Daily Harvest meal delivery

Gift Card, available at Daily Harvest, from $50

Daily Harvest is a food startup that makes it possible to eat healthy, delicious meals for less than $10 each even if you only have 30 seconds to spare for prep time. Meals are pre-portioned, delicious, and designed by both a chef and a nutritionist to make sure they’re tasty and good for you. It addressed all my healthy eating roadblocks

The best hair dryer ever invented

gifts for girlfriend

Dyson Blow Dryer, available at Ulta, $399.99

This gift may seem inexplicably expensive, but the Dyson blow dryer is lauded as the best one ever invented, making it a cult favorite. It prevents hair damage by measuring air temperature 20 times per second, has a specially designed Dyson motor for fast drying, and reduces static, breakage, and makes hair look smooth and shiny.

Comfy, high-end sheets at the best price on the market

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Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available at Brooklinen, from $240

Brooklinen is one of our favorite companies, point-blank. We think they make the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Reviews team uses Brooklinen on their own beds.

The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in 14 colors and patterns, and you can mix and match them to suit your taste. Grab a gift card if you want to give her more freedom. If you opt for a sheet bundle, she’ll receive a core sheet set (fitted, flat, two pillowcases), duvet cover, and two extra pillowcases in soft, smooth 480-thread-count weave.

This cozy loungewear set that she’ll never want to take off

Knix Cozzzy Track Suit

Knix Cozzzy Track Pants, available at Knix, $46.75

Cozy and warm, the Cozzzy Track Pants from Knix are comfortable enough to wear around the house while also being cute enough to wear to the market. The ultra-soft fabric feels like the softest terry cloth washcloth you’ve ever used, and its slouchy fit is modern and luxe. She’ll love the joggers with cuffed legs that are sleek without being overly tight. Comes in cream and gray.

The internet’s favorite olive oil

Gifts for girlfriend Brightland

Awake Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37

Brightland’s olive oils make great gifts for cooks and anyone else who loves to entertain. The white bottles protect the EVOO from light damage and look nice displayed on a countertop. Find a full review here

A bottle (or two) of wine

McBride Sisters wine

McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Wine, starting at $19.99

As the largest black-owned wine company in the United States, the McBride Sisters Collection is the perfect place to find a gift for the wine lover on your list. The Black Girl Magic collection in particular is inspired by the resilience of black women and includes varieties from Rosé to Merlot. 

A comfortable cable-knit sweater

United By Blue

United By Blue Recycled Cotton Fisherman Sweater, $99.99

A cable-knit or fisherman’s sweater is a wardrobe staple that’ll last for years. United By Blue’s take on the classic piece is made from recycled cotton and is super soft.

A high-tech towel that keeps her from slipping around during yoga classes

Gifts for girlfriend Manduka

Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, from $58

Manduka is known for making the best yoga products, and their Yogitoes towel is one of the most loved. It has tiny 100% silicone nubs on one side that grab yoga mats and keep yogis from slipping around during the exercise. Having a good towel can make a big difference

It also comes in 19 great colors and gets eco-friendly points. Each Yogitoes towel is made from eight recycled plastic water bottles, and made with dyes free of azo, lead, or heavy metal. 

A card game that’s meant to deepen personal connections

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We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game, available at Urban Outfitters, $30

This card game, from the popular Instagram account We’re Not Really Strangers, is designed to enhance connections between people with different levels: perceptions, connection, and reflection. Not only is it a card game you haven’t played before, but it’s also a thoughtful activity you can enjoy together.

A satin-lined beanie

Kink & Coil Satin-Lined Beanie

Kink & Coil Satin-Lined Beanie, $37

Most people with naturally curly hair avoid wearing hats to reduce frizz, but Kink and Coil’s satin-lined beanie solves that issue. Just like a silk pillowcase or a bonnet, the inside of the beanie is designed to protect your hair from frizz and damage. On top of that, the pom-pom can be removed, if she’d prefer to wear the hat without it.

We spoke with a trichologist to learn more about how satin- and silk-lined beanies can benefit anyone with curly or high-porosity hair

Rihanna’s bestselling Fenty skincare set

Fenty Skin Start'rs Full Size Bundle

Fenty Skin Start’rs Full-Size Bundle, $75

Rihanna’s bestselling skincare bundle from her brand Fenty includes everything you’ll need to maintain healthy skin. The kit includes a facial cleanser, toner, and two-in-one sunscreen moisturizer. Read our full review of the Fenty skincare set here.

A cashmere crew from Everlane that she’ll own forever

Woman wearing cashmere crewneck sweater in "blue lagoon" color.

The Cashmere Crew, available at Everlane, from $120

For a closet staple she’ll own for years to come, Everlane’s $120 Cashmere Crew (available in various colors) is about the safest choice you can make. Everlane has plenty of great gifts (you can find the Everlane basics we wear repeatedly here), so you can’t really go wrong. 

A small cold brew coffee maker

cold brew coffee gifts for girlfriend

Airtight Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, available at Walmart, $37.55

This small cold brew maker (available in 1-liter and 1.5-liter options) makes coffee’s less acidic, smoother cousin cold brew in 12 hours in the fridge, so there’s minimal hassle and always a treat ready in the morning on her way out the door to work. 

A stylish leather makeup pouch that’s thoughtful and easy to travel with

Dagne Dover neoprene toiletry bags in a dusty rose color.

Hunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40

Dagne Dover is quickly becoming one of the best women’s handbag companies to know, and its toiletry pouches are a great and relatively affordable gift. The small size holds a handful of go-to toiletries, and the large should have enough space for all of the grooming essentials.

A comfy zip-up for the months ahead

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Better Sweater, available at Patagonia, from $139

Patagonia makes our favorite athleisure options overall, and that definitely includes the Better Sweater. It works in pretty much any environment — in the office, at home, on a hike, or on a casual night out — and has zippered pockets to keep hands warm in the cold months. We’re also big fans of the 1/4 Zip option.

A new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite for reading anywhere

amazon kindle paperwhite $130

Kindle Paperwhite, available at Amazon, $84.99

Amazon’s new Kindle Paperwhite is its thinnest and lightest yet, with double the storage. Perhaps the best features are that it’s waterproof and has a built-in adjustable light for the perfect reading environment indoors or outdoors, day or night. If she loves a nice, relaxing bath, pair this with a caddy, bath bombs, and a glass of wine for a relaxing night in that you’ve already taken care of.

A cult-favorite hair towel that reduces damage and cuts drying time by 50%

Aquis, $21

Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, from $30

Aquis’ cult-favorite hair towels can cut the amount of time it takes your hair to dry in half — a claim we’re happy to report holds up. The proprietary fabric also means there’s less damage to wet hair while it dries. 

