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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

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

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

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

Here are the best soft coolers:

How we tested

hopperm30

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

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

The best soft cooler overall

yetim30

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

Pros: Sturdy, sleek, airtight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read our full review of the Yeti Hopper M30.

The best soft cooler on a budget

aocooler

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

Pros: Affordable, thick insulation, durable exterior lining

Cons: Cheap zipper, inconsistencies in stitching

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

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

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

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

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

The most versatile soft cooler

OtterboxTrooper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best soft cooler backpack

icemuleprocanvas

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

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

Cons: Insulation could be better

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

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

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

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

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

The best multi-purpose soft cooler

REI Cooler Pack

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

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

Cons: Lacks the capacity of most dedicated soft coolers

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

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

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

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

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

How to shop for a soft cooler

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

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

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

Check out our other cooler buying guides

yeti

The best backpack coolers


The best coolers


The best lunch boxes and lunch bags


The best water bottles

 

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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

Being safe while riding your bike requires more than just putting on a helmet and riding within your means – you’ll also want to guarantee you’re highly visible to those around you with a quality set of bike lights. Even if you don’t plan on riding at dusk or when it’s completely dark, bike lights are one of the most important cycling accessories to have and it’s better to have them and not use them to not have them at all.

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “the time period with the largest frequency of pedalcyclist fatalities overall is 6 pm to 8:59 pm (21%), followed by 9 pm to 11:59 pm (17%).” Although the study was conducted year-round, and it may not have always been entirely dark around 6 pm, those numbers do paint a stark picture. The fact most of those time frames take place in low or no lighting suggests visibility was one of the main factors.

As a resident of New York City, and with my go-to mode of transportation being my bike, there aren’t many days during the spring and summer that I don’t spend at least a little bit of time pedaling around my neighborhood. I ride during all hours of the day, too, be it commuting to work or getting in a ride on the weekends, and I find myself biking in low or no light conditions often.

But just as I’d never leave my apartment without a helmet, I always make sure to pack along a set of bike lights – no matter how long I plan on being out. It doesn’t take an in-depth study to know that bike lights are an indispensable part of any cycling kit and something that can very well save your life.

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

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

Here are the best bike lights:

How we test bike lights

Best Bike Lights Pattern 4x3

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

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

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

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

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

The best bike light overall

cygolite

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best easy install bike light

bike light

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

Pros: Affordable, adjustable beam width, lifetime guarantee

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

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

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

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

The best budget bike light

MalkerLights1

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best bike light for trail riding

niterider

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

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

Cons: Expensive, hard to remove

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

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

The best solar-powered bike light

LuciLight

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

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

Cons: Full solar recharge takes close to 8 hours

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

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

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

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

The best rear bike light

LezyneLight

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

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

Cons: Strap isn’t very durable

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

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

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

The best waterproof bike light

urban bike light

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

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

Cons: USB port cover falls off easily

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

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

How to shop for a bike lights

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

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

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

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

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The 6 best headlamps of 2021, for hiking, camping, or doing housework

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Headlamps offer a hands-free way of hiking or camping at night, and can also be used around the house.
  • The best headlamps should offer long battery life, fit comfortably, and have variable light modes.
  • Our top pick, BioLite’s Headlamp 330, is lightweight and comfortable, and has a sweat-wicking headband.

A headlamp is one of the most important pieces of anyone’s outdoor kit. Unlike an ordinary flashlight, which requires you to physically hold it in your hand, headlamps conveniently affix to your head to illuminate whatever’s in front of you. That could be a hiking trail, a dark campsite, or even under the hood of a car – no matter its use case, that convenience can’t be understated.

But not all headlamps are created equal. Some are designed specifically for, say, trail running, built to be lightweight on a runner’s head, while others are more robust, intended to pump out hundreds of lumens for several hours. And there are plenty more that are just useful enough to get the job done, which are perfect for stashing in a camp tote or in your car’s glove box.

As an avid camper for much of my life, I’ve long respected the value of a proper headlamp – it’s literally a night and day difference navigating a backcountry campsite in the pitch black as opposed to wearing a headlamp. But the same headlamp I use while backpacking differs from what I use while car camping, or what I grab to go biking or running. Needless to say, I’ve worn plenty of headlamps – some good, some awful, and many in between.

Just as my needs vary regarding the types of headlamps I need for the kinds of activities I enjoy, so, too, does the design and innovation native to what’s on the market. To find the best, I decided to field test a variety of headlamps from brands like BioLite and Ledlensder. Below are my six favorites, perfect for everything from camping and cycling to working around the house.

I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a headlamp and what to keep in mind, as well as the testing methodology I used to narrow down which models ultimately made the cut.

Here are the best headlamps:

How we test headlamps

Best Headlamps (amazon; BioLite) 4x3

Each of the headlamps featured in this guide went through a number of tests to determine how well they compared across these four categories: Comfort, brightness, battery life, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which headlamps made this guide:

Comfort: Since you’ll be wearing a headlamp on your head for what could be upwards of an hour or more at a time, it’s vital that the one you choose is comfortable. To test for this, we looked at the materials used in the headbands, how it felt to wear the headlamp for an extended period of time, and if it remained comfortable while doing normal tasks like setting up camp or even just walking around. 

Brightness: The best headlamps should have a number of variable brightness settings and some even allow for custom control over the size of the beam. What makes brightness settings so important is that you don’t always want a headlamp that’s on full blast the entire time you need to use it. Having the ability to toggle between a range of settings is an important feature.

Battery life: A headlamp is no good if its battery only lasts a couple of hours. Sure, you could buy one that takes batteries but you don’t want to be lugging around a bag of batteries everywhere you go with it (this is especially true for backpackers). 

Value: The exact value of a headlamp is dependent on how you intend to use it, but at the very least you should look for one that does well in the three categories above. And while there are decent budget options available (we’ve included one in our guide), buying the cheapest headlamp you find isn’t something we recommend doing. Often, it’s best to spend a little more on a product designed to last. 

The best headlamp overall

biolitelamp

No headlamp I’ve tested has been near as comfortable as the BioLite HeadLamp 330. With a balanced, comfortable fit and a sweat-wicking headband, it’s our favorite headlamp for any outdoor activity. 

Pros: Durable, moisture-wicking headband, balanced with light and battery in front and back, respectively

Cons: Doesn’t take AAA or AA batteries as backup, the lithium-ion battery is not removable (you can’t get a spare battery to take with you and swap out, but a power pack would fix that), 330 lumens is bright, but could be brighter (still, it saves on battery)

Headlamps may seem like lightweight, unrestrictive tools (or toys) but having those extra few ounces bobbing up and down on your forehead for several hours at a time takes its tolls. Not only are some of the heavier and more powerful options a literal drag, but they’re also annoying, even if you don’t realize it. I didn’t.

With the BioLite HeadLamp 330, its 330 lumens of output is a good balance between what most of us need to be able to see in the dark and how long the battery life lasts, which is a respectable 40 hours on the low setting and around 3.5 hours on high. It also makes a good reading light and avoids reflecting off the pages of your book or magazine to blind you.

I took the HeadLamp 330 fishing at night, hiking to camp, hiking just to hike, and generally just stumbling about in the dark behind my father’s woodshop, which is, for all intents and purposes, a treacherous deathtrap of wood and metal scraps. Yes, dearest reader, I take my job, and your safety, extremely seriously. I’m glad to report that, throughout the testing process, there was not a single visit to the emergency room.

In all seriousness, the best thing about the HeadLamp 330 is how well balanced it is. With the light in front and the battery pack in the back, you don’t feel the strain of a light and a battery pack dragging your forehead down.

The most notable spec about this headlamp is that the light and battery are separate, which puts a lot less weight on your forehead, and the light itself. The whole kit, I might add, weighs only 69 grams, or less than 2.5 ounces.

One common problem we see a lot with headlamps is that the joint where the light meets the base loses its threads or just breaks altogether, especially when the batteries are in the same pivoting unit as the light. BioLite does away with any such worry.

Speaking of pivoting, the light pivots up and down between four positions, which is, in my opinion, just enough. There’s also a red light, which makes it a lot easier for your eyes to readjust after you flick it off.

The small on/off button (gray, left of center) can be a little hard to find at first, but you’ll learn to love it because you’ll find that you won’t accidentally activate the epileptic test strobe in your hiking partner’s face, and it’s actually positioned right where you want to be (at least, if you’re adjusting it with your right hand). — Owen Burke

The best budget headlamp

Vitchelo headlamp

The Vitchelo V800 Headlamp is affordable and reliable, ready to illuminate objects both near and far even in adverse conditions.

Pros: Durable and weather-resistant, affordable price, white and red strobe functions

Cons: Easily turns on by accident, no floodlight setting

The Vitchelo V800 headlamp punches well above its weight. For a light that costs only around sixteen bucks, it has attributes you’d expect from a unit valued at double that price, or more. It has three brightness settings for its white light and a strobe feature, which can be valuable during an emergency when you want to be spotted by responders or when you’re assisting with emergency response and need to stay in touch with your team. The headlamp also has a solid and flashing red light.

Thanks to an IPX6 waterproof rating, this headlamp should be impervious to damage from rainfall or even a quick drop in a puddle or stream — just don’t wear it while you scuba dive. And at its low output setting, the white light can shine for up to 120 hours with fresh batteries, so you’ll have ample time to work, search, travel, or conduct other activities.

One reason I would not recommend this for a backpacker or camper is that the buttons are easily pressed by gear tumbling in your bag. A headlamp shining in a pack all day might mean dead batteries when you need it at night. That’s not much an issue when the unit is stashed in a nightstand or in your emergency prep kit, though — just make sure it’s not on when you close the drawer or the bag and you should be good.

The best high-power headlamp

Ledlenser H7R Signature headlamp

The H7R Signature from Ledlenser delivers up to 1200 lumens, has seven light settings, including an SOS function, and can even be controlled with Bluetooth via a smartphone.

Pros: Seven different light settings, including an SOS distress signal that blinks in Morse code, offers up to 1200 lumens, rated IP67 against water and dust, has Bluetooth capability with a compatible smartphone for custom light settings

Cons: Expensive

Just about any Ledlenser headlamp could slot into one of the categories in this guide, but the H7R Signature gets the nod thanks to its incredible light output of up to 1200 lumens. Now, of course, you likely won’t need that much power all the time, but when you do, it’s incredibly handy to have it at your disposal. 

The H7R Signature impresses across the board, too, not just regarding its power. It comes with an easy-to-adjust head strap that stays comfortable, even after prolonged use (though, it may start to feel a little heavy due to a heavy-ish, rear-mounted battery). It’s clear Ledlenser took the time to properly balance it, as well, so even if that battery is a little heavy, it never feels awkward or like your head has to tilt too far to one side.

