Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joe’s are dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers. Here’s how other retailers are responding.

Walmart coronavirus shopping
Shoppers wearing masks at a Walmart store in North Brunswick, New Jersey, in July.

  • The CDC relaxed its guidelines for wearing masks indoors and outdoors for fully vaccinated people.
  • Some companies have said workers and customers still need to wear masks.
  • Target, Macy’s, and Starbucks are among those saying they’ll still mandate masks in their stores.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people – but many retailers and restaurants aren’t ready to welcome maskless customers.

Macy’s, Target, and Starbucks are among those saying they’ll still make masks mandatory for shoppers and workers in their stores. Other retailers are on the fence.

Here’s where fully vaccinated people will and will not have to wear a mask now that the guidance has changed.

Target

mask target store
Shoppers leaving a Target in Miami.

A Target spokesperson told Insider that it was reviewing its policies and the new CDC guidance. But as of now, the chain said, it will continue upholding all its coronavirus safety measures in stores, including wearing masks and social distancing.

 

Kroger

food donations kroger
A customer wearing a mask in a Kroger store in Jackson, Mississippi.

The grocery chain Kroger said it would keep masks mandates for its customers and workers at its nearly 3,000 stores.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” a Kroger spokesperson told Insider.

Starbucks

Starbucks barista
A Starbucks barista.

Starbucks shoppers and workers will still be required to wear masks in stores, the company told CNN.

Macy’s

macys
A person with Macy’s bags.

The department-store chain Macy’s confirmed to Insider that it would keep masks mandatory in its stores.

Walmart

Walmart
A Walmart store.

Vaccinated Walmart customers are now allowed to shop without a mask, according to a memo sent to US store associates on Friday. Fully vaccinated Walmart workers also won’t be required to mask up in-store beginning May 18.

However, the company is still reviewing mask mandates for “certain job codes for health and sanitation purposes,” and will still adhere to mask requirements depending on city and state protocols, according to the note.

Bed Bath and Beyond

bed bath & beyond
A Bed Bath and Beyond store.

A spokesperson for Bed Bath and Beyond told Insider that it was reviewing its policies, but that its mask policy currently remains unchanged.

They added that the company would continue to align its COVID-19 protocol with with local, state and government health and safety guidelines to create a safe environment for both staff and customers.

Home Depot

Home Depot
A Home Depot store.

Home Depot has not updated its mask policy, a spokesperson told Insider.

Walgreens

walgreens masks
A sign in a Walgreens store telling customers to wear masks.

A Walgreens spokesperson told CNN that it was reviewing its rules in light of the CDC’s new guidelines.

Walgreens was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.

CVS

CVS NYC
People outside a CVS store.

CVS said it was reviewing its mask policy.

“The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

Gap

gap store
A Gap store in a mall in Los Angeles, California.

According to The Times, Gap has said it’s reviewing its policies and has not confirmed whether masks will continue to be mandatory.

A spokesperson for the apparel giant was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Insider.

Publix

Publix grocery store night
A Publix.

The supermarket chain Publix is “awaiting additional guidance before implementing potential changes,” a spokesperson told Insider.

Dollar General

dollar general
A Dollar General store.

When asked about updated mask policies, a Dollar General spokesperson directed Insider to its website. The US chain’s COVID-19 protocols were last updated on March 10 and include a mask mandate.

Ulta

ulta
An Ulta store.

Ulta is “assessing the implications” of the new CDC guidelines, a spokesperson told Insider. The beauty giant said it would continue to enforce mask and social-distancing protocols “until our assessment is complete and we are able to share more.”

Carl’s Jr

Carl's Jr. Restaurant
Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr is still requiring face masks but is now reviewing its mask policy, a Carl’s Jr spokesperson told Insider.

Costco

Costco
Costco

Costco announced on Friday that customers can now shop without a mask in stores that are located in states without a mask mandate. The retailer will not require proof of vaccination.

However, as per CDC guidelines, face masks will still be required in Costco’s healthcare sections, including its pharmacy, optical, and hearing aid divisions.

Trader Joe’s

trader joes
Customers line up outside a Trader Joe’s store.

Trader Joe’s is also dropping its mask mandate for fully vaccinated customers, and will not require proof of the vaccine, a spokesperson told Insider.

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The online best sales and deals happening now, from exclusive Grill Week deals to discounts at Aurate and ThermoWorks

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

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We rounded up the best sales and deals happening online today, including Ulta, AeroGarden, and Sonos.

Deals in this story are subject to change throughout the day. The prices listed reflect the deal at the time of publication. For even more deals and savings across the web, check out our roundup of the best deals from Amazon and the best spring sales going on now – or, celebrate Grill Week with us by checking out both Memorial Day and exclusive deals.

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The best sales and discounts happening right now

The best Grill Week deals

It’s Grill Week here at Insider and that means tons of exclusive deals. Not only are these some exceptional discounts, but several of these offers are also super rare. They’re short-lived too: all of the sales end May 16. 

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Thermoworks makes great thermometers for every situation in your kitchen. All of our meat thermometer recommendations are made by Thermoworks, in fact. Sales from the brand, however, aren’t easy to come by; they’re often limited to holidays and exclusives. Now through May 16, Thermoworks is offering Insider readers 20% off any one item, including any of our picks — just use promo code INSIDER20 at checkout.

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The 7 best whey protein powders, backed by strength coaches and dietitians

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Quality whey protein powder should have a tolerable taste, mix well, and offer maximum protein with minimal extras.
  • Our top pick, Naked’s Whey Protein, is a clean, additive-free powder that contains only whey protein.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice in NYC.

Protein, a macronutrient every cell in your body contains, is essential for your health. If you’re an athlete, casual gym-goer, or just want to lose a few pounds, protein also helps you build and retain muscle. Taking whey protein is an effective and inexpensive way to add more of the macronutrient to your diet.

In short, whey is the liquid leftovers that come from the cheese-making process. This liquid is dried into a powder, which is then sometimes (but not always) mixed with sweeteners while keeping calories, carbohydrates, and fats to a minimum.

But there’s more to picking out the right whey protein than just grabbing whatever you find at the store. While some are formulated with different additives, others pack more protein per serving or are designed to keep more of the protein’s natural nutrients.

At the bottom of this guide, we’ve included insight into what whey protein is and why it’s beneficial, as well as the safety precautions associated with taking whey protein and the best places to purchase it. We’ve also provided some background on the sources used, as well as our own expertise.

Here are the best whey protein powders:

The best overall whey protein powder

Naked Whey Protein

When Naked Nutrition calls its Naked Whey Protein additive-free, it means it as this protein powder has literally just one ingredient: Whey protein derived from grass-fed cows.

Pros: Contains just whey protein from grass-fed cows, low carbohydrate and fat count per serving, has 5.9 grams of BCAAs per serving

Cons: Not completely devoid of sugar (though there aren’t any artificial sweeteners or flavors), hard to mix, and can sometimes be chunkya

Many of Naked Nutrition’s products live up to the brand’s namesake of being literally naked, though perhaps none do it quite as well as its flagship protein powder, Naked Whey. Comprised of a single ingredient (whey protein from grass-fed cows), Naked Whey is a clean, additive-free product that has no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors. 

From a protein standpoint, one serving of Naked Whey (2 scoops of powder which is roughly 30 grams) delivers 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat, 120 calories, and just 2 grams of sugar. Each serving also has 5.9 grams of a combination of the BCAAs isoleucine, leucine, and valine. BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) may help build protein in muscles and aid in recovery.

A few drawbacks (or, rather, nitpicks) would be the Naked Whey isn’t the easiest to mix, and requires quite the shake in a shaker bottle to create a smooth, drinkable combination, though you’re likely to still encounter a few clumps. The taste of this is also very plain and almost dairy-like (which makes sense, of course), but Naked does offer the protein in Chocolate, as well as Vanilla and Strawberry in its Less Naked Whey, which has a few more additives. 

Naked Whey comes in either a 5 lb. tub for $90 or a smaller 1 lb. option for $22 — and Naked Nutrition even allows customers to set up recurring monthly deliveries at a discounted rate. 

If an additive-free protein powder is what you seek, Naked Nutrition’s Naked Whey, with just the single ingredient of whey protein, is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best mixing whey protein powder

Cellucor Whey Protein

If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.

Pros: Great taste, affordable, mixes smoothly, 24 grams of protein per serving, excellent for baking, third-party tested

Cons: 130 mg of sodium per serving, contains artificial sweeteners

The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder not only tastes good and has 24 grams of protein per serving, but it’s also the most affordable option in our guide at 71.4 cents per serving and 3 cents per gram of protein. Each serving also only has 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories.

