The 6 best hydration packs of 2021 for day hikes, long-distance runs, and other outdoor activities

  • It’s crucial to stay hydrated while exercising, particularly in the heat.
  • Hydration packs make it easy and comfortable to carry liters of water on a run, hike, or bike ride.
  • Our top pick, Osprey’s Skarab 18 is comfortable for running or hiking and holds 2L of water as well as essentials.

You know it’s important to stay hydrated on a hike, run, bike ride, or literally any adventure that involves some amount of exercising. But carrying a water bottle and having to constantly stop to pull it out of your pack gets old very quickly.

Hydration packs are the ideal way to make carrying and accessing water easier and minimize stoppage time. The best hydration packs not only have a pouch big enough to hold 1+ liters of water, but they also provide storage for snacks, layers, a first aid kit, and any other essentials you might need on a day hike or run. What’s more, the pack also needs to be comfortable, breathable, and quick-drying to not weigh down your adventure.

The number of hydration packs on the market can be overwhelming, but we’ve rounded up six of our favorites from brands like Osprey, CamelBak, and Salomon.

For longer hikes and backpacking trips, check out our guides to the best backpacks for men and for women.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are the best hydration packs:

The best hydration pack overall

Osprey hydration pack

Osprey’s Skarab 18 is the only day-hiking hydration pack I wear, thanks to its high-quality construction, customizable fit, and easy-to-access water reservoir.

Pros: Comfortable to wear even over several hours, extra-wide clip-on water reservoir allows for easy cleaning and refills, 2.5-liter capacity is perfect for long day hikes, offers plenty of interior storage, and the ventilated foam frame helps avoid excess sweat

Cons: Too small for longer backpacking trips

Osprey has consistently made some of the finest backpacks for decades, so it’s no surprise that the Osprey Skarab 18 also happens to be my favorite hydration pack.

I’ve found it to be the ideal size for a day hike, weighing just over one pound with enough storage space for hiking essentials. Its foam frame allows for great ventilation and keeps my back cool and mostly sweat-free. Like all its packs, Osprey decked out the Skarab with plenty of straps to allow for the ultimate custom fit, regardless of whether I’m wearing it or I pass it on to a friend.

But what makes this bag truly shine is the large, 2.5-liter water pouch, which does quite well to keep me hydrated on all but the longest day hikes. Additionally, its extra-wide clip opening makes it easy to add more water or clean the reservoir after use. The pack even has a magnetic bite valve attachment that allows it to quickly attach to the Skarab’s sternum strap, allowing for easy access.

Added extras like stretch mesh pockets on the side of the pack, a scratch-free stash pocket, removable hip belts, and external bungees for more gear are Osprey staples and only add to the pack’s overall quality. Osprey’s Skarab 18 is simple when it needs to be yet is still a highly versatile and technical pack. 

The best hydration pack for male runners

camelbak hydration pack

Runners don’t want anything weighing them down, and CamelBak’s HydroBak weighs just five ounces — before being filled with water, of course. 

Pros: Weighs just five ounces without water, mesh back panel and harness aid in ventilation, new Crux reservoir allows 20% more water per drink, and its leak-proof valves are easy to flick on or off

Cons: Doesn’t offer much in the way of storage (not that runners need much of it, anyway)

A running-specific hydration pack should sinch down tight and comfortable, and be able to carry enough water for long miles. Camelbak’s HydroBak has a mesh back panel and harness to help with ventilation and keeping you cool. Its reflective accents help with visibility for early or late runs. 

Uniquely, the HydroBak features a Crux reservoir which lets you pull a full 20% more water with each swig. That means less time sucking on the tube and more time focusing on your stride. Additionally, the pack features easy-to-use leak-proof valves that you can flip on or off with a gentle push for less wasted water and no fumbling with the tube while running.

CamelBak also outfitted the Crux with a leak-proof cap and coated the tube with its anti-microbial HydroGuard technology, which is 100% BPA free and reduces the risk of bacteria growth.

Though it’s small, the HydroBak still features a few zippered pockets perfect for keeping energy gels, granola bars, and some cash for those well-earned post-run beers.

The best hydration pack for female runners

salomon adv skin 8

The Salomon ADV Skin 8 is specifically designed to sinch down on the female figure, and can carry 1 liter of water with the option of adding a reservoir in the back.

Pros: Female-specific design, adjustable to fit different chest sizes, soft material, 2 soft 500ml flasks included, many mesh and zipper pockets, room to carry warm layer

Cons: Expensive, straws can be a bit tricky to adjust

While females can wear any hydration pack, they’ll be the most comfortable in the Salomon ADV Skin 8. Designed by one of the leading trail running brands today, the ADV Skin 8 is uniquely shaped to sinch down tight around female curves so your pack isn’t throwing off your momentum. Specifically, this pack was crafted to alleviate pressure on your breasts and has an adjustable drawcord fasten in the front for a personalized fit. I’m small-chested and have lent this vest to friends as large-chested as 34DD who say it’s just as comfortable for bigger breasts.

While you can slide a traditional reservoir in the back of the pack, the other feature that makes Salomon running vests so great is their integrated soft flasks. Two half-liter water flasks sit on either side of your chest in a soft mesh pocket, allowing for quick water access mid-run.

Additionally, this pack has mesh and zippered pockets strategically placed in nooks and crannies, as well as down the back, to stash everything from car keys to a warm layer. You can even move the elastic cords and loops around to carry trail running poles wherever feels most comfortable to you.

I’ve been running in this hydration vest for two years and the only bad words I have to say about it is it’s expensive (but, in my opinion, worth it for runners) and the straw on the included flasks might need to be cut down, which can be a little tricky to do. –Rachael Schultz, Health and Fitness Updates Editor

The best hydration pack for day hikes

platypus hydration pack

The Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 is a day hiker’s dream, offering 7 liters of storage, strategically-placed tool organizing loops and compartments, and a huge, three-liter water reservoir. 

Pros: Plenty of storage options despite its modest 7L capacity, external tool and gear loops, capable of fitting many different body types, comes standard with huge three-liter BigZip water reservoir and magnetic hose, and FloatAir back panel offers comfort for even the longest day hikes

Cons: Expensive

Platypus’s Duthie A.M. 10.0 has plenty of internal and external storage options with a 7L capacity, perfect for short jaunts into the backcountry or several mile excursions. Its strategic approach to organization also means you won’t be digging past your car keys to get to your snacks — everything has its own place in the pack.

When it comes to the Duthie’s hydration capability, few companies deliver as well as Platypus. Featuring a large three-liter reservoir, the brand’s patented BigZip water pouch features a magnetic hose clip and also offers wearers the ability to route the house in multiple ways — a welcome function not typically seen in hydration packs.

For hardcore day hikers who also have other activities in mind, the Duthie also offers a useful carry system designed to hold pads or full-face helmets and even sports a fleece-lined pocket perfect for stashing a pair of shades.

Additionally, the pack easily conforms to a variety of body shapes and sizes with just a few adjustments of its straps and hip belt. After finding the perfect fit, Platypus’ FloatAir back panel keeps you mostly sweat-free and comfortable, no matter how long the hike.

The best hydration pack for cycling

gelindo hydration pack

Forget reaching down for any built-in water bottle holders because with Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack, staying hydrated while biking is as easy as simply drinking out of a straw.

Pros: Insulated water reservoir pocket keeps liquids cool for up to four hours, mesh back panel keeps airflow at a maximum, interior organization capable of holding a variety of items without feeling cluttered, and its easily adjustable straps are capable of fitting almost any body type

Cons: Limited reflective details

While most bikes have space for attaching a water bottle holder, a hydration pack makes staying quenched much easier and Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack is perfectly fit for the job.

This pack has an insulated pocket to carry its 2.5-liter water reservoir, which will keep your water cool for up to four hours. The pack is also designed to keep your body heat from warming the water. 

Gelindo included several storage pockets capable of holding energy bars and car keys, and bigger compartments to hold a spare change of clothes, larger items of food, or spare tubes. Organization also scores highly as it’s easy to reach for and access any of the interior contents, no matter how full the pack gets.

It’s no secret cyclists care about comfort and with Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack, finding a perfectly comfortable fit is easily done via its adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt. Furthermore, its ergonomic mesh back allows for steady airflow to keep you from overheating, keeping you comfortable throughout the entirety of your ride.

The best hydration pack for commuting

gregory hydration pack

Gregory’s Inertia 30 makes it easy to stay hydrated while commuting with its easy-access water tube, ample interior storage, and comfortable shoulder harness.

Pros: Plenty of storage for whatever the workday requires, quick-drying 3L water reservoir is easy to fill up and features an integrated drying hangar, hydration sleeve auto-centers the water pouch to stabilize weight, versatile enough to even act as a day-hiking pack

Cons: Expensive

Even just commenting to wor requires energy, so it’s important to stay hydrated. The Gregory’s Inertia 30 is designed to not only quench thirst but also to pack a work day’s worth of gear. Be it a laptop, notebook, tablet, or otherwise, the Inertia offers enough interior storage space to tote along whatever the day calls for.

It even features several exterior pockets perfect for storing items that need to be quickly accessible, as well as a padded zippered pocket designed for sunglasses or house keys.

Gregory includes a quick-drying 3L water reservoir that has a built-in drying hangar, perfect for airing it out to avoid mold or mildew buildup. The Inertia’s dedicated hydration sleeve makes it easy to just toss the reservoir into the pack, and it automatically stabilizes the pouch’s weight to the center of your back. Gregory even made the reservoir’s tube magnetic, making it easy to take on and off.

Though we chose it for its ability to act as a commuter bag, the Inertia 30 also excels as a day-hiking pack, offering exterior loops for trekking poles, compression straps on either side, and load lifters that help stabilize the pack when it gets heavy.

At $120, it’s not the cheapest bag of the bunch but considering what it offers, and the Gregory name also means supreme durability, the Inertia 30 is worth every penny.

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The 6 best water bottles we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A refillable water bottle is a great sustainable option for staying hydrated while you’re on the go.
  • The best should be durable, easily portable, and able to keep your beverages cold or hot for hours on end.
  • Our top pick, the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth, features rugged construction and excellent temperature retention.

Reusable water bottles are a must for anyone who wants to quench their thirst without leaving a trail of landfill-clogging plastic in their wake. But just like travel mugs, choosing a water bottle isn’t as simple as picking the prettiest option or the cheapest one.

If your bottle is mostly going to sit on your desk or travel from room to room in your home, your needs are quite different than if you want a lightweight companion for a weekend hike or a leak-proof option that rattles around in your gym bag without soaking everything inside.

To find the best currently available, we tested and researched a variety of bottles and bottle types. The following guide includes versatile stainless-steel options, inexpensive but reliable plastic bottles, and even a sturdy one for glass lovers. We also include picks for anyone who wants a bottle with a high-end design and a collapsible water bottle for situations when weight and portability are paramount.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a water bottle and what to keep in mind when picking out which bottle fits your lifestyle best.

Here are the best water bottles:

The best water bottle overall

a vacuum insulated water bottle that people swear by

The Hydro Flask Wide Mouth water bottle is durable, keeps water ice cold for hours on end, looks cool, and is easy to use. 

Pros: Very durable, great at keeping drinks cold or hot, easy to use, compatible with three kinds of lids, comes in high-capacity options

Cons: Heavy, expensive, flip top may leak, not dishwasher-safe

Hydro Flask is a great choice if you hate gulping warm water in the summer. It also offers some much-appreciated versatility, with a wide opening that fits three lids depending on your needs: A flip lid with a loop, a flex cap with an even larger loop (included), and a straw lid for more convenient sipping. We like having the option to switch out lids, and the wide mouth also makes it easy to load this bottle up with ice. You can choose between 18-, 32-, 40- and 64-ounce capacities and a number of fun colors.

During Outdoor Gear Lab’s testing, ice resisted melting for nearly a full 24 hours, and water was ice cold for more than a full day. The insulated stainless steel also keeps drinks warm for several hours, so Hydro Flask can pull double-duty as a travel mug for coffee and tea. 

This thing is seriously rugged, too. Like all stainless-steel water bottles, it can dent when dropped, but in Outside’s tests, it managed to survive being pelted with large rocks and getting backed over by a Toyota Camry and a Chevy Silverado. After all that punishment, it sustained a quarter-inch dent and one small scratch.  It also has a loop on the lid that makes it easy to carry one-handed.

Insider Reviews senior reporter Owen Burke calls Hydro Flask water bottles “lightweight and nearly indestructible” (he tested the 24-ounce version). But he found the silicone loop on the lid to be “not the most durable thing in the world, and it will eventually break.” Nearly every member on the Insider Reviews team uses a Hydro Flask. You can read about their experiences on why they like the company’s products.

It’s heavier than other bottles (the 18-ounce version weighs in at 11.6 ounces, the 32-ounce closes in on 1 pound) so serious hikers looking to save on weight might want to consider lighter options.

The flip-top is not leak-proof, so consider sticking with the flex cap if you want to toss your bottle in a bag without worrying. A few also complain of a slight metallic taste. Finally, this bottle is hand-wash only – steer clear if you live and die by the dishwasher. — Saundra Latham

The best plastic water bottle

Camelbak

If you prioritize price or weight over temperature retention, consider the inexpensive and easy-to-use Camelbak Chute water bottle

Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, durable, easy to carry, gulp-friendly spout, dishwasher-safe, comes in high-capacity options

Cons: Lid is tricky to lock down, won’t keep your water cold for long, may “sweat” with condensation on a hot day

Stainless-steel water bottles like the Hydro Flask have a lot of pros, but they’re heavy. A plastic water bottle like the Camelbak Chute is cheaper and a lot lighter. In fact, the largest 50-ounce Chute weighs a measly 7.6 ounces. If you’re not quite that thirsty, no worries: There are 20-, 25-, and 34-ounce versions, too.

