The 10 best places to buy blinds and shades in 2021

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A collage of different shades and blinds - best blinds shades
  • Window blinds help add privacy, ensure restful sleep, and put the finishing touches on home decor.
  • We found top places to buy blinds, whether you need a custom option or a cheap fix you install yourself.
  • Some of our favorite places to shop for shades and blinds are The Shade Store and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Blinds and shades play an often overlooked but important factor in home decor. Swapping white roller shades for wooden blinds or Roman shades with an attractive fabric print can give your space a whole new look.

Window blinds also play a key role in adding privacy to your home, help to reduce glare while you watch TV or work on your computer, and ensure a good night’s sleep with no light leakage.

Style, material, and size are largely a matter of personal preference and will be determined by your individual home needs. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up top places to shop for blinds and shades, whether you want inexpensive blinds you can install yourself or a premium shade in a custom fabric installed by the pros.

Here are the best places to buy blinds and shades in 2021

The Shade Store

Best places to buy blinds_The Shade Store

With over 1,300 material choices and the ability to fit non-traditional spaces, The Shade Store is a pricey but worthy option for those who want something truly custom.

The Shade Store is undoubtedly pricier, but it also has more custom options, and the customer service is unrivaled. My current apartment has oversized windows of non-standard sizes, ledges that make blinds hard to fit, and the windows open both from the top and the side, adding extra hurdles. Several other places I spoke to had a hard time finding us the right option for our unique situation, but The Shade Store made it a breeze. 

You can get a consultation and as many samples as you want for free. With a vast library of over 1,300 materials to choose from, unlimited samples come in handy. Whether you want to choose a 2% light-filtering option or a unique flowy drape, The Shade Store has it all and then some. For example, if you like Roman shades, you can choose from flat, cascade, Aventura, relaxed, tulip, or pleated styles. Each of those has numerous materials and color options.

If you have a store nearby, you can do an in-person consultation and get free measurements or look at samples in the store. You can also do a video chat. Where other places couldn’t send anyone to measure or install blinds for weeks or months, The Shade Store sent someone to our home within a few days.

Not only were they incredibly quick and responsive throughout the entire process, but after, the rep we worked with also sent us a handwritten thank you note and even planted a tree in our honor. Plus, the blinds are high-quality and were installed perfectly, all of which made the higher price point sting a little less.

Popular options:

Custom Roller Shades (small)Relaxed Roman Shades (small)Custom Metal Blinds (small)

Best places to buy blinds_Lowes

Lowe’s has a huge selection of in-stock blinds that are easy to browse online, plus the option for a custom fit. 

Similar to The Home Depot, Lowe’s is another great value option with a wide range of blinds choices. You can choose from in-stock blinds in various sizes or opt for a custom option if you have a window or door that’s not a standard size. Lowe’s offers a wide variety of styles and materials, as well as numerous choices for how much light you want coming in, from blackout to light filtering.

You can also go a more DIY route or pay extra for someone to do an at-home installation. Lowe’s also price matches, and shipping is free.

Numerous filter features make the online shopping experience easy, and you can sort by style, width, length, finish, light control, material, price, and more. Lowe’s works with independent installers for those who want someone to do in-home measurements and installations.

Popular options:

Outback Pebble Light Filtering Cordless OutdoorRoller Shade (small)Trim+Go Greystone Light Filtering Cordless Roman Shade (small)Cordless White Aluminum Light Filtering Full-view Standard Mini Blinds (small)
Bed Bath & Beyond

Best places to buy blinds Bed Bath and Beyond (ST. CHARLES 2-in Cordless Faux Wood Blinds)

You can shop in person or online for blinds and shades from Bed Bath & Beyond, where there are thousands of sizes available to fit windows of all shapes. 

Bed Bath & Beyond has a solid selection of blinds and shades to choose from. Whether you’re looking for cordless or roman shades, the retailer has a variety of brands offering different materials, sizes, and colors. 

While Bed Bath & Beyond doesn’t have customizable shades, many brands have a huge range of sizes, including shades with 333 options. All shades will have to be put together on your own since the company does not offer installation. 

In addition to the vast library of shade choices, if you’re a member of the Beyond+ rewards program, you can get 20% off every purchase.

Cordless Faux Wood Blind in Dark Oak (small)Cordless Open Solar Roller Shade (small)Light Filtering Cordless Paper Window Shade (small)

Best places to buy

Though you can’t shop in person at, you’ll have a huge array of blinds and shades to choose from, plus you can return or exchange any item for free within 30 days — even if it’s because you measured wrong.

As you may have guessed from the name, solely deals in all things blinds. You’ll be spoiled for choice, from wood or faux wood shutters to cellular or roller shades to vertical or mini blinds.

Prices are incredibly reasonable, and shipping is free. Keep in mind the retailer only offers samples for some of its products currently, so you can’t necessarily see all of the options you like before making a final decision. 

However, it does offer free virtual design consults and will replace or let you return any item within 30 days for free. If you made a mistake when measuring, the company will fix it for you and recut and send new blinds at the correct size for free, as long as there isn’t a pricing difference between the old and new sizes. 

If you don’t feel comfortable measuring yourself, does work with The Home Depot, which can send an employee to measure and install for you. Strangely, the starting installation cost at The Home Depot is cheaper, so you may want to get a custom measuring and install quote from both to ensure you get the best price.

Popular options:

2-Inch Light-Filtering Fabric Blinds (small)Completely Cordless Mini Blinds (small)Light-Filtering Cellular Shade (small)
The Home Depot

Best places to buy blinds_home depot

The Home Depot has a vast selection of shades and blinds and can custom cut them right in the store.

From cordless and automatic to cellular and vertical, The Home Depot is a tried-and-true when it comes to blinds. And compared to many other options, it’s fairly affordable and a good value. If you’re a DIYer who wants to save even more, it has how-to guides online that can walk you through choosing the right blinds, measuring, and even installing them yourself.

However, if you’re not quite comfortable with doing it all yourself, you can also pay extra to have someone come to your home, measure, cut, and then come back and install your blinds of choice. I’ve even done a video consult with a representative in the past who was very helpful for looking at my space, walking me through The Home Depot‘s catalog, and making suggestions on the best type of blinds for my home. 

While you can easily get your blinds cut for you in person at The Home Depot, be aware that the quality of that job can vary wildly based on when you happen to be there and who is doing the job. Not all employees seem to be as trained or skilled as others on the cutting machine.

While I know plenty of people who have had blinds cut in-store with no issue, Insider Reviews executive editor Sally Kaplan had an issue and needed her blinds recut several times because they weren’t quite right.

Popular options:

White Cordless Room Darkening 2 in. Faux Wood Blind (small)Crown White Room Darkening Vertical Blind (small)2 in. Faux Wood Blinds (small)
West Elm

Best places to buy blinds_West Elm

For an elegant and simple solution for standard-sized windows, West Elm has neutral options that will match just about any decor. 

You won’t get as many options and won’t be able to customize at West Elm in the same way you can at other places, but if you just need a simple and chic option that’s ready to go, West Elm does the trick. There’s no true custom option, though you can choose from numerous widths and lengths, and most options come in a few neutral color choices and one or two materials. 

West Elm also doesn’t have the same network or employees specifically designated to measure or install blinds, so this is also a better option for those who feel more comfortable doing it themselves. That said, West Elm does offer free design services, which can include helping you pick out the best shades or blinds for your home.

If you really want someone else to install them for you, West Elm can set it up via its partners at Porch, a separate moving, repair, and home improvement company.

Popular options:

Crossweave Cordless Roman Shades with Blackout Lining (small)Custom Size Solar Basketweave Cordless Roller Shades (small)Custom Size Light-Filtering Cordless Cellular Shades (small)
Pottery Barn

Best places to buy blinds_Pottery Barn

Pottery Barn has a solid collection of high-quality blinds and shades that can be lightly customized by length and width.

Similar to West Elm, Pottery Barn (which is owned by the same parent company) doesn’t have quite as many options as a place like or The Shade Store. Still, it has a good array of high-quality and ready-to-go blinds that can be lightly customized by choosing from up to 30 width options and three lengths depending on the exact item.

While you won’t find anything too out of the box, it does have a good selection of wooden, linen, and classic roller shades that come in an array of neutral colors to suit most decor styles. 

These shades are best for someone who feels more comfortable going the DIY route since Pottery Barn doesn’t have designated assistance to help you measure and install your blinds. However, you can also have Pottery Barn set up an installation through its partnership with Porch for an additional fee. You could also set up your own installation with a local professional or via apps like Handy.

Popular options:

Riviera Striped Linen/Cotton Cordless Roman Blackout Shade (small)Custom Cordless Natural Shade (small)Custom Natural Cordless Roller Shade (small)

Best places to buy blinds_Amazon

This retail giant has no shortage of blind and shade options at a wide range of price points if you’re willing to sort through the huge number of sellers.

From laptops to workout pants, Amazon sells it all — and that includes blinds and shades. Of course, the downside to buying on Amazon is that you’ll need to be extra cautious when it comes to choosing a seller since you won’t be able to see or verify quality ahead of time. I recommend thoroughly reading up on recent reviews before making any commitments. Additionally, you won’t get any help from Amazon with measuring or installing.

However, if you’re comfortable with those factors, there are some good deals to be found on the retail giant. Different sellers also allow for different amounts of customization to ensure a good fit. Some are even Prime-eligible, coming with fast and free shipping to add to the value.

Popular options:

Cordless 1-Inch Vinyl Mini Blinds (small)Roman Shades (small)Cordless Tuscan Bamboo Roman Shades (small)

Best places to buy blinds_IKEA

If you’re comfortable going the DIY route, Ikea has easy-to-install and low-cost options that will fit standard window sizes.

Ikea offers some of the simplest and most affordable blinds options out there. That said, there’s no real option to customize here. But you will have a few choices in pre-cut sizes that should fit traditional window sizes.

Your only options are roller, Roman, cellular, or pleated, and you won’t be able to customize the material at all. Many also have only a couple of color options, mainly in classic whites, blacks, and greys. 

However, if you just need a quick solution for a standard window without much fuss, then Ikea may be your best bet. Liz Kneuven, Insider’s personal finance reporter, has an entire apartment of Ikea blinds and attests to their ease of use and overall quality. “They look so sleek and modern and were super simple to install,” she says. 

You can browse in-store or order online, but like all things Ikea, this is a DIY route, so you’ll need to be comfortable measuring and installing yourself.

Popular options:

SCHOTTIS Pleated Shade (small)SKOGSKLÖVER Roller Blind (small)TRIPPEVALS Blackout Cellular Blind (small)

Best places to buy blinds_JCPenny

Though it may not be the first store that comes to mind for blinds, don’t overlook JCPenney and its wide array of colors, styles, prices, and materials for shades that are just right.

Though JCPenney may be better known for clothes and accessories than home goods, it also has a surprisingly vast selection of shades and blinds, including wood, cellular, vertical, Roman, and roller options. You can quickly sort online by color, style, price, material, light filtration, and even installation type to narrow down your search. 

While JCPenney used to offer in-home custom window treatments, that option was recently closed, so be aware you’ll need to do installing and measuring on your own. You can have the blinds shipped right to your door or opt for same-day, in-store pickup if available at a store in your area.

Also, be aware that if you opt for a custom size to your exact specifications, those orders can only be canceled within 24 hours of the initial transaction to receive a refund — so make sure you’ve measured twice before ordering.

Popular options:

Top-Down Bottom-Up Cordless Honeycomb Shade (small)Essentials Custom Vertical Blinds (small)Border Cordless Light-Filtering Roman Shade (small)
What to consider when buying shades and blinds

Use: A main consideration when choosing blinds or shades should be which room they’re for and what their primary function. For example, you may want to spring for pricier blackout shades in the bedroom, while a light-filtering option that still blocks glare may do the trick for your home office. 

Style and material: Material and overall style will largely be dictated by budget, personal preference, and use. A wood shutter versus a linen blind will give your room a completely different look. Additionally, consider how much privacy you want and whether you still want some light to filter through for a less closed-in feel, as this will help guide your choice on things like opacity percentage, whether you need them to be UV blocking, etc.

Size: The size of your windows will play a huge role in the style blinds you choose and where you’re able to shop. If you have standard-sized windows that are easy to fit, you’ll likely be able to go for a more wallet-friendly option by simply choosing from a few width and length options. However, if you have unusual windows, you may need to pay more for a truly custom fit. Similarly, you may want to think about splitting up huge windows into two shades if you don’t want to spring for pricey automatic options since having just one roller large shade can be heavy and hard to pull up and down. 

Budget: The range of prices on blinds varies wildly, even at the same store. Have a clear budget range in mind when going into the shopping process if possible so you can start with options that best fall within your limits. If you’re completely unsure where to start, it’s highly worth it to sign up for a virtual consultation with a store to get a basic idea of what your space will require and a general price point range. Custom sizing, materials, finishes, as well as automatic options will all cost significantly more. 

If you’re comfortable measuring and installing the blinds yourself, you can save big on installation costs.

See more great home buying guides

waking up at home
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Our top picks for the best juicer of 2021

four juicers used in a test of the best juicers in 2021 sit with kale juice insider

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Investing in a juicer saves you money on store-bought juice and helps add nutrients to your diet.
  • We recommend slow juicers over high-speed ones because they keep nutritious fibers intact.
  • Hurom’s HP slow juicer is our favorite because it’s compact, reliable, and easy to use and clean.

If you buy fresh juice regularly, you may want to invest in a juicer. The best ones can pulverize an entire farmer’s market haul into smooth, flavorful juice with little foam; easily fit on the counter; won’t wake up the whole house; are simple to clean; and come with a decent warranty (10 years is the industry standard).

To arrive at our top picks, we juiced everything from hardy root vegetables to leafy greens, and considered the resulting juices’ taste, texture, foam levels, and oxidation rates. We also measured the volume of liquid each machine produced and the amount of pulp left behind, as well as the juicers’ speeds and noise levels. Lastly, with the help of a mechanical engineer, we pulled apart several juicers to see if they were made with identical parts (despite differences in size and price). For this guide, we specifically focused on masticating (or “slow”) juicers. You can read more about why in our FAQ section.

Here are the best juicers you can buy in 2021

The best juicer overall

hurom hp slow juicer

Not only was the Hurom HP Slow Juicer one of the most powerful models we tested, it was also the most compact and user-friendly.

Pros: Small size, intuitive design, 100% BPA-free plastic, 10-year motor warranty, easy to clean, high juice yield

Cons: 2-year parts warranty, somewhat slow (even by slow juicer standards), juice is slightly less concentrated than its more expensive competitors’

While Hurom’s HP Slow Juicer is the smallest machine we tested, it uses the same powerful motor as models that take up nearly twice the space (like the Omega VSJ843, for example). We discovered this after disassembling and examining several highly-rated juicers with the help of a mechanical engineer — a process that we describe in greater detail under “Our Methodology,” below. 

The HP comes with a fine strainer, a larger strainer to allow some pulp to pass through — always a good idea, nutritionally — and two cleaning brushes. In other words, it has exactly all you need and nothing you don’t. That doesn’t mean the machine is without its conveniences, though; we’re fans of the inner spinning brush that helps clear the strainers while you’re juicing, allowing for a higher yield.

Indeed, the HP did produce a high yield. It pulled the most liquid out of every single fruit or veggie we juiced, and consistently had among the driest discarded pulp (in these respects, it even outperformed our other recommendation from Hurom, the H-AI Self-Feeding Juicer). The resulting juice was clean, bright, and refreshing, and contained little foam, although it wasn’t quite as rich and intense as its pricier competitors’ output. 