There are seven flavors to choose from, including whipped vanilla, molten chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Cellucor recommends mixing two scoops with five to six ounces of your preferred beverage, but you can adjust the amount of liquid to fit your tastes. The company also suggests mixing the powder with yogurt, oatmeal, and pancakes. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best sugar-free whey protein powder

 Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey

The Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition may be expensive, but it mixes well and boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with zero grams of sugar.

Pros: 30 grams of protein per serving, third-party tested, superb mixability, no sugar

Cons: Contains high-fructose corn syrup

A single serving of Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey yields 140 calories, 30 grams of protein, one gram of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and no sugar. It’s made of hydrolyzed whey protein, which breaks down the protein into smaller pieces for better absorption and easier digestion. 

You can choose from seven flavors: cookies and cream overdrive, chocolate mint, velocity vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, supercharged strawberry, turbo chocolate, and red velvet cake, which was the highest-rated flavor on Bodybuilding.com. I think that turbo chocolate tastes great, too.

Optimum Nutrition uses artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup (which gets counted as a sugar on food labels).

Optimum Nutrition claims you can easily mix this protein with just a spoon and I can confirm this is true. While this may not seem like a strong selling point, I’ve forgotten my shaker bottle at home many times and have had to mix my protein with a spoon or knife at work. When I tried this with other brands, I always got clumpy, gross-tasting shakes. — Andrew Gutman

The best customized whey protein powder

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Gainful offers a unique approach to protein powder by offering personalized blends that are formulated specifically to the person ordering it, based on their fitness goals, diet restrictions, and other vital factors.

Pros: The custom is able to serve a wider range of users, doesn’t just rely on whey protein but pea, brown rice, and organic oat, as well, has a team of registered dietitians formulating the blends

Cons: Not the most economical in terms of amount and cost

One of the more unique protein powder options is Gainful, a brand that formulates personalized blends based on your specific needs. This could include weight and fitness goals, the amount you’re active each week, or if you have any dietary restrictions. It even lets you choose options dedicated to getting better sleep or improving gut health. 

It’s an interesting approach that succeeds in making the protein you order seem one-of-one. That is, not only does Gainful say it’s formulating a specific blend of protein for you, but when you get it and see what exactly is in it (especially compared to other protein powders), it feels exclusive.

Gainful takes its customization even further by offering flavor packets that mix with the powder to create different taste profiles. My sample came with both rich cocoa and cafe mocha, but the brand offers a variety of others like chocolate peanut butter, strawberry cream, and matcha green tea. You could consume the standard protein on its own, but it’s a very bland flavor when you do (it doesn’t necessarily taste bad, it’s just not very exciting). 

The nitpick I’d have with Gainful is that it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much protein for how much you spend. I tend to consume protein most days of the week, and I was able to work through the $39 bag in a little under three weeks. You can opt to get more per shipment (and Gainful can set up a recurring monthly delivery), though the price could feasibly double.

Despite its expensive price compared to others in this guide, what you get with Gainful isn’t offered anywhere else. You’re essentially paying for a premium dietitian service to tailor a protein powder specifically to your needs — for people who keep close tabs on their nutrition and diet, that’s invaluable. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best GNC whey protein powder

GNC1

GNC’s AMP Wheybolic protein powder offers 40 grams of protein per two-scoop serving, as well as 6.2 grams of leucine, and works great as either a pre- or post-workout supplement.

Pros: Now comes in popular Girl Scout flavors, packs 40 grams of protein and 6.2 grams of leucine per two-scoop serving

Cons: Might be too sweet for some, contains sucralose and other artificial sweeteners

The GNC name is synonymous with workout supplements, and its own branded protein are among its most popular items, specifically its GNC AMP Wheybolic powder. The brand supplied a tub of the powder in the Thin Mints flavor, which is sure to catch the attention of anyone who’s a fan of Girl Scout Cookies (it also offers Girl Scout Coconut Carmel aka Samoas and Girl Scout S’mores). 

Each two-scoop serving of the powder offers 40 grams of protein, 6.2 grams of leucine, 210 calories, 7 grams of net carbohydrates, and 2 grams of total sugar. The powder mixes well in water (after about 20 seconds or so of shaking) and never felt chunky or like there were leftover bits that hadn’t fully mixed. 

I used this protein primarily as a post-workout drink, though did also test it post-workout and on non-workout days. The Thin Mints flavor is heavy on the chocolate and mint, so if you like sweeter protein powders, this is exactly what that is. I’m not a huge sweet protein powder drinker myself, so would often choose to use this in moderation. 

A single $65 tub of the powder comes with 25 two-scoop servings, which is just shy of enough for a month’s worth of use — especially if you prefer to drink it on both workout and non-workout days. 

Our nutrition reviewer, Samantha Cassetty, did point out a few things to be cautious of after we spoke to her during testing. First, is the inclusion of sucralose. As we’ve mentioned in other protein powders, sucralose is a sweetener that may upset some people’s stomachs during ingestion. Cassetty pointed out that the powder also includes the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium, has artificial flavoring, and contains carrageenan, a somewhat controversial additive that’s been studied limitedly. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best-tasting whey protein powder

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.

Pros: Tastes good, relatively affordable, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints about the formula changing, contains an artificial sweetener

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder gets its sweetness from a little bit of sugar (1 gram per serving) and acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.

Each serving has 120 calories, a gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and most importantly 24 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition has also curated a number of recipes in which you can use the powder. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best fat-free whey protein powder

MyProtein whey powder

The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.

Pros: Excellent product purity, a high concentration of bound protein, fat-free, low in sodium

Cons: Concerns about quality control, contains artificial sweetener, not third-party tested

Depending on the flavor you choose, the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein fits up to 22 grams of protein into each 25-gram serving.

It does this with little or no fat or sugar and only 90 calories per serving. The sodium content is also low at 25 mg per serving. 

Labdoor independently tests dozens of whey protein powders, and the site recommended the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate because it scored high in Labdoor’s ingredient safety, nutritional value, and product purity tests. The testers found there were 21.9 grams of protein in every 25-gram serving.

There are a few complaints worth mentioning, too. Make sure you buy the whey isolate and not just the whey concentrate (If you follow our links, you should be fine). — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best lactose-free whey protein powder

Dymatize

If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.

Pros: Lactose-free, 91% of calories are from protein, less than a gram of sugar and fat, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints of foreign objects found in the powder, contains an artificial sweetener, 160 mg sodium per serving

The Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder is the only lactose-free option on our list but it’s not the only one that uses hydrolyzed isolate protein—the Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey does, too—which is supposed to help with digestion and absorption.

Each serving has 25 grams of protein, less than a gram of fat, 120 calories, and 2 grams of carbs, including less than 1 gram of sugar. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon bun, fudge brownie, gourmet chocolate, and chocolate coconut

Labdoor recommends the Dymatize ISO 100 as one of the best whey protein powders. In its tests, the powder had high scores for nutritional value and product purity, including less than one part per million of six harmful substances. Around 91% of the calories in this powder come from its protein content. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

What else we tested

performix iowhey

Animal Whey

I like Animal because the company doesn’t make gimmicky claims or rely on pseudoscience to sell its products. What you see is what you get and what you get is 120 calories, one gram of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein per serving. Animal uses whey protein isolate as its primary protein source, it’s moderately priced, and it’s third-party tested.

This wasn’t included, however, because it’s no better than any other pick. Compared to Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize or Cellucor, it’s slightly more expensive and isn’t as lauded by fans. It barely missed the cut. 

Pro Jym Protein Powder

A fan favorite, Pro Jym is comprised of four different proteins: whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, and milk protein isolate. According to creator, Dr. Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., this extends the rate of digestion for better protein synthesis. It comes in three flavors: chocolate cookie crunch, cookies and cream, and s’mores, and contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein per serving. 

Pro Jym missed the mark for two reasons:

  1. You pay more for three times the amount of fat and carbs as Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey, so it doesn’t fit into our minimum fillers criteria.
  2. It’s not a pure whey protein powder. 

Performix ioWhey

I personally like this protein powder because it tastes great, it’s easy on the stomach, and there are minimal extras. One serving of Performix ioWhey is 100 calories, zero grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of protein. 

My major issue is that Performix claims ioWhey is absorbed 36% more efficiently than other brands, which is why their protein per serving is low. That sounds great but since the product isn’t third-party tested, there’s no way to know if this is true or if the company’s selling you less protein per serving.

