The best mattress in 2021 for every sleeper in any budget

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Best mattress 2021 two stacks of mattresses
  • A great mattress should offer an excellent balance of comfort, support, and motion isolation.
  • The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid performed well in every category we test and is our best overall pick.
  • We also outlined picks for different sleep styles, body types, and preferences.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Your mattress is the most important part of your sleep setup, so finding the right one is critical to your sleep quality and comfort.

That’s why I tested more than two dozen mattresses for this guide, relied on the reviews of colleagues, and consulted with Michael Breus, PhD, a board-certified psychologist in clinical sleep disorders and also known as “The Sleep Doctor,” and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida.

Every one of our picks below performed well in our tests, has a long risk-free home trial, is easy to unbox and set up, and can be returned – although some brands will deduct certain fees.

For context, I’m a side and stomach sleeper and my wife is a back sleeper – between the two of us, we’ve got all the major sleeping styles covered. You can find more models we tested that missed the cut and how to shop for a mattress further down.

Here are the best mattresses of 2021

Best mattresses by sleep style and body type

Best mattresses by type

Best mattresses by comfort

Best mattress overall

the dreamcloud premier hybrid mattress on a wood bed frame in a decorated room as part of testing for the best mattress in 2021

For being in the middle of the pack price-wise, the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress offers an impressive array of features, including excellent support, a firmness that will appeal to most sleepers, and a long trial period and warranty.

Overview of the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Side and back sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 5
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 6
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 8
Trial period 365 nights
Warranty Lifetime
Weight 99 lbs.
Thickness 15 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Unavailable due to pandemic
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Impressive 365-night trial period, lifetime warranty, made with CertiPUR-US certified foams, good heat dissipation, great motion transfer, excellent edge support, easy to move with side handles

Cons: Could maybe be more supportive for stomach sleepers

We think the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress is the best mattress you can buy. It’s also our top pick for best hybrid/innerspring mattress and a great mid-priced pick, coming in at $1,399 for a Queen.

Along with the Birch Mattress by Helix, the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress was one of the only beds we tested to do well in every category we look at. The unboxing process was seamless. Though the mattress is on the heavier side, it’s easy to move since it has handles sewn into the left and right sides and doesn’t flop around.

The DreamCloud had the biggest raw temperature drop in our heat dissipation tests. The motion isolation and edge support are great for couples sharing a bed, even if they have different sleeping styles, since the mattress’ average firmness will appeal to most sleepers. And, the Premier Hybrid is made of high-quality materials, including CertiPUR-US certified foams.

Lastly but importantly, if you don’t like the mattress in your first year of ownership, you can return it for a full refund. If you keep it, the bed is covered for life.

Premier Hybrid Mattress (button)
Best budget mattress

best budget mattress 2021 Zinus Cooling gel memory foam mattress

Back and stomach sleepers who are looking for a budget-friendly bed should strongly consider the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress.

Overview of the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Back and stomach sleepers, hot sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, short queen, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Foam
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 7
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 8
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 8
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 42.3, 51.9, 59.9, or 70.2 lbs. depending on thickness
Thickness 8, 10, 12, and 14-in. options
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal No
Showroom availability No

Our review of the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress

Pros: Affordable, 100-night trial, 10-year warranty, made of cooling gel memory foam, excellent motion isolation, four thickness options, great for back and stomach sleepers

Cons: Took a week to expand to full size, poor edge support

The Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress features one of my favorite materials to sleep on: gel memory foam. I’ve found this material does an outstanding job of keeping my hot-sleeping body cool through the night, and the Zinus mattress was no exception.

The memory foam sinks in to comfort the contours of your body while still providing firmer-than-average support. Because of this, I felt better sleeping on my stomach during testing, rather than on my side. Back sleepers may also like the firmness of this model.

The mattress passed my motion transfer tests with flying colors. When I was sleeping on it, my wife and dog were able to sneak into bed without jostling or waking me.

The mattress comes in four thickness options — 8, 10, 12, and 14 inches. I tested the 14-inch Queen. In general, I’ve found that mattresses that are 10 inches or thinner aren’t as supportive, so you should consider the thicker styles.

At under $500, you would expect compromises, and there are a few, but they are easy to look past if you want to save a few dollars. First, the edge support is awful. It’s hard to lie on the edges and not fall off. The mattress also took a week to expand to its full size. Out of the box, it was about half its full thickness. The directions suggest it will only take 72 hours to expand, but that was not my experience. It also had an initial odor, but that went away quickly.

At 70 pounds, the mattress is easy to move around, especially since it is firmer and doesn’t flop around.

Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best luxury mattress

Best luxury mattress 2021 Tempur Pedic ProBreeze Hybrid

When price is no object, the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid is your best bet with its contouring, supportive, and cooling combination of foam and springs delivered and set up in your bedroom.

Overview of the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Hot sleepers, all sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin long, full, queen, king, split king, Cal king, split Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 10
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 7
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Trial period 90 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 123 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping, $175 return fee 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Free on mattresses, foundations, and power bases
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Medium firmness that suits an array of sleeping styles, excellent motion transfer dampening, sleeps cool, 10-year warranty, white-glove delivery

Cons: Heavy, subpar edge support, expensive, shipping deducted from refund if you choose to return the mattress during the trial period

If you want to spend top dollar on a mattress that you’ll spend a third of your life on for the next 10+ years, then the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid is your best bet. The patented Tempur material has similar body contouring to memory foam but with added support and pressure relief without the sinking feeling, which is why it’s also our top pick for back sleepers. 

The PRObreeze mattress is different from other Tempur-Pedic mattresses in that it is designed with a focus on cooling. Tempur-Pedic also offers a similar mattress in the series, called the LUXEbreeze, that offers an even cooler sleep at an even heftier price tag (currently $4,799) though I haven’t personally tested it yet.

The PRObreeze is my main mattress when I’m not testing other models. I appreciate the luxury feel and how it cradles my body while keeping me from overheating. And, I don’t notice when my dog jumps in the bed thanks to the impressive motion isolation. 

If you’re really looking to splurge, I recommend pairing the PRObreeze with the Tempur-Ergo Smart Base, which features a sleep tracker to monitor your sleep and makes recommendations for improved rest.

Read our full Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid with Ergo Smart Base review

PRObreeze Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best mattress for back pain

best mattress for back pain 2021 leesa hybrid

The Leesa Hybrid Mattress has great edge support and motion isolation. The mix of memory foam and pocket springs leads to an average firmness that makes it an outstanding solution for back pain sufferers of any sleeping style.

Overview of the Leesa Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for All sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 5
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 7
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 115 lbs.
Thickness 11 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Yes, $150
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Leesa Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Average firmness that will appeal to a broad range of sleepers, edge support and motion isolation are ideal for couples, 100-night risk-free home trial, made of foam and pocket springs for support and breathability, 10-year warranty

Cons: Heavy, hard to move around

For about a year, the Leesa Hybrid was the main mattress I slept on when I wasn’t testing others. 

The bed features five layers: a cooling premium foam top layer, a contouring memory foam layer, and 14.5-gauge pocket springs that help with breathability sandwiched by two core foam support layers.

My wife and I appreciated that its average firmness suited our backs, stomachs, and sides, and I was especially impressed with its motion isolation — I rarely noticed when my wife got up in the night. The edge support is also great thanks to the innerspring coils that go all the way to the very edge of the bed. 

During the time I tested the Leesa Hybrid, I never woke up with back pain, though I have a history of pain back issues. When I wrenched my back trying to put a standing desk together, the mattress provided the pressure relief and comfort I needed to get restful sleep and facilitate the healing process. 

However, this is based on my personal experience. If you suffer from back pain, you should always consult your doctor before purchasing a new mattress.

I also encourage you to have someone else set up this bed if you have back pain. I tempted fate and tackled the task on my own. I tested a King mattress for this guide and it weighed 142 pounds. I set up the bed on my own, but I relied on white-glove mattress removal once I was done with it. 

Read our full Leesa Hybrid Mattress review

Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best mattress for side sleepers

Product image Casper Nova Hybrid best mattress for side sleepers overall of 2021

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is ideal for side sleepers who are looking for a plush-comfort bed with great heat dissipation.

Overview of the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Side sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 4
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 8
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 6
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 89 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Yes, $149
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Made with eco-friendly materials, 100-night risk-free trial, good edge support, excellent heat dissipation, the plush comfort is ideal for side sleepers

Cons: Held on to its new bed smell, not the best for stomach or back sleepers, failed motion transfer tests

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is also our pick for the best soft mattress, an attribute that makes it ideal for side sleepers, who usually find a mattress with some give to be the most comfortable. (Read more: the best mattresses for side sleepers.) Additionally, we think it’s a good solution for petite sleepers and older individuals who may not have as much natural cushioning as they once did and could benefit from the soothing comfort of a soft mattress.

Side sleepers will appreciate the zoned pressure relief built into the foam layers of the Nova Hybrid. The second foam layer has three ergonomic zones that are firmer around the waist, hips, and lower back and softer under the shoulders. The next foam layer features contoured cuts designed to reinforce the second layer. And, the hybrid’s springs ensure your body is properly supported while adding a level of durability. A firm border of foam helps the bed’s edge support. 

I tend to overheat in bed, but when sleeping on the Nova Hybrid, I never felt hot, which is impressive since I tested the mattress in the summer. When I used the bathroom in the night, the spot where I was sleeping was cooler when I returned, which helped me get back to sleep faster. 

Casper recently introduced the Nova Hybrid Snow, which costs $425 more than the Nova Hybrid but is supposed to have better cooling capabilities. I just wrapped up testing it, and I still think the Nova Hybrid is the better mattress. It has better edge support, and if the Snow has better heat dissipation, it’s a minimal improvement.

Nova Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best mattress for back sleepers

Best mattress for back sleepers 2021 family chilling on Tempur Pedic ProBreeze Hybrid

The medium firmness and cradling comfort of the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Mattress make it ideal for back sleepers, especially if you tend to overheat at night.

Overview of the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Hot sleepers, all sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin long, full, queen, king, split king, Cal king, split Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 10
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 7
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Trial period 90 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 123 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping, $175 return fee 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Free on mattresses, foundations, and power bases
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Medium firmness that suits an array of sleeping styles, excellent motion transfer dampening, sleeps cool, 10-year warranty, white-glove delivery

Cons: Heavy, subpar edge support, expensive, shipping deducted from refund if you choose to return the mattress during the trial period

Back sleepers benefit from medium-firm mattresses, though this can vary based on body type and personal preferences. It also helps if there is zoned support with extra cushioning around the hips and shoulders. Based on these factors and our subjective testing, the Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Mattress is the best option for back sleepers.

The Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid Mattress is designed for cool sleeping, but it also provides outstanding cradling comfort. There’s an outer cover that you can unzip and toss in the wash for easy cleaning, and three layers of foam that are geared toward absorbing excessive heat and improving breathability. At the base, the mattress has 1,000+ spring coils surrounded by a supportive foam border that provide support, durability, and breathability. 

The PRObreeze is the mattress that my wife and I sleep on when I’m not testing other alternatives. As a hot sleeper, I’ve found it does an excellent job of keeping me from overheating. 

Between my wife and I, we exhibit just about every sleeping style and we both find this slightly firm mattress works well for our bodies. I also don’t feel when my wife or dog are moving around during the night — the motion dampening abilities are outstanding. However, the edge support could use some work. When sitting or lying on the edge, it sinks significantly.

The mattress is heavy and hard to move around. Fortunately, Tempur-Pedic includes white-glove delivery with the purchase of the PRObreeze. Professionals showed up at my house and set up the new mattress in under an hour. My lower back appreciated the break from heavy lifting.

Read our full Tempur-Pedic PRObreeze Hybrid review

PRObreeze Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best mattress for stomach sleepers

best mattress for stomach sleepers 2021 awara

With its plush Euro top and supportive feel, the Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress supplies the ideal balance of comfort and support for stomach sleepers to get a good night’s sleep.

Overview of the Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Back and stomach sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 5
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 6
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 5
Trial period 365 nights
Warranty Lifetime
Weight 129 lbs.
Thickness 13 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Unavailable due to pandemic
Showroom availability No

Our review of the Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress

Pros: 365-night risk-free trial, lifetime warranty, great for stomach sleepers, good heat dissipation, made of eco-friendly materials, all four sides have two handles

Cons: Not ideal for side sleepers, heavy, sinks significantly when sitting on the side

Stomach sleepers generally prefer the firmest mattresses, though this will vary based on personal preference and body type. A firmer mattress supports stomach sleepers by keeping your spine aligned, protecting you from back pain. 

The Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress gives you a slightly firm, comfortable support along with one of the longest trial periods and warranties in the industry.

The firm feel is balanced by a plush Euro top made of organic wool. Next is a layer of Rainforest Alliance-certified Dunlop latex, and the support core contains individually wrapped coils.

For easy movability, the cotton blend mattress cover has two handles sewn into all four sides. This feature is a must since the Awara is one of the heaviest mattresses in our guide. Despite the heft, I set it up without help in about five minutes. The mattress had a strong initial odor that dissipated within a few hours.

As a combination side and stomach sleeper, I much preferred stomach sleeping on the Awara. During the testing period, I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep, and each morning I awoke feeling refreshed. I also didn’t experience any soreness, which is a common issue for stomach sleepers.

Both the edge support and motion isolation were middle of the road. When sitting on the edge of the bed, I didn’t feel like I sunk much, but when I was laying on the edge, I felt uncomfortable, like I might fall off. The Awara also failed the objective motion transfer tests each time, but the mattress is quite bouncy, which some people may like.

Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress (button)
Best mattress for heavy people

best mattress 2021 Big fig

The Big Fig Mattress is constructed for heavier individuals, with firm support and a high weight capacity for both the bed and the included foundation.

Overview of the Big Fig Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Heavy individuals, back and stomach sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 7
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 6
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 6
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 10
Trial period 120 nights
Warranty 20 years
Weight 116 lbs.
Thickness 13 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal $199 + $50 for mattress removal
Showroom availability No

Our review of the Big Fig Mattress

Pros: Above-average firmness, 1,100-pound weight capacity, good motion isolation, good heat dissipation, exceptional edge support, 20-year warranty

Cons: Hard to move around, may not be comfortable for side sleepers or petite individuals

The Big Fig Mattress is unique because it can support two sleepers with a combined weight of 1,100 pounds and comes with a 1,200-pound-capacity foundation. Factor in the firmer-than-average support, and you have the ideal mattress for heavier individuals.

The Big Fig weighs more than most mattresses, so setup took a little more effort, but I had it unboxed and ready to use in 10 minutes. There was an initial odor that took a day to dissipate, so air the bed out before you sleep on it.

The cover is made of a cooling material. Below that are three CertiPUR-US certified foam layers that promote airflow, edge support, and durability. The individually wrapped coils add more support and durability. Lastly, 16 tufts hold the materials in place to prevent shifting over time. 

I usually sleep on my side, but with the firm feel of the Big Fig, I was more comfortable on my stomach and back. Still, I recognized the bed’s dynamic feel, and I slept well during testing, even if I wasn’t in my preferred position. I may not be the target market for the mattress. Heavier side sleepers will likely be more comfortable since they will sink into the mattress more, which will keep their spine aligned.

As a hot sleeper, I didn’t overheat while testing the Big Fig. It did an above-average job of dissipating heat and staying cool.

The edge support of the Big Fig is among the best I’ve experienced. I felt just as comfortable on the edge as I did in the middle, and when I sat on the side, there was little sag. 

I rarely find good motion isolation and bounce in the same mattress. The Big Fig came close. It failed our bowling ball test, but in my subjective experience, the mattress’s motion dampening was pretty good. The impressive bounce could facilitate intimate activities.

Best foam mattress

Best foam mattress 2021 author pushing down on the edge of the Tempur Pedic Cloud with his hand to show how it sinks

The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress features contouring foam that cradles sleepers of all body types and sleeping styles while offering outstanding pressure relief and heat dissipation.

Overview of the Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for All sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin, twin long, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Foam
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 6
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 9
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Trial period 90 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 58 lbs.
Thickness 10 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping, $175 return fee 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Free on mattresses, foundations, or power bases
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress

Pros: Great heat dissipation, outstanding motion isolation, 90-night trial, 10 inches thick with 3 layers of supportive and comforting Tempur foam that caters to all sleeping types

Cons: A shipping charge is deducted from your refund if you choose to return your bed, unimpressive edge support, no white-glove delivery

The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress arrives in a box now like many other brands; you just open the box, remove the mattress, cut through the plastic, and unroll. Like many foam mattresses, it had an odor that dissipated after a few hours. 

There are three foam layers: a soft and responsive comfort top layer, a firmer support layer, and finally, a supportive and durable base. The polyester-blend stretch cover is moisture-wicking and breathes well. 

I was struck by how the patented foam contoured to my body and offered impressive pressure relief. I was comfortable on my stomach and side, and my wife, who is a back sleeper, also enjoyed the feel. During testing, I was able to fall asleep within minutes of laying down

Unlike most all-foam mattresses, the Cloud didn’t overheat. When I got up at night, the heat dissipated making it cool enough to fall right back asleep when I got back in bed. The Cloud also passed my objective motion isolation tests, and when my rambunctious dog jumped onto the bed in the morning, I barely noticed.

The Cloud also supported my back well. I suffer from lower back pain that flares up when I sleep on an unsupportive mattress. While testing the mattress, I didn’t experience any back aggravation.

The biggest negative is the Cloud’s poor edge support. I noticed significant sinking when I sat or laid on the edge of the bed. This isn’t a deal breaker; however, couples may want a King for more space without feeling uncomfortable on the edges. 

Read our full Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress review

Cloud Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best hybrid mattress

the DreamCloud Premier mattress on a wood bed frame in a decorated room as part of testing for the best mattress in 2021

The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress performed well in all of the tests we put it through, which makes it ideal for most sleeping types, couples, and people who tend to overheat at night.

Overview of the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Side and back sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 5
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 6
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 8
Trial period 365 nights
Warranty Lifetime
Weight 99 lbs.
Thickness 15 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Unavailable due to pandemic
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Impressive 365-night trial period, lifetime warranty, made with CertiPUR-US certified foams, good heat dissipation, great motion transfer, excellent edge support, easy to move with side handles

Cons: Lacks support for stomach sleepers

We chose to combine hybrid and innerspring mattresses for this update because the line between the two categories has blurred so much in recent years.

As with most hybrids, the DreamCloud Premier consists of a combination of individually wrapped coils and foam. The bed’s top layer is high-loft memory foam covered by quilted cashmere. From top to bottom, the other layers are high-density gel memory foam, supportive foam, coils, and a porous foam base.

Despite its heft, the DreamCloud is easy to maneuver thanks to handles on the long sides of the bed. Removing the mattress from the box and setting it up only took about five minutes. While there was a new bed smell initially, the odor dissipated by bedtime.

When it comes to performance, the DreamCloud Premier scored well in every test. It particularly excelled in heat dissipation: within two minutes of getting out of bed, the surface temperature of the bed dropped by 14 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The edge support and motion isolation were both excellent, making this a smart option for couples. When sharing the bed with my wife, I didn’t notice her shifting position in the night. When lying on the edge of the bed, I still felt supported.

Though it’s billed as a “luxury firm,” I found the mattress to be soft and preferred sleeping on my side rather than my stomach. Still, I was comfortable enough on my stomach, I just didn’t feel as supported. My wife appreciated the cushy feel while sleeping on her back.

What’s particularly unique about DreamCloud is its 365-night trial period and lifetime warranty, which is among the most generous of the mattresses I’ve tested. 

Premier Hybrid Mattress (button)
Best adjustable bed

Best adjustable air mattress 2021 viewing the corner of the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed

If you and your partner just can’t agree on a mattress firmness, the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed allows you to customize each side to your perfect firmness and the bed automatically makes adjustments based on your body’s position.

Overview of the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed

Category Product Information
Best for All sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin long, full, queen, king, split king, flextop king, Cal king, split Cal king, flextop Cal king
Mattress type Adjustable air
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 20 firmness levels
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 3
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 6
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 15 years
Weight 80 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping but return shipping fees apply
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Free with purchase of mattress and base
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed

Pros: 20 firmness options make it ideal for all sleeping styles, good edge support, white glove delivery included with purchase, built-in sleep tracker, automatic air adjustments based on sleeping position

Cons: Hard to move, terrible motion isolation, may not be ideal for hot sleepers

Your mattress should last you for at least 10 years. In that time, a lot can happen to change your firmness preferences. For example, when I lost significant weight, I developed a preference for softer mattresses. Also, if you share a bed with someone, the odds are pretty small that you’ll find the same firmness comfortable. These scenarios demonstrate why an airbed with adjustable firmness is a good investment.

The Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed is the best adjustable airbed I’ve tested. Two features set it apart. First, it has an automatic function that, when engaged, will adjust the firmness of the mattress as you shift positions in the night. Second, the mattress tracks your sleeping and offers custom recommendations in the app (available for iOS and Android).

While I found the adjustable air feature was a game-changer and significantly improved my sleep, the sleep tracking was nowhere near as accurate as my Garmin Forerunner 945 watch. However, even during the month I tested the mattress, Sleep Number made improvements to the app, and a representative for the company said a team is constantly making tweaks to make it more useful.

I appreciated that I didn’t have to lift a finger to unbox the mattress. Two Sleep Number delivery people set up the dual adjustable bed frames and King-size mattress in about 45 minutes and made sure the bed connected to my phone and worked correctly.

The separate firmness level settings for each side and good edge support make it a smart choice for couples. However, the mattress failed my motion transfer tests each time, and my wife remarked that the bed felt like a waterbed with how noticeable the motion is. Another negative is how hard it is to move the mattress. It’s attached securely to the base so if you want to move it, you need to bring the base with you or figure out how to detach the mattress. Both methods require significantly more effort than your standard mattress.

360 i8 Smart Bed (Queen) (button)
Best latex mattress

Best latex mattress 2021 small child leaning up against the Birch mattress by Helix

The Birch Mattress by Helix is made of sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials and offers firm and soft comfort options to accommodate a number of preferences.

Overview of the Birch Mattress by Helix

Category Product Information
Best for All sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 7
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 10
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 5
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 10
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 25 years
Weight 114 lbs.
Thickness 11 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns 
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Unavailable due to pandemic
Showroom availability Only in NYC and unavailable during the pandemic

Our review of the Birch Mattress by Helix

Pros: Above-average firmness, soft topper available for an extra cost, very good motion isolation, made of natural materials, Greenguard Gold certified

Cons: Pillow top is slightly smaller than the mattress and doesn’t attach to it, not ideal for side sleepers without the pillow top, no white-glove delivery

From the cover to the latex and the wool, the Birch Mattress by Helix is made of eco-friendly materials. The mattress is Greenguard Gold-certified to be free of harsh chemicals, and it’s handmade in the US. The top layer is made of a fire-retardant layer of natural wool fibers with rayon, followed by an organic wool layer for temperature regulation and comfort. The middle layers are made of natural Talalay latex certified by several environmental organizations, including OEKO-Tex, and individually-wrapped coils for support and limited motion transfer. The base is organic wool batting for durability and stability, and the cover is made of GOTS-certified organic cotton.

When I went to unbox the Birch, I found these materials proved hefty. Though it didn’t come with special tools or instructions, it was a standard unboxing — remove the bed from the box and cut through the layers of plastic. Within five minutes, the mattress was resting on the bed frame. There was a slight initial odor, though it dissipated within hours. 

The Birch Mattress by Helix on its own is firm, but for an extra cost, you can add a plush organic mattress topper to make the bed softer. I tested the mattress with the topper since I prefer a softer feel and I was much more comfortable than laying on the base mattress alone, especially when sleeping on my side. Though, if you like a firmer feel, you might want to skip the topper. 

The Birch Mattress is an excellent solution for couples thanks to its outstanding edge support and motion isolation. I performed my motion transfer test on the bed four times, and it only failed once. When I sat on the side of the bed, I felt supported, and when I laid on the very edge, I didn’t feel like I was going to fall.

After testing the mattress, I gave it to my 6-foot-5 teenager. He deals with joint pain from constantly growing, and he said the bed helped soothe his pains. We both sleep hot, and the Birch did an adequate job of dissipating heat. However, on hotter nights, he reports the mattress is uncomfortably hot.

Natural Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best mattress for hot sleepers

best mattress for hot sleepers 2021 hand pressing down on the purple premier hybrid to show how much it sinks

The Purple Premier Hybrid Mattress not only has outstanding heat dissipation, but the patented Purple Grid offers pressure relief to all sleeping styles.

Overview of the Purple Premier Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for All sleeping styles
Available sizes Twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal King, split king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 5
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 10
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 5
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 145 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Free
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Purple Premier Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Excellent heat dissipation, great for all sleeping types, free white-glove delivery, outstanding pressure relief, bouncy

Cons: Poor motion isolation, heavy

To measure heat dissipation, I use a laser thermometer and consider how hot a mattress gets and how quickly it returns to its starting temperatures. 

The Purple Premier Hybrid is our top pick for a cooling mattress because, based on our temperature tests, it builds up the least amount of heat of any mattress we tried and quickly releases any remaining heat within two minutes of getting out of bed. In my tests, the Purple mattress returned to within three degrees of the ambient temperature in those two minutes. It was almost as if no one had been sleeping on it at all.

The Purple Hybrid Premier mattress is so heavy I needed help unboxing it. Once released from the packaging, we carried the mattress to the foundation. I strongly recommend taking advantage of Purple’s free white glove delivery of the Hybrid Premier.

What sets Purple beds apart from other brands is the “Purple Grid,” which is made up of hyper-elastic gel polymer “grid lines” with one-inch-square open spaces between. You can choose how thick you want your grid: two, three, or four inches. I chose the three-inch thickness option, sometimes called the Purple 3. 

Below the grid is a CertiPUR-US certified polyurethane foam layer, and below that is 7.5-inch pocketed springs. The cover is soft and breathable.

When you first lay down on the Purple, the feel of the grid is noticeable since it’s located right under the cover. It’s a unique feel that can take some getting used to. 

I preferred to sleep on my side when testing the Premier Hybrid, but I was also comfortable on my stomach. I like the responsiveness of the grid, which immediately relieves pressure where you need it to most. 

While the Premier Hybrid failed our objective motion isolation tests spectacularly, my subjective experience wasn’t so bad. On occasion, my dog was able to sneak onto the mattress without me noticing. Also, I noticed the so-so motion isolation was likely due to the exceptional bounce of the bed, which couples may appreciate.

Hybrid Premier Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best firm mattress

best ultra firm mattress 2021 hand pressing down on the airweave to show how little it sinks

The Airweave Mattress has a breathable and non-toxic polyethylene core that offers ultra-firm support to all parts of the bed, even the very edges.

Overview of the Airweave Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Back and stomach sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Foam
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 10 (9 with insert)
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 7
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 10
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 71.5 lbs.
Thickness 8 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns within the contiguous US
White-glove delivery and mattress removal $40 for white-glove delivery, $125 for all non-California mattress removals, $0 for California-based removals
Showroom availability Only four locations

Our review of the Airweave Mattress

Pros: Features a soft insert to transform the bed from incredibly firm to just firm, great heat dissipation, outstanding edge support, decent motion isolation, 100-night sleep trial, machine-washable cover

Cons: Some assembly required, hard to move around, not recommended for side sleepers

The Airweave Mattress is one of the most unique beds I’ve ever tested — it’s modular and it requires more assembly than most mattresses. The polyethylene core is broken into three blocks. You place these on the bottom half of the cover, seal up an inner cover, add the polyester soft layer, and zip on the top of the cover. With this level of assembly, white-glove delivery would be an attractive option. Unfortunately, Airweave does not currently offer this service.

I like that there’s a soft layer insert that you can easily remove if you’d prefer an ultra-firm mattress rather than just firm. Even with the soft layer, the mattress was firmer than I’d prefer, and sleeping on my side was out of the question. I mainly slept on my stomach and a little on my back when testing this mattress, and I was surprisingly comfortable in these positions. I appreciated how cool the bed slept thanks to the breathable core.

In my experience, mattresses that are less than 10 inches thick are not supportive enough, but at 8 inches thick, the Airweave surprisingly offered plenty of support. With its short stature and light weight — the Queen only weighs 71.5 pounds — you might assume the mattress would be easy to move around, but it’s a beast. The blocks cause the mattress to flop, which adds to the difficulty.

The Airweave is a great solution for anyone who loves firm mattresses. The edge support is excellent on all sides and the bed performed well in my motion transfer tests. When I dropped the bowling ball, the soda can rarely fell over on the first impact, but the bed is incredibly bouncy and the can would sometimes fall over on the second bounce.

Mattress (Queen) (button)
Best soft mattress

Best soft mattress 2021 black bowling ball resting on Casper Nova Hybrid

The Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress is the brand’s softest mattress and offers cushiony support for folks who like a “sinking in” feeling to their mattress.

Overview of the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress

Category Product Information
Best for Side sleepers
Available sizes Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king
Mattress type Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 4
Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 3
Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 8
Edge support (1 awful to 10 best) 6
Trial period 100 nights
Warranty 10 years
Weight 89 lbs.
Thickness 12 in.
Shipping and returns Free shipping and returns
White-glove delivery and mattress removal Yes, $149
Showroom availability Yes, nationwide

Our review of the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress

Pros: Made with eco-friendly materials, 100-night risk-free trial, good edge support, excellent heat dissipation, the plush comfort is ideal for side sleepers

Cons: Held on to its new bed smell, not the best for stomach or back sleepers, failed motion transfer tests

The Nova Hybrid is one of Casper’s newest and softest mattresses, which is ideal for my side-sleeping body. When my muscles and joints were aching after exercising, the Nova Hybrid cradled my body and offered pressure relief in all the right areas. This is thanks to the supportive foam layers with ergonomic zones that are firmer around the lower back, waist, and hips, and softer under the shoulders to help align your spine.

The mattress is made of CertiPUR-US certified foam and the cover is partially composed of recycled bottles, making it an eco-friendly alternative. There are two layers of Casper’s proprietary “Airscape” foam which are meant to help with the airflow, and the topmost layer has small perforations for breathability.

With all of the layers of foam and springs, the Nova Hybrid is heavy and flops around as you move it. Fortunately, it comes with handles sewn into each corner to make it more manageable. 

The motion-dampening properties, however, leave much to be desired. The Nova Hybrid failed my motion transfer tests, and when sharing the bed with my wife and dog, I could feel when either of them moved.

I found the Nova Hybrid cradled my body just right, especially when my muscles were screaming after hard workouts. I appreciated how my body would wake up refreshed and ready for more punishment.

I just finished testing the new Nova Hybrid Snow upgrade, which is designed to offer better heat dissipation for an extra $425. It had the same comfy soft feel but wasn’t significantly cooler than the Nova Hybrid and appeared to have worse edge support. We still prefer the Nova Hybrid.

Nova Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (button)
What else we tested

best mattress 2021 two stacks of mattresses

We’ve tested dozens of mattresses over the years, and there are none that we outright don’t recommend. Every mattress we’ve tested could potentially be a good fit for the right individual. However, here are a few that missed the cut for our guide but are worth considering.

What else we recommend and why

Under $1,000

Nest Bedding Flip Double-Sided Hybrid: This affordable bed is unique in that you can flip it. One side has a medium firmness and the other is firmer. I think the medium side is the best budget option for side sleepers since our budget pick is best for back and stomach sleepers. I was impressed with the excellent edge support, how easy it is to move around, and that it’s made of CertiPUR-US foam. The biggest negative was the poor motion isolation. 

Bear Original: The Bear Original does a good job of cooling, is made in the US of CertiPUR-US certified foams, has great edge support, and was easy to set up and move around. However, it’s kind of on the firmer side so it was uncomfortable for side sleeping. Also, the motion isolation was poor so it may not be the ideal option for couples.

Nectar Memory Foam: There’s a lot to like about Nectar’s flagship mattress. It just wasn’t the best in any specific category. I like that you can try it risk-free with a 365-night trial, and if you keep it, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty. I found it was softer than average, which was comfortable for my side sleeping. It also has great heat dissipation, excellent motion isolation, and average edge support. However, I would be hesitant to recommend it for back and stomach sleepers because it’s so soft.

Bear Pro: Despite feeling a little softer than average, I was comfortable on my stomach and side while sleeping on the Bear Pro, and I think its all-foam construction will appeal to all sleeping types. The copper-infused foam, gel-infused foam, and breathable Celliant cover all give the bed impressive heat dissipation. The main negatives are it offers poor edge support and it’s a bit pricey for an all-foam mattress. Read our full review

Allswell Supreme Hybrid: This is one of the best mattresses you will find under $1,000. It features a combination of copper and graphite gel-infused memory foam and pocket coils, which give it a medium firmness that will appeal to many different types of sleepers. The edge support is great but it sleeps hot and is quite heavy. Also, it’s only available online and not in showrooms.

Under $2,000

Casper Original: The Casper Original was our previous pick for the best all-foam mattress, and we still recommend it. We like the Casper Original because it works well for a wide array of sleeping styles, is made of eco-friendly materials, has excellent heat dissipation, and exhibits great motion dampening. However, it does not have good edge support. Read our full review.

Amerisleep AS5 Hybrid: Amerisleep offers five mattresses, AS1 through AS5, each with a specific benefit. I’ve tested the AS3, the company’s best-selling bed, but I much prefer its softer, luxury mattress, the AS5. Due to its soft feel, it’s an outstanding solution for anyone who prefers softer beds. Since it sleeps hot, people who get too cold at night may also prefer this mattress. Also, it doesn’t have very good edge support and failed my motion isolation tests, so it’s better suited for people who sleep alone. Overall, though, I like how it cradled my body.

Over $2,000

Brooklyn Bedding Sedona Hybrid: The Sedona Hybrid is a luxury mattress made of CertiPUR-US certified foams and up to 1,000 coils. You can test it out for 120 nights risk-free. I liked how hassle-free the unboxing was and how the mattress has handles for easy movability. The average firmness should appeal to a broad audience, but I just could not get comfortable no matter what position I was in. And, while the heat dissipation and edge support are average, the mattress failed my motion transfer tests every time.

Saatva Solaire Adjustable Mattress: The Saatva Solaire has a built-in air pump controlled by a corded controller that allows you to pick from 50 firmness options for your ideal comfort level. I found it worked great, but the motion isolation left a lot to be desired. Plus, you can’t find the mattress in showrooms to test it out before buying. Fortunately, there’s a 120-night home trial period. Read our full review.

Intellibed Matrix Grand: The Intellibed Matrix Grand is the height of luxury and features seven layers of high-quality materials, including two gel layers that flex to provide localized pressure relief and to help align the spine. However, at 196 pounds, it’s the heaviest mattress I’ve tested, and at 17 inches thick, it’s hard to find fitted sheets that are deep enough to stay on the mattress. I didn’t find it particularly comfortable no matter what position I was in, the motion isolation is poor, and the return policy has questionable stipulations.

Our testing methodology

Best mattress 2021 testing methodology black bowling ball on a mattress

I’ve been testing mattresses for more than four years to determine the best, and personally tested all of the mattresses in our guide. Unless noted otherwise, each mattress I tested was a Queen because it’s the most popular size.

In addition to sleeping on each mattress for at least two weeks, there are many objective tests I put each model through. The most important factors I consider are comfort, edge support, and motion isolation.

Here are some of the test results for the main attributes we tested:

Attribute DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Tempur-PRObreeze Hybrid Leesa Hybrid Casper Nova Hybrid Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Big Fig Birch by Helix Tempur-Cloud Sleep Number 360 i8 Smart Bed Purple Premier Hybrid Airweave
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest) 5 7 6 5 4 6 7 7 6 20 levels 5 10 (9 with insert)
Motion Isolation (1 awful to 10 best) 7 8 10 7 3 5 6 10 7 3 3 7
Edge Support (1 awful to 10 best) 8 3 3 7 6 5 10 10 3 6 5 10
Heat Dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool) 6 8 7 7 8 6 6 5 9 3 10 7
Trial Period 365 days 100 nights 90 nights 100 nights 100 nights 100 nights 120 nights 90 nights 90 nights 100 nights 100 nights 100 nights
Warranty Lifetime 10 years 10 years 10 years 10 years 25 years 20 years 10 years 10 years 15 years 10 years 10 years

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Comfort: This is a fairly subjective characteristic that is based on the firmness of a mattress, how hot it sleeps, and how supportive it feels. My measurement of firmness is based on testing dozens of mattresses and developing a feel for soft, average, and firm mattresses. I also consider heat dissipation, which I gauge using a laser thermometer to measure the temperature before I lay in the bed for at least one hour, immediately after I get up, and two minutes after I get up. 

Motion isolation: If you’ve ever spent the night with someone who moves around a lot in their sleep, you know how important motion isolation is. Without it, your sleeping partner’s movements will jostle you awake throughout the night. To test motion isolation, I place a 12-ounce can of soda pop in the middle of the mattress. Then I drop a 15-pound bowling ball from four feet above the mattress so it lands 12 inches from the can. If the can falls over time and time again, the motion isolation is not very good. If the can stays upright, the bed does an excellent job of dampening motion transfer.

Edge support: To test edge support, I lay on the very edge of the bed and slowly roll off — literally. If I feel like I can roll a fair amount before actually falling, then the bed has good edge support. If I fall easily, then the edge support is not very good. I also sit on the side to put on my socks and shoes to assess how much the edge sinks. I am currently developing an objective measurement that I’ll “roll” out in future guides as I collect more data.

Portability: Unless you’re constantly relocating or redecorating, it’s unlikely you’ll need to move your mattress often so this category doesn’t weigh heavily in our assessment. Still, it’s nice if you can easily rotate your mattress, a task that’s important for your bed’s longevity. And depending on how your bed is positioned, you may need to move the mattress to put on fitted sheets. I move each mattress several times to see how heavy it feels and if it flops around making it harder to move.

Trial and warranty: I look at the details of the warranty and home trial period, whether the mattress is available in showrooms, and whether there’s white-glove delivery. The only way to know if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it for several nights, so we looked for loopholes in the fine print of the return policy and let you know about them.

Setup: I timed how long it took me to unbox and set up each mattress on my own. Also, I noted any peculiarities to the process. My nose tracks any new bed odor initially and when I go to bed, usually 10+ hours later. Lastly, I look at whether white-glove service is offered and how much it costs.

What we’re testing next

Best mattress 2021 two stacks of mattresses

We’re constantly testing new mattresses and re-testing our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re currently testing:

Helix Midnight: The Midnight mattress is a hybrid mattress with a medium firmness that’s designed to provide optimal comfort and support to side sleepers. As someone who primarily sleeps on his side, I’m curious to see if it lives up to its hype.

Casper Wave Hybrid Snow: This is a “Snow” upgrade to Casper’s luxury mattress. It’s supposed to sleep cooler than the original Wave Hybrid. I’m looking forward to experiencing the Snow since the Wave Hybrid was the hottest and the least comfortable of the Casper mattresses I tested.

Helix Midnight Luxe: The Luxe has the same medium firmness as the Helix Midnight, only it offers zoned lumbar support for pressure relief, a quilted pillow top, and a breathable Tencel cover. This is another bed that is designed to appeal to side sleepers.

Bear Hybrid: What I like about Bear mattresses is they sleep cool and are made in the U.S. of high-quality materials. This is Bear’s softest mattress so it may give the Nova Hybrid a run for its money as the best soft and best side sleeper mattress.

Purple Premier Hybrid 4: This is the only Purple mattress I haven’t tested, and I’m hoping to test it in the near future for a side-by-side comparison of the line. It is similar to the Premier Hybrid 3, only the Purple Grid is four inches thick instead of three.

How to shop for a mattress

Best mattress 2021 two stacks of mattresses

Buying a mattress no longer requires heading to a showroom and having a salesperson lurk over you as you lay on a mattress for 10 minutes to decide if it will suit you for the next decade. In fact, we put together a handy guide of what to expect if you’re shopping for a mattress online at nine popular brands.

To help you shop for a mattress, we spoke with Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI.

Consider your medical conditions

Peña-Hernández first suggests considering your medical history. “The right mattress is the most comfortable one for each person. However, consumers should consider their medical history, like respiratory diseases, allergies, scoliosis, or sleep apnea when purchasing a mattress; so they can make an informed decision regarding what type of materials are in their mattress or what features might prove to be healthier for them,” Peña-Hernández said. “Patients with COPD may benefit from mattresses that are designed for adjustable beds because elevating the head of the bed can sometimes facilitate easier breathing.” 

Know your sleep position

After talking to your doctor, assess your sleeping style and preferred firmness level.

“The most common mattress problem that people report is the lack of comfortability which can result in fatigue or excessive sleepiness,” Peña-Hernández said. “It’s hard to keep up with the day-to-day when you’re not well-rested, and ultimately, it can affect your quality of life. Chronic fatigue can even have implications for your immunity and your health. A good mattress meets the criteria for the specific person’s needs and promotes a healthy, well-rested, rest.”