Like the Hydro Flask, the Chute has a wide mouth that makes it easy to fill and load up with ice, and the large spout means you can gulp until you’re content instead of dealing with a valve that restricts flow, which is common on other water bottles. It also has a loop on the cap, making it easy to clip to a backpack or hook around a finger or two.

Though the Chute may not be as tough as stainless steel, it’s still relatively rugged for a plastic water bottle. It’s made of BPA-free, dishwasher-safe Tritan plastic that is engineered to resist cracking. Even better, most say the bottle doesn’t impart any funky plastic taste to their water.

A few minor issues: Other testers have found that it can be tricky to lock the cap down onto the lid while drinking, though they still appreciate having the option to keep the cap from springing back and bonking them in the nose. Of course, plastic isn’t great at regulating temperatures, so if you need to keep drinks hot or want to keep them cold for longer, take a look at the pricier and, of course, heavier stainless-steel Chute.  — Saundra Latham

The best glass water bottle

glass water bottle

The Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle is a better choice for the most discerning palates and a more eco-friendly choice for anyone concerned with green living.

Pros: Glass won’t alter the taste of water, more recyclable than other options, silicone sleeve provides good grip and protection from bumps and drops, compatible with three kinds of lids, dishwasher-safe

Cons: Heavy, glass is less durable than plastic or stainless steel, flip-top may not regulate flow well enough for sippers, may “sweat” with condensation on a hot day

If you hate that metallic or plastic taste you get with other water bottles, you’ll love the Lifefactory Glass Water Bottle, which keeps water fresh and untainted, even after a full day sitting in the bottle. You don’t get the aftertaste that metal or plastic tend to impart.

The Lifefactory is also a good option if you’re worried about the chemicals in plastic and want something that is more readily recyclable.

No, glass bottles won’t survive as many drops as stainless steel or shatter-resistant plastic, but the Lifefactory bottle is protected by its substantial silicone sleeve. The sleeve also provides a grippier surface for holding the bottle. Since glass “sweats” more than other materials, this is a feature most users should appreciate.

You have a few lid options with Lifefactory water bottles: A silicone flip cap (included), a straw cap, and a leak-proof classic cap meant for those who want to toss the bottle in a bag without worrying. Other testers have said the wide mouth makes it easy to fill, though they do note it can be easy to misthread the cap, raising your risk of leaks. The bottle is dishwasher-safe, even with the silicone sleeve on.

Other issues are minimal: The flip cap can pop off and doesn’t regulate flow well enough for users who may just want a sip. Of course, like all glass bottles, the Lifefactory is heavy — the 22-ounce bottle is just over a pound — so it isn’t the best pick when weight is a big concern. — Saundra Latham

The best water bottle for design lovers

S'well bottle

S’well Stainless Steel Water Bottles are a great blend of form and function, keep your water cold, and look amazing doing it.

Pros: Wide range of beautiful designs, great at keeping drinks cold or hot, relatively durable, doesn’t “sweat”

Cons: Heavy, expensive, narrow mouth, not dishwasher-safe

S’well has become something of a phenomenon in a few short years, thanks in part to powerful backers like Oprah and massive retail partners like Starbucks and Target. Stainless-steel S’well bottles are always a standout on store shelves thanks to their eye-catching designs, whether you like wood grain, marble, metallic, animal print, or more.

Insider Reviews deputy editor Malarie Gokey loves her stone-style S’well bottle for its slick design, ability to keep drinks cold, and its trusty lid. There are three sizes  — 9, 17, and 25 ounces — and the smaller two bottles can fit in standard cup holders.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the design of a S’well bottle, but its triple-walled body means it’s just as good as the Hydro Flask and similar bottles at keeping drinks cold or hot – up to 24 or 12 hours, respectively. Users note that the bottle doesn’t sweat, keeping their hands dry. S’well bottles should stand up to a good amount of abuse, but reviewers note that like any steel bottles, they can sustain dents and dings if dropped.

S’well features a simple twist cap that receives high marks for its ease of use, and it really is quite leak-proof. Though S’well’s classic bottles have a narrow opening many reviewers say they’re still able to fit standard ice cubes inside. S’well offers a flip-top sport lid, but if a straw lid is more appealing, S’well won’t be an option. You’ll also want to hand-wash these bottles, a common recommendation for stainless steel.

These aren’t the lightest water bottles around – the 25-ounce bottle weighs in at a pound, similar to the 32-ounce Hydro Flask. You can’t ignore the fact that S’well bottles are on the pricier side compared with others.  — Saundra Latham

The best flexible water bottle

Vapur water bottle

The collapsible Vapur Element weighs just one ounce unfilled, so you may even forget it’s in your bag.

Pros: Very lightweight, inexpensive, freezable, can be rolled up when empty, integrated carabiner makes for easy carrying, easy-to-use flip-top design

Cons: Slow to dry out, may spring a leak after extended or heavy-duty use

“Water bottle” may not be the best way to describe the Vapur Element. In fact, Vapur bills the Element as an “anti-bottle,” which does sound a lot cooler than “water pouch.” Made of a flexible BPA-free plastic, the Vapur can be squished, folded and rolled up when empty. Best of all, it weighs only about an ounce. There are two sizes: 24 and 34 ounces, though Vapur makes similar anti-bottles that are smaller and larger.

It’s the perfect water bottle for backpackers and anyone who’s always on the go. Insider Reviews deputy editor Malarie Gokey brings the Vapur with her every time she travels because it’s so easy to carry. It’s often in her bag during the weekend, too.

As if weighing next to nothing and flattening for easy packing isn’t enough, the Vapur has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It’s freezable, which means your water stays colder longer, and the mouth is wide enough to accommodate ice cubes. Despite its flexibility, it’s still designed to stand up on its own.

The cap has an integrated carabiner that can be used to clip the bottle onto a backpack or belt, or keep it neatly rolled up when it’s empty. The mouth is also large enough to allow a brush inside, and the bottle is dishwasher-safe.

As for cons, most have to do with durability and cleaning. Over time it may start to leak from the seams, especially if you’re rough on it. Some reviewers say it’s also difficult for the Element to thoroughly dry out between uses. While the lining is antimicrobial, germophobes may want to look elsewhere. — Saundra Latham

The best collapsible water bottle

Hydaway water bottle

If you feel like you spend much of your life on the road or on a plane, the Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle is the travel essential you can’t go without.

Pros: Lightweight, collapsible, great for travel or for folks on the go, easy to carry

Cons: Some customers have noted that it’s difficult to “un-collapse” the bottle after being collapsed

Not all collapsible water bottles are bottles. Some are pouches like the Vapur, some are basically water bags, but none of these are quite as cool as the Hydaway Collapsible Water Bottle. It’s cylindrical, maintains its shape even as you empty it of liquid, and has a lid with a sippy top. But once you’re done drinking or need to get through TSA, you can collapse the Hydaway into a flat disc that won’t take up a huge amount of space in your bag.

Rather than toting about a bulky bottle that has nothing in it, you can simply compress the Hydaway and, as the name suggests, hide it away. Even though the water bottle can be collapsed to take up no space at all, when it’s full, it can actually contain up to 20 ounces of water. So don’t think that you’re cheating yourself of much-needed hydration simply by choosing a bottle that’s super portable.

The Hydaway is made with food-grade silicone and plastic, which have both been tested by third parties and certified safe. The bottle is also BPA-free and dishwasher safe for added convenience. Thanks to its watertight seals throughout, you won’t have to deal with any leakage from this bottle, and there’s a carry handle that easily fits your finger or a carabiner so you can attach the Hydaway to a backpack or piece of luggage.

While some silicone leaves its contents with a rather plasticky taste or odor, I didn’t have this problem at all when I tested out the Hydaway. — Lulu Chang

How to shop for a water bottle

Shopping for a reusable water bottle doesn’t have to be an arduous process, and comes down mostly to how you intend to use the bottle. The most important features to keep in mind when deciding how you’ll use it are the materials used to manufacture the bottle, the amount of liquid it’s able to hold, the durability of the bottle, and whether it’s easily portable. 

Here’s how each of those features factors into which bottle is best for your lifestyle:

Materials: The bottles featured in this guide are made of either stainless steel (Hydro Flask), glass (Lifefactory), or plastic (Camelbak and Vapur). If you plan on being on the go often with your bottle, consider buying a plastic or stainless steel model, as those will always be far less likely to shatter than glass. The Lifefactory glass bottle is quite durable but no matter how much reinforcement its rubber exterior provides, glass can still easily break. 

Capacity: Most brands offer their reusable bottles in a variety of capacities, with some of the smallest holding anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces of liquid, while the larger bottles can hold upward of 64 ounces (or more). If you’re shopping for a bottle to have around the house, a larger bottle would certainly suffice, though it would be harder to take on the go should you decide to tote it along to the office or anywhere else. 

Durability: This is sort of a 1b to materials’ 1a in terms of importance, and again depends on if you plan on just keeping the bottle around your house or taking it on the go. Stainless steel bottles can handle far more of an everyday beating than a glass or plastic bottle, so if you plan on commuting or traveling, stainless steel is the way to go. 

Portability: Though stainless steel water bottles are consistently the best for portability, a bottle like Vapur’s collapsible is also a great option for the frequent traveler or commuter. The fact it’s able to fold down to something as big as a small wallet makes it easy to store in a backpack, purse, or even your pocket. Stainless steel bottles are inherently portable thanks to their durability but they will take up far more room in a bag. 

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I tested 10 pairs of men’s rain boots by wading into the Hudson River and walking in the rain – here’s how they stacked up

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

Best rain boots - someone wearing rainboots in

  • When getting from point A to point B means sloshing through mud, there’s a rain boot for the job.
  • We’ve gathered together fashionable, utilitarian boots to keep your feet dry in wet weather.
  • Look good and stay dry with these waterproof boots.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Wet weather may be inevitable, but suffering through it with wet feet in squishy footwear doesn’t have to be. A superior rain boot or a waterproof boot (along with a good raincoat) can turn a dismal day trudging through the rain into, if not a fun experience, at least one that won’t ruin your mood and leave you with damp socks. Beyond that, you don’t have to look like Paddington Bear when you go out in the rain, since there are many fashionable options to suit your personal style while still staying dry.

How I tested rain boots for this guide:

Besides wearing the boots while walking in the rain (the things I do for my job!) I also tested them by wading into the nearby Hudson River until the boots were submerged to the boot’s collar or until water seeped inside (again, the things I do for this job!). For more details on testing, see our explainer slide below.

Here are the best rain boots for men in 2021:

XTRATUF Rubber Deck Boot

Best Rain boots - XTRATUF Rubber Deck Boot

XTRATUF Ankle Deck Boots are completely waterproof, slip resistant, and have a moisture-wicking liner. Trusted by folks in the Alaskan fishing industry, these boots will keep your feet dry in the heaviest rains. 

XTRATUF has been around for more than 60 years and made its reputation among Alaska’s fisheries and docks, earning their Legacy ankle boots the nickname “Alaskan sneakers.” 

The XTRATUF Ankle Deck Boot is made from hand-layered neoprene, a type of synthetic rubber, for a completely waterproof boot (note: these aren’t meant for commercial applications). The only way you’re going to get your feet wet is if the water is deeper than the top of the boot. While testing them during a rainstorm, the water beaded off the surface and my feet stayed completely dry. The outsoles, made from slip-resistant chevron rubber, worked well on muddy surfaces and when scrambling over wet boulders. Because they’re made of neoprene, the boots aren’t as breathable as leather, but they’re lined with a moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial lining called Xpresscool that helps keep your feet cooler on warm days.

The biggest surprise was how comfortable they were. I walked more than five miles in these straight out of the box with no issues. They’re light, around one pound, and feature a front and back pull-on tabs to help get your feet in and out of them. They don’t come in half sizes. I normally wear a 9.5 so sized up to a 10 as recommended by the brand, and they fit well. 

Ankle Deck Boots (small)
REEF Voyage Boot LE

The best rain boots - REEF Voyage LE

The REEF Voyage LE is a waterproof and extremely lightweight boot that has you covered if you’re caught in a rainstorm in the city or traversing a stream on a day hike. 

REEF, the beach brand started by two Argentinian brothers in the 1980s, is best known for its sandals, but the company also makes great boots. 

The REEF Voyage Boot is a chukka style ankle boot that is both stylish and great for wet weather, or the beach when it’s not raining. Made from waterproof full-grain leather, it also has a rubber cupsole—a type of outsole made from a single piece of rubber that’s very flexible—and has good gripping ability in wet conditions. Unlike many of the boots I tested, water doesn’t noticeably bead on the leather’s surface, but it doesn’t penetrate the material deeply, nor does it affect the leather’s color or texture once dried. I found these boots to be fully waterproof both while testing them in a rainstorm and at the river’s edge. Water seeped into the boots where the tongue meets the shaft once I went deeper into the water. If that happens, no worries, these boots dry really fast—about an hour with the cork insoles removed. 

The Voyage boots are very comfortable straight out of the box—I’ve worn them on several 5+ mile excursions with no foot trouble. They’re incredibly lightweight at just 15.4 ounces, but still provide decent ankle and arch support thanks to what the brand calls ‘Swellular Technology,” comprised of three layers: a soft foam deck, a slightly firmer midsole, and the aforementioned rubber outsole. They also have a soft corduroy lining.  

These boots fit true to size. No additional or special care is required to help maintain the boot’s waterproofing, according to a company rep I spoke with, and the brand offers a one-year guarantee against manufacturer’s defects. 

Voyage LE (small)
Sperry Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot

Best Rain boots - Men's Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot

Sperry has been making footwear for wet conditions for 90 years and the brand’s Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot marries classic looks with functionality so you can look good and also keep your feet dry.

These are sophisticated enough for running around the city on a rainy day, but are hardcore enough for fishing or other outdoor activities. 