When it’s time to clean up, there are no awkward angles to scrub, and that cleaning brush does an excellent job of removing pulp from hard-to-reach spots thanks to a convenient pick built into its handle. Hurom cautions against running the machine’s parts through the dishwasher, although we managed to do so without a problem. (Is this cleaning method a good idea, long-term? Probably not, but we wanted to make sure the HP could handle it in a pinch.) 

A note to those who tend to juice while rushing out the door: if speed is of the essence, Hurom’s HP Slow Juicer may not be the machine for you. It runs at 43 RPM, which is a bit slow even by slow juicer standards. For comparison, the Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer and the previously mentioned Hurom H-AI — two models included in this guide — run at 60 RPM, while the Omega Cold Press 365, which we’re currently testing, runs at 90 to 110 RPM. 

In the end, the HP’s ease of use, simple clean-up, and compact size make it a clear winner for us. After all, if your juicer is compact enough to live on your countertop instead of a cabinet, you’ll notice — and therefore use — it all the more often.

The best multi-use juicer

kuvings slow juicer

The Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer produces rich, velvety juice, and goes beyond the usual call of duty to act as a citrus juicer and ice cream maker with the help of attachments. 

Pros: Versatile, 10-year warranty on all parts, BPA-free plastic, extra-wide feeding spout

Cons: Heavy, some attachments sold separately, cleanup can be time-consuming

The Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer is a sound investment if you like the idea of an appliance that can do quadruple duty. Not only is it an excellent slow juicer in its own right, it’s designed to accommodate three attachments: smoothie and frozen dessert makers (both included) and a citrus juicer (sold separately).

To use the citrus juicer attachment, you palm halves of citrus over a reamer that’s turned by the machine’s motor. It’s simple and gets the job done, and while we think the price of the attachment is higher than it needs to be, it’s still far more affordable than purchasing a separate appliance. 

During our testing, we used the smoothie strainer to make a berry and banana smoothie that was texturally consistent, foam-free, and silkier than anything we’ve pulled from a blender. The blank strainer for frozen desserts was more difficult to master: we were successful with banana gelato, but not much else. It seems that a particular level of frozenness (and practice) is required to churn out sorbets, gelatos, and ice creams as effortlessly as this YouTuber.

As far as its main duty goes, the Whole Slow Juicer’s 3.2-inch-wide feeding spout can accommodate larger pieces of fruit than our top pick, and at 60 RPM it’s a bit faster, too. The extra speed may come at the expense of maximum juicing; compared to the Hurom HP, the Kuvings squeezed less liquid out of our fruits and vegetables, and its wetter pulp suggested that there was some good stuff left behind in the discard pile. 

That being said, the Whole Slow Juicer produced the richest, most velvety juice we tried during our taste tests, with and without the detachable external strainer that helps catch any residual pulp. 

There is one design quirk we should note, though: the chute makes an awkward turn towards the auger, which means harder fruits and vegetables like carrots and beets get hung up, while softer ones like grapes leave a significant amount of mush in the bend. We had to reverse the auger more times for the Kuvings than for any other juicer, and while we were able to send most of that aforementioned mush back through, it was an extra, messy step.

That turn in the chute also made for more complicated cleanup work, but that’s only nominal when it comes to juicers. Plus, any additional time spent was mostly offset by the Kuvings’ self-cleaning internal strainer, whose basket is lined with pulp-sweeping brushes. Like everything we tested, its parts withstood the dishwasher. 

Small flaws considered, if you want a juicer that does it all, this is the only one we know of that can make smoothies, frozen desserts (with some trial and error), and citrus juice.

The best self-feeding juicer

Image of the Hurom H200, the best self-feeding juicer of 2021

Hurom’s H200 handles whole fruits and forgoes stainless steel strainers for easier-to-clean plastic ones.

Pros: Large hopper capacity, juices whole fruits, vertically integrated for relatively small footprint

Cons: No fine strainer (if you’re not a fan of pulp, you’ll need an external strainer), large (but vertical, so still manageable)

Self-feeding juicers, like Hurom’s H200 Easy Clean Slow Juicer, make juicing a lot easier. It can handle whole fruits — about three medium-sized apples, and larger chunks of ones that don’t fit — which shortens prep time, and it’s vertically integrated so that it doesn’t take up too much counter or cabinet space.

There are two schools of thought on self-feeding juicers. Some people find that they get overloaded, overwhelmed, and clogged too easily. Others find them to be a great time-saver, and, again, because they tend to be designed vertically, they store better than other options. Over the course of the three years we’ve spent with them, we’ve only had problems when trying to juice mealy, overripe fruits, including pears, plums, and peaches, which turned into a mushy mess that couldn’t be fed into the auger. That can be a problem if you tend to juice a lot of overripe stone fruits, but if you’re making a blend of juices, or are willing to in order to rectify the situation, a good solution is to add some harder fruits to the mix to help push the mushy stuff through.

This machine offers the highest yield with the least amount of foam out of all the juicers we’ve tested, and at 50 RPM, is 10 RPM slower than the H-AI, our previous pick for a slow juicer, as well as the Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer above.

While the H200 impressed us with its effortless production of perfect, rich, foam-free juice out of whole fruits, our favorite thing about it is how easy it is to clean. The machine comes with a classic juicer brush for getting pulp out of fine stainless steel mesh, although we’re not sure you’ll ever need it. As advertised, cleaning is as simple as running each part under water. Soap is always a good idea, of course, but you will not find yourself scraping pulp out of microscopic holes, or worse, finding bits of beets or carrots you juiced months ago because you just can’t manage to get it clean clean.

This juicer lacks a fine strainer for those who want pulp-free juice, though you can purchase a small strainer to place between the spout and the juice container to filter out pulp. The only other concession we’ve found is that unlike with the H-AI, you don’t have the option of a normal shoot without the self-feeding attachment, as sometimes you may prefer to load the hopper and feed the auger manually. By that same token, though, it’s one less clunky accessory.

All in all, the H200 is a powerful, easy-to-use, easy-to-clean, cabinet-friendly juicer that makes outstanding juice with little fuss. If you are looking to seriously invest in a home juicer, this is our favorite juicer to date, if money is no object.

What else we tested

What else we recommend and why:

Breville Juice Fountain Plus: If you do want a centrifugal juicer, this is one of the best in its category. We’ve used it many times in the past, we’ve seen it hold up at several small juice stands, and the price is right. Still, it produces a lot of foam, and it’s a good deal larger than the vertical slow juicers we recommend.

Omega VSJ843: This juicer, down to almost every single part, turned out to be identical to the Hurom HP. The big difference is that it comes with a 15-year warranty on “parts and performance” versus a 10-year warranty on the Hurom juicers’ motors and a two-year warranty on other parts. In the end, the motor warranty is a bigger consideration, because if you break a part (and it’s not due to a defect), it’s still on you to replace. We’re going to work on comparing customer service between the two companies for further consideration.

What we don’t recommend and why:

Breville Bluicer: This could be a handy machine if you happen to need a juicer and a blender at once, but it’s large, and comes with a lot of parts you might not want to use (let alone store). We found the juice yield so low and the amount of foam so high, though, that on top of other detrimental factors such as size and noise, we decided against recommending it in this guide.

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth: This centrifugal high-speed juicer is more affordable than the Breville Juice Fountain Plus, but while it worked, it produced a ton of foam.

Oster’s Self-Cleaning Professional Juice ExtractorThis high-speed (centrifugal) juicer is another case of an appliance that is just too large and complex for most people’s use. It works, though you’ll still have to do a good bit of cleaning up afterward. Still, if you do want a high-speed juicer, it’s a good choice for a budget option, and we like that it’s dishwasher-safe.

Smeg Slow Juicer: Smeg’s Slow Juicer had a lot of the same qualities as the Omega VSJ843 or the Hurom HP, but at about $500, you’re mostly paying for its ’50s-vintage appeal. If that’s worth it to you, go for it. It’s a perfectly capable machine, and our tester’s unit is still going strong more than two years into weekly-plus use.

Our testing methodology

2lb carrot juice test

To test the juicers’ ability to handle a variety of fruits and vegetables, we ran beets, carrots, kale, and black seedless grapes through each machine. We weighed the produce beforehand to make sure we were putting the exact same amount in each juicer, then measured the volume (fluid ounces) of the resulting juice.

We noted the amount of foam that settled at the top of each cup of juice, the rate of oxidation (some juices browned faster than others), and the amount of pulp left behind. 

And, of course, we measured taste, however subjectively, and found that some juices were more watery than others (we used a fine strainer throughout testing) while others were incredibly rich.

We also pulled apart four juicers after speaking with Duncan Freake, a mechanical engineer at Epam Continuum, who posited that certain parts, including the augers, strainers, and receptacles were the same between Omega and HP. Sure enough, while the parts inside each of the juicers we disassembled weren’t exactly identical, it was clear that they came from the same factory, or used the same components, from Korea. And while both brands advertise that their juicers are made in Korea, they don’t divulge that many of their parts come from the same set of factories as their competitors, Zhejiang Linix Motor Co., Ltd. Granted, this is a common case with many household appliances, and something we found to be true when researching for our guide to the best countertop ice makers, too.


What is a slow juicer?

There are two basic juicer types on the market: centrifugal and masticating (or slow). The larger, noisier, and more affordable of the two, centrifugal juicers use a high-speed blade and tend to yield less juice and more foam than their slow-juicing counterparts.

Masticating juicers steadily turn an auger that pulverizes fruits and veggies, leaving more nutrients and enzymes intact and producing smoother, silkier, and better-tasting juice overall. For these reasons, our guide focuses solely on slow juicers.

Can drinking juice help you lose weight?

While some people claim green juice can help you lose weight and clear the body of “toxins,” these ideas are not medically supported.

“Even if you’re making it yourself, juice is still more processed than a whole fruit or veggie, and studies consistently show that it’s more beneficial to eat foods in their more natural state,” Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, author of “Sugar Shock” told us. “Our bodies don’t register the calories we drink in the same way they register calories from food, so you don’t get the same level of fullness from juice as you would from eating an apple or veggie.”

However, Cassetty said fresh juice is still an excellent way to add more nutrients to your diet, and based on our testing, the juicers above all perform at the top level.

Check out our other small appliance guides

KitchenAid 5 Quart Stand Mixer
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The 7 best bike lights of 2021 for increased visibility while cycling at night

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

Being safe while riding your bike requires more than putting on a helmet and riding within your means – you also want to guarantee you’re visible to those around you. Even if you don’t ride at dusk or when it’s completely dark, bike lights are a vital cycling accessory to have.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found “the time period with the largest frequency of pedalcyclist fatalities overall is 6 pm to 8:59 pm (21%), followed by 9 pm to 11:59 pm (17%).” Although the study was conducted year-round (meaning it likely wasn’t always entirely dark around 6 pm), those numbers still paint a stark picture and suggest visibility was one of the main factors.

As a resident of New York City, and my go-to mode of transportation being my bike, I’ve learned firsthand the value of a quality set of bike lights (and how dangerous a poor set can be). I’ve also come across a lot of variety; some are designed to be portable and easy to install, while others are intended for trail riding.

Below are seven of the best bike lights for night riding. I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for bike lights, as well as insight into how I tested the lights featured in this guide.

Here are the best bike lights of 2021:

The best bike light overall

Cygolite bike light

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best budget bike light

Malker budget bike light

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best easy install bike light

Obsidian bike light

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

Pros: Affordable, adjustable beam width, lifetime guarantee

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

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

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

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

The best bike light for trail riding

NiteRider mountain bike light

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

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

Cons: Expensive, hard to remove

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

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

These lights from NiteRider can hold up in a variety of conditions but they’re especially great for trail riding and make for a quality set of mountain bike lights. 

The best solar-powered bike light

Solar-powered bike light

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

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

Cons: Full solar recharge takes close to 8 hours

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

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

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

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

The best rear bike light

Rear-facing bike light

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

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

Cons: Strap isn’t very durable

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

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

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

The best waterproof bike light

Waterproof bike light

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

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

Cons: USB port cover falls off easily

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

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

How to shop for a bike lights

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

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

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

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

How we test bike lights

Best Bike Lights Pattern 4x3

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

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

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

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

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


How many lumens do I need for my bike light?

The exact number of lumens you need for a bike light depends on where and when you’ll be riding. For urban or city riding, a front-facing light capable of doling out up to 200 lumens is preferred, while rear-facing lights should offer anywhere from 40 to 100 lumens. If the city where you ride doesn’t have many streetlights, look for a light with a higher lumen output.  

If you intend on doing any nighttime trail riding or mountain biking, opt for something brighter, in the range of roughly 1,000 lumens. The best mountain bike lights 

It’s also important not to use a light that’s too bright. These can disorient oncoming traffic and will do more harm than good. Lights with a lumen output of just 300 lumens may partially blind onlookers, so “brighter is better” isn’t something you should aim for. I also recommend opting for a light that can dim at the press of a button. This allows you to avoid blinding anyone approaching you while still staying visible.

Are bike lights waterproof?

Not all bike lights are waterproof, though there is a large selection of lights that are. Our top waterproof pick above, the Light and Motion Urban 500 Headlight, is an excellent option that also features sidelights and multiple brightness settings. 

It’s worth noting that bike lights that aren’t waterproof should still be able to hold up in light rain (though a torrential downpour or a full-on submerge of the light should be avoided, if possible).

Do you need a light on your bike at night?

Yes. There’s no question that you need at least some amount of light on your bike while riding at night. This is also true when riding in low-light situations like dusk or dawn. You can also use a smaller light (like our budget recommendation) as a bike wheel light to increase your visibility. 

Riding without a light on your bike is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious injury or death. 

How far should a bike light shine?

Front-facing bike lights should be seen at least 500 feet away, while rear-facing lights should be seen at least 600 feet away.

However, bike lights aren’t all marketed in terms of distance their light shines, so it’s important to understand a light’s lumen rating (explained above) and to use that to determine which bike light is best.

How else can I improve visibility while riding?

Bike lights aren’t the only way to be more visible to those around you while on your bike — you can also wear reflective clothing or use a bike helmet light (I recommend the Chapter from Thousand for this). You can even throw some lights or reflective tape on a backpack and use smaller lights as bike wheel lights. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

12 luxury hotels on the Las Vegas Strip that will make you feel like a high roller without spending like one

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best luxury hotels in Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas hotels offer opulent luxury at surprisingly cheap prices.
  • Many five-star stays on or near the Las Vegas Strip often start under $250 per night.
  • The best luxury hotels in Las Vegas boast spacious suites, private pools, excellent views, and more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

There’s plenty to gamble on in Las Vegas, but you don’t have to risk the odds when it comes to choosing a hotel.

Las Vegas is one of the few US cities where a luxury hotel can regularly start under $250 per night, sometimes as low as $75 to $100. Of course, weekends and high seasons will bring increased prices, but with a little sleuthing you might just snag a great deal so you can save those extra dollars for Sin City’s casino floors, top-notch restaurants, and world-class entertainment.

Browse all the best luxury Las Vegas hotels below, or jump directly to a specific area:

These are the best luxury hotels in Las Vegas, sorted by price from low to high.

Signature at MGM Grand

A signature deluxe suite at MGM Signature in Las Vegas
Every room here is a suite with apartment-like features.

