The 5 best electric scooters of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Electric scooters are a convenient and fun way to commute to work or run errands around town.
  • The best electric scooters should have a reliably long battery range and travel at speeds of up to 20-plus mph.
  • Our top pick, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4, has a dual-battery design that gets up to 28 miles of range.

Electric scooters have gone from curious novelties to a bonafide form of transportation thanks to advancements in tech and the rise of e-scooter rental services like Lime and Bird.

And I can’t overlook the fact they’re just plain fun to ride.

But more people have also discovered that owning their own is incredibly convenient – I know I have. Whether it’s a quick jaunt to the store, a ride to a friend’s house, or just commuting from a distant parking lot to the office, there are numerous times when having an e-scooter has proved incredibly handy for me.

If you’ve been considering buying an electric scooter of your own, I highly recommend it. But the most important question to ask yourself before buying is what you plan to use it for – after that, there are plenty of models that stand out from the crowd. To help, I’ve compiled the following guide of the best electric scooters I’ve tested, perfect for a variety of people and use cases.

I’ve also included some insight into how to shop for an electric scooter, as well as how I tested each of the scooters featured in this guide.

Here are the best electric scooters of 2021:

How I test electric scooters

Each of the electric scooters in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they compared against these four categories: Range, portability, versatility, and value. Here’s how I specifically considered each category while testing:

Range: Most electric scooters are defined by the range they’re capable of delivering, and this is the top factor to consider. To test this, we compared the on-paper range to how it fared in real-world tests. Where range begins to take a hit on almost every model is when you start riding uphill or traveling at its top speed for extended periods of time (and we’ve noted in the review of each model where this was the most significant).

Portability: Being able to easily transport a scooter is a vital consideration for anyone living in an apartment building or someone who plans on commuting part of the way on a scooter. Portability means not just how much it weighs but whether it folds up and is easy to carry. 

Versatility: Versatility also means that a scooter can handle a wide range of uses, from fun rides to commuting to running errands. Judging a scooter’s versatility meant seeing if it was capable of operating outside of its typical use case (within a set of safe parameters, of course).

Value: Value is a combination of the three categories above and how it relates to what it actually costs. This can often mean that it’s better to spend a little more on a quality scooter designed to last and function properly, as opposed to spending less on something you’ll need to replace more often. 

The best electric scooter overall

Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4

For excellent all-around performance, including good range and speed, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4 is a great option for riders looking for a versatile, easy-to-use model.

Pros: Up to 28 miles of range on a single charge, features a dual-battery design, large wheels allow for very minimal offroad travel, speeds up to 18 mph

Cons: Long battery recharge time

The Ninebot KickScooter by Segway ES4 has been on the market for several years and yet, it remains one of the top all-around models. Not only does it offer a solid and accurate range of 28 miles on a single charge, it can also hit top speeds in excess of 18 mph.

That level of performance is due in part to its dual-battery design. Equipped with both a built-in and removable power cell, the ES4 provides good versatility when it comes to staying charged, too. 

The ES4‘s solid 8-inch wheels allow it to roll over large obstacles and provide a smooth ride on a variety of surfaces. Front and rear shock absorbers increase the level of comfort and help smooth out your commute. That’s especially important when zipping along at top speed, which tends to amplify every bump in the road. Fortunately, the ES4 offers a relaxing and fun ride across a variety of terrain.

Other nice features include a front-facing LED light, as well as user-customizable lights on the side and undercarriage to aid in visibility in lowlight conditions. A small, but easy to read, LCD screen displays current speeds and the battery’s charge level, while electric and mechanical braking systems allow for a good sense of control. This model even folds down nicely for easy transport and comes with IPX54 water resistance for use in poor weather conditions. 

Because the ES4 uses two batteries to keep it running at such a high level, it takes a little longer than some other models in this guide to recharge. It can take more than six hours to power this scooter up to its full capacity, which can require a bit of planning depending on your needs. The ES4 can function as a traditional kick scooter in a pinch, though. 

Although there are other options that cost less, few of them offer the same level of performance and convenience in such a well-designed package as the ES4.

The best budget electric scooter

Gotrax XR Ultra

The budget-friendly Gotrax XR Ultra electric scooter provides good speed and range, along with more than few unexpected features, without putting a major dent in your wallet. 

Pros: Inexpensive, weighs 27 pounds, sturdy tires, has both disc and electric brakes

Cons: Limited features

While the top end of the electric scooter market continues to push the envelope in terms of speed, range, and portability, many of those models remain too expensive for the general consumer. As with most products, however, the technology eventually trickles down to price points that are more palatable to the general public, delivering a lot of bang for the buck in the process. Such is the case with the Gotrax XR, a budget e-scooter that offers a level of performance that will meet most people’s needs, without making them feel buyer’s remorse afterward. 

The XR Ultra‘s top speed of 15.5 mph and a max range of 17 miles seems unimpressive when compared to other–more expensive—competitors. But its sub-$400 price tag makes this model a much more approachable option for those looking to dip their toe in the e-scooter waters. Put in other terms, this is the Toyota Camry of electric scooters. It is affordable, reliable, and offers good performance–just don’t compare it to a Mercedes S Class. 

One of the best elements of the XR Ultra is its very smooth and comfortable ride. This scooter glides along at a steady pace, its 8.5-inch inflatable tires rolling over most obstacles with ease. The XR’s folding frame and 27-pound weight should make it a favorite amongst budget-conscious commuters as well. In an effort to keep costs down, Gotrax didn’t including any kind of suspension, however, which means this model performs best on smooth, paved surfaces. 

That isn’t to say that the XR Ultra doesn’t have a good feature set. The scooter comes with both a disc and electric braking systems with regenerative properties. It also includes a bright LED headlight and an LCD screen that displays speed, distance, battery life, and a number of other items. An integrated kickstand is a nice touch, as is the IP54 water resistance rating too. 

While I think the Gotrax XR Ultra is the best budget e-scooter on the market, it should be noted that there are plenty of other models that are available at a lower price. With those other options, you’ll more than likely find yourself having to make compromises in terms of speed, range, and weight in order to save a little cash. The XR Ultra doesn’t have any of those glaring compromises, bridging the gap between a truly budget scooter and the more expensive higher-end quite nicely.

The best electric scooter for commuters

Xiamoi Mi Electric Scooter

Lightweight and capable of folding down to a surprisingly small size, the Xiaomi Mi M365 is an electric scooter built specifically with commuters in mind. 

Pros: Folds down for easy portability, weighs 27 pounds, comes standard with front and rear taillights

Cons: Only rated to carry riders up to 220 pounds

When selecting an e-scooter for use as a daily commuter, I want something that’s lightweight and easy to carry around, without compromising on performance. That’s exactly what I found in the Xiaomi Mi M365, which manages to provide 18.6 miles of range and a top speed of 15.5 mph while tipping the scales at a shade over 27 pounds. Add in a small battery charger and the ability to fold down to a smaller size and the M365 is easy to recommend to anyone who places an emphasis on portability. 