For the price per serving, you’re better off buying Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize ISO 100 if you’re willing to shell out for a premium protein. — Andrew Gutman

What is whey protein?

man making protein shake shutterstock

There are three main types of whey protein:

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC): This is a concentrated protein that keeps more of the nutrients. Most non-isolate proteins are comprised of WPC.
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI): This is similar to WPC but most of the carbohydrates, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins have been removed, so the powder has a higher percentage of protein. Typically, isolate is digested more quickly and, therefore, more agreeable for some. For that reason, most trainers and registered dieticians recommend opting for WPI, though it’s often more expensive.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): WPH is considered pre-digested since it breaks down the amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — to help with quicker absorption.

Is it safe to consume? 

Before you increase your protein intake significantly, check with your healthcare professional since people with certain maladies, such as calcium deficiencies or low blood pressure, could experience adverse effects from whey protein. 

It’s also important to note that protein powders aren’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some companies dilute their protein with useless fillers, which is why certain brands subject themselves to third-party testing as a way to verify the quality of their product.

To know if a protein is tested, look for a seal from either NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. This doesn’t mean that untested proteins are a subpar product but it’s good to be aware. You are, after all, putting this stuff into your body. Other than looking for brands that are third-party tested, here are different ways to spot a quality protein:

  • Ensure that protein is the first ingredient on the label. “When you look at a label, it’s in descending order so the ingredient in the highest amount will be found at the top of the list,” Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition, told Insider. “Look for labels that have protein at the beginning with fewer ingredients accompanying them.”
  • Typically, you want a whey powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving. All of our picks do.
  • Try to steer clear of excess sugar. As for artificial sweeteners, research on how they affect our weight and health is mixed.

How much should you consume? 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein consumption is about a gram for every 3 pounds of body weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, that equates to 60 grams of protein per day. Experts suggest that taking up to twice that still produces benefits.

When it comes to fitness-specific goals, like gaining muscle or losing fat, Jeb Stuart Johnston from Stronger U recommends ingesting up to one gram per pound of bodyweight. His claim is backed by a study via the University of Stirling

“For someone who’s trying to gain muscle mass and work out, taking in more protein helps speed up protein synthesis [the process in which your muscle fibers utilize protein to repair and grow],” Johnston said. “For a person who’s strictly trying to lose weight, taking in more protein helps retain the muscle you already have.” 

Based on Johnston’s recommendations, a 200-pound man would have to consume 200 grams of protein per day. That’s equivalent to 2 pounds of chicken breast. Supplementing with whey protein, he explains, is a convenient way to get more protein without grilling up another piece of bland chicken.

Where to buy whey protein

man protein powder shutterstock

When it comes to buying protein, one convenient ordering option is Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program, since it can save you up to 15%. You’re able to cancel your subscription at any time, too. What’s great about this program is that it automates ordering products that you replenish regularly.

For instance, if you take a serving of protein powder every day and there are 30 servings in a container, you can have a new tub delivered every month without lifting a finger.

Personally, I like to buy my protein from Bodybuilding.com. I usually try a different brand of protein each time I order more, so Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program doesn’t make sense for me, although it’s a smart option for many people. Bodybuilding.com has reliable customer reviews and it routinely offers deals on popular brands. As a bonus, it offers free shipping on orders over $75.

To figure out the cost per serving on your own, take the product’s price and divide it by the number of servings in the container. Since the amount of protein per serving varies by brand, it’s also useful to look at the cost per gram of protein. This is easy to calculate by dividing the cost per serving (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per serving. — Andrew Gutman

Expert sources

  • Jeb Stuart Johnston, nutrition and strength coach at Stronger U
  • Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition

This piece was also medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, and a nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.

About our writers’ expertise

In developing this guide, we tested close to a dozen of the top protein powders available from brands like Cellucor, Optimum Nutrition, and Naked to find the best across a variety of categories. 

The co-author, Andrew Gutman, is a former associate editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine, has competed in a bodybuilding show and two Strongman competitions, and has been lifting weights regularly for more than 10 years. He’s tried dozens of different whey protein powders.

Our guide features powders that have a taste you can stomach, a high protein content, and minimal fat, carbs, and calories. Guides Editor, Les Shu, is a former research chief at Men’s Fitness who oversaw the fact-checking of the magazine’s nutrition and exercise articles.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Epic Games, the video game giant in a legal battle with Apple, is turning a defunct mall into a new headquarters – see inside

Fortnite
An attendee stops to text next to Epic Games’ Fortnite sign at E3, the annual video games expo in Los Angeles.

  • Epic Games spent $95 million on a North Carolina mall that will become its new headquarters.
  • Epic, the maker of “Fortnite,” is involved in a major lawsuit with Apple in California.
  • Epic plans to turn the mall into a multimillion-square-foot complex.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Epic Games, the creators of the popular game “Fortnite,” bought a failed mall in North Carolina for $95 million that will eventually become its new headquarters.

The gaming giant closed on the deal on December 31, Daniel Geiger at Insider first reported. Epic plans to create a multimillion-square-foot headquarters, with hopes to open it by 2024.

Read more: Kids are losing tens of thousands of their parents’ money betting on video games like ‘Fortnite.’ Here’s a look inside the secret underworld.

The purchase comes after a wild year for Epic, which sparked a debate in the tech world around app-store policies when the company offered an in-game payment system for “Fortnite” that bypassed the usual app-store fees. Apple and Google both subsequently pulled the game from their stores, and now Epic and Apple are battling it out in a California courtroom.

Here’s the mall that Epic spent $95 million on.

Cary Towne Center encompasses 980,000 square feet of space on 87 acres.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Epic

The mall was a victim of the similar forces tanking malls across the country: anchor tenant JC Penney closed, and within months Sears and Macy’s followed.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Business Insider

Developers Turnbridge Equities and Denali Properties bought the property in January 2019 from mall chain CBL & Associates, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2020.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Business Insider

At the time developers bought the mall from CBL, it was at only 65% occupancy.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: WSJ

When they purchased it, developers told WSJ that they planned to turn the mall into a mixed-use space with offices and residential areas.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: WSJ

Developers paid about $40 million for the property in 2019, less than half of what Epic paid two years later.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Business Insider

“It’s minutes from downtown Raleigh, it’s close to the airport, and it’s one of the only critical masses of land ready to build on in one of the fastest-growing markets in the country,” Jason Davis, a managing director at Turnbridge, told Business Insider.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

The new headquarters will likely be much larger than Epic’s current 250,000 square foot office, also in Cary, North Carolina.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

The facilities will include both office buildings and recreational spaces. “We are committed to working with the Town of Cary to explore ways some of this property might be used by the community,” Epic spokeswoman Elka Looks told Insider while declining to share details about the plans and size of the future headquarters.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart, Target, and Starbucks say they’re keeping mask mandates despite the CDC relaxing guidance for vaccinated people. Here’s how stores are responding to the new guidelines.

Walmart coronavirus shopping
Shoppers wearing masks at a Walmart store in North Brunswick, New Jersey, in July.

  • The CDC relaxed its guidelines for wearing masks indoors and outdoors for fully vaccinated people.
  • Some states lifted mask mandates, but companies say workers and customers still need to wear masks.
  • Target, Walmart, and Starbucks are among those saying they’ll still mandate masks in their stores.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday relaxed mask guidance for fully vaccinated people – but many retailers and restaurants aren’t ready to welcome maskless customers.

Walmart, Target, and Starbucks are among those saying they’ll still make masks mandatory for shoppers and workers in their stores. Other retailers are on the fence.

Here’s where fully vaccinated people will and will not have to wear a mask now that the guidance has changed.

Target

mask target store
Shoppers leaving a Target in Miami.

A Target spokesperson told Insider that it was reviewing its policies and the new CDC guidance. But as of now, the chain said, it will continue upholding all its coronavirus safety measures in stores, including wearing masks and social distancing.

 

Kroger

food donations kroger
A customer wearing a mask in a Kroger store in Jackson, Mississippi.

The grocery chain Kroger said it would keep masks mandates for its customers and workers at its nearly 3,000 stores.

“As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy,” a Kroger spokesperson told Insider.

Walmart

Walmart
A Walmart store.

Walmart said it would stick to its mask policy in stores for the time being.

“We serve millions of Americans every week and believe our policy of requiring associates and customers to wear masks in our stores has helped protect them during the pandemic, and we’re not lifting those measures at this time,” the company said in a statement shared with The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday.

A Walmart spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.

Starbucks

Starbucks barista
A Starbucks barista.