Book Signature at MGM Grand

The Signature is an all-suite hotel set back from the MGM Grand’s main resort and casino but is still easily accessible to it by indoor walkways. There’s no casino on-site, which means the crowd is less rowdy, and the hotel feels peaceful. There are fewer amenities too, though all of the restaurants, entertainment, and wellness found at MGM Grand are just steps away. 

We once used the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book here and scored extra perks such as free upgrade, late checkout, and complimentary food and beverage credit. Spacious suites are quiet and include spa baths, flat-screen TVs, separate sitting areas, balconies, and kitchenettes for an apartment-like experience. It’s a great fit for a family or someone in town for business on an extended stay.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

NoMad Las Vegas

NoMad Las Vegas Pool
The luxe NoMad has its own sleek pool that is private from guests at adjacent Park MGM.

Book NoMad Las Vegas

Located on the upper four floors of the Park MGM Las Vegas, the NoMad Las Vegas is the third location from the luxury NoMad hotel group with properties in New York and Los Angeles.

It’s one of many hotel-within-a-hotel concepts that are popular in Las Vegas (and within this list) for a more intimate, boutique-quality that feels rare in this town of mega-resorts. Rooms are decadent and design-forward featuring hardwood floors, velvet furnishings, and standalone soaking bathtubs in the bedroom.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Aria Resort & Casino

Aria guest room
Aria has a 150,000-square-foot casino, 16 restaurants, and more than 4,000 rooms.

Book Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas

Located on the Las Vegas Strip within the CityCenter complex, Aria is a glittering curvilinear property with a 150,000-square-foot casino, 16 restaurants, and more than 4,000 rooms. Opened just a decade ago, rooms feature fully tricked-out tech, including a one-touch room control system to adjust lighting, curtains, and more from the touch of a tablet.

Hakkasan Group’s Jewel nightclub is located here, as is a huge spa with 62 treatment rooms, and three pools, including the Liquid pool club for grown folks.

Plus, the location is central, close to the City Center, conference events, and all the Strip action.

COVID-19 status and policies available here.

The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

The Venetian Las Vegas Luxury King Suite
Even the cheapest standard rooms are suites with separate living areas.

Book The Venetian Las Vegas

This five-star Las Vegas Strip resort is one of the most instantly recognizable resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Drawing inspiration from Italy, it’s best known for its indoor canals and gondola rides, modeled off its namesake city. However, vast interiors show off an array of architectural styles and swathes of Renaissance-era aesthetics, and the hotel is one of the most visually impressive in a city of decadent hotels.

There are 80 restaurants — including Thomas Keller’s Bouchon — a glittering casino, the Grand Canal Shoppes, and a pool deck that covers 1.2 acres, and every room is a suite, and huge, starting at 650 square feet.

The Venetian also connects to the Sands Expo & Convention Center, and guests are granted access to the Canyon Ranch Spa Club gym.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of The Venetian

Encore at Wynn Las Vegas

Encore wynn las vegas
The Encore is the Wynn’s take on a boutique hotel.

Book the Encore at Wynn

Not to be confused with the Wynn itself, the Encore is the Wynn’s take on a boutique offering. It also comes with all the benefits of being housed within a parent property.

While guests of the Wynn can’t use Encore facilities, such as the pool, all those booked at Encore are allowed privileges at both. I’ve scored cheaper deals at Encore, though historically it’s sometimes more expensive than Wynn. If you like the glitz of the Wynn but think it feels too overwhelming, or prefer a more intimate approach, the Encore offers a solid alternative.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace

best luxury hotels las vegas nobu
Nobu Hotel is zen and quiet, with 182 stylish, Japanese-inspired rooms and suites.

Book Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Inside the blockbuster 85-acre, 3,960 room resort Caesars Palace, the intimate Nobu Hotel is tucked away as a boutique hotel-within-a-hotel concept, created by the famed sushi chef of the same name. If Caesars is frenetic and bustling, Nobu Hotel is uber-Zen and quiet, with 182 stylish, Japanese-inspired rooms and suites. Staying here feels a bit like being a celebrity, with added VIP perks.

Rooms channel Japanese traditions with deep soaking tubs and come with free Wi-Fi, a 55-inch flat-screen TV, an iPod docking station, and Natura Bisse toiletries, as well as priority seating at Nobu Restaurant and Lounge. 

Nobu Hotel guests also have access to a private front desk and lounge, the Venus Pool at Caesars Palace, expedited line privilege at OMNIA nightclub, a complimentary Friday social hour, and a dedicated hotel concierge.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Bellagio Las Vegas

bellagio las vegas
We love the Bellagio for its central location, designer shopping, and iconic fountain show.

Book Bellagio Las Vegas

The Bellagio draws a consistent crowd for its central Strip location, popular casino, designer fashion, and curated art, including the signature Dale Chihuly glass installation hanging from the lobby ceiling.

It’s also a huge draw to those craning for a front-row view of the dancing fountains, and there’s no better spot than a room overlooking the action. We’ve reviewed the balcony room facing the fountains and can confirm it’s one of the best rooms on the Strip. Plus, in what’s clearly a competitive field, they might have one of the best buffets in Las Vegas, though that’s subject to change in a post-pandemic world. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Bellagio Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas

wynn las vegas review view room
The Wynn is renowned as one of the best on the Strip with world-class amenities, dining, gambling, and entertainment.

Book the Wynn Las Vegas

I once stayed at this luxury resort and casino and was blown away by the level of detail and thoughtfulness in each generously appointed guest room. The design is immaculate with a clean, modern palette and smart-enabled features that only add to an air of sophistication. 

Since then, the hotel’s reputation has only continued to grow as one of the best on the Strip with world-class resort amenities, dining, gambling, and entertainment. There’s a reason it’s consistently rated as one of the best places to stay in Vegas and if you can secure a good deal, this might be one of the best places to book.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of the Wynn Las Vegas

Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

Waldorf astoria las vegas pool
A posh pool deck strikes a serene tone.

Book the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

Travelers accustomed to the highest level of hospitality book this five-star property known for immaculate service and spacious rooms that start at 500 square feet with extravagant soaking tubs.

With no casino on-site, it’s another great option when you prefer a more blissful stay. If you come to Vegas for luxe spas, pools, and dining, this is a great bet.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

The Palazzo at the Venetian

the palazzo resort hotel
Spread out in standard suites with ample living spaces, plush bedding, sleek bathrooms, all the amenities of the Venetian.

Book The Palazzo at The Venetian

While The Venetian is perhaps more well-known, and cheaper, consider a stay at its sister property, The Palazzo.

Newer and more low-key but equally refined, even The Palazzo’s standard rooms are dubbed Luxury Suites and are not only more up-to-date than entry-level Venetian offerings but significantly larger. Spread out with ample living spaces, plush bedding, sleek bathrooms, and relish in the fact that your room is just steps from tons of the Strip’s best attractions, plus all that the Venetian has to offer.

COVID-19 status and policies available here.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection

The casino floor at bar at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.
Bold, sleek, decor shines on the casino floor, especially in the signature Chandelier Bar.

Book The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection

The Cosmopolitan is trendy, hip, and sophisticated, and generally feels like you’re hanging out inside a chandelier (likely why they have a bar named after one). It’s a favorite among those visiting Las Vegas who want to join in on nightlife action over betting at tables, though the latter is readily available too. Plus, it’s one of the few hotels with balconies — request one facing Bellagio for a great view of the fountain show.

A member of the Autograph Collection of hotels, it’s also a great way for Marriott Bonvoy members to earn and redeem points. Book here if you’re looking to blur the lines between a glam getaway and a healthy dose of revelry.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas

Four Seasons Las Vegas
There’s a private, tranquil pool area just for Four Seasons guests, plus all the perks and attention to detail associated with the brand.

Book the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas

The Four Seasons is a symbol of luxury and one that often comes with an accompanying high price tag. However, I’ve seen deals around $200 per night at this location hidden within Mandalay Bay, and it’s widely regarded as one of the nicest hotels in Vegas.

Rooms feel like a scintillating oasis of luxury, cocooned away from the frenetic pace of the Strip, though, it’s right there when you choose to seek it out. There’s a private, tranquil pool area for Four Seasons guests only, plus all the perks and indulgent attention to detail you’d expect from a Four Seasons.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

FAQ: Luxury hotels in Las Vegas

The "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign in front of palm trees against a blue sky.

Where is Las Vegas?

Las Vegas is located in the southern tip of the state of Nevada, near the borders of both California and Arizona. 

When will I find the best deals on Las Vegas luxury hotels?

You’ll often find the cheapest hotel prices in Las Vegas midweek in summer, when scorching hot temperatures keep most travelers away, or in the winter, after New Year’s Day, when it’s still too cool to hit the pool. Once the temperatures turn milder, expect prices to rise.

Much of Las Vegas tourism also revolves around an annual convention calendar, which often drives up hotel prices. Holidays also see an influx of crowds.

Why are Las Vegas hotels cheap?

Because Vegas resorts make most of their profits on the casino floor, cheap room rates are intended to attract guests who will then spend their extra money on slots and tables.

As Las Vegas is located in a desert climate, you can expect hot, hot summers and cool winters. No matter when you visit, it’s likely to be chilly at night. Early winter and spring, however, offer the nicest, mildest weather when it will be the most comfortable to stroll the Las Vegas Strip or lounge at the pool.

Though, if you’re planning to spend most of your time indoors on the casino or convention floor, the weather likely won’t be a big factor when considering the time of year to visit.

Is Las Vegas open?

Las Vegas is open, without restrictions involving capacity limits and large gatherings.

However, the State of Nevada has mandated that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear a mask in public indoor settings, including resorts and casinos, restaurants, bars, showrooms, and meeting spaces. Masks are also required on public transportation.

Large indoor events also have masks, testing, and vaccination requirements so check before arriving both with local Las Vegas mandates, the Nevada Health Response updates, as well as your individual hotel and destination.

Is it safe to stay in hotels right now?

The CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US. And, with added caution, experts we spoke to said it is safe to stay in a hotel

How we selected the best Las Vegas luxury hotels

  1. All hotels are five-star stays with exceptional luxury service, decor, rooms, amenities, and high-quality attractions.
  2. Hotels have been personally visited and/or vetted by our team of reviewers whenever possible, and include accompanying reviews in most cases.
  3. Every standard room in this list feels like you’ve upgraded to a suite or more indulgent offering.
  4. Hotels are also loved by guests with top ratings and reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor,, and
  5. All of these luxury hotels are priced under $250 per night to start in the low season. 
  6. For this guide, we looked for hotels on or right near the Strip. However, you may also want to consider some of the best Vegas hotels off the Strip too.
  7. All hotels also have updated COVID-19 policies, which we’ve outlined below.
  8. Hotel rooms are sophisticated and spacious, even for entry-level, standard rooms.

More of the best places to stay in Las Vegas

luxe midcentury house las vegas airbnb
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The 5 best coolers of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Whether you’re an occasional picnicker or an itinerant outdoorsperson, a cooler is a must-own item.
  • The best coolers should retain ice for at least 24 hours, have a durable design, and be easy to transport.
  • Our top pick, Yeti’s Tundra 75, is durable and has the best ice and temperature retention of any cooler we’ve tested.

Buying a cooler these days can be perplexing. Type “best cooler” into Google and amidst a sea of advertisements, you’ll also find reviews and recommendations praising coolers that in some cases cost more than the refrigerator in your kitchen.

Before you get carried away doing that, or you find yourself convinced a bear-proof cooler is all anyone should buy, consider your intended use for it.

Firstly, what are you storing? If it’s just drinks and pre-made sandwiches, then there’s no need to spend a fortune. For a cooler to do its job, it’s most important that it’s loaded correctly; a 2:1 ice-to-beverage ratio is a good rule of thumb. And it’s only going to be minimally effective if it’s opened every 20 minutes or so for a fresh beverage or snack.

For simple day trips and regular opening and closing, know this: you’ll be perfectly fine with a budget-friendly option, especially if you’re not slinging it around too much.

But if you go on days-long fishing expeditions with no fridge or access to power, you’ll need something with thick insulation to store your catch safely. You’ll also want to consider its durability as you’re probably going to knock the cooler around a bit.

Having been a commercial and recreational fisherman on and off throughout my life, I’ve purchased, wrecked, and replaced more coolers and cooler parts than I can recount – and I can’t stress enough how important it is to know how to choose and effectively use a cooler. I keep a supply of no less than five coolers and regularly depend on all of them.

Below are five of the best coolers I’ve tested, each of which excels in a certain category. I’ve also included some insight into how I test coolers, as well as some tips on what to keep in mind while shopping.

Here are the best coolers of 2021

How I test coolers

All of the 11 coolers we tested lined up in a fenced in backyard

Each cooler featured in this guide went through several field tests, be it fishing, camping, lounging in the backyard at home, or at the park, to see how well they fared across these four categories: Ice retention, durability, portability, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into which coolers ultimately made this guide:

Ice retention: Perhaps a cooler’s most impactful feature is how well it’s able to keep ice. Though variables such as how often you open and close the cooler, how much ice you use, and what all is in the cooler impact ice retention, the differences shouldn’t be so dramatic that you’re able to confuse a poorly-designed cooler for a quality one. We judged ice retention in a number of ways, though mostly used each cooler as we normally would while keeping track of how much ice or ice water was left after one, two, and three days.

Durability: A cooler’s durability comes down to more than just its exterior quality but also how well its hinges or zippers hold up to constant use. If the cooler you buy gets a lot of run each summer and by fall you’re already thinking you’ll need to upgrade next year, then durability is a major concern. This is where spending more money on a premium cooler can save you quite a lot in the long run.

Portability: Coolers are inherently portable (for the most part) but some are designed far better than others. Even the most cumbersome of coolers should still offer some method for it to be easily carried (via one or two people), and if it’s a small cooler like a soft cooler or a backpack cooler, then these should have portability near the top of what list of what they do exceedingly well. 

Value: As mentioned above, coolers aren’t always an inexpensive investment — especially the premium options like what Yeti offers. But if you’re able to piece together how exactly you need to use the cooler and for what activities you’d use it most, then you’re able to make a better decision on a cooler’s true value. Consider the three categories above, as well, and keep in mind that it’s better to invest a little more in a premium product that’s designed to last than to spend less money, more often on something that’s second-rate.

The best cooler overall

The best coolers of 2020
Best cooler for longterm use

The Yeti Tundra 75 Cooler can keep ice frozen for more than a week even if you’re using it in the middle of the summer.

Pros: Amazing ice retention, rugged construction, great for boating or long road trips

Cons: Very expensive, very heavy

To deal with the elephant in the room first, yes, this cooler costs almost five hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money to spend on a cooler, no two ways about it. But for that price, you will get one of the absolute best coolers on the market today. Let’s just rattle off a few highlights, shall we?

The Yeti Tundra 75 Cooler‘s rugged rotomolded design makes it tough enough to be certified as bear-resistant. That’s right, in a fight between a bear and this cooler, the cooler will probably win. Its three-inch-thick PermaFrost insulation and ColdLock gasket allow the cooler to keep ice frozen for days on end. You can expect at least a week of sub-zero temperatures within provided you loaded it up with sufficient ice.

It has a 50-can capacity and also comes with a dry goods basket that holds a selection of foodstuffs above the ice. Its BearFoot non-slip feet and AnchorPoint tie-down points help you to secure the cooler in the bed of a truck or aboard a boat. 

