Most of us spend eight hours a day sitting in an office chair, sometimes even longer.
An uncomfortable chair can distract you from the task at hand, or worse, leave you with aches and pains or exacerbate existing back problems.
Related Article Module: The best office chairs of 2021
The best office chairs should have a variety of positions that you can adjust to match your body. They should be comfortable and supportive, even when you change positions throughout the day. Success for an office chair can be measured by how little you think about it.
Often-repeated wisdom is that you should always be prepared to spend more money on anything that separates you from the ground. I’ve lived with a series of cheap to midrange office chairs before finally paying out several hundred dollars for a Steelcase Leap, and I’m convinced it’s an investment worth making.
The Steelcase Leap V2 office chair is designed to be highly adjustable so you can find the perfect heights, angles, and resistance levels to keep you comfortable for long stretches. This chair moves with you to provide lumbar support and encourage a healthy posture.
Arms and headrests are optional, and you can specify wheels that are suitable for carpet or hard floors.
Overall height: 38.5 to 43.5 inches
Overall depth: 21.75 to 24.75 inches
Overall width: 27 inches
Seat depth: 15.75 to 18.75 inches
Seat width: 19.25 inches
Seat height from floor: 15.5 to 20.5 inches
Arm to floor: 22 to 31 inches
Weight limit: 400 lbs
Shipping box weight: 66 lbs
If you buy from a retailer like Houzz, you’ll be able to return the item within 30 days and get a 10-year warranty. If you buy from Steelcase directly, then your Leap office chair comes with a limited lifetime warranty. That means Steelcase will repair or replace it free of charge if anything fails under normal use forever.
The Steelcase Leap V2 ships fully assembled, unlike many other office chairs, so there’s no need for screwdrivers and directions.
What does require work is finding the precise settings best suited to your body and your preferences. You’ll want to select the seat height and depth, the upper and lower back firmness and force, and the correct height for the lumbar support.
Like most other office chairs, my Steelcase Leap V2 office chair has armrests but no headrest. When I sit in the chair, I can slide the armrests towards me to reveal a key that highlights all the controls. The armrests are also fully adjustable, so you can change the height, slide them forward or back, bring them in close, and even pivot them to match the angle you’re facing.
I was a bit intimidated at first because there’s a lot going on here. If you’re uncertain about what any of the controls do, I’d recommend watching a video demonstration, like this one on YouTube. It’s important to adjust the Steelcase Leap V2 to your body if you want to avoid sore shoulders before noon.
The Steelcase Leap V2 has a classic office chair look. There’s nothing about the design that screams fancy chair, no mesh back or protruding levers. It’s understated with ergonomic curves, but this is a chair that aims to blend in. I went for black, which fits perfectly with my décor and office furniture.
If you want a more colorful look and have the budget, the original Leap chair has a wide variety of textured fabrics and colors for the upholstery. You can pick anything from bright yellow upholstery to leather. You can even change the frame and base color, though some combinations, such as leather with a polished aluminum frame, add a great deal to the price.
The adjustable armrests and lumbar support are comfortable on my body, and I never feel like I’m going to tip backward.
While the look may not set your pulse racing, the minute you sit in the Steelcase Leap V2, you can feel the quality. This is a sturdy piece of furniture that’s capable of supporting you through many long workdays over the years. The frame is easy to keep clean with an occasional wipe from a damp cloth.
The best thing about the Steelcase Leap V2 is the way it supports your body in different positions. Whether you’re leaning forward over the keyboard, sitting upright, or tilting back and putting your feet up on the desk, it feels like your back is properly supported. I also love the armrests, which are fully adjustable and made from a spongy plastic that never feels too warm or too cold, and wipes clean easily.
For the first couple of days, I was uncertain about the Steelcase Leap V2. I had to make several small tweaks to maximize support and comfort. It also wasn’t a great leap for me because I switched from a Steelcase Leap V1. The main differences are that the V2 is lighter and more maneuverable, the armrests are better, and the lumbar support is adjustable. On the other hand, it doesn’t feel quite as plush as the V1, particularly the back of the chair, but given that the V2 is half the price of V1, that’s to be expected.
After a few days, I could feel the benefit. The adjustable lumbar support is important for me because I’m 6’1 and have suffered back problems on and off for years. This is also the most comfortable office chair I’ve ever used for leaning back and putting your feet up; it never feels in danger of tipping. Changing your position often is recommended to help you avoid strains, so the fact that the Steelcase Leap V2 is comfortable in different positions is helpful.
Another thing I appreciate is the way the armrests can pivot to face the same way as you. This is relatively unusual, but it really helps if you have a multi-monitor setup or a corner desk, where you may turn your body and face in different directions. Angling the armrests separately from the seat gives you much more versatile support.
The wheels glide smoothly over my carpeted office, and it requires little effort to pull the chair in close to type or slide back to recline. Working throughout the day, whether I’m writing, reading, making video calls, or having a contemplative moment, the Steelcase Leap V2 just works. Even into the night when I might be watching a movie or gaming, it provides a comfortable seat that’s surprisingly versatile, making it easy to change your position to suit your activity.
Steelcase is also committed to sustainability. The Leap V2 office chair is made from up to 35% recycled content and is 94% recyclable.
But the padded back can cause sweating and be uncomfortable for some people.
Your back and posterior can get a little too cozy in the Steelcase Leap V2 sometimes. While there is a separation between the back and seat of the chair that lets air circulate, there’s no mesh back for breathability. Instead, the foam padding fits snugly to support your back, so if it’s warm in your office, you may find that your back can get a little sweaty.
There’s also no escaping the fact that the Steelcase Leap V2 is an expensive office chair. You can certainly spend a lot more on something like the Herman Miller Aeron, but you can also pick up office chairs for under $100. In my experience, cheaper office chairs are a false economy because they simply aren’t built to last.
I probably went through a cheap chair every year before taking the plunge with the Steelcase Leap V1. It served me well for four years and has now been passed onto my son, who uses it for long gaming sessions and loves it. With fewer back issues over the last few years, I firmly believe it’s worth paying more for a quality chair. If the asking price is too steep, look at refurbished Steelcase Leap chairs rather than settling for something cheap.
The bottom line
The Steelcase Leap V2 is the best office chair I have ever used. It’s comfortable enough to sit in for the longest of workdays, it’s fully adjustable to suit your body, and it’s easy to change your position frequently without losing support. The only potential downside is that the seat and back can get very warm.
Should you buy it? Absolutely yes. The Steelcase Leap V2 office chair is expensive, but cheaper chairs don’t come close to matching it on durability or adjustability. This chair can last you a lifetime and save you from back pain.
What are your alternatives? The stylish Herman Miller Aeron has long been considered the king of office chairs. It looks great, has a mesh design that enables air to circulate, and offers excellent support. However, it starts from around $1,000, making it significantly more expensive. While the mesh will suit those who get too warm, the lack of padding might not please others. A cheaper office chair to consider, at around $400, is the Uplift Vert Ergonomic Office Chair, which boasts important features like adjustable lumbar support and a mesh back to keep you cool.
After nearly a decade in New York, I recently moved to Florida. The move means I’ll be working remotely on a permanent basis, and that gave me the perfect opportunity to put together a new home office.
New York is infamous for its tiny apartments, and my old place definitely fit that bill. I made do with a cramped room that forced me to set up my desk in what should have been a closet. It got the job done, but was far from ideal.
My new apartment offers a lot more space, and that’s allowed me to create a more comfortable office. And, since I don’t have to worry about upsetting coworkers, I can even indulge in some killer speakers and one of those ridiculously loud mechanical keyboards I’ve always wanted.
Though my office is still a work in progress (cable management is my next project), I’ve been happy with my purchases so far. If you’re looking for home office ideas, these products all make worthwhile buys.
A wide desk with a rustic look
Study Computer Desk (small)
For my new desk, I wanted something wide with a rustic style. I ended up going with this 55-inch CubiCubi desk. The surface isn’t real wood, but it looks nice and it offers plenty of space. The metal frame is sturdy and it even features a hook to hang my headphones.
A comfy office chair
4000 Chair (small)
After testing a few desk chairs at a couple stores, I found this WorkPro 4000 chair that delivered the comfort, adjustability, and price tag I was looking for. So far, it’s served me well during regular eight-hour work days. The only complaint I have is that it’s easy to accidentally move the armrests around, but that’s really just a nitpick.
A mechanical keyboard for tactile typing
K845ch Keyboard (small)
I finally made the leap to a mechanical keyboard, and I love the way it’s improved my typing experience. Mechanical keyboards feature physical switches to give you tactile feedback. You can get quiet models, but I opted for Logitech’s K845ch with Cherry Blue switches to get that satisfying “clicky” feel. It also features illuminating keys with five backlight modes.
Desktop speakers for crisp sound
S 801 Bookshelf Speaker (Pair) (small)
These Jamo S 801 bookshelf speakers sound fantastic, with crisp highs and deep lows that are a step above typical computer speakers. The only downside? They require a separate amplifier for power. This super-compact AD18 amp from SMSL ($144.99) does the trick just fine.
A big monitor with plenty of workspace
QN600-B 32-inch Monitor (small)
As someone who tends to have an endless row of tabs open, I always find myself needing as much screen space as possible. This LG 32-inch QN600-B monitor gives me the area I need to organize multiple windows on screen.
