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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17 products we swear by for staying cool when it’s hot out

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Fan blowing best products to stay cool, including a Yeti water bottle, Dyson air purifier and Eight sleep pod pro cover
  • We asked Insider Reviews reporters and editors how they stay cool during a heat wave.
  • Whether indoors or outdoors, cool down with these 17 products – from a mattress pad to a silk robe.
  • For more cooling help, check out our guides to the best portable ACs, fans, and air conditioners.

Regardless of how much you love summer, no one wants to be stuck in extreme hot and humid conditions. With heat waves starting to hit, it’s best to stay prepared with ways to stay cool – especially when the power shuts off at home or during long commutes.

We asked Insider Reviews reporters and editors for various ways that they keep cool during unbearable heat. From everyday cooling appliances to heat-resistant clothing, these options are the ultimate lifesavers to have this summer. So as the heat rolls on, try these products that can help you stay cool and have a less sweaty summer.

A mattress topper that actively cools your bed

Image of Best Cooling Mattress Topper 2021 Eight Sleep Pod Pro Mattress Cover

Eight Sleep Pod Pro Cover

Pod Pro Cover with PerfectFit (button)

When most mattress companies say their products are “cooling,” they mean that they don’t trap heat. This mattress pad by Eight Sleep actually cools your bed down — as low as 55 degrees — using an undetectable grid of water. I convinced our sleep reporter James Brains to let me be the long-term tester for this after he tested and recommended it in our guide to the best cooling mattress toppers, and wow, I don’t know how I ever survived the summers without it. Being able to chill my bed before I get in it (or while I shamelessly work from it during the day) has been a game changer. I fall asleep faster and wake up feeling cool and refreshed. It’s pricey, but the cover has made this the first summer I haven’t struggled with heat-induced insomnia. If you’re in the same boat, it may very well be worth the cost. — Lauren Savoie, senior editor

An ice cube tray that makes giant ice

The best for large cubes, the Samuelworld Jumbo Cube Tray in dark gray, with one cube it made.

Samuelworld Large Cube Tray

Large Cube Tray (button)

I talk too much about ice ever since I tested 16 trays for our guide to the best ice cube trays, but during the heatwave, my new favorite topic is super relevant. I’m using our pick for the best large cubes, the Samuelworld Jumbo Cubes Tray, almost every day to chill my drinks. Large cubes melt slower than small ones, so I’ll plop the cubes in fresh coffee that I’ve chilled to room temperature; my coffee stays cold and strong longer. The tray only holds six cubes, and at this point, I refill it almost every night. Even through this usage, the silicone has stayed firm and doesn’t have a freezer smell. — Lily Alig, junior reporter 

A luxurious and cooling linen quilt

The Parachute Linen Box Quilt on a made bed in a bedroom

Parachute Linen Box Quilt

Linen Box Quilt (Queen) (button)

I purchased this quilt a few weeks ago during Parachute’s Memorial Day sale, and it’s a much lighter and more breathable top layer than a traditional comforter. If you sleep hot, it might be right up your alley. I also suggest looking into linen sheet sets. — Ellen Hoffman, editor-in-chief service journalism 

I also bought this during Parachute’s sale and it has been a lifesaver compared to my usual all-season comforter during these hot and humid months. As someone who sleeps hot, I’ve found it to be just the right weight and nice and breathable. — Hannah Freedman, associate travel editor 

I love my Parachute linen quilt so much that I refuse to share it with my husband and we had to get a second duvet for him. — Lauren Savoie, senior editor

Really great air conditioners

LG 115V Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner Side view

LG LW1517IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner

LW1517IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner (button)

LG LP1419IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner

LP1419IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner (button)

We recently moved into an older home with no central air, so air conditioners were at the top of our list of things to buy for the summer. Insider Reviews reporter James Brains has tested countless portable ACs and window units over the last couple of years, so the first place I looked for recommendations was our buying guides. 

We bought a bunch of LG window units, in varying sizes to accommodate bigger and smaller rooms, and they do a fantastic job of cooling down the whole place. I love that I can control them with a remote too! It sounds lazy, but it’s actually really convenient when I’m on work calls and can’t get up to change the settings. — Ellen Hoffman, editor-in-chief service journalism 

I have an LG portable AC because traditional window ACs do not fit in all my windows, and it works like a charm. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor

I’ve tested dozens of air conditioners, and the LG dual inverter ACs are what I use when I’m not testing new air conditioners. They’re energy efficient, and they do a great job without getting too loud. Also, I’m finding in the humid Michigan summers, simply using the dehumidifying function is sometimes enough to make my home comfortable. — James Brains, reporter

The quiet and powerful fan

The best fan overall Vornado 660

Vornado 660 Large Whole Room Air Circulator

660 Large Whole Room Air Circulator (button)

Now that my husband and I both work from home, our heating and cooling bills have gone through the roof. We recently purchased this fan (which is our best overall pick in our guide to the best fans) in an effort to cut back on using the ACs on milder days. I’m obsessed with this thing — it’s small, but powerful, and runs quietly so that I can use it with no issue during Zoom meetings. — Lauren Savoie, senior editor 

The Vornado works better than any fan I have ever used. I remember wondering why anyone would choose to spend so much on a fan when you can get cheap ones for $20, but the Vornado really cools rooms much more effectively and keeps the air moving. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor

A cooling pad for your four-legged friends

Dachshund sitting on the green pet shop cooling mat

Green Pet Shop Cooling Pad

Cooling Pet Pad (Medium) (button)

Our pets struggle with the heat just as much as we do — and often more. They are wearing fur coats, after all. A few years back when I lived in a stuffy Brooklyn apartment that was difficult to cool in the summer, I bought the Green Pet Shop Cooling Pad for my frequently panting dog. It works by absorbing your pet’s body heat with a pressure-activated gel. Right out of the box, I pressed my hand into the mat and instantly felt a cooling sensation. My dog practically lived on it during the hottest summer days. Put it in your dog’s favorite spot on the floor, in their crate, or outdoors in a shaded spot. — Lisa Sabatini, editor, pets and parenting

A cool silk robe

kim + ono silk kiku kimono robe laid out on a bed the best silk womens bathrobe 2021

Kim + Ono Silk Kiku Kimono Robe

Silk Kiku Kimono Robe (button)

There’s nothing I love more on a hot day than wearing this glossy, slippery, and ultra-cool robe. Our pick for the best silk robe, it’s not only beautifully made, featuring original and hand-painted artwork, but it also feels amazing. It’s a long robe (the brand also sells short versions) with side slits and the sleeves are short and wide, letting the breeze pass through. It’s perfect for lounging inside with your AC or fan on blast. — Connie Chen, senior reporter

The most breathable mattress we’ve tested

best mattress for hot sleepers 2021 hand pressing down on the purple premier hybrid to show how much it sinks

Purple Hybrid Premier Mattress

Hybrid Premier Mattress (Queen) (button)

I have tested dozens of mattresses, and the Purple Hybrid Premier Mattress did the best at dissipating heat. That’s why it’s the best mattress for hot sleepers in our mattress guide. I use an infrared laser thermometer to measure the surface temperature of the mattress. And, the Purple built up the least amount of heat and was one of the quickest to release the heat in my tests. The biggest negative is the $2,400 price tag, but when you consider you’ll spend a third of your life for the next 10+ years on it, the price seems much more reasonable. — James Brains, reporter

A weighted eye mask you can pop in the freezer

a couple in bed with a woman wearing the gravity heating and cooling eye mask

Gravity Heating/Cooling Weighted Sleep Mask

Heating/Cooling Weighted Sleep Mask (button)

When I was a kid and we didn’t have air conditioning, my mom used to dip a washcloth in water and freeze it. Draping the frozen washcloth over my head would cool me down just enough to get to sleep in the heat. This weighted eye mask works similarly — you just pop it in the freezer for a few hours before bed and then drape it over your eyes to block light and cool you down. I like that this one has a Velcro strap so you can just lay it over your face instead of having to wear it like a traditional eye mask.  — Lauren Savoie, senior editor

Breathable boxer briefs

TomboyX

TomboyX 9-inch Boxer Briefs

9-inch Boxer Briefs (button)

