The 5 best bike lights for better visibility while cycling at night

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

Living in New York City means my go-to mode of transportation is my bike. Whether I need to run errands during the week or want to get some exercise on a long weekend ride, there aren’t many days during the spring and summer that I don’t spend at least a little bit of time pedaling around Brooklyn.

But just as I’d never leave my apartment without a helmet, I always make sure to pack along a set of bike lights – no matter how long I plan on being out. Bike lights are an indispensable part of any cycling kit and one that can very well save your life.

Throughout my years of cycling, I’ve learned firsthand the immense value of a quality set of bike lights (and how dangerous a poor set can be). I’ve also come across my fair share of bike light variety; there are some designed to be highly portable and easy to install, while others are intended for trail riding.

Below, I’ve rounded up five of my favorites from brands like Malker and NiteRider. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to show for a bike light, as well as insight into the testing methodology used to decide which lights ultimately made the cut.

Here are the best bike lights:

The best overall

cygolite

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best easy install

bike light

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

Pros: Affordable, adjustable beam width, lifetime guarantee

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

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

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

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

The best on a budget

MalkerLights1

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best for trail riding

niterider

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

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

Cons: Expensive, hard to remove

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

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

The best side light

urban bike light

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

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

Cons: USB port cover falls off easily

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

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

How to shop for a bike lights

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

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

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

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

How we test bike lights

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

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

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

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

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

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The 5 best string trimmers and weed wackers in 2021

  • A string trimmer can cut crisp lines near fences, trees, and edge beds and obliterate weeds.
  • We’ve included battery- and gas-powered string trimmers, so you can select your preference.
  • Our top pick from DeWalt is lightweight and electric but as powerful as many gas-powered trimmers.

Over the years, I’ve used more than a half dozen different brands of string trimmers, and I’m known as a pretty good edger in some parts. The primary value of a trimmer is the precision it offers. With a reliable weed- and lawn-trimming tool in your hands, you can make short work of all sorts of weeds and can even eradicate brambles, thorns, ivy, and other tougher types of flora.

You can also use your trimmer to mow swaths of lawn with ease, cutting near fences, around tree trunks and bushes, and even near flowers and edible plants, removing only the grass you want without damaging any other plant life or property around your yard.

We’ve included different string trimmers that run on batteries or gasoline, so you can choose which is best for your needs. One final bit of advice before you buy one of our picks: always wear safety glasses or some kind of protective eyewear when you use your string trimmer.

The best string trimmers and weed wackers in 2021

The best string trimmer overall

DeWalt string trimmer

The DeWalt 20V Max Lithium Ion XR String Trimmer powers through thick, tough weeds and overgrown grass with as much force as many gasoline-fueled trimmers, but it has a battery and weighs less than nine pounds.

Pros: Light but powerful, dual speed operation, long battery life, lasts for years, batteries are interchangeable with other 20V DeWalt tools

Cons: Small guard can cause clippings to fly

The sheer power of the DeWalt 20V Max Lithium Ion XR String Trimmer is reason enough to buy this tool, but the fact that you can count on it to last for years sure helps justify the rather high price. I’ve owned many DeWalt tools and they are still kicking to this day.

This trimmer is powered by a 20-volt, five-amp lithium-ion battery that packs plenty of punch, whirling the dual cutting lines around in a 13-inch swath that will easily clear grass, weeds, thorns, and more. And if you own other tools in the DeWalt 20V line, you can use the same rechargeable batteries.

The tool can be operated at a high-speed, full-power setting for cutting tougher materials or it can be run at a lower speed for lighter work and for better battery life. As we recommended above, you’ll want to wear eye protection while using any string trimmer, but the DeWalt has a tendency to throw even more grass around due to its small guard above the strings — not a dealbreaker if you wear proper protection. 

The best budget string trimmer

black & decker best budget string trimmer

The Black+Decker Corded Electric String Trimmer is all you’ll need for most residential trimming needs, so for light work, there’s no need to spend big.

Pros: Great low price, lightweight and nimble, easily converts from trimmer to edger

Cons: Not suitable for tougher jobs, limited by the length of your extension cord

I’ve used a Black+Decker trimmer for years, and every time I have light to moderate trimming or edging needs that are within the reach of an extension cord, it’s the tool I choose.