However, as much as I’ve loved using this monitor, one pesky defect popped up recently: a thin line of vertical pixels. This doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem, but a couple customers on Amazon have complained about similar issues.
Thankfully, the monitor has a one-year warranty, and I initiated a work order with LG to get it repaired. They’ll reimburse me to ship it out, and it should be fixed within 10 business days. I still think the monitor remains a good value for the price I paid, but needing a repair is never ideal.
A USB hub for multiple devices
USB-C Hub (small)
I use a 2017 MacBook Pro for work and it only has two USB-C ports. Since I want to have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and power adapter all hooked up at the same time, this presents a problem. The solution is this Lionwei USB-C hub. It has multiple ports so I can plug in everything I need.
I also added an Ablewe USB Switcher ($21.99) so I can simultaneously connect the same keyboard and mouse I use with my MacBook to my PC. This lets me easily switch control to my Windows system with the press of a button.
Purchasing a mattress is a tough process. Doing so while balancing a budget can make things even more difficult.
Mattress companies are no strangers to discounts – popular brands like Casper, Helix, Leesa, and Purple are offering price cuts that are hard to pass up, along with freebies to seal the deal.
With Labor Day Weekend approaching, mattress retailers are offering deals now so you can score solid discounts.
We’ve also arranged exclusive discounts for readers with several retailers, including Leesa, Casper, and Tempur-Pedic. We put together a list of some of the biggest bargains currently available and included links to relevant mattress reviews.
Exclusive mattress sales for Insider readers:
Note: In some cases, these deals may not be combined with other offers.
Casper: Use code INSIDER to save $100 on the Original mattress or $200 on the Nova or Wave mattresses.
Casper: Get up to 30% off mattress bundles, 15% off mattresses, sheets, and pillows, and 10% off everything else.
Cocoon by Sealy: Get 35% off the Chill mattress, including free pillows and sheets.
DreamCloud: Save $200 on mattresses and get $399 in free accessories.
Emma: Get 40% off the Emma mattress using promo code LABOR40.
GhostBed: Get 30% off mattresses with two free pillows included and 40% off adjustable base bundles.
Helix: Save $100 on any mattress using promo code LDAY100, save $150 when you spend $1,250 using promo code LDAY150, and get $200 off when you spend $1,750 using promo code LDAY200. Plus, all purchases include two free pillows.
Leesa: Get up to $500 off mattresses and 20% off bundles.
Nectar: Get $399 of accessories with every mattress purchase.
Nolah: Save up to $700 on mattresses and get two free pillows.
Purple: Get up to $350 off mattress and bundle purchases.
Saatva: Save $200 on mattress purchases of $950 or more.
Sleep Number: Save 50% on the new Sleep Number 360 p5 smart bed, get up to $200 off the Queen Sleep Number 360, and get one pillow free when you buy another.
Tempur-Pedic: Save up to $700 on adjustable mattress sets and get a free gift worth $300. Plus, get 30% off the TEMPUR-Cloud mattress and 40% off the TEMPUR-topper Supreme.
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyS6 MaxV Robot Vacuum (small)
Roborock may not be a household name yet, but the company makes some of the best robot vacuums in our buying guide. Since launching its first unit in 2016, Roborock has focused exclusively on robot vacuums but has added mopping capabilities and even home security features.
Related Article Module: The 6 best robot vacuums we tested in 2021
The Roborock S6 MaxV is an update of the S6, the top pick in our guide. The improvements include stereo cameras that help it avoid common obstacles and provide HD surveillance footage, up to three hours of battery life, stronger 2,500 Pa suction, and multi-floor mapping.
I tested the S6 MaxV for several months, and while I still prefer the S6, there are many reasons why others might want to choose the S6 MaxV instead.
The robot vac is larger than most I’ve tested at 13.75 inches in diameter and 3.75 inches high. That’s only a factor if the clearance between your furniture and the floor is less than four inches. In this situation, you can measure the clearance to ensure the vac will fit under furniture.
The main brush is 6.5 inches long and maintains direct contact with the surface it’s cleaning. A side brush at the front-right of the unit feeds debris to the main brush.
The 2,500 Pa suction is impressive, but this number should be taken with a grain of salt since there isn’t a standardized way to measure suction in the robot vacuum industry. Still, during testing, the suction appears to translate to better cleaning – and extra noise. (More on that in a bit.)
The S6 MaxV comes with an additional HEPA filter, 458-milliliter dust bin, 297-milliliter water tank, mop attachment, mop cloth, and pad that attaches to the charging dock to protect your floors from prolonged exposure to moisture.
Setting up the S6 MaxV was a fast, seamless job that took about 10 minutes. First, I removed the packaging, plugged in the charging dock, and set the vacuum on the dock to charge. Even if you don’t charge it before your first cleaning session, the vacuum comes with 50% battery power so you can use it right away.
I spent the next five minutes installing and connecting the Roborock app. I created a schedule for the robot to run daily, which proved a little confusing since it’s unintuitively located in the “Timer” section of the menu.
Review of the Roborock S6 MaxV
I recently tested 16 robot vacuums for our guide, and the S6 MaxV consistently performed well in the battery of tests I put each model through.
During testing, I poured a tablespoon each of kitty litter, coffee grounds, and flour, plus some pet hair on separate 18-inch-square sections of carpeting and hardwood flooring. Next, I ran the robot vac on its highest suction setting for two cleaning cycles, compared the before and after photos, and assessed how much the unit picked up.
The S6 MaxV picked up almost everything. On the carpeting, only about 5% of the flour was left after the cleaning cycles, and there were traces of coffee grounds and kitty litter. On the hardwood, about 5% of the flour and kitty litter were left behind, but the coffee grounds were gone. On both surfaces, there was no pet hair to be found after running the vac.
The S6 MaxV also did a good job of cleaning in corners. I sprinkled a teaspoon of flour in carpeted and hardwood corners to see how close the unit could get. On the carpeted corner, the S6 MaxV got within an inch and picked up 70% of the flour, which is excellent. The hardwood performance wasn’t as impressive, but it was still good – the vac came within 1.5 inches of the corner and picked up about 50% of the flour.
One of the cool things about the S6 MaxV is that it features two HD cameras to help navigate around obstacles and offer remote viewing – as in, home surveillance. You can guide the vac using the joystick-like controller in the Roborock app. It worked smoothly and provided a clear picture. However, I didn’t find the feature particularly useful useful since I rarely leave the house. Still, it might be a useful feature in the future if you’re away and want to check on your pets or make sure doors and windows are closed.
I usually don’t find the mopping function of many robot vacuums to be useful. It’s a pain to fill the water tank, set it up, and remember to remove the mop attachment again. The hassle seems especially futile since most models aren’t able to scrub your floors for a deeper clean.
However, the tank on the S6 MaxV is larger than most, so I can go longer between refills. Like other robot mops, the S6 MaxV can also detect and avoid carpeting, and I can also set no-mop zones and adjust the water flow based on the room being cleaned. It’s a good option for regular, light cleaning, but I still occasionally needed to perform deep cleans.
Cons to consider
I have a 1-inch threshold between my living room and kitchen, and it’s the nemesis of the S6 MaxV. On some days, it can handle it without an issue. On others, I will get a notification from the app that it’s stuck on the lip. Most vacuums I’ve tested bump into the threshold and avoid the kitchen altogether. The S6 MaxV can at least clean the kitchen sometimes, but I’ve decided to make the threshold a no-go zone because I don’t like having to save the vac when it gets stuck. You may want to do the same if you have a threshold of similar thickness between rooms in your home.
In my testing of robot vacuums, I’ve noticed the strongest ones are also the loudest, and this was the case with the S6 MaxV. On the quiet mode (which you can set in the app), my sound meter registered 63 decibels, which is louder than a normal conversation. On high suction, it was a bit louder at 67 decibels or almost as loud as a busy highway from 50 feet away. This won’t hurt your ears, but it may make it hard to watch TV or have a conversation in the same room as the vac. However, vacuums can resuspend dust into the air while cleaning, so if you have a sensitive nose, you shouldn’t be in the same room when it’s running anyway.
Should you buy it?
Since even budget robot vacs are still considered a luxury item and don’t tend to perform as well as your standard upright vac, I’d say at around $750, the S6 MaxV is mainly for people with expendable income or for techies who need to have the most high-tech gadgets available. This is the top-of-the-line model from one of the most respected names in the robot vacuum industry, but it does come at a high investment.
Though I appreciate the smart mopping options – no-mop zones and scheduling specific rooms – a robot pushing a damp cloth across your floor may only be minimally useful depending on your household. And while the cameras and surveillance features are a nice touch, I didn’t find them all that helpful beyond a fun novelty. However, if you’re looking to boost your home surveillance when you’re away and are in the market for a robot vacuum, then the S6 MaxV may be worth the cost.
I tested more than 25 models to determine the best robot vacuums in our buying guide. If you’re interested in Roborock, pay particular attention to the Roborock S6, which is our top pick and usually costs about $100 less than the S6 MaxV when it’s not on sale. It’s the predecessor to the S6 MaxV, so you lose the HD camera surveillance but it’s quieter and doesn’t get stuck as easily.
The bottom line
Despite these minor considerations, I was impressed with how well the Roborock S6 MaxV performed in our tests on hardwood floors and carpet and found the vac functioned as advertised.
