The 6 best women’s running shoes in 2021, from cushioned stability shoes to lightweight speed runners

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Solid running shoes that support your biomechanics will make miles more comfortable and safe.
  • It’s important to consider how much cushioning you need and where, and what surface you run on.
  • Our top pick, Brooks Ghost 13, is lightweight, cushioned, and durable enough to last long miles.

Running is one of the most accessible forms of exercise (and stress relief). Whether you’ve decided you’re going to start running a mile a week or you’re training for your first marathon, finding a quality, comfortable pair of running shoes is the first step to guaranteeing that commitment will happen – and that it’ll actually be enjoyable.

If you’re new to running, it’s hard to know how to choose the best pair of shoes off anything other than aesthetics. But, truly, it’s fit you want to look for. The amount of cushioning, stability, tread, breathability, and overall design shape is different for every shoe, and each of these effects or supports your natural biomechanics (that’s the way all the parts of your body move to create one overall unit).

If shoes often squish your toes, you want to look for a pair with a wider toe box. If you have bad knees or an old injury, you might do well with more cushioning in a shoe. What’s more, features like deeper lugs or waterproofing can make things like trail runs or winter runs not only more comfortable but also safer.

These aren’t just nice-to-haves: Over time, running miles and miles in the wrong shoe for your body can lead to stress and overuse injuries.

We would know: I’ve been an avid runner for years, as have all the fitness editors at Insider Reviews. Together, we comprise a diverse pool of varying foot shapes and biomechanical needs and have tested nearly every running shoe on the market.

Leveraging our experience as runners and as gear reviewers, we’ve narrowed in on the best running shoes for women with different needs. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail on how to shop for a women’s running shoe.

Here are the best women’s running shoes:

The best women’s running shoe overall

Ghost 11

The Brooks Ghost 13 shoes are durable enough for long runs, light enough for speedwork, and are even more responsive than the Ghost 10 thanks to a new sole unit. 

Pros: Well-cushioned, lightweight, smooth heel-to-toe transition, breathable, versatile design ideal for both speed work and long distances

Cons: Heavy, not supportive enough for overpronation, some reviewers feel the sole redesign creates a firmer feel that could become uncomfortable on long distances

If you’re looking for a cushioned, neutral running shoe that will fit most foot shapes, the Brooks Ghost 13 is your pick. The latest model of the Ghost line-up, the Ghost 13 has out-of-the-box comfort and works for both comfortable long runs and snappy speed work.

The Ghost 13 keeps much of what worked in prior Ghost iterations, including the 12mm heel-to-toe drop for a smooth ride. There have also been a few significant design changes, most notable the new sole unit which cuts down on the foam of previous models. This helps break away from Brooks’ reputation for heavy shoes — the Ghost 13 is comparably lightweight to other shoes on our list at just 8.8 ounces.

The rest of the sole keeps the original DNA foam which gives it the cushioned and responsive feel the Ghost line is known for. I found that this redesign offers a firmer feel underfoot than its predecessors, which is great for speedwork but could create some discomfort for longer distances. 

The shoe’s upper features a seamless, engineered mesh that promotes airflow while keeping dirt and debris out. It also gives the shoe a sleeker, more modern look. I also love that unlike many other shoes, the Ghost 13 has one tongue loop so it won’t slip around while you run and you don’t have to constantly readjust.

The best running shoe for overpronating

New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 is specifically designed for those who overpronate, providing a smooth, comfortable ride from heel to toe. 

Pros: Great overpronation support, comfortable cushioning, breathable, stable, 10mm drop for a natural heel-to-toe motion

Cons: Heavy, not ideal for neutral runners, upper too breathable for cold weather, narrower toe box than previous models

As a tried-and-true stability shoe line, the entire New Balance 860 line is solely dedicated to providing stability to those who overpronate, helping prevent any unnecessary running injuries.

The newest model in the line, the 860v11 has a new Fresh Foam midsole, which delivers a soft-yet-supportive feel. The 860v11 excels at providing a steady and well-supported run. One of the downsides of the 860v11 is, at 9.6 ounces, this shoe is slightly heavier compared to others on our list. But the slight weight increase comes with the payoff of more support, and its durability makes the 860v11 ideal for high-mileage.

It has a T-Beam stability shaft that runs under the midsole to help correct overpronation and still allows for a snappy and responsive feel often found in lighter running shoes. The blown rubber outsole works well in both wet and dry conditions, too.

Unfortunately, the 860v11 does have a slightly narrower toe box, particularly in comparison to past models, which will be a deal-breaker for some (though it’s worth noting the model comes in narrow, standard, wide, or extra-wide widths). 

The best shoe for trail running

Hoka CHALLENGER ATR 6

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 can handle rough terrain with its rugged soles, yet provides max cushioning and feels lightweight for a comfortable run.

Pros: Fantastic cushioning-to-weight ratio, rugged outsole and 4 mm lugs provide great traction, works on both trails and roads, toe-cap protection against rocks, comes in wide-width option, beloved by runners with joint pain

Cons: Not suited for overpronators, maybe too cushioned for rugged trails

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6 is the ideal road-to-trail shoe for anyone who may be tackling mixed terrain. With Hoka’s signature cushioning underfoot, the Challenger ATR 6  provides stability and less stress and impact on the body. The Challenger ATR 6 is considered a neutral running shoe, so it won’t offer much in terms of support for overpronators. Devotees of the brand swear by that padding for reducing stress on their tendons and muscles, though.

Lightweight at just 8.8 ounces and with 4mm lugs, they’re responsive, rugged, and won’t weigh you down while you conquer your local trail. The shoe’s box is reinforced with thermoplastic polyurethane to protect your toes from rocks and roots on the trail. Hokas fit most feet, but the Challenger ATR 6 does have a wide-width option for those who need a seriously wide shoe. 

If you have to log some pavement strides before you hit trail, the traction and grip performance of this shoe is the sweet spot to works just as well on trails as it does on the pavement.

The biggest update to the ATR 6 from the 5 is the switch to recycled Unifi REPREVE® yarn derived from post-consumer waste plastic in the primary and collar mesh, and recycled poly laces, both of which are moves to help reduce waste in the running shoe industry.

The best lightweight running shoe

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon

The New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3 running shoes provide a super lightweight feel without sacrificing cushioned comfort, and they’re versatile enough to tackle both short and long runs.

Pros: Super lightweight, cushioned, comfortable upper, reflective, versatile for both short and long runs 

Cons: Shorter lifespan for total mileage, runs small

If you’re looking for a neutral, lightweight running shoe with a cushioned feel, the New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v3 is your go-to. The women’s model weighs in at a mere 6.2 ounces, which is significantly lighter than most other running shoes.

This weight seems impossible with all the foam cushioning involved. The magic lies in what’s known as Fresh Foam Ground Contact, the concave and convex hexagon material that makes up the sole, sculpted and shaped to provide cushion and stability where its needed most. It’s ultra-light yet still provides a soft and responsive feel. 

The all-knit upper allows for comfort, breathability, and stretch. From heel to toe, there’s a 6mm drop, which is ideal for neutral runners. We also love the unique design feature of the ‘N’ logo being highly reflective, making for a safer dawn or dusk run.

The sole does have quite a bit of exposed foam, and while New Balance has strategically-placed lugs to keep the heel and forefoot supported, this design means this running shoe will last you more like 250 to 300 miles of running, as opposed to most other shoes’ lifespan of 500 miles. 

Also, we found that the Arishi v3 run slightly small, so we recommend going half a size up for a comfortable fit. 

Best running shoe for long runs

Under Armour HOVR Infinite

The Under Armour HOVR Infinite is specifically designed for long runs, with responsive cushioning, a durable outsole, and a built-in chip that tracks your running progress.

Pros: Cushioned comfort, responsive feel, durable outsole, gender-specific design, digitally connected to track running statistics

Cons: May need to size up, connectivity feature is currently only compatible with MapMyRun

If you’re logging longer and longer runs, the Under Armour HOVR are ideal for two reasons: its distance-specific design and built-in Record Sensor technology. 

A neutral running shoe, the HOVR Infinite is marked by its high energy-return HOVR foam. This has just the right amount of cushion to keep your legs feeling fresh even as you pile on the miles, and offers responsiveness with each stride to help keep you moving with more ease. The outsole is made of blown rubber and carbon rubber for extra durability — a must for shoes expected to withstand high-mileage runs.

The HOVR Infinite are specifically designed for the anatomy of the female foot, as well, to deliver a tighter better fit with a contoured sock liner. We found them to be not only comfortable with a soft tongue and breathable mesh upper, but also very lightweight at 8.8 ounces.

The other stand-out feature for these shoes is Under Armour’s proprietary Record Sensor tech. This is a removable chip is embedded in the insole of the shoe to track your speed, distance, stride length, and cadence. This data can then be uploaded to the Under Armour MapMyRun app post-run, allowing you to view your stats in one place. The data only works on MapMyRun (for now) but we love that you can still track your miles if you don’t own a GPS watch or if you want to know your end mileage without being distracted by your split times on your wrist. 

Even if you don’t care about the connectivity aspect, the shoe itself is still impressive. They clock in at $120, which is roughly the same as other running shoes on the market that don’t offer the same smart features. 

Best shoe for winter runs

Fitness writer Mallory Creveling taking the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield out for a winter run.
Fitness writer Mallory Creveling taking the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield out for a winter run.

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield are incredibly comfortable, have great traction on icy roads, and keep your feet dry running through slush, snow, or rain.

Pros: Lightweight, springy, great waterproofing, superior traction

Cons: Can feel a little tight around the top of the midfoot, will feel narrow for wide feet

After testing 15 pairs of winter-specific running shoes, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Shield is our top pick thanks to its road-specific design that provides a little bounce back with each stride you take. What’s more, the traction on these shoes replicates what you’d find on tires. The result is a ton of grip underfoot without the lugs normally required for such a hold, which is a very hard combo to find in running shoes.

These shoes kept fitness writer Mallory Creveling’s feet dry on snowy runs, as well as when splashed directly with water in a bathtub test of the shoes waterproofing capabilities. Despite being water-repellent, these shoes are still flexible and breathable.

These do have a unique feature of giving a squeeze of support from the upper, which can feel a little too tight at times. Creveling notes loosening the laces is a simple fix, but these probably won’t be comfortable for a wider foot shape.

Overall, these are running shoe you could wear every day year-round without having to worry about cold, wet, or uncomfortable feet through many chilly miles. –Rachael Schultz

How to shop for running shoes

While shopping, you’ll want to consider the type of running you plan to do. Do you intend on doing a lot of road racing? If so, a lightweight shoe should be your go-to. Perhaps you’re planning on embarking on long trail runs; you may want a shoe designed specifically for trail running.

If you’re looking for a simple training shoe for casual running, then durability won’t be a big concern. However, if you’re the type of runner who lives in their running shoes, finding a high-mileage shoe gives you the best quality for your money.

One of the biggest factors in which running shoe is right for you depends on whether your foot strike overpronates, supinates, or remains neutral.

When your foot strikes the ground, the arch of your foot is going to collapse to some degree, which then causes your ankle to roll inward. This concept is called pronation, and it is the most defining factor in what kind of support you need from your shoe.

Some people have a neutral footstrike, so they don’t need cushioning on either side. But most of us have a tendency to overpronate or supinate.

If you overpronate, your foot rolls inward when you run, and your body isn’t absorbing shock as efficiently. To help with this, you’ll want a more supportive motion-control shoe designed to correct your foot motion.

If you supinate, your foot doesn’t rolling in far enough. This causes the outside of your foot to take the brunt of the impact with every strike. If this is the case, you’ll want a more neutral-cushioned shoe that encourages natural foot motion.

This is one of the most important things to consider when buying running shoes, too — overpronation or supination often causes serious injury over time if not addressed.

The difference between women’s and men’s running shoes

What makes women’s running shoes different from men’s starts with foot shape. Women tend to have smaller heels in relation to the forefoot, so the shape of the shoe needs to be slightly different. A lower body mass also results in slightly less foam in the midsole of the shoe, while deeper grooves make it easier to flex the midsole when toeing off.

Men and women also have different Q-angles, or the angle of incidence between the quad muscle and the kneecap, as women generally have wider hips than men. This tends to cause pronation, which requires different types of cushioning.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best video baby monitors in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

I grew up believing my parents had eyes in the back of their heads, but, sadly, I didn’t immediately sprout an extra pair of eyes after donning the title of mother. Video baby monitors are the next best thing. While there’s no substitute for being in the room with the baby, these monitors allow parents and guardians to to keep eyes and ears on the baby from another room.

A good video baby monitor answers questions that a simple audio monitor cannot, like, When did the baby fall asleep? Just 10 years ago, these monitors were clunky gadgets that played constant audio and offered a pixelated picture of the crib. Now they can send a detailed sleep analysis to your smartphone, play white noise, and even track breathing.

Keep in mind: Some of those features of smart monitors may not be as great as they seem. The AAP and pediatricians we spoke to emphasized there is no evidence that smart monitors prevent incidences of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Read more about smart monitors, sleep safety, and what our experts had to say at the end of our guide.

While features vary by model, video monitors typically come equipped with a night mode to see the room in the dark, a thermometer to measure the temperature in the room, and two-way audio to talk to the baby (or tell the toddler to get back in bed). Some baby monitors are fixed in place, while others have cameras that can be controlled remotely to pan around the room. With smart baby monitors, the list of potential features is even longer.

I tested nine of the top-ranked video baby monitors with my now 1-year-old. Each monitor that made the top of our list was tested for at least one month, including naps and nighttime snoozes.

Here are the best video baby monitors in 2021

The best video baby monitor overall

Vava video baby monitor camera and parent unit positioned on a dresser
The Vava is a standalone video baby monitor that offers clear audio and video

With excellent picture and sound, the Vava is an affordable video baby monitor that has everything you need. 

Pros: Clear video and audio, easy setup, remote panning and tilt, affordable

Cons: No VOX

Although the Vava lacks the fancy features of a smart monitor, it’s easy to use and offers clear audio and video, with a few extras including two-way audio.

Most standalone video baby monitors use a low-resolution fixed camera that doesn’t show the finer details, but the Vava’s video quality is so good that I could often see my son’s chest rise and fall as he slept. The handheld unit’s 5-inch screen is what really allows you to see the detail picked up by the Vava’s 720p resolution camera. The monitor’s night vision is also better quality than other units I tested.

With the controls on the parent unit, the Vava can be turned 270 degrees and tilt up or down 108 degrees, offering a view of almost the entire nursery except. The remote pan and tilt are preferable to using a wider lens because you can get a closer look at the baby while still being able to see if, say, a pet is accidentally locked in the nursery.

The Vava’s solid video quality is also paired with excellent audio. There’s no voice-activated alert (VOX) option, but the volume settings are varied enough that the fan in my baby’s nursery, while slightly audible, wasn’t annoying.

The 900-feet range didn’t once drop a connection in my house or even when I went out to the porch. Because the Vava doesn’t use Wi-Fi, hacking risk is low. The parent unit battery lasted for two daytime naps before needing a charge.

There are a few features that I would have liked to see, such as VOX, but the Vava had better video and audio quality than similarly priced monitors. Smart monitors like the Nanit and Miku offer more features and budget monitors like the VTech, a better price. But, ultimately, the Vava checks all the must-haves without a high price tag, making it our top pick.

The best smart video baby monitor

The Nanit Plus video baby monitor mounted on a wall
The Nanit Plus is a smart video baby monitor that offers sleep tracking and insights

The Nanit Plus video baby monitor offers excellent video and audio, along with extras like sleep tips.

Pros: Sleep tracking and tips, contactless breathing monitor, quick alerts, reliable app, good video and audio quality, two-factor authentication

Cons: Pricey, sleep insights require subscription after first year

Many smart monitors deliver late alerts or poor audio, but the Nanit Plus doesn’t skimp on the basics in order to deliver the smart features. 

The monitor’s audio was free of white noise, and I could turn the volume down enough not to hear the fan in my son’s room but still hear his cries. Picture quality is excellent, even for the night camera. 

The Nanit was the most reliable smart monitor that I tested. It never crashed while livestreaming, though it can run few seconds behind depending on internet speeds. The one time the app stopped working (while using push notifications, not the livestream), it alerted me. For added security, it offers two-factor authentication, which Nanit says is continually audited for security compliance.

Unlike many breathing monitors, the Nanit Plus also doesn’t require extra devices. With a patterned fabric band, swaddle, or sleep sack, the camera detects pixel-level changes in that pattern to monitor the rise and fall of the baby’s chest. Even without the wearable, the monitor can still recognize movement to track sleep. False alarms can cause unnecessary worry, but I didn’t experience any.

The app’s interface is easy to navigate. It charts sleep times, duration, and time it takes to fall asleep. Using that data, Nanit Insights offers personalized sleep tips developed by a certified infant sleep coach. I shared these tips with Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, who said they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. However, these tips can also be found in inexpensive parenting books and are not the solution to every sleep problem.

Outside of the downsides of app-based monitors, like quickly depleting the smartphone battery, I have very few complaints. One minor inconvenience is that you need to go into the app and start a session in order to monitor breathing.

The Nanit Plus is one of the pricier smart baby monitors, although the wall mount option is less expensive than the floor stand. Insights also requires a paid subscription after the first year. Still, it’s $100 less than options like the Owlet and Miku.

Smart monitors are not for every family. Solid-performing, less expensive audio and video monitors are available, and breathing tracking isn’t studied for SIDs prevention (read more about this at the end of the guide). But, out of all the Wi-Fi connected monitors that I tried, the Nanit Plus delivered the best experience with the most reliability.

The best wearable-free smart baby monitor

miku smart baby monitor mounted on a wall
The Miku smart monitor can track a baby’s sleep and breathing without a wearable

The Miku accurately tracks breathing and sleep patterns without any wearables.

