Prime Members can get their first month of Paramount Plus for $1 if they sign up by May 16

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  • Amazon Prime subscribers can get one month of Paramount Plus for just $1.
  • The deal applies to the ad-free Paramount Plus plan which usually costs $10 a month.
  • To take advantage of the discounted month, you need to sign up before May 16.

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Paramount Plus offers two types of plans: ad-supported and commercial-free. The ad-supported plan usually costs $6 a month while the ad-free plan is $10 a month.

For a limited time, you can get the ad-free plan for just $1 during your first month if you sign up with an Amazon Prime or standalone Prime Video subscription. The deal is available as part of Amazon’s “Prime Video Channels” feature, which allows members to add other streaming platforms to their Amazon service.

The discount is good for new and existing Prime and Prime Video subscribers who sign up for Paramount Plus by May 16. Prime members can even use their “no-rush digital rewards balance” to pay for the add-on. Amazon Prime costs $13 a month or $119 a year. Standalone Prime Video plans are also available for $9 a month. Both Prime Video and Prime subscribers get a 30-day free trial after they sign up.

Paramount Plus subscribers get access to a variety of original programs, including a new “SpongeBob Squarepants” movie and spinoff series. There’s also a number of other original shows and movies on the way.

How to get $9 off your first month of Paramount Plus

  1. Sign up for either a standalone Prime Video or Amazon Prime membership.
  2. Go to Amazon’s Prime Video Channels page and search for “Paramount Plus.”
  3. Go to the offer’s page and click “Get Started.”
  4. Of the two options next to “Paramount Plus subscription,” click “Commercial Free.”
  5. Enter your payment information.
  6. The discount should apply and you’ll get your first month of Paramount Plus for just $1.

After your first month, the Paramount Plus add-on will renew for the regular $10 monthly price.

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The online best sales and deals happening now, from exclusive Grill Week deals to discounts at Aurate and ThermoWorks

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Best Online Sales Deals

We rounded up the best sales and deals happening online today, including Ulta, AeroGarden, and Sonos.

Deals in this story are subject to change throughout the day. The prices listed reflect the deal at the time of publication. For even more deals and savings across the web, check out our roundup of the best deals from Amazon and the best spring sales going on now – or, celebrate Grill Week with us by checking out both Memorial Day and exclusive deals.

The best deals available right now

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The best sales and discounts happening right now

The best Grill Week deals

It’s Grill Week here at Insider and that means tons of exclusive deals. Not only are these some exceptional discounts, but several of these offers are also super rare. They’re short-lived too: all of the sales end May 16. 

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Grill deals

Deals on grilling meat and grilling accessories

  • Casa M Spice: Use code INSIDERGRILL25 for 25% off all orders.
  • Chicago Steak CompanySave 17% with code INSIDER17.
  • Cooks VentureUse code INSIDER for 20% off your order.
  • Crowd CowSave $15 on your first order from Crowd Cow with code GRILLWEEK15.
  • Omaha SteaksGet four free top sirloins on orders $159+ when you shop through our link.
  • Pursuit FarmsUse code BUSINESS10 for 10% off your order.
  • Porter Road: Save $20 off your first order of $100 or more with code INSIDER20.
  • Rastelli’sSave $20 off your first purchase with code INSIDER.
  • Sizzlefish: Save 10% off your first purchase with code INSIDER.
  • SloFoodGroupSave 15% off sitewide with coupon code INSIDER.
  • Thermoworks: Get 20% off one item with promo code INSIDER20.
  • Thrive MarketGet 25% OFF your first order and a free gift when you join Thrive Market (1 year and 1 month memberships available).

Get up to 25% off at Aurate

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Shop the Aurate Upgrade sale now.

Aurate’s, one of our favorites for shopping affordable gold jewelry, holding a huge sale to help you upgrade your collection. Now through May 17, you can get 25% off $500+, 20% off $250+, and 15% off all orders — just use promo code UPGRADEME.

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Get 20% off one item at Thermoworks

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Shop the Insider-exclusive Thermoworks sale now.

Thermoworks makes great thermometers for every situation in your kitchen. All of our meat thermometer recommendations are made by Thermoworks, in fact. Sales from the brand, however, aren’t easy to come by; they’re often limited to holidays and exclusives. Now through May 16, Thermoworks is offering Insider readers 20% off any one item, including any of our picks — just use promo code INSIDER20 at checkout.

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Get 30% off sitewide from Carbon38

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Shop the Carbon38 sitewide sale now.

A brand we like for its versatile and stylish athletic wear, Carbon38, is having a huge sale. Right now, you can snag 30% off sitewide, just use the promo code SUMMER30. The discount includes the retailer’s huge array of leggings, bras, and joggers; it’s also the first worthwhile deal we’ve reported from them. 

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Get 20% off candles at Outdoor Fellow

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Shop the Outdoor Fellow Insider-exclusive sale now.

A good candle can brighten up your home, if it’s the right scent. Right now, Outdoor Fellow is offering Insider readers 20% off its selection of candles with promo code INSIDER20, with a range of scents from cozy to energetic. The subscriptions aren’t included in the discount, but that still leaves the brand’s lineup of nine candles to choose from. 

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Get 50% off haircare essentials from Ulta

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Shop the Ulta Gorgeous Hair Event now.

Now through May 29, Ulta is offering shoppers 50% off a rotating selection of haircare essentials. You’ll need to check back daily to access new deals, but the sale includes brands like Revlon, Chi, Ouidad, and many more. This week, Ulta is also offering a special with select shampoos and conditioners as low as two for $26

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Get 20% off at AeroGarden

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Shop the AeroGarden sale now.

Right now, AeroGarden is holding a huge sale with 20% off (or more) sitewide. Just use the promo code SUMMER20 to get the deal. The company makes indoor gardens of all shapes and sizes; we tested and loved the Harvest. The sale ends May 31. 

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Get $15 off your first order from Crowd Cow

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Shop the Crowd Cow Grill Week sale now.

To commemorate Grill Week going on now, Crowd Cow is offering an exclusive deal for Insider readers. Now through May 16, you can get $15 off your first order with promo code GRILLWEEK15. Crowd Cow is a convenient and reliable way to get meat from ethical and environmentally-friendly sources. After testing, we found it a good way to approach trying new cuts of meat with a clear conscience. 

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Save on certified refurbished speakers from Sonos

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Shop the Sonos refurbished sale now.

Sonos is a multi-room speaker system that lets you control what audio plays in each room of the house. Typically, its speaker lineup is a bit pricey, but right now you can save big by buying refurbished. Though it may sound a bit scary at first, buying items that are certified refurbished can spare you a great deal of money — and the tradeoffs may be less than you think.

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Get 20% off at Hello Bello

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Shop the exclusive Insider sale at Hello Bello now.

A brand known for its premium, plant-based baby products, Hello Bello makes some great products for adults, too. We like the brand’s Everywhere Balm and Sleep Well gummies. Now through June 30, you can snag 20% off everything with the promo code INSIDER20. Though the deal lasts a while, don’t miss out on it — we don’t often see sales from Hello Bello. 

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The best deals and sales happening on Amazon right now – save on Apple Airpods Pro and Razer Gaming Mouse

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Amazon Best Deals and Sales 2x1

Amazon’s dynamic pricing strategy can make shopping tricky for the average consumer, but if you know where to look⁠ – and when to act fast⁠ – Prime members can save a ton of money.

We’ve gathered all the best discounts currently available on the retail giant. Below you’ll find one-day sales via Amazon’s Gold Box promotion, exclusive coupon codes, and, of course, deals ranging from tech, fashion, and gaming all the way to home goods.

Due to the unpredictable nature of online shopping, prices may change without warning.

For more ways to save, check out our round-up of the best spring-related sales, Grill Week discounts, and the best sales going on right now.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Best deals on Amazon brand products

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Best Amazon tech deals

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40-Inch V-Series 4K UHD LED HDR Smart TV (medium, Preferred: Amazon)AirPods Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Deco S4 Mesh WiFi System (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Powerbeats Pro (medium, Preferred: Amazon)iPad Air (4th Gen., 256GB) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)C922x Pro Stream Webcam (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Evo Select MicroSDXC (128GB) (medium)

Best Amazon home and kitchen deals

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E35 Robot Vacuum and Mop (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Shredded Memory Foam Pillow (medium, Preferred: Amazon)BoostIQ RoboVac 30 (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Flavored Honey Sticks (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Weighted Blanket (15 lb) (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Memory Foam Full Body Pillow (medium, Preferred: Amazon)MT-720 Robotic Vacuum (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Best Amazon lifestyle deals

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Hum Smart Electric Toothbrush Kit (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Pedal Exerciser (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Bandana Print Reversible Face Mask 3-Pack (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

Best Amazon gaming and entertainment deals

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Naga Pro Gaming Mouse (medium, Preferred: Amazon)

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ESPN+: All your questions answered about ESPN’s streaming service

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What is ESPN+ 4x3

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Streaming has largely overtaken cable and satellite as the preferred method to watch movies and TV shows at your leisure. Low price points and the ability to watch on the go are primary reasons for the migration, but one sector has largely resisted any such paradigm shift – professional sports.

If you’re a sports fan, you might be shelling out for traditional cable just to watch your favorite team. Hefty deals between sports leagues and TV networks have prevented services like Netflix from streaming games, but ESPN now has a low-cost service that should satiate many sports fans’ appetites.

What is ESPN+?

ESPN+ is a streaming subscription service that’s considered a complement to existing ESPN content, not technically a separate platform. Think of it as an add-on to the standard ESPN app with live games, exclusive on-demand videos, and access to what was formerly known as ESPN Insider.

Previously, ESPN Insider offered subscribers exclusive written articles for a monthly $5 fee. ESPN decided to add video to the mix and created ESPN+ for a similar price, giving subscribers access to stories, live streaming, and on-demand videos.

What’s included with ESPN+?

What is ESPN+? We break down this network’s streaming subscription
ESPN+ is available to stream on mobile devices, media players, and select smart TVs.

ESPN+ includes a bevy of exclusive video content from live games to on-demand shows and exclusive stories. Unfortunately, the live games come with commercials – just like regular TV.