Do most people need this level of cooler? Probably not. But if you’re a serious fisherman, if you’re on a road trip and you want to stay self-sufficient, or if you’re stocking a cabin or campsite for an extended stay, you’ll be glad you have the Yeti Tundra 75 at your disposal, no buyer’s remorse involved. Just note that the cooler weighs 30 pounds even when empty, so if you have trouble lifting heavier loads, you might need to look elsewhere.

The best budget cooler

coleman cooler

The Coleman Performance 48-Quart Cooler is a classic hard-shelled cooler with multi-day ice retention and an all but indestructible design.

Pros: Great price, sturdy construction, large capacity, trusted legacy brand

Cons: Hinges on lid prone to eventual breaking

If Coleman’s cooler weren’t such a simple, reliable, and all-around great piece of hardware, I would have called it the best low-cost cooler instead of the best overall cooler. It costs less than thirty dollars, but it will last you thirty years or more provided you take the time to wipe it clean now and then and you don’t run over it with a truck.

This is the cooler your dad brought on family camping trips, it’s the cooler of your childhood, and it’s still an awesome buy.

Coleman’s 48-quart cooler can hold 63 standard 12-ounce cans and is tall enough for two-liter soda bottles to stand upright with the lid closed. It’s more than sturdy enough to double as a seat, yet still light enough for one rather fit person to heft alone or for two people to easily carry down the dock, into the park, or onto the beach. Empty, the cooler weighs about seven pounds, so you can easily lift it up onto the top shelf of the garage for storage, too.

The Coleman Performance 48-Quart Cooler has a drain built into the bottom so you can let out any spilled beverages or ice melt without dumping the entire contents, but for the record, there won’t be much meltwater provided you keep the lid secure most of the time. This cooler offers three-day ice retention even when the mercury tops 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and this cooler is made in America, too.

The best backpack cooler


Yeti’s known for its incredibly high-quality products and the Hopper 24 backpack cooler is no different, featuring a durable exterior, a 100% leakproof zipper, and insulation designed to keep contents cold for days.

Pro: Keeps ice cold for multiple days, ergonomic shoulder straps allow for easy and comfortable transport, high-quality and durable construction

Cons: Expensive

It should be no surprise that Yeti shows up multiple times in this guide as the company’s made its name manufacturing some of the best coolers on the market. With its Hopper 24, the brand delivers the same kind of durable construction and quality design its fans have come to expect in the form of a backpack cooler

With space enough to carry roughly 20 cans of beer or soda (with ice included), or 25 pounds of ice, the Hopper 24 is at no lack for available cooler space. And don’t worry about a loaded pack feeling especially heavy either. Yeti designed it so weight distributes evenly, and its removable hip belt and ergonomic shoulder straps make it comfortable to tote around, whether it’s down a long trail to the beach, a short jaunt to a campsite, or a few steps to a backyard. 

Yeti also includes its HydroLok Zipper which helps keep any contents from spilling out (i.e. water from melted ice), and its ColdCell Insulation is capable of keeping ice for several days (something we’ve tested and confirmed often). 

Similar to many of Yeti’s products, the Hopper 24 isn’t cheap, sporting a price tag of $300. However, Yeti consistently exceeds standards of quality and this backpack cooler is no different — it’ll be one of your favorite pieces of go-to gear for several, several years. — Rick Stella, fitness & health editor

The best soft cooler


Yeti’s Hopper M30 is a highly durable, tote-style soft cooler that now features a better zipper closure system that made its already quality ice retention even better. 

Pros: Extremely durable, keeps ice anywhere from 15 to 20 hours, large capacity, highly portable

Cons: Expensive, requires two hands to unzip and close

It should be apparent at this point that Yeti’s coolers are worth every bit of the recognition of nabbing three spots in this guide, as its coolers are just that damn good. And when it comes to picking the best soft cooler, the Hopper M30 is a clear choice. With the brand’s patented bomb-proof construction, some impressive ice retention, and surprisingly large capacity, this is the one you want for day trips to the beach or local park.

Though the Hopper M30 gets a lot right, its best feature is how well it keeps ice throughout the day. During my tests, it reliably kept ice anywhere from roughly 15 hours on up to 20 hours, depending on how hot it was outside, how often I opened it for a drink, and whether I’d remember to fully zip it up or not. But even on its lower 15-hour days, that’s more than enough time to get your fill of hanging at the park or lounging on the beach (it was even a nice supplemental cooler on two-day car camping trips). 

You’ll be surprised at how much this cooler is able to house, too. Despite often stocking it with more cans of beer than I’d know what to do with, there was still plenty of room for a couple of sandwiches, some cheese sticks, and whatever other snacks seemed fit for the outing. It also comes with a padded should strap that makes lugging the thing either from car to beach or park a comfortable experience — I’ve even slung it over my shoulder while riding my bike and it was completely fine. 

Then there’s its durability. The Hopper M30 can take an utter beating, whether it’s getting tossed into the back of a car, dragged down a trail, or even falling completely off my bike (this only happened once and the cooler managed to avoid taking any damage at all). Its zipper closure system also seals the cooler airtight and not even melted ice (aka water) drips out if it’s tilted upside down or laying on its side. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more high-quality soft cooler, which is why the Hopper M30 is our go-to whenever I want to leave my bulky, cumbersome cooler at home. — Rick Stella, fitness & health editor

The best budget soft cooler

An image of the AO Carbon Soft Cooler on a picnic table outside

The AO Coolers Carbon Soft Cooler is stuffed with insulation and a thick liner that keeps things plenty cold for over 24 hours and can handle a bit of abuse.

Pros: Great insulation, tough exterior and interior linings, exterior pouch, comes in 12-, 24-, 36-, and 48-can sizes

Cons: Not the easiest to clean, zipper isn’t airtight/leakproof

You don’t need to spend a fortune to buy an effective soft cooler for general use and, in fact, this is one of the coolers I tend to use most. From lighter fishing excursions to an afternoon picnic, I haven’t found a handier cooler, hands down.

I’ve also been using it for well over two years — that’s two years of sea time, being left outside through every season, and countless fruitful trips home from the fishing grounds. The vinyl hasn’t so much as scratched, let alone torn, and as with any cooler I get my hands on, I’ve mistreated this thing every way possible.

Aside from more methodical testing, which proved that it could hold ice for 24 hours even with four hours of direct sunlight in the dead of summer in New York City, I’ve also filled it with two-thirds ice and a couple of bottles of wine, left it in my unconditioned living room for three days, and found exceptionally chilled wine and a large iceberg still floating inside.

While the brand touts its use of high-density insulation, it seems to be that the large air pockets between the insulation and the inner and outer linings are what give it its best retention qualities. High-density foam (or insulation) is actually a better conductor of heat than low-density foam (or insulation), while air is one of the worst conductors. So, while the insulation may seem curiously loose against the linings, all that space is actually helping to improve ice and temperature retention.

Regarding features, there are more than you’d find in your average soft cooler. First, there are briefcase-style handles that velcro together and a padded shoulder sling, buckles on either end for strapping it down and making it more compact, and there’s also an outside zipper pouch in which I keep utensils, a cutting board, a folded rag, a wine key, and still have room for a couple of other odds and ends.

The only room for improvement with this cooler is an airtight zipper but that would probably drive the cost up too much. It’s also a bit tougher to clean than some other options in this guide, but it’s nothing a sponge and some dish soap can’t handle (I like to fill it with warm soapy water, zip it, and give it a shake first).

How to shop for a cooler

yeti cooler bag

When choosing the best cooler for your needs, first consider where you’ll most often use it. If a cooler is too big to bring along on a camping or fishing trip, it’s useless for those outings.

The same goes for if it can’t retain ice well enough to keep things fresh during a weeklong stay in a cabin or camper. If its only purpose is for convenient beverage chilling in your own backyard during cookouts, that’s going to have a huge impact on how much you need to spend (which should be well south of $100 in that scenario).

Consider how frequently you’re going to be opening and closing your cooler open, too. If it’s every 20-30 minutes, it won’t much matter whether you have a Coleman Performance or a Yeti Tundra (save for a price tag difference of several hundred dollars), especially on hotter days. 

You’ll also need to think about what you’ll be keeping cold, and how much of it. It’s easy to judge cooler capacity as almost all coolers explicitly list their interior quart size and how many cans they’re able to hold. Don’t forget to review the overall size of the cooler, as some are much larger on the outside than their interior dimensions might have you think.

To really keep contents cold, you’ll need to keep a ratio of somewhere around 2/3 ice to reach optimal efficacy. Even a rotomolded cooler simply won’t do its job without you meeting it halfway.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best Bluetooth speakers of 2021 for listening to music outside and around the house

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

A great listening experience for all your favorite music services shouldn’t be limited by pesky wires. While the days of carrying around a boom box on your shoulder are by and large over, you can still get quality wireless music in the form of a Bluetooth speaker.

Thanks to Bluetooth support, these speakers are able to play music from other Bluetooth-enabled sources, like a smartphone or laptop, without any cables. Whether you’re getting a speaker for use around the house or a day at the park, there’s almost certainly a Bluetooth speaker for you. But there are a number of things to consider before you buy, including size, battery, durability and, of course, sound quality.

With all of those factors in mind, we’ve selected the best Bluetooth speakers you can buy for a variety of needs. Since most people purchase Bluetooth speakers for their portability, all of our picks feature built-in batteries for listening on the go.

Here are the best Bluetooth speakers:

The best Bluetooth speaker overall

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move looks good, sounds great, and offers voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Pros: Attractive design, integrates with other Sonos speakers, excellent audio quality, Alexa and Google Assistant with Wi-Fi

Cons: A little expensive, a bit heavy

With an excellent design, awesome sound quality, and support for two digital assistants, the Sonos Move is one of the most fully featured Bluetooth speakers you can buy.

The speaker offers a ton of bass, coupled with crisp clarity and detail in the high end. That makes it excellent for listening to music. The Move can even be calibrated using Trueplay tuning technology to suit different environments and locations.

The Move has a charging station where you can keep it docked in your home, but it’s also designed to be portable, so you can take it outside or move it around the house. It’s rated for around 11 hours of battery life, so it should easily get you through a day of listening.

Like other Sonos speakers, the Sonos Move is also smart. You can choose to use either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, plus it integrates perfectly with Sonos’ other speakers, allowing for multi-room audio. 

But what about the downsides? The speaker is a little pricey, and you won’t get access to all of its smart features unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi. The Move is also bigger and heavier than most Bluetooth speakers which limits its portability a bit.

Buyers who want a similar speaker with a more compact design and cheaper price tag should consider the Move’s smaller sibling, the Sonos Roam. It doesn’t sound as good as the Move, but it’s a better fit for people who primarily plan to use their speaker for on-the-go listening.

The best Bluetooth speaker for portability


The Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II is easy-to-use, offers 17 hours of battery, and features a convenient handle for travel.

Pros: Good sound, versatile design for portable use outdoors and around the house, long battery life

Cons: A bit pricey, lacks Wi-Fi support

There are a number of things that make the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ II such an ideal portable option, from its great sound to its convenient design.

The design is reminiscent of smart speakers, so it’ll look right at home in any tech-savvy person’s house. On top of that, it offers extremely easy-to-use controls, with six buttons located on the top for things like volume and Bluetooth control. Bose also added a handle to make it easy to bring the speaker with you outside or around the house.

We tested the previous-generation model and were impressed by its great sound quality and how easy it is to move from room to room. It delivers ample volume and deep bass without distorting. 

This newer version is nearly identical to the one we tested, but features an upgrade from IPX4 water resistance to an IP55 rating. It also supports an extra hour of battery life for up to 17 hours of play time — the longest of any speaker on our guide. 

The SoundLink Revolve+ II even has some smart features, including Bluetooth pairing with voice prompts, the ability to take calls, and access to Siri or Google Assistant from your phone. That said, the speaker doesn’t have Wi-Fi so it doesn’t support a built-in digital assistant.

The best waterproof Bluetooth speaker

Ultimate Ears Boom 3

The UE Boom 3 features a water resistant design, making it great for use by the pool or at the beach.

Pros: Good sound quality, nice design, waterproof, can float

Cons: High frequencies aren’t as detailed as other speakers

Looking for something that you can take to the beach or use by the pool without fear of it breaking due to water damage? The UE Boom 3 is the way to go. 

The speaker may not sound as robust as the Sonos Move, but it still sounds good, especially considering how small it is. The UE Boom 3 offers decent bass response, along with a well-tuned mid-range, and a solid amount of clarity in the high frequencies. One of the best things about it is that it can also get super loud, which is great for use outside.

It’s relatively small and portable, and it’s available in a range of different colors. On the side, you get buttons for controlling volume, while on the top there are controls for things like Bluetooth pairing and power. 

The UE Boom 3 is built for use near water. The speaker is not only waterproof, but it’s also designed to float, so you won’t have to worry about losing it at the bottom of the pool. The Boom 3 is capable of being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, so it shouldn’t break due to water damage.

The best cheap Bluetooth speaker

Anker bluetooth speaker

The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini may be super-affordable, but it still looks and sounds solid for the price.

Pros: Inexpensive, water-resistant, solid battery life

Cons: Sound quality is only decent

Looking for an inexpensive speaker that still looks and sounds pretty good? The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is the way to go. This speaker may carry a budget price, but it still sounds decent and won’t break the bank.

The Soundcore Flare is designed to look a lot better than other speakers in its price range. It features a cylindrical design with a fabric covering around the side and controls on the top. Those controls include power, volume, and Bluetooth pairing. There are even LED lights on the bottom, and you can control those lights through five different lighting modes.

The design of the speaker plays into how it sounds too. The speaker can deliver 360-degree audio, so no matter where you are around it, you’ll be to hear your music. It definitely won’t sound as powerful as some of the more expensive speakers on our list, but it can still get pretty loud and offers a decent amount of bass.

You’ll get around 12 hours of battery life out of the speaker, which isn’t bad at all, and it’s water-resistant with an IPX7 rating. 

Considering the price range, perhaps the only real downside to the speaker is that it can’t match more expensive offerings in the audio department.

What else we considered

JBL Flip 4

Here are other speakers we considered for our guide, and why they didn’t make our top picks.

Other Bluetooth speakers we recommend:

JBL Flip 4: The JBL Flip 4 speaker was previously one of our picks, and it’s still a fantastic Bluetooth speaker for the money. With that said, the less expensive Soundcore Flare Mini includes similar features for a more affordable price, making that model a better overall budget pick. If you’re willing to spend more, however, the JBL Flip 4 features a bit more power and better sound quality.

What you should look for in a Bluetooth speaker

bose portable home speaker lifestyle

When shopping for a Bluetooth speaker, there are some key factors you should keep in mind. For instance, a compact model might not be a good fit for someone who wants the best audio quality, while a heavy speaker won’t be ideal for someone who wants to take their audio on the go.

Below, we’ve broken down some main features and design elements you should consider when selecting the best Bluetooth speaker for your needs.