Pros: Sleep tracking, contactless breathing sensor, simple to use, plays lullabies or white noise, reliable app

Cons: Slow push notifications, white noise during livestreaming

With a radio-wave sensor built into the camera, the Miku tracks sleep and creates a color-coded chart that illustrates how well the baby slept. The well-designed app tracks data such as how long it took for the baby to fall asleep, sleep quality, and average bedtime, which may be helpful for new parents establishing a routine.

This monitor narrowly missed beating out the Nanit, largely because the audio had constant white noise detectable even at the lowest volume. (Audio performance could possibly differ based on the smartphone you are using — I tested using an iPhone 7.) The notifications were too slow to be a suitable substitute. However, if you’re looking for easy sleep tracking without any form of wearables, the Miku is a great option.

The app never crashed during testing and it can send push notifications that the baby has woken up. In order to avoid false alarms simply because the baby rolled over, there’s an intentional delay on those alerts. Unfortunately, the alerts are also delayed for cries. For that reason, I preferred streaming the audio. 

Video is also easy to review with an option to watch the feed from any time the app detected motion or noise. The Miku also has a built-in sound machine — you can play white noise or lullabies and control them from the app. 

Simple setup requires pressing a physical button to start a new connection, which feels a bit more secure. The Miku also has a built-in crypto security chip and includes features like two-way authentication. 

Like with the Nanit, smart monitors are not a necessity. For some families, tracking breathing  can lead to more worry and distraction. The AAP cautions parents that breathing monitors have not been studied for reducing SIDs. But, for families that want that extra tracking, the Miku offers those added features without the need to attach anything to the baby. 

The best budget video baby monitor

VTech RM5754 video baby monitor camera and parent unit positioned on a dresser
VTech’s RM5754 video baby monitor includes a parent unit and Wi-Fi tracking

The VTech RM5754 video monitor proves you don’t need to spend a lot to keep an eye on the baby, from anywhere.

Pros: Parent unit and Wi-Fi app, affordable, movement alerts

Cons: Lower night-camera quality, buggy app

The VTech RM5754 is a good monitor for those on a budget. It is unique because it’s a standalone monitor that also offers app access via Wi-Fi and VOX so you don’t have to listen to annoying background noise. The parent unit is the most convenient way to monitor, but the app allows you to watch the baby from anywhere.

The camera has a higher 1080p resolution and the parent unit a large 5-inch screen. The 100-degree wide-angle lens means you can see much of the nursery, but it doesn’t provide the close-up detail of some of the other monitors. While the night vision camera is low quality, it’s enough to see.

Audio isn’t the greatest. There were some audible static noises from both the parent unit and the app, but turning on VOX — my favorite feature — meant I only heard the static when there were loud noises in the room. The feature wasn’t explained in the user manual and is hiding in the menu, so it takes some tinkering to set up.

The VTech monitor also provides movement alerts, something uncommon with standalone monitors. From the parent unit, you can play white noise or lullabies through the monitor and turn on the night-light.

The app performance is inconsistent — it kept crashing on my iPhone 7, but ran much smoother after I updated my phone. The static is worse on the app and VOX isn’t available on a mobile device.

While I preferred the Vava’s better picture quality and sound, the VTech costs less and includes app access and VOX. This makes it a decent option for caregivers on a limited budget or families who can’t decide between a standalone camera and a Wi-Fi enabled one.

Our testing methodology

I tested nine video baby monitors over the course of several months with my now 1-year-old. The top picks were tested for at least one month. During that time, I evaluated the following features.

  • Audio quality: Parents will listen for a baby’s cries more often than watching the video screen, which means audio quality is still a major consideration. I listened for annoyances like static and white noise, as well as how sensitive the microphone was to both soft sounds and loud noises.
  • Video quality: Baby monitors don’t need cinematic 4K, but I looked for footage that was detailed enough to tell if the baby’s eyes were open or closed. Ultimately, I wanted a monitor that would cover the entire crib while still showing enough detail to see if the baby is awake or simply rolling over in their sleep.
  • Smart monitoring: For smart monitors, I also used the breathing tracking and sleep tracking. Thankfully, I never experienced what happens when a baby stops breathing. I did, however, research what I could into how the alarms work (including this Nanit and Miku comparison from Dad Verb using a robotic baby). I also noted any false alarms and eliminated options that caused more worry than it prevented. As noted throughout this guide, APA does not endorse breathing monitors for infants. Studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs.
  • Connectivity, battery life, and overall usability: Throughout my testing, I noted any app crashes and difficult setups. For Wi-Fi based monitors, I noted the battery life and range of the parent unit, including taking the unit outside. For smart monitors, I considered how simple the app was to use and whether or not the extra smart features were actually helpful.

What else we considered

Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor positioned over a baby in a crib
The Cubo A.I. uses facial recognition to monitor waking babies and rollovers

  • Levana Mila: The Mila would be one of my top picks, except it’s not available yet. Originally expected out in June 2020, its release is now delayed indefinitely. I was impressed by its mode that turns the screen and audio off when no noise is detected in the room, which preserves battery life. The same mode also works with two cameras to display footage from the room when noise is detected.
  • Pampers Lumi: In addition to monitoring sleep, the Lumi uses a sensor on the baby’s diaper to track wet diapers, though it’s not recommended to wake a baby just to change a diaper. It simply wasn’t the best because anytime the sensor stops moving, the Lumi labels it a nap. The camera’s wide-angle fish-eye lens makes it difficult to see details, and audio is inconsistent across devices — on my iPhone, it generated constant white noise, but the iPad app didn’t have that issue.
  • Angel Care 3-in-1 AC337: This unique standalone monitor uses a sensor placed under the mattress to monitor breathing. To make sure an alarm is heard even if the parent unit has a dead battery, the alarm also sounds in the nursery so false alarms could wake the baby. I got a few false alarms and stopped using the breathing pad because I was worried about waking the baby up with those false alarms. The camera lens also isn’t a wide enough angle.
  • Cubo A.I. Baby Monitor: The Cubo uses facial recognition to alert you if the baby’s face is covered by a blanket or if the baby rolled over, while “detection zones” alert you if the baby enters a preset area. While this feature worked great, when I followed safe sleep tips, I just got notifications for rolling over and placing a hand over his face. The Cubo did have one feature I wish the other smart monitors had — push notifications are a chirping sound instead of the default, which means you know it’s a baby monitor alert and not an alert from any other app.
  • Owlet Smart Baby Monitor Duo: Unlike the Miku and Nanit, the Owlet Smart Sock tracks oxygen levels and heart rate — neither of which are recommended by the AAP. It doesn’t, however, track sleep data or send push notifications when noise or movement is detected. The smart sock is difficult to put on, and I don’t like placing electronics directly on my baby’s skin. I also had to try three different socks before getting one to work properly, suggesting some quality control issues. But, for what it’s worth, excellent customer service.

Standalone vs. smart baby monitors

Video baby monitors used to be simply a camera that allowed you to see and hear your baby, but the tech now falls into two major categories.

Stand-alone baby monitors are the traditional monitors that come with everything you need in the box. These monitors have both a camera and a parent unit with a screen that displays video.

Smart baby monitors come with only a camera; the rest is done via an app on a smartphone or tablet, connected via Wi-Fi. Because these app-based baby monitors are essentially running on a mini-computer (the smartphone), this type can include a lot of features that standalone monitors lack. Smart monitors can track sleep patterns, send push notifications for sound and movement, and some even track breathing. 

With the Wi-Fi connection, smart monitors are never “out of range” like a traditional monitor. That means you can check in on the baby while you are out and the baby is with another caregiver, or you can work outside in a big yard and still use the monitor. 

The downside is that these monitors rely on an internet connection. If your home internet is slow, the video will lag behind and occasionally freeze up, and when the internet is out, so is the baby monitor. App-based monitors can also fail if the app freezes. If that happens overnight, parents could potentially miss baby’s cries. Smart monitors will also drain your smartphone battery faster and granting access to the app to a babysitter can be a hassle.

Safety considerations for smart baby monitors

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse breathing monitors for infants because studies have not shown whether or not the devices have any effect on reducing SIDs. “There are no data that other commercial devices that are designed to monitor infant vital signs reduce the risk of SIDs,” the AAP states. Every smart monitor that I tested came with a legal disclaimer that the monitor is not a medical device for preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While we like features like sleep tracking, we don’t recommend buying a smart monitor exclusively for the sleep tracking. It’s unproven and often adds another item to the already too long to-do list.

Dr. Justin Smith, a pediatrician and the medical advisor for digital health at Cook Children’s in Trophy Club, Texas, told Insider Reviews: “There is no evidence that wearing a monitor will prevent or allow a parent to act in order to prevent SIDS. Parents should assess whether using a monitor would give them peace of mind or cause them stress and anxiety. False alarms are common and can lead parents to seek medical care for normal babies.” He emphasized that parents should adhere to safe sleep practices above all.

Dr. Fern Hauck, a family medicine doctor and University of Virginia professor that focuses much of her research on SIDS, echoed similar thoughts. “Some parents may feel more comforted by the home monitor and, at other times, monitors cause distress because of false alarms,” she said. “As a safe sleep expert, the bottom line is that we don’t have evidence that these monitor’s prevent infant death. There may be more evidence in the future.”

While our medical experts stressed that there is no evidence that monitoring breathing at home reduces the risk of SIDs, both pediatricians noted that parents that find more peace of mind from a smart monitor can choose to do so with a few safety guidelines in place. A smart monitor should never be an excuse not to follow safe sleep practices — for example, just because a monitor is watching the baby breathe doesn’t mean it’s okay to load the crib up with loose blankets, bumpers, and stuffed animals. Infants should be placed on their backs on a flat, firm sleep surface with no loose bedding. Hauck also cautions against moving the baby to their own room before the AAP recommended 6 to 12 months, even with a smart monitor.

Parents should also ensure the monitor itself doesn’t pose a hazard. Wearable sensors can also pose a choking hazard if a sensor becomes loose or comes off, according to Smith. “In addition, any sensor with a cord could cause strangulation. Battery-powered devices could cause skin sensitivity or a burn injury if it malfunctions,” he said. Monitors placed over the crib could be safer if the device isn’t able to be pulled into the crib or can’t fall off. 

Because the last thing new parents need is to spend money on a device that will make them more anxious, we quickly eliminated the options that sent a lot of false alarms during testing. The Nanit Plus ended up being my favorite smart monitor because I still loved it even after discontinuing use of the breathing band. It has excellent features worth paying a little more for, like sleep tracking and clear audio and video. Parents, however, shouldn’t feel like they have to spend so much on a monitor to keep the baby safe because there’s no evidence that smart monitors are actually safer.

How does AI Sleep Monitoring work, and is it worth it?

Smart Baby Monitor App

Both the Nanit and Miku monitor the baby’s sleep, offering stats like how long the baby slept and when. The Nanit goes a little bit further and adds sleep tips, delivered once a week based on the infant’s sleep data.

Those tips are developed from a certified infant sleep coach, according to Nanit. The AI determines which tips to send based on the sleep data and the baby’s age, but the tips themselves were written by actual baby sleep experts. Essentially, using Nanit is like having someone tell you which chapters of the baby sleep book to read first for your particular baby.

The tips that Nanit Insights sent during my testing were similar to what I’ve read about establishing healthy sleep habits, such as a consistent bedtime. I shared Nanit’s tips with  Dr. Fern Hauck, professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia, they provided reasonable advice about establishing sleep patterns. 

You can find similar tips in a $15 baby book without spending $300 on a baby monitor. But, if you need to buy a monitor and prefer one that is Wi-Fi-based, having sleep tips tailored to your baby’s age and sleep habits is a nice extra. Don’t impulse buy the Nanit Plus at 2 a.m. while holding a wide-awake baby out of desperation, though. 

Baby monitor security

Wi-Fi enabled monitors have another downfall: As with any Internet of Things (IoT) device, they are susceptible to hacking.

According to Deral Heiland, the IoT research lead for cybersecurity management company Rapid7, there’s no actual internet connection to hack into with a stand-alone monitor, and any hacker would have to be within range of the camera. Radio monitors don’t have the same encryption measures, but a hacker would still need to be within a few hundred feet of the monitor.

Wi-Fi based monitors have more risks, but they can be mitigated through a few best security practices, Heiland told Insider Reviews.

“Just like any camera-based technology, there’s some risk, but there are ways to mitigate that risk,” he said. “Most of the risk on camera-based technology is password reuse. Don’t reuse passwords. Don’t use the baby’s name, a phone number, or a home address, or anything that people can easily guess. Create a complex password that is not used on other accounts.”

If you choose a smart monitor, Heiland recommends looking for one that offers two-factor authentication, which requires a code to be sent to your phone anytime a new device tries to log in. The home Wi-Fi network should also have a hard-to-guess password that’s a series of random letters and numbers rather than a known phrase.

Brand matters, too. A well-known brand will quickly patch up any vulnerabilities to maintain its brand reputation. Off-label brands sometimes have known vulnerabilities that are never patched. 

But a total lack of vulnerabilities isn’t necessarily a good sign. All technology has vulnerabilities, Heiland said, so with any IoT device, choose a company that has patched security issues before and provides a place to report them.

Unlike hacking into credit card data, there’s no monetary gain to hacking a baby monitor (unless your monitor has a paid subscription) — the outcome is just shock and fear. While you can find stories dotting the internet about baby monitors being hacked, Heiland said that in almost every case, it was a simple target of opportunity with a weak or default password.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best hard-anodized cookware sets in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A carefully selected cookware set can be the finishing touch on a new kitchen or refresh an old one.
  • Hard-anodized cookware has the high heat conductivity of aluminum with a safe nonstick surface.
  • The best hard-anodized cookware set on for value and durability is the GreenPan Valencia Pro 11-Piece Set.

Buying a cookware set can be overwhelming because of the sheer volume of brands, materials, and types of included pieces. While stainless steel, copper, and traditional nonstick are the most popular options for cookware sets and each have their benefits, another lesser-known cookware material can offer some of the best value: hard-anodized aluminum. According to Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, hard-anodized cookware is known for its strength, durability, and even heating.

Raw aluminum is inexpensive and offers excellent conductivity for cooking, but it’s prone to discoloration and scratching. Hard-anodized aluminum has undergone a chemical process to oxidize the cooking surface of the pan so it’s more durable, nonstick, and doesn’t discolor the food. While hard-anodized cookware is plenty nonstick in its own right, many hard-anodized pieces have additional nonstick coatings. For more information on the technical aspects of the material, see our FAQs.

While durability, cooking, and ease of use and cleaning were top of mind when making our selections, we also looked for sets with useful pieces and no superfluous items. The most important pieces in any cookware set are a stockpot or Dutch oven, a 12-inch skillet, and a 4-quart saucepan, all with lids (it’s worth noting that cookware manufacturer’s consider lids as separate “pieces” when listing the number of pieces in a set). We used this blueprint to narrow down the choices in this guide. If you’re looking for a specific piece, consider purchasing individual items, as a large cookware set is likely to have more than you need.

We think hard-anodized cookware sets are a great option for folks who want to outfit their kitchen on a budget, and are looking for a set that is easy to cook with, care for, and maintain. Below we’ve outlined our top picks for hard-anodized sets.

Here are the best hard-anodized cookware sets in 2021

The best hard-anodized cookware set overall

A set of eleven pans against a white background, the GreenPan Valencia Pro set

The GreenPan Valencia Pro set is our top pick because it features 11 basic cookware pieces that have safe ceramic nonstick coatings and are oven-safe to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, all for about $200.

Pros: Oven-safe to 600 degrees F, metal utensil safe, durable ceramic nonstick coating, lots of useful pieces, both PTFE- and PFOA-free

Cons: No 12-inch skillet (though sauté pan can be used in its place)

With seven pans and four lids, the Valencia Pro has everything you need to switch between stovetop and oven cooking. The hard-anodized bodies and stainless steel handles are durable, scratch resistant, and oven-safe up to 600 degrees F. The glass lids allow you to see what you’re cooking without releasing steam or heat (but keep in mind that the lids are only oven-safe to 425 degrees F). The casserole dish is just a Dutch oven by another name. 

GreenPan uses a ceramic nonstick coating derived from sand particles, which is as durable and effective as traditional coatings, but free from PTFE, PFOA, and lead. The Valencia Pro set is also dishwasher and metal utensil safe for easier clean up and better durability.

Best hard-anodized cookware set on a budget

Best Budget Hard Anodized Cookware_Rachel Ray_Amazon

The Rachael Ray Cucina set features dishwasher safe and durable cookware basics, making it an ideal set for starting fresh in the kitchen on a budget.

Pros: Dishwasher safe, comes in three different cookware colors, large variety of pot and pan types

Cons: Only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, no large frying pan, saucepans are a bit on the small side

The Rachael Ray Cucina Hard-Anodized Set offers valuable basics in materials known for durability. The hard-anodized aluminum exterior is scratch-resistant, and the tempered glass lids are bordered by a stainless steel rim. The nonstick interior is PFOA free, but not metal utensil safe. 

Instead of a third saucepan or skillet, the set includes a 3-quart sauté pan as a piece with more volume and versatility. The serving utensils (a slotted spoon and spatula) are a great addition for a starter cookware set. You can choose from three colors for the serving utensils and the silicone grips that wrap around stainless steel handles.

Best high-end hard-anodized cookware set

Best High End Hard Anodized Cookware_Williams Sonoma_Williams Sonoma

The Thermo-Clad cookware set features details that make cooking easier, from the heat-encapsulating stainless steel lids to the metal utensil safe nonstick coating.

Pros: Induction compatible, heat-sealing lids, includes a large stockpot 

Cons: Fewer pieces than less expensive sets, no large skillet

Instead of glass, this set features stainless steel lids with double wall insulation to keep food warm. While this means you can’t see the food while it’s cooking, it’s useful for making items ahead of time and keeping food warm for serving. The entire set is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Thermo-Clad line features a tri-ply stainless steel base, designed to limit hot spots by covering the bottom of the pan edge to edge. The nonstick coating is metal utensil safe, though the brand recommends avoiding abrasive cleaners like steel wool. The unique item in this set is the 6-quart “essential pan,” which is nearly identical in design to a traditional saucier. With a wide base and high, rounded sides, this pan is great for one pot meals.