Subscribers can watch live games from the MLB, NHL, and MLS when their seasons are active; there are no live NBA or NFL games. There’s also PGA golf, UFC, college football, international soccer, and tennis. You can read more details on how to watch Major League Baseball on ESPN+ and other services here.

In addition to games, ESPN+ also features original shows, including in-depth game recaps and analyses hosted by Peyton Manning and Daniel Cormier, and a shorter version of “NFL Primetime.” Documentary programs, like “30 for 30,” as well as full replays of historic NFL games are also available to stream on-demand.

Does ESPN+ offer UFC PPV and UFC Fight Night events?

If you’re a fan of UFC or boxing, ESPN+ often offers exclusive pay-per-view (PPV) matches so you’ll get even more content from the service. The PPV events cost $70 for existing subscribers. ESPN+ also offers a special discounted bundle for new subscribers that includes a one-year membership and one PPV event for $89.98.

The next UFC PPV fight is UFC 262: Oliveira vs. Chandler on May 15. The match will take place in Texas with a sold-out crowd.

In addition to PPV matches, ESPN+ also features access to UFC Fight Night events. Fight Nights are typically included as part of a regular ESPN+ subscription for $6 a month.

What’s not included with ESPN+?

ESPN+ is technically separate from ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNews, so a subscription will not grant you access to live games being broadcast on those networks, including any live games during Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Baseball. That said, some MLB games are still available to be streamed.

Your ESPN+ account is not the same as a cable login with access to the ESPN networks, so there’s no way of getting around it either.

How much does ESPN+ cost?

An ESPN+ subscription will run you $6 a month, or $60 annually. If you do the math, this means that an annual plan will save you about $12 a year compared to paying for 12 months with the month-to-month plan.

If you’re looking for even more streaming content, there’s also a combo package that bundles ESPN+ with Hulu and the Disney Plus streaming service for just $14 a month – a $6 savings each month compared to getting all three services separately. Existing ESPN+ members can even upgrade to the bundle without having to cancel their current subscription. You can upgrade here.

Where can I watch ESPN+?

One of the cool things about ESPN+ is that you can access it through the current ESPN app.

Instead of launching a separate app, all the ESPN+ content is unlocked in the ESPN app once you subscribe. The app is available on virtually every platform you can imagine – phones, tablets, laptops, Roku players, Fire TV products, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, and Samsung smart TVs.

You can also stream on up to three devices simultaneously with one account.

How do I sign up for ESPN+?

Head over to the ESPN+ website and create an account, or open your existing ESPN account and you’ll be prompted to sign up.

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The 7 best whey protein powders, backed by strength coaches and dietitians

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Quality whey protein powder should have a tolerable taste, mix well, and offer maximum protein with minimal extras.
  • Our top pick, Naked’s Whey Protein, is a clean, additive-free powder that contains only whey protein.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice in NYC.

Protein, a macronutrient every cell in your body contains, is essential for your health. If you’re an athlete, casual gym-goer, or just want to lose a few pounds, protein also helps you build and retain muscle. Taking whey protein is an effective and inexpensive way to add more of the macronutrient to your diet.

In short, whey is the liquid leftovers that come from the cheese-making process. This liquid is dried into a powder, which is then sometimes (but not always) mixed with sweeteners while keeping calories, carbohydrates, and fats to a minimum.

But there’s more to picking out the right whey protein than just grabbing whatever you find at the store. While some are formulated with different additives, others pack more protein per serving or are designed to keep more of the protein’s natural nutrients.

At the bottom of this guide, we’ve included insight into what whey protein is and why it’s beneficial, as well as the safety precautions associated with taking whey protein and the best places to purchase it. We’ve also provided some background on the sources used, as well as our own expertise.

Here are the best whey protein powders:

The best overall whey protein powder

Naked Whey Protein

When Naked Nutrition calls its Naked Whey Protein additive-free, it means it as this protein powder has literally just one ingredient: Whey protein derived from grass-fed cows.

Pros: Contains just whey protein from grass-fed cows, low carbohydrate and fat count per serving, has 5.9 grams of BCAAs per serving

Cons: Not completely devoid of sugar (though there aren’t any artificial sweeteners or flavors), hard to mix, and can sometimes be chunkya

Many of Naked Nutrition’s products live up to the brand’s namesake of being literally naked, though perhaps none do it quite as well as its flagship protein powder, Naked Whey. Comprised of a single ingredient (whey protein from grass-fed cows), Naked Whey is a clean, additive-free product that has no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors. 

From a protein standpoint, one serving of Naked Whey (2 scoops of powder which is roughly 30 grams) delivers 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat, 120 calories, and just 2 grams of sugar. Each serving also has 5.9 grams of a combination of the BCAAs isoleucine, leucine, and valine. BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) may help build protein in muscles and aid in recovery.

A few drawbacks (or, rather, nitpicks) would be the Naked Whey isn’t the easiest to mix, and requires quite the shake in a shaker bottle to create a smooth, drinkable combination, though you’re likely to still encounter a few clumps. The taste of this is also very plain and almost dairy-like (which makes sense, of course), but Naked does offer the protein in Chocolate, as well as Vanilla and Strawberry in its Less Naked Whey, which has a few more additives. 

Naked Whey comes in either a 5 lb. tub for $90 or a smaller 1 lb. option for $22 — and Naked Nutrition even allows customers to set up recurring monthly deliveries at a discounted rate. 

If an additive-free protein powder is what you seek, Naked Nutrition’s Naked Whey, with just the single ingredient of whey protein, is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best mixing whey protein powder

Cellucor Whey Protein

If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.

Pros: Great taste, affordable, mixes smoothly, 24 grams of protein per serving, excellent for baking, third-party tested

Cons: 130 mg of sodium per serving, contains artificial sweeteners

The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder not only tastes good and has 24 grams of protein per serving, but it’s also the most affordable option in our guide at 71.4 cents per serving and 3 cents per gram of protein. Each serving also only has 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories.

There are seven flavors to choose from, including whipped vanilla, molten chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Cellucor recommends mixing two scoops with five to six ounces of your preferred beverage, but you can adjust the amount of liquid to fit your tastes. The company also suggests mixing the powder with yogurt, oatmeal, and pancakes. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best sugar-free whey protein powder

 Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey

The Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition may be expensive, but it mixes well and boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with zero grams of sugar.

Pros: 30 grams of protein per serving, third-party tested, superb mixability, no sugar

Cons: Contains high-fructose corn syrup

A single serving of Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey yields 140 calories, 30 grams of protein, one gram of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and no sugar. It’s made of hydrolyzed whey protein, which breaks down the protein into smaller pieces for better absorption and easier digestion. 

You can choose from seven flavors: cookies and cream overdrive, chocolate mint, velocity vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, supercharged strawberry, turbo chocolate, and red velvet cake, which was the highest-rated flavor on Bodybuilding.com. I think that turbo chocolate tastes great, too.

Optimum Nutrition uses artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup (which gets counted as a sugar on food labels).

Optimum Nutrition claims you can easily mix this protein with just a spoon and I can confirm this is true. While this may not seem like a strong selling point, I’ve forgotten my shaker bottle at home many times and have had to mix my protein with a spoon or knife at work. When I tried this with other brands, I always got clumpy, gross-tasting shakes. — Andrew Gutman

The best customized whey protein powder

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Gainful offers a unique approach to protein powder by offering personalized blends that are formulated specifically to the person ordering it, based on their fitness goals, diet restrictions, and other vital factors.

Pros: The custom is able to serve a wider range of users, doesn’t just rely on whey protein but pea, brown rice, and organic oat, as well, has a team of registered dietitians formulating the blends

Cons: Not the most economical in terms of amount and cost

One of the more unique protein powder options is Gainful, a brand that formulates personalized blends based on your specific needs. This could include weight and fitness goals, the amount you’re active each week, or if you have any dietary restrictions. It even lets you choose options dedicated to getting better sleep or improving gut health. 

It’s an interesting approach that succeeds in making the protein you order seem one-of-one. That is, not only does Gainful say it’s formulating a specific blend of protein for you, but when you get it and see what exactly is in it (especially compared to other protein powders), it feels exclusive.

Gainful takes its customization even further by offering flavor packets that mix with the powder to create different taste profiles. My sample came with both rich cocoa and cafe mocha, but the brand offers a variety of others like chocolate peanut butter, strawberry cream, and matcha green tea. You could consume the standard protein on its own, but it’s a very bland flavor when you do (it doesn’t necessarily taste bad, it’s just not very exciting). 

The nitpick I’d have with Gainful is that it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much protein for how much you spend. I tend to consume protein most days of the week, and I was able to work through the $39 bag in a little under three weeks. You can opt to get more per shipment (and Gainful can set up a recurring monthly delivery), though the price could feasibly double.

Despite its expensive price compared to others in this guide, what you get with Gainful isn’t offered anywhere else. You’re essentially paying for a premium dietitian service to tailor a protein powder specifically to your needs — for people who keep close tabs on their nutrition and diet, that’s invaluable. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best GNC whey protein powder

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GNC’s AMP Wheybolic protein powder offers 40 grams of protein per two-scoop serving, as well as 6.2 grams of leucine, and works great as either a pre- or post-workout supplement.

Pros: Now comes in popular Girl Scout flavors, packs 40 grams of protein and 6.2 grams of leucine per two-scoop serving

Cons: Might be too sweet for some, contains sucralose and other artificial sweeteners

The GNC name is synonymous with workout supplements, and its own branded protein are among its most popular items, specifically its GNC AMP Wheybolic powder. The brand supplied a tub of the powder in the Thin Mints flavor, which is sure to catch the attention of anyone who’s a fan of Girl Scout Cookies (it also offers Girl Scout Coconut Carmel aka Samoas and Girl Scout S’mores). 

Each two-scoop serving of the powder offers 40 grams of protein, 6.2 grams of leucine, 210 calories, 7 grams of net carbohydrates, and 2 grams of total sugar. The powder mixes well in water (after about 20 seconds or so of shaking) and never felt chunky or like there were leftover bits that hadn’t fully mixed. 