One of the best features of the H7R is its 7 different light modes, which include Power, Low Power, Boost, Blink, Position, SOS, and Strobe. The SOS function is particularly interesting, as it flashes a strobed distress signal that sends an SOS in Morse Code when activated. Many of the other light modes, like Position and Strobe, are also designed to alert people of your position.

The H7R features a rechargeable internal battery, so you won’t have to worry about lugging any batteries along with it, and it’s also rated IP67 against dust and water. Bluetooth capability also allows the headlamp to be controlled and customized via a compatible smartphone.

Perhaps its lone downside, however, is the fact it costs $175. Though this isn’t a dealbreaker, it is a lot to spend on a headlamp. The H7R is designed to last for several years (if not upwards of a decade), so the investment is a sound one, especially if you’ll be using it often.

The best rechargeable headlamp

BioLite_HeadLamp750_Front

The Headlamp 750 from BioLite is as good as rechargeable headlamps get, offering up to 750 lumens of output, a fit that stays comfortable for hours, and a Run Forever mode that lets it operate as you charge it on-the-go.

Pros: Comfortable headband, 8 different light modes that can all be individually dimmed, Run Forever mode lets you charge it while it operates, low profile design

Cons: Expensive

The BioLite name is synonymous with quality portable lighting and its new Headlamp 750 continues that tradition in an impressive way. Much like our best overall pick, the Headlamp 330, the 750 takes traditional headlamp tech and adds more to it than you ever thought you needed. 

Want to charge it while you’re using it on-the-go? The 750 can do it. How about 8 different light modes, each with the ability to dim? It has that, too. The 750’s strength is in its versatility, and it’s the kind of headlamp that you’d want to bring with you on weekend camping trips, multi-day backpacking treks, the occasional nighttime hike, or literally anything — it works as well for getting under the sink or working on your car, too. 

As mentioned, the 750 offers up to 8 different light modes to choose from: Red flood, white spot, white flood, spot and flood, white strobe, 30-second burst, rear red flood, and rear red strobe. Not only will you be able to have complete control over what the headlamp illuminates and how it illuminates it, but you’ll also be visible to whoever’s around you. 

Then there’s its Run Forever feature that allows you to plug in a portable power bank to keep the headlamp charged even while it’s running. Though the idea of lugging around a power bank only to have it hanging off the back of your head doesn’t sound comfortable, sticking it into a backpack or opting for a lightweight battery pack is recommended. 

It’s also extremely comfortable. BioLite’s 3D SlimFit construction means the headlamp’s components are built into the band itself, reducing what can unnecessarily snag (and making it incredibly low profile in the process). The power unit built into the back of the headlamp also distributes its weight evenly to avoid it bobbing up and down on your head — something many headlamps have a hard time actually doing but the 750 seemed to do it well during our tests.

At $100, it’s certainly not a cheap headlamp but if it holds up as well as it did during our time with it, you likely won’t be spending much more on a headlamp for quite some time. It’s highly durable, comfortable wear, and packed with useful features for just about any use case. 

The best headlamp for cycling

Hleane Rechargeable LED Zoomable Headlamp

Wearing the Hleane LED Zoomable Headlamp is like strapping a headlight to your head with its maximum brightness setting of 1800 lumens.

Pros: Amazingly bright light, great price point, long operating life

Cons: Only two output settings and it’s rather heavy

The top setting of the GRDE Zoomable headlamp is so bright you won’t even use it in many situations. But when you’re on a bike at night and contending for space with cars and trucks, or while you’re pedaling your way down a mountain trail, you’ll love the awesome output power of this lamp. The 1800-lumen beam fully illuminates the trail or road far ahead of you, and it’ll be almost impossible for an oncoming motorist to miss seeing you.

This headlamp is heavier than I’d recommend for use by a climber or distance trekker but for the cyclist or for use on a shorter hike where gear weight isn’t much of an issue, it’s a great choice.

Its beam can be focused and adjusted to best suit the conditions ahead of you, though the limited brightness settings — which are high or low — are a drawback. This is not the light to strap on as you hide out in a hunting blind hoping to stay unnoticed by attentive wildlife, for example.

The GRDE headlamp can be operated using regular batteries but is also plug-in rechargeable, and can be juiced back up using a wall’s AC outlet, a car plug adapter, or a USB cable. It is rated to last for up to 100,000 hours of operating life.

The best headlamp for home projects

COAST_FL75

The Coast FL75 Focusing headlamp can throw 405 lumens of brightness but best of all, you can use its focusing ring to narrow or widen the beam. 

Pros: Bright and crisp light quality, easy to change the shape of the beam, clips for securing band to hat or helmet, extremely long beam throw

Cons: Limited brightness settings, short battery life, no strobe option

I own and often use a Coast FL75 and it’s my first choice for any project around the house I work on after dark — like cleaning the grill in the evening, checking on my scarecrow sprinkle set up, or adding some extra air to the tires of my bike.

Like all Coast lights, this headlamp creates a remarkably clear, crisp white light that makes it easy to see what you’re doing. It’s a great choice for illuminating anything that’s close at hand, though most people will likely be more interested in its long-distance throw capacity.

If you need to see objects or terrain more than 400 feet in front of you in a total darkness scenario, the Coast FL75 headlamp is a good choice. In fact, its beam is rated to stretch out 459 feet at its top 405-lumen output. Even the lowest setting of this light is still bright, rated at 53 lumens.

Here’s the thing: That’s a drawback, not an asset. This light’s low setting is far too bright for many uses, such as viewing a map or reading at night when you want to preserve your night vision and avoid disturbing others (or attracting attention to yourself). The Coast FL75 only has three output settings and they could reasonably be called Pretty Bright, Really Bright, and Whoa OK That’s Super Bright.

If you only plan to use a headlamp as you work, during power outages, or as you survey the scene of an accident as a first responder, then you probably don’t have the need for a dim setting but you do have the need for bright, crisp light. This one certainly offers that.

And, if you want something a little beefier, consider the FL85, with 615 Lumens and a 183-meter beam.

How to shop for a headlamp

First and foremost, a headlamp has to be bright enough for the task at hand. But the type of beam a light creates is every bit as important as its sheer lumen output. While the tendency is often to check the lumen rating of a headlamp and treat that like the most important metric for judging a headlamp, the type of beam is a better deciding factor than the intensity of the light alone. For example:

  • A cyclist needs a powerful lamp that throws a beam dozens of yards ahead, letting him or her see plenty of the roadway or trail.
  • Mechanic benefit from a wider beam pattern that illuminates a broad swath of the area close at hand.
  • If you’re camping, consider a headlamp with variable light settings, a red light option, and one that offers long battery life (especially for backpackers). 

You also have to consider features such as strobe effects, a red light option, battery life, and weight. The way those and other secondary attributes assist you in your hobbies or work should help you choose the headlamp best fit for you from our guide. 

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The 7 best compression socks of 2021 for runners, seniors, and anyone looking to improve circulation

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Compression socks help speed muscle recovery and potentially improve athletic performance.
  • They also improve blood flow for venous or lymphatic issues for pregnant women or the elderly.
  • Our top pick, CEP’s Progressive+ Compression Socks, are incredibly comfortable and won’t sag throughout the day.

Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky but science actually backs up their biggest claimed benefit: Improving your circulation.

“Compression socks help the vascular system move blood and other fluids, which can help manage swelling and inflammation,” Jenelle Deatherage, a physical therapist at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, told Insider.

At their foundation, compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also improves the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulates bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.

Deatherage added that several categories of people may benefit from wearing compression socks, including athletes who could look to enhance their workouts. This is especially true for runners.

“There’s not great research on performance, which is what a lot of patients look for, but the good news is that there is some research that shows [compression socks] might help with muscle fatigue and reduce soreness if you wear them during a workout,” she explained.

Because of those benefits, compression socks have become quite popular recently – and that popularity brought with it a surplus of options. To help narrow down what’s available, we tested dozens of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into who Detherage says may benefit most from compression socks, tips on how to shop for them, and the best methods for how to use and wear them.

Here are the best compression socks:

How we test compression socks

The compression socks featured in this guide each went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Fit, function, durability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into how we tested each pair of compression socks and how it influenced which made this guide:

Fit: A compression sock is far more able to perform its primary function if it fits the wearer properly, both in terms of the actual size as well as how well it stays fitted throughout the day. To test for this, we judged how true-to-size the socks were and also looked at if they avoided sagging when worn for anywhere multiple hours in a row to a full day. 

Function: Most compression socks feature a compression rating that indicates how tight (or loose) they are, and their function is tied entirely to these ratings. A wearer’s needs may fluctuate wildly (and are certainly different from person-to-person), so to test this, we looked at how many size options and ratings each brand offered and if they catered to a wide range of needs. 

Durability: Compression socks aren’t often cheap per single pair, so it’s important that they’ll last – and for multiple months, at that. This meant stress testing the socks in environments they wouldn’t typically be worn to see how well they held up. If some faltered by sagging easily or tearing, then we knew they’d likely break down far quicker in the long run than we’d like.

Value: Testing the value of a compression sock takes more than just looking at its sticker price. Rather, true value is a combination of the above three categories plus how much it costs. We often think it’s better to spend more on a quality product that lasts as opposed to spending less more often. 

The best compression socks overall

compression socks

Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.

Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won’t sag over the course of the day

Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag. 

The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman competitor, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.

Made of polyamide and nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), CEP’s socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.

The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks also feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens. 

These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout. 

The best budget compression socks

compression socks

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.

Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit

Cons: Available in just two sizes

Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.

The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.

The best compression socks for circulation

sockwell

If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.

Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long

Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes

For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.

The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.

What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).

These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.

The best compression socks for post-workout

compression socks 1

After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.

Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors

Cons: Might not be tight enough for everyone’s needs, long drying time

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.

The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink. 

The best compression socks for runners

Aspire Socks

Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.

Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture

Cons: Can be difficult to put on

Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort. 

Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover. 

The best compression socks for standing all-day

compression socks

If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.

Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people

The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each is made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool.

But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).

The Circulator socks only come in two sizes. but there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds. 

The best patterned compression socks

Vim Vigr socks

Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.

Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women

Cons: Can get expensive

First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.

I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHg depending on the style.

Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.

What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the color block options, as well as a Rugby Stripe pattern for men.

Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.

Who should wear compression socks?

Anyone can wear compression socks but they do figure to benefit some groups more than others. This predominantly includes athletes, pregnant women, and elderly people, though anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time at work should consider them as well.

