Out of the 12 we tested, these are the 3 best cutting boards in 2021

Three of the wood cutting boards that we tested, showing the difference between acacia end-grain, Hinoki, and maple wood.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • For professional chefs and occasional home cooks alike, cutting boards are crucial for food preparation.
  • We tested 12 cutting boards to find the best wood, bamboo, and plastic options.
  • The best cutting board overall is the William Sonoma Acacia End-Grain Cutting Board because it’s sleek and durable.

A good cutting board is an essential tool for slicing and dicing ingredients, but you might want to consider investing in one that can do double duty in your kitchen. “Ask yourself, are you going to be utilitarian, doing a lot of prep work that no one is going to see? Or are you in an open kitchen and using the board for food preparation and presentation?” said Tony Pechenik, president and cutting board craftsman at Artisanal Boards.

Next, you’ll probably want to determine which cutting board material best suits your needs.

Plastic boards are typically dishwasher safe and inexpensive, but they scar easily and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Wood and bamboo cutting boards are pricier and need to be coated in food safe mineral oil, but will last for years and can even heal from certain cuts. Glass cutting boards should be avoided, due to their dulling effect on knife blades.

We tested 12 cutting boards ranging from plastic blend sets to Japanese Hinoki wood. In addition, we spoke to three experts who use cutting boards and also make them: Pechenik, Frank Proto, director of culinary operations at the Institute of Culinary Education, and Martin Bucknavage, senior food safety extension associate at the Penn State department of food science.

Here are the best cutting boards of 2021

Our testing methodology

One of the boards we recommend, the Shun Hinoki Cutting Board, with chopped onions and garlic during our smell test.

We used the Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Kitchen Set knives to test the boards. Primarily, we cut with the Santoku Knife and the Bread Knife

Scent retention: We diced onions and minced garlic on each board, letting them both sit for five minutes. Then, we returned to the boards, wiped off the onions and garlic with a dry cloth, and did a smell test. Afterwards, we washed the boards with soap and water, but without scrubbing, and smelled them again.

Staining: To test whether or not the boards stained easily, we chopped beets and cherries and left the pieces on the boards for five minutes. Then, we returned to the boards and noted if there were stains on their surfaces. We cleaned the boards with dish soap and water, scrubbed them with a nylon sponge, and then evaluated them again for surface changes.

Ease of use: While using the boards, we noted if they rocked, felt uneven, or moved on the counter.

Durability: After testing, we examined the boards for any obvious and long-lasting wear and tear. We’ll continue to use and monitor our top picks to see how they fare over time.

The best cutting board overall

Our best overall cutting board, the Williams Sonoma End-grain Acacia Cutting Board, on the counter.

The Williams Sonoma Acacia End-grain Cutting Board is easy to maintain compared to other wood boards and looks stylish on the counter or as a serving board.

Pros: Smell and stain resistant, good for preparation and serving 

Cons: Not reversible

The Williams Sonoma Acacia End-Grain Cutting Board combines style and practicality. Cherry and beet juice washed right off the surface, and any lingering stains disappeared into the dark wood grain. Similarly, the board did not hold onto garlic or onion smells. Williams Sonoma suggests coating the board with mineral oil before your first use. After using the board repeatedly over a week, the wood still felt smooth and looked hydrated.

This cutting board came the highest off the counter, about two inches, due to the thick wood and feet at the corners of the board. Though slight, the lift made it more comfortable to use compared to the other cutting boards that lay flat on the table. The feet and the weight do make this board harder to store or move around the kitchen, but the end-grain wood pattern is attractive enough to leave the board out all the time. 

Acacia wood is a hardwood known for durability, similar to maple. I did not feel my knife sinking into the acacia wood, nor did I feel a difference when starting from different sides of the grain. Williams Sonoma recommends coating the board in mineral oil once a month or when you notice the texture feels dry.

Acacia End-grain Cutting Board (button)
The best bamboo cutting board

Our best bamboo cutting board, the Totally Bamboo 3-Piece Set.

Bamboo cutting boards like the ones in the Totally Bamboo 3-Piece Cutting Board Set offer low maintenance longevity and low environmental impact.

Pros: Affordable, smell and stain resistant, sustainable resource

Cons: Cut-out handle decreases cutting space

The three bamboo sets we tested all resisted odors better than other types of wood. However, the Totally Bamboo boards resisted both smells and stains equally well. The stains were almost entirely gone after scrubbing the board with soap, and by the next day I couldn’t even tell where the discoloration had been. After cutting, I noticed only surface level scratches and no deep grooves.

Bamboo requires the same maintenance as wood: coat the surface with mineral oil once a month or when it feels dry, and do not submerge it in water. The Totally Bamboo boards are thinner than the majority of the wooden ones, which makes them easy to store, but they don’t feel as sturdy and are almost flat against the countertop. 

If you have environmental concerns, bamboo is a sustainable material that doesn’t require pesticides to produce. Additionally, this bamboo set is a great budget option because it gives you three boards at a lower price than some single wood boards.

Cutting Board Set (button)
The best plastic cutting board

Our best plastic cutting board, the OXO Good Grips Polypropylene Cutting and Carving Board.

The OXO Good Grips Polypropylene Cutting and Carving Board is perfect if you’re looking for one that you don’t have to treat gently but will still hold up under chopping and slicing.

Pros: Large cutting surface, rubber edges keep the board level and steady

Cons: May be too large to fit in some dishwashers, less durable than wood 

Unlike wood, plastic boards do not heal from scratches, so it is important that the material is durable enough to hold up under regular use without deep scarring. While we haven’t used the OXO board long term, it was only surface-level scratched by the chef’s knife and the serrated knife, which is pretty standard for plastic. Chopping on the OXO board was easy because my knife didn’t dig into the surface, so quick, dicing motions felt smooth. 

This board maximizes the available cutting surface by placing the juice well right at the edge. The well is deep enough to hold run off juices, but doesn’t take away from the cutting space. I smelled the board right after I scraped off the garlic and onions; it smelled so neutral I almost doubted whether I had cut the onions in the first place.

Good Grips Polypropylene Cutting and Carving Board (button)
What else we tested

All of the cutting boards we tested laid out on the floor.

What else we recommend

Shun Hinoki Cutting Board and Shun Hinoki Cutting Board with Urushi Edge: The Shun boards felt great under my knife and were lightweight. Per the manufacturer instructions, I rubbed a cut lemon over stains and the discoloration almost disappeared. However, the pale wood does stain easily, and when I let stains linger, as can happen in a busy kitchen, the lemon technique did not help. The stains faded when scrubbed with soap, but the color did not disappear and the texture of the board became rougher. Additionally, the manufacturer suggests wetting the boards with water before using to prevent staining. That instruction plus the paleness of the wood suggests these boards are not ideal for casual use.  

Williams Sonoma Antibacterial Synthetic Cutting and Carving Board: It was a tight race between this board and the OXO for best plastic. The William Sonoma board resisted smells and stains, but the serrated knife cut slightly deeper into the surface than it did on the OXO. Additionally, this board had a wider edge beyond the juice well; this decreased the available cutting surface more than necessary. 

Farberware Bamboo Cutting Board, set of 3: This set is another great option for those who prefer bamboo boards. Because there are no cut-out handles, there is more available cutting surface than our best bamboo pick. The Farberware set is not my top pick because it stained easier than the Totally Bamboo boards. I could still see where I had cut the cherries even after washing the board with soap and water. 

Victorinox All-Rounder: This is an Epicurean board made for the Swiss knife company Victorinox. It was the thinnest board we tested and made of sustainable wood fibers. The board is lightweight, dishwasher safe, and doesn’t retain scent or stain. The reason it is not a top pick is because it scarred with the first pass of the serrated knife. This is not a deal breaker, and so I still recommend this board as great for space saving and casual use. However, I have doubts about it’s longevity. 

What we do not recommend

King Arthur Baking Company Maple Prep Board: This board felt rough and dry immediately after using it. While the manufacturer website says buffing the rough area will smooth the finish, I was surprised that the texture was so affected after one use. A coating of mineral oil did smooth the rough patches and brought out the grain of the wood in a visually appealing way. The patterns of the wood were attractive, and it felt comfortable to cut on. The texture issues are the primary reason this board is not a top pick. 

Made by Design Polygranite Cutting Mat Set: This set is a solid short-term option: It is inexpensive, dishwasher safe, and the black surface doesn’t show stains. However, I did feel like my chef’s knife stuck slightly when I pressed down hard, so I have concerns about the durability of the board. 

Royal Craft Wood Premium Bamboo Cutting Board: My main issue with this board was that it splintered on the bottom edge after just moving it around my kitchen. The texture of the juice well was rough and felt unfinished; I was not confident juice would flow smoothly out without being absorbed. 

Made by Design Acacia Wood Nonslip Cutting Board: Though made of the same wood as our best overall pick, the Made by Design board did not hold up under our testing. Every pass with the knives scarred the surface. The board was not completely level and wobbled when pushed down on two of the corners. 

What we look forward to testing

Fifth and Cherry 14: Made of end-grain cherry wood, this cutting board is more expensive than those we tested for this guide, but promises to be the last cutting board you’ll ever buy. The company offers complimentary lifetime refinishing. We look forward to seeing if this board performs well in the short term compared to similar boards with lower price points.

Dexas Flexi Synthetic Cutting Boards, Set of 4: This type of thin, flexible cutting board is akin to those used in collaging or sewing. In the kitchen, cooks like cutting mats for the ability to quickly pull them in and out of storage, throw them in the dishwasher, and switch one mat for another mid-recipe if you’re working with raw meat. We’re curious to see if cutting mats hold up to regular use or if they wear down quicker than other boards.

FAQs

How do I clean and sanitize my cutting boards?

Sanitizing is more thorough than cleaning surface dirt and grime because it removes pathogens and microbes from a surface. You can sanitize both wood and plastic cutting boards with a heavily diluted bleach solution: one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water. “Sanitizing is important where there is the potential for microbial contamination, such as with raw meats and poultry,” said Bucknavage. 

“Both [plastic and wood] are sanitized essentially the same (although you may pat the wood dry with clean paper towels to remove moisture),” said Bucknavage. “But the real difference between the two is in cleaning. You would not want to overly soak the wood.” Plastic cutting boards are often dishwasher safe, and even if they aren’t, they can be soaked in water for cleaning because the material is non-porous. No matter the material, you should clean your cutting board with warm and soapy water after each use.


Can you cut meat on my wood cutting board?

Yes, you can cut meat on your wood cutting board. However, wood is more porous than plastic, so there is a higher risk of bacteria. The most important thing is to prevent cross contamination: do not use the same cutting board for raw meat and vegetables. If you have to use the same cutting board, make sure you wash it with warm water and soap after it touches raw meat.


When should you throw away your cutting board?

Our experts agreed on this point: when your cutting board has deep grooves that hold onto food, it’s time for it to go. “Bacterial retention can become an issue when boards become excessively marred from knife use over a long period of time,” said Bucknavage.


How do you care for my wood cutting board?

