The 5 best men-sized backpacking packs, perfect for everything from multi-day treks to weeks spent on the trail

  • The right backpacking pack makes trekking with a 30-pound bag on your back a more comfortable experience.
  • The best packs evenly distribute large loads, have several access points, and feature adjustable straps and hip belts. 
  • Our top pick, the Osprey Atmos AG 65, carries tons of gear yet stays comfortable with mesh venting and padded straps.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Backpacking is a fun but grueling outdoor activity – but it doesn’t always have to be. With the right equipment, a multi-day trip into the backcountry could feel like a literal walk in the park, and achieving this starts with purchasing the right backpack. 

Since backpacking requires you to haul everything you need to survive, your pack needs to both hold up to the harshness of the outdoors yet remain comfortable across long distances. This means finding one that’s capable of packing everything from a change of clothes and a sleeping bag to ample food and water (which includes gear like backpacking stoves, changes of socks, and, of course, equipment for making coffee). 

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve embarked on my fair share of backpacking trips, both big and small. Some had me spending just a couple of days on the trail with minimal mileage hiked each day while others were more intensive multi-day to week-long treks with tens of miles of ground covered between camps. While some of the gear you bring may be influenced by the season (like sleeping bags or hiking apparel), the pack you wear depends entirely on the trip you plan on taking.

But finding the right pack isn’t always an easy process. With so many on the market, it’s difficult to know which are best suited to the type of backpacking you prefer. To help, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite packs from brands like Osprey, Arc’teryx, and Gregory, all designed to function well in a variety of use cases. 

A note on fit

The backpacking backpacks featured in this guide are marked as “men’s” packs for a few reasons, all pertaining to their specific fit. Men’s packs tend to have larger carrying capacities, wider straps, taller hip belts, and larger torso dimensions.

Though they’re marketed as “men’s” packs, this doesn’t mean someone of any gender wouldn’t be able to find a men’s pack that fits them well and serves their backpacking needs (same goes for women’s backpacking packs, too). 

Here are the best men’s backpacking backpacks:

Best overall

Atmos AG backpack

With 65-liters of cargo space, upper and lower compression straps to stabilize heavy loads, and Osprey’s Anti-Gravity mesh back panel, the Atmos AG 65 is a backpacker’s dream.

Pros: Osprey’s Anti-Gravity mesh back panel molds to your back to create a comfortable, custom fit, included FlapJacket fly helps protect against rainy weather, upper and lower compression straps reduce load weight

Cons: Size could be bulky for smaller people, not ideal for short, day trips

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 focuses on providing absolute comfort no matter how far you’re hiking or how much cargo you’re hauling. Its 65-liter capacity may be too much for anyone setting out on an overnight trip, as it’s meant more for a weekend or longer excursions. Even when it’s not completely full, the pack never feels as though it’s flopping around on your back or creating a poor fit. 

It features a top-loading design in its main compartment, as well as several exterior pockets designed to hold water bottles, ice climbing tools, or trekking poles. The Atmos also has a zippered bottom area designed to hold a sleeping bag, as well as removable exterior straps which are used to secure a sleeping pad. 

For load management, Osprey’s LightWire frame connects the upper part of the pack to the hip-belt and central core to help distribute weight. Compression straps located on both the upper and lower part of the pack also reduced the pack’s bulk and balanced out heavier loads during my tests. 

Its best feature is the Anti-Gravity ventilated mesh back-panel that contoured to our back to create a snug fit. This helped evenly distribute weight, specifically taking it off our shoulders, hips, and back. This allowed us to carry more weight without feeling bogged down. 

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is one of the best values among any picks on this list. Being uncomfortable can quickly ruin any backpacking trip, so investing in a pack like this one is always well worth the money.  

Best for short trips

REICoop

REI Co-op’s Flash 45 offers ample cargo room for weekend-long adventures but remains lightweight enough for quick day trips or overnighters.

Pros: Smaller capacity perfect for day trips, compatible with hydration pouches, contoured foam hip belt provides a snug and comfortable fit, UpLift Compression tech raises the load to improve stability, and it’s inexpensive

Cons: Not suitable for venturing off-grid for multiple days

Backpacking trips don’t always need to be grueling multiday treks, so when shorter day trips or overnighters are on the agenda, REI Co-op’s Flash 45 is the pack you’ll want. Small enough to avoid slowing you down but with enough cargo space to support you for one or two days on the trail.

Even for a smaller pack, it’s loaded with features geared toward making backpacking easier. REI designed its back panel to provide extra lumbar support while remaining breathable and flexible. It has a contoured hip-belt with foam padding throughout which sits snug against your body to create a custom fit.

On longer trips when I had more cargo, its compression straps helped raise its load while pulling it toward my center of gravity. This helped with pack stability which left me better balanced, and the pack better supported, while I hiked.

Other features include compatibility with a hydration pouch and external tool keepers for trekking poles or ice axes. It also has conveniently-placed bottle pockets that allow you to easily remove and place back water bottles. 

The Flash 45 is a great option for anyone just getting into backpacking but not interested in investing in a larger, more expensive model. 

Best for durability

Hyperlite backpack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest Pack features a Dyneema composite exterior that allows it to hold up to hanging branches, sharp rocks, or anything you come across while on the trail.

Pros: Constructed out of durable and lightweight Dyneema fabric, 40-liter volume offers enough cargo space for weekend trips, dedicated hydration pack pocket, seamed seals to keep the rain out

Cons: Only offers a few external pockets that can fill up easily

It’s not just your body that will take a beating on backpacking trips — your gear inevitably will, too. If you plan on backpacking in densely wooded areas or you find that your gear tends to get more scratched and scraped than you’d like, then check out the Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest Pack.

Constructed out of durable Dyneema fabric, the pack can be taken into the harshest environments with confidence. Dyneema’s light weight also helps reduce overall pack weight, something that proved beneficial when we packed this 40-liter bag to the brim. Its size is perfect for three-day treks and can even be an option for ultralight backpackers setting out for four or five days. 

Its roll-top closure system is easy to secure, though it did make it slightly difficult to reach gear in the bottom of the pack while we were on-the-move. There are a few external pockets to store gear that we could quickly access, but these are limited to the front of the pack. Vertical and horizontal compression straps along the sides of the pack help properly secure loads, which was especially useful when the pack wasn’t completely full. 

Its interior houses a mesh hydration sleeve that’s separate from the main compartment, so it won’t take up valuable gear space. Other features include fully-seamed seals to keep water out, as well as ice ax loops. The pack is a little expensive at $310 but its durability more than validates the investment.

Best for heavy cargo

Gregory backpack

With a lightweight aluminum chassis and an innovative suspension system, the Gregory Paragon 58 weighs less than 4 pounds, saving wearers some valuable packing weight.

Pros: Lightweight frame and suspension system makes heavy loads easier to haul, matrix ventilation system allows for increased airflow to keep your back cool, adjustable hip-belt makes it easy to customize the perfect fit, hydration sleeve doubles as a small daypack

Cons: The stitching on the daypack isn’t very durable 

Every backpacker knows that despite their best-laid plans to keep their pack light, they often end up bringing much more gear than anticipated. With Gregory’s Paragon 58, those heavy loads become much easier to handle, no matter how long the trip might be. 

The pack achieves this by way of an incredibly lightweight frame and suspension system that clocks in several pounds lighter than any other pack on this list. Though it may not seem that crucial, every pound counts when you’re hiking 10-plus miles for days-on-end and living solely out a backpack. 

Along with its matrix ventilation system that promotes increased airflow, the Paragon 58 is best-suited for trips anywhere from three to five days long. The final days of any backpacking trip can feel as though food, water, and clean socks are at a minimum but we took its lower weight into consideration and packed extra. This let us get through even a five-day trip with ease. 

One of its highlight features is its hydration sleeve that also doubles as a removable daypack. If we had camp set-up, this allowed us to not have to haul our big 58-liter pack on short treks to a nearby river just to tote along water or food. The daypack’s stitching isn’t the most durable and although it didn’t come undone on our trips, we could see how it might when used often. 

For $230, the Gregory Paragon 58 is a great backpacking option with incredible value. It’s best used for longer backpacking trips, or for anyone who has a hard time deciding on what to bring or what to leave behind. 

Best suspension system

Arc'teryx backpack

The Arc’teryx Bora AR 50’s innovative suspension system, which allows wearers to freely move without worrying about shifts in weight, is worth its high price tag.

Pros: Best suspension system on the market makes heavy loads feel lighter and promotes a wide range of movement, pivoting hip belt helps avoid the displacement of pack weight, constructed out of weatherproof materials, large enough capacity for weekend trips

Cons: Expensive

A backpacking pack’s suspension system has the ability to make or break a backpacking trip. Not only are they responsible for distributing the weight of a pack to make it more manageable for the wearer, but they help promote a range of motion and establish a comfortable fit. Right now, no pack does suspension better than the Arc’teryx Bora AR 50.

Thanks to the brand’s RotoGlide hip-belt, its suspension system is designed to completely rotate side to side while also offering free movement up and down. What this does is that with every step, the pack slides in either direction to allow for a natural stride, even when it’s packed full. This also reduces chafing and helps wearers maintain balance. 

Though this is helpful for any length of trip, we found it to be especially useful during weekend trips where our pack needed to carry the most gear. Whether crouching underneath a fallen tree or stepping up onto a high rock, the suspension system helped the pack remain stable through a wide range of motion. 

The pack also features a number of internal and external pockets that helped keep our gear organized. Its exterior kangaroo pocket was great for storing snacks we could access quickly, and would also function well for stashing wet gear. There are also side pockets sized for water bottles, as well as loops for trekking poles.

Arc’teryx designed the Bora AR 50 as a top-loading pack but included side zippers to make it easier to access gear stored at the bottom. The pack is also compatible with hydration pouches and features external storage loops for ice axes.

It’s the most expensive pack on this list at $500, but no other model offers as functional a suspension system as the Bora AR 50. If it wasn’t for the high price, we could easily see this as our overall pick.

Backpacking packs FAQ

Backpacking packs differ from traditional travel backpacks in that they’re designed to hold upward of 30 or 40 pounds of cargo, while still being comfortable to wear. The best packs do this by distributing weight across its frame to avoid having the bulk of the weight sit on any one part of your body.

These packs also tend to feature an abundance of pockets to hold a variety of gear, a sleeve for a hydration pouch, and multiple points of entry to make accessing what you pack along easier than just dumping everything out and repacking. You’ll also find most packs come with a series of adjustable (and padded) straps to fine-tune the fit, ventilation systems to promote airflow and keep you cool, and some sort of durable fabric to hold up to the harshness of the outdoors. 

How do you pick out the right size?

Many backpacking packs come in sizes such as small, medium, or large, but finding the right fit also comes down to personally customizing the pack yourself. This means adjusting the hip belt and changing the size of the pack’s torso length. You’ll also want to make sure the shoulder straps and any other stabilizing strap (sternum, load-lifter, etc.) are able to customize to your liking. 

A good rule of thumb for initially picking out a pack, too, is that your specific torso length is far more important than your height. Just because you wear medium shirts doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll wear a medium pack. Fine-tuning these adjustments and picking out the correct size allows the pack to be far less fatiguing while on the trail, and assures you’re able to get from point A to point B in as comfortable a way as possible.

How important is the pack’s fit?

Aside from packing the correct gear like sleeping bags, tents, and food and water, how your pack fits is one of the most vital steps to any backpacking trip. An ill-fitting pack can spell the difference between making it to camp without immense back pain or having to stop and readjust your load every few feet.

What are the most important features that it should have?

All backpacking packs should come with some form of padded hip belt, padded shoulder straps, a load-fitting strap (this is separate from the shoulder straps), and a sternum strap. Beyond those which help with the fit, you should also look for packs that come with a variety of useful storage pockets.

Personally, I like packs that have pockets on the hip belt for easy access to snacks, sunglasses, or anything else small I might need on the trail, as well as easily accessible water pouches (if it doesn’t come with space for a hydration pouch). Some packs also come with removable top pouches which can serve as day packs if you venture off from camp. 

You also want to make sure your pack can carry everything you need it to (but don’t go overboard). It’s not always smart to just buy the largest capacity backpack, even for long trips, because you run the risk of overpacking and a heavy backpack can severely weigh you down on trail. The best way to judge how much gear to bring is by weight, and you generally don’t want to pack more than 20% of your body weight. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best no-pull harnesses recommended by dog trainers, walkers, and rescuers

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good no-pull harness can reduce your dog’s leash pulling without causing them pain or discomfort.
  • A professional dog trainer teamed up with shelter workers to test nine popular no-pull dog harnesses.
  • The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is the best option to prevent pulling without causing discomfort or restricting range of motion.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas. The purpose of this medical review is to ensure accuracy and does not imply any product endorsements or recommendations.

Being pulled down the street can turn a relaxing dog walk into a frustrating battle. As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, more than half of my clients ask for help training their dog to walk nicely on a leash. I typically recommend that dog owners purchase a quality front-clip no-pull harness to assist them in training their dog how to walk on leash without pulling.

For this guide, I partnered with five shelter workers and volunteers at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco to test nine of the most popular no-pull harnesses. Harnesses were tested on walks with more than two dozen medium and large untrained rescue dogs. I also interviewed professional dog walkers and trainers about their favorite harnesses. With each harness, we evaluated how well it prevents pulling, whether it causes discomfort or impedes a dog’s movement, overall fit, adjustability, durability, and washability. Read more about our testing methodology at the end of this guide.

Why you should walk your dog with a harness

Dog harnesses are more than just a training tool to discourage pulling. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, a harness is safer than walking with a leash attached to a collar. Traditional neck collars should never be used for restraining or controlling your dog, as they can cause tension and stress on the dog’s neck. In a 2020 study using canine neck models with pressure sensors, Anne Carter, PhD, a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that all types of dog collars have the potential to cause harm to a dog’s neck. A flat neck collar’s only purpose is for attaching your dog’s ID tags or for decoration. 

It’s important to remember that front-clip, no-pull harnesses are not a magical quick fix. They are, however, an excellent management tool that makes it easier to train a dog to walk nicely on leash.

Here are the best no-pull dog harnesses you can buy

The best no-pull harness overall

best no-pull dog harnesses in 2021

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness significantly reduces pulling without impeding a dog’s movement, sagging, or twisting.

Pros: Deters pulling better than other harnesses, six points of adjustment for appropriate fit, good for dogs that dislike putting their head through a harness, machine washable, 90-day chew replacement policy

Cons: More expensive than most other harnesses, no padding, can be confusing to put on at first

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is a favorite among dog trainers and dog walkers alike. We were impressed by how much easier it was to walk our untrained shelter dogs when they were wearing this harness. The dogs pulled less and were easier to control.