The shaft is made from a waterproof quilted nylon with a tongue that’s attached for its entire length to prevent water from seeping in (known as a bellows tongue or gusseted tongue in footwear terminology). Below, a waterproof rubber shell keeps your feet dry. No water made it into the boots when I walked into the river with them. When I tested them on a very rainy walk, water beaded off the surface and kept my feet completely dry. The lugged rubber outsoles kept me from slipping in muddy conditions. 

I found the Sperry Nylon Duck Boot to be comfortable for long walks, five or more miles. The lining is soft and they fit true to size. Because the boots are partially quilted and the shell is rubber, these may not be suitable for hot summer wear, but are definitely good for spring, fall, and mild winters.

Men’s Saltwater Nylon Duck Boot (small)
Danner Vertigo 917

Vertigo 917 Java

The Danner Vertigo 917 are super lightweight, feature a Gore Tex liner, and are handsome enough for a night out but rugged enough for a day hike. 

Danner, the Oregon-based heritage boot brand, has been keeping feet warm and dry since 1932. The company’s Vertigo 917 Boot goes beyond utilitarian needs (though it provides that too) with an aesthetically handsome style that still keeps your feet dry in the rain. 

The Vertigo 917 has a waterproofed leather upper and features a 100% waterproof Gore-Tex liner that’s breathable, so your feet stay dry whether from water or your own sweat. The lower portion of the tongue has a mesh liner layered over a waterproof membrane attached to the shank to help regulate your temperature and to keep water from seeping in. I found them to have very good traction on wet surfaces. They have a Vibram XS Trek outsole—Vibram is an Italian company that sets the standard for rubber soles with gripping ability—that provides stability and traction. It should be noted that these boots cannot be resoled. 

I’ve taken these on five-mile in-town walks and on longer day hikes. There was a short break-in period—they rubbed at the ankle bone on my first five-mile walk in them—but by the third wear they had become very comfortable. These are flexible and extremely light—35 ounces for the pair—making them great for longer treks. They have a removable OrthoLite Footbed with three layers for maximum cushioning and support. They fit true to size and are nicely designed for easily getting them on and off. 

 A brand rep advised me that the leather’s protective coating will eventually wear off so apply Danner’s Waterproofing Gel when you notice the leather beginning to darken.

Vertigo 917 (small)
Muck Boots Originals Pull On Mid

The best rain boots - Muck Boots Originals Pull On Mid

 The Muck Boots Originals Pull On Mid has you covered in the wettest, muddiest conditions while remaining comfortable. 

The Original Muck Boot Company is the go-to work boots for both farmers and gardeners of all stripes working in muddy, damp, slippery conditions. The company’s Originals Pull On Mid is a workhorse of a boot that will keep your feet dry and comfortable for all-day wear. 

The Originals Pull On Mid is made from hand-layered rubber over a neoprene bootie. I wore these mid-calf-length boots while working in the garden over several days and on a 2.5 mile walk in a heavy rain. When testing them out, water beaded off the surface well and when I waded out into the Hudson, the boots were completely waterproof. The only way water is getting in is if it goes over the top. They provided good traction in muddy conditions. 

The first time I wore them they rubbed against my calf, a problem solved by tucking my pants into the boots. Longer socks would also solve this problem. They were very comfortable—the boots have molded footbeds with a layer of memory foam. The boots were easy to get on and off thanks to the tab at the back. These don’t come in half-sizes, so I opted for the next size up as recommended by the brand. They felt a bit big, so I wore them with thicker socks to fix the problem and they were fine. Because they’re made from rubber, they don’t breathe as well as leather, but I didn’t find them unduly hot while working outside in 70 degree weather. My feet didn’t noticeably sweat in them. The footbeds are both antimicrobial so they don’t stink and moisture wicking to help keep your feet feeling dry. You can get away with four season wear depending on your climate.

Pull On Mid (small)
Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460

Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460s

Look cool and keep your feet dry in the Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460s, which are fully waterproof and incredibly comfortable. 

Bring a little rock-and-roll to your rainy day excursions with the Dr. Martens Waterproof 1460 boots. These boots surprised me twice. The first time was when I took them on a five-mile walk straight out of the box. These are solidly made boots that weigh in at 1.14 ounces each but are remarkably comfortable. They’re amply cushioned at the collar and on the tongue. The soles are also very cushiony. They don’t call them “Air Wair” for nothing (the company’s brand since the 1960s) since the soles are air-cushioned. 

The Waterproof 1460 has the same look as the originals (the logo tab on back, iconic yellow stitching, grooved sidewalls, DMS tread) but also feature “Drywair,” a proprietary waterproof membrane that keeps moisture out but is breathable enough to keep your feet from perspiring. They also have a twin heat-sealed welt and a gusseted tongue that keeps water from seeping in. My second big surprise with these Dr. Martens came when I waded out into the Hudson in them. No water got in. None. The outsoles provided great gripping ability in muddy, slippery conditions. 

Dr. Martens don’t come in half-sizes, so I sized down to a 9 per the company’s advice and they fit perfectly. They only come in black in a waxy, oil-finish called Republic WP. They’re easy to clean too. Just wipe them down with a damp cloth. My only quibble with these boots (a tiny one) was the length of the laces. I’m a double knotter and the shortness of these laces didn’t really allow for this.

Waterproof 1460s (small)
Le Chameau Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot

Le Chameau Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot

The Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot by Le Chameau is a classic Wellington-style rain boot that has thoughtful details for an elevated experience. 

Le Chameau, a French heritage brand, has been keeping the feet of farmers, hunters, and anglers dry and comfortable for nearly 100 years. The Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot is a classic calf-length wellington-style rubber rain boot with a ton of nice details that elevates it above the competition. These boots are handcrafted from the company’s Chamolux rubber that starts with Grade A rubber from Vietnam that’s mixed with some secret ingredients to produce the famously soft, supple and fully waterproof boot material. 

The thoughtful details include a soft polycotton, tartan patterned jersey lining, an adjustable waterproof gusset with snap-fastening buckle for a perfect fit, and shock-absorbing dual-density outsoles with a shank reinforcement board for better stability and arch support. The outsole is abrasion resistant and provides traction on uneven, slippery surfaces. 

The Vierzon is a four-season boot, depending on your climate (they are rated for temperatures down to 0°C and are comfortable for use during warmer months thanks to the quick-drying lining that helps wick away sweat. These boots, like all the company’s products, come with a two-year warranty and free shipping in the U.S.

Vierzon Jersey Lined Boot (small)
Rockport Mid Moc Waterproof Boot

ROCKPORT Men’s Waterproof Mid Moc Boot

The Rockport Mid Moc is good-looking, super comfortable, and fully waterproof, to boot. 

Rockport is known for casual, comfortable footwear that’s made for walking. The Mid Moc Waterproof Boot is true to the brand. Made from a full-grain waterproof leather, they are really comfortable, good-looking, and will keep your feet dry on a rainy-day hike. 

I’ve worn these on in-town walks and day hikes of at least five miles, and from day one I had no foot issues. They have a nicely cushioned collar and tongue, and an EVA footbed that provides good support and helps prevent foot fatigue. They also provide excellent ankle support. 

These are seam sealed, have a gusseted tongue, and a waterproof insole. They kept my feet dry, both while hiking in the rain and during river testing. It should be noted the gusseted tongue only goes up about two-thirds of the way, so water can seep in if the water is deeper than that. The boots also have anti-microbial and moisture-wicking footbeds. The thick rubber outsoles provide good gripping power in slippery conditions. These boots fit true to size.

Mid Moc Waterproof Boot (small)
Huckberry All-Weather Chore Boot

Huckberry All-Weather Chore Boot

The Huckberry All-Weather Chore Boot wears like a sneaker, looks like a cross between a Chelsea boot and a duck boot, and is made from premium materials to keep your feet dry no matter the conditions. 

Huckberry has made its reputation with products that are equal parts cool, innovative, and well-made, so it’s no surprise their All-Weather Chore Boot ticks off all these boxes and more. This is a hybrid between a Chelsea boot and a duck boot with a waterproof full-grain leather upper, rubberized leather rand at the heel, and Vibram outsole that provides traction in slippery conditions. 

The interior has a waterproof lycra membrane that’s breathable so water won’t get in, but sweat will evaporate to help keep feet dry and comfortable. The uppers have sealed seams and are joined using waterproof cement and glue. The rand at the back and toe cap help protect against tears and abrasions.

These fit like a sneaker, with a cushioned insole and EVA midsole that provide great shock absorption. Pull tabs at the back and elastic at the sides (like traditional Chelsea boots) make for easy on and off. These fit true to size.

All-Weather Chore Boot (small)
Brunt Perkins Waterproof Work Boot

Brunt Perkins Waterproof Work Boot

The Brunt Perkins Waterproof Work Boot has a reinforced composite nano toe, will keep you comfortable during long shifts, and dry if caught in the rain. 

Brunt is a new direct-to-consumer brand that’s quickly becoming a goto workwear staple. The Perkins is a tough full-grain leather work boot. Designed for the worksite, it’s got a reinforced composite nano toe and shank (the long thin piece of material in a boot that sits between the insole and outsole and provides support). These are fairly light for reinforced-toe work boots, weighing in at around two pounds each. Traditional steel-toe work boots can be as heavy as 4.5 pounds. The boots have double stitching at key areas that tend to wear faster and durable toe caps and heel guards. The Perkins meet the ASTM International standards for safety toe work boots. This international standards organization provides technical standards for a variety of products and materials. 

The Perkins is also very comfortable. I wore these working in the yard and around the house and walked 2.5 miles in them with no foot issues. There was no break-in time required. The Perkins features a rubber foam midsole, a three-layer removable insole, and extra padding at the collar. 

These boots performed well in normal rain conditions thanks to triple-layer waterproofing. Water beaded off the surface and my feet stayed dry. In the river, no water seeped in via the seams. The boots don’t have a gusseted tongue so water can seep in through there, but these aren’t meant to be used to slog through the Hudson and will definitely keep your feet dry in most situations. They took about 10 hours to dry out inside. The Perkins also have heavy-duty outsoles that prevented me from slipping in muddy (even oily) conditions. They fit true to size and have a cool feature that lets you adjust the boot width from regular (D) to a wider fit (EE).

Perkins Waterproof Work Boot (small)
How I tested rain boots for this guide

I tested these rain boots for comfort, breathability, ease of getting in and out of them, how well they grip in slippery conditions, and, of course, how they stood up against water. I walked and/or hiked in each of them at least twice, sometimes more, for at least 2.5 miles (in most cases twice that distance) at a time during rainstorms. I submerged them in puddles as well as wading out into the Hudson River in them. In the case of the Muck Boots and Brunt Work Boots, I used them while working in my yard and doing chores around the house. 

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The 5 best first aid kits of 2021 to keep at home or take with you on the go

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best first aid kits should have items like bandages, wraps, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers.
  • It’s smart to routinely check your first aid kit to be sure nothing is expired, low on stock, or needs updating.
  • Our top pick, the First Aid Only First Aid Kit, is compact, carefully curated with essentials, and costs under $25.

As a frequent camper and hiker, I know that having a first aid kit isn’t only a good idea, it’s a necessity. When you’re a three-day hike from the nearest hospital, you’d better be able to count on your own supplies in the event of injury or illness – so long as those supplies cover the basics.

When buying your own kit, it should have at least some assortment of the following: Bandages, antiseptic wipes, medical tape, anti-itch cream, burn relief gels, gauze, and antibiotic ointment, among others. It’s also important to choose a first aid kit that best suits the people and the situations in which they’ll be used. If you need just a small first aid kit for your home, there’s no need to splurge on a larger, disaster preparedness-style kit.

It’s also smart to opt for pre-packed kits whenever possible, especially if you’re relatively new to buying first aid kits, or aren’t entirely sure what all it should have. Piecing together your own is an option but should only be done by those that are experienced, or who have someone experienced helping them.

To help you find the best pre-packaged first aid kits available, I tested a number of options designed for a variety of use cases. No matter if you’re on a budget or just want a small kit for your home office, I have you covered. I’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a first aid kit at the end of this guide.

Here are the best first aid kits:

The best overall

first aid only

The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit comes with all the basic medical supplies you need for quick diagnostics and the treatments of many ailments. 

Pros: Compact but comprehensive, great low price, well organized

Cons: Limited shelf life, included tape is not as adhesive as it could be

The First Aid Only All-Purpose First Aid Kit packs 299 doctor-recommended supplies into a soft-sided case measuring just 9.25 by 7.5 inches on its sides and about three inches deep. It’s about the size of a hardcover book but within this kit, you will find the tools needed to assess and treat everything from a scraped finger and heavily bleeding gash to a mild headache or high fever.

This kit comes with comprehensive wound cleaning and closure supplies, including multiple butterfly strips, gauze rolls and pads, and several types of bandages, not to mention the various alcohol, antiseptic, and antibiotic wipes and ointments. It’s the perfect triage kit for a variety of common injuries.

The kit also comes with an array of supplies invaluable to the person administering first aid, such as sterile vinyl gloves, a single-use thermometer, tweezers, and nickel-plated scissors. For all that, it still costs less than a nice meal — and certainly less than a trip to the ER.

The plastic partition pockets keep everything well-sorted and easy to find in a snap, so you won’t be fumbling for the right gear when time is of the essence, either. 

WebMD suggests you should replace your first aid kit once a year and replace any missing or expired items. At its affordable cost, you could replace the entire kit once a year without breaking the bank, maintaining a nice peace of mind in your home or workplace.

The best budget

coleman first aid

The Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit costs less than a fancy cup of coffee but it helps treat all sorts of minor scrapes, scratches, bug bites, and more.

Pros: Very affordable, lightweight and compact, perfect for travel

Cons: Not at all comprehensive

If you need to treat a compound fracture, you’re probably going to need a more advanced medical kit than this option from Coleman. More often than not, the damage we endure is often along the lines of minor cuts and scrapes, burns and bites, and the occasional puncture wound. For those everyday injuries, the Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit is the ideal choice.