Starbucks shoppers and workers will still be required to wear masks in stores, the company told CNN.

Macy’s

macys
A person with Macy’s bags.

The department-store chain Macy’s confirmed to Insider that it would keep masks mandatory in its stores.

Home Depot

Home Depot
A Home Depot store.

Home Depot has not updated its mask policy yet, a spokesperson told Insider.

Walgreens

walgreens masks
A sign in a Walgreens store telling customers to wear masks.

A Walgreens spokesperson told CNN that it was reviewing its rules in light of the CDC’s new guidelines.

Walgreens was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.

CVS

CVS NYC
People outside a CVS store.

CVS said it was reviewing its mask policy.

“The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

Gap

gap store
A Gap store in a mall in Los Angeles, California.

According to The Times, Gap has said it’s reviewing its policies and has not confirmed whether masks will continue to be mandatory.

A spokesperson for the apparel giant was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Insider.

Publix

Publix grocery store night
A Publix.

The supermarket chain Publix is “awaiting additional guidance before implementing potential changes,” a spokesperson told Insider.

Dollar General

dollar general
A Dollar General store.

When asked about updated mask policies, a Dollar General spokesperson directed Insider to its website. The US chain’s COVID-19 protocols were last updated on March 10 and include a mask mandate.

Ulta

ulta
An Ulta store.

Ulta is “assessing the implications” of the new CDC guidelines, a spokesperson told Insider. The beauty giant said it would continue to enforce mask and social-distancing protocols “until our assessment is complete and we are able to share more.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Walmart, Target, and Starbucks are keeping mask mandates despite the CDC relaxing guidance for vaccinated people. Here’s how stores are responding to the new guidelines.

Walmart coronavirus shopping
Shoppers are seen wearing masks while shopping at a Walmart store, in North Brunswick, New Jersey, on July 20, 2020.

  • The CDC has relaxed guidelines for wearing masks indoors and outdoors for fully-vaccinated people.
  • Certain states have now lifted mask mandates, but some companies say workers and customers still need to wear masks.
  • Target, Walmart, and Starbucks are among those still mandating masks in their stores.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday relaxed guidance for mask-wearing in indoor and outdoor spaces for fully vaccinated people – but many retailers and restaurants aren’t ready to welcome maskless customers.

Walmart, Target, and Starbucks are among those who are still making masks mandatory for shoppers and workers in their stores, they said Thursday. Other retailers are still on the fence.

Find out where you will and will not have to wear a mask, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, now the rules have changed:

Target

mask target store
Shoppers wearing protective face mask leave a Target store during the new coronavirus pandemic, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Miami.

Target said in a statement shared with Fox Business that it was upholding all of its coronavirus safety measures in stores. As a result, customers and workers will be required to wear masks and stay socially distanced. 

A spokesperson for Target was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider. 

Kroger

food donations kroger
A customer wears a mask to donate a frozen turkey at a north Jackson, Mississippi, Kroger grocery store on November 19, 2020.

Grocery chain Kroger is also keeping masks mandates for all of its customers and workers at its nearly 3,000 stores, CNN reported.

A spokesperson for Kroger was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider. 

Walmart

Walmart

Walmart is sticking to its mask policy in stores for the time being.

“We serve millions of Americans every week and believe our policy of requiring associates and customers to wear masks in our stores has helped protect them during the pandemic, and we’re not lifting those measures at this time,” the company said in a statement shared with The Columbus Dispatch

A spokesperson for Walmart was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.  

Starbucks

Starbucks barista

Starbucks shoppers and workers will still be required to wear masks in its stores, the company said, according to CNN.

Home Depot

Home Depot

Home Depot told The New York Times that it had no plans to change its mask policy in stores. Insider reached out for further comment, but didn’t immediately hear back.  

Macy’s

macy's shoppers coronavirus masks shopping bags

Macy’s has not yet confirmed whether masks will still be mandatory in its stores. A spokesperson told CNN that it is currently reviewing its policies. 

Macy’s was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Insider. 

Walgreens

walgreens masks

Walgreens has not yet confirmed how it will react to the CDC’s new guidelines, but a spokesperson told CNN that it is reviewing its rules.

Walgreens was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Insider.

CVS

CVS NYC

CVS is reviewing its mask policy.

“The safety of our employees and customers will continue to guide our decision-making process,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

 

Gap

gap store
The Gap store inside the Westfield Topanga shopping mall in on Friday, June 26, 2020 in Canoga Park, CA.

According to The Times, Gap Inc is reviewing its policies, and has not confirmed whether masks will continue to be mandatory.

A spokesperson for the apparel giant was not immediately available to comment when contacted by Insider. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

A massive Montana ranch from ‘A River Runs Through It’ is set to sell for $136 million in one of America’s priciest ranch deals. Look around the property.

montana ranch
The ranch spans nearly 80,000 acres across four counties.

A Montana ranch is in contract to sell for a record-breaking $136 million, ranch brokerage Swan Land Company confirmed to Insider.

montana ranch

As Mansion Global first reported, the ranch, known as the Climbing Arrow Ranch, went into contract for close to its $136.25 million asking price less than a week after it hit the market. 

A spokesperson for Swan Land Company declined to comment on the identity of the buyer except to disclose that the buyer is an American citizen. 

The deal is expected to close sometime in the summer, the spokesperson told Insider. 

If the deal closes, Climbing Arrow would be the most expensive ranch ever sold in Montana and one of the priciest sold in the US, the ranch brokerage spokesperson said.

montana ranch

The current record in Montana is held by the $132.5 million Broken O Ranch, which billionaire Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke bought in 2012 in a deal also handled by Mike Swan.

Kroenke was also the buyer of what is believed to be the most expensive ranch ever sold in the US in 2012: a 520,000-acre Texas ranch that was listed for $725 million. The final purchase price, however, was never disclosed.

Most ranch deals, however, are nowhere near that price range. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest men in the US, spent a comparably paltry $45 million on a 4,600-acre Colorado ranch with a golf course and a helipad last May. 

A Texas ranch that belonged to late oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens hit the market for $250 million in 2017, but it’s still on the market four years later — even with a $30 million price cut.

 

Climbing Arrow spans nearly 80,000 acres across four Montana counties: Gallatin, Meagher, Madison, and Broadwater.

montana ranch

It’s within 30 miles from Bozeman, one of the fastest-growing cities in the US.

One portion of the ranch borders a ranch owned by Ted Turner, the CNN founder who’s also one of the country’s biggest landowners.

A trestle bridge that leads into a tunnel on the property was featured as a filming location in the 1992 Robert Redford-directed film “A River Runs Through It.”

montana ranch river runs through it

Source: Swan Land Company

Climbing Arrow is being sold by the Anderson family, who are descended from the founder of the Bank of California.

montana ranch

Buck Anderson, the grandson of Bank of California founder Frank B. Anderson, bought the ranch with his wife, Marcia, in 1959, according to Swan Land Company. Their children are now selling the ranch following the deaths of Buck in 2012 and Marcia 2020.

“Our family has had the great privilege of being the stewards of this beautiful ranch for over 60 years,” the Anderson children said in a statement obtained by Insider. “… While we feel both pride and tribulation in this change, it is time to pass the reins to a new owner who will love and enjoy the ranch as much as we have.”

Climbing Arrow features several modest employee residences, guest homes, and an owner’s home, according to the listing.

montana ranch

There are also multiple barns, corrals, mechanic shops, sheds, and calving facilities on the ranch.

The ranch is set up with a 2,000-head commercial Black Angus cattle operation.

montana ranch

Source: Swan Land Company

The property is also a prime spot for fishing, with 17 miles of the trout-filled Sixteenmile Creek passing through the property as well as five miles of Madison River frontage. Other fishing rivers are a short drive away.

montana ranch

Source: Swan Land Company

Ranches have become a hot commodity during the pandemic, brokers say.

montana ranch

“Land as an investment-grade asset has enjoyed a banner 2020,” Eric O’Keefe of the Land Report told Forbes in September 2020. “… Clearly, the value of a remote or a removed getaway has become a much-coveted quality.”

Bill McDavid of ranch brokerage Hall & Hall told Insider last May that he’d already seen a spike in interest in ranch properties in places like Montana and Wyoming a couple of months into the pandemic. Most of the wealthiest buyers come from California, Texas, and New York, he said.