Wood cutting boards will last as long, and sometimes longer, than plastic boards. The key to caring for your wood boards is food-safe mineral oil. You can find mineral oil in local pharmacies and hardware stores at a range of price points. The inexpensive stuff will do the trick, just make sure whatever you buy is food safe. 

There is no standard frequency with which you should oil your board, but Proto recommends once every two months. “The mineral oil helps protect the cutting board; it keeps it from warping and keeps the wood from drying out.” If you are using your board more than usual or you notice it feeling dry to the touch, wipe on a coating of mineral oil.


What type of wood is best for cutting boards?

There are many different classifications for types of wood, but for cutting boards, we mostly consider the durability or hardness of the wood. Regularly cutting and chopping on any surface leads to wear and tear, so hardwood like walnut, acacia, and mahogany are often chosen for their durability, according to Pechenik. However, he also pointed out that sustainability is a concern when choosing wood. Mahogany, for example, is durable and beautiful, but the majority comes from cultivating rainforests. 

Maple and acacia are the two hardwoods that we tested for this guide, but we also tested two Hinoki boards, which are known for being on the softer side. That type of wood, Hinoki or pine, is best for preserving the edge on your fine knives, Pechnik said. Maple and acacia won’t destroy the edge on your knife, but will dull it faster than softer wood.

Check out our other great guides for home cooks

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Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best meat thermometers in 2021 for all types of cooks

  • A meat thermometer is one of the best tools you can invest in to improve your cooking.
  • We tested 12 models and interviewed a lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education to find the best thermometers.
  • The Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4 is our top pick because it’s fast, accurate, and easy to use.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The most-used piece of equipment in my kitchen isn’t my Dutch oven, or my chef’s knife, or even my most beloved spatula – it’s my thermometer. I invested in a good kitchen thermometer almost a decade ago and since then, it’s carried me through countless dinner parties and holiday meals (including a pig roast), hundreds of weeknight dinners, and a career in professional kitchens. I use my thermometer to temp everything from a piece of chicken to a loaf of bread to a pot of caramel or a vat of frying oil – I’ve even taken the temperature of a baked potato.

Using a thermometer to take the temperature of food is one of the first skills students learn in culinary school. Tracy Wilk, lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education, said that a thermometer is a core tool that can make you a more confident cook.

“A lot of home cooks can be intimidated by some techniques like cooking steak or tempering chocolate, but once you’re able to work with temperatures, the gates really open up for your cooking abilities,” Wilk said. “There’s also satisfaction from a perfectly cooked roast chicken that isn’t cut into a million pieces before it’s served. Using a thermometer will help you get accurate and delicious results.”

Thermometers don’t just help make your food taste better, they’re also important for food safety. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a thermometer is the only way to ensure that meat, poultry, and egg products are cooked safely as color and texture are not always reliable.

To find the best thermometers you can buy, I tested 12 different models, putting each through an identical set of tests to determine accuracy, ease of use, and durability. You can read more below about our testing methodology, as well as information on how to use and calibrate a thermometer, and why Thermoworks occupies all of the top spots in our guide.

Here are the best meat thermometers in 2021

Our testing methodology

Best meat thermometers methodology 2021

I’ve been using kitchen thermometers as a core tool in my arsenal for more than a decade, including seven years working in professional kitchens as a product tester and editor for “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Cook’s Illustrated.” For this guide, I leaned on my extensive experience testing and writing about kitchen products and using a thermometer almost daily, and also interviewed Tracy Wilk, lead chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. I tested 12 different kitchen thermometers, putting each through a set of identical tests. Here’s what I looked for in the best thermometers:

Accuracy: A thermometer should be, above all, accurate. I looked for accuracy at both high and low temperatures, as well as accuracy over time. I put each model through three different accuracy tests: an ice bath test, a boiling water test, and a sous vide test where I tracked the temperature reported by each thermometer over two hours when placed in a water bath heated by an immersion circulator. You can read more about how I did the industry-standard ice bath and boiling water tests below. Though I used the thermometers while cooking food to evaluate the ease of use, I didn’t include food in my accuracy tests since it introduces a number of hard-to-control variables like cooking temperature, size and thickness of the meat, and potential human error.

Speed: In every test, I timed how long it took for the thermometer to report a steady, accurate temperature. Some thermometers read within seconds, while others took up to a minute. For remote thermometers, I also timed how long it took for the base to transmit the temperature data to the pager.

Ease of use: A good thermometer needs to be easy to use and the readouts should be legible and easy to read. I used each thermometer over several weeks as part of my regular cooking routine, seeing how comfortable they were to hold over hot pans filled with searing steak, whether their screens fogged up when I stuck the probes into vats of chili, and generally evaluating how easy they were to handle, use, and read. 

Durability: Thermometers are often used in busy kitchens where bumps and spills happen. I tested the durability of the thermometers by knocking each from the counter onto the ground 10 times and checking for any cracking or functionality loss. All the thermometers passed this test.

Special features: While a thermometer doesn’t need to have any fancy features, I looked at any additional functions such as backlights, alarms, timers, and customizability. I checked to see that these functions were helpful and worked as intended.

The best meat thermometer overall

Best meat thermometers 2021 Thermoworks Thermapen

The Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4 is lab-calibrated, accurate, and thoughtfully designed with features like an auto-rotating display, large numbers, a backlight, and a superfast read time. 

Pros: Lab-calibrated, displays accurate temperature within seconds, large and easy to read display, automatic backlight, automatically turns on and off, display automatically rotates, can be used in Celsius or Farenheit, can be customized to display whole numbers or up to one decimal place, comes in 10 colors

Cons: Might be more difficult for lefties to use

The Thermapen is beloved in the food industry because it’s simply designed, accurate, and fast — it has everything you want and need in a thermometer with no superfluous extras. While its long been the tool of choice by pros, but I didn’t realize just how objectively best-in-class it is until I tested it alongside 11 other thermometers.

It takes zero knowledge to use: simply unfold the probe and get to temping. The display is large and easy to read; there’s no glare from any angle and the display doesn’t fog up when you get close to hot foods. The numbers automatically rotate depending on which way you’re holding the Thermapen, so it’s legible from all angles. A sensor near the display turns on the backlight whenever the ambient light is low; a feature I’ve found really helpful when grilling in the dark. The thermometer also automatically turns on when you pick it up and turns off when you put it down, so you don’t have to worry about wasting the battery.

Most importantly, it’s accurate and reads fast. It reported accurate temperatures in our calibration tests. When I used it while cooking steak, it reported the temperature within three seconds of sticking the probe in — the fastest of the models we tested. 

While the Thermapen is ready to go right out of the box, you can customize it by choosing between Celsius and Farenheit and setting the display to show whole numbers or one decimal place on the temperature readout. 

The only issue I’ve ever encountered with the Thermapen is that it’s not ergonomically designed with left-handed users in mind. Lefties might be more comfortable with our budget pick, the ThermoPop, which is configured more universally.

The best budget meat thermometer

Best meat thermometers 2021 Thermoworks ThermoPop

The Thermoworks ThermoPop is a simple and easy-to-use meat thermometer at an entry-level price that’s great for those just learning to cook. 

Pros: Accurate, fast, easy-to-read numbers, has a backlight, has a rotating display, can show temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit, comfortable for both lefties and righties to use, comes in nine color options

Cons: Backlight and display rotation have to be activated by pressing buttons, the rigid probe has some trouble getting into tight spots, only displays whole numbers, can’t adjust digits if the thermometer needs calibration

While the Thermapen may be unparalleled in its features and accuracy, it comes at a premium price. For those learning to cook or just looking for something a little more simple or inexpensive, the Thermoworks ThermoPop has everything you need to get started, and it’s about a third of the price of the Thermapen.

The thermometer is lollipop-shaped with a long, thin probe on one end and a bulbous display on the other. The screen is clear and easy to read with large digits and a backlight. It’s accurate and reports the temperature within four seconds of inserting the probe into the food — just a second longer than the Thermapen. Since its probe is upright instead of angled, it works equally well for lefties and righties.

It has all the features you need in a thermometer, however, it takes an extra step to activate some of them. For example, you need to press a button to turn on the backlight or rotate the display while the Thermapen does both of these things automatically. It’s also not quite as customizable — you can’t set it to display one decimal place temperatures, it only shows whole numbers. And in the event that your thermometer’s calibration is off, you can’t make adjustments to the numbers on your own; you’d have to send it back to the company. It’s also a little less maneuverable in tight spaces or awkward angles since the probe is straight instead of angled. 

That said, it’s a great entry-level thermometer that has all the features you’ll need for almost every type of cooking project.

The best leave-in meat thermometer

Best meat thermometers 2021 Thermoworks ChefAlarm

The Thermoworks ChefAlarm has many thoughtful features like built-in alarms, a timer, and a probe that stays in your food for the entire cook time, making it a great option for grilling or long cooking projects.

Pros: Accurate, reads quickly, large display, built-in timer and stopwatch, high and low alarms, comes with a pot clip and carrying case, can buy and use other probe styles depending on your needs, magnetic base, can be used in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, comes in nine different colors

Cons: Magnet not always strong enough to hold up the unit on oven door, takes some time to set up 

While fast-reading handheld thermometers like the Thermapen and ThermoPop are great for most uses, sometimes you need a thermometer that can be left in your food while it’s cooking, which is where probe or leave-in thermometers like the Thermoworks ChefAlarm come in. 

The ChefAlarm is ideally designed for grilling, barbecue, or cooking long roasts in the oven. It features a high-temperature probe connected to a base that reports the current temperature, as well as the minimum and maximum temperatures your food has reached while cooking. Buttons on the base allow you to set a timer or stopwatch, along with alarms to tell you when your food has dropped above or below a certain desired temperature range. The base can be folded to sit stably on a counter or attached via a magnet to a metallic surface like a grill lid or oven door. It also comes with a carrying case and a clip for attaching the probe to pots for deep frying or candy making.

In my temperature tests, the ChefAlarm was accurate and relatively fast, reporting temperatures within six seconds. However, between the probe, cable, and base, it has a lot of parts and is a bit unwieldy for stovetop cooking like searing steak or fish. I’ve found I get the most use out of it when grilling or cooking foods that take a lot of time. 

One tiny quibble I have with the ChefAlarm is that the magnet isn’t always strong enough to hold the base up when attached to my oven door, which could be an issue if you have a wall-mounted oven with no easily reachable surface nearby.

The leave-in meat thermometer on a budget

Best meat thermometers 2021 thermoworks DOT

The Thermoworks DOT is a relatively inexpensive thermometer with a few simple, but well-designed features. It’s an accurate leave-in thermometer without all the bells and whistles.

Pros: Relatively fast, very accurate, clear display that’s easy to read from afar, has a backlight, can buy and use other probe styles depending on your needs, magnetic base, alarm alerts when the food has reached its set temperature, can be used in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, comes in nine different color options

Cons: No timer, no minimum or maximum temperature display, only one volume setting, only displays whole numbers

If you’re looking for a leave-in thermometer that is a bit simpler and less expensive than the ChefAlarm, the Thermoworks DOT is a more streamlined option. It consists of a circular, magnetic base attached to a 4.5-inch probe connected by a 47-inch cable. The front of the base has just two buttons: up and down, which you use to set your desired final cooking temperature. You stick the probe in the food and leave it there for the entire cook time, and the thermometer will beep loudly to let you know when your food has reached your desired temperature. 