Best space-saving hard-anodized cookware set

Best Space Saving Hard Anodized Cookware of 2021_Calphalon_Target

The Calphalon Stackable Set includes every necessary piece to start a cookware collection and it all stacks neatly for easy storage in small kitchens.

Pros: Stacks compactly for storage, lids fit on multiple pieces

Cons: No large skillet, only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, not safe for metal utensils

This set is organized by diameter, so that all 8-inch wide pieces fit in a stack that can nest within the 10-inch wide stack. Interlocking plates on the pans’ outside edges stabilize the stacks. Because of the common diameters, the lids are interchangeable among pieces. 

Silicone grips keep the handles cool to the touch, but limit the oven-safe temperature to 400 degrees F. The nonstick interior is also not safe for metal utensils. The highlight of this set is a stackable Dutch oven, giving you the versatility of the piece without taking up too much space.

Best hard-anodized cookware set for induction

Best Induction Hard Anodized Cookware_Ninja Foodi lifestyle_Best Buy

The Ninja Foodi NeverStick cookware set works on all range types, including induction, and is constructed for maximum durability and heat retention with heavy-gauge aluminum and a stainless steel base.

Pros: Proprietary nonstick coating, metal utensil safe, induction compatible

Cons: No large skillet (though sauté pan can perform similar functions)

Ninja’s NeverStick technology is based on heating the particles used in the nonstick coating to higher temperatures than other brands do for their coatings. This promises a more durable nonstick surface that isn’t prone to chipping or flaking and is metal utensil safe. 

The NeverStick line is available in a hard-anodized set that comes with 10 pieces and can be used on all range types, including induction. Though it lacks a large skillet, it comes with a generously-sized stockpot for making soups, stews, and one pot meals. The pieces are also safe to 500 degrees F for easy transition from stovetop to oven.

Our methodology

Best overall hard anodized cookware set 2021 methodology

We identified the best hard-anodized cookware sets through research, an interview with Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, and our own extensive experience with cookware. We developed baseline criteria, such as necessary pieces and safety requirements, and evaluated sets based on these elements and other factors like value for price. We plan on testing these sets in the future and updating this guide accordingly. 

FAQs

Best Induction Hard Anodized Cookware_Ninja Foodi lifestyle_Best Buy_1

What is hard-anodized aluminum?

Aluminum is a common material used in bakeware and cookware because it’s lightweight and has great heat conductivity. The main issue with aluminum is that it will oxidize when exposed to acidic food, leaving dark marks on the surface that can transfer to light colored foods. To prevent this, most modern aluminum pans are coated in a ceramic layer or “anodized,” an electrochemical process that uses controlled oxidation to create a protective layer. 

The unique element of this process is that the anodized layer isn’t applied to the surface, but created out of the molecules within the metal. Therefore, the anodized protective layer cannot chip or peel off. It can wear down, but if cared for properly, it lasts longer than applied coatings. “Hard-anodized aluminum is naturally stick resistant, and it is resistant to scratches and food odors,” said Groesbeck.


What utensils are safe to use on hard-anodized cookware?

The hard-anodized layer isn’t a coating, so a hard-anodized pan can be used with any material utensil. However, nonstick coatings are often applied to hard-anodized cookware, so we recommend checking the information provided by the manufacturer before using metal utensils. Single or double layer nonstick coatings can be scratched by metal utensils.


Can hard-anodized cookware be used on induction stovetops? 

This depends on the set and will be listed in the manufacturer’s description of the product. Cookware must have magnetic properties to work on induction stovetops, and aluminum is a non-magnetic metal, Groesbeck said. Therefore, a magnetic plate must be applied to the base of aluminum cookware in order to be induction safe. This is why not every hard-anodized aluminum set is induction compatible.


Can hard-anodized cookware go in the oven?

While you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions, most hard-anodized cookware is oven-safe to some degree. The exact oven-safe temperature will be listed by the manufacturer on the packaging. The lids may have a different oven-safe temperature depending on the material.


Is hard-anodized cookware dishwasher safe?

Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on using the dishwasher or hand-washing your cookware. If the cookware has a nonstick coating, it is always recommended to use non-abrasive cleaners and avoid steel wool or other harsh sponges.

PFOA and PTFE

The acronyms PFOA and PTFE are everywhere in cookware descriptions. Here’s what you need to know about each:

PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene, and is more commonly known by its brand name: Teflon. There have been concerns over the health effects of PTFE and PFOA, and while studies have been mostly inconclusive, PFOA was isolated as the more dangerous chemical. 

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used in the production of PTFE since Teflon was invented in the 1970s. In the manufacturing process, most of the PFOA burns off and only trace elements remain in the cookware. These elements are then only released if the cookware is overheated to temperatures of 570 degrees F. However, since 2010, the EPA has put programs and regulations in place to phase out the use of PFOAs in American manufacturing. The majority of cookware made in the United States since 2015 is PFOA-free, and so are all of our top picks. 

International standards are not the same as American ones, so PFOA may still be used in products from other countries. 

See more great cookware buying guides

skillet

The best cookware sets


The best cast iron skillets and pans


The best copper cookware


The best fully clad stainless steel cookware

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 7 best wireless phone chargers of 2021

  • The best wireless chargers provide a convenient way to charge your phone without the hassle of plugging in.
  • I’ve tested more than 40 wireless chargers over the past few years to find the best ones.
  • Our guide highlights chargers in different categories and suits various budgets.

To put it simply: no one likes charging their phone. Whether you’re chatting on a video call, reading the news, or listening to music during a run, there’s nothing like the panic that comes with seeing your battery dip below 20%.

Wireless chargers are a great way to power up your phone easily without fumbling with a power cord. In the early days, wireless chargers only offered slow speeds, were hampered by competing compatibility standards, and required precise placement in order to work. But as support for wireless charging has spread, especially after it became standard across the iPhone lineup in 2017, the technology has improved rapidly.

As an early adopter and tech reporter with more than a decade of experience, I’ve tested more than 40 different wireless chargers over the years, so I’m well placed to recommend the best picks to serve different needs. Later on in this guide, we breakdown things you should consider when shopping for a wireless charger.

Here are the best wireless chargers

The best wireless charger overall

Moshi_Otto_Q_Wireless_Charger

The Moshi Otto Q has a gray fabric design that looks good anywhere, it charges most phones at top speed, and it is sturdy.

Pros: Stylish look, non-slip, charges through cases

Cons: No adapter included, LED too bright for nightstand

With a smart design that combines style and function perfectly, the Moshi Otto Q is an excellent wireless charging pad. It supports fast wireless charging at up to 10W, which means it can charge up an iPhone and most Android phones at top speed.

Clever use of a metallic-looking silver plastic with a gray fabric cover helps this wireless charger stand out from the crowd in a good way. It looks at home on a wooden table, a nightstand, or a kitchen counter. 

The silicone ring on top both cushions your phone and prevents it from sliding off the charger. There’s also a rubbery pad on the underside that prevents it from slipping, even if you bump the table or nightstand that it’s on. Moshi supplies a USB-C to USB-A cable that’s 3 feet long in the box, but the manufacturer does suggest that you will need an adapter rated at Quick Charge 2.0 (9V/2A) minimum to get the maximum speed from it. This one from RAVPower should work.

I’ve been using it with a Samsung Adaptive Fast Charger, and it has been happily charging up a variety of phones, including an iPhone X and a Pixel 4.

The Moshi Otto Q has foreign object detection, so if any metal gets in between it and the phone it’s charging, it just turns off. You’ll want to make sure any case you use is metal-free, but thickness isn’t an issue. Moshi says it can charge through cases up to 5mm thick, and I’ve tested it with a variety, including some fairly thick protective cases, without any issues. Simply plug the USB-C cable into the back and plug the USB-A end into an adapter and you’re set. 

There’s a white LED at the front of the Moshi Otto Q that pulses gently while it’s charging and stays on when your phone is fully charged. Unfortunately, this light can be annoying in the bedroom when you’re trying to sleep, so the nightstand is not the best location for this wireless charger. I’ve placed mine on a side table in the dining room and it fits in nicely. 

My whole family has been using the Moshi Otto Q for a couple of years now and it’s still going strong, so I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The lack of an adapter in the box is a bit disappointing, but the style and quality build justify the price tag. Moshi also offers a 10-year warranty. 

The best fast-charging wireless charger

Anker PowerWave Alloy Pad charging a phone on a table

If you have a phone capable of charging at 15W or you want to future-proof, then the Anker PowerWave Alloy Pad is best for you.

Pros: Durable design, non-slip, long cable

Cons: No adapter included, LED too bright for nightstand

This compact metal puck blends into any room easily and feels built to last. It can fast charge most Qi-supporting Android phones and iPhones at the top speed they support, with four distinct charging modes designed to charge different smartphone models as quickly as possible.  

Anker is more focused on function than style and this sturdy, solid, weighty wireless charging pad has a silicone pad on the top and a silicone ring on the bottom to prevent any slippage. Pop your phone on the center of this pad and it will stay in place, even if a call comes in and it begins to vibrate. The only slight annoyance of the silicone is that it attracts dust and hairs. 

It comes with a relatively lengthy 5-foot cable, but you’ll need to provide your own power adapter. Cases are nothing to worry about because the Anker PowerWave Allow Pad can charge through cases up to 5mm thick. It also has safety features like temperature control and foreign object detection, and the alloy body helps it to stay cool in use.

The downside of the Anker PowerWave Alloy Pad, beyond the slightly dull design, is the presence of a blue LED at the front that lights up when it’s charging your phone. This light is likely to irritate you if you plan on using this wireless charger on the nightstand.

The best wireless charging stand

Best iPhone docks - Belkin BOOST UP Wireless Charging Stand

You can prop your phone up in landscape or portrait orientation while charging with the speedy Belkin BOOST UP Wireless Charging Stand.

Pros: Supports portrait or landscape, 4-foot power cord and adapter included, non-slip

Cons: Doesn’t fast charge some phones, quite large

Sometimes wireless charging stands are better than pads because they allow you to prop your phone up, making it easy to see incoming notifications or to check the time. The downside with stands is that they can be a little unstable and easy to accidentally knock your phone off.

The Belkin Boost UP Wireless Charging Stand has a smart design with a circular charging pad and a wide frame that makes it extremely stable. It’s also capable of charging your phone while it’s propped in landscape or portrait orientation and it can deliver up to 10W.

The Belkin BOOST UP comes in black or white plastic and has a wide frame with non-slip rubber padding on the bottom edges and on the surfaces where you rest your phone. The design makes it easy to position your phone correctly so that it charges.

Many stands claim to offer charging in portrait or landscape, but in practice, it can be tricky to find the right spot in landscape. With the Belkin BOOST UP, the angled circular pad makes it easy, and I’ve found it works reliably with an iPhone X and Pixel 4.

Another advantage with the Belkin BOOST UP is that it comes with a cable and adapter. My version has a barrel connector and the cable is permanently attached to the adapter you plug into the wall. There is another version of this wireless charger that comes with a separate cable and adapter. Either way, it’s nice to have the correct adapter included. 

It can charge through cases up to 3mm thick. There are also two pinprick LEDs in different positions, so that one is always visible whichever way you place your phone to charge. They light up white when charging and turn orange if there’s a problem, like keys or another metal object being stuck on the pad. It also has overheating protection built in for peace of mind.

If you have an iPhone, the Belkin BOOST UP can charge at the top speed of 7.5W, and it can hit 9W for Samsung phones, but for every other device, including Google’s Pixel phones it is capped at 5W. This isn’t a problem if you use it for overnight charging, and I think the light is small enough here that the Belkin BOOST UP is a good choice for the nightstand. It usually costs $50.

The best luxurious wireless charger

Bezalel_Altair_Wireless_Charger

A classy aluminum body with suede padding makes the Bezalel Altair a great looking, sturdy wireless charging stand for your phone.

Pros: Looks great, very stable, charges through cases

Cons: No adapter included, expensive

If you want a wireless charger that’s solid and sturdy with good looks, whether there’s a phone on it or not, then the Bezalel Altair is worth considering. It can deliver up to 10W of power, so it will charge iPhones and many Android phones at their maximum wireless charging speed. Carved from a single piece of aluminum, it’s strong and it looks great. 

There are two rubber pegs that stick out to prop your phone on, and there’s a white LED just beneath them. A suede pad, with a relatively subtle logo, allows you to rest your phone safely on the stand while it charges. A solid rubber base prevents it from sliding around on the desktop. Bezalel also provides a 3-foot, flat, non-tangle, USB-C to USB-A cable in the box. You’ll have to buy your own adapter and you’ll want one that’s rated at QC 2.0 or higher, like this one from RAVPower.

One of the nice things about the design is that you can prop your phone in landscape or portrait orientation, and it will charge. It’s also the perfect angle to have on your desk for face unlock and for video calls. I have it on my desk and use it with my Pixel 4 every day. It’s not capable of charging the Pixel at top speed, but the style and utility make up for that. If you’re ever in a rush and want to charge up via cable, the peg design allows easy access to the charging port on your phone, so you can prop your phone in portrait and plug in a charging cable.

It can charge through cases up to 5mm thick, but one downside here is that it doesn’t automatically detect foreign objects between the phone and charger and shut itself off like many wireless chargers do. Because it’s angled, this is less likely to be an issue than with a pad, but it’s worth noting. 

Sadly, the white LED stays lit all the time when this charger is plugged in or charging, so it’s not suitable for the nightstand if light is going to bother you. I think this style is better suited to a desk anyway. If you like the look of it, you can expect to pay $65.

The best wireless charger for travel

Fuse_Chicken_Universal

The multi-talented Fuse Chicken Universal All-in-One World Travel Charger is a battery pack, travel adapter, and wireless charger all at once, so it’s perfect for jet-setters.

Pros: Clever multi-functional design, great for travel, compact

Cons: Expensive, bulky at outlet, power button required to turn on USB charging

The Fuse Chicken Universal All-in-One World Travel Charger makes it easy to charge your phone in a variety of ways while you travel. It’s a battery pack, a wireless charger, and a travel adapter all wrapped into one portable device that’s about the same size as a MacBook power adapter.

Set your phone down on the charger, and it acts like a quick-charging 10-watt wireless charger, but if you’re on the move, you can also plug in a cable to use it as a battery pack. The 6,700mAh battery inside the charger is enough to fully charge most phones, though you’ll find you can squeeze a little more from it if you plug in, rather than use the wireless charging function. 

I was able to fully charge a Pixel 4 with change using the USB-C port. It can deliver up to 18W, which is enough to charge an iPhone or Pixel at top speed. As a wireless charger, you can expect a fair bit less, because wireless charging is less efficient. Luckily, you can see how much battery life is left in the internal battery by pressing the power button. The percentage remaining will display on the tiny LED screen.

When it comes time to plug in the charger and re-juice the internal battery, you can plug it right into a regular wall outlet. If you’re not in the US, and you happen to be traveling to the EU, UK, or Australia, Fuse Chicken has you covered with travel adapters for all those countries. Simply slide on the adapter you need, again, much like a MacBook power adapter. A small bag comes with the charger, so you have a place to safely store those adapters.

The USB-C port can also charge the battery up if you can’t plug it in for some reason. It is a bit bulky, which can sometimes be a problem with some outlets or power strips. There’s also a USB-A port that’s capable of delivering 12W, so you can plug your phone’s charging cable and juice up your device that way if you prefer. You can use both ports at the same time to charge multiple devices at once, should you need to. 

Downsides include the fact that you can’t use the wireless charging function when it’s plugged in, because it plugs in vertically. You also must press the power button sometimes when plugging in a cable or it won’t start charging your device. Sadly, it can’t charge a USB-C laptop like the MacBook, but you can charge any phone, tablet, ereader, or accessories like headphones with it.

This travel friendly, all-in-one wireless charger is also very expensive. However, if you travel to those countries a lot, it’s worth it.

The best wireless charger for multiple phones

Unravel_Wireless_Charger

If you want to wirelessly charge up to three devices simultaneously, the clever Unravel Wireless Charger is the only one of its kind.

Pros: Clever fold-up design, wirelessly charges three devices at once, extra USB-C port

Cons: Expensive, looks a bit cheap

Whether Apple will ever revive its AirPower wireless charging mat, which was going to be capable of charging your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at once, remains to be seen, but there are alternatives. The Unravel Wireless Charger offers three wireless charging pads linked together with hinges. 

There are two versions of the Unravel; there’s the Unravel AW+ and the Unravel 3+1. The Unravel AW+ has two wireless charging pads that can deliver up to 10W for phones, AirPods, or another Qi device, and a third pad that’s specially designed to charge an Apple Watch. The AW+ is obviously ideal for Apple fans. The Unravel 3+1 has three wireless charging pads offering up to 10W each, and it also has a second USB-C port that can be used to charge up a fourth device.

Both versions can fold up concertina style to stow neatly away for travel. You get a 30W charger in the box and a cable. Apart from the fact it folds up nicely, travel utility is expanded when you consider that you can potentially use the same USB-C Power Delivery (PD) charger as your MacBook to power this wireless charger. However, it’s important to note that you’ll need a 60W charger if you want to get the fastest possible charging rate from all three pads at once. 

The clever design features don’t end there. You can also configure the Unravel into a triangular shape, fold out a small perch to prop your phone in landscape orientation, and watch a movie while it charges. There are black and red versions, but I recommend the glow-in-the-dark model because it gives off just enough of a glow for you to position your phone on it in the dark, but not so much that it interrupts your shuteye. 

While I’m a big fan of the Unravel, it’s not perfect. Finished in soft-touch plastic, this isn’t the kind of charger that’s going to subtly blend in with your décor. There are pinprick lights that turn on when it’s charging, but most phones cover them, so they seem redundant. The fold-out perch for propping your phone in landscape orientation also feels quite flimsy. 