I used this protein primarily as a post-workout drink, though did also test it post-workout and on non-workout days. The Thin Mints flavor is heavy on the chocolate and mint, so if you like sweeter protein powders, this is exactly what that is. I’m not a huge sweet protein powder drinker myself, so would often choose to use this in moderation. 

A single $65 tub of the powder comes with 25 two-scoop servings, which is just shy of enough for a month’s worth of use — especially if you prefer to drink it on both workout and non-workout days. 

Our nutrition reviewer, Samantha Cassetty, did point out a few things to be cautious of after we spoke to her during testing. First, is the inclusion of sucralose. As we’ve mentioned in other protein powders, sucralose is a sweetener that may upset some people’s stomachs during ingestion. Cassetty pointed out that the powder also includes the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium, has artificial flavoring, and contains carrageenan, a somewhat controversial additive that’s been studied limitedly. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best-tasting whey protein powder

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.

Pros: Tastes good, relatively affordable, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints about the formula changing, contains an artificial sweetener

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder gets its sweetness from a little bit of sugar (1 gram per serving) and acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.

Each serving has 120 calories, a gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and most importantly 24 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition has also curated a number of recipes in which you can use the powder. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best fat-free whey protein powder

MyProtein whey powder

The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.

Pros: Excellent product purity, a high concentration of bound protein, fat-free, low in sodium

Cons: Concerns about quality control, contains artificial sweetener, not third-party tested

Depending on the flavor you choose, the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein fits up to 22 grams of protein into each 25-gram serving.

It does this with little or no fat or sugar and only 90 calories per serving. The sodium content is also low at 25 mg per serving. 

Labdoor independently tests dozens of whey protein powders, and the site recommended the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate because it scored high in Labdoor’s ingredient safety, nutritional value, and product purity tests. The testers found there were 21.9 grams of protein in every 25-gram serving.

There are a few complaints worth mentioning, too. Make sure you buy the whey isolate and not just the whey concentrate (If you follow our links, you should be fine). — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best lactose-free whey protein powder

Dymatize

If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.

Pros: Lactose-free, 91% of calories are from protein, less than a gram of sugar and fat, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints of foreign objects found in the powder, contains an artificial sweetener, 160 mg sodium per serving

The Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder is the only lactose-free option on our list but it’s not the only one that uses hydrolyzed isolate protein—the Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey does, too—which is supposed to help with digestion and absorption.

Each serving has 25 grams of protein, less than a gram of fat, 120 calories, and 2 grams of carbs, including less than 1 gram of sugar. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon bun, fudge brownie, gourmet chocolate, and chocolate coconut

Labdoor recommends the Dymatize ISO 100 as one of the best whey protein powders. In its tests, the powder had high scores for nutritional value and product purity, including less than one part per million of six harmful substances. Around 91% of the calories in this powder come from its protein content. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

What else we tested

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Animal Whey

I like Animal because the company doesn’t make gimmicky claims or rely on pseudoscience to sell its products. What you see is what you get and what you get is 120 calories, one gram of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein per serving. Animal uses whey protein isolate as its primary protein source, it’s moderately priced, and it’s third-party tested.

This wasn’t included, however, because it’s no better than any other pick. Compared to Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize or Cellucor, it’s slightly more expensive and isn’t as lauded by fans. It barely missed the cut. 

Pro Jym Protein Powder

A fan favorite, Pro Jym is comprised of four different proteins: whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, and milk protein isolate. According to creator, Dr. Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., this extends the rate of digestion for better protein synthesis. It comes in three flavors: chocolate cookie crunch, cookies and cream, and s’mores, and contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein per serving. 

Pro Jym missed the mark for two reasons:

  1. You pay more for three times the amount of fat and carbs as Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey, so it doesn’t fit into our minimum fillers criteria.
  2. It’s not a pure whey protein powder. 

Performix ioWhey

I personally like this protein powder because it tastes great, it’s easy on the stomach, and there are minimal extras. One serving of Performix ioWhey is 100 calories, zero grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of protein. 

My major issue is that Performix claims ioWhey is absorbed 36% more efficiently than other brands, which is why their protein per serving is low. That sounds great but since the product isn’t third-party tested, there’s no way to know if this is true or if the company’s selling you less protein per serving.

For the price per serving, you’re better off buying Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize ISO 100 if you’re willing to shell out for a premium protein. — Andrew Gutman

What is whey protein?

man making protein shake shutterstock

There are three main types of whey protein:

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC): This is a concentrated protein that keeps more of the nutrients. Most non-isolate proteins are comprised of WPC.
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI): This is similar to WPC but most of the carbohydrates, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins have been removed, so the powder has a higher percentage of protein. Typically, isolate is digested more quickly and, therefore, more agreeable for some. For that reason, most trainers and registered dieticians recommend opting for WPI, though it’s often more expensive.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): WPH is considered pre-digested since it breaks down the amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — to help with quicker absorption.

Is it safe to consume? 

Before you increase your protein intake significantly, check with your healthcare professional since people with certain maladies, such as calcium deficiencies or low blood pressure, could experience adverse effects from whey protein. 

It’s also important to note that protein powders aren’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some companies dilute their protein with useless fillers, which is why certain brands subject themselves to third-party testing as a way to verify the quality of their product.

To know if a protein is tested, look for a seal from either NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. This doesn’t mean that untested proteins are a subpar product but it’s good to be aware. You are, after all, putting this stuff into your body. Other than looking for brands that are third-party tested, here are different ways to spot a quality protein:

  • Ensure that protein is the first ingredient on the label. “When you look at a label, it’s in descending order so the ingredient in the highest amount will be found at the top of the list,” Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition, told Insider. “Look for labels that have protein at the beginning with fewer ingredients accompanying them.”
  • Typically, you want a whey powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving. All of our picks do.
  • Try to steer clear of excess sugar. As for artificial sweeteners, research on how they affect our weight and health is mixed.

How much should you consume? 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein consumption is about a gram for every 3 pounds of body weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, that equates to 60 grams of protein per day. Experts suggest that taking up to twice that still produces benefits.

When it comes to fitness-specific goals, like gaining muscle or losing fat, Jeb Stuart Johnston from Stronger U recommends ingesting up to one gram per pound of bodyweight. His claim is backed by a study via the University of Stirling

“For someone who’s trying to gain muscle mass and work out, taking in more protein helps speed up protein synthesis [the process in which your muscle fibers utilize protein to repair and grow],” Johnston said. “For a person who’s strictly trying to lose weight, taking in more protein helps retain the muscle you already have.” 

Based on Johnston’s recommendations, a 200-pound man would have to consume 200 grams of protein per day. That’s equivalent to 2 pounds of chicken breast. Supplementing with whey protein, he explains, is a convenient way to get more protein without grilling up another piece of bland chicken.

Where to buy whey protein

man protein powder shutterstock

When it comes to buying protein, one convenient ordering option is Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program, since it can save you up to 15%. You’re able to cancel your subscription at any time, too. What’s great about this program is that it automates ordering products that you replenish regularly.

For instance, if you take a serving of protein powder every day and there are 30 servings in a container, you can have a new tub delivered every month without lifting a finger.

Personally, I like to buy my protein from Bodybuilding.com. I usually try a different brand of protein each time I order more, so Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program doesn’t make sense for me, although it’s a smart option for many people. Bodybuilding.com has reliable customer reviews and it routinely offers deals on popular brands. As a bonus, it offers free shipping on orders over $75.

To figure out the cost per serving on your own, take the product’s price and divide it by the number of servings in the container. Since the amount of protein per serving varies by brand, it’s also useful to look at the cost per gram of protein. This is easy to calculate by dividing the cost per serving (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per serving. — Andrew Gutman

Expert sources

  • Jeb Stuart Johnston, nutrition and strength coach at Stronger U
  • Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition

This piece was also medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, and a nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.

About our writers’ expertise

In developing this guide, we tested close to a dozen of the top protein powders available from brands like Cellucor, Optimum Nutrition, and Naked to find the best across a variety of categories. 

The co-author, Andrew Gutman, is a former associate editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine, has competed in a bodybuilding show and two Strongman competitions, and has been lifting weights regularly for more than 10 years. He’s tried dozens of different whey protein powders.

Our guide features powders that have a taste you can stomach, a high protein content, and minimal fat, carbs, and calories. Guides Editor, Les Shu, is a former research chief at Men’s Fitness who oversaw the fact-checking of the magazine’s nutrition and exercise articles.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best backpacking stoves that are lightweight, fuel-efficient, and powerful enough to cook food fast

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Backpacking stoves are vital for preparing hot meals and coffee, no matter how far in the backcountry you are.
  • The best are fuel-efficient, lightweight enough to fit in your backpack, and reliable in inclement weather.
  • Our top pick, MSR’s WindBurner, is fast, powerful, and efficient, and weighs less than 3 ounces.

There are few things as refreshing as enjoying a hot meal at your campsite following a long day of hiking. Energy bars and trail mix do well to curb hunger during the day but when it’s time to relax for the night, you’ll want something a bit more substantial. That’s where a reliable camp stove opens up the options for meals, snacks, and hot beverages, making your time in the backcountry much more enjoyable.

I spend much of the year, regardless of season, either out on a multi-day backpacking trip or planning my next one – and I’ve learned that prioritizing how and what I’ll eat is always a vital consideration. This means making sure I’m able to start each morning with a cup of instant coffee and a few bites of rehydrated scrambled eggs so that I’m replenished enough and able to take on however many grueling miles lay ahead.

Refueling at night is just as important, too. A satisfying evening meal goes a long way to making my legs feel less tired and my body less sore, despite having hauled a 30-pound pack for several hours prior. Satisfying those meal needs always comes down to the type of backpacking stove I bring along. Even on shorter trips, it always finds its way into my pack – it’s that important.

Over the years, I’ve tested an array of camp stoves, both good and bad. What I’ve found is that I keep coming back to the same two brands: MSR and JetBoil. As you’ll notice by which stoves ultimately made the following guide, those two brands have the backpacking camp stove market almost entirely covered – and recommending another model just for the sake of doing so isn’t worth it. These are the best for a reason.

