The 6 best robot vacuums we tested in 2021

  • A good robot vacuum cleans floors with little work from you, clearing debris with a button push.
  • We tested 25 robot vacuums and consulted three experts to find the best options for different needs.
  • The Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum is the best robot vac because it cleans well, mops, and has a helpful app.

A robot vacuum can remove the small but time-consuming task of vacuuming from your never-ending to-do list. However, you’ll want one that’s powerful, relatively quiet, and doesn’t require constant attention. 

That’s why I’ve tested 25 robot vacuums to find the best ones and consulted health experts and engineers on how to use them properly. A robot vac needs maintenance like any other small appliance, so while using it takes just a press of a button, all our experts stressed the importance of regularly cleaning brushes and filters, and running the vac when no one is in the room to keep the indoor air quality clean and avoid resuspended particles. We get into details over here

I tested each robot vac’s cleaning abilities along with their extra features and app. You can find the details of how we tested, what else we recommend, what we don’t recommend, how to shop for a robot vacuum, and more at the end of our guide.

Here are the best robot vacuums in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best robot vacuum overall

Best Robot Vacuums 2021_Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum

The Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum performs well on carpet, hardwood, and in corners. It can map your space for more efficient cleaning and mops floors for extra convenience.

Pros: Excellent on hardwood and in corners, good on carpeting, does not get stuck, has mopping capabilities, can be scheduled and set no-go zones in the app, Alexa compatible

Cons: Gets loud on the highest suction setting, larger than most vacuums making it hard to get into tight spots

The Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum performed well in every test we put it through. On carpeting, it picked up more than 90% of the flour, coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair I laid out for it. On hardwood, it did even better picking up everything except for a little flour. The S6 gets within half an inch of corners — the deepest of all the vacuums we tested.

The vacuum also rarely gets stuck. It returned to its charging dock after a cleaning cycle without getting stuck along the way approximately 75% of the time. In fact, it even somehow managed to keep going despite a floor strewn with Nerf darts after an epic battle with my kids.

The Roborock S6 comes with a variety of extras, including an adjustable water tank that can be installed in place of the dustbin and a mop cloth to mop your floors. The mop function worked well and I appreciated that you can adjust how much water the tank dispenses so you’re not creating mini floods everywhere. I recommend running the mop after vacuuming to minimize the chance of spreading dirt and dust around your floor. There’s also a damp-proof mat attachment on the charging dock so your floors don’t have prolonged direct contact with moisture. Unfortunately, extra brush heads aren’t included. 

If you like smart gadgets, the Roborock app can be scheduled for cleaning sessions via the app or Amazon Alexa. You can also adjust the suction power and set how many passes the unit completes in a certain space. After a few runs, the S6 will have enough data to make a map of your home so you can set no-go zones.

Including scheduling, the set up of the S6 took about 15 minutes. All you need to do is charge the vacuum on the dock, pair the vac with the app, and you’re ready to go.

There are a couple of things to consider with the Roborock S6, specifically noise and size.

On high suction power, it recorded 70 decibels, which is similar to city traffic. However, it does sport a Quiet mode, which is only around 56 decibels according to the manufacturer; I wasn’t able to measure the noise output of this robot vac by the time I had to send it back to the company. At 14 inches in diameter and four inches high, it was also the largest vacuum we tested. This means it will have trouble getting under low-clearance furniture and into other tight spots. These aren’t deal breakers if you’re able to compromise noise in favor of power and convenience.

Read our full Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum review.

The best affordable robot vacuum

Best Roboto Vacuums Moosoo MT 720

If you’re looking for a cost-effective vac that cleans well on a variety of surfaces, gets deep into corners, and runs quietly, the Moosoo MT-720 Robot Vacuum is your best bet.

Pros: Good performance on carpet and hardwood, excellent corner cleaning, quiet operation, compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, low-profile design

Cons: Gets stuck easily, can’t set no-go zones

After an initial round of testing, we realized many of our top picks are quite expensive. For the most recent update of this guide, we tested five budget models. Of the models that performed well, the Moosoo MT-720 has the lowest price. It replaces the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max as our budget pick because the MT-720 does a better job of getting deep into corners. 

The MT-720 comes with an extra filter, extra side brushes, a cleaning tool, and a remote control, which worked well. Setting up the vacuum took five minutes. 

The app lets you schedule the vacuum to clean at the same time every day or mix it up. You can also choose smart, wall follow, spiral, random, and manual control cleaning modes. The app creates a map of the area cleaned, but you cannot set no-go zones as you can with other room mapping robot vacs.

The MT-720’s performance was good on hardwood and carpet, picking up almost all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair. In corners, it did an outstanding job, coming within an inch of the corner and picking up 70% of the flour on carpeting and 85% on hard flooring. At 12.5 inches in diameter and 3.25 inches high, the vac is small enough to get into tight spaces that other models might miss.

Counterintuitively, the strong suction didn’t translate into loud operation. On high suction, the sound meter registered 66 dB, or a little louder than a business office. On low, it was 59 dB, which is quieter than normal conversation. 

The biggest negative with the MT-720 is that it tends to get stuck easily. During testing, it regularly got stuck on the one-inch threshold between the living room and kitchen of the testing area.

The best robot vacuum and mop

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Ecovacs T8 AIVI

The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System thoroughly cleans floors as opposed to pushing a wet cloth around. When paired with the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, the two make easy work of time-consuming chores.  

Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting and hardwood, automatically empties the dustbin, HD video surveillance, impressive deep-cleaning mop attachment, quiet operation

Cons: Got stuck on the threshold in our tests, doesn’t get deep into corners

The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System attachment is the best mopping system I’ve tested. Thanks to its 480-vibrations-per-minute scrubbing motion, it’s able to provide a deep clean whereas other robot vac mops just push a wet cloth over your floors. It’s compatible with the T8 family of Ecovacs, which made the powerful Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum even better. 

In my testing, the 240mL water tank was large enough to complete at least two passes over the 500-square-foot test floor. With the app, you can choose from four water flow levels to reach a balance of moistness and quick drying, and two mopping patterns. The deep scrubbing option is good for a more thorough cleaning, but for the most part, quick scrubbing is my go-to for regular mopping — and even then, it’s a very thorough cleaning. 

When the Ozmo Pro Mopping System encounters carpeting, it automatically avoids it so you don’t get wet carpeting. In testing, I found the carpet detection sensor worked well.

As for the robot vac itself, the Ozmo T8 AIVI has HD video and a microphone so you can keep tabs on your pets or check for open windows and doors from your phone. I didn’t find the home surveillance features particularly useful but they could be handy for people who are often away from the home and concerned about security. 

The more useful feature is the auto-empty station. With this dock, you don’t have to empty the dustbin after cleaning sessions — the charging station does it automatically. You just need to replace the disposable pouch every month or two. 

On both carpeting and hardwood, the Ozmo T8 AIVI was among the best at removing all of the debris types we tested. Plus, it remains fairly quiet at just 67 decibels on the highest Max+ cleaning setting and 58 decibels on Quiet mode. 

However, the vac consistently got stuck on the one-inch lip between my living room and kitchen. It also wasn’t able to come within two inches of corners so you may need to do occasional touch-ups using a hand vacuum or broom.

When it comes to set up, the process was seamless. I plugged in the dock to charge the vacuum, connected the app, updated the firmware, and set a schedule for cleaning. Once the vacuum mapped out my floor plan after a couple of cleanings, I was able to set no-go zones to keep the T8 AIVI away from sensitive areas.

The unit is on the bigger side measuring 13.75 inches in diameter and 3.5 inches high. This was just low enough to fit under my chairs and couches, but if you have radiators or low-clearance furniture, you may want to measure to make sure there’s enough clearance or set no-go zones. The main brush of the vacuum is around 6.25 inches long, which is about average.

The best robot vacuum for hardwood floors

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Roomba S9+

The D-shaped iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum did the best in our hardwood floor tests and features a self-emptying dustbin, impressive app that lets you set no-go zones, and large main brushes that pick up debris on the first pass.

Pros: Cleans well on hardwood flooring, good performance on carpeting, rarely gets stuck, comes with a charging dock that empties the dustbin, large main brushes, has a useful app with virtual no-go zones

Cons: Loud, poor performance in carpeted corners

As iRobot’s top-of-the-line model, the Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum is another feature-packed vac. Like the Ecovacs T8 AIVI, the s9+ empties itself and is supported by an app that allows you to effortlessly schedule cleanings, set no-go zones, and customize your cleaning experience, including pairing it with the iRobot Braava Jet M6 (sold separately) to mop after it finishes its vacuum cycle.

In testing, the Roomba s9+ performed the best of any robot vac on hardwood flooring, likely due to the two large 9.5-inch main brush heads — the biggest we tested. After the cleaning cycle, there was only a trace of flour left. Its D-shaped design came within an inch and a half of the corner, picking up everything it could reach. On carpeting, the performance wasn’t as impressive, but it was still solid with only about 10% of the flour left, 5% of the kitty litter, and no coffee grounds or pet hairs to be found after testing. The unit didn’t get stuck in our testing area either. 

At 77 decibels (about as loud as a busy city street) on high suction power, the s9+ was by far the loudest model we tested, and even in Quiet mode, the vacuum is a not unnoticeable 64 decibels (a little louder than a normal conversation). 

Additionally, the vac got within an inch of the carpeted corner, but it left behind about 70% of the flour, which suggests it doesn’t do as well picking up fine debris on carpeting, especially in areas the main brushes have trouble reaching.

Installation was easy, but it took about 25 minutes. Most of that time was spent installing firmware updates after connecting to the app. I liked that the s9+ comes with plenty of extras, including an additional filter (which needs replacing every two months), side brush (every three months), and dirt disposal bag for the self-emptying base (every month or so.) 

These extras mean you get several months of use before you need to replace parts that wear down. The app features tutorials on how to care for your Roomba, including the seamless purchase of replacement parts.   

The overall unit is around 12.5 inches in diameter and the 3.5-inch height should also fit under most furniture.

The best robot vacuum for carpet

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Roomba i3+

With its strong suction and large main brushes that adjust to stay in contact with your carpeting, the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is a great solution for carpeted homes.

Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting, cleans well on hardwood, pairs with the app and Alexa, comes with an automatic dirt disposal base, doesn’t get stuck easily

Cons: Loud, virtual wall barriers cost extra, not impressive in corners 

The iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is fairly new and is iRobot’s most affordable option with automatic dirt disposal.  

In our carpet tests, the i3+ picked up all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hairs we laid out, and left behind only about 5% of the flour — the best performance of all the robot vacs we tested. In corners, it came within an inch of the wall but left behind about half the flour. The i3+ performed better on hardwood floors, picking up all of the coffee grounds and pet hair, and only left behind 5% of the kitty litter and about 10% of the flour. The robot vac didn’t get stuck going back to its base after it completed its cleaning sessions.

Whereas some robot vacuums sense carpeting and boost suction, the i3+ provides consistently strong suction, and when it detects excess dirt, it will automatically perform multiple passes to ensure it gets all of the debris. There are two main brushes measuring 6.75 inches and each one adjusts and flexes to keep in constant contact with carpet and hardwood so it picks up more debris quickly. 

Though it doesn’t come with a tool for cleaning the brushes and dustbin, the i3+ comes with an extra filter and disposal bag, which only needs to be replaced every month or so. Plus, setup is a breeze only taking about 10 minutes, including connecting to the user-friendly app. With the app, you can easily schedule your unit and connect to Alexa or Google Assistant.

Unfortunately, the app doesn’t allow you to set up no-go zones, so you have to buy virtual wall barriers. It’s a small 2 by 4.5 inch-high battery-powered device that creates a virtual barrier up to 10 feet long or a 12-inch radius that the Roomba avoids. In my experience, the barriers work as advertised, but at around $40 each, I’m more likely to use common household objects to create physical barriers to keep the Roomba out of areas I want to protect.

The other negative with the i3+ is how loud it is. My sound meter recorded 68 decibels, and you can’t adjust the suction power for a quieter clean.

The overall dimensions of the vacuum are larger than most at 13.25 inches in diameter and 3.75 inches high. This can make it hard to get into tight spots, though I didn’t experience any issues in my testing.

The best robot vacuum for pet hair

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Bissell Spinwave

The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes. 

Pros: Excellent job on hardwood and corners, picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, great mop attachment and accessories, app connectivity, small size, quiet operation

Cons: Can’t set up no-go zones, gets stuck easily

In general, the robot vacuums we tested did an excellent job of picking up pet hair. However, the Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum is created specifically for pet hair and has a 5.75-inch tangle-resistant main brush, a useful mop attachment, and powerful suction. Specs aside, a portion of each sale also goes to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which is committed to finding loving homes for pets.

The Bissell SpinWave picked up all of the cat and dog hair we laid out on carpeting and hardwood and did a great job on hardwood and in corners. On the hardwood, it only left a trace of kitty litter and flour. In corners, it came within two inches of each and picked up more than 60% of the flour on both the carpet and hardwood. When you consider that it’s among the quietest vacs we tested – 58 decibels on Quiet mode (slightly quieter than a normal conversation) and 65 on high suction – its performance is even more impressive. If you have particularly skittish pets, the low-decibel output is less likely to startle your fur friends. 

The vacuum also included a lot of useful extras and attachments that can help any pet parent, such as a mop tank attachment, spinning mop pads, and a trial-size bottle cleaning formula. Plus, you receive an extra filter, an extra set of side brushes, and a cleaning tool that helps remove hairs from the brushes and clean the filter.

In testing, the mop attachment worked seamlessly. You just fill the tank with water and some of the cleaning formula and attach it to the vacuum in place of the dustbin. The mop pads spin to scrub away stuck-on debris while the soft surface avoidance sensor keeps it away from area rugs or carpets.

The SpinWave has a quick set up taking all of five minutes, including installing the app and connecting the unit. With the app, you can schedule cleanings and customize the suction strength based on your preferences. Unfortunately, though, the app doesn’t let you set up no-go zones.

At 12.75 inches in diameter and 3.25 inches high, it has a smaller and lower frame that can squeeze into small areas. The biggest limitation we found was it tended to get stuck easily. In our tests, it consistently got stuck on the one-inch threshold leading into the kitchen. We had to put up a physical barrier to get it to stop trying.

What else we tested

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

We’ve tested 25 robot vacuums and counting, here are the ones that didn’t make our top picks.

What else we recommend and why

Eufy RoboVac 15C Max ($259.99): Formerly our pick for the best affordable robot vacuum, the 15C Max offers an impressive suite of high-end features for its reasonable price, including smart connectivity and powerful suction on carpeting and hardwood. We dropped it from our guide because the Moosoo MT-720 performed similarly, including doing a better job in corners, and it’s currently $11 cheaper. However, the 15C Max doesn’t get stuck as easily. If that’s important to you, you may want to choose this model instead when on a budget.

Ecovacs U2 Pro ($299.99): Of the eight vacuums I’ve tested since the last update, this was the best. It did excellent cleaning hardwood and carpeting and rarely got stuck. The U2 Pro also comes with a mop attachment, which didn’t do a good job of cleaning up dried Tang on linoleum. Despite good performance, it couldn’t compete with our current top picks, and was too expensive for consideration as our best budget pick. Other negatives include loud operation, poor corner cleaning, and boundary strips for setting no-go zones are sold separately.

ILife A10 ($279.99 with coupon/$349.99 without): If setting no-go zones is important to you, then the A10 might be a good option. After it maps your house, you can set up virtual barriers in the app. This model also does an outstanding job of cleaning hardwood and carpet. But, there are plenty of cons: The A10 barely picked up any flour in carpeted corners, it runs loudly, and it gets stuck easily.

Proscenic M7 Pro ($479): I enjoy the automation afforded by self-empty charging docks, and the M7 Pro has one that works well. You can also set no-go zones in the app. Plus, the vac didn’t get stuck easily and performed well on carpeting and hard flooring. Yet, it had trouble cleaning corners and was loud. Plus, with a height of four inches, it doesn’t fit under low-clearance furniture.

Moosoo R3 ($249.99 with coupon/$299.99 without): If you mainly have hardwood flooring, the Moosoo R3 may be a smart choice for you, especially if you can get it on sale. It performed excellent on hardwood in our tests, ran quietly, and you can set no-go zones in the app. The vac did well on carpeting too, but it had trouble cleaning corners. And, it got stuck easily.

Proscenic 850T ($209 with coupon/$239 without): When it comes to cleaning hard flooring, the 850T is outstanding. It picked up almost all of the debris on hardwood in our testing, got deep into the corners, and got all of the grounds, hair, and litter on the carpet. However, it left 20% of the flour behind, got stuck easily, and runs loudly. Plus, in my long-term testing, the vac regularly disconnected from the app and required my attention to run on schedule.

Roborock S4 ($339.99): There’s a lot to like about the Roborock S4. However, the main reasons it didn’t make our top picks are because it’s loud, doesn’t come with many extras, and at 3.75 inches high, it doesn’t fit under low-clearance furniture. It’s pretty similar to our top pick, the S6, but lacks many of the features, such as a mop attachment. However, the S4 was excellent on carpeting, hardwood, and in corners, and it rarely got stuck. This is a more affordable alternative to the S6 if you’re not interested in a mop attachment. 