“You get up to that echelon of wealth and the same people who own a penthouse in New York are the same people that own a ranch in Montana and they’re the same people who own an estancia in Argentina,” McDavid said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

All the free stuff your state is giving away if you get vaccinated

getting vaccinated new jersey
Philadelphia Flyers fan Stephen Zorzi of Pittman, New Jersey gets his COVID-19 vaccine shot administered by Penn Medicine Nurse Practitioner Erin McMenamin before game against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center.

  • State and local governments are trying to incentivize vaccinations against the coronavirus.
  • It’s an effort to promote vaccinations and push toward reaching herd immunity.
  • From alcohol and event tickets, to a $1 million jackpot, local and state officials have announced unique offerings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Ohio is running five $1 million lottery draws exclusively for vaccinated adult residents.

AP21099547333021
In this Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 photo provided by the Ohio Governor’s Office, Gov. Mike DeWine, left, gets his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Kevin Sharrett, in Jamestown, Ohio.

Perhaps no vaccine incentive is more desirable than one million dollars.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced this week the state will run five $1 million lottery draws each week from May 26 to June 23. 

Each week, one adult who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or the single Johnson & Johnson shot, will be eligible for the million-dollar jackpot in the state’s lottery draw

The jackpot will be drawn by the Ohio State Lottery and comes from the state’s share of coronavirus relief funds.

Younger residents aged 12 to 18, who just this week became eligible for the vaccine, will not be in the drawing for a million dollars, but will have the opportunity to be entered into a draw for a four-year full scholarship to any state college or university, tuition and accommodation included.

New Orleans is offering residents one free pound of crawfish in return for getting vaccinated at a free, city-wide event.

seafood crawfish new orleans
Festival goers eat crawfish during the first day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana April 25, 2014. Thumping beats flowed over a sea of flowered shirts and sun hats that filled the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival over the weekend with tens of thousands roaming from stage to stage, as excited about the music as the food. Picture taken on April 25, 2014.

The New Orleans City Council organized the event on May 13, which they’ve advertised with the slogan, “1 shot for 1 pound.”

The promotion is a partnership with a local business incubator and attendees will receive both a vaccine — either Moderna or Johnson & Johnson — and a free pound of boiled crawfish. The first 30 people in line will also receive a free gift card.

 

 

 

Some Detroit residents are able to receive a $50 prepaid debit card.

transaction  debit card
A prepaid debit card.

Anyone who pre-registers and drives another city resident to a vaccination site will get the $50 card as a reward

“Pushing past our inability to manage and win the argument on social media, we really had to be more inventive about how to get the attention of the greater, grander community,” said Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad L. Mallett. 

The initiative is part of the city’s Good Neighbor program, designed to incentivize those who donate their “time and effort” to help the vaccine cause, Mallett said.

Alabamans who get tested and/or vaccinated at an event later this month will get to take two laps around the state’s legendary Talladega Superspeedway.

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2019 file photo, the No. 3 car of the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr., driven by Richard Childress, takes a lap before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala.   NASCAR's return to racing next shifts to Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, with a new rules package altered after Ryan Newman's frightful crash in the season-opening Daytona 500.  (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
FILE – In this Oct. 13, 2019 file photo, the No. 3 car of the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr., driven by Richard Childress, takes a lap before a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. NASCAR’s return to racing next shifts to Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, with a new rules package altered after Ryan Newman’s frightful crash in the season-opening Daytona 500. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

On May 15, anybody 16 or older who opts to get tested and/or vaccinated at an Alabama Department of Public Health event will be able to drive their own car or truck around the fastest track in NASCAR at “highway speed.” 

Members of the state’s National Guard will administer the shots as part of a campaign by state officials to ramp up the number of vaccinations. 

 

 

City leaders in Memphis, Tennessee, are running a sweepstakes for a new car for anyone who gets vaccinated.

AP21130010888256
A long row of unsold 2021 Rogue sports-utility vehicles sits at a Nissan dealership

Shelby County residents over the age of 18 who have received at least one COVID-19 dose of a vaccine will be eligible to enter a giveaway of a brand-new vehicle of their choice.

Options include a Chevy Camaro, Chevy Colorado, Nissan Rogue, and Nissan Altima. Local officials will confirm people’s eligibility with their immunization record card.

Those who have gotten the jab should register for the sweepstakes before May 31 and a winner will be selected around June 1, according to local officials. 

 

 

New Jersey residents 21 and older who get a vaccine will be gifted a free brewski at participating locations in the state.

clinking beer glasses

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced earlier this month vaccine recipients aged 21 and older who get their first shot this month can take part in the state’s “Shot and a Beer” program. 

At participating locations throughout the Garden State, recipients will get a free glass of beer after receiving their jab.

“We need that push,” Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, told ABC News. “You have to find a way to motivate people. This is one way to do it.”

Vaccinated residents of Connecticut will be able to get one free drink between May 19 and May 31, according to a state webpage.

Gov. Ned Lamont.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s office has partnered with numerous restaurants around Connecticut that are participating in this initiative.

“To take part in the promotion which will run through the end of May, customers simply show that they have received either one or both doses of a COVID vaccine, at which point they can select from a list of pre-set drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) established by each participating restaurant,” the webpage says. 

Vaccinated New York residents have the opportunity to score double the prizes – baseball tickets and a free subway pass.

yankees 2021
Yankee Stadium.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month announced a promotion that would exchange a COVID-19 vaccine for free tickets to Mets Games and Yankees Games this spring.

Newly vaccinated people have the opportunity to score tickets to the Mets between May 24 and June 17 and the Yankees from May 7 to June 6. 

But, that’s not all!

New Yorkers who get vaccinated at one of the Department of Health’s pop-up vaccination sites through the weekend of May 15-16 will receive a free 7-day MetroCard or two one-way tickets. 

 

And if New Yorkers don’t already have enough of a reason to get vaccinated, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced this week the immunized can score free Shake Shack fries as well.

Shake Shack meal fries

The popular fast-food chain has teamed up with the New York City mayor’s office to ramp up vaccinations.

Until June 12, the inoculated who show their vaccination card can nab a free order of crinkle cut fries with the purchase of a burger or sandwich at several New York City Shake Shack locations. 

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced any resident between the ages 16 and 35 will receive a $100 savings bond in exchange for getting vaccinated.

WV Gov Jim Justice
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

People within this age group are not taking the vaccine as fast as the state hoped they would. “If we really want to move the needle, we’ve got to get our younger people vaccinated,” Justice said during a press briefing.

To fund the initiative, the state allocated money from the CARES Act, a measure passed by Congress last year to stave off the financial devastation brought on by the coronavirus, to fund the savings bond initiative.

Randolph County, Illinois is offering free shooting target practice to those who get immunized at a mobile vaccine site located at the Worldwide Shooting and Recreation Complex.

AP21113495232776
A shooter fires a handgun.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced earlier this month that the state’s popular shooting range will be the site of a mobile vaccination site on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15. 

The state’s National Guard will be operation the site and anyone 18 and older who gets jabbed at the range will also receive 100 free targets of trap, skeet, or sporting clays for use at the recreation complex, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

 

Harris County in Texas has set aside $250,000 to divvy up as incentives for vaccinated individuals.

Texas Vaccine
Nurse Roy Christian receives the Covid-19 vaccine at John Sealy Hospital at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB Health) in Galveston, Texas on December 15, 2020.

The money will go toward events, gift cards, and other incentives that will be offered to all residents who’ve been vaccinated, according to the Houston Chronicle

It’s a way to encourage Harris County residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in a step toward achieving herd immunity.

“We desperately need these people to get vaccinated, particularly the young people,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. “I asked you to be as creative as we possibly can because I don’t want to sit here a month from now and see the numbers worsen, or see this pandemic extended, and say, ‘If we had just done X, would we have avoided this situation?'”

Long Beach, California, officials are offering two free tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacifid to anyone who gets their first vaccines.

AP21075800678340
Visitors watch as scuba divers feed fish at the Aquarium of the Pacific on its first day of reopening to public in Long Beach, Calif., Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

Long Beach residents who get inoculated through Saturday will receive two tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Tickets to the popular destination usually cost $36.95.

“While we have made tremendous strides in vaccinating 60% of eligible Long Beach residents and 96% of our seniors, we know that vaccine hesitancy for some is real,” Mayor Robert Garcia told local media. “We are going to do everything we can to encourage folks to get vaccinated, and that includes incentives.”

 

Chicago is experimenting with a Vax Pass that will offer vaccinated individuals a chance to attend concerts and events.

Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at a University of Chicago initiative event for the science in Chicago, Illinois, on July 23, 2020.
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at a University of Chicago initiative event for the science in Chicago, Illinois, on July 23, 2020.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the initiative comes as the city is “looking at ways in which we can incentivize folks to get the vaccine.”