And don’t let that lightweight fool you, it still has plenty of features packed into its design. For instance, it comes with front and rear lights, wide shock-absorbing tires, and an LED indicator for battery life. It also has a regenerative braking system that feeds power back into the battery, as well as a companion app for customizing settings and tracking distance, speed, and other metrics.

This scooter even has a power-saving mode that helps extend the range by limiting the rate of acceleration and its top speed. Turning that mode on also makes the M365 more accommodating to beginners. 

It’s clear Xiaomi put a lot of thought into making the M365 easy to use. This is especially evident in its folding mechanism, which allows it to shrink down to a more compact size in under three seconds. I appreciate that simplicity when entering and exiting trains, climbing stairs, riding elevators, or even taking the M365 in and out of a car trunk. While folding e-scooters are hardly a rarity, the speed and fluidity at which this one operates is a great feature.

In order to achieve the M365‘s relatively low weight, Xiaomi used a minimalist design and a lightweight aluminum frame. Because of this, the scooter is only rated to carry riders weighing up to 220 pounds. The frame itself is plenty durable and can certainly support someone who exceeds that weight limit, but a heavier passenger cuts into performance, reducing both its range and speed.

Weight limit aside, the Xiaomi Mi M365 is in a class by itself when used as a daily commuter. Lightweight and easy to carry, it offers a good blend of range and speed and delivers a smooth ride.

The best electric scooter for performance

Outstorm Maxx Ultra High Speed Scooter

If you’re in the market for a fast scooter with long-range, the Outstorm Maxx Ultra-High-Speed is exactly what you’re looking for. 

Pros: Up to 52 miles of range and speeds to 56 mph, maximum weight capacity of 485 pounds, can ride on gravel, dirt trails, and in sand

Cons: Extremely heavy at 100 pounds

When moving up to the performance level of the e-scooter market, prices can increase substantially. While the models found at the top end of the scale are indeed fast and powerful, they can also cost several thousands of dollars. The Outstorm Maxx Ultra-High-Speed flirts with a $2000 price tag but ultimately delivers a lot of bang for the buck, striking an intriguing middle ground when it comes to performance and cost. 

So, what exactly does a performance scooter at this price point have to offer? In the case of the Maxx, it provides a top speed of 56 mph and a range of up to 52 miles. This is achieved thanks to its dual motors, which can produce as much as 3200 watts of power at their highest level of output. It also allows the scooter to carry a maximum weight of 485 pounds and ride not only on paved surfaces but also on dirt trails, gravel, and sand. The Maxx does well on hills too, powering up steep inclines without missing a beat. 

This scooter features three different speed modes and two power modes, which made it easy to find a good balance between speed and range. A digital readout prominently displays how fast the scooter is currently moving and shows battery life and distance traveled. A regenerative braking system helps feed energy back into the battery throughout the ride, while a bright LED headlight makes riding at night much safer as well. The Maxx also features a hydraulic shock system, 11-inch tires, durable running boards, and electronic cruise control. 

Of course, all the high-performance components used in the Maxx‘s construction come at the expense of weight. This model weighs in at a whopping 100 pounds, which means it isn’t an especially good choice for commuting. Yes, it can fold down to a smaller size for ease of storage, but that doesn’t make it any easier to lift or move around when the battery is dead. Thankfully, with its large 60V power cells, it doesn’t run out of juice all that often. 

In terms of performance scooters, the Outstorm Maxx Ultra High Speed is a relative bargain, offering plenty of speed and range in an attractive package. But it also provides a smooth, comfortable ride as well, both on and off-road. Because it falls into the pricier end of the market, it definitely isn’t a model for most people. Riders who are willing to pay the extra money will find that it more than delivers on its promise of exhilarating two-wheeled thrills.

The best electric scooter for kids

Razor E100 scooter

Built with kids in mind, the Razor E100 is stable, comfortable to ride, and easy to control, while managing to remain nimble and fun. 

Pros: Offers a stable ride perfect for kids to learn on, easy to maneuver, favors safety over performance

Cons: Limited long-term durability, 26-pound weight could be a lot for kids to carry, not many features

Razor has been designing scooters—both electric and kick models—for a variety of age groups for years. Over that time, the company has learned that the features that you look for in an adult model are quite different than those for kids. While speed and range are of the utmost importance to the former, safety and stability are the chief concerns for the latter. That design philosophy is evident with the E100, an e-scooter that is sure to delight younger riders. 

The E100 provides a top speed of 10 mph and offers a ride time of about 40 minutes between charges. Yes, the range of this model is measured in minutes rather than miles, which is another departure from the adult scooter market. Forty minutes of continous use is a fairly long time by kid standards, however, providing a reasonable amount of range before the battery runs dry. 

With its 8-inch pneumatic front tire, the E100 provides a nice, smooth ride. Coupled with the scooter’s rear-wheel-drive system, this shifts much of the weight to the back, enhancing stability and balance as a result. Hand brakes and a thumb throttle make learning to ride quick and easy too, making this a scooter even younger kids will feel comfortable on quite quickly. 

As with any product designed for kids, long-term durability is always in question. To alleviate those concerns, Razor used a steel frame in the construction of the E100, giving it a very solid feel overall. Those materials do end up adding some weight to the scooter, which tips the scales at 26 pounds. By adult e-scooter standards, that is quite svelte but younger kids may find the E100 unwieldy to lug around.  

Compared to most electric scooters designed for adults, the Razor E100 doesn’t have a lot of features and amenities. Still, thanks to its ease of use and uncomplicated design, kids will find this model a lot of fun to ride around. After all, their goal isn’t to commute to and from the office but to ride with friends and enjoy some time outdoors. For that, this is a wonderful choice.

How to shop for an electric scooter

As the electric scooter market has grown and diversified, there are now a number of categories that help to define it. The most obvious of those categories is whether or not a specific model is designed with kids or adults in mind.

Those made for the younger crowd tend to be smaller, less expensive, and slower. They often have less battery life as well, which translates to a shorter range. Conversely, adult scooters are built for, well, adults, and as such, they are larger, faster, and heavier. They also tend to be more expensive. 

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to choosing an electric scooter, price is one of the major defining factors. At the lower end, you’ll find budget models that come with less expensive components, smaller batteries, and slower top speeds. Mid-tier e-scooters typically fall into the commuter segment and offer a nice blend of range and speed, with prices reflecting those upgrades.

At the high-end of the market, you’ll find performance models that can potentially cost more than $1,000 but are also quicker, more nimble, and have a longer range than their competitors. 