A fun, unique local date

Gifts under $10 Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb Experiences, available at Airbnb, from $10

Airbnb started offering experience programming online. You can book from thousands of experiences that range from workouts with Olympic athletes over Zoom to cooking classes with chefs you’d normally have to hop on a flight to meet. We tested a a tango class and a Moroccan cooking class.

It’s also an under-utilized part of Airbnb, making it a thoughtful and unusual gift — and one you may keep using yourselves for out-of-the-box date nights in the future. 

As states and countries slowly begin reopening, Airbnb listings and in-person activities are becoming options again, but you can still participate in online activities from home if you’re not ready to travel yet or just want a fun activity. 

A 100% silk pillowcase that reduces frizz and keeps skin hydrated overnight

Gifts for girlfriend pillowcase

100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase, available at Walmart, from $22.32

Silk pillowcases reduce frizz and damage to hair and make it look shiny and healthy. It also reduces the likelihood of wrinkles and keeps skin hydrated overnight by absorbing less of the moisture in the skin.

A houseplant that arrives already potted and is easy to care for

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Silver Evergreen, available at Leon & George, from $149

Leon & George is a San Francisco startup that will send beautiful plants — potted in stylish, minimalist pots — to her door. All she has to do is to occasionally add water. Flowers are wonderful, but houseplants have a much longer shelf life, and most of Leon & George’s options are very easy to care for. 

We’d also recommend checking out Bloomscape for small plant trios under $70.  

Beautiful earrings she’ll own forever

Sparkle Diamond Cluster Huggies

Sparkle Diamond Cluster Huggies, available at Stone and Strand, $395

They’re solid gold, conflict-free, and made locally. Plus, the style is versatile enough that she can wear them every day.

A membership to a popular skincare and makeup subscription that sends new, cool, and bestselling products once per month

birchbox

Birchbox Gift Subscription, available at Birchbox, from $45

Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products to subscribers so they can find products they love without much commitment or cost upfront. Makeup and skincare products can be expensive, so this is a particularly helpful service. 

A funny and unique card

Gifts for girlfriend Etsy

You Take My Breath Away, available at Etsy, from $4.19

You can pick up a card from Walgreens on your way to exchange gifts, but it’ll mean more if you think just a few days ahead. Etsy has great options for cheap, unique, handmade gifts that are cool and thoughtful. This one is perfect for a couple who appreciates a “The Office” deep cut. 

A leather wallet from the same manufacturer as Prada for a fraction of the price

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Brynn Zip Around Wallet, available at Italic, $50

Italic is a startup that makes unbranded luxury goods from the same factories that produce designs for brands like Givenchy or scents for Le Labo — minus the markup. The Zip-Around Wallet is made from soft, calfskin leather and comes in four classic colors.

It comes from the same manufacturer as Celine and Prada, and Italic estimates it would cost $295-$300 in traditional retail. It’s also good to note that the company plants one tree for every order. You can find a full review of the company’s leather goods here, and of their candles here

A streaming stick that gives you access to hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Streaming Stick +, available at Best Buy, $44.99

Roku’s Streaming Stick+ is exceptional for its 4K, HDR, and HD streaming, and long-range wireless receiver. Installing it is an easy process and starts by plugging the stick into his TV.

A great foam roller

TB12 vibrating pliability foam roller

Vibrating Pliability Roller, available on TB12, $160

If your girlfriend is very physically active, a foam roller is a nice gift to aid in her workout recovery and soreness. This one is our favorite because it has four levels of vibration, a pattern that targets muscle groups, and a durable exterior. But, if your budget doesn’t fit a $160 foam roller, never fear — we like some under-$20 options too. 

A subscription to a book club that sends her great hardcovers once per month

book of the month $44.99

3-Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99

If she loves books, Book of the Month is an especially thoughtful and unique gift — it’s a book club that has been around since 1926, and it’s credited with discovering some of the most beloved books of all time (“Gone with the Wind” and “Catcher in the Rye” to name a couple). 

If you gift her a subscription, she’ll receive a hardcover book delivered to her door once a month. Books are selected by a team of experts and celebrity guest judges.

If she’s really more into audiobooks or e-reading now rather than hardcovers, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).

Fancy popcorn and a movie night

gifts for her

Amish Popcorn Gift Set, available at Williams Sonoma, $29.95

Make a reservation at a nice outdoor restaurant, stock up on her favorite movie candy and some fun drinks ahead of time (wrap them for an extra wow-factor), and create your own in-house cinema experience. Or, perhaps even better, order a bunch of take-out from your favorite local restaurants.

A gift set of a dozen decadent bath bombs

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Bath Bomb Gift Set, available at Walmart, $40.01

This bath bomb gift set comes with 12 handcrafted bath bombs that range from mango-papaya to lavender in scent, and some of which include flower petals. They’re a great addition to a long bath, as is a bamboo bathtub tray. 

A subscription to a coffee service that sends coffees specifically for her taste preferences

Driftaway, $40

3-Month Subscription, available at Driftaway Coffee, from $75

If she loves coffee, she’ll probably love to try Driftaway. It’s a gourmet coffee subscription that gets smarter the longer you use it, remembering your preferences and steering you towards increasingly accurate brews for your specific tastes. The first shipment will be a tasting kit with four coffee profiles, which she’ll rate online or in the app to start getting personalized options.

A book of love letters written by history’s great men

Amazon gifts under $50 LLOGM

Love Letters of Great Men, available at Amazon, $13.95

It can be hard to do yourself justice in words — whether they’re spoken or written in a card. This compilation of love letters written by great men can help you say it without actually technically saying it. Bonus points if you write your own, or mark the ones in the book that most closely resemble your own feelings.  

A beautiful diamond necklace she’ll have forever

Gifts for girlfriend Aurate

Diamond Bezel Necklace, available at AUrate, from $320

A diamond necklace doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars, as fine jewelry startups like AUrate are proving. This necklace is something she can keep and wear forever, and both the solid gold and conflict-free diamonds are of the highest quality. 

Personalized cartoon couple mugs

Personalized Family Mugs

Personalized Family Mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, from $30

These cute mugs can be personalized for what you’re like as a couple, making for a special weekend morning coffee routine or just a nice reminder in the kitchen cabinet. On the back, you can add a family name and the year the couple was established. 

Lush, subtly scented body wash

necessaire body products 2

Necessaire — The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25

New startup Necessaire formulates its body care products with nourishing vitamins and clean ingredients. The subtly scented Body Wash will leave their skin feeling clean, soft, and nourished. 

Hand sanitizer that smells good

hand sanitizer touchland orange

Touchland Power Mist Hand Sanitizer, available at Touchland, $9

We’re using hand sanitizer a lot these days. Why not pick one they’d enjoy using? This version from Touchland is a little moisturizing and doesn’t smell like alcohol or make your hands sticky. Read our full review here.