When used with a leash attached to the front D-ring, this harness offers superior control for dogs that pull. Its Y-neck design does not cross the dog’s shoulders or pinch under the armpits, offering a level of comfort not found with other harnesses. Like all the harnesses in this guide, the leash can be attached to either the chest D-ring to reduce pulling or to the back of the harness for dogs that don’t pull.

If you’ve had trouble finding a harness that fits, this is an excellent option. There are six different points that can be adjusted for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The harness has a band that clips around the torso and another band that clips around the neck. While the neck band is ideal for dogs that resist putting their head through a harness, this design can make it confusing to put the harness on until you get the hang of it. The colored top strap on the back will help you keep straight what goes where.

Robyn Socarro, a professional dog trainer at Beyond the Biscuit in Bentonville, Arkansas, swears by the Balance Harness. “It is great for daily performance, and it doesn’t interfere with the dog’s shoulder movement,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming and water activities with my dogs, and this harness doesn’t need to be removed when using a doggie life jacket, and it dries quickly without irritating the skin.”

“The Blue-9 Balance Harness is my go-to recommendation for my clients,” said professional dog walker Clare Hart-Slattery, based in Oakland, California. “It has a higher level of adjustability than other no-pull harnesses, which helps eliminate loose spots that may encourage pulling or irritate the skin.” 

The Balance Harness has a minimalist design that includes unpadded nylon straps and comes in eight different colors and five sizes. I toss mine into the washer and let it air-dry, with no damaging effects.

Although the soft nylon has a 3,500-pound test strength, if your dog chews this harness, Blue-9 offers a 90-day replacement for half price — just pay shipping to mail in the damaged harness. Because of its design, however, most dogs cannot reach the straps with their mouths and I’ve never had a dog chew through one.

The best no-pull harness for versatility

2Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness

With front and back clips and a double-connection leash, the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness is versatile enough to use with any dog, even serious pullers.

Pros: Works well for serious pullers, straps do not loosen or sag, velvet-lined straps prevent chafing, machine washable, available in 7 sizes and 23 different colors and designs, double-connection leash included

Cons: Can be confusing to put on, straps are difficult to adjust

The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness has something of a cult following among dog trainers. With both a front and back D-ring, it’s comfortable for walking dogs who are pullers and those who are not. Diane Livoti Perlman, owner of Metro Dog day care and boarding in Richmond, California, recommends this harness to all of her clients.

Users are frequently amazed at how quickly the Freedom harness reduces tension on the leash for dogs that pull, especially when paired with the included double-connection leash. By connecting the leash to the D-rings at the chest and back, the harness evenly distributes pressure, preventing a dog from feeling discomfort at a single point on their body and providing more control than most other harnesses. The martingale strap at the back tightens in response to pulling to help prevent a dog from squirming out of the harness and escaping. 

Several of our testers found it tricky to put the harness on the first few times because the straps are fitted tightly in the stainless steel hardware. However, once the four points were properly adjusted, they got the hang of it. The straps stay secure and don’t loosen up like some harnesses. There is also a buckle at the neck, so it doesn’t need to be pulled over the dog’s head. The velvet lining on the strap behind the legs is a nice touch for sensitive-skinned dogs.

2 Hounds has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Available in seven different sizes, the Freedom Harness works well for dogs of all sizes and shapes and is the only one in this guide that offers two different widths: 5/8-inch wide straps for smaller dogs and 1-inch straps for larger dogs. One of my clients could not find a harness that fit her low and wide Corgi-Labrador mix until she tried the 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness. It comes in 23 different colors and patterns.

This harness can be machine-washed on delicate cycle and air-dried. I accidentally put it in the dryer, and it came out fine. 2 Hounds will also replace a chewed harness for $12.99 with free shipping.

The best affordable no-pull harness

Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness

The Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a durable, no-pull harness that won’t break the bank. 

Pros: Five points of adjustment for good fit, reflective stitching, some padding

Cons: Limited color options, heavy plastic buckles may be uncomfortable

With both a front and a back D-ring, the Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a solid choice. Attach the leash to the front of the harness to reduce pulling or secure it to the back ring for casual walks or running with your dog.

Beth DiMeccio walks shelter dogs most weekdays at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and tested this harness on several untrained shelter dogs that were difficult to walk. She was impressed with how well it worked for serious pullers. “There’s little chance a dog can wriggle out of this harness, which is a big concern with shelter dogs,” she said.

This Y-shaped nylon harness does not restrict a dog’s movement, unlike Petsafe’s other popular no-pull harness, the Easy Walk, which has a horizontal chest strap that sits too low on some dogs. The 3-in-1’s five different adjustment points allow for a comfortable and snug fit, and with a buckle at the neck, it doesn’t need to be pulled over a dog’s head. It’s also easy to put on and take off after a few tries, but the tiny tags on the straps labeled “shoulder,” “girth,” and “center chest” are only slightly helpful. The light neoprene padding and reflective stitching are a nice touch.

With 1-inch wide straps, this harness is heavier than similar styles, creating too much bulk for smaller dogs. Although the wider straps mean less chafing, there is no padding to cover any of the large plastic clasps. Your dog may have some discomfort if they wear the harness all day.

The harness comes in four different sizes. Unfortunately, the color choices are limited to black, plum, and teal. It also comes with a built-in adjustable car control strap, which attaches to a car’s seat belt. Neither the strap nor the harness are crash-tested, but when used together they will keep your dog restrained in the backseat while you are driving. Petsafe recommends only hand-washing the 3-in-1, which can make it difficult to get out the dog stink that most harnesses collect.

Petsafe offers two sweet guarantees: If your dog chews their harness, the company will ship a replacement for $14.90 (no need to send the damaged harness back). Bought the wrong-size harness? Petsafe has a Perfect Fit Guarantee: They’ll send a new harness free of charge, with a suggestion to donate the first harness to a local shelter.

The best no-pull harness for extended wear

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a comfortable harness for active dogs and will hold up to years of use.

Pros: Padded, wide straps that won’t chafe, can be worn all day, comes in 13 different colors and 5 sizes, easy to put on and take off, durable

Cons: Chest piece twists and gaps with serious pullers, not quick-drying

Designed for outdoor adventures, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness can take a lot of punishment while keeping your dog comfortable. The foam padding on the chest and belly prevents rubbing and chafing, and the built-in clasps are covered with fabric so they don’t touch any part of a dog’s body.

With only two clasps and two adjustment buckles, the harness is easy to put on and remove. It has two leash attachments: an aluminum V-ring on the back and a reinforced webbing attachment on the chest plate.

The Front Range doesn’t reduce pulling as well as the other harnesses we recommend. Although it is normal for a front-clip harness to move when your dog pulls, the Front Range has more twist than our other top picks, causing it to shift to the side with consistent pulling.

But, if your dog tears through bushes or plays rough with other dogs, this harness is a durable option. After seven years, the Front Range is the only intact harness my dog still wears from his younger days. The polyester shell fabric is durable and doesn’t fade over time, and the reflective stitching is a bonus for nighttime dog walking. The harness is available in 5 sizes and comes in 13 different colors to match every possible preference because, of course, your dog needs a hibiscus pink harness.

San Francisco-based professional dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast Scarlett Cermak, owner of Embark Today, loves the size range and color options as well as its comfort and versatility. “The padding is nice because it doesn’t rub on my thin-coated dog,” she said. “I also really like that there is a back-clip option because there are times, believe it or not, when I want my dogs to pull, like in sports like canicross or joring.”

Hand-washing is advised, but I’ve had to put my dog’s harness in the washer and dryer many times. It’s held up, but the edges are now slightly curled. The chest vest can take a while to dry, so it may stay damp for a while after washing or if your dog swims in it.

Ruffwear’s warranty covers manufacturing defects, but there is no chew replacement policy. In my experience, only the most acrobatic chewers can reach the straps with their teeth.

How we tested

no pull dog harnesses we tested

We considered the most popular harnesses on the market and solicited opinions from professional dog walkers and dog trainers who were already using the brands under consideration.

Three shelter staff and two volunteer shelter walkers then tested the harnesses on walks with more than two dozen rescue dogs at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco over a period of eight weeks. The dogs were all medium and large-size (over 50 pounds) and chosen because they were known to be difficult to walk due to overexcitability, lack of training, or reactivity. Dogs were walked with the tester harnesses for 30 to 60 minutes on city streets and in local parks.

Unmanageable leash pulling is typically a problem for dog owners with larger dogs, so we did not test these harnesses on dogs under 25 pounds. Many small dogs strain while on leash, but owners do not struggle with being pulled off their feet.

We also did not test head halters, as most dogs initially find them uncomfortable and will resist wearing them. The no-pull harnesses in this guide are a better choice for anyone looking for the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training and behavior modification. If you’d like to learn more about head halters, read about them in our guide to the best dog harnesses.

 We rated each harness according to the following criteria:

  • Prevents pulling: We assessed how well it prevented dogs from pulling on leash while walking. Dogs were walked for a minimum of 30 minutes on 4-foot leashes.
  • Does not impede or restrict movement: Harnesses were tested on dogs of different sizes and shapes to check for sagging and straps that lay over the dog’s front legs and shoulders.
  • Does not chafe or rub: We tested harnesses on both long- and short-haired dogs to check for chafing or rubbing.
  • Dog cannot slip or back out of the harness: Because these harnesses were tested on shelter dogs who tend to be flight risks, this was a crucial consideration.
  • Easy to put on and take off/ease of adjusting: Putting on or adjusting your dog’s harness shouldn’t be frustrating. Our shelter volunteers and testers were asked to record their impressions when first putting the tester harnesses on dogs.
  • Durability and washability: We asked professional dog walkers for their opinions on how well these wear over time and whether they hold up after multiple washes.
  • Initial cost and replacement cost: We considered whether the price of the harness is justified and how easy it is to replace if chewed.

What else we considered

Kurgo Tru Fit Harness
  • Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness: This is an affordable harness with a padded chest plate and both front and back leash attachments. It’s a solid choice as an everyday walking harness for larger dogs that pull moderately.
  • Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness: This is a somewhat effective no-pull harness, with a vest-shaped design similar to the Ruffwear Front Range. Unless your dog is barrel-chested, the front of the harness twists to the side whenever the dog pulls. The straps also require constant tightening as they loosen too easily. 
  • Petsafe Easy Walk: This popular front-clip harness is inexpensive and easy to put on and adjust. The front chest strap, however, tends to sag more than any other harness we tested, causing it to hang across the dog’s front legs and impede movement. With no padding and thin straps, the Easy Walk may also rub and create abrasions. The buckle ends up under the armpit on many dogs, which can be uncomfortable.
  • Wonder Walker Body Harness: This is a sturdy front-clip harness that works well to prevent pulling. Unfortunately, the horizontal chest strap tends to sag significantly and ends up laying across the dog’s shoulders or front legs.
  • Bolux Dog Harness: One of the most inexpensive harnesses available, this harness does nothing to prevent your dog from pulling, as it only has one leash attachment on the back. Squirmy dogs can easily back out of this harness and escape.

How to get the right fit

Finding the right harness for your dog is like choosing the perfect running sneakers. The right fit is crucial. There’s nothing scarier than your dog wriggling or backing out of a loose-fitting harness. An ill-fitting harness will also be uncomfortable, and if it’s too tight, it can cause chafing. Sagging harnesses can impede a dog’s full range of shoulder or leg movement.

A well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to fit two to three fingers under all the straps. Check the sizing charts and read the instructions on how to measure your dog. When buying online, measure carefully and check the return policy before ordering. If you have a puppy, prepare to purchase more than one harness as they grow.

Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so what fits well for one dog may not work for another. You may have to try a few different harness styles if your dog has an atypical body shape.

Why do dogs pull on leash and how can you stop it?

No dog is born innately understanding how to walk on a leash. Most dogs will pull unless loose leash walking is taught and reinforced.

Dogs pull because they naturally walk faster than we do and because they want to get to the park or greet another dog or sniff something interesting. They pull because they’ve never been taught not to pull. Dogs also strain on the leash because it works for them: They pull, and they get to move forward. Tension at the end of the leash is a learned behavior.

The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to train loose leash walking using positive reinforcement. If your dog is a veteran puller, there is no humane piece of equipment that you can just put on them to instantly stop the pulling. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that neck collars do not prevent pulling and put too much pressure on the dog’s neck.

Although front-clip no-pull harnesses are not a magic bullet that will instantly stop your dog from pulling, they are a management tool. A good harness will help you manage and control your dog while teaching them leash manners.

Although we tested these no-pull harnesses on medium and large dogs, pulling on leash can be a problem for dogs of any size. While some handlers may tolerate leash pulling with a small dog, a no-pull harness is just as helpful for them.

How do front-clip no-pull harnesses work?

2 Hounds Design Freedom Harness

Front-clip harnesses are designed to discourage forward pulling by pivoting the dog toward you whenever the leash is taut. There’s no magic — that’s it. This spinning toward you provides a training opportunity while your dog focuses on you. If you keep walking whenever your dog pulls, you are not only missing out on the chance to train loose leash walking, but you are also reinforcing pulling.

Not all front-clip harnesses are created equal. Harnesses come in two basic designs: A Y-shaped chest strap or a strap that lays horizontally across the chest. Y-shaped harnesses better allow for full freedom of movement.

“Any product that forms a Y shape around the dog’s neck and under the chest is non-restrictive,” said Chris Zink, DVM, a canine sports medicine consultant and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The best no-pull harnesses have both back- and front-clip rings, and some brands now sell cleverly designed leashes that clip to both rings simultaneously, giving the handler better control and balancing leash tension across the body instead of at a single location.

Leashes that attach to the back of a dog’s harness are a safe and comfortable option for dogs that don’t strain on the leash. Back-clip harnesses are also useful for attaching a dragline when teaching recall (“come”).

Why we don’t recommend prong, choke, and e-collars

We only considered no-pull equipment that does not cause pain or discomfort for a dog. Prong, choke, and shock collars are all designed to punish a dog by inflicting pain around the neck whenever they pull. Prong collars and choke chains can also cause damage to a dog’s neck.

“As a general rule, I don’t like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck,” said Siracusa. “Definitely no prong or shock collars. Even a martingale-type collar, which I do like, will not prevent the dog from pulling [and] will apply pressure on the neck.”

Punishment and pain create fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs also have no place in modern dog training. Studies show that e-collars (shock collars) produce behavioral and physiological signs of stress when used on pet dogs. As of October 2020, Petco, the second largest retail pet company in the United States, discontinued the sale of all shock collars online and in stores. Shock collars are banned and illegal in many countries, including England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. To train your dog more humanely, effectively, and successfully, use science-based positive reinforcement and rewards-based training and handling methods.