Pros: Outstanding performance on carpeting and hardwood, mop capabilities, HD camera for remote video surveillance, useful app, cleans deep into corners
Cons: Loud, larger-than-average dimensions, constantly got stuck on a 1-inch threshold during testing, video surveillance isn’t as useful if you’re home often
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyBasic Series 5-Foot Heater Cover (medium)Basic Series Left End Cap (medium)Basic Series Right End Cap (medium)
Six months ago, I left my cramped Brooklyn apartment to move to New York’s bucolic Dutchess County where historic homes and farms dot its rolling hills. After a surprisingly brief search, I was lucky to close on my own country home: a 1984 ranch.
This ranch is dated and, to my partner’s horror, there is plenty I want to remodel. In the meantime, I’ve found ways to give our home a more modern, fresh look without exhausting our funds.
One of our first DIY home projects: the baseboard heaters. The originals were intact with their yellowing paint and dust caked into tiny crevices.
I thought I had only two options: Paint the baseboards or replace them with spotless new pieces, removing everything but the heating elements. Neither option was ideal. Both are labor intensive for reluctant, inexperienced DIYers. Plus, there’s nothing to appreciate about the aesthetics of traditional baseboard heaters.
Then I found Baseboarders. These baseboard heater covers slip right over existing hot water baseboards. (If you’re looking to use these with electric baseboards, be sure to heed the manufacturer’s warnings.)
Our review of the Baseboarders baseboard heater covers
The panels are made from low-gloss powder-coated galvanized steel. I opted for the Basic Series, which I stumbled upon on The Home Depot website. The design consists of clean straight lines and small holes along the top half that allow heat to pass through.
There are also the Premium, Elliptus, and Commercial series baseboard covers. The Home Depot and Lowe’s offer only the Basic and Premium covers in white, but if you purchase directly from Baseboarders, you can choose from white, black, bronze, or gray and free custom cuts. (However, you will pay more for shipping and have a longer wait for delivery.)
How we installed the baseboard cover in the bathroom
I ordered a 5-foot long cover and two end caps for $135 with free shipping from The Home Depot. Since our existing bathroom baseboard is a little under 5 feet, my partner cut a small portion of the end using a hacksaw. You can also use shears.
One person can easily install these themselves. The process was simple, and Baseboarders has an easy-to-follow instructional video. We removed the existing front cover and the end caps. Then we clicked the new cover over the existing back panel and secured the end caps. All in all, this took 20 minutes.
How we installed the larger baseboard covers in the kitchen
Our kitchen baseboards are significantly longer, running along two walls in an “L” shape. For this project, I ordered two 6-foot panels, a 5-foot panel, a coupler to cover the gap where two panels meet, an inside corner cover, and two end caps. Total cost: $440.
This time around, my partner used a jigsaw to trim the panels. After observing this, I recommended the shears method, which a beginner can safely and easily accomplish without the need for power tools. The kitchen took us 45 minutes from start to finish.
How much money and time we saved
You’ll definitely need more tools (drill, reciprocating saw, patching materials), skill, and time to remove and install traditional covers. Baseboarders provides a cost comparison, showing a savings of approximately $2.67 per linear square foot.
If you’re DIYing a 2,000-square-foot home, Baseboarders covers likely amount to a few hundred dollars in savings and five fewer hours for install time, depending on your skill level. Hiring someone to install new covers will cost significantly more.
The bottom line
Aside from appreciating their energy efficiency, I was pretty frustrated by our baseboard heaters. The aesthetic downsides and their proclivity for collecting dust and dirt seemed like something I’d have to just live with. But a simple DIY project using Baseboarders has given my home a clean, updated look.
You can learn how we tested the showerheads here and find out more about the different types of showerheads here. Some showerheads offer a spa-like experience, while others are aimed at saving water. You’ll get a different experience from both.
I researched more than 30 showerheads based on reviews and tested 16. I also leaned on my experience as a residential carpenter for four years and consulted two experts: Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors in Los Angeles, California, and Monica Higgins, a remodeling expert based in Southern California.
I installed each showerhead and used it at least three times during the day. I went through my usual cleansing routine with shampoo, conditioner, and body wash and made sure to stagger my showers to reduce the chances of other appliances or household plumbing factors affecting my testing. Showering while running dishwashers or washing machines, or even at the same time as someone else, will increase the demand for your water supply and can sometimes result in a lower flow rate than usual.
After picking my top five, I showered several more times — sometimes consecutively — to get a better idea of how specific features like massage or power-spray settings felt.
Here’s how we compare showerheads:
Installation and fit: I installed each showerhead, timing how long the process took and noting any issues that came up. I have four years of experience as a general contractor, so my installation time will most likely be quicker than yours. Nonetheless, I made sure to note if the installation was easy or not.
Appearance: I took the overall style, design, finish, material, and size into account when comparing the appearance of each showerhead. People have vastly different bathroom styles, and some options may match better with certain aesthetics.
Overall feel of water: I based this on how the water physically felt throughout the shower. I noted the size of the water coverage coming out of the showerhead, how focused or dispersed the water droplets and streams were, and how strong and pressurized the water felt overall.
Operation and special features: Along with noting how easy or difficult the unit was to operate and switch between modes, I also made sure to pay attention to any special features, like the number and variety of settings or unique operational functions.
Flow rate: I calculated the actual flow rate of each showerhead and compared it to the max it could handle. I would fill a 5-gallon bucket for 60 seconds, weigh it, subtract the weight of the bucket, and divide that number by 8.3 (the weight of a gallon of water). This gave me the gallons per minute (GPM) of each showerhead.
These flow rates can’t be compared exactly across all the products because they all have different flow-rate restrictions. But by looking at the max flow rate of the product along with the tested rates I calculated from my shower (which has an average pressure of 64 parts per square inch or PSI), I got a general idea of how each showerhead performs under the PSI of an average household.
Regardless of the style or design, a showerhead boils down to whether or not it provides an effective and satisfying shower. This is purely subjective and everyone will have different preferences and priorities, so I made sure to keep consistent and objective notes as I collected my findings.
The best shower head overall
The Kohler Flipside produces an impressive 1.81 GPM flow rate and has a unique rotating head to change through its flow streams.
Pros: No fragile levers or switches, chrome finish, soft rubber nozzles
The Flipside impressed me as soon as I opened the box. Its heft, chrome finish, and sturdy design gave it a high-end look. The circular wheel that supports the showerhead was easy to install and twist into place; you could turn it like a steering wheel. It fit snugly on my existing half-inch shower arm.
I liked how the Flipside switched streams by flipping the head around the axis, as opposed to using a lever, switch, or handle. The tension of the rotational force of the head is perfectly balanced — not so soft that it doesn’t stay in place, but not so tight that it won’t turn easily.
After using this showerhead regularly for the past six months and rotating it frequently, I haven’t noticed any structural issues with this rotating operation. I’ve also found it to be simple to clean, and any water spots easily rub off with a cleaner and paper towel.
I assumed the Flipside‘s swiveling operation would negatively affect its performance, but testing revealed a 1.81 GPM flow rate, coming close to its 2.5 GPM limit.
There are four stream settings on the spray head. My favorite stream was the dense and soft spray, which produced a thick, drenching stream of water. The narrow sides of the spray head produced thinner, focused streams, which were perfect for rinsing shampoo and conditioner out of my hair. I was surprised at how effective this flat stream was, compared to the circular spray patterns of most showerheads. It was easy to rotate on its axis even when my hands were soapy and slippery.
Pros: Easy operation, impressive array of spray settings
Cons: Somewhat flimsy construction
The 4.1-inch diameter of the Hopopro High-Pressure Showerhead provides a nice wide spray, which isn’t normally found in low-cost showerheads like this one. The impressive 1.81 GPM flow rate also provides a steady, strong spray, especially when you choose one of the more focused “massage”-style modes.
Scrolling through these spray settings is easy, thanks to a simple lever that clicks its way through the options. I was pleased to notice that the ball connection that attaches the showerhead to your water pipe is firm enough that using this lever won’t pivot or shift the position of the unit itself.
Installing this showered was about as simple as it gets. Hopopro even included a roll of plumbers tape, which comes in really handy for ensuring a nice snug fit. I was also impressed with the fact that this showerhead also included a small wrench, an accessory that didn’t come with any of the other units I tested. Even if you have a lot of tools on hand, it’s convenient to have one right in the package.
The Hopopro is constructed of ABS plastic. Although I’m sure it’s reasonably durable, it does have a somewhat plasticky look to it. However, the majority of its nozzle heads are rubber, which I always appreciate in any showerhead, especially one with such a budget-friendly price. There are a few nozzles in the center of the unit that are plastic, but I consider that a fair trade-off for such a low price.
If you’re mostly interested in the high flow rate, low cost, and easy operation, this showerhead could be exactly what you’re looking for.
Installing the Moen wasn’t as straightforward as other models I tested due to the short connection that attaches to the shower arm. This wasn’t a huge deal, but it did take a few extra minutes to get the threads to catch. This may have been due to my shower arm though, and having a longer one would probably cut down on installation time.
Once installed, the Moen looked great. Its extra-wide 8-inch face gives it a classic rainshower look, and its 100 nozzles promised great functionality.
What put the Moen on top over other high-end models I tested was the overall feel of the water, which was surprisingly strong. Its 1.85 GPM was one of the second-highest I tested. The high flow rate was definitely needed for a wider showerhead like this one to work effectively.