Roborock S6 MaxV ($699.99): For the most part, Roborock is doing a terrific job in the robot vac space. We recommend the S6 MaxV because of its excellent performance in our carpeting, hardwood, and corner tests. It also has video surveillance and a two-way microphone if you’re looking for additional home security, no-go zones, and a useful app. But it has the same large dimensions as the S4 and it kept getting stuck on the one-inch lip leading into the kitchen of our testing course. It isn’t as loud as the S4, but louder than others we’ve tested. 

iRobot Roomba i7+ ($799.99): The Roomba i7+ was the first robot vacuum to feature an automatic dirt disposal charging dock. Since then, iRobot has introduced two other models that improve upon the i7+. Though this Roomba has great high-end features, its performance doesn’t justify its price. It only did a satisfactory job on carpeting and hardwood, and it got stuck fairly often. If you find the i7+ on sale, we recommend picking it up. Otherwise, consider the s9+ or i3+ instead. Read our full review.

Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge ($239.99): Eufy usually makes more affordable robot vacuums, so at this price, the G30 Edge is considered the company’s top-end model. The variety of extras — no-go zone strips, a user-friendly app, and Alexa and Google Home compatibility — make it worth the price, but you’ll have to compromise some power. It performed poorly on carpeting and in corners during our testing, and it was in the middle of the pack on hardwood. Despite the underwhelming performance, it remains a good value for the price.

Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S ($149.99): This model didn’t perform as well as the RoboVac 15C Max, doesn’t have the same Wi-Fi connectivity, and can’t be paired with an app. It’s a good basic vacuum that does well on carpeting — which is surprising since it didn’t perform well on hardwood floors or in corners. You can often find it on sale for under $200, which we recommend grabbing if you’re in the market for a more affordable robot vac. Read our full review.

What we don’t recommend and why

Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S ($149.99): At one time, the RoboVac 11S was our budget pick, but after putting it through our testing alongside other affordable options, we no longer recommend it. The 11S doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity, which has become standard in the industry at every price point. The vac performed well on carpeting but left a lot of debris behind on hardwood and in corners. You’d be much better off with the Moosoo MT-720. Read our full review.

Proscenic M6 Pro ($299 with coupon/$369 without): After testing two other Proscenic models that I recommend, I was surprised by how poorly the M6 Pro cleans. It left significant debris behind on carpeting, hard flooring, and in corners. The vac also got stuck easily and ran loudly. Plus, the app is slow to respond to finger taps and commands. 

Yeedi K650 ($129.99 with coupon/$149.99 without): The attractive price doesn’t make up for the fact that the Yeedi K650 does a poor job cleaning any surface. It also gets stuck often, is noisy, and doesn’t have many of the features we like, such as the ability to set no-go zones.

iRobot Roomba e5 ($299.99): This appears to be iRobot’s attempt to make a budget Roomba, but it’s the worst-performing Roomba I’ve come across in my years of testing. It didn’t come with any extras – not even an additional filter. You can schedule it easily in the app and it’s compatible with Alexa and Google Home, but you have to buy virtual wall barriers separately. Also, it gets stuck easily and doesn’t clean well on hardwood.  

Neato Botvac D7 Connected ($479.99): We’re dropping the Neato Botvac D7 Connected from our guide this time around because it’s relatively big, got stuck about half the time during our original testing, and it only comes with two extra filters and a magnetic barrier, which isn’t necessary since you can set no-go zones in the app. We think there are more affordable alternatives that perform better and are more feature-rich in our guide. Read our full review.

Eufy RoboVac 11S Max ($249.99): The 11S Max is an update to the 11S, but we feel the original 11S is better. Ultimately though, if you’re spending this much, the 15C Max performed much better in our testing. The 11S Max did poorly on carpeting, hardwood, and in corners. It also relies on a remote controller rather than app connectivity, which means you need to turn to and keep track of another device.

Roborock E35 ($349.99): At one point, we recommended the E35 as a good robot vac at this price, but since then, we have tested several others in this price range that outperform and have better features. The E35 doesn’t do well with hardwood or corners and is big and loud. Read our full review.

Roborock S5 Max ($549.99): The S5 Max is loud, big, and it did poorly in corners and on carpeting in our tests. 

Our methodology

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

I’ve been reviewing vacuums for the past few years, writing numerous buying guides and reviews, so I leaned on my background when developing our testing methodology. I also consulted three experts and took their advice and expertise into consideration — Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida; Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University and the current president of the American Association for Aerosol Research; and Jill Notini, the Vice President of Communication and Marketing for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

In addition to using each robot vacuum daily for at least several weeks, I tested each one for its suction on various types of flooring including corners, ability to maneuver around obstacles, noise, and special features. Our testing methodology has gotten more comprehensive over the years, so for any models that I’d previously tested but didn’t have the vacuums on hand anymore, I extrapolated the data as best as possible based on previous testing and manufacturer info. Those vacuums are the iRobot Roomba i7+, Neato Botvac D7 Connected, Eufy 11S Max and 15C Max, and Roborock S4, S6, and E35. 

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

Size: I note the specs of the overall unit, main brush, and side brushes. This gives me an idea of how well a vacuum can clean floors and carpet — the larger the brushes, the more they can usually sweep up. The main brushes are often somewhere between 5 to 10 inches long and side brushes are usually 2 to 3 inches long. Of the vacs I’ve tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes; others just have one. I’ve noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.

Carpet cleaning: I poured a tablespoon each of flour, coffee grounds, and kitty litter on 18-inch-square sections of carpeting. To make sure I had enough pet hair, I also collected pet hairs from my rat terrier and two cats to place on carpeting. I ran the vacuum on its most powerful mode for two cleaning cycles and compared before-and-after photos to estimate the percentage of each material picked up or left behind.

Hardwood floor cleaning: This is the same test as the carpet cleaning test, but on hardwood flooring.

Corner cleaning: To test corner cleaning abilities, I poured a teaspoon of flour in an approximately four-inch-radius in a corner on hardwood and carpeting. I took pictures of the messes before and after running the robot vac for two cleaning cycles to compare how much flour was left over. I also measured how close to the corner the vac was able to reach.

Obstacle avoidance: You don’t want your robot vac to get stuck while it’s cleaning or when it’s returning to its charging dock, both of which force you to hunt it down while it’s sending you notifications or making annoying error sounds. I tested the vacuum in an approximately 500-square-foot room with several obstacles, including stairs, a one-inch threshold to a kitchen, and a table with chairs.

Loudness: I used a sound meter to measure the decibel output of each of the robot vacuums from 12 inches away as they ran on the highest and lowest settings. For vacuums I no longer had in my possession for testing, I relied on manufactures’ info and my previous notes. 

Brushes: I noted the lengths of the main and side brushes as they’ll likely indicate performance in our cleaning tests.

Robot vacuums work using a combination of suction and brushes. There are two types of brushes on a robot vacuums: the side brush and the main brush. Units have either one or two side brushes that are about three inches in diameter and protrude from the forward portion of the vac. They move in a circular motion, get into corners, and feed debris to the main brush. There appears to be little difference in the performance of vacuums with two side brushes versus those with one.

The main brush is between five and ten inches long, located under the unit, and is made of a rubber-like material. The vacuum sucks debris into the main brush which spins to feed the materials into the dustbin. Of the vacs I’ve tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes. Other models just have one. I’ve noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.

Extras: I note if the vacuums included extras such as filters and side brush replacements, mop attachments, a cleaning tool, and more.   

Special features: All of the vacuums featured some method for scheduling and returning to their charging dock on their own, so those weren’t useful differentiators. Auto-dirt disposal, voice control, and home surveillance aren’t universal, so you may want to consider if those are important. (There’s more information on those and other features here.)

What we’re testing next

LG CordZero
Amazon

We’re constantly testing new vacuums to update our guide. Below are a few models we are currently testing or will be testing soon:

LG CordZero ThinQ ($1,199.99): Whereas most robot vacuums are good for daily light cleanings, LG bills this CordZero ThinQ as “powerful enough to be your primary vacuum.” The vac has an inverter motor that adjusts to the debris levels and a large main brush that picks up more on the first pass. It also has cameras for obstacle detection and avoidance and home surveillance. The biggest negatives appear to be the expensive price and the 5.6-inch height, which may keep it from fitting under furniture.

Samsung JetBot 90 AI+ (price not yet available): Samsung just announced the release of an AI-based robot vac at the 2021 CES trade show and we’re looking forward to testing its smart-learning capabilities to avoid obstacles. It also has cameras and can be connected to the brand’s SmartThings hub for another layer of home security. 

Samsung Electronics R7040 ($312.94): The R7040 was in a previous version of our guide based on positive reviews by other sites, but we weren’t able to get a unit in time to test in this round. We’re looking forward to seeing how its unique flat front-edge design works in corners.

Trifo Lucy ($699.99): In addition to powerful suction and an outstanding app, Lucy has HDR video, a two-way microphone, and the ability to detect noise and people in your home as part of a home security set up. I’m interested to test its vacuuming abilities alongside the home security features.

Why we don’t measure Pascal Pressure Unit

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

A robot vacuum’s suction power is measured in Pascal (Pa). Generally speaking, the higher the Pa, the better, but that’s a misleading metric of comparison. 

When I talked to engineers at iRobot about a year ago, they told me that there are several ways to measure suction power, but there are no industry standards. They viewed the reported Pa measurements as essentially useless, hence why it’s nearly impossible to find suction power for iRobot vacs. It’s also difficult to find the Pa for Ecovacs, though Eufy and Roborock report the measurements for their models.

Due to the inconsistent reporting from manufacturer s, we don’t include Pa as a part of our testing methodology and criteria.

How to shop for a robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

While using a robot vacuum is easy enough, shopping for one can be overwhelming. Here are the main aspects to look for when considering which one to buy. 

Size: If you have furniture that’s hard to move or low-clearance pieces like sofas or bed frames, you’ll want to pay attention to the height of a robot vacuum; the other dimensions are usually within the range of reason for a normal household. For example, I have several radiators in my house with a 3.5-inch clearance that slim vacuums can get under, while just-slim-enough models sometimes get stuck, and too-thick models bump up against and go elsewhere. If you want your robot vacuum to get under your low-clearance furniture, make sure you choose a model that is slim enough to do so. 

Features: It’s important to think about what features you actually need. For instance, if you work from home and are rarely away, HD cameras aren’t useful since you can keep tabs on your home with your own eyes. If your floors are covered with carpet, you don’t need your robot vac to mop. I also almost never use voice control out of personal habit, but if you use Alexa or Google Assistant for everything, then compatibility with those services is a must.

Extras: You can easily purchase extra filters or brushes for robot vacs, but we think having them included with the unit is better. All of our top picks include useful extras like brushes or dirt disposal bags.

Price: Robot vacuums go on sale often, and the discounts are steepest during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. We expect most of the models we recommend in this guide to go on sale so it pays to wait until those sale days.

How to use a robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

Robot vacuums make keeping your house clean easier, but there’s still some regular maintenance needed to improve the performance and longevity as well as help your indoor air quality. 

Run your robot vac when no one is around: Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor at Clarkson University and president of AAAR, and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI, both recommend running your robot vacuum in unoccupied areas. The robot vacs can kick dust, pollutants, and microbes back into the air as it vacuums floors, which can lead to subpar indoor air quality. “Every vacuum, including a robot vacuum, has the potential to release some dust, particles, and allergens back into the air, but the benefits still outweigh the risks,” said Peña-Hernández. 

And run it regularly: Ferro and Peña-Hernández agree that you should run your robot vac at least once per week and more if you have pets and heavy-traffic areas. Ferro even suggests that daily cleaning isn’t a bad idea. I generally set my vacuums to run in the early morning before I wake up or when the level of my house where the vacuum is running will be unoccupied, especially since I live in a large house with three pets and no HVAC system.

Clean the dustbin and filter: If you’re regularly vacuuming your space, you’ll need to make sure to empty the dustbin and clean the filter. According to Peña-Hernández, you should clean the vacuum’s filter at least once a week, or twice a week if you have a pet.  

You’ll also need to replace the filter and brushes every few months. Manufacturers usually give guidelines in the vac’s user manual on how often you should replace these components, but a good sign that it’s time to replace your filters or brushes is if they appear to be damaged or if your vac just isn’t doing as good of a job of cleaning as it once did. 

Fortunately, many models come with extra filters and brushes, but eventually, you’ll have to purchase replacements. Manufacturers usually link to their parts store in your robot vac’s app, but you can also usually find parts on Amazon so it’s worth shopping around. Just make sure that you are buying the right parts for your model.

Use it in addition to a traditional vacuum:  Despite how far robot vacuums have come in the last decade, they won’t replace your stick and upright vacuums anytime soon.

FAQs

Do you still need another vacuum if you have a robot vac?

While the dream is to set your robot vacuum on a schedule and have it do all the floor cleaning for you, it’s just not the reality at the moment. Robot vacuums don’t clean as much dirt and debris as upright vacuums. “I think you’d still need a stick or upright vacuum for spots that the robot vac can’t reach,” Ferro said.

Robot vacs function best as maintenance cleaners. Having them run a couple times a week will make your floors less gunky, especially if you have pets. But these vacuums also need babysitting. You need to clear their path of anything that might get tangled in their wheels, and some have trouble getting into or out of tight spaces. Their bins are fairly small, so you’ll need to empty them more regularly than an upright or stick version. 

Even squarish robot vacuums — as opposed to round ones — aren’t perfect at getting into corners. Some are too tall to fit under certain types of furniture. They obviously avoid stairs, too. Upright vacuums typically come with attachments that are useful for cleaning things like drapes or furniture, which robot vacs can’t handle. 

“Research indicates that robot vacuums are not meant to replace upright vacuums,” Peña-Hernández said. “That likely has to do with their smaller motor size. They’re good for touch-ups and in-between uses.”

When it comes to robot vacuums, expect maintenance not miracles.


How have robot vacuum cleaners improved?

Since iRobot’s first Roomba came on the market in the early 2000s, robot vacuum technology has improved a lot. You can now find square-ish models in addition to round ones, and the mapping technology is much better. 

Cameras and optical sensors can help with obstacle recognition, and LiDAR-based navigation uses lasers to detect objects. These capabilities aren’t perfect, but vacuums are now more adept at finding their way back to charging docks than they were even a few years ago. Another new feature is self-emptying bins, which suck the debris out of the robot and into a canister in the charging dock. 

Many robot vacuums are now smart, letting you start a cleaning session from an app or by asking a smart speaker. Some, like Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum, let you block off entire rooms in an app, so you don’t have to worry about them getting stuck on your kid’s clothing piles. With cameras and connectivity come some privacy concerns. 

Some interesting features aren’t universal, such as auto-dirt disposal and home surveillance. To get more guidance on these features, I spoke with Jill Notini, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for AHAM.

A few of the new features she’s excited about — and that are found in many if not all of the models in our guide — include:

  • Advanced navigation: “Many of today’s models have the ability to map a home and remember how to get around objects and stay out of tough spots. You can also program the robots to vacuum specific areas of the home.” You can also set no-go zones that the vacuum should avoid on your phone via the app.
  • Mopping ability: “Robots are evolving into floor care multitaskers,” said Notini. “In addition to vacuuming, some models now have the ability to mop, both wet and dry.”
  • Voice control: “Robotic vacuums can now respond to voice commands, either directly or through an outside system like Amazon Alexa.”
  • Remote operation: “You can start, stop, or control your robotic vacuum with your mobile device.”
  • Cameras: “Cameras have been incorporated into some models to help the robot map the room and allow you to get a robot’s eye view of cleaning and keep an eye on your house while you’re away.”
  • Fall prevention: “Even with all of the new features and technological advances, robotic vacuums still have not gained the ability to climb stairs. Many models now utilize sensors to prevent themselves from taking a tumble down the stairs or off a higher level.” All of the robots in our testing were able to sense cliffs and avoid falling down stairs.
  • Automatic dirt disposal: One of the most useful features that’s becoming more ubiquitous is the charging dock that automatically empties the vacuum’s dustbin. Even the largest bins need to be emptied with regular use so it’s a maintenance task you’ll need to perform once a week — at best. But with the self-emptying dock, the chore is no longer necessary. You just throw away and replace the disposable dirt bag every month or two.

Can a robot vacuum prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus is most easily spread through face-to-face interactions and in close quarters, and if someone in your household has been sick — even if it’s not with COVID-19 — it’s recommended to clean and disinfect the area.  

“Currently the CDC recommends that we take precautionary measures for vacuuming during the COVID-19 outbreak although there are no reported cases of COVID-19 associated with vacuuming,” Peña-Hernández said. “It recommends using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation, and not vacuuming areas with people in it.” 


How do you clean a robot vac?

Though robot vacuums automate cleaning your floors, they are not completely hands-off. There are several care and maintenance steps you should take to ensure your vac operates properly for many years to come. Manufacturers provide clear instructions for how to clean and maintain your robot vacuum in the user manual or app. 