Though every person’s preferences are different, there are some patterns that certain body types and sleeping styles seem to prefer, according to Peña-Hernández.

Side sleepers: “Vast research exists to support side sleepers benefit from medium-firm mattresses to support pressure point relief,” said Peña-Hernández. “Side sleepers can experience shoulder and lower back pain if the mattress is too unsupportive.”

Back sleepers: Peña-Hernández recommends medium firmness for back sleepers. “Back sleepers should strive to maintain the natural S-curvature of the spine so the best mattress for back sleepers provides spinal support. A medium-firm mattress will help achieve this by redistributing weight and promoting healthy alignment but still contours to the body to provide cushioning where it is needed.”

Stomach sleepers: Firmer mattresses tend to benefit stomach sleepers as well as heavier folks.

Consider body size and preferences

In addition to the above, you should also consider bodyweight and heat dissipation.

“Individuals concerned about their weight and weight-related complications should speak to their medical provider when considering a mattress, said Peña-Hernández. “Overweight individuals should consider a thicker mattress of at least 12 inches thick or more. Thinner mattresses won’t provide you with the support you need. Coil mattresses also provide a more durable construction.”

Softer mattresses are generally better for petite individuals since lighter individuals (under 130 pounds) don’t sink into beds as far. Breus also notes that as people get older, they would benefit from a softer bed to address pain issues. “As we age, our skin gets thinner, which means less cushion.”

Firm mattresses aren’t necessarily more supportive. Instead, support is based on how well the bed cradles your body and allows your spine to relax. Since different parts of your body push down more on a mattress, such as the hips and shoulders, mattresses that offer zoned support in these areas tend to be more comfortable to a broader range of individuals. These beds also tend to cost more as the construction is more specialized.

If you overheat at night, you’ll want a mattress and even bedding that does an outstanding job of dissipating heat. “Hot sleepers should consider sheets and materials made of natural fibers for their breathability,” said Peña-Hernández. “Bamboo, cotton, linen, and hemp are good options as well as cooling sheets, especially sheets designed to wick moisture.”

FAQs

Best mattress 2021 stacks of mattresses

What kind of mattress should you buy?

There are a handful of popular mattress types to choose from.

  • Memory foam: When most people think of a bed-in-a-box, they think of memory foam mattresses. These are mattresses with multiple layers of foam that support and contour your body. However, due to the construction, all-foam mattresses also tend to trap heat.
  • Latex foam: This is usually preferred by people looking for an eco-friendly foam that’s cooler and more responsive than traditional memory foam.
  • Hybrid: These beds combine one of the above foams with spring coils. The coils tend to help with motion transfer and edge support making them a great option for couples. The coils also help with airflow for a cooler sleep.
  • Spring: Also called innerspring or coil mattresses, these are your more traditional beds. Due to the responsive coils, they offer good support, edge support, cooling, and durability. However, they are generally more expensive and mostly found in showrooms and not online.
  • Pillow-top: Pillow-tops are usually associated with innerspring mattresses but can be found on any of the above options. This is the smart solution for those who like a soft, cushy feel.
  • Adjustable or air beds: These beds use an air pump to adjust the firmness of your mattress to suit your needs. They are among the most expensive options but may be an ideal long-term solution since your firmness needs change with time. Couples with drastically different firmness needs would also benefit from an adjustable air bed.

What size bed should you buy?

There are six standard bed sizes. In order from smallest to largest (and usually the least to most expensive), they are:

  • Twin: If you are a smaller individual who sleeps alone, a Twin (38 inches wide by 75 inches long) will serve you well.
  • Twin XL: This is the same width (38 inches) as the Twin but 5 inches longer, which makes it better for tall people who sleep alone.
  • Full: With the same length (75 inches) as the Twin but 16 inches wider, the Full is designed for larger folks or anyone who just wants a bit more space
  • Queen: The Queen is 80 inches long by 60 inches wide, and is meant for couples who are smaller.
  • King: The King is 16 inches wider than the Queen and better for larger couples. I recommend it if you are choosing a mattress with subpar edge support and you’re concerned about feeling uncomfortable near the edges.
  • California King: The Cal King is four inches longer but four inches narrower than the King, so it’s a smart alternative for taller couples.

For context, my wife and I are both slightly taller and heavier than average, and we share a bed with a dog and a full-body pillow. Queen mattresses are simply too small and uncomfortable for us, though it’s the size we test as it’s the most popular. We’ve found a King is more ideal for our needs.


What’s the best way to clean a mattress?

Based on expert interviews, my colleague L. Daniela Alvarez put together an excellent guide on how to clean a mattress. The experts in her article recommend deep cleaning your mattress with baking soda and a vacuum every three to six months. However, stains should be treated as quickly as possible using a disinfectant wipe. Or, for harder stains, you may need to use a mixture of dishwashing liquid and hydrogen peroxide. 

Some mattresses have removable covers. Check with the manufacturer before removing the cover and attempting to clean it. Some brands may state that their covers are machine washable. If that is the case with your mattress, we recommend that option only as a last resort, and make sure you follow the cleaning instructions carefully.

Do I need a mattress protector?

When purchasing a new mattress, you should protect your investment by also buying a mattress protector. We regularly update our guide to the best mattress protectors and encourage you to check out our latest recommendations.


When is the best time to buy a mattress?

Though mattress makers have sales throughout the year, you can usually find the best deals during holiday weekends, like Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  

Also, manufacturers tend to start marking down their mattress prices in the spring as they prepare to launch a new line in June. In March, you’ll usually find the widest selection with the smallest discounts. But, as you get into May, the discounts increase while the inventory becomes sparse. We keep a running list of all mattress deals and sales that is updated monthly, and features many Insider-exclusive discounts.


What’s the best mattress for back pain?

For years, the common wisdom was that a firm mattress is best for back pain. However, a 2008 study published in Applied Ergonomics found that firmness had no effect on back pain and stiffness.

Instead, it’s important that you invest in a supportive mattress that’s right for your body type and sleeping style. You want your spine to stay aligned while sleeping. This generally means a firmer mattress for heavier people or those who sleep on their back or stomach. A mattress with average firmness or softer is better for back pain sufferers who sleep on their side, are petite, or are older.

I also recommend looking for a mattress with zoned support. These offer more pressure relief around the hips, lower back, and shoulders.

Lastly, take full advantage of the home trials offered by all of the companies in our guide. After all, the only way to know if a mattress is right for your back is to sleep on it.


How much should you spend on a mattress?

We outlined picks at a variety of price points, but time and again experts have told us to think of a mattress as an investment in your health and well-being. You spend about a third of your life on your mattress and should expect to spend at least $1,000 on a quality mattress. While the upfront cost may seem high, a good mattress should last you about 10 years. Below, you’ll find a chart outlining the average costs of a mattress. For more in-depth information, see our guide on mattress pricing

Type of mattress Budget Mid-priced Luxury
Foam mattress $450 or less From $1,000 From $1,300
Innerspring mattress $600 or less From $1,000 From $1,200
Hybrid mattress $1,100 or less From $1,500 From $2,200
Latex mattress $1,200 or less From $2,000 From $2,500

Glossary

Best mattress 2021 infrared thermometer pointed at a mattress

There are plenty of terms tossed around in the mattress industry. But, what do they even mean? Here are a few common terms defined:

Edge support: This refers to how well a mattress maintains its integrity to its sides without sagging or sinking. So, a mattress with good edge support will feel just as supportive on the edges as it does in the center of the mattress. On the other hand, if you feel like you’re going to fall off the bed when you lay near the edge, that’s a sure sign of poor edge support.

Euro top: This is a type of pillow top that is sewn into the mattress cover to provide a plush, yet supportive feel. It’s commonly found on hybrid and innerspring mattresses and made of fiberfill, wool, or foam.

Innersprings: Also referred to as coils or just springs, these are corkscrew-shaped pieces of metal, usually steel, that make up the core of many of today’s mattresses, including hybrid and innerspring styles. Many modern mattresses use “pocket coils,” which are wrapped coils that help limit noise and motion transfer.

Motion isolation/motion transfer: These terms are two sides of the same coin. Motion isolation describes how well a mattress dampens the feel of movement. For example, a mattress with good motion isolation keeps you from being jostled as your partner shifts positions in the night. When a mattress has good motion isolation, it will have minimal motion transfer. A bed with excessive motion transfer has bad motion isolation, meaning you can feel your partner’s every move.

Check out our other mattress guides

best mattress 2021 hand pressing down on a mattress

Read more about Insider Reviews’ top mattress reviews

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best gaming headsets in 2021 for consoles and PC

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

As the video game industry continues to grow, more and more people are gaming online via PS5, PS4, Xbox, PC, and the Switch. But, not all gaming setups are created equal. For the best multiplayer experience, you’re going to want a an over-ear headset with a built-in microphone.

Thankfully, gaming headset options are plentiful. We’re no longer forced to use cheap bundled headphones with limited features. Instead, 3.5mm ports, stereo support, surround sound capabilities, and wireless connectivity abound. This means that everyone can plug in, hear better, communicate better, and be more comfortable – all while alleviating noise pollution for everyone else in your home or office.

To meet today’s gaming needs and beyond, we put together the following headset recommendations. Through hands-on testing, our picks represent the best gaming headsets you can find across a range of budgets and platforms. We’ve selected our picks based on a number of important factors, and we personally own or have thoroughly tested every headset on this list.

Here are the best gaming headsets you can buy:

The best gaming headset overall

SteelSeries Arctis 7X and 7P

The SteelSeries Arctis 7X is a versatile, comfortable, lightweight, and dependable wireless headset.

Pros: Multiplatform wireless and wired support, retractable mic, comfortable fit, strong battery life, lightweight design

Cons: Uses Micro USB cable for charging, no game/chat mix control when used on PlayStation, mobile cable has a proprietary port on the headset side

SteelSeries’ Arctis 7X, carries over several familiar options from previous models while adding some important new features. Chief among those new features is a handy USB-C dongle for convenient multiplatform wireless support. 

The dongle is compact enough to connect directly to a smartphone or Nintendo Switch when it’s in tablet mode. Thanks to the included USB-C to USB-A cable, it’s also easy to connect to larger systems, like the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and even a PC.

There’s a little switch on the transmitter that lets it go from Xbox mode to USB mode for everything else. The headset uses a 2.4GHz wireless connection which has a strong signal that avoids dropouts and lag.

The 40mm speaker drivers are the same ones that SteelSeries uses in more expensive headsets, and they’re not overpowering or bass-heavy. Audio performance is strong in single player and multiplayer games, letting quiet environments breathe while keeping chat audio clear.

The drivers go well with the headset’s retractable microphone which does a great job of minimizing background noise. There’s a mic mute button on the left ear cup and, when muted, a red light on the mic activates. 

Even though the headset supports just about every gaming device under the sun via wireless, it still comes with a mobile 3.5mm cable to ensure compatibility with wired devices, like a 3DS or older iPad.

On the downside, while the included dongle uses USB-C, the headset itself is charged via Micro USB, which is less convenient. Fortunately, the build quality and general feel are both top-notch.

The best gaming headset for PS5

sony pulse 3d bottom view

Sony’s Pulse 3D is wireless, seamlessly pairs with the PlayStation 5, and has helpful controls for game and chat mixing built right in.

Pros: Integration with PlayStation consoles, wireless support, game/chat mix controls, PS VR compatible, stylish design, USB-C charging, 3.5mm port

Cons: No boom mic, some questions about long term durability

To coincide with the launch of the PS5, Sony debuted the Pulse 3D. It’s a wireless headset that uses a small USB-A dongle, and it should be very familiar to gamers who owned the PlayStation Gold Wireless or Platinum Wireless headsets. 

Like those headsets, the Pulse 3D integrates seamlessly into the PlayStation ecosystem, with an onscreen UI indicating power, battery level, and volume level. The Pulse 3D also has controls on the left ear cup for setting game/chat mix, volume, power, mic mute, and even a toggle for turning mic monitoring on or off.

The Pulse 3D works with the PS5, PS4, PC, and even a docked Nintendo Switch. The performance of the drivers is similar to the PlayStation Gold headset, which I really like. Unfortunately, the invisible mic design is similar as well. It works fine, but this style just isn’t as good as a boom mic as it lets in a lot of background noise.

On the plus side, the headset achieves the rare feat of not only being compatible with PlayStation VR via its 3.5mm jack, but also actually being able to fit over the VR headset. It’s a nice match for the DualSense controller as well since the Pulse 3D can charge over USB-C. 

When it comes to aesthetics, the Pulse 3D has been designed to complement the PS5, as it perfectly matches the color scheme and general style of the console and its controllers. Coupled with the headset’s solid performance and easy integration, this look helps make the Pulse 3D an ideal fit for PS5 owners.

The best gaming headset for Xbox

xbox headphones

Microsoft’s official Xbox Series X|S wireless gaming headset can connect to Xbox consoles without a dongle and supports multipoint connection.

Pros: Xbox Wireless radio support without dongle, works with gaming PCs, simultaneous support for Xbox and Bluetooth devices, physical dials for volume, game audio and voice chat balance, microphone mute button

Cons: No 3.5mm headphone port, plain design, lacks versatility for use with PlayStation and Switch

Xbox consoles use a proprietary radio signal to give wireless headsets and controllers a better connection than Bluetooth offers. Microsoft’s official Xbox headset isn’t the only set that works with this signal, but it is one of the most affordable while offering quite a few premium features.

The headset also works with Bluetooth devices, and you can even pair it with an Xbox and Bluetooth device at the same time, so you can listen to music from your phone or computer while still hearing game audio and voice chatting on Xbox Live.

The Xbox Series X|S headset feels lightweight but sturdy; the headband contains a steel band with foam cushioning, while the ear cushions use polyurethane leather and foam. Like the PlayStation 3D Pulse headset, the Xbox wireless headset features two dials on either ear cup, allowing you to control the volume and manage the balance between your game audio and voice chat. The microphone can be folded around the left ear cup when not in use and features a physical mute button as well.

The Xbox Series X|S headset has an average battery life lasting about 15 hours, and can be used in wired mode with a USB-C cable on Windows computers.

The best budget wired gaming headset

HyperX Stinger

The HyperX Cloud Stinger is the ultimate distillation of everything important in a wired headset, and it has a price that’s tough to beat.

Pros: Good build quality, comfort, and sound at an affordable price, swivel to mute mic, on-ear volume control

Cons: No mesh ear option, fixed cable

To be sure, the majority of first-time or repeat headset buys happen right around the price point where the HyperX Cloud Stinger lands. The Stinger is a wired passive stereo headset with 50mm drivers, a flip-down boom mic, swivel ear cups, a volume slider on the right ear, and a fixed in-line volume control. 

It’s suitable for connecting to PS5/PS4 controllers, Xbox controllers, the Switch, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and most anything modern with a 3.5mm jack. Unlike many nicer and more expensive headsets, the HyperX Cloud Stinger isn’t impedance hungry. This means it works fine connected to a PlayStation DualShock 4 controller, but does still have some headroom for improved performance with a better source.

When it comes to HyperX and its headsets, the company owes much of its reputation to the imperfect but still stellar HyperX Cloud. With the Cloud Stinger, HyperX has taken almost everything that made the Cloud great and put it in a lighter, more essential, and more original package.

The build of the Stinger is light but solid, and the headset is comfortable while having a sedate look. It’s a purposeful headset that should satisfy the majority of users looking for something wired to connect right to the headset jack. When HyperX made the Cloud Stinger, it made sure that anyone trying to dip their toes into gaming headsets would have a quality option.

The best wireless gaming headset for the money

SteelSeries Arctis 1 wireless headset for xbox

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox makes impressive wireless performance affordable for Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Switch buyers.

Pros: Painless multiplatform wireless support with good sound, strong mic, excellent battery life

Cons: No chat/game mix controls on headset, headset and mic don’t sit well when not being worn

The Arctis 1 Wireless was pretty incredible when it debuted as a PlayStation-focused headset, and the Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox is not only just as good, it’s better. That’s because the new model adds support for Xbox platforms.

There’s a little switch on the USB-C wireless dongle. Buyers can simply flip the switch to Xbox for Xbox platforms, and to USB for everything else. The small USB-C dongle is also compatible with the Nintendo Switch (both in dock and tablet mode) and even some smartphones (including my LG V40) for 2.4Ghz wireless audio. 

Under the hood, the Arctis 1 features speaker drivers taken from the main Arctis line. This helps the Arctis 1 provide well-tuned sound out of the box. The mic is also excellent, with performance so good it’s likely to draw compliments from fellow players. The battery life is stellar as well. It’s rated at 20+ hours, and boy, does it last.

While the headset is wireless on just about every recent console, the device also retains a 3.5mm jack and cable. This means that it can be used on a ton of devices in wired mode. That extra bit of functionality is a handy feature, and it doesn’t seem to make the headset bulkier, heavier, or more expensive.

The best audiophile gaming headset

Sennheiser Game One

The comfortable, open design of the Sennheiser Game One headset offers the high-quality sound performance most audiophiles crave.

Pros: Open-back design, comfortable, good mic, fabric pads, won’t break the bank, on-ear volume wheel and flip to mute mic, detachable cable

Cons: Needs a Mixamp rather than controller jack for optimal performance, will leak sound

Combining a gaming headset with audiophile performance is tricky. The audio punch that we seek when we game isn’t necessarily the same tuning we’d enjoy when listening to music. And often, the microphones on certain audiophile headsets just don’t impress. 

Fortunately, I’ve found the Sennheiser Game One to be one of my favorite headsets in all aspects. What really gives it that audiophile feel is the open-back design. Open-back headphones are known for their sublime audio performance, and this design allows the ears to breathe more. With that said, open-back headsets are prone to sound leakage, so they’re not ideal if you have someone sitting within a few feet as they are sure to hear everything you hear.

The heavy duty boom mic doesn’t merely look serious, it delivers — as I can attest since it’s my choice for gaming while having a sleeping newborn in the next room. Likewise, the headset contains a volume wheel on the right ear, a satisfying click -to-mute function in the mic, and a composition of fabric, padding, and shape to achieve maximum comfort. The cabling is detachable, and this is really helpful when choosing between a long split cable on PC or a short combined cable on console.

While the comfort, feel, and quality are ever-present, to get the best sound performance, you’ll need a dedicated source such as a MixAmp or GameDAC. With that in mind, we recommend pairing the headset with an Astro Gaming MixAmp Pro TR.

Other gaming headsets we considered

Arctis 9x headset on desk

The $150 Hyper X Cloud II Wireless is an excellent wireless headset that will suit most gamer’s needs on PlayStation, PC, and Switch. It boasts an impressive 30-hour battery life, USB-C charging, and a detachable microphone with physical mute and volume controls. However, it lacks wired support, and physical controls to balance game and chat audio. Ultimately, there are more versatile choices in the $100 range, so the Cloud II Wireless ranks below our top recommendations.

The $200 SteelSeries Arctis 9X can connect wirelessly to an Xbox console without the need for a dongle, while also being able to simultaneously pair to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

The headset’s ski goggle headband is also convenient since it’s removable for cleaning or even replacement — and there are some different designs available. That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking around much while using the Bluetooth function as the Arctis 9X will tend to move around on your head.

The Arctis 9X has a retractable mic with a mute light, 40mm drivers, and reliable controls built right onto the headset. These functions include a mute toggle, volume wheel, power button, and chat/game mix controls. The battery life is rated for 20 hours, which is solid but not as good as some competing models. Another minor drawback is that the headset still uses a Micro USB connection for charging rather than USB-C.

The $270 Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT gaming headset offers an impressive set of features, including memory foam earpads, multipoint Bluetooth connection, customizable lighting, a Dolby Atmos license, and an automated sleep function that will detect when you put the headset down. Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT also boasts a wider frequency response range than competing headsets, reaching up to 40 kHZ as well as support for hi-res 24bit, 96KHz audio, but those features usually won’t come into play when gaming.

More importantly, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT only works in wireless mode with PlayStation consoles and PC, forcing you to use 3.5mm wired mode for Switch. Additionally, you need to use Corsair’s iCue software to make the most of the headset’s lighting and EQ features, which might be disappointing for console gamers.

The $250 SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC was previously one of our top picks but has been downgraded in favor of newer models. That said, the headset  continues to be an excellent choice, particularly for the PC and PS4/PS4 Pro. On the PS5, it loses the ability to control game/chat balance and its integrated surround sound feature, so it’s not as easy to recommend for gamers primarily using Sony’s new console.