Range

When shopping for an e-scooter of your own, there are some important specifications that you’ll want to keep in mind. Probably the most important of those specs is the range a scooter offers. Each scooter manufacturer offers an estimated range for a given model, which is defined as the distance it travels on a single charge. That distance is directly impacted by the size of the battery, the weight of the rider, and the surface type of surface that it is ridden on.

The outside temperature can also have an impact on the range, with colder temps drastically reducing the life of the battery. In real-world conditions, you can expect to ride anywhere from 10-40 miles before having to recharge.

Speed

Another defining characteristic of an e-scooter is its top speed. Its actual number varies greatly depending on the model and manufacturers will often boast of speeds in excess of 25 or even 30 mph, although in practice those numbers aren’t always accurate.

The size of the motor and battery, along with the weight of the rider, each have an impact on the level of performance. This results in many scooters cruising along in the 5-10 mph range, particularly when not riding on a flat, even surface. 

Still, shoppers are encouraged to consider the top speed of a model very carefully. A faster model may seem more fun, but it can be much more challenging to control. Quicker acceleration and more power can come in handy, particularly for commuters, but safety should be a primary concern as well.

Inexperienced riders are encouraged to choose slower, more stable options while still learning to ride. Additionally, faster scooters also tend to burn through their battery life more quickly, reducing range as result. 

Portability and weight

If you’re the kind of owner who plans to just keep your scooter in the garage and only ride it around the neighborhood, then portability probably isn’t something you’re all that concerned with.

Those who plan to use a scooter for commuting should pay close attention to its weight. Lugging it on and off the subway, or up and down several flights of stairs, can be quite a challenge, especially if your particular model wasn’t built with that in mind.

As with buying a bicycle, the components used in manufacturing an e-scooter have a direct impact on how much it weighs. Budget models tend to have smaller batteries and motors, which of course weigh less than their larger, more powerful counterparts. However, the other components found on these types of scooters often weigh quite a bit more, which keeps the price down but pushes the weight up.

More expensive models tend to have a more powerful drivetrain but are made from high-quality, lighter components. The result tends to be a scooter that costs more, performs better, and is easier to carry around. 

Some electric scooters that have been specifically designed with commuters in mind may even offer the option to collapse down to a smaller size for ease of transport. Scooters that fold up and can be stored in a carrying case or bag have become so common that they now fall into a category entirely of their own.

Usually, these types of scooters sacrifice some performance for improved portability, making them very compelling options for those placing a high value on convenience rather than speed or range.

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The 7 best bike lights of 2021 for increased visibility while cycling at night

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

Being safe while riding your bike requires more than putting on a helmet and riding within your means – you also want to guarantee you’re visible to those around you. Even if you don’t ride at dusk or when it’s completely dark, bike lights are a vital cycling accessory to have.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found “the time period with the largest frequency of pedalcyclist fatalities overall is 6 pm to 8:59 pm (21%), followed by 9 pm to 11:59 pm (17%).” Although the study was conducted year-round (meaning it likely wasn’t always entirely dark around 6 pm), those numbers still paint a stark picture and suggest visibility was one of the main factors.

As a resident of New York City, and my go-to mode of transportation being my bike, I’ve learned firsthand the value of a quality set of bike lights (and how dangerous a poor set can be). I’ve also come across a lot of variety; some are designed to be portable and easy to install, while others are intended for trail riding.

Below are seven of the best bike lights for night riding. I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for bike lights, as well as insight into how I tested the lights featured in this guide.

Here are the best bike lights of 2021:

The best bike light overall

Cygolite bike light

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best budget bike light

Malker budget bike light

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best easy install bike light

Obsidian bike light

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

Pros: Affordable, adjustable beam width, lifetime guarantee

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

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

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

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

The best bike light for trail riding

NiteRider mountain bike light

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

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

Cons: Expensive, hard to remove

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

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

These lights from NiteRider can hold up in a variety of conditions but they’re especially great for trail riding and make for a quality set of mountain bike lights. 

The best solar-powered bike light

Solar-powered bike light

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

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

Cons: Full solar recharge takes close to 8 hours

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

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

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

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

The best rear bike light

Rear-facing bike light

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

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

Cons: Strap isn’t very durable

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

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

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

The best waterproof bike light

Waterproof bike light

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

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

Cons: USB port cover falls off easily

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

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

How to shop for a bike lights

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

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

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

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

How we test bike lights

Best Bike Lights Pattern 4x3

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

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

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

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

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

FAQs

How many lumens do I need for my bike light?

The exact number of lumens you need for a bike light depends on where and when you’ll be riding. For urban or city riding, a front-facing light capable of doling out up to 200 lumens is preferred, while rear-facing lights should offer anywhere from 40 to 100 lumens. If the city where you ride doesn’t have many streetlights, look for a light with a higher lumen output.  

If you intend on doing any nighttime trail riding or mountain biking, opt for something brighter, in the range of roughly 1,000 lumens. The best mountain bike lights 

It’s also important not to use a light that’s too bright. These can disorient oncoming traffic and will do more harm than good. Lights with a lumen output of just 300 lumens may partially blind onlookers, so “brighter is better” isn’t something you should aim for. I also recommend opting for a light that can dim at the press of a button. This allows you to avoid blinding anyone approaching you while still staying visible.


Are bike lights waterproof?

Not all bike lights are waterproof, though there is a large selection of lights that are. Our top waterproof pick above, the Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight, is an excellent option that also features sidelights and multiple brightness settings. 

It’s worth noting that bike lights that aren’t waterproof should still be able to hold up in light rain (though a torrential downpour or a full-on submerge of the light should be avoided, if possible).


Do you need a light on your bike at night?

Yes. There’s no question that you need at least some amount of light on your bike while riding at night. This is also true when riding in low-light situations like dusk or dawn. You can also use a smaller light (like our budget recommendation) as a bike wheel light to increase your visibility. 

Riding without a light on your bike is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious injury or death. 


How far should a bike light shine?

Front-facing bike lights should be seen at least 500 feet away, while rear-facing lights should be seen at least 600 feet away.

However, bike lights aren’t all marketed in terms of distance their light shines, so it’s important to understand a light’s lumen rating (explained above) and to use that to determine which bike light is best.


How else can I improve visibility while riding?