“We’re going to be looking at ways in which we can incentivize people to get vaccinated, and do that by looking at preferred seating, preferred admission. So that’s still very much a work in progress, and we’ll have more to say on that in the coming days,” she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best backpacking stoves that are lightweight, fuel-efficient, and powerful enough to cook food fast

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Backpacking stoves are vital for preparing hot meals and coffee, no matter how far in the backcountry you are.
  • The best are fuel-efficient, lightweight enough to fit in your backpack, and reliable in inclement weather.
  • Our top pick, MSR’s WindBurner, is fast, powerful, and efficient, and weighs less than 3 ounces.

There are few things as refreshing as enjoying a hot meal at your campsite following a long day of hiking. Energy bars and trail mix do well to curb hunger during the day but when it’s time to relax for the night, you’ll want something a bit more substantial. That’s where a reliable camp stove opens up the options for meals, snacks, and hot beverages, making your time in the backcountry much more enjoyable.

I spend much of the year, regardless of season, either out on a multi-day backpacking trip or planning my next one – and I’ve learned that prioritizing how and what I’ll eat is always a vital consideration. This means making sure I’m able to start each morning with a cup of instant coffee and a few bites of rehydrated scrambled eggs so that I’m replenished enough and able to take on however many grueling miles lay ahead.

Refueling at night is just as important, too. A satisfying evening meal goes a long way to making my legs feel less tired and my body less sore, despite having hauled a 30-pound pack for several hours prior. Satisfying those meal needs always comes down to the type of backpacking stove I bring along. Even on shorter trips, it always finds its way into my pack – it’s that important.

Over the years, I’ve tested an array of camp stoves, both good and bad. What I’ve found is that I keep coming back to the same two brands: MSR and JetBoil. As you’ll notice by which stoves ultimately made the following guide, those two brands have the backpacking camp stove market almost entirely covered – and recommending another model just for the sake of doing so isn’t worth it. These are the best for a reason.

At the bottom of this guide, you’ll find some tips on how to shop for a backpacking stove and what else to consider, as well as the testing methodology I used.

Here are the best backpacking stoves:

The best backpacking stove overall

msr pocketrocket deluxe

Ounce counters will love the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, which delivers outstanding performance in a tiny package. If you want to travel fast and light, this is the stove you need. 

 

MSR’s original PocketRocket is an iconic piece of gear in the outdoor industry, setting new standards for lightweight performance from a backpacking stove. But the new Deluxe model takes things to a new level by adding a push-button starter and a regulator for improved control in cold environments. 

The PocketRocket Deluxe tips the scales at a mere 2.9 ounces, making it one of the more svelte stoves on the market. It also measures just 3.3 inches in length, which is considerably smaller than almost any other model. Despite the small size, it still manages to perform well, boiling water at a rapid clip and offering solid fuel efficiency, too. It even has an integrated simmer control and a solid level of wind resistance, which aren’t common in similar stoves.

With this new generation of PocketRocket, MSR included an onboard igniter, eliminating the need to carry matches or a lighter. The igniter can be a source of frustration at times, though, as it’s not always 100 percent reliable. 

It’s worth pointing out that this stove isn’t a full cooking system, meaning you’ll need to bring a pot to prepare your meal (and possibly to eat from). Those additional items take up space and add weight to your pack, potentially negating any shaved ounces from using the PocketRocket in the first place. Additionally, the stove’s pot supports aren’t very large and can create some instability when used on uneven ground. 

Still, this little stove punches well above its weight class, delivering outstanding all-around performance in a tiny form factor. That alone makes it easy to recommend as the best ultralight backpacking stove available today.

The best budget backpacking stove

BRS

The BRS 3000-T Ultralight stove is a budget-conscious backpacker’s dream. Not only does it weigh next to nothing but it offers solid performance at a rock-bottom price, making it a great choice for those who’d rather spend their hard-earned money on other gear instead. 

Pros: Very inexpensive and lightweight compared to other models

Cons: Not very durable and average performance in all but the best of outdoor conditions 

Budget-friendly backpacking stoves aren’t particularly common in the outdoor industry but occasionally a model comes along that manages to offer solid performance at a great price. Such is the case with the BRS 3000-T Ultralight, a stove that’s compact, lightweight, and easy on the wallet. 

You won’t find a lot in the way of frills on this stove, though. It doesn’t have a built-in starter, nor does it include simmer control or a regulator to help maintain performance in cold or windy conditions. The BRS 3000-T is the very definition of a basic backpacking stove, with just the bare minimum of features. 

With that said, it does weigh less than an ounce and boils a liter of water in roughly three minutes. It also comes with a set of built-in pot holders that do a reasonably good job of maintaining balance even on rough terrain. Best of all, the BRS 3000-T costs just $17, making it an absolute bargain. 

Of course, at that price, this stove does come with a few caveats. It’s recommended that backpackers handle it with care as it isn’t the most durable. The stove can also perform poorly in windy conditions and its small burner head delivers only average performance. 

The best fuel-efficient backpacking stove

msr windburner stove

You’ll always want to consider weight, size, efficiency, and ease of use when shopping for a backpacking stove and none deliver on those as well as the MSR WindBurner, the best stove currently available. 

Pros: Compact, fast, and efficient, the MSR WindBurner is an all-in-one system that backpackers will love

Cons: No built-in igniter and not as lightweight as some other models

MSR’s made excellent backpacking stoves for decades and one of the mainstays in its line-up is the WindBurner Personal Stove System. What makes this particular stove stand out is that it’s an all-in-one option that gives users everything they need in one package. That includes the stove itself, a 1-liter insulated cook pot, a stabilizer, straining lid, and a plastic bowl. The only added extra you’d need is a canister of fuel and you’re set.

Unlike other all-in-one systems, the WindBurner offers a few extras that make it easier to use. For instance, its simmer-control system allows users to dial in exactly how much heat they want to apply to the pot. This also provides a measure of control over fuel consumption. 

The WindBurner truly shines with its versatility and efficiency. Very few backpacking stoves are as good in cold and windy conditions, and most use more fuel when preparing a meal. In fact, the WindBurner often gets twice as many uses out of a single fuel canister as its competition. That performance remains surprisingly consistent, too, even when used in a variety of environments or altitudes. 

Weighing in at 15.2 ounces, the WindBurner isn’t the lightest stove on this list but it is compact enough to comfortably carry inside a backpack, along with each of the add-ons which store inside one another. The entire package is easy to clean and can be set up or taken apart quickly. It also has the ability to boil a liter of water in just four and a half minutes, which is quite fast for a model of this size. 

The best backpacking stove for beginners

jetboil flash

The JetBoil Flash offers excellent all-around performance and great features that make it especially beginner-friendly. Compact and convenient, this is a stove first-time backpackers can quickly learn to operate and continue to use for many years. 

Pros: Fast and relatively efficient, the JetBoil Flash is extremely easy to operate, making it a great choice for beginners

Cons: No simmer control means the stove lacks subtle options when cooking a meal and its loss of efficiency in windy conditions is noticeable

Inexperienced backpackers looking for a great first backpacking stove should look no further than the JetBoil Flash. Like the MSR WindBurner, this model is an all-in-one solution that not only provides a stove but also a cooking pot wrapped in a protective outer shell. That’s essentially all you need to prepare the dehydrated backpacking meals that have become increasingly popular in recent years. 

The Flash’s ease of use is one of its biggest strengths. Simply fill up the pot with water and you’re ready to go. The entire system connects seamlessly to a gas canister, allowing the Flash to bring liquids to a boil in about three and a half minutes. That means you won’t have to wait long to get a warm meal or a hot beverage.

With its built-in heat exchanger, the Flash remains efficient, even in shifting weather conditions and colder temperatures. While not as fuel-efficient as the WindBurner, it still does a decent job of getting as much performance out of a single canister as possible.

At 13.1 ounces, the JetBoil Flash falls into the middle ground concerning size and weight. Smaller stoves, such as the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, are more compact and less bulky but don’t include pots to prepare a meal, making the weight difference much closer than it seems. The Flash’s modular design only enhances its reputation as an easy-to-use option, too. 

The best travel backpacking stove

msr whisperlite universal

The MSR WhisperLite Universal is easy to travel with and uses liquid fuel rather than traditional gas canisters, making it the best backpacking stove for those going abroad.

