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

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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The best garlic presses we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A quality garlic press is easy to clean and produces a high yield of crushed garlic.
  • Our top pick is the Orblue Stainless Steel Garlic Press.
  • It offers a full range of motion, is dishwasher safe, and can press multiple cloves at a time.

Garlic is a versatile ingredient used every day in many kitchens. Preparing it can be a sticky and smelly task, which is where a garlic press comes in. A garlic press has two primary goals: prepare garlic to a grated-like consistency and keep your hands cleaner than chopping does.

Garlic’s smell and taste become stronger when it’s cut because of a compound called allicin that forms when the cells are crushed. The smaller the garlic pieces, the more allicin is formed and the heavier the garlic flavor. Garlic presses combine crushing and mincing motions to produce garlic paste that is fragrant and flavorful. A high quality garlic press can also save time, especially if you have several cloves to press.

The most difficult part of using a garlic press is cleaning the leftover pieces of garlic skin from the basket. This will be an issue in any garlic press you use, but factors like full rotation of the press or mobility of the basket can make it easier. We tested seven garlic presses to identify the ones that make prepping garlic easy and fast.

Here are the best garlic presses in 2021

The best garlic press overall

product image of orblue garlic press, the best garlic press overall in 2021

The full rotation and stainless steel construction of the Orblue Garlic Press makes it the easiest to load, press, and clean. 

Pros: Full rotation, handles have looped ends so the press can be hung for storage, dishwasher safe, can accommodate multiple cloves at once

Cons: Water spots appeared on stainless steel after washing

This heavy duty kitchen tool features an almost 360 degree range of rotation. While most garlic presses feature a hopper (where the cloves go) that is attached to the handle, a feature of this press is that the hopper swings out separately from the handles. This allows you better access for loading garlic and for cleaning.

The Orblue is on the heavier side, but not unwieldy, and the heft makes squeezing easier when crushing multiple cloves at once. The crushed garlic came out even and paste-like. The press comes with a silicone garlic roller for peeling cloves and a small cleaning brush.

The best garlic press for unpeeled cloves

product image of kuhn rikon garlic press, the best garlic press for unpeeled cloves in 2021

Whether used with unpeeled cloves or peeled cloves, the Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press consistently produced the same amount of crushed garlic and required minimal pressure.

Pros: Presses both peeled and unpeeled cloves with ease, can accommodate multiple cloves

Cons: Heavy, expensive

The Kuhn Rikon was the most consistent garlic press I tested. Regardless of how the garlic was positioned or whether it was peeled or unpeeled, the Kuhn Rikon felt the same to squeeze and produced the same amount of garlic paste from each clove. This is a big plus if you’re making something that requires a lot of garlic, like garlic bread or aglio e olio. 

That said, the Kuhn Rikon is $26 more than our top pick and only performed better with unpeeled cloves. If you’re looking to avoid peeling garlic, the Rikon is easiest to use, but it may not be worth the increased price for everyone.

The best garlic press for easy cleaning

product image of zyliss garlic press, the best garlic press for easy cleaning in 2021

The Zyliss Garlic Press comes with a cleaning tool that was the most effective of any that we tested and stores neatly inside the press so you don’t lose it.

Pros: Mobile lever, cleaning tool stored in the press, can accommodate multiple cloves at once

Cons: Stationary basket, requires a lot of force to press larger cloves

Cleaning a garlic press is the worst part of using it, but the Zyliss makes it almost painless. The cleaning tool is stored tucked into one of the handles, ensuring you don’t lose it. The tool has small spikes that match up with the holes in the basket, so you can push the garlic remains out from the holes, making it easier to remove the peels from the press. 

The Zyliss is made of aluminum and does not have the power of the heavier presses, so you have to apply more force. Though the basket is stationary, the press itself opens 180 degrees and the lever is mobile, so you still have space to fill and clean it.

What else we tested

hand holding a garlic press with crushed garlic coming through holes as part of testing for the best garlic

What else we recommend and why:

KitchenAid Classic Garlic Press: This press performed similarly to the Orblue, our top pick. It was a little lighter and had a removable basket, but the force required was the same. A removable basket made it easier to clean the press, but it was hard to keep track of this small part and the press would be useless without it. I still recommend this press for someone confident in their ability to keep all the pieces together.

Dreamfarm Garject Self-Cleaning Garlic Press: This press had the most bells and whistles, with a built-in scraper and peel ejector. I loved the addition of the scraper because it pushes all the garlic off the front of the press. While the peel ejector works, it doesn’t make a huge difference in cleaning because smaller pieces of garlic still stick in the basket. The basket is big enough for multiple cloves, but it was very difficult to press when full.

What we don’t recommend and why:

Faberware Garlic Peeler and Press Set: This press was made of plastic and substantially lighter than the stainless steel presses. However, this meant I had little leverage when I squeezed it. This resulted in more work for less output. 

Chef’N Garlic Zoom Chopper: Though not technically a press, we tested this product as an option for finely chopped garlic that didn’t require squeezing. While it did fit multiple cloves and chopped them easily, there were flaws in the design. The blade is removable, but it is not secured, so it tends to fall out when you open the top to get garlic out. Additionally, the garlic sticks to the sides.

Our testing methodology

garlic presses loaded with garlic cloves for testing of the best garlic press in 2021

As a kitchenware reporter, I have tested many tools to determine not only if they work as intended, but also if they make life in the kitchen easier. For this guide, we used a central question to inform our testing: does this product make preparing garlic easier and keep your hands cleaner than using a good knife or a microplane grater? I tested seven garlic presses and rated them on the following criteria:

Performance: We used each press to prepare both large and small cloves, peeled and unpeeled. We looked for the garlic produced to be uniform in shape and near a paste-like consistency. When using the press with unpeeled garlic, we noted if less pressed garlic was produced or if the press was more difficult to squeeze and clean. 

Ease of use: We noted how many cloves could fit comfortably in the basket at once. We attempted to squeeze each press with one hand and then two hands to see which was easier and more effective. 

Cleaning: We considered how easy the tools were to clean. We ran dishwasher-safe presses through the regular dishwasher cycle and hand washed any presses that weren’t dishwasher safe.

What we’re testing next

Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker: This was out of stock when we were testing, so we will include it for an update. This curved stainless steel piece is not a traditional garlic press, but claims to accomplish the same texture while being easier to clean. 

Alpha Grillers Garlic Press: This press can be used with unpeeled cloves and has an extra large basket to press several cloves at once. We will test whether this basket holds more garlic than the standard baskets of our top picks.

FAQs

What is the best way to clean a garlic press?

Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on whether or not your press is dishwasher safe. If it isn’t, the hardest part will be getting the pieces of garlic out from the basket. A press with a full range of rotation or removable basket is easier to clean because you have access to the nooks and crannies. If your sink has a spray nozzle, blasting the basket with a steam of water can push out stubborn pieces of garlic. 


Can you use unpeeled cloves in a garlic press?

You don’t necessarily need to peel garlic before pressing it through a garlic press, though some presses are better at processing unpeeled garlic than others. The manufacturer will list if a press is intended for use with unpeeled cloves. During testing, I had to squeeze harder when pressing unpeeled garlic with all the tools, except the Kuhn Rikon. 


What is the best garlic press for weak and arthritic hands?

In general, we do not recommend a garlic press for people with weak hands. None of the garlic presses we tested were easy to use with one hand. Most garlic presses operate by squeezing the handles together to crush the garlic. This is a difficult motion for folks with weaker hands, and we will be testing other methods of preparing garlic for our next update. We’ll also be looking for garlic presses with soft grips, which may be easier to squeeze for some.

Check out our other great kitchen guides

Our Methodology Knife Sets
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The 7 best facial shaving soaps, and why I prefer them over shaving cream every time

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

Best Shaving Soaps of 2021 4x3

If your skin is on the dryer side, you may want to swap in your shaving foam for a shaving soap. To start with, the right soap will help your razor move cleanly across your face with enough protective lubrication for the skin and the whiskers you’re getting rid of. You also don’t want to lose the moisture that’s already in your skin during shaving, as that will lead to irritation and increase the likelihood of pseudofolliculitis barbae, or razor bumps. For those with sensitive skin (like myself), shaving foams can also lead to irritation because of the ingredients that are used.

Shaving soaps are made primarily with added fat from plant or animal sources. Some also contain glycerin. These components are what help give the soap the smooth consistency needed to produce the protective layer of lubrication for your skin without sacrificing any hydration. This was something important for me as I have a bald head (which besides a killer smirk is the only thing I have in common with The Rock), and I need that extra protection.

If you’re going to make the switch, it’s best to find the right shaving soap that factor in skin protection and good hydration. We’ve got seven soaps lined up that will be the centerpiece for your wet shaving kit and a ticket to making your routine a time of luxury.

Here are the best shaving soaps in 2021:

Floris “The Gentleman”

Floris London Shaving Soap ("The Gentleman")

NO. 89 (small)

Pros: very gentle but consistent lather, great moisture, exquisite aroma

Cons: the price might deter some depending on their budget

Chances are, you might remember Floris from the 2012 James Bond movie “SkyFall”.
This shave soap certainly has that air of elegance, made by a fragrance company that has been in existence in Britain since 1730. The No.89 is a triple-milled soap that has a highly pleasing scent with notes of bergamot and sandalwood. It lathers up very well with a wet brush, and I found that lather held up for my entire shave. The No.89 gives you a smooth shave from start to finish, leaving the skin soft and well-hydrated afterwards. And
the scent is magnificent – I actually got complimented by a few people thinking it was a
cologne I was wearing.

Col. Ichabod Conk

Col.Ichabod Conk Shave Soap

Bay Rum Shave Soap (small)

Pros: Fabulous scent, provides excellent moisturizing throughout, pleasing soap texture

Cons: The packaging isn’t that attractive 

You might be tempted to whistle an old-fashioned show tune while using the Bay Rum Shave Soap from Col. Ichabod Conk. No judgement here – it is a soap that does give you that vintage barbershop feel beginning with that stunning bay rum scent. I found myself transported back to when my late father cut my hair with that fragrance. This is a reformulated version of their most popular shave soap. The first lather is a good indicator as to why, as it’s smooth and doesn’t overly lubricate. It handles the razor well and has the best finish with no residue left on the skin afterwards.

Badger Balm

Badger Natural Shave Soap (Badger Balm)

Shaving Soap (small)

Pros: Good initial lather, rich texture and feel, high quality moisture

Cons: Moisture residue but slight, lather does fade within a minute of application

Aiming for a shave experience steeped in sustainability? Then Badger Balm is one you might consider. Made with organic ingredients including aloe vera and coconut oil, this soap gives off a good initial lather and a really soothing texture. I found that this soap helped to soften the whiskers swiftly, allowing for a nice and crisp shave. There’s a good layer of moisture left afterwards, with a scant bit of soapy residue but not much to be bothered by. It also blends well with many of the aftershave products I have.

Olivina

Olivina Men Shave Soap

Classic Shave Soap – Bourbon Cedar (small)

Pros: Decent scent, soap texture is pleasant without too much lather

Cons: Lather disappears frequently, the scent doesn’t carry for too long after the shave

This company’s soap offers up a decent shave, with a gentle bourbon cedar fragrance to it. The lather starts out strong off the brush but does fade quickly. That doesn’t take away from its positive capability to work well with both traditional and multi-blade razors during a shave. As mentioned before, the scent’s nice but it doesn’t linger. It’s a good starter soap for your budget if you’re just building your wet shaving setup.

Gentleman Jon

Gentleman Jon Shave Soap

Glycerine Shave Soap (small)

Pros: Great hydration from lather, nice texture to the soap, works well with other aftershave products

Cons: You do have to lather consistently during your shave, slightly smaller than other soaps

Gentleman Jon is a company that’s committed to giving a truly classic shave experience with their glycerin-based soap. I found the lather was very smooth at the outset. One striking point is that while shaving, there wasn’t that much buildup on the razor but the skin felt very hydrated without much leftover moisture. The aroma is highly pleasant and blends in well with aftershave balms without any irritation. Using the soap also left the skin extremely smooth compared to the other soaps tested on both passes.