Deatherage suggested that if you work out in the morning before sitting at a desk or standing all day, where your calves and ankles stay at the bottom of the gravity chain, it’s smart to wear compression socks post-workout. This helps with swelling and gets blood back to the heart.

Conversely, if you sit all day and prefer to work out at night, wearing compression socks while exercising after work may allow for less fatigue in the lower legs and can help enhance circulation.

Athletes

Concerning the exact impact of compression socks on athletes, Deatherage told Insider that their effectiveness is still somewhat undecided. There is some research that confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.

A recently-published analysis in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show that wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and, after the workout, less sore.

Even if it’s just a placebo effect, those training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and after for recovery may help make training easier.

“When looking at the cost-benefit ratio and considering what research is out there, it’s not a bad idea,” Deatherage said. “And it’s an easy thing to do.”

Pregnant women

Besides runners, Deatherage says pregnant women may benefit from compression socks, as they’re more prone to swelling. Venous issues are also particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their bodies. 

Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.

Seniors

Elderly people with deep vein thrombosis, those who just had surgery on their legs, or anyone trying to minimize varicose veins or blood clot concerns, might also benefit from compression socks. The catch is here is that these more serious vascular issues, including varicose veins, would benefit more from medical grade compression socks, Deatherage added, which requires a doctor prescription and are often more expensive.

How to shop for compression socks

If you’re simply looking for workout recovery or want relief from more minor issues of swelling or soreness, say on long flights or during long work shifts on your feet (like nurses), you may see advantages from more moderate compression socks, Deatherage said. This includes socks with ratings of about 10-20mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury (a measurement of pressure).

When shopping around for compression socks, Deatherage said that besides a sock’s mmHg rating, the most important thing to look for is comfort, saying that “compression socks only work if you wear them.”

Look for a pair in which the material feels comfortable against your skin, and a set that feels snug but not too tight — you don’t want to restrict your movement. If you can find a pair that offers customization for your size, that’s even better.

Compression sock ratings

As noted above, the compression in the stockings is measured in mm Hg. Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.

None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.

Fabrics used

Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.

How best to use compression socks

There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well: 

  • Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
  • Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
  • Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
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15 of the best campsites in California, whether you want easy car camping or to hit backcountry trails

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Yosemite National Park
  • From the Sierra Nevada mountains to the beaches, California is loaded with stunning landscapes.
  • Pitching a tent at a unique campsite is one of the best ways to enjoy the state’s outdoor offerings.
  • We rounded up the best California campsites, whether you want easy car camping or backcountry fun.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I’ve lived in northern California for the last eight years, and hands down, my favorite aspect of living here is access to outdoor recreation. From the Sierra Nevada mountains where I live to the deserts of Southern California to the coastal beaches along the Oregon border, California is loaded with stunning outdoor landscapes. And what’s the best way to immerse yourself in those unique destinations? By camping, of course.

There’s a lot of variety between the best campsites in California, but what they all have in common is that you won’t find sites like these anywhere else. And you don’t have to be a wilderness expert to find the perfect place to pitch your tent: many of California’s best campsites have amenities like hot showers, cell service and Wi-Fi, and even coffee shops and restaurants.

The list below covers some of the best public campsites in California bound to create happy campers, whether you want to car camp (drive right to your campsite) or backpack (carry everything on foot into a more remote campsite.) Remember that reservations may be required, and you may or may not be allowed to make campfires based on wildfire and drought conditions.

Browse all of the best campsites in California below, or jump to a specific area here:

Here are the best campsites in California, sorted by price from low to high.

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove Campground

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove Campground
Pitching a tent against dramatic rock formations at the Indian Cove campground.

Book the Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove Campground

For an otherworldly, desert experience, camp in Joshua Tree National Park for a long weekend. The national park has several campgrounds, and while the Jumbo Rocks Campground is the closest to the park’s most popular hikes, I prefer pitching a tent against the dramatic rock formations at the Indian Cove campground.

Locations 75 to 95 are the primo spots. There’s no running water in any of Joshua Tree’s campgrounds, so bring in plenty before you park – you are in the desert, after all.

Reds Meadow Campground

Reds Meadow waterfall
From this campground, you can walk to the trailheads for Devil’s Postpile, rainbow falls, hot springs, and more.

View Reds Meadow Campground

Mammoth Lakes is an undoubtedly awesome city for summer fun, filled with epic hiking trails through the eastern sierra, breweries and distilleries, and the year-round Mammoth Mountain resort. If you can get to town early, try to snag a spot at Reds Meadow Campground, which doesn’t take reservations. But because it’s about 20 minutes outside of the city limits, it tends to not get as crowded as downtown campgrounds (though it still gets crowded.)

Red’s Meadow has a campground lake, a general store and cafe within walking distance, indoor bathrooms and showers, and best of all, access to amazing hikes. Campers can walk to the trailheads for Devil’s Postpile, rainbow falls, hot springs, and much more. 

Yosemite National Park Pines Campgrounds

Yosemite National Park Pines Campgrounds
Nothing will make you feel more in awe than standing under a 1,000-year-old sequoia or looking up at El Capitan.

Book the Yosemite National Park Pines Campgrounds

Yes, Yosemite gets crowded: but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. and nothing will make you feel more in awe of our amazing planet than standing under a 1,000-year-old sequoia tree or straining your neck to look up at the rocky cliff of world-famous El Capitan. Yosemite has more than a dozen campgrounds, but the most convenient are the three campgrounds on the west end of the Yosemite Valley: North Pines Campground, Lower Pines Campground, and Upper Pines Campground (they’re all in the same area.)  Lower Pines sites probably have the best views, but they’re all winners. 

All sites have a picnic table and fire pit, plus potable water and clean restrooms, and hot showers. But the best part is the location: many sites have views of Half Dome, and you can walk to the Mist Trail and stops for the free Yosemite Valley shuttle, which stops at all the Yosemite Valley’s best sites and trailheads.

Lassen National Park Manzanita Lake Campground

Manzanita Lake Area in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Ditch the crowds at this lesser-visited campsite.

Book the Lassen National Park Manzanita Lake Campground

Love national parks but hate the crowds? Then head north to Lassen National Park, one of the country’s least-visited national parks. That makes it one of the best campgrounds in California if you want to snag a lakefront campground at the last minute.

While reservations are usually the best bet, the park’s Manzanita Lake Campground is walk-in only from early October to the park’s closing. Get there early (before 9 a.m.) to snag spot at the southern end of the campground for the best views of 10,463-foot-high Lassen Peak.

Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park
Some scenes from the “Jurassic Park” movies were filmed at this spot.

Book the Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park

One of the coolest places to camp in California (both literally and figuratively) is Prairie Creek State Redwoods State Park. There are more than two dozen trails in the park, including the famous “Fern Canyon” trail, where scenes from the “Jurassic Park” movies were filmed. Through the park and its campsites are hundreds of coastal redwoods – the tallest trees on earth. 

I prefer sleeping in the shade and seclusion of the redwood trees at the park’s Elk Prairie Campground, but guests who prefer coastal views will like the sites built on the dunes at the park’s Gold Bluffs campground, which look out over a stunning stretch of Pacific coastline.

Limekiln State Park

Limekiln Creek and Redwood Grove, Big Sur, California
Choose from the Coast campground or the Redwood camp. They both have restrooms and hot showers.

Book the Limekiln State Park

Big Sur is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the United States, but the hotels in towns to the north like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey get very, very busy. That’s why I usually recommend campers head south instead to Limekiln State Park.

Campers can pitch their tent in the Coast campground or the Redwood camp, each with running water, restrooms, and hot showers. It’s an easy drive north to the popular parks in Big Sur, and on your way home, you can swing by Esalen Hot Springs, where you can reserve a sunset soak in their oceanview hot springs.

Morro Bay State Park

Morro Bay State Park
Campers here have ocean views to the west and access to paddling, boating, and kayaking to the east.

Book the Morro Bay State Park

One of central California’s most recognizable features is Morro Rock, a monolith rising from the surf near the cool surfer town of San Luis Obispo. While most private campsites are on the inland side of Morro Bay, Morro Bay State Park is on the ocean side, giving campers ocean views to the west and access to paddling, boating, and kayaking on Morro Bay to the east.

Campgrounds have all the amenities you’d expect, but you can also walk to the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History, Morro Rock Natural Preserve, and a waterfront cafe in case you get sick or roasting hot dogs.

San Elijo State Beach Campground

San Elijo State Beach Campground
Sleep perched on a bluff above the sand at this California beach campsite.

Book the San Elijo State Beach Campground

The campground at San Elijo State Beach Campground is beach camping at its finest. Campsites are perched on a bluff above the sand to make sure you have epic sunset views, but it’s just a few stairs to get down to the shoreline when it’s time to surf or go for a swim.

Encinitas is one of the coolest surf towns in California, and San Elijo Beach is squarely in the center of it all. Sites 1 through 39 are closest to the beach.

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
Big Bear is just a short drive from LA, making it easily accessible for city dwellers.

Book the Big Bear Lake

Big Bear is the closest mountain town to Los Angeles and camping in its hills is one of the best ways to beat the heat and relax in cooler climates for a long weekend. One of the best campsites in California is the Serrano Campground on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.

Wake up in the morning and grab a coffee from the marina store before swimming out to one of the lake’s boulder piles, perfect for cliff jumping.

Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park
In terms of pure beauty, it’s tough to beat Lower Eagle Point at Lake Tahoe.

Book the Emerald Bay State Park

Lake Tahoe is just as gorgeous as any national park on the West Coast, and fortunately, there are more than a dozen campgrounds around the lake’s 72 miles of shoreline. But in terms of pure beauty, it’s hard to find a campground more epic than Lower Eagle Point.

Perched on a peninsula overlooking Emerald Bay, it’s ideal if your idea of the perfect day is lazing away the hours at a sandy alpine beach with turquoise-blue waters. And you’ll be near plenty of great restaurants and breweries in the town of South Lake Tahoe.

Pianetta Ranch & Winery Camp

Pianetta Ranch and Winery
You’ll be right in the middle of a working ranch and winery at this campsite.

Book the Pianetta Ranch & Winery Camp

You don’t have to be an avid hiker to love camping, as evidenced by Pianetta Ranch & Winery Camp. Tucked under a large oak tree are a few sites for tent camping, square in the middle of a working ranch and winery.

Guests can cruise around the more than 300 wineries in Paso Robles, then return to camp for an afternoon wine-tasting and campfire under the stars.

The Presidio

Rob Hill Campground at the Presidio
This is the only campsite in California that’s actually in San Francisco.