I love wearing these gender-inclusive boxer briefs to sleep on hot summer nights. I also wear them under dresses and skirts to prevent friction and irritation from sweat. They’re soft, breathable, and made from 95% OEKO-TEX certified cotton and 5% spandex. The 9-inch inseam is the perfect length in a world filled with short shorts. TomboyX is also featured on our guide to the best gender-inclusive clothing and a full review. — Malarie Gokey, deputy editor

Moisture-wicking polo shirts

a man wears a grey Arctic Cool Vortex Vent Cooling Polo

Arctic Cool Vortex Vent Cooling Polo

Vortex Vent Cooling Polo (button)

I’ve always been a bit wary of apparel with so-called cooling technology but there’s been some genuine innovation with cooling fabrics over the last several years — and one of the best brands to do it is Arctic Cool. Whether I’m working out in one of its crew neck tees, or casually wearing this polo, I’m able to legitimately feel cooler on warm days. The Vortex Vent Cooling Polo features moisture-wicking technology, a unique ventilation system that helps the shirt avoid feeling stuffy, and even has UPF protection. It’s a summer staple in my wardrobe. — Rick Stella, fitness, health & outdoors editor

An ultra quiet fan and air purifier

Dyson Pure Hot Cool Review

Dyson Pure Humidify + Cool

Pure Humidify + Cool (button)

I originally started using this during the winter since it’s one of my top picks for the best humidifiers. However, one of the reasons it’s so great is because of how multi-functional it is. Not only is it also an air purifier, but in the summer I’ve switched over to using its fan function and it’s worked wonders for cooling off my bedroom at night. It even has a specific “Night Mode” that ensures it’s super quiet. — Hannah Freedman, associate travel editor

A backpack for staying hydrated

camelbak hydration pack

CamelBak HydroBak Hydration Pack

HydroBak (button)

Proper hydration is one of the most vital components to keeping cool, especially while running or hiking where it’s important to have H20 at the ready whenever you need it. And therein lies the beauty of this hydration pack from CamelBak. It’s lightweight and subtle enough to not bog me down while I run or bike, and can even hold a few extras (snacks, keys, my phone, etc.) while I’m on trail. Its included water reservoir holds 50 ounces of water which typically manages to last me a few hours of use in particularly hot weather. The HydroBak is also featured in our guide to the best hydration packs— Rick Stella, fitness, health & outdoors editor

A mattress topper to help with heat dissipation

Image of Best Cooling Mattress Topper 2021 Bear Pro Mattress Topper

Bear Pro Mattress Topper

Pro Mattress Topper (button)

I recently tested 18 mattress toppers, and the Bear Pro Topper offered the best balance of comfort, affordability, and cooling. That’s why I made it our top pick in our cooling mattress topper guide. It features a cover made of Celliant, a material I’ve found helps with staying cool. In addition to offering excellent support and pressure relief, it’s made in the US of copper-infused memory foam that is CertiPUR-US certified, which means harmful chemicals aren’t used in its construction. Plus, you can try it for 100 nights risk-free. — James Brains, reporter

A heavy-duty water bottle for keeping your beverages ice cold

hydroflask wide

Hydro Flask and Yeti water bottles

Heavy-duty water bottles from Hydro Flask and Yeti are lifesavers at the beach on really hot days. I load mine with ice and they stay super cold all day long. — Ellen Hoffman, editor-in-chief service journalism

A cooling sheet set

Sleepletics Celliant Performance Sheets

Sleepletics Celliant Performance Sheet Set

Celliant Performance Sheet Set (button)

Another Celliant product I use to keep me cool is this sheet set from Sleepletics. As with the Bear Pro Topper, the Celliant material does an outstanding job of heat dissipation so I can stay cool through the night and avoid tossing and turning. It also has a comfy, soft feel that pairs well with whatever weighted blanket I might be testing at the moment. — James Brains, reporter

A sun shelter for the beach

a person sits on the sand in the shade under the Neso Beach Tent with Sand Anchor

Neso Beach Tent with Sand Anchor

Beach Tent with Sand Anchor (button)

A friend of mine recently brought this shady tent with her when we went to the beach and I was so impressed I immediately bought one for myself. It folds down so it’s easy to fit in a backpack or beach bag, takes seconds to set up simply by spreading out the corners and filling them with sand, and provides plenty of shade for a group of four. It’s also water resistant and offers UV protection. It made our beach day so much more enjoyable and relaxing. — Hannah Freedman, associate travel editor

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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 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 5 best portable power stations we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Power stations are ideal for camping trips, power outages, and whenever you need reliable power.
  • The best operate in any kind of weather, have multiple ports, and work with multiple devices and appliances.
  • Our top pick, Goal Zero’s Yeti 3000X, charges several devices at once and powers large appliances for hours.

As more electronic devices pervade every aspect of our lives, finding ways to keep them charged and functional wherever we go has become increasingly important. As a result, there are now a dizzying array of power stations and high-capacity battery packs on the market, making it easier than ever to never stray too far from a source of power.

Whether you need to keep your electronic devices functioning on a weekend camping trip or are looking for an emergency power supply for use at home, there are dozens of models to choose from. Some power stations are rugged, durable, and built for the outdoors, while others are more refined and sleeker in design. By providing hours of extra juice wherever and whenever you need it, portable power stations are a convenient tool to have at your disposal, particularly in times of unexpected power outages.

Their versatility can’t be understated, either. In testing the power stations featured in this guide, I’ve used them in just about every situation imaginable. Not only do I make sure to pack at least one while camping, but I stash a portable model in my backpack while in the backcountry and have a more robust station at the ready should the lights in my home start to flicker.

As with most tech products, sorting through the variety of portable power stations can be confusing and time-consuming. To help you figure out which one best meets your needs, I tested an array of what’s currently available and narrowed the field to the best worth owning – many of which have been my go-to power sources for years.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some helpful tips on how to shop for a power station and what to consider when shopping.

Here are the best portable power stations:

The best power station overall

Yeti 3000x

With its large lithium-ion battery, numerous ports, and incredible build quality, the Goal Zero Yeti 3000X is in a class of its own when it comes to portable power stations. 

Pros: Extremely high capacity, can power everything from smartphones on up to home appliances, compatible with solar panels to recharge

Cons: Very heavy and expensive

One of the true leaders in the design and construction of portable power stations, Goal Zero has been at the forefront of this market for years. That long heritage shows through in all its products, which stand head and shoulders above the competition in terms of build quality, technology, and features. The company’s newest model is the Yeti 3000X, which manages to extend that lead even further, particularly amongst power stations in the high-capacity segment. 

At its core, the Yeti 3000X is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that offers more than 3000 watt-hours of capacity. That’s enough juice to recharge a typical smartphone more than 250 times or a laptop more than 60 times. But this power station is versatile enough to go well beyond just recharging other devices. It also happens to be capable of powering appliances such as a microwave for up to three hours, a mini-refrigerator up to 87 hours, or a full-sized fridge for 55. 

One of the features that sets the Yeti 3000X apart is Goal Zero’s specially designed AC inverter. Capable of providing 2000 watts of power — with a surge up to 3500 watts — this component is what gives this power station the ability to run not charge my smartphone, laptop, or camera, but I could use it on appliances, lights, and even to power my TV. Other power stations include AC power outlets that allow these types of devices to be plugged into them, but very few have the battery capacity and power management to keep them running for extended periods of time. 

In addition to sporting two standard AC power outlets, the Yeti 3000X comes with plenty of other charging ports, too. Goal Zero ships this model with two standard USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and a USB-C PD (Power Delivery) port, which is also capable of charging a laptop or large tablet. It comes with a 12-volt car port and two 12-volt power pole ports, giving it the ability to power just about any kind of device imaginable, including construction tools like drills or saws. 

The large lithium-ion batteries that give the Yeti 3000X such a high capacity also adds a considerable amount of weight. This power station weighs in at just over 69 pounds, which takes away from its portability to a degree. To counter this added bulk, it comes equipped with wheels, which does make it much easier to maneuver around the garage, backyard, or campsite if you don’t mind hauling it in your car.

Those same high-capacity batteries also require a substantial amount of time to recharge. When plugged into a wall outlet, the Yeti 3000X would often take up to 14 hours to replenish its onboard power supply. Using a solar panel to recharge the power station can help if you have one, though expect the recharge times to fluctuate wildly depending on the size of the panel and the amount of available sunlight. 