Still, this versatile wireless charger is ideal for busy families or people with multiple devices to pop on the charger at night. It’s also a useful companion for travel if a single pad isn’t going to meet your needs. Both versions of the Unravel are typically the same price, but read the descriptions to make sure you get the right one for you. The manufacturer, Ampere, also offers versions with world plug sets and different chargers on its website.

The best wireless charger for Apple devices

Belkin_BOOST_CHARGE_3 in 1

If you want to charge up your Apple Watch and AirPods alongside your iPhone, then this special edition of Belkin’s Boost Charge 3-in-1 charger is for you.

Pros: Can simultaneously charge three devices, 4.5-foot power cord and adapter included, attractive design, non-slip

Cons: Expensive, large

This elegant wireless charging station from Belkin can wirelessly charge your iPhone at the current top rate of 7.5W, but it also has a magnetic Apple Watch dock built in, and there’s a wireless charging pad for your AirPods or AirPods Pro. The ability to charge all three of your Apple devices simultaneously from a single outlet makes this accessory an ideal pick for placing on a nightstand or desk.

With a glossy plastic finish in black or white, this Belkin charger has a slightly futuristic feel. The base is solid and wide to aid stability, and there’s a soft rubbery covering on the bottom that ensures it stays put. The round charger for the iPhone is angled, extending up on a shiny stainless steel pole, and there’s a curved lip to guide your placement and keep the iPhone in place. 

The magnetic Apple Watch charger is built-in and sits at a 90-degree angle, which is perfect for Nightstand mode. The circular pad behind the Apple Watch charger provides a spot for your AirPods. The included AC adapter has a permanently attached cable and slots into the back neatly with a barrel connector. The cable has an ample 4.5-foot length, and the adapter provides enough power to charge your three devices at top speed.

Two, tiny, pin-sized LEDs light up white when an iPhone or AirPods are charging and turn amber if there’s a problem with alignment or something has snuck in underneath your device. Thankfully, they are low-key and shouldn’t disturb your slumber if you decide to use this charger on the nightstand. The iPhone pad can also handle cases up to 3mm thick, so you don’t have to worry about removing your case to charge. 

I’ve been testing this charger with an iPhone X and an Apple Watch Series 5, and it has won a permanent place on the nightstand. If you like to use Nightstand mode and set alarms on your Apple Watch, then this charger is especially good. I’d prefer it didn’t have the LEDs, but at least they are tiny.

The catch is that the Belkin Boost Charge 3-in-1 Special Edition for Apple Devices is expensive. It’s a hefty investment, but I appreciate the fact that everything is included, and the Apple Watch charger is built-in, so all you need to do to get going with this is plug it into the wall. There is a cheaper version with similar functionality for a bit less, but it lacks classy touches like the stainless steel.

What else we considered

Wireless_Chargers_Also_Considered

There are so many good wireless chargers available that it’s impossible to cover them all. These are the wireless chargers that came closest to making the list, and they are all decent alternatives if you don’t like what you’ve seen so far.

  • Nomad Base Station Pro: With cutting edge technology inside, this wireless charger doesn’t require careful placement of devices. Stick your phone down anywhere on the surface and it will charge. It has space and power enough for two phones and a set of AirPods to charge together. It’s also beautifully crafted from aluminum with leather padding on top and comes with a braided cable and wall charger. The only reason it fails to make the list is the high price. Read our Nomad Base Station Pro review to learn more.
  • AirUnleashed: This large wireless charging pad is designed to emulate Apple’s ill-fated AirPower charger and has space for an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and AirPods. It has a minimal design in black or white with a soft touch finish. Sadly, there’s no AC adapter included, it requires precise placement, and you must remove some Apple Watch bands to charge. I found it too easy to accidentally bump my iPhone off the sweet spot, and after testing for a few weeks this charger is starting to look shabby. 
  • OtterBox OtterSpot: Bringing some genuine innovation to the table, OtterBox’s wireless charging system starts with a simple round base charger that looks much like any other. What sets it apart is the fact you can put a battery pad with a 5,000mAh capacity on top; it can charge wirelessly, and it can serve as a wireless charger for your phone. You can even stack additional batteries to charge them all up at once, and then take them with you when you leave. The entry price gets you one base charger and one battery, but this system can get pricey fast.
  • RAVPower Wireless Charging Stand: After a year’s service, this unobtrusive black stand still works perfectly and can deliver up to 10W. It is Qi certified, has temperature controls to prevent overheating, and sports an LED that blinks green when everything is working and red when there’s a problem. It only just misses out on a place above. 
  • Google Pixel Stand: Capable of wirelessly charging your Pixel 4, 4 XL, 3, or 3 XL at top speed, the Pixel Stand also supports some interesting Google Assistant features. Use your Pixel as an alarm clock, get your daily schedule, or turn your Pixel into a digital photo frame. This will charge any Qi device, but it’s only worth paying this much if you have a Pixel phone that can take advantage of the special features. 
  • Mophie Charge Stream Pad+: With a dull, but practical design that includes a rubbery, non-slip finish, and a white LED light, this wireless charger can deliver up to 10W. It also comes with a 5-foot cable and a QC 2.0 adapter. It charges most phones at top speed, but can’t charge through bulky cases. No major complaints about the functionality, but there simply isn’t enough here to justify the high price. 
  • Satechi Wireless Charger: The chamfered aluminum frame is smart, and there’s a silicone cross in the middle of the shiny top surface to cushion your phone. Sadly, charging is slow at 5W, there’s no adapter in the box, and the LED is far too bright to use on the nightstand. 
  • Twelve South HiRise: With a clever design that includes a weighted leather base, with a pop-out puck that you can take with you for wireless charging on the go, the Twelve South HiRise is unusual. It can deliver up to 10W, but can’t deal with thicker cases and ships without an adapter, making the price tough to swallow. 
  • Courant Wireless Chargers: These fancy leather-clad 10W wireless chargers make nice gifts, but they are too expensive to recommend over our other picks — especially as the basic Catch:1 wireless chargers don’t come with outlet adapters. The Catch:2 and Catch:3 do come with adapters, but cost $120 and $140, respectively when they’re on sale.

How to choose a wireless charger

The wireless charger landscape has evolved in the last few years, with new features, faster charging speeds, and a range of different shapes and styles. To make sure your chosen charger is going to meet your expectations, it’s important to pose a few questions before you shop. 

What device or devices do you want to charge?

Make sure that your smartphone — or other device — supports Qi wireless charging. Every entry on our list is a Qi wireless charger. Many Android phone manufacturers, like Samsung, have included wireless charging support in their flagship phones for years now. Apple introduced wireless charging support with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X, and every iPhone since then has supported it.

Don’t assume your phone supports it, though, take the time to check. A few manufacturers still haven’t adopted wireless charging, and it’s less common in mid-range and budget devices.

What is the top speed your device can charge at?

At first, wireless chargers were capped at 5W, but you can get 10W or even 15W chargers now. However, the speed you can wirelessly charge your phone at is set by the manufacturer. At the time of writing, for example, the iPhone 12 Pro tops out at 7.5W (or 15W through Apple’s MagSafe charger), Google’s Pixel 5 can charge at 12W, and Samsung’s Galaxy S20 can charge at up to 15W.

Do you need a charging cable and adapter?

Many wireless chargers are sold without a wall adapter, though they generally include a cable. It’s important to make sure that you have the right cable and adapter to enable the top charging speed. If you use a 5W adapter with a 10W charging pad, for example, you’re only going to get 5W charging. Apple also no longer includes a power adapter in the box with its new iPhones, so you’ll want to make sure you have the proper adapter handy if you’re planning on buying a new phone. 

Where are you going to use it?

The nightstand will be the ideal location for some, but you may prefer to have a wireless charger on your desk at work, on the kitchen counter at home, or perhaps all three. Different kinds of chargers will work better in different locations. For example, if it’s for the nightstand, you probably don’t want a wireless charger with a bright flashing light. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best yoga pants in 2021, according to a yoga instructor who’s tested dozens

  • As a yoga teacher and decades-long practitioner, I live in yoga pants.
  • I went on a proper search for the best yoga pants and the top choices on the market.
  • I’ve rounded up my favorites, including my top maternity leggings, below.

There are few clothing items as versatile as the yoga pant. They’re not only great for yoga class but also ideal for running errands-and sprints. This is why they’re a staple in so many of our wardrobes. All yoga pants aren’t created equal, though. And the difference between poorly and expertly-made leggings can determine whether your yoga practice is distracted and fidgety or calm and blissful.

As a yoga teacher and decades-long practitioner, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of yoga pants with my fair share of ill fits and too-thin see-through fabric. These years of informal testing led me to know exactly what to look for when formally sampling the yoga-pant market. Specifically, the material’s comfort and cut are the two most important factors.

As a yogi watches their breath and tackles challenging physical postures, a nagging fold of fabric that needs to be adjusted (and readjusted) can take them right out of the peaceful moment that they were working so hard to achieve. That’s why the best yoga pants are the kind that you don’t notice you’re wearing.

The ideal material, on the other hand, can vary based on what you want your yoga pants for. For example, the ideal hot yoga pants won’t be made from the same fabric as those for a fall outdoor class. And maternity yoga pants’ material won’t compress as a performance pair might.

With these considerations in mind, we scrutinized some of the most popular and newest pants on the market. The details on our testing process are below.

How we tested

To assess how the cut and fabric felt and moved in different situations, I wore each for a diverse range of activities. I sported each pant for three yoga sessions and one non-yoga workout. Each pant was also my attire for one full day of varied activities, from running errands to watching Netflix. Each bottom was washed twice.

The best yoga pants in 2021:

The best yoga pant overall

Best yoga pants   Best Overall Yoga Pant   Everlane 4x3

Everlane’s Perform Legging is comfortable for all-day wear, yoga, and other workouts. Its high quality and relatively low price distinguishes it from comparable pants.

Pros: Comfortable, ethically made, affordable

Cons: Thin material, so these aren’t great for outdoor yoga (or wear) in cold weather.

When most people think of yoga pants, Everlane isn’t among the first brands that come to mind. But since discovering this legging, I have been recommending it widely.

As a nod to their focus on ethical production, the bag that housed the leggings announced that it “is made from recycled plastic,” and the tag on the pants invited me to visit their website to learn more about the “ethical manufacturing process.” I took them up on the offer and the site took me to a factory in Sri Lanka and told their story. Yoga is more than a physical practice. It’s also a philosophy and way of life, which has a strong focus on ahimsa, or non-harming. It felt good to know that the pants’ production was aligned.

But it wasn’t just the backstory that made me fall in love with these pants. They’re thin and sleek with few seams and made from recycled nylon and elastane. The light compression from the extra-high waist, reminded me to use my ab muscles, even in simple poses like tadasana (mountain pose). And, most importantly, when I put them on, they felt so good that they made me want to get on my mat and practice yoga. Not all pants can inspire a workout.

During my yoga practice, the leggings checked all the boxes. They were flexible, so easy to move in, and they were comfortable. They lived up to the hype of being made from a “premium performance fabric from a renowned Italian mill.” 

I also appreciated that these pants have no visible logo. My yoga practice is a time to step away from the material world, and the absence of a small symbol of consumer culture was a nice touch. They’re also well below the $100+ yoga pant price point at $58 per pair, leaving more cash to fit in the cute pocket in the waistband.

The best outdoor yoga pant

Best yoga pants   Best for Outdoor Yoga   Alo 4x3

The Alo High-Waist Lounge Legging is ideal for outdoor yoga classes in cooler climates, or for indoor low-intensity yoga classes and workouts. 

Pros: Warm, soft

Cons: Not great for indoor high-intensity yoga or exercise

As the pandemic has shuttered studios, many teachers have moved classes to parks and parking lots with socially distanced mats. This has been great for those of us who need to practice with others so can’t just Zoom a class. But what do we wear? Thin yoga pants are great for feeling free and agile during practice, but they’re not great for winter walks or outdoor classes in cooler weather. 

Of all of the pants that I tested, the Alo High-Waist Lounge Legging was the only one that had a level of thickness to provide strong protection from the wind chill of cold days. They’re still flexible, though, with Alo’s signature four-way stretch. 

When I wore these outside, they were perfect, and for lounging indoors or doing light movement, like restorative yoga or stretching, they were also great. But when I wore them indoors for more intense workouts, they were too hot for my comfort. 

Overall, these pants with Alo’s “velvety” Alosoft fabric are a dream. As the name would suggest, they feel incredibly soft against your skin, and the ribbing at the waist and ankles make them even cozier and more flattering. 

The best non-legging yoga pant

Best yoga pants   Best Non Legging Yoga Pant   Sweaty Betty 4x3

The Sweaty Betty Gary Yoga Pants are a great alternative to leggings on days when you don’t want to feel constricted.

Pros: Comfortable, great for modesty

Cons: The thin material is not great for outdoor classes or colder climates

While you may be questioning your decision to ever wear skin tight jeans after months of quarantine, the question about why we wear tight pants is especially relevant in yoga. When I went to India to study with my yoga school, they warned us Americans that our idea of “yoga pants” wouldn’t be acceptable attire there. Looser pants were the norm. 

But the problem with baggy yoga pants can sometimes be that the fabric flies all around and makes movements clunkier. And in inversions, loose trousers may even succumb to gravity and fall down from your ankles to your hips. 

I love Sweaty Betty’s Gary Yoga Pant because they’ve thought of all of that. These pants are loose, comfortable, and lightweight, but they also work well for practice. They’re tapered at the ankles, so they didn’t fall when I was upside down. Plus, the polyester/elastane blend fabric was roomy and stretchy enough that I could move into deep poses carefree. As Sweaty Betty advertises, they’re “100% squat proof.”

When in-person yoga becomes the norm again, I’ll probably mostly wear traditional leggings, but on days when I want to feel less constricted, these would be my go-to pants.

The best pant for hot yoga

Best yoga pants    Best for Hot Yoga   adidas x Karlie Kloss 4x3

The adidas x Karlie Kloss Primeblue High-Waist Long Tights‘ thin and airy design make them perfect for sweaty sessions. 

Pros: Light weight, affordable price, sustainably crafted

Cons: Prominent branding, too thin and airy for cold weather, can’t be tumble dried

Even with most hot yoga studios temporarily closed, many aficionados find ways to get in a heated practice at home by blasting space heaters and shoving blankets underneath doors. For these steamy classes, the right yoga pants can make a big difference. When drenched, certain fabrics’ compression and thickness leads to too much weight and cling to be comfortable. The adidas x Karlie Kloss Primeblue High-Waist Long Tights are a great thin option that avoids those pitfalls.

The pants are great for any workout, but especially good for sweaty activities like runs and heated classes. They’re made from primeblue, a material partially made of upcycled plastic, which would have otherwise ended up in oceans. They also have elastane.

These pants were comfortable for cardio workouts and unheated yoga as well. But they were less ideal for outside wear, at least in the fall and winter. Each leg has six small holes about half way down, and there’s a thinner, ribbed fabric interspersed with the main material. These touches made the leggings ideal when my heart was pumping but less so for running errands on a windy day.

Also, the branding made these pants feel less able to switch from a workout to a dressier engagement. The branding, a small “Aeroready” on the back waist, and 10 inches of “Karlie Kloss” and the Adidas logo down the hip make it clear that these are exercise leggings.

The best high-waisted yoga pant

Best yoga pants   Best High Waisted Legging 4x3

If you love high-waisted yoga pants, the Alo High-Waist Airlift Legging is a great pick for comfort and style. 

Pros: Versatile, comfortable

Cons: Have to be hand washed separately

When I first tried on the Alo High-Waist Airlift Legging, I felt like I was getting dressed up. The double-knit Airlift fabric’s silky sheen and high waist made them feel more sophisticated than the yoga pants I had been wearing every other day. 

High waists vary. Some land below my belly button while others nearly reach the bottom of my sports bra. I appreciated that these pants were of the higher variety. Having a higher waist supports my yoga practice because the touch of pressure on my stomach nudges me to engage my core. I’m not sure if it was that engagement, the micro-performance fabric, or both, but the pants did smooth my mid-section. And with the higher high waist, I didn’t have to worry about the pants rolling down during forward-folding poses like uttanasana or paschimottanasana. 

Another advantage of these pants is that they’re thin, but not too thin. The light fabric and its four-way stretch is great for postures that call for deep stretches, like split pose, but they’re not so light that they expose what’s under them — in other words, no visible underwear lines. The front smoothing panel is great for that protection or, as Alo says, “commando comfort.” 

The best maternity yoga pant

The Best Maternity Yoga Pant - Beyond Yoga

If you’re a yogi with a bump, these pants will give you a fit that rivals those of your pre-pregnancy pants. 

Pros: Soft, comfortable and great fit

Cons: Limited duration of usability; the extra high waist is great for a bump, but with this extra fabric, they may not be ideal far beyond pregnancy

Maintaining my yoga practice during pregnancy was crucial, not only because I’ve been practicing daily for years and wanted to keep up my strength and flexibility, but also because a prenatal practice has been shown to reduce labor pain and length. As my bump grew, however, my yoga classes—and pants—had to change. Traditional vinyasa flows became too intense, and the waists of my favorite leggings kept getting lower and tighter. It was time for prenatal classes and new yoga wear. 

Of the maternity pants that I tried, the Beyond Yoga Spacedye Love The Bump Midi Maternity Legging stood out as the best. Most yoga apparel companies don’t make maternity pants, but Beyond Yoga is one of the exceptions. Their expertise in the space showed. 

These leggings are buttery soft and fit exactly like my favorite pre-pregnancy pants. The one exception, however, is the super high waist. This top portion can be worn up, reaching just below your bra, or folded down for a more traditional yoga pant look. Personally, I preferred wearing the waist up, so that during practice, the pants would stay in place perfectly.

As I sat in squats and reached my limbs into bird-dogs, the leggings’ Spacedye fabric, which delivers on its promise of an “ultra soft feel,” stretched with me like a second skin. And as my belly has expanded over the past few weeks since I first wore them, the fit has remained just as good. I’m excited to have these pants see me through the rest of my third trimester and beyond.