At the bottom of this guide, you’ll find some tips on how to shop for a backpacking stove and what else to consider, as well as the testing methodology I used.

Here are the best backpacking stoves:

The best backpacking stove overall

msr pocketrocket deluxe

Ounce counters will love the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, which delivers outstanding performance in a tiny package. If you want to travel fast and light, this is the stove you need. 

 

MSR’s original PocketRocket is an iconic piece of gear in the outdoor industry, setting new standards for lightweight performance from a backpacking stove. But the new Deluxe model takes things to a new level by adding a push-button starter and a regulator for improved control in cold environments. 

The PocketRocket Deluxe tips the scales at a mere 2.9 ounces, making it one of the more svelte stoves on the market. It also measures just 3.3 inches in length, which is considerably smaller than almost any other model. Despite the small size, it still manages to perform well, boiling water at a rapid clip and offering solid fuel efficiency, too. It even has an integrated simmer control and a solid level of wind resistance, which aren’t common in similar stoves.

With this new generation of PocketRocket, MSR included an onboard igniter, eliminating the need to carry matches or a lighter. The igniter can be a source of frustration at times, though, as it’s not always 100 percent reliable. 

It’s worth pointing out that this stove isn’t a full cooking system, meaning you’ll need to bring a pot to prepare your meal (and possibly to eat from). Those additional items take up space and add weight to your pack, potentially negating any shaved ounces from using the PocketRocket in the first place. Additionally, the stove’s pot supports aren’t very large and can create some instability when used on uneven ground. 

Still, this little stove punches well above its weight class, delivering outstanding all-around performance in a tiny form factor. That alone makes it easy to recommend as the best ultralight backpacking stove available today.

The best budget backpacking stove

BRS

The BRS 3000-T Ultralight stove is a budget-conscious backpacker’s dream. Not only does it weigh next to nothing but it offers solid performance at a rock-bottom price, making it a great choice for those who’d rather spend their hard-earned money on other gear instead. 

Pros: Very inexpensive and lightweight compared to other models

Cons: Not very durable and average performance in all but the best of outdoor conditions 

Budget-friendly backpacking stoves aren’t particularly common in the outdoor industry but occasionally a model comes along that manages to offer solid performance at a great price. Such is the case with the BRS 3000-T Ultralight, a stove that’s compact, lightweight, and easy on the wallet. 

You won’t find a lot in the way of frills on this stove, though. It doesn’t have a built-in starter, nor does it include simmer control or a regulator to help maintain performance in cold or windy conditions. The BRS 3000-T is the very definition of a basic backpacking stove, with just the bare minimum of features. 

With that said, it does weigh less than an ounce and boils a liter of water in roughly three minutes. It also comes with a set of built-in pot holders that do a reasonably good job of maintaining balance even on rough terrain. Best of all, the BRS 3000-T costs just $17, making it an absolute bargain. 

Of course, at that price, this stove does come with a few caveats. It’s recommended that backpackers handle it with care as it isn’t the most durable. The stove can also perform poorly in windy conditions and its small burner head delivers only average performance. 

The best fuel-efficient backpacking stove

msr windburner stove

You’ll always want to consider weight, size, efficiency, and ease of use when shopping for a backpacking stove and none deliver on those as well as the MSR WindBurner, the best stove currently available. 

Pros: Compact, fast, and efficient, the MSR WindBurner is an all-in-one system that backpackers will love

Cons: No built-in igniter and not as lightweight as some other models

MSR’s made excellent backpacking stoves for decades and one of the mainstays in its line-up is the WindBurner Personal Stove System. What makes this particular stove stand out is that it’s an all-in-one option that gives users everything they need in one package. That includes the stove itself, a 1-liter insulated cook pot, a stabilizer, straining lid, and a plastic bowl. The only added extra you’d need is a canister of fuel and you’re set.

Unlike other all-in-one systems, the WindBurner offers a few extras that make it easier to use. For instance, its simmer-control system allows users to dial in exactly how much heat they want to apply to the pot. This also provides a measure of control over fuel consumption. 

The WindBurner truly shines with its versatility and efficiency. Very few backpacking stoves are as good in cold and windy conditions, and most use more fuel when preparing a meal. In fact, the WindBurner often gets twice as many uses out of a single fuel canister as its competition. That performance remains surprisingly consistent, too, even when used in a variety of environments or altitudes. 

Weighing in at 15.2 ounces, the WindBurner isn’t the lightest stove on this list but it is compact enough to comfortably carry inside a backpack, along with each of the add-ons which store inside one another. The entire package is easy to clean and can be set up or taken apart quickly. It also has the ability to boil a liter of water in just four and a half minutes, which is quite fast for a model of this size. 

The best backpacking stove for beginners

jetboil flash

The JetBoil Flash offers excellent all-around performance and great features that make it especially beginner-friendly. Compact and convenient, this is a stove first-time backpackers can quickly learn to operate and continue to use for many years. 

Pros: Fast and relatively efficient, the JetBoil Flash is extremely easy to operate, making it a great choice for beginners

Cons: No simmer control means the stove lacks subtle options when cooking a meal and its loss of efficiency in windy conditions is noticeable

Inexperienced backpackers looking for a great first backpacking stove should look no further than the JetBoil Flash. Like the MSR WindBurner, this model is an all-in-one solution that not only provides a stove but also a cooking pot wrapped in a protective outer shell. That’s essentially all you need to prepare the dehydrated backpacking meals that have become increasingly popular in recent years. 

The Flash’s ease of use is one of its biggest strengths. Simply fill up the pot with water and you’re ready to go. The entire system connects seamlessly to a gas canister, allowing the Flash to bring liquids to a boil in about three and a half minutes. That means you won’t have to wait long to get a warm meal or a hot beverage.

With its built-in heat exchanger, the Flash remains efficient, even in shifting weather conditions and colder temperatures. While not as fuel-efficient as the WindBurner, it still does a decent job of getting as much performance out of a single canister as possible.

At 13.1 ounces, the JetBoil Flash falls into the middle ground concerning size and weight. Smaller stoves, such as the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, are more compact and less bulky but don’t include pots to prepare a meal, making the weight difference much closer than it seems. The Flash’s modular design only enhances its reputation as an easy-to-use option, too. 

The best travel backpacking stove

msr whisperlite universal

The MSR WhisperLite Universal is easy to travel with and uses liquid fuel rather than traditional gas canisters, making it the best backpacking stove for those going abroad.

Pros: Fast and efficient, compatible with multiple types of fuel which adds versatility and makes it great for international travel

Cons: A bit on the heavy side and requires regular maintenance in order to achieve optimal performance

Another mainstay in the MSR line-up, the WhisperLite Universal is without a doubt the best option for backpackers traveling outside the U.S. This stove comes with its own canister which can be filled with a variety of fuels, including white gas, kerosene, or even unleaded gasoline. It even uses standard isobutane-propane canisters when available, allowing this stove to go anywhere you’re able to find a viable fuel source. 

Compact and easy to carry, the WhisperLite Universal heats up quickly and gets nearly two hours of burn time from a single canister of white gas. Its overall efficiency varies depending on the fuel but it typically boils a liter of water in under four minutes. The stove is also easy to use, supports large pots for feeding groups of campers, and is surprisingly quiet for a liquid gas model.

The downside of using this type of stove is that it requires routine maintenance to keep it performing optimally. This maintenance isn’t particularly difficult but can be daunting and intimidating to newcomers. Additionally, at 14.9 ounces in weight, it’s a little heavier compared to other options. 

MSR ships the WhisperLite with a fuel pump, heat reflector, and a windscreen to help improve performance in windy conditions. It also comes with a few small parts to aid in the maintenance process. Unfortunately, a fuel bottle is not included, which adds an extra expense for international travelers, as well as a few additional ounces. 

How to shop for a backpacking stove

Shopping for a backpacking stove is different than what you’d look for while car camping, where size and weight don’t matter as much. When you’re carrying your entire allotment of gear inside a backpack, it’s vital to go small and lightweight.

It’s also important to find a stove that’s highly fuel-efficient in order to reduce the number of gas canisters you’ll need. 

But those aren’t the only features to consider. You’ll also want to take into account the number of people the stove supports, the kind of fuel it uses, and how durable it is. As with all outdoor gear, your stove should be extremely reliable and easy to use — there’s nothing like arriving at your campsite after sunset, exhausted and hungry, only to find your stove won’t start. 

What else to consider

It’s also important to think about when and where you’ll be using your camp stove. If you go backpacking in cold and windy conditions, you’ll want a stove that quickly boils water without using excess fuel. The same holds true when hiking at higher altitudes, where thinner air has a dramatic impact on efficiency. 

If this sounds too complex or overwhelming, fret not. There are plenty of reliable backpacking stoves to choose from, many of which are lightweight, compact, and fast. In fact, we’ve field-tested a crop of stoves currently available and came away impressed. There are now options available for just about every type of backpacker with any kind of budget. 

How we test backpacking stoves

Each stove featured in this guide went through a series of on-trail tests to see how well it held up across these four categories: Portability, weight, dependability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which backpacking stoves ultimately made this guide:

Weight: For literally anything backpacking-related, weight is perhaps the most important consideration. Even if you’re not an ultralight backpacker, counting down to the ounce is common practice, and your camp stove is no different. During each test, we loaded a backpack with roughly 20 pounds of gear (sleeping bag, clothing, food, headlamps, etc.) and would spend one to two days with the stove in our backpack, and at least one day with it in someone else’s. This helped us judge just how much of a difference those ounces truly made.

Portability: Though weight may first come to mind when assessing how portable a camp stove is, we also judged how well the stove packed down, whether into itself or as pieces that were easily packable. A highly portable backpacking stove shouldn’t take up much valuable room in your pack, and also shouldn’t be so many separate pieces that you feel like you’re assembling a jigsaw puzzle each day. 

Dependability: Setting up camp after a grueling day on the trail can turn sour very quickly if the stove you’re about to rely on for sustenance doesn’t work (and this is doubly true when the weather starts to turn wet, cold, and windy). We’ve tested these stoves in hot weather often but also made sure to put them through their paces when the wind and rain picked up. For these, we had to resort to doing so in our backyard, though time spent on trail this winter will allow for further testing.