No harness is chew-proof

There is no such thing as a chew-proof harness. A chewed-up harness is not a manufacturer defect or the fault of a poor design. It takes less than 30 seconds for a determined dog or teething puppy to destroy a brand-new harness, so take it off them when unsupervised. Be sure to also remove harnesses to prevent injury when dogs rough house, as teeth and limbs can get entangled. 

If your dog is a veteran harness destroyer, check the manufacturer’s chew guarantees before purchasing. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous some of the replacement policies are.

Who we consulted

Anne Carter, PhD, is a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University.

Chris Zink, DVM, is a board-certified specialist in veterinary pathology and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chris is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians and researchers. She is a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Carlo Siracusa, DVM, is the director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

San Francisco SPCA Training Department

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best charging stations and USB charging hubs in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • There are many multi-port USB charging stations to choose from with support for a variety of devices.
  • The Satechi Dock5 is our top pick thanks to its convenient ability to charge up to five devices at the same time.

Charging stations and hubs come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve included different options to suit different needs and device charging specifications, so whether you have an iPhone, an Apple Watch, AirPods, a Quick Charge Android phone, a laptop, or a USB-C Android phone; we’ve got you covered.

These days, more and more devices are shipping with USB-C cables instead of USB-A cables, so we’re including charging stations that come with both USB-C ports and USB-A ports if you’re still using your older cables.

For Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra users, specifically – unfortunately, none of the charging stations we’ve encountered support Samsung’s 45W fast charging for the Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you’re looking to max out your charging speeds with those devices, your best bet is to get Samsung’s own charger. Just note that the latest Galaxy S21 series, including the Galaxy S21 Ultra, only support up to 25W charging, which some of the chargers below can achieve.

Here are the best charging stations and USB charging hubs:

The best charging station overall

Satechi Dock5 charging station

The Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station neatly charges five devices simultaneously and includes two USB-C PD ports, two USB-A ports, and a Qi charging pad.

Pros: Charges up to five devices at the same time, holds devices in place neatly, affordable, meets standard charging speeds on most devices, can fast charge iPhone, includes USB-C charging ports

Cons: Short charging cables are sold separately, won’t meet top charging speeds on some Android devices

Households with several smartphones and/or tablets, and wireless charging earbuds will appreciate the Dock5 by reputable tech accessories maker Satechi. 

The Dock5 can charge five devices at the same time with its variety of two USB-C ports, standard USB-A ports, and a Qi wireless charging pad. Devices can be organized neatly with the silicone dividers that prevent scratching. 

The USB-C ports are rated at 20W each, and will be best used on smartphones with fast charging, or devices with large batteries, like a tablet. For reference, the Dock5‘s 20W USB-C ports exceed the iPad Pro’s 18W included charging brick and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12’s 18W fast charging capabilities. The Galaxy S21 phones can charge up to 25W.

The standard USB-A ports are rated at 12W each, which makes them more suitable for smartphone charging at decent speeds. 

The wireless Qi charging pad is rated at 10W, which is double what the AirPods Pro charging capacity. Unfortunately, the Dock5 won’t charge AirPods Pro faster, as they’ll only accept up to 5W for wireless charging. Still, the wireless charging pad can be used to charge a smartphone up to 10W wirelessly.

The Dock5 doesn’t come with the short charging cables you see in the images — those are sold separately and range between $9 to $18, and you’ll have to use your existing cables. That’s a shame, because charging four wired devices with longer cables will make for a messier look than what you see in Satechi’s images. Still, the convenience is undeniable.

Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best budget charging station

Anker PowerPort 5

Charging multiple devices on a budget means you’ll miss out on USB-C charging ports, but you get five USB-A ports on the Anker PowerPort 5 is a cheap, easy solution that will do a great job charging several devices.

Pros: Charges up to five devices at the same time, cheap

Cons: Doesn’t include USB-C or fast charging tech

While you may not get USB-C ports or very fast charging, Anker’s 40W 5-Port USB Wall Charger will do nicely for up to five mobile devices. For under $25 on Amazon, it’s hard to beat. You can easily charge devices like smartphones, smartwatches, headphones, and other accessories that use USB for charging with the PowerPort 5. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station with wireless charging

Nomad Base Station

The Nomad Base Station is a premium, elegant wireless charging station that can charge up to four devices at the same time with its USB-C, USB-A port, and wireless charging pad. 

Pros: Elegant and premium design, versatile charging options, affordable for what it offers, included EU and US adapters

Cons: Doesn’t wirelessly charge Apple Watch, doesn’t charge iPad Pro through Magic Keyboard

The sleek, elegant Nomad Base Station has a padded leather wireless charging surface that can wirelessly charge two devices at the same time at 7.5W, or 10W for a single device. Just note that different phones have different speed limits for wireless charging. Alternatively, you could charge a phone and a pair of wireless charging earbuds or a smartwatch on the pad. Also note that it won’t charge the Apple Watch.

If the wireless charging pad won’t charge your phone fast enough in a pinch, the 18W USB-C port will do the trick for iPhones and Android devices, and it’ll charge most tablets at a standard pace.

The USB-A port is rated at 7.5W, which is pretty slow for phones, but is suitable for charging wireless earbuds.

For its price, the Nomad Base Station is among the best options for a versatile charging station. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for Quick Charge devices

RavPower PD Pioneer Charging Station

The Ravpower PD Pioneer 65W 4-Port USB C Desktop Charger offers quick charging for both standard USB-A ports, as well as two USB-C ports.

Pros: Compact design, charges most devices quickly, can charge a laptop, inexpensive

Cons: Doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W charging tech

The Ravpower PD Pioneer 65W Desktop Charger offers a variety of quick charging USB-A and USB-C ports for a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It’s the best quick charger for the money. 

It features Power Delivery for the USB-C ports that charges up 65W for USB-C PD-compatible devices up to 65W from a single port. If you connect two USB-C PD-compatible devices to the USB-C ports, it’ll charge one at 45W and the other at 18W. 

As for the standard Quick Charge USB-A ports, it can charge one port at 18W, and 12W if you have two devices plugged into each USB-A port. Ravpower also includes this handy chart to show you what it can do with different connection combinations:

Connected port combination Output for each connected port
1 USB-C port USB-C – PD 65W
2 USB-C ports USB-C – PD 45W; USB-C – PD 18W
2 USB-A ports USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A
1 USB-C port + 1 USB-A port USB-C – PD 45W; USB-A – QC 18W
1 USB-C port + 2 USB-A ports USB-C- PD 45W; USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A
2 USB-C ports + 1 USB-A port USB-C – PD 18W; USB-C – PD 18W; USB-A – QC 18W
When connected to all ports USB-C – PD 18W; USB-C – PD 18W; USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A

Just note that like any other quick charging hub we’ve encountered, the Ravpower won’t support Samsung’s ultra-fast 45W charging, as it uses a special protocol that only Samsung seems to use with its own chargers. If you have a Samsung device that supports 45W charging, it’s best to go with Samsung’s own chargers. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station with USB-C for laptops

Aukey charging station

The Omnia Mix4 100W 4-port PD Charger by Aukey has a huge 100W capacity that will charge almost any standard laptop via USB-C at full clip while charging other devices at the same time.

Pros: Can charge multiple laptops while charging other devices, compact, affordable

Cons: Doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W smartphone charging

This 100W charger is smaller than most included charging bricks that come with laptops these days and meets their full power needs. For example, Aukey claims it can charge the power-hungry 16-inch MacBook Pro in 1.8 hours, at least if it’s the only device connected to the charger.

If you connect two laptops to the Omnia via USB-C, the USB-C ports will reduce to 45W each, which is enough to power two MacBook Airs at the same time. If you’re looking to charge laptops that require over 45W, the Omnia will work best as a single-laptop solution. 

The two USB-A ports can charge at a 12W maximum each, but are reduced to 6W each if you have two laptops connected to the USB-C ports. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for iPhone and Apple Watch

Mophie charging stand

The Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand is an ideal charging station for your pre-iPhone 12 iPhone , AirPods (with wireless charging), and Apple Watch. iPhone 12 users should look at the Belkin Boost Charge Pro.

Pros: Perfect for desks or night stands, ideal for Apple users

Cons: Mophie is slow for iPhone 12, Belkin doesn’t support pre-iPhone 12 generation

If you’re looking to charge your daily Apple portable Apple devices that you regularly charge overnight all in one place, the Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand should be near the top of your list. 

The Mophie charges iPhones that support wireless charging up to 7.5 watts, which is fine for any iPhone that supports wireless charging before the iPhone 12. It will also charge your Apple Watch with the magnetic charging pad that props the Watch up in horizontal mode, and there’s a dedicated charging pad for AirPods with wireless charging.

If you have the iPhone 12, consider Belkin’s Boost Charge Pro instead, as it uses Apple’s MagSafe technology and wirelessly charges the iPhone 12 at 15W — faster than the Mophie above. It also features wireless charging for your Apple Watch and wirelessly charging AirPods. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for travel

Zendure_Passport_Travel_Adapter

The Zendure Passport is a clever travel adapter that fits international outlets and offers one USB-C and three USB-A ports to charge your mobile devices.

Pros: Clever design, works in more than 200 countries, charges five devices at once, auto-resetting fuse

Cons: Chunky, can slide out of some outlets

If you frequently fly abroad for work or pleasure, then you should consider the Zendure Passport travel charger. This global travel adapter works with outlets in more than 200 countries and it also provides four charging ports for mobile devices that can deliver a total of 30W.

It’s quite a chunky adapter, measuring 2.24 by 2.8 by 2.5 inches, and it comes in black or white. There’s a blue LED on the bottom that lights up when it’s plugged in, and Zendure’s signature ribbing runs around the outside.

This charger plugs directly into the wall and has four sliders on the side that enable you to choose the correct plug for the EU, US, UK, or Australia. These four plug types will fit the outlets in most places you’re likely to visit. You can also plug into the other side using devices from any of these countries. On the bottom, you’ll find a USB-C port, marked in blue, and three USB-A ports. The USB-C port supports the Power Delivery standard and offers up to 30W. The USB-A ports are rated at 5V/2.4A for 12W each. The AC output is 6A (600W at 100V or 1,500W at 250V). 

This travel adapter has accompanied me on every trip I’ve taken for the last couple of years and it has served me well in the US, the UK, and across Europe. Being able to charge two phones, a smartwatch, a tablet, and a camera battery from one outlet can be very handy. It has also served my family of four, keeping all our phones charged up, and still offering an outlet for a laptop.

You will need your own charging cables, but you can effectively charge five devices at once with this travel adapter. It is quite bulky, so I’ve occasionally found it’s a tight fit with some outlets. If you have a lot plugged into it the weight can also begin to pull it out of the outlet. 

One feature that has proved very handy is the auto-resetting fuse. Fuses inevitably blow occasionally, but this will cut-off automatically for safety, then reset and be usable again, without you having to worry about changing a fuse.

There’s an older version of the Passport that just has four USB-A ports, so make sure you get the newer one with the USB-C port. It comes with a 24-month warranty. — Simon Hill

How fast does your device charge?

Here are the charging speeds of several popular devices:

Device Charging speed
iPhone 11 18W wired, 7.5W wireless
iPhone 11 Pro 22.5W wired, 7.5W wireless
iPhone 12 20W wired, 15W wireless (with Apple’s MagSafe charger), 7.5W with standard Qi charger
iPhone 12 Pro 20W wired, 15W wireless (with Apple’s MagSafe charger), 7.5W with standard Qi charger
Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra 25W
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 45W

What else we considered

Aukey_QC3_6Port_Charging_Station

You can pick up a wide variety of other charging stations and USB charging hubs that will meet your charging needs. Here’s a small selection of the ones that didn’t quite make our list, but are still worth considering if you’ve yet to see something you like. 

  • AUKEY Quick Charge 3.0 6-Port USB Wall Charger: The affordable Aukey 6-Port Desktop Charging Station has two Quick Charge 3.0 ports marked in orange, four green ports rated at 2.4A apiece, comes with a detachable, 4-foot power cable that plugs directly into an outlet, and can deliver a total of 60W. It may be worth choosing over the Anker if you need that extra port, but the boxy design leaves something to be desired.
  • Anker PowerPort Atom PD 4: This charging station has two USB-C ports that support the Power Delivery standard and two USB-A ports. It can deliver up to 100W. That means you can plug in two laptops and two phones and have all four charge up at once. If you have a new MacBook or Pixelbook and want to charge it alongside your phone, then this could be the ideal charger, but it is expensive.
  • Vogek 5-Port 50W Charging Station: This doesn’t quite match our top pick from Satechi, as it only has five ports, but it’s a similar design, with slots to hold your devices neatly. One advantage of this charging station is that it comes with a mixture of eight short charging cables, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
  • Amazon Basics 60W 10-Port Wall Charger: If you need a large capacity, no frills, wall charger, you won’t find anything much bigger, or cheaper, than this charging station from Amazon. It can supply 60W in total to up to 10 devices, but ports are capped at 2.4A each and there’s no support for any fast charging standards.
  • Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock: This is another stylish charging dock for the nightstand that’s designed to accommodate an iPhone and Apple Watch. Instead of plugging in, it wirelessly charges your iPhone, and it has a USB-A port for a third device. The only reason this didn’t make the list is the high price. — Simon Hill

How to choose a charging station

To find the right charging station for you, there are a few questions to ask. There are also certain features that you may want to consider before you buy. 

How many devices do you need to charge?

The first thing to work out when you’re shopping for a charging station for your gadgets is how many ports you need. Count up your phones, tablets, smartwatches, and any other devices that need frequent charging. Remember that you’ll also need charging cables for each one.

Not all ports are created equal

As you’ll see when you peruse our guide, many charging stations offer a mix of ports. You might find USB-A and USB-C, and you may also find that some ports are capable of faster charging rates than others. It’s also quite common for charging stations to have some ports that support certain charging standards and others that don’t. 

Get the right cables

You can always use the charging cable that came with your device, but if you’re buying new cables, make sure they’re fit for the purpose. Look for certified safe cables that can deliver the charging rate you want. We like these 4-inch Anker Powerline Lightning cables and these 8-inch Aukey USB-C cables for keeping things tidy. 

Where will you put the charging station?

Think about where you’re going to put your charging station and consider what size you can accommodate. You will need a wall outlet handy and space to rest your devices while they juice up. It’s a good idea to choose somewhere out of sight because there will be a tangle of cables. We have one on a bookcase in the upstairs landing and another tucked away under a side table at the end of the couch in the lounge. We also use a magnetic cable tidy that helps us quickly find the end of an unused cable and keeps things from getting too messy.

Is charging rate important?

For people planning to plug in overnight, there’s little point in paying a premium for fast charging, but if you want to be able to top up quickly, charging rate matters. Check what charging standards your phone or other device supports and look for a charging station that can deliver. There’s USB Power Delivery, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge standard, and a host of other manufacturer-specific charging technologies. 