While this trimmer isn’t the best choice for seriously overgrown yards or for clearing dense underbrush, for edging lawns, clearing common weeds, and cutting grass near flowers, trees, fences, or in those patches the mower can’t reach, it’s a fine choice. It’s also a trimmer that’s amazingly affordable.

A plug-in trimmer has one distinct disadvantage, which is, of course, the simple fact that you need to be connected via an extension cord to a power outlet. That means less freedom of motion and less convenience of use, as you can’t use the tool where you can’t plug it in.

However, the fact that you don’t need to lug around a battery or a gasoline motor significantly reduces the weight of the tool, making the 5-pound Black+Decker String Trimmer a great choice for anyone who just doesn’t want to lug around a heavy trimmer. 

The best gas-powered string trimmer

ryobi best gas powered string trimmer

The Ryobi 2-Cycle Gas Straight Shaft String Trimmer is quite powerful and relatively affordable, which are both things most DIYers will appreciate in a tool.

Pros: Good price for good tool, plenty of power for most jobs, wide cutting swath, accommodates string up to 0.095-inch line thickness

Cons: Heavy at more than 12 pounds, has added fuel costs, not eco-friendly

The Ryobi 2-Cycle Gas Straight Shaft String Trimmer probably isn’t the ideal trimming tool for a professional gardener or landscaper, but for casual DIY property care, it’s an ideal choice. With a two-stroke, 25 cubic centimeter engine, this capable trimmer delivers more than enough power to slash through thick grass, pernicious weeds, and to cut edges down into turf, mulch, or packed soil.

A proprietary “zip start” carburetor makes firing up this tool quick and easy without a lot of repeated yanking on a starter line, and an easy-to-load head makes replacing broken trimmer line fast and simple, too. As for the line, it can accommodate a thick and durable 0.095-inch line thickness, whereas many similar tools max out at 0.08. This trimmer is pretty loud when operating, but it’s also a reliable tool that’s more than worth its price.

Of course, there are downsides to a gas-powered trimmer. While it is powerful, you will have to purchase fuel and it makes a lot of noise. And because of emissions, it’s not a choice for the environmentally-conscious or people sensitive to pollution.

The best lightweight string trimmer

earthwise best lightweight string trimmer

Weighing just four pounds, the Earthwise Cordless String Trimmer has an ergonomic handle for comfortable use.

Pros: Lightweight, adjustable handle and telescopic pole, cordless, ergonomic handle, auto-feed line is also easy to load

Cons: Limited battery life

I purchased the Earthwise Cordless String Trimmer for my three-acre property, and have been pleasantly surprised by its performance over the past two years. I was drawn to the unit because of its light weight; I have some injuries to my hands and wrists that make supporting a heavier unit difficult. Not only does this string trimmer weigh just four pounds (plus the weight of the battery), but its adjustable support-handle and ergonomic grip on the main handle further maximize my comfort.

This trimmer’s telescopic pole is easy to adjust and requires no tools. The auto-feed feature works well, and it’s relatively easy to load the spool. The cut-head can adjust to three different positions, and a flip-down steel-edge guard is ideal for edging work.

This trimmer comes with a 20-volt lithium battery and charger, and I found I was able to use the trimmer for about a half-hour on a single charge. The battery charges quickly, so I often did other yard work while the battery was recharging. The Earthwise battery is compatible with other Earthwise equipment. — Paige Cerulli

The best upgrade string trimmer

ego best upgrade string trimmer

When it comes to durability and power, the EGO Power+ Cordless Electric 15-Inch Powerload String Trimmer offers an ideal combination of both.

Pros: Cordless, brushless motor for longer run-time, durable carbon-fiber shaft, easy line loading, variable speed control

Cons: Battery and charger not included

The EGO Power+ Cordless Electric 15 in. Powerload String Trimmer may cost more than the other string trimmers on this list, but its features and design justify the higher price. This trimmer is equipped with a high-efficiency brushless motor, allowing for longer run-time on battery power. The trimmer is also equipped with variable speed control, so you can choose the appropriate setting for each job.

Replacing and loading the line is quick and easy; just load, push a button, and you’re ready to go. There’s no threading and maneuvering line like other trimmers require. 