One of my favorite characteristics of the Moen was the movement of the adjustment lever. Unlike other models that have loud mechanical clicks when you switch from one setting to another, this lever smoothly and quietly transitions from a full-coverage mode to focused rinsing.
The entire unit swivels on a ball joint connected to the water supply arm and provides a decent amount of rotation, though its wide shape restricts it more than slimmer models.
The best water-saving showerhead
The high-pressure water dispersion and solid metal construction of the High Sierra High-Efficiency make it ideal for anyone looking to conserve water, abide by low-flow regulations, or lower their monthly utility bill.
Pros: High flow rate, durable construction, less likely to clog
Cons: Only one spray mode, 1.5 GPM may be too low for some
You may expect a water-saving showerhead to deliver only a light sprinkle, but the High Sierra High-Efficiency has a great flow rate and nice, pressurized spray.
Installing the High Sierra was simple, and its small size made it possible to screw in one-handed. The small cylindrical shape and lack of adjustment lever also mean that you don’t have to deal with straightening it out after installation.
The sturdy construction gives the feeling that you could grip it tightly during installation, unlike plastic models that might crack at the connection. Its compact size also makes it easy to use a wrench to tighten or loosen it, if necessary. The chrome finish is easy to wipe clean and adds a sleek, modern feel to your bathroom.
The High Sierra delivered a dense, pressurized spray, which surprised me coming from such a small showerhead. In my testing, I measured a 1.37 GPM flow rate, which was impressive considering the High Sierra maxes out at 1.5 GPM.
This efficiency means it’s great for those who want a showerhead that will produce the strongest stream while still conserving water. If your main priority is a high flow rate and you live in a state that allows 2.5 GPM products, you should probably choose a different model.
Some people may also find this model too small, especially in a spacious shower, and may prefer a larger option with a little more character.
The best handheld showerhead
The Moen Attract Magnetix 26008 has two spray heads, a wide rain shower, and a separate handheld device for an impressive amount of spray settings.
Pros: Powerful magnetic dock, huge spray coverage, high-end look
Cons: Plastic nozzle heads on the handheld wand, may be too bulky for small showers
Unlike most options that have a single spray head, dual showerheads are more functional and versatile. The Moen Attract Magnetix allows you to detach the smaller showerhead to use as a handheld wand, making it convenient to target certain areas while still having the overhead spray of a fixed unit.
Even though this design makes for a bulky, awkward shape, the Moen wasn’t a challenge to install. I easily twisted it into place and connected all the components in about 30 seconds.
The vertical layout of the Magnetix spray heads — as opposed to similar models that mount the handheld sprayer in the center of the rain shower — creates a huge amount of water coverage and was my favorite feature of this showerhead. Since I could turn on both sprayers simultaneously, I was able to create a spray that covered my entire torso, something I haven’t experienced with any of the other models I’ve tested for this guide.
Controlling the spray options and settings was straightforward as well. Although I was initially a little overwhelmed with the lever and triggers, I figured it out quickly. The mostly plastic components were a bit of a red flag, though, since they could potentially be vulnerable to failure or snapping down the line.
Even though the Magnetix is mostly plastic, it doesn’t have a cheap or flimsy look. The shiny chrome-like finish gives it a high-end look, and I appreciated how easy it was to clean. The use of rubber spray nozzles on the rain head was a nice touch as well, although Moen does use plastic ones on the handheld sprayer.
Operating the sprayer head was a breeze. A thumb-lever makes it easy to scroll through the spray settings. Thanks to the extra-strong magnetic mount, I never really felt like it was in danger of getting knocked off during use. The handle-mounted trigger also made it easy to control the amount of spray being supplied to the handheld wand, the rain shower, or both.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why:
They didn’t crack our top five, but these showerheads tested well and are still quality options to consider.
Wassa High-Pressure Showerhead (currently unavailable): This was our previous selection for the best high-pressure showerhead, but it’s been difficult to find in stock. If you see it for sale and want a low-cost, high-pressure option, it’s a great buy.
American Standard Spectra+ Duo: By mounting the handheld sprayer in the center of the rain shower, this model sacrificed valuable space that could have otherwise been filled with spray nozzles. I much preferred the vertically stacked layout of our new pick, the Moen Attract 26008, which features a full rain head. The Spectra+’s gray plastic components also gave it a somewhat clinical look, although that might not be a dealbreaker for everyone.
The Moen Attract 26000: This basic handheld sprayer was a fine option in my testing, but it didn’t have the versatility and spray coverage that the Moen Attract 26008 provided with its added rain shower. If you’re not concerned with maximum coverage or the sheer number of spray settings, this handheld sprayer might be a perfect fit for you. I did note that its magnetic cradle was especially strong, which is always a plus.
Nebbia Quatro Rainshower: Although this rain-style showerhead had its benefits, it ultimately wasn’t able to dethrone any of our other picks. Its four spray settings were effective and the lever was easy to use, but at $130 it’s too pricey, especially for a model that uses plastic spray nozzles instead of rubber. The lack of included plumbing tape — even though the instructions clearly state to use it — didn’t help, either.
Kohler Moxie: The integrated Bluetooth speaker of the Kohler Moxie was easy to set up, fun to use, and sounded great. I even removed it from the cradle and used it as a standalone speaker in my office for a while. Unfortunately, the thin stream and relatively weak flow rate made this showerhead more of a novelty than a legitimate contender.
Kohler Forte: While it looked sleek and stylish, I wasn’t impressed with the 1.26 GPM flow rate of the Kohler Forte and thought that the mist setting wasn’t very functional. I enjoyed the satisfying click of the control lever and the sophisticated design, though. If the flow rate is on the bottom of your priority list and you aren’t concerned with having a wide variety of spray settings, this could be a good choice.
Waterpik High-Pressure Powerpulse 9-Spray: Though this was our previous top pick because of its variety of streams and impressive flow rate, the Kohler Flipside was superior in both categories. It produced a 1.5 GPM compared to the Flipside’s 1.81. While it had more spray options, it wasn’t as intuitive to use. The Waterpik’s long-term durability was also a factor because it’s made of plastic and had more small parts than the Flipside, whose construction and fewer components make it less likely to crack over time. I’ll continue to use both for long-term testing. The Waterpik is still a great option for those looking for a hand-held model at a reasonable price. Its powerful massage setting could also be useful for sore muscles.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Delta In2ition 5-Spray: A high-priced showerhead should be flawless, but the Delta In2ition just didn’t have the pressure to be used effectively and its magnetic cradle was far too weak.
Delta HydroRain Two-in-One 4-Spray: Even though the Delta HydroRain had good pressure and its rain-can head was positioned at exactly 90 degrees, its high price tag and bulky size made it too inconvenient to edge out our high-end pick, the Moen S6320.
How do I choose the best showerhead for my bathroom?
There are five main factors to consider when shopping for a showerhead:
Type: Consider whether you want a fixed, handheld, or dual (a combination of fixed and handheld) showerhead.
Mount: Determine whether you’ll mount your showerhead on the wall or ceiling.
Spray pattern: Decide if you want one or many spray options. Some showerheads come with multiple spray patterns, such as rain, full, jet, and massage.
Flow rate: Consider the amount of water that comes out of your showerhead. A low-flow showerhead can help save water, but many people find showerheads with a high flow rate more pleasant.
What are the different types of showerheads?
There are several showerhead types to choose from, each with its own pros and cons. It’s important to take all these factors into account when shopping for a new showerhead.
Fixed: These models are attached directly to the shower arm — the existing water pipe coming out of your shower wall — and usually have a ball joint that allows you to pivot and adjust the angle of their spray. These can be basic models that have just one spray option as well as multi-functional options that have a range of functions and spray settings.
Handheld: These showerheads sit in a cradle and can be used as a fixed showerhead if you like, but they also have a long, flexible hose that allows you to use them as a handheld unit. These are great for rinsing off body wash or shaving cream, bathing your pets, and cleaning the shower itself.
Dual showerheads: These are a combination of fixed and handheld models and usually use some type of cradle built into a fixed showerhead face. This allows the fixed showerhead to be used at the same time as the handheld wand, though this diverts water and can result in decreased pressure.
Yahoodain recommends these types of showerheads and designed his own bathroom to have both fixed and handheld options. “Since they’re useful for different things, I can choose which one I want,” he said. “If I want a regular pressure head for cleaning, or handheld for rinsing, or relaxing rain shower, I have the option to choose.”
Where should I mount my showerhead?
Wall-mounted showerheads: The majority of homes and apartments have wall-mounted shower arms, which is why I limited my testing options to products compatible with those fittings. These are your traditional showerheads that are attached to a wall.
Ceiling-mounted showerheads: Ceiling-mounted showerheads allow for larger, rain-style showerheads. Since they’re so high up, they usually aren’t accessible enough to have different stream settings.
What’s the best flow rate for a showerhead?
The flow rate indicates how much water can flow out of your showerhead and is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Since 1992, federal regulations have mandated that no showerhead can have a flow rate higher than 2.5 GPM. In some states, like California, that limit is even lower at 1.8 GPM. These regulations are meant to help conserve water; a 10-minute shower at 2.5 GPM uses 25 gallons of water.
However, when you see a 2.5 GPM showerhead model, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get that flow rate. Your home’s water pressure is the ultimate factor that dictates your flow rate and is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). A high PSI of 80 will probably get you 2.5 GPM, but most US homes hover around 60 PSI, so your flow rate will be lower.