Check the safety features and warranty

You’ll be plugging some of your most prized possessions into your chosen charging station, so it’s important to think about safety. Cheap, uncertified chargers can fail, damage your devices, or even cause a fire. Stick to trusted brands, check the reviews, and look for safeguards covering surges and overheating. It’s also a good idea to check the warranty and review people’s experiences with customer support before you buy. 

Check out our other tech accessory guides

native union

The best charging cables

Although most devices come with charging cables, it’s smart to have several on hand in case yours breaks, gets lost, or you simply need to charge multiple devices at once. These are the best charging cables for iPhone, Android, and other devices. Whether you need a lightning cable or a USB-C cable, there’s an option for you here.


The best phone chargers

We’ve rounded up the best phone chargers of all kinds so you can finally have more than one charger on hand.

We’ve included fast-charging options, ones for USB-C-to-USB-C cables, and more. Regardless of your charging needs, you should find an option in our guide.


The best iPhone cases for every model

There’s a seemingly endless variety of iPhone case out there, so we’ve rounded up the best ones we’ve tested from top brands.

These case makers have options for every model of iPhone, so whether you have an iPhone 8 or an iPhone 11 Pro, you can get the right case for your phone.


The best iPhone accessories for every model

No matter which iPhone you have, you can find tons of different accessories for your device. We’ve rounded up the best chargers, cases, cables, and other fun accessories that you might want to have to make the most of your device.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 9 best bamboo steamers in 2021 for cooking dumplings, buns, fish, and more

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Steam cooking is a healthy, fast, and gentle way to prepare a variety of foods.
  • The design and functionality of bamboo steamers, used for over 5,000 years, have stood the test of time.
  • We found a range of bamboo steamers in various sizes and constructions to best suit your needs.

Steam cooking is, in and of itself, virtuous. A method that requires no fat, minimal time, and allows the purity of the ingredients’ flavors to shine through while retaining maximal nutrients, this thousands-years-old technique works by enveloping your ingredients in a cloud of vapor and gently bringing it up to temperature in what is, essentially, a moist oven. This results in a faster cooking time without loss of tenderness. And even better, it’s a hands-off method since peeking leads to loss of steam.

Steaming food is easy enough with any pot and vented basket, but if your goal is pillowy mantou buns, juicy stuffed bao, tender dumplings in semi-translucent wrappers, flavorful whole fish, and tender-crisp vegetables in batches big enough to feed the family, a traditional Asian bamboo steamer is an affordable investment you’ll want to make.

While purists and microwave steamers prefer all-bamboo construction, there is also a case to be made for bamboo steamers reinforced with stainless steel. The standard size for bamboo steamers is 10 inches, but smaller and larger ones are available. You’ll need a large pot, deep pan, or preferably a wok to insert your bamboo steamer into unless you also buy a steamer ring. For more info on bamboo steamers, jump to the bottom of this guide.

Here are the best bamboo steamers

The best overall

Hcooker 3 Tier Kitchen Bamboo Steamer with Double Stainless Steel Banding slide
Available in four sizes and sets of up to three tiers.

Handsome double-banded construction makes the Hcooker 3-Tier Bamboo Steamer a durable set you’ll have for years.

What we like: Steel reinforcements for fragile points, handcrafted, won’t warp or split over time

If you’re looking for a solid set of steamers that merges contemporary improvements with traditional craftsmanship, this triple-decker made of local-to-producer Moso bamboo will do the trick. Not only do its stainless steel bands look sharp, but they also provide function, sealing off the fragile top and bottom rims to keep them from splitting or scorching, respectively. They also support the form of the steamers so that they hold their uniform shape and nest perfectly and retain heat.

While bamboo steamer purists prefer versions without reinforcing metal due to the potential transfer of a metallic taste to the food, it’s of note that commercial dim sum restaurants often opt for models like this without any worry about negative impact on the quality of their dishes. Additionally, the Hcooker brand has been hand-making bamboo steamers since 1097 — so it’s pretty safe to assume they know what they’re doing. Plus, rare availability in marginally different sizes (7.1, 8.3, 9.4, and 10.6 inches at 1.5- to 1.7-inch depth) make it easy to find the right fit for your existing cookware.

The best starter kit

Prime Home Direct 10 inch Bamboo Steamer Basket
Better than average depth lets beginners experiment more freely.

A great value, Prime Home Direct 10-inch Two Tier Bamboo Steamer Baskets come with everything you need to start steaming but the food itself.

What we like: Easy for beginners, includes extras like chopsticks and liners 

Novices itching to get started on their steaming adventure right away will find everything they need in this value-priced kit, which also makes this an ideal gift set for the foodies in your life. A generous 50-count of steamer liners means not having to think about placing another order before you clear 25 double-stacked meals. The set even comes with two sets of chopsticks and a sauce dish.

The versatile three-inch depth also gives you more wiggle room for things like buns and vegetables. In fact, it’s as much as twice as accommodating as other competitive models, which allows for more room for experimentation as you figure out what you’ll be cooking most in your bamboo steamer. Plus, its even, uniform slats are easy to keep clean.

Although we’re recommending this in the standard 10-inch size, this is also our top choice for the 12-inch for those who are ready to take on bigger batches.

The best eco-friendly set

Annie’s Kitchen Premium 10 Inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer Basket
All its added accessories from liners to dumpling press are also earth-conscious.

Organic bamboo is only the start of Annie’s Kitchen Premium 10-inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer Basket that comes with a dumpling maker, reusable liners, and more.

What we like: Everything in the kit sustainably made, environmentally friendly, reusable, comes with included extras

Bamboo steamers are already highly sustainable cooking tools, but this set kicks it up a notch admirably. Not only is this handmade, open-weave, two-tier basket made of ethically sourced bamboo, its bonus accessories are also earth-conscious. The four reusable cotton liners are unbleached and eco-friendly, and the dumpling press and spoon are made of wheat straw, a non-toxic plasticine material that degrades at a similar rate to paper when disposed of. Everything in the kit is BPA-free, and the steamer itself is free of glue, chemicals, and odor. Two sets of chopsticks complete the kit and get you dumpling-ready, from “make” to “ate.”

The best set with a steamer ring

Bisou du Nord 10” Bamboo Steamer Basket Cooking Set   2 Layers
This is a great value since steamer rings can cost as much as steamer baskets.

You don’t have to buy a new pot, pan, or wok for your steamer — an included steamer ring adapts what you have to accommodate the Bisou du Nord Bamboo Steamer Basket Cooking Set.

What we like: Easy to use, includes plenty of liners, anti-warp basket bodies, steamer ring adapter lets you use existing cookware

For those short on storage space or who may not have big cooking vessels, a steamer ring is a must-have. This set’s greatest value — notwithstanding the inclusion of 50 paper liners — is in the inclusion of a stainless steel adapter designed to fit seven to 10.5-inch pots. This rim handily holds your bamboo steamer tower well up above your cookware and the water bubbling merrily within, eliminating any risk of scorching the baskets and stinking up your food, as well as preventing the metal bands from scratching up any nonstick finish.

Like the Hcooker steamer above, stainless steel bands help protect these handmade steamer baskets from warping. The key difference is that the placement of them does not protect against layer separation at its vulnerable edges as the Hcooker version does. However, their exclusively external placement lowers the risk of any metallic flavor leaching in.

The best hand-tied rack

Mister Kitchenware 10 Inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer
A tight, double-woven lid retains steam better and holds its dome shape longer.

All-bamboo construction makes the Mister Kitchenware 10-Inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer a viable option for the stovetop or microwave.

What we like: Wide slats held together with bamboo thread, reinforced lid, efficient cooking

This handmade tower takes basic, traditional techniques and improves upon them from top to bottom. For the former, a tight weave and cross-dome reinforcement seals in even more of that powerful steam; for the latter, hand-tied slats in the base of each basket allow more steam to pass through than more contemporary smooth cut strips.

Best of all, because there are no metal components, you can use it in your microwave as well as on the stove. With a 2.5-inch depth, the capacity is more than generous for either use. Two pairs of chopsticks, a sauce dish, and 10 liners round out this steamer set, an accessory that’s extra important with hand-tied racks. Because they’re fastened with bamboo lashings, there’s more of an opportunity for food to get caught in them, so don’t be shy about using these liners up before switching to a (literally) greener option like cabbage or lettuce leaves.

The best stylish

Bamboo Steamer Basket 10 Inch  Two Tier
A striking, non-traditional vertical slat exterior sets this apart from the standard look.

A streamlined, contemporary exterior belies premium updates and sturdy construction in the Bamboo Steamer Basket 10-Inch Two-Tier.

What we like: Sleek design, classic elements with a modern twist, form and function 

Unique and distinctive, bamboo steamers are already often a conversation starter when brought to the table. However, this set ups the ante with its bold and modern take on the classic construction. In this design, traditional features get a premium, updated facelift, resulting in a handsome bamboo steamer that goes from kitchen stove to tabletop without missing a beat.

Its vertical slat façade is a departure from the double-tied or single strips, and sturdier, too, with less likelihood of splintering since they’re not thin and shaved down. They’re held together securely with stainless steel supports that wrap fully around the delicate top and bottom rims of the baskets. These serve double duty as reinforcement for the weakest points of bamboo steamers, increasing the longevity of your purchase. It comes with equally long-lasting, reusable silicone liners cut into a mesh design fine enough for you to even steam rice in.

The best 6-inch

Joyce Chen 3 piece Bamboo Steamer
Unlike the larger 12-inch of this brand, this smaller version does not use glue.

If you’re looking to recreate that dim sum restaurant vibe, the Joyce Chen 3-Piece Bamboo Steamer is the one to get. 

What we like: Better made than its oversized counterpart, dim sum cart-sized, ideal for smaller households

Whether your goal is to set more small steamers with a bigger variety of food merrily vaping away a la dim sum restaurant or simply to feed fewer folks, cute six-inch steamers may be the right call for you. This is surprisingly more solid than the 12-inch big-batch version by this manufacturer, as that one is held together with glue and this is kept intact more durably with bamboo twine.

The lid is also well supported since it’s woven twice and tightly. Flat, uniform bamboo slats keep the cook surface smooth and even, which is important when you don’t have a lot of interior space to work with since you don’t want your food toppling over, especially when smaller dim sum specialties are often saucy and steamed in a shallow bowl within the bamboo steamer.

The best 8-inch

REISHUNGER Bamboo Steamer
This steamer boasts an extra-tight mesh weave in the lid.

For something in between big and small, the REISHUNGER Bamboo Steamer Traditional 2-Tier Design‘s eight inches is an ideal diameter, splitting the difference between the two standard sizes.

What we like: Just right for dinner for two, 100% bamboo, handmade

Six inches can feel too small and 10 is the dimension needed to make a family meal. Those are the most common sizes, but one size clearly doesn’t fit all. The two inches you gain or lose can make a difference in terms of eyeballing an appropriate batch size, proper packing density of ingredients, and storage when all is said and done. This basic set fits perfectly in the middle, a happy medium. It’s also held together with bamboo twine, as opposed to copper wire or metal bands, making it microwave-safe.

It comes with two breathable, reusable cotton cloths to use as liners, with a weave fine enough to allow you to use one tier to cook rice without losing a grain.

The best wood steamer

Hcooker Deepen 2 Tier Kitchen Wood Steamer
A bamboo lid and traditional design keep this steamer close to its roots.

For a visual profile more luxurious than bamboo but just as carefully handcrafted, try this Chinese cedar design from Hcooker.

What we like: Remains true to its heritage with regionally specific material and construction technique, available in nine sizes

This riff off our best overall pick (also by Hcooker, whose makers boast over a thousand years of expertise in steam cooker manufacture) is a bold choice for its use of fragrant Cryptomeria fortunei, a cedar-type derivative of the cypress family. Handmade in 81 steps, same as its bamboo counterparts, this version has a lovely rich, darker color not naturally found in bamboo. Because they’re created to preserve this natural hue, you may luck out and get a two-tone batch for even more visual interest.

However the inside base is still bamboo, which is unfailingly the best platform for steam cooking, as is the lid, which is reinforced with a double-deck weave. Other practical details include a stainless-capped edge that protects the top only and helps with flush stacking; a deeper capacity than their standard model, which does not have the metal trim; and nine available diameters in up to three-tier bundles.

About bamboo steamers

What is a bamboo steamer?

If you’ve ever been to a Chinese dim sum restaurant, you’ll know exactly what we’re referring to: those straw-colored round baskets, darkened with varying levels of absorbed moisture stacked precariously one atop the other in carts filled with hot water. Most of all, you’ll need no convincing as to why this kitchen tool has enjoyed over 5,000 years of popularity without much evolution. To this day, they’re made with skinned bamboo that’s softened into pliability then shaped into a circle and held permanently in place with bamboo nails or lashings. The bases are slatted to allow steam to rise and cook the food, the containers nestling into each other until you reach the top level — however high you choose to make it — where a dome-shaped, tightly woven lid seals the vapor in.

Why you should use a bamboo steamer

Although fast-cooking metal steamers are commonly available, many Asian cooks still choose the old-fashioned models due to their ability to absorb moisture — which reduces the problem of condensation dripping down and making your dish soggy — and to avoid imparting any metallic taste or overcooking due to higher heat retention. And while rice cookers also provide a steam function, the ability to stack bamboo steamers and effortlessly batch cook also keep folks loyal to the old ways, even if these baskets don’t last as long. However, they’re environmentally friendly, highly sustainable, and inexpensive, reducing the footprint of their replacement on the earth and your wallet.

How to use a bamboo steamer

To use a bamboo steamer, you don’t need much: just something to line it with and cookware large enough to accommodate it and a couple of inches of water with enough clearance that boiling bubbles won’t touch the base. Any wide, deep pan or pot will do, but a wok is best if you have one—the curve of its bowl will hug the steamer and keep the bottom from scorching, as is more likely in a pot of pan due to the base’s prolonged direct contact with it. As for linings, you can buy specially made perforated liners cut to typical bamboo steamer sizes; parchment, wax, or baking paper; or cabbage, lettuce, lotus, banana, or pandan leaves, the latter three of which may also impart their flavors.

What to consider when buying a bamboo steamer

When purchasing, be sure to choose BPA-free high-quality bamboo and look for wider slats for better steam flow and hand-woven lids, which often boast a tighter weave for better steam entrapment. You’ll also want to veer toward models joined with bamboo wick or stainless steel strips, and not glue, which may melt, or copper, which can corrode. All of our picks fit these construction criteria.