Bike lights aren’t the only way to be more visible to those around you while on your bike — you can also wear reflective clothing or use a bike helmet light (I recommend the Chapter from Thousand for this). You can even throw some lights or reflective tape on a backpack and use smaller lights as bike wheel lights. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the best jump ropes:

How we test jump ropes

best jump ropes 4x3

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

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope overall

Get_Lean_Set

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

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

Cons: Expensive

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for speed work

wod jumprope

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

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

Cons: Susceptible to wear when used on hard surfaces

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for beginners

SKLZ jump rope

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

Pros: Easy to adjust, comfortable grip, smooth rotations

Cons: Comes with just one rope — no fancy additions

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for multiple users

RX smart gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope

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

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

Cons: More expensive than other ropes

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

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

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

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

The best budget jump rope

Tone It Up Jump Rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else we tested

RXSG EVO GO Speed Rope

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

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

Jump rope FAQs

What’s the proper jump rope technique?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


What features should a jump rope have? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expert sources

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

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How we tested

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

The best yoga pants in 2021:

The best yoga pant overall

Best yoga pants   Best Overall Yoga Pant   Everlane 4x3

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

Pros: Comfortable, ethically made, affordable

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best outdoor yoga pant

Best yoga pants   Best for Outdoor Yoga   Alo 4x3

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

Pros: Warm, soft

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

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

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

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

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

The best non-legging yoga pant

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

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

Pros: Comfortable, great for modesty

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

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

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

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

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

The best pant for hot yoga

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

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

Pros: Light weight, affordable price, sustainably crafted

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

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

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

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

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

The best high-waisted yoga pant

Best yoga pants   Best High Waisted Legging 4x3

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

Pros: Versatile, comfortable

Cons: Have to be hand washed separately

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

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

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

The best maternity yoga pant

The Best Maternity Yoga Pant - Beyond Yoga

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

Pros: Soft, comfortable and great fit

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

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

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

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

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

What else we considered:

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

The 5 best jump ropes for a great cardio workout

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the best jump ropes:

The best jump rope overall

Get_Lean_Set

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

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

Cons: Expensive

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for speed work

wod jumprope

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

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

Cons: Susceptible to wear when used on hard surfaces

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for beginners

SKLZ jump rope

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

Pros: Easy to adjust, comfortable grip, smooth rotations

Cons: Comes with just one rope — no fancy additions

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

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

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

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

The best jump rope for multiple users

RX smart gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope

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

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

Cons: More expensive than other ropes

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

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

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

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

The best budget jump rope

Tone It Up Jump Rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else we tested

RXSG EVO GO Speed Rope

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

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

How to master the proper technique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to shop for a jump rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

How we test jump ropes

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

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

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

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

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

Expert sources

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

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best men’s trail running shoes, perfect for off-road jogs or mountain races

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Trail running shoes support and protect your feet from the ever-changing terrain of off-road jogs.
  • Choosing the right pair depends on if you want to run fast, keep your feet dry, or plan to run on pavement and trails.
  • Our top pick, Salomon’s Sense Ride 3, is a durable, neutral trail shoe that fits like a glove and has great traction.

Trail running is an amazing upgrade to road running if you’re looking to log miles with better scenery and a more intense challenge to your body. You’re often running uphill and your feet are constantly having to stabilize against imperfections in the trails like tree roots and rocks. This makes it so both your lungs and your muscles work much harder than a road run.

But because your foot tackles more than just smooth pavement, your shoes have to do more than a typical runner would.

You essentially want your trail running shoes to be akin to a hiking boot in that they’ll protect your feet against rocks, mud, and roots while having enough grip to keep you from skidding on loose terrain. Yet, you also need them to be supported and lightweight like a road running shoe, enough to keep your legs moving fast and feet from absorbing too much shock with each step.

Because there are so many more factors to consider, finding a great pair of trail running shoes can be harder than finding road runners. The right pair can take you on a gorgeous path through the woods and you’ll have a running experience like no other. Pick the wrong ones, however, and you could be in for a rough ride.

There’s certainly plenty to consider and to help, I’ve field-tested a range of different trail shoes fit for a variety of running styles – and I’ve included my five favorites below. At the end of this guide, I’ve also provided some tips on how to shop for trail running shoes, as well as the testing methodology I used in deciding which pairs made the cut.

Here are the best trail running shoes for men:

The best overall

Salomon sense rides trail runners

The Salomon Sense Ride 3 has amazing traction on a variety of terrain, holds up on rough trails again and again, yet is still lightweight enough to keep you moving fast.

Pros: Capable of handling a variety of terrain, outstanding protection and durability, very comfortable with a molded, glove-like fit, superb traction

Cons: Heavier than I expected, unique lacing system takes some getting used to

On one hand, this neutral, everyday trail trainer features some of the best protection and durability of all the shoes I tested. It handled everything I could throw at it during runs that took me over splintery logs, down wet embankments, and through a loose gravel field. After two months of testing the Sense Ride 3, they still looked as good as new and my feet were untouched. Insider’s Health and Fitness Updates Editor Rachael Schultz adds she’s been running in the women’s Sense Ride 3 for two years now and they’re still as reliable underfoot as the first wear.

The shoes performed well on a variety of trails from steep technical inclines to pure slop (it was a rainy spring) with Salomon’s Contragrip MA outsole offering superb traction. The outsole’s diamond-shaped rubber lugs are long enough at 2mm for climbing muddy hills but not so aggressive that they slowed me down or clogged up with dirt afterward.

The Sense Ride 3s were the most comfortable of the shoes I tested, with a smooth contoured fit that seemed to swaddle my feet. There’s an internal sleeve in the shoe, which Salomon calls EndoFit, that’s designed to hug the foot and provide comfort. It delivered as did the molded OrthoLite insole that offered added cushioning. 

The Sense Ride 3’s welded, stitch-free upper is deluxe, producing a glove-like feel with no hotspots. It’s also a gorgeous-looking shoe, with a minimalist design that’s not likely to go out of style.

Salmon’s patented Quicklace system took a little getting used to, however. Featuring thin but strong laces that you pull tight via a sliding button, Quicklace lets you fine-tune the fit to get just the right amount of lace pressure. While this is definitely a learning curve, it makes for quick adjustments if you need to loosen a bit mid-run. Also important to note is there is a hidden pocket on the tongue that you’re supposed to tuck the dangling laces into, as outlined in a short video from Salomon. This may be a pain for some, but honestly, so is lacing a shoe period.

The Sense Ride 3s were heavier than I expected, with my size 11.5 pair weighing in at over 12 ounces per shoe. Part of that is because of the thicker midsole compared to previous versions. The added weight is worth it though because Salomon’s plush Optivibe foam offered great energy return and a smooth ride while the shoe’s rock plate added another layer of protection. The shoe has a moderate 8mm drop, which suited most conditions well.

Put plainly, the Sense Ride 3 is a great all-rounder on the trails.

The best for races

FW20 M Speedgoat 4 Lifestyle.JPG

Hoka One One’s EVO Speedgoat is lightweight and made for going fast while still offering a thick midsole to float you over rough terrain.

Pros: Light and fast, flashy design with a comfortable and durable fit, thick foam midsole for cushioning on terrain

Cons: Some stability issues on rocky, technical trails; high-stack height reduces ground feel

Hoka’s popular Clifton series of road running shoes was named our best cushioned trainer for men, and the brand’s EVO Speedgoat is a bit like a trail version of that highly-stacked shoe. 