Book The Presidio

If you care more about gourmet cuisine, sightseeing, and sea lions than you breaking in your hiking boots, book the only campsite in California actually in San Francisco: the Rob Hill Campground at the Presidio. Once a military complex, the Presidio is now a sprawling park with nature walks, scenic overlooks, beaches, museums, and more.

Campers get a fire ring, indoor bathrooms, bike racks, and BBQ grills. Unfortunately, there are no showers, so plan to jump in the ocean at Baker’s Beach when you need to cool off. 

The best backcountry campsites in California

Sometimes, the best thing about camping isn’t camping itself – it’s getting to wake up in beautiful and remote destinations miles away from traffic, people, and the stress of civilization. 

These California campsites below aren’t accessible by car. Instead, you’ll need to hike your way in, carrying everything you need on your back, including your food, tent and sleeping bag, and water or water filter. You’ll need to have basic backcountry knowledge, some extra first-aid and emergency skills, and the fitness for hiking long distances with an additional 30 pounds on your back. Backcountry campsites have no amenities, no bathrooms, no potable water – if you didn’t carry it in, it isn’t there. 

But if you’re ready to head into the backcountry, these are three of the most exceptional California campsites tucked away in the mountains across the state:

Cathedral Lakes

Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite National Park
The high-altitude weather makes for a pleasant stay here even in the middle of July and August.

Book the Cathedral Lakes

Another campsite in Yosemite? You bet – Tuolumne (rhymes with “follow me”) Meadows is high above the Yosemite Valley on the park’s eastern side. Though it’s snow-covered and inaccessible in winter, it’s simply stunning in the summer, and the high-altitude weather makes it far more pleasant for hiking in the middle of July and August. If it’s your first backpacking trip, head to Cathedral Lakes, which is also part of the beautiful John Muir Trail.

You’ll be able to camp near the shore of the still, bright-blue lakes that perfectly reflect the nearby giant rock formations and mountain peaks. You can go to Lower or Upper Cathedral Lake; I recommend Upper for fewer crowds (though campsites at Lower Cathedral Lake are closer to the water.) It’s about a 3.5-mile trek to the upper lake and gains only around 1,000 feet, so it’s a good route for beginner backcountry campers.

Evolution Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

Evolution Lake in Kings Canyon National Park
This lush valley surrounded by towering Sierra peaks is a jaw-dropping place to sleep.

Book the Evolution Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park sits squarely in the middle of the Sierras, north of Sequoia National Park and south of Yosemite. The Evolution Valley is the most beautiful place to camp in the park, but it’s a trek – it’s nearly 16 miles from the nearest trailhead (the Florence Lake Trailhead.)

You’ll need to be very bear aware, and be sure to bring extra layers for the evening as forest fires are forbidden year-round. But if you put in the work to get there, you’ll find campsites along a lake in a verdant valley surrounded by towering Sierra peaks – an alpine paradise for sure. The trailhead is outside the park, so you’ll need a Sierra National Forest Backcountry Permit; it’ll be honored once you’ve hiked into the park boundary.

The Lost Coast

Little Black Sands Beach at King Range Lost Coast
You can camp anywhere along this coastal trail, making it a more secluded option.

Book The Lost Coast

There aren’t too many places in the country where you can hike along the coast the whole time and still be in undeveloped wilderness. Fortunately, you’ll find that in northern California in an area appropriately called “The Lost Coast.” As you hike, the mist and fog from the ocean crash up against steep mountain peaks, creating an otherworldly (if sometimes damp) experience. You can camp anywhere along the trail, so consult the map to decide where you want to base yourself.

Spanish Flat and Shipman Creek are two of the most beautiful areas along the trail. If you start at the Black Sands Beach trailhead, you can easily do a quick overnight trip to camp near Shipman Creek.

FAQs

What should I pack on a camping trip?

A solid camping checklist is imperative for a good camping trip. It’s always best to overprepare since many campsites are remote and you can’t just run down to the local store to pick up items you forget.  Not to worry, start here for our essential camping packing list

And if you’re not quite ready to invest in buying all your own gear, consider renting camping gear from companies like Arrive Outdoors.

What should I look for in a campsite?

Always consider what kind of camping you want to do and who you’ll be camping with. If you’re going with kids, you may want a campsite full of amenities, whether that’s a pool or just hot showers. 

If you’re a more seasoned camper and want to explore more remote areas, consider booking dispersed camping sites. They’re available for free on most Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or United States Forest Service (USFS) land.

For those who want to bring their dog along, check out our tips for camping with dogs, plus the best pet-friendly campsites

Where can I find a last-minute camping reservation?

Due to increased demand, many campgrounds are booking up fast, especially for summer weekends. Try to book a campsite as far in advance as you can.

However, if you’re seeking last-minute reservations, consider alternative sites to book camping reservations that go beyond the usual federal campgrounds, such as Airbnb campsites or Tentrr, which connects private landowners with campers for more secluded stays.

More camping vacation ideas

best campsites in the us - Letchworth State Park
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The 5 best kids winter coats in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Kids lose body heat rapidly in cold temperatures.
  • A well-designed kids winter coat can preserve a child’s core warmth.
  • The best winter coats for kids keep them warm and are comfortable for outdoor play.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, CPST-I, FAAP, professor of pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University.

The human body loses heat rapidly in cold temperatures, a process that begins when the ambient temperature falls below 68 degrees. This type of heat reduction accounts for about 65% of total warmth lost, and because children are smaller than adults, they are even more susceptible to over-cooling. The right winter coat can maintain a core temperature. For kids, the best winter coat also needs to be versatile enough to wear from recess to snowball fights.

To narrow down our selections for the best winter coats for kids, we consulted with two outdoor experts – Linda McGurk, the author of “No Such Thing As Bad Weather” and 1000 Hours Outside founder Ginny Yurich – and pediatrician Alisa Baer. Then we researched coats to see which ranked highest according to our selection criteria at the end of this guide. The kids winter coats featured here will help your child maintain core warmth and are available in many sizes and colors to accommodate plenty of age groups and kids’ preferences.

Here are the best kids’ winter coats in 2021

The best kids winter coat overall

columbia whirlibird ii coat for kids

With a detachable shell and liner, the Columbia Whirlibird II Interchange Jacket is a three-in-one coat so your child will be ready for both the coldest and mildest of winter days.

Pros:3-in-1 design accommodates varying temperatures, breathable waterproof exterior, multiple pockets and adjustment points, extendable sleeves

Cons: Pricey

Columbia’s children’s apparel offers the same high level of quality as the brand’s gear designed for adults. The Whirlibird II Interchange Jacket is made of a waterproof, wind-breaking shell and an insulated inner jacket. The two pieces are attached with zippers and be worn together or alone. Together, they provide enough warmth for playing in the snow, going on long walks, and for making the trip to and from school on cold wintry days.

On its own, the coast’s shell is great for milder, wet days. The insulated inner jacket looks and functions just like a puffer coat and is warm enough on its own for days when the temperatures are cool but not frigid.

The inner jacket’s warmth is provided by a synthetic fill and also through Columbia’s patented Omni-Heat Reflective system, which consists of a pattern of metallic dots that reflect radiated heat back toward the body. The outer jacket is waterproof but still breathable and releases excess heat and moisture that builds up from sweat.

With Columbia’s Outgrown system, parents can snip a few seams to extend the length of the sleeves. This can help the coat last through growth spurts and even multiple seasons.

Shop all kids winter coats and gear from Columbia and Amazon

The best kids winter coat on a budget

Amazon

The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer is a basic winter coat that keeps kids warm but an extra shell is needed for waterproofing.

Pros: Packs down small, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Occasional sizing issues, outer shell for waterproofing not included

Most kids grow so fast that they will only get a single season out of a piece of clothing. But when it comes to winter coats, you still need a jacket that will keep your child warm regardless of price. Enter the super affordable Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer.

The coat has a polyester down-alternative fill insulation and a smooth nylon lining to provide warmth and comfort. But, while this puffer jacket will keep your child warm on milder days when layered over a T-shirt or sweater, it’s necessary to add a waterproof shell to keep a child warm and dry in cold, wet weather. The coat’s elasticized cuffs and hood also add to the jacket’s warmth preservation.

When not in use, the coat packs down into an included stuff sack. The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Packable Puffer comes in multiple colors, too.

Shop all kids’ winter coats from Amazon Essentials

The best fleece-lined coat

north face mossbud reversible swirl jacket

The North Face Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket has an extra soft lining to keep kids warm and comfortable.

Pros: Reversible design, soft and warm fleece lining, exterior repels water

Cons: Sizing sometimes runs small

Parents will love the super-soft lining of The North Face Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket as much as their kids inevitably do because this soft, cuddly coat is one that kids will love to wear. The high pile fleece and insulated fill provide plenty of warmth, while the exterior repels light rain and snow and reduces wind chill.

Even the exterior of the coat is soft and comfortable, since it’s designed to be worn in reverse, too. That reversible design gives kids more flexibility fashion-wise, while both materials — the fleece and the water-resistant taffeta — play a role in performance.

And like any good kids garment should be, the Mossbud Swirl Reversible Jacket is machine washable. Just be sure to note the sizing with care to ensure a proper fit.

Shop all The North Face kids winter coats at Amazon and The North Face

The best ski jacket

Patagonia

While Patagonia Snowshot Jacket was designed for use on the slopes, it’s a versatile jacket for outdoor play, family outings, and walks to school.

Pros: Excellent insulation, water-resistant shell, removable hood, ski pass pockets

Cons: Expensive

The ski pass pocket built into the sleeve of the Patagonia Snowshot Jacket is a tipoff as to the design of this winter coat. It was made for use by kids carving their way down snowy slopes. As such, it can handle the cold that comes with everyday winter wear extremely well, and without that bulky puffy parka fit that so many ski coats have.

The Snowshot has a durable water-repellent shell that features taped seams for excellent wind-resistance. The inner layer is soft thanks to a polyester plain-weave lining and warm 150 gram down alternative fill. A drop tail hem offers extra protection against wind and precipitation, while the hood can be cinched down tight around the face when the weather is frigid or it can be removed entirely for milder days.

While the Patagonia Snowshot is a pricey jacket, it might last for more than one season. The sleeves have a “grow-fit” feature that allows them to be extended (or retracted) by as much as 2 inches.

Shop all kids snow gear from Patagonia

The best winter coat for babies

columbia tiny bear bunting

Columbia’s Tiny Bear II Bunting covers infants head to toe and, in most cases, is safe for the car seat.