Here are some general maintenance tasks:

  • Empty the dustbin: Depending on how dirty your home is, you will want to empty your robot vacuum’s dustbin after every use. If you run your vac on a daily basis and don’t have pets, you can get away with doing this chore once a week.
  • Clean the filter and dustbin: This is a weekly task. Cleaning the filter is important because the vacuum doesn’t clean as well when the filter is dirty. Most models’ filter and dustbin can be cleaned with water. I usually clean and thoroughly dry the dustbin while letting the filter air dry. While the filter is air drying, I insert the extra filter that most units come with. Whatever you do, make sure the filter and dustbin dry completely before you use them again.
  • Clean front wheel, brushes, sensors, and charging contacts: You should do this every two to four weeks. Most robot vacuums come with a cleaning tool with a brush on one end and a cutting blade on the other. Use these to cut out hairs that are wrapped around the brushes and wheel and to brush away debris. Use a soft dry cloth to dust the sensors and charging contacts per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additionally, after about two months of use, it’s time to replace the filter. The front caster wheel and brushes — both the main brush and side brushes — should be replaced every year or so.


Can you fix a robot vac?

This depends entirely on the problem. In my years of testing robot vacuums, I’ve probably ran into every problem a robot vacuum can experience: falling down stairs (surprisingly uncommon), running through pet accidents, attempts at taking up crocheting, etc. I’ve learned that these machines are resilient. 

That said, any attempt to fix a problem with your robot vacuum should start with consulting customer service. After I determined there was no chance I could clean the pet waste off my robot vacuum, I reached out to the manufacturer. And, even though the warranty specifically states these accidents aren’t covered, they still provided me with a replacement unit for free. 

The most common problem I face is the vacuum finding my wife’s yarn and wrapping it around its wheels and brushes. When this happens, you can usually work the thread free if you’re patient. I usually just cut it free. 

Check out our guides to more great vacuum cleaners

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We’ve tested dozens of moisturizers for dry skin – these are the 15 best

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

Best moisturizers for dry skin 4x3
  • Whether your dry skin is seasonal or not, treating it can often seem impossible.
  • We consulted two dermatologists and our team to learn about dry skin and which products to buy. 
  • If you have a different skin type or are unsure, see the best moisturizers for every skin type. 

Tight, red, itchy, rough – these are all descriptors of dry skin. And while dry skin on its own is tough, peeling or flaking can also appear, especially during the transition from the summer season to fall and winter, no matter your skin type. 

If you notice your skin experiencing dryness, you likely also notice that not all facial moisturizers can get the job done in curing it. The most important things to keep in mind when buying a moisturizer are the ingredients and consistencies of the lotion itself. We spoke with Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, board-certified dermatologist of Mariwalla Dermatology, and Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, to break down these details, and help guide us toward the best moisturizer for dry skin.

Click to jump to the best face moisturizers for dry skin that you can buy:

The best face moisturizers for dry, sensitive skin

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CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

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Moisturizing Cream (small)

This cream has a thick consistency, so you’ll never have that tight, still-dry feeling. But it’s non-comedogenic, so it doesn’t clog pores or leave you feeling greasy, either. It’s free of fragrance and other common irritants, which is why it’s a great choice for sensitive skin types. — Kyle Kerchaert, senior video producer, beauty and style

Once I reached my mid-30s, it felt like all the moisture had been sucked from my skin. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream was the only thing that calmed and hydrated my face. And though I was originally worried that it would be too thick, it absorbs quickly and leaves your skin feeling soft, not greasy. — Jamie Feller, account executive

I grew up with severe eczema on my face, and this moisturizer was the only thing that was gentle enough to be used on my sensitive skin. While it may seem too thick at first, it absorbs very quickly, leaving your face soft and dewy. — Grace Wade, associate health reference editor

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

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Ultra Repair Cream (small)

I have recommended First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream time and time again because it’s just that good. It’s unscented and has a creamy consistency. I apply it every night to my face and neck, and it has never led to breakouts on my sensitive skin. — Victoria Giardina, buying guides fellow

Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion

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Moisturizing Lotion (small)

The Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion is ideal for dry, sensitive skin. It contains no fragrance, dye, formaldehyde, or lanolin. It contains both humectants and emollients to provide a mix of hydration and moisturization. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

Clinique Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

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Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator (small)

I have dry, sensitive skin as well as rosacea, and this has been my year-round lifesaver. It’s a gel-cream so I initially had my doubts, but whenever I even think of trying another moisturizer, I come back to this. This product is paraben-free, fragrance-free, and oil-free, and also has hyaluronic acid and aloe water. — Magenta Ranero, senior chart editor, Insider Intelligence

The best face moisturizers for dry, acne-prone skin

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Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin

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Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin (small)

My skin feels soft, hydrated, and supple when I use this gel cream, especially during the cold winter months. I appreciate that it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog my pores, as I have acne-prone skin. It’s also fragrance-free. This moisturizer contains humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, along with emollients like olive extract — all of which help to pack quite the punch in the best and most hydrating way possible. — Katie Decker-Jacoby, style & beauty reviews fellow 

Hada Labo Skin Plumping Gel Cream

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Skin Plumping Gel Cream (small)

I discovered this moisturizer on a desperate Reddit search for an oil-free formula that wouldn’t irritate the seborrheic dermatitis that sometimes pops up on my face. This gel formula is gentle and non-irritating, and it feels like a glass of water for your skin. It also cleared up the minimal flaking I was experiencing from my AHA serums. It does leave a bit of a dewy finish, so I prefer it at night or with some extra setting powder under makeup. — Kyle Kerchaert, senior video producer, beauty and style

C’est Moi Gentle Moisture Lotion

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Gentle Moisture Lotion (small)

C’est Moi is better known for their colorful makeup, but I picked up this moisturizer on its website on a whim and have loved it. My skin gets very dry in the winter, and so I’m always on the lookout for products that deliver a lot of moisture for a budget price. This one isn’t greasy or oily at all, and I was shocked at how moisturizing even a small amount of product felt. — Allison Jiang, story production fellow

Lotus Moon Vitamin B Hydrating Gel

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Vitamin B Hydrating Gel (small)

I have dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin and this plant-based moisturizer is a champion at hydration. It has a gel formula, so it’s lightweight, absorbent, and doesn’t make me sweat on hot days. It also smells lovely and helps keep my breakouts at bay. — Stephanie Hallett, senior personal finance editor

The best face moisturizers for dry, mature skin

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SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter

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A.G.E. Interrupter (small)

The A.G.E. Interrupter is an advanced wrinkle treatment that combats the visible signs of aging caused by glycation, which is a major factor of the natural aging process. Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, board-certified dermatologist of Mariwalla Dermatology

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

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Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 (small)

The Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 contains free fatty acids to replace cellular lipids and nourish dry skin. This is a crowd favorite for those with extremely dry skin that is worth the splurge. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream

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Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream (small)

This is actually a night cream I use as a regular moisturizer in the winter when my skin is its driest for a big hydration boost. It works great under makeup, helping to impart a dewy look that I generally have trouble achieving due to my skin’s aforementioned dryness. It’s essentially an amped-up version of my other favorite Fresh moisturizer. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer

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Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer (small)

This moisturizer is probably my most-recommended skincare product ever. I generally have really dry skin, but you’d never know it when I’m using this gel-like formula from Peter Thomas Roth. It makes my skin soft and plump, but never leaves behind a sticky residue. The best part about it, though, is that its effects last all day (and I’m not just regurgitating brand copy here — this is literally one of the only moisturizers I truly feel this way about). — Sally Kaplan, deputy editor

The best moisturizers for extremely dry skin

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SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream

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Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream (small)

The Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream is a deeply hydrating face cream with active lipids, peptides, small particle hyaluronic acid and rich shea butter for brightening, firming, and plumping. Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, board-certified dermatologist of Mariwalla Dermatology

Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion

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Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion (small)

The Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion contains argan oil to replenish moisture and rosewater to improve tone, hydration, and elasticity. Shea butter acts as a seal to lock in the moisture and repair the barrier. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

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Healing Ointment (small)

My eczema reacts so badly around my eyes that even the best eye creams and the best moisturizers cannot bail me out. In times of distress, I smear just a small amount of Aquaphor onto my under eyes to restore moisture. I apply it as needed, but most typically before bedtime to lock in moisture and before I apply makeup so my eyelids can soak it up and prevent my concealer from looking cakey. — Jacqueline Saguin, style & beauty reviews fellow

FAQs

Which ingredients should you look out for when buying moisturizer for dry skin?

To start, it’s helpful to know the three categories of moisturizing ingredients: occlusive, emollient, and humectant. An occlusive forms a barrier to retain moisture, an emollient traps water, and a humectant brings water to the top layer of the skin. Dr. Mariwalla and Dr. Hartman recommend ingredients that fall under these groups, including ones like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, squalene, petrolatum, shea butter, and lactic acid. 

On the flip side, there are of course ingredients that could further irritate your dry skin, such as fragrance, retinoids, glycolic acid, alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and salicylic acid, according to both dermatologists. 

What are the differences between creams, lotions, and gels?

The key differences are their ratios between water and oil. According to Dr. Hartman, creams are composed of half water and half oil, lotions contain mostly water and less oil, and gels are water-based and lack any trace of oil. This matters because, according to Dr. Mariwalla, thicker creams typically deliver more moisture than thinner lotions and watery gels. For example, extra dry skin might require a heavy cream, while dry, acne-prone skin might benefit from a lightweight, oil-free gel.

Is there anything else I can do for my skin before applying my moisturizer?

Face moisturizers alone likely won’t relieve your dry skin. Dr. Hartman recommends washing your face with a cream or oil-based cleanser and staying away from foamy ones. For good measure, Dr. Hartman adds, “Avoid hot water, use less soap or cleanser, and wash for shorter periods of time. Moisturizer works to strengthen the skin barrier and to trap in water, so apply the moisturizer immediately after washing.” After applying moisturizer in the morning, Dr. Mariwalla advises layering on sunscreen to block harmful UV rays, which is a step all skin types should take. 

Rest assured, if you consistently experience dry skin, seeing your dermatologist is a good idea. Your dermatologist can help uncover the reason for your dry skin and if you perhaps need stronger prescription treatments. 

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The 4 best stainless steel cleaners for appliances and kitchenware in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Stainless steel home appliances are durable, but are susceptible to fingerprints, streaks, and smudges.
  • A good stainless steel cleaner is gentle on appliances and doesn’t leave spots behind.
  • We’ve selected the best stainless steel cleaners including wipes, aerosols, natural cleaners, and more.

Stainless steel is extremely durable and resistant to water damage and rust. But it can also show every fingerprint, smudge, and water spot that is not properly wiped away. If you use the wrong type of cleaner, there is no way to restore the finish.

Ammonia, chlorine bleach, and oven cleaner are all particularly damaging, as are scouring powders and steel wool. And if you live in an area with extremely hard water, the minerals will leave spots. In other words, despite its hardiness, stainless steel requires a high level of upkeep.  

For tougher stains, I need to call in backup. Luckily, I’ve tested enough stainless steel cleaning products to determine which ones get the job done. 

Here are the best stainless steel cleaners in 2021

The best cleaning wipes for stainless steel

Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes

Perfect for tight spaces and quick cleanups, Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes quickly make fingerprints vanish.

Pros: Wipes conform to tight spaces, useful for quick clean-ups, disposable, removes fingerprints and smudges

Cons: Darkens some types of metal like aluminum, wipes will dry out quickly if the canister is not properly closed

Any surface is easy to clean if you do it frequently, and this rule applies to stainless steel. In between deep cleaning, Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes are perfect for quick, everyday cleanups like cooking splatters and fingerprints on refrigerator doors.

The wipes are offered in a convenient, resealable pop-top canister to keep them from drying out — similar to other household cleaning wipes you may already have. To use, simply wipe in the direction of the metal’s grain and then buff with a soft, dry cloth to prevent streaks. Smudges, water spots, and stains will be gone.

I also love to use these wipes to remove greasy smears and splatters on my outdoor grill. And nothing will fit into the tight spot where handles join a stainless-steel panel like Weiman Wipes. When I attempt to clean those spots with some liquid cleaners, the cleaner runs down the panel before I can get my cloth in there to clean.

The best aerosol cleaner for stainless steel

CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner

With just one spray, CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner will leave stainless steel clean and streak-free — no buffing needed.

Pros: One-step cleaning, works well to remove smudges

Cons: Petroleum-based product, should never be used near a gas flame or hot appliance

Almost every stainless steel cleaner recommends using the product to clean away smudges and stains and then coming back with a soft, dry cloth to buff away any streaks the cleaner has left behind. With CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner, the second step is eliminated — no buffing is needed.

My microwave is mounted at eye-level which means the top of the appliance is above my head. Cleaning anything above my head is not a favorite chore so I like a one-step process. Just a good shake of the can, a quick spray with the cleaner, and one pass with a microfiber cloth leaves the finish shiny and streak-free.

While the product is scented, it is very light and dissipates quickly. The steel can is also recyclable.

The best natural cleaner for stainless steel

Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish

Developed with plant-based ingredients, Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish is safe to use around children and pets.

Pros: Plant-based formula, safe to use around children and pets, leaves appliances clean and streak-free

Cons: Most expensive stainless steel cleaner per use, not readily available in mass-market stores

With a gentle herbal scent and plant-based ingredients, Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish is an excellent choice if someone in your home has chemical sensitivities. The company makes one of the few stainless-steel cleaners that actually list every ingredient on the label: filtered water, coconut oil, sorbitan monooleate (emulsifier), lavender vanilla essential oil blend, acrylates copolymer (emulsifier), and methylisothiazolinone (preservative).

The starter kit includes a 16-ounce spray bottle of the cleaner and a 14-by-14-inch microfiber cloth. Simply spray on the solution and, working with the grain of the metal, wipe away grime and smudges. Finish by buffing with a dry area of the microfiber cloth. After cleaning, a bit of the coconut oil remains on the surface to protect the shine and repel fingerprints.

Therapy is formulated to use on refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, sinks, outdoor grills, and microwaves. It should be noted that Therapy is slightly more expensive than the other cleaners on this list. 

The best homemade solution for stainless steel

Heinz Cleaning Vinegar and Oilve Oil

Using household ingredients like Heinz Cleaning Vinegar and Pompeian Pure Olive Oil can leave stainless steel appliances streak-free.

Pros: Cleans stainless steel using natural ingredients, inexpensive to use, can be used to clean many other surfaces around the house

Cons: Vinegar aroma

Is there anything that vinegar can’t clean? If you don’t mind the scent of vinegar and have a little leftover oil in the kitchen, your stainless-steel appliances will gleam after using this simple mixture.

I’m recommending Heinz Cleaning Vinegar because it is slightly more acidic than regular white distilled vinegar, which makes it more effective in removing grease and food splatters. I keep it in a labeled spray bottle to make cleaning easier. Just spritz the vinegar onto the surface of the stainless steel and wipe the appliance down using a microfiber cloth (following the grain of the metal, of course). You will be amazed at how clean it looks.

Then, to help protect the finish from holding onto every single fingerprint (and nose-print from the dog), use just a teeny bit of Pompeian Pure Olive Oil on a soft cloth for a final coating. You can actually use any type of oil you have on hand; mineral oil, vegetable oil, even WD-40. The key to success is using as little oil as possible (and, again, buffing it in with a microfiber cloth). 

Tips for keeping stainless steel appliances clean

Wipe appliances down regularly between deeper cleanings

Since equipping my kitchen with stainless steel appliances, I have been testing various cleaning products and techniques. One tip I swear by is wiping down the appliances daily with just a dry microfiber cloth; often, this allows me to skip other cleaning products altogether.

Wipe with the grain

Like wood, stainless steel has a grain so always wipe with it, not against it.

Always use a microfiber cloth 

Using a microfiber cloth instead of paper towels is also another helpful tip as these cloths reduce streaks and pick up small food particles and dust. Simply spray the cleaner directly on the appliances surface and wipe for an easy streak free shine. 

See more great cleaning buying guides

Cleaning Floor
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The 5 best dusters in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The average home accumulates about 40 pounds of dust each year, making a duster a must have.
  • A great duster removes dust quickly and easily, and can get to those hard-to-reach places.
  • Our top pick by OXO will help remove dust from your home and help you breathe easier.

While I would like to say that the dust and cobwebs in my home are early Halloween decorations, that line doesn’t work most of the year. Dust just seems to accumulate at an extraordinary rate. That’s not surprising when you consider how dust originates.

Those 40 pounds of dust that settle in your home each year are a combination of pollen, human and pet dander, dead skin cells, dust mites and insect droppings, soil, food crumbs, and particulates in the air. The more people and pets in your home and the more often the doors and windows open, the more dust you’re going to have.

Even if you claim to love the patina of dust-covered surfaces, there are plenty of good reasons to remove the dust. When we breathe in dust particles, depending on the type of particulate, our respiratory tracts respond. Some particles are fairly benign and cause mild allergic reactions like sneezing and a runny nose. Other particles can trigger asthma which severely affects breathing.