The entire Speedgoat line of trail shoes is named after legendary ultramarathoner Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer who has more 100-mile race wins than any other runner. There are quite a few key features that make the EVOs, specifically, ideal for speeding down trails:

For one, the EVO Speedgoat’s upper is stitched with a lightweight but tough material called Matryx that blends stretchy Lycra with tough Kevlar for a durable, water-repellent shell. I loved putting on these shoes, too. Their bucket seat design and stretchy laces fit my feet (which suffer from some bunion issues) perfectly, with ample room in the toebox. 

Because this is a Hoka shoe, the EVO’s foam midsole is ample, to say the least. With a stack height of 32mm and a heel (31mm) to toe (27mm) drop of 4mm, these are tall, soft trail shoes designed with Hoka’s slightly curved meta-rocker design. The extra cushioning provides a bigger buffer when running over bumpy terrain and I often felt like I was floating on a cloud in these shoes. There’s almost no ground feel, however, which may not appeal to some runners. I didn’t have an issue, except on more technical trails with large rocks, where I often worried I’d turn an ankle (but didn’t, thankfully).

What I liked most about the EVO Speedgoats is the speed they allow. Weighing around ten ounces, these were one of the lightest shoes I tested and, on less technical trails, I’d flat out fly. Even when I was cruising along, I never felt I’d lose my footing thanks to the Vibram MegaGrip outsole, which features 5mm multidirectional lugs. Traction was superb and because the outsole extends in the back, the EVO Speegoats held their own when running downhill with the rear foam flare providing added stability.

As for the design, they feature a striking bright yellow and black colorway. The EVO Speedgoats are like the splashy sportscar of all the shoes I tested, but one built with the dependable all-wheel drive of a Subaru to help take you off the beaten path.

The best hybrid

Nike Pegasus

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2 borrows design points from its beloved road-warrior brother, but is designed to get down and dirty, making it a unique hybrid shoe you’ll be comfortable using on everything from asphalt to mud. 

Pros: A great commuter shoe that can handle both pavement and dirt, Nike’s React foam midsole provided ample cushioning, many highly functional and attractive design elements

Cons: A very heavy shoe, steep heel to toe drop caused some stability issues, couldn’t get a full locked-down fit

The Nike Pegasus Trail 2, as its name suggests, is the trail version of the popular Nike Pegasus road shoe line. The main similarity between the Pegasus Trail 2 and the road Pegasus 37 is the large chunk of Nike’s React foam, which forms the midsole of both models. React is a soft but responsive foam that I’ve liked on Nike’s previous road shoes and it’s a great match for the Trail 2’s city-to-trail design. 

On one of my first runs in this shoe, I ran roughly a mile on the roads to a local park and then sped off down a winding, tree-lined path for a few more miles on soft ground before returning to the pavement to head home. This might not seem like a big deal but if you’ve ever tried to bring a serious trail shoe on the road – or a road shoe on the trails, for that matter – it’s not fun. The Trail 2 handled both surfaces well, though its mountain bike-inspired rubber outsole with 2mm lugs thrives in the dirt. 

The Trail 2 has a stack height of 31mm in the heel and 21mm in the forefoot for a drop of 10mm. That significant drop did help generate forward momentum and I enjoyed being able to put the pedal to the metal with these shoes, particularly on lower-grade downhills. 

As with other highly stacked trail shoes, I experienced some instability on steeper, more treacherous trails, particularly those lined with large rocks. This was particularly true when my legs were tired, which caused the shoes to feel wobbly. On the plus side, the generous amount of foam reduced the stress on my legs during longer runs. 

I also liked the Pegasus Trail 2’s functional design elements including a faux gaiter on the heel collar that prevented dirt and debris from getting inside the shoe. The tough but breathable engineered mesh on the Trail 2’s upper was also a nice touch as was the water-repellent coating on the gusseted tongue and collar that prevented moisture from creeping in. 

In terms of looks, the Pegasus Trail 2 is an eye-catching shoe. The pair I tested had a brash but appealing color scheme of pale yellow on the upper, neon green around the laces and heel counter, and teal on the neoprene tongue and collar. The shoe’s forefoot includes two toe fangs, which are a pair of rubber nubs that add traction when running uphill and look plain fierce. 

The Trail 2’s were the heaviest shoes I tested (over 12 ounces in size 11.5) and while I wasn’t keen on that, a few of my fastest and most enjoyable runs were in them. These shoes perform extremely well both on and off the roads.

The best lightweight

Altra Timp 2.0

If you want a zero-drop shoe to really feel the trail on your runs, the lightweight but well-cushioned Altra Timp 2.0 will keep you safe and moving fast.

Pros: A sleek and fast zero drop shoe that felt natural to run in, significantly lighter than previous version, Quantic foam midsole provides excellent cushioning

Cons: Narrower fit overall might not appeal to previous Timp fans, shoes require a fair amount of breaking in

Altra’s Timp line is a relatively new but beloved series of shoes, and to say that the 2.0 version has divided Timp devotees would be an understatement. The biggest change between Timp 2.0 and Timp 1.5 is the fit, which on the new version is tighter through the mid- and forefoot. In a word, these shoes feel snug. That’s somewhat unusual for Altra since the company has a reputation for creating shoes with a wide toebox that lets you splay out your toes in a way that mimics barefoot walking. You can still do that with the Timp 2.0, but everywhere else feels narrower. 

Altra trimmed the shoe down and shed some of its weight. In my size 11.5s, each Timp 2.0 weighed around 10 ounces, which is equal to the speedy Hoka EVO Speedgoats above. These felt even lighter than the Speedgoats though and, overall, I loved the sleek and fast 2.0, which would make a decent racing shoe. 

They do require some breaking in, however. When I initially put them on, my troublesome right foot with its bunion issue, felt squeezed. After loosening the laces a bit and taking them on a few tempo runs, I was hooked.

Most notably, this is a zero-drop shoe, which means both the heel and the forefoot are the same height off the ground. Despite that, the Timp 2.0 does has significant cushioning with a stack height of around 30mm. Altra uses its Quantic foam – a first for the Timp line – on the 2.0 and its plush but lightweight midsole felt fantastic even on bumpy trails.

The Maxtrac outsole provided decent grip and while the rubber lugs are on the small size (2mm), Altra deploys them in its Trailclaw outlay, which positions them beneath your foot’s metatarsals to provide better traction at toe-off. These weren’t my favorite shoes for wet and muddy conditions, but they certainly held their own on just about everything else.

Overall, I enjoyed the sensation of running in the Timp 2.0s. While zero-drop shoes aren’t for everyone, they do provide an experience more akin to running barefoot. When I padded over rocks or went sideways on steep embankments, I never felt unstable. I could just run, which is what it’s all about.