How to pick the best gaming headset

SteelSeries Arctis 1 wireless headset

Wireless versus wired support: Determining whether you want a wireless or wired headset is one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when choosing a gaming headset. Wireless headsets are untethered by pesky cables so they’re typically more comfortable to use. Wireless headsets tend to use a 2.4GHz signal in order to avoid the audio lag associated with Bluetooth. 

With that said, since many home Wi-Fi networks also use 2.4GHz, a smaller home (like an apartment) that’s saturated with a bunch of different Wi-Fi signals can be problematic due to interfering signals. If interference is an issue for your setup, then a wired headset is probably a better choice. Wired headsets also don’t require charging, and are generally compatible with any system that has a headset jack. 

Platform support: With gaming spread over PC, consoles, and even tablets and smartphones, it’s important to know which platform you plan to use your headset with. Though most wired models offer compatibility across different devices, platform support is especially important to keep in mind when choosing a wireless headset.

Xbox consoles, in particular, only support specific wireless headsets. Meanwhile, the Switch has a headphone jack on the console but not on the Joy-Cons or the Pro Controller. Pay close attention to the connection specifications and compatibility details listed by the manufacturer in order to ensure that the headset you choose has the necessary wired or wireless connections for your devices. 

Comfort and build: A good headset should be comfortable to use for hours on end, but that comfort will be influenced by both the ambient temperature and the size of a user’s head. These factors are nearly as important as the design of the headset itself. Generally speaking, if a headset doesn’t feel comfortable to wear after a few gaming sessions (around two hours each), then it’s likely a poor fit. The more durable headsets tend to use stronger materials, but that means that they’re likely to be heavier. On the other hand, plastic headsets are lighter but more fragile. 

Surround Sound: One attractive feature that’s pretty common in nicer gaming headsets is surround sound. This effect is usually done by processing sound to the left and right drivers to simulate the effect of audio coming from multiple directions. Though not true surround sound in the strictest sense, these simulated effects can create a more immersive experience.

In addition to surround sound options included with certain headsets, both the PC and Xbox One have an array of virtualization solutions (like Windows Sonic) to enable surround sound on any headset model. Meanwhile, the PS5 features Sony’s Tempest 3D audio tech. Of course, it’s worth noting that regular stereo sound is still quite good on many platforms, including PS4 and Switch. Stereo sound also tends to be less laggy since it isn’t as processed as surround sound. 

Price: Most gamers should be satisfied with a headset in the $50 to $150 price range. That said, if a headset is being used every day, it becomes difficult to expect years of use out of cheaper models. Frequent users can expect their headsets to wear out a bit faster than their controllers. Headsets that cost $300 or more usually include extra features, some of which can help extend their lives, such as replaceable earpads and even batteries. 

The best deals on gaming headsets from this guide

Whether you’re a pro gamer or a first-time player, a quality headset is essential for sprucing up your interactive experience. Not only will a good pair help give you an edge during gameplay, they will save those around you from hearing your game. 

Gaming headset deals are scattered throughout the year. The best time to shop for one is Black Friday or Cyber Monday, since they’re popular gifts. Discounts on our SteelSeries picks rarely exceed $15, but the affordable HyperX Cloud Stinger drops by up to $20 during the holidays. 

Below, you’ll find deals on our picks for the best gaming headset, from top brands:

Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

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The 11 best men’s athleisure brands, including styles that are surprisingly office-appropriate

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Feat
  • Athleisure is one of the fastest-growing and most popular categories in fashion right now.
  • Clothing from athleisure brands is comfortable and can be worn for lounging, working out, and more.
  • Below, we’ve rounded up all of the best athleisure brands we’ve ever worn.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Over the past few years, athleisure has been one of the fastest-growing categories in clothing, but right now it’s more popular than ever – and for good reason. Drawing cues from true performance athletic wear and cozier loungewear styles, athleisure fills the gap between the two categories, making these pieces some of the most versatile clothes you can own and wear.

Whether you’re shopping for clothing that’s stylish enough for Zoom meetings yet comfortable enough for sitting on your couch, or you want clothes that you can wear to work out in before running errands and grabbing lunch, athleisure has you covered for it all.

Think of it as the easiest way to get dressed for daily life without having to put much thought and effort into it. No longer will you have to choose between form and function when it comes to your clothes.

Here are the best athleisure brands for men in 2021:

Nike

Nike

Nike‘s clothing is dependable, sporty, and fashionable all at the same time.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from XS-3XL.

Nike has a massive selection of tried-and-true sportswear that’s been backed by some of the world’s best athletes. The iconic branding translates well to the full spectrum of style — from casual everyday wearers to sneakerheads and streetwear enthusiasts. In other words, pretty much anyone can wear Nike products and look good in them too.

Nike is relatively affordable, provides unisex clothing, and has a generous size range. On top of that, you’ll be able to find comfy pullovers and sweatpants for a chill day at home or training sets for running.

What to buy:

Pro Dri-FIT T-Shirt (small)Sportswear Tech Fleece Full Zip Hoodie (small)Woven Shorts (small)Product Card (small)
Feat Clothing

Feat Clothing

If comfort is your number one priority, Feat is where you’ll want to shop.

Sizing options: S-XXL, most pieces have a relaxed, oversized fit.

You’ve probably seen Feat all over Instagram, and if you haven’t tried it already, now is the time. Founded in 2015, Feat makes comfortable daily essentials like hoodies, sweatshirts, and sweatpants — and when I say they’re by far the most comfortable athleisure brand on the market, I mean it.

The brand’s standout products are the BlanketBlend Hoodie and Crewnecks. Think of them as your most comfortable, warm, and cozy blankets turned into your best-fitting tops. Together, the combination makes for pieces you’ll never want to take off.

What to buy:

BlanketBlend Hoodie (small)BlanketBlend Crewneck (small)Roam Performance Short (small)Roam Performance Pant (small)
Vuori

Vuori

Vuori’s clothing is lightweight and comfortable, making it a breeze to both live in and work out in.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from XS-XXL. 

It’s obvious that Vuori takes its inspiration from the beach that’s just a stone’s throw away from its headquarters in Encinitas, California. So naturally, its clothes maintain an easy, laidback California aesthetic that is effortlessly cool without looking sloppy.

Whether you’re looking for stretchy performance pants or ventilated performance tees, Vuori has you covered. 

What to buy:

Tradewind Performance Shirt (small)Banks Short (small)Ease Performance Half Zip (small)Ponto Performance Pants (small)
Uniqlo

Uniqlo

If you simply need a good T-shirt without spending a lot of money, Uniqlo’s Dry T-shirts are the way to go. 

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from XXS-3XL. 

Although Uniqlo isn’t an athleisure brand specifically, it’s my favorite place to get comfortable basics at affordable prices. You’ll find an array of T-shirts, shorts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, hoodies, and other pieces that fall into the category of athleisure. 

The brand does a great job of offering variety and budget-friendly options. AIRism, a lightweight material that makes clothes more breathable, UV Protection, which blocks sunlight, BLOCKTECH, a water-resistant material, and HEATTECH, a warmth-trapping material, are just some of the many technologies you can find.

What to buy:

Dry Color Crew Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt (small)Men Washed Jersey Easy Shorts (small)Men AIRism UV Protection Full-Zip Hoodie (small)Men Cargo Jogger Pants (small)
Rhone

Rhone

Rhone‘s athleisure clothing is made with its special GoldFusion technology, which keeps odors at bay no matter how long your day drags on.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from S-XXL.

Back in 2016, Rhone managed to raise nearly $113,000 to bring GoldFusion technology to its line of activewear. And now, it can be found in a wide range of both activewear and athleisure clothing. 

GoldFusion technology is Rhone’s proprietary, eco-friendly fabric treatment that leverages real gold particles to help fabrics dry up to three times faster. It helps keep your clothes fresh longer, too, which is perfect for high-intensity workouts. We’ve tested a handful of items from the brand and have loved them all. The Commuter Jogger is a personal favorite — it’s incredibly versatile and comfortable.

Swift Short Sleeve (small)7-inch Swift Lined Short (small)Bolinas Beach Poncho (small)Reign Classic Short Sleeve (small)
Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder

Todd Snyder fuses old-school style with high-quality materials to make super stylish, yet sporty clothes.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from XS-L. 

Todd Snyder is an all-encompassing menswear brand, but its Champion collection specifically is a great place to find stylish athleisure wear. The collaboration brings together the best of both worlds — high-end looks from Todd Synder and the undeniable sportswear history from Champion — to create timeless pieces you’ll want to wear casually and during workouts.

Todd Snyder has sweatpants, shorts, T-shirts, hoodies, and a lot more — and everything is available in plenty of colorways, so you can pick out your favorite shades or stock up on a few good ones to rotate between.

What to buy:

Muscle Tee (small)Midweight Warm Up Shorts (small)Midweight Popover Hoodie (small)Utility Cargo Sweatpant (small)
Adidas

Adidas

If you’re a fan of the classics, then look no further than Adidas to supply you with great performance gear that looks good too.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from XS-3XL. 

Even with the emergence of what seems like an endless supply of athleisure brands focused more on the leisure than the athlete component of their names, one company has maintained a position at the top of the mountain. And that company is Adidas. As one of the most sought-after brands worldwide, Adidas has you covered with athletic wear or fits for running errands. Thanks to a wide range of styles, Adidas can match just about any aesthetic, too. While many of its bestsellers are the brand’s trademark sneakers, you can also find a great selection of performance clothes that work well at the gym and for hanging out.

What to buy:

Trefoil Tee (small)3-Stripes Shorts (small)Z.N.E. Full-Zip Hoodie (small)Ultimate 365 3-Stripes Tapered Pants (small)
Public Rec

Rhone

Brought to life by a former JP Morgan banker, Public Rec makes the kind of athleisure clothing that you’d be comfortable wearing to work.

Sizing options: Varies by style. Most pants range from 28-44 waist with multiple inseam options available. Tops range from S-XXL. 

It started with a pair of sweatpants so popular that it attracted a 1,200-person waitlist — and things have ballooned from there. Public Rec specializes in technical leisure apparel for men, operating under the mantra that if you feel good, you’ll look good. The original bestseller is, of course, the All Day Every Day Pant. We tested them out and while they feel like sweatpants, they’re sized more like jeans, which means that they fit your body instead of hanging off of them. You’ll feel totally at ease wearing these pants out and about in your daily life, and if you’re working in a more casual environment, you could certainly wear them to the office as well.

What to buy: 

Go-To Tee (small)Flex Short (small)Weekend Full Zip (small)All Day Every Day Pant (small)
Twillory

Twillory

Twillory might be best known for its performance dress shirts, but the brand’s venture into athleisure shouldn’t be overlooked.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most options range from S-2XL. 

The collection includes a zip-up hoodie, joggers, T-shirts, polos, and henleys — and they’re all designed to be stretchy, moisture-wicking, cooling, and quick-drying.

However, the standout pieces are the joggers and the hoodie. The joggers have a nicely tapered fit, slanted side pockets, and a single pocket on the right side of the rear. Combined with the pattern of the material, these joggers look more like your favorite chinos than a sloppy pair of gym sweats.

The hoodie, which comes in matching materials and colors, is just as comfortable and completes the set. You can save $20 when you bundle the Athlounger Joggers and Athlounger Hoodie

What to buy: 

Performance Tee (small)Athlounger Hoodie (small)Athlounger Jogger (small)
Oliver’s Apparel

Olivers Apparel

Olivers Apparel covers the full gamut of athleisure with workout gear, loungewear, and performance gear you can get away with at work.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from S-XL.

Olivers Apparel came to life after a 2013 Kickstarter and has since become one of the best brands for stylish athletic wear. If your sense of fashion is clean and simple, then Olivers is perfect for you. While many sportswear brands use bold colors and patterns on its gear, many of Olivers’ clothes use solid colors and logo-less designs. 

Some of our favorite items include the Classic Sweatpants made from Supima cotton, and the Convoy Tee, which is made from 100% merino for a cozy, yet relaxed fit. 

What to buy: 

Apparel Surge Tee (small)Classic Hoodie (small)Classic Joggers (small)All Over Short (small)
Everlane

Everlane

Everlane is a dependable place to buy all wardrobe essentials, including athleisure.

Sizing options: Varies by style, but most pieces range from XS-XL. 

We love Everlane for everything from its cashmere sweaters and jeans to footwear and outerwear. The brand’s products are always responsibly made with a high level of quality and keen attention to style. 

While you can always rely on Everlane to find clothes that will help you look your best, you can also rely on them to find clothes that will help you feel your best. 

The brand just launched its new Track Collection, which includes a variety of organic cotton sweatsuits. You can find T-shirts, sweatsuits, and even sneakers at Everlane.

What to buy:

The Organic Cotton Crew (small)Sport Short (small)Track Crewneck (small)Track Pant (small)
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The best places to buy men's sweaters
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The 5 best wetsuits of 2021 for surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Wetsuits protect you from cold water, allowing you to surf, swim, or dive longer than if you didn’t wear one.
  • Choosing a wetsuit depends on how you’ll use it as surfers have different needs than kayakers, for instance.
  • Our top pick, O’Neill’s Psycho Tech, features water-resistant neoprene, durable stitching, and a comfortable fit.

For anyone who doesn’t live in the tropics, wearing a wetsuit while surfing is a necessity. Paddling out to a break with water temperatures below 65 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit without a generous helping of rubber ranges from slightly uncomfortable to downright deadly. But wear the right wetsuit and you’ll quickly forget all about the hypothermia-inducing water temp (for the most part).

Surfing isn’t the only water sport one might wear a wetsuit for, however. Paddleboarders, kayakers, and divers, among others, also don neoprene getups to keep cold water from cutting their outings short – but not every wetsuit is a jack-of-all-trades type of suit. What one person might need for kayaking might be too cumbersome or ill-fitting for a surfer.

To help anyone shopping for a new suit, I’ve field-tested a number of wetsuits from top brands like O’Neill and Rip Curl, consulted with diving and surfing enthusiasts, and conducted plenty of research to come up with a list of the best currently available.

At the end of this guide, I’ve included answers to a few FAQs, including the differences in suit types and thickness, as well as some insight into the best way to care for your wetsuit and how to pick out a diving suit.

Here are the best wetsuits:

The best wetsuit overall

ONeill wetsuit

The O’Neill Psycho Tech is made with water-resistant neoprene to keep it from retaining water, and its top-notch stitching makes it almost watertight.

Pros: Warm, almost watertight stitching, lightweight, quick-drying

Cons: A little pricey

O’Neill’s Psycho Tech is the kind of cozy, stretchy, almost watertight suit that becomes oh-so-precious to cold-water surfers when winter storms roll through and leaky seams threaten to end surf sessions early.

If there’s one company I’d put all my good faith in keeping me from the wrath of hypothermia, it’s the late, lauded laureate and godfather of the modern wetsuit, Jack O’Neill.

O’Neill puts a lot of money into research and design, and while the US military doesn’t exactly endorse or use any single wetsuit, they’ve frequently sent personnel out in O’Neill suits. That alone may or may not speak volumes to you, but the US military is not known to be one to skimp on matters of national security.

This wetsuit is flexible, and I’ve found it to hold up in temperatures considerably lower than their rating. My old Psycho II model from 2009, which saw heavy service through 2010 and has seen service in most of the years since, is still, shockingly, in pretty good shape. The new Psychos are miles ahead, but there aren’t enough problems or even one single tear in my suit that warrant tossing mine out just yet.

Cleanline Surf, the Pacific Northwest’s coldwater surf aficionados, called the Psycho Tech “the pinnacle of wetsuit technology and performance.” The site goes on to taut it for being lightweight, warm, durable, and flexible — I don’t disagree.

Also, the TechnoButter neoprene rejects water so well that it stays light even when wet, and it dries much faster than most suits.

The best budget wetsuit for women

RipCurlDawn

Rip Curl’s Dawn Patrol suits cost less than $200, feature an easy-to-use rear zip entry, and have both stitched and glued seams for added durability. 

Pros: Easy in and out via a rear zip entry, stitched and glued seams, inexpensive (as far as wetsuits go)

Cons: Its 3/2 millimeter thickness won’t keep you warm very long in colder water temps

Rip Curl’s Dawn Patrol suits are extremely flexible, thoroughly stitched, taped, and glued, and very reasonably priced.

The suit has been a bestseller for several years and being blindstitched, glued, and taped for under $200 certainly hasn’t hurt its reputation. It also comes in both men’s and women’s designs, but, I must make a full disclosure: I’ve never owned one, though I’ve envied them from close and afar over the years. 

The best budget wetsuit for men

7seaslarge

VISSLA’s 7 Seas is economical but doesn’t cut any corners to deliver a functional wetsuit at a fair price.

Pros: Price tag, sleeve gaskets, stitching and gluing, 1-year warranty

Cons: Neoprene retains water and gets a little heavy

I tried VISSLA’s 7 Seas model in New York this late spring and was hot in the 3/2-millimeter full suit. That’s a good sign. I also caught up with an old friend on Montauk who’s in his third season with the same model, which is as much as most people ask of even a luxury suit. That was good enough for me.

It fit me exceptionally well, which is a shock because I’m six feet tall, generally, stay shy of 160 pounds, and almost no company designs standard suits sized for stick-figured string beans like me.

The seams are held together by double blind-stitching and taped three times over, which somewhere around five years ago was unthinkable for a suit under $200. Matter-of-factly, this suit is designed in much the same way one of my nicer suits from about 10 years ago was, only that one cost me about twice as much. The suit’s also backed by respective 1-year warranties for both the neoprene and the stitching.

Although the neoprene retains water and gets heavy, the suit is remarkably stretchy — maybe stretchier than Patagonia’s Yulex suits — and the wrist gaskets that are located a few inches above the cuff really kept water from getting up my sleeves and slowing my paddling. Further, taking water up the sleeves in fall or winter is shockingly chilling.

I also liked the fuzzy lining, which is akin to Patagonia’s, but, again, this suit is less than half the price (at the time of this publishing). While Patagonia’s suits are nice, and I love mine, I don’t see any need to step up unless you really feel like spending the extra money or you’re going to be surfing in exceptionally cold waters where you’ll probably want the best technology you can get.

The best non-neoprene wetsuit

Patagonia wetsuit

There are other non-neoprene suits emerging on the market, but my Patagonia suits have lasted through a lot, and it will take a lot for another suit to knock them off their throne.

Pros: Long-lasting (as long as if not longer than most neoprene suits), neoprene-free, almost petroleum-free, very warm, so you can often get away with a thinner suit

Cons: Not cheap, maybe a little stiffer than neoprene suits

Patagonia’s current crop of wetsuits comes via a biochemical company called Yulex. Yulex manufactures neoprene from the guayule plant, a hardy shrub native to the Southwestern United States that’s used to make rubber that’s both renewable and nearly chemical-free.

The latest Yulex-branded suit now has a new patterning intended for “improved fit and increased mobility.” Yulex’s brand of rubber often had a reputation among wetsuit users as being stiff compared with neoprene, which isn’t generally a good thing for water enthusiasts. However, the suits do feature a fuzzy synthetic liner that makes the inside of the suit feel silky smooth while also doing well to make me feel warmer in frigid water. 

The company now uses a water-based glue in all its suits, eliminating the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were used for decades. The new suit also includes solution-dyed fabrics that reduce water consumption and CO2 emissions by 86% and 96%, respectively.

Of course, as goes with the Patagonia story, everything is Fair Trade Certified, and you’ll also get Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee, so if you’re not thrilled with your new suit, you can send it back.

What excites me most about this suit is that, although Patagonia hasn’t made the leap to zipperless suits, the corrosion-resistant zipper on this suit is now actually replaceable, so if it wears out before the wetsuit does, you can extend its life a little longer. This is great news because oftentimes the collar or zipper area is the first thing to wear out on a wetsuit.

Learn more about Patagonia and Yulex’s bio-rubber here.

The best wetsuit for paddlesports

Screen Shot 2018 08 07 at 5.16.06 PM

If you’re tired of hanging up your paddles for the winter, O’Neill’s O’Riginal spring suit is just enough to keep you comfortable as water temperatures reach the 60s and maybe the 50s. 

Pros: Flexible, breathable, affordable

Cons: The chest rubber can be overly sticky

Because our bodies are mostly out of the water when paddling, we tend to work up a sweat beneath a neoprene wetsuit. While any combination of layers can do the trick, I’ve found that a farmer john-style (sleeveless) wetsuit with flatlock seams works best unless you’re dealing with temperatures below 50° F or so, at which point I’d opt for a dry suit. Stohlquist makes a good one for men and women.