Molton Brown

Molton Brown Shaving Soap

Moisture-rich Shaving Soap (small)

Pros: Good lather, works well with straight razors, leaves skin feeling softer after shave

Cons: Leaves a considerable amount of moisture buildup after, a little thick when using Multi-blade razors

The London-based company has been among the premier grooming companies, and their moisture-rich shaving soap with its own bowl is a reason why. Made partially with coconut oil, it provides a decent lather when starting out, but it can leave a little bit extra moisture afterwards so it’s best to go lightly with it. Its scent is pleasant, but not overly aromatic if you’re looking to not have it conflict with other grooming products. The soap does leave your skin feeling supple without any irritation, and it has a distinctive hydrating factor in helping the razor get rid of hairs.

The Art of Shaving

The Art Of Shaving Sandalwood Shaving Soap

Sandalwood Shaving Soap (small)

Pros: Good initial lather, helps you get a close shave right against the skin

Cons: Skin dryness and potential for irritation afterwards depending on your skin makeup

The sandalwood shaving soap by The Art of Shaving represents a lot of thought given to what one desires in a shave. It gives off a good lather, and on the first shave it helped a lot towards clean hair removal close to the skin. There’s a brief bit of moisture residue afterwards but nothing too obvious. On the second pass however, I did feel my skin feeling drier than expected afterwards and a tad irritated which suggests this might be better for special occasion shaving.

How we tested

The process of testing each soap was based on shaving every two days, with each having two passes. Each pass was done using a wet brush made with badger hair and a shaving bowl owned by myself. Soaps that came with their own bowls are noted below. Every soap was also gauged on how smooth they left the skin, and if there were any irritation or potential for tonal changes.

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The 5 best jump ropes for a great cardio workout

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Jumping rope is one of the best cardio exercises you can do at home, practically for free.
  • The best jump ropes are durable and adjustable in length and ideally, come with extra ropes or handles.
  • Our top pick, Crossrope Get Lean, has multiple weights, exchangeable handles, and its own workout app.

Most of us associate jumping rope with days on the playground but for the everyday athlete, it’s actually one of the best cardiovascular activities you can do as an adult, Andrew Laux, NASM-CPT, and personal trainer with fitness platform, Fyt, told Insider.

Though jumping rope is good to get your heart pumping, it can also help improve bone density and build strength and stability through your entire kinetic chain (your feet to your shoulders). Plus, it’s a fun workout you can do almost anywhere, Laux said.

In addition to learning how to use a jump rope, the one thing you need to gain the benefits of the workout is the rope itself. And if you think all jump ropes are the same, think again: Many manufacturers have made improvements and tech updates to jump ropes over the years, offering more ease of use, adjustability, and weight options.

To find the best jump rope for cardio, I tested brands like Crossrope, Rx Smart Gear, SKLZ, and more, relying on my own experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness writer as well as important features in a rope. At the end of this guide

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight from Laux on the proper technique for jumping rope, as well as some tips on how to shop for a jump rope and the testing methodology that was used in determining which ropes ultimately made this guide.

Here are the best jump ropes:

The best jump rope overall

Get_Lean_Set

Crossrope reimagines the tried-and-true jump rope by offering multiple weighted rope options, an easy-to-use handle clipping system, and a companion app with workouts and insight. 

Pros: Ropes come in multiple weight options, easy-to-swap soft handles, companion app has great workout guidance

Cons: Expensive

At $99, Crossrope’s Get Lean Set isn’t exactly inexpensive — but it’s not just any ole jump rope, either. 

This specialized jump rope set features ergonomic handles that are lightweight and easy to hold. The handles feature a quick clasp system making it easy to swap them in and out of the different weighted ropes. Each handle has a soft grip that won’t slip out of your hand, even when you start sweating — we’ve tested this in the humidity of NYC and the comfortable, tacky grips are a very welcome sight.

The other feature that makes Crossrope an attractive choice is its variety of rope weights. The Get Lean Set, specifically, comes with both a 1/2-pound rope good for advanced cardio exercises and a 1/4-pound rope that works well for HIIT routines and endurance training. As mentioned above, the handles just click in and out of the end of each rope for easy swapping. 

Crossrope also offers a companion smartphone application that comes standard with workout inspiration and routine guidance. The Lite version is completely free whereas premium access runs $10 per month. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best jump rope for speed work

wod jumprope

When speed and lasting performance are your main concerns, the WOD Nation Speed Jump Rope is your best option.

Pros: Comes with an extra cable, features a smooth bearing system for speed work

Cons: Susceptible to wear when used on hard surfaces

If you’re looking to perform quick tempo jumps, like high knees, crossover, or double unders, you want a speed rope, which moves faster, Louis Chandler Joseph, NASM-CPT, trainer at Dogpound in LA told Insider. “Speed ropes are also great for working hand-eye coordination,” he added.

WOD Nation Speed Jump Rope uses a patented four-metal ball bearing system in the handles. There is a bearing on the tip of each handle to hold the cable and another bearing in each handle for smooth rotations, and the handles are made of tapered nylon resin for a better grip.

This speed rope comes in nine colors and with an extra cable, replacement hardware, and a carrying bag. The cable is 2.5mm thick and 11 feet long, which you can easily adjust. 

WOD Nation’s jump rope comes with a “100% satisfaction guarantee,” so you can try it for 60 days and if you’re not completely satisfied, return it for a complete refund. (However, its return policy says it will only accept returns on unused items within 14 days of purchase, so that’s a bit confusing.) If you order through Amazon, you get 30 days to return. — James Brains, home and kitchen reporter

The best jump rope for beginners

SKLZ jump rope

The SKLZ jump rope is easy to use, lightweight, comfortable, and affordable, making it a smart choice for those just starting to jump rope. 

Pros: Easy to adjust, comfortable grip, smooth rotations

Cons: Comes with just one rope — no fancy additions

If you’re new to jumping rope, you need a straightforward jump rope that’s easy to set to your height and easy to swing. The SKLZ jump rope is all of this and more: The soft, padded handles allow for a solid, comfy grip, while the swivel on the inside of the handle makes for easy rotations and lots of control (which is super helpful for those jumping in small spaces).

It’s also lightweight, making it easy to move at a pace that works for you, especially as you tackle technique and eventually add in speed. 

Adjusting the rope is easy — just unscrew the handle, pull the rope through to the length for you,  push the plastic tab back, and cut the extra. Then, close the handle back up. Cutting the rope does means it’s a one-and-done adjustment so you can’t share your rope with someone of another height. But at under $15, your partner or roommate can buy their own cheap, too.

I tested this rope both indoors on carpet and outside on cement, and it lasted through lots of jump intervals. It’s definitely a no-frills cable but offers everything you need to get your jump rope routine started.

The best jump rope for multiple users

RX smart gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope

The Rx Smart Gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope allows you to easily switch between lengths, so the whole family can use it. Plus, it’s so smooth and comfortable. 

Pros: Easy adjustment and multi-user, smooth rotations, comfortable (and narrower) handle

Cons: More expensive than other ropes

If you’re 5-feet tall and sharing this rope with your 6-foot-tall partner, you can both use this Rx Smart Gear jump rope without anyone compromising proper length. The Rx Smart Gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope allows you to swap between sizes, just by pressing the end of the handle, removing the cover and pulling the rope to the top (to make it shorter) or bottom (to make it longer).

The standard size of the Rapid Fit Jump Rope works for people 5- to 6-feet tall. There’s also a short cable option that’s a better fit for anyone under 5 feet, as well as a longer cable for those over 6 feet. 

To be adjustable, this rope has long, thin handles. This shape has the added benefit of being easy to grip while you flick your wrists on the spin, and it offers good control over the rope so you can dial up or down the speed. 

This adjustable jump rope also comes with a carrying case. The price point is higher than other models, but it’s cheaper than buying two high-quality jump ropes of different lengths.

The best budget jump rope

Tone It Up Jump Rope

The lightweight Tone It Up jump rope comes in at under $10, while still offering an easy-to-use rope that’ll last through countless cardio sessions. 

Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight, soft and comfortable handles, easy to use and adjust

Cons: Not as durable as others; if you don’t cut the rope, it twists as you jump

For a super affordable jump rope, the Tone It Up offering costs less than $10 and is available at Target, while still delivering all the basic necessities of a cardio jump rope. At less than 13 ounces, the lightweight design makes for easy rotations and quick rounds. The padded foam handles also make for a soft feel as you hold onto the rope through each jump. 

To adjust the cable, simply unscrew the end of the handle, and move the plastic stopper tab to the spot that works with your height — the cable is short enough for those 4-foot-9 and long enough for those 6-foot-6. While you can shove the excess rope back into the handle, I suggest cutting off any extra (particularly if you have a lot of excess). The wound-up rope inside the handle occasionally made the rope twist up as I hit my rotations. 

To top off the benefits of this purchase, you’ll also support a women-owned brand.

What else we tested

RXSG EVO GO Speed Rope

Rx Smart Gear EVO GO Speed Rope ($125): If you’re looking for a truly lightweight rope for picking up speed on your feet, this rope has a well-designed handle that makes it comfortable and easy to whip the rope around. This rope comes at a fixed height. It didn’t make our main list because of its expensive price tag, but we do love this rope for speed work. 

SKLZ Speed Rope ($25): Another rope that handles well, works fast, and makes for smooth transitions, this SKLZ Speed Rope is also super affordable. The sturdy handles felt heavier than other speed ropes, and the adjustable rope itself stands up against kinks. The biggest downside is you need a wire cutter to remove the extra material, which isn’t always easy to get your hands on.

How to master the proper technique

Jumping rope is dauntingly easy — but the right technique is very helpful to master the cardio skill. Andrew Laux, NASM-CPT, and personal trainer with fitness platform, Fyt, offers three tips:

1. First, think of it like a pogo stick. “Keep your body in a straight line but relax your muscles and joints so you can easily absorb the jump and get ready for the next,” he said. Bend your knees slightly and jump on the balls of the feet to help with that impact.

2. It’s important to keep your shoulders back and chest tall (think of this as like having good posture).

3. And finally, look out on the horizon. “Once your eyes drop to your feet, your form will crumble,” Laux warns. 

When it comes to your actual jump rope workout, Laux loves jumping to his favorite song, resting for one minute, then repeating for another few pump-up jams. If you’re just starting out, though, he suggests going for just 10 seconds of effort, then resting for 20 seconds.

As you get better and can do five to 10 rounds, build the work interval, and decrease the rest break.

“Once you build up your strength and fitness levels and slowly build up your jump duration, you will find yourself jumping for longer time periods like 5 minutes or even 10 minutes nonstop,” he said. “It takes time, but you will get there.”

Learn more in How to jump rope in 4 easy steps, and a few fun workouts you can do at home.

How to shop for a jump rope

If you’re considering which jump rope to buy, think about how you want to use it. “The heavier the handles, the harder the shoulder and forearm workout,” Laux explains. “The lighter and thinner the rope, the faster you can spin the jump rope around and around.”

Anything labeled as a speed rope will likely feel lightweight and fast, while a more straightforward rope (usually plastic with foam handles) may be slightly heavier and likely, more affordable. 

The most important thing to consider once you know the kind of rope you want is its length. If a rope is too long, it might be harder to find your rhythm. Conversely, one that’s too short may increase your chances of tripping.

Make sure to check out the brand’s sizing guide before you buy. Then, to measure a jump rope to your height, step in the middle of the rope with both feet, ensure the rope is symmetric and taught, and adjust it so the bottom of the handle reaches your armpits, said Louis Chandler Joseph, NASM-CPT, trainer at Dogpound in LA.

You can always test out the rope and decide if you want it to be shorter or longer, too. Once you have a length you’re comfortable with, use scissors or wire cutters to clip the ends of the cable so you don’t have annoying and unnecessary lengths of the rope hanging off the handles. 

Also, Chandler Joseph suggests hanging your rope for storage — though, some ropes (like the Rx Smart Gear rope) do come with their own carrying case, making it far easier to stash away. Just try to avoid any kinks or bends, no matter how you chose to store them.

How we test jump ropes

Each jump rope featured in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they stacked up across these four categories: Ease of use, versatility, durability, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into which jump ropes ultimately made this guide:

Ease of use: Jump ropes should be easy to use right out of the box (so long as you have your timing and rhythm down), but through the course of testing for this guide, we realized there’s plenty to a jump rope that can make it easy to use. First, is how comfortable the handles feel in-hand. We also considered the flexibility of the rope, if it rotated cleanly on the handle, and if it avoided getting tangled too easily.

Versatility: There are a variety of workouts you can do using a jump rope, and they’re not all just the standard motion you first think of. Whether we were doing double under, crossing the rope, or any other variation, we looked at how well the rope moved along with us at every turn. Even if our own jump roping technique wasn’t flawless, we still were able to see how versatile the rope was able to be.