The best waterproof

Saucony Sneaker

If the trails you plan to run are wet, muddy, and full of river crossings, the best shoe to go with is the Saucony Peregrine 10 GTX which has a Gore-Tex upper and has the best grip of all the models I tested.

Pros: Gore-Tex upper keeps your feet dry even when crossing streams, excellent traction from an aggressive 6mm lug pattern on the outsole, low-to-the-ground profile provided excellent stability

Cons: Snug fit caused me some heel pain after runs, bottom of shoe retains dirt, quite heavy

The Saucony Peregrine 10 GTX is a low-to-the-ground shoe with a minimal heel (22mm) to forefoot (18mm) drop of 4mm. This is another shoe that helps you feel the trail, minus the jolts since they’re well protected. I had no stability issues with the Peregrine 10 GTX and plowed through a variety of terrain in them with confidence, including ankle-deep muck, piles of slippery wet leaves, and a small stream.

The one knock against Gore-Tex on any shoe is that it can cause a shoe’s upper to feel stiff and confining. However, I had no such problem with the Peregrine 10 GTX, which fit my feet like a comfortable glove. The Gore-Tex upper was less supple than some of the other shoes I tested and didn’t breathe as well – you’ll definitely want to air these out after your runs – but I barely noticed it once I hit the trails. 

What I did notice was the superior traction from Saucony’s PWRTRAC outsole, which uses a sticky rubber compound and an aggressive, 6mm hexagonal lug pattern that kept me from slipping even on a rainy run through a field. On the downside, this is definitely not a shoe you’d want to use on the roads and the grippy outsole tended to retain some dirt after trail runs.

The Peregrine 10 GTX is well-cushioned and there’s a rock plate to protect your feet from sharp objects on the trail. Saucony’s FORMFIT design with its reinforced upper cradled my feet snugly if a bit too tightly on my slightly longer right foot. In the past, I’ve had issues with stiff heel cups causing me pain in my right heel after runs and this was the case with the Peregrine 10 GTX. After doing some research, I noticed at least one other reviewer had the same problem with the Peregrine 10, so you might want to consider going up half a size if this is an issue for you.

Other than that, my only other issue was weight. In size 11.5, the Peregrine 10 GTX tipped the scales at over 12 ounces, putting it amongst the heavier shoes I tested. When you consider what you’re getting with this fully featured trail shoe, however, including the waterproof benefits of Gore-Tex, those extra few ounces are worth it. 

A note on fit

The main difference between a men’s and a women’s running shoe regards the exact shape of the foot. Men’s feet are often wider, and their heels tend to be a little bigger, thus the design of a running shoe needs to accommodate for this.

A variation in body mass also impacts the shape of the midsole, and the difference in Q-angles (the angle of incidence between a person’s knee cap and their quad muscle) means cushioning needs will vary, as well.

However, just because these shoes carry the “men’s” label, anyone can (and should) wear any piece of gear that fits them best, above all. 

How to shop for trail running shoes

There are many things to look for in trail shoes but the first question you should ask yourself is, where do you plan on using them? If your runs are on a combination of roads and trails, you’ll want a hybrid shoe that won’t slow you down on concrete while giving you enough grip on dirt to prevent you from slipping.

If you see yourself regularly running on wet, muddy trails, you’ll want shoes with longer rubber lugs on their outsoles for better traction. You may even consider getting waterproof shoes fortified with Gore-Tex if you plan on running in the rain or if your trails have any shallow streams to cross. 

If your local trails are rocky or you favor moving fast through difficult terrain, you may want a shoe with a reinforced toe cap to prevent sharp objects, such as sticks or branches, from piercing the front of your shoe. Also handy are shoes with rock plates, which are slabs of plastic or carbon fiber sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole of the shoe that shield your foot when running over jagged rocks.

Other features are more of a matter of taste: Do you want your trail shoes to have a pronounced drop? This means that the midsole is tilted forward with the heel higher than the toe portion of the shoe. Some runners feel having a heel-to-toe drop of 10 millimeters or more helps their running form by propelling them forward while the added rear foam protects their heels on bumpy trails. 

Other runners, however, prefer zero-drop shoes where the heel and ball of your foot are the same height off the ground. Shoes without drops are typically better for more technical trails and less likely to cause you to turn your ankle on steep, uneven terrain. Some runners even say zero drop shoes help them feel the trail better. 

How we test trail running shoes

Each trail running shoe in this guide went through a series of on-foot and on-trail tests to see how they across these four categories: Fit and comfort, performance, versatility, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into what pairs of trail running shoes ultimately made this guide:

Fit and comfort: Though fit and comfort could be two separate categories, it was easy to lump the two together while testing for this guide. The right pair of trail running shoes should fit snugly across your foot while still leaving a small amount of space between the end of the shoe and your toes. If the shoe fits in this way, you’re likely to also enjoy as much comfort as possible — which is vital for longer runs over uneven and rocky terrain.  

Performance: First and foremost, a trail running shoe should be designed for the trail (however vague the word “trail” might actually be). This means that a shoe built for rocky terrain should have lugs designed to absorb and grip jagged rocks. If it’s a pair meant for mud or other slick surfaces, the grip on the bottom should allow you to avoid taking a spill. And since they’re all running shoes at their core, they should function as a proper runner, too.

Versatility: There may not be a jack-of-all-trades-type trail running shoe that’s built to handle it all, but some do come extremely close. When testing for this, we wanted to see how well the shoes held up transitioning from pavement to trail, or when it went from mud to dirt to sand. We also judged how well the waterproof designation held up not just in rain but when fully submerged, as well. 

Value: Value is essentially the combination of the previous three categories, along with the runner’s sticker price. Proper trail running shoes aren’t often inexpensive but investing in the right pair means you’ll spend less over time (as opposed to buying a budget pair more often and ultimately spending more money). 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best Pilates bars of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A Pilates bar challenges and tones the body in dynamic ways, and especially helps strengthen the core. 
  • Our top choice is the Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar for its quality and functionality.
  • We’ve also included options for beginners, those on the go, and more.
  • Read more: The best yoga mats

Pilates was first developed in the 1920s as a low-impact form of exercise specifically designed to strengthen the core, as well as other muscles in the body, and promote postural alignment. As a Pilates instructor, it’s my job to challenge clients in each and every session. Adding equipment to the workout is one way to ramp up the intensity and add new and creative movements. Pilates bars are great tools that can further target the core and work the body in dynamic ways. Lightweight, portable, and with bands for added resistance, the bars will add a strengthening element to your Pilates workout that can help better define your muscles.

Here are the best Pilates bars

Best overall

gaiam pilates bar
Disassembles for easy storage.

The Gaiam Restore Pilates Bar is a high-quality piece of equipment to practice reformer-style movements. 