This string trimmer is more durable than other models, and while it doesn’t quite have the power of a gas trimmer, its 56-volt motor is plenty powerful for most jobs. The carbon-fiber shaft is designed for years of use, and while it doesn’t come with a battery or charger, EGO batteries are interchangeable between devices, so this trimmer may be an ideal purchase if you already have other EGO products, like its lawn mower we also love. Batteries are available in various capacities, so you can balance cost against run-time to find the option that’s right for you. — Paige Cerulli

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The 4 best truck bed tents, perfect for use at a campsite or while overlanding

  • Truck-bed tents are designed to help campers sleep off the ground and rest more comfortably.
  • These tents create a sleeping area using the entirety of a truck’s bed, and are compatible with most truck sizes.
  • Our top pick, the Napier Outdoors Backroadz, has a sewn-in floor, lots of headroom, and sets up quickly.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

While the popularity of camping continues to grow, the methods by which people enjoy the activity has steadily evolved, as well. Gone are the days where the only option for sleeping is a ground tent that takes 30 minutes of fumbling with poles to set up. Campers today have many options for how they sleep including travel trailers, roof-mounted tents, or, the latest craze, truck-bed tents.

As the name suggests, truck-bed tents sit in the empty bed of a truck to create a similar structure to that of a ground tent. Like the size of the truck beds themselves, these tents vary in size, shape, and ease-of-use. The best models feature a sewn-in floor to offer added protection, while others have large awnings to provide added shade or an area to keep dry while it rains.

Even before I first used one, it was easy to see their benefit. Like rooftop tents, they allow you to sleep off the ground, protecting you from animals, insects, and an uneven sleeping surface. Most are designed to have plenty of interior space as well, creating a roomy sleeping area that affords campers enough room to store additional gear.

After spending just one night in a truck bed tent, I was hooked – it delivered on the perks I mentioned above and then some. Though using one does require all gear in the bed of a truck to be cleared out (which can admittedly be a bit annoying), the sleeping area it creates made me wonder why I ever slept on the ground while truck camping.

If you’re still on the fence, that’s understandable. Not only is it an odd way to camp but knowing where to even start looking for a tent can be difficult – not to mention knowing all the features one should have. To help, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite truck bed tents that are perfect for warm-weather campers, owners of compact trucks, and everyone in between.

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into how I tested each of the included tents, as well as some key truck bed tent terms and FAQs.

Here are the best truck-bed tents:

The best overall

Napier Outdoors Backroadz

The Napier Outdoors Backroadz fits a wide range of truck bed sizes, has a full floor, can fit around truck-bed toolboxes, and features an easy-to-pitch design that can be set up in roughly five minutes. 

Though the market for truck-bed tents continues to grow, no brand does it better than Napier Outdoors. With the Backroadz, Napier delivers a tent with quality materials, thoughtful design, and a fully-covered floor that’s easy to assemble. Not only is it our favorite tent we’ve tested, but it’s one of the least expensive. 

The tent features 5.5 feet of headroom which may not allow most people to comfortably stand up but does give the interior a roomy, spacious feel. Its fully-covered floor means that it’s able to sit on top of even the dirtiest truck beds without bringing any of that dirt or grime inside. It also helps keep rain from dripping down the sides and into the tent. 

Its color-coded tent poles make it incredibly easy to pitch, and it can even be done with just one person, though we recommend getting a second person to help. The tent is also versatile enough to be pitched on the ground and moved into the truck bed, or constructed in the bed itself.

The Backroadz comes with an included rain fly to protect against rain or snow, and its entryway extends to the end of a bed’s lowered tailgate, providing extra space to store luggage, gear, or pairs of shoes. One downside, however, is that it doesn’t come with an extended awning, which would offer even more protection in inclement weather.

With a price tag under $200, a roomy interior, and an easy-pitch design, the Napier Outdoors Backroadz is not just our favorite truck tent but one of the best on the market. 

Pros: Inexpensive, color-coded poles make pitching easy, 5.5 feet of headroom, and fits many truck bed lengths

Cons: Doesn’t feature an extended awning

The best durable

Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent

Gear takes a beating while camping but the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent is designed to withstand whatever the outdoors throws at it, thanks to its watertight, waterproof 100% cotton duck canvas exterior.

One of the most important qualities of any type of camping gear is its durability. Regardless of its use, you want it to last. For the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent, durability is its best asset.

Constructed out of a 100% cotton duck canvas shell (Kodiak Canvas calls it Hydra-Shield), the tent is tough enough to withstand a beating. Its heavy-duty materials don’t limit the tent elsewhere, however, as it’s still highly breathable and offers a watertight fit into the bed of a truck.