Pros: Fast and efficient, compatible with multiple types of fuel which adds versatility and makes it great for international travel

Cons: A bit on the heavy side and requires regular maintenance in order to achieve optimal performance

Another mainstay in the MSR line-up, the WhisperLite Universal is without a doubt the best option for backpackers traveling outside the U.S. This stove comes with its own canister which can be filled with a variety of fuels, including white gas, kerosene, or even unleaded gasoline. It even uses standard isobutane-propane canisters when available, allowing this stove to go anywhere you’re able to find a viable fuel source. 

Compact and easy to carry, the WhisperLite Universal heats up quickly and gets nearly two hours of burn time from a single canister of white gas. Its overall efficiency varies depending on the fuel but it typically boils a liter of water in under four minutes. The stove is also easy to use, supports large pots for feeding groups of campers, and is surprisingly quiet for a liquid gas model.

The downside of using this type of stove is that it requires routine maintenance to keep it performing optimally. This maintenance isn’t particularly difficult but can be daunting and intimidating to newcomers. Additionally, at 14.9 ounces in weight, it’s a little heavier compared to other options. 

MSR ships the WhisperLite with a fuel pump, heat reflector, and a windscreen to help improve performance in windy conditions. It also comes with a few small parts to aid in the maintenance process. Unfortunately, a fuel bottle is not included, which adds an extra expense for international travelers, as well as a few additional ounces. 

How to shop for a backpacking stove

Shopping for a backpacking stove is different than what you’d look for while car camping, where size and weight don’t matter as much. When you’re carrying your entire allotment of gear inside a backpack, it’s vital to go small and lightweight.

It’s also important to find a stove that’s highly fuel-efficient in order to reduce the number of gas canisters you’ll need. 

But those aren’t the only features to consider. You’ll also want to take into account the number of people the stove supports, the kind of fuel it uses, and how durable it is. As with all outdoor gear, your stove should be extremely reliable and easy to use — there’s nothing like arriving at your campsite after sunset, exhausted and hungry, only to find your stove won’t start. 

What else to consider

It’s also important to think about when and where you’ll be using your camp stove. If you go backpacking in cold and windy conditions, you’ll want a stove that quickly boils water without using excess fuel. The same holds true when hiking at higher altitudes, where thinner air has a dramatic impact on efficiency. 

If this sounds too complex or overwhelming, fret not. There are plenty of reliable backpacking stoves to choose from, many of which are lightweight, compact, and fast. In fact, we’ve field-tested a crop of stoves currently available and came away impressed. There are now options available for just about every type of backpacker with any kind of budget. 

How we test backpacking stoves

Each stove featured in this guide went through a series of on-trail tests to see how well it held up across these four categories: Portability, weight, dependability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which backpacking stoves ultimately made this guide:

Weight: For literally anything backpacking-related, weight is perhaps the most important consideration. Even if you’re not an ultralight backpacker, counting down to the ounce is common practice, and your camp stove is no different. During each test, we loaded a backpack with roughly 20 pounds of gear (sleeping bag, clothing, food, headlamps, etc.) and would spend one to two days with the stove in our backpack, and at least one day with it in someone else’s. This helped us judge just how much of a difference those ounces truly made.

Portability: Though weight may first come to mind when assessing how portable a camp stove is, we also judged how well the stove packed down, whether into itself or as pieces that were easily packable. A highly portable backpacking stove shouldn’t take up much valuable room in your pack, and also shouldn’t be so many separate pieces that you feel like you’re assembling a jigsaw puzzle each day. 

Dependability: Setting up camp after a grueling day on the trail can turn sour very quickly if the stove you’re about to rely on for sustenance doesn’t work (and this is doubly true when the weather starts to turn wet, cold, and windy). We’ve tested these stoves in hot weather often but also made sure to put them through their paces when the wind and rain picked up. For these, we had to resort to doing so in our backyard, though time spent on trail this winter will allow for further testing.

Value: The value of a backpacking camp stove isn’t just how much it costs but more so a combination of the three categories before it, as well as its final sticker price. You want something that’s dependable and often that means spending a little more for something you can rely on (as opposed to spending less, more often on an inferior stove). 

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The best garden hose nozzles in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

So you’ve finally found a garden hose that’s durable, easy to use, and doesn’t kink. Next, you’ll need a garden hose nozzle. It makes watering tasks more convenient and efficient, plus you’ll save water.

“It’s absolutely necessary to attach an adjustable nozzle to your garden hose,” said John Jo rs, a Florida Master Gardener and volunteer groundskeeper at the 35-acre Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. “Otherwise, you may find yourself running back and forth to turn your water spigot off and on as needed.”

There are a few different nozzle styles to consider, including pistol grip, fire-hose, and watering wand. If you plan on using your hose for a wide variety of tasks, Jors recommends a pistol grip nozzle with multiple spray options and adjustable water pressure.

But if you have trouble holding down a pistol grip for long periods of time, fire hose-style and watering wands are good alternatives. Learn which nozzle style and spray option you should use.

We tested garden hose nozzles of different styles on the same hose (our pick for the best hose overall, the Dramm ColorStorm Garden Hose). For each hose nozzle, we tracked ease of use, comfort, water pressure, spray distance, and durability. Read more about our methodology.

Here are the best garden hose nozzles in 2021

The best garden hose nozzle overall

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Gardenite 10 Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle

The Gardenite 10-Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle is the most versatile, reliable, and comfortable nozzle you can attach to your hose. All the spray patterns are consistent and using it won’t tire out your hand. 

Pros: Many spray patterns, easy to switch among patterns, strong metal and rubber construction

Cons: The multiple settings may be superfluous if you only use your hose for a few tasks, jet setting doesn’t offer strongest pressure

With this Gardenite hose nozzle, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll have the appropriate spray pattern for the task in front of you. The 10 patterns include “cone,” “shower,” “mist,” and “jet,” plus less common ones like “flat” and “vertical.” Whether you’re washing your dog, watering delicate plants, or hosing down dirt, you’ll be properly equipped. 

It’s easy to twist the nozzle to the spray pattern you need, and the nozzle clicks clearly to let you know you’re ready to use your selected pattern. When you hold down the trigger, the water doesn’t shoot out aggressively — an issue I discovered with other nozzles. The nozzle also never leaked in all my tests. 

The flow control knob at the back of the nozzle lets you adjust the pressure of each of the 10 patterns, allowing for even more adjustability. 

Despite all these ways to diversify your watering experience, the jet option was a little disappointing and wasn’t as strong as our high-pressure nozzle pick below. Overall, the all-in-one design and quality construction of this nozzle still earn it our top position, but consider whether you’d rather have the versatility or a more specialized nozzle. 

This nozzle has a pistol grip, with a front trigger that is made from metal and has indents for your fingers. The handle is cushioned rubber. These features combined make the grip as comfortable as it can get. 

The best garden hose nozzle on a budget

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Melnor 5 Pattern Watering Nozzle budget cheap affordable

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Melnor 5-Pattern Watering Nozzle is a solid alternative that still offers five spray options. Just be warned it’s not as durable as our other picks.

Pros: Affordable, easy to use, versatile 

Cons: Can leak a little, not rugged, doesn’t offer long spray distance 

A good, solid garden hose is an investment, and after spending that money, you might not want to splurge on an additional accessory. Luckily, this Melnor hose nozzle is very affordable, while still offering features you need and decent comfort. 

This nozzle keeps it simple with five spray options that should suit most activities: shower, full, stream, flat, and mist. All the settings worked well and had strong, consistent pressure, though the spray distance fell short compared to the other nozzles. The mist option was especially effective.

The nozzle attached securely to my hose, but there were some small leaking issues. The droplets were tiny and didn’t significantly affect my watering experience but it’s worth noting since this was the only nozzle I tested that leaked at all. 

It’s decently comfortable to hold — the rubber grip features indents for your fingers, but the back trigger section is made from plastic which is less comfortable than an all-rubber grip. There is a trigger lock to help prevent grip fatigue, so you don’t need to squeeze down the whole time you’re watering. 

Made from a combination of metal, plastic, and rubber, the nozzle is lightweight, but you can’t bang it around the ground too much. In our durability tests, the metal pin that acts as a trigger lock fell out. While we know you won’t purposely drop your nozzle onto concrete repeatedly, it’s also good to keep in mind that this nozzle isn’t going to last for years. But if you need a temporary solution, or don’t use your garden hose often, it’s a quick and cheap buy with most of the features you need. 

The best watering wand

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Melnor RelaxGrip Watering Wand 2

Avid gardeners will want the Melnor RelaxGrip Watering Wand, which offers a gentle shower of water, is long enough to reach tall hanging plants, and uses a comfortable thumb control rather than a pistol grip. 