The Yeti 3000X is built for those who not only need a portable power station with plenty of capacity, but also one that can survive in challenging environments. Built like a tank, this is a model that professionals can turn to when they need power at a job site, although it is equally useful in emergency situations around the home. Best of all, because it isn’t powered by gas, it’s completely silent and doesn’t produce dangerous noxious fumes. 

The best mid-sized power station

EcoFlow slide

Compact and lightweight, the EcoFlow Delta 1300 is a feature-packed portable power station that offers plenty of charging ports, including six AC wall outlets.

Pros: Able to power up to 13 devices at once, still portable despite its 31-pound weight, recharges quickly
Cons: Power can drain rapidly when charging multiple devices

The EcoFlow Delta 1300 is my favorite power station when it comes to charging the most devices at once. All told, it comes equipped with no fewer than 13 individual ports, including two standard USB-A ports, two USB-A quick-charging ports, and a pair of 60-watt USB-C PD ports. Additionally, it features a 12-volt car port and six (yes, six) AC wall outlets, making it easy to keep a large number of gadgets and tools functioning at the same time. 

Powering the Delta 1300 is a 1260 watt-hour battery, which pumps out enough juice to recharge smartphones and tablets dozens of times and extend the life of a laptop by nearly 24 hours. The 1800-watt AC outlets can also power a small refrigerator, an LCD TV, a toaster, and even a hairdryer. That gives this particular battery pack a level of versatility that you won’t find in most other mid-range power stations — and made it a highly useful thing to pack on car camping trips. 

Considering the size of its battery and the number of ports that it offers, the Delta 1300 is surprisingly small. Compared to other power stations in this class, it’s relatively compact, making it easier to carry around. A pair of integrated heavy-duty handles aid in that process, although its 31-pound weight will still likely give you pause when having to carry it too far.

One thing to keep in mind when using this power station is that because it can charge up to 13 individual devices at once, the battery occasionally runs out of juice fairly quickly. Thankfully, I didn’t really have the need to recharge that many gadgets at once, although it was nice to know I could if needed. Thankfully, to help compensate for a potentially rapid power drain, EcoFlow gives the Delta 1300 the ability to recharge itself quite fast. When plugged into a power outlet, it would often regain around 80% of its power in about an hour and would fully recharge in a little more than 90 minutes. 

The Delta 1300 is a bit pricier than other models with a similar capacity, though this is due, at least in part, to a large number of charging ports. If you don’t need to power 13 devices at once, there are less expensive alternatives available. But if you’re looking for the best all-around product, this is the one you’ll want.

The best small power station

Anker PowerHouse

Sleek and small yet highly capable, the Anker PowerHouse offers a nice blend of features and functionality at a reasonable price point. 

Pros: Small and compact yet still offers a good-sized battery, lightweight for a power station

Cons: No USB-C ports

Well-known for its extensive line of battery packs for keeping smartphones charged, Anker also dipped its toe into the portable power station market. The result is the PowerHouse, a model that’s well-equipped for those who need on-the-go charging from time to time, as well as a handy back-up system for use at home during a power outage. 

The PowerHouse utilizes a 434-watt-hour battery, which is a good size when it comes to straddling the line between capacity and expense. This allows the power station to recharge a smartphone more than 40 times or a laptop as much as 15 times. It’s also capable of powering a CPAP machine for several nights in a row, as well as running small appliances such as a mini-refrigerator or outdoor lighting system, for short periods of time. 

Capable of charging multiple devices as once, the PowerHouse features four USB-A ports, a 12-volt car port, and a 120-watt AC outlet. That is certainly enough power plugs to accommodate most situations, but the lack of USB-C ports is somewhat limiting. With more and more devices switching to the USB-C format, it’s a shame this device doesn’t have at least one or two.

With an aesthetic that somewhat resembles a kitchen appliance, the PowerHouse has a clean, utilitarian design. This allows it to remain fairly inconspicuous when used around the house, although it remains durable enough to survive in the outdoors, too. Its built-in handle and 9.2-pound weight make it easy to carry, striking a good balance between durability and portability. 

If you’re looking for a solidly built power station that combines good battery life, plenty of ports, and an approachable price, Anker has you covered with the PowerHouse. Its size and capacity make it a good all-around choice for most people who don’t have the need to run power tools at a job site or be away from a source of power for days at a time. 

The best budget power station

Jackery power station

Small, lightweight, and affordable, the Jackery Explorer 160 is a great option for those looking for a power station on a budget, without having to make too many compromises. 

Pros: Highly portable, can charge up to four devices at once, recharges quickly

Cons: More of a companion power charger than something to be relied on solely

If you’re looking for a high-quality portable power station, without spending a lot of money, it’s tough to beat the Jackery Explorer 160. It offers a nice blend of features — including a built-in LCD screen for monitoring its use — in a package that’s easy to transport. While it may not have a high-capacity battery or an over-abundance of charging ports, its $150 price tag more than makes up for those discrepancies.

Equipped with 167 watt-hour battery, the Explorer 160 recharges an iPhone more than ten times or a large tablet as many as five. It even did well to extend the life of a laptop and power a digital camera and Bluetooth speaker. However, it isn’t capable of running anything with a power draw of more than 100 watts, ruling out television sets, mini-fridges, and CPAP machines. 

The Explorer 160 won’t overwhelm you with a large number of charging ports either, although it certainly has enough to get the job done. It features two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and an AC wall outlet. This gives it the ability to charge up to four gadgets at once, which is decent considering its price point. That said, considering how widespread USB-C is becoming, I’d have liked to see another of those ports included. 

Thanks to its low-capacity battery, the Explorer 160 recharges very quickly, requiring just five hours to go from empty to completely filled. As an added plus, the power station can be charged via AC outlet,12-volt car port, or via solar panel. And while there may be times when you wish it had just a bit more capacity, its ease of charging mostly makes this a nonissue. 

Other than its affordable price, the Explorer 160‘s best feature is its size. It’s extremely small and easy to carry, tipping the scales at just 3.8 pounds. This makes it a great choice for use around the house, while camping, or anywhere else you might need a bit of portable power. Its built-in handle makes it a breeze to take it along with you wherever you go, ensuring you always have an ample supply of energy to keep your gadgets running. 

The best power station for travel

Goal Zero sherpa

With its surprisingly large battery pack, an array of charging options, and rugged construction, the Sherpa 100AC is a portable power station designed specifically with frequent travelers in mind. 

Pros: Perfect for travelers, multiple charge ports plus it supports wireless charging, highly portable

Cons: Expensive, capacity can be an issue if it’s the only battery/power source you rely on

When it comes to choosing the gear that they carry with them on the road frequent travelers, backpackers, and professional nomads are always looking to strike a balance between size, weight, and functionality. Fortunately for them, Goal Zero built a portable power solution that fits that criteria nicely, combining a sizable battery with a good number of ports in a rugged package built to survive just about anything. 

The Sherpa 100AC features a 94.7 watt-hour battery pack, which translates to 25,600 mAh. That’s the highest capacity battery you’re allowed to carry onto a flight, with enough juice to recharge a smartphone roughly 8 times or a laptop twice. Compared to other portable power stations that may not seem like a lot, but when you realize that this one can easily slip into a backpack, it’s easy to realize its value. 

Despite the fact it’s relatively small and easy to carry, the Sherpa 100AC does have enough charging options to keep you functioning for an extended period of time. The line-up includes dual USB-A ports, as well as two 60-watt USB-C Power Delivery ports, which are bi-directional so they can be used to recharge the Sherpa, too.

Additionally, Goal Zero managed to squeeze in a small AC inverter for plugging in larger devices and the top of the battery pack has an integrated Qi wireless charging pad. If your phone supports wireless charging, you can simply place it on top of the battery pack, freeing up one of the ports for another device. 

Additional features include a built-in OLED display for monitoring power usage and a special port for recharging the Sherpa via a solar panel. Keeping with the travel theme, Goal Zero also ships the power bank with four different charging cables, providing everything you need to say powered up on the road. 

The Sherpa AC100‘s main limiting factor is the size of its battery, which is on the small side if you plan to use it to recharge a laptop or other high-capacity devices on a regular basis. It also happens to be fairly expensive compared to battery packs with a similar capacity from other manufacturers. But where Goal Zero separates itself is with the exceptional build-quality and the components used the Sherpa’s construction.