Since you’re getting such a thorough upper body workout, I’d suggest avoiding sleeves, which apart from causing you to overheat also tend to constrict movement and cause chafing. O’Neill’s O’Riginal spring suit is 2 millimeters thick and comes with flatlock seams, and at less than $100 can’t really be beaten.

If it’s a little cooler, you might want one with full-length legs (the women’s model, the Bahia, comes in a 1.5mm), or a 3mm. O’Neill doesn’t make the sleeveless suit in a 3mm, but Aqua Lung does, for men and women. Anything above 3mm tends to get a little too hot for paddlesports, at least if you’re not getting in the water.

If you want to spend even a little more money — unless you’re surfing in one of these suits, keep in mind that quality might not be quite as paramount — Patagonia’s Long John (men’s) and Long Jane (women’s) are $169 and worth it. They’re made of the same non-neoprene Yulex rubber as Patagonia’s other suits, but flatlock-stitched so that they breathe a little better.

Wetsuit FAQs

What different kinds of wetsuits are there?

Apart from temperature, what you’ll be doing in or on the water is a major deciding factor for which wetsuit is best. If you’re swimming or surfing, a floaty, hydrodynamic closed-cell or single-piece suit is likely your best bet. These are either chest- or back-zipped and come with different sleeve and leg cuts.

But if you’re diving, a closed-cell wetsuit allows too much water flow between it and your skin. You’ll find yourself feeling stiff and cold, and stiff and cold are never what you want while diving for long periods of time. An open-cell wetsuit provides suction between the skin and suit that’s nearly watertight. While these types of suits are a pain to get in and out of, they keep you much warmer and allow for much greater flexibility underwater.

Editor’s note: If you use a little eco-friendly dish soap, getting into an open-cell wetsuit is much easier.

Open-cell suits usually don’t have zippers apart from the wrist and leg cuffs but closed cells come in a variety of different zipper configurations. Some manufacturers are starting to develop zipperless models, too, which could eliminate zippers altogether — at least on more expensive suits.


What are the differences in wetsuit zipper types?

Back-zip suit: Back-zip wetsuits are the original design, and almost always cheaper than chest-zip or zipper-less suits. They’re fine for swimming in temperate waters on relatively warm days, but I’ve found that having cool water seep down your back on a chillier day — or in the middle of winter, for that matter — can be miserable.

Chest-zip suit: Usually more expensive, chest-zip wetsuits tend to keep you warmer thanks to a smaller, well-protected zipper that sits on the front of the suit. This also makes them the most difficult to get in and out of, but, overall, we think they’re worth it. They tend to last longer, and some even allow for the neckpiece to be replaced, which is often the first thing to wear and tear on a wetsuit.

Zipperless: I haven’t yet tried out a zipperless wetsuit, though I’ve been hearing positive buzz about O’Neill’s Hyperfreak Comp zipless model. It would be more of a performance suit than most require, and it’s hard to say whether the lack of a zipper will, in turn, stretch the suit more or keep us warmer, but we will see how they fare over time and update this guide with our findings.


How thick should my wetsuit be?

Wetsuit thickness is measured in millimeters, and the core is most often thicker than the extremities to keep your body temperature up while allowing for more mobility in the arms and legs. This is why you’ll see two — or sometimes three — numbers, listing the core’s thickness first (e.g., 3/2, or 4/3/2).

Temperature rating corresponds with thickness, for the most part, but varies some from company to company and material to material, but here’s a basic rule of thumb:

  • Mid 60s to low 70s: 2 mm
  • Low 60s to high 60s: 3/2 mm
  • Low 50s to low 60s: 4/3 mm, or 4/3/2 mm
  • Low to high 40s: 5/4 mm, or 5/4/3 mm
  • High 30s to low 40s: 6/5 mm or 6/5/4 mm
  • Upper 30s and below: While a good 6/5- or 6/5/4-millimeter suit can do you well in the upper 30s, it’s tough to stand it any colder. There are 7/6- and 7/6/5-millimeter wetsuits, but they become impedingly stiff at that point. A good 6/5 or 6/5/4 with hood, boots, and gloves will take care of most of us through winter.

What sizes do wetsuits come in? 

Size charts vary from company to company, so make sure to have a look at the chart to be sure which one fits you best.

Unless you get a custom suit, none are likely to fit you perfectly but you should be able to get close enough.


What are wetsuits made out of?

Not all wetsuits are created equal, and while most are made of neoprene — and come from the same factory in Taiwan, despite different brand names — it’s the stitching and seams that make all the difference.

  • Overlock stitching: This is the most basic stitching, and it will let water flow through your suit like Victoria Falls. Okay, not really, but I save these cheap suits for spring and summer, or when it’s not exactly board-short temperature, but a constant flush is actually refreshing.
  • Flat stitching: This is probably a little fancier than the stitching they taught you in Home Economics class. By no means is it watertight, but it lies flatter and holds up better than basic overlock stitching.
  • Blindstitching: Blindstitched suits have even narrower stitching than flat-stitched ones, and the seams are usually glued, which does a pretty good job of preventing water seepage.
  • Sealed, taped, glued: This is a definitive step up, and usually what you’ll find with blindstitched suits. Once you get into blindstitching, you start to notice that very little water seeps through your suit, and you stay relatively dry inside. The best of these suits are also sealed and taped both inside and out, but the full combination is where suits start to get above the $500 price tag, which isn’t crucial for most. Still, if you plan to be surfing in sub 55-degree Fahrenheit temps, we highly recommend forking over the extra dough.

How to take care of your wetsuit

All outdoors equipment requires a little love to survive its life expectancy and, hopefully, beyond. Protect your wetsuit and it protects you — at least from the cold.

Here’s what every first-time wetsuit owner should know: 

Wash your suit every time you use it, or at least as frequently as you can stand to. Wetsuits take on everything you put into them, from your sweat, sunscreen, seawater, and yes, urine. While it may not damage your suit, it will surely smell bad.

And even though Helen Hunt does it, it’s not exactly a good idea to pee in your wetsuit, for obvious reasons. Regardless of whether or not you decide to relieve yourself in your suit, get a wetsuit shampoo, and follow its instructions well. Do NOT use any old soap for this, or you’ll be sorry.

Store your wetsuit in a dry, shaded area with plenty of ventilation. We all know what happens to wet things in confined spaces, but hanging your wetsuit to dry in the sun is surely the quickest way to end its life.

Hang your wetsuit loosely on a thick-framed clothes hanger, a proper wetsuit hanger, or fold it loosely. If you hang a wetsuit on a sharp wire hanger, it will stretch out. If you fold it too tightly, it’ll crease. I roll mine up when I travel to avoid creasing.

How to choose a diving wetsuit

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A simple, closed-cell suit like a surfing wetsuit works above the surface where you have heat from the sun and little pressure, but when you get below the surface, it can get stiff and cold. An open cell suit will keep you much warmer and more flexible, whether you’re freediving or using scuba tanks. 

I’ve never actually owned an open-cell diving suit — I use a surfing suit to dive, which I assure you is less than ideal — so I called on a lifeline: an old friend who spends his workdays and sometimes his nights underwater in the marrow-chilling depths of New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds. If anyone has earned the authority to deem a wetsuit good or bad, we figure it might be a commercial diver, after all.

A commercial diver’s input

The array of both open cell and closed cell diving suits in the locker where he works is almost exclusively with Beuchat and Cressi wetsuits, and while many of the members of the dive team do wear closed cell suits to work, they don’t last as long — maybe that’s intended. Open cell suits are snug, and almost suction-cup your skin, which is extremely efficient for keeping you warm, but makes them very difficult to get on and off.

When we would go spearfishing together — I in my 5/4-millimeter closed-cell surfing wetsuit, he in his 7-millimeter open-cell diving suit — I’d be in and out of my suit in half the time it took him to roll his on and off. But, by the same token, he could still feel his hands and feet after an hour of diving. Meanwhile, my lips would be turning blue.

Bottom line: If you’re going to be in even moderately cold water, save yourself the agony of freezing and put up with the nuisance of stretching into a skin-tight open cell suit.

How to shop for a dive suit

If you’ve never worn or owned a diving wetsuit before, you’ll probably want to go to the local dive shop and have the pros sort you out, or at the very least fit you.

When picking out a diving suit, color, or rather pattern, is a consideration that goes beyond aesthetics. If an experience with wildlife is what you’re after (even if you’re not in search of dinner), then a camouflage suit is probably a good idea, simply because you won’t startle as many creatures as quickly as you would with a black suit, or one of any color, really.

Also, note that camouflage is relative: If you’re going to be in open water, you’ll want a rhapsody in blue, and if you’re going to be in kelp, coral, or rocks, you probably want to look for a more greenish-brown pattern.

A few drawbacks

The main downfall of many closed-cell suits is that they are made of or coated with a softer, more delicate rubber-like neoprene skin which, while it keeps you warmer and leaves you agiler in the pressured depths, is highly prone to tearing.

Also, always make sure your wetsuit is wet when you’re pulling it on, and follow instructions for care and maintenance like these, from Aqua Lung. Never leave any wetsuit in the sun but especially not a suit with skin material, which will melt and stick to itself, a tragedy not covered by any warranty far as I’m aware.

Aqua LungBeuchat, Cressi, and Mares are companies that have all been around since recreational diving has, more or less, and they all have similarly long legacies and popular standing with commercial and recreational divers alike.

Pros: Tighter-fitting, more watertight, keeps you warmer, less constricting

Cons: Can be more expensive, much more delicate, difficult to don and doff 

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The 5 best mosquito repellents of 2021, including candles and sprays

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Effective mosquito prevention requires using products that not only repel insects but that you enjoy using.
  • This could include aerosol sprays, citronella candles, repellent wipes, and even mosquito-proof clothing.
  • Our top pick, OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent, uses DEET and is one of the most effective mosquito repellers.

Fending off a swarm of mosquitos is a pastime many know all too well. Whether you’re out on a camp or backpacking trip or simply relaxing in your backyard, mosquitos are unfamiliar with boundaries yet quite effective at being as annoying an outdoor pest as there are.

But repellents like aerosol sprays, wipes, and citronella candles exist which aim to effectively ward off those pesky insects. Thankfully, those same remedies are also available in abundant variety as the market for mosquito defense is quite large; some brands have even gone as far as to offer mosquito-proof clothing.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been quite popular among mosquitos and have harbored many an itchy and bothersome bite. Having grown up along the beach in Oregon, I became very familiar with the song and dance required to reduce how much of a buffet I am to mosquitos. Though I now live in New York City, that same routine persists as I can barely step foot into my backyard before being swarmed by an army of blood-hungry pests.

All that is to say, I’ve come to know mosquito repellents as if I developed them myself. I’ve used just about every option possible and found a number of products that are my daily go-to during mosquito season – and it’s a solid blend of almost every variant including sprays, portable devices, clothing, and when I’m in a pinch, wipes.

Below, I’ve compiled my absolute favorites, from brands like Off!, Jack Wolfskin, and Thermacell, each of which are tried, tested, and trusted by yours truly.

Here are the best mosquito repellent products

The best mosquito repellent overall

OFF! bug repellant

OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent provides hours of reliable mosquito irritation prevention thanks to the 25% concentration of DEET.

Pros: One of the most effective mosquito repellents, easily portable

Cons: Smells bad, can ruin your clothing, can make you sick if ingested

Here are some things you need to know about diethyltoluamide, better known as DEET. It has been available to the public since the 1950s, and in all that time and after countless tests, it is still considered the most effective mosquito repellent formula.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers it safe for use on children as young as two months old in concentrations up to 30%. It effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, flies, and many other bugs, too.

OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent has a DEET concentration of 24% and when applied properly, it provides roughly eight hours of insect protection. Although it doesn’t smell all that great, it works well for people of any age (save for babies aged eight weeks or younger).

I keep a can of this in my backyard, in my cycling pack, and I always stash a bottle of it in my camping tote or hiking backpack, too. 

Check out our guide to the best bug sprays and repellents

The best portable mosquito repellent

Mosquito repeller

Thermacell’s E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller projects a 20-foot area of mosquito protection, making it great for use while camping or relaxing in a backyard or park. 

Pros: Creates a 20-foot safe zone that effectively repels mosquitos, uses a scent-free repellent that doesn’t have DEET or citronella, runs for upwards of five and a half hours

Cons: Takes a few minutes to be effective, so it’s not good for immediate relief

Thermacell has long been a go-to in the bug repellent space and its E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller is one of the best products in its lineup. This portable, easy-to-use device works well in a variety of settings, too, as I’ve taken it camping, used it in my backyard, and even stashed it in my backpack before heading to meet friends at the park. 

The E55 works by creating a roughly 20-foot area of mosquito protection using a scent-free repellent that’s heat-activated. All you need to do is push the button on the front of the device, and the E55 begins emitting this repellent instantly. It does, however, take a few minutes for the full area to fill with repellent, so it’s not exactly the best option for a quick fix. 

I’ve found that its best use case is to turn it on and place it in a backyard or campsite about 10 minutes before you’ll actually be outside. This way, it was able to pre-emptively create a safe zone without me having to fend off mosquitos in the meantime. 

Although its mosquito-repelling effectiveness is its clear best feature, the fact the E55 is also rechargeable meant I don’t always have to have a spare set of batteries on me while I use it. Of course, I do have to make sure it’s fully charged (or at least has some juice in it) before using, but it offers around 5 to 5.5 hours of use on a single charge, which I found to be more than enough. 

I often see the E55 retailing for around $40 via REI (and it’s not on sale too much), while additional 36-hour refills cost around $18. Though this isn’t really on the cheap side, it is worth the investment for how effective it’s been for me time and again. I’m not a huge fan of always using a spray, so Thermacell’s E55 is my constant go-to. 

The best mosquito repellent clothing

Person wearing mosquito-proof shirt

If you’d rather avoid sprays or wipes, Jack Wolfskin’s Mosquito-Proof clothing line is a great alternative that actually works. 

Pros: Allows those with sensitivities to avoid using bug sprays or wipes, comfortable selection of clothing including shirts, pants, and jackets, available in a variety of sizes for all genders

Cons: Not 100% effective since it has to be covering the parts of your body you want to protect

Apparel that protects you from mosquitos and other bugs has been around for several years, though previous versions and styles haven’t always been both comfortable or entirely flattering to wear. Enter: Jack Wolfskin’s Mosquito-Proof line.

Not only do the shirts, jackets, and pants from Jack Wolfskin excel at keeping pesky mosquitos at bay but it’s also available in a range of styles, sizes, colors, cuts, and fits. I especially like this kind of variety because it makes me actually want to wear it in more settings than just while camping or backpacking. These can be legitimate everyday pieces I want to reach for rather than need to reach for. 

Pieces I’m especially fond of are the Lakeside Roll-Up Shirt, the Lakeside Jacket, and the Lakeside Pant. There’s also a larger jacket called the Lakeside Safari, though it’s more of a technical piece that I wouldn’t need much use for (though it is still a solid option).

The prices for each are mostly the same, as the shirt often retails for $90 while the pants and jacket go for $100. Jack Wolfskin does occasionally hold sales, and I’ve seen the pants discounted as low as $80 before. 

Though those prices may seem a little steep, these are mostly investment pieces that you’d wear over and over again (especially during heavy mosquito months). They’re durable enough to handle plenty of washes, and hold up well on hikes and camping or backpacking trips.

If you’d rather wear apparel than swear by a spray to fend off mosquitos, the Mosquito-Proof line from Jack Wolfskin should be your go-to. 

The best mosquito repellent wipes

mosquito wipes

Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Wipes apply mosquito repellent directly to your skin with better precision than aerosol sprays, and its formula is designed to repel bugs without damaging your good bacteria.

Pros: Repels insects without harming helpful bacteria, smells nice, easily portable

Cons: Not a great option for everyday use

Aunt Fannie’s Mosquito Wipes come individually packaged so they stay moist and potent right until you need to use one. To do so, simply rip open the packet and rub the wipe over any exposed skin you want to protect against mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, and more.

While wipes like these aren’t as effective a repellent as something with DEET, my experience using them has been mostly positive. It helps that they have a nice minty scent (so they easily smell better than the Off! spray above). 

I tend to use these when I’m in a pinch or if the spray I’ve brought along on a hike or camping trip goes empty before I’m able to re-up. These can easily store in a camp tote or backpack and are small enough to stash under your sink at home for easy use while in the backyard. 

These can be a bit expensive if you decide to use them all the time but in moderation, they’re an excellent choice. 

The best mosquito repellent candles

citronella candles

The Votive Citronella Candles come in a pack of 36, making it easy to store a few around your backyard, at camp, or wherever you want some peace and quite from mosquitos.

Pros: Great price for several candles, safe and natural, has a nice scent

Cons: Not as effective in places with high wind

There are so many mosquito-repelling citronella candles for sale and many of them do essentially the same thing, which is, emit a scent mosquitoes don’t like. 

Many such candles are large and potent, with a thick wick set into a bucket or big glass container. I like using these 2-inch-tall votive-style candles, and for less than $30, I get a box of 36 of them, which is good for several months (even of heavy use).

The Votive Citronella Candles give off a citrus-like smell that’s mostly enjoyable. When placed around your backyard or camp on days where the wind is light, they can really help create an area where mosquitos won’t bother you. Do be careful of the open flame and take caution when putting them near anything else that’s flammable. 

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The best iPhones for every budget in 2021 – and which ones not to buy

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The iPhone 12 has the right combination of features and affordability for most people.
  • The iPhone 12 Pro is worth it if you want the best camera possible on a compact phone.
  • But don’t forget about the iPhone 11, which is still a great deal at its new lower price.
  • Apple is hosting an event on September 14 to release a new iPhone, so we’d wait until then before buying a new iPhone.

With seven iPhone models available through Apple, from the new iPhone 12 to the more than two-year-old iPhone XR, there are plenty of options out there for Apple fans. Luckily, the new features in iOS 15 – such as the ability to fine-tune notifications, spatial audio in FaceTime, and live text recognition among many others – will be available on all of the phones in this list.

Like most purchasing decisions, which model is right for you largely depends on your needs when it comes to pricing, size options, and features. Those who care a lot about aesthetics should note that Apple recently announced a purple version of the iPhone 12 , adding to its already colorful lineup.

In addition to helping you choose the right iPhone model, we’ll also tell you which models you should stay away from.

While you’re checking out which iPhone to buy, keep in mind that Apple is expected to reveal the new “iPhone 13” series during an event on September 14. All the iPhones that are currently available are easy recommendations, but we’re expecting a shake-up for pricing and which models will be available after September 14. Check out the iPhone 13 rumors here.

Here’s a quick look at our top recommendations:

  • For most people, we highly recommend the iPhone 12, which costs a relatively reasonable $799 but still includes the most important new tech on any phone: the latest processor.
  • The 2020 iPhone SE is the cheapest iPhone you can buy at $400, and it’s also one of the smallest.
  • Apple still sells the iPhone 11, and it’s a tempting purchase with its new price tag. It now costs $599, and for that price you’re not missing out on much.
  • The iPhone XR from 2018 costs $499, making it another budget-friendly option for those who want a much bigger screen, longer battery life, and Face ID.

Why should you listen to us? We’ve personally reviewed every iPhone since the iPhone 6 in a professional capacity as tech writers and editors. We also have a team of seasoned tech reporters who have owned or used iPhones since the first model was introduced. Below, find some general iPhone buying tips from those years of experience.

Here are the best iPhones

The best iPhone overall

Apple iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 has the best balance of performance, features, and design for the price, and it’s the model most people should go for. 

Pros: New design looks elegant and makes the iPhone 12 easier to hold; Better low-light camera and night mode on all lenses; OLED display on the standard model looks sharp and crisp; 5G will keep the iPhone 12 relevant for years to come

Cons: Widely deployed 5G networks aren’t much faster than LTE today; No fingerprint sensor; No always-on display; Night mode selfies aren’t very sharp

The iPhone 12 is the best iPhone for the vast majority of people with its $799 price tag. It poses the best value in relation to specs, features, and design compared to the Pro models.

It also comes in a variety of colors, including the newly announced purple, which is available for preorder on April 23 and launches on April 30. The iPhone 12 otherwise comes in black, blue, green, white, and (Product) Red models.

Fans of the iPhone will notice that the new model costs $100 more than the $699 iPhone 11 did at launch. We consider $700 to be a better price (obviously), but the iPhone 12 includes extra features that the iPhone 11 lacks. These include 5G support, a ceramic shield coating for increased durability, an OLED display with better contrast, and support for Apple’s new MagSafe connection system for chargers and accessories.