Value: The value of a backpacking camp stove isn’t just how much it costs but more so a combination of the three categories before it, as well as its final sticker price. You want something that’s dependable and often that means spending a little more for something you can rely on (as opposed to spending less, more often on an inferior stove). 

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The best garden hose nozzles in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

So you’ve finally found a garden hose that’s durable, easy to use, and doesn’t kink. Next, you’ll need a garden hose nozzle. It makes watering tasks more convenient and efficient, plus you’ll save water.

“It’s absolutely necessary to attach an adjustable nozzle to your garden hose,” said John Jo rs, a Florida Master Gardener and volunteer groundskeeper at the 35-acre Bonnet House Museum and Gardens. “Otherwise, you may find yourself running back and forth to turn your water spigot off and on as needed.”

There are a few different nozzle styles to consider, including pistol grip, fire-hose, and watering wand. If you plan on using your hose for a wide variety of tasks, Jors recommends a pistol grip nozzle with multiple spray options and adjustable water pressure.

But if you have trouble holding down a pistol grip for long periods of time, fire hose-style and watering wands are good alternatives. Learn which nozzle style and spray option you should use.

We tested garden hose nozzles of different styles on the same hose (our pick for the best hose overall, the Dramm ColorStorm Garden Hose). For each hose nozzle, we tracked ease of use, comfort, water pressure, spray distance, and durability. Read more about our methodology.

Here are the best garden hose nozzles in 2021

The best garden hose nozzle overall

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Gardenite 10 Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle

The Gardenite 10-Pattern Garden Hose Nozzle is the most versatile, reliable, and comfortable nozzle you can attach to your hose. All the spray patterns are consistent and using it won’t tire out your hand. 

Pros: Many spray patterns, easy to switch among patterns, strong metal and rubber construction

Cons: The multiple settings may be superfluous if you only use your hose for a few tasks, jet setting doesn’t offer strongest pressure

With this Gardenite hose nozzle, you won’t have to worry about whether you’ll have the appropriate spray pattern for the task in front of you. The 10 patterns include “cone,” “shower,” “mist,” and “jet,” plus less common ones like “flat” and “vertical.” Whether you’re washing your dog, watering delicate plants, or hosing down dirt, you’ll be properly equipped. 

It’s easy to twist the nozzle to the spray pattern you need, and the nozzle clicks clearly to let you know you’re ready to use your selected pattern. When you hold down the trigger, the water doesn’t shoot out aggressively — an issue I discovered with other nozzles. The nozzle also never leaked in all my tests. 

The flow control knob at the back of the nozzle lets you adjust the pressure of each of the 10 patterns, allowing for even more adjustability. 

Despite all these ways to diversify your watering experience, the jet option was a little disappointing and wasn’t as strong as our high-pressure nozzle pick below. Overall, the all-in-one design and quality construction of this nozzle still earn it our top position, but consider whether you’d rather have the versatility or a more specialized nozzle. 

This nozzle has a pistol grip, with a front trigger that is made from metal and has indents for your fingers. The handle is cushioned rubber. These features combined make the grip as comfortable as it can get. 

The best garden hose nozzle on a budget

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Melnor 5 Pattern Watering Nozzle budget cheap affordable

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Melnor 5-Pattern Watering Nozzle is a solid alternative that still offers five spray options. Just be warned it’s not as durable as our other picks.

Pros: Affordable, easy to use, versatile 

Cons: Can leak a little, not rugged, doesn’t offer long spray distance 

A good, solid garden hose is an investment, and after spending that money, you might not want to splurge on an additional accessory. Luckily, this Melnor hose nozzle is very affordable, while still offering features you need and decent comfort. 

This nozzle keeps it simple with five spray options that should suit most activities: shower, full, stream, flat, and mist. All the settings worked well and had strong, consistent pressure, though the spray distance fell short compared to the other nozzles. The mist option was especially effective.

The nozzle attached securely to my hose, but there were some small leaking issues. The droplets were tiny and didn’t significantly affect my watering experience but it’s worth noting since this was the only nozzle I tested that leaked at all. 

It’s decently comfortable to hold — the rubber grip features indents for your fingers, but the back trigger section is made from plastic which is less comfortable than an all-rubber grip. There is a trigger lock to help prevent grip fatigue, so you don’t need to squeeze down the whole time you’re watering. 

Made from a combination of metal, plastic, and rubber, the nozzle is lightweight, but you can’t bang it around the ground too much. In our durability tests, the metal pin that acts as a trigger lock fell out. While we know you won’t purposely drop your nozzle onto concrete repeatedly, it’s also good to keep in mind that this nozzle isn’t going to last for years. But if you need a temporary solution, or don’t use your garden hose often, it’s a quick and cheap buy with most of the features you need. 

The best watering wand

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Melnor RelaxGrip Watering Wand 2

Avid gardeners will want the Melnor RelaxGrip Watering Wand, which offers a gentle shower of water, is long enough to reach tall hanging plants, and uses a comfortable thumb control rather than a pistol grip. 

Pros: Long, less tiring to grip, ideal for delicate flowers and plants in hanging pots 

Cons: Singular purpose, may have leakage problems after long-term use 

If you have trouble holding down a pistol grip, you’ll love the easy thumb control of this nozzle. You simply slide the control up and down whenever you need to adjust the water flow. This smart design reduces the strain on your wrists and fingers, allowing you to water your garden for longer. The textured rubber grip is also comfortable with ergonomic indents for your fingers. 

The thumb control acts as a sliding scale in that there isn’t a distinct click for each different flow setting. Instead, you might have to play around with the control at first to learn where the flow intensity changes and how far you should slide the control. Over time, you’ll have a better natural sense of how to control the water.  

This watering wand has a long stick design (this version is 33 inches long from nozzle tip to end, while the short version is 15 inches long) that lets you reach tall branches with no struggle. The water travels smoothly all the way through, and the water flow is consistent. 

It attached securely and didn’t leak, but after seeing some customer reports of leakage issues, we’ll keep an eye out for that in our long-term testing. Given the wand is made up of many distinct parts, it’s possible it may leak if any of the parts break. In our durability tests, however, the wand emerged unscathed and nothing broke.

Since this nozzle only offers a concentrated shower pattern, it’s best for gardeners who intend to use it frequently for their plants and flowers. It will not help you in the way of washing a deck or covering a large amount of ground.

The best high-pressure garden hose nozzle

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Twinkle Star Adjustable Twist Hose Nozzle high pressure

This simple and compact brass nozzle from Twinkle Star shoots out strong jets of water over long distances, making it perfect for chores that require some water pressure. 

Pros: Made from sturdy solid brass, small, good jet and wide spray options 

Cons: No two-way shutoff, less control over water flow 

For grimy trash cans, a car in need of a good wash, or your deck that has so many layers of dirt it’s starting to change colors, it’s handy to have a high-pressure nozzle to do all the hard rinsing work for you. 

The Twinkle Star is a long and slim nozzle that has powerful and efficient jet and wide spray settings. To use, you twist the nozzle in one direction to find the pattern you need. Though there aren’t specific settings that you can “click” into, the nozzle twists smoothly and the spray patterns transition well into each other. The one-way shutoff means you have to twist it off the same way you twist it on, which isn’t a huge dealbreaker, but it’s a little convenient. The nozzle attached securely to my hose and never leaked. 

Its spray distance was long, on par with the Gardenite nozzle‘s. The high pressure and long spray distance are a great combo for attacking dirty surfaces from afar.

We also loved the solid brass construction. It’s resistant to rust and all-around durable, plus it looks sleek. 

This product actually comes with two nozzles, a long one and a much smaller one. We wouldn’t recommend the small tip nozzle, as it wasn’t adjustable and couldn’t shut off the flow of water. It offered medium pressure and a very narrow spray, so we’re not sure what the use of this extra nozzle is. Stick with the long nozzle, and you’ll be set. 

The best fireman-style garden hose nozzle

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Bon Aire Hose Nozzle fireman style

A fire-hose-style nozzle like the Bon-Aire Hose Nozzle is perfect if you want versatile spray options without straining your hand. 

Pros: Very comfortable to hold, strong rubber and metal construction, two-way shutoff 

Cons: Less control over water flow 

Rather than hold down a trigger, you only need to twist the barrel of the Bon-Air nozzle to start and stop the flow of water. Like a few of the nozzles above, it doesn’t have distinct spray settings, so you just gradually turn the nozzle to find the different options. Conveniently, the nozzle has two-way shutoff, meaning you don’t have to turn it back all the way to the beginning in order to stop the water flow. 

I enjoyed using this nozzle a lot because it was comfortable to hold and all the water flow options were consistent in pressure. The jet and wide spray settings were especially strong. 

Compared to the Twinkle Star nozzle, the Bon-Aire is bulkier but also likely more durable. Since most of it is encased in rubber, the metal middle section rarely touches the ground. If you drop it on the ground from a tall height, it simply bounces around. 

Our gardening expert John Jors reminds us, “Although [a fire hose-style nozzle] is very durable, the spray options are limited and you won’t have the flow control you have with the pistol grip.” 

This was certainly my experience with the Bon-Aire nozzle. It’s available for around the same price as our best overall pick, so choosing this nozzle is ultimately a matter of personal preference and comfort. It’s ergonomic and durable, but you will have the deal with the lack of distinct spray settings. 

What else we tested

best garden hose nozzles 2021 Gilmour Metal Pistol Nozzle what else we tested

What we don’t recommend and why

Gilmour Metal Pistol Nozzle: This simple nozzle is cheap but also really rugged. It’s metal all around and intuitive to use — just squeeze the trigger and the water flow will change depending on how hard you squeeze. My main critique is that it’s not comfortable to hold at all and has no cushioning for your fingers, so you’ll have to wear your own gloves. The nozzle is small, brittle, and stiff, and you’ll have to use the hold-open clip to spray continuously. 