This is a power bank that feels like it could be run over by a car and keep functioning. However, this level of durability does result in a weight of about two pounds. That’s quite svelte for a power station but on the hefty side for a power bank. If you don’t mind the extra bulk, you’ll get a power supply that’s above and beyond anything else in its class. 

How to shop for a power station

When shopping for a portable power station, there are a number of factors to consider. First and foremost is the amount of power it can store, which is typically measured in watt-hours. The higher the number of watt-hours, the more energy you’ll have at your disposal. For instance, a power station with a capacity of 150-watt hours can recharge a smartphone roughly 10 to 12 times. Meanwhile, a 1500 watt-hour battery pack will provide more than 120 recharges.  

That said, in order to achieve a higher number of watt-hours, more power cells are required. That translates to a larger and heavier power station which reduces its level of portability. It also means that it takes significantly longer to recharge the battery pack, whether from a wall outlet or a solar panel.  

The next thing you’ll want to look for in a power station is the number — and type — of charging ports the power station offers. Not only will you want enough ports to accommodate all your devices, but you’ll want a variety of ports, too. That includes USB-A, USB-C, and at least one AC wall outlet. Another common port is 12-volt power ports, like the so-called cigarette lighter outlets found in your car.

Many models come with built-in LCD screens that display the current power level, as well as how that power is being allocated to the various devices plugged into the charging ports. Some also offer a specialized port for connecting the power station to a solar panel, providing an alternative method of recharging while in the field. Others come equipped with built-in lights, which is an especially nice feature to have during an emergency situation. 

Check out our guide to the best battery packs

Anker PowerCore 15600

The best battery packs you can buy

Read the original article on Business Insider

Make money selling T-shirts and more at protests

Reading Time: 7 mins

The enormous Freedom March that happened on 26th June in central London was attended by an estimated 1.7 million people. That’s hundreds of thousands of people in London for the day, marching together and open to buying products like t-shirts with freedom slogans and symbols, bottles of water, whistles and other noise-making products, coloured smoke flares and more.

If you’re willing to take up a position on a pavement somewhere central like Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus or Parliament Square, you could make some money selling products to marchers with money to burn!

 

Commercial opportunities at protest marches

Any time you have a large number of people away from home for a few hours or a whole day, you will find opportunities to make money.

With the enormous Freedom Marches that have been going on at least once a month in London and a few other cities around the country this year, there are a number of opportunities to make money selling things people need as they march for a few hours.

How to prepare

There are few things you need to do before the events to make money:

  • Keep abreast of news of upcoming marches by joining the relevant Telegram groups, Twitter feeds or Facebook groups. For example, there are Telegram groups for the Freedom Marches that give the time and place for the start of the events. Extinction Rebellion also has a Telegram group that you can follow and find out their movements.
  • If the march organisers send out a map of the route then pick a spot where you think the majority of people will pass slowly and make sure you are positioned there at the start of the march.
  • For some items like whistles, flares and t-shirts it can be best to stand where people gather to start the march. For bottles of water you will probably do a better trade half-way along the march.
  • Sometimes protest organisers don’t broadcast the route of the march beforehand so you will either have to take a guess at the most likely spots that it will go past (usually monuments and Government buildings) or, better still, just position yourself at the start of the march and then move to another spot once everyone has left if you still have merchandise to sell.

payment methods

Many people will have cash on them, particularly at something like the Freedom March, however many people will only have a card or, more likely, their phone with which to pay.

So to take payments you will need to

  • Have some spare change (a lot of £1 and £2 coins plus some five and ten-pound notes)
  • Have some device that allows you to take card and phone payments such as:
    • squareup – this costs £16 per month. It accepts chip and PIN cards, contactless cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay anywhere with a wireless connection. It has one flat rate commission of 1.75% per transaction. It’s a free app that you download onto your phone.
    • sumup -. This charges £19 for 500 transactions plus a flat rate commission of 1.69% per transaction.. It’s a free app that connects via bluetooth.

Given the prices above it’s worth offering a discount for cash.

 

Make money selling t-shirts with slogans on

Making and selling T-shirts can be really lucrative if you get it right.

However, it can take a bit of time and financial outlay beforehand.

create the t-shirts

  1. Firstly you need to come up with a slogan and/or symbol that will be popular with marchers. For example, at the Freedom March on 26th June, one seller had large, blue T-shirts on sale with ‘FREEDOM ‘ and a symbol on the front and ‘FREEEEEEDOOOM’ on the back in large letters. He was selling them for £10 each and doing a roaring trade.
  2. Create the design on Canva or simply using the in-built design function on your computer, if it has one.
  3. Decide on the colour of the T-shirts. It’s usually cheapest to pick one colour (white, blue, black are generally the most popular) or go for two basic colours.
  4. Decide on the size or sizes that you will go for. If this is the first time you’ve done it it’s probably best to go for one size – a big one! – that can fit anyone. Later, if you know what sells you will be able to risk two or three different sizes.
  5. Get the T-shirts printed by a cheap printer that will deliver. There are several T-shirt printing companies to use and it’s worth shopping around and haggling down the price as there’s a lot of competition in the field. For example, you could try one of the following:
    • Vistaprint – Which has different styles for different events eg basic t shirts for giveaways. Prices are £3.37 – £8.99 a shirt with nine colour options. They are able to add a design on the front and back.

    • Spreadshirt –  They have up to 70% off with six or more items, Basic T-Shirt for giveaways. Prices range from £4.41 – £8.99  per unit. They have twelve available colours and can print a design on front & back.

  6. It’s worth getting 50 printed if you’re planning on selling these at more than one march. As you know there will be many Freedom, BLM and Extinction Rebellion marches coming up this year and next, you can always aim to sell what’s left over at later marches.

Freedom march t-shirts

sell the t-shirts

For T-shirts you could sell then at the start of the march or at a halfway point where you’re pretty sure people will be passing.

At the Freedom March on June 26th, the man mentioned above stood by Trafalgar square with his T-shirts on the ground selling them quite briskly.

Make sure you wear the T-shirt yourself so that you advertise it to passers-by. Have a sign next to you with the price. Consider offering a discount for bulk-buys.

Have a good amount of change with you (£1 and £2 coins plus some notes) as well as a device for taking payment via cards or phones.

 

Make money selling whistles and other noise-makers

Whistles are wonderfully effective and can be very cheap to buy in bulk.

Buy boxes of cheap whistles at your nearest wholesaler, pound shop or even street market.

You can also bulk-buy whistles of different sizes and shapes online at various websites including Newitts where you can get Ziland 100 high Pitched Football Whistles for just £10 or 400 for £30. Sell them at a £1 a go and you’ve made a really decent profit!

Just make sure that if you buy these online that the items will be delivered at least a few days before the march so that you have them in time.

how to sell them

Stand near the start of the march and also walk through the crowds as they wait to start the march shouting the price of your whistles.

Sell them for a round figure – £1-£5 each, or whatever the market will bear – and offer discounts for multiple buys.

 

Make money selling bottles of water

This is a nice easy way to make money from protest marches, although it does rather depend on the weather,

what you will need

  • A good supply of small bottles of water
  • A large bucket
  • Bags of ice
  • Some form of transport

how to do it

The first step is to source the cheapest bottles of water you can find.

If you’re a member of Costco or another wholesaler then that will probably be your best bet. Load up the car with as many boxes of water bottles as you can comfortably transport to the protest.

For example, right now you can get 1120 500ml (small) bottles of water for £169.99 (that’s 16p per bottle) which you could then sell for at least £1 a bottle at the event.

If you’re not a member of a wholesaler then try the cheaper supermarkets like Asda, Aldi, Lidl or Morrisons and see which charges the least – you could even get them delivered by your favourite supermarket to cut down on the petrol and effort.

selling them on the day

  1. Take a large bucket and bags of ice cubes to the protest area.
  2. Set yourself up somewhere that you know crowds will be passing (check the route beforehand if you’re able to) or, to be on the safe side, right at the start of the march. Create a sign that advertises the price per bottle – make it a round number like £1 or £2 depending on how much the bottles cost you and how much you think people will pay.
  3. Stay until you have sold the lot.

 

Make money selling smoke flares and other colourful items

freedom march smoke flares

Smoke flares are particularly popular with Freedom Marches which are rather like a carnival affair with lots of colour, noise and dancing.

Flags, beach balls, tennis balls (really!) and anything fun and colourful to wave or throw are also popular.

smoke flares

Smoke flares really create atmosphere and are often set off at the start of a march.