As for size, two tiers in a 10-inch diameter is typical and will serve the needs of most households for many years with proper care. That means allowing your steamer to properly air out for at least two days before storing it, and avoiding contact with strong odors it may absorb, such as dish soap or a scorched base.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 12 best places to buy patio umbrellas in 2021

Blissun 9 ft Solar Umbrella 32 LED Lighted Patio Lifestyle Image

  • The best patio umbrellas provide thorough sun coverage and can stand up to all kinds of weather. 
  • We spoke to landscape architects to find traditional and cantilever umbrellas for your budget.
  • See also: Where to buy outdoor furniture online

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A patio umbrella is an important addition to your backyard if you eat and lounge outside regularly. 

Though it’s tempting to buy one off looks alone, remember that “as a functional piece, the most important feature in a patio umbrella is the coverage,” as Melissa Lee, the founder and creative director of design firm Bespoke Only said.   

Kevin Lenhart, a landscape architect and design director of online landscape design service Yardzen advised, “Think about the sun pattern in your yard. Even if you have a large space, you might not need a huge umbrella if you’re able to angle it to block the sun and shade the area you are enjoying.” 

In addition to umbrella canopy size, consider the fabric, which needs to stand up to rain, sun, and wind. Sunbrella, a durable performance fabric that’s resistant to fading, stains, and mildew, is a favorite among landscape designers. 

There are two main types of umbrellas: a traditional “market” umbrella, which is usually placed in the middle of a table, and a cantilever umbrella, which is freestanding and brings in the canopy from an angle. You can learn more about the pros and cons of each, as well as other things to keep in mind when shopping for a patio umbrella, here.  

Currently, all of our picks are based on research and expert input. In the future, we plan to test these patio umbrellas and evaluate their ease of assembly, effectiveness, and durability. 

Here are the best patio umbrellas in 2021

The best patio umbrella overall

best patio umbrella 2021 bridgehampton

A traditional “market” umbrella is the classic style that works best for most people. It’s affordable, easy to use, and widely available in many sizes, fabrics, and colors. Because it’s placed right in the middle of a table, it requires less backyard space and is less likely to get in the way of foot traffic. 

Bronze Aluminum Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)Outdoor Metal Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Ocean Master Roman Valance Umbrella (8.5-ft.)  (medium)
The best cantilever patio umbrella

best patio umbrella 2021 cantilever umbrella sunvilla

If you have a larger backyard and don’t like how traditional umbrellas disrupt table space, you should get a cantilever umbrella. Keep in mind cantilever umbrellas tend to be heavier and more expensive, but there’s great payoff in the large amount of shade provided.

Bronze Aluminum Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)Offset Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Round Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella on a budget

best patio umbrella 2021 budget abba patio

A budget umbrella may lack the sturdiness and longevity of the umbrellas above. Still, we found some solid options with well-designed mechanisms and strong canopies. 

Patio Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium)Market Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium, Preferred: The Home Depot)Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella with lights

best patio umbrella 2021 hampton bay solar led lights

Lighted patio umbrellas offer extra pizzazz and visibility when you’re sitting outside on a warm summer night. The best part is they’re solar-powered, so you don’t have to deal with tangled cords.

Solar Patio Umbrella (9-ft.)  (medium)Cantilever Solar LED Patio Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella stand

best patio umbrella 2021 abba patio stand

A weighted umbrella stand or base ensures your patio umbrella won’t shake or blow away with the slightest gust of wind. “A good rule of thumb is to take the width of your umbrella and multiply it by 10,” said Lenhart. For an 8-foot-wide umbrella, for example, you’ll need a base that’s at least 80 pounds. Pre-filled stands are more expensive than empty stands, which require you to add sand or gravel. 

Umbrella Base (50-lb.) (medium)Hayward Patio Umbrella Base (88-lb.) (medium)Umbrella Stand with Rolling Base (125-lb.)  (medium)
Our methodology

We determined the best patio umbrellas through a combination of research and expert input. Using insights and brand recommendations from our experts, we chose two to three options per category, keeping a variety of sizes and prices in mind. We plan on putting these umbrellas through a variety of tests in the future. 

Patio umbrella FAQs

Traditional vs. cantilever umbrella — which should you buy? What are the pros and cons of each?

  Traditional umbrella Cantilever umbrella 
Pros
  • More affordable
  • More variety of options 
  • Covers a lot of space
  • Pivots and tilts more easily
Cons
  • Smaller canopies
  • More difficult to angle
  • Pole can get in the way
  • More expensive 
  • Requires more space

“The biggest pro of traditional umbrellas is that they get the job done at a relatively low price. They stand up to harsh and windy conditions and require little maintenance. They also tend to be less expensive,” said Lenhart. 

Danu Kennedy, design director of creative design firm Parts and Labor Design, likes cantilever umbrellas because “you don’t have to interrupt the seating connectivity to place the umbrella, but they tend to be a little more clunky whereas a traditional model is perhaps more easily worked into the aesthetic.”


What size umbrella is best for your space? 

In addition to sun pattern, consider the size of the space where you’d like to place the umbrella, as well as the surrounding foot traffic. “Do you have room for a standalone umbrella or should you look for a table that allows for an integrated umbrella? A good rule is to allow for three feet around the umbrella to circulate.” said Blythe Yost, a landscape architect and cofounder of online landscape design service Tilly


What are the best materials for the umbrella stand and canopy? 

For the stand and pole, look for durable, rust-resistant materials like aluminum, coated steel, and concrete (which is harder to find). Some designers also like teak wood because it weathers beautifully. 

As for the canopy, Olefin and Sunbrella come highly recommended by our experts. “Olefin is a durable, sustainable fabric that requires no water during production and maintains its quality for years. Sunbrella is a leader in outdoor performance fabric — it’s easy to clean and has beautiful colors and designs,” said Lenhart. 


Once you’ve figured out size and coverage, how do you find a patio umbrella that fits the rest of your patio style? 

Look at your surroundings, and ask yourself whether you want your umbrella to blend in or pop out. “If you want your umbrella to meld in the natural setting, think neutral colors like white, gray, and beige or even subtle greens and blues. If you want your umbrella to make a statement check out umbrellas in vibrant colors or patterns,” said Yost. “If you’re in a city we prefer a bold, fun pattern, to add a pop of color to the gray cityscape, but if you’re near a lake or beach, the piece shouldn’t compete with nature,” said Lee. 


How do you maintain a patio umbrella?

If your umbrella is crafted from high-quality materials, it’ll stand up to water, sun, and wind, making your job easier. Still, a few small steps can help make your umbrella last much longer. Wipe down the canopy once a month and stand with a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser like mild laundry detergent. “Finding an umbrella with fabric with the color as part of the material, and not dyed, will help retain the color in outdoor conditions,” Yost said. ‘When it comes to extending the life of your umbrella, it’s a great idea to store it when it’s not in use. Either bring it in a garage or you can find an umbrella cover for the material and the stand.” Just make sure everything is fully dry before you pack it away. 


Glossary of terms 

Traditional umbrella: Also known as a market umbrella, this is the style of umbrella you typically see at outdoor dining setups. The pole goes through the middle of the table and the canopy, which is either circular or rectangular, covers the table fully. Traditional umbrellas are usually lighter than cantilever umbrellas. 

Cantilever umbrella: The base and pole of a cantilever umbrella are offset, bringing the canopy in from an angle. Cantilever umbrellas are heavier, bigger, and more expensive than traditional umbrellas. 

Crank lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by turning a crank handle. This mechanism is easier and smoother, but slower to use, than a push lift and could also break more easily. 

Push lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by pushing a button. The button is typically located at the top of the pole and may be difficult for some people to reach without the help of a chair. 

Sunbrella: An outdoor performance fabric made of solution-dyed acrylic (the UV-stabilized pigment is spun directly into the yarn). It’s frequently used in outdoor furniture products because it’s resistant to fading, abrasion, mold, mildew, stains, and water. It’s strong, easy to clean, and comfortable to the touch. 

Olefin: Also known as polypropylene. A strong and thick synthetic fiber used in many household products like carpeting. It’s good for outdoor use because it’s resistant to fading, water, mold, and mildew, but it may stain more easily than Sunbrella. 

Check out our other outdoor home guides

Breeo x series 24
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 7 best compression socks for runners, nurses, and others

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky, but they actually have science behind them to help improve your circulation. At its foundation, the garment works by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also helps the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulate bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.

There are a few categories of people who might benefit from this improved blood and lymph flow: athletes looking for better performance and/or recovery; folks with venous or lymphatic issues in the legs, like elderly people with deep vein thrombosis or pregnant folks trying to minimize varicose veins; and anyone with blood clot concerns. People also like to wear compression socks to improve circulation on long flights or long work shifts on their feet (like nurses), where the improved circulation may help reduce soreness.

Many studies show wearing compression socks can help improve blood flow to your lower limbs, promoting healthier vein functioning and healing. Venous issues are particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their body. Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.

When it comes to athletic performance, the jury’s still out on just how effective compression garments, including socks, can be. Some research confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.

However, a recently-published analysis in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and after the workout, less sore. Even if it’s more placebo than anything, for anyone training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and recovery may help make your training plan easier.

While researching the best compression socks, we tested dozen of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.

Here are the best compression socks:

Best compression socks overall

compression socks

Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.

Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won’t sag over the course of the day

Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag. 

The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.

Made of polyamide/nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), this CEP socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.

The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens. 

These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout. 

Best budget

compression socks

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.

Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit

Cons: Only comes in two sizes

Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.

The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.

Best for circulation

sockwell

If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.

Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long

Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes

For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.

The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.

What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).

These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.

Best for post-workout

compression socks 1

After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.

Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors

Cons: May not be tight enough for your needs, long drying time

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.

The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink. 

Best for runners

Aspire Socks

Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.

Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture

Cons: Can be difficult to put on

Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort. 

Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover. 

Best for standing all-day

compression socks

If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.

Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people

The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each are made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool. But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).

The Circulator socks only come in two sizes, though there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds. 

Best for fun patterns

Vim Vigr socks

Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.

Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women

Cons: Can get expensive

First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.

I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHG depending on the style.

Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.

What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the colorblock options, as well as Rugby Stripe pattern for men.

Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.

How to shop for compression socks

Compression sock ratings

The compression in the stockings is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.

None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.

Fabrics used

Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.

How best to use compression socks

There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well: 

  • Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
  • Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
  • Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best blenders in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • When selecting a blender, you’re going to want one that’s powerful enough to do any job you need.
  • The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender is our best pick as it has a  powerful motor, is affordable, and is easy-to-use.
  • We also recommend other blenders that have powerful motors, rival professional models, and more.

A blender seems like a simple kitchen tool, and for the most part, it is. Blenders give you a variety of settings to help you achieve the consistency you need for a particular recipe. And even if you don’t use it specifically for cooking, a blender is essential when you want to whip up, say, kale smoothies or homemade vanilla milkshakes.

Although blenders all seem to perform the same tasks, a good blender has a powerful motor, and can handle blending everything from frozen drinks and smoothies to fruits and vegetables. A blender is a great investment if you enjoy having smoothies frequently, make a lot of dips and sauces, or if you simply would like some help prepping and chopping ingredients while cooking. We tested several blenders and recommend the following options due to their power, affordability, and versatility in blending several kinds of foods.

Here are the best blenders in 2021

The best blender overall

calphalon blender

True to its name, the Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender automatically senses the correct speed for the ingredients you’re blending and can be used for smoothies, dips, and milkshakes.

Pros: 1100-watt motor that automatically senses ingredients and adjusts for best results, four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, easy to clean, features durable stainless steel blades, comes with a Blend-N-Go jar for added convenience

Cons: Lid that goes with smoothie cup is slightly awkward to use

The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender has four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, and a 1100-watt motor that automatically senses the thickness of your ingredients. 

I put the Calphalon Auto-Speed through its paces, and it’s held up well to daily use, resulting in thick, silky smoothies. It do much more than make smoothies, however, which makes it a great multi-purpose tool to have on your kitchen counter. The pulse feature allows for food prep and chopping — and makes great salsa. There are also four preset functions for dips, milkshakes, frozen drinks, and smoothies as well as adjustable speeds for more hands-on control.

I especially like the addition of the reverse pulse button which helps pull the ingredients further down into the blade if necessary to prevent any jams, resulting in a smooth blend. The 6-point stainless steel blades are durable and easy to clean thanks to the way they’re angled.

Presets and speeds are controlled by a dial on the front that’s clearly labeled, and you can start, pause, pulse and reverse pulse at the push of a button. The easy to read digital interface shows you how long you’ve been blending, or counts down to the finish if you choose to use one of the presets.

Each part of the blender that attaches to the base is also dishwasher safe for further convenience. I’ve cleaned each of these parts in our own dishwasher multiple times with no issue.

When blending, you can either use the 2-Liter pitcher for larger quantities, or the convenient 25-ounce Blend-N-Go Jar for single-serving-sized smoothies and drinks. While I liked using the Blend-N-Go Jar, I did find the drinking lid that comes with it slightly awkward to use. It prevented any spills, but the attached cap was sometimes more of a nuisance than anything else. — Kylie Joyner

The best blender on a budget

blender

The KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender is a solid, affordable blender that can make soups and smoothies easily.

Pros: Sturdy, affordable, makes good smoothies, decent motor, five speeds

Cons: Not as powerful as others

Although you certainly can spend hundreds of dollars on a blender, you don’t have to if you only want an occasional smoothie, soup, or blended dessert. I’ve owned the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender for several years, and it’s still going strong.

The Die Cast Metal Base is sturdy, so it doesn’t shake as it blends, which is something that a lot of cheap blenders tend to do. Although it’s not as powerful as many of the blenders in our guide, the KitchenAid has a perfectly capable motor that helps the stainless steel blades blend just about anything with little effort.

KitchenAid’s Intelli-Speed Motor Control tech ensures that ingredients are blended equally. The 56-ounce BPA-Free pitcher is easy to clean, as is the two-piece lid. Years of use haven’t harmed the sturdy plastic pitcher or the lid, which still fits snugly. — Malarie Gokey

The best high-powered blender

blender

The Ninja Professional Blender delivers plenty of power to crush ice and blend a variety of ingredients to create perfect smoothies every time.

Pros: Perfect option for creating smoothies at home, good price point, offers many different kinds of blending options, works to crush ice, blends many kinds of foods successfully

Cons: Unit’s lid can be difficult to clean, blades are sharp when you take blender apart for cleaning

If you’re looking to create great-tasting smoothies at home, you’ll want a blender with plenty of power to ensure the ingredients are well mixed and delivered at the desired texture. The Ninja Professional Blender has the features needed to pulverize ice and create the highest quality smoothies possible.

It boasts 1,100 watts of power with three speeds, a pulse setting, and a single-serve function. Ninja also includes two 16-ounce to-go cups so you can take your breakfast smoothie with you. The blender’s 72-ounce pitcher is a good size and it has a form-fitting lid and a nice big handle.

Guides Editor Les Shu has seen the Ninja in action. The multiple sharp blades that run up the core of the blender cup, while befitting of the Ninja name, look both frightening and ridiculous. When it’s running, the blender is jet-engine loud. But it did a terrific job cutting through ice and fresh pineapple for piña coladas.