What we’re testing next

What we look forward to testing - best garden hose nozzles 2021 Dramm 14866 One Touch Rain Wand with One Touch Valve

Dramm One-Touch Rain Wand: Another promising watering wand has a similar thumb control valve to our current best wandering wand and looks to be durable and consistent. 

Gilmour Swivel Connect 1-Pattern Nozzle: Gilmour’s innovative “swivel connect” design means that you can turn the nozzle in any direction without turning the hose itself, reducing annoying kinks and bends as you handle your hose. Though it doesn’t have multiple spray options, there is a comfortable thumb control valve. 

Methodology

Best garden hose nozzles 2021 - Methodology slide

We put all the hose nozzles through these same five tests: 

  1. Ease of use: We noted how easy or difficult it was to attach to the hose, how many spray options it had, and whether it leaked. 
  2. Comfort: We noted if the grip was ergonomic. If the nozzle had a pistol grip design, we timed how long we could press the grip down before it got too tiring to press. 
  3. Spray distance: On concrete, we measured how far the nozzle sprayed water when holding the hose at a regular position (a foot away from the body).
  4. Water pressure: We measured the pressure of water coming out of the nozzle with a water pressure gauge. If there was more than one spray setting, we measured the low, medium, and high settings. 
  5. Durability: We dropped each nozzle on concrete from 10 feet high 10 times and noted scuffing, scratches, abrasion, and any broken or bent parts. We also left the nozzles outside for two consecutive weeks through various weather conditions, including sun and rain, noting any rust and other signs of wear and tear.

Garden hose nozzles FAQs

best Garden hose nozzles 2021 FAQs

Why do you need a garden hose nozzle?  

  1. It saves water. Water will not come out of your hose unless you open the nozzle, meaning you don’t need to run back and forth to the spigot. This is especially helpful if you’re using a long hose. 
  2. A garden hose nozzle helps distribute water in a more controlled manner than a garden hose alone. The regular flow of a garden hose alone isn’t always the best for tasks like watering delicate flowers or washing a car. The different spray options of a nozzle let you customize the flow to your specific task. 

What are the different types of garden hose nozzles? How do you use them?

Pistol grip nozzle: Features a trigger that controls the amount or flow of water. Hold down the trigger (which may be in front of or behind the handle) to release water. The harder you press, the more water comes out. 

Dial nozzle: Features a rotating dial of distinct spray patterns. It’s often combined with a pistol grip so you only need to hold down the trigger to activate the flow of water, while the dial setting controls the specific flow.

Watering wand or rain wand: A long nozzle that helps extend water flow to hard-to-reach areas. It’s usually controlled with a comfortable sliding thumb control. 

Firehose (or fireman)-style nozzle: A large dial-style nozzle that does not have a pistol grip. The spray patterns are not distinct and must be gradually adjusted. 

What nozzle and spray type do you use for…

  • Watering flowers or a vegetable garden: Use a flat spray or shower delicate plants with a rain wand because it’s the most gentle spray type. Make sure to water at soil level at the base of the plants. It’s best to water them in the morning, before it gets too sunny and hot, so that less water will evaporate.  
  • Watering trees and shrubs: Drip lines are ideal, and if you’re using a hose, you actually shouldn’t use a nozzle. Simply place the hose on the ground near the tree and let water slowly and steadily dribble out. Rotate the hose around the tree (in a ring shape) periodically. 
  • Washing a car: Use a jet spray with any of the nozzles above except the rain wand. If you’re just doing a light rinse, a setting like a full shower could also work. 
  • Power-washing a deck: Use a jet spray with any of the nozzles above except the rain wand. 

Check out our other backyard and gardening guides

Purple garden hose on the sidewalk
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Thrive Market is an online grocery store that sells organic foods at wholesale prices, and right now you can get 25% off your first order

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

Thrive Market

  • Thrive Market is an online grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO groceries, beauty, and cleaning supplies.
  • Its prices are 25% to 50% off regular retail prices, though you have to pay a membership fee ($60/year or $10/month).
  • I saved more than $100 on my first order at Thrive Market than if I were to shop at a regular grocery store.

Membership (Monthly) (small)Table of Contents: Masthead StickyRelated Article Module: The 5 best places to buy groceries online in 2021

When I first tried Thrive Market, I was just coming out of essentially a reverse-cleanse: a 12-pack of macaroni and cheese that I bought at a “great deal” discount on Amazon groceries. A couple of months of eating that and an unrelated health scare, and I was ready to commit to a complete pantry overhaul. That’s when I started shopping at Thrive Market.

What is Thrive Market?

Thrive Market bills itself as “wholesome food at wholesale prices.” It’s an online wholesale grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO products at a discounted rate of 25% to 50% off retail prices to its members.

You have two membership options. The annual membership costs $59.95 (or $5/month) and is billed once yearly. If you opt to do a monthly membership instead, you’ll pay $9.95 per month.

You’ll get free shipping on your first order over $25, plus all orders $49 or more. Thrive Market currently ships to all contiguous US states.

How it works:

  • Sign up for free: You can browse the catalog, see member saving, and receive 25% off your first purchase.
  • Start a free 30-day trial: You can start a free 30-day membership trial with your first purchase on Thrive Market. Cancel anytime.
  • Join as a member: After your trial, you can sign up for a paid membership. If you do, you’re also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family.

You can shop Thrive Market category, by values (ie. gluten-free, paleo, raw, vegan, etc.), or by current deals.

What can you buy at Thrive Market?

Thrive Market carries 6,000+ healthy products, and you can shop hundreds of categories. You’ll find food, beauty, bath and body, health, babies and kids, home, pet supplies, and the all-inclusive “other” from brands like Burt’s Bees, Acure, Annie’s, Seventh Generation, KIND, Bragg, Califa, Milkadamia, and Primal Kitchen.

While you can buy staples like meats and seafood, the rest of Thrive Market’s selection is mostly shelf-stable options. For produce, you’ll probably still want to stop at your neighborhood store, farmers’ market, or another grocery delivery option.

In addition to offering thousands of organic brands you could find at your local grocery store and online, they also have an in-house Thrive Market brand that packages organic products (the equivalent of your supermarket chain’s generic brand).

Thrive Market
Thrive Market’s $60/year or $10/month membership gets you access to savings on healthy foods.

If you spend a lot of time researching healthy foods, have a dedicated diet or food restrictions, or consistently buy organic or non-GMO foods online, you’ll likely get the most value with Thrive Market.

Quality is a concern with organic substitutes, and it’s helpful to have customer ratings to simplify things as you go on Thrive Market. The healthy eating community is an intense one, so it’s nice that Thrive Market makes use of all that helpful, accumulative passion in a way that I, a newcomer, can utilize too.

The 25% to 50% price difference also could help to close the gap between the sometimes inflated “organic” prices at some grocery stores, making Thrive Market a viable choice for the average person on a budget.

If ordering food online seems risky to you, it’s good to note that you’ll be protected by a return policy. If anything is wrong with your groceries or your order, though, let them know here within 21 days.

When we price checked some of the items, Thrive Market was not always cheaper, but when it was, it usually offered a large enough gap in savings to be substantial overall. You could save more by buying local, though your selection may not be as wide or the process as convenient.

And if you’re concerned about getting value out of your membership, Thrive Market guarantees their annual membership will pay for itself. If your membership fee was $60, but you only saved $40 in a year, they will automatically give you the difference ($20) in Thrive Market credit after you renew.

Review of Thrive Market

Thrive Market
Thrive Market stocks popular brands like Annie’s and Simple Mills, and has its own in-house Thrive Market brand too.

I ordered my groceries from Thrive Market in pursuit of a pantry not entirely reliant upon mac and cheese. In my first Thrive order, the total was $99.16 and the savings listed were $145.33.

The savings claims held up, and I technically paid off the $60 annual membership fee in my first order. The food was delicious, and I discovered new better-for-you snacks. I also found Thrive to be surprisingly cheaper for some of my favorite skincare products, like this Aztec Clay Mask.

Thrive Market carries ethically sourced meat and seafood in large bulk “box” options, but the options are slightly more limited than the average meat and seafood counter at a grocery store. I also don’t have space in my freezer or fridge to handle $100+ worth of meat, but if you do, it could be another great place to see your savings.

My colleague, Owen Burke, a lifelong fisherman with a background in commercial fishing and tending oyster bars, tried out Thrive’s bevy of seafood on offer, and had this to say:

“I tried Thrive Market’s Deluxe Seafood box, which runs you about $170. This is not something you’ll want to buy unless you have a solid shelf of freezer space to spare, but I’ll commend Thrive and call this nothing short of a feat on their part. You’re getting six different species of seafood, and everything I received was wild-caught, and not in some far-flung waters using questionable methods and labor practices, something with which the industry is rife. These might not be the absolute best practices for every product, but Thrive is going leaps and bounds above your run-of-the-mill grocery store.

My favorite was the shrimp. They were superbly packed, vacuum-sealed, and packaged, which is among the most important things to do with any seafood. Mess that part up in any way (which, admittedly, is an easy thing to do), and you’re fighting a losing game against oxidation and freezer burn. These shrimp still looked fresh after I thawed them and pulled them out of the packaging. They were beautifully peeled and deveined, and they had no hint of off-flavor that you sometimes get when shrimp (especially frozen shrimp) aren’t handled all that well. I give them an A+ here.

The sockeye salmon was also vacuum-sealed well, and while I always appreciate skin-on salmon fillets, they often come at the cost of turned (brown) blood meat, which imparts that”fishy” flavor associated with frozen fish. This is per usual, though, when it comes to frozen salmon, but I recommend eating around it, if not to avoid the taste then to avoid the toxins blood meat bears. You’ll also get four to five fillets, which means four to five servings (about six ounces a pop).

The lobster tails are very nicely processed, deveined, and split so you can pop them right in the oven or on the grill. They’re not vacuum-sealed, but loose on a tray covered in plastic, which lends them to some freezer burn and ice buildup, but that really doesn’t create the problem for lobster as it does for fish, due to the tough quality of the meat.