They can be quite pricey but Manchester Fireworks sells small, hand-held ones for £2.50 for a pack of two.

Sell these separately for at least £5 each at the start of the march or halfway along the route.

flags

Small and large flags are popular at marches. Consider offering one or two of the following:

  • Union jacks of all sizes
  • England flags
  • Welsh flags
  • Scottish flags
  • Cornish flags
  • EU flags
  • Rainbow flags

Large flags can be bought online and, sometimes, at pound shops. Try to sell these on a patch of grass or sand where you can poke the sticks into the ground so that marchers can see then from a distance.

Buy large flags from various outlets including

  • The Flag Shop – 8ft x 5ft flags cost £17.95 each or £15.45 for bulk orders with free UK delivery
  • NW Flags – 8ft x 5ft flags cost £19.99 with free UK delivery

beach balls and more

As with the items above, it’s a good idea to try your local Costco, street market and pound shop. If you buy a lot of products at your local pound shop or street market it’s worth negotiating with the manager or owner. Usually buying in bulk gives you a lot of clout when it comes to haggling the price down. See our article here on how to haggle on the high street for a few tips there.

Also, of course, there is a lot on offer online. Obviously eBay has cheap deals, often with discounts for bulk buys. However, be careful where you buy from. The really cheap stuff is often from China or another Asian country and the delivery time can be far too long. Check the estimated delivery time and make sure it is well ahead of the march date.

 

Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

The post Make money selling T-shirts and more at protests appeared first on MoneyMagpie.

The 10 best places to shop for summer running gear in 2021

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Best places to shop for summer running gear in 2021 Lead Photo

  • Staying cool and comfortable on summer runs requires breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • To stay safe on hot runs, you also need sun protection and hydration systems.
  • We love these 10 brands for all the gear you need for a safe, comfortable summer run.
  • Athleta is the best overall hot-weather running brand, thanks to its performance fabrics, extended sizing, and stylish gear.

Running is one of the cheapest, most accessible ways to boost your cardio fitness, improve your overall health, and enjoy the mental benefits of exercise. And while all you truly need is a quality pair of running shoes, having comfortable, functional gear can make running a lot more enjoyable – especially as the temperature starts to heat up.

As an avid runner and personal trainer myself, I’ve run in my fair share of both cheaply-made and luxury gear. What I’ve learned: Cotton and cheap fabrics will either absorb your sweat or trap it next to your body, causing it to literally weigh you down and heat you up.

If running is your sport of the summer, it’s worth it to invest in performance fabrics that have sweat-wicking, quick-drying features and apparel designed to be breezy, lightweight, and move with your body, comfortably (no one needs chafing to interrupt their flow). It’s also crucial that you don sun protection – UPF clothing, polarized sunglasses, sweat-proof sunscreen – and have a comfortable way to carry water, no matter how many miles you’re logging.

Lastly, in an effort to shop smarter and make the fitness world more inclusive for everyone, the brands most worth your money should be able to perform during both speed training and long runs, and offer extended sizing.

To help you figure out where to shop for the best summer running gear, we laid out our favorite go-to retailers. These brands will become your best new run buds so feel free to go all in.

Here are the best places to shop for summer running gear:

  • The best place to buy running clothes overall: Athleta
  • The best brand for budget running apparel: Amazon’s Core 10
  • The best boutique brand for run apparel: Tracksmith
  • The best brand for running socks: Balega
  • The best brand for running hats: rnnr
  • The best brand for sports bras: Brooks
  • The best brand for running sunglasses: 100%
  • The best brand for hydration systems: Nathan Sports
  • The best brand for running shoes: Hoka One One
  • The best brand for sport sunscreens: Coola

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best place to buy running clothes overall

Athleta not only has cute, comfortable, and 100% functional gear for going on the run, but they also offer extended sizing and sustainable apparel.

Athleta not only has cute, comfortable, and 100% functional gear for going on the run, but they also offer extended sizing and sustainable apparel. 

For starters, Athleta has great workout clothes that hit that sweet spot of quality and price. I always turn to leggings and shorts with pockets — a must when trying to stash your phone, credit card, keys, and maybe even some fuel on the run. Plus, many of its bottoms feature moisture-wicking fabrics and waistbands that won’t slip as you speed up. Its range of silky soft and extra lightweight tanks also offer that nearly-naked feel I crave on hot, sweaty runs. Lastly, its sports bras provide the support you need to withstand the impact of your stride. In other words, you can wear Athleta from head to toe and feel good through every mile. 

What’s more, earlier this year, Athleta expanded its sizing in more than 70% of its collections to offer everything from XXS to 3X. It also plans to offer extended sizing across all categories by the end of 2022. The brand worked with thousands of women to create clothes that work for all sizes and it’s on a mission to feature diverse body types across its catalogues and in-store mannequins, too. 

In addition to inclusive sizing, Athleta is also a certified B corporation, meaning it treats its employees and the environment well with fair trade practices and sustainable materials incorporated into its clothes.

What to buy:

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

The best place to buy budget running apparel

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

If you’re looking to save money but still want comfortable gear that moves with you and feels good as you go, Amazon’s Core 10 collection has you covered from head to toe. 

With most pieces in this Amazon line checking out at under $30, you can’t go wrong with a set of hot weather run gear from this brand. I felt pleasantly surprised by the touch and feel of the pieces I tried on the run, including the soft, stretchy fabrics and lightweight materials. 

The gear on Amazon’s Core 10 line-up ranges from shorts and leggings to tanks and tees, plus sports bras and jackets too. The clothes also offer features you want from your warm weather apparel, including moisture wicking to soak up the sweat and four-way stretch so the clothes move with you, not against you. Look for the cuts and styles you prefer on the run, but a few of our favorites are below.

What to buy:

Tri-Blend Muscle Workout Tank (small)Knit Waistband Woven Run Short (small)All Day Comfort High Waist Yoga Short with Side Pockets (small)

The best boutique brand for run apparel

Tracksmith is a boutique running brand with great performance fabric and an ethos that gives back to the sport.

For a brand that promotes running in its next-level clothing and athlete-supporting programs, Tracksmith brings the best in fashion and function. 

Tracksmith honors the sport of running in several ways, including making clothing that looks good and feels even better on the move. Each piece of its line has a retro varsity track team vibe, which looks cool on the road. But it’s not all about the style: Each top and bottom also rocks technical properties to help you stay comfortable, like merino wool (a moisture-wicking and anti-odor fabric, which you’ll find in its Harrier collection) and a super lightweight and breathable mesh (which you’ll find in its Van Cortlandt collection). My favorite, the Twilight collection, also features a super lightweight and silky-smooth mesh material that helps to stop you from overheating on those humid days. 

We love Tracksmith because it also has a few initiatives that support runners: Its Amateur Support Program offers help for non-professional athletes looking to compete for the podium, giving them stipends for gear; its Fellowship Program funds creative projects that elevate the sport of running, like film, poetry, or podcasts. So, when you buy Tracksmith clothes you can also feel good knowing you’re supporting a brand that’s advancing the sport.  

What to buy:

Harrier Tank (small)Twilight Crop Tank (small)Twilight Split Shorts (small)Merino Tube Socks (small)

The best brand for running socks

Balega running socks are the best and most comfortable for long runs with more cushioning.

You’ll want to wear Balega socks every day, but especially on the run thanks to their tech, support, and supreme softness. 

You know how good your feet feel after a pedicure? Well, that’s the sensation you get when you slip into Balega’s socks thanks to their ultra-soft material that feels so good against the skin. The brand has a few stand-out performance features, too, including a deep heel pocket that adds comfort and support as you stride, a seamless construction that shields your feet from blisters, plus supreme moisture wicking materials and ventilation that keep your feet cool, even when the weather (and you) heat up. 

In addition to those general performance features, Balega also has a few collections with other technology that makes them ideal for running. For example, the Balega Silver sock line features an anti-microbial finish that keeps stink at bay. If you prefer more cushioning, the Hidden Comfort line also acts like a pillow for your feet, while the V-Tech arch support in the Enduro collection adds extra comfort underfoot, cushioning your stride through plenty of miles. 

What to buy:

Ultralight Crew (small)Hidden Dry (small)No-Show Socks (small, Preferred: Balega)

The best brand for running hats

The best brand for running hats - rnnr

 For a lightweight running hat that looks cool and keeps you cool, too, rnnr has a line-up of caps you’ll love wearing. 