Durability: Much of our jump rope tests occurred outdoors where the rope would constantly hit the cement beneath our feet. Because of this, the part of the rope hitting the ground would naturally start to file down. After spending several hours jumping rope with each pick, none of those we featured ended up snapping or even filing down dangerously close enough to breaking. 

Value: Jump ropes shouldn’t cost much to begin with but it is important not to just buy whatever the cheapest on the market is. Keeping in mind the three categories above, as well as a jump rope’s actual sticker price, is a great way to judge the overall value. Our top pick is even $99, which seems like a lot for a jump rope, but considering everything it comes with, and the fact it scored the highest in terms of ease of use, versatility, and durability, it’s worth every bit of that investment.

Expert sources

  • Andrew Laux, NASM-CPT, and personal trainer with fitness platform, Fyt

  • Louis Chandler Joseph, NASM-CPT, trainer at Dogpound in Los Angeles

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best coffee grinders we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Regardless of whether you brew your coffee with a French press, pour-over setup, drip machine, or espresso maker, the key to getting the perfect cup lies in the quality and consistency of the grounds. In other words, you need a top-notch coffee grinder.

As Dan Kehn, founder of espresso enthusiast forum Home-Barista.com said of the device’s importance, “This is not a weed whacker, it is a precision instrument,” – meaning, above all, a good coffee grinder consistently produces uniformly sized grounds. That’s because the less even your grounds are, the less even the extraction will be, and the more likely your cup of coffee will be over or under-brewed, bitter, or weak.

There are two basic types of coffee grinders on the market: burr and blade. Burr grinders are pricier, but they offer more uniform results, carefully crushing coffee beans between two revolving sharp-edged surfaces, or “burrs.” You can adjust the space between those burrs to determine the size of the grounds.

Blade grinders, on the other hand, work similarly to blenders, pulverizing coffee beans with a propeller-like blade attached to a motor. While they don’t offer the same consistency or control as burr grinders, they’re significantly more affordable and can be used to make a decent pot of drip coffee.

We tested every grinder in this guide for grind-size consistency on multiple settings, measured their noise levels, timed how quickly they turned beans into grounds, evaluated their ease of use, and noted any special features. During testing, we found that the brands’ recommended settings were often off-target, so we included our own additional suggestions for each machine. You can read more about our testing methods here, along with a rundown of which grind size to use for which brewing method.

Here are the best coffee grinders

Our testing methodology

Best coffee grinders   together 4x3

In testing coffee grinders, I applied several years of tireless personal and professional research on my quest to achieve the perfect espresso pour and all the necessary and auxiliary accouterments that accompany and assist the art of espresso making. We also consulted the more distinguished expertise of Sum Ngai (co-founder of the SCAA-accredited Coffee Project New York), Brooklyn Roasting Company founder Jim Munson), and Home-Barista.com founder and editor Dan Kehn.

Consistency: The most important factor when determining the quality of each coffee grinder was consistency. We used the brand-recommended settings for French press coffee and espresso on each grinder, as well as our own settings, based on expert input, personal experience, and guidelines set forth by The Craft and Science of Coffee. We then measured the grounds with a set of Kruve sifters — a series of stacked screens that separate coffee grounds at your determined grind size from any outliers — to see how many fine particles and boulders were left behind after each grind. 

Once we achieved the best yield of a target size (measured in micrometers), we repeated the process to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. In the case of espresso, the aim was 250-500 micrometers. For French press grounds, we shot for between 600 and 1100 micrometers. Keep in mind, though, that these are just general suggestions, and we were testing for uniformity of particles above all; taste-wise, you may have your own grind size preference. 

Settings: We recorded the number of settings on every machine, and tested to see how each grinder performed on several of those settings, noting accuracy, consistency, and speed. Espresso is the most demanding grind size, and you’ll need a machine with stainless steel burrs and at least 40 settings. 

Programming: We noted whether or not you could program your own settings, and tested this function on each machine that offered it, docking points for grinders that made the process overly complicated. 

Espresso compatibility: While the ability to produce consistent, uniform grounds in the 250-500 micrometer range is the most essential coffee grinder requirement for making espresso, it’s not the only factor we considered. Having a portafilter holder and a programmable interface also streamline the espresso brewing process, and we made sure to note machines with these features. 

Noise: We measured noise levels with a decibel meter, but ultimately this didn’t factor too much into our final rankings. Some of the best burr grinders also happened to be the noisiest, but it’s an inconvenience we can live with for quality coffee.

The best coffee grinder overall

Best coffee grinders   Baratza's Encore 4x3

The Baratza Encore is a solid entry-level burr grinder that will suit most coffee drinkers’ needs, thanks to its wide range of settings, quiet motor, and consistent results.

Pros: Sturdy, nicely weighted, 40 grind settings

Cons: Not ideal for espresso

What Baratza set out to do with the Encore was make burr grinders accessible to all. This is by no stretch a commercial-grade machine, but it will elevate your coffee into the (relative) stratosphere if you’re upgrading from a blade grinder, and it’s significantly more affordable than most burr grinders on the market, which tend to start at around $200. 

The Encore won’t get you immaculate grounds, but it will reduce the number of boulders and fines (how coffee pros refer to too-large and too-small particles) in each grind. Using Kruve sieves — a set of stacked sifters that separate coffee grounds at your determined grind size from any outliers — we found that the Encore managed between 70 and 80 percent of our target French press grind (600-1100 micrometers), outperforming the burr grinders we tested within and slightly above its price range. 

However, when we tried a finer grind for espresso (250-500 micrometers), the results were only 50 to 70 percent on-target, with the irregular particles mostly being fines. A too-small grind can lead to over-extraction, which results in a bitter brew. So, while this machine will serve most home coffee brewers very well, we recommend upgrading to the Baratza Sette 270 if you plan on making espresso regularly. 

Although many of its competitors feature ceramic burrs, the Encore‘s is made from stainless steel, making it significantly more durable. That being said, all burrs will eventually require replacement, regardless of material. This machine is also among the quieter burr grinders we tested, registering at 74 decibels, or a little louder than a vacuum at a yard away. 

The best coffee grinder on a budget

Best coffee grinders   OXO's Conical Burr 4x3

The OXO Conical Burr Grinder is equipped with a stainless steel conical burr, 15 grind settings, and an attractive finish.

Pros: Stainless steel burr, attractive stainless steel finish

Cons: Only 15 settings, not ideal for espresso, some plastic parts

The quietest of the machines we tested at 70 decibels (a noise level we compare to a vacuum cleaner one yard away), OXO’s Conical Burr Grinder is the gadget to buy if you’re a French press, drip, or pour-over enthusiast who is ready to trade in their blade grinder for an entry-level burr grinder. 

As with our top pick, we’ll steer you away from using this grinder to make espresso, although that’s not to say it can’t be done. The Baratza Sette 270, however, is much better suited to that purpose. 

While we applaud OXO for outfitting this grinder with a stainless steel burr without sacrificing affordability, we found the Baratza Encore’s burr to be more robust (it’s a leap up in price for a reason). To that point, the OXO Conical Burr Grinder has 15 settings to the Encore’s 40, and the former’s burr is held in place by a plastic cap while the latter’s is secured with a stainless steel wingnut. This isn’t to say the OXO grinder isn’t worth buying — it’s a solid starter burr grinder — but it is a bit flimsier than the other models on our list. 

We ended up with a little more than half of our target French press grind, with lots of fines mixed in, but fared slightly better when we switched to a coarser setting. Our coffee was certainly a step up from the batches made with blade grinders, and if you mainly drink pour-over or drip coffee — in other words, anything that uses a paper filter — the difference in taste between the OXO and more expensive burr grinders is close to negligible.

Espresso, as we mentioned earlier, is where this machine falls short. Again, too many fine particles will lead to bitter coffee, and they can choke your grinder, preventing it from pushing water through the grounds. 

The best coffee grinder upgrade

Best coffee grinders   Baratza's Virtuoso 4x3

From ultra-fine espresso grounds to the coarsest settings required for French Press coffee, you can get a quick and consistent grind out of the Virtuoso+ with minimal effort.

Pros: Works for all grind sizes, stainless steel burr, stainless steel finish

Cons: Only one programmable setting, some ground retention within machine, some plastic parts

If you want the best possible grinder for as little investment as possible, the Virtuoso+ from Baratza is the strongest contender we’ve encountered. It isn’t as immaculate in its performance as its sibling, the Sette 270, but it covers just about every grind size and it’s equally as dependable. 

This machine’s capabilities are right at the threshold of what is required to get truly good espresso (the most finicky grind size) at home. The Virtuoso+ is also what barista trainer Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY chooses to use at home, citing that it’s easy to use, easy to clean, churns out consistent grounds, and offers just enough settings (40 in all) to be viable for any brewing method.

Again you’re not going to get perfect grounds out of this machine, but any deviation from your target size is going to be minimal. We were able to achieve about 80-90 percent of our target ranges for both espresso (250-500 micrometers) and French press (600-1100 micrometers) during our testing, and any effect the small amounts of fines and boulders had upon tasting was negligible. 

This machine has the same basic plastic basin you get with most budget grinders, so dosing becomes a little more of a chore when you’re working with espresso because you can’t grind directly into a portafilter like you can with the Sette 270. So if highly convenient espresso-making is a top concern of yours, we recommend considering that option. 

In the end, this is a do-it-all package at a reasonable price, and if you take your home coffee seriously, it’s a great step toward improving your setup without making a major investment (top quality burr grinders can easily go for four figures). 

At 78 decibels, the Virtuoso+ is about as loud as a washing machine a yard away, so it’s a bit noisier than the Encore, but that’s to be expected of a more powerful grinder.

The best coffee grinder for espresso

Best coffee grinders   Baratza's Sette 270 4x3

Perfect for home espresso brewers, the Baratza Sette 270 handles grinding and dosing as meticulously as a commercial grinder, but on a consumer scale.

Pros: Perfect for espresso, macro and micro grind settings, high speed, user-friendly interface and programming

Cons: Not ideal for coarser grounds, loud

Achieving the perfect espresso grind requires a finely-tuned auger designed for working with precise, minuscule particles. If you’re exclusively making espresso, the Baratza Sette 270 is one of the best machines you can buy. We should say up front that it also happens to be one of the loudest; at 88 decibels, it’s akin to a propeller plane flying 1,000 feet overhead. 

One of the common issues with coffee grinders is that most will pulverize your beans to dust much smaller than the generally recommended 250-500 micrometers for espresso. This is where the Sette 270 shows what it’s made of. While every machine up to this price point left us with 10 to 20 percent fine particles, the Sette 270 produced such a negligible amount of fines that not only could we not weigh them, we couldn’t scrape enough together to transfer them from the basin to the scale. 

This machine is easily programmable, with three timed settings you can adjust down to the one-hundredth of a second. 

Going back and forth between a portafilter (for espresso) and a grind catcher is also simple. There are two arms that will hold a portafilter, but by pushing the left one inward and outward, it clears the way for the catcher. Other machines require removing fittings, and we found this to be the easiest to switch back and forth by far. 

Overall, the Sette 270 is an excellent choice if you’re serious about espresso, or use a moka pot (which also requires particularly fine grounds), but it might be overkill for less-precise brewing methods. Our top pick, the Baratza Encore, will suit most other coffee-making needs.

The best blade grinder

Krups FT203 blade grinder best coffee grinders 4x3

Krups’ F203 blade grinder is powerful, durable, affordable, and features a clear lid so you can monitor the grinding process. 

Pros: Simple, small footprint, long-lasting

Cons: Inconsistent and uncontrollable grind

While burr grinders produce far more consistent coffee grounds than blade grinders, there’s no getting around the fact that they’re significantly more expensive. And while particle size uniformity is crucial when it comes to making complicated drinks like espresso, that level of precision isn’t necessary if you use a drip machine; any difference in taste will be negligible. 

The best blade grinder we’ve tried is the Krups F203, which is sadly going to be discontinued soon (so we recommend buying it now). It has a simple on and off button, which you hold down to keep the blade spinning. The longer you hold it, the finer the grind will be. 

It took about 30 seconds to produce a somewhat coarse French press grind that landed us on the safer side of not being left with too many fines. That’s a good blade grinder rule in general: go for coarser grounds and let them steep a little longer, since it takes more time for water to penetrate particles with larger surface areas. Fines will make your coffee bitter, while boulders will only make it weaker (and you can compensate by brewing or steeping longer). After brewing our French press coffee, we were left with some sludge at the bottom of the carafe, but we didn’t notice any difference in taste. 