Pros: Warm, soft materials; perfect for layering; cute animal-themed hood; car seat-safe when sized appropriately

Cons: No water resistance, not heavy enough for extended snow play

While infants won’t start a snowball fight, they do need to stay warm when heading out the door. The Columbia Tiny Bear II Bunting is more than just a coat — its built-in gloves, hat, and boots make it quick and simple to get baby dressed to go outdoors. I used a previous version of this bunting on my youngest before he began to walk and I loved that I could keep him warm without needing to put snow boots on him.

Most bulky winter coats are not safe in a car seat, but Columbia’s fleece jackets and buntings are thin and snug enough that most parents will find they pass the car seat fit test. The Tiny Bear is made from a thin fleece that, when sized appropriately, is car-seat-friendly. Parents should ensure the bunting fits snugly and perform the chalk test, which is explained at the end of this guide. 

The attached pants, hood, and fold-over booties, and gloves make the bunting warmer than just a thin fleece jacket alone. While the Tiny Bear will keep the baby warm while traveling and running errands, parents in colder climates will want to pair it with a heavier jacket if spending extended time in the cold. It’s warm enough for walking from the car into the grocery store, for example, but not for spending an hour hunting for the perfect Christmas tree in the snow. The thin material, however, makes it great for layering — you don’t need to remove the bunting before adding a bulky winter coat. The bunting was the coat my toddler wore most often last winter. I simply added a puffy jacket for winter walks and outdoor activities.

Shop all kids winter coats and gear from Columbia

How to choose a winter coat for kids

GettyImages 88748722

A child’s smaller body loses heat faster than adults. But, on the flip side, a child that’s actively playing in the snow may generate more body heat and be warmer than an adult who’s simply supervising the fun. So, how do parents determine how many layers a child needs to stay warm? What should parents look for when choosing a coat for kids? When shopping for a child’s winter coat, consider the materials, design, warmth, waterproofing, layers, and fit.

Materials: A coat’s materials play a big role in how much heat is retained. The ideal material is warm, yet makes a coat that isn’t too bulky to play in. McGurk prefers synthetic down alternatives that hold heat well, even when wet. Although down holds heat well, it loses the ability to hold heat when it’s wet. What a coat is not made from is also important. McGurk recommends coats with water-repellant coatings that do not contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs). PFCs do not break down in the environment, and lab animals exposed to large doses experienced adverse effects, according to a CDC fact sheet.

Design: The design of the coat is also essential to consider. Winter coats for children tend to fall in one of these categories:

  • A puffy coat is light and easy to play in, but it needs to be paired with an outer shell, such as a rain jacket, in order to be waterproof. An outer shell will also protect the coat from tearing, which is common with puffy coats.
  • Three-in-one coats use a warm inner layer, often made of fleece or polyester, and a waterproof outer layer. Both layers can be worn at once for winter play, while the inner jacket works well for cool fall days and the outer jacket can be worn without the inner layer as a raincoat or windbreaker.
  • Other winter coats are designed as a single garment consisting of both a waterproof outer layer and insulation for warmth. These coats are less versatile than the three-in-ones but may be easier to zip since the multiple zippers of three-in-ones can confuse younger children.

Warmth and waterproofing: Always consider the climate the coat will be worn in. For wet, cold winters, McGurk says a waterproof, windproof coat is a must. The colder the climate is, the more insulation parents will want to look for. For all climates, a coat that’s breathable will help keep active kids from overheating.

Layers: Coats for outdoor play should have enough room for layers underneath. In the coldest temperatures, winter coats work best with layers. For babies and younger children who are unable or unlikely to tell you if they are too warm or hot, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using one more layer than an adult would be comfortable in. Yurich recommends using merino wool as a base layer. This material is warm, but wicks away sweat, she says.

Fit: Parents should also consider how a coat fits. A well-fitting coat will allow a child to move around and play. If the sleeves are creep up on the wrists, the coat is too small, McGurk says. If the sleeves are cover the hands, the coat is too big. Some coats have a clever extend-to-size feature, which allows you to snip some stitching to make the sleeves longer. Both McGurk and Yurich said they tend to go up one size to get two or more seasons out of a coat as well as to allow enough room for layers underneath. Sizing up can also help make the cost of a coat more reasonable.

Winter Coats and car seat safety

Parents should never size up when looking for a coat that’s safe to wear in a car seat. A large, thick coat can create as many as 3 to 4 inches of extra slack in the car seat straps. This increases the chances of injury in a car crash, explains Alisa Baer, cofounder of car seat safety advocacy organization The Car Seat Lady and a nationally certified child passenger safety instructor. The force of a car crash takes all the extra puff out of a coat. When that happens, the car seat straps or seat belt that once looked snug no longer fit properly and the child may move more in an accident or even slip out of the restraints.

To determine if a coat is safe for a car seat harness, use Baer’s Chalk Test (you can follow along with this video). With the child wearing the coat, buckle them into the seat and properly tighten the straps. Use a piece of chalk and mark where the tail strap — the strap that you pull to tighten the harness — comes out of the seat. Then remove the coat and buckle the child, tightening only to the chalk line. If you can pinch the straps or fit more than one finger underneath, then the coat is too bulky and should not be worn in the car seat.

Older children and even adults are also safest without buckling a seat belt over a bulky coat, Baer says. In the front seat, a belt tensioner locks in a crash, pulling the belt tight against the body. That removes the tension from the strap. However, most back seats do not have a belt tensioner, so coats will introduce extra slack. Even with a belt tensioner, all seat belts will work better without an overly large coat, Baer says.

Of course, cold is dangerous to a child as well, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says that a thin, snug-fitting coat such as a fleece jacket can be both safe in a crash and in the cold. A thin jacket along with a hat and gloves can keep a child warm when walking from the car to a building. Layering with a long-sleeve onesie and fleece leggings also helps, Baer says. Bring a warm winter coat to slip on over the fleece jacket for outdoor play or in the event the car breaks down.

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The 8 best places to buy workout clothes for women

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Wearing the right workout clothing helps keep you cool, comfortable, and prevents chafing.
  • The best apparel should use performance materials, feature a smart design, and have a versatile style.
  • We recommend Nike‘s activewear for women overall, as it’s the best blend of price, performance, and variety.
Best activewear for women 4x3

Even though all of us own workout clothes, it’s rare to come across a top or shorts that you truly love. But comfortable, well-fitting women’s workout clothes can make or break your motivation to go for a run, hit the gym, even just take your dog for a walk. And if that workout clothing is flattering and makes you feel good, well, that’s just the holy grail.

Well-designed workout clothes for women should be made of technical fabrics that wick sweat away, dry quickly, and potentially provide a slight compression to help your body feel supported. It should also be well-designed so that nothing rides up or falls down, and it doesn’t make you chafe.

As a fitness editor for nearly a decade and a woman, I’ve not only tried a lot of women’s activewear brands but I also know the struggle of finding workout clothes that actually fit your body correctly. Whether you’re looking for cheap workout clothes to just get you to the gym, athletic wear that looks flattering in photos, or simply the best place to buy a new pair of shorts for the summer, I’ve got you covered.

Below, I’ve ranked the best workout brands to shop based on my personal testing, as well as input from the countless women I quiz about the athletic wear they’re wearing. The brands featured here all hit the sweet spot of price for the quality and offer inclusive sizing and fits.

The best places to shop for women’s workout clothes:

The best workout clothes for women overall

sportswear windrunner hooded windbreaker qJlX5L

Nike caters to pretty much every sport with a variety of inclusive styles, making it our top pick for high-performance workout gear. 

Size range: XS-3X, short and tall

Nike has the best balance of price, performance, and variety in its workout gear. A pair of leggings can go for upwards of $70, but you can find plenty of $40-$60 options, and the site semi-frequently offers discounts. Nike items also have a good price-per-wear breakdown thanks to an expert handle on performance engineering and technical materials across categories.

There’s something for athletes of pretty much every sport: running, golf, soccer, training, tennis, basketball, softball, skateboarding, swim, and lacrosse — and all different types of gear, from women’s running shoes to swimwear and compression layers. And they’ve expanded their activewear to have more inclusive sizes (from XS to 3X) and styles (for example, high-performance hijab options). That being said, its sizing can be hard to nail down, especially for sports bras that notoriously run small. –Mara Leighton

What to buy

Pro Shorts (small)

One Icon Clash 7″ Shorts (small)Icon Clash Tank Running Tank (small)
The best budget workout clothes for women

Amazon’s Core 10 brand makes cheap workout gear that fits and stays put.

Amazon’s Core 10 makes workout gear that is comfortable, sweat-wicking, and well-designed for around $25 per item.

Size range: XS-XXL; some styles go up to 3X

Good budget workout gear is incredibly hard to find. While we love the price point, size range, and accessibility of brands like Old Navy Active, performance fabrics and thoughtful design features like light compression and phone pockets will make your workouts far more comfortable, especially if you’re just starting out.

We really like Core 10, one of the uber-popular Amazon-owned fitness brands that makes surprisingly reliable workout gear. In our experience, its bike shorts stay put on runs and do a good job of wicking away sweat. The company makes everything from yoga pants to running capris to sports bras to workout tanks, all usually between $18 and $35. You can even customize your own leggings, choosing the waistband, length, style and color. The brand also just partnered with Reebok to make an exclusive line with the fitness giant.

The fabrics, obviously, aren’t going to compete with the quality of the higher-end leggings or tops. But to supplement your workout closet with a few cheaper pieces or get you into something until you see if your new running hobby is here to stay, Core 10 has you covered.

What to buy

Muscle Tank (small)All Day Comfort High Waist Yoga Short with Side Pockets (small)Longline bra (small)‘Build Your Own’ Flashflex Run Capri Legging (small)

The best women’s workout clothes for runners

Athleta running

Athleta’s running apparel is comfortable, moisture-wicking, reasonably priced, and comes in a wide range of sizes and styles to fit different body types.

Size range: XXS-3X

Among all the running brands on the market, Athleta is our top pick because it nails the sweet spot of price and quality and has a huge range of offerings for runners. When it comes to its running gear, we love that nearly all the tops and bottoms are moisture-wicking and lightweight to keep you flying through your miles.

Its gear is well-designed too, so the majority of the shorts don’t fall down or ride up, and reasonably priced, with most tops falling between $40-50 and shorts $50-60 (its leggings and sports bras are on the pricier end at $70-100 and $50-60, respectively).

In addition to price and quality, we love the fit of Athleta’s clothing. For starters, the brand offers a wide range of sizes on 70% of its portfolio, from XXS to 3X, and plans to offer extended sizing across all categories by the end of 2022.