The DOT has a backlight that can be activated with a button on the back of the base, and you can buy other specialty probes that work with it to suit your needs (though you most likely won’t ever need to). One thing I particularly like about the DOT is that it’s lighter than the ChefAlarm, and stays put when I attach it magnetically to my grill or oven. It’s also incredibly accurate and a beat faster than the ChefAlarm, reporting the temperature within just five seconds.

The DOT doesn’t have a timer or the ability to show you minimum and maximum cooking temperatures, but you may not need either of those functions if you’re cooking something simple, or you use a separate timer while cooking. 

Overall, it’s a great option if you’re looking to dabble with a leave-in thermometer, or don’t need all the extra bells and whistles that come with a more expensive thermometer.

The best meat thermometer for the grill

Best meat thermometers 2021 thermoworks smoke

If you’re serious about barbecue, the Thermoworks Smoke X2 offers both accuracy and convenience with a leave-in probe that can transmit data to a pager more than a mile away. 

Pros: Comes with a pager so you can monitor temperatures from afar, pager works more than a mile away from the base, comes with two temperature probes, accurate, moderately fast read and data transmission time, can set high and low temperature alarms, has a backlight, can be used in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, comes in nine different colors, can be used with other specialty probes and equipment

Cons: Too bulky for stovetop cooking

If you’re cooking something that takes many, many hours or even days — as is often the case with barbecue — remote thermometers like the Thermoworks Smoke X2 let you monitor the temperature of your food from afar so you’re not tied to the grill. 

The Smoke looks similar to other leave-in thermometers we tested. It comes with two probes that are connected by long wires to a base that sits outside your grill or oven. The base transmits that temperature data to a pager that you wear on a lanyard. Both probes were accurate and took about seven seconds to transmit the temperature to the base — slower than our other top picks, but much faster than any other remote thermometer I’ve tested. 

The base and pager stay connected up to a mile away from each other, which likely covers all the distance you’ll need. While I didn’t test the lengths of this claim, I did walk with the pager up to 1,000 feet away from the base and it never lost connection, even when I went upstairs, behind walls, and down the block.

While The Smoke isn’t a thermometer you’ll likely use every day, it’s a good investment if you regularly cook a lot of project recipes or barbecue.

What else we tested

Best meat thermometers what else we tested 2021

We tested a total of 12 thermometers for this guide. Here are the ones we tested that didn’t make the cut.

What else we recommend and why:

  • Lavatools Javelin PRO Duo Digital Meat Thermometer ($55.99): This fast-reading handheld thermometer is accurate, easy to use, and gives clear readouts. It has many of the features we love in the Thermapen Mk4, like a backlight and auto-rotating display. While the Javelin is a great thermometer, the Thermapen edged this model out because its features were a bit more reliable; the Javelin’s display sometimes rotated when we didn’t want it to and you need to press a button to activate the backlight. These are minor quibbles, however, and this is a great option if you want a more affordable alternative with many of the same functions as the Thermapen. 
  • Lavatools Javelin Digital Meat Thermometer ($26.99): This petite thermometer is only a little more than four inches long with a probe length of just 2.8 inches. While it’s fast, accurate, and easy to read for its small size, it’s a bit too small for everyday use. I found my hands getting uncomfortably hot when holding this thermometer in food that was cooking, and its probe is too short to get all the way into large roasts and cuts of meat. That said, it’s small enough that you could clip it to a keychain, or use the included magnet to keep it on your fridge door for easy access when you need a thermometer in a pinch. It might be a good portable thermometer, but not one that I would want to use every day.

What we don’t recommend and why:

  • OXO Good Grips Thermocouple Thermometer ($99.95): This instant-read thermometer is sleek, reports fast read-outs, and has a rotating display, but it was consistently off by one degree in all the calibration tests. While that wasn’t a deal-breaker (and hardly enough of a difference to ruin your food), I was regularly thwarted by the rotating display, which consistently read upside down when I tried to use it in a hurry, like while searing steak. The probe does extend further than other models, which meant my left-handed husband could also use the thermometer comfortably in his dominant hand (many instant-read thermometers only extend far enough to be most versatile for right-handed use). It may be a good option for lefties, but I would’ve liked more accuracy and reliability given the price.
  • Polder Stable-Read Digital Thermometer ($19.99): This thermometer beeps to let you know when it’s at a stable reading, which can be useful if you’re still figuring out the nuances of using a meat thermometer. However, that was just about its only redeeming factor. It was consistently off by about 3 degrees F, and the display is hard to read, doesn’t rotate, and is not backlit. The probe is rigid and the thermometer is long, so it’s not good for temping things at an angle. Finally, the probe sheath was really difficult to pull on and off; not great when you’re trying to grab the thermometer quickly while your food cooks. 
  • ThermoPro Wireless Meat Thermometer ($56.99): This remote thermometer gets solid reviews, so we decided to try it out. While it was accurate, it was difficult to use compared to the Thermoworks Smoke and lacked many of the features we love in that thermometer. The ThermoPro’s display is relatively small and hard to read, it wasn’t intuitive to use and program, and it only has a range of up to 300 feet. While this seems like a long distance, it lost connection when I left the transmitter by the grill and took the pager with me into my house and up a flight of stairs. When it was connected to the pager, it took about 45 seconds for the thermometer to report the temperature in all of our accuracy tests — the longest of any product we tried. While this lag isn’t likely to make a difference in your food if you’re using it to cook barbecue or another long-cooking dish, it’s much too slow for stovetop use or quick-cooking foods like steak or fish. 
  • Taylor Commercial Digital Thermometer ($10.29): While this thermometer was the least expensive of any model we tested, its display is teeny-tiny at just 1/4 inch tall. I had to squint to read the numbers, the display often fogged up, and there was a glare if I didn’t hold the thermometer at the right angle. It also took a relatively long time to read at about 20 seconds, and in that time, my hand got hot from having to hold the thermometer close to the food for so long. It also wasn’t very accurate and was consistently off by 2 degrees F in all our accuracy tests.
  • Taylor Waterproof Instant Read Thermometer ($16.76): Another inexpensive option from Taylor, this thermometer was slightly easier to read and featured a backlight. While it was also faster and more accurate than the other Taylor thermometer we tried, it still wasn’t without flaws. The display had a strong glare from certain angles and fogged up when close to hot foods; this was exacerbated by its short probe, which kept the thermometer (and our hands) near the heat. The buttons were also hard to press.
  • Yummly Smart Thermometer ($99.99): This thermometer is part of a new generation of leave-in thermometers that are completely wireless. The probe stays in your food the entire cooking time, but there are no wires coming out of your oven or grill like there are with the DOT or ChefAlarm. The probe wirelessly transmits temperature data to your phone, so you can see when the food is finished cooking. I tested this model and struggled with app and connectivity issues that rendered the thermometer basically useless.

What we look forward to testing

Best meat thermometers   looking forward 2021

There are hundreds of meat thermometers out there, here are some other models we’re looking forward to testing soon: 

  • Thermapen ONE ($105): A new version of our top-rated instant read thermometer, the Thermapen ONE purportedly has a brighter backlight than the MK4 and read times in as little as one second. We’re giving it a try and will report back on our thoughts.
  • Maverick Stake ($79.99): Maverick is a well-loved brand among barbecuers, and it recently introduced the Stake, which is another one of these new-generation wireless leave-in thermometers. 
  • Taylor Gourmet Programmable Kitchen Thermometer with Timer ($21.99): This leave-in thermometer has a built-in timer and a more traditional design, similar to our top picks. It may make an inexpensive option for those looking for this style of thermometer.

Types of thermometers

Best meat thermometers   Different types of thermometers 2021

In this guide, we focused on three primary types of thermometers used most commonly in cooking: instant-read thermometers, probe thermometers/leave-in thermometers, and remote thermometers. Here are the key differences between the styles:

Instant-read thermometer

Pros: Fast read-out, slim design that fits easily in your hand, can check multiple locations in the food quickly, can be used for almost any task

Cons: Not meant to be left in the food so you have to open the pot lid, oven door, or grill lid to check the temperature, which could result in heat loss and a longer cook time 

These devices are handheld digital thermometers that give you a temperature read-out in several seconds. They’re the most versatile of the different thermometers, and if you’re only going to buy one thermometer, this is the style to buy. They’re great for stovetop cooking and foods that cook fast but also work well for checking on dishes you cook in the oven or grill. My instant-read thermometer is one of the most-used tools in my kitchen and the thermometer I reach for most often.

Probe thermometer or leave-in thermometer

Pros: Great for long cooks where you don’t want to poke the food too often, good for candy-making and deep-frying, often has built-in alarms or timers

Cons: Slightly slower read-out, not ideal for fast-cooking foods like steak or fish on the stovetop, more parts to keep track of, bigger and harder to operate with one hand

These thermometers have a probe that’s meant to be left in the food for the entire duration of cooking. The probe connects by a thin metal wire to a base that sits outside the stove, oven, or grill and shows the temperature read-out. Many probe thermometers also have extra functions like timers or alarms. This style is good for situations where you want to constantly monitor the temperature without having to frequently poke the food or open the oven door or grill lids, like when making large roasts or long-cooked braises. They’re also useful for deep-frying and candy-making since you can clip the probe onto the pot and monitor the temperature of the frying oil or sugar for consistency.

Remote thermometer

Pros: Pager or smartphone-connectivity that lets you monitor temperature from afar, good for long-cooking foods like barbecue or roasts

Cons: Most expensive, bulky, slightly longer read and transmission time than leave-in thermometers

Remote thermometers are very similar to probe thermometers in that they have a leave-in probe connected to a base, but they have the added component of a pager that lets you monitor the temperature of your food from afar. This is popular for grilling and smoking, which typically have very long cook times. A remote thermometer lets you walk away from the grill or oven and still keep an eye on the temperature of your food. Many are also smartphone-connected, so you can check the temperature from your phone. While you can use them in all the same ways you would use a leave-in thermometer, they’re usually bigger, heavier, and more expensive, so really only recommended if you do a lot of barbecuing or very long cooks.

Why ThermoWorks makes the best thermometers we tested

Best meat thermometers   why thermoworks is best 2021

With Thermoworks occupying all five of our top picks, you might think this guide is sponsored — it most assuredly is not. Our guides are never sponsored and we conduct the same set of tests on all products (you can read more about how we tested in our methodology). We put 12 different thermometers through the same rigorous criteria for this guide. So how did Thermoworks products come to best the competition?

Here are some of the reasons Thermoworks thermometers tested so well, and why they’re worth buying:

Accuracy: A thermometer should be accurate. Thermoworks thermometers consistently gave the most precise and accurate measurements in our tests. Should your thermometer reading be off after doing basic calibration tests (very unlikely in a new thermometer, since many of its products come factory-calibrated, but a possibility with extended use), some of Thermoworks’ thermometers are easily adjusted with buttons inside the battery compartment, or you can send the thermometer to the company for lab calibration. 