If your go-to brewing method involves a paper filter, it’s even easier to get away with using a blade grinder. You’re still going to get uneven extraction (finer particles emit oils faster; coarser ones emit oils slower), but at least the paper will catch the fine particulate so that it doesn’t end up as sludge.

We still ran this machine through some espresso tests, but they proved what the pros had warned us about, and we were unable to get anything close to a consistent pour. 

Blade grinders can last an incredibly long time — some friends and family members have had this exact model for over 20 years — while burr grinders require more consistent upkeep and replacement. And, if you ever decide to upgrade to a burr grinder, you can still use your blade grinder to grind spices (burr grinders, on the other hand, are single-purpose machines).

The bottom line is, blade grinders will break your beans down into grounds and you will be able to make decent coffee — provided your go-to brewing method isn’t fussy — but you’re probably not going to get top-tier results by using one. If all of that sounds fine, the Krups will more than suit your needs. 

What else we tested

Bodum Bistro Electric Grinder: This machine works well enough, and the borosilicate grounds catcher is far more durable than many of its competitors’ plastic versions, but there weren’t enough settings for this one to make the cut. 

Breville Smart Grinder Pro: This is a good grinder by any measure. It puts out fairly even grounds, it has multiple fittings to accommodate espresso portafilters of different sizes, and its interface is user-friendly. However, we found that the Baratza Virtuoso+ produced more consistent grounds, especially when it came to espresso.

Chefman Electric Burr Mill: For the price, this is an impressive machine. There are some problems with static and consistency, and the ceramic (as opposed to stainless steel) burr isn’t ideal, but compare it a blade grinder, and it’s worth the extra $15 to $20.

Rancilio Rocky: This is a highly capable, professional-grade grinder, and while we wholly recommend it, we think the smaller, similarly equipped Baratza Sette 270 is a better, more kitchen counter-friendly option for most folks.

What we’re looking forward to testing

Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder: This is another burr grinder with an approachable price tag that could be a contender for a budget option.

ComandanteA favorite of Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs, several Brewer’s Cup champions have used this very grinder in competition. With a cult following online, the Comandante manual burr grinder comes with a language unto itself, as each click on the dial is 30 microns, which helps immensely when learning to grind and brew. Case in point: this overview from Prima Coffee.

Hario Skerton: We’re in the process of re-testing this manual coffee grinder for our next update, but you can read our review here in the meantime. Both our original tester and other experts consulted at Coffee Project NY praise it for its portability, consistency, and ease of use.

FAQs

bodum pour over coffeemaker 3

Which grind size should you use for which coffee brewing method? 

First off, preferred grind size is going to be highly subjective, especially if you tend to prefer your coffee on either the stronger or weaker side.

In order to decide grind size ranges for particular brewing methods, we consulted experts including Dan Kehn of Home-Barista.com, Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY, Kruve’s grind size guide, and The Craft and Science of Coffee. The recommendations below are meant to be loose guidelines we developed by condensing the above information and exercising trial and error, but again, in the end, it all comes down to your preferences. These are some basic parameters to help you get started.

Aeropress: 500-900 micrometers

Cold-brew: 600-1100 micrometers

Drip: 400-900 micrometers

Espresso: 250-500 micrometers

French press: 600-1000 micrometers

Moka pot/Turkish Coffee: 350-700 micrometers

Pour-over: 400-800 micrometers

Syphon: 400-800 micrometers


How do you clean and maintain a burr grinder? 

As with any precision instrument, upkeep becomes increasingly important over time. “If you bought a good set of kitchen knives and you didn’t sharpen them for five years,” Dan Kehn, of Home-Barista.com, said, “it would be unrealistic for you to expect them to perform as well as they did the first week.”

A quick cleaning of stainless steel burrs involves using a small brush that is almost always included with your purchase of a grinder. Remove the hopper, pop out the burr, and brush it off.

In some cases, especially if it’s been a while between quick cleanings, you’ll need to do more work to remove the grounds and oils that have been wedged between the burrs. Remove them both and feel free to wash them with soap and water, but they must be perfectly dried — no exceptions — before going back into the machine or you’re going to face corrosion. Don’t let the “stainless” descriptor fool you: stainless steel is not actually stainless (such is the case with stainless steel knives, too).

Each grinder will need to be disassembled and reassembled a different way. Follow the brand’s instructions, and if you’ve long-since tossed them, they can most likely be found online (here are Baratza’s, and here are OXO’s).

Glossary

Blade (grinder): A grinder that works like a blender or a propeller, employing a set of blades attached to a motor.

Boulders: Large grounds that are undesirable because they will under-extract and leave coffee watery.

Burr (grinder): A mill, usually made of ceramic or steel. It consists of a rough-edged pair of abrasive surfaces, one a disc-like shape, the other forming a ring around the first. 

Basin: The container into which the grounds fall.

Fines: Small grounds almost dust-like in size, these are too small to brew as they’ll be over-extracted and leave coffee tasting bitter.

Hopper: The basin that stores the beans in the top of a burr grinder, ahead of grinding. You’ll usually have to remove this to access, clean, and replace burrs.

Micrometers: The standard unit of measurement for coffee grounds (.001 millimeters).

(Grounds) Retention: The amount of grounds left trapped in the machine and/or burrs after grinding.

Check out our other great coffee-related buying guides

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The best coffee and espresso pod machines


The best stovetop espresso makers and moka pots

Read the original article on Business Insider

I tested 10 pairs of men’s rain boots by wading into the Hudson River and walking in the rain – here’s how they stacked up

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

Best rain boots - someone wearing rainboots in

  • When getting from point A to point B means sloshing through mud, there’s a rain boot for the job.
  • We’ve gathered together fashionable, utilitarian boots to keep your feet dry in wet weather.
  • Look good and stay dry with these waterproof boots.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Wet weather may be inevitable, but suffering through it with wet feet in squishy footwear doesn’t have to be. A superior rain boot or a waterproof boot (along with a good raincoat) can turn a dismal day trudging through the rain into, if not a fun experience, at least one that won’t ruin your mood and leave you with damp socks. Beyond that, you don’t have to look like Paddington Bear when you go out in the rain, since there are many fashionable options to suit your personal style while still staying dry.

How I tested rain boots for this guide:

Besides wearing the boots while walking in the rain (the things I do for my job!) I also tested them by wading into the nearby Hudson River until the boots were submerged to the boot’s collar or until water seeped inside (again, the things I do for this job!). For more details on testing, see our explainer slide below.

Here are the best rain boots for men in 2021:

XTRATUF Rubber Deck Boot

Best Rain boots - XTRATUF Rubber Deck Boot

XTRATUF Ankle Deck Boots are completely waterproof, slip resistant, and have a moisture-wicking liner. Trusted by folks in the Alaskan fishing industry, these boots will keep your feet dry in the heaviest rains. 

XTRATUF has been around for more than 60 years and made its reputation among Alaska’s fisheries and docks, earning their Legacy ankle boots the nickname “Alaskan sneakers.” 

The XTRATUF Ankle Deck Boot is made from hand-layered neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber, for a completely waterproof boot (note: these aren’t meant for commercial applications). The only way you’re going to get your feet wet is if the water is deeper than the top of the boot. While testing them during a rainstorm, the water beaded off the surface and my feet stayed completely dry. The outsoles, made from slip-resistant chevron rubber, worked well on muddy surfaces and when scrambling over wet boulders. Because they’re made of neoprene, the boots aren’t as breathable as leather, but they’re lined with a moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial lining called Xpresscool that helps keep your feet cooler on warm days.

The biggest surprise was how comfortable they were. I walked more than five miles in these straight out of the box with no issues. They’re light, around one pound, and feature a front and back pull-on tabs to help get your feet in and out of them. They don’t come in half sizes. I normally wear a 9.5 so sized up to a 10 as recommended by the brand, and they fit well. 

Ankle Deck Boots (small)
REEF Voyage Boot LE

The best rain boots - REEF Voyage LE

The REEF Voyage LE is a waterproof and extremely lightweight boot that has you covered if you’re caught in a rainstorm in the city or traversing a stream on a day hike. 

REEF, the beach brand started by two Argentinian brothers in the 1980s, is best known for its sandals, but the company also makes great boots. 

The REEF Voyage Boot is a chukka style ankle boot that is both stylish and great for wet weather, or the beach when it’s not raining. Made from waterproof full-grain leather, it also has a rubber cupsole—a type of outsole made from a single piece of rubber that’s very flexible—and has good gripping ability in wet conditions. Unlike many of the boots I tested, water doesn’t noticeably bead on the leather’s surface, but it doesn’t penetrate the material deeply, nor does it affect the leather’s color or texture once dried. I found these boots to be fully waterproof both while testing them in a rainstorm and at the river’s edge. Water seeped into the boots where the tongue meets the shaft once I went deeper into the water. If that happens, no worries, these boots dry really fast—about an hour with the cork insoles removed. 

The Voyage boots are very comfortable straight out of the box—I’ve worn them on several 5+ mile excursions with no foot trouble. They’re incredibly lightweight at just 15.4 ounces, but still provide decent ankle and arch support thanks to what the brand calls ‘Swellular Technology,” comprised of three layers: a soft foam deck, a slightly firmer midsole, and the aforementioned rubber outsole. They also have a soft corduroy lining.  

These boots fit true to size. No additional or special care is required to help maintain the boot’s waterproofing, according to a company rep I spoke with, and the brand offers a one-year guarantee against manufacturer’s defects. 

Voyage LE (small)
Sperry Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot

Best Rain boots - Men's Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot

Sperry has been making footwear for wet conditions for 90 years and the brand’s Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot marries classic looks with functionality so you can look good and also keep your feet dry.

These are sophisticated enough for running around the city on a rainy day, but are hardcore enough for fishing or other outdoor activities. 

The shaft is made from a waterproof quilted nylon with a tongue that’s attached for its entire length to prevent water from seeping in (known as a bellows tongue or gusseted tongue in footwear terminology). Below, a waterproof rubber shell keeps your feet dry. No water made it into the boots when I walked into the river with them. When I tested them on a very rainy walk, water beaded off the surface and kept my feet completely dry. The lugged rubber outsoles kept me from slipping in muddy conditions. 

I found the Sperry Nylon Duck Boot to be comfortable for long walks, five or more miles. The lining is soft and they fit true to size. Because the boots are partially quilted and the shell is rubber, these may not be suitable for hot summer wear, but are definitely good for spring, fall, and mild winters.

Men’s Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot (small)
Danner Vertigo 917

Vertigo 917 Java

The Danner Vertigo 917 are super lightweight, feature a Gore Tex liner, and are handsome enough for a night out but rugged enough for a day hike. 

Danner, the Oregon-based heritage boot brand, has been keeping feet warm and dry since 1932. The company’s Vertigo 917 Boot goes beyond utilitarian needs (though it provides that too) with an aesthetically handsome style that still keeps your feet dry in the rain. 

The Vertigo 917 has a waterproofed leather upper and features a 100% waterproof Gore-Tex liner that’s breathable, so your feet stay dry whether from water or your own sweat. The lower portion of the tongue has a mesh liner layered over a waterproof membrane attached to the shank to help regulate your temperature and to keep water from seeping in. I found them to have very good traction on wet surfaces. They have a Vibram XS Trek outsole—Vibram is an Italian company that sets the standard for rubber soles with gripping ability—that provides stability and traction. It should be noted that these boots cannot be resoled. 

I’ve taken these on five-mile in-town walks and on longer day hikes. There was a short break-in period—they rubbed at the ankle bone on my first five-mile walk in them—but by the third wear they had become very comfortable. These are flexible and extremely light—35 ounces for the pair—making them great for longer treks. They have a removable OrthoLite Footbed with three layers for maximum cushioning and support. They fit true to size and are nicely designed for easily getting them on and off. 

 A brand rep advised me that the leather’s protective coating will eventually wear off so apply Danner’s Waterproofing Gel when you notice the leather beginning to darken.

Vertigo 917 (small)
Muck Boots Originals Pull On Mid

The best rain boots - Muck Boots Originals Pull On Mid

 The Muck Boots Originals Pull On Mid has you covered in the wettest, muddiest conditions while remaining comfortable. 

The Original Muck Boot Company is the go-to work boots for both farmers and gardeners of all stripes working in muddy, damp, slippery conditions. The company’s Originals Pull On Mid is a workhorse of a boot that will keep your feet dry and comfortable for all-day wear. 