Even with diligent cleaning, there will still be dust, so it’s a good idea to buy a duster. We’ve done the research and testing to find the best dusters.

Here are the best dusters in 2021

The best duster overall

oxo duster

The OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster traps dust easily, extends and adjusts to reach high surfaces, and can be washed for years of reuse.

Pros: Microfiber duster head traps and holds dust, machine-washable head, aluminum extender handle reaches from 27 to 54 inches, replacement heads available

Cons: Duster head will shed fibers unless washed first

As a woman who is both short in stature and always watching expenditures, the OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster is my duster of choice. My favorite thing is that after dusting, I can remove the head and toss it in the washer so I can start each dusting session with a clean duster. The washable head means no additional expense and no excuses to put off cleaning because I’m out of disposable duster heads.

With a sturdy, but lightweight, handle with a comfortable grip, the duster can stretch from 27 to 54 inches. The duster head rotates 270 degrees and can be locked into place at multiple angles. Since the duster head has microfibers on each side to capture dust, you can simply switch the angle and continue dusting when one side is heavily soiled.

Microfiber is made from polyamide (nylon) and polyester and creates an electrostatic fabric that attracts dust. The dust is then trapped in the many, tiny fibers until you use laundry detergent and water to flush them away. Because of the way microfiber is manufactured, you may see lint or loose fibers at first on the duster. Just rinse the head under cold water and give it a good shake before drying. The lint will be gone.

To keep your duster in top-shape, avoid bleach that can damage fibers and fabric softeners and dryer sheets that coat the fibers and lower their ability to trap dust. I find that air-drying the head works best.

The best disposable duster

swiffer

With its 360-degree duster surface that has more fibers and an extendable handle, the Swiffer Heavy Duty Dusters with Extender Handle is a hard-working disposable duster.

Pros: Disposable, lightweight, fits into tight spots to trap dust, extendable handle reaches three feet, dusting head locks into place

Cons: Replacement dusters can become expensive

When I want to use a disposable duster, I turn to Swiffer. I’ve tried every brand on the market and the Swiffer Heavy Duty Dusters with Extender Handle is the very best one I’ve found.

Because there are more electrostatic fibers on the duster head, I find the Swiffer Heavy Duty Duster picks up twice as much dust as other brands. The sturdy plastic extender handle expands from about 15 to 36 inches plus the 8-inch duster head. The head can be locked into four different angles to clean hard-to-reach surfaces.

This starter kit comes with one handle and 12 dusters. The disposable dusters are easy to find online and in many stores; however, a heavy-duty duster refill costs around $1.00 each.

I like Swiffer for dusting “knick-knacks” on mantels and shelves. The duster is flexible enough that I don’t have to move each small item every time I want to capture the dust. I also use it in my car to reach those tight spaces in the corners between the windshield and dashboard and all the little nooks and crannies of air-vents.

The best lambswool duster

Norpro duster

The Norpro Pure Lambswool Duster acts as a natural magnet for dust, comes from a renewable source, and will last for years.

Pros: Natural fibers, a renewable material source, picks up dust easily, reusable, lasts for many years

Cons: Handle is not extendable

If you prefer a natural fiber duster, then lambswool is an excellent choice. Many man-made fibers were developed to mimic the characteristics of wool fibers. The qualities of wool fibers and the lanolin they contain make them a natural magnet for dust and amazingly strong.

Wool has an inner cortex that is elastic and resilient to damage meaning the fiber can be bent more than 20,000 times without breaking. The cortex is covered with the cuticle layer that is composed of hundreds of microscopic overlapping scales. The scales create tiny pockets that trap and hold dust particles. Finally, the scales are covered by a thin protective film called the epicuticle that makes the fibers resistant to abrasion on even the most delicate surfaces.

If you decide on a wool duster, look no further than the Norpro Pure Lambswool Duster. I was introduced to the Norpro line while in college and still have the duster I purchased then these many years later. The dusters are available in 12-, 24-, and 48-inch lengths. The head is around 12 inches long and seven inches wide when fluffed. The handle is wooden with a leather loop for hanging.

When you have finished a dusting session, simply step outside and spin the handle between your hands to release the dust. (Consider wearing a dust mask while you do to avoid breathing in the dust particles.) If the head becomes excessively soiled, it can be hand washed with cool water and a gentle detergent. Give the head a good spin to fluff the fibers and then allow the duster to air dry.

If you are ready to lessen your dependence on plastics and choose a natural fiber, Norpro Lambswool is an excellent choice.

The best duster for tight spaces

OXO under appliance duster

One glance under your kitchen and laundry room appliances and you’ll know why you need the OXO Good Grips Under Appliance Microfiber Duster.

Pros: Slim profile and flexible handle fit under appliances and in tight spaces, the duster head is removable for washing, reusable

Cons: Duster head can shed if not washed before the first use

After an embarrassing moment when the refrigerator had to be moved to retrieve some dropped jewelry, I discovered the OXO Good Grips Under Appliance Microfiber Duster. It is the perfect dusting tool. I simply can’t move some appliances and furniture during weekly cleaning, but a few swipes with the OXO Under Appliance Duster and I can feel satisfied that my house is cleaner.

You may say, “who cares” about the hidden dust. Unfortunately, it can be a breeding ground for insects and can even hinder the proper operation of an appliance. Dust and lint under a refrigerator can clog the circulating fan and cause it to overheat and fail. With a clothes dryer, excessive lint can cause a fire, especially with gas dryers. It’s not all a vanity thing.

The OXO Under Appliance Duster has a microfiber head that is removable for easy cleaning in the washer. The duster head flexes so it can conform to tight spaces and the 33.5-inch length will reach the back of most deep appliances, cabinets, and furniture. The duster head can be removed and washed for reuse.

The best duster for window blinds

window blind duster

If you want to remove dust from window blinds and shutters more quickly, the Hiware Window Blind Cleaner Duster is for you.

Pros: Cleans window blinds, indoor shutters, and air vents thoroughly, comes with five duster heads, washable, reusable, can be used with cleaning solution if needed

Cons: Microfiber can shed if not rinsed before first use

I have white wooden blinds on every window in my home. They are great for privacy and to shut out the heat of the sun but they do love dust. They must love it because it is always there. I’ve tried other types of dusters to get rid of the dust that clings to both sides of each slat but just when I thought I had all the dust removed, I’d see it clinging to a slat I missed. Then I found Hiware Window Blind Cleaner Duster.

This ingenious little contraption has a study 3-pronged plastic handle and microfiber “gloves” that slip over the prongs. I can dust the top and bottoms of blinds at the same time! To get the best results, give the flexible handle a little squeeze to get good contact with the slat surfaces.

Since there are five microfiber cloths included, when one gets soiled I can just slip on a fresh one and keep dusting. At the end of the job, all the cloths go in the washer and I can start again tomorrow.

FAQs

How do you reduce dust in your home?

In addition to looking for the most effective, easiest to use, and the best value in dusters, there are also other steps you can take to lower the amount of dust in your home.

  • Declutter: The less “stuff” you have in your home to accumulate dust, the less dust there will be.
  • Clean from the top down: When you’re ready to clean, start at the top of the room and do the floors last so you can capture all of the dust that settles there. No need to dust twice.
  • Wash bedding weekly: We spend hours and hours in a bed and within a week bedding accumulates a great deal of human and pet dander, dust mites, and dead skin. Washing is a simple way to get rid of the problem.
  • Remove your shoes at the door: Around 60% of dust particles come from outside and removing shoes dramatically reduces the amount of dust in a home.
  • Lower the humidity: Keeping interior humidity levels around 40% will reduce the number of moisture-loving dust mites.
  • Change your air filters: Fresh filters in your HVAC system will trap more dust and keep your system running more efficiently.
  • Bathe and groom pets: A clean animal sheds less dander and hair.
  • Vacuum regularly: Keep floors clean with a good vacuum that has a HEPA filter to trap the smallest dust particles.

Are reusable dusters or disposable dusters better for removing dust?

The choice of whether to use a reusable duster such as the OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster or a disposable duster such as the Swiffer Heavy Duty Duster, mostly breaks down to cost and personal preference. Reusable dusters offer a significantly cheaper alternative to dusting while disposable dusters must be replaced after each use. Both options work very similarly, when it comes to removing dust as they both are made of special fibers that grip dust easily and efficiently.

Check out our other great cleaning guides

window cleaner
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The 4 best budget laptops in 2021

  • Budget laptops have come a long way and now offer better performance than ever before.
  • The Pixelbook Go is our favorite cheap laptop overall because of its great keyboard, smooth performance, and quality webcam. 
  • We’re in the process of testing more laptops throughout 2021, including new and existing budget models.
  • Read more: The best laptops of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

It used to be that if you wanted a laptop with power and features, you needed  to spend $1,000 or more. While top-of-the-line models still fall in that price range, budget laptops are more than capable of everyday tasks. 

Those who just want a machine for basic web browsing and word processing can find a promising laptop in the $300-$700 range. That’s all thanks to improvements in processors, graphics, and other chipsets, as well as standardization in features like USB and HDMI.

Of course, this is not to say all budget laptops are great – some are definitely better than average, while others aren’t worth your hard-earned cash. There are a few important factors you need to consider before making a purchase, such as operating system preferences, size, and above all else: what you intend to use it for.

For this guide, we consider a “budget” laptop to be a laptop that costs about $650 or less – we aimed to recommend those that fall below $500. Gaming laptops are an exception because they typically cost more than general-purpose laptops. 

Here are the best cheap laptops:

The best budget laptop overall

Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go‘s ease of use, excellent keyboard, and long battery life make it a top choice for those who prioritize simplicity in a laptop. 

Pros: Excellent keyboard, long battery life, 1080p webcam, decent screen

Cons: Upgrade options are expensive, no biometric login

Google’s Pixelbook Go is one of the priciest options on this list, but there’s a good reason why. It nearly matches premium laptops that are almost double its price in a few ways, particularly when it comes to keyboard quality, general ease-of-use, and battery life.  

Google’s “Hush” keyboard is part of what makes the Pixelbook Go stand out, offering a comfortable yet unobtrusive typing experience that even rivals that of Lenovo’s laptops, as our full review mentions. It even has a 1080p webcam, a rare find even on laptops that cost over $1,000. That’s especially important now that we’re spending more time video conferencing and socializing virtually.

The base model comes with an Intel Core m3 processor (CPU), 8GB of memory (RAM), and a Full HD (1080p) touch screen. You’ll also get two USB-C ports, and Google says it should last for 12 hours on a single charge.

Like other Google laptops that have come before it, the Pixelbook Go is a Chromebook — meaning it’s designed for those who primarily use their laptops for web browsing, note taking, and other light tasks like streaming YouTube or Netflix. It runs on Google’s Chrome OS, a lightweight interface optimized for security and speed that’s designed to work best with an Internet connection. You can, however, access Google Play Store apps and save documents, spreadsheets, emails, and other data for offline use. 

Sadly, the Pixelbook Go doesn’t have the same 2-in-1 design as its pricier Pixelbook predecessor, so it doesn’t double as a tablet. It also doesn’t have any biometric login options like a fingerprint scanner, which is now fairly common on most laptops. But it’s perfect for anyone in need of a fast, lightweight laptop for basic productivity and entertainment.

The best budget Chromebook

Samsung Chromebook 4+ showcase

The 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+ crams an insane amount of value into its below $300 list price, with hardware and features found in laptops twice its price and within a good-looking package.

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

Cons: Small local storage, low amount of RAM, no top-firing speakers

Anyone looking to get the absolute most value possible out of a Chromebook that might look a bit more premium in ways than even our top pick, we suggest the 15-inch Samsung Chromebook 4+. There’s no question that this Chromebook makes for a close second to our former top pick,  Acer Chromebook 15, as the best budget laptop period.

Samsung’s Chromebook 4+ is a sharp, slight 15-inch laptop that’s wrapped in a platinum-colored plastic frame featuring a 15.6-inch, 1080p screen, with power from an Intel Celeron CPU supported by 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. That’s expanded upon by two USB-C ports, one USB 3.0 port, and a microSD card reader — as well as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 — for wireless connections.

This all comes driven by a battery that can reportedly last up to 10 hours and 30 minutes per outing. Finally, we love the addition of Google Assistant for voice-based search queries and other assistive tasks. While lacking biometric security and more local storage, this laptop leaves nothing else off the table. 

The best budget gaming laptop

Dell G3 laptop

The Dell G3 15 is an affordable gaming laptop with the latest Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics.

Pros: Compact design, specs on par with more expensive models

Cons: Shallow keyboard and touchpad, dim screen

If you enjoy gaming, but don’t want to shell out $1,000 for a gaming PC, the Dell G3 15 might be a decent option for you. The laptop has multiple configurations, but the base model is around $700, and it comes with Nvidia discrete graphics. 

A few factors make the G3 15 a solid option for gamers. The base model comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650GPU, a 10th-generation  Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive. Those are solid specs that should be able to smoothly run most games you want to play, though you’ll want something more powerful if you’re trying to run more demanding tasks like VR. 

You can also upgrade to a version that has 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX  1660 GPU and 512GB of storage for about $970.

At 5.2 pounds, the G3 15 is lighter and more compact than most budget gaming laptops. 

In terms of ports, you have a power jack, an HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ-45 port, one USB 3.1 port, two  USB 2.0 port, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack. That will allow you to plug in a TV, as well as most peripherals you might want to use. 

However, for a computer of this price, you’ll be missing out on some features of higher-end gaming rigs. For example, reviewers found the display to be a bit dim, and the colors to be washed out. The keyboard and touchpad are also a bit shallow, something that might be important if you’ll be spending a lot of time gaming.

The best budget 2-in-1 laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad 5

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 offers solid specifications and a flexible design that allows it to double as a laptop and a tablet at a price that’s hundreds of dollars below the $1,000 mark.

Pros: Great value, good performance, durable and attractive design

Cons: Dim and lackluster display

With a convertible design, 10th generation Intel processor, and a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 is a solid choice for anyone in need of a general purpose laptop.

It has a 360-degree flexible hinge so that you can use it as a laptop or tablet, and comes with extra features less common on laptops in this price range. These include Wi-Fi 6 support, a physical webcam shutter for privacy, and a fingerprint reader for logging in. The AMD configuration of this laptop received high marks in reviews from PCMag, LaptopMag, and Digital Trends for its solid performance, excellent value, and high build quality for a laptop of its price. 

For $429.99, you’re getting a fairly recent 10th generation Intel Core i3 processor, 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM. While 4GB is a bit on the low end when it comes to memory, these specifications are more than enough for the tasks you’d expect to accomplish with a laptop that costs less than $500, such as web browsing, watching Netflix, checking email, and taking notes.

Budget laptops we look forward to testing

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

Acer Chromebook Spin 514: Powered by the latest AMD’s latest mobile processors and offering 10 hours of battery life according to Acer’s claims, the new Acer Chromebook Spin 14 has potential to become one of our top picks for a budget laptop in 2021. It features a 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen and aluminum build that could make it a compelling choice as a general-purpose laptop. It’s launching in March 2021 starting at $479.99.

Asus Chromebook Flip CX5: With a roomy 15.6-inch screen, Intel’s latest 11th generation processors, and Harmon Kardon speakers, the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 seems like a promising option for those who want a laptop for light work and entertainment. It will be configurable up to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is a lot for a Chromebook, and should last for 12 hours on a single charge. Asus announced the Chromebook Flip CX5 at CES 2021 in January and has not revealed pricing. But a product page on Google’s Chromebook Store suggests that the version with an Intel Core i3, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage could cost $549.

How to buy a budget laptop

There are a variety of factors you should consider when purchasing a laptop, particularly how much you want to spend and what types of tasks you intend to use it for. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

Operating system: There are a few major computer operating systems out there. You’re probably most familiar with Windows, as it’s by far the most-used operating system, but there’s also Apple’s macOS, which is found on the company’s Mac computers (we didn’t include any Macs because they didn’t meet our price requirement for a budget laptop). And, the newest, there’s Google’s Chrome OS, which is targeted to those with basic computer needs revolves around Google’s web-based apps (Chrome OS relies heavily on cloud computing, meaning that a lot of the processes happen online).

Specs and features: Some computers are more powerful than others. Things like the processor and amount of memory (RAM) will dictate how quickly your computer runs, while the amount of storage indicates how many files you can keep on your computer at once. There are also other factors, like the graphics chipset being employed. The type of software you run could also dictate how well a laptop’s components perform; for example, Google’s Chrome browser is notorious for being a memory hog.

The features have also improved. Premium components like a touchscreen and high-speed ports, like USB 3.0 and USB-C, have trickled down from high-end laptops to budget models. As you research, look for these or if the laptop is still utilizing older tech.

Size: Laptops come in a range of different physical sizes, however, the smaller ones generally sit in the 10- to 11-inch range, while the larger ones can get as big as 17-inches. That’s handy for watching movies, but it comes at the cost of portability.