What we like: Quality, ease of set up, digital workouts included 

This polished and robust Pilates bar has been thoughtfully designed to help you build a strong core, while also increasing flexibility and improving balance. It features two, 30-inch Power Cords and attached foot straps, plus downloadable exercise workouts that guide you through essential Pilates bar movements with proper technique and form. The intensity can be increased simply by rolling the bands around the bar to generate greater resistance. Weighing just two pounds, this lightweight bar is designed for you to flow between reformer-style exercises with grace and ease.

Best on a budget

BQYPOWER pilates bar kit
The eight-character tensioner helps tone the body from all angles.

The BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit is an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

What we like: Price, multi-use, straps hold their stretch 

For those on a budget, the BQYPOWER Pilates Bar Kit delivers on all fronts without neglecting quality. The strong steel bar is protected with sweat-absorbing foam pads for comfort as you maintain optimum postural alignment, and the straps are made with TPR (thermoplastic rubber) elastic tubes which help them keep their stretch, even after continued use. As a bonus, the kit includes an eight-character tensioner, useful for both strengthening and stretching purposes.

Best for beginners

Viajero Pilates Bar Kit
Easy to increase or decrease resistance.

The Viajero bar is flexible in resistance and comes with a guided e-book for beginners to learn proper technique. 

What we like: Durable, portable, exercise guide included

For beginners, the Viajero bar is an effective addition for your workouts. You can adjust the resistance by simply rolling the tubes around the bar, which is useful for alternating between strength exercises. The bar splits into three sections for easy transport and has two attachable natural latex resistance bands (up to 50 lbs) that can stretch six to 10 times in length without losing resilience. The bar also comes with a handy workout e-book and video to teach you proper form and movement patterns.

Best for strength training

cretee pilates bar
Build muscle with just one piece of equipment.

Adjustable between 60-180 pounds, the Cretee Pilates Bar is best for those who want to build strength.

What we like: Multi-functional, height adaptable, up to 180 pounds of resistance

The Cretee Pilates Bar comes with six bands, varying in resistance from 60 to 180 pounds, with the strap length adjustable depending on your height and the exercise. The bands are made from durable natural latex and can withstand daily exercise sessions without losing elasticity. As a multi-functional bar, the resistance can be reduced for Pilates and more stabilizing-focussed workouts, or increased to challenge the muscles in a strength-training session. 

Best portable

NoviFit Pilates Bar
This band comes with a cooling towel and a storage bag.

The NoviFit Pilates Bar is the best portable option for those working out on the go.

What we like: Adjustable, comes with a carry bag and training guide

The anti-slip NoviFit Pilates Bar has adjustable bands to change both height and resistance, making it suitable for all heights and fitness levels. It also features widening, non-slip foot belts and thick resistance bands for lasting durability. The bar folds up to a compact 19 inches and comes with a cooling towel and waterproof storage bag for workouts on the go. As a bonus, the included workout guide offers a selection of exercises for the entire body. 

Best for added value

CHAMPYA pilates bar
A guided app is included.

With additional straps and a follow-along workout app, the CHAMPYA Pilates Bar offers nice extras.

What we like: Adjustable, sturdy nylon handles, fitness app included

The bar is made from durable materials, including a three-part stick made from sturdy steel, a thick foam exterior, and tough nylon handles to withstand up to 40 pounds of resistance. The adjustable knobs allow you to change the height as desired, and there are two additional foot straps that can be connected for workout variation. Included is access to the Champya App, with a follow-along guide teaching you how to properly stretch, strengthen, and sculpt. 

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The best pull-up bars

  • A proper at-home pull-up bar should be easy to install and able to support your weight without wobbling or bowing – and is a great addition to anyone’s home gym setup
  • Adding a pull-up routine to your weekly workouts helps strengthen your upper body, builds muscle, and improves your grip strength – so long as you’re using the right bar. 
  • We spoke to New York City-based personal trainer, Brad Baldwin, about how to pick out the right pull-up bar, the benefits of doing the workout, and how adding it to your fitness routine can have a major impact. 
  • Our top pick, the Garren Fitness Maximiza pull-up Bar, features comfortable foam grips and unobtrusively fits in any standard doorframe. 

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Pull-ups aren’t for the faint of heart. I remember the days of easily cranking out a dozen or so pull-ups while hardly breaking a sweat. But after years of cheeseburgers and sitting at a computer, easy pull-ups are harder to come by. Fortunately, there are a number of pull-up bars on the market that fit the needs of anyone looking for a new addition to their home gym.

But first, I highly recommend first consulting with a physician before starting any exercise program. I learned this the hard way when I tried to rattle off some pull-ups after years of sedentary living, and quickly tore a muscle in my shoulder. Don’t be like me. 

Why you should start doing pull-ups 

The benefits of incorporating pull-ups into your weekly routine are many. From improving upper body strength to building muscle, pull-ups can have a significant impact on your fitness goals. According to the New York City-based personal trainer, Brad Baldwin, pull-ups are “the king of back exercises.”

“[Pull-ups] force you to work at a higher intensity,” Baldwin told Insider. “They’re great for creating that coveted V-shaped torso and for getting stronger.” 

For anyone looking to begin strength training, it’s smart to start with dips and push-ups on your way to performing a pull-up. You might also try mounting your pull-up bar lower or standing on a box. Pull yourself up to the bar with your feet on the ground at an increasingly difficult angle. Thankfully, the bars I included in this guide are versatile enough to help you work up to your goals. 

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve included some helpful tips on how to shop for an at-home pull-up bar and what to consider, as well as some insight into the testing methodology.

Here are the best pull-up bars:

Updated on 12/15/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on why you should start doing pull-ups, added more to our testing methodology and how to shop for a pull-up bar, checked the availability of all recommended picks, and updated the prices where necessary. 

Best pull-up bar overall

pull up bar 1

The Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull Up Bar is easy on your hands, installs effortlessly, and is made of long-lasting chrome steel.

The Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull Up Bar is made of chrome steel and comes with three sets of mounting hardware, two of which support up to 300 pounds of weight. The medium-duty door mount supports 150 pounds and isn’t recommended for use above waist height.

You can also use the bar without door mounts for sit-up foot support and other light exercises. The bar is adjustable and fits doorways between 26 and 36 inches wide, and can be installed so that a door is still able to close. 

The bar features non-slip, extra-long foam grips. Garren Fitness cautions against using the Maximiza for gymnastics, and they suggest applying your weight cautiously during the first few exercises to ensure the bar is safely installed (a smart practice with any pull up bar.) Garren Fitness provides a full satisfaction guarantee, so you can get a no-questions-asked full refund if you’re not satisfied for any reason.