A stylish weekender to keep her organized on the go

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Caraa Studio Tote Large, available at Caraa, $250

Caraa Sport makes some of the most functional and best-looking gym bags on the market. This one can transition from tote to backpack by adding straps. It also has a hidden shoe compartment and a waterproof and antimicrobial lining.

An award-winning at-home facial

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Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80

This is an award-winning mask with a big following in the beauty and skincare community. It’s $80, but it’s an at-home pro-quality facial she can use anytime — which is a fraction of the price required for regular facials.

Kitchen towels that rate wines by how well they pair with certain foods

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Wine Pairing Towel, available at Wolf & Badger, $20

If she loves having a nice glass of wine and/or cooking, she’ll appreciate the thought behind this unique wine pairing towel. Grab a bottle and some corresponding ingredients for a fun night in for the two of you.

A stylish, savvy carry-on with an external battery pack

Away Luggage Monogram

Carry-On, available at Away, from $225

Away’s hyper-popular suitcases deserve their hype. Their hard shell is lightweight but durable, their 360° spinner wheels make for seamless traveling, and the external (and ejectable and TSA-compliant) battery pack included can charge a smartphone five times over so she never has to sit behind a trash can at the airport for access to an outlet again. It’s also guaranteed for life by Away. Find our full review here.

A cooking class from one of the nation’s top chefs

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Gift Card, available at Cozymeal, from $50

With a Cozymeal class, they’ll learn how to make anything from fresh pasta to Argentinian staple dishes from the nation’s top chefs. In addition to cooking classes, Cozymeal offers food tours in various cities (when it’s safe to do so). 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best electric scooters of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Electric scooters are a convenient and fun way to commute to work or run errands around town.
  • The best electric scooters should have a reliably long battery range and travel at speeds of up to 20-plus mph.
  • Our top pick, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4, has a dual-battery design that gets up to 28 miles of range.

Electric scooters have gone from curious novelties to a bonafide form of transportation thanks to advancements in tech and the rise of e-scooter rental services like Lime and Bird.

And I can’t overlook the fact they’re just plain fun to ride.

But more people have also discovered that owning their own is incredibly convenient – I know I have. Whether it’s a quick jaunt to the store, a ride to a friend’s house, or just commuting from a distant parking lot to the office, there are numerous times when having an e-scooter has proved incredibly handy for me.

If you’ve been considering buying an electric scooter of your own, I highly recommend it. But the most important question to ask yourself before buying is what you plan to use it for – after that, there are plenty of models that stand out from the crowd. To help, I’ve compiled the following guide of the best electric scooters I’ve tested, perfect for a variety of people and use cases.

I’ve also included some insight into how to shop for an electric scooter, as well as how I tested each of the scooters featured in this guide.

Here are the best electric scooters of 2021:

How I test electric scooters

Each of the electric scooters in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they compared against these four categories: Range, portability, versatility, and value. Here’s how I specifically considered each category while testing:

Range: Most electric scooters are defined by the range they’re capable of delivering, and this is the top factor to consider. To test this, we compared the on-paper range to how it fared in real-world tests. Where range begins to take a hit on almost every model is when you start riding uphill or traveling at its top speed for extended periods of time (and we’ve noted in the review of each model where this was the most significant).

Portability: Being able to easily transport a scooter is a vital consideration for anyone living in an apartment building or someone who plans on commuting part of the way on a scooter. Portability means not just how much it weighs but whether it folds up and is easy to carry. 

Versatility: Versatility also means that a scooter can handle a wide range of uses, from fun rides to commuting to running errands. Judging a scooter’s versatility meant seeing if it was capable of operating outside of its typical use case (within a set of safe parameters, of course).

Value: Value is a combination of the three categories above and how it relates to what it actually costs. This can often mean that it’s better to spend a little more on a quality scooter designed to last and function properly, as opposed to spending less on something you’ll need to replace more often. 

The best electric scooter overall

Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4

For excellent all-around performance, including good range and speed, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4 is a great option for riders looking for a versatile, easy-to-use model.

Pros: Up to 28 miles of range on a single charge, features a dual-battery design, large wheels allow for very minimal offroad travel, speeds up to 18 mph

Cons: Long battery recharge time

The Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4 has been on the market for several years and yet, it remains one of the top all-around models. Not only does it offer a solid and accurate range of 28 miles on a single charge, it can also hit top speeds in excess of 18 mph.

That level of performance is due in part to its dual-battery design. Equipped with both a built-in and removable power cell, the ES4 provides good versatility when it comes to staying charged, too. 

The ES4‘s solid 8-inch wheels allow it to roll over large obstacles and provide a smooth ride on a variety of surfaces. Front and rear shock absorbers increase the level of comfort and help smooth out your commute. That’s especially important when zipping along at top speed, which tends to amplify every bump in the road. Fortunately, the ES4 offers a relaxing and fun ride across a variety of terrain.

Other nice features include a front-facing LED light, as well as user-customizable lights on the side and undercarriage to aid in visibility in lowlight conditions. A small, but easy to read, LCD screen displays current speeds and the battery’s charge level, while electric and mechanical braking systems allow for a good sense of control. This model even folds down nicely for easy transport and comes with IPX54 water resistance for use in poor weather conditions. 

Because the ES4 uses two batteries to keep it running at such a high level, it takes a little longer than some other models in this guide to recharge. It can take more than six hours to power this scooter up to its full capacity, which can require a bit of planning depending on your needs. The ES4 can function as a traditional kick scooter in a pinch, though. 

Although there are other options that cost less, few of them offer the same level of performance and convenience in such a well-designed package as the ES4.

The best budget electric scooter

Gotrax XR Ultra

The budget-friendly Gotrax XR Ultra electric scooter provides good speed and range, along with more than few unexpected features, without putting a major dent in your wallet. 

Pros: Inexpensive, weighs 27 pounds, sturdy tires, has both disc and electric brakes

Cons: Limited features

While the top end of the electric scooter market continues to push the envelope in terms of speed, range, and portability, many of those models remain too expensive for the general consumer. As with most products, however, the technology eventually trickles down to price points that are more palatable to the general public, delivering a lot of bang for the buck in the process. Such is the case with the Gotrax XR, a budget e-scooter that offers a level of performance that will meet most people’s needs, without making them feel buyer’s remorse afterward. 

The XR Ultra‘s top speed of 15.5 mph and a max range of 17 miles seems unimpressive when compared to other–more expensive—competitors. But its sub-$400 price tag makes this model a much more approachable option for those looking to dip their toe in the e-scooter waters. Put in other terms, this is the Toyota Camry of electric scooters. It is affordable, reliable, and offers good performance–just don’t compare it to a Mercedes S Class. 

One of the best elements of the XR Ultra is its very smooth and comfortable ride. This scooter glides along at a steady pace, its 8.5-inch inflatable tires rolling over most obstacles with ease. The XR’s folding frame and 27-pound weight should make it a favorite amongst budget-conscious commuters as well. In an effort to keep costs down, Gotrax didn’t including any kind of suspension, however, which means this model performs best on smooth, paved surfaces. 