The scallops I received provided two servings, and while they weren’t vacuum-sealed as I would have liked, they were plenty tasty. Just note that these are not your jumbo-sized U10 (under 10/pound) scallops, but they were tasty and clean (free of residual sand and mud). You can find better scallops out there, but for what you’re getting for the price of this box, I’d file no complaints.

It varies depending on what you get, but in all, you’re looking at 10-15 meals of fresh-frozen (that’s fish that was frozen fresh, as soon as it was processed) wild-caught protein of high quality. That’s something like $11-$17 dollars a dish, which is about as good as you’re going to do with high-quality fresh seafood unless you’ve got friends at the fishing docks.”

The bottom line

Thrive Market
Thrive Market carries meat and fish to be ordered in bulk, but it isn’t likely to be the average person’s main source of meats.

I wish it was possible to find everything here (fresh fruit, more options for meat), but ultimately the discounts and the easy delivery make using Thrive worth it. And I wish it was free shipping always instead of just orders of $49 and up, but I typically clear that just by restocking my favorite basics. All in all, I liked using Thrive Market regularly for healthy snacks, healthy-but-fast foods, and kitchen basics like pasta sauce and olive oil.

If you need an added incentive, Thrive Market also has a program called “Thrive Gives” which gifts a free membership to someone in need through Feeding America and the Boys and Girls Club or directly through the site for every paid membership. The free membership also includes teachers, veterans, and first responders.

Start a free 30-day trial to Thrive Market

Membership (Monthly) (small)

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The 9 best Tampa hotels, from sprawling family resorts to decadent luxury hotels – and every single one has a must-visit pool

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

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

  • Tampa, a major city in Florida, is popular for its area beaches, historic charm, and college campus.
  • The metropolitan Tampa area also includes the popular resort towns of St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
  • The best Tampa hotels take advantage of the stunning Gulf setting – here are our top picks.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The third most-populated city in Florida, Tampa is a Gulf Coast gateway to an impressive region of white-sand and blue-water beauty.

There’s plenty to like about the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area. I’m a Florida-based travel writer and love the Tampa coastline for its stunning sunsets, fresh seafood – the grouper and flounder from the Gulf alone justify the trip – and more easygoing mentality than you’ll find in party-driven places like Miami.

Whether you want to hit up Busch Gardens, admire some of Florida’s best beaches, or tack on a second stop after a trip to Orlando’s theme parks, Tampa is filled with great hotels that are worth a visit in their own right. From sprawling family-friendly resorts to decadent luxury hotels, these are the best hotels in Tampa.

Browse all the best hotels in Tampa below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

Here are the best hotels in Tampa, sorted by price from low to high.

The Westshore Grand, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel

The Westshore Grand, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Tampa

Book The Westshore Grand, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel

This large hotel is accustomed to business travelers with precise demands, as well as groups in town for destination weddings or other events. So, you can be sure that any request will be met with both efficiency and excellence.

Guests enjoy their time here, from morning coffee made just the way they like it to meetings in the tech-stocked rooms, and after-work swims in the rooftop pool.

The 325 rooms start at 338 square feet and feature floor-to-ceiling views of downtown, the landscaped courtyard, or the atrium. Guest rooms are outfitted in natural woods, high pillowtop mattresses, blue-and-wheat plaid drapes, and white comforters with patterned throws and pillows. The desk chair is ergonomic, which is helpful if you’re there for several days of work.

Meanwhile, the bathrooms feature grab bars in showers and tubs. For more accessible room features, ask while booking. 

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf and Spa Resort

Innisbrook A Salamander Golf and Spa Resort

Book Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf and Spa Resort 

At 900 acres, this massive luxury resort hosts professional golf and tennis tournaments and draws aficionados its fabulously designed courses, courts, and lessons. But that’s not the only reason to stay here.

In addition to golf, Innisbrook takes sun life pretty seriously, scattering six pools around the property, including one with two sand beaches, a waterfall, and waterslides. Recently refreshed rooms are designed in a crisp tropical palette and begin at 300 square feet, while suites start at 1,000 square feet and have kitchens plus a private balcony or patio to take in the views.

Take the tram from an early morning golf game to enjoy a poolside lunch and cocktail, or get around the property on a surrey bike built for four or six. And if you somehow bore of  Innisbrook’s options, sign up for one of their field trips to places like Clearwater Marine Aquarium or top-rated Caladesi Island Beach.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Aloft and Element Hotel

Tampa Dual Branded Aloft and Element Hotel Sal y Mar Rooftop Bar Exterior

Book Aloft and Element Hotel

Located in the ultra-trendy Midtown Tampa city-within-a-city, this two-in-one hotel brings you right into Tampa’s young professional nerve center. Surrounded by waterside running trails, airy outdoor cafes, dog parks, and more, the dual-branded Aloft and Element Hotel is the place to drop your bags in order to get out and go.

That said, the hotel(s) do have their charms that keep you in place. Contemporary, clean rooms are accented by striped rugs and platform beds. The minimalist designs are comfortable and colorful, with mini fridges and free Wi-Fi to work or keep up with family and friends.

Both sections of the complex have self-serve markets. They share the latest highlight – the Sal Y Mar Rooftop Bar, where you can meet clients or friends after-hours for Spanish tapas and Mayan-influenced Mexican fare. Separately, Aloft adds the WXYZ bar and Element takes it one step further in the morning with the complimentary Rise: Breakfast Bar. They also differ in that Aloft has a fitness center while Element directs you to the rooftop pool that they share for exercise. 

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

JW Marriott Tampa Water Street

Tampa Marriott Water Street Exterior

Book JW Marriott Tampa Water Street

Given its stunning Tampa Bay waterfront setting and accessible luxury, it may be difficult to think of JW Marriott Tampa Marriott Water Street solely as a wellness retreat. Or as just a business hotel. Or perhaps only as an event venue. Because, in addition to welcoming everyone from couples on vacation to families convening for Buccaneers games, it’s all of those things.

Newly refurbished rooms boast a range of sand, sky blue, and light gray hues that match the outdoor views, making it difficult to leave their comfy confines, especially if you’re staying in one of the 35 Stay Well™ rooms that includes air purification, aromatherapy, a Mood Box to energize or relax you, and a shower infuser that illuminates your hair and skin. Wellness features also include Cleveland Clinic tips and programs for sleep, stress, and nutrition management.

Outside of the room, dine on amazing seafood at Anchor and Brine, casual American fare at Café Waterside, or light bites and cocktails in the beautifully designed Great Room or on the waterside patio, where live music is often booked.

Head up to the rooftop pool for a dip, work out in the 24/7 fitness center, or ask the concierge to arrange boating, fishing charters, or other water activities.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Hotel Haya

Hotel Haya

Book Hotel Haya 

Opened in September 2020 with renowned Miami celebrity chef Douglas Rodriguez at the helm of on-site restaurants Flor Fina and Café Quiquiriqui, this 178-room hotel is set smack-dab in Ybor City, also known as Cigar City. 

The hotel comprises two historic buildings. One was Ybor City’s first restaurant, and the other was the Warren Building, which housed Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. The decor and architecture reflect the “Golden Age of Havana.” Look for Francisco Goya reproductions and Chihuly-style blown glass, which recall the district’s original streetlights.

Rooms are done up in colors of rust red, brilliant blue, and primary yellow, and include stone-tiled bathrooms, wrought-iron balconies, and locally-sourced objets d’art. Plush robes, Grown Alchemist toiletries, and bedside wireless charging pads ensure a good night’s sleep after enjoying Rodriguez’s iconic ceviches and other amazing dishes.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Le Méridien Tampa

Le Méridien Tampa

Book Le Méridien Tampa

If you love the romance of repurposed, historic buildings, this one is for you. Once a federal courthouse, Le Méridien boasts soaring ceilings, and former courtrooms have been converted into coveted event spaces.

A boutique hotel, the 100 rooms and suites are spare and elegant, starting at a generous 330 square feet. The blue-gray walls and carpet make both the white comforter and the picture window pop. Conveniences like a mini fridge and high-speed Internet are also appreciated.

The restaurant Bizou Brasserie is particularly known for its French pastries. Just try not to ask for one of its signature eclairs to put in the fridge for later. Artsy guests also love the gorgeous bar/restaurant for its decor, including sputnik chandeliers that hang overhead like satellites, as well as the lobby filled with midcentury and Art Deco furniture.

The tropically landscaped pool, while small, is an additional place to relax, especially at night when the lights make it glow.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Epicurean Hotel, Autograph Collection

Epicurean EDGE Rooftop Cocktail Lounge

Book Epicurean Hotel, Autograph Collection

When you’re looking for both location and luxury, the South Tampa-situated Epicurean should be your goal.

With a philosophy of indulgence, the hotel offers a luxury experience in every department. It’s especially known for its commitment to fine food and drink, with signature restaurant Élevage Patio & Dining Room and panoramic rooftop bar EDGE leading the charge. Like what you’ve consumed? You can learn how to cook it, or something like it, with on-site classes.

Accommodations don’t fall short either, with amenities ranging from gourmet in-room pantries and fully stocked mini-bars to thoughtfully designed work desks. Chill out on a personal terrace, soak in a marble bathtub, or snooze on an overstuffed mattress. 

If you crave more activity, the fitness center is open 24/7, and the pool is heated year-round. There’s also a trail for jogging and biking, plus the stellar Evangeline Spa.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa

Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Book Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa 

While the exterior of the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa isn’t as flashy as its sister “guitar hotel” on the east coast of Florida, parts of it were recently renovated. The complex, which underwent a $700 million expansion in 2019, includes a 15-story tower, bringing the number of rooms and suites to 800.

The look is as glitzy as you might expect, with souvenirs and costumes from rock-and-roll and pop icons everywhere. There’s a ton of bling — and yes, a lot of that brrring brrring — in the casino, but the hotel hallways and rooms are quiet and restful for body and soul, with generous proportions and comfortable, contemporary furniture. A mini fridge and coffee corner are helpful when you don’t feel like braving casino crowds first thing in the morning.

The three pools, a cabana area, and a pool bar, are adjacent to the Rock Spa & Salon and the Body Rock gym. These areas are not as populated as the casino and concert stages, so when you’ve had your fill of playing the numbers, watching sports, and listening to live music, head to the second floor for some respite.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa here.