Pros: Comfortable foam grips, unobtrusive, solidly built

Cons: Installation requires drilling into door jamb, foam grips may wear from heavy-duty use

Best ceiling-mounted pull-up bar

pull up bar 2

If you are interested in doing a variety of pull-ups and you don’t want to use your door frame, the Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar is your best bet.

Pros: Three padded gripping positions, easy installation, sturdy construction

Cons: Some complaints of manufacturer defects

The Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar from Ultimate Body Press has three high-density foam grip positions for standard, wide-grip, and 20-inch parallel-grip pull-ups or chin-ups. This model has a powder-coat finish for added durability. The 14-inch reversible risers are designed to fit either 16- or 24-inch joists.

The mounting kit comes with instructions, a template, and mounting hardware. You will need a drill, tape or pencil, and a step ladder. Ultimate Body Press offers a fairly nebulous 100% satisfaction guarantee with this product. The fact the bars aren’t welded to the mounting brackets could affect long-term durability (though perhaps the satisfaction guarantee would cover it). 

Best pull-up bar for beginners

pull up bar

If you are interested in doing pull-ups but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Iron Gym Pull Up Bar is an excellent solution for beginners.

Pros: Inexpensive, versatile, easy to mount and remove, 300-pound capacity

Cons: Contains plastic parts

The Iron Gym Pull Up Bar works much like the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym. It hangs on a doorframe and stays in place through leverage. You can also remove the pull-up bar to perform sit-ups, push-ups, and dips.

The bar is made of a combination of plastic and steel, and it comes with everything you need to assemble the unit, including a hex open wrench. There are foam grips for standard and wide pull-ups. However, the parallel grip handles are fairly small and awkwardly positioned. Lastly, this model comes with a comprehensive workout and nutrition guide.

Best doorframe pull-up bar

pullup bar 4

If you are looking for a pull-up bar that you can effortlessly attach to your doorframe and take down when you’re done, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar will serve you well.

Pros: Three grip locations, 300-pound capacity, unlikely to damage your doorframe

Cons: Wide grip may be too wide for some, recent quality concerns, doesn’t fit all doorframes

The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar has three padded grip positions for hammer grip, close grip, and normal grip pull-ups. The 300-pound weight capacity makes it so you can use this model with a weight vest. There is some assembly required, and all of the tools needed are included with the bar.

The Multi-Gym Pro adjusts for height and works with doorframes that are up to 6 inches deep and 33 inches wide. The bar can be placed on the floor to assist with push-ups and sit-ups. And, Perfect Fitness stands behind the quality of this model with a one-year warranty.

Best budget pull-up bar

SunnyHealthBar

At under $30, the Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Pull-Up Bar is not only a bargain but a quality pull-up bar that’s easy to install and won’t hinder being able to open or close your door. 

Pros: Securely installs into a doorframe and allows the door to still shut completely, costs less than $30, features padded grips

Cons: Only supports weight up to 220 pounds

The Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Pull-Up Bar may not have many bells and whistles, but it’s basic nature (and wallet-friendly price tag) is what makes this product so attractive. Installing the bar requires drilling a couple of brackets into either side of the doorframe you wish to use it on, then the bar’s telescoping arm extends to fit snugly into place.

Brackets may seem like overkill but they work wonders in making sure you don’t end up slamming into the ground should the bar come loose. Even with the brackets and bar installed, any door is still able to fully shut without being interfered with — which adds even more to this bar’s ease of use. 

It’s worth pointing out that the bar only supports weight up to 220 pounds, and its position on the door could create a situation where hit the top of your head on the doorframe if you’re not careful. With a price tag south of $30, however, these are minor drawbacks to an otherwise impressive budget pull-up bar.

Best freestanding pull-up bar

stamina pull up bar

The Stamina 1690 Power Tower allows you to perform platform push-ups, sit-ups, knee and leg raises, dips, pull-ups, and more.

Pros: Wide range of exercises, easy to assemble — no drilling or door frame needed

Cons: Issues with wobbling, expensive compared to traditional bars, takes up a lot of space

The Stamina 1690 Power Tower is a free-standing full-body workout unit made of durable steel and fitted with padded foam in five sets of grip locations. The overall size of the assembled tower is 49 inches long by 42.5 inches wide by 81 inches high. The base of the tower features no-slip endcaps.

Stamina states that the capacity is 250 pounds, but as noted below, it’s closer to 200 pounds in practice. In addition to pull-ups and chin-ups, this model is designed for tricep dips, sit-ups, push-ups, and leg raises, though there is no backrest to assist with the leg raises.

How to shop for an at-home pull-up bar

At-home pull-up bars aren’t a one-design-fits-all market, as there are several different styles to choose from, each with its own advantages. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common at-home pull-up bar type:

  • Cantilever: One of the most popular pull-up bar variations is the cantilever-style, molding-mounted bars. They don’t require permanent alteration to your home and are easy to install and remove. They feature several grip options, too. However, when shopping for these doorframe pull-up bars, pay attention to the dimensions of the bar and what size frames they work on to ensure you get the proper fit.
  • Mounted: Then there’s a class of pull-up bar that requires drilling and mounting of the unit. We included ceiling-mounted and door-mounted options in our guide. They tend to be rated for heavier weights but are less portable. Wall-mounted bars are also available but we didn’t find any models worth recommending.
  • Power towers: The final group of pull-bars is called power towers. These are freestanding units that do not require drilling and are often compatible with a wide array of exercises. However, power towers typically cost more, have a large footprint, and many models have problems with wobbling when heavier individuals are performing intense workouts.

How we test pull-up bars

Each pull-up bar featured in this guide went through an array of tests to see how well it compared across these four categories: Ease of installation, build quality, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which pull-up bars made this guide:

Ease of installation: How easy an at-home pull-up bar is to install is a vital feature as you not only want to avoid fumbling with a confusing setup, but you also want to be confident that once it’s installed (and installed correctly) that it’ll keep in place. It’s reasonable to doubt the reliability of a pull-up bar that sits precariously in your doorway, so this was one of the first things we assessed when testing. 

Build quality: Relying on a pull-up bar to hold your weight comes down not just to the above category but to its build quality, as well. If it’s susceptible to being easily bent or its components are shoddily built-on and likely to fall off, the pull-up bar will be far less comfortable, and safe, to use.

Versatility: A pull-up bar’s versatility is sort of an extension of its ease of installation as most will require you to take them off if you intend to shut the door whose door frame it resides in. There are some, however, (like our top pick) that allow you to still close the door even after they’re installed. This category also refers to the actual build design and if it allows for multiple grip positions or not.

Value: A pull-up bar’s value comes down to a combination of the three categories above, as well as how much it actually costs. It’s not always about spending the most money to get the best pull-up bar, though it is better to shop for a premium, well-built product. While it may be expensive at first, it does save you the hassle of having to buy several, cheaper options more often. 

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