  • Size matters: Generally speaking, larger speakers will be louder, so they tend to be a better fit for parties and gatherings. Larger speakers also tend to have more refined audio quality with better clarity and bass. Of course, size also affects portability. If you’re looking for something you can slip in your bag and carry around easily, then a smaller speaker will be a better choice.
  • Battery life: You’ll obviously want longer battery life if you’re looking for a speaker that can last all day, but sometimes a speaker with shorter battery life will do the job — especially if you plan on being able to charge it often or even while in use. Though all of our picks include batteries, some Bluetooth speakers on the market only work with an outlet. If you just plan to use your speaker in one room, this isn’t a problem, but if you want portability, a speaker with a battery is a must.
  • Durability and water resistance: Durability is another important factor if you plan on carrying your speaker around a lot. Not only will your speaker last longer if it’s more durable, but it might be a little more versatile, too. For example, you probably won’t want to take a non-waterproof speaker to the pool or the beach.
  • Sound quality: A single Bluetooth speaker is never going to offer the same quality as a true stereo speaker pair, but high-end Bluetooth speakers from brands like Sonos and Bose offer impressive performance. Again, larger models tend to have better sound, so if audio quality is a priority, you’ll likely want to avoid ultra-compact speakers. 

Check out our other speaker buying guides

Sonos Beam

The best speakers

The best smart speakers

The best soundbars

The best Alexa speakers

The best home theater systems

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22 of the very best Airbnbs across California, from beaches and deserts to wine regions and big cities

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

best Airbnb Luxe listings - Oceanfront Home in Malibu, California

The Golden State is a stunning example of raw natural beauty whether you seek the sprawling hills of wine country, fancy a dip along sun-kissed coastal shores, crave the cultural satisfaction of city centers, or want to hike among the Redwoods.

I’m a Los Angeles-based travel writer who has covered some of the best places to stay in California for Insider and have explored my beloved state of California widely – by car, by foot, by plane.

And because experts told me that private vacation rentals are likely safer than hotels during COVID, I rounded up the best Airbnb vacation rentals in California, from Monterey to Malibu and beyond. These are some of the coolest, most unique Airbnb homes in the state.

Browse all listings below, or jump to a specific area:

These are the best Airbnbs in California, sorted by region and price.

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Los Angeles

Guest house with pool and hot tub in Venice

venice beach pool home airbnb
This affordable home offers a lot of value before you even consider there’s also a pool.

Book this Los Angeles studio on Airbnb

Santa Monica and Venice are among LA’s most popular and central beach areas, and lodging in the area can be pricey. But this affordable option in Venice offers a lot of value before you even consider there’s also a pool. 

It’s technically a Spanish architecture pool house, but it’s totally private, and charming to boot, with room for two adults. The cozy space boasts a private outdoor bathroom, a sauna, three fire pits, a hot tub, plus loaner bikes and skateboards to hit the beach.

There’s also a ping-pong table in the rec area. The laid-back California decor includes a framed map of Venice, distressed furnishings, and tile flooring. 

Private guest house in Larchmont Village

Larchmont Village best LA airbnbs
Central Larchmont is close to Hollywood and Downtown LA.

Book this Los Angeles guest house on Airbnb

Non-locals may not know about the Larchmont area, which is not a household name like Hollywood, but it’s a beautiful, bustling, central, and safe area with its own charming walkable center with shops and restaurants.

This listing is for a private, two-story guesthouse with vaulted ceilings, well-curated furnishings, and an open layout. The downstairs living area has a flat-screen HDTV with premium channels, a compact but well-equipped stainless kitchen, dining area, powder room, and French doors that open to a landscaped backyard. There’s a Queen bed in the airy master suite upstairs, which also has a reading nook, desk, and spa-like bathroom.

Bungalow in Hollywood

Hollywood bungalow best LA airbnbs
Hole up here to disconnect or write that screenplay.

Book this Hollywood bungalow on Airbnb

Hollywood and its environs are as cacophonous and congested as they are lively and exciting. But this cozy Hollywood Hills area listing will make you feel like you’ve gotten away from it all while still staying within LA’s core.

This private guest unit nestled in the hillside makes for a peaceful retreat that allows for full relaxation or full focus on work or creative projects — ideal, perhaps, for an inspiring new work-from-home situation.

There are panoramic city views from Hollywood to the Pacific Ocean from the freestanding bathtub, as well as a sunny terrace with an inviting daybed swing, and a distinctly bohemian vibe. The listing has a Queen-sized bed and one-and-a-half baths, so come with a loved one, or check-in solo to work on your screenplay. 

Find more great Los Angeles Airbnbs

Romantic beachfront apartment in Malibu

Malibu Beachfront Apartment - Airbnb
Waves lap at the edge of the deck in this zen home.

Book this Malibu home on Airbnb

Malibu beachfront real estate is extremely expensive, so this is a great chance to get location, location, location at a relatively affordable price given the area. This Airbnb Plus category listing is an open-plan beachfront apartment with a deck right over the water. A wall of windows maximizes the epic view.

Bright white furnishings and exposed wooden beams create a chic but accessible vibe, and the marble bathroom is downright zen. The all-white color scheme and vintage accents create a romantic vibe that’s especially great for a couple’s retreat.

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner San Diego

Waterfront condo facing the Pacific Ocean

Oceanfront San Diego condo
This oceanfront condo is only steps from the Pacific with direct views of it from the deck as well.

Book this San Diego condo on Airbnb

This oceanfront condo is located literally steps from the Pacific — and the sea sprawls down below for a spectacular view. This Ocean Beach apartment is an ideal launchpad for a San Diego visit; abundant dining and drinking options surround it.

The decor is inspired by a coastal palette for a bright and cheerful vibe. It has a full kitchen, fans to circulate the sea breeze, a Queen bed in the bedroom, and a Queen-size sofa bed for kids or additional guests. It’s located on the ground floor, so no steps are required. And there’s free street parking available (even in peak season, you’ll probably find it within a block or two away).

Find more great San Diego Airbnbs

Boho loft in Little Italy

Room A at The Dutra Inn Little Italy San Diego
The private rooftop at this boho-chic loft has gorgeous views of downtown and San Diego Bay.

Book this San Diego loft on Airbnb

In one of San Diego’s most exciting neighborhoods, this boho-chic loft is a private unit within an apartment-style hotel.

It’s a strong pick for design aficionados thanks to southwestern-style like a longhorn skull, vibrant red and yellow tones, and a portable Art Deco bar. There are also colorful tribal prints, a bright red-tiled kitchen backsplash, midcentury furniture, and old whiskey bottles fashioned as photogenic decor.

The major highlight, however, is the private rooftop with views of downtown San Diego and the bay, plus a convenient location close to the Gaslamp Quarter.

Zen-like studio near the bay

Screen_Shot_2020 06 15_at_11.12.35_AM
The beamed ceiling, bamboo accents, and leafy plants make this studio feel like a Balinese escape.

Book this San Diego studio on Airbnb

Experience the sprawling city that is San Diego without feeling overwhelmed by all the urban buzz. This calming, even zen-like studio is just steps to the bay and an easy walk to the beach. It’s great for a relaxed, car-free beach getaway — even just from the city’s more congested center.

Vaulted, beamed ceilings make the space feel airy, and a skylight makes it bright and cheerful. It sleeps two with a queen bed, and there’s a small patio with a grill for cozy home-cooked meals. For the active couple, travel light and make use of the two included boogie boards and beach cruisers for outdoor fun and exercise during your stay. There’s also private off-street parking for when more than a bike is required.

Find more great San Diego Airbnbs

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner San Francisco Bay Area

Remodeled home near Golden Gate Park

Screen_Shot_2020 06 15_at_2.26.52_PM
Retreat to a serene bedroom with a memory foam mattress.

Book this San Francisco home on Airbnb

With its palpable tech wealth, San Francisco and the Bay Area have become one of the most expensive places in the country. But you can still visit the city without going over budget in this lovely, affordable Airbnb near Golden Gate Park and the beach in the Outer Sunset.

The home is chic, bright, and sparkling. There’s a Queen-sized bed with a memory foam mattress and a cool blue headboard under a nautical whale wall hanging. The bathroom gleams in crisp white, and the elegant furnishings and living room pieces lend a sophisticated, curated feel.

Modern apartment in Haight-Ashbury

Victorian_apartment airbnb in san francisco
Admire views of the city through picturesque bay windows.

Book this San Francisco apartment on Airbnb

This design-minded apartment in a Victorian Building near Haight-Ashbury offers quintessential San Francisco flair with views over a historic neighborhood. 

Lounge in Barcelona chairs taking in the light from the bay window, or switch on a gas fire and relax against the city’s frequent chill. This Airbnb Plus listing has a gourmet gas stove, plush neutral-toned bed linens, and laundry for guests.

Hilltop apartment in Potrero Hill

A living room in an Airbnb in San Francisco
Soothing neutrals combine with gleaming white for a crisp, contemporary color palette.

Book this San Francisco apartment on Airbnb

San Francisco can be notoriously gray, but Potrero Hill is one of its sunniest neighborhoods, and this hilltop apartment affords beautiful city views. With room for two guests with one bedroom and one bath, this updated in-law apartment is an elevated Airbnb Plus category home and spans 900 square feet. It is located within a historic home built in 1910 but is entirely private with a separate entrance. (The hosts are a family living in the unit above.)

The kitchen feels luxe with stainless steel appliances, sleek white cabinetry, and a spa-like bathroom with a rain shower. An overall soothing color palette is accented by fun pops of color from the bright yellow front door to turquoise chairs on the small deck. 

Find more great San Francisco Airbnbs

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Wine Country

Relaxing and pet-friendly home in Sonoma

Relaxing and pet friendly Sonoma home
Rent this home for long term stays near Sonoma.

Book this pet-friendly Sonoma home on Airbnb

This ideal wine country rental is within walking distance of Abbot’s Passage Winery, a three-minute drive to the town of Glen Ellen, and a 10-minute drive to Sonoma Square. 

The three-bedroom home has a large backyard with a bocce ball court and a Chinese Elm tree for shade. There’s room for a large group or family, with a King bed in the master bedroom and Queen beds in each of the other two bedrooms, plus a Queen-size sofa bed in the family room.

There’s also a well-equipped kitchen, a gas barbecue, two full bathrooms, plus a washer-dryer on site for guest use. A 56-inch smart TV in the family room comes with hundreds of movies, and there’s a library well stocked with books for the analog types.

There is a 31-night minimum, but we included this home for those looking for a great base for remote working.

Farmhouse cottage in Napa

Screen_Shot_2020 06 15_at_11.37.11_AM

Book this Napa Valley cottage on Airbnb

If you’ve longed to visit wine country for winery tours and barrel tastings, plan your stay in this fully renovated farmhouse cottage located in a tranquil neighborhood on Main Street, just a mile from the downtown area. The sweet 600-square-foot space has two Queen-sized beds, a couch, and a kitchenette. This home is best for a couple or friend getaway as children under 12 are not permitted.

Here, the amount of interaction is up to the guest — a key concern in the pandemic age. Hosts can make themselves available to talk about restaurants and wineries or make themselves scarce, leaving you to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio after a day out touring the vineyards.

Mountain guesthouse with a pool in Napa

The pool deck of a home near Napa in California on Airbnb
Enjoy views from the pool of the valley all the way to San Francisco.

Book this Napa guesthouse with a pool on Airbnb

This tranquil guesthouse with vineyard views is hidden in the mountains only a few minutes up a country road from Napa. 

The interior is light and open, with vaulted ceilings and minimalist decor including fold-down beds concealed behind panels that resemble Shoji screens.

The kitchen has a white marble island with a breakfast bar, a fire-engine-red Smeg refrigerator, and the hexagonal-tiled bathroom features a walk-in shower. 

Outside, there’s an elegant lap pool, hot tub, and seating area for watching the sunset with a glass of wine. Walk beyond the house to meet local cows, alpacas, and sheep, and you’ll be rewarded with views all the way to San Francisco.  

Find more Airbnbs near California wineries

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Beaches and Coasts

Cliffside cabin in Trinidad Bluffs

Trinidad Bluffs cabin
This cabin is located at the edge of the bluff with full 180-degree ocean views.

Book this Trinidad cabin on Airbnb

Southern California’s beaches may be better known, but high up in Northern California are more remote, rugged, and spectacular stretches of beaches and coastlines where you will find crowd-free tranquility and cooler air year-round.

This cabin in Trinidad is located at the edge of the bluff above the sea, with full 180-degree ocean views. It has easy access to redwoods, beaches, lagoons, hiking, boating, and many more activities in the natural environment.

The rustic cabin is set up like a studio, with wooden walls and flooring. Inside is a fireplace, a basic kitchen, and sliding doors that open to a deck with chairs for admiring those views.

Secluded retreat in Santa Barbara

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Stay near downtown Santa Barbara in this posh home in the tony neighborhood of Montecito.

Book this Santa Barbara home on Airbnb

Take a romantic coastal drive to the Santa Barbara area and settle into this 717-square-foot ultra-posh Montecito retreat. It has a Queen-sized bed, a big living room with a sleeper sofa, fireplace and kitchenette, a private guest laundry room, and even a bathroom with steam. 

The home is located on the bottom floor of the host’s tri-level home with a separate entrance at the side yard, but it feels quite private. A seasonal creek surrounds the large wraparound wooden deck, fully ensconcing you in nature, and the home offers easy access to great nearby hiking trails, and beautiful Butterfly Beach is a five-minute drive away.

Scenic mountain home in Carmel near Big Sur

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Savor Big Sur views and the raw natural environment in serenity and privacy.

Book this Big Sur home on Airbnb

The coastline around Big Sur is the stuff of screen savers and the cliffs make for an awe-inspiring if harrowing road trip. Here, it’s all about the views and the raw natural environment, and this rental lets you take savor both in serenity and privacy. View tons of stars at night, hear the birds sing, and watch the red-tailed hawks circling above.

Arrive via a private paved and gated driveway to this home with a full 365-degree view of redwoods and oak ridges; it enjoys full sun all day long. The listing is just right for a solo traveler or a couple with two bedrooms, each with a Queen-sized bed. There are also lawn chairs, an outdoor fireplace, and a distinctly indoor-outdoor vibe.

Find more Airbnb homes on California’s beaches and coast

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner Desert

Stardust Oasis guest house in Palm Springs

Stardust Oasis guest house in Palm Springs
This ultra-mod home is quintessential Palm Springs.

Book this Palm Springs house on Airbnb

A visit to Palm Springs is all about midcentury modern lodging, and this tricked-out guest house fits the bill perfectly with 60s-style curated furnishings and a palette of the era including turquoise, yellow, and olive green.

This LGBTQ-owned and operated, 270-square-foot listing is set up like a hotel room with a private entrance, patio, fire pit, lounge area, outdoor shower, and small kitchenette (no stove) — all private. It’s just right for couples or solo travelers but no kids are allowed.

You’ll get DirecTV on a 55-inch 4K Samsung, an open closet with drawers to unpack, and a bathroom with a large rainfall shower. The King-size bed has a memory foam mattress for great sleep quality.

Midcentury home with a pool in Palm Springs

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This home with a private pool is worth the splurge for more space to spread out.

Book this Palm Springs house on Airbnb

For the full Palm Springs getaway experience, you’re going to want to rent a home in the vibrant midcentury modern style for which the town is famous.

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is in the desirable Ruth Hardy Park/Movie Colony East neighborhood with views of the dramatic San Jacinto mountains, and room for four adults. An additional two children can fit in the foldout sofa in the living room.

The entertainment setup includes Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming channels. But you’ll probably spend most of your time outdoors in the sleek saltwater pool, spa, and lounging area. 

Off-the-grid house in Pioneertown

Off the grid House in Pioneertown
Step away from society in this eco-friendly home with minimal Wi-Fi and no TVs.