The Westin Tampa Waterside

The Westin Tampa Waterside

Book The Westin Tampa Waterside

Located next door to – and almost sharing space with – the JW Marriott Tampa Marriott Water Street, The Westin Tampa Waterside is a view-driven sanctuary. It’s next to the Tampa Convention Center and within a circle of popular attractions, including The Florida Aquarium, Sparkman Wharf, Amalie Arena, and Tampa Riverwalk.

The rooms are known for their Westin Heavenly® Beds, which deliver on a great night’s sleep. High-tech, rooms make it easy for business and leisure travelers to access devices with high speed and streaming services, though some of the starter-rate rooms can be under 300 square feet. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in your room, it’s wise to go up a level.

Otherwise, revel in the outdoor swimming pool peppered with palm trees and tropical foliage, or engage in cardio or weights in the WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio. There’s also an on-site Starbucks and a restaurant featuring fresh Gulf Coast seafood.

Covid-19 procedures are available here.

More on our methodology for selecting hotels

In addition to the criteria above, I considered the following factors:

My experience: I’ve been living in Florida since 1992 and covering the entire state as a food-and-travel writer since then for a large variety of international publications and guidebooks, including Insider.

I’ve stayed in many of these hotels over the years and can vouch for their overall experience. Some, we’ve even reviewed at length, too.

Overall features: The best Tampa hotels feature standout views of the city, adjacent St. Petersburg, and Tampa Bay.

All of them offer great pools (a must in Florida) as well as amenities such as fitness centers, rooftops for a sunset bar/lounge experience, and restaurants that cater to foodie clientele with straight-from-the-Gulf cuisine cooked by well-known chefs.

COVID-19: We only selected hotels that prioritize the health and safety of their guests with new cleaning policies.

FAQ: Tampa hotels

Where is Tampa?

Tampa is on the west coast of Florida, about one hour and thirty minutes west of Orlando and four hours south of Tallahassee by car.

The third most-populated city in the state, Tampa is part of the metropolitan area that also includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

What is the best area to stay in Tampa?

That’s up for debate! Downtown Tampa is great for attractions and water views, but some guests complain that it’s a little deserted at night. Ditto for the Westshore business district, which is busy during the day, not as much in the evening.

Midtown Tampa is lively, but not as heavy on attractions. Ybor City has history, eateries, and all-around trendiness.

But if you’re planning to stay on the beach, you’ll want to look for hotels in St. Petersburg or Clearwater Beach. Downtown Tampa is about 30 minutes from the beach regions.

Which hotels in Tampa are best for groups? Families? Couples?

To narrow your choice from this list, choose based on the size of your traveling squad and your intended activities.

If you’re in town with friends, check out the championship courses and courts at Innisbrook, A Salamander Gold and Spa Resort, or the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa (both of which have spas).

If you’re traveling with a young family, look for somewhere near a lot of popular attractions, like JW Marriott Tampa Water Street; if your kids are closer to college-age and also happen to enjoy eating, the Epicurean Hotel, Autograph Collection is near University of Tampa.

Solo young professional? Look to the Aloft/Element in Midtown Tampa, which is also popular with a lot of other Millennials and Gen Yers.

If you’re in the vicinity for business meetings or an event, try a place near the airport, such as The Westshore Grand, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Tampa, or The Westin Tampa Waterside near the Tampa Convention Center. Finally, history buffs should book the new Haya Hotel in Ybor City or Le Méridien Tampa, which both offer repurposed architecture.

What is there to do in Tampa?

Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater are renowned for their fishing, boating, beaches, and other water activities.

The Tampa metropolitan area has a ton of attractions, including The Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Sparkman Wharf, Tampa Riverwalk, Amalie Arena, Raymond James Stadium, Busch Gardens, the Dalí Museum, Ybor City, Hyde Park Village, and Caladesi Island Beach, to name just a few. You can do all of these in all seasons. Just keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June 1-November 30, which has a tendency to interfere at times.

Tampa, which includes National Historic Landmark District Ybor City, one of the first Cuban settlements in Florida (and arguably the home of the Cuban sandwich, though Miamians disagree), is an ideal setting for numerous outdoor activities.

I’ve been to Tampa dozens of times over the years to attend everything from literary to food events, and I’m never disappointed in the accommodations and the natural attractions of the area, which range from the blooms of botanical gardens to the rolling greens of golf courses.

Do I need a car in Tampa?

Public transportation is available in Tampa via the TECO Line Streetcar, a charming heritage streetcar transit line. You can also take HART (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority) buses to get around; see here for fares, routes, and more. 

If you don’t have a car, car rental deals are always available, and experts say renting one in a pandemic is safe. Additionally, these are the best car rental companies

Some hotels offer complimentary shuttles to and from Tampa International Airport, which has 14 car rental agencies on site.

Are hotels safe and open?

Yes, experts agree hotels are safe, provided you take the necessary precautions outlined by the CDC. Additionally, the CDC now says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US. All the hotels on this list are open and accepting guests.

That said, the state of Florida has lifted governmental restrictions and protocol for COVID-19. Keep in mind that many private businesses still opt to follow the CDC masking and social distancing guidelines and come prepared with safety precautions for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses who might enforce their own rules on the premises of their properties.

More of the best hotels in Florida

Mandarin Oriental, Miami Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group LEAD
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Buying refurbished electronics can save you a lot of money – here’s what to look for, plus 7 expert-vetted deals

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

microsoft store surface laptop tablets
Microsoft is one of the many manufacturers to offer refurbished tech at discounted prices.

It can be scary to buy refurbished items, but when you know what you’re looking for, it can be as good as buying brand new.

Refurbished items are generally returns, faulty open-box products, or brand new units with minor cosmetic flaws that have been returned to “like new” quality by the manufacturer. We’re big fans of them here at Insider Reviews – we’ve even written reviews of our personal refurb purchases from Apple and Nintendo.

Buying refurbished has its benefits. For most shoppers, the most convincing benefit is the lower cost. Depending on the item and the manufacturer, a refurbished item can cost you up to 50% less than a brand new one. Another perk is that it’s a bit more environmentally friendly: you’re essentially buying a recycled item. In the end, both refurbished and new items will ideally deliver the same user experience, likely with some differences in packaging and cosmetics, so long as you do your research before adding to the cart.

When determining a refurb’s worthiness, it comes down to two major factors to make the judgment call: who refurbished the item and who is selling it?

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best refurb deals available right now

When shopping refurb deals, we keep an eye out for items that are discounted compared to typical refurb pricing, which is generally much less than brand new. Therefore, original prices noted are considerably less than that of items in new condition.

13.3-inch MacBook Air with M1 Chip (Refurbished) (medium, Preferred: Apple)Multi Auto Cordless Car Hand Vac (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Sonos)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Sonos)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)AirPods Pro (Refurbished) (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
Who should I trust to refurbish an item?

When it comes to buying an item refurbished, there is no source more reliable than the manufacturer. Year-round, manufacturers like Dyson, Nintendo, and Apple offer refurbished goods for considerably less money than in new condition. I, personally, bought a refurbished Dyson V6 cordless stick vacuum 3 years ago during Black Friday, and not only did the item arrive looking new, but it also still performs well despite daily use. 

Manufacturer refurbs can also come with pretty hefty warranties. Dyson, for example, provides a 6- or 12-month warranty with every order, along with expert support and the promise of genuine Dyson parts in your item.

If you’re a frequent online shopper, you’ve surely come across a few items marked as “seller-refurbished.” Our advice: outside of a few exceptions, don’t risk it. While you don’t necessarily need to limit yourself to only buying from manufacturer storefronts, buying an item refurbished by anyone other than the manufacturer is dubious. Certain special cases like Geek Squad Certified Refurbished and Amazon Renewed are worth considering, but these have less specialized support and notably shorter warranty coverage (typically, only 90 days). 

Where can I buy refurbs from?

The easiest, most reliable places to find refurbished items for sale are from the manufacturer’s storefronts. Here are a few brands that sell certified refurbs directly from their sites:

  • Acer Recertified: Laptops, tablets, PCS, displays, and more
  • Apple: iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs, and more
  • Dell Refurbished: Laptops, PCs, workstations, monitors, and more
  • Dyson Outlet: Cordless stick vacuums, upright vacuums, and other home appliances
  • Jabra: Headphones, earbuds, and more
  • Kitchenaid: Stand mixers, blenders, and more countertop appliances
  • Lenovo Outlet: Laptops
  • Microsoft: Laptops, tablets, PCs, and more
  • Nintendo: Nintendo consoles, controllers, and more
  • Sony: Professional broadcast, production, corporate, and educational products

In addition to buying straight from the maker, many big-box retailers are also trustworthy sources to get refurbs from. Sellers like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and Newegg have the goods, year-round. Some manufacturers even have storefronts elsewhere, like the Jabra and Dyson storefronts on eBay. 

We also highly recommend making the purchase with a credit card, no matter where you’re buying it from — there are often routes to getting extended purchase protection. Depending on your card, you can get up to a year of additional coverage on items that come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

What items are usually good to buy refurbished?

Tech dominates the refurb market, but if you keep a lookout, you can often find small home appliances reliably refurbished. Vacuums (both cordless and upright), fans, heaters, stand mixers, blenders, and the like are pretty dependable refurbished, and they arrive in like-new condition.

Laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and accessories are typical to find refurbished, and they’re often worth considering. Check out our buying guides to find the best option for you.

What refurbs should I avoid?

As mentioned above, don’t bother with refurbs done by anyone who isn’t the manufacturer. The warranties never last as long, it doesn’t guarantee the use of genuine parts, and the product support you receive will never be as good — if you get any at all. 

Much older generation tech is also not worth buying refurbished. It’s 2020: buying a refurbished iPhone 7 is a moot investment in an item nearing obsoletion.

Finally, don’t bother with anything that can’t have its battery replaced, like truly wireless earbuds and headphones. It’s a mixed bag getting these in any condition other than new; you’ll never know the battery’s remaining lifespan. With tech like tablets, smartphones, and computers, you can always bring them into a store for a battery replacement.

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