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The 5 best kitchen faucets in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The workhorse kitchen faucet is often taken for granted – until it breaks. Just think of how frequently you and other household members use it to wash your hands, get a drink, scrub vegetables, rinse dishes, wet sponges, and more. Ideally, you want one that stands up to everyday use.

As a residential contractor, I’ve been replacing and installing different types of faucets for years. From large commercial kitchen models to simple bathroom faucets, I know the mechanical red flags to avoid (like plastic ball valves that leak) and unreliable brands to stay away from.

Using this knowledge – and after reviewing each option’s installation and design specs – I visited several appliance showrooms and hardware stores in my area to analyze my top choices. Once I got a hands-on feel for each model’s functionality and mechanics, I landed on these options as my top picks for the best kitchen faucets.

Even if you don’t end up going with one of our picks, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a new kitchen faucet. For a short explainer of things to consider, read here

Here are our top picks for the best kitchen faucets in 2021

The best overall

Delta Faucet Leland Single Handle Kitchen Sink Faucet

The sleek and sturdy Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet adds the convenience of touch activation to the versatility of a pull-down spray head.

Pros: Stylish, lifetime warranty on parts and finishes, design reduces valve wear and tear.

Cons: Electronics only have a five-year warranty, batteries need to be replaced every 2 years.

The Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet doesn’t just pack a ton of features into a single faucet, it also looks good while doing it. From the sprayer wand to the integrated LED temperature indicator, it all comes together to make a nice, solid faucet.

What really sets the Delta Leland apart from competitors is the functional design of its pull-down spray-head. It’s got a nice ergonomic tulip-shape that is easy to get a grip on, and its magnetic locking system connects it to the spout nice and tight.

The spray head itself has a rocker-style switch for toggling between settings — standard and sprayer — without having to hold a button down the whole time. A separate button controls the Spray Shield setting, which is one of those things that sounds like a gimmicky feature but is actually pretty useful. Basically, the Spray Shield focuses the water into a thin, extra powerful stream to blast off stuck-on food, while also creating a cone of water around the area to prevent splashing.

I was really surprised by the flexibility of the connector hose. Usually, these are stiff and rubbery, but even with a braided nylon covering, the Delta hose didn’t affect my control at all. The 22″ hose, plus the 15.4″ faucet height make it great for tasks like filling up a big pot of water on the counter, instead of having to place it in the sink.

The Touch2O technology is the main feature of the Delta Leland Faucet, and it really shines here. This allows you to turn on the water by touching anywhere on the spout or handle.  I can control the water with my elbow through the entire process of rinsing off the meat, breading it, tossing it in the pan, and then washing my hands. 

A handy LED display on the base of the Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet tells you the current temperature, transitioning from blue to red as it moves from cold to hot. Keep in mind though; this LED only turns on when the water is running. This means that you’ll have to be a little more self-aware when using the touch feature, and confirm via the LED that the temperature is what you think it is.

The drawback of any touch-activated faucet is the need for a power source, and this model requires four AAAA batteries — or you could use the included AC adapter if you have an outlet in your sink cabinet. If you have a garbage disposal you probably do.

In my personal experience replacing faucets — and several plumbers that I spoke with agree — single handle faucets like this are eventually going to wear out and begin to leak. It’s inevitable. Which is why touch activation is a great way to extend the lifespan of your faucet.

That being said, if you don’t think you need the touch activation, Delta does make the same faucet in a standard style for a bit cheaper. That model still includes everything else, the Spray Shield, etc.

Even with the solenoid needed to power the sensor, installation of the Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet is pretty straightforward if you have a couple of adjustable pliers on hand and an Allen key. Delta did a nice job with the instruction manual, and also has some helpful videos that supplement it nicely.

The best on a budget

WEWE Single Handle High Arc Brushed Nickel Pull out Kitchen Faucet

The WEWE Single Handle High Arc Brushed Nickel Pull-Out Kitchen Faucet is low in price but high in quality with efficient operation and a simple tulip design.  

Pros: Good price, nice appearance, three-way spray setting, and easy installation

Cons: Zinc alloy is less durable, brushed nickel requires more maintenance than stainless steel

Typically, lower-priced faucets look nice on the surface but skimp on components behind the scenes. The WEWE Single Handle Faucet delivers on both fronts, with braided supply lines for durability, an ABS plastic aerator (think of the tough plastic used to make Lego bricks), and ceramic disk valves.

With no rubber caps to wear down over time, this faucet’s ceramic valves prevent leaks more effectively than ball valves and are pretty much mandatory for a quality faucet. (Though they are susceptible to cracking if you apply too much pressure to them, so keep that in mind.)

In addition to the standard stream and sprayer settings, the WEWE Faucet also lets you pause the water with a button on the spray head, which I really appreciate. You do have to continuously hold down the button while pausing, but it’s still a useful feature for preventing over-spraying while moving back and forth between the sink and countertop, for example.

All of its components are solid metal, which gives the WEWE Faucet a nice solid feel to it. This faucet definitely doesn’t have a flimsy or “cheap” feel you might expect from a budget option.

That being said, the zinc alloy and nickel finish are probably the reason for its low price. Cheaper than stainless steel, and not as resistant to water spots, brushed nickel will need a little more maintenance to stay clean. A soft cloth and soapy water should do the trick, just remember to stay away from any abrasive cleaning pads that can scratch the finish, as well as any cleaners that contain ammonia. 

The WEWE Faucet has a high-arc (15.7-inches tall) neck that swivels 360 degrees. The spout hangs 8.5 inches above and reaches 8.5 inches across the top of the sink. The sprayer head hose is 71 inches in total length, and 23 inches when pulled out of the faucet.

Just like the higher-priced options on this list, installation is simple and should be doable for anyone willing to crawl under their sink and spend 30 minutes down there. You’re not getting the “quick-connect” technology that pricier models have, so you’ll be tightening the supply lines the old-fashioned way (with your fingers and a couple of wrenches).

The best touchless faucet

Moen 7594ESRS Arbor Motionsense Two Sensor Touchless One Handle High Arc Pulldown Kitchen Faucet

Even if your hands are full or covered with grease or raw meat juices, you can still turn the water on and off with the Moen Arbor Spot Resist Stainless One-Handle High Arc MotionSense Wave Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet.

Pros: Convenient no-touch operation, spot-resistant finish

Cons: Expensive, motion sensors may need to be re-calibrated routinely

Marrying form with function, this faucet model offers convenient, hands-free operation with just the wave of your hand; the Wave Sensor (on top) and Ready Sensor (in front) initiate and stop water flow when either one detects motion.

By adjusting the control box under the sink, you’re also able to control the default temperature of the water when the sensors activate the faucet. The Moen factory setting is lukewarm, but if you’d rather have it be warmer for rinsing dishes, or colder for drinking water, it couldn’t be easier to adjust.

And if you ever feel like disabling one or both of the sensors, that’s simple too. Just hold your hand in front of the sensor for 5 seconds and it will stop registering until it’s activated again. While they’re disabled you also can use the lever handle to turn the water on and off manually, as well as adjust the water pressure and temperature. 

The Moen Arbor MotionSense Faucet has a 100-degree-rotating high-arc spout (15.5 inches) — great for filling and cleaning large pots. The spout with a pull-down spray head offers three functions: an aerated stream, a strong “PowerClean” spray for heavy-duty cleaning, and a pause that temporarily stops the water flow (1.5 gallons per minute maximum). The spray head’s hose is 68 inches in total length and retracts smoothly to dock into place.

When it comes to installation, don’t let the intimidating control box fool you, Moen’s are among the easiest faucets to install. Their “Duralock Quick-Connect” installation system makes it easy to attach the hoses and lines to the control box, and their one-way connections basically make them impossible to install incorrectly. 

The best pull-out faucet

MOEN Brantford faucet

Perfect for cozier spaces, the Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet is easy to use and keep clean.

Pros: Available in multiple finishes, easy to clean, quick installation

Cons: A little pricey, plastic components can make it feel “cheaper” 

The Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet shouldn’t be confused with the pull-down Moen Arbor MotionSense that we profiled above, but you could consider it as the baby brother. If you have a small sink or you don’t have a lot of vertical clearance, this faucet may be the right fit.

What I love about pull-out style faucets is that without all that extra spout length — the Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet is only 12.9 inches high — you gain a lot of maneuverability. By pulling it “out” instead of down, you avoid wasting any hose length on the bend of the faucet spout, giving you more range of motion.

The 68-inch hose itself is especially flexible, and can be easily maneuvered around any sink. This faucet does technically have a plastic spray head, but its stainless steel finish and easy installation make it a great faucet option. 

The Moen Brantford Pull-Out Faucet spout swivels 360 degrees and has several functions in common with the Moen Arbor MotionSense, including an aerated stream, and a strong “PowerClean” spray for heavy-duty cleaning. 

The installation of the Moen Pull-Out Faucet also uses Duralock Quick Connect hoses, allowing the water lines to be connected without a lot of twisting and turning. To make things even easier, this faucet also includes a cool little installation tool that basically acts as sort of a basin wrench, which makes tightening those mounting nuts a lot easier (especially if you don’t have much space between the wall and your sink basin).

The best commercial-style faucet

Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet has the power and size of a commercial faucet, with all the features of a standard model.

Pros: Sturdy, magnetic locking arm, high quality

Cons: Spring needs to be cleaned periodically, installation can be tricky depending on your surface

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Single Handle Pull-Down Sprayer Faucet features the sturdy construction of a commercial kitchen-style faucet, with a modern style that looks right at home in a residential kitchen. It’s great for an active kitchen and the ideal faucet for tackling large piles of dishes.

The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Faucet has a magnetic docking arm that the spray head firmly attaches to when not in use. Unlike other commercial-style faucets, the docking arm swivels out of the way when you’re working.

Something I’ve come to notice about these commercial-style faucets is that sometimes their height makes them look out of place in some kitchens. That’s not the case with the Kohler. Its 22-inch vertical is still short enough to look great on most counters. I’ve even seen this on a kitchen island — usually a no-no for taller faucets — and it looked great.

The spring-loaded design of the pull-down spray head has the perfect amount of tension to it. Not so tight that it restricts movement, but solid enough to have a feeling of control while you’re using it. The downside of any spring-type tension mechanism is that debris can become lodged in the gaps of the spring. What’s great about the Kohler Sous Pro-Style is that the entire spring is simple to remove and you can just spray the whole thing off on the sink. 

In addition to the standard stream setting, the faucet also features “Sweep Spray” technology, turning the stream into a linear broom-style pattern. This is great for “sweeping” away food from dishes, instead of just blasting it around with a standard sprayer. This setting is also excellent for cleaning out the sink itself.

If you are installing this faucet to a stainless steel sink, you will need to add a small 1/2-inch plywood support piece under the counter. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s an extra step that most other faucets don’t have.

What to consider when shopping for a kitchen faucet

Choosing a kitchen faucet may seem like a mundane task, but it’s actually important. You want the right kind to fit your needs and your kitchen’s decor, and you don’t want to simply opt for the cheapest model. So before you shop for a new kitchen faucet, think about where (the existing space, pre-existing hardware) and how you plan to use it. Consider each model’s specs: 

  • Valve Control: This is the mechanism that turns your faucet on and off, and adjusts the temperature of the water. Single-handle designs use one lever to control both temperature and flow, while double-handles have two (each handle controlling either the hot or cold water supply). Touch and motion-activated designs are convenient in a lot of ways, but they are dependent on a power source for their sensor.
    Note: Double handle styles are less common and are generally bought for their aesthetics over practicality — which is why we don’t have any featured here. That said, I definitely value their durability: dual handles tend to be sturdier, and less easily yanked on than single handles.
  • Spout style: Choose from revolving or stationary, regular (steady stream) or two-mode (regular and spray), low arc (3 to 8 inches above the top of the sink), or high arc (also known as gooseneck, which is more than 8 inches above the top of the sink) models. 
  • Spray head: The sprayer can be separate from and next to the faucet, or at the end of the spout. The latter type is either pull-down (often on taller faucets) or pull-out (which sometimes includes much of the spout itself).
  • Finish: Whatever material comprises the faucet’s finish (chrome, stainless steel, bronze, copper, brass, nickel, etc.) affects its appearance, cleanability, resistance to spotting and rusting, and price.
  • Arc and spout height and reach: Do you have ample clearance for a high-arc faucet or a cozier kitchen better suited to a low-arc model? Will you need to maneuver pots and pans under the faucet in order to wash them? Do you care how far the spout reaches across or extends over the sink?
  • Flow rate: Do you want adjustable water pressure? Do you need just a stream (for filling pots or washing vegetables) or also a spray (to add oomph to scrubbing sticky or burnt-on food off of dishes)? 
  • Installation requirements: How many holes does your sink have for fitting a faucet? Some sinks have only one hole, and faucets requiring more than one hole can’t be used (unless you plan to drill more holes … which may be inconvenient, costly, or structurally impossible). If your sink does have extra holes that the faucet doesn’t need, you can cover them with an escutcheon or deck plate or use them to fit accessories like a side sprayer or soap dispenser. It’s also worth checking to make sure you have enough clearance between the faucet and the wall behind – to ensure your handle can rotate as far as it needs to.

No matter which kitchen faucet you pick, choose a model that helps save water. A faucet aerator efficiently reduces the flow rate while still maintaining water pressure, thus conserving water and saving you money. Also, fix (or replace if necessary) the faucet when you notice any leaking. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, “A faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste 192 gallons (726.8 liters) per month … 2,304 gallons (8.7 m3) per year.” To calculate your household’s potential water waste from a leaky kitchen faucet, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Drip Calculator.  

Check out our other kitchen buying guides.

LG dishwasher
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The 5 best men-sized backpacking packs, perfect for everything from multi-day treks to weeks spent on the trail

  • The right backpacking pack makes trekking with a 30-pound bag on your back a more comfortable experience.
  • The best packs evenly distribute large loads, have several access points, and feature adjustable straps and hip belts. 
  • Our top pick, the Osprey Atmos AG 65, carries tons of gear yet stays comfortable with mesh venting and padded straps.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Backpacking is a fun but grueling outdoor activity – but it doesn’t always have to be. With the right equipment, a multi-day trip into the backcountry could feel like a literal walk in the park, and achieving this starts with purchasing the right backpack. 

Since backpacking requires you to haul everything you need to survive, your pack needs to both hold up to the harshness of the outdoors yet remain comfortable across long distances. This means finding one that’s capable of packing everything from a change of clothes and a sleeping bag to ample food and water (which includes gear like backpacking stoves, changes of socks, and, of course, equipment for making coffee). 

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve embarked on my fair share of backpacking trips, both big and small. Some had me spending just a couple of days on the trail with minimal mileage hiked each day while others were more intensive multi-day to week-long treks with tens of miles of ground covered between camps. While some of the gear you bring may be influenced by the season (like sleeping bags or hiking apparel), the pack you wear depends entirely on the trip you plan on taking.

But finding the right pack isn’t always an easy process. With so many on the market, it’s difficult to know which are best suited to the type of backpacking you prefer. To help, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite packs from brands like Osprey, Arc’teryx, and Gregory, all designed to function well in a variety of use cases. 

A note on fit

The backpacking backpacks featured in this guide are marked as “men’s” packs for a few reasons, all pertaining to their specific fit. Men’s packs tend to have larger carrying capacities, wider straps, taller hip belts, and larger torso dimensions.

Though they’re marketed as “men’s” packs, this doesn’t mean someone of any gender wouldn’t be able to find a men’s pack that fits them well and serves their backpacking needs (same goes for women’s backpacking packs, too). 

Here are the best men’s backpacking backpacks:

Best overall

Atmos AG backpack

With 65-liters of cargo space, upper and lower compression straps to stabilize heavy loads, and Osprey’s Anti-Gravity mesh back panel, the Atmos AG 65 is a backpacker’s dream.

Pros: Osprey’s Anti-Gravity mesh back panel molds to your back to create a comfortable, custom fit, included FlapJacket fly helps protect against rainy weather, upper and lower compression straps reduce load weight

Cons: Size could be bulky for smaller people, not ideal for short, day trips

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 focuses on providing absolute comfort no matter how far you’re hiking or how much cargo you’re hauling. Its 65-liter capacity may be too much for anyone setting out on an overnight trip, as it’s meant more for a weekend or longer excursions. Even when it’s not completely full, the pack never feels as though it’s flopping around on your back or creating a poor fit. 

It features a top-loading design in its main compartment, as well as several exterior pockets designed to hold water bottles, ice climbing tools, or trekking poles. The Atmos also has a zippered bottom area designed to hold a sleeping bag, as well as removable exterior straps which are used to secure a sleeping pad. 

For load management, Osprey’s LightWire frame connects the upper part of the pack to the hip-belt and central core to help distribute weight. Compression straps located on both the upper and lower part of the pack also reduced the pack’s bulk and balanced out heavier loads during my tests. 

Its best feature is the Anti-Gravity ventilated mesh back-panel that contoured to our back to create a snug fit. This helped evenly distribute weight, specifically taking it off our shoulders, hips, and back. This allowed us to carry more weight without feeling bogged down. 

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is one of the best values among any picks on this list. Being uncomfortable can quickly ruin any backpacking trip, so investing in a pack like this one is always well worth the money.  