The Originals Pull On Mid is made from hand-layered rubber over a neoprene bootie. I wore these mid-calf-length boots while working in the garden over several days and on a 2.5 mile walk in a heavy rain. When testing them out, water beaded off the surface well and when I waded out into the Hudson, the boots were completely waterproof. The only way water is getting in is if it goes over the top. They provided good traction in muddy conditions. 

The first time I wore them they rubbed against my calf, a problem solved by tucking my pants into the boots. Longer socks would also solve this problem. They were very comfortable—the boots have molded footbeds with a layer of memory foam. The boots were easy to get on and off thanks to the tab at the back. These don’t come in half-sizes, so I opted for the next size up as recommended by the brand. They felt a bit big, so I wore them with thicker socks to fix the problem and they were fine. Because they’re made from rubber, they don’t breathe as well as leather, but I didn’t find them unduly hot while working outside in 70 degree weather. My feet didn’t noticeably sweat in them. The footbeds are both antimicrobial so they don’t stink and moisture wicking to help keep your feet feeling dry. You can get away with four season wear depending on your climate.

Pull On Mid (small)
Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460

Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460s

Look cool and keep your feet dry in the Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460s, which are fully waterproof and incredibly comfortable. 

Bring a little rock-and-roll to your rainy day excursions with the Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460 boots. These boots surprised me twice. The first time was when I took them on a five-mile walk straight out of the box. These are solidly made boots that weigh in at 1.14 ounces each but are remarkably comfortable. They’re amply cushioned at the collar and on the tongue. The soles are also very cushiony. They don’t call them “Air Wair” for nothing (the company’s brand since the 1960s) since the soles are air-cushioned. 

The Waterproof 1460 has the same look as the originals (the logo tab on back, iconic yellow stitching, grooved sidewalls, DMS tread) but also feature “Drywair,” a proprietary waterproof membrane that keeps moisture out but is breathable enough to keep your feet from perspiring. They also have a twin heat-sealed welt and a gusseted tongue that keeps water from seeping in. My second big surprise with these Dr. Martens came when I waded out into the Hudson in them. No water got in. None. The outsoles provided great gripping ability in muddy, slippery conditions. 

Dr. Martens don’t come in half-sizes, so I sized down to a 9 per the company’s advice and they fit perfectly. They only come in black in a waxy, oil-finish called Republic WP. They’re easy to clean too. Just wipe them down with a damp cloth. My only quibble with these boots (a tiny one) was the length of the laces. I’m a double knotter and the shortness of these laces didn’t really allow for this.

Waterproof 1460s (small)
Le Chameau Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot

Le Chameau Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot

The Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot by Le Chameau is a classic Wellington-style rain boot that has thoughtful details for an elevated experience. 

Le Chameau, a French heritage brand, has been keeping the feet of farmers, hunters, and anglers dry and comfortable for nearly 100 years. The Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot is a classic calf-length wellington-style rubber rain boot with a ton of nice details that elevates it above the competition. These boots are handcrafted from the company’s Chamolux rubber that starts with Grade A rubber from Vietnam that’s mixed with some secret ingredients to produce the famously soft, supple and fully waterproof boot material. 

The thoughtful details include a soft polycotton, tartan patterned jersey lining, an adjustable waterproof gusset with snap-fastening buckle for a perfect fit, and shock-absorbing dual-density outsoles with a shank reinforcement board for better stability and arch support. The outsole is abrasion resistant and provides traction on uneven, slippery surfaces. 

The Vierzon is a four-season boot, depending on your climate (they are rated for temperatures down to 0°C and are comfortable for use during warmer months thanks to the quick-drying lining that helps wick away sweat. These boots, like all the company’s products, come with a two-year warranty and free shipping in the U.S.

Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot (small)
Rockport Mid Moc Waterproof Boot

ROCKPORT Men’s Waterproof Mid Moc Boot

The Rockport Mid Moc is good-looking, super comfortable, and fully waterproof, to boot. 

Rockport is known for casual, comfortable footwear that’s made for walking. The Mid Moc Waterproof Boot is true to the brand. Made from a full-grain waterproof leather, they are really comfortable, good-looking, and will keep your feet dry on a rainy-day hike. 

I’ve worn these on in-town walks and day hikes of at least five miles, and from day one I had no foot issues. They have a nicely cushioned collar and tongue, and an EVA footbed that provides good support and helps prevent foot fatigue. They also provide excellent ankle support. 

These are seam sealed, have a gusseted tongue, and a waterproof insole. They kept my feet dry, both while hiking in the rain and during river testing. It should be noted the gusseted tongue only goes up about two-thirds of the way, so water can seep in if the water is deeper than that. The boots also have anti-microbial and moisture-wicking footbeds. The thick rubber outsoles provide good gripping power in slippery conditions. These boots fit true to size.

Mid Moc Waterproof Boot (small)
Huckberry All-Weather Chore Boot

Huckberry All-Weather Chore Boot

The Huckberry All-Weather Chore Boot wears like a sneaker, looks like a cross between a Chelsea boot and a duck boot, and is made from premium materials to keep your feet dry no matter the conditions. 

Huckberry has made its reputation with products that are equal parts cool, innovative, and well-made, so it’s no surprise their All-Weather Chore Boot ticks off all these boxes and more. This is a hybrid between a Chelsea boot and a duck boot with a waterproof full-grain leather upper, rubberized leather rand at the heel, and Vibram outsole that provides traction in slippery conditions. 

The interior has a waterproof lycra membrane that’s breathable so water won’t get in, but sweat will evaporate to help keep feet dry and comfortable. The uppers have sealed seams and are joined using waterproof cement and glue. The rand at the back and toe cap help protect against tears and abrasions.

These fit like a sneaker, with a cushioned insole and EVA midsole that provide great shock absorption. Pull tabs at the back and elastic at the sides (like traditional Chelsea boots) make for easy on and off. These fit true to size.

All-Weather Chore Boot (small)
Brunt Perkins Waterproof Work Boot

Brunt Perkins Waterproof Work Boot

The Brunt Perkins Waterproof Work Boot has a reinforced composite nano toe, will keep you comfortable during long shifts, and dry if caught in the rain. 

Brunt is a new direct-to-consumer brand that’s quickly becoming a goto workwear staple. The Perkins is a tough full-grain leather work boot. Designed for the worksite, it’s got a reinforced composite nano toe and shank (the long thin piece of material in a boot that sits between the insole and outsole and provides support). These are fairly light for reinforced-toe work boots, weighing in at around two pounds each. Traditional steel-toe work boots can be as heavy as 4.5 pounds. The boots have double stitching at key areas that tend to wear faster and durable toe caps and heel guards. The Perkins meet the ASTM International standards for safety toe work boots. This international standards organization provides technical standards for a variety of products and materials. 

The Perkins is also very comfortable. I wore these working in the yard and around the house and walked 2.5 miles in them with no foot issues. There was no break-in time required. The Perkins features a rubber foam midsole, a three-layer removable insole, and extra padding at the collar. 

These boots performed well in normal rain conditions thanks to triple-layer waterproofing. Water beaded off the surface and my feet stayed dry. In the river, no water seeped in via the seams. The boots don’t have a gusseted tongue so water can seep in through there, but these aren’t meant to be used to slog through the Hudson and will definitely keep your feet dry in most situations. They took about 10 hours to dry out inside. The Perkins also have heavy-duty outsoles that prevented me from slipping in muddy (even oily) conditions. They fit true to size and have a cool feature that lets you adjust the boot width from regular (D) to a wider fit (EE).

Perkins Waterproof Work Boot (small)
How I tested rain boots for this guide

I tested these rain boots for comfort, breathability, ease of getting in and out of them, how well they grip in slippery conditions, and, of course, how they stood up against water. I walked and/or hiked in each of them at least twice, sometimes more, for at least 2.5 miles (in most cases twice that distance) at a time during rainstorms. I submerged them in puddles as well as wading out into the Hudson River in them. In the case of the Muck Boots and Brunt Work Boots, I used them while working in my yard and doing chores around the house. 

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The 4 best dog dewormers and parasite prevention medicines in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Intestinal parasites pose serious risks to your dog’s health.
  • The best dog dewormers treat many common intestinal parasites and are easy to administer.
  • We did the research to determine the best topical and oral parasite prevention medicine for dogs.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Karie Johnson, DVM, veterinarian and co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, a mobile vet service in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Intestinal parasites, often called worms, are microscopic organisms that live inside your dog, where they silently cause harm. Common intestinal parasites in dogs include roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. Some worms, like roundworms and hookworms, can take up residence in humans, too.

If your dog has worms, you need to eradicate them quickly and prevent them from returning. Deworming medications kill the parasites your dog already has, and intestinal parasite preventives, most of which are given monthly, prevent future worm infections. Some products also kill fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Choosing among the many safe and effective parasite preventives for dogs can be difficult. After speaking to veterinarians, we chose products based on safety, efficacy, number of parasites targeted, and products’ ease of use. Read more about how we selected products at the end of this guide.

Different drugs kill different worms, so you must always visit your veterinarian for a fecal test before giving your dog a dewormer. Your veterinarian can advise you on what product might be best depending on your dog’s temperament and lifestyle and the parasites that are most prevalent in your area. Many of these treatments also require a prescription from your veterinarian.

Here are the best dog dewormers and parasite preventives in 2021

The best broad-spectrum dewormer for dogs

drontal plus dewormer for dogs

No other dog dewormer kills as many different types of worms as Drontal Plus.

Pros: Veterinarian recommended, kills four types of worms, safe and reliable, kills all parasites within seven days, low risk for side effects

Cons: Not for puppies younger than 3 weeks old or those weighing less than 2 pounds

Drontal Plus is a safe and effective broad-spectrum dewormer that eliminates multiple types of parasites with one dose. It kills tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms within seven days. Just offer the Drontal Plus Taste Tab flavored chewable tablet to your dog alone or with a small amount of food.

Drontal Plus features three powerful active ingredients: pyrantel pamoate, praziquantel, and febantel, which together cover four species of tapeworms, two species of hookworms, two species of roundworms, and whipworms.

The dewormer has a very low risk for side effects and is safe for puppies as young as 3 weeks old and weighing at least 2 pounds. It requires a prescription from your veterinarian, and a vet visit is also important because your dog may have other parasites that even a broad-spectrum dewormer can’t eliminate.

When using a broad-spectrum dewormer like Drontal Plus, your dog may require one or more follow-up treatments to make sure all the worms are eliminated. If your dog has fleas, they should also be treated with a flea control product to prevent future tapeworm infections.

The best tapeworm dewormer for dogs

droncit tapeworm medicine for dogs

A single dose of Droncit safely and quickly kills tapeworms within 24 hours.

Pros: Kills four species of tapeworms, works within 24 hours, easy-to-administer tablet, long-trusted brand, affordably priced per pill

Cons: Some dogs may experience salivation, vomiting, or diarrhea after taking; not for puppies less than 4 weeks old

One Droncit tablet works to paralyze and eliminate the four most common species of tapeworms within 24 hours. Its active ingredient, praziquantel, is effective and safe for adult dogs and puppies 4 weeks of age and older. The tablet can be fed whole or crumbled and mixed with food.

The treatment is conveniently and affordably sold per pill, unlike the other tapeworm dewormer we considered, Bayer Tapeworm Dewormer, which contains the same active ingredient praziquantel but is only sold in a five-pack.

Dogs commonly become infected with tapeworms by ingesting fleas. For this reason, it’s important to treat your dog for fleas to prevent future infections.

The best oral parasite preventive for dogs

trifexis oral dewormer

Trifexis treats and controls three common intestinal parasites, kills adult fleas, and prevents heartworm infection with just one monthly chewable pill. 

Pros: Protects against three intestinal parasites, heartworms, and adult fleas; once-monthly treatment; safe for dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age and older weighing at least 5 pounds; tablet is easy to administer

Cons: Does not kill or treat tapeworms, not labeled for use in puppies younger than 8 weeks or weighing less than 5 pounds

Our pick for best oral parasite preventive for dogs is Trifexis, a chewable tablet that treats and controls hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. It also kills adult fleas and prevents heartworm.

Given once every 30 days, Trifexis uses spinosad and milbemycin oxime to prevent, treat, and control parasites. While it does not kill or treat tapeworms, it kills adult fleas, which are responsible for transmitting the parasite. The beef-flavored flavored chewable tablet should be given with food for maximum effectiveness.