“If the low water pressure is an issue, consult with a plumber to boost the water flow by adjusting or replacing the pressure regulator,” said Higgins.
While a showerhead itself can’t increase the flow rate of your home, effective “low-flow” models can limit the amount of pressure lost during operation. Flow-rate preferences can differ from person to person. Some prioritize high GPM over all else, and others prefer a lower flow. Make sure to check with your household so you can effectively take flow rate into account when choosing a showerhead.
If you’re interested in conserving water, look for showerheads with a “WaterSense” label. This indicates that it meets EPA criteria and maxes out at 2.0 GPM.
Buying a new mattress is an expensive undertaking. If your mattress is less supportive than it once was or you inherited a bed that isn’t right for your sleeping style, a topper can improve your comfort until you are ready to replace your mattress. They’re also a great option for college dorm rooms. Though most toppers are designed to make your bed softer, we found some models can potentially add firmness.
These thin slabs of padding can also help with body-temperature regulation.
I have four years of experience testing sleep products professionally. I’ve developed several objective tests to evaluate which toppers are best for specific needs. You can find details about how I test mattress toppers in our methodology section.
Here are the best mattress toppers you can buy in 2021
The Parachute Down Mattress Pad was one of the best in every category we tested, including heat dissipation, motion isolation, comfort and support, and fit.
Pros: Excellent heat dissipation, comfortable and supportive, made in the US, attaches to your mattress like a fitted sheet, machine washable, best motion isolation
Cons: Warranty void if tag removed, the deep pockets cause the skirt to hang down on thinner beds, not a good solution for people with down allergies
The Parachute Down Mattress Pad did well in every category we tested. The only category it was just “good” in was the surface temperature immediately after getting up. Yet two minutes after getting up, it registered cooler temps than before I laid down. It was one of only two toppers to dissipate heat this well.
Parachute recommends machine washing your Down Mattress Pad before you sleep on it. Once it’s ready, the topper goes on your mattress like a fitted sheet and has deep pockets to fit mattresses up to 18 inches thick. I liked that it stayed in place well and didn’t shift. However, the deep pockets cause the skirt to hang down the sides of thinner mattresses, creating an unattractive appearance.
The topper is made in the US of European white down and features a sateen cotton shell. The down of the topper kept me cool while offering plush comfort. I fell asleep quickly each night and woke up feeling refreshed. I preferred to sleep on my side, but it wasn’t overly soft so I felt good on my back and stomach as well.
Pros: Excellent cooling properties, great motion isolation, made of CertiPUR-US certified foam, stays in place, easy to set up
Cons: May be too soft for some sleeping styles and body types, plush design hinders movement
The first thing you notice when you lie down on the Lucid Bamboo Charcoal Memory Foam Mattress Topper is how much you sink in. The topper comes in 2-, 3-, and 4-inch thicknesses. I tested the 3-inch-thick model, which was a little too soft for me, and I like soft. Unless you require the softest of the soft, I’d recommend trying the 2-inch style instead to ensure you are keeping your spine properly aligned.
Despite the overbearing plushness, which made sleeping on my stomach uncomfortable, I woke up feeling refreshed after each night I slept on the Lucid Bamboo Charcoal topper.
The topper is nothing more than a slab of CertiPUR-US certified, bamboo charcoal-infused memory foam. There are several holes to help with heat dissipation, which apparently works since the Lucid topper never got very hot in my tests. When I got up from it, the heat dissipated quickly.
The thick foam also helped with motion transfer, causing this model to register one of the lowest scores on the vibration meter I use for this test. Despite not attaching to the bed, it stayed in place as I slept on it.
There weren’t any instructions for setup, and I was confused by the low-grade fabric covering that came on the topper. (I assumed it was for shipping purposes and tossed it.) The topper had a strong initial odor and was compressed, but it expanded and was odor-free by bedtime.
The best cooling mattress topper
The Bear Pro Mattress Topper is your best bet if you’re looking for a plush topper that will offer you support; pressure relief; and a cool, comfortable night’s sleep.
Pros: Excellent cooling, plush comfort, good pressure relief, made in the US of CertiPUR-US certified copper-infused foam, great motion isolation, stays in place
Cons: Had a strong initial odor that took several days to dissipate, doesn’t attach to the mattress
The Bear Pro Mattress Topper was both the best cooling and best memory foam topper we tested. It’s made in the US of CertiPUR-US certified copper-infused memory foam. I found it provided a plush feel that will appeal to all sleeping styles thanks to its ideal balance of support and pressure relief. I experienced comfy, restful sleep each night I tested it.
The Bear Pro was one of the best at cooling in our tests. In fact, it was one of two toppers to register a lower final temperature reading than the initial reading before I lay down. I was surprised by this, so I reran the test and verified my findings.
This topper dissipates heat well. It accomplishes this with a copper and Celliant construction, which Bear claims helps with heat regulation. We weren’t able to find any scientific studies to back this up, but based on our experience, it seems to be working.
The Bear Pro was also one of the best at motion isolation. Despite not attaching to the mattress, the topper stayed in place just fine.
The biggest negative with the Bear Pro Mattress Topper was the strong “new bed smell” that lasted for several days. Other than that, setup took less than five minutes, and the topper expanded to full size by bedtime.
Pros: Made of supportive and pressure-relieving memory foam, good heat dissipation, removable and machine-washable cover, 10-year warranty, easy to set up
Cons: No trial period, shifted significantly in the night, hard to put the cover back on after washing it
While testing the Tempur-Pedic Topper Supreme Mattress Topper, I was getting back into running and weightlifting after an injury sidelined me. I suffer from chronic lower back pain that’s aggravated by both these activities. I went to bed with my body exhausted and awoke feeling refreshed and ready to run and lift again, and I think the Tempur-Topper Supreme had a lot to do with it.
I’ve long appreciated the supportive feel of Tempur-Pedic’s proprietary memory foam, which slowly adjusts to the contours of your body and keeps your spine aligned no matter what position you’re sleeping in.
The pad features a cover made mostly of polyester that zips off so you can throw it in the washing machine. Removing the cover and washing it was easy, but putting it back on was a different story. It took me about 10 minutes to slide the cover on the floppy pad. I recommend just putting a mattress protector over it (and your mattress) to save the hassle.
Setting up the Tempur-Topper Supreme was intuitive, and there was minimal initial odor, which completely dissipated by bedtime. The topper also did a good job of staying cool, and when I got up from it, the heat dissipated quickly.
There are a few negatives with this model, though. First, you can’t return the topper once you receive it. Fortunately, there is an impressive 10-year warranty so if there are manufacturing defects, you can get a replacement.
Another negative is the pad shifted by several inches over the course of the night as I slept on it, and there are no straps to keep it in place. Lastly, the motion isolation was just average.
Pros: Made in the US with organic materials and natural latex, comfortable and supportive, great motion isolation, one-year risk-free trial period, 10-year warranty
Cons: Sleeps hot, shifts a bit, expensive
I’m a big fan of natural latex as a sustainable, responsive material to sleep on. The soft rubber-like foam offers cushioning around the hips and shoulders while supporting your lower back and neck. You don’t sink in like with memory foam; instead, there’s more bounce.
When it comes to support and pressure relief, the Avocado Organic Latex was one of the most comfortable toppers I slept on. Whether I was on my stomach, side, or back, I felt great, and I woke up feeling refreshed in the morning. I tested the plush topper, which was slightly softer than average, but it’s also available in firm.
Unfortunately, it slept quite hot. It did an okay job of dissipating the heat once I got up, but when I was on the topper, it reached surface temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Another negative is it doesn’t attach to the mattress, which might have prevented it from shifting at night. On the plus side, the motion-dampening properties were great.
I was able to set up the topper in under five minutes. While there was an initial odor, by bedtime, it dissipated.
The best firm mattress topper
The Airweave Mattress Topper is ideal for back and stomach sleepers who are looking to add firm support to their mattress.
Pros: Firm support that may appeal to back and stomach sleepers, completely washable, easy setup, good bounce, easy to move around on
Cons: Poor heat dissipation, poor motion isolation, shifts on the mattress, not recommended for side sleepers
For the most part, mattress toppers are designed to help give a softer feel to a mattress that is maybe too firm for your sleeping style. The Airweave Mattress Topper, on the other hand, does the opposite.
It’s made of firm interwoven strands of polyethylene that the brand claims allow for better airflow and heat dissipation (though in my tests, the topper was among the hottest and didn’t dissipate the heat well once I got up).
I primarily sleep on my side, but the Airweave topper felt a little too firm for that position. Instead, I gravitated to my stomach and back, and the supportive feel left my body pain-free in the morning.
The Airweave Mattress Topper came tri-folded in a large box and was easy to set up. It didn’t have an initial odor, and I liked how easy the topper was to clean. It’s the only model I tested that is completely washable. The polyester/cotton blend cover is machine washable, and you can wash the core with mild soap and cool water.
The topper doesn’t attach to your mattress, which might have been helpful since it shifted as I slept on it. Another negative was the poor motion isolation. It was the worst at dampening motion transfer. But the Airweave topper has a lot of bounce, which makes it easy to move around and could help facilitate intimate activities.