Founded by a former special education teacher and track and cross-country coach, rnnr aims to get more people to lace up and hit the road via affordable gear. That gear includes their extremely lightweight and breathable hats, perfect for blocking the sun without locking in heat. Its collection of hats feature mesh materials that allow for airflow and ventilation, plus quick-dry and moisture-management properties — all features you want in a good run hat and at an affordable price point (the most expensive one is $35). With each hat, you can also style it to your liking, with a flat, curved, or popped-up brim, or choose to get in on the trucker hat trend.

In an effort to get more people to fall in love with running at an early age, the brand also donates  a portion of the proceeds from each purchase to initiatives that fund local youth running programs.

What to buy:

Lightweight Running Hat Pacer Oreo (small)Lightweight Distance Hat Unicorn (small)

The best brand for sports bras

Brooks makes incredibly supportive sports bras for small and big chests alike.

To find a great fit at any size, along with high-impact support, Brooks sports bras bring all the features you want to keep things in place — without too much restriction. 

Brooks has long been making bras that offer max support during high-impact activity like running and the brand particularly beloved by ladies with a large bra size (some items go up to 44E) for being comfortable, not too restrictive, and reliably supportive. That’s why it’s one of our top picks among the best sports bras you can buy.

You’ll also find more customization throughout its collections, with straps you can arrange multiple ways, straps that you can tighten in the front for easier access, and hook-and-eye closures in the back. They also offer bras with or without molded cups, and some even have pockets for storing keys or more with ease. There’s truly an option for all women at all sizes, with any preference.

Brooks recently launched a new running bra collection called Drive, meant to offer full support through every run. Based on research and testing in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and 1,000 runner reviews, this line stops the bounce, no matter your speed or size. This line features four new bras, including those with high necklines, mesh materials, and fabric that holds you in — and while all these bras stop any uncomfortable movement on the run, they don’t make you feel restricted.

Like their shoe search, Brooks also offers a Bra Finder so you can find your best fit before buying. It’ll ask you a series of questions on fit, preferences, issues you’ve had in the past, and what you like about your sports bras, and then it’ll serve up some suggestions.

Drive Convertible Run Bra (small)Drive 3 Pocket Run Bra (small)Dare Racerback Run Bra (small)

The best brand for running sunglasses

100% performance sunglasses are light weight and non-slip, even when you’re sweaty.

You can’t get much more lightweight and non-slip than 100% performance sunglasses, which stay comfy through every mile. 

Sunglasses not only keep you from having to squint from the brightness of the sun, but they’ll also protect your eyes from harmful rays, especially if you get a quality set. The problem: I’ve always found it tough to run (especially when super sweaty) with glasses. That is until I found a solid, lightweight pair that didn’t slip off my nose as I hit my stride. These from small-business 100% do just that. They feel incredibly light on the face, courtesy of the carbon material, and have a rubber nose piece that keeps them from sliding down with sweat. 

100% sunglasses have plenty of tech on each pair, too, in both their active performance and sports performance lines. For starters, they offer color contrasting lenses to make various hues on the street or trails pop and enhance your depth perception. The polarized lenses also reduce glare and, if you choose the Photochromic lenses, they also adjust to the lighting outdoors to better your vision. Finally, you get superior UV protection on all 100% glasses, as well as a treatment that keeps dirt, oil, and water from smudging up your lenses. And just in case you take a spill, this eyewear is also impact- and scratch-resistant. 

What to buy:

Lagere Round (small)Rideley (small)Racetrap (small)

The best brand for hydration systems

Nathan Sports makes water bottles and hydration vests for cheap, ideal for running in the summer.

Stay hydrated on the move, without feeling like you’re carrying around tons of weight with Nathan Sports bottle, belt, and vest options. 

During long, hot runs (and even during some especially humid short ones), water is crucial to not only finishing your miles, but also making sure you’re still standing at the end. For that, you need to take some water with you on the go, and it should be easy to carry along. Enter Nathan Sports’ hydration systems from bottles to vests to waist belts. 

Handheld bottles work perfectly for any short- to medium-distance mileage and you have several options from Nathan. The brand’s line-up of handhelds includes insulated bottles that not only feel easy to hold (no grip required, thanks to comfy straps), but also keep your liquids cooler for longer and some have extra pockets, too. Nathan also offer belts, complete with water bottles tucked into the sides, so you have plenty of H2O for longer distances. And for those going extra far, you can opt for a vest that makes drinking up easy and carrying convenient. 

The new line of Pinnacle vests is a solid go-to. Created from years of feedback from customers and athletes, these vests weigh 20% less than others in Nathan’s line-up, plus they have 13 pockets to stash all your snacks and other belongings, a more comfortable carry design, and they hold up to 12 liters of water. 

What to buy:

Pinnacle 12L Women’s Hydration Vest (small)Peak Hydration Waist Pak (small)Quicksqueeze Lite 12oz Insulated Handheld (small)Speeddraw Plus Insulated Flask (small)

The best brand for running shoes

Hoka One One makes well-cushioned running shoes for distance running, sprints, and recovering from injuries.

For that sweet spot between cushion and responsiveness, Hoka One One brings the shoes that keep you going the distance. 

Shoes hold the top spot for must-haves when it comes to running gear, no matter the temperature. Finding a sneaker that works for you and your gait often takes a little trial-and-error to see what keeps you comfy and ache-free through all the miles. And sometimes, you might love a shoe for your long runs and a totally different one for some speed work. But one brand I love myself as a long-time runner and that I hear the most raves reviews about again and again is Hoka One One. 

Known for being super light but mega cushioned, Hoka shoes tend to have a thicker sole that provides the support needed for longer miles. They also have a heel cup that helps to keep the foot stable as you land and take off. Depending on which shoe you choose, you may also experience the ProFly technology, which provides a bouncy, more responsive ride, or if you’re really looking to pick up the pace, a carbon fiber plate in some shoes will help to propel you forward. For those who pronate, Hoka also offers stability shoes, thanks to their J-Frame construction. And another feature that helps with the impact on landing is Hoka’s extended heel. So whether you’re looking for light and bouncy or something more stable, Hoka has an option for you.  

What to buy:

Clifton Running Shoes (small)Mach 4 (small)Speedgoat 4 (Women’s) (small)

 

The best brand for sport sunscreens

Coola

In addition to your typical body and face sunscreens that feel lightweight and smell delicious, Coola also has tons of products to fulfill all your UV protection needs. 

Coola has a few stamps of approvals from third parties, including maintaining formulas that are cruelty free, vegan, organic, paraben free, and safe on our coral reefs. So, you always have the benefit of feeling good about what you’re putting on your body with this brand! But beyond the label, each product in the brand’s line-up also feels lightweight and great against the skin — and most smell delicious too. 

In addition to your typical non-greasy body lotions and sprays, the brand also features several facial products that don’t feel oily when you rub it on and those that keep your eyes from burning when you start to sweat. The brand also has a few products you wouldn’t even think you need but are totally helpful, like the Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30 — perfect for those who wear braids and need some protection for their part as they run. 

What to buy:

Full Spectrum 360° Sun Silk Drops SPF 30 (small)Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 (small)Classic Body Organic Sunscreen Spray SPF 70 (small)Liplux with SPF 30 (small)

 

Check out our other running gear guides

epic react flyknit womens running shoe KRdA3R (6)
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 best bird feeders in 2021

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • There are a variety of bird feeder designs for attracting different species of birds to your yard.
  • We consulted experts from the Audubon Society and Project FeederWatch for this guide.
  • These are the 10 best bird feeders, including hopper, tube, suet, and hummingbird feeders.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Ericka Wade, DVM, a veterinarian at Burke County Animal Hospital, Georgia.
bird feeding from blue tube feeder made by Perky Pet, one of the Best bird feeders in 2021

Setting out wild bird feeders is an easy way to attract a diversity of native and migrating species to your yard. It’s something both you and your feathered friends will benefit from: Studies have shown that providing food for wild birds can help them to maintain good health, live longer, and have more reproductive success.

To better understand the types of birds a feeder can attract, the feeder designs that work best, and the varieties of food they like best, we consulted with three avian experts from the Audubon Society and Cornell University’s Project FeederWatch. We combined their expertise with extensive research to come up with the best products in 10 categories of wild bird feeders.