That isn’t to say that the XR Ultra doesn’t have a good feature set. The scooter comes with both a disc and electric braking systems with regenerative properties. It also includes a bright LED headlight and an LCD screen that displays speed, distance, battery life, and a number of other items. An integrated kickstand is a nice touch, as is the IP54 water resistance rating too. 

While I think the Gotrax XR Ultra is the best budget e-scooter on the market, it should be noted that there are plenty of other models that are available at a lower price. With those other options, you’ll more than likely find yourself having to make compromises in terms of speed, range, and weight in order to save a little cash. The XR Ultra doesn’t have any of those glaring compromises, bridging the gap between a truly budget scooter and the more expensive higher-end quite nicely.

The best electric scooter for commuters

Xiamoi Mi Electric Scooter

Lightweight and capable of folding down to a surprisingly small size, the Xiaomi Mi M365 is an electric scooter built specifically with commuters in mind. 

Pros: Folds down for easy portability, weighs 27 pounds, comes standard with front and rear taillights

Cons: Only rated to carry riders up to 220 pounds

When selecting an e-scooter for use as a daily commuter, I want something that’s lightweight and easy to carry around, without compromising on performance. That’s exactly what I found in the Xiaomi Mi M365, which manages to provide 18.6 miles of range and a top speed of 15.5 mph while tipping the scales at a shade over 27 pounds. Add in a small battery charger and the ability to fold down to a smaller size and the M365 is easy to recommend to anyone who places an emphasis on portability. 

And don’t let that lightweight fool you, it still has plenty of features packed into its design. For instance, it comes with front and rear lights, wide shock-absorbing tires, and an LED indicator for battery life. It also has a regenerative braking system that feeds power back into the battery, as well as a companion app for customizing settings and tracking distance, speed, and other metrics.

This scooter even has a power-saving mode that helps extend the range by limiting the rate of acceleration and its top speed. Turning that mode on also makes the M365 more accommodating to beginners. 

It’s clear Xiaomi put a lot of thought into making the M365 easy to use. This is especially evident in its folding mechanism, which allows it to shrink down to a more compact size in under three seconds. I appreciate that simplicity when entering and exiting trains, climbing stairs, riding elevators, or even taking the M365 in and out of a car trunk. While folding e-scooters are hardly a rarity, the speed and fluidity at which this one operates is a great feature.

In order to achieve the M365‘s relatively low weight, Xiaomi used a minimalist design and a lightweight aluminum frame. Because of this, the scooter is only rated to carry riders weighing up to 220 pounds. The frame itself is plenty durable and can certainly support someone who exceeds that weight limit, but a heavier passenger cuts into performance, reducing both its range and speed.

Weight limit aside, the Xiaomi Mi M365 is in a class by itself when used as a daily commuter. Lightweight and easy to carry, it offers a good blend of range and speed and delivers a smooth ride.

The best electric scooter for performance

Outstorm Maxx Ultra High Speed Scooter

If you’re in the market for a fast scooter with long-range, the Outstorm Maxx Ultra-High-Speed is exactly what you’re looking for. 

Pros: Up to 52 miles of range and speeds to 56 mph, maximum weight capacity of 485 pounds, can ride on gravel, dirt trails, and in sand

Cons: Extremely heavy at 100 pounds

When moving up to the performance level of the e-scooter market, prices can increase substantially. While the models found at the top end of the scale are indeed fast and powerful, they can also cost several thousands of dollars. The Outstorm Maxx Ultra-High-Speed flirts with a $2000 price tag but ultimately delivers a lot of bang for the buck, striking an intriguing middle ground when it comes to performance and cost. 

So, what exactly does a performance scooter at this price point have to offer? In the case of the Maxx, it provides a top speed of 56 mph and a range of up to 52 miles. This is achieved thanks to its dual motors, which can produce as much as 3200 watts of power at their highest level of output. It also allows the scooter to carry a maximum weight of 485 pounds and ride not only on paved surfaces but also on dirt trails, gravel, and sand. The Maxx does well on hills too, powering up steep inclines without missing a beat. 

This scooter features three different speed modes and two power modes, which made it easy to find a good balance between speed and range. A digital readout prominently displays how fast the scooter is currently moving and shows battery life and distance traveled. A regenerative braking system helps feed energy back into the battery throughout the ride, while a bright LED headlight makes riding at night much safer as well. The Maxx also features a hydraulic shock system, 11-inch tires, durable running boards, and electronic cruise control. 

Of course, all the high-performance components used in the Maxx‘s construction come at the expense of weight. This model weighs in at a whopping 100 pounds, which means it isn’t an especially good choice for commuting. Yes, it can fold down to a smaller size for ease of storage, but that doesn’t make it any easier to lift or move around when the battery is dead. Thankfully, with its large 60V power cells, it doesn’t run out of juice all that often. 

In terms of performance scooters, the Outstorm Maxx Ultra High Speed is a relative bargain, offering plenty of speed and range in an attractive package. But it also provides a smooth, comfortable ride as well, both on and off-road. Because it falls into the pricier end of the market, it definitely isn’t a model for most people. Riders who are willing to pay the extra money will find that it more than delivers on its promise of exhilarating two-wheeled thrills.

The best electric scooter for kids

Razor E100 scooter

Built with kids in mind, the Razor E100 is stable, comfortable to ride, and easy to control, while managing to remain nimble and fun. 

Pros: Offers a stable ride perfect for kids to learn on, easy to maneuver, favors safety over performance

Cons: Limited long-term durability, 26-pound weight could be a lot for kids to carry, not many features

Razor has been designing scooters—both electric and kick models—for a variety of age groups for years. Over that time, the company has learned that the features that you look for in an adult model are quite different than those for kids. While speed and range are of the utmost importance to the former, safety and stability are the chief concerns for the latter. That design philosophy is evident with the E100, an e-scooter that is sure to delight younger riders. 

The E100 provides a top speed of 10 mph and offers a ride time of about 40 minutes between charges. Yes, the range of this model is measured in minutes rather than miles, which is another departure from the adult scooter market. Forty minutes of continous use is a fairly long time by kid standards, however, providing a reasonable amount of range before the battery runs dry. 

With its 8-inch pneumatic front tire, the E100 provides a nice, smooth ride. Coupled with the scooter’s rear-wheel-drive system, this shifts much of the weight to the back, enhancing stability and balance as a result. Hand brakes and a thumb throttle make learning to ride quick and easy too, making this a scooter even younger kids will feel comfortable on quite quickly. 