The actual design of the tent differs from the others in our guide in that it’s shaped like a tunnel, and less like dome. This helps maximize the amount of interior space and helps it feel much roomier, even though it only has a 5-foot tall ceiling. It also has an extended awning that helps prevent rain from getting inside and creates a sort of staging area for getting in or out of the tent.

Its interior features gear pockets to stow headlamps, smartphones, or other smaller pieces of gear. Since it extends to the end of a truck’s tailgate, the opening creates a small area to store backpacks or duffle bags, as well.

One downside is that it doesn’t come with its own floor. This means the bed of the truck stays exposed the entire time. It also isn’t as comfortable as a tent with a built-in floor. We brought along a sleeping bag to help with this.

It’s the most expensive tent on this list, but for anyone who camps often and wants something capable of holding up in extreme conditions, the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent is the best pick.

Pros: Has a durable canvas exterior, its awning adds protection from the elements, able to be used in nearly any weather condition

Cons: Expensive, doesn’t come with its own floor

The best for rain

Napier Outdoors Sportz truck tent

When the inevitable rainstorm hits, the Napier Outdoors Sportz tent has you covered with its 6-by-6-foot awning and rear access door, which lets you get inside your truck’s cab without having to step outside. 

Camping in the rain doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, so long as you’re prepared. With the Napier Outdoor Sportz truck bed tent, being prepared is as simple as pitching a tent. Featuring a nylon exterior, tape-seamed rainfly, and a huge extended awning, this tent offers plenty of protection from inclement weather. 

Measuring 5.6 feet in length with 5.5 feet of headroom, the Sportz offers enough interior space for two people plus gear. It even has a built-in gear loft which helps free up valuable floor space. The Sportz also comes with a sewn-in floor, which is considered a luxury for truck-bed tents. 

Its tape-seamed rainfly and nylon exterior work well in keeping moisture like rain or condensation out, yet still provide enough ventilation to keep it from getting too stuffy. Its best feature is its 6-by-6-foot awning, which works well at keeping the entryway dry while also creating a sort of staging area directly outside. This is great for changing into dry clothes or having an area outside the tent for fresh air. 

Napier color-coded the tent poles to allow for easy setup, though pitching the tent is much easier with two people. Expect the process to take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on if there’s help or not. 

The Sportz is well worth the investment for anyone who camps in areas with frequent rain, or who enjoys camping in either spring or fall. Napier makes some of the best truck-bed tents available and its Sportz is no different. 

Pros: Has a large, 6-by-6-foot awning, features a rear access door for entry to a truck’s cab, has a built-in gear loft, and comes with a sewn-in floor

Cons: Setup can be difficult with just one person 

The best for small truck beds

Rightline Gear Compact Truck Tent

Rightline Gear’s Compact Truck Tent features smaller dimensions so it can fit inside a smaller truck bed, but it still feels roomy and comfortable.

One of the biggest factors to keep in mind before buying a truck tent is knowing the length of the truck bed you’re shopping for. You don’t want to be stuck pitching a large tent on a short truck. For smaller trucks, Rightline Gear’s Compact Truck Tent is the best option available as it’s compatible with a wide range of compact trucks from brands like Nissan, Toyota, or Ford. 

The tent is constructed of water-resistant fabric with fully-taped seams, making it viable in both warm weather or rain. Setup requires just a few color-coded tent poles and can be done with just one person, though we recommend two to make it easier. 

Its interior is noticeably smaller than other picks on this list, but Rightline Gear does a good job with the design to make it feel roomier. The tent’s shorter length and headroom is easily noticeable for taller people, but for a short truck bed, there aren’t many viable alternatives. 

The tent features a large D-shaped entryway, a sky view window for stargazing, and several mesh windows which allow for increased airflow. Interior storage pockets flank either side of the tent and are good for storing smaller gear like smartphones or headlamps. It also features glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls and a lantern hook.

The Rightline Gear Compact Truck Tent is small without being inconvenient, and it’s one of the most cost-effective options for anyone who owns a shorter truck.  