Thoughtful design: Thermoworks thermometers are thoughtfully designed and simple to use. The thermometers have just the right amount of features — nothing superfluous. Some features we found particularly helpful in our top picks were large readouts, backlit displays, and easy adjustability. 

Trusted industry leader: Thermoworks has been in business for 25 years and only makes thermometers and temperature tracking devices. Its staff is filled with engineers who are laser-focused on thermometry and calibration. Its reputation for doing one thing and doing it well has made it a trusted brand used not only by home cooks and in the foodservice industry, but also by pharmaceutical, construction, manufacturing, utility, heating and air conditioning, plastics and rubber, research and science, and other industries. 

Customer service: While customer service didn’t factor into my rankings for this guide, it’s worth noting that Thermoworks has some of the best customer service I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been using Thermoworks products daily for a decade as part of my job and in my own home. Whenever I’ve had a question, a call to the customer service line quickly puts me in touch with a technician who can answer questions big and small — from troubleshooting data logging software to basic questions about what thermometer is best for what use. 

Colors: While appearance also didn’t factor into my ratings, I do love that most Thermoworks products come in nine to 10 colors, so you can choose one that feels customized and personal to you.

How to calibrate a thermometer

Best meat thermometers 2021 how to calibrate

Before you use your thermometer for the first time, you should make sure it’s accurate. This process is called “calibration,” but that’s a bit of a misnomer since you usually aren’t making any adjustments, just checking accuracy. In addition to calibrating your thermometer before its first use, it’s also a good idea to check its accuracy periodically, especially if you’re using an older model or a dial thermometer. There are two industry-standard ways to calibrate your thermometer: the ice bath test and the boiling water test.   

Ice bath test

The easiest way to check for accuracy is to prepare an ice bath. Here are the steps outlined on Thermoworks’ website, which are standard across many brands:

  1. Fill a vessel like a large mug or bowl to the rim with ice.
  2. Add cold water to the vessel to fill the gaps between the ice. Stop filling when you’ve reached just below the lip of the vessel. 
  3. Insert your thermometer’s probe into the center of the ice bath and stir gently.
  4. An accurate thermometer should read 32 degrees F (or 0 degrees C) in the ice bath.

Boiling water test

If you don’t have ice readily available, you can also check the accuracy of your thermometer with boiling water. However, keep in mind that water boils at different temperatures depending on your location and the current atmospheric pressure. The boiling water calibration test should only be used in a pinch and only to detect glaring inaccuracies. Here are the steps:

  1. Fill a pot with at least four inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. When the water is at a roaring boil with big bubbles bursting at the surface, insert your thermometer probe into the water, taking care that it doesn’t touch the sides or bottom of the pot. 
  3. Compare the temperature read-out to the estimated boiling point of water for your area. At sea level, water generally boils at 212 degrees F (100 degrees C). 

What to do if your thermometer is inaccurate

If you perform either of the above calibration tests and find that your thermometer is inaccurate, first check the accuracy range of your device, which should be listed on the packaging or instructions. Some thermometers allow for a variance of up to a degree plus or minus the target temperature. If your thermometer’s reading is within the allowed range, there’s no need to make adjustments. 

If your thermometer is off by more than the allowed range, follow any included instructions in the packaging for adjusting the read-out of your device. If your device isn’t adjustable you have a couple of options. First, you can send the thermometer back to the manufacturer for calibration. The price and availability of this service will vary depending on the model, your warranty, and the company. Second, you can simply take a small piece of tape and write the amount the thermometer is off by on it and stick it to the thermometer body. Every time you use the thermometer, the tape will remind you to mentally adjust the read-out by the number written on the tape. Finally, if your thermometer was cheap or is old, you may just want to buy a new one.

Check out our other grilling gear guides

best gas grill 2021 Weber S-315
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Kris Jenner’s line of cleaning products just landed a major placement at Bed Bath & Beyond

Kris Jenner poses in front of a display of her cleaning line Safely at Bed Bath & Beyond
  • In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Kris Jenner launched her cleaning collection Safely in March 2021.
  • As of August 2, you can shop Safely in stores and online at Bed Bath & Beyond.
  • The collection includes household cleaners, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, and more.
  • All Safely products are free of stabilizers, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, and animal byproducts.

America’s favorite momager, Kris Jenner, is bringing her cleaning line Safely to Bed Bath & Beyond store shelves. You can now shop the cleaning collection (which includes laundry detergents, household cleaners, hand sanitizers, soaps, and more) online and in 750 stores nationwide. In addition to Bed Bath & Beyond, the collection can be found at buybuy Baby and Harmon stores.

In March 2021, Jenner launched Safely with Good American co-founder Emma Grede in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Chrissy Teigen was previously part of Safely’s campaign, but stepped back after tweets emerged of her bullying then 16-year old Courtney Stodden.

All Safely products are manufactured in the US and free of stabilizers, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, and animal byproducts. The products available at Bed Bath & Beyond range in price from just $5.99 to $13.99 and are available in two scents: Rise (lightly floral) and Spring (a bit muskier).

The Insider Reviews team is in the process of testing Safely products, and will be reporting back with a full review in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse at Safely’s collection available at Bed Bath & Beyond:

32 oz. Everyday Laundry Detergent in Spring (small)16 oz. Hand Sanitizer in Rise (small)28 oz. Universal All-Purpose Cleaner in Rise (small)16 oz. Hand Soap in Rise (small)28 oz. Glass Cleaner in Rise (small)

Shop all Safely products at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Black Friday will be on November 26th this year, but deals will likely begin earlier. Here’s what to expect during one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

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

2021 Black Friday Date 2x1
Black Friday 2021 Date – Best Black Friday Deals

Black Friday 2021 is one of the most hotly anticipated shopping holidays of the year.

Below, learn everything you need to know about Black Friday 2021, including the important dates to know, where to shop, and what to buy in November 26, plus the best deals available right now.

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Best deals available right now

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What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual sales event that traditionally happens at the end of November, marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The savings event is one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year – sales are so high that the day can push a retailer into “the black,” or solvency.

Shoppers can expect thousands of deals to crop up during the entire weekend, with tons of solid deals during the lead-up as well.

When is Black Friday 2021?

Black Friday is always the Friday after Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday falls on November 26. However, shoppers can expect Black Friday-caliber deals ahead of Black Friday and even after Cyber Monday.

What time does Black Friday start?

Technically speaking, Black Friday starts at 12:01 a.m. local time on November 26 for online retailers. However, Black Friday sales start whenever each retailer decides their sales will go live.

Judging from what we saw last year, several retailers will be releasing new deals every week leading up to the big day.

How long do Black Friday sales last?

Don’t be fooled by the name that suggests it’s a single day. It’s most definitely not. It’s more like a shopping season that begins in early November.

Black Friday deals started days and weeks in advance of the actual shopping day last year and will continue on until a week after Cyber Monday.

What should you buy on Black Friday?

Since it falls a few weeks before the gift-giving season, Black Friday provides excellent opportunities to buy and save on all your holiday gifts before the last-minute rush.

It’s nearly guaranteed that you’ll get great value for your money on certain products during Black Friday – but some products tend to see better discounts at other times of the year. If you go in knowing what you’re looking for, you’re less likely to be ripped off by a fancy-looking coupon or to spend money on products you don’t need.

Shoppers can expect tons of great deals – including so-called “doorbusters” – online before and early on in Black Friday. During the event, prices will drop to all-time lows, often beating out prices we see over the course of the year. The sale covers every product category: tech, home and kitchen, fashion, and smart home.

This Black Friday, shoppers should expect to see similar offers to the ones we saw on Amazon Prime Day, except more wide-ranging.

We recommend focusing on the following product categories if you want the best deals:

Historically, Black Friday has been a great time to purchase big-ticket electronics – especially larger TVs. Whether you’re looking for a top-of-the-line Samsung set or LG OLED, or a budget-friendly TCL or Hisense model, Black Friday will likely deliver several deals.

Much like Amazon Prime Day, we saw tons of discounts on smart home products last Black Friday. Amazon Echo products dropped to their lowest prices ever, plus we saw several discounts and bundles on Google’s recently released products.

This Black Friday we expect to see discounts on the latest Xbox and Playstation consoles releases, provided they’re in stock. While we didn’t see any markdowns on the consoles last year, we did see a few bundles crop up and we expect more of them in 2021.

If you’re looking for a kitchen upgrade, Black Friday is a great time to shop. We saw big discounts on Instant Pot pressure cookers, KitchenAid appliances, pots and pans, plus everything else you’ll want for the pcoming holiday season.

Of course, the deals found during Black Friday are incredibly wide-ranging. There have also been several deals on diapers, toilet paper, and other household essentials and toiletries.

Is Black Friday or Cyber Monday better?

It’s complicated, and it matters less every year.

For those unfamiliar, Cyber Monday traditionally comes three days after Black Friday, on Monday. However, we’ve seen Black Friday and Cyber Monday slowly merge and expand to a weeklong, or even a month-long affair. Different products receive better discounts on each day, and the deals that each retailer offers will vary.

A good rule of thumb to follow: If you think you see a good deal, (e.g., one we recommend) create the order as soon as possible. While you can always cancel or return a product, it’s impossible to take advantage of an inactive, or expired deal.

Suppose you purchase a discounted product during Black Friday and see a more significant markdown at another retailer come Cyber Monday. Don’t sweat it.

You can ask the original storefront to match the price (some automatically refund you the difference), or you can return or cancel the order, then place a new order with a better price. Some orders won’t even ship during the weekend, which makes it easy to cancel orders.

For those who can shop in-person during Black Friday, we’ve found that it’s better to shop on Black Friday in these situations:

  • For expensive products
  • For major stores
  • For this year’s products
  • If you plan to do all your shopping in stores (if it’s available in your area) instead of online

What stores have Black Friday deals?

Outside of a few notable exceptions like REI, nearly every major retailer and direct-to-consumer company is offering markdowns during the event. We’ve seen deals from Walmart, Best Buy, Dell, Amazon, Adorama, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and more.

As we do every Black Friday, we will be sifting through all of the offers and rounding up the best deals from your favorite retailers.

Will there be Black Friday shipping delays?

Shipping delays and major shopping holidays go hand in hand, and this year is no exception. While we do expect shipping delays, we don’t think it will be as bad as last year.

When do Black Friday ads come out?

Every year, shoppers eagerly await Black Friday advertising to get a sneak peek at the deals each retailer will offer. Shoppers use these “ad scans” to help create their Black Friday game plan. We’ll update this section to include all of the available ad scans as soon as they become available.

Best Black Friday Deals we saw last year

Last year, we rounded up the best Black Friday tech deals we could find. Some of the best deals we found discounted many products over 50% with hundreds of dollars in savings. Here are some of the best markdowns we saw last year.