Book this Pioneertown house on Airbnb

Pioneertown offers total remoteness. Out of sight in the California high desert, this sequestered refuge has no TVs, only satellite Wi-Fi for emergency communication. Guests are meant to instead soak in views of the desert with floor-to-ceiling windows in almost every room. Not only is the architecture stunning, but the property is eco-conscious, powering energy and hot water entirely using solar panels.

The modern and minimalist design also includes a petite kitchen island next to an expansive dining table and a living room with a hanging fireplace that serves as a focal point. A shaded outdoor patio is set between this part of the home and two bedrooms, one with a King-size and one with a Queen-size Casper mattress, where you can enjoy panoramic views from bed.  

Find more great Palm Springs Airbnbs and more of the best desert Airbnbs

Travel Hotel Reviews Banner National Parks

Tiny house in Yosemite

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This cheaply-priced tiny home is a half-hour from the entrance to Yosemite.

Book this tiny house in Yosemite on Airbnb

When visiting Yosemite National Park, the goal should be to spend as much time absorbing wide-open nature and the jaw-dropping beauty of famed peaks like Half Dome and El Capitan as possible, not cooped up in your lodging.

That’s why a tiny house is a perfect complement to such a trip. This one is located just about 30 minutes from the park entrance and is also a great launchpad to explore Bass Lake. And there are llamas to boot.

With this listing, you’ll receive access to the whole tiny house, which includes a bathroom with a hot shower, a flushing toilet, and a sink. The downstairs bedroom has a Queen-sized bed in a room done up in cozy farmhouse style that feels wholly welcoming despite the diminutive size. Plus, you can feel good about booking here: 15 percent of the proceeds from this listing will support three charities: Thistle Farms, Equal Justice Initiative, and Charity Waters.

See more tiny homes for rent on Airbnb

Guest house near Sequoia National Park

Mineral King guest house
This home overlooks spectacular scenery, horses, and wildlife.

Book this house near Sequoia National Park on Airbnb

This beguiling, tranquil cabin is situated on the way to the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, with lodging and a fenced garden that overlooks spectacular scenery such as Moro Rock, Alta Peak, Great Western Divide, and Eagle Rock, plus horses and wildlife. 

This place isn’t suitable for kids, but there’s a King bed as well as a sofa bed for sleeping. Furnishings are rustic and cozy with abundant windows that showcase the dazzling natural environment. The place has central heat and air for year-round appeal, and if you’re thinking about a work-cation, consider that cell service is spotty.

Minimalist home with a hot tub in Joshua Tree

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This minimalist, industrial home comes with plenty of comforts to enjoy after a day amid nature.

Book this home in Joshua Tree on Airbnb

Admire and adventure through the wide-open spaces of Joshua Tree National Park with this home located minutes from the park entrance. The idea here is to feel lost amid nature; it’s called the Lost House after all.

There’s a hot tub for soaking after hikes and a covered patio for watching sunrises, sunsets, and oh-so-many stars. A hammock triangle in the back allows three to lounge together and the backyard also features a shade structure, a seven-person outdoor couch, and a coal barbecue. Bluetooth speakers, a record player, and various analog games like horseshoes and Frisbee will help keep you busy while remaining unplugged.

Find more great Airbnbs near national parks

FAQ: California Airbnbs

Where should I vacation in California?

Where you visit in California entirely depends on your personal style, taste, and budget. Los Angeles is known the world over for its entertainment industry attractions in Hollywood and beyond; it’s also a multicultural dining and arts haven.

Southern California is home to family-friendly theme parks including Disneyland (Anaheim) and Legoland (Carlsbad). The San Francisco Bay Area is home to stunning bridges, parks, and cultural attractions.

World-class national parks throughout the state include Yosemite and Joshua Tree. Wine countries dot the central state (Paso Robles, San Louis Obispo) and, more famously, farther north (Napa, Sonoma). Spectacular beaches and coastlines span the length of the state — more than 800 miles.

What cities in California are the most popular Airbnb locations?

As noted, expect to find many attractive Airbnbs around some of the most desirable attractions. In the north, this might include wine country in Napa and Sonoma, the mountains of Yosemite and Tahoe, or areas around cities such as San Francisco and San Jose. 

Follow the coast down to places like Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and Santa Barbara. Near Los Angeles, popular rentals can be found throughout Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Hollywood. Venture into the desert and a wide variety of rentals await in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. Or head down to Baja and explore the San Diego area.

How much does Airbnb cost in California?

Costs for vacation home rentals in California span the full gamut, from ultra-budget friendly to over-the-top celebrity-style spending. The cost will depend on factors such as house size, proximity to the beach, real estate prices in the area, added amenities such as a pool, and the time of year you plan to visit. Although, this last factor is less significant in California than it would be in some other destinations less known for year-round sunshine.

Expect to spend a few hundred dollars on a weekend getaway, and around a thousand for a week-long vacation, though, those figures will rise based on the above factors.

What should I look for in an Airbnb?

Of course, you’ll need an Airbnb that suits your party’s size, ages, and requirements for price and location. But you should also consider factors such as the ones we take into account when compiling our recommendations for readers. This includes positive recent reviews, Superhost status, participation in the COVID-era Enhanced Clean program, and amenities.

What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?

Cancellation policies on Airbnb are set by each individual host and vary from listing to listing. For a more detailed summary of Airbnb’s cancellation policies, click here.

How do I book a vacation rental in California on Airbnb?

Filter your home search based on location, price, dates of stay, the number of bedrooms, amenities, pet-friendliness, and other qualities and features. When you find a listing you like, check its cancellation policies (as noted above) and the final price including fees.

For more info on how to book an Airbnb, click here.

Is it safe to stay in an Airbnb during COVID?

The CDC now says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US.

Additionally, experts say that private Airbnbs are safe, and can be a reassuring lodging option compared to hotels amid the pandemic. That’s because these stays minimize interactions with other guests and staff.

Airbnb also recently released data underscoring these travel trends. They showed nearly half of 2,200 adult survey respondents in the US prefer their trips to be within 200 miles from home.

Plus, Airbnb hosts are required to follow enhanced cleaning procedures. That said, there remains an inherent risk to traveling and we recommend following CDC guidelines, practicing social distancing, masking, and washing hands frequently whenever you travel.

How we selected the best Airbnbs in California

  1. Airbnb listing is for the entire home to ensure social distancing and eliminate awkward hallway encounters.
  2. Each home is committed to Airbnb’s Enhanced Clean program, a five-step cleaning process developed in partnership with health and hospitality experts. 
  3. All are highly-rated, well-located Airbnb listings with a rating as close to 5.0 as possible.
  4. All homes are listed by Superhosts to ensure a positive experience.
  5. Homes boast exceptional design, charm, and amenities tailored to each location, from a pool in Palm Springs to a deck with mountain views in Big Bear. 
  6. Homes offer an affordable price range, starting at $107 for a Yosemite tiny home and rising to $304 for a Palm Springs getaway with a private pool.

More great Airbnbs on the West Coast

Airbnb California contemporary beachfront Malibu Condo
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The 5 best bug sprays and repellents for deterring mosquitos, ticks, and other insects in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Bug repellent wards off mosquitos, ticks, chiggers, and other bugs, some of which carry diseases.
  • DEET is the most effective bug spray ingredient, but it’s bad for fabric and fish, so natural bug sprays are sometimes better.
  • Our top pick, OFF! Bug Spray, uses DEET to effectively repel insects and doesn’t smell bad.

Reliable bug spray is invaluable when on a camping trip or hanging out in your backyard. While general mosquito repellents will keep the little biters away, bug repellent deters ticks, chiggers, mosquitos, and other bugs – along with the diseases they may carry.

The most effective kind of bug spray is one with DEET (diethyltoluamide), which decades of research proves is the best for protecting humans from these bugs.

However, DEET is toxic to aquatic creatures like fish and breaks down synthetic clothing or treated fibers, meaning it can de-waterproof your favorite rain coat or cause your hiking tank to wear out sooner.

DEET alternatives like picaridin and permethrin are less toxic and potentially very effective as a bug repellent. However, the scientific community is still testing these alternatives. For anyone sensitive to DEET or other chemical sprays, I’ve found a few natural bug repellents that won’t hurt you or the environment.

A note to parents for bug spray for kids: The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) does not recommend using any bug spray on children under 6 months old. It does suggests treating clothes with permethrin. After a child reaches 6 months, picaridin is the safest choice as the best bug spray for kids.

Here are the 5 best bug sprays:

The best bug spray overall

off deep woods

OFF! Deep Woods Bug Spray has an optimal 25% concentration of DEET that keeps the greatest number of blood-sucking bugs at bay.

Pros: Possibly the most effective bug repellent out there

Cons: Shouldn’t use in the water, destroys clothing, smells terrible, and makes you horribly sick if accidentally ingested

The classic bug repellent we all used as kids, OFF! bug spray, still reigns supreme at keeping blood-sucking insects like mosquitos and ticks well away from you and help you avoid the dangerous illness these bugs pass to humans.

That’s largely thanks to the DEET included. While the debate over the relative toxicity of DEET still looms large, research commissioned and/or conducted by the EPA and CDC continues to suggest that for humans, there isn’t much to worry about.

DEET is still the best, most effective bug repellent in the US. However, DEET is toxic to aquatic animals, so this bug spray is best when you’re camping or in the backyard and won’t be swimming.

This OFF! bug spray smells good (relatively, for bug spray), but bear in mind it will leave a slight white residue when sprayed on your clothes (however, that washes out just fine). What’s more, DEET is destructive to synthetic fibers so avoid spraying on anything other than a natural fiber, like cotton.

The best bug spray for kids

The best bug sprays and repellents

Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin is safe to use on adults and young kids, and it’s almost as effective as DEET at repelling ticks, mosquitos, and other bugs.

Pros: Less toxic than DEET, potentially as effective, won’t ruin plastics or plastic-based clothing

Cons: Not yet enough long-term research suggesting its efficacy over DEET, still toxic to wildlife though not as toxic as DEET

Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin is excellent at warding off insects of the gnat, sandfly, and mozzie varieties. The active ingredient in this spray is Picaridin, which has less side effects than DEET (though is still toxic to the ecosystem) and is much safer as a bug spray for kids, according to the EWG.

While there’s more research to support the effectiveness of DEET, what research we do have on Picaridin shows it’s just as solid of an option: Picaridin has been deemed as safe and effective as DEET by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and as effective as DEET specifically against mosquito and tick bites, according to a 2014 study in Paediatrics & Child Health.

Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent smells better than DEET products and is one bottle all family members over 6 months old can use. The brand says one application of the spray should protect you for up to 12 hours against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, sand flies, gnats, chiggers, and midges.

The best bug spray for clothing and tents

The best bug sprays and repellents

Sawyer Premium Permethrin is a scent-free bug spray for your clothes and camping gear that kills disease-riddled bugs like ticks rather than repels them.

Pros: Excellent efficacy on clothes and other fabrics

Cons: Evaporates from skin within 15 minutes, kills most insects that set foot on it

Many bugs come with diseases, in particular Lyme Disease in ticks. That’s why it’s sometimes crucial to not just repel the bugs, but actually kill them.

Permethrin, which is what doctors prescribe to patients with lice and scabies, is an odorless solution that works wonders against most any creepy crawly thing this planet might toss at you. The only downside is it does not stay on your skin for much longer than 15 minutes.

However, it lasts much longer if sprayed on your clothes, which also helps deter creepy crawlies from coming for a ride home with you.

Sawyer Premium Permethrin is also ideal for hunters and anglers since it’s completely scent-free so it won’t deter animals or fish. It’s also ideal for campers to spray down their tent hammock, sleeping bags, and any other fabrics to keep disease-riddled bugs off.

The best natural bug spray

The best bug sprays and repellents

Repel with Lemon Eucalyptus Oil smells good, does a sufficient job of keeping bugs away, and does not harm the environment.

Pros: Smells better than DEET, inexpensive, nontoxic

Cons: Doesn’t protect against ticks, less effective than Picaridin or DEET

If you’re looking for a natural bug repellent as an alternative to DEET, permethrin, or picaridin, you want oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is different from lemon eucalyptus oil because it contains an extracted chemical called PMD. PMD has been shown to be an effective insect repellent for most bugs (but not ticks).

Repel’s bug spray with Lemon Eucalyptus Oil is 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus and a Consumer Reports test of different bug sprays deemed Repel’s as effective and safe to use. What’s more, it’s definitely the best-smelling bug spray on our list.

However, as with all-natural bug sprays, it’s not as effective as DEET or picaridin and it won’t protect against ticks, so if you’ll be in the woods or tall grass, you should use additional protection.

The best essential oil bug spray

The best bug sprays and repellents

The right combination of an essential oil bug spray is less effective against mosquitos and other bugs than DEET, but it helps and is safer for wildlife. Plus, it smells great. 

Pros: Smell far better than DEET to most, won’t kill fish and/or insects 

Cons: Not as effective as DEET, picaridin, permethrin, IR3535, or PMD

If you want to make your own natural bug repellent, there is a whole host of essential oils that deter blood-thirsty bugs, but, again, they probably won’t do as good of a job as DEET or picaridin.

For mosquitoes, thyme, lemongrass, citronella, lavender, geranium, grapefruit, and cedarwood are all popular essential oils. At least a 40-drop combination of any of the above is best, but try to keep the concentrations on the high side. It’s probably not worth putting together more than about four at a time unless you’re making a boatload of the stuff.

Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional Marian Grande at Medium has several recipes for deterring ticks. The easiest of which involves just half a cup of water, 20 drops of eucalyptus oil, and 20 drops of lemongrass oil. Another calls for geranium, cedarwood, lavender, lemongrass, and water.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to follow general precautions, like staying well-covered, spraying down all clothing and fabrics with your concoction of choice, tucking your pant legs into your socks, staying on trails when possible, and keeping clear of low-hanging branches.

It’s worth noting that not even DEET itself is completely bugproof, so be sure to check all your clothes, as well as your friends and family, to make sure there aren’t any hangers-on.

What we’re looking forward to testing


Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller

Though it isn’t a bug spray, Thermacell’s E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller is a repellent, so it certainly deserves consideration for this guide. On paper, it says it’s able to create a 20-foot “mosquito protection zone” and can run for up to 12 hours on a single charge, making it ideal for setting up at a campsite or in your backyard. Just don’t forget to pack a portable charger if you head out on a camp trip with it. 

I’ve used similar Thermacell products like this in the past and have always been impressed with how well they work. If it functions as advertised, the E55 could be a staple in my outdoor kit all summer. — Rick Stella, fitness and health editor

Common bug spray ingredients

Picaridin (pih-CARE-a-den)

Bayer AG came up with picaridin in 1980, but it didn’t start to hit shelves until 1998 around the world and 2005 in the US. Picaridin is a derivative of the plant genus Piper and a less but still “moderately toxic” compound for rainbow trout.

The EPA’s recent research suggests that it’s as effective against ticks as DEET, and on average, lasts longer. The EPA, CDC, and WHO all agree that it’s a comparable DEET alternative.

The compound is more popular in Australia and Europe, where it has been available since 1998 and tick-borne illnesses are slightly less common, but DEET remains the staple in the United States. 


Developed by the US Army to protect soldiers from tropical disease-bearing insects, DEET or N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide has been the most popular bug repellent in the US since it hit the mass market in 1957. While there has been some degree of controversy over its toxicity, it is highly effective at warding off ticks, mosquitos, and other insects.