Indeed, the Ninja blender does a great job with all kinds of blending needs, including crushing and pureeing for smoothies. It’s the perfect choice for people who don’t want to invest in our top pick but still need a powerful blender.

As for downsides, the Ninja blender is difficult to take apart and clean, in large part because of the sharpness of the blades. The lid also has some crevasses that are tough to clean properly. But otherwise, this is a great pick. — Kyle Schurman

The best professional-style

Screen Shot 2018 07 23 at 2.53.02 PM

The Vitamix Professional series 750 offers everything you need in a blender, and its proven longevity makes it worth the price.

Pros: Consistent, powerful motor, strong blades stay sharp, 7-year warranty

Cons: Price tag

We know this is a lot to spend on a blender, or anything, really. But if you want the most consistent consistency, and you use your blender on a daily basis, it’s easily justified. When you go to a smoothie shop, you’re probably paying well over $5 per drink, and if you do so even two or three times a week, that adds up (I’m a writer, so I’ll let you do your own math).

The Vitamix 750 is a professional-grade, 1440-watt blender built to last the better part of a decade, and Vitamix’s 7-year warranty is enough to attest to that. Sure, you may have some 20-year-old anvil of a thing living on your counter that still works, more or less, but I’ll bet your smoothies turn out to be laden with large, blade-neglected chunks of your chosen fruits. I’ll also bet it’s not the prettiest thing in your kitchen, either.

The Vitamix 750 has 10 speeds as well as four automatic settings for smoothies, hot soups, frozen desserts, and purées. These settings allow you to walk away from the blender while the automatic drive on the blender assesses the power and speed needed to acquire the proper consistency of your desired dish.

For those who use their blender only every so often but still demand perfection, the Vitamix 5200 is of comparable quality, just with a less technical interface and no automatic drive for setting your blender to smoothie mode and walking away. — Owen Burke

The best vacuum blender

breville the super q z

The Breville Super Q Blender isn’t inherently a vacuum blender, but together with Breville’s Vac Q attachment, it becomes one of the best.

Pros: Extremely powerful, versatile, automatic shut off/hands-free

Cons: Expensive, not as easy to manually operate as a Vitamix if you’re getting technical

Breville’s Super Q Blender is a great blender on its own, but when you add the VacQ attachment to it, it becomes a vacuum blender and removes all air from your concoctions.

An 1800-watt motor that drives steel blade tips at 186 miles per hour; it’s a remarkable feat of technology for blending (and nearly juicing) just about anything you can get your hands on. The Super Q also has five programmed presets for easy use.

Insider Reviews editorial director Ellen Hoffman and I set up shop at Insider Reviews Headquarters (otherwise known as our office kitchen) where we stuffed the Breville Super Q with every fruit and vegetable we could get our hands on. We ended up with a host of perfectly consistent, sometimes strange-tasting concoctions (through no fault of Breville).

Two things impressed me about this blender in comparison with the Vitamix. First, the Super Q is unbelievably quiet. We were able to carry on with a conversation at normal volume while the motor was whirring away somewhere between a whisper and a barely vocal growl. This is, far and away, the quietest, albeit most powerful blender I’ve ever put to use. 

What really makes the Super Q a solid buy, however, is the Vac Q, which, unfortunately, comes separately. That’s my only gripe with this machine so far. A small-handled vacuum about the size of a coffee mug that you place over the top of the pitcher or smoothie cup, the Vac Q pulls as much air out of the container as would seem possible. This process creates such a tight seal on the lid that it’s almost impossible to open without using the depressurizing cap, which reduces oxidation and bubbles.

In short: It makes your juice taste better and last longer. The more foam and froth in juice, or anything you’re blending, the more nutrients you lose. Sure, there are many reasons we drink juice, but most of us are taking nutrition into account, too. — Owen Burke

Breville Vac Q Attachment

Breville Super Q Blender

The best personal blender

breville boss to go sport

For the smoothest smoothies, shakes, and juices, the powerful Breville Boss To Go Sport is your go-to personal blender.

Pros: Powerful, blends ice and harder foods, two travel cups and lids

Cons: Only one speed

The Breville Boss To Go Sport is a perfectly sized blender for on-the-go smoothies in the morning or smaller blending jobs. But don’t let its compact form-factor fool you: This is a powerful 1000-watt blender that can pulverize ice and hard fruits.

Besides the powerful motor, the Boss To Go Sport uses what Breville calls a Kinetix blade. The unique curved design of the four blades helps to create smoother foods — great for silky smoothies and shakes, not so much if you like chunky guacamole. And it does things fast, which is great if you’re short on time in the morning.

The blender comes with two travel cups and lids, one 23-ounce and one 15-ounce. There’s only one speed, however. But like all Breville products, the Boss to Go Sport looks industrial-sleek. 

The Boss To Go Sport is pricey, but like many Breville products, we believe it’s a good investment and it’s backed by great customer service. You can purchase personal blenders at half the price (or more) of the Boss to Go Sport, like those from NutriBullet. However, in our experience, NutriBullets are notorious for leaking and their motors tend to blow out too easily. — Les Shu

What to look for in a blender

Here’s what we look for in a great blender:

  • Power: The motor is the most important part of any blender, and the higher the wattage, the better the performance. Always get a blender with a motor that’s more than 500 watts. If you want to make frozen drinks, you may need one with 1,000 watts of power.
  • Blades: Some blenders have blades made for solid objects like ice, while others are better equipped for blending softer foods. Stainless steel blades are best.
  • Size and materials: We look for durable, wide blender jars with tight-fitting lids. 

Types of blenders

There are a few different types of blenders, each with its own unique features: conventional, multi-function, personal, and immersion. 

  • Conventional: A conventional blender is the most common type for use in your home kitchen; it can perform a variety of functions from making soup to blending smoothies.
  • Multi-function: Multi-function, professional-style blenders have powerful motors and are often used in restaurants. F
  • Personal: These small appliances make single servings and may run from a battery for portability.
  • Immersion: These stick-like handheld blenders can be placed directly into a pot or other container to puree soups, sauces, and smoothies. We left immersion blenders (also called hand blenders) off of this list because they have their own comprehensive buying guide, which you can check out here.

Check out our other small appliance buying guides

Breville 98xl juicer

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best body moisturizers our team has tested

  • It’s typical to prioritize facial moisturizers, but body creams are just as important.
  • A good body moisturizer will replenish, soothe, and protect your skin without being too sticky.
  • The Kiehl’s Crème de Corps is our favorite  – a rich cream that will instantly give you soft skin.

Many of us neglect our skin from the neck down but moisturizing our limbs is equally as important  – especially when you get out of the shower. As your skin dries, the water evaporates off the top layer, which can sap moisture from your epidermis. Smoothing on moisturizer keeps your skin feeling soft and hydrated instead of tight and itchy. This is doubly true for folks with skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis. Proper hydration can help you avoid painful flare-ups, making a body moisturizer a must-have in your beauty arsenal. 

There are all sorts of body moisturizers out there – from balms to creams to lotions – and the one you choose depends on your skin type and preference. To save you time and effort finding the right one for you, we’ve rounded up the best ones, some with self-tanning properties and others boasting antioxidants for skin-boosting benefits. If you have a specific skin condition, however, it’s a good idea to check in with your dermatologist before starting any new project regimen, just to make there won’t be any adverse effects. 

Here are the best body moisturizers in 2021:

The best body moisturizer overall

Kiehl's Crème de Corps

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps is our top body moisturizer overall because it gives you soft, smooth, and healthy-looking skin with immediate results.

Pros: Good for normal, dry, or sensitive skin; no added synthetic fragrance 

Cons: Some may find it a bit greasy

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps is a lifesaver that targets dryness, dullness, and uneven skin texture, giving you brighter-looking skin. It nourishes, locks in moisture for hydration, and leaves your limbs feeling soft and smooth. 

The rich body lotion is packed with a powerful blend of ingredients, including antioxidant-packed beta-carotene, skin-softening cocoa butter, and moisture-replenishing olive-derived squalane. The beta-carotene is also what gives the lotion its slightly orange tint.

In testing, I found Kiehl’s Crème de Corps had a whipped butter-like texture and a pleasant, subtle fragrance that stems from the ingredients. The body lotion absorbed quickly leaving it looking instantly smoother. However, despite claiming to be non-greasy, it did feel a little greasy on my skin, possibly due to the cocoa butter and oils like olive and avocado.

The best drugstore body moisturizer

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion is an award-winning drugstore moisturizer that hydrates without leaving behind a greasy feeling — and without the big price tag too.

Pros: Affordable, fragrance-free, non-greasy, non-comedogenic, soothing oatmeal is good for eczema and itchy skin, great for all skin types including sensitive, oily, and dry skin

Cons: Left behind some residue on skin

Designed to absorb quickly and last 24 hours, this body moisturizer’s gentle formula promises to leave your skin feeling soft, smooth, and healthy-looking

Aveeno’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion works wonders for dry skin and is ideal for daily use. It contains natural ingredients like oatmeal to relieve dry, itchy skin, while emollients soften dry areas.

In testing, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion was the perfect consistency — not too thick or too thin. It didn’t irritate my sensitive skin and made it look smooth, though it left a slight residue. I appreciate its pump dispenser (for extra convenience), and the fact its fragrance is subtle.

The best body moisturizer to splurge on

Sol de Janeiro Mini Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

The Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream has a velvety consistency that doesn’t leave a residue — and it smells like a tropical island.

Pros: Fast-absorbing, hydrating, delicious smell, antioxidant-packed ingredients, cruelty-free, paraben-free

Cons: The scent can be a little strong, especially if you use a lot of product

Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream product smell like coconut trees and sandy beaches. Its consistency is super smooth and glides seamlessly over the skin. It’s especially great for dry areas and, though I focus the product on my upper thighs during the summertime, it’s still a go-to in colder months when I hop out of the shower.

It’s also fast-absorbing. In fact, your skin will feel instantly hydrated the second you swipe it on. Though the scent may be too strong for some, I only noticed an extra potent scent if I apply more product than average.

At $45, this body butter is a bit of a splurge. But if you want to cut costs a bit, the brand has a mini version for $20. — Victoria Giardina, buying guides fellow

The best with antioxidants

Necessaire 1

For instant hydration and long-term protection, Nécessaire Body Lotion is well, necessary.

Pros: Formulated with vitamins A, C, and E; fast-absorbing, paraben-free

Cons: May be greasy if much product is used

Necessaire’s Body Lotion is a top-tier product for including popular skin-care ingredients in its body-care products. This ensures the skin on your arms and legs is just as hydrated, healthy, and nourished as the skin on your face.

This minimalist tube is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, and omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 for an added, antioxidant-filled boost. There’s even niacinamide — an ingredient more commonly found in serums — to help soothe irritated skin and smooth out fine lines. The formula still manages to absorb quickly and doesn’t leave much greasy residue, though that depends on how much you pile on.

 

The best for self-tanning

Jergens Natural Glow

For hydrated, firmer skin, and a natural-looking glow, Jergens Natural Glow +Firming Daily Moisturizer is our top pick.

Pros: Affordable, gradual and natural color, bearable smell for a self-tanner

Cons: Only comes in two shades

Not only does Jergens Natural Glow +Firming Daily Moisturizer target dry skin, but it also provides a gentle-looking tan and helps reduce the appearance of cellulite in seven days.

This multipurpose moisturizer is formulated with vitamin E, collagen, elastin, and ginseng to help hydrate, firm, tighten, and improve the elasticity of your skin. What’s more, its color-enhancing complex subtly yet gradually deepens your skin tone, so you don’t need to worry about looking like an Oompa Loompa.  

It comes in two shades (fair to medium and medium to dark) and leaves behind uniform color with a streak-free finish. For best results, exfoliate first before applying all over your body, but do so sparingly on knees, elbows, and ankles. Wait a few minutes for the lotion to dry before dressing and be sure to wash your hands — unless you want them to be extra tan.

This is my go-to body moisturizer for parties, weddings, or whenever I want to take my fair skin a hue tanner. It does the job and always results in a smooth finish in less than a day.  And, unlike many self-tanning products, the smell is bearable thanks to odor-reducing technology.

Check out our other buying guides

Skincare Products

The 11 best skincare products we tried in 2020


23 skincare products with near-perfect Amazon reviews


The best face moisturizers for every skin type


The best face masks for skincare


The best face cream for dry skin

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best air purifiers in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • An air purifier can help clean your indoor air of pollutants, dust, and smoke.
  • We tested and researched more than 10 air purifiers to determine the best for your needs and budget.
  • The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ can clean a 650-square-foot room in 15 minutes and indicates when to replace filters.

An air purifier can help improve the quality of your indoor air, which can be more polluted than outside air. Things like candles, cooking grease, and cleaning products can contribute to irritants, and if you’re not opening your windows 24/7, they can pollute your indoor air.

Our guide recommends air purifiers that are easy to maintain, remove a broad array of irritants, and performed well in our tests. When we examined each model, we considered its Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), noise level, long-term costs, maintenance, and filtration systems. We also noted how easy they are to use, as well as other useful features.

We explain our testing methodology here, along with other models we looked at that didn’t make the cut and air-purifying techniques.

Here are the best air purifiers of 2021

The best air purifier overall

Best air purifier 2021 blueair air purifier

The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier filters the air in medium-to-large rooms up to five times per hour, and it’s so quiet that you won’t notice it’s operating.

Pros: Does an excellent job of removing dust, pollen, and smoke; indicator lets you know when to clean/replace filter; attractive appearance; easy to use

Cons: Filter replacement is expensive

The Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier is designed to remove bacteria, mold, pet dander, dust, pollen, viruses, and other airborne pollutants. And, with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 350 cubic feet per minute, it can clean the air in a 650-square foot room approximately four times in an hour. Plus, it’s small and lightweight enough for you to effortlessly move it from one room to the next.

The Blue Pure 211+ has three-stage filtration: a fabric pre-filter, particle filter, and carbon filter. And, the unit tells you when it’s time to clean or replace the filter. Replacing the filter can be quite pricey though it should be done every six months to ensure you continue to breathe properly filtered air. The Blue Pure 211+ is Energy Star-certified and has relatively low energy costs (using 30 to 60 watts).

Another nice feature is that it runs quietly, ranging from 31 decibels on its lowest setting and 56 on its highest — quiet enough to use in a bedroom.

Last year, the Blueair 211+ was sold out at many online retailers or were selling at marked-up prices due to the California wildfires and the pandemic. The purifiers are more available now, and we never suggest buying items that are marked up if you can help it.

The best budget air purifier

Best air purifier 2021 Honeywell

If you’re looking for an air purifier that offers an impressive balance of price and performance, the Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier is your best bet.