How we select the best Black Friday deals

  • We only choose products that meet our high standard of coverage and that we’ve either used ourselves or researched carefully.
  • We’ll compare the prices among top retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart and include only the deals that are better than all others offered (not including promotional discounts that come from using certain credit cards).
  • All deals will be at least 20% off, with the occasional exception for products that are rarely discounted or provide an outsize value.

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

SECRET SALE: For 24 hours only, shop exclusive deals on Goldbelly, Naked Wines, Drizly, and more

Products on yellow and blue background, including Coop, Naked Wines, and Vosges for 24-Hour Secret Sale 4x3

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Every day we scour the web to find the best deals for our readers, but every so often we get the opportunity to actually make the deals. For one day only on today, August 2, Insider Reviews is hosting a Secret Sale with discounts on nine of our favorite brands – from bedding to alcohol delivery and everything in between. You won’t find these deals anywhere else on the web.

If you see something that catches your eye, be prepared to act fast; the deals disappear at 11:59PM EDT.

A glance at all the deals from our exclusive sale

Home goods

  • Coop Home Goods: 20% off the Original Pillow, our top-rated pillow, with code INSIDER20
  • Brooklinen: 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15
  • Mesken: The brand’s first sale ever! Get 15% off on custom blinds and shades with code INSIDER15
  • Omigo: 23% off bidets with code INSIDER23
  • Leesa: 25% off the Hybrid mattress with code INSIDER25

Food and drink

  • Vosges Haut-Chocolat: 20% off the Grateful Dead collection with code INSIDER20
  • Drizly: $10 off Orders of $30+ with code INSIDER10
  • Goldbelly: 15% off your entire order with code INSIDER15
  • Naked Wines: $100 off your first case of 12 bottles (user’s choice: red, white or mixed case) when you buy through our link

What is Insider Reviews’ Secret Sale?

Insider Reviews’ Secret Sale is a one day event where we bring you the best deals on products our readers love. We’ve exclusively curated these deals based on our readers’ favorite brands. The deals will last only 24 hours on August 2, 2021. Be sure to act fast if you see something you like!

Coop Home Goods deals

Best pillow Coop

This memory foam pillow is a hit with everyone I know — it can be customized to support many sleeping positions

The best pillows in 2021

Coop’s Original Pillow is one of those “holy grail” products that stand the test of time. It features shredded memory foam so you can adjust it to the perfect loft for your sleeping position. Its adjustability is why we named it our top pick in our guide to the best pillows. During our Secret Sale, take 20% off the Original Pillow, our top-rated pillow, with code INSIDER20 — a deal we never see outside of deal holidays like Black Friday and Prime Day.

Original Pillow (small)
Omigo deals

Omigo bidet seat showcase

The best bidets in 2021

Bidets are becoming more and more popular, and Omigo’s bidet offers a thorough, customized wash with 504 possible wash combinations. If you need another reason to ditch the toilet paper, you’ll get 23% off bidets with code INSIDER23, a $100+ discount during our Secret Sale.  

Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat (small)
Leesa deals

best mattress for back pain 2021 leesa hybrid

We’ve tested almost every Leesa mattress. Here’s what you can expect from each

I’ve tested dozens of mattresses and the Leesa Hybrid is one of the most comfortable

The best mattress for every type of sleeper in 2021, according to our rigorous testing

Leesa makes some of the best mattresses, including our top pick for sleepers with back pain. During our Secret Sale, take 25% off our favorite mattress from Leesa, the Leesa Hybrid with code INSIDER25. Made of both foam and springs, the Hybrid offers great support for sleepers of all types, especially those struggling with back pain. 

Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (small)
Mesken deals

mesken curtains

This home startup lets you order custom curtains and shades — here’s how it works

If you’re in the market for affordable custom blinds and curtains, Mesken is a great bet. The retailer offers custom blinds and shades at 50% to 70% less than traditional retailers. Today only, Mesken will be offering its first sale ever just for Insider readers. You can take 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15.

Custom Curtains (small)Custom Shades (small)
Brooklinen deals

orange and white sheets from Brooklinen cover two pillows and a mattress

These Brooklinen sheets are one of the best purchases I’ve ever made — here’s why I love them so much

We’ve long been fans of Brooklinen’s sheets, but the brand also happens to make our top picks for best comforter, best down pillow, best weighted blanket, and more. Right in time for back to school, you can take 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15 during our Secret Sale

Classic Core Sheet Set (Queen) (small)Down Comforter (Full/Queen) (small)Bath Mat (small)
Goldbelly deals

Goldbelly

Why we love Goldbelly for sending food and treats to loved ones

We’re partnering with Goldbelly to offer an exclusive 24-hour discount on nationwide food delivery from America’s favorite restaurants. With Goldbelly, you can order signature dishes from the country’s iconic eateries — like fried chicken from Hattie B’s or Bo Ssäm from Momofuku — and get it delivered right to your door. Save 15% off your entire order with code INSIDER15.

World Famous Banana Pudding Bowl (64 oz.) (small)Half Bo Ssäm Dinner for 4-6 (small)Whole Brisket + Sausage + Texas Barbecue BBQ Sauce (small)
Drizly deals

Drizly App Shot 2[2]

Drizly, Minibar, and Saucey all deliver alcohol from local liquor stores within an hour — here’s how they compare

Monday may seem like a strange time to stock up on liquor, but Drizly sure does make it easy, especially with our exclusive discount $10 off Orders of $30+ with code INSIDER10. We named Drizly the best alcohol delivery app for its ease, speed, and selection. Just open the app, enter your ZIP code, and get access to one-hour wine, beer, and alcohol delivery.

Exclusive Promo (small)
Vosges deals

Best chocolate Vosges 4x3

The best chocolates in 2021

Chocolate makes an excellent gift, and our favorite chocolate for gifting is from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Vosges offers inventive flavors in impeccable packaging, and we named it a top pick in our guide to the best chocolates. During our Secret Sale, take 20% off the Grateful Dead truffle collection with code INSIDER20.

Grateful Dead Truffle Collection (small)
Naked Wines deals

naked wines facebook

I tried a suspiciously generous $100-off deal to Naked Wines and was happily surprised by the quality

Naked Wines offers a unique business model winemakers propose their blends and get an advance to produce their wine. It’s kind of like “Shark Tank,” but for wine. The direct-to-consumer model means you get small batch, bespoke wine varieties at a lower cost. Today only, take $100 off your first case of 12 bottles (user’s choice: red, white or mixed case) when you buy through our link.

Mixed Case, 12 bottles (small)
What sets these deals apart?

Our deals team is always on the hunt for the best deals, and we have an extensive database of deal history that we consult when vetting if a deal is worthwhile. For our Secret Sale, we only accepted deals from brands if we knew were the best you could find out there. For some brands, like Mesken, our sale is their first time offering a discount ever. For other brands, like Goldbelly and Coop, we know from watching the deals history that these discounts are super rare, and don’t usually pop up outside of major deal holidays like Prime Day or Black Friday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

We love Goldbelly for sending food and treats to loved ones, and today only Insider readers can save 15% off their entire order

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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • You can order food from iconic eateries all over the US via Goldbelly and have it delivered nationwide.
  • We’ve used it to send bagels, lobster, pizza, and cupcakes to loved ones and have always had a good experience.
  • As part of Insider Reviews’ Secret Sale, you can take 15% off your entire order, today only with code INSIDER15.
chicken from marcus samuelson's restaurant streetbird, delivered from Goldbelly
The offerings on Goldbelly include dishes from James Beard award winning chefs, like this chicken and waffles from chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird.

We all know the old adage: The way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. And most of us would agree it’s true.

Food is more than sustenance – it’s nostalgia, comfort, a common denominator in a world of difference. A bite of a tender lobster roll transports you back to road trips to Maine. The chewiness of a New York bagel beckons memories of lazy Sunday morning rituals from when you lived in the city. A whiff of a hot, gooey, cheesesteak will always be associated with cheering on the Phillies with your dad.

As we pack up and move on with our lives, we’ll continue to crave these nostalgic bites. Whatever the connection, wouldn’t it be lovely if you could experience your favorite meals from local, regional eateries no matter where you are?

Enter: Goldbelly.

It’s an online marketplace offering up some of the best bites from iconic food establishments all around the United States – and it’s the ultimate gift for food lovers, or honestly, yourself.

Insider Reviews Secret Sale

As part of our one-day only Secret Sale, Insider Reviews readers can take 15% off their entire order with code INSIDER15. But hurry, the deals will only last until 11:59PM EDT on August 2. Here are some of our favorite orders from Goldbelly:

Half Bo Ssäm Dinner for 4-6 (small)World Famous Banana Pudding Bowl (64 oz.) (small)Whole Brisket + Sausage + Texas Barbecue BBQ Sauce (small)

What is Goldbelly?

Every region has its own delicacies – Philly cheesesteaks, New York bagels, Kansas City barbecue – and Goldbelly is on a mission to make these local foods available to everyone, regardless of location.

Goldbelly partners with famous food purveyors and eateries all over the country – like Magnolia Bakery, Lou Malnati’s, and Pat LaFrieda -and helps deliver some of their most popular dishes to hungry consumers nationwide. You can find everything from wood-fired pizza to saucy pulled pork and ribs, and even entire Thanksgiving dinners with fully-cooked turkey and sides.

There are also meal kits and monthly subscriptions for different types of foods like pizza or bagels, as well as subscriptions to foods from different cities. All proceeds from a City Subscription goes toward delivering Goldbelly care packages to healthcare heroes across the nation.

How Goldbelly works

Head over to Goldbelly and you’ll be met with a page filled with drool-worthy pictures of delicious eats from all over the country. Goldbelly helps you find what you’re looking for in a variety of ways. Choose by category of food, what’s popular at the moment, iconic shops, or check out one of Goldbelly’s curated gift guides.

Once you find what you’re looking for, it’s just like ordering anything else online. There is also an option to add a gift message and recipient information, which makes Goldbelly packages extra giftable. Shipping time and price is dependent on the product and where it’s coming from. Since Goldbelly works with independent vendors, it’s understandable that shipping would be varied.

Review of Goldbelly

We’ve tested Goldbelly on several occasions, here are our experiences.

Remi Rosmarin, reporter: “After visiting a friend in Seattle in July a few years ago, I was looking for the perfect thank-you-for-hosting-me gift.

Of course, there are always flowers, candles, and edible arrangements, but nothing felt personal enough for a friend who had gone out of her way to plan a wonderful weekend on the West Coast. As coincidence would have it, I came across Goldbelly the day after I returned. While in Seattle, my friend had mentioned her only real complaint about the city was that there are no good bagels (sorry, Seattle), so I figured, why not send them?

I perused Goldbelly’s curated guide to “Best Gifts from NYC“, knowing there had to be some great bagels inside. I landed on a package from Ess-a-Bagel – a New York institution and a personal favorite – which included enough bagels and fixings for six. The box cost $89.95 for six bagels, a 1/2 pound nova lox, and a 1/2 pound of any type of cream cheese. You can also add more cream cheese, lox, and spreads for an added price. I ordered it on Tuesday morning and it was delivered to my friend’s doorstep the next day on Wednesday afternoon.