Pros: Fits shorter truck beds easier than a standard truck tent, weighs just 10 pounds, features glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls, and has fully-taped seams

Cons: Less than five feet of headroom can feel cramped for taller campers 

FAQs

The qualities that make a good truck bed tent aren’t entirely dissimilar from what you’d find in a standard tent, though there are some key differences. Here are some answers to the questions I hear asked most often:

What makes a truck bend tent different from a normal tent?

The name “truck bed tent” is no play on words; these kinds of tents are literally designed to be pitched in the bed of a truck. Aside from that major difference, truck bed tents are mostly carbon copy replicas of their on-ground kin. There’s a zippered door for getting in and out of the tent, likely a few windows for air circulation, and various other features like storage compartments, rain flys, and awnings. 

What features should a truck bed tent have?

Most quality truck bed tents come with the same selection of features including a durable footprint (i.e. the bottom or floor of the tent), an entryway that sits at the tailgate of the bed, a set of windows that can zipper open and closed, and some form of storage.

More advanced truck bed tents may also come with some sort of extended awning that can act as outdoor shelter in inclement weather. It’s also recommended that you look for a tent that comes with an included rainfly. Even if you don’t plan on camping in the rain, it’s always smart to have a rain fly with you just in case. 

Are truck bed tents harder to pitch? 

The pitching process of a truck bed tent is probably its most glaring difference compared to on-ground tents. Though you’ll still use a series of poles to erect the tent, there are also a number of straps that you’ll need to use to actually secure the tent to the truck. This process can be a little tricky, especially for first-timers, but it’s always a good idea to follow any included instructions on how best to secure the tent.

What do I do with gear I’ve packed along in the bed of my truck? 

One of the major downsides of a truck bed tent is having to clear out all gear or equipment you’ve packed along that’s in the bed of your truck. Though some campers may very likely already have everything unpacked and set up around camp, I’m the kind of person who leaves at least a cooler and a bag or two floating around while camping.

It’s certainly a hassle to have to essentially unload your gear from the bed of the truck and then reload it into the cabin, but it’s your only option when camping with a truck bed tent. Of course, you could leave any unloaded gear around your campsite, though I do recommend taking extra precaution and locking it up inside your car when you’re asleep.  

How we test truck bed tents

Each of the truck bed tents featured in this guide went through a series of field tests to see how well they stacked up across these four categories: Ease of setup, durability, comfort, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which tents made the cut:

Ease of setup: Setting up a truck bed tent certainly isn’t a walk in the park but you don’t want to be fumbling with tent poles and straps for 30 minutes. What I looked for when testing was both how intuitive the pitch process was and how clear the manual laid out each required step. Truck bed tents by nature are hard to set up but a clear explanation for how to do it can make a major difference.

Durability: Truck beds aren’t exactly soft, cushy areas to lay a tent — though, they are a bit less harsh than the actual ground. This means that any truck bed tent (namely, its footprint) should be able to withstand being in constant contact with the hard surface of a truck bed. This includes during setup, but also while you’re actually inside the tent and moving around. The tent should also be able to hold up to a variety of weather conditions (rain, wind, maybe even light snow). 

Comfort: The exact comfort level of a truck bed tent can be improved upon based on the kind of sleeping bag, sleeping pad, or mattress you use, but comfort as it relates specifically to the tent deals more with how much available interior space there is. Cramped tents don’t make for many happy campers, and since there’s really no reason for a truck bed tent to not be at least as big as the bed it’s going into (along with what’s essentially an infinite amount of vertical space), a quality truck bed tent should never skimp on comfort. 

Value: Value among outdoor gear is most often subjective to how you plan on using it, how often you plan on using it, and when you plan on using it. Truck bed tents are no different. While the tents I recommend aren’t exactly inexpensive, they are worthy investments that offer a great deal of value for anyone interested in doing more truck bed camping. 

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When you’re car camping, gear weight isn’t an issue, so you can choose a tent with plenty of space and all the extra features you and your camping buddies could want in a home away from home. We rounded up our favorite options.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best grill brush and cleaning tools in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Cleaning the grill isn’t the most fun chore, but it’s an essential one.
  • The Kona 360° Grill Brush is our favorite because it evenly scours large swathes with each pass.

No matter how often you use your grill, it’s important to keep it clean both for the safety of your food and the longevity of your grill.

The black residue that builds up on the cooking surface of your grill contains carcinogens that can have serious health implications if transferred to your food. Further, bacteria can develop on leftover food bits, so scraping those bars and grates clean after each use, and again before the next cookout, is the best practice for good measure.