What’s more, everything tends to run at least one size bigger compared to how other athletic brands are sized, which is refreshing in a world of sizing that makes you feel bad about yourself. Overall, this fosters a more positive and body-inclusive running community.

What to buy

Phenomena Bra B-DD (small)Vapor Scoop Tank (small)Ultimate Stash Pocket 7″ Short (small)Accelerate Shortie (small)

The best workout clothes for women that’s worth-the-splurge

The best worth-the-splurge women's workout clothes - Femme people standing in workout gear by a mountain

Lululemon gear fits well and flatters most figures, performs for all types of workouts, and holds up through many washes, making it worth the splurge.

Size range: 0-20

You don’t have to drop tons of money to get a good workout in, but, if you choose the right brand, smartly investing in $100+ leggings or $60 workout shorts can deliver not only more luxurious and comfortable fabric but also more nuanced and thoughtful designs that make your workout (or errands) more comfortable. Lululemon is the apex of that worth-the-splurge market.

People from our team have tried tons of different items from Lululemon, and I have personally worn an array of tops, bottoms, bras, jackets, even scrunchies from the brand (the perks of seven years as a fitness writer).

For starters, all its gear just looks higher quality and more put together, which is a priority for some people. But moreover, everything is pretty well designed and stays put whether you’re moving through a yoga flow or hitting box jumps at CrossFit.

Its leggings and shorts come with small nice-to-haves like phone and key pockets, strategically-placed reflective features for dark runs, and, most notably, adjustable ties on the inside of the waistband so you can synch the bottoms tighter for a more flattering fit and comfortable workout. Most of my leggings and tops from the brand have been washed dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times and still have a rich color and sleek look (although the Align leggings notoriously pill inside the thighs).

To top it off, its cuts and styles are very flattering for pretty much every figure (although everything fits small so the sizing is frustrating for most women).

What to buy

Fast and Free Tight II 25″ Non-Reflective Nulux (small)All Tied Up Tank (small)Enlite Bra Weave High Support (small)Align Super High Rise Short 10″ (small)Speed Up Shorts (small)

The best sustainable workout clothes for women

Girlfriend Collective - femme people standing in a row in workout gear

Girlfriend Collective’s workout clothing is thoughtfully designed with buttery-soft fabric for a wide range of sizes, and everything from its fabrics to its packaging is mostly or 100% recycled materials.

Size range: XXS-XXXL

The cult-brand Girlfriend Collective is one of our favorite women’s workout brands, and they just so happen to be sustainably made. Let’s start with the fact that the brand designs its activewear to fit a huge range of body types and its leggings and sports bras are beloved by everyone from a size small to a size XXXL for their comfort and cuteness.

Then, the brand uses recycled materials for everything, most often post-consumer water bottles that have been turned into soft, recycled yarn, but also sometimes the factory-floor scraps of that fabric.

Mostly though, we love Girlfriend collective because of its minimalist approach to its designs, offering all the basics, but designed near-perfect and in a range of coordinated colors. Its classic leggings are actually the perfect pair: high-waisted, slightly compressive, squat-proof, and made with super soft fabric crafted from 25 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles (79% recycled polyester).

Its low-impact sports bras are made from the same recycled polyester (from 11 bottles), while they probably won’t support you through box jumps and jump rope, they are cut with a wide rib band so you can wear the set sans shirt to rock that uber-cute monochrome kit look during yoga, hikes, weight-lifting days, or just running out for coffee.

The brand also makes bike shorts, fun (and functional) unitards, and a bunch of loungewear like joggers and fleeces, all of which are made from mostly or entirely recycled materials. The activewear runs on the pricier side (although still cheaper than a lot of its competitors) but you’re paying for higher quality and better sustainability practices.

What to buy

Paloma Bra (small)High Waist Full-Length Leggings (small)Bike Unitard (small)R&R Lightweight Jogger (small)

 

 

The best plus-size workout clothes for women

Superhero Fit - femme people standing in a row in workout gear

Superhero Fit uses soft fabrics, flat-lock seams for minimal chafing, and specifically designs its apparel to support and move with sizes Large and up.

Size range: L-7XL

Despite the fact that the average woman is a size 16 or 18 (XL-2X), it is incredibly difficult to find many options for great workout gear above a size 12, let alone, say, a size 24, which is when the fashion industry ventures into “plus-size” or “extended sizing.” However, there are a few plus-size athletic apparel brands that excel at what they do.

One of the newer darlings on the block is Superhero Fit, a brand of high-quality, sweat-wicking activewear designed specifically for people sizes L thru 7X. It doesn’t have a huge selection, but the brand makes one awesome sports bra, one legging, one Capri, and one bike short, each in a variety of colorways (and the option to go monochrome, which we love).

Each piece of activewear is designed using ultra-soft, sweat-wicking, quick-dry fabric with slight compression, strategic gusseting for mobility, and flat-lock seams to minimize chafing. The sports bra supports medium-high impact activities.

When we talked with a group of plus-size outdoor adventurers on what gear they can’t live without, multiple women said they’re obsessed with how comfortable and supportive Superhero Fit is.

What to buy

Superhold Pocket Leggings (small)Superhold Pocket Capris (small)Superhold Sports Bra (small)Superhold Pocket Bike Shorts (small)

The best outdoorsy workout clothes for women

The best place to buy outdoorsy clothes for women

When you need technical fabrics with UPF, merino wool, and abrasion resistance, Title Nine has some of the best clothes to move in without breaking the bank.

Size range: XS-XL, 4-12

Finding technical clothing that actually fits American female bodies is one of the biggest gripes in the outdoor industry. Title Nine makes outdoor gear specifically designed for hips, booties, and any curves you’re rocking.

What’s more, it has every type of outdoorsy woman covered, whether you like to hike in super technical pants with a ton of pockets, or you prefer form-fitting leggings; whether you like your adventure gear to be loose and breezy or more curve-hugging and flattering.

All of its gear is designed to hit that sweet spot of fashion and function. Its hiking shorts are the perfect length to flatter and prevent chafe, and they hold up against the elements; its sun shirts are quick-dry, offer UPF 50, and come in an array of necklines in case you want something a little showier; and the brand even makes girly gear like sweat-wicking, move-with-your-body dresses, skirts, skorts, and rompers.

To top it off, its prices are in a reasonable category considering not only the technical fabrics and thoughtful features used in the designs, but also the sky-high prices across competitors in the outdoor apparel industry.

What to buy

Sunbuster 2.0 Full Zip Hoodie Sun Shirt (small)Indestructible 2.0 Hiking Shorts (small)Level Up Dress (small)Clamber Pants (small)

The best-looking workout clothes for women

The best place to buy cute women's workout clothes - people running wearing Outdoor Voices workout gear

Outdoor Voices is The Brand for Instagram-worthy workout sets, and the quality and fit of its activewear make it well-worth the buy.

Size range: XS to XL, sometimes XXS thru XXXL

Perhaps the original Instagram darling, Outdoor Voices is well known for its flattering designs, bright colors, and matching workout sets. Its leggings, shorts, sports bras, and tops are all made from high-quality, sweat-wicking material that keeps you cool and comfortable everywhere from the gym to a hike to running errands.

What really sets Outdoor Voices apart from competitors are its on-trend colorways (this season is full of pale lemon and bright pink) and its flattering fits. The best-selling Hudson shorts, for example, are high-waisted and cut in a way that lifts and flatters your booty. Its shorts never cut in at the waist or give you chafing between the thighs. Its best-selling Doing Things Bra has a super comfortable rib band, flattering scoop neck, and a stylish back to help provide medium support.

Perhaps the most noteworthy option among OV’s collection is its cult Exercise Dress (I own three colors), which has a lightweight, onesie spandex under layer and with a looser overlay so you can run, jump, play, and sweat without worrying about anything falling out, all while looking ridiculously cute.

The brand isn’t the most size-inclusive with the majority of its line only running from XS to XL. But if that is your size, we love that you can mix and match OV pieces to create eye-catching, monochrome kits.

What to buy

Hudson 2.5″ Short (small)The Exercise Dress (small)Rectrek Shorts (small)Move Free Tank (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best men’s workout shirts of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A great workout shirt provides benefits like moisture-wicking technology, stretch fabric, and odor control.
  • It’s important the shirt also fits comfortably and performs well during activities like strength training or running.
  • Our top pick, Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt, excels in terms of fit and performance and is my go-to for any workout.

Ask any fitness enthusiast about their preferred style of workout shirt and they’ll likely spend a few seconds listing off things like moisture-wicking fabric, innovative cooling technology, or sweat-activated fabrics. While these may sound like a collection of buzzwords, the application behind these concepts are both staples and must-haves in the world of workout clothing.

For years, the who’s who of brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok were the major players in the workout shirt market, constantly innovating on their own in-house tech while keeping tabs on what competitors put out. But as of late, a number of smaller companies have elbowed their way into the conversation with some fresh, unique takes on the humble workout shirt.

Be it a unique manufacturing process that makes use of real gold particles or a revolutionary fabric designed to not just wick moisture but to actively cool a wearer’s body temperature, today’s workout shirts are full of inventive and practical variety.

It’s because of that variety that deciding which workout shirt to buy isn’t always a straightforward decision. Perhaps you enjoy working out at home, or maybe you primarily exercise by running or cycling. Maybe you do a little of everything.

For me, I fit into the latter camp and feel as though there’s plenty of room in my wardrobe for an array of reliable workout shirts. Not only does a mixed bag of options help reduce how often I have to do laundry but different shirts work better for different workouts.

For example, I prefer a shirt with some sort of stretch design or increased range of motion when lifting weights but grab for a tee that does well to wick moisture before I hop on my bike or go for a run. Though those differences in features may seem small, they have a major impact both on my performance and comfort – and they’re incredibly important considerations when shopping for a workout shirt.

To help find the best currently available, I tested (and continue to test) an array of the latest releases to find those that excel at not just being comfortable, functional, and high quality, but are ultimately worth investing in, too. Though this guide gets updated often, the shirts featured are an accurate snapshot of exactly what I wear when working out each week.

Here are the best men’s workout shirts:

The best workout shirt overall

TTVersatile

Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt lives up to its name by being one of our favorite multi-purpose workout shirts — it’s great for anything active, be it cardio, strength training, HIIT exercises, or cycling.