As with any product designed for kids, long-term durability is always in question. To alleviate those concerns, Razor used a steel frame in the construction of the E100, giving it a very solid feel overall. Those materials do end up adding some weight to the scooter, which tips the scales at 26 pounds. By adult e-scooter standards, that is quite svelte but younger kids may find the E100 unwieldy to lug around.  

Compared to most electric scooters designed for adults, the Razor E100 doesn’t have a lot of features and amenities. Still, thanks to its ease of use and uncomplicated design, kids will find this model a lot of fun to ride around. After all, their goal isn’t to commute to and from the office but to ride with friends and enjoy some time outdoors. For that, this is a wonderful choice.

How to shop for an electric scooter

As the electric scooter market has grown and diversified, there are now a number of categories that help to define it. The most obvious of those categories is whether or not a specific model is designed with kids or adults in mind.

Those made for the younger crowd tend to be smaller, less expensive, and slower. They often have less battery life as well, which translates to a shorter range. Conversely, adult scooters are built for, well, adults, and as such, they are larger, faster, and heavier. They also tend to be more expensive. 

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to choosing an electric scooter, price is one of the major defining factors. At the lower end, you’ll find budget models that come with less expensive components, smaller batteries, and slower top speeds. Mid-tier e-scooters typically fall into the commuter segment and offer a nice blend of range and speed, with prices reflecting those upgrades.

At the high-end of the market, you’ll find performance models that can potentially cost more than $1,000 but are also quicker, more nimble, and have a longer range than their competitors. 

Range

When shopping for an e-scooter of your own, there are some important specifications that you’ll want to keep in mind. Probably the most important of those specs is the range a scooter offers. Each scooter manufacturer offers an estimated range for a given model, which is defined as the distance it travels on a single charge. That distance is directly impacted by the size of the battery, the weight of the rider, and the surface type of surface that it is ridden on.

The outside temperature can also have an impact on the range, with colder temps drastically reducing the life of the battery. In real-world conditions, you can expect to ride anywhere from 10-40 miles before having to recharge.

Speed

Another defining characteristic of an e-scooter is its top speed. Its actual number varies greatly depending on the model and manufacturers will often boast of speeds in excess of 25 or even 30 mph, although in practice those numbers aren’t always accurate.

The size of the motor and battery, along with the weight of the rider, each have an impact on the level of performance. This results in many scooters cruising along in the 5-10 mph range, particularly when not riding on a flat, even surface. 

Still, shoppers are encouraged to consider the top speed of a model very carefully. A faster model may seem more fun, but it can be much more challenging to control. Quicker acceleration and more power can come in handy, particularly for commuters, but safety should be a primary concern as well.

Inexperienced riders are encouraged to choose slower, more stable options while still learning to ride. Additionally, faster scooters also tend to burn through their battery life more quickly, reducing range as result. 

Portability and weight

If you’re the kind of owner who plans to just keep your scooter in the garage and only ride it around the neighborhood, then portability probably isn’t something you’re all that concerned with.

Those who plan to use a scooter for commuting should pay close attention to its weight. Lugging it on and off the subway, or up and down several flights of stairs, can be quite a challenge, especially if your particular model wasn’t built with that in mind.

As with buying a bicycle, the components used in manufacturing an e-scooter have a direct impact on how much it weighs. Budget models tend to have smaller batteries and motors, which of course weigh less than their larger, more powerful counterparts. However, the other components found on these types of scooters often weigh quite a bit more, which keeps the price down but pushes the weight up.

More expensive models tend to have a more powerful drivetrain but are made from high-quality, lighter components. The result tends to be a scooter that costs more, performs better, and is easier to carry around. 

Some electric scooters that have been specifically designed with commuters in mind may even offer the option to collapse down to a smaller size for ease of transport. Scooters that fold up and can be stored in a carrying case or bag have become so common that they now fall into a category entirely of their own.

Usually, these types of scooters sacrifice some performance for improved portability, making them very compelling options for those placing a high value on convenience rather than speed or range.

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The 5 best computer speakers of 2021 for audiophiles, budget shoppers, and gamers

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Desktop speakers for your computer or laptop are essential if you want the best audio quality. Though some gaming monitors and ultrawide monitors have decent built-in sound, a dedicated set of computer speakers will take your listening experience to the next level.

Computer speakers are available at many price points and in a variety of sizes. Some packages even include a separate subwoofer for extra bass. Wireless streaming support and surround sound capabilities are also featured on more expensive models.

Most computer speakers feature built-in amplification so all you need to do is plug them into an outlet for power. We made our picks with convenience in mind, so all of our recommendations fall into this category, which saves you the cost and hassle of buying a separate amp.

Here are the best computer speakers you can buy

Best computer speakers overall

The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers on a computer desk

The Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers lack advanced features, but they deliver incredible sound for the money.

Pros: Impressive audio performance, affordable price, includes subwoofer, 3.5mm ports

Cons: No wireless support, no USB port

Klipsch’s ProMedia 2.1 speaker system is the definition of a tried-and-true audio product. In fact, the ProMedia 2.1 has been on the market in one form or another for nearly two decades.

Though the speakers lack extra features, like wireless streaming, they excel in the two areas that count the most: audio performance and value. The package includes two satellite speakers with 3-inch midrange drivers, MicroTractrix horns, and 19mm tweeters. You also get a dedicated 6.5-inch subwoofer for deep bass. 

You don’t get a remote, but separate knobs for volume and subwoofer levels are integrated on one of the satellite speakers. The system uses a 3.5mm connection on the subwoofer to hook up to your computer or laptop, but it doesn’t have a USB option like some newer speaker systems. Two 3.5mm ports are also included on one of the speakers, allowing you to easily connect a pair of headphones for private listening. 

What really makes the ProMedia 2.1 so special, however, is its audio performance. With clean highs, rich mids, and deep lows, the speakers excel at music, gaming, and movies. This versatility makes them a perfect fit for any multimedia computer setup. 

Though this system has been available for nearly 20 years, we’ve yet to hear better sounding computer speakers in this price range.

Best budget computer speakers

Logitech_Z313

While the Logitech Z313 speakers don’t impress with their sound quality, the low price tag makes them an excellent upgrade to built-in monitor speakers.

Pros: Very inexpensive, easy to set up, includes a subwoofer

Cons: Mediocre audio quality

The Logitech Z313 speakers can’t measure up to more expensive speakers when it comes to sound performance, but they make up for any audio woes in value. With such an affordable price tag, the Z313s are the de facto choice for budget computer speakers. While not reaching the quality heights of Klipsch, the low price tag and simple setup of the Z313s makes them worthy of consideration.

For the price, you’re getting a 2.1 system, meaning there are stereo speakers on your desktop and a subwoofer below. Everything is wired, but with only three cords going between each of the components, cable management shouldn’t be too difficult.  