Properly cleaning your grill also helps preserve the hardware by preventing corrosion and rust, which can expedite its life expectancy while also presenting additional health risks, of course. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, food tastes better and is easier to handle when it is prepared on a clean grill.

As for choosing which grill-cleaning tool is right for you, it doesn’t hurt to have a few different options at your disposal. Below are the ones we deem most effective, though a combination of two or three of them will more than suffice. Just make sure to have at least one brush and one scraper, and, of course, make sure that you use them.

Here are the best grill brushes in 2021

Best overall

kona grill brush

The Kona 360° Grill Brush cleans in all directions to scrape away bits of food and built up soot on the top, sides, and the bottom of the grill.

Pros: Cleans in all directions, lightweight and balanced, safe for use on all types of grill

Cons: May rust if not properly dried

Cleaning your grill is important. We’ve already established that. But it can also be tedious. The Kona 360° Grill Brush is perfect for people who value a clean grill but want it cleaned fast. Its design allows you to clean the top, bottom, and sides of each bar of the grill without removing the grill top and with a minimal number of passes.

While most grill brushes feature a panel of bristles facing in one direction, this clever tool has bristles facing in all directions. And what’s more, there are three coils of said omnidirectional bristles, so you can scrape away at a broad swath of the grill with each pass.

While lightweight and easy to wield, this grill brush is far from dainty. In fact, it’s backed by a five-year warranty and is tough enough to use on all types of grills for hot or cold cleaning.

For the record, you’ll get the best results using it on a heated grill and with occasional dips into a bowl of water, or with water sprayed across the grill — just watch out for hot steam. And though rugged, the many fine bristles are safe for use on ceramic, porcelain, or infrared cook surfaces, too.

Best for stubborn residue

grill brush and scraper

Whether it’s baked on after a marathon barbecuing session or caked on after a long season of disuse, even the most stubborn grill residue doesn’t stand a chance against the BBQ-Aid Grill Brush and Scraper.

Pros: Extra strength bristles, steel scraper breaks up stubborn grit, ergonomic wooden handle

Cons: Plastic plate can melt if left on the grill

There’s nothing fancy or technically advanced about the BBQ-Aid Grill Brush and Scraper. It has a wooden handle, a three-inch by three-inch panel of bristles, and a steel scraper set into the end of the unit. But what it lacks in extravagance, it makes up for in brute strength. This is the grill cleaning brush you break out after an all-day smoking session, before an end-of-season deep cleaning, or when you uncover your grill for the first time after a long break from barbecue cooking.

This grill brush has 72 bundles of stiff stainless steel bristles that work together to loosen and remove even the most stubborn grease, grit, food bits, and soot. With a bit of muscle behind it, the brush is almost unstoppable. But should you ever come up against a chunk of cooked-on crud too mighty for the brush alone, that’s when you apply the steel scraper. This blade-like tool can break up anything that adheres to that grill, and then the bristles can handle the cleanup work.

The only downside is that the bristles are mounted in a plastic plate that can melt if left on a hot grill. But as long as you’re scraping with some expediency, or waiting until your grill is cool enough to clean, you should be fine.

Best on a budget

grilll brush

The Room Essentials Tough Brush has heavy-duty bristles that scrape away grit and grime about as well as any other basic grill brush at a fraction of the cost.

Pros: Comes with spare bristle pad, built-in scraper

Cons: Bristles prone to bending and detaching with time

There’s not much to say about this grill brush aside from the fact that it’s affordable and gets the job done. The solid plastic handle is durable enough to apply as much pressure as needed while scraping away at that dirty grill. There’s also a metal scraper built into the head of the piece, and a handy hook to store the brush off the side of the grill or wherever you keep your grill cleaning tools.

This grill brush also comes with a replacement bristle pad in case the first one wears out, which is downright thoughtful, really.

I’ve used a cheap grill brush plenty of times in my day, and while this one doesn’t hold up as long as a higher-priced option, it will work just as well for a couple of seasons of use.

Best with no metal bristles

charcoal companion scraper

The more you use the unique wooden Charcoal Companion Safe Scrape Non-Bristle Cleaning Tool on your charcoal grill, the better the tool will perform as it adopts a shape customized to your grill.