What else tested
We tested 18 mattress toppers for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
$150 and under
Allswell 4-Inch Memory Foam: This CertiPUR-US certified copper gel-infused memory foam topper was in the middle of the pack in every test, which makes it a solid product, but nothing sets it apart. It was easy to install, affordable, and stayed in place on the bed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a warranty.
SensorPedic Bamboo Charcoal Infused Memory Foam: If our budget pick isn’t available, we strongly recommend picking this topper up, especially if you suffer from back pain. When I started testing, my back pain was flaring up, but after two nights on this, I was feeling great. It didn’t make our guide because it wasn’t particularly good at cooling, and there’s no trial period.
Helix Ultra-Cool Pad: If you’re looking for just a subtle addition of plushness to your mattress, this is a good option. The pad is only about an inch thick and goes on your mattress like a fitted sheet. (It’s also machine washable.) Yet it didn’t do as good of a job cooling as its name would suggest, and it didn’t add much support or pressure relief compared to just sleeping on the mattress alone.
Nest Bedding Cooling: This topper didn’t live up to its name, as it held onto heat once I got up. It also had poor motion isolation. However, it was comfortable to sleep on, is made in the US with CertiPUR-US certified foam, and didn’t move on the bed. It’s on the softer side, so it may be a good option for side sleepers who prefer a more pillow top feel.
Slumber Cloud Core: This pad did at least okay in every test we put it through. It goes on your mattress like a fitted sheet, which kept it in place, and it’s easy to clean. It was also comfortable and supportive. The Core mattress pad also offered impressive motion isolation. The biggest negative is the relatively short 180-day warranty. Also, it was just in the middle of the pack at cooling and heat dissipation.
Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Adapt + Cooling: Though this model shares the same product page as our best topper for back pain, it didn’t perform as well in our tests. It was also inferior at cooling despite its name and $80 more than the other Tempur-Pedic topper. However, it was comfortable to sleep on, has a removable, machine-washable cover, and is backed by a 10-year warranty.
Saatva Graphite: We almost included this topper in our guide, but it just wasn’t the best in any of our categories. Its average firmness was comfortable and supportive to sleep on no matter what position I was in. It did a good job of dissipating heat and features straps to secure it to your bed. However, it still shifted and the topper has poor motion isolation.
Birch by Helix Plush Organic: The Birch topper is similar to our best overall pick. Both are handmade in the US using organic latex, cotton, and wool with all sorts of eco-friendly certifications. However, though the Birch was comfortable, I enjoyed the Avocado more. If the Avocado isn’t available, this is a worthy substitute.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover with PerfectFit: The cool thing about the Eight Sleep topper is it makes your bed as hot or as cold as you want. It pumps water between 55 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit through the topper to keep you cool or warm you up. The app (available for iOS and Android) tracks your sleep, and you can adjust the temp to help you stay asleep through the night and wake up in the morning. We originally recommended the Pod Pro Cover, but after less than a month of use, it sprung a leak, which destroyed the mattress it covered.
Lucid Gel Memory Foam: Similar to the topper above, the Lucid Gel Memory Foam Topper is way too soft. Since it’s made of memory foam, you sink in, which makes it hard to change positions in the night or get up in the morning. Go with our budget pick instead.
PlushBeds Natural Wool: The PlushBeds topper was the only model we tested that had wool fill. It’s handmade in the US and is chemical-free. However, it smelled awful and the odor didn’t go away. It also trapped heat and was way too soft for comfort.
I personally tested all of the mattress toppers in this guide. In addition to sleeping on them, there are several objective tests I put each one through. The most important factors to consider when picking a topper are comfort, bed fit, and heat dissipation. I used the same queen-size mattress with each topper for consistency.
Here are the main attributes we looked for and how we tested them:
Setup: I timed how long it took me to unbox each mattress topper and if there were any unusual or unintuitive steps. Aside from the Sleep Number and Eight Sleep toppers, each model took less than five minutes to set up. I noted if the topper came vacuum-sealed, if it had an initial odor, and if any smell dissipated by bedtime.
Fit: Once fully expanded, I measured each topper to see if it covered an 80-inch-by-60-inch queen mattress. After sleeping on the topper, I noted whether it stayed in place or shifted and if a fitted sheet with 13-inch-deep pockets was able to cover the topper and our 10-inch-thick test mattress. The fitted sheet stayed on through the night with all models we tested.
Heat dissipation: I used an infrared thermometer to measure the surface temperature of the part of the bed where my torso would be before laying on it for at least an hour, right after getting up, and two minutes after getting up. I compared the temperatures to determine which models were best at heat dissipation. I performed these tests several times until I felt confident in the measurements.
Support: This is a subjective test based on my four years of testing sleep products. Each morning, I would record any soreness I felt, how comfortable the topper felt the previous night, and I’d look at my sleep stats collected using the Garmin Forerunner 945 Smart Watch. I’d also note which positions I felt most comfortable in.
Motion isolation: I placed my phone with the Vibration Meter app open on the bed approximately 12 inches from the right side. Next, I lifted a 15-pound bowling ball above my head and dropped it onto the topper so that it landed approximately 12 inches from the left side of the bed (and 36 inches from the phone). I performed this test five times and kept the median score.
Trial and warranty: It’s important that you be able to return a topper if it’s not right for your body type and sleeping style. I looked at the return policy/trial period for each topper and looked for any loopholes, like shipping costs. The median trial period for the models we tested was 30 nights, and I docked points if a topper didn’t have a trial period. Also, since you want your topper to last, we looked at the warranties. The median warranty length is three years.
What we’re testing next
We’re always testing new mattress toppers and retesting our top picks to determine the best models. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:
Casper Mattress Topper: This three-inch-thick buoyant latex foam topper is designed to offer a soft, plush feel while also allowing for airflow to help with heat dissipation. I’m curious to see how it compares to other latex toppers.
Wavy: I’ve had this memory foam topper for about a month and am waiting for it to be available to the public before testing. Wavy still hasn’t announced a release date, but once it’s available, I’ll put it through its paces and let you know what I think.
There are several reasons why you might want a mattress topper. Many people like to have one around to use as a pad under their sleeping bag when camping, or in a pinch, it can serve as a guest bed.
The most common reason people turn to mattress toppers is to make their otherwise uncomfortable mattress more comfortable. Rebecca Robbins, PhD, associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, recommends a topper when you want to extend the life of your mattress a year or two or if you got a second-hand mattress that doesn’t match your sleep style.
Randall Laurich, DC, a chiropractor in South Florida, agreed. “I would say the main benefit of a topper is if a mattress is too firm, a mattress topper would make it softer and more contouring to the spine,” he said.
However, Laurich said to consider that some mattress toppers can be too soft and unsupportive. “Not having enough firmness can cause the spine to reduce its curvature,” Laurich said. “So a softer, thicker topper can sometimes have adverse effects, while a smaller, thinner topper could have more positive benefits overall.”
Should you buy a new mattress or a mattress topper?
A mattress topper can provide all of the benefits listed above, but if your mattress is starting to exhibit sagging and providing less support, it might be time for a new one. First, check your mattress’s warranty. Most warranties cover your bed for at least 10 years, and some last for a lifetime. If your mattress is still covered under warranty, you may be able to get a replacement or repair for free or for a nominal fee.
If your mattress has reached the end of its life and you can’t afford to replace it yet, a mattress topper is a good stopgap that can help you squeeze an extra year or two out of your mattress while you scrape together the funds for a replacement.
Sometimes, our bodies or sleeping styles change, and this can cause our mattress to become less comfortable. This isn’t covered by warranty, and you probably don’t want to throw out a perfectly good mattress that still has plenty of years left in it. This is where a topper can help.
Lastly, mattress toppers can help couples with different sleep preferences. “If you want to sleep together though, you might put a topper under the fitted sheet on one side of the bed for somebody who prefers a plusher experience,” Robbins said.
If you go this route, a Twin XL is your best bet. It’s the same length as King and Queen size mattresses and half the width of a King.
How do you clean a mattress topper?
This will vary depending on the mattress topper. For the most accurate directions, consult the topper’s user manual or tags or the manufacturer’s website. Most mattress toppers are not machine washable. For instance, you should avoid getting latex and memory foam wet since they’re hard to dry. In most cases, you will want to spot clean any messes with a mild detergent and a damp towel. Then, allow it to dry completely before covering or sleeping on it.
Whether you have a mattress topper or not, we strongly recommend using a mattress protector on your bed. The best ones are waterproof and machine-washable and cost as little as $20. Check out our guide to the best mattress protectors for more info.
Which mattress topper is right for your sleeping style?
There are three main sleeping styles: back, stomach, and side. Laurich recommends starting your mattress topper search with a firmness that is best for your style. “A stomach sleeper should have something a little less firm because if you have a belly or abdominal dissension, it’s uncomfortable to be on something that’s extremely firm,” Laurich said.
He recommended something firmer for back sleepers to ensure the spine remains supported.
Side sleepers benefit from softer mattress toppers. However, Laurich warned these generalizations are meant as a starting point for finding the right topper. Preferences can vary greatly within each sleeping style.
If you’re unsure about your comfort preferences, we strongly recommend choosing a mattress topper that comes with a long trial period so you can return it if it’s not right for you.
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You don’t need to be an online shopping veteran to know that it’s a tricky affair – the whole process occurs without you ever seeing or trying the product. To make buying a little easier, many retailers offer helpful policies, like free online returns. Especially with holidays like Labor Day Weekend around the corner, it’s good to know which stores you can easily make returns to.