Trifexis is safe for puppies as young as 8 weeks old and weighing at least 5 pounds. However, puppies less than 14 weeks of age might experience a higher rate of vomiting than older dogs. This parasite preventive requires a prescription from your veterinarian as well as a current negative heartworm test. It should be used with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or breeding females.

The best topical parasite preventive for dogs

advantage multi for dogs

With just one simple monthly application, Advantage Multi for Dogs treats, controls, and prevents more parasites than any other topical product.

Pros: Kills and prevents six types of parasites, once-monthly treatment, easy to administer, safe for use in puppies older than 7 weeks and weighing at least 3 pounds

Cons: Does not kill ticks; not labeled for use in puppies younger than 7 weeks or breeding, pregnant, or nursing dogs

No single preventive covers every parasite that could harm your dog, but Advantage Multi comes close. Containing the active ingredients imidacloprid and moxidectin, the topical treatment prevents three common intestinal parasites: roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. It also prevents flea infestations by killing adult fleas before they can lay eggs and prevents heartworm and mange mites.

Choosing between an oral or topical parasite product can be a tough decision. Sometimes dogs do better with one versus the other. “Some animals can’t tolerate or have a food allergy to an oral product so they must use a topical,” said veterinarian Melissa Smits, a partner at Fort Morgan Veterinary Clinic in Colorado. “Or their skin may be sensitive to a topical so an oral is better.” If there are no tolerance issues, it usually comes down to owner preference.

Advantage Multi is easy to use: Just apply it every 30 days to your dog’s skin at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades. The liquid medication is absorbed and dries within hours. Unlike with some of the other topical preventives, you do not need to wear gloves to apply Advantage Multi. If you get the product on your hands, simply wash them with soap and water. For the first 30 minutes after application, keep dogs from licking the application site, either on themselves or other treated dogs in the house. Children should not touch the application site for two hours after application.

You must obtain a prescription from your veterinarian to purchase Advantage Multi. As with all medications that prevent heartworm, your dog needs a heartworm test prior starting Advantage Multi and annually thereafter.

How we selected products

While researching and writing this guide, I drew from my eight years of experience as an assistant in veterinary hospitals and two decades of experience as a writer and editor in the pet and veterinary fields. I conducted research using the quick product reference guide published by the independent, nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council. This helpful reference, which includes all FDA- and EPA-approved parasite control products for small animals, lists each product’s active ingredients, how the product is used, and which parasites it controls. 

Here are the main attributes I looked for:

  • Safety and efficacy: Only FDA-approved products were considered for this guide.
  • Number of parasites treated: In general, products that covered more parasites received higher ratings. This did not apply to tapeworm dewormers, which are only intended to treat one parasite.
  • Ease of use: Products received lower ratings if they were more complicated to use than a similar product. An example: Lower ratings were given if gloves must be worn to apply the product or if children and pets need to be kept away from the treated animal for a period of time after application.
  • Minimum age/weight: When comparing similar products, higher ratings went to preventives that can be used in younger animals.

What else we considered

  • Bayer Tapeworm Dog Dewormer: This product contains the same active ingredient (praziquantel) as our top choice for tapeworms, Droncit, but it’s only sold in a five-pack unlike Droncit which is affordably priced per pill.
  • Heartgard Plus: Given monthly, Heartgard Plus (ivermectin and pyrantel) treats and controls heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Our top pick for best oral preventive, Trifexis, is effective against an additional parasite: adult fleas, which are also responsible for transmitting tapeworm. Heartgard requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Interceptor Plus: Given monthly, Interceptor Plus (milbemycin oxime and praziquantel) treats and controls roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms and also prevents heartworms. Trifexis beat out Interceptor Plus because it kills adult fleas in addition to preventing three common intestinal parasites and heartworm. Although Trifexis doesn’t prevent tapeworms, it kills fleas, which transmit tapeworms. Interceptor Plus requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Iverhart Max Soft Chews: Given monthly, Iverhart Max treats and prevents heartworms, tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms. It does not prevent whipworms or kill fleas like Trifexis. Iverhart Max requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Sentinel Spectrum: Given monthly, Sentinel Spectrum treats and controls tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworm, flea larvae, and flea eggs — almost as many parasites as our category winner Trifexis. Trifexis doesn’t prevent tapeworms, but we gave it a slight edge because it kills adult fleas, which transmit tapeworms. Sentinel Spectrum requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.
  • Simparica Trio: Simparica Trio treats, controls, and prevents more parasites than any other oral product, including adult fleas, flea larvae, ticks, heartworm, hookworms, roundworms, mange mite, and chewing lice. However, because intestinal parasites are the primary consideration in this guide, Trifexis gets the nod for preventing three intestinal parasites compared to Simparica Trio’s two. Simparica Trio requires a prescription from your veterinarian and a current negative heartworm test.

Types of worms and their signs and symptoms

dog with parasites

Most dogs will contract intestinal parasites at some point in their lives. Some of the most common worms seen in dogs are roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. In adult dogs, parasite infestations may cause mild to moderate digestive symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. However, heavy infestations, especially in young puppies, can lead to severe issues.

“They can cause intestinal problems, malnutrition, anemia, growth problems in puppies, and even potential autoimmune issues,” Smits said. “Also important is the zoonotic risk — potential spread to human family members.”

  • Roundworms: These parasites are common in dogs, especially puppies, and are 3- to 6-inches long, smooth, and round-bodied. You might not know your dog has roundworms, particularly if they have only a few. In puppies, large numbers of worms may cause a pot-bellied appearance, vomiting, diarrhea, low appetite, dull coat, and restricted growth. You might also see roundworms in your dog’s stool or vomit. Roundworms are zoonotic, which means they can be spread to human family members.
  • Tapeworms: Dogs pick up tapeworms when they ingest an infected adult flea. As the tapeworm grows, segments break off and pass in your dog’s stool. If you see something in your dog’s feces that resembles grains of white rice, or you notice them licking or biting the area under their tail, they could have a tapeworm infestation.
  • Hookworms: Hookworms are blood-sucking parasites that attach to the wall of the intestines. These tiny worms are nearly invisible without the assistance of a microscope. Signs of hookworm infection in dogs include anemia, weight loss, bloody diarrhea, dull coat, and growth restriction. Hookworms are zoonotic so they can be spread to human family members.
  • Whipworms: Whipworms are relatively large intestinal parasites (about a ¼-inch long) that reside in the cecum and large intestine, where they wreak serious havoc. Dogs with heavy whipworms are likely to experience concerning symptoms, such as watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia.

What you should know about parasite prevention for dogs

Best dog dewormers in 2021

Dogs should be on parasite prevention year-round.

Veterinarians recommend a broad-spectrum parasite preventive that treats, prevents, or controls intestinal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms; heartworms; fleas; and ticks.

“Many adult dogs may be asymptomatic carriers,” according to Kelley Lay, a relief veterinarian who practices in Nashville, Tennessee. “Parasites are not always able to be seen in feces and so you may not even know the problem is there. This can lead to infections that linger undetected for a long time.”

Veterinarians recommend keeping dogs on a broad-spectrum parasite preventive all year, not only in the spring and summer months. Different parasites are active during different months, and parasite activity varies. Parasites can also become active earlier than expected, including during the winter.

“You cannot fully predict or control the environment your dog is in,” Smits said. “I live in Colorado, which overall has a low incidence of heartworms and [has] freezes with no mosquitos in the winter. Except, I have killed mosquitos in my house in February. My dogs find rodents in the backyard with tapeworms and potentially fleas. We just found tapeworms in February.”

Your veterinarian can help you choose the best product or combination for your dog.

Although different parasite preventives cover many different parasites, no one product covers every single internal and external parasite that could affect your dog. For instance, one product may cover fleas, heartworm, and intestinal parasites, but not ticks. Another may cover fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites, but not heartworm. Talk to your veterinarian to help you decide which product will be best for your dog.

“This is the most important part of having a relationship with a veterinarian in your area,” Smits said. “We are trained to know what parasite problems we have in our area are, what lifestyle risks are important to consider, and overall, what is best for an individual pet and lifestyle.”

You should always take your dog to the vet before giving them a dewormer.

If you suspect your dog has worms, it’s important to take them to the veterinarian for a physical exam and a fecal test to determine what type of worms they have.

“Not all intestinal parasites are created equal and there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to deworming medications,” Lay said. “Your veterinarian will perform the appropriate tests to diagnose which type of intestinal parasites are present, and therefore which medication will appropriately target the problem.”

Even though some dewormers do not require a prescription, do not skip the vet visit since different drugs treat different worms. Although a broad-spectrum dewormer kills several different types of worms, certain single-celled microscopic parasites (protozoa), including coccidia and Giardia, cause symptoms similar to those caused by intestinal parasites, but they are not true worms. They require different prescription medications to treat them.

In addition to conducting a fecal test, your vet can also determine if your dog may have other health issues that need to be addressed. Depending on the type of worms found, your dog might need follow-up deworming and a follow-up fecal exam to ensure no parasites remain.

Natural dewormers aren’t necessarily a better option.

Check with your veterinarian before using natural dewormers with your dog. “While ‘natural’ deworming products may have some effect on intestinal parasites, I’ve consulted with numerous clients over the years who have tried them with repeated failure,” Lay said. “Also, there’s unfortunately still many unknowns and variables when it comes to many of the natural products.”

Lay noted that conventional, veterinarian-recommended dewormers are both effective and safe to use. “Like any medication, we can’t assume there will be zero side effects 100% of the time, but the veterinary-approved products have been around a long time, have gone through stringent drug trials and studies, and are proven to carry minimal to no risk,” she said.

Expert sources

We consulted with two licensed veterinarians for advice regarding the treatment and prevention of intestinal parasites like tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms as well as heartworms and ectoparasites like fleas, ticks, and mites. Although this information guided us in our product selection, our experts did not specifically endorse or recommend any of the products in this guide.

  • Melissa Smits, DVM, partner at Fort Morgan Vet Clinic
  • Kelley Lay, DVM, a relief veterinarian and student program director and operational coach at Blue Heron Consulting
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The 7 best bike lights for better visibility while cycling at night

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Bike lights keep you visible in low-light conditions, alerting oncoming traffic or anyone else on the road.
  • The best should be easy to take off and put on and have a battery capable of lasting for hours of riding.
  • Our top pick, the Cygolite Streak 450 Hotshot SL, comes with a headlight and taillight and has several light modes.

Living in New York City means my go-to mode of transportation is my bike. Whether I need to run errands during the week or want to get some exercise on a long weekend ride, there aren’t many days during the spring and summer that I don’t spend at least a little bit of time pedaling around Brooklyn.

But just as I’d never leave my apartment without a helmet, I always make sure to pack along a set of bike lights – no matter how long I plan on being out. Bike lights are an indispensable part of any cycling kit and one that can very well save your life.

Throughout my years of cycling, I’ve learned firsthand the immense value of a quality set of bike lights (and how dangerous a poor set can be). I’ve also come across my fair share of bike light variety; there are some designed to be highly portable and easy to install, while others are intended for trail riding.

Below, I’ve rounded up seven of my favorites from brands like Malker, NiteRider, and MPowerd. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to show for a bike light, as well as insight into the testing methodology I used in deciding which lights ultimately made the cut.

Here are the best bike lights:

The best bike light overall

cygolite

For a reasonable price, the Cygolite Streak 450 Hotshot SL Bike Light Combo Set includes a bright headlight and taillight to make your early morning or late night commutes safer.

Pros: Incredibly bright, long battery life, easy to mount, several useful lighting modes

Cons: Uses Mini USB (rather than the more common Micro USB)

The Cygolite Streak 450 Hotshot SL Bike Light Combo Set comes with the Streak 450 Lumen headlight, which lasts for up to 100 hours on a single charge, and the Hotshot SL 50 Lumen taillight, which lasts for 200 hours on a single charge.

The lights charge using a Mini USB cord that you can plug into your computer or a cube. Since many electronics these days rely on Micro USB (not mini), you may want to keep a Mini USB cord with you on your rides so you aren’t stranded with dead lights. Or, if you see the low battery indicator turn on, be sure to charge the light before you go out.

The headlight has seven lighting modes: boost, high, medium, low, steady pulse, walking, and daylighting, which consists of powerful flashes that make you stand out in broad daylight. The taillight also has a lightning mode as well as five other modes of varying flash tempo and brightness. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

The best easy install bike light

bike light

If you’re looking for a light that’s just as easy to install as it is to take off your bike, consider picking up the surprisingly well-built and bright TeamObsidian Bike Light Set.