Pros: Becomes a customized cleaning tool, no metal bits that can get into foods, good low price

Cons: Requires break-in period, could catch on fire

Using an old grill brush with metal bristles could become hazardous if you’re not careful. The bristles can fall out over time and potentially get into your food, which could lead to injury if you accidentally swallow one. But there are alternatives to metal bristles, like the Charcoal Companion Safe Scrape for those who want to be extra careful.

Just know that the first time you use the Charcoal Companion Safe Scrape Non-Bristle Cleaning Tool to scrape away grime and gunk on your charcoal grill’s grates, it’s not going to be very effective. The second and third time you use it, expect the same story. But stick with it, for soon enough, this clever paddle-shaped wooden tool will adapt to fit the exact width and placement of your grill’s bars.

Each time you use your Charcoal Companion grill cleaner, the grooves worn into it by cleaning sessions become a bit deeper. That means that soon won’t just be cleaning the top of the grill, but will be scouring away at the sides of the bars as well. And because the tool is made from wood, it will never scratch or damage metal grill grates. Even with regular, vigorous cleanings, the Charcoal Companion Safe Scrape Non-Bristle Cleaning Tool will never damage your grill top.

As it is wooden and flammable, just make sure you don’t leave this grill cleaner near a hot grill or atop the grate.

Best grill cleaning brick

grill brick for cleaning

For a truly like-new, grime-free, high shine look, it’s hard to beat the amazing scouring power of the KegWorks Grill Cleaning Brick.

Pros: Removes even the finest grime, customizes shape to grill with repeated use

Cons: Often leaves behind bits of stone, best when used with a second tool

Like the previous wooden grill cleaning paddle, this KegWorks Grill Cleaning Brick won’t be at its best the first few times you use it. But by always scraping at your grill in the same pattern (moving back and forth along the length of the bars, in other words), you will slowly carve grooves into the surface of this nonporous pumice stone block. Over time, it adapts to fit your grill, and this brick will become a more precise, effective scraping tool, even above that of a wire brush.

Also, it’s cheap, which is pretty great.

Despite how well the KegWorks Grill Cleaning Brick can scrape off the top of the grill, it will take time for it to be effective on the sides of the bars. And you also might want to wipe down or even rinse off the grill after each use, as bits of stone may adhere to the grilling surface.

I recommend scouring and scraping away with this stone, then using another grill brush to remove the bits of grime it loosened, as well as the bits of stone itself. Yes, that’s more work and will require two tools, but the cleanliness of your grill will go unmatched.

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The 6 best hose hangers of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A hose hanger can help you extend the life of your hose and keep it free of knots and tangles.
  • Our top pick is the JBscoop Stainless Steel Hose Holder because of its simple, sturdy design.
  • Below, we also include hose hangers for gardeners on a budget, decorative options, and more.

A hose hanger has one job: To keep a hose organized, whatever its length. Storing a hose off the ground keeps the hose from kinking or cracking and protects the ground vegetation. Hose hangers are sometimes called hose reels. Reels have a hand crank mechanism with a rotating body that allows users to tidy up a hose quickly after watering. Hose hangers come in freestanding or wall-mounted options.

While some hoses come with cheap, flimsy plastic hangers, a solid hose hanger made of metal or durable plastic is preferable for wrangling a heavy-duty garden hose. A quality hose hanger should be able to handle the total weight of your garden hose without warping, be weather-resistant and, ideally, fit with your outdoor decor. We found hose hangers to suit different needs, including budget hangers, freestanding models, and more. 

Here are the best hose hangers

The best overall

jbscoop hose hanger
All you need are two stainless steel screws to mount this sturdy hanger.

The JBscoop Stainless Steel Hose Holder is a simple hose hanger with a heavy-duty design. 

What we like: Durable, easy-to-mount, not an eyesore

This rust-proof hose hanger is a no-frills storage solution for various hoses, including water and air hoses. The stainless steel design is built to withstand life outdoors and it can hold a half-inch diameter hose that’s up to 120 feet in length. The company also offers a money-back guarantee for those not satisfied with the wall-mounted hanger. The sleek design fits in with any modern garage or garden backdrop. 

The best on a budget

AMES Wall Mounted Poly Hanger BIG CORRECT ONE
Works for hoses ranging from 50 to 150 feet.

The ultra-inexpensive AMES Wall Mounted Poly Hanger is a basic, budget hose hanger that gets the job done.