What else we considered:

Best yoga pants 4x3
  • Lululemon Groove Pant Flare Super HR ($98, sizes 0-14): As expected from Lululemon, these pant’s Nulu™ fabric is light and soft. They’re great for all day wear, and the high waist adds to their comfort. They weren’t a top choice, though, because their flare cut makes them less ideal for a fast-paced yoga practice. In inversions and seated forward folds, the excess fabric was a bit distracting.
  • Outdoor Voices Springs 7/8 Legging ($78, sizes XXS to XXXL): These were the only yoga pants that I got compliments on. Outdoor Voices’ signature color block design helps these leggings to stand out from competitors and is a creative way to have their pants be immediately recognizable as Outdoor Voices without needing a logo. I was comfortable in these leggings working out, running errands, and practicing yoga, and I also loved how they looked. But they didn’t make the top list, because I found the textured polyester and spandex fabric less comfortable than that of the other pants.
  • Beyond Yoga Heather Rib Jogger ($110, sizes XS to XL): These are another great option for a non-legging yoga pant. They’re very comfortable, and when I put them on I didn’t want to take them off for days. That said, they didn’t make the top choices, because they’re more fitted than I would like when I’m looking for a non-legging pant. A large part of the appeal of the non-legging pant to me is to not have a form-fitting shape, and these felt a little too close to leggings for me.
  • Seraphine Maternity Activewear & Yoga Power Leggings ($59, sizes XS to XL): At nearly half the cost of the other maternity leggings we tested, these are a great option if you want to invest less in pants that you’ll only be wearing for a couple of trimesters. Though I didn’t find the fit as ideal as that of the top maternity pic, these were comfortable and held up across activities. The pant legs are made of a sweat-wicking material, which made it feel like there’s some distance between me and the fabric. (This was nice at a time when I’m already feeling constricted enough!) And, the belly band is made of soft jersey material, which was comfortable to wear over my bump all day long.
  • HATCH Before, During, and After Legging ($98, sizes XS to XL): I loved these leggings. Made of 92% modal and 8% spandex, the fabric is super soft. Though they feel as cozy as pajamas, they don’t look like them, and can be easily dressed up with a nice top and non-athletic shoes. These aren’t explicitly yoga pants, but they worked well in maternity-style yoga classes, which exclude sweaty, vigorous sequences. What these pants lacked in yoga-pant-perfection, they made up for in their versatility.
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best tablets in 2021 for every size and budget, from the powerful iPad Pro to Amazon’s kid-friendly Fire tablet

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The 10.2-inch Apple iPad is still the best tablet, thanks to its balance of performance and price.
  • Remember to check out those featured in the ‘what we considered’ section for the full picture.
  • Also expect the new 2021 iPad Pro and Amazon Fire HD 10 to join this list once they’ve been tested.

Tablets have become a necessity for a lot of people, despite there being less of them out there than smartphones or laptops. Thanks to the advances in functionalities a lot of them have acquired over the years, they’ve become quite vital to most folks, playing a variety of roles – from being a secondary laptop or screen for work to the main device people rely on for their daily computing demands.

It isn’t a surprise, therefore, that now there’s a tablet for pretty much everyone. The newly released iPad Pros, fitted with Apple’s highly praised M1 processor and that stunning XDR display, target creative professionals seeking the absolute best. Meanwhile, something like the Amazon Fire HD 10 is best for budget users who don’t really need to pay for all that power. There are tablets for kids as well, with the Fire HD 8 Kids being the ultimate choice if you want the best value.

As for the rest, the most highly recommended tablet for most people is almost always going to be Apple’s standard iPad 10.2, which is affordable enough while offering the best set of features and apps.

To help you decide which tablet is best for you, we gathered the best tablets for every type of user including those with premium tastes and those who prefer things small and portable.

Here are the best tablets

The best tablet for most people

ipad 2019 10.2 cyber monday deal

The 10.2-inch iPad is a great tablet for the vast majority of tablet users, and it supports the Apple Pencil.

Pros: Incredible price for an iPad, slick aluminum design, Touch ID for security and Apple Pay, great screen, supports the Apple Pencil 

Cons: Light on entry-level storage, no expandable storage

Apple’s standard 10.2-inch iPad is a breath of fresh air in a sea of premium tablets. While all the others seem to be getting more expensive, it offers an incredible balance of price, performance, and features – the best out of any other tablet we’ve tested, in fact. 

Starting at $330, the 10.2-inch iPad is a great inexpensive option as a general purpose tablet. It may run on the same A12 processor that spun the wheels in the 2018 iPhone XS series, but this chip is still a very capable processor that will see you through your needs. That is, if your needs mostly consist of running undemanding apps, streaming videos, sending emails, browsing, and playing games designed specifically for iOS.

The 10.2-inch iPad is also perfectly suitable as a lightweight productivity tablet especially when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case to type up documents, messages, and emails. If taking notes or drawing is a criteria, the 10.2-inch iPad also supports the first generation of the Apple Pencil, which is good for general use. 

For more intense productivity where you think a mouse would be beneficial or for more involved creative tasks where support for a more precise stylus is necessary, Apple’s iPad Air or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 would be a better choice. However, for general usage, the 10.2-inch iPad already offers a lot more for less.

And finally, Apple’s iPads are normally the best tablets to buy in general largely because of the wider availability of apps that are specifically designed for iPads. On top of that, as with any Apple product, Apple’s physical stores are good resources for repairs, and users have a clear idea of where to bring their iPad if something goes wrong.

The best budget tablet

Amazon Fire HD 10

The latest Amazon Fire HD 10 (2019) is super affordable, but it still delivers a good set of features that you’ll enjoy using for watching videos and running simple apps.

Pros: Low price point, performs basic functions of a tablet well, offers expandable storage with a memory card slot, good for kids, works especially well for those with Amazon Prime accounts

Cons: Not a high performer, slow at charging, restricted to Amazon’s app store, no access to Google Play Store

Amazon’s Fire Tablets have come a long way from being a glorified e-reader. While previous iterations of the Amazon Fire HD 10, for example, were sluggish, its more recent models have improved quite a bit in terms of performance.

Based on our own experience with previous generations of the Amazon Fire HD 10, as well as reviews of the 2019 model from PCMag and Tom’s Guide, it’s an ideal and inexpensive tablet for simple video streaming, browsing the web, and naturally, ticking another book off your reading list. 

Boasting a 10-inch screen with 1080p resolution and a 2.0 GHz octa-core processor that gets the job done for running basic apps, the Amazon Fire HD 10 is certainly an excellent budget proposition. If you have a bit of flexibility in your budget, a 64GB storage is also on hand for just a little more – something you should consider if you plan on utilizing those two 2MP cameras located in front and in the back.

Like all of Amazon’s tablets, the Fire HD 10 is also a terrific option for kids, thanks to its extensive parental controls, kid-friendly features, and availability of apps designed specifically for kids – though the smaller and cheaper Fire HD 8 or Fire HD 7 may better suit smaller children. 

Just bear in mind that Amazon’s tablets are restricted to Amazon’s own app store and don’t support Google’s Play Store so app selection will be more limited. Most popular streaming apps can be found in Amazon’s app store, except for YouTube’s dedicated app. There’s a workaround where you can watch YouTube videos from the web browser, however. You can check the app selection in Amazon’s own app store before buying to make sure it has the apps you’ll want to run here.

The best high-end Android tablet

Samsung Tab S7

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 is as stylish as it is powerful, you can use it as a laptop in a pinch, and it comes with the superb S Pen stylus.

Pros: Gorgeous screen, fast processor, S-Pen stylus is included, and powerful speakers

Cons: Expensive compared to most Android tablets

Samsung has been making excellent Android tablets for years, and its recently launched Galaxy Tab S7 continues that tradition. Scratch that, this new release improves on its predecessors in a lot of ways, making it perhaps the best Samsung tablet release yet. Make no mistake: this is a high-end Android tablet that can go toe-to-toe with Apple’s iPad Pro on nearly every level.

The Galaxy Tab S7 is a stylish, well-made tablet with a metal frame and back. The keyboard case is sturdy and turns your tablet into a quasi-laptop – although, while it does moonlight as a laptop and does a heck of a job at it, it is a tablet first and foremost.

This tablet showcases Samsung’s knack for making astonishingly beautiful screens, boasting a stunner of a 11-inch LTPS LCD screen. I watched lots of Netflix and Prime Video on the tablet, and I was really impressed by the clarity, color reproduction, and intensity of the brilliant screen. 

When used with the included Samsung’s S-Pen stylus, you’re getting a terrific experience, whether you’re creating designs or simply scribbling your thoughts. The S-Pen itself feels like a real pen. I love to draw on tablets, and I was impressed by the lack of lag on the Tab S7. Palm rejection works perfectly as well. 

Other noteworthy features here are the 128GB of storage to give you ample space for downloads, a microSD card slot if you ever need to expand your memory, and that fast performance made possible by the Snapdragon 865 Plus, one of the best chips for Android devices, powering it.

The Galaxy Tab S7 comes with a steep price tag, starting at $649.99 for its base configuration. However, if you want the best iPad Pro alternative, this is it.

The best tablet for professionals

iPad Pro Keyboard 4

Apple’s iPad Pro comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes with specs that are so high-end they surpass some laptops.

Pros: Gorgeous screens, new design with smaller bezels, excellent specs, high-end performance, Pencil is superb for drawing, two screen sizes, now comes with mouse support

Cons: Very expensive, accessories are extra

The recently released iPad Pros for 2021 are set to be a game-changer, touting the same much-lauded M1 processor that runs Apple’s newest MacBook computers and brings big gains in power and battery life.

Additionally, these new iPad Pros come equipped with a Thunderbolt connector for more accessory compatibility, optional 5G connectivity, and up to 2TB of storage. The 12.9-inch model also features a Liquid Retina XDR display powered by mini-LED technology for enhanced brightness and clarity.

We are currently testing the 2021 iPad Pro lineup. In the meantime, the 2020 iPad Pro still has its merits, including those slim bezels, a stunning sharp screen in two sizes, and a powerful processor. It also comes in 11- and 12.9-inch screen sizes to suit your preferences, with the 12.9-inch screen ideal for digital artists who need room to roam and the 11-inch model better for portability. (You may also more easily get a deal on a previous-generation model.)

Regardless of the model, the 2020 iPad Pro is a powerhouse. The A12Z Bionic processor is so high-powered it can surpass some laptops. Apple’s entry-level model comes with 128GB of storage, but you can get up to 1TB if you want to spend a whole lot of money. Apple no longer sells the 2020 iPad Pro, but you can still find it through retailers like Amazon.

We recommend picking up the new Apple Pencil if you like to take notes or draw. It may cost $129, but the new version charges wirelessly and magnetically attaches to your iPad for easy storage.

Apple’s Keyboard will also cost you a pretty penny, so we recommend going for a third-party case and keyboard. — Malarie Gokey

The best tablet for kids

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Lifestyle 2

If you feel a little nervous handing your mobile devices to your kids, the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet comes with a tough case to keep it safe.

Pros: Better performance, rugged build, parental controls built-in, longer battery life, two-year worry-free guarantee, a plethora of apps, more affordable than ever 

Cons: Doesn’t contain powerful components, tablet runs slower than most models

When it comes to kids, it’s not advisable to just hand them your pricey tablet. That’s why tablets for kids exist, because not only are they built to withstand all the abuse a toddler can muster, but they’re also cheap enough that you won’t feel bad when they are eventually destroyed.

Take the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, for example. It comes with a tough kid-proof case that’s designed to protect it from drops and bumps as well as keep crumbs and other messes away. 

Amazon is so confident that this case will do the job that it offers a two-year worry-free guarantee. That way, if you’re dealing with a mini Hulk, you can rest assured that Amazon will replace the device for free. We only wish it also offered some level of water-proofing.

It takes more than a rugged build to be a great kids tablet, and the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition knows that. It comes with a whole lot of kid-friendly content and apps so that your kids can play educational games, watch their favorite shows, and even read books to their heart’s content – or at least until you say so. 

Amazon bundles it with a year’s worth of free Amazon Kids+ access to save you money. After that, it’s $2.99 a month, which really isn’t bad considering that your kids will be entertained for hours and you’ll get a much deserved break when you need it.

While its predecessor is a little sluggish, the newest Fire HD 8 Kids Edition offers better performance without costing you a lot more. That’s without mentioning its longer battery life of up to 12 hours, more storage (that is also expandable up to 1TB, thanks to its microSD card slot), and USB-C port for faster charging.

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is a slightly bigger option with better performance than our previous choice, the Fire 7 Kids Edition, and it’s barely more expensive at $140.

The best small tablet

iPad Mini 2019

The iPad Mini is essentially a smaller replica of the standard 10.2-inch iPad. Just watch out for its higher price tag. 

Pros: Compact, good performance, sharp screen, works with the Apple Pencil

Cons: Dated design, expensive for what it is

The 2019 iPad Mini is Apple’s small tablet that’s powered by the capable A12 Bionic chip, and it supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, which makes the Mini a great tablet for note taking or drawing.

The Mini‘s 7.9-inch Retina display has a sharp 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution, too, so you can really enjoy watching videos, reading, and creating on the screen.

You can choose between 64GB or 256GB of storage and three color options: Silver, Space Gray, or Gold). If you want to keep the price down, you can get the Wi-Fi-only version, but there is also a Mini with both cellular and Wi-Fi connections.

Our main gripe with the iPad Mini is that it’s a smaller version of the $330 10.2-inch iPad with nearly the same specs, and yet it costs $70 more. That higher price casts a shadow over the iPad Mini, as it’s hard to justify paying extra for something smaller, especially if it’s a year old already. Still, it’s the best small tablet there is.

What else we considered

iPad Air Wide

There are a lot of amazing tablets out there, and just because they didn’t quite make our list above, that doesn’t mean they’re not equally worthy of consideration when you’re looking for your next tablet. 

In fact, there are a couple of tablets we’ve tested that we wish we could include, but have opted not to. That’s mostly because they couldn’t quite compete in terms of value – even though when it comes to performance and features, they are still top-notch.

It was hard not to include, for example, the iPad Air 4, which was released in October 2020. This stunning tablet from Apple is thin and lightweight, and it comes in three appealing colors on top of the usual space gray and silver. 

It also delivers impressive performance, thanks to Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chip, and that beautiful 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display that’s simply terrific for media consumption. That’s without mentioning its compatibility with the second generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, both of which turn it into a highly capable creative and productivity tool.

Unfortunately, it’s also neither the best value of the iPads nor the most powerful. However, it’s the way to go if you have a bigger budget but don’t necessarily need the sheer power that the iPad Pro offers.

Then there’s the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which is as premium as you can get in the Android tablet scene. This “Plus” version of the Galaxy Tab S7, our current
“best high-end Android tablet” pick, comes with an even more beautiful Super AMOLED display with 2,800 x 1,752 resolution, as well as an in-screen fingerprint sensor and a longer battery life, making it a superior prospect.

Sadly, it’s also the pricier one, starting at $850. While that price is cheaper than the iPad Pro, the fact that the Tab S7 is cheaper still makes the S7 Plus less appealing for most people – even those looking for something premium. 

However, if you do want the best of the best and have deep pockets, it’s definitely worth the upgrade

How to pick the right tablet for you

iPAd

Operating systems for tablets

As with smartphones and laptops, you can choose among a few different types of operating systems with tablets. Picking the right OS will enhance your enjoyment of the tablet you select.

  • Apple’s iOS: For many people, the name iPad is synonymous with tablets. Although the iPad wasn’t the first tablet on the market, it’s credited with making tablets popular and invigorating the tablet market in 2010. The iPad runs Apple’s iOS operating system, which also powers the iPhone. iOS has a great interface and works equally well on a smartphone or tablet screen. There are tons of special apps made for the iPad, which makes it an excellent investment. However, because only Apple-branded iPads can run iOS, you’ll pay more for them versus tablets with other operating systems. 
  • Google’s Android: You also may be familiar with the Android operating system, managed by Google. Android powers many different kinds of smartphones. It’s also very user-friendly and offers tons of apps. There are numerous Android tablets to choose from, and they range in price from under $10 to around $600 and up. 
  • Amazon’s Fire OS: Fire OS is a special ecosystem, rather than an operating system, as it runs on top of Android. Basically, it brings Amazon’s services to the forefront of the OS and you download apps from Amazon’s app store. Amazon also has special software for kids on its kid-friendly tablets. These Fire tablets are much more affordable than any other kind of tablet.
  • Microsoft’s Windows: Microsoft has tweaked the Windows operating system to make it far more user-friendly than older versions of Windows, meaning it works equally well with a traditional desktop computer or a touchscreen tablet. When running Windows on a tablet, you’ll have access to a lot of traditional software, but you’ll find a significant lack of apps compared to Apple or Android. However, since these tablets run Windows, they can be used as full laptops.

What to look for in a tablet

Tablets have a lot of different strengths, depending on the one you choose. Think about what you want to do with the tablet, and you’ll be able to find one that’ll perfectly meet your needs.