Pros: Comfortable workout shirt that’s good for almost any workout or activity, flatlock seams prevent chafing, doesn’t hold onto odors, sweat-wicking and quick-dry fabric work well

Cons: Fit can differ from what you’re used to but double-check using the brand’s interactive fit guide before buying

Ten Thousand’s workout gear is a staff favorite, and when it comes to workout shirts designed to perform over a variety of exercises, it’s the brand’s Versatile Shirt I grab over and over again. Not only does it fit comfortably but it pulls off being both minimalist and functional, making it great for weight training, running, cycling, and even yoga — there’s a reason it has the word “versatile” in its name.

Made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the shirt features a breathable design that, along with its sweat-wicking and quick-drying tech, allows it to remain comfortable no matter how warm or sweaty I’d get. Even when temperatures cooled off, this shirt still performed well, and I especially appreciate its flatlock seams which avoid chafing of any kind (which is a must on my longer runs). 

Similar to how Rhone uses gold particles in its fabric, Ten Thousand infused its Versatile shirt with a silver ion anti-odor treatment. After intentionally wearing it for a 15-mile bike ride followed by an hour resistance band workout, the shirt did well to avoid hanging onto any odors, even if my own self was ready for a full-on shower. 

I do recommend reviewing Ten Thousand’s fit metrics as the medium shirt I tested was just slightly on the shorter side (and I’m roughly 5’8″). The chest, shoulders, and arms all fit properly but I would’ve liked just a bit more length (and may try the Large next time). The site does have a highly useful interactive fit chart that showcases different model body types across each size to give you a good sense of how it’ll fit once you try it on. 

The best workout shirt for runners

Nike Dri Fit shirt

Yes, it wicks moisture and sports the Nike logo but the Nike Dri-Fit Miler helps runners go the distance, thanks to flat seams to avoid chafing and reflective details to increase visibility.

Pros: Reflective details offer increased visibility, flat seams reduce chafing and feel comfortable on the skin, and the Dri-FIT tech actively wicks moisture

Cons: Despite a reflective pattern, dark colors not recommended for runners who run at night

Based entirely on the amount of constant rubbing and chafing a runner experiences on even short jaunts, the type of athletic apparel they choose needs to satisfy a particularly high standard. Nike, a brand that needs no introduction, knows a thing or two about workout gear and has excelled for decades at manufacturing some of the industry’s best, and most innovative, active clothing.

The story remains the same with its Dri-Fit Miler, an athletic shirt designed specifically for runners.

Led by its patented Dri-Fit technology, the Miler excels at wicking moisture but also proves capable of staying dry no matter the mileage — a feature that dramatically impacts both comfort and performance. With a dropped hem in the back of the shirt, it offers more coverage than most other running shirts and its flat seams help avoid excess chafing while feeling soft on a wearer’s skin.

Perhaps its best and most important feature is the reflective pattern Nike used to keep runners visible throughout their run. Be it morning, afternoon, or dusk, the reflective details shine brightly when hit with headlights or a flashlight, helping alert those passing by to the runner’s position. Though running at night requires an entirely different approach, the shirt still reflects in the dark. However, the dark colors aren’t recommended for those who prefer running when the sun’s gone down.

The best workout shirt for odor control

Rhone Reign shirt

Rhone’s Reign sets itself apart with GoldFusion technology that wicks moisture, controls odors, and decreases drying time.

Pros: GoldFusion technology is as innovative as anything on the market, odor control that actually works, fast drying time, and a comfortable, stylish fit

Cons: Premium price tag

There are innovative workout shirts and then there’s the Rhone Reign, a shirt that features actual flakes of real gold and uses the company’s GoldFusion technology. Hardly a gimmick, GoldFusion has a three-pronged impact in that it actively wicks away moisture, combats odor, and dramatically decreases drying time.

So, not only does the technology keep you dry and comfortable but it keeps even the worst gym smells at bay — a feature the rest of the people at the gym would surely love, as well.

Though GoldFusion is its rightful claim to fame, the Reign shirt still scores highly in other areas like fit and comfort. Essentially a performance synthetic tee, it’s capable of holding up to almost any workout, activity, or sport and remains comfortable throughout. With raglan sleeves and flatlock stitching, it achieves a better fit throughout without chafing or irritating your skin.

Rhone may have only just come onto the athletic apparel scene in recent years but armed with its GoldFusion technology and a casual, modern fit, the Reign lives up to its name.

The best workout shirt for hot weather

arctic cool shirt

Powered by HydroFreeze X technology, Arctic Cool’s Crew Neck shirt utilizes an innovative fabric that works to lower your body temperature while also wicking sweat. 

Pros: Innovative HydroFeeze X cools body temperature and actually works, UPF 50+ rating blocks 98% of harmful UV rays, antimicrobial cooling tech is machine-washable and never fades, and it spreads moisture across the shirt as it wicks to improve dry time

Cons: Plain style and color choices

Rhone’s Reign may have gold flakes in its fabric but Arctic Cool’s plainly-named Crew Neck shirt has its own ace up its sleeve: HydroFreeze X technology. Flashy name aside, HyrdoFreeze X is more than just marketing-speak. It’s a type of fabric that, while wicking moisture, dramatically lowers your body temperature.

As you sweat, the fabric absorbs that moisture and disperses it across the material. As air moves over the surface of the shirt, it creates a cooling effect that can make you feel up to 30 degrees cooler. Once it moves through the shirt and cools down, any excess moisture is then wicked completely from the garment. Better yet, the tech is antimicrobial, meaning it’s able to sustain a lifetime of washes and still perform.

Though the shirt itself is a bit plain, the HydroFreeze X fabric offers a premium fit that’s capable of supporting a variety of exercises and activities. Additionally, each shirt is rated at UPF 50+, so it offers a high level of sun protection, blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays.

The best-fitting workout shirt

Person wearing Saxx Aerator workout shirt

The Saxx Aerator is one of the best-fitting athletic shirts I’ve worn as it’s cut to better fit your arms and chest without looking boxy through the rest of the shirt. 

Pros: Great fit, comfortable, works well for a variety of workouts like HIIT, running, or biking, comes in a L/S variety

Cons: Limited color options

Though Saxx is known mainly for its inventive line of, shall I say, supportive underwear, the brand also makes a selection of workout apparel. One such shirt (which is also available in a long-sleeved version) is called the Aerator, and after wearing it for several months, I’m a huge fan.

Perhaps my favorite part about the shirt is how it fits. It features a flattering cut that’s bigger in the chest and slimmer through the waist. This allows it to achieve a more fitted look that stays true to size and doesn’t look boxy or ill-fitting. Not only does this make me feel more confident while wearing it but a shirt that fits correctly just functions better. 

The Aerator is available in three colors, and while each is solid and works well for anyone’s personal style, the fact there are only three may seem basic to some — to be fair, this is a minor nitpick. 

I’ve mainly worn this shirt while running or doing at-home workouts, and it’s perfectly held up for all of it. Even during the humid summer months when it can get drenched in sweat in a matter of minutes, it avoids feeling too heavy or bogging me down, and its moisture-wicking tech seems to work as advertised. The Aerator quickly became one of my workout apparel staples and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

The best workout shirt for cold weather

under armour shirt

Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt makes frigid winter runs a bit more manageable. 

Pros: Second-skin fit allows for layering without sacrificing performance, soft and lightweight, HeatGear fabric stays warm in the coldest temperatures, four-way stretch offers wide range of movement, and Under Armour compression helps improve performance

Cons: Limited to wearing in cold to moderate weather

Under Armour made its name designing and manufacturing some of the best compression athletic gear on the market and its HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt is the perfect example of the brand’s innovations. Featuring a second skin, compression-style fit and lightweight construction, the HeatGear Armour is a form-fitting shirt that offers comfortable support.

With a four-way stretch design, it not only avoids hindering your performance but also accentuates it by allowing for movement in any direction. The shirt lives up to its HeatGear name by truly shining when temperatures drop as the fabric was built for keeping you warm in frigid weather. It even boasts a UPF 30+ rating, which helps protect against harmful UV rays — something anyone’s capable of being exposed to year-round.   

The long sleeve tee also wicks moisture and dries quickly which is an incredibly welcome feature for those who like to run outside and break a sweat. No more plodding away on an indoor treadmill, Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour allows anyone to enjoy a training session outside of the gym, even in the dead of winter.

The best workout shirt for casual wear

reebok shirt

With a stylish cut and quick-dry fabric, Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 fits in at the gym, at home, or the bar after a workout.

Pros: Stylish cut, effective moisture-wicking technology, quick-dry fabric that performs in any environment, and its loose-fitting torso allows for a greater range of motion

Cons: Fitted design may not be suitable for all body types

A company mostly synonymous with sneakers, Reebok’s athletic apparel is just as impressive as its shoes. With the Supersonic 2.0, the Adidas subsidiary takes a stab at offering performance fabric designed to wick sweat, dry quickly, and look good in the process. With an athletic cut and stylish design, not only does this shirt deliver on performance but it’s also capable of being worn all day, every day if you so please. 

Made of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, the Supersonic 2.0 is lightweight and highly breathable and is as capable of wicking away moisture as it is helping avoid excessive sweat spots. That means you can wear it to the gym and, even after an intense workout, still wear it while meeting up with friends or heading back to work.

Featuring a fitted cut to hug a wearer’s upper torso, the bottom flows freely allowing for a wide range of movement. No matter if it’s an afternoon of basketball, an hour of lifting weights, or simply going for a run, the fit stays true throughout and performance is never limited. Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 is about as functional and versatile of an everyday shirt as it gets. We do recommend washing it regularly, though.

What else I’m testing

The market for workout shirts is broad, which makes it seem like there’s an endless amount of options to choose from. What this also means is that there’s no shortage of workout shirts showing up on my doorstep for testing. While the above shirts are tried, tested, and approved, the following shirts are currently being reviewed to see if they have what it takes to make it into the spotlight. 

Here are the workout shirts I’m currently testing: 

Hylete Calavera Tri-Blend Crew: One of my favorite parts of Hylete’s Calavera is that it looks like a normal tri-blend shirt I’d throw on with a pair of jeans yet it performs just as well as some of the workout shirts featured in the main guide. I was originally skeptical that it’d just feel like wearing a cotton shirt (and come with all the same drawbacks) but I was quickly convinced otherwise after wearing it through a particularly sweaty home boxing session. Hylete offers a wide variety of similar shirts, too, each with fun graphics and colorways. 

Janji Runterra TeeThe Insider Reviews team has written at length and often about the quality of Janji’s workout apparel, and it remains one of our favorite brands to wear when breaking a sweat. One of its shirts I’ve been wearing recently is the Runterra Tee, a technical cotton blend shirt that’s highly comfortable, blocks odor, and that uses volcanic ash to thermoregulate the body. That’s a mouthful to just simply say this shirt is an active person’s dream. I wear it often for just about any activity and never feel I’ve made a bad choice.