What we like: Affordable, sturdy 

You’ve already spent a chunk of money on a quality hose for your garden, you don’t necessarily need to drop more cash on an expensive hanger. This hose hanger is a budget model with a thick plastic construction that can hold a hose that’s up to 150 feet and ⅝-inch in diameter. Thanks to its easy-to-mount design, it’s an excellent choice for gardeners seeking a low-cost hose storage solution that won’t eat into their landscaping budget. 

The best hose reel

Liberty Basics Wall Mount Hose Reel
The keyhole design makes it easy to remove a hose for the winter season.

This convenient Liberty Basics Wall Mount Hose Reel is ideal for wrangling long, heavy hoses. 

What we like: Side winding mechanism, easy to reel in a wayward hose, can easily remove hose for winter storage 

Install this hose hanger right onto your outdoor water tap and connect the included black leader hose to get started. The winding, hand crank mechanism rolls up a hose without creating kinks or knots. It can hold hoses up to 100 feet and ⅝-inch in diameter. When winter comes along, the keyhole build allows you to easily access the hose to remove it for storing indoors to protect it from freezing weather. The reel also includes wood mounting screws and anchors. Additionally, it features a durable, heavy-duty plastic construction that can handle four-season exposure. 

The best decorative hanger

 GOFORWILD Garden Hose Holder
A powder-coated finish protects the hanger from harsh weather.

A solid construction and ornate design make the GOFORWILD Garden Hose Holder an attractive addition to any outdoor space.

What we like: Attractive ornamental look, durable and practical

This decorative hose hanger is for the gardener looking to add a functional yet aesthetically-pleasing accessory to their space. The holder is made of cast aluminum and features a powder-coated finish for maximum durability. It can handle a hose of up to 125 feet and ⅝-inches in diameter. Gold accents give it an antique flair, and the arc shape of the holder prevents hose kinks and damage. Mount it anywhere there’s a solid surface, like a fence or wall. Like our previous pick, it has a keyhole mounting system that makes accessing the hose for winter storage a breeze. 

The best with added storage

DF OMER Plastic Garden Water Hose Holder
The hidden compartment reveals added storage with built-in shelves.

The hide-away design of the DF OMER Plastic Garden Water Hose Holder makes it a dual-purpose gardening accessory.

What we like: Made of thick, durable plastic, compartment perfect for garden tool storage 

This hose holder is made of weatherproof plastic and holds a hose of up to 150 feet and ⅝-inches in diameter. It comes with a generous 2-year warranty and features a built-in compartment. It’s a clever design for gardeners who have limited storage space for tools and other gardening accessories. The storage space measures 10 x 7 x 5 inches and has two shelves to keep things organized. Because it’s made of plastic, it’ll never rust. It also installs quickly, requiring only two screws and a screwdriver. 

The best freestanding

Artigarden Freestanding Garden Hose Holder
The no-bend hanger design helps hoses maintain their shape.

No wall? No problem. The Artigarden Freestanding Garden Hose Holder is a solid metal hanger that you can place right onto your lawn.

What we like: Works in situations where wall-mounting isn’t possible, incredibly durable 

The heavy-gauge metal hose hanger holds hoses up to 150 feet in length. Its three-prong base provides support and keeps it stable no matter where on your lawn you decide to put it. The triangular hanger portion also features a nozzle holder to keep your hose organized from tail to tip. It requires some assembly, but putting it together is relatively easy, and there’s no need to find a wall for mounting. Because it’s not permanently mounted to a wall, it’s an ideal choice for renters or gardeners searching for an impermanent hose hanger option. 

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The 12 best places to buy patio umbrellas in 2021

Blissun 9 ft Solar Umbrella 32 LED Lighted Patio Lifestyle Image

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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the best patio umbrellas in 2021

The best patio umbrella overall

best patio umbrella 2021 bridgehampton

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

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

best patio umbrella 2021 cantilever umbrella sunvilla

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

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

best patio umbrella 2021 budget abba patio

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

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

best patio umbrella 2021 hampton bay solar led lights

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

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

best patio umbrella 2021 abba patio stand

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

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

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

Patio umbrella FAQs

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

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

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

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


What size umbrella is best for your space? 

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


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

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

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


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

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


How do you maintain a patio umbrella?

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


Glossary of terms 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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