  • Battery Life: Completing a really long car trip in successful silence may depend on whether your tablet has a long battery life. Battery life typically can range anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, depending on the tablet model and screen size. Seven hours is about average.
  • Connectivity: Different tablets allow you to make a connection to the Internet in a few different ways. Most will offer Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to connect to your home or work network. Others also include the ability to connect to a cellular network, much like a smartphone, and access the Internet through the cell network. However, you must have a cellular account with a monthly fee to use it.
  • Fast Processor: Look at the CPU and GPU chips included in your tablet. Newer, more powerful chips will give you faster performance levels. Some Windows tablets even have laptop-level processors inside, so you can use them as portable PCs. However, you will pay more for more power.
  • Keyboard: Most tablets are able to connect to a physical keyboard for typing, making it easier to input data into the tablet versus using the digital keyboard on the screen. Some tablets are 2-in-1 devices, meaning the keyboard/screen configuration looks more like a laptop because the two are connected. You then can fold up the keyboard to make it work like a tablet.
  • RAM: RAM is the amount of memory used to operate software and apps. This is different from the type of memory used for data storage. The more RAM you have available on the tablet, the better it will perform, but the more you’ll have to pay.
  • Screen Resolution: Tablets that can display more pixels will have a sharper image that looks great. If you want to watch movies on the tablets, having a resolution of at least full HD quality (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) will be very desirable.
  • Screen Size: The size of the tablet’s screen marks the most important feature for most people. Larger screens work better for things like watching movies, drawing, or playing games. Of course, screen size plays a direct role in the size of the tablet, too. So if you want a smaller tablet, you’ll want a smaller screen.
  • Storage: Tablets have an interior solid state drive (or SSD) for storing apps, movies, games, and more. You may be able to add more storage through a Micro SD memory card, although not all tablets have a memory card slot. Some tablets rely on cloud storage for extra storage. You may want extra storage for movies, books, and games.
  • Stylus: Some people love having a stylus for working with the tablet, especially if they’re drawing by freehand. Not every tablet can make use of a stylus, and some stylus pens don’t work as well as others. So if you need one, do your homework to find a tablet that can take full advantage of the features of the stylus.

Check out our guide to the best iPads you can buy

ipad air and ipad mini 2019

The best iPads you can buy

Apple is the uncontested king of tablets. The word iPad is synonymous with the word tablet. Chances are if you own a tablet at all, you have an iPad.

We’ve tested nearly every iPad that has been released over the past three years, and these are the absolute best iPads you can buy. You can also check out the best iPad cases for every type of person and read why we love the Apple Pencil.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best rowing machines of 2021 for your home gym

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • At-home rowing machines deliver high-cardio, low-impact workouts that strengthen muscles and burn calories.
  • Rowers come in four resistance varieties: Water, air, magnetic, and hydraulic, each with their own benefits.
  • Our top pick, Concept2’s Model D, is durably built, is comfortable to use, and has smooth-running air resistance.

There are few machines capable of delivering the same kind of calorie-burning, full-body workout as an at-home rower. In the span of just 30 minutes, you’re able to enjoy a low-impact, high-cardio exercise that’s fit for people of any age or fitness level. As long as you know how to properly row, this versatile workout not only serves as a quality complement to a pre-existing routine but it can also stand on its own as a prime source of weekly exercise.

It’s because of that effectiveness, and the fact many people prefer working out at home, that rowing machines are more popular now than ever – and are increasingly becoming staples in people’s home gyms. If you don’t like running on a treadmill or aren’t particularly fond of stationary bikes, a rower is the next best thing – and to some, it’s regarded as an even better form of exercise.

I tend to agree. There’s just something wholly different about finishing up a grueling 45-minute rowing workout that feels far more taxing and exhausting than a run on a treadmill or a streamed Peloton class. Those two do deliver tiring workouts, no doubt, but I walk away from a row routine truly noticing its full-body results.

But while all rowers deliver similar cardio benefits, not all are designed the same. In addition to a range of resistance types and rower sizes, there are models that are easily stowable, as well as a new crop of smart rowers touchscreens and access to on-demand, streamable classes. In other words, there’s plenty of variety.

To find the best currently available, I tested a number of machines that span every use case, resistance type, and price point. My goal was to find rowers that delivered a serious cardio workout while proving to be a valuable addition to a home gym setup – and I came away with a strong list of favorites.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a rower, answers to a series of FAQs, and a rundown of the testing methodology I used in deciding which rowers made the cut.

Here are the best rowing machines:

Our testing methodology

Ergatta rowing machine

Each rower featured in this guide went through a testing process to gauge how well it performed across these four categories: Ease of use, experience, reliability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which rowers ultimately made this guide.

Ease of use: Row machines have a naturally low learning curve — the general idea is to just sit down and row. But we know there’s more to it than that. Ease of use also refers to the process of setting up the machine set up in your home, how easy it is to get started, whether there’s a companion app, and if that learning curve (however steep) dramatically impacts the following category: your experience.

Experience: Working out for fun may seem like an oxymoron but it is important to at least somewhat enjoy the sweat your breaking. Since a row machine delivers a full-body workout, you want one that won’t feel like some sort of grueling game of tug of war. Ideally, a proper row machine offers smooth operation, an engaging platform (whether that means it offers digital feedback or is just fluid to use), and is comfortable to use. 

Reliability: If the rowing machine you invest in doesn’t last longer than a few months, you’ll likely be cursing whatever inclination you had to want to buy it. Put plainly, at-home workout machines aren’t cheap and the one you ultimately end up spending a large chunk of money on should work and work often. 

Value: Value is a mixture of the categories that came before it, as well as some attention to its actual sticker price — but this doesn’t mean that more expensive models should be ignored. It’s better to spend more money once on a machine that’s reliable, easy to use, and delivers a fun workout than to struggle with a different cumbersome budget model every few months. 

The best row machine overall

Concept2 Model Indoor Rowing Machine

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine brings the gym to your home with its sturdy build, smooth gliding action, comfortable design, and superb quality.

Pros: Smooth gliding operation, ease of assembly, large size to accommodate tall people

Cons: Pricey and requires a bit of space (9 feet by 4 feet) but worth it

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine features solid aluminum front legs, steel rear legs, a flywheel with air resistance, and a maximum user weight capacity of 500 pounds, making it our top pick. 

Essential for executing powerful and uninterrupted strokes, the Model D ‘s flywheel has a damper for adjusting its air resistance, granting you complete control of the resistance yourself. The harder and faster you row, the more wind the flywheel generates and the more drag you’ll feel.

With an air resistance rowing machine, you’d expect a bit of noise, however, the Model D runs fairly quiet. Although not completely silent, it’s quiet enough for rowers to listen to music or watch television at a normal volume during workouts.

The easy-to-read performance monitor (PM5) tracks stroke rate, calories expended, distance, pace, and watts. It has several built-in programmable workouts and games to motivate you during a workout. The rower’ also quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, and can be taken apart and rolled for storage.

Although the Model D isn’t inexpensive, it’s a worthwhile investment in your health and comes with limited five- and two-year warranties. — Helen Mao

The best budget rowing machine

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

At a very reasonable price, the Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine offers a versatile workout with its independently moving arms and smooth hydraulic resistance for continuous rowing action.

Pros: Low price, independent arms for a full range of movement, and ease of assembly and folding

Cons: Resistance declines as piston heats up during long rowing sessions; short warranty (90 days for parts/one year for frame) 

The Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is small but mighty — and an excellent value at $120. Although it’s compact and quiet, this hydraulic resistance rowing machine provides a big workout with a smooth-gliding padded seat and separate arms for a full-body workout.

What makes the BodyTrac Glider so special is its versatility in arm movements. Unlike many models where you pull a single handle attached to a chain or cord, this erg has two arms that allow for a full range of motion and mimic real boat-rowing movements.

This means you can row forward or backward, move your arms in circular directions, pull the handles close together for a conventional stroke, or hold the grips apart to exercise different arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Because the arms operate independently of each other, you’re able to focus a workout on each arm individually. 

Sturdy with a steel frame and aluminum center beam, the BodyTrac Glider supports up to 250 pounds. It assembles easily and folds up for storage, as well. The single hydraulic piston/cylinder is located under the unit for convenient adjustment with a manual control dial.

The machine is able to maintain a variety of consistent levels of resistance for roughly 30 minutes of hard rowing. As with most hydraulic rowers, fluid in the hydraulic piston heats up, which decreases resistance. When this happens, you’ll need to pause and increase the resistance setting. Always make sure you turn the control dial itself and not the heated piston/cylinder. Another downside to hydraulic resistance models is the chance of the piston leaking oil.

The BodyTrac Glider also has a simple and easy-to-use monitor, which features more functions than you’d expect on a machine this affordable. — Helen Mao

The best interactive rowing machine

Ergatta Digital Rower

The Ergatta Connected Rower combines the rush of video game racing with the fitness benefits of a full-body exercise to deliver one of the most interactive rowing machines available. 

Pros: Motivating video game-inspired workout platform, beautiful design, features a folding design for easy stowing

Cons: Expensive 

Like similar smart fitness equipment from brands such as Peloton or NordicTrack, the Ergatta Connected Rower utilizes a giant on-board screen to display its on-demand workouts and exercises. But unlike its aforementioned peers, the workouts aren’t led by an instructor belting out the next movement or exercise but are instead comprised of a series of video game-inspired routines that prove just as motivating as those high-energy classes.

What this means is that the Connected Rower pits you against the machine for its goal-based plans and interval workouts, while also allowing you to compete against other Ergatta users in simulated races. Regardless of the event, the software delivers an addictive experience that drives you to want to continuously do better. Fitness trackers found a way to gamify daily fitness and the Connected Rower follows the same path. 

The physical rower is an aesthetic wonder, too. Made of Cherry wood and featuring a traditional water rowing mechanism, Ergatta clearly intended for the rower to be more than just a means for getting fit — it wanted the rower to also pleasing both in terms of look and feel. The water rowers soothing swoosh of water adds to an already enjoyable experience, as well.

Perhaps its one downside is the fact the rower’s not cheap. But since few interactive workout machines like are, this isn’t entirely surprising. After an initial $2,199 price tag for the machine (and a $199 shipping cost), there’s a recurring $27 fee for access to the library of on-demand classes (which is also par for the smart workout machine course). 

In all, the Ergatta Connected Rower delivers a full-body workout disguised as an interactive gaming experience — and it’s one of the most enjoyable we’ve tested.

Check out our review of the Ergatta Connected Rower here

The best smart rowing machine

Hydrow

The Hydrow Rowing Machine aims to be the Peloton of at-home rowers with an immersive content experience that delivers a complete, full-body workout.

Pros: Extensive library of motivating classes and rowing events, delivers a full-body workout, features quiet, electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive

Connected fitness equipment continues to grow in popularity — and for good reason. Not only does it provide an interactive method for keeping fit but the classes and streamed content itself serve as powerful motivation to push on. In the rowing space, one of the best to deliver the kind of connected content fans of NordicTrack and Peloton have come to love is Hydrow and its aptly named rower, the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Built with an aluminum and steel frame on a flat, anthracite polymer body, the Hydrow is a durable and sturdy rower. Attached to the front of the machine is an HD touchscreen where you’re able to access its library of interactive workouts. These workouts include everything from on-demand routines, open swim-style free rows, whole body-specific workouts, and live classes.

The machine also comes with the ability to read your heart rate via an included monitor and features a whisper-quiet electromagnetic resistance. Hydrow does well to not only provide classes that highly motivate you to finish a row but it also creates a competitive environment where you can see how you rank with other global users or anyone else using your machine. 

With a sticker price of $2,245 and a recurring monthly fee of $38 for access to the classes, it’s certainly not cheap — but few connected fitness machines of this caliber ever are. It’s worth the investment.

Read our full review of the Hydrow Rowing Machine

The best digital-resistance rowing machine

Screen Shot 2020 07 09 at 4.16.00 PM

NordicTrack’s RW900 combines the stimulation of instructor-led courses with the versatility of both air and digital resistance to offer one of the best at-home rowing experiences. 

Pros: Interactive workouts, easily folds up, utilizes a dual resistance design

Cons: Expensive, iFit membership costs $39 per month (after the first free year)

Though NordicTrack may be more well known for its stationary bikes and treadmills, the company’s offered high-quality row machines for quite some time — and its RW900 is the brand’s crown jewel. Featuring a 22-inch HD touchscreen display, a library of interactive workout classes led by real trainers, and a fold-up design, this rower is worth every bit of its $1,699 price tag.

What makes the rower particularly impressive is its dual resistance. So, while rowing away during a class, an instructor has the ability to digitally adjust the resistance based on how they want you to row. But if it’s either too much or you want to kick your workout up a few notches, there’s the ability to manually adjust the air resistance. An easy-to-use air control is located on the wheel which allows for quick adjustments, even between strokes. 

Like any workout machine with a massive touchscreen attached to it, the RW900 shines with what it offers in terms of workouts via its iFit interactive platform. Be it in studio routines from its roster of iFit trainers or more calming sessions in real locations around the world, the options are incredibly versatile. There are even yoga and cross-training courses to mix things up a bit.

The rower also offers stat tracking which tells you how long you row each week along with calories burned and row wattage and allows for up to four different users on the same iFit profile. All new purchases also come with a free year of iFit (which is typically $468 per year or $39 per month), so you won’t have to worry about a monthly recurring charge for access to the library of content for at least the first year.

The best water resistance rowing machine

Man rowing on a WaterRower at-home row machine

The elegant WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine uses water resistance to make you feel like you’re truly sculling on the open water.

Pros: Gorgeous appearance, meditative whooshing sounds, and simulation of open-water rowing sensations 

Cons: Expensive, included monitor is fine but limited

If the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine looks familiar, that’s because it’s the base unit used by Ergatta for its Connected Rower (our pick above for the best interactive row machine).

For an indoor rowing machine, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine comes closest to recreating the sensation of actual outdoor rowing as it features a flywheel that pushes through water in a heavy-duty tank. It even delivers soft and soothing swooshing sounds of water while rowing, too. 

In addition to controlling resistance through your strokes — the harder and faster you row, the greater drag the flywheel encounters — you can increase resistance by adding water to the tank. In essence, the more water there is, the heavier the drag on the flywheel, and the harder your workout.

Maintenance of the machine is easy, too. Just fill the tank using the included siphon pump and drop in a chlorine tablet every six months. There’s no need to empty the tank, even before storing it. Although the machine doesn’t fold up, it’s easy to store upright and the weight of the water stabilizes the erg in an upright position.

You can assemble the frame without any tools, and the instructions come on an included DVD. Because wood expands and contracts due to environmental conditions, you may need to tighten the bolts every once in a while.

With a comfortable, stable seat that rolls smoothly along dual rails, you’ll experience an excellent workout where you can keep track of distance, time, and calories burned as displayed on the S4 monitor. The rower comes with a three-year warranty on its parts, as well as a five-year warranty on the frame.

The best rowing machine for beginners

Sunny Health Fitness SF RW5515

Quiet, smooth, and stable, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine provides varying magnetic resistance levels for a wide range of workouts. 

Pros: Economical with eight levels of resistance, easy to fold and store

Cons: Only okay cord quality, rail might be too short for tall people

The reasonably priced Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine offers quite a few convenient features: a comfortable, cushioned seat; anti-grip handles; an LCD monitor that tracks stroke counts, time, and calories burned; and eight levels of knob-adjusted magnetic resistance for various intensities.

Level two is good for warming up before progressing to levels three and four for a more vigorous workout. Levels five and higher are more intense, perfect for long cardio-building rowing sessions. Level seven is for endurance and all-out sprints while level eight offers the greatest resistance (and hardest workout).

Able to support up to 250 pounds, the Sunny’s Magnetic Rowing Machine has a 48-inch-long rail in which the padded seat rolls smoothly and quietly. The rower is able to easily fold up for convenient storage and even has built-in wheels. It’s easy to assemble and relatively compact, taking up minimal space when folded up and very little square footage when open. — Helen Mao

FAQs

Is rowing better than running? 

According to a study done by Dr. Cameron Nichol, who is a former Olympic rower, rowing activates more muscle groups than just running. In addition to activating roughly 85% of your body’s muscles and upwards of nine different muscle groups, rowing also helps strengthen your back, tone your arms, and benefit both your upper and lower body.

Ramon Castillon, president of the boutique studio, Row House, told Insider that “rowing is the perfect answer to [finding the most effective workout] because it’s extremely accessible” to both beginners and advanced rowers. 


Can you row every day?

In short, yes. But like any workout routine, it’s important to not overdo it or consistently push yourself over your limit. Personal trainer, Irving “Zeus” Hyppolite, told Insider that people tend to try to do too much and that there’s an actual limit on how much your body can handle.

Hyppolite says three to five days a week of exercising from 45 minutes to an hour (including warm-up and cooldown) is a good standard. Once you start doing more than that, you’ll be expending the same amount of energy for more minimal benefits, he added. 

Personal trainer, Bryan Goldberg, previously shared with Insider that too much exercise can impede any progress you’re making, despite how beneficial it may seem in the short term. 

Though both Hyppolite and Goldberg referenced exercise in general, this can be used as a rule of thumb for rowing. As long as you’re not rowing to utter exhaustion every day of the week, it’s fine to jump on daily. However, it’s likely more useful to give yourself some days off to rest.


Can you lose weight by using a rowing machine?

Consistent exercise is just one component of being able to manage your weight, so it’s irresponsible to say that a rower can be singularly able to help you lose weight. Caley Crawford, NASM CPT, and Director of Education for Row House, told Insider that “it’s crucial that you partner a strong and healthy diet with your exercise routine.” 

Crawford added that full-body strengthening (like that which rowers can offer) does have its benefits in regards to fat loss. But keep in mind, that it’s not the only thing you should focus on. Weight training, proper rest, and a well-rounded diet are vital, as well. 

How to shop for a rowing machine

With so many different kinds of rowers, it’s important to examine each model to choose one that best fits your needs and keeps you motivated and injury-free. You’ll want to consider features like:

Resistance: Different types of resistance include magnetic (electromagnets slow the erg’s metal flywheel), air (wind from the spinning flywheel creates drag), hydraulic (resistance is created by hydraulic fluid in a piston or two connected to the erg’s handles), and water (the flywheel pushes against water in a tank).

Size: The machine should be large enough for you to straighten your legs and maintain proper rowing form, yet small enough to fit into your workout space.

Maximum user weight capacity: Models vary in how much they support but many accommodate 220 to 265 pounds or more.

Foldability: Some machines (usually magnetic and hydraulic resistance) fold up for easy storage, while others (often air and water resistance) don’t. 

Monitor: A monitor or computer tracks information like distance, duration, speed, and/or calories burned while rowing.

Seat: It should be contoured and large enough to keep your backside comfortable while allowing you to maintain proper form.