Pros: Long, less tiring to grip, ideal for delicate flowers and plants in hanging pots 

Cons: Singular purpose, may have leakage problems after long-term use 

If you have trouble holding down a pistol grip, you’ll love the easy thumb control of this nozzle. You simply slide the control up and down whenever you need to adjust the water flow. This smart design reduces the strain on your wrists and fingers, allowing you to water your garden for longer. The textured rubber grip is also comfortable with ergonomic indents for your fingers. 

The thumb control acts as a sliding scale in that there isn’t a distinct click for each different flow setting. Instead, you might have to play around with the control at first to learn where the flow intensity changes and how far you should slide the control. Over time, you’ll have a better natural sense of how to control the water.  

This watering wand has a long stick design (this version is 33 inches long from nozzle tip to end, while the short version is 15 inches long) that lets you reach tall branches with no struggle. The water travels smoothly all the way through, and the water flow is consistent. 

It attached securely and didn’t leak, but after seeing some customer reports of leakage issues, we’ll keep an eye out for that in our long-term testing. Given the wand is made up of many distinct parts, it’s possible it may leak if any of the parts break. In our durability tests, however, the wand emerged unscathed and nothing broke.

Since this nozzle only offers a concentrated shower pattern, it’s best for gardeners who intend to use it frequently for their plants and flowers. It will not help you in the way of washing a deck or covering a large amount of ground.

The best high-pressure garden hose nozzle

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Twinkle Star Adjustable Twist Hose Nozzle high pressure

This simple and compact brass nozzle from Twinkle Star shoots out strong jets of water over long distances, making it perfect for chores that require some water pressure. 

Pros: Made from sturdy solid brass, small, good jet and wide spray options 

Cons: No two-way shutoff, less control over water flow 

For grimy trash cans, a car in need of a good wash, or your deck that has so many layers of dirt it’s starting to change colors, it’s handy to have a high-pressure nozzle to do all the hard rinsing work for you. 

The Twinkle Star is a long and slim nozzle that has powerful and efficient jet and wide spray settings. To use, you twist the nozzle in one direction to find the pattern you need. Though there aren’t specific settings that you can “click” into, the nozzle twists smoothly and the spray patterns transition well into each other. The one-way shutoff means you have to twist it off the same way you twist it on, which isn’t a huge dealbreaker, but it’s a little convenient. The nozzle attached securely to my hose and never leaked. 

Its spray distance was long, on par with the Gardenite nozzle‘s. The high pressure and long spray distance are a great combo for attacking dirty surfaces from afar.

We also loved the solid brass construction. It’s resistant to rust and all-around durable, plus it looks sleek. 

This product actually comes with two nozzles, a long one and a much smaller one. We wouldn’t recommend the small tip nozzle, as it wasn’t adjustable and couldn’t shut off the flow of water. It offered medium pressure and a very narrow spray, so we’re not sure what the use of this extra nozzle is. Stick with the long nozzle, and you’ll be set. 

The best fireman-style garden hose nozzle

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Bon Aire Hose Nozzle fireman style

A fire-hose-style nozzle like the Bon-Aire Hose Nozzle is perfect if you want versatile spray options without straining your hand. 

Pros: Very comfortable to hold, strong rubber and metal construction, two-way shutoff 

Cons: Less control over water flow 

Rather than hold down a trigger, you only need to twist the barrel of the Bon-Air nozzle to start and stop the flow of water. Like a few of the nozzles above, it doesn’t have distinct spray settings, so you just gradually turn the nozzle to find the different options. Conveniently, the nozzle has two-way shutoff, meaning you don’t have to turn it back all the way to the beginning in order to stop the water flow. 

I enjoyed using this nozzle a lot because it was comfortable to hold and all the water flow options were consistent in pressure. The jet and wide spray settings were especially strong. 

Compared to the Twinkle Star nozzle, the Bon-Aire is bulkier but also likely more durable. Since most of it is encased in rubber, the metal middle section rarely touches the ground. If you drop it on the ground from a tall height, it simply bounces around. 

Our gardening expert John Jors reminds us, “Although [a fire hose-style nozzle] is very durable, the spray options are limited and you won’t have the flow control you have with the pistol grip.” 

This was certainly my experience with the Bon-Aire nozzle. It’s available for around the same price as our best overall pick, so choosing this nozzle is ultimately a matter of personal preference and comfort. It’s ergonomic and durable, but you will have the deal with the lack of distinct spray settings. 

What else we tested

best garden hose nozzles 2021 Gilmour Metal Pistol Nozzle what else we tested

What we don’t recommend and why

Gilmour Metal Pistol Nozzle: This simple nozzle is cheap but also really rugged. It’s metal all around and intuitive to use — just squeeze the trigger and the water flow will change depending on how hard you squeeze. My main critique is that it’s not comfortable to hold at all and has no cushioning for your fingers, so you’ll have to wear your own gloves. The nozzle is small, brittle, and stiff, and you’ll have to use the hold-open clip to spray continuously. 

What we’re testing next

What we look forward to testing - best garden hose nozzles 2021 Dramm 14866 One Touch Rain Wand with One Touch Valve

Dramm One-Touch Rain Wand: Another promising watering wand has a similar thumb control valve to our current best wandering wand and looks to be durable and consistent. 

Gilmour Swivel Connect 1-Pattern Nozzle: Gilmour’s innovative “swivel connect” design means that you can turn the nozzle in any direction without turning the hose itself, reducing annoying kinks and bends as you handle your hose. Though it doesn’t have multiple spray options, there is a comfortable thumb control valve. 

Methodology

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Methodology slide

We put all the hose nozzles through these same five tests: 

  1. Ease of use: We noted how easy or difficult it was to attach to the hose, how many spray options it had, and whether it leaked. 
  2. Comfort: We noted if the grip was ergonomic. If the nozzle had a pistol grip design, we timed how long we could press the grip down before it got too tiring to press. 
  3. Spray distance: On concrete, we measured how far the nozzle sprayed water when holding the hose at a regular position (a foot away from the body).
  4. Water pressure: We measured the pressure of water coming out of the nozzle with a water pressure gauge. If there was more than one spray setting, we measured the low, medium, and high settings. 
  5. Durability: We dropped each nozzle on concrete from 10 feet high 10 times and noted scuffing, scratches, abrasion, and any broken or bent parts. We also left the nozzles outside for two consecutive weeks through various weather conditions, including sun and rain, noting any rust and other signs of wear and tear.

Garden hose nozzles FAQs

best Garden hose nozzles 2021 FAQs

Why do you need a garden hose nozzle?  

  1. It saves water. Water will not come out of your hose unless you open the nozzle, meaning you don’t need to run back and forth to the spigot. This is especially helpful if you’re using a long hose. 
  2. A garden hose nozzle helps distribute water in a more controlled manner than a garden hose alone. The regular flow of a garden hose alone isn’t always the best for tasks like watering delicate flowers or washing a car. The different spray options of a nozzle let you customize the flow to your specific task. 

What are the different types of garden hose nozzles? How do you use them?

Pistol grip nozzle: Features a trigger that controls the amount or flow of water. Hold down the trigger (which may be in front of or behind the handle) to release water. The harder you press, the more water comes out. 

Dial nozzle: Features a rotating dial of distinct spray patterns. It’s often combined with a pistol grip so you only need to hold down the trigger to activate the flow of water, while the dial setting controls the specific flow.

Watering wand or rain wand: A long nozzle that helps extend water flow to hard-to-reach areas. It’s usually controlled with a comfortable sliding thumb control. 

Firehose (or fireman)-style nozzle: A large dial-style nozzle that does not have a pistol grip. The spray patterns are not distinct and must be gradually adjusted. 

What nozzle and spray type do you use for…

  • Watering flowers or a vegetable garden: Use a flat spray or shower delicate plants with a rain wand because it’s the most gentle spray type. Make sure to water at soil level at the base of the plants. It’s best to water them in the morning, before it gets too sunny and hot, so that less water will evaporate.  
  • Watering trees and shrubs: Drip lines are ideal, and if you’re using a hose, you actually shouldn’t use a nozzle. Simply place the hose on the ground near the tree and let water slowly and steadily dribble out. Rotate the hose around the tree (in a ring shape) periodically. 
  • Washing a car: Use a jet spray with any of the nozzles above except the rain wand. If you’re just doing a light rinse, a setting like a full shower could also work. 
  • Power-washing a deck: Use a jet spray with any of the nozzles above except the rain wand. 

Check out our other backyard and gardening guides

Purple garden hose on the sidewalk
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