Scientific research published in 2018 by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) shows that of the 650,000 cases of vector-borne (blood-feeding insect-originated) diseases reported in the United States over a 12-year period from 2004-2016, more than 75% were from ticks.

DEET provides great protection against the serious diseases you can get from ticks, mosquitos, and so on. The real issue with DEET is that it’s highly toxic to aquatic creatures.


A synthetic derivative of the chrysanthemum flower, permethrin is an insecticide used to exterminate mites like lice and scabies, but it’s also effective with other insects, which is why the US Army has been treating its combat uniforms with it for the last two decades.

Permethrin is the most odorless and perhaps the least toxic of all the chemical-based bug repellents, but it’s also the least effective on bare skin, where it can wear off in as quickly as 15 minutes. On the other hand, it lasts many weeks when applied to clothing — even after several washes — and because it’s odorless, it’s the ideal bug spray for hunters, anglers, and wildlife stalkers.


In the 1970s, Merck developed something called IR3535, which stands for “Insect Repellent 3535,” and could probably stand to take on a common name. It was only introduced to the mass market in 1999 and is billed by the EWG as being a “strong” mosquito repellent, and a “good” tick repellent, which isn’t quite good enough to knock DEET or picaridin off their thrones, at least at this point.

Essential oils

While not exactly clinically proven, a combination of essential oils is endorsed by many, and, as someone who spends countless hours in tick-infested wooded and shrub-strewn areas, I haven’t found a tick on myself since I started using them, particularly the formula put together by Burt’s Bees, which also, in my opinion, smells kind of nice, too. I also like that you can rub them all over your face without worrying about ingestion.

Check out more Insider Reviews outdoor guides

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Read the original article on Business Insider

The best charcoal grills for the perfect home BBQ

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good charcoal grill offers steady heat retention, weather resistance, and years of use.
  • Our favorite charcoal grill is the tried and true Weber Original Kettle Grill.
  • It’s well-built, versatile, and offers just the right space to feed two to six people.

A charcoal grill is, at its core, a simple fire basin. The most basic requirement is that it can withstand the elements of any given climate or season as well as a 500-plus degree fire for hours on end.

Related Article Module: The 5 best gas grills in 2021

When it comes to charcoal grilling, kettle grills – sphere-shaped models with vents at the and bottom – tend to be the most user-friendly. Kettle grills come in a variety of materials, which can impact durability and cook quality. We spoke with chef Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen, who told us that if you’re opting for a metal charcoal grill, look for stainless steel models, which often cost a little more.

“Cheaper models tend to be made of galvanized steel that’s painted with heat-resistant paint,” Olunloyo said. “They will work, but they don’t last more than a couple of seasons with normal use and exposure.” Olunloyo also said pricier ceramic grills are a better option for those with room in their budget because they “encapsulate heat very well, allow good airflow, and work almost like a tandoor.”

We also spoke with Steven Raichlen, the television host of “Barbecue University,” and author of dozens of barbecue grilling books, including his forthcoming “How to Grill Vegetables.” Raichlen backed up Olunloyo, adding that if you’re just getting your toes wet with barbecuing, a stainless steel kettle grill is a good starting point, but you can only expect about five years out of them; ceramic grills offer much more durability.

Here are the best charcoal grills of 2021

The best charcoal grill overall

best charcoal grill overall 2021 weber kettle

Weber’s Original Kettle Grill has a tried and true design that grills perfectly, lasts years, and doesn’t break the bank.

Pros: Easy to use, clean, outfit, and repair

Cons: Not the thickest steel, likely won’t last much more than five years

It’s hard not to love the design of the Weber Original Kettle 22-inch charcoal grill. It’s been around for decades with hardly any changes.

The simple, circular shape naturally gathers charcoal evenly in the basin and makes for even heat distribution. Top and bottom vents allow heat control for direct and indirect cooking (as well as ash catchment on the bottom), and the basin is deep enough to add a pan of water to keep meats from drying out when you’re cooking low and slow. 

It’s also a fairly weatherproof and highly mobile grill. The tripod leg design makes tilting and rolling a cinch (as does the handle), and because it’s such lightweight stainless steel, you can easily pick it up and place it in the bed of a pickup, or store it away for non-grilling season (if such a thing exists). 

We also love how effortless cleaning is; the three-blade ash sweeper and removable ash catcher make disposing of ash easy as can be.

Save for grills made with painted galvanized steel (which, again, aren’t built to last), you’re not going to find a cheaper grill.

The Weber Original Kettle grill comes in three sizes — 18, 22, and 26 inches in diameter. We like the 22-inch model because it allows you to roast a whole brisket or pork shoulder, but you may want to size up or down depending on your needs. It’s also our pick for those on a budget. Buy a cheaper grill as you like, but the difference of about $20 (give or take) isn’t worth the loss of several, if not more, years of the good use you’ll get out of a Weber.

The best upgrade charcoal grill

best charcoal grill 2021 kamado joe

The Kamado Joe Classic II is a ceramic-lined grill with a teardrop design that burns charcoal efficiently, doubles as a smoker, and retains heat best.

Pros: Excellent insulation and heat retention, fuel-efficient, doubles as smoker, grates set at different heights, sturdy wheel locks

Cons: Heavy, tricky to learn how much charcoal to use (easy to overheat)

As Olunloyo told us, if you have the money, a ceramic kamado grill — a design that originated about 3,000 years ago in Japan — is the best investment you can make in a charcoal grill.

We like Kamado Joe’s Classic II because it makes few, if any, concessions in quality, but is priced well. Shockingly, you could find yourself paying much more for a grill of similar if not equal construction.

Unlike some of its competitors, Kamado Joe’s Classic II comes with a robust frame, sturdy (if somewhat small) locking wheels, an adjustable grate, and is virtually weatherproof (still, buy a cover).

Unlike simpler, less-sealed grills (including the rest of our recommendations), this one will allow you to cook between 225 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit, and maintain a consistent heat while doing so thanks to the inner ceramic layer, which has an oven effect. This also makes it unbelievably efficient, and you’ll be amazed at how little charcoal you have to use to heat it (“Barbecue University” host Steven Raichlen recommends using about half of what you normally would in a stainless steel kettle grill). By the same token, that does make it a little tricky to learn how to use, but with a little practice you’ll get the hang of it.

This grill is good for just about anything you might use a charcoal grill for, save for smoking a whole hog, or feeding large parties (but that’s obvious of an 18-inch grill), and it excels at both low-and-slow and hot-and-fast cooking.

The only real downside to this grill is that there’s no ash-catching tray and you have to clean it out with your hands or a vacuum. Still, if you’re looking for the best-performing grill without spending several thousand dollars, you won’t find much competition for the Kamado Joe Classic II.

The best portable charcoal grill

best charcoal grill 2021 weber smokey joe

Weber’s Smokey Joe is everything we love about the brand’s Original Kettle grill, but is travel-sized and even more affordable.

Pros: Lightweight, same design as our top pick

Cons: Not entirely spill-proof, bulky for a portable grill

If you’re in the market for a portable charcoal grill, the first thing that you need to know is that they’re messy. They’re all liable to leak, spill, and trash the trunk of your car, so don’t set out without a storage bin or a large, heavy-duty sealed bag to contain grease, ash, and grit.

There are tons of portable grills out there, but the most basic and familiar is the miniature version of our top recommendation, Weber’s 14-inch Smokey Joe.

It handles about five (crowded) burgers on the grate, so it’s plenty for a normal carload of people, which we find is just right.

If you’re looking for something highly portable for camping, there are plenty of fancy options out there, and if you want to spend a few hundred dollars on something extra compact, we really like Snow Peak‘s. If you’re looking for a fire pit and charcoal grill in one, check out Picnic Time’s X-Grill, which folds and comes with a pouch to contain the mess — I tend to keep this one in my car, and while it’s not the best for cooking, it manages just fine.

Still, if you’re looking for something basic and affordable, the Weber Smokey Joe is as convenient and easy to use as our top pick, and it’s going to last every bit as long.

The best extra large charcoal grill

best charcoal grill 2021 masterbuilt

Masterbuilt‘s charcoal grills are ruggedly built to accommodate the largest jobs, but cost a fraction of the price of the upscale grills on the market.

Pros: Solid steel and cast-iron materials; easily loads from front; adjustable rack height; large, sturdy casters

Cons: Heavy, relatively lengthy setup process, doesn’t seal perfectly, 1-year limited warranty

If you’re looking for a big charcoal grill, barrel-style smokers are the most common. Because these grills (which are traditionally made using 55-gallon steel drums) are favored for use as smokers, they depend on a quality gasket system that doesn’t allow smoke or heat to exit anywhere but the chimney(s). 

That’s why, after scouring retail store floors as well as the decks and patios of neighbors and friends, we settled in on Masterbuilt’s 36″ Charcoal Grill. We haven’t found anything quite as heavy-duty for anywhere near the price, though we did find plenty of similarly-priced grills made using lesser materials. 

For most people, this is a great and affordable option (the brand also offers a 30-inch model at $200). Its outer parts are made with robust stainless steel and cast iron, and the cast-iron grates (while a pain to clean) are hardy.

There are two side-arm tables, which offer a lot of resting and work space that comes in handy when working with a grill so large. Speaking of which, you can easily fit over 20 burgers on here, or a couple of racks of ribs, or up to about eight chickens, and when you’re not cooking for a full party, simply start a fire on one side and you have a massive multi-zone cooking station that’ll allow you to do anything from sear, to cook low and slow, and even smoke. 

Lastly, it’s great for wood-smoking, too, thanks to the front-loading door that lets you slide entire split logs into it.

What else we considered

best charcoal grill 2021 what else

Big Green EggThe Big Green Egg and the Kamado Joe are almost identical and stack up neck and neck, with the exception just a few considerations. The Kamado Joe comes with everything you need, while the Big Green Egg is merely the egg itself, meaning you’ll need to buy the stand and the side tables, so it gets a bit more expensive (and also more complex to set up). The Kamado Joe  also has sturdier (if smaller) casters (wheels). In terms of cooking, the Kamado Joe is designed with adjustable grates for cooking at different levels, and also has a counterbalanced lid so that it’s both easier to lift and it doesn’t slam shut on you while your hands are full.

Broil King Keg 5000: A kamado-style grill but made with double-walled stainless steel instead of a ceramic liner, this should function like a Kamado Joe or Big Green Egg, but might not last as long. It probably won’t do you wrong, but you may want to save up and invest in a ceramic model down the line. 

Char-Griller Acorn Kamado Kooker: A more affordable take on the kamado (made without a ceramic liner), this grill outperforms our top pick in heat retention, but at more than twice the cost. It’s a fine grill and we wholeheartedly recommend it, but we think the Weber is the better pick for most people and most budgets.

Char-Griller Double-Play: A two-in-one gas-and-charcoal grill, this is a fine option, but it’s not built as well as we’d like, as we noted a few flimsier parts including the wheels, the hardware, and the grate, and the lid doesn’t seal terribly well. You’d do better buying your gas and charcoal grills as separate items.

IG Charcoal Grill: We’re a big fan of this grill, especially considering the price. If you want to cook over a large, open, adjustable bed of coals, this stainless steel grill can take a beating. We’ve left it out in the elements (and a stone’s throw from the Chesapeake Bay) for two years and counting without so much as a spot of rust. Still, we wouldn’t recommend it for most people as it’s oversized and doesn’t come with a cover, so you have no way of trapping heat. Read our full review of the IG Charcoal grill here.

Kudu: If you want a heavy-gauge steel grill that’s going to last ages and make you feel like you’re homesteading across the great divide, look no further. We love this grill, and highly recommend it. It also makes for an excellent campfire. But when it comes to cooking, it’s probably a little too involved for most people. That said, if you want to sit beside a grill and enjoy the heat and atmosphere (this thing also excels with wood fires), it’s a wonderful option. Steven Raichlen is a big proponent, too.

Nexgrill 29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill/Smoker: if you’re on a tight budget or you just want a charcoal grill (and smoker) in a pinch, this is the best you’re going to do, and you will make do. Our hesitation is that this is one of those grills that you could outfit with gaskets to function very well, but the quality of the parts means it’s not destined to survive past a couple of years with moderate use.

Our testing methodology

best charcoal grill 2021 methodology

During our most recent round of testing, we retested our top pick alongside two other contenders to determine which ones were the most convenient to use, offered the best surface area (and use of said surface area), and considered ease of cleaning as well.

In order to select the grills we tested, we walked through The Home Depot and Lowe’s to consider options, disregarding grills made with inferior parts or use questionable construction materials, and also taking price ranges into account.

We also spoke with several experts in the field about what to look for in a charcoal grill, from chef Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen, to veteran author and TV host Steven Raichlen, and famed New York City butcher Pat LaFrieda.

Here’s what we looked for in our top picks:

Ease of use: While a reasonable surface area is a given, we looked for grills with sturdy stainless steel or cast-iron grates, good (open) spacing to allow heat to pass through, and a raised edge to prevent food from rolling or falling off the surface. We also considered the ease of cleaning, and made sure there was a reasonable way of disposing of ashes. Surprisingly, we learned that many charcoal grills don’t offer ash catching systems.

Material quality: Grills have to live outside, generally, and while you should purchase and use a cover, a grill is going to have to stand up to some abuse with normal use. We looked for quality stainless steel or ceramic, and seeing that those grills tend to get expensive, we also looked for thinner steel with enamel coating (rather than easily chippable and not-so-rust-proof paint). We also took caster and wheel quality into consideration.

Performance: Of course, performance was a factor we considered as well, but because charcoal grilling depends so largely on the material of the grill, as well as the type, amount, and placement of fuel you use, we chose to focus on the experience of using the grill and the quality of the materials and the design itself. We didn’t encounter any grills that cooked poorly, but if we did, they would’ve been immediately disqualified.

Warranty: While there’s not much a warranty will cover if you misuse (or neglect) your grill, it’s good to know when a brand stands behind its products. Because of its prolific presence and its 10-year warranty (on the bowl and lid) to many other brands’ one-year warranty, Weber was an easy pick in this department. And while Masterbuilt sadly only offers a year, it’s in line with contenders of similar size and price (though we’d still love to see a better warranty offered by the brand).

What we look forward to testing

Best charcoal grill 2021 what we’re testing next

Masterbuilt Gravity Series: These are pellet-grill style charcoal grills, that self-feed charcoal from a hopper into the grill box. We are enamored with this idea as you can’t always go around the corner to the hardware store or bodega to get pellets, but charcoal is almost always widely available. We’ve also heard pretty good things, but we’ll wait to try first hand.

Napoleon 22″ Pro Charcoal Kettle Grill: About twice the price of our top pick, but roughly the same design, we’re looking to see if there’s anything that makes it worth the price jump.

Everything you need to know about charcoal grills

How charcoal grills work

A charcoal grill is a metal/ceramic container that can hold burning charcoal in the bottom. You place the food you want to cook on a metal grate in the center of the container, above the charcoal. Closing the metal container’s lid when cooking holds in the heat. The direct heat from the charcoal sears the bottom of the food, while the indirect heat circulating throughout the grill cooks the food. Leave the lid off the grill if you only want to use direct heat.

When it comes to techniques for lighting charcoal and for understanding how charcoal works, charcoal manufacturer Kingsford is a great resource. Charcoal is the ideal fuel for grilling because it burns hot for searing, but it also burns for a long time, creating plenty of indirect heat for slow cooking. You can add wood for smoky flavors with charcoal grilling, too.