As far as audio quality goes, the Z313s are best summed up with “good for the money.” The satellite speakers are fairly tinny and the subwoofer doesn’t reach too deep into the lows. The system won’t get loud, either, with a total power rating of 25 watts (five for each satellite and 15 for the subwoofer).

The flaws show up most when you trying to play music loudly through the speakers. Logitech attempts to duck the sound coming out of the satellites as the subwoofer gets loud, making for a wobbly effect when listening to bass-heavy music at high volumes. These speakers are best used when listening to music at low volumes or, say, watching YouTube videos.

Despite their audio limitations, as a replacement for your monitor’s built-in speakers, the Z313s are great, especially for how cheap they are. If you’re interested in high-quality audio or just want to blare music, however, you’ll need to spend a little more.

Best high-end computer speakers

Klipsch_R 51PM

Klipsch’s R-51PM computer speakers look as good as they sound, delivering high-end audio and wireless support.

Pros: Look great, high-end sound, plenty of connection options, Bluetooth support

Cons: A bit pricey, doesn’t include a separate subwoofer

The speakers you use are somewhat of a status statement, and no company more clearly understands that than Klipsch. However, a company isn’t adopted in homes and theaters around the world for its looks alone. Klipsch has substance to its style, and that’s no more clearly exemplified than it is with the R-51PM computer speakers.

As a long time fan of the R-15PMs — which the R-51PMs replaced — to say I was excited for an update would be an understatement, and Klipsch definitely delivered. When I broke out the speakers for the first time, I was impressed with their style. The copper spun tweeter is a familiar hallmark, adding a perfect accent to an otherwise blank chassis.

The sound is really what sells these speakers. Small woofers are notorious for either lacking bass or crowding the rest of the audio field with it. The R-51PM’s humble 5.25-inch woofer sounds much bigger than its size would suggest, partly aided by the large rear-firing port.

If you’ve ever demoed Klipsch speakers — or any audiophile brand, for that matter — none of this should come as a surprise. The R-51PMs aren’t just for audiophiles, though. With a surprisingly clear 120W amplifier powering the two speakers, the R-51PMs are a plug-and-play speaker solution that anyone can pick up.

While my pair lives on my desktop, I’ve moved them around for various purposes in the past. They support a variety of connections, including your phone, computer, and TV. You could, for example, hook the speakers up to your computer through the USB connection and pop over to streaming music on Bluetooth with a single remote click.

Best computer speakers for gaming

Razer_Nommo_Pro

The Razer Nommo Pro system is expensive, but for the sound and features it offers, the price is justified.

Pros: Clear midrange, impressive bass, RGB under-glow

Cons: Expensive

Razer is well known for its gaming peripherals but only recently did it make a serious contender for desktop audio. While PC gamers usually use headphones for the best audio experience, the Razer Nommo Pro speaker system is a clear and powerful alternative for gaming audio.

That comes at a price, though. In fact, the Nommo Pros are the most expensive speakers on our list. That said, you get a lot for your money. The Nommo Pro system is a 2.1 audio setup, meaning you get two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. Each of the satellite speakers has a dedicated woofer and tweeter, too, so you get clear highs and midrange.

First, the satellites. Each speaker is equipped with a 3-inch woofer that’s angled towards your ears as well as 0.8-inch tweeter. The midrange woofers make the difference here. With a dedicated subwoofer, the Nommo Pros aren’t trying to reproduce bass with the satellites and, because of that, the midrange is clearer. Gunshots in games like “Overwatch” give just the right kick to the chest.

The low-end is filled out by the subwoofer, which gets surprisingly loud. In fact, the whole system can get loud. Razer has managed something special with the Nommo Pro in that it can easily shake your room without distorting. Even when explosions are pushing the subwoofer to its limit and bullets are flying across the screen, the sound is clear.

Gaming isn’t the only use case for them, either. Razer includes THX, Dolby, and music modes. THX and Dolby go a lot heavier on the bass, which makes it ideal for watching movies. However, these modes sound dull when listening to music or gaming as the subwoofer overpowers the high-end finesse of the dedicated tweeters.

Best computer speakers for surround sound

Logitech_Z906

While it’ll take a lot of legwork to set up, the Logitech Z906 5.1 surround system delivers excellent audio quality at a good price.

Pros: The Z906 system is one of the cheapest ways to buy 5.1 surround sound

Cons: Setting up the speakers can be a pain

If you’re an avid movie fan, surround sound is the way to go. While not the most convenient for your desktop, the Logitech Z906 surround sound system has small enough speakers with multiple mounting options to make it worthy of consideration.

The package is comprised of four satellite speakers that are meant to be placed around you, a central speaker, a front-firing subwoofer and control module for controlling the output. Across the speakers, the Z906 system delivers 500 watts of continuous power with the ability to go up to 1,000 watts. In short, it can get really loud.

At the center is the subwoofer, which contains the amplifier and all necessary inputs and outputs. Most surround systems are designed to work in a home theater and, while the Z906 system can be used for that purpose, the number of inputs makes it a great choice for desktop applications.

On the back, you’ll find three 3.5mm jacks, a pair of RCA inputs, two optical inputs, a coaxial input, and a plug for six-channel direct connections. Furthermore, you can run these connections simultaneously and switch between them using the included wireless remote. If you use Logitech’s Bluetooth adapter (sold separately) you can stream wirelessly to the system, too.

As far as sound goes, the Z906 system is excellent, worthy of official THX certification. According to Trusted Reviews, this Logitech system “delivers a very impressive sound with depth, punch and decent detail reproduction.”

What else we considered

Audioengine_A5+

Audioengine A5+ ($569): Audioengine’s A5+ speakers were recently one of our picks. Though they still serve as very worthwhile desktop speakers, current price adjustments make it hard to truly recommend Audioengine’s speakers over Klipsch’s R-51PMs.

Both speakers are actually very similar. The woofers are the same size, as are the bodies, and both have excellent audio quality. However, with a slightly lower power rating, the A5+ speakers may not stay as clear at high volumes. Despite that, CNET says the 5+’s “deliver phenomenal sound.”

As far as connectivity goes, the A5+ speakers are slightly worse than their Klipsch counterparts. One speaker has the amplifier inside, and you’ll connect that speaker to the other using an included speaker cable. For connecting to your source, Audioengine includes a 3.5mm jack (standard headphone jack) and stereo RCA inputs and outputs.

While fine for connecting the speakers to your computer, a USB or optical output would allow the A5+ speakers to be used in a more diverse range of situations. Thankfully, that’s offset by support for Bluetooth. You can connect any Bluetooth device to the speakers and switch to that source using the included remote.

Despite missing optical and USB inputs, the A5+ speakers have one major strength in connectivity: an RCA output. With that output, you can pair the A5+’s with Audioengine’s powered S8 subwoofer. While the speakers alone have “solid bass depth” according to PCMag, adding a dedicated subwoofer helps the lows a lot.