Pros: Affordable, adjustable beam width, lifetime guarantee

Cons: Doesn’t come with batteries, not designed for trail riding

One of the benefits you sacrifice with the low cost of the TeamObsidian Bike Light Set is usability out of the box. Batteries aren’t included. Despite having to buy five AAA batteries (I recommend getting rechargeable versions), there’s a lot to like about this set.

The headlamp produces 200 lumens of light. Both lights have three lighting modes — high, dimmed, and flashing — and are designed to withstand water, snow, heat, and dust. Installation is effortless and tool-free. And, the lights have quick-release mounts so you can take them with you and avoid potential thefts.

TeamObsidian stands behind the quality of its bike lights by offering a “100% no-hassle lifetime guarantee.” The company specifically states that it will refund your money if you’re dissatisfied for any reason. And, if the lights break, it will send you new ones. — James Brains, home & kitchen reporter

The best budget bike light

MalkerLights1

Malker’s bike lights are a great budget buy for anyone looking for a set of easy-to-install front and taillights — they even have a variety of light settings which add to their versatility. 

Pros: Easy to strap onto a bike’s handlebars and seatpost, comes with front and rear lights, has multiple light settings including a strobe function

Cons: Light modes can be hard to toggle, not robust enough for all riding conditions

These LED lights from Malker have been a go-to of mine for several years, as they’re extremely easy to put on and take off and incredibly cost-effective — I often see them on sale for under $10. The fact they come as a set of four (two standard, front-facing lights, and two red, rear-facing lights) only adds to their utility. 

Aside from their price and ease of use, what I like about these lights from Malker is how lightweight they are. I’m able to stash them in my backpack before I head out for a ride, but can also just leave them attached to my bike and they don’t take up too much space or get in the way of anything while I bike.

If I lock my bike up, their strap-on style makes it easy to just unhook them and put them back in my bag (or even a pant pocket), though it is worth noting to make sure the lights are completely off when stashing them. Several times I thought I’ve turned them off, only to find them still on but on a different light setting next time I go to use them (or the battery would just be completely sapped). 

The best bike light for trail riding

niterider

If you prefer to take your mountain bike off-road at night and you have a little extra to spend, consider the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race Light.

Pros: 1800 lumens output, long distance beam that maintains uniformity, excellent for trail riding at night

Cons: Expensive, hard to remove

What sets the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race Light apart from the other lights in our guide is that it gets brighter than your average car headlight. There are five modes: high, medium, low, walk, and flash.

The light is designed to stand up to the elements with Dupont fiberglass reinforced nylon housings and a borosilicate glass lens, which is resistant to extreme temperature changes. The eight-step power gauge tells you how much battery power is left, and you can easily swap out batteries so you aren’t left in the dark while you wait for your light to charge.

The best solar-powered bike light

LuciLight

MPowerd’s Luci Solar Bike Light is a convenient, versatile light that runs for upwards of 15 hours on a single charge and is easy to install almost anywhere on a bike’s frame.

Pros: Recharges via solar power, close to around 15 hours of use on a single charge, easy to attach all over a bike, lightweight, offers four different light modes, comes with a rear light

Cons: Full solar recharge takes close to 8 hours

It’s easy to see the versatility of MPowerd’s Luci Solar Bike Light; not only does it deliver more than enough capacity for even the longest of day rides but its ability to recharge while I ride is a wonderful perk. Add in the fact that this kit also comes with a solar-powered taillight, and this bike light package is quite intriguing.

Both lights are easy to attach via an adjustable silicone strap that works well on just about any part of a bike’s frame. The straps keep them snug, too, as I never felt as though the light would fall off, even if I was riding off-road or on a particularly bumpy street. I did think that the light’s magnetic clasp into the solar charger would come apart, but it stayed secure the entire time. 

Output-wise, the front light delivers 100 lumens while the taillight provides 40 lumens. Each has multiple light modes including a flashing option or different brightness levels, and a built-in battery level indicator lets you know when it’s time to recharge it. The lights also have a Micro-USB slot, so they aren’t only dependent on solar power for juice. 

Its $65 price tag is on the higher end for bike lights, but I do feel as though its versatility as solar-powered light makes it worth the investment — this is something that’s designed to last for several years while also being able to save you heaps of money on replacement batteries.

The best rear bike light

LezyneLight

The Femto Tail Light from Lezyne is a lightweight, easy-to-use tail light that helps dramatically improve nighttime visibility, both behind your bike and on the sides. 

Pros: USB rechargeable, easy to install, lightweight enough to pack in a backpack when not in use, 270 degrees of visibility

Cons: Strap isn’t very durable

Front bike lights are important, of course, but it can be just as vital to have something on the back of your bike to improve your visibility, as well. The Femto from Lezyne is one of the best I’ve used, as it’s light weight enough to not take up much space in my backpack when not in use and easy to install when it starts to get dark out (I can even pop it on without having to fully get off my bike). 

Although tail lights may seem like a dime a dozen (there are plenty available via Amazon), this one from Lezyne nabs this spot thanks to its wide range of visibility (270 degrees) and decent price point (I often find it for under $20). Tack on its easy-to-use mounting strap that lets you attach it almost anywhere, and you have a highly versatile rear bike light that can be used on everything from commuters and road bikes to mountain bikes and cruisers.

It’s also USB chargeable which I found to be quite useful as I could just plug these in after a few sessions of riding with them instead of looking around my apartment for or buying batteries.

The best waterproof bike light

urban bike light

The Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight keeps you visible from the front and sides with its powerful headlight and helpful sidelights.

Pros: Has sidelights, 500 lumens, lightweight and compact, easy to remove, two-year warranty

Cons: USB port cover falls off easily

When mounted just right, the Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight has two amber safety sidelights that make you visible to drivers on your sides. There are four light modes: high (500 lumens), medium, low, and pulse.

On high, the battery lasts for about 90 minutes, and on pulse, it lasts for up to 12 hours. The light mounts right onto your handlebars and has a quick release feature so you can take your light with you. It charges using a Micro USB charging cable. And, Light and Motion backs the quality of this product with a two-year warranty.

How to shop for a bike lights

When choosing a bike light, look at the number of lumens it’s capable of producing, as this tells you how bright the light is. Many models give you this number right in their name and, based on our testing, the advertised lumens rating is accurate for the best units, though the brightness may dwindle as the battery loses juice.

For headlights, the number of lumens you need depends on where you’ll be cycling. For riding trails at night, you need at least 1,000 lumens. For urban roads where there are streetlights, 200 lumens will do. And, taillights should produce between 40 and 100 lumens of output since they are mainly there so others can see you.

Do be careful not to use extremely bright flashing headlights while cycling, too. This can disorient drivers and make it harder for them to see you.

Also, anything above 300 lumens could potentially blind oncoming traffic. So, consider dropping down to a dimmer setting when cars are coming — much like you might use the high beams on your car. If you’re concerned about drivers seeing you from behind, consider installing two rear lights: One that flashes and one that remains steady.

How we test bike lights

Each of the bike lights featured in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they compared across these four categories: Brightness, ease of use, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into deciding which lights made this guide:

Brightness: Judging a bike light’s brightness isn’t just about its lumen output or its actual brightness, but more so the quality of the light and what kind of settings it offers. As mentioned in the section on how to shop for a bike light, quality bike lights can vary in lumen output between 200 to 1,000 lumens, though this depends on where you plan on riding. To test for this, we looked at how effective the light was at making us visible without blinding oncoming traffic, while also providing some illumination of our surroundings. 

Ease of use: A bike light that’s hard to install, or even difficult to turn on and switch between its light settings, isn’t one that’s going to be particularly thrilling to use over and over again. If the light is easy to use, you’ll be more inclined to use it. Plain and simple. It’s also preferred that a light doesn’t require much toggling while you’re riding (or, at the very least, is easy to use).

Versatility: Being able to use a single set of bike lights on multiple bikes isn’t exactly a dealbreaker but it is nice to have that flexibility if need be. Additionally, a light that offers multiple brightness settings or a variety of light modes makes it far more valuable than just a standard, single beam light. 

Value: A bike light’s value isn’t just what its sticker price says but more so a combination of the three categories above, and how that compares to what it costs. There are plenty of valuable lights in the $15-$40 range, capable of fitting a range of budgets without sacrificing much quality. 

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The 5 best smoke detectors we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Smoke detectors don’t seem to get the same attention as home security systems, and for something so important to home and personal safety, this can be a costly mistake. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a working smoke alarm can decrease your risk of dying in a home fire by 54% compared to not having a working alarm – or worse, no alarm at all.

Due to the amount of synthetic material in modern furniture and buildings, home fires can spread really fast. According to the US Fire Administration (USFA), 30 years ago, you had about 17 minutes to escape a home fire; today, it’s about two minutes. A reliable and effective smoke detector can alert you quickly to get you and your family to safety.

I have years of experience relocating and installing hard-wired smoke detectors as a residential carpenter, and leaned on that expertise when testing six units for this guide (I go through my full testing methodology here). I also consulted Patrick Andler, a fire investigator with 38 years of experience and a board member of the Arizona Burn Foundation, and Nick Yahoodain, a home remodeler with 11 years of experience at Advanced Builders & Contractors, on how to install smoke detectors, how to use them effectively, and more.

Here are the best smoke detectors in 2021

The best smoke detector overall

Best smoke detectors 2021 X Sense SC01 best smoke detector overall

The X-Sense SC01 features a 10-year lithium battery, carbon monoxide detector, and a color-changing LED to let you know its current status.

Pros: Digital battery level display, doubles as carbon monoxide detector 

Cons: Lacks ionization sensor 

The X-Sense SC01 responded well in my testing and activated its alarm within two sprays of the aerosol. It had a loud alarm that was clearly heard from across the 2,700 square foot house I tested it in, and its red LED flashed continuously while the alarm was sounding. The alarm — and the light — shut off simultaneously when the sensor no longer detected any aerosol. 

The X-Sense SC01 lacks an ionization sensor and uses only a photoelectric sensor to detect smoke. This makes it marginally less sensitive to flash fires, but also cuts down on the chances of it being set off by nuisance alarms, or false alarms caused by cooking smoke or steamy showers. Its screen displays the real-time amount of carbon monoxide in the air, the status of the unit during a test, and a battery level icon.

Installing the X-Sense SC01 was simple, and with a power drill and pencil, I was able to attach it to the ceiling in about two minutes. The anchors are white, so they blended in with the ceiling, and also came in a resealable plastic baggie, which was convenient.

Overall, the value of the 10-year battery, the carbon monoxide detector, and digital readout make it the best option I tested. The detector also comes highly recommended by our fire investigator expert.

The best smart smoke detector

Best smoke detectors 2021 smart smoke detector Nest protect

The Nest Protect features both a carbon monoxide and split-spectrum smoke detector that detects both fast and slow-burning fires, and delivers clear verbal instructions to explain why its sensor was triggered and what you should do next.

Pros: Spoken instructions, phone notifications

Cons: May not be ideal for those not technically savvy, requires three AA backup batteries

The color-changing LED, along with the verbal commands and smartphone notifications, made the Nest Protect fun to test out and operate. My first aerosol test activated its “heads-up” function, which issued a verbal warning that it detected a small amount of smoke. This would be a convenient feature if the smoke was due to burning toast, or another non-emergency — especially for anyone who might get overwhelmed by loud noises. By giving you the chance to resolve the problem before the smoke levels rise, you can prevent the unit from going into full-blown alarm mode. My second aerosol spray was enough for the Nest Protect to assume there was an actual fire, and it sounded its alarm immediately. 

The Nest Protect allows you to silence the unit in the event of a nuisance alarm easily with the large and easy to press test/silence button. You can even silence the alarm from your smartphone, although it doesn’t allow for this if the smoke is too heavy.

The Nest Protect is a hard-wired unit, so installation was a bit more elaborate than the other smoke detectors I tested. This will involve working with and reconnecting electrical wiring, so if you’re uncomfortable around that type of thing, you may want to hire a professional. It took me about 15 minutes to remove the previous unit and connect this one. The instructions walked me through every step of the process, and the included hardware was effective and easy to use. It also took me about 15 minutes to connect the Nest Protect to my home’s Wi-Fi network due to connection issues. 

If your home Wi-Fi goes down like in the event of a power outage, the Nest Protect will continue to work just fine — you just won’t get any notifications on your phone. The three AA batteries will ensure the Nest Protect continues to work during a power outage.