Pros: Affordable; intuitive controls; easy to transport; does a very good job of removing smoke, dust, and pollen

Cons: Complaints of odors; might be too loud on high speed for some; expensive replacement filters

Honeywell is a trusted brand when it comes to air purifiers, and the HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier is the company’s most acclaimed model. In a crowded field of expensive models, this Honeywell unit does the best job of balancing performance with price.

It has an activated carbon pre-filter, which needs to be replaced every three months, and three HEPA filters, which need to be replaced every year. A year’s supply of replacement filters will cost around $70, so the operating cost is quite high. An indicator light lets you know when it’s time to change the filter.

The biggest drawbacks are the high costs for filter replacement and operation.

This was also previously available on Walmart via third-party sellers, which we don’t recommend as shipping dates and prices are unreliable, and return policies are dubious at best. Thankfully, the item is available via Honeywell directly now.

The best wall-mounted air purifier for large rooms

Best air purifier 2021 RabbitAir

The RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier can be mounted to a wall for an attractive and unobtrusive appearance.

Pros: Low filter and operating costs; silent operation; wall-mounted; outstanding at removing particulate matter; attractive appearance; five-year warranty

Cons: Expensive upfront cost

When installing an air purifier, you not only have to account for the space the unit takes up, but you also have to provide clearance around it to allow for airflow. When real estate is at a premium and appearances are important, the wall-mounted RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier addresses this.

The MinusA2 has a six-stage filter: pre-filter, medium filter, patented BioGS HEPA filter, charcoal-based activated carbon filter, optional negative ion generator, and a customized filter. The custom filter is unique in that you can choose to target toxins, odors, pet dander, or germs depending on your needs. The filter replacement kit is expensive, but you only need to budget for it every two years or so.

This is one of the larger air purifiers we’ve come across and can clean rooms up to 815 square feet. It’s also a good option if your space is open concept — since there are fewer walls and doors, you can clean multiple rooms at once. 

This was previously only available on Amazon via a third-party seller, which we don’t recommend, but it’s now available on Amazon via the RabbitAir store directly. 

The best smart air purifier

Best air purifier 2021 Coway Airmega

The Coway Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier barely makes any sound and adjusts the fan speed based on the air’s pollution level.

Pros: Quiet; attractive design; energy-efficient; cleans the air in a 760-square-foot room in 15 minutes

Cons: Expensive filter contributes to the overall price 

The Airmega 400 Smart Air Purifier is Coway’s top-of-the-line model. It features two sets of filters on each side of the unit: the easy-to-clean pre-filter and the Max2 filter, which is a combined True HEPA filter and activated charcoal. When it’s time to change the filters, the indicator light turns on. The Airmega 400 can monitor the air quality and adjust the fan speed to quickly filter the air.

I tested this air purifier on the main floor of my home in a centrally-located spot. Although it’s designed for rooms up to 760 square feet, it still did a great job in my open, 1,400-square-foot area, filtering the air in about 15 minutes.

On Smart mode, the fan speed ramps up when I get overzealous with my meat searing in the kitchen. After a year of use, I’m just now nearing the end of the original filter’s lifespan. Replacing the filters is incredibly pricey, however. 

While some recommend the Wi-Fi-enabled version, the Airmega 400S, the only real difference between the 400S and 400 is the app-connectivity and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Other than that, performance is essentially the same.

This was previously out of stock at many online retailers but it’s more readily available now.

Read our full review of the Coway Airmega 400

The best ionizing air purifier

Best air purifier 2021 Coway Mighty

In addition to three filters, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier includes ionization, and the fan speed adjusts based on the air quality.

Pros: Automatically adjusts fan speed based on pollutants in the air; timer; four-stage filtration; eco mode

Cons: High power consumption, gets loud on high

Coway is one of the top names in air purifiers and the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is its most popular model. It has an array of high-end features, including an air quality indicator, an auto mode that adjusts the fan speed to the air quality, and a shut-off timer.

The Mighty has a CADR of 246 cubic feet per minute for dust, 240 for pollen, and 233 for smoke, which makes it a good option for rooms of up to 460 square feet. The air goes through four filter stages: pre-filter, odor filter, true HEPA filter, and an ionizer. An ionizer electrically charges air molecules for purification; it can lower bacterial infections by removing particles in the air. But note that the effectiveness has been questioned and may emit ozone. Fortunately, any ozone exposure is minimal, and you can turn the ionizing feature off if you’re concerned.

The Coway Mighty is one of three air purifiers I’m currently running in my home. My son has it in his bedroom so we can minimize our home’s “teen odor index.” We’ve had it for a year, and it does an outstanding job. And, I like how easy it is to clean the pre-filter: When the indicator light tells me it’s time for cleaning, I just run a cordless handheld vacuum over it. So far, I haven’t had to replace the filter, but it’s pretty affordable and it lasts for a year.

If you’re looking for a similar model, Coway has a newer version called the Airmega 200M. Based on our testing, the 200M is more powerful but is otherwise similar in performance to the Mighty. Depending on the color, you can sometimes find the newer Airmega 200M to be significantly cheaper than the Mighty. If you come across this, we suggest going with the cheaper of the two because the performance is so similar. We think you’ll be satisfied with either.

The Mighty didn’t experience discernable shipping delays or inventory issues previously and is readily available on Amazon.

What else we recommend

While researching this guide, we looked at numerous models and brands of air purifiers. Many of them just missed the cut, but are otherwise strong products in their own right. Here are five that almost made it:

Our testing methodology

Best air purifier 2021

When I test an air purifier, there are several things I look for such as the rate at which it cleans, noise level, and more. 

In addition to hands-on testing, I turn to other established reviewers, such as Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, for their assessments. Based on my and other experts’ research and testing, and looking through the manufacturers’ specs, I’m able to compare the key performance indicators of the top models.

Here are the main attributes when testing air purifiers:

CADR: Clean Air Delivery Rate is a rating developed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers that is used to determine how many cubic feet of air an appliance can clean in a minute. If you multiply the CADR by 1.875, you can determine what room size the air purifier can clean four times in one hour, which is the recommended minimum number of air changes per hour (ACH). This calculation assumes an average ceiling height of 8 feet. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing: We put it in easy-to-understand terms in our guide.

Noise level: A good air purifier will operate in the background without most people noticing it. Loud air purifiers are a deal-breaker. I use a sound meter positioned four feet from the air purifier and measure the decibels when the fan is at its lowest speed and highest speed. The average unit should register less than 40 decibels (like light rain) most of the time and about 60 decibels (normal conversation) on high.

Long-term costs: Air purifier filters don’t last forever. They need to be replaced every 3 to 24 months, depending on the type of filter. When buying an air purifier, you need to factor in filter costs and operating expenses. Look for Energy Star-certified units if you want to save money on electricity.

Maintenance: If your filters are dirty, then they won’t perform well. You need to clean your filters regularly. I prefer an air purifier that tells me when it’s time for a cleaning. A cordless hand vacuum is all you need to clean most filters. You can clean some with water, but read the user’s manual to make sure it’s okay before doing this, and be sure to thoroughly dry the filter before using it again.

Filtration: You want a true HEPA or HEPA-type filter that can remove at least 99.97% of 0.3-micron airborne particles. The purifiers in our guide all meet this requirement. Additionally, some models have ionizers. Ionizers are controversial, but they reportedly produce negative ions that cling to air pollutants, which makes them easier to filter or vacuum up.  

What we’re looking forward to testing

We’ll continue to test our top picks to see how they hold up long-term. In the meantime, here are other air purifiers we’re looking to test for future updates to this guide:

FrescheAir ($99.99): This is a portable air purifier and deodorizer, so it’d be interesting to see how the smaller size might affect the performance.

Rx Air 400 ($899.99): This is one of the most expensive air purifiers we’ve seen so it’d be great to see how the quality stacks up to others we’ve tested. It’s also labeled as a Class II Medical Device, which other air purifiers are not.

Dyson Pure Cool TP04 Purifying Fan ($549.99): My colleagues have tested older generations of this air purifier but I have yet to test it personally. 

IQAir Atem Desk Personal HEPA Air Purifier ($399): While most air purifiers are meant for a whole room, this is meant for personal use at a desk or table. 

PURO²XYGEN P500 Air Purifier ($189.97): This is among the least expensive air purifiers we’ve seen so it’ll be a good contender for our best budget pick. Like the RabbitAir, this has a six-stage filtration system, and it’s effective in smaller spaces up to 500 square feet. It’ll be interesting to see how its low price 

FAQs

Why do I need an air purifier?

Air purifiers can help clean indoor air of incense, cooking grease and smoke, and more — basically, it does what its name implies. For those with allergies, it can also help clear the air of pollen, pet dander, and more. 

According to the EPA, air purifiers outfitted with a HEPA filter are an effective way to remove particles from smoke and ash and can be particularly helpful in improving symptoms for individuals with asthma or COPD that are triggered by wildfire smoke.

What does HEPA mean?

HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” As defined by the EPA, HEPA filters are able to capture at least 99.97% of all airborne particles, including dust, mold, bacteria, and pollen, that are 0.3 microns in diameter.

Are all your picks true HEPA filters?

No. That said, we generally give true HEPA filter models preference in our picks. However, there are some “HEPA type” models that perform just as well or better than true HEPA filter models and have features that make them a better pick. We make a point of specifically saying if a model has a true HEPA filter. 

Can an air purifier prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

If you’re considering an air purifier to help protect against the novel coronavirus, according to the EPA, a portable air cleaner by itself is not enough. However, when used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as hand washing and social distancing, operating an air cleaner can be part of a plan to protect you and your household. 

Can HEPA or H13 purifiers capture viruses, including the coronavirus?

HEPA air purifiers help with the coronavirus but won’t completely eliminate it, says Dr. Ravi Pandey, an internal medicine specialist in South Florida. He adds that the virus is smaller than what air purifiers generally capture. Most viruses, including the coronavirus, are 0.06 to 0.12 microns. HEPA filters are designed to filter out at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in size.

However, while an air purifier alone isn’t enough, it can be another tool for protection when used in conjunction with social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.

Where do you put an air purifier? 

You’ll likely want an air purifier in your bedroom, living room, or kitchen — these are common areas that get a lot of traffic, and in the case of your kitchen, might help remove smoke from cooking.

How do you use an air purifier?

Most air purifiers just need to be plugged in to start working — there’s usually no installation or setup involved (unless you’re trying to connect to an app). 

Place an air purifier about a foot away from the wall and plug it into a nearby outlet. If your model has an indicator light, it might say that the air is very polluted so make necessary adjustments such as opening a window or vent.  

Once the air has cleared as indicated by the air purifier, keep it running to ensure continuous cleaning. Some of the models in our guide have timers so you can set it and go about your day. 

How often do you change the filter?

This depends on the manufacturer’s guidelines — some suggest every three months while others say every two years.

Can plants help clean indoor air?

Think again before filling your house with plants. A 2019 article in The Atlantic cites research showing that indoor vegetation will not remove significant pollutants from the air.

How can you keep your air clean if you don’t have an air purifier?

Intense wildfires that raged in California and Oregon in 2020 burned more than 3 million acres, displaced hundreds of thousands of people, and blanketed cities hundreds of miles away from the epicenters in ash and eerie orange skies. Between wildfires and the novel coronavirus, air quality is at the forefront of many minds. 

With so many people struggling with poor indoor air quality, we spoke with Dr. Junfeng Zhang, Ph.D., Professor of Global and Environmental Health at Duke University, for advice on what you can do if you don’t have an air purifier.

Dr. Zhang is particularly concerned about how individuals with asthma, COPD, heart disease, and other pre-existing diseases will cope with the poor air quality on the west coast, which is currently the worst in the world. “In the absence of a HEPA-based air purifier,” Dr. Zhang said, “I’d suggest that people, especially those who are more susceptible/vulnerable, wear N95 face masks, even when staying indoors.”

Unfortunately, true N95 masks are still hard to come by and should be reserved for medical workers but there are some more widely-available alternatives, such as KN95 masks, which can provide a decent level of filtration. The CDC has released respirator assessment results for some of these. There is a lot of misinformation and counterfeit products floating around, so be extra cautious in ensuring that you’re buying from a trusted seller. 

If you are one of the lucky ones with an air purifier, remember to clean your filter thoroughly and often so it can do its job. But for an effective multi-pronged attack on pollutants, you’ll want to test and improve your air. Here’s how to test and improve indoor quality and a few steps you can take to clean your air more effectively:

  • Clean regularly: Irritants can collect on surfaces and cause sneezing fits when disturbed. When you clean regularly — including dusting and vacuuming — you remove allergens and more. Check out our guides for the best vacuum cleaners, best robot vacuums, best budget vacuums, and best cordless vacuums.
  • Ventilate: This could include installing ventilation fans in your bathroom or kitchen, or running (well-cleaned) ceiling fans. Freestanding fans can also help clean air circulating, here are the best ones. Be sure not to open windows or doors to prevent polluted air from coming inside.
  • Store chemicals outside of your house: Abrasive cleaners and other harsh chemicals are often a source of irritation. Store them in your shed or garage and not where you will be exposed to them regularly.

Check out out other in-depth guides

best robot vacuums
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best 4K computer monitors of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • 4K monitors offer the highest resolution commonly available to PC desktops and laptops. 
  • I’ve reviewed hundreds of monitors and laptop displays over the past 14 years. 
  • Dell’s S2721QS combines sharp 4K resolution with vibrant color and an affordable price.

A 4K monitor is the sharpest, most attractive display for most computers sold today. Only Apple’s 5K displays pack more pixels per inch. While 4K monitors are often marketed towards professionals or enthusiasts, their superior image quality is obvious in everyday use. It’s possible to buy an outstanding 4K monitor without emptying your wallet.

I’ve tested over 600 desktop monitors and laptop displays over the past 14 years, and I’ve kept a log of instrumented test results for the past decade. While monitor technology hasn’t changed drastically in nearly 20 years, quality has certainly improved. Modern monitors are much brighter, more colorful, and sharper than those sold a decade ago.

Despite that, pricing continues to fall. Dell’s affordable S2721QS is a great example. It’s excellent by every measure, providing a crisp, vibrant, bright image. It’s also sturdy and includes an ergonomic stand. If the Dell S2721QS isn’t for you, though, don’t worry. There’s several great alternatives for people with more specific needs.

Here are the best 4K computer monitors you can buy:

The best 4K monitor overall

best 4k monitor dell s2721qs.JPG

The Dell S2721QS delivers a bright, colorful, sharp 4K picture at a surprisingly affordable price.

Pros: Vibrant color, high maximum brightness, attractive design, sturdy ergonomic stand, great value

Cons: Mediocre HDR performance

Dell’s S2721QS is a fantastic monitor that raises the bar for value. Though not the best in any category, it has many strengths and no major flaws. It’s also among the most affordable 4K monitors currently sold. 

