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The 7 best fitness trackers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • Fitness trackers do more than log workout data; they provide wearers in-depth analysis of their overall health.
  • Today's trackers offer everything from sleep and recovery tracking to advanced training feedback.
  • Our top pick, the Suunto 7, is a full-featured smartwatch and fitness tracker that tracks over 70 activities.

Fitness trackers have come a long way since Fitbit introduced its first clip-on wearable in 2008. Though it was essentially a glorified pedometer, it pales in comparison to today's wearables, which are like having a full-on personal trainer on your wrist counting your steps, tracking your burned calories, and logging your activity.

That advanced utility of modern fitness trackers allowed them to become increasingly popular, even going so far as replacing some people's everyday watch. It makes sense, too. Why not wear a single wearable that deeply tracks your daily activity, provides insight into your health profile, and still reliably tells time?

But the real question people should ask themselves isn't whether they should wear one but rather, which they should wear. As the fitness editor for Insider Reviews, I've worn the lion's share of fitness trackers currently available, some good, some bad, and others that have managed to be both.

This means I've spent years learning everything about modern fitness trackers, all in the name of finding those worth owning. To help you figure out which best fits your personal activity style and fitness preference, I've compiled the following guide of the best fitness trackers I've tested in 2021.

At the end of this guide, you'll also find some insight into what to keep in mind while shopping, as well as how I tested each of the trackers featured.

Here are the best fitness trackers:

How we test fitness trackers
Pattern of best fitness trackers, including Fitbit Charge 4, Fitbit Versa 3 front, and Suunto 7

Each of the fitness trackers included in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they performed across these four categories: Fit & comfort, tracking accuracy, added features, and value. Here's how we considered each category while testing:

Fit & comfort: If a fitness tracker isn't comfortable or doesn't fit well, you'll be far less likely to want to wear it very often — and if you don't wear it often, what's the point? Tracker manufacturers also know this, for the most part, so many of the best active wearables feature bands that not only stay comfortable for long periods of time but don't chafe or become bothersome while you sweat. When testing, I looked at everything from how they felt the moment we put them on to whether we noticed any discomfort throughout short and long workout sessions. 

Tracking accuracy: Testing a fitness tracker's accuracy isn't always straightforward; you can literally wear two different watches and get different GPS readings, pace readings, and so on. So, instead of using a second tracker to test a wearable's accuracy, I would map out how far an exact mile was from my house before running it a few times wearing the same watch. The trackers that ultimately made the cut all produced results that were within no more than .1 miles off. 

Added features: Testing for this category was straightforward: Did the tracker have any supplemental features outside of just tracking steps, calories burned, or heart rate? This could be anything from extra activities it's capable of logging, the ability to act like a smartwatch and get smartphone notifications, etc. This wasn't a dealbreaker category, however, as trackers aren't defined by their added features — but it is still a nice touch and something that can separate a good tracker from a great one. 

Value: The value of a fitness tracker isn't just its sticker price but also how valuable it is from a function standpoint to the user. Does it have the features you need? Will it track and compile the data you want it to? Can it actually serve as something that benefits your fitness as opposed to detracting from it? These are all questions you want to consider when shopping to find a tracker's true value. This becomes more of a subjective category when viewed that way but when testing, I still was able to judge how well the tracker's held up across each of the above categories — and still considered how much they cost, as well. 

The best fitness tracker overall
IMG_5791

The Suunto 7 is a robust fitness tracker that offers support for more than 70 activities, has basic smartwatch features, and provides highly useful workout feedback.  

Pros: Activity tracking for over 70 activities, including everything from running and cycling to snowboarding and hiking, in-depth fitness tracking, offers workout feedback, accurate GPS, lets you download maps for offline use

Cons: App experience is clunky, expensive

Though Suunto isn't the first name to come to mind when talking about fitness trackers, its 7 smartwatch slash tracker is one of the most impressive wearables I've ever tested. Suunto only released the 7 in 2020 but it's spent almost that entire time on my wrist (when I'm not testing other trackers for this guide), and routinely impresses me and provides exactly what I want out of a fitness tracker: in-depth feedback, accurate activity tracking, and a wide variety of use cases. 