Here are the best bird feeders in 2021

The best tube feeder

three birds eating from Droll Yankees Onyx 18-in Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder

The sturdy, easy-to-clean Droll Yankees Onyx 18-inch Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder comes backed by a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage.

Tube feeders are a great way to attract a variety of smaller birds, including finches, wrens, and chickadees. Plus, they are easy to fill and can typically be both hung and pole-mounted. “Tube feeders offer a lot of different ports for different individuals to sit on at the same time and they keep seed dry and clean,” said Emma Greig, project leader for Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York.

Droll Yankees’ Onyx 18-inch Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder has four powder-coated metal feeding ports with perches and a seed tray. Its transparent 18-inch-long tube is made from discoloration-resistant plastic and it has a metal twist-and-release base that is easily removed for cleaning. The Onyx holds up to 2 pounds of feed and, thanks to its spring-loaded flip-top metal cap, it can be filled one-handed. Suspend the feeder from its stainless steel wire or pole-mount it. If squirrels get too curious, the feeder is backed by a lifetime warranty against any damage they cause.

Onyx 18-in Mixed Seed Tube Bird Feeder (button)
The best budget tube feeder

perky pet wild blue bird tube feeder hanging from a tree

The affordable Perky Pet Tube Wild Bird Feeder is as weather-resistant and easy-to-clean as it is bright and cheerful.

All of the experts we consulted agree that a high-quality wild bird feeder should be made from easy-to-clean plastic, metal, or glass. It should also be easy to take apart for proper cleaning, according to John Rowden, senior director of bird-friendly communities at the National Audubon Society in New York, New York.

The affordable Perky Pet Tube Wild Bird Feeder‘s six plastic feeding ports, perches, and plastic base all come apart so you can remove old seed and scrub out the bacteria left behind. The bright blue 18-inch-long tube is made from durable rust-resistant powder-coated metal and holds up to a pound of bird feed. It hangs from a sturdy, built-in metal hanger.

Tube Wild Bird Feeder (button)
The best nectar feeder

four hummingbirds eating from aspects 367 hummzinger hummingbird feeder

The Aspects Hummzinger Ultra Feeder has a wraparound perch and deters insects with raised feeding ports and an ant moat.

Nectar feeders attract long-beaked, jewel-toned hummingbirds and the occasional woodpecker, warbler, or oriole. “These feeders are great because you can make the sugar-water solution at home by simply combining one part sugar with four parts water,” said Katie Percy, avian biologist with Audubon Louisiana. Although some store-bought nectars are dyed red artificially, adding red dye to your mix may actually be harmful for birds, she told Insider Reviews.

Aspects Hummzinger Ultra Feeder is simply designed in two parts that are exceptionally easy to fill and clean. The red plastic cover, which has a wraparound perch and four rain-diverting, bee-deterring feeding ports, screws into a clear plastic base so you to see when nectar levels are getting low. A built-in moat in the middle of the cover prevents ants from getting into the nectar. The 8.25-inch-diameter, 2-inch-tall Hummzinger is drip- and leak-proof, holds up to 12 ounces of nectar, and hangs from a brass hook. Aspects’ feeder also comes backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Ultra Hummingbird Feeder (button)
The best hopper feeder

cardinal perched on woodlink squirrel resistant bird feeder hanging from a tree

The Woodlink Squirrel Resistant Hopper Feeder has an adjustable perch and a metal shield that drops when heavier critters attempt to feed.

Hopper feeders attract a wide variety of small, medium, and large birds, including jays, sparrows, and finches. “They do a good job of keeping seed dry and [provide] easy access to the birds,” said Greig. As the birds eat, the hopper’s food continuously drops into the feeding ports, keeping them full until the food runs out.

The extra-large capacity Woodlink Squirrel Resistant Hopper Feeder has a three-position perch that can be adjusted to maximize visits by small, medium, or large birds. When the wrong bird or a squirrel lands on the feeder, a shield drops over the seed tray to prevent them from getting a taste. Woodlink’s Hopper is made from durable powder-coated steel and its locking, squirrel-resistant lid lifts off for easy cleaning. It holds up to 15 pounds of seed and a seed-level indicator window lets you see when it’s running low. This feeder comes with both a steel hanging rod and a 5-foot pole and mounting kit.

Squirrel Resistant Hopper Feeder (button)
The best mesh finch feeder

bird perched on More Birds Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder

With a mesh tube, four perches, and a seed tray, the More Birds Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder offers finches a variety of ways to feed.

Finch feeders are similar to tube feeders but have a mesh seed well instead of a plastic or glass one. This mesh design is perfect for attracting finches, which unlike larger birds, are agile enough to cling to the small openings in the metal screen. Because the finches can feed from any position, it also allows more birds to eat at the same time.

The More Birds Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder is a versatile option that allows birds to choose between landing on its screen, at one of four feeding ports with perches, or on the seed tray. Even if larger birds visit the feeder, smaller finches can still find a place to chow down. The Sedona has a twist-off metal cover and base for easy cleaning and drainage holes at the bottom. The screen is made from steel mesh and the ports and seed tray are weather-resistant. This sunny yellow feeder holds up to 2.8 pounds of seed.

Stokes Select Sedona Screen Bird Feeder (button)
The best suet feeder

one bird feeding at More Birds Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder

The More Birds Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder protects two suet cakes within a durable steel cage frame.

Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and starlings, among others, enjoy eating calorie- and fat-dense suet, a feed made from animal fat and ingredients such as corn meal, nuts, and dried insects. Suet is commonly sold in solid cakes that are then suspended in a cage for easy access. Suet is a good feeding option in cold weather, but it is best avoided in warmer months since the fat in the feed can quickly turn rancid in the heat, Percy said.

The cylindrical More Birds Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder has an interior cage for holding two cakes of suet and an exterior cage to keep squirrels out. Both are made from weather-resistant powder-coated steel. The steel lid lifts off for easy cleaning and filling. Squirrel-X’s Suet Feeder is 10 inches in diameter, 9.4-inches tall and is fitted with an aluminum hanger.

Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder (button)
The best squirrel-resistant feeder

Stokes_Double_Suet_Feeder

Droll Yankees’ Sunflower Domed Cage Feeder has a cage to keep squirrels out and a lifetime warranty against their damage, just in case.

In many areas, squirrels are an ever-present problem when feeding wild birds. “Those things are really clever,” said Greig. “They can jump really far and they’re really acrobatic.” While various measures can be taken to deter squirrels, some feeders are designed with squirrel-resistance in mind. Some seal their feeding ports when a squirrel lands on them and others are suspended within a cage that is too small for a squirrel to squeeze into, according to Rowden. If a feeder doesn’t have built-in squirrel protection, Percy recommends hanging it from a pole that is at least 10 feet away from vegetation or other structures that squirrels can climb and outfitting it with a baffle, a plastic cone that blocks a squirrel’s route.

Droll Yankees’ Sunflower Domed Cage Feeder encloses a clear 15-inch-long plastic tube feeder inside a coated metal cage 10.5 inches in diameter. A plastic roof covers the entire thing to keep the seed inside dry. The interior tube feeder holds up to 1 pound of seed, has four feeding ports, and attaches to the cage with a spring clamp. When it’s time for cleaning, the tube can be easily removed and disassembled. Droll Yankees’ Sunflower Feeder is backed by a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage.

Sunflower Domed Cage Feeder (button)
The best window feeder

three birds perched on the Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder

The Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder gets you up close to wild birds without ever leaving home.

A window feeder gives even those without outdoor space the opportunity to feed winged visitors like finches, jays, and cardinals. It may seem like a bad idea to place a feeder against a window, but both Greig and Percy told Insider Reviews that it’s actually helpful. Placing a feeder within 3 feet of a window reduces the chances that a bird will become confused and fly into it, causing self-injury or even death.

The Nature Anywhere Window Bird House Feeder attaches to any window with four heavy-duty suction cups. The 8-inch-by-8-inch house is made of transparent acrylic and has a large circular window at its center for better viewing. A sliding seed tray holds up to 2 cups of feed and can be removed for cleaning and refilling. Because squirrels can’t climb the sides of buildings, the Window Bird House may be less likely to suffer critter damage than hanging varieties. Nature Anywhere’s feeder comes with a lifetime guarantee just in case.