It costs so little that there’s really no excuse not to buy one, and given the diminutive size of this kit, you can (and should) bring one along whenever your travels might lead you away from ready access to medical treatment.

Into a charming little tin, Coleman packed several antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, sting relief wipes, and a total of sixteen bandages in five different size and shape varieties. There’s also a razor blade for cutting away clothing or trimming medical tape, as well as a pair of safety pins.

The best portable

VSSL

VSSL’s First Aid is the perfect portable kit that’s great for camping, backpacking, or even just keeping around in your car or office, and includes 15 unique items all stored in a waterproof, aluminum container.

Pros: Compact and highly portable, has 15 unique pieces and 46 total items, comes in an aluminum carrying tube that’s waterproof

Cons: Not a comprehensive enough kit for large groups

Ingenuity and convenience are the main calling cards of VSSL’s first aid kit called, aptly, First Aid. Featuring 15 different items (and 46 total essentials) in an aluminum, waterproof carrying case, the First Aid is a highly useful and portable kit that can go just about anywhere. It’s perfect for the campground and the backcountry but also functions well at the job site or in the office. 

As the photo above shows, the First Aid is a tube-shaped kit that has everything packed neatly inside. Contents include a flashlight, compass, variety of bandages, adventure tape, and Steri-Strips, to name a few. It also has some antiseptic towelettes, medical face masks, and antibiotic cream. 

The entire contents of the kit store into a sleeve that conveniently folds up to slide inside the tube. The sleeve itself features hooks on either side so that it can be hung up for easy access, too. 

At just 14 ounces in weight, the First Aid weighs less than a pound and can be easily stashed in a backpack, glove box of a car, or in a desk. As mentioned, the entire thing is waterproof, so you can rest assured nothing will get ruined if it gets submerged in water or you’re trying to use it in the pouring rain. 

I’ve had my own First Aid (and replaced it a few times) for the last several years, and never leave home on a camping or backpacking trip without it. It’s highly convenient, has enough first aid supplies to adequately support one to two people, and is useful in more ways than just administering first aid. — Rick Stella, fitness and health editor

The best for the office

be smart first aid

The Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit is OSHA and ANSI compliant and covers the first aid needs of up to 50 people, making it perfect for the office.

Pros: Great choice for the workplace, comes with a selection of medicines, hard plastic shell protects components

Cons: Case is bulky and not water-resistant, latch is prone to failure

The Be Smart Get Prepared Kit is a large, comprehensive first aid kit designed to meet the needs of several dozen people. It’s a great choice for businesses, retail locations, schools, churches, and even for the home, though it’s not a good choice for travel due to its bulky hard case.

The case helps keep the components organized and protected but it’s not watertight or resistant to moisture or temperature fluctuations which can affect some of the components. Because of this, it should be stored in a temperate indoor environment.

The Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit has all the wound care components you would expect, from alcohol prep pads and antiseptic towelettes to multiple bandages in varied sizes.

What sets this kit apart from the others in terms of suitability for use in the office or at a school are the medicines it comes with. You’d likely already have access to many of these medicines at home — like pain and anti-inflammatory tablets and antacids — but it’s not always a given at work, school, or at other such locations.

It also includes cold packs, another handy feature for use when ice might not be nearby.

The best for disaster prep

Lightning X first aid kit

If you’re cut off from emergency services following a natural disaster or in times of civil unrest, you’ll be glad you have the Lightning X First Responder First Aid Kit.

Pros: Comprehensive supplies, features advanced medical gear, comes with backpack

Cons: Pricier than other options, many components not needed for basic first aid

If you foresee a time where there won’t be anyone on the other end of a 9-1-1 call, or you just like to be prepared for anything, the Lightning X First Responder First Aid Kit is the way to go. This kit certainly borders on overkill for most households but it’s likely the last kit you’d ever need to buy (not counting the items that merit periodic replacement, like alcohol wipes).

Anyone in need of first aid or preparing to administer it will appreciate the many bandages, the rolls and pads of gauze, the antiseptic wipes, the ointments, the tapes, and more. Anyone with actual medical training will also like the included stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, airway kit, and other more advanced medical tools. In the right hands, this kit is essentially a mobile trauma center while also having all your basic and intermediate first aid needs covered.

This comprehensive first aid kit comes loaded in a lightweight, ergonomic backpack with padded straps and reflective stripes, allowing it to be easily taken on the go — it’s even comfortable to carry and highly visible. While it’s a great choice for a well-prepared home, this kit was designed for emergency response professionals to use in the field.

How to shop for a first aid kit

A reliable first aid kit isn’t exactly a mobile trauma center but it does provide the basic supplies you need to mitigate the ill effects of an accident, injury, or sudden illness. Remember, it’s first aid, not final, comprehensive aid.

When choosing a first aid kit, you need to think about who might depend on it (in terms of the sheer number of people and the age and disposition of the user), where it will be stored and/or carried, and in what situations the likely users might endure an injury or illness.

Any first aid kit worth considering should have supplies capable of treating minor cuts, punctures, burns, and other such common injuries. Beyond that, the suitability of a given kit depends on careful consideration of factors ranging from weight to packaging to redundancy of the supplies included.

Check out our guide to the best emergency kits

emergency preparedness supply kit shutterstock_222250729

The best emergency kits

An emergency kit is something you should have around, in case an unexpected dangerous event happens. You can make your own, or purchase a pre-assembled kit that has everything you may need. We’ve rounded up the best emergency kits you can find pre-assembled.

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The 6 best hydration packs for day hikes, long-distance runs, and other outdoor activities

  • It’s crucial to stay hydrated while exercising, particularly in the heat.
  • Hydration packs make it easy and comfortable to carry liters of water on a run, hike, or bike ride.
  • The Osprey Skarab 18 hydration pack is comfortable and holds 2L of water plus all your hiking essentials.

You know it’s important to stay hydrated on a hike, run, bike ride, or literally any adventure in exercising. But carrying a water bottle or and having to constantly stop to pull it out of your pack gets old quick.

Hydration packs are the ideal way to make carrying and accessing water easier and minimize stoppage time. The best hydration packs not only have a pouch big enough to hold 1+ liters of water, but they also provide storage for snacks, layers, a first aid kit, and any other essentials you might need on a day hike or run. What’s more, the pack also needs to be comfortable, breathable, and quick-drying to not weigh down your adventure.

For longer hikes and backpacking trips, check out our guides to the best backpacks for men and for women.

The number of hydration packs on the market can be overwhelming. But we’ve dug into which packs can actually keep up on your putting and, therefore, which are worth your money.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are our top picks for the best hydration packs:

The best hydration pack overall

Osprey hydration pack

Osprey’s Skarab 18 is the only day-hiking hydration pack you’ll need, thanks to its high-quality construction, internal frame that keeps it comfortable mile after mile, and easy-to-access water reservoir.

Pros: Comfortable to wear even over several hours, extra-wide clip-on water reservoir allows for easy cleaning and refills, 2.5-liter capacity is perfect for long day hikes, offers plenty of interior storage, and the ventilated foam frame helps avoid excess sweat

Cons: Too small for longer backpacking trips

Osprey has consistently made some of the finest backpacks for decades, so it’s no surprise that the Osprey Skarab 18 also happens to be our favorite hydration pack.

It’s the ideal size for a day hike, weighing just over one pound with enough storage space for hiking essentials. Its foam frame allows for great ventilation, keeping your back cool and mostly sweat-free. Like all its packs, Osprey decked out the Skarab with plenty of straps to allow for the ultimate custom fit, regardless of who’s wearing it.

But what makes this bag truly shine is the large, 2.5-liter water pouch, which should keep you hydrated for most day hikes. Additionally, its extra-wide clip opening makes it easy to add more water or clean the reservoir after use. The pack even has a magnetic bite valve attachment that allows it to quickly attach to the Skarab’s sternum strap, allowing for easy access.

Added extras like stretch mesh pockets on the side of the pack, a scratch-free stash pocket, removable hip belts, and external bungees for more gear are Osprey staples and only add to the pack’s overall quality. Osprey’s Skarab 18 is simple when it needs to be yet versatile and technical for those who demand it.

The best for male runners

camelbak hydration pack

Runners don’t want anything weighing them down, and CamelBak’s HydroBak weighs just five ounces — before being filled with water, of course. 

Pros: Weighs just five ounces without water, mesh back panel and harness aid in ventilation, new Crux reservoir allows 20% more water per drink, and its leak-proof valves are easy to flick on or off

Cons: Doesn’t offer much in the way of storage (not that runners need much of it, anyway)

A running-specific hydration pack should sinch down tight and comfortable, and be able to carry enough water for long miles. Camelbak’s HydroBak has a mesh back panel and harness to help with ventilation and keeping you cool. Its reflective accents help with visibility for early or late runs. 

Uniquely, the HydroBak features a Crux reservoir which lets you pull a full 20% more water with each swig. That means less time sucking on the tube and more time focusing on your stride. Additionally, the pack features easy-to-use leak-proof valves that you can flip on or off with a gentle push for less wasted water and no fumbling with the tube while running.

CamelBak also outfitted the Crux with a leak-proof cap and coated the tube with its anti-microbial HydroGuard technology, which is 100% BPA free and reduces the risk of bacteria growth.

Though it’s small, the HydroBak still features a few zippered pockets perfect for keeping energy gels, granola bars, and some cash for those well-earned post-run beers.

The best for female runners

salomon adv skin 8

The Salomon ADV Skin 8 is specifically designed to sinch down on the female figure, and can carry 1 liter of water with the option of adding a reservoir in the back.

Pros: Female-specific design, adjustable to fit different chest sizes, soft material, 2 soft 500ml flasks included, many mesh and zipper pockets, room to carry warm layer

Cons: Expensive, straws can be a bit tricky to adjust

While females can wear any hydration pack, they’ll be the most comfortable in the Salomon ADV Skin 8. Designed by one of the leading trail running brands today, the ADV Skin 8 is uniquely shaped to sinch down tight around female curves so your pack isn’t throwing off your momentum. Specifically, this pack was crafted to alleviate pressure on your breasts and has an adjustable drawcord fasten in the front for a personalized fit. I’m small-chested and have lent this vest to friends as large-chested as 34DD who say it’s just as comfortable for bigger breasts.

While you can slide a traditional reservoir in the back of the pack, the other feature that makes Salomon running vests so great is their integrated soft flasks. Two half-liter water flasks sit on either side of your chest in a soft mesh pocket, allowing for quick water access mid-run.

Additionally, this pack has mesh and zippered pockets strategically placed in nooks and crannies, as well as down the back, to stash everything from car keys to a warm layer. You can even move the elastic cords and loops around to carry trail running poles wherever feels most comfortable to you.

I’ve been running in this hydration vest for two years and the only bad words I have to say about it is it’s expensive (but, in my opinion, worth it for runners) and the straw on the included flasks might need to be cut down, which can be a little tricky to do. –Rachael Schultz, Health and Fitness Updates Editor

The best for day hikes

platypus hydration pack

The Platypus Duthie A.M. 10.0 is a day hiker’s dream, offering 7 liters of storage, strategically-placed tool organizing loops and compartments, and a huge, three-liter water reservoir. 

Pros: Plenty of storage options despite its modest 7L capacity, external tool and gear loops, capable of fitting many different body types, comes standard with huge three-liter BigZip water reservoir and magnetic hose, and FloatAir back panel offers comfort for even the longest day hikes

Cons: Expensive

Platypus’s Duthie A.M. 10.0 has plenty of internal and external storage options with a 7L capacity, perfect for short jaunts into the backcountry or several mile excursions. Its strategic approach to organization also means you won’t be digging past your car keys to get to your snacks — everything has its own place in the pack.

When it comes to the Duthie’s hydration capability, few companies deliver as well as Platypus. Featuring a large three-liter reservoir, the brand’s patented BigZip water pouch features a magnetic hose clip and also offers wearers the ability to route the house in multiple ways — a welcome function not typically seen in hydration packs.

For hardcore day hikers who also have other activities in mind, the Duthie also offers a useful carry system designed to hold pads or full-face helmets and even sports a fleece-lined pocket perfect for stashing a pair of shades.

Additionally, the pack easily conforms to a variety of body shapes and sizes with just a few adjustments of its straps and hip belt. After finding the perfect fit, Platypus’ FloatAir back panel keeps you mostly sweat-free and comfortable, no matter how long the hike.

The best for cycling

gelindo hydration pack

Forget reaching down for any built-in water bottle holders because with Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack, staying hydrated while biking is as easy as simply drinking out of a straw.

Pros: Insulated water reservoir pocket keeps liquids cool for up to four hours, mesh back panel keeps airflow at a maximum, interior organization capable of holding a variety of items without feeling cluttered, and its easily adjustable straps are capable of fitting almost any body type

Cons: Limited reflective details

While most bikes have space for attaching a water bottle holder, a hydration pack makes staying quenched much easier and Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack is perfectly fit for the job.

This pack has an insulated pocket to carry its 2.5-liter water reservoir, which will keep your water cool for up to four hours. The pack is also designed to keep your body heat from warming the water. 

Gelindo included several storage pockets capable of holding energy bars and car keys, and bigger compartments to hold a spare change of clothes, larger items of food, or spare tubes. Organization also scores highly as it’s easy to reach for and access any of the interior contents, no matter how full the pack gets.

It’s no secret cyclists care about comfort and with Gelindo’s Insulated Hydration Pack, finding a perfectly comfortable fit is easily done via its adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt. Furthermore, its ergonomic mesh back allows for steady airflow to keep you from overheating, keeping you comfortable throughout the entirety of your ride.

The best for commuting

gregory hydration pack

Gregory’s Inertia 30 makes it easy to stay hydrated while commuting with its easy-access water tube, ample interior storage, and comfortable shoulder harness.