Best for short trips

REICoop

REI Co-op’s Flash 45 offers ample cargo room for weekend-long adventures but remains lightweight enough for quick day trips or overnighters.

Pros: Smaller capacity perfect for day trips, compatible with hydration pouches, contoured foam hip belt provides a snug and comfortable fit, UpLift Compression tech raises the load to improve stability, and it’s inexpensive

Cons: Not suitable for venturing off-grid for multiple days

Backpacking trips don’t always need to be grueling multiday treks, so when shorter day trips or overnighters are on the agenda, REI Co-op’s Flash 45 is the pack you’ll want. Small enough to avoid slowing you down but with enough cargo space to support you for one or two days on the trail.

Even for a smaller pack, it’s loaded with features geared toward making backpacking easier. REI designed its back panel to provide extra lumbar support while remaining breathable and flexible. It has a contoured hip-belt with foam padding throughout which sits snug against your body to create a custom fit.

On longer trips when I had more cargo, its compression straps helped raise its load while pulling it toward my center of gravity. This helped with pack stability which left me better balanced, and the pack better supported, while I hiked.

Other features include compatibility with a hydration pouch and external tool keepers for trekking poles or ice axes. It also has conveniently-placed bottle pockets that allow you to easily remove and place back water bottles. 

The Flash 45 is a great option for anyone just getting into backpacking but not interested in investing in a larger, more expensive model. 

Best for durability

Hyperlite backpack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest Pack features a Dyneema composite exterior that allows it to hold up to hanging branches, sharp rocks, or anything you come across while on the trail.

Pros: Constructed out of durable and lightweight Dyneema fabric, 40-liter volume offers enough cargo space for weekend trips, dedicated hydration pack pocket, seamed seals to keep the rain out

Cons: Only offers a few external pockets that can fill up easily

It’s not just your body that will take a beating on backpacking trips — your gear inevitably will, too. If you plan on backpacking in densely wooded areas or you find that your gear tends to get more scratched and scraped than you’d like, then check out the Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s 2400 Southwest Pack.

Constructed out of durable Dyneema fabric, the pack can be taken into the harshest environments with confidence. Dyneema’s light weight also helps reduce overall pack weight, something that proved beneficial when we packed this 40-liter bag to the brim. Its size is perfect for three-day treks and can even be an option for ultralight backpackers setting out for four or five days. 

Its roll-top closure system is easy to secure, though it did make it slightly difficult to reach gear in the bottom of the pack while we were on-the-move. There are a few external pockets to store gear that we could quickly access, but these are limited to the front of the pack. Vertical and horizontal compression straps along the sides of the pack help properly secure loads, which was especially useful when the pack wasn’t completely full. 

Its interior houses a mesh hydration sleeve that’s separate from the main compartment, so it won’t take up valuable gear space. Other features include fully-seamed seals to keep water out, as well as ice ax loops. The pack is a little expensive at $310 but its durability more than validates the investment.

Best for heavy cargo

Gregory backpack

With a lightweight aluminum chassis and an innovative suspension system, the Gregory Paragon 58 weighs less than 4 pounds, saving wearers some valuable packing weight.

Pros: Lightweight frame and suspension system makes heavy loads easier to haul, matrix ventilation system allows for increased airflow to keep your back cool, adjustable hip-belt makes it easy to customize the perfect fit, hydration sleeve doubles as a small daypack

Cons: The stitching on the daypack isn’t very durable 

Every backpacker knows that despite their best-laid plans to keep their pack light, they often end up bringing much more gear than anticipated. With Gregory’s Paragon 58, those heavy loads become much easier to handle, no matter how long the trip might be. 

The pack achieves this by way of an incredibly lightweight frame and suspension system that clocks in several pounds lighter than any other pack on this list. Though it may not seem that crucial, every pound counts when you’re hiking 10-plus miles for days-on-end and living solely out a backpack. 

Along with its matrix ventilation system that promotes increased airflow, the Paragon 58 is best-suited for trips anywhere from three to five days long. The final days of any backpacking trip can feel as though food, water, and clean socks are at a minimum but we took its lower weight into consideration and packed extra. This let us get through even a five-day trip with ease. 

One of its highlight features is its hydration sleeve that also doubles as a removable daypack. If we had camp set-up, this allowed us to not have to haul our big 58-liter pack on short treks to a nearby river just to tote along water or food. The daypack’s stitching isn’t the most durable and although it didn’t come undone on our trips, we could see how it might when used often. 

For $230, the Gregory Paragon 58 is a great backpacking option with incredible value. It’s best used for longer backpacking trips, or for anyone who has a hard time deciding on what to bring or what to leave behind. 

Best suspension system

Arc'teryx backpack

The Arc’teryx Bora AR 50’s innovative suspension system, which allows wearers to freely move without worrying about shifts in weight, is worth its high price tag.

Pros: Best suspension system on the market makes heavy loads feel lighter and promotes a wide range of movement, pivoting hip belt helps avoid the displacement of pack weight, constructed out of weatherproof materials, large enough capacity for weekend trips

Cons: Expensive

A backpacking pack’s suspension system has the ability to make or break a backpacking trip. Not only are they responsible for distributing the weight of a pack to make it more manageable for the wearer, but they help promote a range of motion and establish a comfortable fit. Right now, no pack does suspension better than the Arc’teryx Bora AR 50.

Thanks to the brand’s RotoGlide hip-belt, its suspension system is designed to completely rotate side to side while also offering free movement up and down. What this does is that with every step, the pack slides in either direction to allow for a natural stride, even when it’s packed full. This also reduces chafing and helps wearers maintain balance. 

Though this is helpful for any length of trip, we found it to be especially useful during weekend trips where our pack needed to carry the most gear. Whether crouching underneath a fallen tree or stepping up onto a high rock, the suspension system helped the pack remain stable through a wide range of motion. 

The pack also features a number of internal and external pockets that helped keep our gear organized. Its exterior kangaroo pocket was great for storing snacks we could access quickly, and would also function well for stashing wet gear. There are also side pockets sized for water bottles, as well as loops for trekking poles.

Arc’teryx designed the Bora AR 50 as a top-loading pack but included side zippers to make it easier to access gear stored at the bottom. The pack is also compatible with hydration pouches and features external storage loops for ice axes.

It’s the most expensive pack on this list at $500, but no other model offers as functional a suspension system as the Bora AR 50. If it wasn’t for the high price, we could easily see this as our overall pick.

Backpacking packs FAQ

Backpacking packs differ from traditional travel backpacks in that they’re designed to hold upward of 30 or 40 pounds of cargo, while still being comfortable to wear. The best packs do this by distributing weight across its frame to avoid having the bulk of the weight sit on any one part of your body.

These packs also tend to feature an abundance of pockets to hold a variety of gear, a sleeve for a hydration pouch, and multiple points of entry to make accessing what you pack along easier than just dumping everything out and repacking. You’ll also find most packs come with a series of adjustable (and padded) straps to fine-tune the fit, ventilation systems to promote airflow and keep you cool, and some sort of durable fabric to hold up to the harshness of the outdoors. 

How do you pick out the right size?

Many backpacking packs come in sizes such as small, medium, or large, but finding the right fit also comes down to personally customizing the pack yourself. This means adjusting the hip belt and changing the size of the pack’s torso length. You’ll also want to make sure the shoulder straps and any other stabilizing strap (sternum, load-lifter, etc.) are able to customize to your liking. 

A good rule of thumb for initially picking out a pack, too, is that your specific torso length is far more important than your height. Just because you wear medium shirts doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll wear a medium pack. Fine-tuning these adjustments and picking out the correct size allows the pack to be far less fatiguing while on the trail, and assures you’re able to get from point A to point B in as comfortable a way as possible.

How important is the pack’s fit?

Aside from packing the correct gear like sleeping bags, tents, and food and water, how your pack fits is one of the most vital steps to any backpacking trip. An ill-fitting pack can spell the difference between making it to camp without immense back pain or having to stop and readjust your load every few feet.

What are the most important features that it should have?

All backpacking packs should come with some form of padded hip belt, padded shoulder straps, a load-fitting strap (this is separate from the shoulder straps), and a sternum strap. Beyond those which help with the fit, you should also look for packs that come with a variety of useful storage pockets.

Personally, I like packs that have pockets on the hip belt for easy access to snacks, sunglasses, or anything else small I might need on the trail, as well as easily accessible water pouches (if it doesn’t come with space for a hydration pouch). Some packs also come with removable top pouches which can serve as day packs if you venture off from camp. 

You also want to make sure your pack can carry everything you need it to (but don’t go overboard). It’s not always smart to just buy the largest capacity backpack, even for long trips, because you run the risk of overpacking and a heavy backpack can severely weigh you down on trail. The best way to judge how much gear to bring is by weight, and you generally don’t want to pack more than 20% of your body weight. 

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The 4 best no-pull harnesses recommended by dog trainers, walkers, and rescuers

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good no-pull harness can reduce your dog’s leash pulling without causing them pain or discomfort.
  • A professional dog trainer teamed up with shelter workers to test nine popular no-pull dog harnesses.
  • The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is the best option to prevent pulling without causing discomfort or restricting range of motion.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas. The purpose of this medical review is to ensure accuracy and does not imply any product endorsements or recommendations.

Being pulled down the street can turn a relaxing dog walk into a frustrating battle. As a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, more than half of my clients ask for help training their dog to walk nicely on a leash. I typically recommend that dog owners purchase a quality front-clip no-pull harness to assist them in training their dog how to walk on leash without pulling.

For this guide, I partnered with five shelter workers and volunteers at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco to test nine of the most popular no-pull harnesses. Harnesses were tested on walks with more than two dozen medium and large untrained rescue dogs. I also interviewed professional dog walkers and trainers about their favorite harnesses. With each harness, we evaluated how well it prevents pulling, whether it causes discomfort or impedes a dog’s movement, overall fit, adjustability, durability, and washability. Read more about our testing methodology at the end of this guide.

Why you should walk your dog with a harness

Dog harnesses are more than just a training tool to discourage pulling. Even if your dog doesn’t pull, a harness is safer than walking with a leash attached to a collar. Traditional neck collars should never be used for restraining or controlling your dog, as they can cause tension and stress on the dog’s neck. In a 2020 study using canine neck models with pressure sensors, Anne Carter, PhD, a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that all types of dog collars have the potential to cause harm to a dog’s neck. A flat neck collar’s only purpose is for attaching your dog’s ID tags or for decoration. 

It’s important to remember that front-clip, no-pull harnesses are not a magical quick fix. They are, however, an excellent management tool that makes it easier to train a dog to walk nicely on leash.

Here are the best no-pull dog harnesses you can buy

The best no-pull harness overall

best no-pull dog harnesses in 2021

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness significantly reduces pulling without impeding a dog’s movement, sagging, or twisting.

Pros: Deters pulling better than other harnesses, six points of adjustment for appropriate fit, good for dogs that dislike putting their head through a harness, machine washable, 90-day chew replacement policy

Cons: More expensive than most other harnesses, no padding, can be confusing to put on at first

The Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness is a favorite among dog trainers and dog walkers alike. We were impressed by how much easier it was to walk our untrained shelter dogs when they were wearing this harness. The dogs pulled less and were easier to control.

When used with a leash attached to the front D-ring, this harness offers superior control for dogs that pull. Its Y-neck design does not cross the dog’s shoulders or pinch under the armpits, offering a level of comfort not found with other harnesses. Like all the harnesses in this guide, the leash can be attached to either the chest D-ring to reduce pulling or to the back of the harness for dogs that don’t pull.

If you’ve had trouble finding a harness that fits, this is an excellent option. There are six different points that can be adjusted for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The harness has a band that clips around the torso and another band that clips around the neck. While the neck band is ideal for dogs that resist putting their head through a harness, this design can make it confusing to put the harness on until you get the hang of it. The colored top strap on the back will help you keep straight what goes where.

Robyn Socarro, a professional dog trainer at Beyond the Biscuit in Bentonville, Arkansas, swears by the Balance Harness. “It is great for daily performance, and it doesn’t interfere with the dog’s shoulder movement,” she said. “I do a lot of swimming and water activities with my dogs, and this harness doesn’t need to be removed when using a doggie life jacket, and it dries quickly without irritating the skin.”

“The Blue-9 Balance Harness is my go-to recommendation for my clients,” said professional dog walker Clare Hart-Slattery, based in Oakland, California. “It has a higher level of adjustability than other no-pull harnesses, which helps eliminate loose spots that may encourage pulling or irritate the skin.” 

The Balance Harness has a minimalist design that includes unpadded nylon straps and comes in eight different colors and five sizes. I toss mine into the washer and let it air-dry, with no damaging effects.

Although the soft nylon has a 3,500-pound test strength, if your dog chews this harness, Blue-9 offers a 90-day replacement for half price — just pay shipping to mail in the damaged harness. Because of its design, however, most dogs cannot reach the straps with their mouths and I’ve never had a dog chew through one.

The best no-pull harness for versatility

2Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness

With front and back clips and a double-connection leash, the 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness is versatile enough to use with any dog, even serious pullers.

Pros: Works well for serious pullers, straps do not loosen or sag, velvet-lined straps prevent chafing, machine washable, available in 7 sizes and 23 different colors and designs, double-connection leash included

Cons: Can be confusing to put on, straps are difficult to adjust

The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness has something of a cult following among dog trainers. With both a front and back D-ring, it’s comfortable for walking dogs who are pullers and those who are not. Diane Livoti Perlman, owner of Metro Dog day care and boarding in Richmond, California, recommends this harness to all of her clients.

Users are frequently amazed at how quickly the Freedom harness reduces tension on the leash for dogs that pull, especially when paired with the included double-connection leash. By connecting the leash to the D-rings at the chest and back, the harness evenly distributes pressure, preventing a dog from feeling discomfort at a single point on their body and providing more control than most other harnesses. The martingale strap at the back tightens in response to pulling to help prevent a dog from squirming out of the harness and escaping. 

Several of our testers found it tricky to put the harness on the first few times because the straps are fitted tightly in the stainless steel hardware. However, once the four points were properly adjusted, they got the hang of it. The straps stay secure and don’t loosen up like some harnesses. There is also a buckle at the neck, so it doesn’t need to be pulled over the dog’s head. The velvet lining on the strap behind the legs is a nice touch for sensitive-skinned dogs.

2 Hounds has put a lot of thought and care into their product. Available in seven different sizes, the Freedom Harness works well for dogs of all sizes and shapes and is the only one in this guide that offers two different widths: 5/8-inch wide straps for smaller dogs and 1-inch straps for larger dogs. One of my clients could not find a harness that fit her low and wide Corgi-Labrador mix until she tried the 2 Hounds Freedom No-Pull Harness. It comes in 23 different colors and patterns.

This harness can be machine-washed on delicate cycle and air-dried. I accidentally put it in the dryer, and it came out fine. 2 Hounds will also replace a chewed harness for $12.99 with free shipping.

The best affordable no-pull harness

Petsafe 3-in-1 Harness

The Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a durable, no-pull harness that won’t break the bank. 

Pros: Five points of adjustment for good fit, reflective stitching, some padding

Cons: Limited color options, heavy plastic buckles may be uncomfortable

With both a front and a back D-ring, the Petsafe 3-in-1 No-Pull Dog Harness is a solid choice. Attach the leash to the front of the harness to reduce pulling or secure it to the back ring for casual walks or running with your dog.

Beth DiMeccio walks shelter dogs most weekdays at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco and tested this harness on several untrained shelter dogs that were difficult to walk. She was impressed with how well it worked for serious pullers. “There’s little chance a dog can wriggle out of this harness, which is a big concern with shelter dogs,” she said.

This Y-shaped nylon harness does not restrict a dog’s movement, unlike Petsafe’s other popular no-pull harness, the Easy Walk, which has a horizontal chest strap that sits too low on some dogs. The 3-in-1’s five different adjustment points allow for a comfortable and snug fit, and with a buckle at the neck, it doesn’t need to be pulled over a dog’s head. It’s also easy to put on and take off after a few tries, but the tiny tags on the straps labeled “shoulder,” “girth,” and “center chest” are only slightly helpful. The light neoprene padding and reflective stitching are a nice touch.

With 1-inch wide straps, this harness is heavier than similar styles, creating too much bulk for smaller dogs. Although the wider straps mean less chafing, there is no padding to cover any of the large plastic clasps. Your dog may have some discomfort if they wear the harness all day.

The harness comes in four different sizes. Unfortunately, the color choices are limited to black, plum, and teal. It also comes with a built-in adjustable car control strap, which attaches to a car’s seat belt. Neither the strap nor the harness are crash-tested, but when used together they will keep your dog restrained in the backseat while you are driving. Petsafe recommends only hand-washing the 3-in-1, which can make it difficult to get out the dog stink that most harnesses collect.

Petsafe offers two sweet guarantees: If your dog chews their harness, the company will ship a replacement for $14.90 (no need to send the damaged harness back). Bought the wrong-size harness? Petsafe has a Perfect Fit Guarantee: They’ll send a new harness free of charge, with a suggestion to donate the first harness to a local shelter.