Window Bird House Feeder (button)
The best domed feeder

two birds eating from Heath Observatory Dome Bird Feeder

The affordable Heath Observatory Dome Bird Feeder can be baited with different foods to attract a variety of birds, including bluebirds.

Like platform feeders, dome feeders have a flat tray that can be filled with almost anything birds will eat, including seed, insects, and fruit. Bluebirds are particularly attracted to this type of feeder when it’s filled with mealworms because the raised dome helps them feel protected from predators. In general, the more variety you add to your feeder, the greater number of species you’ll attract, Percy said. Nutritious options include black-oil sunflower seed, white millet, nyjer seed, orange halves, and suet.

The Heath Observatory Dome Bird Feeder can hold up to a pound of food. It has two separate clear plastic pieces — a flat tray with sides and a dome-shaped cover — that are connected with a steel rod hanger. The distance between tray and cover is adjustable and drainage holes in the bottom of the tray help keep feed clean and dry. The Observatory Dome Feeder is 11.75 inches in diameter and can be hung from its steel hook or mounted on a pole.

Dome Bird Feeder (button)
The best platform feeder

three birds perched on the uncraft Eco-Strong Platform Feeder

The Duncraft Eco-Strong Platform Feeder is made from durable recycled plastic and metal mesh that is easy to fill and clean.

Platform feeders are arguably the simplest, most versatile feeders available. They can be filled with any bird-friendly food and it is easy for most feathered friends to comfortably sit on the tray and eat. Like other feeders, platforms should be made from easy-to-clean materials like plastic or metal. “Although [wooden feeders] can look quite nice, they tend to be porous and harbor additional bacteria,” said Percy.

Duncraft’s Eco-Strong Platform Feeder has a sturdy tray made from recycled plastic and a mesh metal bottom that helps keep feed dry. The 12-inch-by-2-inch feeder is approximately an inch deep and has a hanging chain that clips to rings embedded at each corner to keep it balanced. The whole thing hangs from an S-hook at the top of the chain. The Eco-Strong Platform Feeder holds up to 2 pounds of seed, insects, fruit, nuts, or suet and is easy to detach from the chain for cleaning or filling.

Eco-Strong Platform Feeder (button)
How we selected products

We consulted three avian experts and conducted extensive research to come up with the selection criteria for this guide to the best bird feeders. We then applied that criteria to the bird feeders available at major online retailers, selecting our top choices in 10 different categories of feeders. The essential features we looked for included:

Feeder material: Our experts recommend sticking to feeders made from nonporous, easy-to-clean materials such as plastic, metal, and glass. Percy advised us to stay away from wood feeders in which harmful bacteria is more likely to grow.

Ease of disassembly: Because bird feeders should be frequently emptied, cleaned, and refilled, the easier they are to disassemble, the better. We favored feeders that have a fully removable cover and/or base and removable feeding ports and perches.

Ease of cleaning: Percy recommends cleaning bird feeders at least every two weeks and more often during times of heavy use or wet weather. We looked for feeders that could be easily soaked and scrubbed both inside and out, including in hard-to-reach crevices.

Bird-safe design: Greig recommends avoiding feeders that have tight, narrow corners or additional pieces that could cause a bird to become stuck inside. With that in mind, we looked for feeders with simple, functional designs.

Drainage: When water gets into a bird feeder, it can cause seed and other foods to rot or develop bacteria that may sicken or even kill a bird. In addition to a feeder that’s easy to clean, we looked for designs with built-in drainage when possible.

Price: We compared the cost of the feeders that met our other selection criteria, favoring those that were most affordable.

FAQs

Are feeders good for wild birds?

Feeding wild birds, when done correctly, is appropriate and may even help them when resources are limited,” said Rowden. According to Percy, studies have shown that birds with access to supplemental feeding may have better chances of survival and reproductive success than those that don’t.


What shouldn’t I feed wild birds?

Birds should never be offered processed human foods, including bread. “Bread, fresh or stale, does not provide nutritional value for wild birds and moldy bread can even be harmful,” explained Percy. She also recommends avoiding low-cost commercial bird seed mixes. “Unfortunately, many less expensive bags of mixed seed contain a lot of ‘filler’ seeds that most birds do not prefer and that contain no real nutritional value for them,” she said.


 Where should I hang my bird feeder?

Squirrels and window strikes are two of the most problematic issues when it comes to hanging a bird feeder. To avoid the latter, Greig recommends placing feeders within 3 feet of windows. “If they’re on the bird feeder and they get spooked and fly into a window, they don’t have enough speed built up to really harm themselves,” she said. Hanging a feeder more than 10 feet away from your home can also help keep birds safe. To deter squirrels, try hanging or pole mounting a feeder at least 10 feet from trees and other objects they can climb. Using a squirrel-resistant feeder or baffle, a plastic cone hung beneath the feeder to block a squirrel’s access, can also help to keep them at bay.


When shouldn’t I use wild bird feeders?

Bird feeders are best used in clean, safe, healthy environments, Greig told Insider Reviews. If you use pesticides on your lawn or garden or have outdoor cats, you should not use feeders to attract birds to your yard.


Are there other ways to attract wild birds to my yard?

“You can still create a beautiful space and attract birds to your yard just by creating a bird friendly habitat — letting a patch of your lawn go to seed or leaving a brush pile, for example” said Greig. Rowden agreed. “We encourage people to think about providing food naturally by planting native species that can provide food and shelter and places to nest in, and can potentially provide food throughout the year depending on where people live,” he said. The Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database can help you figure out what to plant around your home to attract birds.

How to maintain a bird feeder

Wild bird feeders must be emptied and cleaned frequently to prevent the feed from becoming contaminated by moisture and bacteria. Percy recommends taking them apart and scrubbing them down at least every two weeks. They should be cleaned more often in wet weather and at times of year that lots of birds are visiting.

To clean a feeder, begin by completely emptying and disassembling it. Check the care instructions to determine whether your feeder is dishwasher friendly or if it must be hand-washed. If it’s the latter, soaking the feeder’s parts in warm water first can dislodge stuck-on debris.

When hand-washing, use a bottle brush and dish soap to thoroughly scrub the feeder’s interior. If it needs disinfecting due to the potential buildup of bacteria, Percy recommends washing it in a solution made from one part bleach and nine parts water. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the feeder after washing.

Before reassembling and filling your feeder, make sure it is completely dry. Moisture that sticks around will contaminate feed more quickly.

Our sources

For this guide to the best bird feeders, we consulted the following experts in the field of avian biology, behavioral ecology, and conservation:

We also consulted the following online sources:

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Best Buy is branching out to sell grills and luggage as retailers look to capitalize on our pent-up desire to get outside and travel

Cleaning a charcoal grill with a grill brush
  • Best Buy is expanding beyond its usual tech products to attract Americans heading outside again.
  • The company is now selling items like grills, outdoor heaters, laptop bags and luggage.
  • Best Buy’s sales surged last year as customers bought gear for remote work and home entertainment.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In a departure from its usual tech offerings, Best Buy is now selling products like grills and luggage in order to appeal to Americans heading outside again as the economy reopens.

The tech retailer is adding outdoor living products and travel gear to its lineup ahead of the summer, when many Americans will head outside, whether it’s just to their backyards or on vacation.

“During the pandemic, many of us turned our focus to our homes, whether that meant moving, renovating or simply redecorating – and that trend isn’t slowing down,” said a press release issued by the company on Tuesday.

Best Buy’s new product offerings will be available online and in select stores. Its website now features items like grills, outdoor heaters and backyard décor from brands like Weber, Trager and Ooni. The company says it plans to offer an expanded variety of fire tables, outdoor furniture and more in the near future. To encourage buyers, Best Buy is also offering free delivery and assembly for some grills when customers spend $100 or more on grilling accessories.

The company also is selling new business gear ahead of many Americans’ likely return to the office later this year. This includes nearly 75 TUMI products, such as backpacks, laptop bags and luggage.

Best Buy’s attempt to attract outdoors-bound customers comes after a year in which the company successfully wooed those stuck indoors. The company’s sales surged in 2020 as Americans outfitted home offices for remote work and bought entertainment gear to keep themselves occupied as they stayed home during the pandemic.

The new additions represent Best Buy’s latest effort to branch out into new territory. The company previously added home exercise equipment to its inventory, and earlier this year the retailer began a pilot for a new membership program, Best Buy Beta, that takes aim at Amazon Prime.

Read the original article on Business Insider