Pros: Plenty of storage for whatever the workday requires, quick-drying 3L water reservoir is easy to fill up and features an integrated drying hangar, hydration sleeve auto-centers the water pouch to stabilize weight, versatile enough to even act as a day-hiking pack

Cons: Expensive

Even just commenting to wor requires energy, so it’s important to stay hydrated. The Gregory’s Inertia 30 is designed to not only quench thirst but also to pack a work day’s worth of gear. Be it a laptop, notebook, tablet, or otherwise, the Inertia offers enough interior storage space to tote along whatever the day calls for.

It even features several exterior pockets perfect for storing items that need to be quickly accessible, as well as a padded zippered pocket designed for sunglasses or house keys.

Gregory includes a quick-drying 3L water reservoir that has a built-in drying hangar, perfect for airing it out to avoid mold or mildew buildup. The Inertia’s dedicated hydration sleeve makes it easy to just toss the reservoir into the pack, and it automatically stabilizes the pouch’s weight to the center of your back. Gregory even made the reservoir’s tube magnetic, making it easy to take on and off.

Though we chose it for its ability to act as a commuter bag, the Inertia 30 also excels as a day-hiking pack, offering exterior loops for trekking poles, compression straps on either side, and load lifters that help stabilize the pack when it gets heavy.

At $120, it’s not the cheapest bag of the bunch but considering what it offers, and the Gregory name also means supreme durability, the Inertia 30 is worth every penny.

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The 6 best lanterns, for use at a campsite or during a power outage at home

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A lantern lights up your tent or cabin while camping, and can also help you see during a power outage.
  • The best should offer a high lumen output, have a battery that lasts several hours, and be highly durable.
  • Our top pick, the CORE 500 Lumen CREE LED Lantern, is compact with a long-lasting battery and a bright output.

In the event of a prolonged power outage, a lantern creates a room-filling light that allows for easier cooking, reading, and other basic activities that you can’t accomplish with the directional beam of a flashlight or headlamp.

A lantern is also immensely helpful in emergency situations should you need to administer first aid, repair a piece of equipment, or find your way around in the dark. The long battery life (or fuel burn time) of a good lantern is another bonus when compared with most flashlights, which tend to consume batteries more quickly.

For the camper, a lantern makes a tent, cabin, or the campsite itself more comfortable and inviting. The beams of headlamps and flashlights can be unpleasant and blinding, leaving most of the surrounding area dark while often washing out the spots on which they fall. Lantern light, on the other hand, is softer, filling a space with illumination and allowing all in its proximity to enjoy the glow.

To help make your shopping experience easier, we’ve tested a selection of lanterns from brands like Coleman, Goal Zero, and CORE Equipment to find the best currently available. At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a lantern and what to keep in mind.

Here are the best lanterns:

The best overall

lantern 1

The CORE Equipment 500 Lumen CREE LED Lantern puts out enough light to fully illuminate a midsized room or to light up your campsite, porch, or picnic area.

Pros: Super bright output, great battery life, good price for the quality, durable construction

Cons: Uses pricey D batteries, needs dimmer setting

The CORE Equipment 500 Lumen CREE LED Lantern casts a halo of light that brightens an area measuring 60 feet wide — and that’s on its low setting. When at full power, the lantern’s beam stretches out 45 feet, illuminating a space 90 feet across.

Equally impressive are its run-times, too, as the lantern’s able to shine for 19 hours at full power and for a whopping 65 hours at the lower setting. Its diffuser tube ensures that its light is evenly distributed and is bright but not harsh.

The CORE Equipment 500 Lumen lantern weighs a little less than a pound and is small enough to tuck into a backpack. While it’s slightly heavier and larger than the distance trekker or the climber will want to carry, it’s a great choice for use on shorter hikes or for the car camper or RV enthusiast.

Despite its small size, the power of this lantern also makes it a fine choice for use in equipping an emergency preparedness kit or for more mundane, everyday tasks like grilling after dark or just hanging out in the backyard. 

The best on a budget

lantern

The Etekcity Collapsible LED Lantern is small, bright, and built to last, but best of all, it comes in a two-pack for $20. 

Pros: Great low price, compact and lightweight, durable construction

Cons: Short run time, light quality rather pale and harsh

What can you get with ten dollars? Quite a lot, really. You can get a decent cocktail or a fine sandwich, a month’s worth of streaming video and TV programming, or a compact and capable lantern that will shine for hours at a time and last for many years of regular use. The Etekcity Collapsible LED Lantern costs only $20 for two, but it is backed by a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

When fully collapsed, the Etekcity LED lantern is less than five inches tall, and it weighs well under a pound. That makes it a fine choice for the trekker who is watching gear weight.

The intensity of light output is regulated based on how far you extract the globe section from the outer casing. The more of the 30 individual LED bulbs that are exposed, the more light that the lantern emits. This is a pleasantly simple way to regulate brightness, but there’s also a drawback in that the bulbs that are hidden away are still glowing, thus draining a bit of power needlessly.

The lantern is powered using three AA batteries and runs for 12 hours on its lower intensity setting and eight hours at maximum output. That’s not a laudable runtime, but the money you save on the unit can be applied to some extra batteries.

The best propane-powered

coleman lantern

As long as you planned ahead and stocked up on fuel, the Coleman NorthStar Propane Lantern can provide you hours upon hours of amazingly bright light.

Pros: Amazingly bright, long run time, wide range of brightness settings

Cons: Slightly loud while operating, not suitable for indoor use, large and heavy

LED lanterns are all the rage these days, and for many good reasons: They produce no appreciable heat, making them safe for use in confined spaces and around pets and kids, they tend to be compact and lightweight, and they’re easy to use. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still a place for a propane-powered lantern at the proverbial table — or at the actual campsite, in your yard, at the RV park, and more.

The duration of burn time you can expect from the Coleman NorthStar Propane Lantern is entirely dependent on the size of the propane bottle you choose. With a compact one-pound tank, you can expect about eight hours of super bright light and as much as 20 or even 24 hours on a low setting. With a 20-pound tank, you could leave the light burning for a week straight.

While shopping for a propane tank and connecting one to the unit are both more involved tasks than buying and replacing batteries, the sheer volume of light this lantern creates beats out almost every battery-powered electric lantern money can buy. Its top 1,500-lumen setting matches the light output of a 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

Once you have the propane tank connected and the lantern securely placed on a flat surface or hung from a branch, you fire it up, using a simple push-button ignition system. Brightness is controlled with an easy-to-use dial on the front of the unit. And that’s that. This is a durable, reliable lantern that works much the same as devices people have trusted for many generations.

The only real drawback here is that indoor use is ill-advised, not because of the fire hazard, but rather because propane burning equipment should always be operated in open-air environments.

The best for emergencies

lantern

The HeroBeam V3 LED Lantern is water-resistant, rechargeable, and can function as both an omnidirectional lantern and as a flashlight with a focused beam. 

Pros: Versatile light output, water-resistant, rugged and durable, rechargeable 

Cons: Some units malfunction with heavy use

Whether you’re searching the nighttime forest for a lost loved one or jacking up a car as the rain slashes down, lighting up the kitchen so you can prepare a meal during a power outage, or shining light over the shoulder of an EMT treating an injury, if you’re using the HeroBeam V3 LED Lantern, you’re doing it right.

This light can fill a room or outdoor area with a large pool of light or throw a beam out dozens of yards into the darkness. Just to make things easy for you, the handle even flips around to allow for easy carrying in both the lantern and the flashlight configuration.

The HeroBeam V3 lantern is rated as IPX4 water-resistant, which means that even if you need to use this lantern in a downpour or if it gets splashed by waves coming over the side of a boat, it will still work just fine. And thanks to its durable ABS plastic body, it won’t break if you drop it or knock it off a table, either. This is good, because, in emergency situations, things rarely go smoothly.

The newer V3 model is also an upgrade from our previous choice, the V2, and is now rechargeable from any USB port. Easily charge it up from any laptop, phone charger, or car. Alternatively, it can also take AA batteries so you can double the operating duration.

The best solar-powered

lantern

The Survival Frog Solar Pocket Light Lantern offers hours of soft, steady light with each charge, no batteries or fuel required. 

Pros: Charges with sunlight, strobe light option, very light and compact

Cons: Not very bright, depends on sunshine or access to USB port

If you expect a compact solar lantern to be bright enough to illuminate a large room or fill a campsite with light, you’re going to be disappointed. If you count on the diminutive Survival Frog Solar Pocket Light Lantern to fill your tent with light or to illuminate a few square feet around your campfire or picnic table, however, you’re going to be quite pleased.

What this little lantern lacks in hundreds of lumens of output, it more than makes up for in weighing less than a half-pound, in folding down into a package you can tuck into a pocket, and in using nothing more than sunlight to power its internal rechargeable battery. When the sun isn’t shining but a USB port is close at hand, you can also power it up via USB cable.

This Survival Frog lantern can be hung from the roof of a tent or from a branch or perched on a table or on the floor to fill an area with light, or it can be used as a directional flashlight. The pool of lantern light is on the smaller side and the beam fainter than a top-quality LED torch, you should know that going in.

You should also know that the lantern has three settings: bright, dim, and flashing (a great option for helping people locate you from afar in the dark).

The best for backup power

goal zero lighthouse 400

The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 offers more than just bright lighting. It can also recharge your other electronic devices, and recharge itself with a hand-crank when in a pinch. 

Pros: Backup battery for recharging electronic devices, hand-crank for quick charging, bright LED light that can be adjusted

Cons: Pricey, solar option requires additional accessory  

The Lighthouse 400 from Goal Zero provides a bright, omnidirectional LED light at 400 lumens. But lighting is just one of its great features. Goal Zero is a company that specializes in portable power, and with its built-in 4,400mAh battery, you can use this lantern to recharge a phone, tablet, or camera. The battery capacity is enough to recharge a smartphone at least twice.

On the front, you’ll find a standard USB port for recharging a device. The lantern is also powered via the battery, which has a run-time between 2.5 to 6 hours, depending on the brightness level and how many LEDs are turned on (there are two). The battery recharges via its built-in USB cable, which takes about five hours, according to the company.

But what if an electrical outlet isn’t available? The lantern has two other recharging options: solar (with an optional Goal Zero solar panel) or a hand crank. Just one minute of cranking produces about 10 minutes of light — ideal for an emergency. Solar charging takes about 7-14 hours. So, even when its battery is completely drained, you have other options to recharge it.

The Lighthouse 400 is easy to store and operate. When not in use, just fold up the legs. In my experience in testing portable batteries, Goal Zero makes some of the better options. I also like the company’s portable solar panels and find them to work well, although it’s an extra premium if you were to add it to the purchase (it would push this lantern beyond the $100 mark). Overall, it’s a great accessory that does more than just lighting, but I do wish the product had a sturdier plastic construction. — Les Shu, senior guides editor

How to shop for a lantern

When figuring out which lantern best suits your needs, consider its weight, size, power source, brightness output, and special features. You’ll also want to give equal thought to where and how you’ll use it most often.

For instance, if you plan on doing a lot of car camping, it’s smart to opt for one that’s easy to transport over one that’s bulkier. If it’s just for use around the house, you can then use one that’s less portable but more powerful to light up a larger area.

A lantern’s power source is also an important consideration. If a lantern comes with a rechargeable battery, and you want to take it on the road, make sure the charger is compatible with a port in your vehicle (or you bring a portable power station along to recharge it). If the lantern takes batteries, it’s smart to stay stocked up on that particular battery type, no matter if you’re on a multi-day camping trip or just have the lantern stashed around the house. 

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The 7 best camping stoves for backpacking trips or car camping

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Camp stoves let backpackers and car campers alike brew fresh coffee and prepare their daily meals.
  • The best should be highly portable and easy to light with a lighter or match, or have their own ignitor.
  • Our top pick, MSR’s PocketRocket Deluxe, is compact enough for backpackers, easy to operate, and has a built-in igniter.

A warm sleeping bag and dependable headlamp are certainly vital for smart and comfortable camping, but when you’re sleeping on the ground and haven’t showered in days, there really is nothing like a hot cup of coffee on a brisk morning (with the exception, perhaps, of a hot meal at the end of a long day).

Neither of these is possible, however, without access to a reliable camp stove.

With the right camp stove, not only can you expect fresh-brewed java in the morning or a warm meal at night but you can rely on it for a range of uses; maybe you want to grill some fresh fish minutes after you’ve pulled it from the stream, or you want to whip up a mug of hot cocoa (or a hot toddy) to sip by the campfire. If you’re in the backcountry, a stove can save you as boiling stream water is one of the best ways to ensure it’s safe to drink.

Having spent over two decades car camping, backpacking, and everything in between, I’ve grown to rely heavily on my camp stove. No matter how far off-grid I might find myself, a camp stove helps keep me nourished and ready to take on whatever the day has in store – be it 20 miles of hiking to my next campsite, or a day spent relaxing around a campfire.

My reliance on making sure I have a proper camp kitchen setup means I’ve tested my fair share of camp stoves through the years – and some remain a fixture in my camp kit today. Below, I’ve rounded up seven of my favorites from brands like MSR, BioLite, and Coleman, all with their own advantages across a variety of camp styles and use cases.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a camp stove, as well as the the testing methodology I used in deciding which made the cut.

Here are the best camp stoves:

The best overall

msr pocketrocket deluxe 1

The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe is a compact and lightweight stove that fits inside a coffee mug but has a convenient auto igniter and simmering capability.

Pros: Lightweight and compact, self-igniting, simmers well

Cons: Not the best in high-wind without a screen

You shouldn’t need to carry an extra piece of gear to make a spark, yet, many camping stoves still rely on matches or a lighter for a flame. One of the best features of the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe is that it has a built-in automatic piezo igniter that’s cased in steel for reliability.

Despite its small size and weight (two other key pros), the PocketRocket Deluxe is no slouch. It can boil a liter of water in less than four minutes. The burner is adjustable, so you can lower the heat for a simmer — something that’s hard to achieve with a one-setting burner. There’s also a built-in pressure regulator to ensure you get reliable and fast cooking until the gas canister is depleted.