The best smoke detector for smoke only

Best smoke detectors 2021 X Sense SD01 smoke only

If you already have a standalone carbon monoxide detector, the X-Sense SD01 is a dependable smoke-detector-only that uses an extra-bright LED to help lead you to safety. 

Pros: Ultra-bright escape light, easy to install, auto-monitoring feature

Cons: Lacks a carbon monoxide detector

The X-Sense SD01 has a nice solid feel to it and the large LED escape light gives it a professional look, like something you would see in a commercial building. This light automatically turns on when the alarm is activated, and not only alerts you about the presence of smoke but can also help to illuminate a darkened room. This is an especially important feature as more than half of home fire-related deaths occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to the NFPA. This light would also be extremely valuable in the event of a power outage, a feature that Andler praised and why he endorses the X-Sense SD01 so strongly.  

This unit responded well to my tests and activated after two aerosol sprays. I made sure to perform one of my tests at night to best observe the escape light and was very impressed with how bright it was. The light, the loud alarm, and a flashing red secondary LED would be effective in the case of a real emergency. These high-visibility features also make the X-Sense SD01 a great option for hallways and stairwells as long as you have one or two on the ceiling as well. 

The X-Sense SD01 packs a built-in 10-year battery, so it will last for the life of the unit, and after you’ll need to purchase an entirely new alarm. It’s also designed to constantly auto-check itself to make sure its batteries are in working order. In the event of an issue, the secondary LED will turn yellow, alerting you that something is wrong. 

The X-Sense SD01 uses a photoelectric sensor, which works with the air flow design of the casing to better detect a variety of fire types. The sensor also analyzes smoke three times before activating the alarm, which minimizes nuisance alarms. 

Installing the X-Sense SD01 was a breeze, just like the other X-Sense models, and I had the mounting plate installed and the unit in place within a couple of minutes. 

The best dual sensor smoke detector

Best smoke detectors 2021 First Alert SA320 dual sensor

The First Alert SA320 is an affordable and effective smoke alarm with both photosensitive and ionization sensors, which can cause it to be too sensitive at times. However, there’s no denying its effectiveness.

Pros: Has both photosensitive and ionization sensors, has safety features suitable for landlords 

Cons: Very sensitive, batteries must be replaced regularly

The First Alert SA320 features both photosensitive and ionization sensors, which is likely the reason why it was the only unit that activated its alarm after a single aerosol spray test. 

Although this high sensitivity sounds good on paper, it can also be the cause of frequent nuisance alarms. These alarms, combined with the removable AA batteries, greatly increase the odds that someone will remove the batteries or the alarm itself. The NFPA reported that between 2009-2013, 21% percent of deaths in home fires occurred when smoke detectors were “present but did not operate.” It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re planning to get this unit — after all, the whole point of a smoke detector is household safety.

I didn’t experience any issues installing the First Alert SA320. But, it uses red wall anchors, which aren’t ideal if you want to move the unit to a different location in the room. It also has optional locking features to discourage unauthorized battery or alarm removal. There are two pins you can insert into the sides of the unit or by the battery compartment that expand once they’re in place to prevent anyone from taking down the smoke detector or removing its batteries. You “unlock” the unit with a flathead screwdriver to depress the pin’s teeth. This is a good feature for landlords, or anyone else placing the unit who won’t be there to monitor it. 

The First Alert SA320’s design makes it feel more functional and less clunky. It does lack the polished appeal of the X-Sense models, though it shouldn’t be a big factor compared with safety and effectiveness. Andler describes this as “a standard smoke detector at a good cost.”

The best interconnected smoke detector

Best smoke detectors 2021 interconnected X Sense

The X-Sense Wireless Interconnected comes as a set of six separate smoke detectors with a range of more than 820 feet each, so they can cover small and large spaces safely.

Pros: Small size is easy to install, easy to find silence button in the dark, covers large areas

Cons: Does not have a built-in battery 

Even though the X-Sense Wireless Interconnected smoke detectors are smaller and lighter than typical ones, they still meet UL 217 standards. They also beeped at the same 85-db level as every other model tested. Their red alert lights were easy to see, and because of their side-mounted position, they reflected off the ceiling to increase visibility.  

Because they are interconnected, all six units will sound even if only one detects smoke, so you’ll be notified regardless of where you are in your home when a fire breaks out. They performed effectively in every test I did and were all relatively sensitive, responding within two aerosol sprays. Since the silence button is also the alert light, it was easy to quickly find the button to silence the unit — even in low light. 

Each unit was interconnected right out of the box, so there was no additional set up necessary. You can add up to 24 units to the network, but every new set will need to be manually connected to the rest. This process seems pretty straightforward though, and X-Sense’s instructions are clear, ensuring this process won’t be too complicated.

Installation of the six-pack took longer than other smoke detectors I tested because there were more units to install. Their small size only required two anchor holes per unit, as opposed to the three that the other units I tested needed. This not only made them easier to install but also reduced the amount of damage to the ceiling and walls. Each of the units easily clicked onto its mounting bracket and they were the simplest to install out of all smoke detectors I tested. Like all X-Sense models, their smooth finish gave them a nice, high-quality look. 

What else we tested

Best smoke detectors what else we tested First Alert PRC710

What else we recommend and why 

After researching a dozen smoke detectors, we ended up testing six that met our criteria for units you could install yourself. Here’s what else we tested and think are worth considering:

First Alert PRC710 ($49.99): The First Alert PRC710 responded well to my tests, and I really liked its slim 1.38-inch profile and light 0.73-lb weight. Although I personally preferred the informative LED screen of the X-Sense SC01, if you’re simply looking for a minimal, hassle-free unit that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, the First Alert PRC710 is an effective choice. 

What we’re testing next

Best smoke detectors 2021 what we look forward to testing

A few smoke detectors didn’t arrive on time for me to test, so I look forward to testing them soon. We’re also researching smoke detectors for people who are hard of hearing. 

First Alert BRK 3120B: This hardwired version of the First Alert SA320 includes both photoelectric and ionization sensors, and usually costs under $25, the lowest of any unit I’ve tested. 

Kidde KN-COSM-IBA: Kidde is one of the most well-known smoke alarm brands out there, and it offers a really wide variety of detector types, styles, and sensor options. This model features voice warning capabilities, a feature I’ve found to be really useful with other smoke detectors I tested. 

First Alert Onelink: I’m interested in how the First Alert Onelink and its smart capabilities will stack up against the Nest Protect. 

Testing methodology

Best smoke detectors 2021 testing methodology

For this guide, I personally tested six smoke detectors after consulting with fire and building experts, and doing extensive online research. 

I interviewed Patrick Andler, a fire investigator with 38 years of experience and a board member of the Arizona Burn Foundation. This organization — among many other functions — supplies free smoke detectors to low-income housing across Arizona. I also interviewed Nick Yahoodain, a home remodeler with more than 11 years of experience at Advanced Builders & Contractors

I also used my own experience installing hard-wired and battery-powered smoke detectors in my own apartments and my parents’ home, as well as my experience as a residential carpenter, which frequently required the relocation of hard-wired units.

I installed each of the smoke detectors and tested it three times a day for three days. I performed a basic maintenance test according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually just by pressing the “test” button) and then sprayed the units twice with an aerosol spray that mimics real smoke. Most smoke detectors will not activate after a single spray so you will need two three-second sprays to set them off. I found this to be the case with every unit I tested, except for the First Alert SA320, which activated its alarm after only a single spray.  

I broke these tests up throughout the day to allow time for the spray to dissipate and the detectors to return to their working levels.  

I used several criteria to compare the units during testing. 

Installation: I installed each smoke detector on my ceiling according to the manufacturer’s included instructions, timing how long it took, and noting how helpful or detailed those instructions were. Aside from the hardwired First Alert, all the units used essentially the exact same mounting procedure, but I made sure to note any differences. 

Appearance: I took note of the size, weight, finish, and overall look of each smoke detector after installing units on a white ceiling.

Special safety features: I tested and evaluated each smoke detectors’ extra safety features, such as voice or light notifications, removal prevention, and more. For example, even though all the models I tested featured some kind of visual alarm component, the ultra-bright LED of the X-Sense SD01 was much more effective compared to the rest, and could be beneficial to those with hearing issues. Or the straightforward voice commands of the Nest Protect might be preferred by those who might get confused or disoriented by the single alarm siren of the other models.  

Operation: Throughout my testing, I made sure to use and observe each mode the smoke detectors offered. This included their testing and silence buttons, how they utilized any LED lights, and whether or not they included carbon monoxide detection.

Maintenance: I took note of the approximate lifespan of each unit, and the specifics of its battery replacement procedures. 

Types of smoke detectors

Best smoke detectors 2021 types of smoke detectors

Battery: Smoke detectors can either be hardwired or standalone battery-powered units. Battery-powered detectors are easier to install than hard-wired units and are unaffected in the event of a power outage. Some newer smoke detectors are designed with lithium batteries inside the unit which can last up to 10 years without needing to be replaced. Units that use replaceable batteries typically need new batteries every six months and are vulnerable to tampering and being disconnected during false alarms caused by non-emergency situations like cooking smoke or steamy showers.

Hard-Wired: Hard-wired smoke detectors connect directly to your home’s electrical wiring, and typically have a backup battery in case of a power outage. These will initially need some electrical know-how or the help of a professional to be installed, but once the system is set up, it’s pretty easy to disconnect and install new units whenever you need them. Yahoodain recommends hard-wired smoke detectors since they’re easy to interconnect, so if one goes off, they all go off. 

Photoelectric: Smoke detectors use either photoelectric or ionization sensors to detect smoke. Some, like the First Alert SA320 that we tested, use both. Photoelectric smoke alarms use an LED light to detect smoke and are more responsive to slow-burning, smoldering fires than ionization alarms. When smoke particles enter the unit, they disrupt the light beam, which reflects it into a sensor and activates the alarm. These types of sensors are generally superior to ionization sensors because smoldering fires tend to be more dangerous and can go unnoticed for longer periods of time than flash fires, or ones that develop very suddenly and intensely. They also cut down on unnecessary nuisance alarms like which can cause people to remove the batteries out of frustration.

Ionization Sensors: These sensors are typically more effective at detecting flash fires. They do this by utilizing a small amount of radioactive material and placing it between two electrically charged plates. When smoke displaces the radioactive ions, the current between the plates is disrupted, and the alarm goes off. Ionization sensors have a higher chance of detecting nuisance alarms and tend to be much less effective at detecting smoldering fires. 

FAQs

Best smoke detectors 2021 faqs

Where should I install my smoke detector?

Even the best smoke detectors are only effective if they’re installed correctly. The NFPA recommends installing alarms inside and outside of every bedroom, and on every level of your home, including the basement. It also recommends installing both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or a dual-sensor detector as they can provide more protection than just one type of sensor.

Andler said that smoke alarms should be placed on your ceiling, not on the wall. Since smoke rises and begins gathering at the ceiling first, they have a much better chance of detecting smoke than a wall-mounted detector. As we mentioned earlier, seconds count when it comes to escaping a house fire, so correct placement is extremely important.

Andler also stressed the importance of having additional smoke detectors. He said that in the event of a fire in your home, hallway smoke detectors can sound their alarms much earlier than a bedroom alarm. Seconds count in home fires, and the early warning from hallway alarms can provide the extra time you and your family need to escape safely. 

He also recommends having a smoke alarm near — but not inside — the kitchen, to reduce the chances of false alarms. The Arizona Burn Foundation recommends keeping your detector at least 10 feet away from the stove. 

How do I test my smoke detector so I know it’s working?

Your smoke detector should have a “test” button. Press and hold it for a few seconds, and a high-pitched siren should start to sound. If there’s no sound or the sound is non-existent, it’s time to replace the battery. Many insurance companies also advise replacing the batteries every six months regardless of the siren loudness. 

What certifications should I look for in a smoke detector?

Whichever smoke detector you choose, make sure it meets the standards of Underwriter Laboratories (UL). UL is a third-party certification company that has been developing smoke detector standards for more than 40 years, and with their stamp of approval, you can trust that your unit will do its job.

The UL 217 code covers both “single station” smoke alarms that function as standalone units,  and “multiple station” smoke alarms that are interconnected — so when one goes off, they all go off. All the products we tested have this UL 217 certification, and our two combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, Nest Protect and First Alert SA320, also have a UL 2034 certification, which covers the CO detector.

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