Tracksmith Harrier TeeTracksmith’s Harrier quickly became one of my go-to running shirts after wearing it just once while on a run. Featuring a classic design, the shirt wicks moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odors, which is essentially everything a quality running shirt should offer — and it does it all thanks to a Merino wool blend. 

Workout shirt glossary

Just as there’s variety in the available options, there’s also variety in a wearer’s desired application or workout style. Perhaps a runner wants a more lightweight option or a fitness buff desires something that looks good every day, no matter the activity.

Regardless of intent, there’s a suitable workout shirt designed specifically for everyone. A great workout shirt doesn’t just get the job done but does so without sacrificing performance, comfort, or style. 

Here are some of the most popular styles and features of men’s workout shirts:

Sweat-wicking: Sweat-wicking shirts work to remove moisture from your skin. They also don’t soak up any of that moisture (like a cotton tee might), allowing them to avoid feeling overly heavy as you work out. 

Odor control: Fabrics with odor-control technology help minimize lingering odors. There are several ways manufacturers are able to do this, either constructing the shirt of merino wool, having it feature a highly breathable design, or, in the case of Rhone, use gold particles infused into the fabric. 

Quick-dry fabric: Workout shirts with quick-dry fabrics are often made from merino wool, polyester, or nylon (or a blend) and are designed to be highly breathable. 

Four-way stretch: This type of fabric allows for greater freedom of motion, helping the wearer feel less hindered while running, lifting weights, or doing moves like lunges or burpees. 

How we test workout shirts

Each shirt featured in this buying guide went through several rounds of testing across a variety of workouts and activities. These workouts include weight training sessions with resistance bands, medicine balls, and dumbbells, 30-minute cardio sessions of either an outdoor run, outdoor bike ride, or an indoor stationary bike ride, and indoor interval training routines. 

No workout shirt is the perfect, one-style-fits-all, so each selection also lists a few drawbacks to consider, be it sizing and fit issues, an expensive price tag, or lack of color choice. New product styles and releases are always being considered for future updates, as well. 

Here are the four categories we judged each shirt on during testing:

Fit: An ill-fitting workout shirt won’t exactly motivate you or push you through to the end of your workout, no matter if you’re out for a run or using resistance bands at home. When testing, we looked at everything from how stretchy it was and how well it moved along with us, if the armholes allowed for proper range of motion, and if there was enough coverage through the bottom. 

Performance: Performance is essentially the execution of a workout shirt’s fabric tech, especially today. How well does it wick sweat or control odor? Is it breathable and does it avoid chafing? A workout shirt’s performance is one of the most important factors we considered because the last thing you want to be thinking about while working out is why your shirt feels like a hundred pounds drenched in sweat or what the foul smell might be. 

Fabric tech: Innovative fabric tech is now the norm in every manner of workout gear as brands have adopted everything from gold-infused materials and multi-stretch fabric to active cooling and UPF protection. Since these are now standard practice, it raises the bar in terms of judging how well a workout shirt applies the tech. 

Value: The value of a quality workout shirt is less about how much it costs and more about the combination of the three categories before it, as well as what its final price is. We often say it’s better to spend more on a premium product than to spend less, more often on something that’s shoddily designed and won’t last. 

A note on fit

Though the workout shirts featured in this guide have the name “men’s” in them, they’re not strictly for cisgender men. The cut and design of the shirts may differ from similar clothing intended for women but anyone is able to wear whatever shirt they feel comfortable in.

This is especially true in the world of workout apparel where comfort and performance are far higher priorities than what specific gender they’re intended for — and each of the shirts featured below was tested with those features in mind. If you’re looking for workout clothing that more closely identifies with the fit and design of women’s apparel, check out our guide to our favorite women’s workout clothing brands

Read the original article on Business Insider

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 best RV mattresses of 2021 for long road trips

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GettyImages 997023506

  • A comfortable mattress makes a world of difference when you’re on the road and sleeping in an RV.
  • But not any regular mattress will do as you’ll want to make sure the one you buy fits the rig you’re driving.
  • The most important features to consider when buying an RV mattress are its weight, size, and materials.

As people start to plan summer vacations, many are still wary of the safety of flying. Because of that, alternative forms of travel, like renting RVs, are experiencing a massive boom. Take the Airbnb-style RV rental marketplace, Outdoorsy.com, for instance. Between March 2020 and July 2020, bookings on its platform rose by a staggering 4,500%. That’s no minor blip – hitting the open road in a mobile house on wheels is very in.

But it’s important to note that there’s still no guarantee of safety right now when it comes to travel, even while RVing. We always recommend following guidelines from the CDC, practicing safe social distancing, and washing your hands frequently.

That said, there are many elements to consider if you are planning an RV trip, such as where to park for the night, how many supplies to pack, and what accessories to bring. But for a peaceful night’s rest, a good RV mattress may be the most important factor.

According to Paige Bouma, Vice President of RV Trader, a marketplace for RV sales and rentals, “some of the most important things to consider when purchasing an RV mattress is deciding on the type of mattress, setting your budget, and determining the size, length, and weight needed for your RV.”

For more detailed info on what to consider when buying an RV mattress, read to the bottom of this article.

Here are the best RV mattresses:

Brooklyn Bedding Aurora Hybrid

brooklyn aurora mattress

No matter if your travel plans take you to a warm or cool destination, having an RV mattress that adapts well in different climates is essential. This mattress is made with gel beads that liquify once temperatures rise to cool you down and then resolidify once temperatures dip.

The Tuft & Needle Original Mattress

tufts and needle original mattress

The Original Mattress for Tuft & Needle is a great choice for RV and camper use since at 10 inches tall, it’s a bit shorter than the brand’s other mattresses. This helps it fit into small spaces more easily and adds a little less weight to the RV.

However, this model is larger than many other RV-specific mattresses, so it’s best for vehicles that have more room for a standard-sized mattress.

Avocado Green Mattress

avocado green mattress

The handmade Avocado Green Mattress is 11-inches thick and delivers firm support with the use of sustainable latex and organic cotton and wool material. This brand sets the standard for affordable eco-luxury.

While this is best for larger RVs with enough space for a traditional-sized mattress, leaving the pillowtop option off saves you two inches on the depth. The sturdy handles on the sides also make the mattress easy to hoist into the RV.

Dynasty Mattress 10 Inch Cool Breeze Gel Memory Foam

dynasty mattress RV

The Dynasty Mattress has a gel interior to help regulate your body temperature when you sleep. This memory foam mattress is medium-firm and comes in King RV, Queen RV, and Short King RV sizes depending on the specs you need.

The Queen size weighs around 55 pounds. On Amazon, some reviewers noted how the mattress helps eliminate night sweats, while others say it allows them to sleep just as well as they would on their premium mattresses at home.

Haven Premier

haven premier mattress

A luxury mattress option for RVs that welcome standard sizes, the Haven Premier has a 12-layer memory foam construction. The foam features five layers of cooling gel and is ideal for tighter sleep situations or for the sleeper who runs hot.

The 12-inch thick mattress is described by user feedback on the website as comfy and sturdy.

Idle Gel Foam

idle gel foam mattress

Idle’s 12-inch gel foam mattress rapidly returns to form when you move around at night. As an added bonus, there’s a removable, washable quilted cover that makes keeping your mattress clean super easy, even while on the road. 

This mattress is on the firmer side and is an especially good option for back sleepers.

Live and Sleep Ultra RV Mattress, Short Queen Gel Memory Foam Mattress

live and sleep rv mattress

The 60-pound Short Queen mattress by Live and Sleep is made from a gel foam material. The medium-firm mattress comes with a soft linen cover for extra comfort. Eco-conscious travelers will like that this mattress is made from environmentally friendly ingredients, too. The CertiPUR-US certification means that the mattress was made without ozone depleters, mercury, or lead.

Casper Nova

casper nova mattress

After a long day spent hiking outdoors or driving, collapsing into this hybrid mattress is just the ticket, since it offers both comfort and breathability. The Nova mattress is made with foam and springs for increased airflow, making it great for hot sleepers. There are also seven support zones built in to help align your spine while you sleep.

Bonus: Each mattress cover is made from approximately 70 recycled bottles.

The Allswell

the allswell mattress

A budget-friendly mattress that fits most standard-size RVs, The Allswell has charcoal and copper gel-infused memory foam that absorbs heat away from the body to cool you down at night.

Most sleepers rate this mattress as a medium-firm feel and say it is supportive and supremely comfortable.

What to consider when buying an RV mattress

Weight

While you may not usually think about the weight when it comes to choosing mattresses, it’s incredibly important when it comes to RV mattresses since every last ounce is precious.

“In an RV, weight and size matter for all components, since the load weight is critical when towing a travel trailer or driveable RV,” says Bouma. “Most RV mattresses weigh between 50 to 75 pounds, but this can increase depending on the size and type of mattress selected,” she notes.

You’ll want to keep weight in mind when choosing both size and type of material. “For example, a king-sized premium memory foam option will weigh more than a polyurethane foam queen size mattress,” Bouma explains.

Size

Almost all RVs have a space for a bed, but some spaces are smaller or shorter than a standard size mattress and have a lower profile. The most common RV mattress measurements are 60 inches by 75 inches by 80 inches, which doesn’t match standard measurements for home mattresses.

After measuring your space, you will see that it may measure somewhere between a Queen and King size. If this is the case, you’ll want to look for an RV-specific option with specialized measurements. However, there are also some RV models that have room for standard-sized mattresses.

Budget

Prices vary depending on a variety of factors, including quality, size, materials, and customization. Additionally, if you’re in the market for your first RV purchase and there is an opportunity to buy an RV with an already-upgraded mattress, it may be a better value to pay a little more upfront, rather than paying to swap out the mattress later. 

Materials

Standard-sized mattresses and RV mattresses come in a wide variety of materials. “Low-cost polyurethane foam mattresses are the most common and most firm style. They usually come standard with an off-the-lot RV,” says Bouma.

“However, if you’re going to spend a lot of time in your RV or if great sleep is important to you, it is worth splurging on a different, more supportive material. Some of these materials include gel, memory foam, innerspring, and natural latex,” she notes. “If you’re planning to do most of your RVing in hot climates, though, consider a gel mattress. This material is also more supportive than polyurethane foam and provides the additional benefit of a cooling effect.”

Innerspring mattresses contain many coils and thus are often more supportive, while memory foam mattresses help distribute weight evenly, which can be important depending on the type of sleeper you are. Additionally, natural latex is similar to memory foam, but more durable and has a longer lifespan due to a rubber material component.

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