As long as you place the stove (with gas canister attached) on a level surface, it supports anything from a frying pan to a small cup. Like all lightweight backpacking stoves, the PocketRocket Deluxe will only run on self-sealing isobutane fuel canisters.

If you’re flying to a destination, just pack the PocketRocket and stop by a local outdoors retailer after you’ve arrived to pick one up (you can also get advice on where to camp, hike, and climb, if you aren’t familiar with an area).

I’ve used this stove extensively, as well as other PocketRocket variants. I like the simplicity of the design, and with the deluxe version, I now have the convenience of a push-start igniter; the igniter adds an extra 10 grams when compared to the standard PocketRocket, but it’s totally worth it.

What I also like is MSR’s warranty: Even after years of abuse, MSR stands by its products and offers extremely economical repair or replacement options.

Whether I’m camping in my car or on a complicated thru-hiking trip, the PocketRocket Deluxe’s excellent durability and the convenience of the built-in igniter make it one item I now bring along.

The best on a budget

coleman

The Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove acts like a standard stovetop burner, and it’s powerful, rugged, and well-priced.

Pros: Low price point, long burn time, easy flame output adjustment

Cons: Very heavy and bulky

With camp stoves, it’s easy to look at the price and think that’s a steal — but you have to also factor in camp stove fuel, which some gas stations and outdoor retailers like to gouge you on. But the best field stove in the world is just a paperweight without fuel, so buy it you will, regardless of the price.

With the Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove, those canisters of propane fuel are surprisingly low-priced — you can often get a two-pack of the 16-ounce fuel cylinder for less than 10 bucks. One such tank will burn for two hours at full blast and as long as eight or nine hours on a low setting. So if you want to make campsite risotto, go for it. Oh, and the stove itself is affordable, too.

Flame control is remarkably easy with this stove, just twist that large plastic knob all the way open for a roaring 10,000-BTU output or dial it back for hours of simmering. And thanks to the deep bowl shape and generous wind baffles, this stove will maintain a consistent burn in all but the most powerful gusts of wind. The burner is large and stable enough to accommodate an 8-inch pan or pot, so you really can almost treat it like a standard stovetop.

I used one of these stoves for several years and still keep one on hand in case the stove in my house ever has a problem or for some sort of apocalyptic nightmare during which I still wanted to cook pasta. But you’ll probably never see me bringing this stove along for another hike or climb.

Why? Weight and size. This stove weighs more than two pounds, with the canister adding another three pounds or more when filled. That’s heavier than some tents and sleeping pads combined. So while I highly recommend this stove for car campers or emergency preparedness, it’s a poor choice for climbers or trekkers. — Steven John

The best charcoal-burning

HeroGrill1

The Hero Grill System is an easy-to-use charcoal-burning grill that heats up in under 10 minutes, comes with a non-stick ceramic cooking surface, and allows for up to an hour of grilling. 

Pros: Charcoal pods have instant light coating that makes them easy to ignite, comes with its own carrying case, bamboo cutting board, and bamboo spatula, coals stay hot for up to an hour

Cons: Requires more cleanup than a normal camp stove, single-use charcoal pods are $40 for a two-pack

Almost all camp stoves use some sort of gas like propane or butane for heat, but the Hero Grill System leans on one of the most traditional forms of fuel: charcoal. And if you’re a fan of using charcoal to grill at home, this is the stove you want for car camping.

The Hero Grill System relies on two main parts for operation, the grill itself which is a non-stick ceramic grill with foldable legs to prop it up, and a box of charcoal pods that slides underneath. The pods can be lit using a match or lighter and take just 10 or so minutes to completely heat up. I found that lighting just two of the corners worked well in igniting the entire box (instead of needing to light all four). 

It does need to be placed on any non-combustible surface, though I used one of the picnic tables that are often placed at a campsite and it worked just fine. However, this means you shouldn’t just place it on grass — I recommend packing along a small table or something similar that you can place on the ground to set the stove on top of. 

Being as used to normal camp stoves as I am, I was quite impressed with the Hero Grill. It’s not often you’re able to make charcoal barbecued food while camping (unless you bring actual charcoal, which can be a mess), so it was a nice change of pace. I liked how easy it was to light the grill and how well it cooked everything from burgers and hot dogs to grilled vegetables.

Although cleanup is a little more involved than a normal propane stove, it still was relatively easy to just douse the charcoal before throwing the box away. I will say that a downside would be to have to replace the charcoal pod box after every use, and replacements cost $40 for a two-pack. You do have to replace propane and charcoal for a normal grill, but spending $20 for one hour of grilling can get expensive.

The best wood-burning

biolite camp stove

The BioLite CampStove 2 cooks your meal and charges your phone at the same time thanks to a built-in, thermoelectric generator fueled by heat.

Pros: Charges small devices, built-in fans regulate heat, works with myriad accessories

Cons: Getting initial fire burning can be frustrating

When you’re out there in the wilderness, you shouldn’t be staring at your phone; you should be looking at the stars, the mountains, or the valleys and such. That said, keeping a charged phone is important for safety — and the occasional photo.

Keeping a rechargeable flashlight fully powered is always a good idea, and those GoPro camera batteries always seem to need recharging, don’t they?

Maintaining battery life in all your devices while camping means carrying battery packs, using a solar charger, or firing up something you’re already likely traveling with: Your stove.

The BioLite CampStove 2 is a wood-burning stove that has a built-in generator capable of producing 3 watts of electricity while the fire is hot. That’s enough power to charge small devices, illuminate a Biolite lamp, or to charge the unit’s internal battery for later use when the fire isn’t burning.

Besides providing power, it’s also a damn good stove. With a decent fire built up, the BioLite CampStove 2 brings a liter of water to boil in less than five minutes and produces plentiful heat for cooking. In fact, there are compact fans inside the burn chamber that you can set at four different speeds to increase or decrease the intensity of the heat.

The best fast boiling

jetboil flash camping stove

The Jetboil Flash gets a lot of water really hot, really fast. If you primarily rely on your stove to make hot drinks and rehydrate meals, this is the stove for you.

Pros: Boils water quickly, contains all the parts inside the pot, push-button ignition

Cons: Can be hard to clean, can’t be used with other pots or pans easily

When I get back from a long day on the trail, I want the most food in the shortest amount of time. This means pouring hot water onto couscous or a dehydrated meal. If it’s the mornings, then it’s coffee posthaste.

For these moments, I rely on the Jetboil Flash. Using a cleverly designed pot that’s attached to a large burner — it looks (and sounds) like a jet engine — the Flash can boil 16 ounces of water in less than two minutes. It is so fast that the first time I used it, it began boiling over while I was still prepping my meal.

This is a product designed with backpackers in mind. The whole thing packs down into the provided pot and even has space for a small fuel canister. Not only does this mean it takes up very little space but it also makes it hard to lose or forget a part of the stove.

If you want to sear, sauté, and simmer, the Jetboil Flash isn’t for you. Although there are accessories that will let you use a frying pan, this is really a stove for heating your water fast, which is all most backpackers need.

The best for travel

msr whisperlite international stove

The Whisperlite International from MSR can go anywhere and burn almost anything. If you’re traveling to remote locations, this is the reliable and rebuildable stove to take with you.

Pros: Compatible with various types of fuel, excellent longevity

Cons: Not the lightest stove

Isobutane is great for cooking fast with a steady flame and comes packaged in convenient canisters. Unfortunately, you can’t fly with it, which could be an issue if you’re going to some remote area where there isn’t a camping store nearby. In this type of situation, the MSR Whisperlite International is a better alternative. Not only can the stove burn white gas, kerosene, or unleaded gas, it’s also incredibly robust.

This reliability combines with MSR’s clever shaker jet design, which prevents the fuel jet from getting clogged by using a needle inside the jet — cleaning it out when the stove is shaken. All of this makes the Whisperlite International the go-to choice for big expeditions.

With some practice, you’ll be able to quickly light the Whisperlite International (you do need to bring a lighter). Advanced users can regulate the flame enough to simmer water if required. I’ll admit that most of my uses have been limited to heating water and making oatmeal and coffee, but more adventurous cooks will be happy with the Whisperlite, especially when the alternative is going stove-less or using a wood or alcohol stove with pitiful heat output. — James Stout

The best high-powered

mr steak cmap stove

The Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill cranks out 14,000 BTUs and can heat up to an astounding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pros: Amazing heat output, large cook surface, electric ignition system

Cons: Expensive, not suitable for hauling on foot

If you’re pushing for the mountain summit of Denali or the Eiger, then it’s probably best to leave the Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill back at base camp.

At around 30 pounds and measuring 25 by 16 by 16 inches, this is most definitely a car camping grill. But with that size comes 165 square inches of cooking space, below which an immensely powerful ceramic infrared burner can heat up to as much as 1,000 degrees. Not that you will need that much heat most of the time, but hey, it’s there for you.

The Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill works with a standard one-pound propane cylinder (the squat green ones, like the ones the Coleman stove uses) and has an electronic ignition system.

When you’re not using the grill, you can fold its legs up for easier storage or transport, and when you are using it, you’ll appreciate the cool-to-the-touch silicone cover on the handle and a latch that can hold the cover open while you’re flipping burgers. — Steven John

How to shop for a camp stove

Although all camp stoves largely have the same overall goal (i.e. heating food, boiling water, etc.), they’re not all necessarily created equal. Some function better for rapidly boiling water while others are light enough for backpacking trips or pack a more powerful cooking punch.

Any decent stove produces plenty of heat and resists the elements, but beyond that, there are all sorts of differences between various brands and models that make a given unit ideal for one user but a poor choice for others. In discussing the six camp stoves on this list, we’ll cover not only each option’s inherent qualities but will also talk through why each model is well suited to specific activities, as well as why a given stove may be a poor choice for other scenarios.

How we test camp stoves

Each of the camp stoves featured in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well it compared across these six categories: Boil time, ease of setup and use, wind resistance, heating power (total BTUs), fuel type, and value. Here are the main features to consider when shopping for camp stoves (and the criteria we judged when doing our own testing over many nights spent camping, backpacking, or just taking to our own backyard): 

Boil time: How quickly a stove can bring water to a boil is one of the most important features for anyone who wants to quickly prepare food that only requires hot water, campers who want the ability to reliably purify gathered water, or those who need their coffee brewed mere moments after they wake up in the morning.

Ease of setup and use: Being able to easily set up your stove when you need it is vital. Most stoves are intuitive once you get the hang of them but it’s still nice to have one without steep learning curve. 

Wind resistance: Depending on where you plan to do the bulk of your camping, a stove that’s able to not only light but stay lit while it’s windy is highly useful. While most stoves won’t have a specific wind-resistant rating, many should list how well they’ll work in blustery conditions.

Heating power (and total BTUs): Lighting the stove is one thing but how powerful it ends up being while lit is something else entirely. After all, you don’t want to be sitting around for upwards of an hour waiting for a simple can of soup to heat up. The higher the BTUs (British thermal units), the more powerful the stove will be. Look for a stove between 10,000 and 30,000 BTUs. 

Fuel type: There are generally two kinds of camp stove fuel: Gas fuel like propane and butane or liquid fuel. Propane and butane canisters tend to be easier to use in terms of lighting the stove and don’t require priming before being lit. Liquid fuel stoves require a bit more work (such as priming) but perform better in colder weather. They’re also liable to be more dangerous to use. If possible, we recommend using propane or butane canisters as they’re far easier to manage.

Value: The importance of a camp stove’s price point is completely up to you. If you have the budget to buy a more full-featured stove, by all means, go for it. If you’re looking for a budget option, there are plenty of those, too, and many have negligible differences to more expensive options. 

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The 6 best hammocks for backyards and camping

  • Hammocks are a relaxing way to rest in your backyard, at a campsite, or in the backcountry.
  • Factors in buying a hammock include tree access, outdoorsy features, and insect protection.
  • Our top pick, the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost, lets you lay flat and only costs $40.

Hammocks have been used for literally hundreds of years, dating back to early indigenous Americans. They’re incredibly practical, lifting you off the ground to stay cool in the heat of summer and protected from insects or, in the backcountry, wildlife.

In the modern era, hammocks are often seen swinging in backyards, campsites, frat houses, and teenagers’ bedrooms. They’re prized for their comfort and for how easily they fold up for transport and storage when the R&R session is over.

Each hammock on our list shares a couple of key characteristics in that they hang from two fixed points (not always a tree) and support a person or two. However, that’s where the comparisons stop. Some hammocks are designed for comfort, others for light travel and to withstand the elements outside. Before you buy a hammok, it’s important to think through where you’ll use it, how you’ll set it up, and who might be sharing or borrowing it, which we go into in more detail at the end of this guide.

In the meantime, we’ve personally tested the majority of the hammocks on this list and can confirm – your life can only get better after a nap in any hammock on this list.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Here are our picks of the best hammocks:

The best hammock overall

wildhorn outfitters

The Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost Camping Hammock measures 11-feet long, so you can achieve an almost flat sleeping position when spread out on a diagonal. 

Pros: Long hammock for ideal sleeping comfort, easy to set up and adjust strap system, high-quality materials

Cons: Slightly bulky when packed, not made with ripstop fabric

Most hammocks feel great when you first climb in, your body feeling almost weightless as you ease yourself into a gentle curve and rock back and forth in the breeze. But when you’re ready to shift out of that initial position, you’re basically out of luck. That’s because many hammocks are only comfortably enjoyed on your back and in near-total (but blissful) stillness.

With the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost hammock, you have the room and support you need to shift positions and move about as you search for that ideal arrangement of your body’s various parts. The 11-foot span of the Outpost allows you to stretch out fully, with room to spare for most people, and creates a nearly flat space when you lie in it diagonally — provided you’re able to secure the ends of the hammock tautly and far enough apart.