This monitor has a sharp, vibrant image. Its color performance is excellent, displaying a wide range of color with great accuracy. It can realistically display photos, video, and games as their creators intended. 

It’s an exceptionally bright display, which is useful if your home office or computer room is brightly lit. The S2721QS is bright enough to compete with open windows on a sunlit day and has an anti-glare finish that reduces reflections.

The S2721QS supports High Dynamic Range (HDR), a standard that helps movies and games provide better contrast and color. Despite its vibrant color and intense brightness, this monitor’s HDR performance is mediocre, as it lacks advanced features like a backlight that can selectively dim when necessary. Having said that, the S2721QS is the best monitor for HDR on this list. 

You’ll enjoy looking at the S2721QS even when it’s off. The monitor’s design is sleek, modern, and professional. It has a sturdy ergonomic stand has the ability to rotate 90 degrees for use in portrait orientation. It’s VESA compatible for use with third-party monitor arms. 

The S2721QS is affordable, but sometimes out of stock due to its popularity. You should also consider the (similarly named) Dell S2721Q. This monitor has comparable performance but lacks an ergonomic stand, though it includes a VESA mount for attaching a third-party monitor arm. The S2721Q is less expensive and rarely out of stock. 

The best 4K monitor for gaming

best monitor Viewsonic XG3200

The Viewsonic XG3220 is a large, sharp, and colorful monitor with AMD FreeSync support.

Pros: Attractive color, good contrast in dark scenes, impressive display size, AMD FreeSync supported, significant image customization 

Cons: Poor HDR performance, limited viewing angle, not a high-refresh monitor

Gamers prefer a monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate (or higher) because higher refresh rates let a monitor respond more quickly to player input. Unfortunately, high-refresh 4K monitors are very expensive and hard to find in stock. That’s why I recommend the large yet reasonably priced Viewsonic XG3220.

4K resolution pairs nicely with this monitor’s 32-inch display, providing excellent clarity that gives games a sharp, immersive look. The XG3220 performs well in contrast by reaching a deep, inky black level that most monitors fail to achieve. Gamers who enjoy the horror and simulation genres will appreciate this. 

The XG3220 technically supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) content. Its brightness is just mediocre, however, leading to poor HDR performance. I recommend you leave HDR turned off. The XG3220 has poor viewing angles, so you’ll need to view this monitor straight-on for best results. 

AMD FreeSync is supported, and the monitor unofficially works with Nvidia G-Sync. The monitor can match its refresh rate to the framerate of games, eliminating stutter and image tearing.  

The XG3220 has a detailed on-screen menu that offers a variety of customization options. This lets you customize the display’s image quality to your preferences. The monitor also includes gaming-specific features, such as a dark stabilizer that can be activated to brighten dark areas of the screen. Gamers can use this feature to see foes hiding in dark corners. 

It technically pivots up to 90 degrees, but the monitor is too large to use in portrait orientation. It’s VESA compatible, so you can swap to a third-party monitor arm.

The Viewsonic XG3220 is a great value. Its retail price is close to 32-inch competitors that have a lower 2560 x 1440 resolution, yet its image quality is superior to many alternatives.

The best 4K monitor for professionals

best 4k monitor BenQ PD3220U

BenQ’s PD3220U has pinpoint color accuracy and tons of connectivity. 

Pros: Great color accuracy and wide gamut, supports 10-bit color, excellent connectivity, plenty of display customization

Cons: Mediocre brightness, poor HDR performance

All the 4K monitors on this list have vibrant color, but professional photographers, videographers, and digital artists demand more.  They need precise color accuracy and the ability to display colors outside the range normally supported by a monitor.

The BenQ PD3220U delivers. It has exceptional color accuracy out of the box. That’s important for professional work, as it means an image displayed on the PD3220U can represent how it will look on other displays or in print. 

In testing, the BenQ PD3220U handles up to 89 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. DCI-P3 is a standard color gamut used when shooting and editing for film and television. This monitor also supports native 10-bit color, which expands color support from 16.7 million to 1.07 billion colors. The real-world difference is less than those dramatic numbers suggest, but the PD3220U’s ability to display additional colors is critical for professional use.

The PD3220U’s color performance is backed by deep customization. You can select a variety of color temperature, gamma, and gamut presets and make tweaks to color hue and saturation. These features aren’t relevant to most readers. Professionals, however, need this customization so they can change the monitor’s look to match the standards of the project they’re working on.

Brightness is this monitor’s only flaw. The BenQ PD3220U is fine for use in most rooms but can struggle to compete with a sunlit window. This also impacts the monitor’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) performance, which is lackluster. It’s useful for professionals creating content that will be viewed in HDR but doesn’t deliver much visual punch. 

The BenQ PD3220U has excellent connectivity. It’s a great monitor to use with multiple inputs and it can charge laptops connected to it via Thunderbolt 3.

This monitor has an adjustable stand and is VESA compatible, so you can switch to a third-party monitor arm if you’d like. 

It’s important to note this is a true professional-caliber display and is priced to match. Readers not familiar with this monitor’s special features, like 10-bit color and the DCI-P3 color gamut, shouldn’t buy this monitor. The BenQ PD3220U’s superior performance will only be obvious to the eyes of professionals who work with photos, video, or digital art. 

The best 4K monitor for USB-C

best 4k monitor dell U2720Q

Dell’s UltraSharp U2720Q 27-Inch 4K Monitor can handle up to 90 watts of power over USB-C, easily charging most laptops. 

Pros: Accurate and realistic color, excellent build quality, delivers 90 watts of power over USB-C, great warranty 

Cons: Poor HDR performance, no Ethernet por

Anyone who uses a laptop with an external monitor should consider a USB-C monitor. A single USB-C cable between a monitor and a laptop that supports USB-C charging can handle both power and video. It even turns the monitor into a USB hub. This lets you replace the mess of cords normally connected to your laptop with a single USB-C cable between your laptop and monitor.

Many USB-C monitors are available, but the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q is the best 4K for most people. This has everything to do with its power delivery. The U2720Q can deliver up to 90 watts of power over USB-C. That’s enough to power any laptop that supports USB-C charging. Most competing 4K monitors support only 60 to 65 watts of power over USB-C. That’s fine if you own a 13-inch laptop, but it’s not a match for more powerful laptops like Apple’s MacBook Pro 16 or Dell’s XPS 15. 

This monitor can act as a USB-C hub. This is helpful when the monitor is paired with a USB-C laptop that has limited connectivity. However, unlike some more expensive USB-C monitors, the U2720Q doesn’t have an Ethernet port. 

The U2720Q has excellent image quality with precise color accuracy. Like the BenQ PD3220U, the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q supports the expanded DCI-P3 color gamut used in professional film and television production. Though not as accurate as the BenQ PD3220U, the U2720 is a good monitor for photographers and digital artists.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is supported, but the U2720Q doesn’t handle it well. The monitor is bright but not as bright as the less expensive Dell S2721QS, so it lacks the punchy, vivid look HDR is supposed to provide. 

This monitor’s stand can rotate 90 degrees to put the monitor in portrait orientation. It’s also VESA compatible with third-party monitor arms. 

While the U2720Q is a great monitor, I only recommend it if you can take advantage of its USB-C connectivity. You won’t get your money’s worth if you pair it with a desktop over HDMI or DisplayPort. 

The best 24-inch 4K monitor

best 4k monitor LG 24UD58 B

The LG 24UD58-B 24-Inch 4K Monitor packs 4K resolution into a 24-inch size, providing the sharpest image available on a PC.

Pros: Incredibly sharp, good image quality, compact size, supports AMD FreeSync

Cons: Unattractive design, no ergonomic stand

Not everyone needs a large monitor. If you want a small 4K monitor, however, your options are slim. 4K monitors smaller than 27 inches were easier to find in 2016 and 2017, when 4K monitors first appeared. LG’s 24UD58-B is the only reasonable option remaining.

Packing 4K resolution into a 24-inch display has the advantage of drastically upping pixel density to 185 pixels per inch. Only Apple’s 5K iMac and the rare handful of 5K monitors sold over the past five years beat that. The result is a remarkably sharp, crisp image. Pixels are virtually indistinguishable unless your nose is touching the monitor. 

The LG 24UD58-B is otherwise an average, mid-range monitor. It has acceptable color accuracy, can display a wide range of color, and is bright enough for use in most rooms. This monitor has some trouble with dark scenes, because it can’t display a rich, deep, inky black. It also tends to show bright spots in dark scenes because of uneven backlighting. 

This monitor can’t display an HDR signal. It does support AMD FreeSync, so it can match its refresh rate to a game’s framerate for smooth, stutter-free gaming if you have an AMD video card. 

Unlike other monitors on this list, the LG 24UD58-B has a flimsy stand that only slightly adjusts for tilt. The monitor is VESA compatible, though, so you can add a third-party monitor arm. This monitor isn’t much to look at, with simple black plastic construction and thick bezels around the display.

The LG 24UD58-B is the least expensive 4K monitor on this list and the least expensive commonly sold today. It’s a fine option for people who don’t want a display larger than 24 inches. 

What else we considered

4K monitors, once rare, are now extremely common. There are dozens of options, ranging from 24 to 43 inches, with prices from $300 to over $3,000. Most alternatives provide great image quality but didn’t make the cut due to pricing, a lack of additional features, or known flaws. 

  • AOC CU32V3 ($389.99): This 32-inch 4K monitor is inexpensive and has good image quality but can’t match Viewsonic’s XG3220. It also has a flimsy stand that only adjusts for tilt.
  • Asus VP28UQG ($274.99): The Asus VP28UQG is the least expensive monitor of its size. Its image quality is acceptable though not outstanding, but the monitor’s build quality and stand leave a lot to be desired.
  • Acer Predator X27 ($1,343.99): The Acer Predator X27 is a high-end, 27-inch 4K gaming monitor that throws in every feature imaginable. That leads to an extremely high price. It’s also frequently out of stock online and often sold at inflated prices when it is available. 
  • BenQ EL2870U ($299.99): This 28-inch 4K monitor is among the most affordable sold today, but the Dell S2721QS has superior image quality. The BenQ EL2870U also has a limited stand that only adjusts for tilt. 
  • Dell Ultrasharp PremierColor UP2720Q ($1,599.99): The UP2720Q is Dell’s top-end 27-inch monitor for professionals that need nearly perfect color. It even has a built-in colorimeter that lets you calibrate the display on the fly. Still, it’s hard to justify the monitor’s premium over the BenQ PD3220U. 
  • Dell U3219Q ($864.99): The Dell U3219Q is a credible competitor to the BenQ PD3220U. It’s a couple years old, however, and Dell is likely to replace it with a new display soon. 
  • HP V28 ($324.99): HP’s V28 is an affordable display similar to the Dell S2721QS, but its design is unimpressive and the stand only adjusts for tilt.
  • HP U27 ($464.99): The HP U27 upgrades its design to better match the Dell S2721QS, but it also ups the monitor’s price into a higher tier that forces it to compete with better displays. Despite the price bump, the stand still only adjusts for tilt.
  • LG 27UL850-W ($449.99): LG’s 27-inch 4K monitor is a great display with excellent image quality and attractive design. But it’s more expensive than the Dell S2721QS and doesn’t have an advantage in image quality. The LG27UL850-W does include USB-C, like the Dell U2720Q, but it only provides 60 watts of power delivery. 
  • LG Ultragear 27GN950-B ($799.99): The 27GN950-B is among the best gaming monitors available. It has 4K resolution, a Nano IPS panel, and a fast 144Hz refresh rate that responds quickly to player input. Unfortunately, its expensive retail price is only inflated by short supply. Gamers who want this monitor will likely have to pay over $1,000 to a third-party seller.
  • LG 43UN700-B ($599.99): This massive 43-inch 4K monitor is affordable relative to its size, but it’s too large to make sense as a desktop monitor, and its image quality is mediocre. 
  • LG 32UL950-W ($1,296.99): This 32-inch 4K monitor has features comparable to the BenQ PD3220U but targets professional use with less precision. It isn’t as easy to customize, and its color performance isn’t as accurate. 

What we look forward to testing

  • LG 32UL500-W ($296.99): This extremely affordable, 32-inch 4K monitor seems too good to be true, undercutting competitors significantly while claiming color performance that’s in line with more expensive displays. Owners seem to like it, but I’ve yet to test this monitor. 
  • Philips 328E1CA ($349.99): Philips monitors are once again coming to the North American market, and they look to undercut the pricing of established competition. This 32-inch 4K monitor is nearly as inexpensive as the LG 32UL500-W and makes similar claims, though it has a curved screen as well. I hope to test this monitor in the coming months.
  • Acer Nitro XV282K KV ($899.99): Acer’s upcoming 28-inch 4K monitor has a 144Hz refresh rate and wide color gamut and supports HDMI 2.1. That last specification is important for gamers, because it will make the monitor compatible with 120Hz output from Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Sony’s PlayStation 5. It will be available in May 2021.
  • Asus ROG Strix XG43UQ (TBA): This 43-inch 4K monitor has every feature you could possibly desire, including a 144Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1, a wide color gamut, and support for the DisplayHDR 1000 standard. Asus has not announced pricing or availability, but I expect it will easily exceed $2,000. 
  • LG UltraFine OLED Pro 32EP950 (TBA): OLED technology, which is common among televisions, remains almost unheard of among monitors. This 32-inch 4K display will change that. Pricing and availability remain to be announced but expect it to exceed $2,500. 
  • Viewsonic XG320U (TBA): Viewsonic’s XG320U is a 32-inch 4K monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate, HDMI 2.1, and a wide color gamut, features that make it a perfect companion to an Xbox Series X or Sony PlayStation 5. It will be available in the first quarter of 2021, though pricing remains unknown.

Our testing methodology

I test displays using a Datacolor SpyderX colorimeter. This device creates a performance report that checks the monitor’s color accuracy, color gamut, gamma, luminance uniformity, and white point against industry standards. 

The Datacolor SpyderX is precise enough that the details of its report aren’t relevant to most people, but it provides an objective benchmark that can be used for comparisons between monitors. 

I have used this device (or its earlier version) for over a decade, and I have logged all my results. I’ve tested over 600 laptop and desktop displays. 

There’s more to a monitor than image quality, though. The best monitors also have good connectivity, a highly adjustable stand, attractive design, and a customization menu that’s easy to navigate and offers many options. Pricing is also a major factor in my final recommendations. 

In fact, image quality rarely elevates a monitor to a top recommendation. Many companies make monitors, but most source parts from the same suppliers and construct their monitors in similar ways. That limits how much image quality will vary between displays. Monitors instead set themselves apart with great design, impressive connectivity, or a surprisingly low price.

Read the original article on Business Insider