We’ve rounded up a list of retailers offering free online returns, below.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Get free online returns on orders at these companies:
Style & clothing
ALDO: Aldo will refund unworn, unwashed, not final sale items returned within 60 days of your purchase.
Allbirds: The buzzy shoe brand allows returns for 30 days with no questions asked, even if you’ve already worn the shoes around. You can return or exchange any shoes for free that aren’t to your liking.
Bonobos: Bonobos includes a pre-paid return label with every order for hassle-free returns. If you make your return within 45 days of your purchase, you qualify for a refund using your original payment method. If you return within 90 days of your purchase date, you qualify for store credit instead.
Bloomingdale’s: You can return an order for free for up to 90 days with a receipt. If you do not have a receipt, you have up to 180 days to receive a merchandise credit of the lowest price for the item.
Everlane: All purchases from the popular clothing brand Everlane can be returned for free for up to 30 days after your ship date. That even includes Choose What You Pay purchases. Plus, you can also return anything you bought at a brick-and-mortar store via mail.
Macy’s: Macy’s offers free and easy returns on most items by mail. Just print a pre-addressed shipping label and send your items back. They’ve also extended their return window from 30 to 90 days.
Neiman Marcus: Almost all merchandise can be returned to Neiman Marcus free of charge if received within 15 days of the delivery date. However, you may want to double-check their return policy as a few items aren’t eligible for free returns, including anything bought on clearance.
Nordstrom: The department store offers free returns in the US via a postage-paid return label. Your return is generally processed within 10-14 days. Plus, if you don’t have a printer, bring the digital return code to select USPS stores for free printing.
Patagonia: Outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia offers free returns on all items, though they’re currently delayed due to staffing and safety requirements. Even better, they also usually offer free repairs on all Patagonia items, though this program has temporarily been suspended due to the novel coronavirus. They do, however, have free DIY repair guides online.
REI: If you’re not satisfied with any purchase from REI, you can return it for up to a full year for free. Return shipping labels come with all invoices. The only exception is outdoor electronics, which can be returned for free within 90 days.
Shopbop: Shopbop is known for designer women’s fashion apparel, which means items often come with a high price tag. Items returned within 15 days after receipt are refunded with no extra cost – though they’ll accept returns up to 30 days after with a $10 fee tacked on.
Sunglass Hut: The Sunglass Hat carries brands from Ray-Ban to Gucci. Shop with confidence knowing you can return items for free for up to 30 days with a printed shipping label.
Urban Outfitters: Returning items to Urban Outfitters is easy. Just start a return online and print a free pre-paid shipping label. Returns made within 30 days of your delivery date qualify for a refund using your payment method; if it takes place after, you may qualify for store credit instead.
Zappos: Zappos has long been heralded as a gold standard for customers when it comes to returns. Return shipping is always free and you have 365 days to do so for all purchases – no exceptions.
Zara: Don’t love an outfit you bought from Zara? The clothing retailer offers a 30-day window to return clothing with free shipping.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Bed Bath & Beyond offers free return shipping on most items. You have a 90-day window after purchase to exchange or return.
Chewy: Pet owners will be pleased to learn that returns to Chewy are easy. If you’re not completely satisfied with your items, you can return them free of charge within one year. Just send a message with your order number to receive a shipping label.
Home Depot: While there are a few exceptions for bigger items, many orders are eligible for free online returns. Once you start a return you’ll receive a free UPS shipping label via email to print and attach to your package.
Target: Shoppers at Target have 90 days to return or exchange items for free. RedCard holders get 120 days.
Walmart: Walmart makes it simple to return items for free. Just log into your account, initiate a return or replacement, and print a free return label. Refunds or replacement items are issued as soon as the store receives the item. You have 90 days after purchase to make a return in most cases.
Williams Sonoma: Foodies and home chefs will like that Williams Sonoma allows for free returns by mail within 30 days for any items under 70 pounds. You can use the form attached to your invoice or quickly print a label online.
Best Buy: Most items are eligible for refunds if you return them within 15 days of receipt. It’s important to note, however, that some items (like cell phones and DSLR cameras) will incur a restocking fee.
Dell: It can be nerve-wracking to buy pricey electronics sight unseen, but you can shop easy at Dell. Ship any items back for free within 30 days of your invoice date for a full refund.
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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
We rounded up the best sales and deals happening online today, including discounts at Cameo, Senreve, and Casper.
Deals in this story are subject to change throughout the day. The prices listed reflect the deal at the time of publication. For even more deals and savings across the web, check out our roundup of the best deals from Amazon.
If you’re unsure about a gift, or just want to treat yourself to something a little special, now is a good time to check out Cameo. You can use the site to have celebrities send you or someone you love a short video message. Now through August 27, all Cameos are 25% off.
Video message from Dominique Jackon (medium)Video message from Oscar Nunez (medium)
Save on bags from Senreve
Senreve makes bags and accessories that are pricey, but for good reason. The brand’s purses are high quality and versatile, making them well worth the price (if it’s in your budget). Right now, Senreve is holding its huge Handbag Revival sale, featuring gently used bags with big discounts.
Crossbody (Perfect Enough) (medium)Mini Maestra (Perfectly Imperfect) (medium)
Get 50% off your orders and freebies from Spot and Tango
August 26 is National Dog Day in the U.S., and Spot and Tango is commemorating the event with a big sale. Now through August 29, you can snag 50% off your order with a bonus pair of free snacks — just use promo code DOGDAY, if it isn’t already applied at checkout.
Fresh Dog Food (medium)
Get 15% off select mattresses at Casper
Mattress retailers love Labor Day Sales, and Casper is no exception. Select mattresses, including the luxe Wave Hybrid and Nova Hybrid, are 15% off just for the occasion. Everything else on the site is also 10% off.
Best-Selling Bundle (Queen) (medium)Nova Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (medium)
Get up to 40% off at Twillory
Nisolo doesn’t hold sales often, making its huge Semi-Annual Sale worth looking into. With comfortable and stylish shoes for every gender, Nisolo’s lineup has something for everyone. The brand’s Chelsea Boot even made it into our roundup of the best ankle boots.
Emilio Chukka Boot (medium)Smoking Shoe (medium)
Get a $30 gift card when you spend $100 at Chewy
Reformation is a sustainable clothing brand selling mostly online, with a few retail stores around the US. Right now, you can get up to 50% off dresses, tops, and jeans. Everything is final sale, so make sure you know your sizes before purchasing items.
Lillet dress (medium)Fonda dress (medium, Preferred: Reformation)
Get up to 70% off at Mango
“It needs to be adjustable,” Dr. Scott Bautch, president of the American Chiropractic Association Council on Occupational Health, said. “The average office chair for a male is made for a 5-foot 10-inch, 165-pound man, which is less than 6% of the population.”
To test the office chairs in this guide, I used each one for at least a week. I reviewed their construction, movement, adjustability, lumbar support, recline, and comfort in the short and long term.
While we currently only recommend two chairs, we have several options that we plan to test next. Keep in mind that many office chairs are currently out of stock, but we’ll be keeping this guide up-to-date with the most current prices and availability.
With unparalleled adjustability, the Steelcase Leap is supremely comfortable and supportive, which makes it the best office chair for most people.
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, easily adjusts to fit your body, supports your back in different positions, built to last
Cons: Expensive, back and seat can get warm
A great office chair will react to support your body in different positions and allow for movement throughout the day. The Steelcase Leap does precisely that; it’s endlessly adjustable, incredibly comfortable to sit in for long stretches of time, and built to last. While it is expensive, there’s enough perks to justify the price and its features are on par with those of much pricier office chairs.
There are lots of customization options with the Steelcase Leap, so you can pick different frame finishes, as well as upholstery colors and materials. Most of this comes down to personal preference, but we do recommend opting for the fully adjustable armrests. There’s also a Plus version of the Leap that supports up to 500 pounds.
There’s no assembly to worry about, but adjusting your Steelcase Leap correctly for your body is vital. I was a little intimidated by the sheer range of options when I first unboxed my chair, and I recommend watching Steelcase’s useful video tutorial as you work things out.
It requires some effort to set the right height, seat depth, lumbar support, resistance level, and armrest positions, but it’s worth taking your time. The experts I spoke to also pointed out that it may take a while for your body to adjust to a better posture, so if you’ve been using a poor-quality chair or hunching, sitting correctly can feel strange at first.
The Steelcase Leap is well-padded in the seat and back area, with firm arm rests. The initial comfort doesn’t wear off, as it can with some chairs. I have often spent a full eight-hour workday in the Leap and continued to use it at night for gaming sessions. I like the fact that it encourages me to sit up straight for work, and then I can recline and put my feet up for breaks.
The build quality is excellent and there are no squeaks or clanks as you settle into this chair, or even when you adjust it. I can also attest to its durability, as I’ve had it for around a year now and it looks and feels as good as new.
Steelcase offers a limited lifetime warranty. This is the second version of the Leap, which is a bit lighter than its predecessor and has improved arm rests. I used the original Leap for around four years before upgrading; my son now uses it, and it’s still going strong.
Despite sitting in a lot of different office chairs over the years, I’ve never found one as comfortable as the Steelcase Leap. After testing some other office chairs for this guide, including the slightly more expensive Steelcase Gesture, I didn’t feel they offered any substantial improvements.