At 1 lb 10 oz, this isn’t the lightest parachute nylon hammock, but it’s still light and compact enough for use on overland treks or during climbs. The generous size and comfort of the hammock more than compensate for those few extra ounces. Speaking of ounces, the hammock is tested to support up to 1,000 pounds, though its safety rated at a maximum of 400 pounds.

Read our full review of the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost hammock.

The best low-cost hammock

newdora hammock

The Newdora Parachute Cloth Ultralight Hammock weighs just 17 ounces, supports up to 600 pounds, and costs less than $30.

Pros: Very low cost, large weight capacity, lightweight and compact

Cons: Inferior rope included with hammock, no setup instructions

There are a lot of positive attributes worth noting about the Newdora Parachute Cloth Ultralight Hammock, but let’s get right to the point: This hammock costs less than dinner at a casual dining restaurant. It’s less than $20 (a bit more if you want the mosquito net) yet in terms of design and material quality, it’s far from cheaply made.

The Newdora Ultralight hammock is perfect for the hiker or climber who needs a place to snooze while taking a break from the adventure. It quickly sets up and is just as easy to take down and pack away, minimizing the time you spend making or breaking camp. At just over 1 pound, it doesn’t add notable gear weight, so you can bring one along even if you’ll spend the nights in a tent and sleeping bag and just want a spot to relax.

The Newdora Ultralight measures 8.75 ft long and 5.4 ft wide. Given those dimensions and its excellent weight capacity, two adults can share it for some cozy relaxation. If you’re going to sleep in this hammock, though, we recommend doing it solo. The attached stuff sack doubles as a handy pocket while the hammock is set up, giving you a spot for a headlamp, phone, snack, and so forth. Speaking of setup, that part is easy thanks to the included tree ropes and steel carabiners.

The best backyard hammock

best choice hammock

Thanks to the included stand, you can set up the Best Choice Products Cotton Double Hammock anywhere, no trees required.

Pros: Sets up anywhere, lightweight hammock and stand, all-season comfort

Cons: Not actually large enough for two adults, expensive, prone to tipping over with vigorous swinging

As the name suggests, the Best Choice Products Cotton Double Hammock is made from soft, woven cotton. You sink into the material, enjoying comfort and support ideal for an afternoon nap, a break from the yard work, or while disappearing into the pages of a great book. Add a blanket and this hammock keeps you warm and cozy in colder weather. It’s a good choice for summertime, too, as the breeze drifts over your stretched-out body.

Perhaps the best part about this hammock is that it comes with a modular steel stand. The stand can be assembled (or disassembled) in a matter of minutes and both the stand segments and the hammock tuck away into a carrying case.

That means you can set up this Best Choice Products Cotton Double Hammock in the yard, on the porch, at a campsite, at a tailgating party, or anywhere else you want — no trees, fence posts, or wall anchors required. As the stand is resin-coated to be weather resistant, you can also set it up in a permanent location.

Oh, and we also love the multiple color and pattern options. 

The best hammock for backpacking

Hummingbird Hammock

Weighing just 7 ounces, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock folds down to fit inside a pocket or bag.

Pros: Easy to set up, comfortable, durable, lightweight, compact

Cons: Pricier than similar hammocks

Several of our recommended products are ideal for backpacking but when you’re shedding as much weight as you can, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock is the best choice. It’s comparable to our overall pick in many ways but at $65, it’s pricey, which is why it didn’t nab the top spot. However, you can’t deny the lightweight and its military-grade build quality makes it very durable.

When we reviewed the hammock, our writer found it “much easier to carry than a bulky folding chair,” considering that it folds into a bag that’s smaller than the size of your palm. The size and weight are important if you’re doing a multiday backpacking trip.

Another consideration for using a hammock when backpacking: Due to the way it cradles the body, sleeping in a hammock is better for your spine than lying on rocky ground. Of course, a tent offers protection from the elements but when the opportunity allows, give a hammock a try.

Overall, the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock is easy to set up. It supports a weight limit of 350 pounds, and there is an extra-long version of the hammock for taller folks (it adds 3 ounces to the overall weight) and a double version to fit two people (max weight is 300 pounds). And, the company offers a lifetime warranty. — Les Shu

Read our full review of the Hummingbird Ultralight Single Hammock.

The best hammock for camping

kammock roo double_final

Whether you want to hammock camp or just lounge at the campsite, the Kammok Roo Double packs down small for easy transport and is water-resistant, durable, easy to set up, and comfortable for two people.

Pros: Lightweight, water-resistant, packs down small, comes with lifetime warranty, fits two people comfortably

Cons: Hanging straps not included, expensive, a bit heavy for backpacking (18 oz)

Whether you want an angelic way to nap after a long, hot hike or to forgo your tent and hammock camp, you want a hammock that won’t retain heat and can stand up to the elements.

The Kammok Roo Double is slightly pricier than others on our list, but the durability and small details make it well-worth the investment.

It’s constructed with uber-strong proprietary ripstop nylon — ideal to hold up against all the wear-and-tear of many, many camping trips. The fabric is soft out of the box and treated with DWR water repellency, which means it’ll keep you cool on humid days and dry through lightly wet nights.

The Roo Double hammock is only 18 ounces, but can comfortably fit two people or one person and a dog (that ripstop nylon is also great against dog claws) with a 500-pound weight capacity. It’s also crafted with lot of thoughtful details, like fade-resistant treatment on the brightly-colored fabric and soft seams on the side so you can comfortably hang your legs off.

You can secure the hammock around basically any tree or pole with Kammok’s 10-foot Python straps, which have 20 daisy chain loops that make it easy to latch the hammock’s durable carabiners to, no matter the width of the tree. 

The only downside is the Python straps aren’t included and will cost you an extra $30. Plus, the straps and the hammock itself live in two separate bags so you have to take care to make sure you have both before you leave for your trip (I’ve made that mistake once or twice).

Note that if you want to save weight and money, Kammok also makes the Roo Single for one person (10 ounces, $70). But the Double is only $10 more, roomy to sleep in solo, and allows for versatility on future trips with friends or pets. — Rachael Schultz

The best classic rope hammock

hammock

For idling away the hours of a summer afternoon, there’s nothing like a classic woven rope hammock like the Pawleys Island Original hammock.

Pros: Classic style, large enough for two adults, weather-resistant components

Cons: Additional hardware needed for setup, rather expensive

The name of this hammock comes from Pawleys Island, South Carolina, where hammocks were first mass-produced in the United States back in the late 19th century. Not much differs between this hammock and the ones produced more than 125 years ago, too.

It features a double-woven bed made from more than 1,000 feet of braided cotton rope, solid oak spreader bars, and steel hardware. It has a few modern updates, too. The steel is zinc-plated to help it resist corrosion and the oak bars are dipped in a marine spar varnish to enhance their weather resistance.

This classic rope hammock is at its best when one or two people are lying on their backs and doing nothing at all, though reading a book and/or sipping a cocktail or glass of lemonade are also acceptable.

This style of hammock tends to be hard to get in and out of, and others might find the rope less comfortable than a solid weave or parachute fabric. But the nostalgia is real.

The open rope design is inarguably ideal for a hot day as it promotes excellent airflow. This hammock belongs strung up between two elm trees in a suburban backyard or between two palms on the beach. Mine currently resides in the yard of its third residence, the hammock having moved around Southern California and then clear across the country with me.

The best hammock for insect protection

g4free hammock

The G4Free Portable Hammock with Mosquito Net creates a safe, insect-free shelter, keeping you protected from the nuisance and the real dangers of bug bites.

Pros: Protects the user against insects, versatile design, low price point

Cons: Not comfortable enough for multi-day use, netting rips easily

Bug bites and bee stings are up near the top of the list of things that are no fun. While most insect bites are merely annoying, causing an itch or a bit of pain, mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus, dengue fever, malaria, and more can be serious, even deadly, issues.

Whether you’re traveling to an area known for endemic insect-borne diseases or you’re just tired of having flies buzzing around you while you try to relax, the G4Free Portable Hammock with Mosquito Net is a great solution.

The hammock itself is made from smooth, supportive parachute-style nylon and generously accommodates a single adult user. Two hoop-shaped wireframes hold the insect netting up and out of the way, creating a large interior area in which you can sit up and move about without constantly touching the mesh. The netting can also be detached and moved out of the way when not needed.

The materials used to construct the hammock, mesh, and the supporting roping are all mildew and rot-resistant, making this insect shelter hammock a great choice for use in jungles, on beaches, and in various tropical locations. Your back might protest after multiple nights of sleeping in it, though, as it does dip noticeably when in use.

What to look for when buying a hammock

Hammocks are amazing for any leisurely outdoor experience, whether in the backyard or backcountry. But what you want in one is entirely different for those two situations.

We tested models from some of the most well-respected hammock makers in the industry for all types of lounging experiences. But there are a few key things to consider before deciding which to buy:

First, who will be using the hammock? Every hammock has a weight capacity and size capacity, so consider the size of the single person, or if you’ll want to lay in it with your sweetie, regularly. 

When will you use your new hammock? This issue is a bit more nuanced than you might think. Sure, saying “I’ll probably use it on Saturday afternoons” might be the right answer, but you should also consider the season (temperature and insects can be factors in choosing) and if you will be using the hammock overnight.

Where you install the hammock — will you use it camping in the wilderness or only on the patio beside the pool? Is it going to be hung in the basement playroom or in a bedroom? Will you want to set up and take down the hammock frequently and in various locations, or leave it as a semi-permanent installation? Not only do these allow you to select the right hammock but make sure you’re getting the most out of which one you ultimately decide on. 

Finally, how will you use your hammock? Is this purely a leisure investment or if you want to get into hammock camping. The latter you can also use in your backyard, but you can’t take, say, a rope hammock to a National Park and expect to get a good night’s sleep in it. Many are designed for specific use cases and using them improperly can significantly impact the experience. 

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The best snow blowers in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A quality snow blower should efficiently clear snow, require minimal effort, and last through many winters.
  • Our top choice is the Toro Power Clear 821 QZE Gas Snow Blower because it can match your pace and effortlessly handles all types of snow.
  • If you’re not quite ready to buy a snow blower but still need to clear snow, check out our guide to the best snow shovels.

When winter is in full swing and snowstorms are frequent, it’s time to pull out the right tool for the job – the snow blower. This type of snow-removal equipment clears snow quickly with minimal effort, making it a must-have for anyone who lives in a place where snowdrifts are common.

To find the best snow blowers, we researched and combed through hundreds of buyer and expert ratings and reviews of dozens of models. Our guide features throwers that have a track record of performance, durability, and, ease of use. If you’re not sure where to start, jump to the bottom of this guide to read up on what to consider when buying a snow blower

Here are the best snow blowers in 2021

The best snow blower overall

toro Power Clear 821 QZE

If you want to remove snow from flat, paved surfaces as quickly and effortlessly as possible, the Toro Power Clear 821 QZE Gas Snow Blower is the best.

Pros: Electric start, moves at your pace, handles wet snow well, two-year full warranty

Cons: May have trouble with uneven surfaces

There are a few features that make the Toro Power Clear 821 QZE Gas Snow Blower stand out. It has an electric push-to-start button, which helps contribute to its simplicity, and it also has a powerful engine that allows you to easily slice through even the thickest snow. 

Its powerful engine allows it to send snow up to 40 ft away. The self-propelled power system moves the snow blower at your walking speed, while also keeping it in constant contact with the ground. A quick-shoot trigger switch allows you to adjust the chute direction and angle. The clearing width is 21 inches and the snow cut depth is 9 inches.

The snow blower is also very lightweight at only 96 pounds. It is specifically designed to be easy to store; the front handle folds down to lessen the amount of space it takes up in your home. 

Customer reviews note that the equipment is easy to use, lightweight, and easily storable, and the snow blower is adept at removing both heavy and wet snow.

The best on a budget

WEN_ snow_blower

The WEN 5662 Snow Blaster Electric Snow Thrower is ideal for homeowners who are tired of shoveling and want a simple, affordable unit that clears walks and small paved driveways.

Pros: Affordable, lightweight, no need for gas, easy to assemble

Cons: Clogs if the snow is too wet, have to mind the cord (not included)

The WEN 5662 Snow Blaster Electric Snow Thrower is an electric, single-stage blower that relies on electricity provided by an extension cord. So, if you have a long driveway, this may not be a reasonable solution. But, for small jobs, it can be great with its 18-inch clearing width and 13.5-amp engine that is supposed to clear 490 pounds of snow per minute. The thrower only weighs about 39 pounds and is backed by a two-year warranty.

The WEN can handle even large snow piles with ease, and it’s quieter than a gas model. It’s compact enough to store in a small garage or shed, and it’s effective at clearing deep snow in one pass. If the snow is too wet or heavy, however, this machine tends to struggle, and the chute can get clogged. One annoying feature may be the safety switch that requires resetting when it turns off.

The best single-stage snow blower

Toro_Power_snow_blower

The Toro Power Clear 721 E Gas Snow Blower is lightweight, self-propelled, and has a “guaranteed to start” warranty for the first two years.

Pros: Compact, lightweight, easy to maneuver, self-propelled, two-year full “Guaranteed to Start” warranty

Cons: Not meant for heavy snowfalls, manual chute adjustment

At 87 pounds, the Toro Power Clear 721 E Gas Snow Blower is incredibly light for a gas-powered snow blower. This, along with the Power Propel self-propel system, make this single-stage unit easy to move around.

Another cool feature is the Toro “Guaranteed to Start” warranty, which states that the blower will start on the first or second pull every time in the first two years. If not, the company will fix it for free. The hard-plastic body has a 21-inch width, and the tough plastic auger makes constant contact with the surface for efficient clearing.

Though this model may have trouble with larger quantities of snow, it’s maneuverability makes it great for tight driveways and regular maintenance. It also won’t get clogged or bogged down by heavy, wet snow thanks to its tough auger. Be mindful, however, if you have any gravel paths or rocky terrain as single-stage snow blowers can throw rocks and other small objects that may get pulled in.