Running on Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chip, the iPhone 12 has the hardware  most people need for daily and extended usage for $300 less than the top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro, and for $400 less than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The iPhone 12 has a range of features in common with the Pro models, including a dual camera system with an ultrawide lens, a metal frame, and IP68 water resistance.

There are few compromises by going with the iPhone 12 over the Pro models. What you don’t get with the standard iPhone 12 is the third telephoto zoom lens, the new ProRAW photo mode for advanced photo controls, or the LiDAR scanner for better portrait shots.

Apple’s $799 cost is a good price for the iPhone 12, and you can make it more affordable by finding the iPhone 12 for a deal.

The best small iPhone

iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 screen
The iPhone 12 Mini (left) and iPhone 12 (right)

The iPhone 12 Mini is exactly what it sounds like — a smaller version of the standard iPhone 12, and it’s for iPhone users who like more compact designs and smaller screens.

Pros: Compact design makes it easy to use with one hand; Excellent camera; Elegant revamped design compared to last year’s iPhones; Sharp and vibrant OLED display; 5G support will keep the iPhone 12 Mini relevant in the future

Cons: Smaller size means you compromise on battery life; No fingerprint sensor; No always-on display; Nationwide 5G networks aren’t much faster than today’s 4G LTE.

The iPhone 12 Mini is a smaller and more affordable version of the iPhone 12 and is available in all of the same colors, including the newly announced purple.

The only difference is that the iPhone 12 Mini has 5.4-inch display compared to the iPhone 12’s 6.1-inch screen. 

That smaller size also means the iPhone 12 Mini‘s battery life is noticeably shorter than the iPhone 12’s. After a full day’s worth of use (9.5 hours), the iPhone 12 Mini’s battery was down to 23% during my testing. The larger iPhone 12, by comparison, had 34% of its battery left after about 15 hours of use. 

Still, it’s the best choice for iPhone owners that have been holding onto their older device because they’re reluctant to upgrade to today’s large-screened devices.

Apart from screen size and battery life, everything is the same, including the A14 Bionic chip, a dual camera system with an ultrawide lens, a Super Retina XDR OLED display, ceramic shield screen glass, 5G support, wireless charging and MagSafe support, a metal frame, and IP68 water resistance.

However, it remains unclear how big the audience for a smaller-sized iPhone actually is, considering data from Counterpoint Research suggests demand for the iPhone 12 Mini has been weak.

The best premium iPhone

iPhone 12 Pro Blue

The iPhone 12 Pro is for the discerning iPhone user who wants almost the absolute best from Apple — and can afford it, too.

Pros: Excellent camera especially in low-light; Elegant new design that’s easier to hold; LiDAR enables portrait mode photos even in the dark; 5G will keep the iPhone 12 Pro relevant for years to come

Cons: Zoom isn’t as crisp as Samsung’s; Widely-deployed 5G networks aren’t much faster than 4G LTE; No fingerprint sensor; No always-on display

The iPhone 12 Pro buyer could either be the kind who buys a new iPhone every year through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, or the type of person who waits a considerable long time — think four years or more — before upgrading. More generally, the iPhone 12 Pro buyer is the kind who wants the most camera tech that Apple has to offer in a relatively standard 6.1-inch screen size.

With the iPhone 12 Pro, you’re getting everything from the standard iPhone 12, including the A14 Bionic chip, a Super Retina XDR OLED display, ceramic shield screen glass, 5G support, wireless charging and MagSafe support, a metal frame, and IP68 water resistance. 

That extra $300 gets you a steel frame instead of aluminum (which, by the way, doesn’t mean it’s tougher, according to Unbox Therapy). But more importantly, the iPhone 12 Pro also comes with a  triple camera system that includes the standard lens, ultrawide lens, and exclusive to the Pro models, a telephoto lens that goes up to 4x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom. Extra camera features also include LiDAR for better portrait mode photos, even in the dark, as well as Apple’s RAW camera controls.

If you’re looking for the absolute best photo tech that Apple has to offer and a larger screen, you’ll want to check out the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Be mindful of the iPhone 12 Pro‘s $999 price tag, which you can reduce if you find the iPhone 12 Pro for a deal, trade-in your old iPhone with Apple, sell your old iPhone yourself, or sign up for the iPhone Upgrade Program. 

The best big premium iPhone

Apple iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max
The iPhone 12 Pro (front) and iPhone 12 Pro Max (back)

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the choice for those who want a long-lasting battery, gigantic screen, and sophisticated camera.

Pros: Long battery life; Bigger screen without increasing the size of the phone by that much; Excellent camera; Elegant design

Cons: Screen isn’t quite as vibrant as Samsung’s; Samsung offers a better zoom lens; Missing useful features found on Android like a fingerprint sensor and reverse wireless charging

The biggest benefits you’ll get from going with the $1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max are its gigantic 6.7-inch screen and longer battery life.

It  has a slightly better zoom lens than the iPhone 12 Pro, but it’s really the enormous screen and long-lasting battery that make this phone stand out in Apple’s lineup.

Otherwise, the iPhone 12 Pro Max shares many of the same qualities as the iPhone 12 Pro and standard iPhone 12. These include Apple’s A14 Bionic chip, Super Retina XDR OLED screen, ceramic shield screen, 5G support, MagSafe accessory support, a triple-lens camera system with wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses like the iPhone 12 Pro, and IP68 water resistance. 

Other than its significantly larger size, the main difference between the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are in its camera. The Pro Max has a 2.5x optical zoom, a 5x optical zoom range, and a 12x digital zoom, compared to the iPhone 12 Pro’s 2x optical zoom, 4x optical zoom range, and 10x digital zoom.

You can definitely notice the difference, but it’s not a change that’s drastic enough to factor into your buying decision.  The iPhone 12 Pro Max also benefits from a technology called sensor shift, which further stabilizes the camera to reduce blur.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max’s battery life was impressive during my testing, and you’ll certainly be able to get a full day or more out of it. After about a full day’s worth of use (15 hours), I still had the iPhone 12 Pro Max still had 38% of its battery left, while the regular 12 Pro had 13% left after 16 hours of use. 

The iPhone 12 Pro‘s $1,099 price is high, but you can reduce if you find the iPhone 12 Pro for a deal.

The best budget iPhone

iphone se 2

The new iPhone SE (2020) is undeniably the best value for an iPhone, as it runs on the same powerful chip as the iPhone 11 series, but you’re only getting a single-lens camera.

Pros: Excellent price, excellent performance, budget access to Apple’s ecosystem

Cons: Battery life could be better, outdated design, single camera system

There’s no doubt about it — if you want an iPhone for under $500, the $399.00 iPhone SE is the way to go. It handily takes over the reins from the $599.00 iPhone XR as the best budget iPhone due to the powerful A13 Bionic mobile chip, which also spins the wheels in the iPhone 11 series.

The iPhone SE has an LCD, 4.7-inch, Retina HD screen. That’s to say it’s not the best in Apple’s arsenal, but it’s similar to the excellent screen on the iPhone XR. Its design is almost identical to the iPhone 8, a classic iPhone form factor. It comes in black, white, and red color options. 

You get a 12-megapixel single-lens camera with portrait mode, depth control (adjusting background blur after taking a photo), portrait lighting, Smart HDR, and a decent gamut of high-end camera features, especially for an iPhone that costs $399.00. 

Unfortunately, you don’t get a zoomed lens or an ultra-wide lens, and that’s arguably one of the biggest compromises with the iPhone SE. Compared to Apple’s larger and pricier iPhones, the iPhone SE also has shorter battery life.

The best big budget iPhone

iPhone XR

The $499 iPhone XR is the best cheapest big-screened iPhone you can get if you can find a good deal for it.

Pros: Big screen, modern iPhone design, fun colors, good cameras, FaceID, wireless charging

Cons: Runs on two-year-old chip, expensive for older specs and features, hard to use one-handed, glass is fragile, no headphone jack or adapter in box

The $499 iPhone XR isn’t that much cheaper than the $599 iPhone 11, and you might as well get the latter if you’re going to spend over $500. 

The iPhone XR runs on 2018’s A12 Bionic mobile, the same chip in the iPhone XS series. That  means it offers great performance, but it’s still over two years old. Apple also still supports the XR in its recently announced iOS 15 update, which will bring a bunch of new features to the iPhone when it launches later this year. 

Among other upgrades, spending an extra $100 on the iPhone 11 will get you the faster A13 Bionic chip and an ultra-wide angle camera compared to the single-lens camera on the iPhone XR.

If you don’t mind its smaller size, get the $399 iPhone SE and save that $100 you were going to spend on the XR for a pair of AirPods. Spending $100 less on the iPhone SE will also get you the faster chip from the iPhone 11 series, although you’ll be sacrificing Face ID and a larger screen.

The best premium iPhone overall for less

apple smart phone iphone 11 pro

For its new $599 price, the iPhone 11 makes a very tempting argument for a place in your hands and pockets, even over the iPhone 12. 

Pros: Excellent price for an iPhone, fast new processor, great 6.1-inch screen, long battery life, dual-camera setup on the back, wireless charging

Cons: It’s missing the OLED screen and the telephoto camera lens of the iPhone 11 Pro lineup

If the iPhone 12 is our first recommendation for most iPhone users, the iPhone 11 would be our second choice for its new cheaper $599 price, dual-camera set up, speedy processor, and crisp LCD screen.

The $599 price of the iPhone 11 makes it the best iPhone for those looking who want something premium but don’t want to spend too much. The iPhone 11 has all the specs most people need for $200 less than the iPhone 12.

You’re missing out on a few features by choosing the iPhone 11, but nothing that really alters the core iPhone experience. 

Here’s what you don’t get, and why it might not really matter:

  • 5G support. It’s nice to have on the iPhone 12, but it’s not worth buying a phone exclusively  for 5G at the moment. Fast 5G networks aren’t widely deployed and current widespread 5G networks aren’t much better than 4G LTE. Apple’s fancy “ceramic shield” screen glass. The new ceramic shield glass seems very strong, but you’d do fine with the glass on the iPhone 11. 
  • An OLED screen. Apple has some of the best LCD screens in the business, and many people can hardly tell the difference with an OLED screen.

The best small premium iPhone for less

iphone 11 pro

The iPhone 11 Pro is still a superb iPhone as long as you can get a good deal on it

Pros: Speedy processor, sharp OLED screen, great size for single-handed use, triple camera system; great battery life, wireless charging, Face ID

Cons: No headphone jack, no longer sold by Apple and not always found with a deal

Apple doesn’t sell the iPhone 11 Pro anymore, but you can still find it on Amazon and through most carriers or tech stores. But we’d only recommend purchasing it if you can find a great deal on it. 

If you’re seeing the iPhone 11 Pro for its launch retail price of $999, that’s a bad deal, and you’re much better off getting the iPhone 12 Pro for the same price. 

We’re seeing a few deals for the iPhone 11 Pro, but not that many. Woot is offering the iPhone 11 Pro in new condition starting at $769.99 for Amazon Prime members. That’s not the cheapest we’ve seen, but it’s also a decent deal considering discounts on the iPhone 11 Pro are getting more difficult to come by. 

The best big premium iPhone for less

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone 11 Pro Max with a deal is the one to buy if you want a big screen and great battery life without spending over $1,000.

Pros: Big screen, OLED looks crisp, fast A13 Bionic processor, three-camera setup, better battery life than smaller iPhones

Cons: No headphone jack, no longer sold by Apple and not always found with a deal

The same goes for the iPhone 11 Pro Max — it’s only worth buying if you can find a good deal on it. If the deal isn’t great and knocks only $100 or less off the iPhone 11 Pro Max‘s original $1,099 price, you might as well get the new $1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max. 

If a good deal can be found, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is for the iPhone user who likes big screens and wants a triple camera system that includes the standard camera, ultrawide, and zoom lens. 

If you value OLED screens, the iPhone 11 Pro Max will also deliver. Otherwise, you’re getting the same performance as you would with the iPhone 11 Pro, and the $599 iPhone 11.

The iPhone XS is still a decent purchase, but only at a really good discount.

iPhone XS and XS Max
The iPhone XS (L) and XS Max

The iPhone XS still offers decent performance and a great screen, but it’s aging quickly.

Pros: OLED screen looks crisp, dual camera, modern features like Face ID 

Cons: No headphone jack, no longer sold by Apple and not always found with a deal

The iPhone XS isn’t necessarily an unwise purchase, but it’s only worth buying if you can get it at an excellent discount. It offers a large OLED screen, a dual-camera setup with wide and telephoto lenses, and Face ID. 

It runs on the A12 Bionic processor that Apple launched in 2018, which is the same chip powering the newest entry-level iPad. That means it should offer smooth performance for now. But since that chip is already two generations old, it might not be the best investment if you’re looking for a long-term phone to keep for multiple years.

As such, we only recommend purchasing it if you’re able to find it at a very low price, ideally for the same cost or lower than the iPhone XR. Otherwise, you’re probably better off considering the iPhone 11 or iPhone SE.

Don’t bother with the iPhone X/8 series anymore

iPhone 8 and iphone 8 plus

With the iPhone SE and iPhone XR offering good value, there’s little justification for buying the iPhone X or iPhone 8. You should also avoid buying any iPhone model older than these because the tech inside will soon be obsolete. 

If you’re looking to pay a lot less for a good iPhone, your best bets are going to be the iPhone SE and the iPhone XR rather than some of the older models like the iPhone X and iPhone 8. 

Chances are you’ll be overspending on those iPhones, even if you can find a deal that looks tempting. Plus, you may not even find these in new condition anymore.

As for even older iPhones like the iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 6 generations, there’s a good reason Apple doesn’t sell them anymore.  These phones are now several years old and have aging tech inside, which will likely result in slow performance. 

The processor and RAM are from three-to-four years ago, and are therefore likely unequipped to handle new software and apps. Your battery life is also likely to take a hit because the phone will be working harder to accomplish even simple tasks like connecting to your cell network.

Some of these phones ( iPhone 6S and higher) can still get the latest software update of iOS 15, but there’s a chance it could be the last software update some of these phones may ever get. That means you’ll have an old — and therefore much less secure — version of iOS.

The best inexpensive Android alternatives

pixe 4a vs iphone se 1

Instead of getting an older iPhone, consider a cheaper Android phone.

Our top picks for affordable Android phones are the $350 Google Pixel 4a and $450 Pixel 5a 5G. They have high-quality cameras that are capable of capturing impressive images rivaling those of the new iPhone 12 — especially in low-light conditions. 

They run a simple and easy-to-navigate version of Android and get regular software updates. Check out our full review of the Pixel 4a here, and our full review of the Pixel 5a 5G here.

Other great choices include the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G, OnePlus 7T and Motorola G Power. 

  • Samsung’s $500 Galaxy A52 5G has the look and feel of a premium Galaxy phone for significantly less. It comes with a vivid 6.5-inch Super AMOLED screen with a high refresh rate, 5G support, a quad-lens camera system and a 32-megapixel selfie camera, and long battery life. The Galaxy A52 5G doesn’t have the fastest processor, but it still brings a lot of value for a $500 phone.
  • The $349 OnePlus 7T was the best premium high-end smartphone running on the latest and most powerful specs in 2019. At its current price, it’s an incredible deal if you’re looking for something with a more premium design and faster performance than the Pixel 3a series. The major caveat is that it’s only fully compatible with T-Mobile’s network.
  • The Motorola G Power costs $250 and offers a lot of value for the price, with a large 6.4-inch screen and  massive 5,000mAh battery that can easily give you more than two-days’ worth of use. Check out the Moto G Power review here.

Buying advice for current iPhone owners

iPhone X iPhone 8

Here’s who should (and shouldn’t) upgrade, and which iPhone we recommend for you:

  • If you have an iPhone 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max: There’s no reason to upgrade unless you specifically like to have the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer. If so, consider whether you can afford it after buying your iPhone 11 within the last year. If you have Apple’s iPhone upgrade plan, go ahead. By the way, 5G isn’t a good reason to upgrade yet, so don’t let that be the sole reason to upgrade. 
  • If you have an iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR: Performance is likely still fine for most people’s needs. If battery life is an issue, you could get your battery replaced for less than the cost of a new iPhone. If you’re a conservative spender, you’re not missing out on anything that will dramatically improve the core experience of using an iPhone. If you’re looking for better photography, the iPhone 12 would be a worthy upgrade. 
  • If you have an iPhone X, 8, or 8 Plus: If you’re conservative with your spending, you could hang on to your iPhone for another year without much issue. If battery life is a concern, you can replace it for less than the cost of a new iPhone. That said, an upgrade to the iPhone 12 is completely reasonable if you’ve noticed that performance is slower than your liking. iPhone 8 owners will also benefit from a big jump in camera quality,, the newer designs with better screen-to-body ratios for bigger screens in similarly sized phones, and Face ID.
  • If you have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, or older: It’s time. These phones are likely stuttering and won’t last much longer. You’ll get a massive upgrade in every aspect by going with the iPhone 12 series.

How should you buy your new iPhone?

  • Tech enthusiast? Join the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program. You’ll basically rent your phone with monthly payments, and you can upgrade to a new one after 12 payments. If you do that, you end up paying half price for the phone and you get a new one every year without hemming and hawing over the cost. T-Mobile has a similar offer, in which you can upgrade as soon as you’ve paid off half of the phone’s entire balance.
  • Tech-savvy traveler? Buy your iPhone unlocked so you can pop in local SIM cards when you travel abroad. To do this, buy from Apple, preferably through the iPhone Upgrade Program. Alternatively, you can buy from T-Mobile or Sprint because they have free international service in 100+ countries.
  • Budget hunter?Budget hunter? Check out all the carrier promotions and maybe wait a few months to buy your new iPhone. The cheapest new iPhone is the iPhone 12 Mini for $699. You can also get the iPhone 11 for $599, or the iPhone SE for $399. You could also jump ahead to our Android alternatives section in this buying guide for more cheaper smartphone options.

Is now a good time to buy?

Now that Apple has announced an event for September 14, it isn’t the best time to buy an iPhone. Apple usually announces a new iPhone during its annual September events, and that’s exactly what we’re expecting from the upcoming event. 

We’re not saying that you should wait to buy the new so-called iPhone 13. Rather, it’s best to wait and see what the upcoming iPhone will feature and what kind of upgrades Apple has made over the current iPhone 12. If the iPhone 13 upgrades don’t tempt you as much, the current iPhone 12 will likely still be available for a lower price, just like the iPhone 11 was when the iPhone 12 was launched. 

Indeed, even if you don’t care about having the newest iPhone, you can usually find better deals on the current generation iPhone once the updated version launches.

Here are some key things to know before you decide which iPhone to buy:

  • Processor and RAM: The processor and memory (RAM) are the two most important parts of any phone. They determine how smoothly it runs and works through intense tasks like gaming or multitasking. The newer your iPhone, the better the processing power and RAM. That’s why we recommend you buy the most recent iPhone models and we don’t recommend any iPhones from more than three years ago.
  • Storage space: Storage is also incredibly important because the amount of storage you have determines how many photos, songs, videos, and apps you can have downloaded on your phone. Apple’s recent iPhones come with at least 64GB at the base level, which should be plenty of space for most users that take a moderate amount of photos and videos. The newest phones start at 64GB, which is a respectable amount of space.
  • Screen size: iPhones have come in several screen sizes over the years: 4.7 inches (iPhone 8/2020 iPhone SE), 5.5 inches (iPhone 8 Plus), 5.8 inches (iPhone 11 Pro and XS), 6.1 inches (iPhone 11 and XR), and 6.2 inches (iPhone 11 Pro Max and XS Max). Phones with small screen sizes have smaller physical bodies, which are easier to hold. Phones in Apple’s “Max” and “Plus” line are the largest,, although Max devices have a much bigger screen compared to phones like the iPhone 8 Plus thanks to their bezel-less design.
  • Battery life: Most iPhones — and smartphones in general — don’t have great battery life. In general, the smaller the iPhone, the worse the battery life. So if you don’t mind having a larger-sized phone that comes at a higher price, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the iPhone to get if battery life is your top priority. However, Apple’s medium-sized phones like the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and iPhone 11 still offer battery life that’s typically capable of getting you through a full day without searching for a charger.  
  • Ports (or lack thereof): All iPhones have a Lightning port for charging, but all iPhones since the iPhone 7 lack the 3.5mm headphone jack. That means you can’t plug in your wired headphones or other accessories unless you buy the adapter or use the Lightning earbuds that once came with your new iPhone (Apple recently stopped including earbuds and power adapters in its packaging). We recommend you get a nice pair of wireless headphones.
  • Software: Apple provides updates to its iPhones for about four years or more after their release, so theoretically, you can have your iPhone up to date for years before you should buy a new one. Always update your software to get important security patches and new features. You may experience slowdown on older devices, but iPhones typically hold up well.
  • Price: Consider your purchase an investment. Your smartphone is more than a communication device — it’s your camera, your computer, your photo album, your music player, and your gaming console, too. A good smartphone can last you for years, but a cheap one with poor specs will be outdated more quickly, and you’ll end up spending more in the long run. That $1,000 price tag on the iPhone 12 Pro looks less scary when you consider that it could last you for four to five years.
  • How to buy: You can get an iPhone from your carrier by paying full price or paying in monthly installments. You can also buy one at stores like Target and Best Buy or directly from Apple. We recommend you buy it from Apple unlocked so you can switch carriers any time you choose. The Apple iPhone Upgrade Program lets you get a new iPhone every year so long as you’ve made 12 monthly payments on your current phone. It’s basically like renting your smartphone so you can upgrade all the time. Some carriers, like T-Mobile, offer a similar program.
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best 4K TVs in 2021 for sharp, colorful images and reliable streaming

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

4K Ultra HD (UHD) TVs have become the norm for any buyer looking to purchase a new display in 2021. However, while all 4K TVs offer a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, picture quality and smart connectivity can vary wildly between different models.