Even though I was able to test this service for free, it’s clear that Goldbelly provides a pretty good value. A typical nova bagel sandwich at Ess-a-Bagel costs $13.25, but the Goldbelly price isn’t much higher, clocking each bagel and lox combo in at just about $14.20. Of course, there is also a delivery fee to consider, and you may get a heavier helping of lox and schmear at Ess-a-Bagel, but that’s beside the point. This delivery brought serious smiles to an East Coast transplant who had a hankering from some New York bagels, and for that, I’d definitely gift it again.”

two lobster rolls sent from Goldbelly sit on a table next to two classes of wine
We were impressed with fresh lobster rolls from McLoon’s Lobster Shack.

Jada Wong, senior editor: “Goldbelly is great when you’re missing certain foods or want to deliver a special treat for someone’s birthday. It’s a delicious and practical gift for yourself or someone else.

So far, I’ve ordered fresh Maine lobster meat for homemade-ish lobster rolls from McLoon’s Lobster Shack and deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s when my husband and I were craving dishes due to cancelling trips during the pandemic, and cupcakes from Carousel Cakes for my dad’s birthday.

Prices are comparable to if you’d gone to the restaurants, though they seem pricey up first because items are usually in bundles and packs. You can’t just order one pizza – you have to order a pack of two or four.

The lobster meat prices were similar to online grocery store prices, but with the added benefit that the meat was fresh from Maine. We ordered two pounds of lobster meat and that was enough to make six rolls with generous piles of meat. If you get a 4-pack of deep-dish pizzas at Lou Malnati’s through Goldbelly for $95.99, each one comes out to $23.99 instead of the $22.40 they’d usually cost at the restaurant. These prices don’t include tax or shipping of course, but those won’t nearly be as expensive as a flight to Chicago or Maine.

All the orders arrived safely in padded styrofoam boxes, and in the case of the lobster and pizza, in boxes surrounded by ice packs so they were still fresh. There were easy-to-follow prep and cooking instructions for the lobster and deep-dish pizza, and the results were delicious.”

The bottom line

Nowadays, we’re comfortable with buying so many items online. If you can buy a mattress and have it delivered to your door, you should be able to do the same with bagels and lobster rolls.

Goldbelly has definitely filled a niche for food-lovers everywhere. While there’s nothing like eating the real deal in person, Goldbelly can get you pretty darn close.

Order from Goldbelly here

Read the original article on Business Insider

SECRET SALE: For 24-hours only Drizly is offering $10 off orders of $30+ for Insider readers

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

homepage_packing
  • For 24 hours only, Insider readers can take $10 off orders of $30+ at Drizly with code INSIDER10.
  • The service offers one-hour delivery of your favorite alcohol from local stores.
  • You won’t find this exclusive discount anywhere else and it ends August 3 at 12 PM EST.

This content is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly. If you or anyone you know is dealing with alcohol abuse, get help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) provides a free, confidential, 24/7, treatment referral, and information service.

As part of our 24-hour Secret Sale, Insider Reviews readers can take $10 off orders of $30+ at Drizly with code INSIDER10. You won’t find a deal on Drizly this good anywhere else on the internet, but you’ll want to act fast: This deal only lasts until August 3 at 12 AM EST.

Alcohol delivery services, like Drizly, work with your local liquor stores to bring you beer, wine, and spirits when you can’t or don’t want to leave your home. (We’ve all been there.) When we tried them out, we thought that Drizly offered a super experience to Minibar and Saucey We really liked its large selection of alcohol and store options, easy shopping experience, and straightforward delivery fees.

This promotion only lasts for 24 hours, so be sure to jump on it ASAP.

Exclusive Promo (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

SECRET SALE: For 24 hours only you can shop exclusive deals on Drizly, Goldbelly, Brooklinen, and more

Products on yellow and blue background, including Coop, Naked Wines, and Vosges for 24-Hour Secret Sale 4x3

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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Every day we scour the web to find the best deals for our readers, but every so often we get the opportunity to actually make the deals. For one day only on August 2, Insider Reviews is hosting a Secret Sale with discounts on nine of our favorite brands – from bedding to alcohol delivery and everything in between. You won’t find these deals anywhere else on the web.

Bookmark this page if you’re planning to shop the sale Monday and if you see something that catches your eye, be prepared to act fast; the deals disappear at 11:59PM EST.

All the deals at a glance

Food and drink

  • Vosges Haut-Chocolat: 20% off the Grateful Dead collection with code INSIDER20
  • Drizly: $10 off Orders of $30+ with code INSIDER10
  • Goldbelly: 15% off your entire order with code INSIDER15
  • Naked Wines: $100 off your first case of 12 bottles (user’s choice: red, white or mixed case) when you buy through our link

Home goods

  • Coop Home Goods: 20% off the Original Pillow, our top-rated pillow, with code INSIDER20
  • Brooklinen: 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15
  • Mesken: The brand’s first sale ever! Get 15% off on custom blinds and shades with code INSIDER15
  • Omigo: 23% off bidets with code INSIDER23
  • Leesa: 25% off the Hybrid mattress with code INSIDER25
Goldbelly

Goldbelly

Why we love Goldbelly for sending food and treats to loved ones

We’re partnering with Goldbelly to offer an exclusive 24-hour discount on nationwide food delivery from America’s favorite restaurants. With Goldbelly, you can order signature dishes from the country’s iconic eateries — like fried chicken from Hattie B’s or Bo Ssäm from Momofuku — and get it delivered right to your door. Save 15% off your entire order with code INSIDER15.

World Famous Banana Pudding Bowl (64 oz.) (small)Half Bo Ssäm Dinner for 4-6 (small)Whole Brisket + Sausage + Texas Barbecue BBQ Sauce (small)
Naked Wines

naked wines facebook

I tried a suspiciously generous $100-off deal to Naked Wines and was happily surprised by the quality

Naked Wines offers a unique business model winemakers propose their blends and get an advance to produce their wine. It’s kind of like “Shark Tank,” but for wine. The direct-to-consumer model means you get small batch, bespoke wine varieties at a lower cost. On Monday only, take $100 off your first case of 12 bottles (user’s choice: red, white or mixed case) when you buy through our link.

Mixed Case, 12 bottles (small)
Drizly

Drizly App Shot 2[2]

Drizly, Minibar, and Saucey all deliver alcohol from local liquor stores within an hour — here’s how they compare

Monday may seem like a strange time to stock up on liquor, but Drizly sure does make it easy, especially with our exclusive discount $10 off Orders of $30+ with code INSIDER10. We named Drizly the best alcohol delivery app for its ease, speed, and selection. Just open the app, enter your ZIP code, and get access to one-hour wine, beer, and alcohol delivery.

Exclusive Promo (small)
Vosges

Best chocolate Vosges 4x3

The best chocolates in 2021

Chocolate makes an excellent gift, and our favorite chocolate for gifting is from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Vosges offers inventive flavors in impeccable packaging, and we named it a top pick in our guide to the best chocolates. During our Secret Sale, take 20% off the Grateful Dead collection with code INSIDER20.

Grateful Dead Truffle Collection (small)Dancing Bears in Space Bar (small)
Mesken

mesken curtains

This home startup lets you order custom curtains and shades — here’s how it works

If you’re in the market for affordable custom blinds and curtains, Mesken is a great bet. The retailer offers custom blinds and shades at 50% to 70% less than traditional retailers. On Monday only, Mesken will be offering its first sale ever just for Insider readers. You can take 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15.

Custom Curtains (small)Custom Shades (small)
Brooklinen

orange and white sheets from Brooklinen cover two pillows and a mattress

These Brooklinen sheets are one of the best purchases I’ve ever made — here’s why I love them so much

We’ve long been fans of Brooklinen’s sheets, but the brand also happens to make our top picks for best comforter, best down pillow, best weighted blanket, and more. Right in time for back to school, you can take 15% off sitewide with code INSIDER15 during our Secret Sale

Classic Core Sheet Set (Queen) (small)Down Comforter (Full/Queen) (small)Bath Mat (small)
Leesa

best mattress for back pain 2021 leesa hybrid

We’ve tested almost every Leesa mattress. Here’s what you can expect from each

I’ve tested dozens of mattresses and the Leesa Hybrid is one of the most comfortable

The best mattress for every type of sleeper in 2021, according to our rigorous testing

Leesa makes some of the best mattresses, including our top pick for sleepers with back pain. During our Secret Sale, take 25% off our favorite mattress from Leesa, the Leesa Hybrid with code INSIDER25. Made of both foam and springs, the Hybrid offers great support for sleepers of all types, especially those struggling with back pain. 

Hybrid Mattress (Queen) (small)
Omigo

Omigo bidet seat showcase

The best bidets in 2021

Bidets are becoming more and more popular, and Omigo’s bidet offers a thorough, customized wash with 504 possible wash combinations. If you need another reason to ditch the toilet paper, you’ll get 23% off bidets with code INSIDER23, a $100+ discount during our Secret Sale.  

Luxury Bidet Toilet Seat (small)
Coop Home Goods

Best pillow Coop

This memory foam pillow is a hit with everyone I know — it can be customized to support many sleeping positions

The best pillows in 2021

Coop’s Original Pillow is one of those “holy grail” products that stand the test of time. It features shredded memory foam so you can adjust it to the perfect loft for your sleeping position. Its adjustability is why we named it our top pick in our guide to the best pillows. During our Secret Sale, take 20% off the Original Pillow, our top-rated pillow, with code INSIDER20 — a deal we never see outside of deal holidays like Black Friday and Prime Day.

Original Pillow (small)

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The 5 best soft coolers we tested in 2021 that actually keep drinks cold

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Soft cooler bags are easier to carry than hard coolers, but it’s harder to find one that stays cold.
  • The best soft cooler is big enough for drinks and food, comfortable to carry, and keeps ice for days.
  • Our top pick, the Yeti Hopper M30, is large, stays cold, and is durable enough to last years.

Whether you’re going camping, to the beach, or to a picnic in the park, you need a reliable cooler. Though there’s still a time and place for a traditional cooler, soft cooler bags are a rising commodity – and for good reason. The best soft-sided coolers are lighter and easier to carry than their hard, rotomolded brethren. But they also don’t hold the cold for as long, and can’t fit as much as a bigger, hard cooler.

Because there’s so much variability, we tested the best soft coolers, including YETI soft coolers, on hikes, camping trips, fishing outings, and casual trips to the park. The best soft coolers can keep ice (and beer) cold for at least two days (realistically, if you’re opening it regularly), are comfortable to carry, and have enough room to fit all the snacks and drinks you want to take with you.

With dozens of hours spent testing, the following guide features our five favorites, all classified into categories they particularly excelled at – save for the Yeti soft cooler, which is our favorite soft cooler bag overall.