The best no-pull harness for extended wear

Ruffwear Front Range Harness

The Ruffwear Front Range Harness is a comfortable harness for active dogs and will hold up to years of use.

Pros: Padded, wide straps that won’t chafe, can be worn all day, comes in 13 different colors and 5 sizes, easy to put on and take off, durable

Cons: Chest piece twists and gaps with serious pullers, not quick-drying

Designed for outdoor adventures, the Ruffwear Front Range Harness can take a lot of punishment while keeping your dog comfortable. The foam padding on the chest and belly prevents rubbing and chafing, and the built-in clasps are covered with fabric so they don’t touch any part of a dog’s body.

With only two clasps and two adjustment buckles, the harness is easy to put on and remove. It has two leash attachments: an aluminum V-ring on the back and a reinforced webbing attachment on the chest plate.

The Front Range doesn’t reduce pulling as well as the other harnesses we recommend. Although it is normal for a front-clip harness to move when your dog pulls, the Front Range has more twist than our other top picks, causing it to shift to the side with consistent pulling.

But, if your dog tears through bushes or plays rough with other dogs, this harness is a durable option. After seven years, the Front Range is the only intact harness my dog still wears from his younger days. The polyester shell fabric is durable and doesn’t fade over time, and the reflective stitching is a bonus for nighttime dog walking. The harness is available in 5 sizes and comes in 13 different colors to match every possible preference because, of course, your dog needs a hibiscus pink harness.

San Francisco-based professional dog trainer and dog sport enthusiast Scarlett Cermak, owner of Embark Today, loves the size range and color options as well as its comfort and versatility. “The padding is nice because it doesn’t rub on my thin-coated dog,” she said. “I also really like that there is a back-clip option because there are times, believe it or not, when I want my dogs to pull, like in sports like canicross or joring.”

Hand-washing is advised, but I’ve had to put my dog’s harness in the washer and dryer many times. It’s held up, but the edges are now slightly curled. The chest vest can take a while to dry, so it may stay damp for a while after washing or if your dog swims in it.

Ruffwear’s warranty covers manufacturing defects, but there is no chew replacement policy. In my experience, only the most acrobatic chewers can reach the straps with their teeth.

How we tested

no pull dog harnesses we tested

We considered the most popular harnesses on the market and solicited opinions from professional dog walkers and dog trainers who were already using the brands under consideration.

Three shelter staff and two volunteer shelter walkers then tested the harnesses on walks with more than two dozen rescue dogs at Family Dog Rescue in San Francisco over a period of eight weeks. The dogs were all medium and large-size (over 50 pounds) and chosen because they were known to be difficult to walk due to overexcitability, lack of training, or reactivity. Dogs were walked with the tester harnesses for 30 to 60 minutes on city streets and in local parks.

Unmanageable leash pulling is typically a problem for dog owners with larger dogs, so we did not test these harnesses on dogs under 25 pounds. Many small dogs strain while on leash, but owners do not struggle with being pulled off their feet.

We also did not test head halters, as most dogs initially find them uncomfortable and will resist wearing them. The no-pull harnesses in this guide are a better choice for anyone looking for the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) approach to dog training and behavior modification. If you’d like to learn more about head halters, read about them in our guide to the best dog harnesses.

 We rated each harness according to the following criteria:

  • Prevents pulling: We assessed how well it prevented dogs from pulling on leash while walking. Dogs were walked for a minimum of 30 minutes on 4-foot leashes.
  • Does not impede or restrict movement: Harnesses were tested on dogs of different sizes and shapes to check for sagging and straps that lay over the dog’s front legs and shoulders.
  • Does not chafe or rub: We tested harnesses on both long- and short-haired dogs to check for chafing or rubbing.
  • Dog cannot slip or back out of the harness: Because these harnesses were tested on shelter dogs who tend to be flight risks, this was a crucial consideration.
  • Easy to put on and take off/ease of adjusting: Putting on or adjusting your dog’s harness shouldn’t be frustrating. Our shelter volunteers and testers were asked to record their impressions when first putting the tester harnesses on dogs.
  • Durability and washability: We asked professional dog walkers for their opinions on how well these wear over time and whether they hold up after multiple washes.
  • Initial cost and replacement cost: We considered whether the price of the harness is justified and how easy it is to replace if chewed.

What else we considered

Kurgo Tru Fit Harness
  • Kurgo Tru-Fit Smart Dog Walking Harness: This is an affordable harness with a padded chest plate and both front and back leash attachments. It’s a solid choice as an everyday walking harness for larger dogs that pull moderately.
  • Rabbitgoo No-Pull Dog Harness: This is a somewhat effective no-pull harness, with a vest-shaped design similar to the Ruffwear Front Range. Unless your dog is barrel-chested, the front of the harness twists to the side whenever the dog pulls. The straps also require constant tightening as they loosen too easily. 
  • Petsafe Easy Walk: This popular front-clip harness is inexpensive and easy to put on and adjust. The front chest strap, however, tends to sag more than any other harness we tested, causing it to hang across the dog’s front legs and impede movement. With no padding and thin straps, the Easy Walk may also rub and create abrasions. The buckle ends up under the armpit on many dogs, which can be uncomfortable.
  • Wonder Walker Body Harness: This is a sturdy front-clip harness that works well to prevent pulling. Unfortunately, the horizontal chest strap tends to sag significantly and ends up laying across the dog’s shoulders or front legs.
  • Bolux Dog Harness: One of the most inexpensive harnesses available, this harness does nothing to prevent your dog from pulling, as it only has one leash attachment on the back. Squirmy dogs can easily back out of this harness and escape.

How to get the right fit

Finding the right harness for your dog is like choosing the perfect running sneakers. The right fit is crucial. There’s nothing scarier than your dog wriggling or backing out of a loose-fitting harness. An ill-fitting harness will also be uncomfortable, and if it’s too tight, it can cause chafing. Sagging harnesses can impede a dog’s full range of shoulder or leg movement.

A well-fitting harness should be snug but not too tight, with enough room to fit two to three fingers under all the straps. Check the sizing charts and read the instructions on how to measure your dog. When buying online, measure carefully and check the return policy before ordering. If you have a puppy, prepare to purchase more than one harness as they grow.

Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so what fits well for one dog may not work for another. You may have to try a few different harness styles if your dog has an atypical body shape.

Why do dogs pull on leash and how can you stop it?

No dog is born innately understanding how to walk on a leash. Most dogs will pull unless loose leash walking is taught and reinforced.

Dogs pull because they naturally walk faster than we do and because they want to get to the park or greet another dog or sniff something interesting. They pull because they’ve never been taught not to pull. Dogs also strain on the leash because it works for them: They pull, and they get to move forward. Tension at the end of the leash is a learned behavior.

The best way to stop your dog from pulling is to train loose leash walking using positive reinforcement. If your dog is a veteran puller, there is no humane piece of equipment that you can just put on them to instantly stop the pulling. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, explained that neck collars do not prevent pulling and put too much pressure on the dog’s neck.

Although front-clip no-pull harnesses are not a magic bullet that will instantly stop your dog from pulling, they are a management tool. A good harness will help you manage and control your dog while teaching them leash manners.

Although we tested these no-pull harnesses on medium and large dogs, pulling on leash can be a problem for dogs of any size. While some handlers may tolerate leash pulling with a small dog, a no-pull harness is just as helpful for them.

How do front-clip no-pull harnesses work?

2 Hounds Design Freedom Harness

Front-clip harnesses are designed to discourage forward pulling by pivoting the dog toward you whenever the leash is taut. There’s no magic — that’s it. This spinning toward you provides a training opportunity while your dog focuses on you. If you keep walking whenever your dog pulls, you are not only missing out on the chance to train loose leash walking, but you are also reinforcing pulling.

Not all front-clip harnesses are created equal. Harnesses come in two basic designs: A Y-shaped chest strap or a strap that lays horizontally across the chest. Y-shaped harnesses better allow for full freedom of movement.

“Any product that forms a Y shape around the dog’s neck and under the chest is non-restrictive,” said Chris Zink, DVM, a canine sports medicine consultant and researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

The best no-pull harnesses have both back- and front-clip rings, and some brands now sell cleverly designed leashes that clip to both rings simultaneously, giving the handler better control and balancing leash tension across the body instead of at a single location.

Leashes that attach to the back of a dog’s harness are a safe and comfortable option for dogs that don’t strain on the leash. Back-clip harnesses are also useful for attaching a dragline when teaching recall (“come”).

Why we don’t recommend prong, choke, and e-collars

We only considered no-pull equipment that does not cause pain or discomfort for a dog. Prong, choke, and shock collars are all designed to punish a dog by inflicting pain around the neck whenever they pull. Prong collars and choke chains can also cause damage to a dog’s neck.

“As a general rule, I don’t like anything that puts too much pressure on the neck,” said Siracusa. “Definitely no prong or shock collars. Even a martingale-type collar, which I do like, will not prevent the dog from pulling [and] will apply pressure on the neck.”

Punishment and pain create fear, stress, and anxiety in dogs also have no place in modern dog training. Studies show that e-collars (shock collars) produce behavioral and physiological signs of stress when used on pet dogs. As of October 2020, Petco, the second largest retail pet company in the United States, discontinued the sale of all shock collars online and in stores. Shock collars are banned and illegal in many countries, including England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. To train your dog more humanely, effectively, and successfully, use science-based positive reinforcement and rewards-based training and handling methods.

No harness is chew-proof

There is no such thing as a chew-proof harness. A chewed-up harness is not a manufacturer defect or the fault of a poor design. It takes less than 30 seconds for a determined dog or teething puppy to destroy a brand-new harness, so take it off them when unsupervised. Be sure to also remove harnesses to prevent injury when dogs rough house, as teeth and limbs can get entangled. 

If your dog is a veteran harness destroyer, check the manufacturer’s chew guarantees before purchasing. We were pleasantly surprised by how generous some of the replacement policies are.

Who we consulted

Anne Carter, PhD, is a researcher and lecturer in animal biology at Nottingham Trent University.

Chris Zink, DVM, is a board-certified specialist in veterinary pathology and veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chris is one of the world’s top canine sports medicine and rehabilitation veterinarians and researchers. She is a professor and researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Carlo Siracusa, DVM, is the director of Animal Behavior Medicine services at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

San Francisco SPCA Training Department

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best charging stations and USB charging hubs in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • There are many multi-port USB charging stations to choose from with support for a variety of devices.
  • The Satechi Dock5 is our top pick thanks to its convenient ability to charge up to five devices at the same time.

Charging stations and hubs come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve included different options to suit different needs and device charging specifications, so whether you have an iPhone, an Apple Watch, AirPods, a Quick Charge Android phone, a laptop, or a USB-C Android phone; we’ve got you covered.

These days, more and more devices are shipping with USB-C cables instead of USB-A cables, so we’re including charging stations that come with both USB-C ports and USB-A ports if you’re still using your older cables.

For Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra users, specifically – unfortunately, none of the charging stations we’ve encountered support Samsung’s 45W fast charging for the Galaxy S20 Ultra. If you’re looking to max out your charging speeds with those devices, your best bet is to get Samsung’s own charger. Just note that the latest Galaxy S21 series, including the Galaxy S21 Ultra, only support up to 25W charging, which some of the chargers below can achieve.

Here are the best charging stations and USB charging hubs:

The best charging station overall

Satechi Dock5 charging station

The Satechi Dock5 Multi-Device Charging Station neatly charges five devices simultaneously and includes two USB-C PD ports, two USB-A ports, and a Qi charging pad.

Pros: Charges up to five devices at the same time, holds devices in place neatly, affordable, meets standard charging speeds on most devices, can fast charge iPhone, includes USB-C charging ports

Cons: Short charging cables are sold separately, won’t meet top charging speeds on some Android devices

Households with several smartphones and/or tablets, and wireless charging earbuds will appreciate the Dock5 by reputable tech accessories maker Satechi. 

The Dock5 can charge five devices at the same time with its variety of two USB-C ports, standard USB-A ports, and a Qi wireless charging pad. Devices can be organized neatly with the silicone dividers that prevent scratching. 

The USB-C ports are rated at 20W each, and will be best used on smartphones with fast charging, or devices with large batteries, like a tablet. For reference, the Dock5‘s 20W USB-C ports exceed the iPad Pro’s 18W included charging brick and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12’s 18W fast charging capabilities. The Galaxy S21 phones can charge up to 25W.

The standard USB-A ports are rated at 12W each, which makes them more suitable for smartphone charging at decent speeds. 

The wireless Qi charging pad is rated at 10W, which is double what the AirPods Pro charging capacity. Unfortunately, the Dock5 won’t charge AirPods Pro faster, as they’ll only accept up to 5W for wireless charging. Still, the wireless charging pad can be used to charge a smartphone up to 10W wirelessly.

The Dock5 doesn’t come with the short charging cables you see in the images — those are sold separately and range between $9 to $18, and you’ll have to use your existing cables. That’s a shame, because charging four wired devices with longer cables will make for a messier look than what you see in Satechi’s images. Still, the convenience is undeniable.

Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best budget charging station

Anker PowerPort 5

Charging multiple devices on a budget means you’ll miss out on USB-C charging ports, but you get five USB-A ports on the Anker PowerPort 5 is a cheap, easy solution that will do a great job charging several devices.

Pros: Charges up to five devices at the same time, cheap

Cons: Doesn’t include USB-C or fast charging tech

While you may not get USB-C ports or very fast charging, Anker’s 40W 5-Port USB Wall Charger will do nicely for up to five mobile devices. For under $25 on Amazon, it’s hard to beat. You can easily charge devices like smartphones, smartwatches, headphones, and other accessories that use USB for charging with the PowerPort 5. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station with wireless charging

Nomad Base Station

The Nomad Base Station is a premium, elegant wireless charging station that can charge up to four devices at the same time with its USB-C, USB-A port, and wireless charging pad. 

Pros: Elegant and premium design, versatile charging options, affordable for what it offers, included EU and US adapters

Cons: Doesn’t wirelessly charge Apple Watch, doesn’t charge iPad Pro through Magic Keyboard

The sleek, elegant Nomad Base Station has a padded leather wireless charging surface that can wirelessly charge two devices at the same time at 7.5W, or 10W for a single device. Just note that different phones have different speed limits for wireless charging. Alternatively, you could charge a phone and a pair of wireless charging earbuds or a smartwatch on the pad. Also note that it won’t charge the Apple Watch.

If the wireless charging pad won’t charge your phone fast enough in a pinch, the 18W USB-C port will do the trick for iPhones and Android devices, and it’ll charge most tablets at a standard pace.

The USB-A port is rated at 7.5W, which is pretty slow for phones, but is suitable for charging wireless earbuds.

For its price, the Nomad Base Station is among the best options for a versatile charging station. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for Quick Charge devices

RavPower PD Pioneer Charging Station

The Ravpower PD Pioneer 65W 4-Port USB C Desktop Charger offers quick charging for both standard USB-A ports, as well as two USB-C ports.

Pros: Compact design, charges most devices quickly, can charge a laptop, inexpensive

Cons: Doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W charging tech

The Ravpower PD Pioneer 65W Desktop Charger offers a variety of quick charging USB-A and USB-C ports for a range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It’s the best quick charger for the money. 

It features Power Delivery for the USB-C ports that charges up 65W for USB-C PD-compatible devices up to 65W from a single port. If you connect two USB-C PD-compatible devices to the USB-C ports, it’ll charge one at 45W and the other at 18W. 

As for the standard Quick Charge USB-A ports, it can charge one port at 18W, and 12W if you have two devices plugged into each USB-A port. Ravpower also includes this handy chart to show you what it can do with different connection combinations:

Connected port combination Output for each connected port
1 USB-C port USB-C – PD 65W
2 USB-C ports USB-C – PD 45W; USB-C – PD 18W
2 USB-A ports USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A
1 USB-C port + 1 USB-A port USB-C – PD 45W; USB-A – QC 18W
1 USB-C port + 2 USB-A ports USB-C- PD 45W; USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A
2 USB-C ports + 1 USB-A port USB-C – PD 18W; USB-C – PD 18W; USB-A – QC 18W
When connected to all ports USB-C – PD 18W; USB-C – PD 18W; USB-A – 5V/2.4A; USB-A – 5V/2.4A

Just note that like any other quick charging hub we’ve encountered, the Ravpower won’t support Samsung’s ultra-fast 45W charging, as it uses a special protocol that only Samsung seems to use with its own chargers. If you have a Samsung device that supports 45W charging, it’s best to go with Samsung’s own chargers. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station with USB-C for laptops

Aukey charging station

The Omnia Mix4 100W 4-port PD Charger by Aukey has a huge 100W capacity that will charge almost any standard laptop via USB-C at full clip while charging other devices at the same time.

Pros: Can charge multiple laptops while charging other devices, compact, affordable

Cons: Doesn’t support Samsung’s 45W smartphone charging

This 100W charger is smaller than most included charging bricks that come with laptops these days and meets their full power needs. For example, Aukey claims it can charge the power-hungry 16-inch MacBook Pro in 1.8 hours, at least if it’s the only device connected to the charger.