Some 4K TVs include advanced high dynamic range (HDR) for enhanced contrast and colors. Certain LCD models are able to achieve higher brightness than others, which makes them a better fit for rooms with a lot of ambient light. Other displays use OLED panels for perfect black levels that make their images pop when watching movies in a dark home theater.

Of course, picture quality is far from the only factor you should consider when buying a new display. Smart TV functionality, app selection, voice assistant support, and overall design can all make or break a 4K TV purchase. After all, what’s the point of a pretty picture if you can’t easily navigate through the TV’s menus to actually watch something?

With those factors in mind, we’ve selected the best 4K TVs on the market based on hands-on testing with a variety of models. Our picks represent a range of price points, but each of the displays we’ve selected is good enough to offer capable HDR playback and streaming app support. Since 65 inches is the standard flagship size for manufacturers, all of our selections fall into that category. That said, many of the models listed below are also available in smaller and larger sizes.

Here are the best 4K TVs you can buy:

The best 4K TV overall

LG 2020 OLED CX 4K TV

The LG CX OLED presents the best balance between picture performance, smart connectivity, design, and value of any 4K TV you can buy. 

Pros: OLED panel with infinite contrast, HDMI 2.1 ports, voice remote, several sizes to choose from

Cons: Can’t get as bright as an LCD TV, a little pricey

When it comes to balancing stunning picture performance and reliable smart features, the CX is the best 4K TV you can buy. Though LG released a 2021 successor to the CX, called the C1, the CX remains a better value since it costs less and offers very similar specs. 

Unlike LCD TVs, including those branded as LED and QLED, the CX provides pixel-level contrast thanks to its OLED panel. This enables perfect black levels and precise highlights, which makes this an ideal TV for people who love to watch movies in a dark room. 4K HDR Blu-ray discs and streaming titles are especially stunning on this set, fully showing off what high dynamic range is all about.

Peak brightness is also solid for an OLED panel, with a max of around 700 to 800 nits. That should be more than enough for most living rooms, but buyers who watch TV with a ton of sunlight creeping into the room may need to opt for a brighter LCD model. 

The CX is also a great fit for video games, including next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. The panel offers low input lag and supports Variable Refresh Rate, Nvidia G-Sync, and 120Hz high frame rate. Gaming performance is so strong we actually think the 48-inch model is a perfect alternative to a traditional monitor.

When it comes to smart TV features, the TV uses LG’s webOS and ThinQ platforms for robust streaming app support and voice control. Apple HomeKit functionality is also included. The magic remote even features a unique pointer function which allows you to navigate through menus with a virtual cursor you aim at the screen.

The best QLED 4K TV

Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV
Samsung QN90A Neo QLED TV

Samsung’s QN90A offers some of the best overall picture of any 4K TV model.

Pros: Bright screen, full-array local dimming with Mini LEDs, quantum dot color, wider viewing angles than most LCDs, SolarCell voice remote

Cons: Lacks Dolby Vision support, contrast can’t match an OLED, doesn’t support Apple HomeKit, only one HDMI 2.1 port

Though brands like Vizio, TCL, and Hisense have done an impressive job bringing quantum dot color technology to their value-priced TV models, Samsung’s QN90A QLED TV is a clear step above the competition, delivering high-end picture quality and design.     

The TV features full-array local dimming for deep black levels and stunning HDR. The QN90A is also Samsung’s first QLED with a Mini LED backlight. Since they’re smaller than typical LEDs, Mini LEDs enable more dimming zones, which results in better control over contrast. The 65-inch QN90A has a whopping 792 zones and it’s capable of the best black level performance I’ve seen outside of an OLED model. 

The display also delivers impressive peak brightness, hitting around 1,700 nits for punchy HDR images that really pop from the screen. The high brightness is also ideal for living rooms that let in a lot of outside light. And, unlike most LCD TVs, the QN90A has solid viewing angles so you can sit off to the side without having to worry about distorted colors. 

Samsung’s Smart Hub platform provides responsive navigation with on-screen support for a big selection of apps. That said, the QN90A lacks Apple HomeKit support. One HDMI 2.1 port is included as well, enabling next-gen gaming features, but most competing manufacturers offer at least two ports on their flagship sets. 

The included remote supports voice control and you can choose between Samsung’s Bixby, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. The remote even has a unique solar panel which can be charged via sunlight or indoor lights so you don’t need batteries. This is a really neat extra feature that’s currently only found on Samsung TVs.

The best budget 4K TV

Hisense U6G Tv on a black background

The Hisense U6G Android TV delivers solid streaming and image quality on a budget.

Pros: Supports every major HDR format, local dimming, quantum dots, Google Assistant voice remote, solid brightness for the price

Cons: No HDMI 2.1 ports, contrast not as high as more expensive TVs, mediocre viewing angles

Buying a TV on a budget usually means you have to miss out on some advanced features found on more expensive models. The Hisense U6G proves that’s not always the case.

The U6G is the 2021 successor to the Hisense H8G. It carries over everything I loved about that set while maintaining a similar budget-friendly price. HDR support is included for every major format and brightness capabilities are good for a TV in this class. Local dimming helps to enhance contrast, but you won’t get the precision that more expensive TVs offer. 

Like other 2021 Hisense models, the U6G uses Android TV rather than the newer Google TV system, but app navigation and playback work well regardless. Google Assistant is also supported via the included remote for reliable voice control.

I reviewed the 2020 version of this TV last year and this new model is expected to perform even better. Buyers who want more advanced features, like HDMI 2.1 for next-gen gaming, will have to pay more for the step-up U7G or U8G, but at this price, the U6G is a bargain.

The best mid-range 4K TV

Hisense U8G 4K TV in living room.

The Hisense U8G provides best-in-class brightness for its price.

Pros: Incredible HDR brightness for the money, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, local dimming for solid contrast, quantum dots for wide color

Cons: Viewing angles are mediocre, thick screen profile, some blooming visible

Hisense’s U8G delivers the brightest picture I’ve seen from a display in this price range. In fact, peak brightness actually beats our top QLED pick, the Samsung QN90A, in some test patterns. This enables the TV to deliver impressive HDR performance, even if there’s a lot of light in your room.

Brightness isn’t everything, however, and the TV can’t quite match the deep black level performance that more expensive Samsung QLED or LG OLED models deliver. That said, the display’s 360 dimming zones enable solid contrast. Some blooming and backlight irregularities are visible from time to time, but the U8G looks impressive in a dark home theater room.

The included remote features built-in Google Assistant voice control, but the set uses the older Android TV operating system rather than the newer Google TV platform. Android TV works just fine, though, and navigation is smooth. Two HDMI 2.1 ports are also included for next-gen gaming features when hooked up to a PS5 of Xbox Series X.

When it comes to other mid-range TVs in this price range, we also recommend the Vizio P-Series and TCL 6-Series. All three displays offer very similar performance and it’s difficult to truly say one is better than the other since they all have pros and cons. Ultimately, I’m giving a slight edge to the U8G since it has the highest brightness capabilities of the bunch.

The best high-end 4K TV

Sony A80J OLED 4K TV on a TV stand.

Sony’s A80J is the premium TV champ when it comes to image accuracy, but it’s a bit pricey.

Pros: OLED panel with infinite contrast, advanced processing for superior image accuracy, acoustic surface audio technology, HDMI 2.1

Cons: Can’t get as bright as LCD TVs, no VRR support yet (coming in future firmware)

Sony’s brand-new A80J OLED (2021) serves as the successor to its highly rated A8H (2020). Though most people will be satisfied with the older model, both TVs are currently available for the same price and the A80J features a few key upgrades that help it clinch this spot.

Most notably, the new 2021 model adds HDMI 2.1 ports, enabling next-gen gaming features like 4K/120Hz. It also uses Sony’s new image tech which relies on cognitive processing to cross-analyze picture elements at the same time rather than individually. It’s hard to say how big of an improvement this upgrade makes without a side-by-side comparison with the A8H, but the A80J certainly looks stunning in person.

During annual TV competitions, Sony’s OLEDs consistently come the closest to matching the look of professional broadcast monitors and we expect the A80J to be no different. This means, when calibrated, the A80J has the potential to present movies closer to how directors intend for them to look than most competing displays.

Unlike traditional TVs, the A80J also features a unique audio system with acoustic surface technology. Instead of typical speakers, this process uses actuators behind the panel to create sound from the screen itself. This allows dialogue to sound as if it’s truly coming from the mouths of people on screen. 

The A80J is also one of the first TVs to launch with the new Google TV platform rather than the older Android TV system. The new interface has a stylish look and emphasizes content rather than apps. It works well, but I’ve run into a few glitches here and there that forced me to reboot the display. Google TV has a lot of potential but some kinks still need to be worked out via firmware updates. 

What to look for in a 4K TV

The best OLED TVs LG CX

There are some key specifications that you should look for when choosing which TV is the best fit for your needs.

HDR support

If you’re buying a new display with image performance as a top priority, you’ll want to make note of a TV’s high-dynamic-range (HDR) capabilities. Even more so than resolution, HDR has become the defining factor for picture quality in modern TVs. This feature allows a TV to offer enhanced contrast and colors when playing specially graded HDR shows and movies on many streaming apps and 4K Blu-ray discs.

There are a few competing HDR formats, including HDR10, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is the default and it’s supported on all HDR TVs. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ offer more advanced capabilities, but Dolby Vision content is more common than HDR10+. 

OLED vs. LCD

Brightness capabilities (measured in nits), black levels, contrast ratio, color gamut, and viewing angles are all major factors that help contribute to a TV’s overall picture performance. Panel type then plays a large role in determining how well a display can handle all of these elements. 

There are currently two main types of 4K TV panels: OLED and LCD (the latter is often branded as QLED or LED). Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. OLEDs excel at black levels, contrast, and viewing angles. LCDs excel at brightness, which can make them better for rooms that let in a lot of light. LCD models also tend to be less expensive than OLED models and they present no risk for burn-in

HDMI 2.1 ports

HDMI 2.1 support is another feature that buyers should keep in mind. The latest HDMI spec enables next-gen gaming features like 4K/120Hz and VRR, which could be important for people who plan to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X.  

Smart TV features

Smart TV connectivity is essential as well, and each manufacturer either uses their own specific operating system or a third-party system like Roku TV, Google TV, or Fire TV. All of these platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to app selection and performance, but most will get the job done just fine for basic streaming needs. 

If you’re unhappy with your TV’s built-in system, we recommend buying a separate streaming stick or box. These devices typically offer the best streaming app support, and entry-level models with 4K playback are frequently on sale from Roku for as little as $30.

Digital Assistants and Apple HomeKit

Many smart TVs now include integrated support for Alexa or Google Assistant, allowing you to ask questions, control other smart home devices, and more with voice commands. If smart home integration is important to you, you’ll want to make sure the TV you buy is compatible with the ecosystem you already use.

Apple HomeKit compatibility is also common in many mid-range and flagship models from LG, Vizio, and Sony. HomeKit support lets you switch your TV on and off and set your TV to different inputs directly from the Home app or Siri on an iOS device. You can also automate multiple HomeKit smart devices together.

Check out our other TV buying guides

VIZIO M Series Quantum

The best cheap TVs

Though flagship TVs can get pricey, there are plenty of budget-friendly displays out there with solid performance. There are even models with genuine HDR support for surprisingly affordable prices. 


The best OLED TVs

OLED TVs offer some key performance benefits compared to traditional LCD displays, including better black levels and uniformity. While all OLED TVs tend to be very similar when it comes to picture quality, certain models feature premium design upgrades that make them a bit more expensive.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best jump ropes of 2021 for an effective cardio workout

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

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

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

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

To find the best jump ropes for cardio, I tested brands like Crossrope, Rx Smart Gear, and SKLZ, relying on my own experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness writer, while also keeping in mind the important features a rope should have.

At the end of this guide, I’ve included some insight from Laux on the proper technique for jumping rope, as well as answers to a few FAQs and how I tested each of the ropes in this guide.

Here are the best jump ropes:

How we test jump ropes

best jump ropes 4x3

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

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope overall

Get_Lean_Set

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

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

Cons: Expensive

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for speed work

wod jumprope

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

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

Cons: Susceptible to wear when used on hard surfaces

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for beginners

SKLZ jump rope

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

Pros: Easy to adjust, comfortable grip, smooth rotations

Cons: Comes with just one rope — no fancy additions

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for multiple users

RX smart gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope

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

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

Cons: More expensive than other ropes

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

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

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

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

The best budget jump rope

Tone It Up Jump Rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else we tested

RXSG EVO GO Speed Rope

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

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

Jump rope FAQs

What’s the proper jump rope technique?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What features should a jump rope have? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expert sources

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

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

Where to buy bean bag chair online in 2021

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Pattern of best bean bag chairs in 2021 from Moonpod, Lovesac, Target, and pottery barn
  • A cozy bean bag chair can be a great addition to any children’s room, dorm room, or game room.
  • The best bean bag chairs are filled with soft materials and can support multiple seating positions.
  • We recommend shopping with these six brands for comfortable bean bag chairs.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

When many of us think of bean bag chairs, we think of the uncomfortably flat, outdated blobs of childhood. However, modern bean bags have evolved significantly, and are now made of more durable materials, have stylish designs, and are big enough to be used while sitting and laying in different positions. Bean bag chairs make a great addition to game rooms, small living spaces, and of course any college dorm room.

As anyone who’s lived in a college dorm knows, seating and space are extremely limited. Bean bag chairs can be a fun way to decorate your space while also adding more seating for friends and roommates. They can also be a very inexpensive furniture option if you’re outfitting a room on a budget.

After doing extensive research, we found that these six retailers are the best places to shop for bean bag chairs. These brands offer chairs that are great for movie nights, impromptu naps, and even for working comfortably from home.

Here are the best places to buy bean bag chairs in 2021

Moon Pod

Moon Pod The Moon Pod, one of the best bean bag chairs in 2021

Moon Pod offers bean bag chairs that are crafted to mimic the feeling of anti-gravity weightlessness and can change shape based on your preferred seating position or activity.

Pros: Offers support and holds its shape, eco-friendly materials, built-in carrying handle

Cons: Some models are too small for larger adults

Moon Pod‘s uniquely shaped bean bag chairs are built to support multiple body types and seating positions. Each Moon Pod is hand filled with high-density beads to replicate the feeling of flotation therapy, which purportedly promotes relaxation and stress relief. A soft cover is included with every Moon Pod purchase and can be removed and washed. Choose from five different cover colors including Neptune blue, rose quartz, and space gray. 

I tested the Moon Pod over a period of several weeks and found it to be comfortable and easy to set up. Upon receiving your Moon Pod you’ll need to put its cover on it, a process that is extremely easy due to the bean bag only weighing around 12 pounds. It takes a few days of sitting on the Moon Pod for it to fully expand and become more flexible. Overall, the chair is comfortable and provides enough support to work sitting up, but is still cozy enough for a quick nap. The Moon Pod can also be stored standing up and can easily fit in smaller corners and spaces without taking up an excessive amount of space.

Moon Pod also offers fun accessories to pair with your chair, including the back rest Crescent and the Lunar Lift foot rest. Extra covers are also available for purchase if you need a replacement.

What to buy:

The Moon Pod (medium)Super Moon Pod (medium)
Wayfair

Big Joe Milano Medium Bean Bag Chair from Wayfair, one of the best bean bag chairs in 2021

Wayfair combines budget-friendly prices with a wide selection of products.

Wayfair‘s wide selection of bean bag chairs includes many price points and styles. You can even find chairs specifically for children, along with uniquely-shaped chairs.

Wayfair prioritizes a positive customer shopping process; each of its bean bag chairs has easy-to-read product snapshots of the most important features. These features include the chair’s weight capacity, fill type, and whether it has a removable cover. 

The retailer also offers extensive customer service hours, with representatives available until midnight EST.

What to buy:

Milano Medium Bean Bag Chair (medium)Large Classic Bean Bag (medium)
Lovesac

Lovesac GamerSac, one of the best bean bag chairs in 2021

From small game room chairs to giant multi-seaters, Lovesac offers a wide size range of bean bags.

Lovesac is no stranger to creating comfortable seating options; the brand has been making bean bag chairs since 1995. It offers its “Sacs” in six different sizes which range from single seaters to giant bean bags that can accommodate up to four people. Each Sac is covered in a removable cover that can be washed. The brand currently offers more than 200 cover options, making it easy to find a style that will complement your home’s decor. 

Instead of using microbeads like most brands, Lovesac’s Sacs are made of durafoam which helps to absorb body weight while maintaining shape and support. After unboxing your Sac you’ll want to give it up to a week to fully expand to its true size. The brand also offers accessories like its Squattoman and Footsac blankets.

Lovesac also has a generous 60 day home trial so you can decide if it’s right for you. While the brand’s prices are on the higher side, its durable designs, generous warranty, and return policy make it worth the splurge.

What to buy:

GamerSac (medium)MovieSac (medium)
Target

Relax Sacks 3' Kids' Bean Bag Chair from Target, one of the best bean bag chairs in 2021

In addition to a seamless shopping experience, Target offers a selection of affordable bean bags in a variety of unique designs.

Target prioritizes its customer’s shopping experience by offering curbside and in-store pickup, and free two-day shipping on orders over $35. Its bean bag chair selection isn’t extensive, but includes several affordable, highly rated chairs. 

Many of the chairs are available in multiple colors, styles, and materials including suede and microfiber. Target also makes it easy to search by budget, color, and material preferences for a seamless shopping experience.

What to buy:

3′ Kids’ Bean Bag Chair (medium)Madison Faux Suede Beanbag 5′ (medium)
Pottery Barn Teen

Pottery Barn Teen Charcoal Chamois Bean Bag Chair, one of the best bean bag chairs in 2021

If you’re looking for a stylish bean bag chair that will complement your decor, Pottery Barn Teen has a collection of modern designs.

Pottery Barn Teen is well-known for its furniture, which offers Pottery Barn’s classic style with a fun teenage flair. Its furniture doesn’t just look great, but is also designed to be fully functional. The retailer’s bean bag offerings include chairs made of unique materials like sherpa, denim, and pony faux fur. It also has fun Harry Potter-themed designs, which would be a welcome addition to any fan’s room. 

Pottery Barn’s bean bag chairs are surprisingly affordable given the high-quality materials and typical premium prices of the brand.

What to buy:

Charcoal Chamois Bean Bag Chair (medium)Ivory Polar Bear Faux-Fur Bean Bag Chair (medium)
Amazon

Amazon Basics Memory Foam Filled Bean Bag Chair, one of the best bean bag chairs in 2021

Amazon offers a wide variety of products and convenient two-day shipping for Prime members.

Amazon is well known for its customer-friendly shopping experience that includes a wide product selection, and free and fast shipping with a Prime membership.

Customers can narrow down their bean bag chair selection by using one of Amazon’s many filters: search by brand, material, bean bag chair size, color, or by other customer reviews. The retailer currently offers more than 1,000 different bean bag chairs.

What to buy:

Memory Foam Filled Bean Bag Chair (medium)Bean Bag Chair (medium)
FAQs

Best Bean Bag Chairs Sizes FAQ

What’s the best bean bag chair size for your college dorm or small space?