Here are the best soft coolers:

How we tested

hopperm30

Each soft cooler in this guide went through a series of tests across hikes, camping trips, fishing outings, and casual trips to the park to assess how well they stood up across these four categories: 

  • Capacity: The best soft cooler needs to have room for both all your drinks and food, as well as for the ice to keep everything cold. Some soft coolers come in dedicated sizes, which makes their capacity rating easier to judge, and also makes the shopping process simple: If you need more space, buy a bigger cooler. We also looked at how if the soft coolers offered storage for other essentials like smartphones, car keys, dry food, etc. 
  • Ice retention: A cooler bag is hardly reliable if it doesn’t live up to its namesake and keep ice for longer than a few hours. Thankfully, most modern coolers feature insulation technology that allows them to hold ice for several days — though we still put these claims to the test to see just how reliable each cooler’s ice retention actually was.
  • Portability: One of the hallmarks of a soft cooler is its portability. Be it via backpack-like straps, a pair of comfortable handles, or even a shoulder strap, it should be easy to haul around (even when full of ice, food, and drinks).
  • Value: Coolers of any variety can be expensive, and soft coolers are no different. However, the value of a soft cooler is more than just its sticker price and more so a combination of the three categories above and if it’s worth the investment. We always feel that it’s better to spend a little more on something that’s designed to last than to spend less more often on an inferior product. 

The best soft cooler overall

yetim30

YETI’s Hopper M30 tote-style soft cooler is the most durable cooler I tested (it will last years), plus it’s comfortable to carry, keeps ice frozen, and has a huge storage capacity. 

Pros: Sturdy, sleek, airtight

Cons: Heavy compared with some other picks (but that’s due to the quality insulation), stiff, expensive, may be overkill for casual day use

Some say Yeti coolers are overbuilt, and if you’re just looking for something to carry drinks to the beach a few days a year, you definitely don’t need to pay for this superior construction. But if you’ll be hauling the cooler on all sorts of outdoor adventurers, some of which will be multi-day, the higher price tag is worth it for Yeti’s durability and design.

Yes, it’s expensive, but before you scoff at the price tag of the Yeti soft cooler, let’s get something straight: Cheap soft cooler bags will keep your ice frozen but most fall apart after a few months. The Yeti Hopper M30 lasts literally years and years. 

The durability is real: I threw this cooler down a grip tape-lined set of stairs thinking it would lead to at least one abrasion. Nothing. I tipped it upside-down and left it that way for hours. Not a drip. I yanked, ripped, and pulled at the zipper in every wrong way with all my might. Not even the hint of a budge, and it was still airtight afterward.

What’s more, the brand offers a three-year warranty on Yeti soft coolers where many other manufacturers only offer one.

Aside from its durability, the Hopper also does an excellent job of keeping what’s stored inside chilled throughout the day, even in warm weather. Featuring the brand’s patented closed-cell foam, Coldcell Insulation, you can expect upwards of 15 to 20 hours of kept ice — give or take a few hours depending on how often you open and close it, if it’s left open for any amount of time, or if it’s sitting in direct sunlight.

Capacity-wise, it’s able to hold a surprising amount of both food and drink. Even when I stocked it with more cans my crew would need for a day out, there was still enough room to throw in a few sandwiches and some additional snacks. Its padded shoulder strap came is a lovely addition, making it more comfortable to carry when it’s full up and I was walking from car to campsite, hauling it down to the beach, or slinging it on my back while biking to the park. 

The bag itself is also fairly rigid and the zipper is quite tight if you’re not used to Yeti’s heavily-designed waterproof technology — so much so that you need two hands to do anything with it, which is the only remaining downside of the Hopper.

Read our full review of the Yeti Hopper M30.

The best soft cooler on a budget

aocooler

AO Coolers are less than a third of the price of our top picks, but they are still excellent at keeping food and drinks cold.

Pros: Affordable, thick insulation, durable exterior lining

Cons: Cheap zipper, inconsistencies in stitching

Budget coolers tend to have inferior insulation, weak stitching, or leakage issues, so we generally avoid recommending them. But AO Coolers buck the trend by offering relatively well-constructed options that are also affordable.

What makes its coolers particularly impressive is its 3/4-inch insulation and durable exterior lining, whether you choose the canvas, vinyl, or woven vinyl model. It’s worth noting that during testing, I could sometimes feel cool air escaping, but it wasn’t enough to cause my ice to melt at an alarming rate.

The AO Cooler size and capacity are best-suited for shorter outings like day hikes or picnics, so ice melt becomes less of an issue. That being said, if you take it on a weekend camping trip, you’ll probably need to replenish the ice once or twice — in my testing, this was especially true on hotter days.  

The stitching throughout isn’t the best and, out of the box, I noticed a few loose threads. These wouldn’t spell the end of the cooler even if they did go, but these inconsistencies and loose stitches, as well as the basic YKK zipper, do put it in a significantly lower category of durability than the Yeti soft cooler. At this price range, however, it’s the best soft cooler bag we’ve found.

If you’re just looking for a soft-sided cooler to keep sandwiches and drinks cool on your way to the beach or a picnic, this AO Cooler is the most worth your money.

The most versatile soft cooler

OtterboxTrooper

The OtterBox Trooper LT 30 is a sort of customizable Swiss Army knife of soft coolers, coming standard with an accessory mounting system while also offering a 30-quart capacity and insulation designed to keep ice for up to three days.

Pros: 30-quart capacity can hold plenty of ice and drinks for 2-4 people, padded shoulder straps make for easy transport, rugged and durable construction, accessory points allow for a wide variety of customization

Cons: May be bulky for on-the-go transport

From the brand well-known for its durable phone cases, OtterBox also makes a line of seriously impressive coolers, including a highly versatile soft cooler called the Trooper LT 30. Outfitted with accessory hooks that allow you to put everything on it from a bottle opener or dry box to tie-down loops or a hook for more gear, the Trooper LT is great for a wide variety of use cases. 

Following the brand’s standard approach for indestructible construction, the Trooper LT features a wide base that allows the soft cooler to stand on its own, a TPU-coated nylon exterior that’s puncture-proof, and a reliable clasp system that’s durable and leak-proof to trap the temperature in. The interior has a capacity of 30 quarts, which, during my testing, held a little more than a bag of ice (there’s even an ice-fill line drawn on, which I loved) plus a 12-pack of soda or beer, and a few chilled snacks. 

In my experience, carrying the Trooper LT was easy, even when full, as it comes with two padded backpack-like straps on the rear which can also turn into a shoulder strap if need be. Two exterior pockets can hold bottle openers or even a smartphone and have water-tight zippers for added security.

OtterBox lists the cooler as being able to hold ice for up to three days, which I found to be a close assessment. On a two-day camp trip, I was able to purchase just one bag of ice and it held up the entire trip, and on single-day hikes, there was very little water to drain after a few hours on the trail. 

Though I mostly used this on car camping trips or while hiking, its versatility allows it to work well while fishing, biking, or just hanging out in your backyard. It’s not exactly cheap, but this cooler isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and figures to be a durable addition to your outdoor kit for years. — Rick Stella, Health & Fitness Editor

The best soft cooler backpack

icemuleprocanvas

The IceMule Pro is lightweight, compactable, essentially waterproof, and it won’t break the bank.

Pros: Lightweight, fairly priced, stowable, features a burping valve to let out excess air, easy to clean

Cons: Insulation could be better

IceMule’s wonderfully-designed dry-bag-style coolers are insulated to the point of being just sufficiently padded to wear as a backpack without having precariously packed beer bottles digging into you. They’re also completely airtight thanks to the roll-top design, which eliminates the fail point of a zipper.

The IceMule soft cooler line has received a good deal of praise despite a few early hiccups with design, including torn inner lining, water getting between the exterior and interior linings, and a cheap, beach-ball-like air release valve.

As far as I can tell, all of these issues have been addressed and resolved, and having an IceMule Pro to zip back and forth between the dock and the apartment for fishing trips has been an absolute delight. And, when you’re not using it, it folds flat and stores easily. It also doubles well as a regular backpack.

The IceMule Pro soft cooler comes in either vinyl or canvas, and after having tested both, I feel a little more confident in and comfortable wearing the canvas. On the other hand, the canvas only comes in black, which may not be the best color for a cooler. 

Its insulation does leave a bit to be desired, though a lot of that can be attributed to how often I’d open or close the bag. IceMule rates the Pro as able to hold ice for up to 24 hours (and cold temperatures for as many as two days), but judging by how quickly the ice would melt while I used it, 24 hours seemed like a stretch. What this means is a little more water in the bag after a day’s use, and the need to re-up ice on days two and three if you’re camping.

The best multi-purpose soft cooler

REI Cooler Pack

REI’s Cool Trail Split Pack offers ample storage space for both chilled and dry food and beverages, making it the perfect day hike companion. 

Pros: An area for both chilled and dry goods, padded shoulder straps and back panel make for comfortable transport, features REI’s tried-and-true durable construction

Cons: Lacks the capacity of most dedicated soft coolers

Most soft coolers offer one area for storing and chilling your food and drinks. REI Co-op’s Cool Trail Split Pack blends the best of both worlds by featuring the ability to house both chilled and dry goods at the same time. 

It does this by splitting the pack into two sections: a cooler-like bottom for storing ice and anything that needs to be cold and a dry top for everything else (i.e. food, change of layers, smartphone, car keys, etc.). 

Because of that design, the Cool Trail Split Pack looks like a sort of boxy backpack, featuring padded shoulder straps, as well as a chest strap and a padded back panel for added comfort — something that was much appreciated while testing this on multi-mile hikes and longer-than-expected bike rides. The pack is manufactured out of recycled ripstop nylon (like what you’d find in REI’s tents) and a polyester interior, making it highly durable both inside and out.

In terms of performance, the pack was able to keep everything stored in the cooler section chilled for an entire day spent hiking or hanging at the park in the middle of summer. Ice would begin to melt throughout the day, and especially so when the cooler section was left open while taking a short break, but I never experienced any leakage, even if the pack was laid on its side or jostling around on my back. 

One minor drawback would be that the pack is good enough for nourishing maybe two or three people as its capacity is far smaller than others on this list. But with how much it makes up for that lack of capacity by offering a spot for dry good, it’s well worth the investment. — Rick Stella, Health & Fitness Editor

How to shop for a soft cooler

The best soft cooler for you is entirely dependent on how often you’ll use it and what you’ll use it for the most. If you’re just transporting your lunch to the office or bringing snacks to your kids soccer game, you don’t need to drop more than $100 and your main areas of consideration are ease of opening, size capacity, and comfort while carrying. 

However, fishermen, frequent campers, and hikers will probably want to look for a soft-sided cooler with these three features, plus one that will last a long time (read: durable) and is well-built to keep ice frozen longer. After all, a reliable soft cooler bag is the difference between grabbing a cold beer or soda instead of a lukewarm swill; having safely-chilled meat to grill up on a camping trip; or bringing home freshly-caught fillets or those that have spoiled in the heat on your boat.

Most often, anyone looking to buy a soft cooler wants closed-cell insulation. Open-cell insulation is basically polyurethane packaging foam; it’s lightweight, airy, and the air bubbles that form the insulation are loosely arranged, which isn’t terribly effective. Closed-cell, on the other hand, is a bit heavier and pricier, since the construction has individual air bubbles that insulate far better. But it’s the best design to keep ice (and whatever else is inside) cold. This is partly what makes coolers in the Yeti and Rtic tiers so much more expensive. Of course, we can’t deny that you’re paying for the name, too.