Charcoal grills differ from propane or gas grills in that charcoal doesn’t produce a continuous flame. Charcoal leaves a gray ash after the flame consumes it, while a propane grill leaves no ash.

Key differences in charcoal grills

Here are some of the biggest differences to consider when shopping for the best charcoal grills:

  • Grilling versus smoking: Some charcoal grills can double as smokers, meaning they cook meat very slowly, using more indirect heat than direct heat. You’ll need a charcoal grill with an especially large interior to smoke meat.
  • Large versus small: A large charcoal grill will offer a big cooking surface, making it good for someone who wants to cook for several people at once. If you want more of a portable grill to take to tailgates or camping, though, you’ll have to sacrifice the cooking surface for portability.
  • Using indirect grilling: If you are looking to cook meat slowly without searing, but you don’t have the time for smoking, indirect grilling is the technique to use. You’ll place the lit charcoal on one side of the charcoal grill and the meat on the opposite side. You need a large charcoal grill to make use of this method, though.
  • Controlling cooking temperatures: Achieving precise temperatures with a charcoal grill is difficult. However, if you want a bit more control over the temperature inside the charcoal grill, the unit should have air vents on both the top and bottom. Additionally, you should be able to adjust the height of the grate over the charcoal.
  • Headroom: If you plan to cook poultry or beef roasts — any food with some height to it — make sure the charcoal grill is tall enough to accommodate the food with the lid attached.

How to build a charcoal grill

Charcoal grills can be as elementary as you want them, so yes, you can absolutely build a charcoal grill if you have some time and patience. Pitmasters have cut barbecues out of 55-gallon steel drums for generations, and while that’s a little more involved, it’s not unfeasible.

One of the easiest methods, as told to us by Olunloyo, is a three-walled structure with a fourth side exposed, using cinder blocks and cement, making sure to start on a safe surface:

  • The size and shape is entirely up to you, but stack the cinder blocks in a U-shape as high as you’d like, but not so high that the heat from your fire below won’t reach the grate you’ll place on top.
  • Once you’ve decided on your dimensions, you can cut or order a grate from any industrial metal metal supplier that sells fencing or square grates, and ask for 3/16″ or ¼” stainless steel (either a grate or a flat top, as you like) to be cut to size. This will be the costliest portion of the build, but also the most crucial.
  • Once you have the grate or flat top, be sure to hone the rough edges for safety, and then place it on the cinder-block structure and wipe or spray it with any cooking oil (Olunloyo recommends olive oil spray), saturate it, and get it plenty hot before cooking.

Check out our other great grilling gear guides

best charcoal for grilling
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The 7 best cheap headphones in 2021 – all under $50

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Audiophiles will happily spend a ton of money on high-end headphones, but most people don’t want to drop several hundred dollars on a pair. Even audio enthusiasts will admit that inexpensive headphones have come a long way in recent years.

In the budget-friendly range, you shouldn’t get into the weeds with technical specifications like frequency response – these are more of a concern with high-end gear. At lower price points, your primary considerations should be durability and sound quality: Your headphones should be well-built enough to withstand regular use and should offer good sound for casual listening.

With these criteria in mind, we’ve selected the best affordable headphones you can get right now. Our top picks include a variety of styles, like over-ear, on-ear, wireless, wireless earbuds, and gaming headphones.

Here are the best cheap headphones you can buy:

The best cheap headphones overall

headphones bluetooth

Bluetooth headphones can be hit or miss, but the wireless Mpow 059 offer a surprising level of comfort and sound quality at an incredible price point.

Pros: Folding design, sound is surprisingly good for a pair wireless headphones, cable for wired use, strong value

Cons: Wireless sound signal won’t be as deep or detailed as a wired connection, the mic is only usable in Bluetooth mode

One of the most popular applications for Bluetooth connectivity is headphones. In the past, wireless headphones have been rather hit or miss, but today’s Bluetooth headphones, like the top-rated Mpow 059, are head and shoulders above those of yesteryear.

In terms of design, the Mpow 059 don’t re-invent the wheel. They feature two 40mm neodymium magnet drivers and a full-size over-ear design with rotating padded ear cups and an adjustable cushioned headband. The 059 also include a convenient built-in mic for hands-free calling when synced to your phone, and the earpieces fold inwards for added portability.

What sets the Mpow 059 apart from other inexpensive headphones is that what they do, they do quite well, delivering good wireless sound along with a sleek design and solid build. One really nice touch is that you can actually use the Mpow 059 as wired headphones with the included cable. When used wirelessly, the Mpow 059 draw power from an integrated 420mAh battery for around 13 hours of juice.

For this price range, the Mpow 059 headphones represent an excellent value given their sound quality, great design, and wireless convenience.

The best cheap true wireless earbuds

JLab Audio JBuds Air

The JLab Audio JBuds Air offer a truly wireless design, are relatively comfortable, and sound pretty good too.

Pros: Well designed, great sound, very inexpensive

Cons: Buttons can be tricky, some connectivity issues

True wireless earbuds have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and thankfully, there are some great options out there on a budget. The JLab Audio JBuds Air offer a comfortable, secure fit, great sound, and a very reasonable price tag.

The headphones have plenty of bass response, a decently tuned midrange, and solid clarity in the high end, especially for a pair of headphones in this price range. 

The earbuds are pretty comfortable, too. While they’re not as reliable at staying in your ears as the company’s more expensive headphones, they’re still good at staying put during day-to-day use. And, you’ll get a battery life of six hours on a single charge, and the battery case will get you an extra 18 hours, bringing the total to 24 hours. 

The JLab Audio JBuds Air aren’t perfect. Some reviewers found the buttons were a little tricky to use, and that they sometimes remained connected to your phone even in the battery case. Still, considering the price, those issues are relatively minor. — Christian de Looper

The best cheap wired headphones

Audio Technica ATH M20x 1

If you’re looking for a well-made pair of entry-level headphones that sound great, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are more than up to the task.

Pros: Well-made, comfortable, great sound for the price, sturdy 3.5mm cable comes with a 6.3mm adapter

Cons: Bass response is lacking compared to more expensive models

Audio-Technica is one of the biggest names in the world of studio-quality headphones. The company offers a big lineup of professional-grade cans that will set you back hundreds of dollars, but it also makes a variety of affordable alternatives, including the ATH-M20x over-ear headphones.

The ATH-M20x are designed to be an entry-level pair of studio headphones and they feature a full-sized over-ear design with 40mm drivers. 

They work great with phones, but when hooked up to a PC or TV, the ATH-M20x really shine. They deliver excellent sound quality in the high and mid ranges, with sufficient impedance to eliminate annoying interference (like faint buzzing) when hooked up to your electronics. The sound is clear, crisp, and accurate, but don’t expect super-deep bass.

The cushioned headband and leatherette-covered padded ear cups are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and the cups also provide good noise isolation that filters out the majority of ambient sounds and won’t bother others around you unless you’re really cranking up the volume.

The ATH-M20x could be considered the little sibling of Audio-Technica’s ATH series, as these are essentially a budget-friendly alternative to the M40x and M50x — two highly rated headphones that cost more. But, for about half the price of the M40x, the ATH-M20x are an incredible value.

The best cheap on-ear headphones

Koss Porta Pro 2

If you’re looking to ditch your earbuds for something beefier but still portable, then look no further than the Koss PortaPro.

Pros: Impressive sound quality for size, lightweight and comfortable, folding design is super-portable

Cons: The on-ear design doesn’t isolate noise

When it comes to portable on-ear headphones, one pair stands above the rest: The famous Koss PortaPro. The PortaPro have been around for decades and have earned something of a legendary status among the head-fi crowd. This fame is owed to their impressive output relative to their small size and low cost. They’re not going to put out the same deep sound as a pair of over-ear studio headphones, but the PortaPro nonetheless punch well above their weight in the audio department.

The on-ear pads are connected to a slim, flexible metal headband. This headband features a simple slide adjustment, and the plastic ear pieces fold inwards for portability. The lightweight construction might take some getting used, but the PortaPros are surprisingly durable.

The PortaPro also shine when it comes to sound quality. The lows, mids, and highs are all punchy and responsive. Just bear in mind that the on-ear design won’t isolate noise as well as over-ear headphones. If you like to crank the volume, others are going to hear it.

The Koss PortaPro might just be the perfect pair of travel headphones and they’re a solid value. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can even buy a version with Bluetooth support for wireless listening.

The best cheap gaming headphones

HyperX Cloud Stinger

Kingston’s excellent HyperX Cloud Stinger offers everything you need for intense gaming sessions without cutting corners.

Pros: Outperforms similar headsets in its price range, comfortable design, good audio and microphone quality, compatible with all modern gaming platforms

Cons: The microphone folds up but cannot be removed

Gaming headsets have something of a bad rap among the audiophile community. Yet, these headsets have improved considerably in recent years, with brands like Kingston releasing impressive models, like the excellent HyperX Cloud series.

Our pick, the Cloud Stinger, is Kingston’s budget-focused HyperX model. One of the reasons gaming headsets get the side-eye from audio enthusiasts is because the built-in mic means that makers have to pack more electronics into the housing, potentially causing sound quality to suffer. The Cloud Stinger doesn’t skimp on hardware, however, with beefy 50mm directional drivers that deliver big sound.

The drivers are contained in large rotating memory foam ear cups that are comfortable enough for hours of gaming. The padded headband is adjustable via a steel slider, and while the rest of the headphone housing is polymer, it feels durable without being too heavy.

Although the drivers are large, they’re fairly basic, and the sound quality is very good but not mind-blowing. You’re simply going to have to spend a lot more money if you want super-detailed studio-quality sound. The directional drivers make it easy to pick up in-game environmental details and they also isolate noise very well.

The microphone feels very sturdy but you can’t remove it when you’re just using the Stinger as normal headphones. It simply folds up out of the way. For the price, however, it’s hard to find fault with the HyperX Cloud Stinger.

The best cheap wireless earbuds


The iFrogz Impulse Duo headphones deliver good sound quality for the price.

Pros: Excellent design, affordable, Bluetooth connection

Cons: The sound quality isn’t as good as other options on this list

Besides sounding pretty good for the price, the reason iFrogz Impulse Duo earbuds made the cut over all the other budget earbuds we’ve tried is their design.

The dual driver construction is what gives these earbuds an audio-edge over the competition. But mostly, these earbuds succeed where most Bluetooth models fail: Instead of having all of their technology built into an unwieldy dongle that hangs off the cable connecting both buds, iFrogz built it all into a magnetic clip.

Clip the dongle onto your clothes, pop in the earbuds, and you’re ready to listen to music. In terms of audio quality, you shouldn’t expect an audiophile experience at this price point, but don’t expect a bad one, either. These are actually the upgraded version of the earbuds iFrogz previously released, and while the design is the same, time was spent in improving the sound quality.

I’ll put it to you this way. These headphones are so easy to use that they’re my go-to pair between reviews. It’s just so convenient to coil them up and pop them in my pocket after a commute. — Brandt Ranj

The best cheap wired earbuds

Panasonic ErgoFit

The Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds are about as basic as a pair of wired earbuds headphones can be, but they feature surprisingly good sound quality.

Pros: Impressive value, comfortable fit, integrated microphone and call remote

Cons: Some build quality issues, audio performance is good for the price but not on par with more expensive earbuds

If you don’t mind a fully wired design, it’s hard to ignore the value that Panasonic’s ErgoFit earbuds provide. Sure, you don’t get Bluetooth playback and you do have to deal with wires running down your ears, but when it comes to in-ear headphones in this price range, few can compete with the overall quality of the ErgoFit.

Each earbuds uses a 9mm neodymium magnet driver, and the resulting sound is very solid for the price. To be clear, you won’t get anything near audiophile-quality, but reviews from Tom’s Guide and Reviewed both note the ErgoFit’s deep bass performance. Though overall clarity is only decent, the earbuds offer a lot for very little.

The ErgoFit earbuds don’t provide much in the way of extra features, but the headphones do include an integrated microphone and call remote for easy use with smartphones. You still won’t get the convenience of a Bluetooth wireless connection, but the mic is a nice inclusion. 

Overall build quality is nothing to get excited about, but that’s to be expected for such a budget-friendly headphone model. If you want to save even more, Panasonic also has a version of the ErgoFit without the microphone and remote for an even lower price. 

What else we considered

The Soundpeats T2 wireless earbuds are incredibly affordable and sound surprisingly good for their price. They also come with active noise cancellation, but don't expect premium Bose performance.

We’d feel remiss if we didn’t mention the SoundPeats T2 wireless earbuds as an upgrade option over the JLab Audio JBuds Air if you’re willing to spend $60.

The T2 have surprisingly good sound quality and feature active noise cancellation (ANC) as the justification for their higher price tag. At $60, the T2 are an easy recommendation if you’re looking for cheap-enough wireless earbuds with ANC. You’re not getting the best noise cancellation, but it’s still better than no noise cancellation.

How to shop for headphones

WH-1000XM4 headphones lifestyle

Headphones are available in a variety of styles and sizes specifically designed to suit different needs. A large pair of over-ear headphones, for instance, can offer impressive sound quality for listening at home, but they’re not ideal for portability.

Below, we’ve detailed some common headphone types, explaining the basic advantages and disadvantages of each style. Wired and wireless options are available for all of the headphone types we’ve listed.

Over-ear headphones: This style of headphone features large ear cups that are designed to rest over your ears to create a seal around them. Over-ear headphones are typically capable of offering better sound performance and noise isolation than other headphone types. On the downside, they tend to be larger and less portable. 

On-ear headphones: Like over-ear headphones, on-ear models also feature ear cups, but instead of completely covering your ear with a seal, they simply rest on top of your ears. Though they can still provide good audio, this design makes them less suitable for isolating outside noise. However, on-ear models can be more compact than over-ear models.

Earbuds: Unlike on-ear and over-ear models, earbuds are compact headphones with separate left and right buds that can be designed to either rest just outside your ear canal or be inserted inside. In-ear buds can feature different size tips to better fit different ear shapes, allowing them to create a tight in-ear seal for better sound and noise isolation. Some earbuds feature a wire to connect the left and right buds together, while true wireless models are completely free of cables. This design makes earbuds great for portability and use with smartphones.  

Gaming headset: Designed for use with video game consoles and computers, gaming headsets include an integrated microphone for online multiplayer chat, allowing you to communicate with other players. Headsets can be on-ear or over-ear, and certain models feature support for advanced surround sound processing and 3D audio formats. Some gaming headsets are built for specific platforms while others feature universal compatibility with multiple systems. 

The best deals on budget-friendly headphones from this guide

While it’s tempting to pick up a pair of headphones for dirt cheap, it’s also easy to spend your money on a pair that doesn’t sound very good, or isn’t very comfortable. We tested several pairs of headphones to find the ones that are an especially good value.

Better still, headphones see discounts all the time; picks like the Koss Porta Pro and HyperX Cloud Stinger are usually available for $5 to $10 less than retail, year-round. You can also look forward to deeper discounts during Black FridayCyber Monday, and Prime Day. 

We’ve rounded up the best deals on budget-friendly headphones below.

059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear (small, Preferred: Walmart)Porta Pro (small, Preferred: Amazon)JBuds Air (small, Preferred: Walmart)Impulse Duo Headphones (small, Preferred: Amazon)Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset (small, Preferred: Amazon)

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Check out our other headphone buying guides

Apple AirPods Pro

The best over-ear headphones

The best noise-cancelling headphones

The best true wireless earbuds

The best gaming headsets

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