The looks aren’t shabby, either. You can choose either satin black or hi-gloss white, both of which look excellent with the Kevlar woofers. For a premium, you can also purchase the speakers in a natural bamboo finish that looks great.

Check out our other speaker buying guides

Sonos Move
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The 7 best bike lights of 2021 for increased visibility while cycling at night

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Bike lights keep you visible in low-light conditions, alerting oncoming traffic or anyone else on the road.
  • The best should be easy to take off and put on and have a battery capable of lasting for hours of riding.
  • Our top pick, Cygolite’s Streak 450 Hotshot SL, comes with a headlight and taillight, and has several light modes.

Being safe while riding your bike requires more than putting on a helmet and riding within your means – you also want to guarantee you’re visible to those around you. Even if you don’t ride at dusk or when it’s completely dark, bike lights are a vital cycling accessory to have.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found “the time period with the largest frequency of pedalcyclist fatalities overall is 6 pm to 8:59 pm (21%), followed by 9 pm to 11:59 pm (17%).” Although the study was conducted year-round (meaning it likely wasn’t always entirely dark around 6 pm), those numbers still paint a stark picture and suggest visibility was one of the main factors.

As a resident of New York City, and my go-to mode of transportation being my bike, I’ve learned firsthand the value of a quality set of bike lights (and how dangerous a poor set can be). I’ve also come across a lot of variety; some are designed to be portable and easy to install, while others are intended for trail riding.

Below are seven of the best bike lights for night riding. I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for bike lights, as well as insight into how I tested the lights featured in this guide.

Here are the best bike lights of 2021:

The best bike light overall

Cygolite bike light

For a reasonable price, the Cygolite Streak 450 Hotshot SL Bike Light Combo Set includes a bright headlight and taillight to make your early morning or late night commutes safer.

Pros: Incredibly bright, long battery life, easy to mount, several useful lighting modes

Cons: Uses Mini USB (rather than the more common Micro USB)

The Cygolite Streak 450 Hotshot SL Bike Light Combo Set comes with the Streak 450 Lumen headlight, which lasts for up to 100 hours on a single charge, and the Hotshot SL 50 Lumen taillight, which lasts for 200 hours on a single charge.

The lights charge using a Mini USB cord that you can plug into your computer or a cube. Since many electronics these days rely on Micro USB (not mini), you may want to keep a Mini USB cord with you on your rides so you aren’t stranded with dead lights. Or, if you see the low battery indicator turn on, be sure to charge the light before you go out.

The headlight has seven lighting modes: boost, high, medium, low, steady pulse, walking, and daylighting, which consists of powerful flashes that make you stand out in broad daylight. The taillight also has a lightning mode as well as five other modes of varying flash tempo and brightness. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

The best budget bike light

Malker budget bike light

Malker’s bike lights are a great budget buy for anyone looking for a set of easy-to-install front and taillights — they even have a variety of light settings which add to their versatility. 

Pros: Easy to strap onto a bike’s handlebars and seatpost, comes with front and rear lights, has multiple light settings including a strobe function, small enough to be used as bike wheel lights 

Cons: Light modes can be hard to toggle, not robust enough for all riding conditions

These LED lights from Malker have been a go-to of mine for several years, as they’re extremely easy to put on and take off and incredibly cost-effective — I often see them on sale for under $10. The fact they come as a set of four (two standard, front-facing lights, and two red, rear-facing lights) only adds to their utility. 

Aside from their price and ease of use, what I like about these lights from Malker is how lightweight they are. I’m able to stash them in my backpack before I head out for a ride, but can also just leave them attached to my bike and they don’t take up too much space or get in the way of anything while I bike. They’re even lightweight and unassuming enough that they can be used as bike wheel lights, too. 

If I lock my bike up, their strap-on style makes it easy to just unhook them and put them back in my bag (or even a pant pocket), though it is worth noting to make sure the lights are completely off when stashing them. Several times I thought I’ve turned them off, only to find them still on but on a different light setting next time I go to use them (or the battery would just be completely sapped). 

The best easy install bike light

Obsidian bike light

If you’re looking for a light that’s just as easy to install as it is to take off your bike, consider picking up the surprisingly well-built and bright TeamObsidian Bike Light Set.

Pros: Affordable, adjustable beam width, lifetime guarantee

Cons: Doesn’t come with batteries, not designed for trail riding

One of the benefits you sacrifice with the low cost of the TeamObsidian Bike Light Set is usability out of the box. Batteries aren’t included. Despite having to buy five AAA batteries (I recommend getting rechargeable versions), there’s a lot to like about this set.

The headlamp produces 200 lumens of light. Both lights have three lighting modes — high, dimmed, and flashing — and are designed to withstand water, snow, heat, and dust. Installation is effortless and tool-free. And, the lights have quick-release mounts so you can take them with you and avoid potential thefts.

TeamObsidian stands behind the quality of its bike lights by offering a “100% no-hassle lifetime guarantee.” The company specifically states that it will refund your money if you’re dissatisfied for any reason. And, if the lights break, it will send you new ones. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

The best bike light for trail riding

NiteRider mountain bike light

If you prefer to take your mountain bike off-road at night and you have a little extra to spend, consider the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race Light.

Pros: 1800 lumens output, long distance beam that maintains uniformity, excellent for trail riding at night, great mountain bike light

Cons: Expensive, hard to remove

What sets the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race Light apart from the other lights in our guide is that it gets brighter than your average car headlight. There are five modes: high, medium, low, walk, and flash.

The light is designed to stand up to the elements with Dupont fiberglass reinforced nylon housings and a borosilicate glass lens, which is resistant to extreme temperature changes. The eight-step power gauge tells you how much battery power is left, and you can easily swap out batteries so you aren’t left in the dark while you wait for your light to charge.

These lights from NiteRider can hold up in a variety of conditions but they’re especially great for trail riding and make for a quality set of mountain bike lights. 

The best solar-powered bike light

Solar-powered bike light

MPOWERD’s Luci Solar Bike Light is a convenient, versatile light that runs for upwards of 15 hours on a single charge and is easy to install almost anywhere on a bike’s frame.

Pros: Recharges via solar power, close to around 15 hours of use on a single charge, easy to attach all over a bike, lightweight, offers four different light modes, comes with a rear light

Cons: Full solar recharge takes close to 8 hours

It’s easy to see the versatility of MPOWERD’s Luci Solar Bike Light; not only does it deliver more than enough capacity for even the longest of day rides but its ability to recharge while I ride is a wonderful perk. Add in the fact that this kit also comes with a solar-powered taillight, and this bike light package is quite intriguing.

Both lights are easy to attach via an adjustable silicone strap that works well on just about any part of a bike’s frame. The straps keep them snug, too, as I never felt as though the light would fall off, even if I was riding off-road or on a particularly bumpy street. I did think that the light’s magnetic clasp into the solar charger would come apart, but it stayed secure the entire time. 