How to row with good form

To get the most out of your workouts and avoid injury, remember that proper rowing form consists of an initial drive phase followed by a recovery phase. Here’s how to execute it: 

  • For the drive, start first with your legs and once those are extended and your back is vertical, use your arms to pull the handle into your body. Your finished position should be your legs fully extended, the rower’s handle pulled into your body with your wrists in line with your forearms. From here, you’ll move onto recovery.
  • The first step of recovery is to straighten your arms and pivot your body from your hips, making sure to avoid hunching forward or bending backward. This fluid motion will then have your legs flexing in until your shins are completely vertical.

Finally, don’t think of this exercise as a race. Focus on perfecting your form, not on how fast you can row.

Check out more Insider Reviews fitness guides

The best home gym equipment


The best treadmills for your home gym


The best exercise bikes


The best air glider machines


The best budget gear for building a garage gym

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best men’s jeans in 2021

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

Dearborn Denim
  • There are numerous denim brands, and trying to find your perfect pair of jeans isn’t always easy.
  • From looser fits to stretchy jeans to summer whites, we’ve found the best jeans to buy right now.
  • Besides the various cuts, fades, and distressing, there are other considerations. We lay them out below.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Jeans have been functional workwear, rebellious youth garb, a symbol of American culture, and today remain the most popular style of pants across the globe. While denim has become ubiquitous, jeans still allow wearers to display their individual styles, especially now. There’s a seemingly limitless amount of cuts and colors, material blends, fades, and distressing for whatever your style or even your mood. Beyond mere looks, we’ve included environmentally friendly jeans, denim made in North America, and some budget-friendly choices as well.

Here’s a quick rundown on some denim terms it’s helpful to know.

  • Raw denim: Denim that hasn’t been washed or distressed.
  • Sanforized: A process whereby the denim is preshrunk to prevent further shrinkage when you wash your jeans.
  • Selvedge: High-quality denim that’s woven on smaller shuttle looms that produce tightly woven ends on the fabric (“self edges”), keeping it from fraying. These “self-edges” are used in constructing the jeans’ finished seams.
  • Stacking: The way excess denim stacks on top of itself at the ankle.

The best way to care for your jeans so they’ll last as long as possible is easy. Wash them in cold water inside out and hang them to dry. That’s it!

A Note On Fit

The brands in this guide are geared towards men’s sizing but can be worn by any gender identity. For smaller sizes, please refer to our guide focused on traditional women’s sizing.

Levi’s 501 ’93 Straight Fit

501 '93 Straight

Levi’s, the originator, continues to stay relevant with its looser fit 501 ’93 Straight made with organic cotton. 

Nearly 150 years after launching the world’s first pair of jeans, Levi’s continues to stay relevant. The trend in men’s pants of late has been towards looser fits, inspired by 1990s silhouettes, and Levi’s has gone back into its archives for both its 501 ’93 Straight Jeans and the 551 Z Authentic Straight Jeans. 

The button-fly 501 ’93 Straight is a recreation of Levi’s 501 Originals from the 1990s. The jeans sit on the waist, as opposed to the hips, and are roomy at the seat and thigh. They’re not tapered, but are cut straight through from hip to hem, as the name implies, and stack slightly at the hem. The jeans come in eight different washes, including Marshmallow, a bright white perfect for summer. Pair them with a warm pastel-colored T-shirt and your favorite white sneakers. They’re made in Egypt from organic cotton. They have 1% elastane for a touch of added stretch, but are not stretchy jeans. 

For an even looser fit, the 551 Z is the way to go. Based on Levi’s first preshrunk jeans from 1961, they’ve been reimagined with a 1990s sensibility. These zip-fly jeans feature a loose fit through the seat, hip, and thigh and stack at the hem. The jeans feel soft and broken-in from the get go. There’s subtle distressing at the pockets on the Hula Hopper wash. For a more distressed look, get the 551 Zs in Phantom. The jeans are made in Cambodia from a sustainable cotton-hemp blend. They do not have any stretchy material added, but are roomy enough not to need it. Levi’s makes both styles using Water<Less water saving techniques. The initiative, which began in 2011, has saved more than 3.5 billion liters of water from the finishing process compared to conventional methods, according to the company. 

501 ’93 Straight Men’s Jeans (small)551 Z Authentic Straight Men’s Jeans (small)
COS Recycled Cotton Tapered Jeans

COS Tapered Jeans

The COS Tapered Jeans are a classic with the bonus of being sustainably made. 

COS, which is owned by fast-fashion giant H&M, is a London-based Scandinavian brand focused on sustainability through the materials used in its clothing, their durability, and their timeless design—an important component to keeping clothing out of landfills. The brand first launched in the U.K. in 2007 and has been flourishing in the last few years. The company sourced more than 75% of its clothing sustainably in 2020 using materials like organic cotton and recycled wool, cotton, and polyester. COS has pledged to use 100% repurposed, recycled, or sustainably sourced materials by 2030. 

The COS Tapered Jeans represent the company’s aesthetic and ethos well. These jeans are made from cotton reused from its supply chain—scraps of fabric leftover from cutting patterns—that’s rewoven into new fabric. The classic look of the button-fly tapered jeans means they won’t be going out of style anytime soon. They have a soft handfeel and a regular fit that tapers from knee to hem. The Tapered Jeans look good on most body types. They are 100% cotton, so they aren’t stretchy, and are rivet-free. The company says this is to make the jeans easier to recycle. They come in blue or dark grey. The belt loops are on the narrow side and will fit a thin leather belt but not a wider style

For those who prefer a slimmer cut, COS offers Slim-Leg Jeans in four washes made from organic cotton. 

Recycled Cotton Tapered Jeans (small)Slim-Leg Jeans (small)
Naked & Famous Denim Left-Hand Selvedge Jeans

Naked & Famous Left Hand Selvedge Jeans

The Naked & Famous Left-Hand Selvedge Jeans are made in Canada from raw Japanese selvedge denim and are priced below other comparable luxury brands. 

Raw denim isn’t for everyone. The cost can seem as stiff as the jeans when you first put them on. Naked & Famous Denim, a Canadian brand launched by Brandon Svarc in 2008, may convert you. They only use top-quality Japanese denim and sew their jeans in Canada. While most luxury denim brands charge $200 and up for jeans, you can get a pair of Naked and Famous for about $150. Svarc, in an email, said the company can produce luxury jeans at this price because they don’t do washes or distressing and don’t advertise or have paid celebrity endorsements. N&F are also sustainably made. Since the denim is raw, there aren’t any of the environmental issues associated with the finishing process. Additionally, both Japan and Canada have high environmental and labor standards. 

While known for its wild creations, like glow-in-the-dark denim and raspberry scratch-n-sniff jeans, the brand’s core essentials, like the Left-Hand Twill Selvedge, are what keeps its customers coming back. It’s made from Japanese left-hand twill denim, which is softer (once it’s worn in) than the industry standard. The jeans are dark blue with contrasting gold stitching. They’re button-fly and made from a midweight 13.75-ounce denim, which is comfortable for all year-round wear depending on the climate. I got the Weird Guy fit (regular tapered). This is the brand’s most popular style because it looks good on most everyone. It has a medium rise, fits straight through the leg and has a gentle taper from knee to ankle. These are made from selvedge denim and colored using a natural indigo dye. I got my normal size (32) based on the company’s measuring guide. They fit snugly at first, but after a few weeks have loosened up nicely. The jeans are sanforized. 

The company also has a new Recycled Selvedge Denim jean, made from denim scraps left over from pattern cutting that are recycled and spun into new yarn. They’re a striking heather blue because of the addition of ecru fiber. 

Weird Guy – Left Hand Twill Selvedge (small)Weird Guy – Recycled Selvedge (small)
Dearborn Denim SVR Tailored Fit Jeans

100% cotton jeans called SVR

Dearborn Denim manufactures its jeans in Chicago and charges reasonable prices, which is kind of unheard of these days. Best of all they look great and are well-made.

Dearborn Denim is an outlier. It’s a U.S.-based company that manufactures its jeans in its Chicago factory and sells them for less than $70. They also just launched a less expensive version under $40 that sold out of the first run almost immediately. Don’t worry, it’s back in stock. Robert McMillan, a former bond trader, started the company in 2016 looking to help revitalize American apparel manufacturing, believing it is “a great industry for steady and fulfilling employment for many people,” he told me in an email. He credits Dearborn’s efficient production and supply chain and no outsourcing for being able to sell quality, American-made jeans at reasonable prices while giving the workers fair wages and good benefits. 

As mentioned above, Dearborn recently released 100% cotton jeans called SVR that, like the company’s other products, are made in Chicago. The Tailored Fit jeans run true to size, have a medium rise and have a slight taper from knee to ankle. These zip-fly jeans come in a dark rinse, which is a stunning midnight blue. They are comfortable from the get-go and are a great value at $39. Dearborn can sell the jeans at this price by not including things like rivets, which are pretty much just decorative anyway. You end up with solid, American-made jeans.

If you’re looking for a slimmer fit, Dearborn makes a Slim Fit that comes in 9 washes, including two different dark washes. This is a stretch denim, made from 92% cotton with 7% polyester and 1% elastane making for comfortable wear. The denim is made in Mexico and sewn in Chicago and Dearborn sources all the trim (button, zipper, leather for the label) in the U.S. 

100% Cotton Tailored Fit Dark Wash (small)Tailored Fit Dark Wash (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best dog life jackets in 2021, with advice from veterinarians and pet safety experts

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A life jacket can prevent a dog from drowning and is recommended when a dog is in or around water.
  • Six experts shared what they look for in a dog life vest, such as strong handles and bright colors.
  • The best dog life jacket is the affordable, sturdy Outward Hound Granby Ripstop Life Jacket.
  • 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.

Some dogs seem born for the water while others would rather keep their paws firmly planted on the earth. But there’s one thing both water babies and poolside loungers have in common: A dog life jacket can keep accidents in and around the water from turning into tragedies.

No one life vest is ideal for dogs of every size, shape, and ability. Fiona McGlynn, contributing editor at BoatUS Magazine, told Insider Reviews that the best life jacket is one that fits properly, is comfortable in water and on land, and has plenty of functionality like durable handles and well-balanced flotation. We carefully considered the advice of McGlynn and five other dog water safety experts when developing our selection criteria for the best dog life jackets in this guide.

Here are the best dog life jackets in 2021

How we chose the best life jackets for dogs

There are currently no standards or certifications to guide pet guardians when selecting a quality dog life vest. “Unlike human flotation devices, canine flotation devices are not regulated,” said Lindsey Wolko, founder and CEO of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia. “There has been very little scientific examination of the flotation needs of pets.”

For this guide to the best dog life jackets, we relied on the recommendations and experience of the experts we consulted, as well as two studies conducted on dog life vests in the 2010s. With the help of these resources, we came up with the following checklist of essential features, then used it to conduct a thorough analysis of the dog life jackets currently on the market. Those that best met the criteria were selected as winners.

The best dog life jacket overall

Best dog life jackets in 2021 plus water safety tips for dogs

The Outward Hound Granby Ripstop Life Jacket is built with comfort, safety, and affordability in mind for small and large dogs, alike.

Pros: Neoprene belly band, three adjustable straps, foam chin float, larger sizes have two lifting handles, reflective accents for better visibility, affordable, available in five sizes

Cons: Only comes in one color, hand wash only

Whether your dog is big or small, a natural swimmer or a natural sinker, the Outward Hound Granby Ripsto Life Jacket offers protection and comfort in and out of the water. In the 2012 dog life jacket evaluation conducted by the BoatUS Foundation, this one excelled in every category and was favored by the testing staff for dogs of all sizes.

The Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket is made of thick, buoyant foam panels inside a ripstop nylon shell. A flexible neoprene band fitted with three Velcro strips and two adjustable, quick-release buckle straps wraps around the belly. A third strap buckles at the chest.

A foam chin panel on the chest strap helps keep a dog’s head above the water, a feature veterinarian Gabrielle Fadl, medical director and vet at Bond Vet in New York City, likes to see in a dog life vest. In their tests, the BoatUS Foundation found the Granby’s flotation foam evenly distributed enough to keep a dog horizontal in the water. Out of the water, they noted that dogs wearing the vest appeared comfortable and their movement was not restricted.

While the extra-small and small sizes have one solid, padded handle for pulling a pup out of the water, the medium, large and extra-large jackets have two handles for better leverage and more comfortable lifting. The vest comes with multiple reflective accents that improve the likelihood of spotting a dog in the water. 

The Granby Life Vest is remarkably affordable, even for extra-large dogs. No matter their size, ability, or familiarity with the water, this is an excellent life jacket for every dog.

The best neoprene dog life jacket

Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket worn by an australian shepherd

The snug, low-profile neoprene Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket is insulated and comfortable in and out of the water.

Pros: Neoprene provides additional insulation and warmth, three adjustable straps, has a foam chin float, larger sizes have two lifting handles, reflective accents for better visibility, comes in five sizes

Cons: Straps may rub on barrel-chested or chubby dogs, only comes in one color

Neoprene dog life jackets are less bulky and more comfortable than other vests. They also offer insulation to keep a dog’s body temperature from dropping drastically in cold water. Even with its sleek design, the side panels of the Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket are packed with plenty of foam to keep even novice swimmers afloat.

The jacket has a neoprene belly panel fitted with two adjustable buckles. A third adjustable buckle strap at the chest has a foam insert to help keep a dog’s head above water. Unlike some of the other designs we selected for this guide, the straps do make contact with the dog’s skin at the edges, which could cause some discomfort and rubbing after a long day at the water’s edge, especially if your pup has a barrel-chest or a chubby belly.

This life vest comes in five sizes. The extra-small and small sizes have one sturdy handle at the back for lifting a dog out of the water in an emergency, while the larger sizes have two straps for better leverage. The Dawson Life Jacket has reflective accents for better visibility in the water.

In their dog life jacket evaluation, the BoatUS Foundation found that thinner neoprene vests like this one tend to bunch up less on a dog that is sitting or lying down out of the water, making them more comfortable overall. That combined with the additional warmth and insulation provided by the neoprene material make this as good of a choice for dogs who spend a lot of time in the water as it is for dogs who prefer to sun themselves on deck.

The best life jacket for small dogs

Dog wearing Ruffwear float coat dog life jacket while standing on a paddleboard

The high-quality Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket fits snugly for dogs as little as 13 inches in length.

Pros: Two adjustable buckles and an adjustable telescoping chest strap, reflective accents for better visibility, comes in six sizes and three colors, D-ring for attaching a leash, machine washable

Cons: Pricey, no chin float

For smaller dogs, a life jacket should have the right balance of buoyancy and comfort without so much foam or fabric that it overwhelms little swimmers. The Ruffwear Float Coat, available in sizes for dogs as small as 13-inches long, has a tailored fit packed with foam flotation that doesn’t hinder the movement of short legs. 

Mark and Kristi Jagger, dog surfing instructors with the So Cal Surf Dogs Club in San Diego, California, told us that this jacket seems to fit the best and the handle on top of the coat makes for easy water retrieval. A 2017 study identified this vest as the best of those tested for keeping an incapacitated dog afloat in open water

The Float Coat wraps around the belly and secures with two adjustable buckle straps. The chest strap has an adjustable telescoping design that slips over the head. Depending on fit, the belly straps may partially rub against the skin or cause discomfort. Its nylon sides are packed with closed-cell foam, which helps to keep a dog upright while swimming. One sturdy handle is sewn into the back of the vest and there is also a D-ring for attaching a leash and a loop for hanging a light. It does not have a chin float.

This jacket comes in three bright colors, but McGlynn recommends skipping the blue one which would be harder to see in the water, even with the vest’s reflective trim. The jacket also comes in six sizes and can be washed in a machine on the gentle cycle in cold water, then hung to dry. Like all Ruffwear products, the Float Coat comes with a hefty price tag but with its durable construction, it will last and last.

While the jacket will work for any size dog, its snug fit and small sizes will keep little pups afloat in the water without compromising mobility or comfort.

The best life jacket for large dogs

golden retriever wearing Kurgo surf n turf life jacket for dogs.

The Kurgo Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket scallop design and double lifting handles work well for large breeds both in and out of the water.

Pros: Three adjustable straps, two sturdy lifting handles, reflective accents for better visibility, comes in five sizes, two D-rings for attaching a leash, removable flotation layer, doubles as an on-land nylon vest, inner layer is machine washable

Cons: Moderately pricey, only comes in one color, no chin float

Kurgo’s Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket is built tough for large, active dogs. The vest earned the highest score for extra-large pups in the BoatUS Foundation’s evaluation where reviewers particularly liked its two perpendicular lifting handles for hauling a dog out of the water and its scalloped design, which fit the shoulders and rear haunches well.

This jacket is also more versatile than the others we considered for this guide. It has two built-in detachable layers, one stuffed with foam for flotation, the other a simple nylon ripstop shell that can be worn as an extra layer for on-land adventures. This vest has two adjustable buckle straps on its belly panel and a third adjustable strap at the chest. Two metal D-rings are sewn into the top of the vest, one of which doubles as a bottle opener. It does not have a chin float.

Kurgo’s Surf N’ Turf Dog Life Jacket comes in five sizes but only one color: red with grey reflective trim. The inner layer is machine washable on the gentle cycle after removing the flotation device. It should be hung to dry. While the jacket is moderately pricey, it comes with Kurgo’s lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects.

With its two-layer design, solid double lifting straps, and athletic fit and styling, the Kurgo Surf N’ Turf is a sturdy option for large breed swimming and sea-faring dogs.

FAQs about dog water safety

dog wearing ruffwear life jacket and dog without life jacket, both in water.jpg

Learning about the risks dogs face when in and around the water can help ensure they stay safe. We tackle some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Can all dogs swim?

 “While doggy paddling is instinctual to many dogs, not all dogs know how to swim,” said Fadl. “It’s crucial to allow your dog time to learn, and their time in the water should always be supervised for their safety.”


What dogs are more vulnerable to danger in the water?