If you have a smaller space and are looking to add additional seating with a bean bag chair, you’ll want to be very aware of the size limitations of your space. We strongly suggest paying attention to measurements when shopping and even taking the time to measure your space prior to making any purchases.


How do you clean a bean bag chair?

When purchasing a bean bag chair you have two main options, a chair with a removable cover and a chair with a non-removable cover. You can easily machine wash and dry a removable cover if any spills or messes happen. However, with a non-removable cover, you’ll need to spot clean the chair, which may be difficult depending on the materials. Overall, if you’re worried about having to clean your bean bag chair, we recommend opting for a chair with a removable cover.


What are the best materials to look for when purchasing a bean bag chair?

Choosing a material for your bean bag chair is mostly dependent on your personal style preferences. Fabrics like denim, sherpa, and velvet can add a stylish hint of decor into your space. Faux leather and nylon are also performance fabrics and can work great at repelling liquids and stains. If you’re purchasing a chair for young children, we recommend prioritizing function over style.


How do you refill a flat bean bag chair?

Your bean bag chair may flatten after sitting and laying on it over time. Some brands such as Posh Creations sell extra beads or inserts that you can purchase to refill your bean bag chair if it’s starting to feel deflated. Other brands like Moon Pod encourage customers to reach out to its customer service team if your chair has flattened.

Check out more furniture guides

Best sofas and couches graphic
Read the original article on Business Insider

Best portable air conditioners in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • If you don’t have space for a window air conditioner, a portable AC can help cool your home.
  • Our top pick is the LG LP1419IVSM Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner.
  • It performed well in our cooling tests, used the least electricity, and features a helpful app.

A portable air conditioner is a good solution for rooms that don’t have the single- or double-hung windows required for window units or those that aren’t frequently used, like a guest room.

We typically recommend window units over portable air conditioners when your space allows for them. Window ACs perform better, are more energy efficient, and have cheaper upfront and operational costs. However, a portable air conditioner can be rolled wherever you need it, is easier to install than window units, is often allowed in rentals, and can be easily stored away when not needed.

We tested 12 models and consulted with three experts to determine the best portable air conditioners. All the units we recommend performed well in our tests, have useful features that justify their price, and are designed to maintain a cool temperature in appropriately-sized rooms.

Here are the best portable air conditioners of 2021

Best portable air conditioner overall

Product image of LG smart portable air conditioner - the best portable air conditioner overall of 2021

The LG LP1419IVSM Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner is a well-rounded, energy-saving unit that can be controlled by your phone or voice.

Pros: Can be controlled and scheduled using your phone, voice control, easy to move, performed well in cooling tests, fits a wide array of window sizes, lowest power consumption in our tests

Cons: Setup took longer than others, one-year warranty

The LG portable AC has a dual-inverter compressor, which relies on variable motor speed to regulate temperature — rather than just being on or off. This makes it more energy-efficient than non-inverter portable ACs. (Though it’s still less efficient than window units, and like all portable ACs, it’s not Energy Star-certified.) This checked out in our power consumption tests, where it used 20% less power than any other portable model we tested. 

It’s supported by the LG ThinQ app (available for iOS and Android), which allows you to use your phone as a remote and set a schedule. Additionally, it’s Alexa-enabled.

It performed moderately in our cooling tests, and was within 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit of the Whynter ARC-14SH, our top performer. This is the air conditioner I use in my bedroom. Even during muggy Michigan heat waves, it does an excellent job of keeping me cool.

I’ve never had any problems with it waking me up. In our noise test, it registered 56 decibels on high (about as loud as a refrigerator). 

Installation took a little longer than the other ACs we tested, but I liked that the window slider can accommodate windows up to 60-inches wide. Once set up, it only took a little more than a minute to move from room to room thanks to its handles, smooth casters, and a dedicated slot for the window slider when in transport. However, at 71 pounds, it can be a hassle to switch between floors.

Another negative is we noticed an uptick in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air during our tests, but the levels were still low enough not to be concerning.

Best budget portable air conditioner

Product image of Frigidaire portable air conditioner - the best budget portable air conditioner of 2021

The Frigidaire FHPC102AB1 Portable Air Conditioner is one of the cheapest units we tested and does a good job cooling without making much noise.

Pros: Quiet operation, fast installation, fits a wide range of window sizes, low power consumption in our tests, good cooling

Cons: Hose came unattached when changing locations, minimal warranty

When heat waves make sleep difficult, you want a portable air conditioner that not only cools well but also runs quietly. The Frigidaire FHPC102AB1 Portable Air Conditioner offers the best balance of cooling and quiet operation (55 decibels on high), at about half the price of our top pick.

Within 10 minutes of cutting open the box, I had this Frigidaire AC up and running. I like that the window slider extends up to 52.5 inches, which was more than enough for my windows. And, with the foam seals that are included, the unit doesn’t have to do as much work to keep your room cool.  

The Frigidaire FHPC102AB1 has wheels, handles, and cord storage to make it easier to move the appliance from room to room. However, I was slowed during transport when the hose disconnected from the unit. There does not appear to be a way to keep it on more securely when moving it. Yet, this will be little to no inconvenience for most users.

The Frigidaire portable AC was second only to our top pick in energy efficiency, using 1.71 kWh of electricity during a two-hour period. 

In that time, it also brought the temperature in the room down 2.6 degrees, which is particularly impressive when you consider it has the lowest Btu rating of the units we tested and wasn’t designed to cool rooms as big as our testing area.

Best portable air conditioner with heat

Product image of Black and Decker portable air conditioner - the best portable air conditioner with heat of 2021

Not only was the Black+Decker BPACT14HWT Portable Air Conditioner the runner-up in our cooling tests, but you can also use it to heat your room in the winter.

Pros: Excellent cooling, fast setup, five-year compressor warranty, heating mode

Cons: Loud operation, doesn’t come with window security brackets

For its price, the Black+Decker BPACT14HWT Portable Air Conditioner does a lot. In addition to being one of the top performers in our cooling tests, this workhorse also has heating capabilities for the colder months. 

I purchased this three years ago, and it’s still going strong. I like that I don’t have to put it in storage during the winter. Instead, I use it to heat the living room, which tends to run colder than the rest of the house.

Installation was a breeze, taking about five minutes. I didn’t need any special tools to get the job done. I like that the window slider extends to 60 inches, which is more than enough for my needs. However, I wish it came with window security brackets to make it harder for someone to push the window open and gain access to my house. Fortunately, this hasn’t been an issue.

It’s one of the louder units we tested and when I neglect to regularly clean the filter, the Black+Decker produces jarring sounds as it changes fan speeds. 

In our tests, it was in the middle of the pack in electricity use. Over the course of two hours, it consumed 1.83 kWh. 

We should also note that our air quality monitor registered a 50% increase in VOCs during the testing period. However, the levels weren’t high enough to cause concern.

Best portable air conditioner for large rooms

Product image of whynter portable air conditioner - the best portable air conditioner for large rooms of 2021

The Whynter ARC-14S Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner may be big and not as portable as other units, but it did the best job of cooling our 550-square-foot test room.

Pros: Top performer in our cooling tests, comes with a storage cover, three-year warranty on compressor

Cons: Cumbersome to move, longer setup, one of the loudest units we tested, window slider only fits windows up to 46-inches long, doesn’t come with foam seals

Editor’s note: We link to and recommend the Whynter ARC-14S Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner in our guide, but we actually tested model ARC-14SH. The only differences between the model we tested and what we recommend are that the ARC-14SH has heating capabilities and is perpetually out of stock. If you happen to find it in stock, we still recommend the ARC-14SH.

The first word that comes to mind when looking at the Whynter ARC-14S Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner is “monolithic.” It looks like something out of “2001: A Space Odyssey” with its large, imposing flat front.

Other than its appearance, the most notable feature of the Whynter ARC-14S is its cooling abilities. It performed the best in our cooling tests, decreasing the temperature in the room by 3.6 degrees over two hours. However, it was also one of the loudest models at 58 decibels. 

Weighing 86 pounds, the unit is heavy and lacks handles, making it hard to move from room to room. The initial installation took me half an hour, which is longer than most models. It was slower because  the fixtures needed to be screwed by hand into the window slider. The slider was just short of being long enough for my 47-inch window opening so I used some of the Styrofoam packaging to fill the gap. Additionally, it doesn’t come with foam seals, which are helpful for efficient cooling.

What else we tested

best portable AC 2021 what else we tested

Over the last year, we’ve tested 12 portable air conditioners, and there are a few that barely missed the cut for our guide but are worth considering:

What else we recommend and why:

GE APWA14YZMW ($550): This was one of the top performers in our cooling tests, installation was quick, and I was able to easily connect to the SmartHQ (available for iOS and Android) to control and schedule the AC. However, it was louder and used more power than any of the other models we tested. Still, if our top picks are sold out, we think this would be a good backup option for medium-size rooms.

GE APCA10YZMW ($380): This is a lower Btu (6,700), non-smart version of our pick for best portable AC for medium rooms. It didn’t cool nearly as well as the GE APWA14YZMW but used less electricity. Installation was quick and easy, and I was able to uninstall it and reinstall it in a different room in under a minute.

Whynter ARC-122DS ($430): With its handles and smooth-rolling casters, this portable AC was among the easiest to uninstall in one room and reinstall in another. But, at 76 pounds, it’s very heavy to move between floors. The cooling power was in the middle of the pack in our tests. It was one of the quietest at just 55 decibels while on high power, but only fits windows up to 46-inches long, which is limiting.  

Honeywell HL12CESWK (Discontinued): We don’t usually recommend discontinued items. We put this Honeywell model here because it was our pick for the best quiet portable AC before this update. For transparency, we wanted to note why this model is no longer in our guide. We recommend our budget pick as a great alternative.

What we don’t recommend and why:

GE APCA12YZMW ($449): This is a higher Btu (8,200) version of the GE APCA10YZMW, but we it uses more power, is noisier, costs more, and doesn’t cool any better. On the plus side, it was easy and quick to install, and I was able to reinstall it in another room in a little more than a minute.

Frigidaire GHPC132AB1 ($599): This model uses comparatively little power (1.74 kWh in two hours), runs quietly (51 decibels on high), and has smart connectivity. However, it was one of the worst performers in our cooling tests. We think there are better options that cost much less.

Our testing methodology

best portable AC 2021 methodology

I’ve been reviewing heating, cooling, and air quality devices for the past three years. For this guide, I personally tested 12 portable air conditioners and consulted with Joanna Mauer, the technical advocacy manager for the Appliance Standards Awareness Project; Matt Brown, the merchant for home comfort, air quality, and floorcare at The Home Depot; and Enesta Jones, a spokesperson for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees the Energy Star program

Based on the interviews and my research, the most important features to consider when shopping for a portable AC are its cooling abilities, power usage, and how well it will fit the window where you want to use it. Here are the main ways we test each unit:

Cooling: I set the unit up in a 550-square-foot room and crank the AC on its highest setting with the goal of achieving the lowest temperature possible. I then use a digital thermometer placed at the opposite end of the room from the AC to compare the starting temp to the temp two hours later. To ensure an even playing field, I keep my home’s heating system at 75 degrees while testing ACs.

Setup: To assess setup, I timed how long it took me to unbox and install the air conditioners. I also noted whether you needed tools to complete the job. None of the models took more than 35 minutes to install, and I didn’t need anything more than a Phillips-head screwdriver to do it.

Portability: To test this, I used a stopwatch to time how long it took me to uninstall the unit, move it to the next room, and reinstall it. There is a three-quarter-inch lip in the flooring between the rooms, so handles were important. And, the weight of the unit was taken into consideration.

Extras: All of the models I tested came with remote controls, had dehumidifying and fan modes, and a warranty of at least one year. This was the baseline. To score well in the extras department, the AC had to have more than the basics. This includes app connectivity, a longer warranty, a heating mode, and foam seals to assist with efficient cooling. 

Noise: Whether you’re sleeping, working, or watching a movie, you don’t want your room’s air conditioner to be loud and distracting. To test this, I cranked the AC to its highest setting and used a sound meter to measure the decibels from six feet away. I also paid close attention to what sounds the device made as the compressor turned on and off. If the change was jarring, the model lost points.

Air quality: This is a new category that we didn’t weigh heavily. Using an indoor air quality monitor, I compared the readings for carbon dioxide, VOCs, and particulate matter in the room before and after running the AC for two hours. I noted whether there were significant changes in the air quality.

Energy consumption: I used a smart plug to measure the amount of electricity used while running the unit on full power for two hours. All of the portable ACs I tested used much more power than even the least efficient window AC I’ve tested.

What we’re testing next

To make sure our guide is as comprehensive as possible, we are always on the lookout for new portable air conditioner models to test. We are looking forward to testing the following for our next update:

Friedrich ZoneAire ZCP08SA ($369): I think this 8,500 Btu unit has a real shot at unseating our budget pick. We like that it has Wi-Fi connectivity (app available for iOS and Android) so it can be controlled from anywhere. Plus, it’s backed by a five-year warranty.

Whynter ARC-148MHP ($497): This 10,000 Btu unit is geared to rooms of about 500 square feet and features a heater. We also noticed that the window slider kit fits windows up to 48 inches, which will make it long enough for our test window (an improvement on previous Whynter models we’ve tested). Based on our previous experience with Whynter ACs, we’re excited to see how well this performs.

Honeywell MN14CHCSWW ($670): The two Honeywell models we tested have been discontinued so we’re curious about what the company is working on. This 8,000 Btu unit is designed for larger rooms and features heating. 

Haier HPC12XCR ($409): We tested a Haier window air conditioner and were impressed with how quietly and efficiently it cooled our test room. We’re excited to see if the manufacturer does as good of a job with portable ACs.

FAQs

best portable AC 2021 FAQ

What should you look for in a portable air conditioner?

We talked to Matt Brown from the home comfort, air quality, and floorcare division at The Home Depot, to learn more about what to look for in an air conditioner. Brown said there are three primary factors to consider when shopping for an AC: room size, window size, and extra features.

You’ll want to first pick a unit that has the appropriate amount of power (in Btu) for your room size. We outline our recommendations further below.

Window size is also important. A portable AC still needs access to an opening for its exhaust hose in order to emit hot air.

When it comes to new technology, Brown said to look at inverter technology. “These units use more efficient motor technology that can ramp power up/down as needed while continuously running,” he said Our top pick features a dual-inverter compressor.


What is Btu?

Btu is the international measure of energy and measures the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at sea level. When it comes to air conditioners, manufacturers use Btu to indicate the quantity of heat a conditioning unit can remove from a room per hour. 


How many Btu do you need to cool your room?

Below are some rough guidelines for determining how many DOE Btu you want for your room size:

  • A 150 sq. ft. room requires 5,000 Btu 
  • A 250 sq. ft. room requires 6,000 Btu 
  • A 350 sq. ft. room requires 8,000 Btu 
  • A 450 sq. ft. room requires 10,000 Btu
  • A 550 sq. ft. room requires 12,000 Btu
  • A 700 sq. ft room requires 14,000 Btu

As the Btu rating increases so does the weight, size, and cost of the air conditioner, but you have to make sure you get the right cooling capacity for your space. If you purchase a unit that has a higher Btu rating than the room requires, it will cycle off too quickly and won’t remove the humidity from the air properly. On the other hand, if you purchase a portable air conditioner that has a lower Btu rating than the room requires, it will never cool the room adequately.


Why do portable ACs have two Btu numbers?

With portable ACs, there are generally two Btu ratings listed, the manufacturer’s Btu (ASHRAE) and DOE. We consider the DOE rating to be more accurate.

“For cooling capacity for portable ACs, the ASHRAE rating doesn’t take into account the impact of hot air infiltration from outside or heat losses through the ducts, which can be significant,” says Joanna Mauer, the technical advocacy manager for the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “In addition, the ASHRAE rating refers to an industry test procedure, but it’s not clear that all manufacturers have been testing their units in a consistent way.”

“In contrast, the DOE ratings are based on a standardized test procedure established by the U.S. Department of Energy, which manufacturers are required to follow and which does account for hot air infiltration and heat losses through the ducts,” adds Mauer. In our guide, we primarily reference the DOE ratings.


What can you do if you are stuck with an AC that doesn’t have enough Btu to adequately cool a room?

“It’s always good to keep the filter clean,” says Mauer. “You can also try to reduce the heat gain in the room, for example, by closing the blinds and curtains during the day. Finally, if you have a ceiling fan, running the fan can make it feel a few degrees cooler.”


Which is better: a portable air conditioner or a window/room air conditioner?

“In general, a room air conditioner is a more efficient choice over a portable air conditioner,” says Jones. “Portable air conditioners are not part of the Energy Star program.”

Our testing backs this up. Our top portable air conditioner, which uses an energy-efficient inverter compressor, still used 60% more electricity than our top window air conditioner. The window AC also did a much better job of cooling and costs much less both upfront and to run.

So, if you have a double-hung window with the right dimensions for it, we strongly recommend choosing a window air conditioner. Only opt for a portable AC in spaces where a window AC isn’t an option.


Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without windows?

The short answer is yes, but you need to have some way for the hot air to leave the room. If you don’t, you won’t experience any of the cooling benefits of the AC. With portable air conditioners, you just need an opening to the outside that is as big as the ventilating hose.


How do I clean and maintain my portable air conditioner?

Here’s what you should do to clean and maintain your portable AC: 

Weekly:

  • Wipe down the exterior: This one is easy and should be done frequently — just take a damp cloth to the outside of your portable AC to keep it free of dust.
  • Keep any hoses as short as possible: If you move your portable AC around and it has hoses for exhaust and condensation drainage, you’ll want to keep them as short and straight as possible between the unit and the window to reduce potential moisture or dust build up inside. This can lead to inefficiency and run up your bills.
  • Remove condensation: Condensation builds up during the cooling process, so it’s important to remove it regularly. Many portable ACs have a drain hose or a built-in dehumidifier that makes this easier, but you should still check often. It’s also important to remove condensation if you’re putting away your portable AC for the season — it’s never fun to discover mold has grown all over your unit the next time you take it out. 

Monthly:

  • Clean or change the filters: Filters are an important part of keeping your indoor air free of dust and potential allergens. Some brands recommend monthly cleaning, while others like GE recommend weekly — whatever you choose, just make sure it’s consistent.
  • If you’re changing filters, make sure you’re buying the right one as the wrong size or brand might make your unit less efficient. If you’re cleaning reusable or washable filters, avoid harsh chemicals and cleaners. According to Bob Vila, usually, a vacuum with a crevice attachment or warm water with a mild detergent and a soft brush to loosen dust will suffice. 
  • Check the insulation: Even though your portable AC won’t sit in your window frame, the exhaust hose and potentially drain hose will extend outside your home so it’s important to make sure your insulation is flush to keep your machine running efficiently. Some models might include strips of insulation, but if they don’t, you can get some inexpensive adhesive strips easily. Proper insulation keeps your portable AC from wasting energy and efficiency to cool your room, so you should do this any time you move your unit.

Twice per season:

  • Clean the condenser coils: This looks like a metal filter inside the back of your portable AC, so you’ll need a screwdriver to pop out the back panel. It attracts a lot of dust and can make your AC run less efficiently over time, so grab a vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment and run it over the coils — don’t press too hard on the metal fins otherwise, you risk dents. Once the coils are clean, secure the back panel.

Glossary

best portable ac 2021 glossary.JPG

In the heating and cooling industry, there’s a lot of jargon to wade through. What do all of those acronyms and terms even mean? Here are the definitions for a few that you’ll commonly hear:

Btu: This is short for British thermal units. One Btu is equal to the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In cooling, Btu is used to measure how much heat is removed from a room. The more Btu per hour an air conditioner is rated for, the better job it does cooling.

Compressor: The compressor works to push the hot air outside so cold air can circulate in your room. The gas refrigerant within the cooling system takes on the heat from the air, and the compressor turns the hot gas refrigerant back into a liquid. It works with the condenser on the air conditioner’s hot side to dissipate the heat from the refrigerant. Along with the condenser and evaporator, the compressor is one of the three main components of any air conditioning unit.

kWh: This is short for kilowatt-hour. It’s a unit of energy that most electricity utilities use to measure your power use, and it’s what we use to measure the energy consumption of the air conditioners we test. 

Window slider: This is the long, adjustable piece of plastic that comes with your portable AC and goes in your window’s opening. The hose from your portable AC connects to the slider to send the hot air emitted from the unit outside. Installing the window slider is the main step in installing a portable AC.

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