Output-wise, the front light delivers 100 lumens while the taillight provides 40 lumens. Each has multiple light modes including a flashing option or different brightness levels, and a built-in battery level indicator lets you know when it’s time to recharge it. The lights also have a Micro-USB slot, so they aren’t only dependent on solar power for juice. 

Its $65 price tag is on the higher end for bike lights, but I do feel as though its versatility as solar-powered light makes it a worthwhile bike light for night riding — this is something that’s designed to last for several years while also being able to save you heaps of money on replacement batteries.

The best rear bike light

Rear-facing bike light

The Femto Tail Light from Lezyne is a lightweight, easy-to-use tail light that helps dramatically improve nighttime visibility, both behind your bike and on the sides. 

Pros: USB rechargeable, easy to install, lightweight enough to pack in a backpack when not in use, 270 degrees of visibility

Cons: Strap isn’t very durable

Front bike lights are important, of course, but it can be just as vital to have something on the back of your bike to improve your visibility, as well. The Femto from Lezyne is one of the best I’ve used, as it’s light weight enough to not take up much space in my backpack when not in use and easy to install when it starts to get dark out (I can even pop it on without having to fully get off my bike). 

Although tail lights may seem like a dime a dozen (there are plenty available via Amazon), this one from Lezyne nabs this spot thanks to its wide range of visibility (270 degrees) and decent price point (I often find it for under $20). Tack on its easy-to-use mounting strap that lets you attach it almost anywhere, and you have a highly versatile rear bike light that can be used on everything from commuters and road bikes to mountain bikes and cruisers.

It’s also USB chargeable which I found to be quite useful as I could just plug these in after a few sessions of riding with them instead of looking around my apartment for or buying batteries.

The best waterproof bike light

Waterproof bike light

The Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight keeps you visible from the front and sides with its powerful headlight and helpful sidelights.

Pros: Has sidelights, 500 lumens, lightweight and compact, easy to remove, two-year warranty

Cons: USB port cover falls off easily

When mounted just right, the Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight has two amber safety sidelights that make you visible to drivers on your sides. There are four light modes: high (500 lumens), medium, low, and pulse.

On high, the battery lasts for about 90 minutes, and on pulse, it lasts for up to 12 hours. The light mounts right onto your handlebars and has a quick-release feature so you can take your light with you. It charges using a Micro USB charging cable. And, Light and Motion backs the quality of this product with a two-year warranty.

How to shop for a bike lights

When choosing a bike light, look at the number of lumens it’s capable of producing, as this tells you how bright the light is. Many models give you this number right in their name and, based on our testing, the advertised lumens rating is accurate for the best units, though the brightness may dwindle as the battery loses juice.

For headlights, the number of lumens you need depends on where you’ll be cycling. For riding trails at night, you need at least 1,000 lumens. For urban roads where there are streetlights, 200 lumens will do. And, taillights should produce between 40 and 100 lumens of output since they are mainly there so others can see you.

Do be careful not to use extremely bright flashing headlights while cycling, too. This can disorient drivers and make it harder for them to see you.

Also, anything above 300 lumens could potentially blind oncoming traffic. So, consider dropping down to a dimmer setting when cars are coming — much like you might use the high beams on your car. If you’re concerned about drivers seeing you from behind, consider installing two rear lights: One that flashes and one that remains steady.

How we test bike lights

Best Bike Lights Pattern 4x3

Each of the bike lights featured in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they compared across these four categories: Brightness, ease of use, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into deciding which lights made this guide:

Brightness: Judging a bike light’s brightness isn’t just about its lumen output or its actual brightness, but more so the quality of the light and what kind of settings it offers. As mentioned in the section on how to shop for a bike light, quality bike lights can vary in lumen output between 200 to 1,000 lumens, though this depends on where you plan on riding. To test for this, we looked at how effective the light was at making us visible without blinding oncoming traffic, while also providing some illumination of our surroundings. 

Ease of use: A bike light that’s hard to install, or even difficult to turn on and switch between its light settings, isn’t one that’s going to be particularly thrilling to use over and over again. If the light is easy to use, you’ll be more inclined to use it. Plain and simple. It’s also preferred that a light doesn’t require much toggling while you’re riding (or, at the very least, is easy to use).

Versatility: Being able to use a single set of bike lights on multiple bikes isn’t exactly a dealbreaker but it is nice to have that flexibility if need be. Additionally, a light that offers multiple brightness settings or a variety of light modes makes it far more valuable than just a standard, single beam light. 

Value: A bike light’s value isn’t just what its sticker price says but more so a combination of the three categories above, and how that compares to what it costs. There are plenty of valuable lights in the $15-$40 range, capable of fitting a range of budgets without sacrificing much quality. 

FAQs

How many lumens do I need for my bike light?

The exact number of lumens you need for a bike light depends on where and when you’ll be riding. For urban or city riding, a front-facing light capable of doling out up to 200 lumens is preferred, while rear-facing lights should offer anywhere from 40 to 100 lumens. If the city where you ride doesn’t have many streetlights, look for a light with a higher lumen output.  

If you intend on doing any nighttime trail riding or mountain biking, opt for something brighter, in the range of roughly 1,000 lumens. The best mountain bike lights 

It’s also important not to use a light that’s too bright. These can disorient oncoming traffic and will do more harm than good. Lights with a lumen output of just 300 lumens may partially blind onlookers, so “brighter is better” isn’t something you should aim for. I also recommend opting for a light that can dim at the press of a button. This allows you to avoid blinding anyone approaching you while still staying visible.


Are bike lights waterproof?

Not all bike lights are waterproof, though there is a large selection of lights that are. Our top waterproof pick above, the Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight, is an excellent option that also features sidelights and multiple brightness settings. 

It’s worth noting that bike lights that aren’t waterproof should still be able to hold up in light rain (though a torrential downpour or a full-on submerge of the light should be avoided, if possible).


Do you need a light on your bike at night?

Yes. There’s no question that you need at least some amount of light on your bike while riding at night. This is also true when riding in low-light situations like dusk or dawn. You can also use a smaller light (like our budget recommendation) as a bike wheel light to increase your visibility. 

Riding without a light on your bike is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious injury or death. 


How far should a bike light shine?

Front-facing bike lights should be seen at least 500 feet away, while rear-facing lights should be seen at least 600 feet away.

However, bike lights aren’t all marketed in terms of distance their light shines, so it’s important to understand a light’s lumen rating (explained above) and to use that to determine which bike light is best.


How else can I improve visibility while riding?

Bike lights aren’t the only way to be more visible to those around you while on your bike — you can also wear reflective clothing or use a bike helmet light (I recommend the Chapter from Thousand for this). You can even throw some lights or reflective tape on a backpack and use smaller lights as bike wheel lights. 

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