The Steelcase Leap is not perfect; the back and seat can get very warm, particularly on hot days. It’s also not the most striking piece of furniture. It blends in quietly, rather than making a statement.
Suitable for anyone seeking a dependable and comfortable office chair, the Steelcase Leap is our top pick. It offers the best experience in its price bracket with no superfluous features. If it’s beyond your budget, then consider buying a refurbished Leap, as there are lots of good deals out there.
The impressive X-Chair X3 has an eye-catching look and offers full adjustability with dynamic lumbar support, and some optional extras like a headrest, memory foam seat cushioning, and heat massage.
Pros: Extremely comfortable, intuitive adjustment options, dynamic lumbar support
Cons: Expensive, some extras aren’t worth the additional cost
With an attractive design that offers cushioning and support, the X-Chair X3 boasts intuitive adjustments to fit your body and comes with a range of optional extras. The build quality is extremely good. It has all the essential adjustment options you need, and it’s seriously comfortable, particularly when you recline.
Adjusting the chair properly for your body is important, but the X-Chair is straightforward and doesn’t have quite as many options as the Steelcase Leap. To make it quick and easy, the company offers a video guide. The dynamic variable lumbar is a smart way of ensuring lower back support in different positions, as it curves into your spine and encourages the right posture. The headrest and armrests can be pulled into your preferred positions.
A paddle on the side lets you lock position or recline, and the X-Chair X3 leans back far enough for you to put your feet up and potentially even take a nap. I found it comfortable for work, though not as comfortable as the Steelcase Leap in the upright position. For reclining and relaxing, however, the X3 is second to none.
The X3 is well-padded, and I found the memory foam seat extremely comfortable to sit on for hours at a time. The seat and back are covered in a woven nylon that features something X-Chair calls Advanced Tensile Recovery. It’s like the material is stretched over the frame but has some elasticity to it, which feels supportive. It also means the back doesn’t need padding, and because air can circulate it doesn’t get as warm as some chairs can.
There are a few customization options with the X3; you can opt for one of four colors, decide whether to add a headrest, add extended width or memory foam to the seat, and choose different casters. The big optional extra is the heat and massage module that sits in the lumbar support section. I tested the X3-HMT, which has the heat and massage feature, with a memory foam seat, a headrest, and X-Wheel casters, but I only recommend some of these features.
I’ve enjoyed my time with the X-Chair X3. I love the dynamic lumbar support, the added seat comfort makes the memory foam worth getting, and I was surprised to find that I really liked the headrest, which added support when reclining. I’m unconvinced by the X-Wheel casters, which made changing direction on my carpeted office floor awkward, though they are great on hard floors. While my kids loved the heat and massage unit and wanted to use it every day, I found it a bit gimmicky.
This feels like a well-built chair, and it comes with a five-year warranty. The nylon covering is spill-resistant and feels tough, but because it’s layered, lint, fluff, and pet hair, can get trapped in the material, which is a minor annoyance.
Arriving in a very heavy box, the X-Chair requires some assembly and you’ll likely want a second person to help you, at least with unpacking all the parts. It took me less than 20 minutes to unpack and build using the assembly video.
Even without some of the superfluous extras, this is a big investment, but I think it’s one worth making. This is a comfortable and supportive chair, and it’s quite easy to adjust without a lot of fiddling. It’s also good-looking without sacrificing practicality.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
Steelcase Gesture: Featuring a smart design that’s comfortable and fully adjustable, the Steelcase Gesture is an excellent office chair that offers good support throughout the day. It has the most adjustable armrests of any chair we tested, though I found them a little too easy to bump out of position accidentally. It came close to claiming the top spot, but I feel the Leap offers better back support and a slightly more comfortable seat. If you prefer less cushy lumbar support, the Gesture may suit you better. The differences between them are pretty minor, so ultimately the fact that the Leap is cheaper (even after adding the four-way armrests) makes it a better pick for most people.
What we’re testing next
Autonomous ErgoChair Pro: There are tons of adjustable components of this chair from popular home office brand Autonomous, from the seat tilt to the headrest. It also has responsive lumbar support for your lower back.
Branch Ergonomic Chair: Branch’s reasonably priced office chair is made from recyclable materials and has a generous seven-year warranty. The brand also claims you can assemble it in 20 minutes or less.
Fully Desk Chair: This desk chair is comfortably supportive and straightforward to assemble. The mesh chair back is breathable and flexible so you can lean back whenever you need a break from work.
Humanscale World One Task Chair: The curved edges make the Humanscale chair look a bit more sleek and compact than other contenders. However, keep in mind you’ll currently have to wait 8-10 weeks for your chair to be delivered. We’ll be seeing if the wait is worth it.
Songmics Mesh Office Chair: Only $100, this chair has impressed us so far with its easy 30-minute assembly and sturdy construction. It’s certainly more bare-bones than other options but great for anyone who only needs a simple but supportive chair.
Ikea Markus: This popular office chair graces many home offices and is hundreds of dollars cheaper than our top picks. We will be testing it out over several weeks to see how it compares to more expensive office chairs and to find out if it’s a good choice for people with limited budgets.
Humanscale Liberty Task Chair: As the manufacturer of a popular range of ergonomic office chairs, Humanscale was specifically recommended by Dr Bautch. The Liberty Task is the next chair we have lined up to test, and it features automatic lumbar support, a mesh back, and mechanism-free recline, albeit at a premium price. We’re looking forward to spending some time with the Liberty Task Chair to find out how it measures up.
AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair: This popular option from Amazon is very affordable, but it’s relatively bare-bones with minimal adjustment options. Can you get a decent office chair for less than $100? We plan to call this chair in for testing to answer that question.
Herman Miller Aeron: Long considered the office chair gold standard, the Herman Miller Aeron is our previous top pick. It comes in three sizes, offers a good range of adjustments, and blends solid functionality with desirable design. It’s also very expensive, though you can save a lot of money by buying refurbished. Herman Miller makes chairs to order, and we’ve been unable to test the Aeron out due to high demand but we do plan to try it as soon as we can.
Office chair FAQs
What to look for in an office chair
Ideally, an office chair will allow you to fine-tune the height, seat depth, lumbar support, and arm rests according to your needs. It’s also vital to set up your whole workstation correctly so that you aren’t hunching or stretching, which is why we’ve included expert primers on the best way to sit and how to create an ergonomically sound home office below.
What’s the best way to sit in an office chair?
Even with the best office chair in the world, you need to adjust it properly for your body and try to maintain good posture.
“You need to have some kind of a checklist to make sure your chair fits you,” says Dr. Scott Bauch, President of the American Chiropractic Association Council on Occupational Health. Here’s his:
Adjust the height of the chair so that, ideally, your feet are comfortably flat on the floor. If that’s not possible, you may want to look at getting a footrest.
A waterfall front — curved edges that slope slightly downward — on the chair helps prevent pressure buildup and there should be some space between the front of your chair and the back of your knees.
Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips and close to a 90-degree angle.
With your arms comfortably by your sides, your wrists can be slightly extended but should be at a 90-degree angle with the desktop.
Adjust the armrests so that you can take some pressure off by resting your elbows on them when you’re not typing. When you are typing, your arms should rest on the desktop.
Lumbar support should fit into the small of your back above your belt and, ideally, move with you to provide support throughout the day, whether you’re sitting forward or reclining.
The headrest, if there is one, should adjust in height and position to support your neck.
Aim for a neutral posture where none of your body parts are awkwardly bent or twisted.
Be conscious of your position and resist the urge to lean forward or hunch.
Check your chair positioning and readjust from time to time. Perhaps someone else sat in your chair and tweaked it, you accidentally adjusted a setting, or you intended to change something temporarily and forgot to change it back. Both of our experts pointed out that it’s common for office chairs to be set up incorrectly or for them to stray from the right position over time.
To help you sit correctly and get the best from your office chair, it’s also crucial to consider your entire work area, including your office desk.
How can you make your work station ergonomic?
“Think of a computer workstation like the interior of a car,” said Alan Hedge, a certified ergonomist and professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. “You have to be able to get your seat close enough that you can get your feet on the pedals, but not so close that you’ll get squashed. You have to be able to see out of the windscreen and reach everything.”
To help you set up your work area correctly, Hedge has created a free Home Office Ergonomics app for Android and iOS. It offers advice on different aspects of your home office environment with photos to illustrate what to aim for and what to avoid. Here are a few tips:
The top of your laptop or monitor screen should be in your direct line of sight.
Your keyboard and mouse should be in a straight line from your elbow. If you use a laptop, consider getting a separate keyboard and mouse, so you can elevate the screen to eye line.
Do what you can to reduce glare and reflections on your screen but bear in mind that daylight and a view out of a window are positive things.
Ensure there’s room under your desk to accommodate different positions, stretch your legs, and flex your ankles. Movement is good.
Because you can’t see yourself working, Hedge suggests recording a short video of yourself, so you can see any potential problems and make changes.
Ultimately, both of our experts stressed the need to mix up your positions throughout the day and not to sit for too long at once. Hedge subscribes to a research-backed 20-8-2 pattern where you aim to sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8, then stretch or walk around for 2, and repeat. Bautch suggested microbreaks of a few seconds every 15 minutes or so. The main takeaway is that frequent short breaks to move, stand, walk, or even dance will benefit your health.