If you connect two laptops to the Omnia via USB-C, the USB-C ports will reduce to 45W each, which is enough to power two MacBook Airs at the same time. If you’re looking to charge laptops that require over 45W, the Omnia will work best as a single-laptop solution. 

The two USB-A ports can charge at a 12W maximum each, but are reduced to 6W each if you have two laptops connected to the USB-C ports. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for iPhone and Apple Watch

Mophie charging stand

The Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand is an ideal charging station for your pre-iPhone 12 iPhone , AirPods (with wireless charging), and Apple Watch. iPhone 12 users should look at the Belkin Boost Charge Pro.

Pros: Perfect for desks or night stands, ideal for Apple users

Cons: Mophie is slow for iPhone 12, Belkin doesn’t support pre-iPhone 12 generation

If you’re looking to charge your daily Apple portable Apple devices that you regularly charge overnight all in one place, the Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand should be near the top of your list. 

The Mophie charges iPhones that support wireless charging up to 7.5 watts, which is fine for any iPhone that supports wireless charging before the iPhone 12. It will also charge your Apple Watch with the magnetic charging pad that props the Watch up in horizontal mode, and there’s a dedicated charging pad for AirPods with wireless charging.

If you have the iPhone 12, consider Belkin’s Boost Charge Pro instead, as it uses Apple’s MagSafe technology and wirelessly charges the iPhone 12 at 15W — faster than the Mophie above. It also features wireless charging for your Apple Watch and wirelessly charging AirPods. — Antonio Villas-Boas, Senior Tech Reporter

The best charging station for travel

Zendure_Passport_Travel_Adapter

The Zendure Passport is a clever travel adapter that fits international outlets and offers one USB-C and three USB-A ports to charge your mobile devices.

Pros: Clever design, works in more than 200 countries, charges five devices at once, auto-resetting fuse

Cons: Chunky, can slide out of some outlets

If you frequently fly abroad for work or pleasure, then you should consider the Zendure Passport travel charger. This global travel adapter works with outlets in more than 200 countries and it also provides four charging ports for mobile devices that can deliver a total of 30W.

It’s quite a chunky adapter, measuring 2.24 by 2.8 by 2.5 inches, and it comes in black or white. There’s a blue LED on the bottom that lights up when it’s plugged in, and Zendure’s signature ribbing runs around the outside.

This charger plugs directly into the wall and has four sliders on the side that enable you to choose the correct plug for the EU, US, UK, or Australia. These four plug types will fit the outlets in most places you’re likely to visit. You can also plug into the other side using devices from any of these countries. On the bottom, you’ll find a USB-C port, marked in blue, and three USB-A ports. The USB-C port supports the Power Delivery standard and offers up to 30W. The USB-A ports are rated at 5V/2.4A for 12W each. The AC output is 6A (600W at 100V or 1,500W at 250V). 

This travel adapter has accompanied me on every trip I’ve taken for the last couple of years and it has served me well in the US, the UK, and across Europe. Being able to charge two phones, a smartwatch, a tablet, and a camera battery from one outlet can be very handy. It has also served my family of four, keeping all our phones charged up, and still offering an outlet for a laptop.

You will need your own charging cables, but you can effectively charge five devices at once with this travel adapter. It is quite bulky, so I’ve occasionally found it’s a tight fit with some outlets. If you have a lot plugged into it the weight can also begin to pull it out of the outlet. 

One feature that has proved very handy is the auto-resetting fuse. Fuses inevitably blow occasionally, but this will cut-off automatically for safety, then reset and be usable again, without you having to worry about changing a fuse.

There’s an older version of the Passport that just has four USB-A ports, so make sure you get the newer one with the USB-C port. It comes with a 24-month warranty. — Simon Hill

How fast does your device charge?

Here are the charging speeds of several popular devices:

Device Charging speed
iPhone 11 18W wired, 7.5W wireless
iPhone 11 Pro 22.5W wired, 7.5W wireless
iPhone 12 20W wired, 15W wireless (with Apple’s MagSafe charger), 7.5W with standard Qi charger
iPhone 12 Pro 20W wired, 15W wireless (with Apple’s MagSafe charger), 7.5W with standard Qi charger
Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra 25W
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 45W

What else we considered

Aukey_QC3_6Port_Charging_Station

You can pick up a wide variety of other charging stations and USB charging hubs that will meet your charging needs. Here’s a small selection of the ones that didn’t quite make our list, but are still worth considering if you’ve yet to see something you like. 

  • AUKEY Quick Charge 3.0 6-Port USB Wall Charger: The affordable Aukey 6-Port Desktop Charging Station has two Quick Charge 3.0 ports marked in orange, four green ports rated at 2.4A apiece, comes with a detachable, 4-foot power cable that plugs directly into an outlet, and can deliver a total of 60W. It may be worth choosing over the Anker if you need that extra port, but the boxy design leaves something to be desired.
  • Anker PowerPort Atom PD 4: This charging station has two USB-C ports that support the Power Delivery standard and two USB-A ports. It can deliver up to 100W. That means you can plug in two laptops and two phones and have all four charge up at once. If you have a new MacBook or Pixelbook and want to charge it alongside your phone, then this could be the ideal charger, but it is expensive.
  • Vogek 5-Port 50W Charging Station: This doesn’t quite match our top pick from Satechi, as it only has five ports, but it’s a similar design, with slots to hold your devices neatly. One advantage of this charging station is that it comes with a mixture of eight short charging cables, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
  • Amazon Basics 60W 10-Port Wall Charger: If you need a large capacity, no frills, wall charger, you won’t find anything much bigger, or cheaper, than this charging station from Amazon. It can supply 60W in total to up to 10 devices, but ports are capped at 2.4A each and there’s no support for any fast charging standards.
  • Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock: This is another stylish charging dock for the nightstand that’s designed to accommodate an iPhone and Apple Watch. Instead of plugging in, it wirelessly charges your iPhone, and it has a USB-A port for a third device. The only reason this didn’t make the list is the high price. — Simon Hill

How to choose a charging station

To find the right charging station for you, there are a few questions to ask. There are also certain features that you may want to consider before you buy. 

How many devices do you need to charge?

The first thing to work out when you’re shopping for a charging station for your gadgets is how many ports you need. Count up your phones, tablets, smartwatches, and any other devices that need frequent charging. Remember that you’ll also need charging cables for each one.

Not all ports are created equal

As you’ll see when you peruse our guide, many charging stations offer a mix of ports. You might find USB-A and USB-C, and you may also find that some ports are capable of faster charging rates than others. It’s also quite common for charging stations to have some ports that support certain charging standards and others that don’t. 

Get the right cables

You can always use the charging cable that came with your device, but if you’re buying new cables, make sure they’re fit for the purpose. Look for certified safe cables that can deliver the charging rate you want. We like these 4-inch Anker Powerline Lightning cables and these 8-inch Aukey USB-C cables for keeping things tidy. 

Where will you put the charging station?

Think about where you’re going to put your charging station and consider what size you can accommodate. You will need a wall outlet handy and space to rest your devices while they juice up. It’s a good idea to choose somewhere out of sight because there will be a tangle of cables. We have one on a bookcase in the upstairs landing and another tucked away under a side table at the end of the couch in the lounge. We also use a magnetic cable tidy that helps us quickly find the end of an unused cable and keeps things from getting too messy.

Is charging rate important?

For people planning to plug in overnight, there’s little point in paying a premium for fast charging, but if you want to be able to top up quickly, charging rate matters. Check what charging standards your phone or other device supports and look for a charging station that can deliver. There’s USB Power Delivery, Qualcomm’s Quick Charge standard, and a host of other manufacturer-specific charging technologies. 

Check the safety features and warranty

You’ll be plugging some of your most prized possessions into your chosen charging station, so it’s important to think about safety. Cheap, uncertified chargers can fail, damage your devices, or even cause a fire. Stick to trusted brands, check the reviews, and look for safeguards covering surges and overheating. It’s also a good idea to check the warranty and review people’s experiences with customer support before you buy. 

Check out our other tech accessory guides

native union

The best charging cables

Although most devices come with charging cables, it’s smart to have several on hand in case yours breaks, gets lost, or you simply need to charge multiple devices at once. These are the best charging cables for iPhone, Android, and other devices. Whether you need a lightning cable or a USB-C cable, there’s an option for you here.


The best phone chargers

We’ve rounded up the best phone chargers of all kinds so you can finally have more than one charger on hand.

We’ve included fast-charging options, ones for USB-C-to-USB-C cables, and more. Regardless of your charging needs, you should find an option in our guide.


The best iPhone cases for every model

There’s a seemingly endless variety of iPhone case out there, so we’ve rounded up the best ones we’ve tested from top brands.

These case makers have options for every model of iPhone, so whether you have an iPhone 8 or an iPhone 11 Pro, you can get the right case for your phone.


The best iPhone accessories for every model

No matter which iPhone you have, you can find tons of different accessories for your device. We’ve rounded up the best chargers, cases, cables, and other fun accessories that you might want to have to make the most of your device.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 12 best places to buy patio umbrellas in 2021

Blissun 9 ft Solar Umbrella 32 LED Lighted Patio Lifestyle Image

  • The best patio umbrellas provide thorough sun coverage and can stand up to all kinds of weather. 
  • We spoke to landscape architects to find traditional and cantilever umbrellas for your budget.
  • See also: Where to buy outdoor furniture online

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A patio umbrella is an important addition to your backyard if you eat and lounge outside regularly. 

Though it’s tempting to buy one off looks alone, remember that “as a functional piece, the most important feature in a patio umbrella is the coverage,” as Melissa Lee, the founder and creative director of design firm Bespoke Only said.   

Kevin Lenhart, a landscape architect and design director of online landscape design service Yardzen advised, “Think about the sun pattern in your yard. Even if you have a large space, you might not need a huge umbrella if you’re able to angle it to block the sun and shade the area you are enjoying.” 

In addition to umbrella canopy size, consider the fabric, which needs to stand up to rain, sun, and wind. Sunbrella, a durable performance fabric that’s resistant to fading, stains, and mildew, is a favorite among landscape designers. 

There are two main types of umbrellas: a traditional “market” umbrella, which is usually placed in the middle of a table, and a cantilever umbrella, which is freestanding and brings in the canopy from an angle. You can learn more about the pros and cons of each, as well as other things to keep in mind when shopping for a patio umbrella, here.  

Currently, all of our picks are based on research and expert input. In the future, we plan to test these patio umbrellas and evaluate their ease of assembly, effectiveness, and durability. 

Here are the best patio umbrellas in 2021

The best patio umbrella overall

best patio umbrella 2021 bridgehampton

A traditional “market” umbrella is the classic style that works best for most people. It’s affordable, easy to use, and widely available in many sizes, fabrics, and colors. Because it’s placed right in the middle of a table, it requires less backyard space and is less likely to get in the way of foot traffic. 

Bronze Aluminum Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)Outdoor Metal Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Ocean Master Roman Valance Umbrella (8.5-ft.)  (medium)
The best cantilever patio umbrella

best patio umbrella 2021 cantilever umbrella sunvilla

If you have a larger backyard and don’t like how traditional umbrellas disrupt table space, you should get a cantilever umbrella. Keep in mind cantilever umbrellas tend to be heavier and more expensive, but there’s great payoff in the large amount of shade provided.

Bronze Aluminum Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)Offset Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)Round Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella on a budget

best patio umbrella 2021 budget abba patio

A budget umbrella may lack the sturdiness and longevity of the umbrellas above. Still, we found some solid options with well-designed mechanisms and strong canopies. 

Patio Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium)Market Umbrella (9-ft.) (medium, Preferred: The Home Depot)Cantilever Umbrella (10-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella with lights

best patio umbrella 2021 hampton bay solar led lights

Lighted patio umbrellas offer extra pizzazz and visibility when you’re sitting outside on a warm summer night. The best part is they’re solar-powered, so you don’t have to deal with tangled cords.

Solar Patio Umbrella (9-ft.)  (medium)Cantilever Solar LED Patio Umbrella (11-ft.)  (medium)
The best patio umbrella stand

best patio umbrella 2021 abba patio stand

A weighted umbrella stand or base ensures your patio umbrella won’t shake or blow away with the slightest gust of wind. “A good rule of thumb is to take the width of your umbrella and multiply it by 10,” said Lenhart. For an 8-foot-wide umbrella, for example, you’ll need a base that’s at least 80 pounds. Pre-filled stands are more expensive than empty stands, which require you to add sand or gravel. 

Umbrella Base (50-lb.) (medium)Hayward Patio Umbrella Base (88-lb.) (medium)Umbrella Stand with Rolling Base (125-lb.)  (medium)
Our methodology

We determined the best patio umbrellas through a combination of research and expert input. Using insights and brand recommendations from our experts, we chose two to three options per category, keeping a variety of sizes and prices in mind. We plan on putting these umbrellas through a variety of tests in the future. 

Patio umbrella FAQs

Traditional vs. cantilever umbrella — which should you buy? What are the pros and cons of each?

  Traditional umbrella Cantilever umbrella 
Pros
  • More affordable
  • More variety of options 
  • Covers a lot of space
  • Pivots and tilts more easily
Cons
  • Smaller canopies
  • More difficult to angle
  • Pole can get in the way
  • More expensive 
  • Requires more space

“The biggest pro of traditional umbrellas is that they get the job done at a relatively low price. They stand up to harsh and windy conditions and require little maintenance. They also tend to be less expensive,” said Lenhart. 

Danu Kennedy, design director of creative design firm Parts and Labor Design, likes cantilever umbrellas because “you don’t have to interrupt the seating connectivity to place the umbrella, but they tend to be a little more clunky whereas a traditional model is perhaps more easily worked into the aesthetic.”


What size umbrella is best for your space? 

In addition to sun pattern, consider the size of the space where you’d like to place the umbrella, as well as the surrounding foot traffic. “Do you have room for a standalone umbrella or should you look for a table that allows for an integrated umbrella? A good rule is to allow for three feet around the umbrella to circulate.” said Blythe Yost, a landscape architect and cofounder of online landscape design service Tilly


What are the best materials for the umbrella stand and canopy? 

For the stand and pole, look for durable, rust-resistant materials like aluminum, coated steel, and concrete (which is harder to find). Some designers also like teak wood because it weathers beautifully. 

As for the canopy, Olefin and Sunbrella come highly recommended by our experts. “Olefin is a durable, sustainable fabric that requires no water during production and maintains its quality for years. Sunbrella is a leader in outdoor performance fabric — it’s easy to clean and has beautiful colors and designs,” said Lenhart. 


Once you’ve figured out size and coverage, how do you find a patio umbrella that fits the rest of your patio style? 

Look at your surroundings, and ask yourself whether you want your umbrella to blend in or pop out. “If you want your umbrella to meld in the natural setting, think neutral colors like white, gray, and beige or even subtle greens and blues. If you want your umbrella to make a statement check out umbrellas in vibrant colors or patterns,” said Yost. “If you’re in a city we prefer a bold, fun pattern, to add a pop of color to the gray cityscape, but if you’re near a lake or beach, the piece shouldn’t compete with nature,” said Lee. 


How do you maintain a patio umbrella?

If your umbrella is crafted from high-quality materials, it’ll stand up to water, sun, and wind, making your job easier. Still, a few small steps can help make your umbrella last much longer. Wipe down the canopy once a month and stand with a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser like mild laundry detergent. “Finding an umbrella with fabric with the color as part of the material, and not dyed, will help retain the color in outdoor conditions,” Yost said. ‘When it comes to extending the life of your umbrella, it’s a great idea to store it when it’s not in use. Either bring it in a garage or you can find an umbrella cover for the material and the stand.” Just make sure everything is fully dry before you pack it away. 


Glossary of terms 

Traditional umbrella: Also known as a market umbrella, this is the style of umbrella you typically see at outdoor dining setups. The pole goes through the middle of the table and the canopy, which is either circular or rectangular, covers the table fully. Traditional umbrellas are usually lighter than cantilever umbrellas. 

Cantilever umbrella: The base and pole of a cantilever umbrella are offset, bringing the canopy in from an angle. Cantilever umbrellas are heavier, bigger, and more expensive than traditional umbrellas. 

Crank lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by turning a crank handle. This mechanism is easier and smoother, but slower to use, than a push lift and could also break more easily. 

Push lift: A mechanism that helps you open your umbrella and adjust the canopy tilt by pushing a button. The button is typically located at the top of the pole and may be difficult for some people to reach without the help of a chair. 

Sunbrella: An outdoor performance fabric made of solution-dyed acrylic (the UV-stabilized pigment is spun directly into the yarn). It’s frequently used in outdoor furniture products because it’s resistant to fading, abrasion, mold, mildew, stains, and water. It’s strong, easy to clean, and comfortable to the touch. 

Olefin: Also known as polypropylene. A strong and thick synthetic fiber used in many household products like carpeting. It’s good for outdoor use because it’s resistant to fading, water, mold, and mildew, but it may stain more easily than Sunbrella. 

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