The best cordless electric snow blower

EGO_snow_blower

If you don’t want to bother with gas and snow in your area is measured in inches instead of feet, then the EGO Cordless Electric Snow Blower is your best bet.

Pros: Runs quiet, no need for gas, features headlights, easy to assemble and store, lightweight

Cons: Not self-propelled, only runs for about 30-45 minutes at a time (but charges quickly)

For a battery-powered snow blower, the EGO Power+ Snow Blower can do a lot. It has a 21-inch clearing width and can handle snow up to 10 inches deep.

There are also two bright LED lights that will help you clear your drive before taking off for work in the morning. The SNT2102 comes with two 5.0 Ah batteries. The batteries last up to 45 minutes, and the charger takes 45 minutes to charge each battery. So, you may want to consider picking up extra batteries if you have a lot of area to clear.

Because it’s battery-powered, it’s much quieter than its gas counterparts. You also won’t have to deal with fumes or refilling the tank. The push-button start is also quite the luxury for those accustomed to yanking pull cords to no avail season after season.

The best space-saving snow blower

toro electric power shovel

The Toro Power Shovel Electric Snow Thrower is about the size of a standard snow shovel, but it has the power to clear snow up to six inches deep with its powerful auger.

Pros: Won’t take up much space, clears moderate snowfall with ease, thin enough to use on steps, throws snow up to 20 feet

Cons: Must remain plugged in, can’t handle deep snow, can’t direct where snow is thrown

The Toro Power Shovel is a wonderful snow-clearing tool for a variety of applications. If you live in an area that receives only moderate snowfall a few times a year, it might be the only snow blower you need. It handles snowfall of up to six inches with ease, plus its small footprint makes it agile enough to clear steps — something a full-size snowblower will never be able to do. That ability alone makes it worth its pretty affordable price tag, in our opinion. If you have a full-sized blower, consider adding this one to your toolkit for detail work.

Its small size also makes it easy to store, and it’s electric so you don’t have to worry about keeping a full gas can around or being caught without when an unexpected storm hits. Being tethered to an outlet can be limiting, though, so make sure to invest in a good weather-safe extension cord. We don’t recommend clearing large swaths of snow with this machine, so a good 100-footer should do just fine.

The Power Shovel has a strong auger that can move up to 300 pounds of snow per minute, throwing it up to 20 feet. One downside to this compact machine is that it throws the snow directly out in front of you, and there’s no way to direct the snow elsewhere. We suggest strategically determining your snow clearing path so you don’t end up accidentally reburying the stairs you just cleared.

What to consider when buying a snow blower

When buying a snow blower, you should first consider where you want the power to come from. There are three main sources: gas, corded electric, and cordless electric or battery.

  • Gas snow blowers are the most popular, most powerful, and most expensive option. They also typically need more maintenance than the other two options.
  • Corded electric blowers are generally the least expensive and don’t pollute, but just like a corded lawnmower, you have to mind the cord as you work, and it’s not recommended for longer driveways due to the inherent cord-length limitations.
  • Battery power avoids the cord problem, but batteries only last for so long before they need to be recharged. You can buy extra batteries so that you have enough to complete your job, but they are usually quite expensive.

Snow blowers are either single-stage, two-stage, or three-stage.

  • A single-stage snow blower (also referred to as a snow thrower) has an auger that moves very fast and sends the snow flying out of the chute in one step.
  • Two-stage blowers have augers that feed the snow into the chute where a propeller throws the snow.
  • Three-stage blowers have augers that feed the snow into the center where it is chopped up and fed into the propeller.

Snow blowers with multiple stages tend to cost more, but they can also handle heavier-duty jobs and throw the snow farther.

Check out more great winter guides

best snow shovel - dmos snow shovel
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The best lanterns

  • Whether you’re using it to light up your tent or cabin while camping or need it to help you see during a power outage, you’ll be glad you have a reliable lantern on hand to ward off the dark.
  • The best lanterns offer powerful lumen output, have great battery life capable of lasting for several hours, and are durable enough to hold up no matter where you take it. 
  • Our top pick, the CORE Equipment 500 Lumen CREE LED Lantern offers a bright output, is compact enough to not take up too much cargo space on car camping trips, and shines for hours on end. 

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

In the event of a prolonged power outage, a lantern creates room-filling light that allows for easier cooking, reading, and other basic activities that you can’t accomplish with the directional beam of a flashlight or headlamp.

A lantern is also immensely helpful in emergency situations should you need to administer first aid, repair a piece of equipment, or find your way around in the dark. The long battery life (or fuel burn time) of a good lantern is another bonus when compared with most flashlights, which tend to consume batteries more quickly.

For the camper, a lantern makes a tent, cabin, or the campsite itself more comfortable and inviting. The beams of headlamps and flashlights can be unpleasant and blinding, leaving most of the surrounding area dark while often washing out the spots on which they fall. Lantern light, on the other hand, is softer, filling a space with illumination and allowing all in its proximity to enjoy the glow.

What to look for in a lantern

When figuring out which lantern best suits your needs, consider its weight, size, power source, brightness output, and special features – but also give equal thought to where and how you’ll use it most often.

If you plan on doing a lot of car camping, it’s smart to opt for one that’s easy to transport over a lantern that’s bulkier. If it’s just for use around the house, you’re able to use one that’s less portable but more powerful to light up a larger area. 

To help make your shopping experience easier, we’ve tested a selection of lanterns from brands like Coleman, Goal Zero, and CORE Equipment to find the best currently available. No matter the use case, there’s a lantern fit for the job. 

Here are the best lanterns:

Updated on 12/29/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the introduction for relevancy, added links to supplemental coverage, checked the availability of each recommended lantern, and updated the pricing where necessary.

Best lantern overall

lantern 1

The CORE Equipment 500 Lumen CREE LED Lantern puts out enough light to fully illuminate a midsized room or to light up your campsite, porch, or picnic area.

Pros: Super bright output, great battery life, good price for the quality, durable construction

Cons: Uses pricey D batteries, needs dimmer setting

The CORE Equipment 500 Lumen CREE LED Lantern casts a halo of light that brightens an area measuring 60 feet wide — and that is on its low setting. When at full power, the lantern’s beam stretches out 45 feet, illuminating a space 90 feet across.

Equally impressive are the run-times: The lantern will shine for 19 hours at full power and for an amazing 65 hours at the lower setting. Its diffuser tube ensures that its light is evenly distributed and is bright but not harsh.

The CORE Equipment 500 Lumen lantern weighs a little less than a pound and is small enough to tuck into a backpack. While it’s slightly heavier and larger than the distance trekker or the climber will want to carry, it’s a great choice for use on shorter hikes or for the car camper or RV enthusiast.

Despite its small size, the power of this lantern also makes it a fine choice for use in equipping an emergency preparedness kit or for more mundane, everyday tasks like grilling after dark or just hanging out in the backyard. 

Best budget lantern

lantern

The Etekcity Collapsible LED Lantern is small, bright, and built to last, but best of all, it comes in a two-pack for $20. 

Pros: Great low price, compact and lightweight, durable construction

Cons: Short run time, light quality rather pale and harsh

What can you get with ten dollars? Quite a lot, really. You can get a decent cocktail or a fine sandwich, a month’s worth of streaming video and TV programming, or a compact and capable lantern that will shine for hours at a time and last for many years of regular use. The Etekcity Collapsible LED Lantern costs only $20 for two, but it is backed by a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

When fully collapsed, the Etekcity LED lantern is less than five inches tall, and it weighs well under a pound. That makes it a fine choice for the trekker who is watching gear weight.

The intensity of light output is regulated based on how far you extract the globe section from the outer casing. The more of the 30 individual LED bulbs that are exposed, the more light that the lantern emits. This is a pleasantly simple way to regulate brightness, but there’s also a drawback in that the bulbs that are hidden away are still glowing, thus draining a bit of power needlessly.

The lantern is powered using three AA batteries and runs for 12 hours on its lower intensity setting and eight hours at maximum output. That’s not a laudable runtime, but the money you save on the unit can be applied to some extra batteries.

Best propane-powered lantern

coleman lantern

As long as you planned ahead and stocked up on fuel, the Coleman NorthStar Propane Lantern can provide you hours upon hours of amazingly bright light.

Pros: Amazingly bright, long run time, wide range of brightness settings

Cons: Slightly loud while operating, not suitable for indoor use, large and heavy

LED lanterns are all the rage these days, and for many good reasons: They produce no appreciable heat, making them safe for use in confined spaces and around pets and kids, they tend to be compact and lightweight, and they’re easy to use. But that doesn’t mean there’s not still a place for a propane-powered lantern at the proverbial table — or at the actual campsite, in your yard, at the RV park, and more.

The duration of burn time you can expect from the Coleman NorthStar Propane Lantern is entirely dependent on the size of the propane bottle you choose. With a compact one-pound tank, you can expect about eight hours of super bright light and as much as 20 or even 24 hours on a low setting. With a 20-pound tank, you could leave the light burning for a week straight.

While shopping for a propane tank and connecting one to the unit are both more involved tasks than buying and replacing batteries, the sheer volume of light this lantern creates beats out almost every battery-powered electric lantern money can buy. Its top 1,500-lumen setting matches the light output of a 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

Once you have the propane tank connected and the lantern securely placed on a flat surface or hung from a branch, you fire it up, using a simple push-button ignition system. Brightness is controlled with an easy-to-use dial on the front of the unit. And that’s that. This is a durable, reliable lantern that works much the same as devices people have trusted for many generations.

The only real drawback here is that indoor use is ill-advised, not because of the fire hazard, but rather because propane burning equipment should always be operated in open-air environments.

Best lantern for emergencies

lantern

The HeroBeam V3 LED Lantern is water-resistant, rechargeable, and can function as both an omnidirectional lantern and as a flashlight with a focused beam. 

Pros: Versatile light output, water-resistant, rugged and durable, rechargeable 

Cons: Some units malfunction with heavy use

Whether you’re searching the nighttime forest for a lost loved one or jacking up a car as the rain slashes down, lighting up the kitchen so you can prepare a meal during a power outage, or shining light over the shoulder of an EMT treating an injury, if you’re using the HeroBeam V3 LED Lantern, you’re doing it right.

This light can fill a room or outdoor area with a large pool of light or throw a beam out dozens of yards into the darkness. Just to make things easy for you, the handle even flips around to allow for easy carrying in both the lantern and the flashlight configuration.

The HeroBeam V3 lantern is rated as IPX4 water-resistant, which means that even if you need to use this lantern in a downpour or if it gets splashed by waves coming over the side of a boat, it will still work just fine. And thanks to its durable ABS plastic body, it won’t break if you drop it or knock it off a table, either. This is good, because, in emergency situations, things rarely go smoothly.

The newer V3 model is also an upgrade from our previous choice, the V2, and is now rechargeable from any USB port. Easily charge it up from any laptop, phone charger, or car. Alternatively, it can also take AA batteries so you can double the operating duration.

Best solar-powered lantern

lantern

The Survival Frog Solar Pocket Light Lantern offers hours of soft, steady light with each charge, no batteries or fuel required. 

Pros: Charges with sunlight, strobe light option, very light and compact

Cons: Not very bright, depends on sunshine or access to USB port

If you expect a compact solar lantern to be bright enough to illuminate a large room or fill a campsite with light, you’re going to be disappointed. If you count on the diminutive Survival Frog Solar Pocket Light Lantern to fill your tent with light or to illuminate a few square feet around your campfire or picnic table, however, you’re going to be quite pleased.

What this little lantern lacks in hundreds of lumens of output, it more than makes up for in weighing less than a half-pound, in folding down into a package you can tuck into a pocket, and in using nothing more than sunlight to power its internal rechargeable battery. When the sun isn’t shining but a USB port is close at hand, you can also power it up via USB cable.

This Survival Frog lantern can be hung from the roof of a tent or from a branch or perched on a table or on the floor to fill an area with light, or it can be used as a directional flashlight. The pool of lantern light is on the smaller side and the beam fainter than a top-quality LED torch, you should know that going in. You should also know that the lantern has three settings: bright, dim, and flashing (a great option for helping people locate you from afar in the dark).

Best lantern for backup power

goal zero lighthouse 400

The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 offers more than just bright lighting. It can also recharge your other electronic devices, and recharge itself with a hand-crank when in a pinch. 

Pros: Backup battery for recharging electronic devices, hand-crank for quick charging, bright LED light that can be adjusted

Cons: Pricey, solar option requires additional accessory  

The Lighthouse 400 from Goal Zero provides a bright, omnidirectional LED light at 400 lumens. But lighting is just one of its great features. Goal Zero is a company that specializes in portable power, and with its built-in 4,400mAh battery, you can use this lantern to recharge a phone, tablet, or camera. The battery capacity is enough to recharge a smartphone at least twice.

On the front, you’ll find a standard USB port for recharging a device. The lantern is also powered via the battery, which has a run-time between 2.5 to 6 hours, depending on the brightness level and how many LEDs are turned on (there are two). The battery recharges via its built-in USB cable, which takes about five hours, according to the company.

But what if an electrical outlet isn’t available? The lantern has two other recharging options: solar (with an optional Goal Zero solar panel) or a hand crank. Just one minute of cranking produces about 10 minutes of light — ideal for an emergency. Solar charging takes about 7-14 hours. So, even when its battery is completely drained, you have other options to recharge it.

The Lighthouse 400 is easy to store and operate. When not in use, just fold up the legs. In my experience in testing portable batteries, Goal Zero makes some of the better options. I also like the company’s portable solar panels and find them to work well, although it’s an extra premium if you were to add it to the purchase (it would push this lantern beyond the $100 mark). Overall, it’s a great accessory that does more than just lighting, but I do wish the product had a sturdier plastic construction. — Les Shu

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