Check out our other cooler buying guides

yeti

The best backpack coolers


The best coolers


The best lunch boxes and lunch bags


The best water bottles

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

32 thoughtful, sweet gifts to give your grandma, from cute jewelry to unique gift boxes

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

Artifact Uprising
Prints of loved ones on a classy easel make for a simple and special gift.

  • Express your gratitude and love for grandma with a thoughtful, useful gift.
  • Pair it with a phone or video call so she can see you and hear your voice.
  • Still looking for gifts fo other people on your list? Check out more gift ideas here.

From swooping in to change your diaper while your mom had her hands tied to slipping you an extra piece of candy after dinner, Grandma is another important woman in your life who you know always has your back.

Below, you’ll find thoughtful and useful gifts that you can give to make life a little more comfortable, efficient, and entertaining for her.

32 gifts to get your grandma:

A yearlong subscription to online courses taught by celebrities

masterclass

Gift an annual MasterClass membership, $180

MasterClass has over 80 classes taught by celebrities and industry leaders in subjects that range from cooking to architecture. With a subscription, she’ll have access to all of them for a year. She can keep busy, learn something new, and have something to pick up the phone and call you about whenever she’d like. If you’re interested, grab yourself a membership and take a class with her!

A customizable gift box

greetabl price varies

Gift a custom Greetabl box, prices vary

Choose a cute box design, personalize it with photos and a message, and fill it with a small gift like candy or a candle to surprise the grandma who insists she already has everything she wants.

A comfortable weighted blanket

luna weighted blanket

Gift the Luna Adult Weighted Blanket, $59.99

If she’d appreciate better, deeper sleep or a way to combat some anxiety, we’d recommend a weighted blanket. While research is still limited, recent studies show positive indications that weighted blankets can help reduce insomnia and ease anxiety. 

Our staff consistently rank weighted blankets as one of the most impactful sleep upgrades we’ve made — and Luna is our top-rated budget pick. It’s breathable, machine-washable, Oeko-Tex Certified, and a great quality item for the price.

A lightweight, convenient Kindle

Kindle Paperwhite

Gift the Kindle Paperwhite, $249.99

The latest version of the Kindle Paperwhite is the thinnest and lightest yet, plus it’s waterproof and has a longer-lasting battery. She can read a good book anywhere now — and carry a whole library around with her.

A cute and quirky tea infuser

Genuine Fred Slow Brew Sloth Tea Infuser

Gift the Genuine Fred Slow Brew Sloth Tea Infuser, $9.99

If she’d appreciate something cute and quirky from you that she can use every day, try this tea infuser in the shape of a happy sloth. On top of making tea, it’s adorable. And if you’re looking for something that’s more practical than cute, we’ve got suggestions for that, too — like the Finum Brewing Basket.

An AncestryDNA kit to learn more about your family history together

ancestryDNA

Gift an AncestryDNA kit, $99

Curious about family history? This AncestryDNA test tells you more about your genetic ethnicity — and opens up rich conversations about family heritage and personal stories. We like Ancestry because it surveys an extensive population and links you with relatives.

Comfortable, long-lasting compression socks

cdn.shopify (10)

Gift a pair of Women’s Compression Socks, starting at $24

Bombas make some of our all-time favorite socks; they’re soft and designed for next-level support, but they also last forever. We’d recommend any pairs from them, but compression socks may be especially thoughtful if your grandmother has ever mentioned swelling or achy legs.

A personalized cutting board with a handwritten family recipe

MOTHERS HANDWRITTEN RECIPE Engraved Cutting Board

Gift an Engraved Cutting Board, $45

If your family has cherished recipes, preserve one in your loved ones’ handwriting on an engraved cutting board that’s as sentimental as it is practical.

A set of uniquely-flavored chocolate bars

Raaka Chocolate

Gift the Raaka 8-Bar Organic Chocolate Gift Box, $30-$50

This set of organic chocolate bars in flavors she’s probably never tried before is an exciting iteration of a classic gift. They come in flavors like cabernet sauvignon, green tea crunch, ginger snap, and more. Plus, the box has a booklet that lets her go behind the scenes and see how Raaka sources and creates its chocolate bars. 

A cozy, lightweight robe

parachute robe

Gift the Parachute Cloud Cotton Robe, $99

This robe is lightweight, fluffy, and soft. It’s the perfect piece to make days spent lounging at home feel a little more comfortable. 

A box filled with her favorite food

pizza

Gift a box of gourmet food with Goldbelly, prices vary

Whether it’s New York pizza, New England seafood, or cannolis from a famous bakery, Goldbelly carries delicious gourmet food gifts from eateries all over the United States. A Goldbelly box makes a great gift if she loves food. Just add a personal note and you have a thoughtful gift that fills her belly and soul. 

A fun twist on a calendar

Gifts for Grandma The New York Times Puzzle

Gift The New York Times Crossword 2021 Calendar, $15.17

“The New York Times” daily crossword puzzles are iconic, and there’s a good chance that Grandma looks forward to them each morning. This calendar has a new crossword for each day of the year, and the answers can be found right on the back.

A subscription to the biggest book club in the country

book of the month $44.99

Gift a 3-Month Book of the Month subscription, $49.99

Book of the Month offers five new book choices a month, and they’re always top-quality picks. The biggest struggle of being a Book of the Month member is deciding which one to read.

A pair of new glasses

zenni $25

Gift a Zenni Gift Card, from $25

Give her a gift card from this affordable and stylish glasses brand so she can pick out a new pair of frames for herself. Frames start at less than $10, and they’ll be on their way straight to her front door after she enters her prescription information online.

A set of art-inspired tea towels

gifts for grandma 4

Gift the Siren Song Old Masters Cotton Tea Towel, $30

Tea towels don’t have to be boring. These artistic still lifes bring a beautiful and dramatic flair to her countertop. 

The next-in-command cookware after her trusty cast iron

made in $69

Gift the Made In Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan, $89

No way is she going to part with the cast-iron pan that’s been passed down through generations. The carbon-steel pan is like a close cousin that will never directly replace the classic cast iron. With its heat control and cooking speed, it comes in handy when she’s cooking in a rush, and it’s lighter to hold, too.

A cushion that provides back support whenever she needs it

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Gift the Purple Back Cushion, $39

Purple Cushions feature the same Hyper-Elastic Polymer material used in its supportive, adaptive mattresses, so she can be comfortable whether sitting in a car, plane, or stadium. Unlike other pillows that might simply absorb weight, this one provides active support.

Thick and warm socks

gifts for grandma 7

Gift the United by Blue Ultimate Bison Sock, $38

United by Blue makes some of the most comfortable and warmest socks we’ve ever worn. They’re made of merino wool, bison down, and nylon, and have reinforced heel and toe areas. We’re also big fans of Bombas socks

A luxurious yet affordable candle

otherland

Gift an Otherland Candle, $36

The same candle from a designer brand might cost twice as much, but we all know Grandma would never want you spending that much on a single candle. Otherland provides a reasonably priced alternative that’s still sophisticated and formulated with clean ingredients. Choose from soothing scents like rosebud, peony blossom, and pear water.

A comfortable slip-on shoe

allbirds $95

Gift the Allbirds Wool Lounger, $95

The soft, cushioned, and lightweight Loungers are made for the grandma who’s always on her feet and needs to be comfortable.

A versatile, thoughtfully designed bag

lo and sons $118

Gift the Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Tote, from $102.50

A common problem — finding a bag that doesn’t hurt your back — inspired the founding of travel bag company Lo & Sons, so you know these totes will be comfortable for your grandma to carry. The canvas bag has a bunch of different organizational features, including a bottom pocket just for shoes and an expandable main compartment. Lo & Sons also offers deep discounts on all bags right now, so you can get this one for over 50% off. 

A subscription-free way to watch live TV

fire tv recast 2018

Gift the Fire TV Recast DVR, $229.99

So you’ve convinced her to cut the cord, but she might still miss watching her favorite daytime shows as they happen. Amazon’s Fire TV Recast works with an HD antenna and Fire TV device to bring her live shows and events without the commitment of monthly fees.

Prints of your favorite moments together and a pretty stand to display them

Artifact Uprising
Prints of loved ones on a classy easel make for a simple and special gift.

Gift the Artifact Uprising Brass Easel & Prints, $55

The sleek brass display is a little different from the usual photo frame, and it weathers nicely over time. The set includes 12 prints printed on weighty, matte paper.

A pure silk sleep mask to help her fall asleep and stay asleep

slip sleep mask

Gift the Slip “Slipsilk” Pure Silk Sleep Mask, $50

Slip’s 100% pure Mulberry silk sleep mask is lightweight, super soft, and makes something as simple as going to bed feel luxurious. 

A warm burst of pink and red flowers

gifts for grandma 6

Gift the Bouqs Co. Strength Bouquet, from $54

If all else fails, a flower bouquet is a gift that stands the test of time. Make sure to place your order of these assorted tulips soon to ensure availability and timely delivery.

A subtle, personal necklace

gifts for grandma 5

Gift the Mini Gold Letter Charm Pendant, $250

No need to get excessive or gimmicky with the Grandma gear — pretty and simple convey thoughtfulness even better, in our opinion. 

A Fitbit fitness tracker

fitbit $99.95

Gift the Fitbit Inspire 2, $77.99

This tracker is more affordable than Fitbit’s other models, but still gives her all the necessary info to keep tabs on her fitness and health. She can monitor her calorie burn, heart rate, sleep patterns, walking and biking activity, and other important stats.

A lottery ticket that gives back

lotto love $20

Gift the Lotto Love Variety Pack, $20

LottoLove turns playing the lottery into a charitable act: When you buy a card, LottoLove donates to charities that help people receive clean water, solar light, nutritious meals, and literacy tools. She’ll scratch off the stickers to find out which cause she has supported.

A better-designed spatula

gir $39.95

Gift the GIR Ultimate Spatula, $7.95

GIR’s stronger, more flexible, and heat-resistant spatulas make Grandma’s baking prep a breeze (which means you won’t have to wait as long for her famous cookies to be ready).

A journal to record her life story

my life story $30

Gift the “My Life Story – So Far” Journal, $30

You know that Grandma has an arsenal of entertaining stories and life wisdom up her sleeve. The best way to ensure they’re preserved and passed on to future generations is this journal that contains prompts ranging from the specific (“TV shows I watched while in school”) to the nebulous (“Some thoughts on love and marriage”).

A handmade stoneware sewing station

uncommon goods $58

Gift the Uncommon Goods Sewing Station, $60

Plastic sewing supply storage boxes may work, but this sturdy clay sewing station will actually get her excited to sit down with her tools.

A meaningful bracelet

Gifts for grandma Etsy bracelet

Gift the Grandma Bracelet, $13.20

When it comes to grandparents, it can be difficult to find gifts that provide meaning without feeling cheesy. This bracelet and its message strike this delicate balance well, and she’ll be especially proud to wear it.

Read the original article on Business Insider