Whereas some dogs are natural water babies, others may be more likely to experience challenges, even if they’ve entered the water willingly. McGlynn told us that older pups or those with limited mobility may be more likely to tire out when swimming and, when tired, may be more susceptible to dangers like rip currents. Dogs with lower body fat like greyhounds and boxers may also struggle in the water if their body temperature drops too low.


For what activities should a dog wear a life jacket?

Anytime a dog is in or around water, even if it’s just a swimming pool, a life vest is worth considering. Accidents can happen even if you have a strong swimmer. Boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding are all activities in which a dog should wear a life vest and in dog surfing, life vests are mandatory. “A lot of dog owners use them for fun on the beach, too,” said McGlynn. “Just swimming and retrieving, there could be currents that pull them out.” Ultimately, though, it’s up to pet parents to determine whether their dog should wear a life jacket based on the dog’s experience in and around the water, said Wolko.


Should my dog wear a life jacket around the pool?

If you have a dog that has spent little time around a pool, putting them in a life vest is just common sense, said Wolko. Only after a dog has been properly introduced to a pool, including how to use the stairs to exit the water, is it okay for strong-swimming dogs to go life vest free. Even if your dog has pool experience, they should wear a life vest when visiting unfamiliar pools that may be designed differently.


What color life jacket is best spotted in the water?

All of the experts we consulted told us dog life vests are easiest to spot in the water when they are brightly colored. “Colors like blue and gray are not going to stand out as well in the water,” said McGlynn. Reflective accents sewn into the exterior also help improve visibility.


Can a dog still drown while wearing a life jacket?

Unfortunately, it is possible for a dog to drown while wearing a life vest. “Dogs who are not well supported from a flotation perspective can panic or tire from treading water, increasing the risk of drowning,” said Wolko. Dogs wearing life jackets may also face extreme danger if they become trapped under the water or if waves or rapids are splashing in their nose and mouth, McGlynn added. A life jacket that is properly fitted can help minimize the risk, as can educating yourself about canine water safety before enjoying the water.

How to fit your dog for a life vest

A life jacket that fits properly is essential to keeping a dog safe in and around the water. The best way to ensure proper fit is to take your pup into a brick-and-mortar store to try your options rather than ordering online, according to several of our experts. Because dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes, what fits one comfortably may not be appropriate for another.

When fitting a dog for a life jacket, McGlynn told us to look for a vest that fits snugly but has no buckles or straps that are tight enough to ride up or rub against the skin. She also suggested examining how the life jacket fits both when a dog is lying down and standing up. If your dog will be wearing a life vest for several hours, it should be comfortable in every position.

Chest girth, neck girth, and weight are also crucial considerations when fitting a dog for a life jacket. Take the following measurements to narrow down the size that’s right for your pup.

Chest girth: A dog life vest is fitted according to the width and shape of a dog’s chest. To get their chest girth, measure the circumference around the widest part of the chest right behind the front legs. You’ll get the most accurate reading when your dog is standing in a relaxed position. If their chest girth falls between sizes, choose the larger option.

Neck girth: A dog life vest should not be so tight around the front of the chest and neck that it may press against the windpipe. To determine girth, measure the circumference of your dog’s neck around it’s thickest part, just below the collar. When in doubt, size up! 

Weight: While you can’t fit a dog for a life jacket by knowing their weight alone, it’s important to make sure the vest size you’ve chosen can support their weight in the water. If your dog is heavier than recommended for the life jacket that fits them best, either size up or look for a different brand that is labeled for their weight.

Our sources

To come up with the selections for this guide, we consulted with a variety of experts on dog water safety including a veterinarian and surf dog instructors. Each answered questions via phone or email in March 2021. Our advisors include:

We also consulted the following online sources:

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best Chromebooks in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Google’s Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook for its long battery life, comfy keyboard, and solid performance.
  • But there are plenty of other worthwhile Chromebooks at different prices that come in other sizes.
  • Check out our guide to the best laptops for more buying advice.

Chromebooks have evolved quite a bit in recent years, offering performance and build quality that’s almost on par with Windows and MacBook laptops.

We’ve used a number of different Chromebooks over the years and conducted plenty of research to find the best ones. Whether you’re in need of a cheap laptop for casual browsing or a daily work machine, there are several great options worth considering depending on your budget.

But it’s also important to understand the ways in which Chromebooks are different from other laptops. Check out our guide to deciding whether a Chromebook is right for you.

Here are the best Chromebooks in 2021

The best Chromebook overall

Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook pick overall for how it brings high-end, premium sensibilities to a much more affordable price point. With all-day battery life and an amazing keyboard, it’s the one to beat.

Pros: Excellent display, incredible keyboard, lightweight and slim, long battery life

Cons: Fanless CPU, pricey upgrades, no biometric login, small-capacity storage

Google’s latest Chromebook to date, the Pixelbook Go, is also the one we’d recommend to most people who want the quintessential Chromebook experience.

With its approachable starting price, the Pixelbook Go offers up a surprisingly premium mobile computing experience that comparable laptops don’t even bother to. For instance, the Pixelbook Go features a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel (1080p) touchscreen with an embedded 1080p webcam as well as 8GB of memory (RAM). Some of these features,  aren’t even seen on the new entry-level Dell XPS 13, which comes with a non-touch display and 720p webcam. 

Where the Pixelbook Go falls is storage, with just 64GB of space to start, relying heavily on the fact that Chromebooks utilize cloud storage via Google Drive (online connectivity required). Still, it’s more storage than most Chromebooks offer at this price point. Also, with a rated battery life of 12 hours, it’s one of the longest-lasting Chromebooks around.

We love the Pixelbook Go for its incredibly quiet and comfortable typing experience as well as how it brings high-end sensibilities to a more approachable price. At its starting price (our recommended configuration), this is the absolute best Chromebook for the price. However, if you’re considering the most expensive configuration — with an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 4K Ultra HD display — we’d suggest looking for a flagship Windows or MacBook laptop instead.

The best value Chromebook

Samsung 4+

Samsung’s 15-inch Chromebook 4+ packs the most value into a budget laptop that we’ve ever seen, with many modern niceties for so much less than most laptops with similar features.

Pros: Decent display, long battery life, lots of ports

Cons: Small local storage, low amount of RAM

For those looking to squeeze the absolute most value possible from a Chromebook purchase, it’s difficult to beat the 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+. You’re getting an incredible amount of laptop for its asking price — no question.

What you get is a sleek, subtle platinum-colored frame housing a 15.6-inch, 1080p display, with power from an Intel Celeron CPU backed by 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. That’s supported by two USB-C ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card reader — along with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 — for connectivity.

All of this comes within a device that can last for up to 10 hours and 30 minutes on a single charge, and can search the web for you and answer questions with just your voice using Google Assistant. Save for biometric login and more local storage, there’s nothing else that this budget laptop leaves off the table.

The best 2-in-1 Chromebook

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 has a spacious screen and a sleek convertible design, making it a great choice for those who want a flexible yet affordable laptop.

Pros: Smooth performance, good port selection, great display

Cons: Speakers aren’t the best

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is an affordable, lightweight 2-in-1 Chromebook with a tall 3:2 screen. That extra height makes Acer’s Chromebook a particularly strong choice for those who want a basic laptop with more screen space for work or entertainment.

Since it’s a convertible laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713‘s display folds backwards so that it can be used as a tablet. Like many similar convertibles, the Chromebook Spin 713 can take on a few different forms thanks to its flexible design. 

For example, you can prop it up like a tent,  or tuck the keyboard under the display. Both modes are ideal for times when you just want to look at the screen without the distraction of a keyboard — such as while giving a presentation or watching a movie.

The model I’ve been using runs on Intel’s 10th generation Core i5 processor and comes with 8GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive, a 2,256 x 1,504 resolution display, and an estimated 10 hours of battery life. Those are impressive specifications for a Chromebook, considering most Chromebooks don’t come with as much power or storage since they’re primarily meant to be used with an internet connection. 

But Acer also launched a new version of this Chromebook in June 2021 that comes with Intel’s newer 11th generation processors, Thunderbolt 4 support, the option for a fingerprint reader, and the same 10-hour battery life.

Otherwise, the Acer Chromebook 713 stands out for its vibrant and spacious screen and comfortable keyboard. The speakers sound a little shallow since they’re located on the bottom of the notebook, and the fans can sometimes get a little noisy. But the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a winner all-around.

The best compact Chromebook

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet offers a combination of portability and versatility that seems impossible to beat at this price.

Pros: Low price, portable and attractive design, included keyboard and cover

Cons: Only one USB-C port, performance can sometimes be sluggish

Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet, which costs $270, is the right choice for anyone who prioritizes portability and affordability in a Chromebook. It’s smaller and cheaper than Apple’s least expensive iPad and comes with a back cover and keyboard case at no extra cost. It’s not a powerful device, but it’s suitable for anyone who wants an inexpensive and portable device for basic tasks.

But don’t misinterpret that to mean that this Chromebook feels cheap. The tablet itself has a solid yet lightweight build that makes the Duet feel more expensive than it actually is. 

The tablet comes with an attractive textured back cover and detachable keyboard that provides a comfortable typing experience. They add a bit of heft to the tablet, but even with these accessories the Duet is small and light enough to tote around with ease. 

The top-firing speakers are surprisingly loud for this tablet’s size, and their location at the top of the tablet means you don’t have to worry about accidentally blocking them while holding the device. It also should last for 10 hours on a single charge according to Lenovo’s estimates.

But the performance you get for this price make the Lenovo Chromebook Duet best-suited for easy everyday tasks, like using Google’s productivity services (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.), reading the news, and watching movies. The tablet can get a little laggy when switching between apps frequently, and it stutters when running graphics-intensive games. 

The Chromebook Duet also only has one USB-C port, so there isn’t much flexibility when it comes to connectivity. There isn’t even a headphone jack, although Lenovo includes a dongle in the box. Still, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet offers a tremendous amount of value for the price.

The best 13-inch Chromebook

HP Chromebook 14 G5

The HP Chromebook 14 is an excellent buy for those looking for that traditional laptop experience without spending a ton of cash. With lots of basic features but also versatility, we think it’s a winner.

Pros: Excellent price, lots of ports, long battery life

Cons: 1080p costs extra, tiny local storage

For those seeking a little more screen size and power from their Chromebook than a mere 10 or 11-inch device can offer, we suggest considering the HP Chromebook 14. This has many of the same features as your average 11-inch Chromebook, but with more space and a 14-inch, 720p screen crammed into a 13-inch-sized laptop.

The HP Chromebook 14 is both drop and spill resistant to a minor extent, and comes packing an Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 32GB SSD for storage. Again, this device is assuming that you’ll be using cloud storage via Google Drive to supplement your local space. The included microSD card slot can help expand that local storage as well.

On top of that, the laptop has two USB-C 3.1 and two USB 3.1 ports, offering plenty of room for expansion in all sorts of ways, including displays. Finally, this Chromebook can last for up to 10 hours on a charge.

It’s currently $50 more expensive than the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, but comes with perks like a larger screen and many more ports. The Duet, however, has twice the amount of storage and features a 2-in-1 design unlike this laptop.

 If you’re after a more traditional laptop experience but aren’t looking to spend a fortune, then this is the best Chromebook for that job.

Other great Chromebooks for school

HP Chromebook 11

The same Chromebook that might be suitable for most people isn’t necessarily going to cut it for schoolwork. Some Chromebooks might be over-the-top for middle school assignments, while the most basic Chromebooks could have a hard time keeping up with the demands of high school and college coursework. 

There are also some features that are particularly useful for students. Chromebooks for school should be lightweight and durable, for example, since students will likely be carrying them around between classes. Features like stylus support may also be more important than display resolution for classwork since students may need to jot down scientific formulas or math equations.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and Lenovo Chromebook Duet are examples of Chromebooks that we think are particularly great for school, but we also think they’re broadly appealing enough to recommend for general use as well. Here are a couple of other Chromebooks to consider for school.

1. HP Chromebook X360 14 — affordable size

Portability is undeniably important, but sometimes you really need the bigger screen to see what you’re doing or to multi-task. The HP Chromebook x 360 14 offers this without making the rest of the chassis too big, and it does so at a decent price. It even still delivers a 360-degree hinge and stylus support for total flexibility.

Chromebook x360 14 (button)

2. Dell Chromebook 3100 — rugged and reliable

If having a durable laptop that you can toss in a backpack without concern is a top priority, Dell’s Chromebook 3100 is worth considering. Dell says it’s been tested to survive 5,000 micro-drops and 30-inch drops onto steel, and it also has a spill-resistant keyboard. Trusted Reviews put this to the test after accidentally spilling coffee on the keyboard, dropping it on a hardwood kitchen floor, and putting it in the hands of a four-year-old, finding that it held up. Dell’s Chromebook comes in either 2-in-1 or standard clamshell options, with the convertible starting at $369 and the regular notebook beginning at $249. Both starting options come with an Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display. It’s not a computing powerhouse by any means, but it’s a reliable machine for getting basic work done that should be more than capable of taking a tumble or two. 

Chromebook 3100 (button)
Chromebooks we look forward to testing

Chromebook 2

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung’s original Galaxy Chromebook from last year’s CES had an attention-grabbing design that’s uncommon for a Chromebook, but its high price and short battery life limited its appeal. Now, Samsung has addressed those criticisms with the Galaxy Chromebook 2, a revamped version of its Google-powered laptop that comes at a cheaper starting price of $549.99 compared to the previous model’s $999.99 price tag. With a premium design, 13.3-inch QLED touch screen, and hopefully longer battery life, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 seems like it could be a promising option for those on a budget.

Acer Chromebook 314: Acer is also launching a new 14-inch Chromebook that it says should get up to 15 hours of battery life. The laptop has a 14-inch 1080p touchscreen and only costs $270, meaning it could give our current value pick from Samsung some fresh competition. 

Acer Chromebook 317: Those who want the biggest screen possible on a Chromebook may want to check out the Acer Chromebook 17. Launched in June 2021 for $380, the company claims it’s the first 17-inch Chromebook. It runs on the latest Intel Celeron processors, has an estimated 10-hour battery life, and comes with two USB-C ports plus a few additional connections. All told, it sounds like it could be a compelling option for those who want an affordable laptop with a big screen.

What to consider when buying a Chromebook

Chromebooks aren’t designed like Windows or Mac machines. Instead of using an operating system (OS) with software that resides on the computer, Chromebooks run on a cloud-based OS called Chrome OS. It’s very simple and easy to use. In place of a productivity suite like Microsoft Office, you get Google’s services like the Chrome web browser, Gmail (email), Docs (documents), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentation), and Drive (cloud storage); all these applications and others are accessed via cloud.

This means all of your files will save to the cloud in Google Drive, so you never have to worry about losing them or saving a physical copy to your Chromebook’s storage. As you can guess, much of Chrome OS’s core functions work through the Chrome web browser.

Although Chromebooks are cloud-based laptops, they can work offline. There are some Chrome OS apps and programs you can download; Google’s office suite has an offline mode; you can read or save files locally on a local solid state drive (SSD), external hard drive, USB flash drive, or SD card (if the Chromebook has a memory card reader); and even install Android apps from the Google Play store (Chromebooks released in 2017 or newer). But, most of your activity will be online through Google’s apps or the Chrome web browser. If you need specific programs, like Adobe Illustrator, Premiere or Logic Pro X, that are only available for Mac OS or Windows, then a Chromebook isn’t the best buy for you.

Some of the newest Chromebooks are quite high-end, with sharp, vibrant screens, comfortable keyboards, latest ports (USB-C and USB 3.0), and fast processors (CPUs). Couple that with the fact that just about any Chromebook available today supports the majority of Android apps through Google Play, and you have some awfully capable machines. However, not all Android apps perform well on a Chromebook, and we recommend using the web-based option instead, if there is one. For example, streaming Netflix through the web browser is preferable to using the Netflix Android app.

Here are some key hardware specifications to look out for when shopping for Chromebooks:

  • Displays: If you’re concerned about how the text, images and video will appear on the Chromebook screen that you’ll be looking at while using it, we recommend looking for a 720p (1,280 x 720) resolution at a minimum, with 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) being the gold standard. There are also 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) Chromebooks, but those are exorbitantly expensive whereas you can get a 1080p Chromebook for even $500. If you’re looking for a touchscreen, the majority of those come in 2-in-1 hybrid designs and generally start at around $700 for ones with decent hardware inside.
  • Processors: A benefit to Chrome OS is that it doesn’t require much power to run swiftly and efficiently, so most Chromebooks come with fanless processors either from Intel’s Pentium and Celeron lines or ARM-based chip designs. If you need more power for some reason, makers like Google and HP do sell Chromebooks with Intel Core processors at the highest end.
  • Memory: The memory (RAM) in your Chromebook dictates how many programs or browser tabs you can run simultaneously before the machine has to reload your content when accessed. Most Chromebooks come with just 4GB of RAM, though some higher-end models offer 8GB or as much as 16GB. We’d feel the most comfortable and free to work without limits using 8GB of RAM, but basic users will get away with 4GB easily.
  • Storage: Chromebooks rely heavily on the cloud storage services that Google provides via Drive, so most models come with between 16GB and 64GB of onboard space, which is usually expandable via a microSD card. More premium models in recent years have begun shipping Chromebooks with more storage via faster solid-state drives (SSDs) rather than cheaper flash memory. With Google Drive accessible in the Chrome OS interface as if it were local storage, we would strongly consider a subscription with your Chromebook purchase to save some upfront cost. If you’re that concerned with local storage, grab a microSD card or a thumb drive.
  • Ports: Most every single Chromebook is going to come with at least one standard USB port, likely the 2.0 edition in terms of data transfer speed. However, more modern and premium models have made the move to the sleeker, faster, and more versatile USB-C standard, so keep that in mind if you want the latest and greatest. Finally, don’t expect to see a lot of ports on Chromebooks, being inherently focused on simplicity and portability. Much of what Chromebooks lack in wired connectivity can be made up for with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Read the original article on Business Insider