Not only am I able to track any run or bike ride I go on, but it also offers support for other activities like snowboarding, hiking, swimming, or even just walking (among literally so many others). The user's manual states that it covers more than 70 activities, but do take that with a grain of salt; some of the activities it tracks just account for length of activity and your heart rate. That means it's not actually tracking advanced stats for things like tennis or basketball.

Even if you aren't a multisport athlete, the 7 still offers plenty to take advantage of. Its GPS function (even one year later) is highly accurate and reliable, both while I run through my neighborhood in Brooklyn or bike longer distances across the entire NYC area. It offers offline map support for those who like to ditch their smartphone and head into the backcountry (and make it out safe) and also has smartwatch capability by offering smartphone notification support. 

And although its price tag may shock at first glance ($400 is a lot to spend on a mere wearable), it more than makes up for that investment with everything it offers. Because it can be utilized and benefited from by such a wide range of active users makes it one of the most versatile fitness trackers available — and one I plan on continuing to wear for many years.

The best multisport fitness tracker
Person wearing a Coros Apex fitness tracker

The Apex from Coros is a multisport athlete's dream: It offers in-depth support for a range of activities, it has excellent battery life and a comfortable fit that almost makes you forget you're wearing it.

Pros: Long battery life, even while using GPS, multisport functionality that goes beyond just tracking heart rate, comfortable design, great app experience, perfect for triathletes, built-in GPS

Cons: The screen can be too dim at times, easy to accidentally press the dials to change modes

If you spend much of your active time doing something different from the day before, then the Coros Apex is the fitness tracker you need. It's especially adept at tracking running, biking, and swimming, making it perfect for the budding or seasoned triathlete. 

But that's not only who the Apex is for; Coros consistently updates the watch's software to add new activities and modes, including sports like snowboarding, gym cardio, and hiking. This only adds to its versatility and the newly added modes do a good job of being accessible and easy to use as soon as they're available. 

The Apex truly proves its worth for ultrarunners. Thanks to excellent battery life, highly accurate GPS, and a dedicated trail running mode, it's the watch a grab for when I know I'm going to be out for a long run that won't just consist of running on the sidewalk or through my local park. Its comfortable design makes it easy to wear for long periods of time, too, without irritating my wrist or becoming a drag on my running form. 

Though these are its high points, the Apex does also offer basic fitness tracking capability in the form of heart rate, steps, calories, and so on, so it's not just for advanced athletes. Rather, it's great for anyone looking to spend more time running, biking, or cycling, and who has an inclination to try new activities.

Its $300 price point puts it solidly in the middle in terms of other watches featured in this guide but its incredible capability makes it highly worth the expense. 

The best Fitbit fitness tracker
Fitbit versa 3

Fitbit's Versa 3 combines the brand's excellent fitness tracking tech with in-depth smartwatch capability, unique sleep tracking, and a clean design reminiscent of the Apple Watch

Pros: Automatic activity tracking, built-in GPS, in-depth sleep tracking and exercise data, great battery life, offers unique mindful minutes feature, and is water-resistant up to 50 meters

Cons: Doesn't always automatically sync

Fitbit's line of Versa watches ushered in the brand's first foray into smartwatch territory, and the resulting products (from the original Versa to today's Versa 3) have been a triumph. Each combines the in-depth and reliable fitness tracking Fitbit's built its name on with functional smartwatch features and a clean, stylish (and recognizable) design. 

Not only is the Versa 3 the latest in this new-ish product category for Fitbit, but it's also the brand's best. It has built-in (and accurate) GPS, is water-resistant up to 50 meters, and offers excellent battery life, meaning you won't have to worry about throwing it on its charger each night.

That last part is an important distinction, too, as the Versa 3 provides wearers with in-depth sleep tracking, including how much REM sleep you get, how much you toss and turn, and when you're sleeping lightly. During my tests, I was amazed at how tumultuous my night of sleep can be — and the data allowed me to try to fix certain things about how I sleep, or when to start winding down to give myself the best chance for solid rest. Though this is starting to pop up on more fitness trackers today, I've found the Versa 3 to provide one of the better, more insightful experiences. 

From a tracking perspective, the Versa 3 shines. I really enjoyed the automatic tracking function, which allowed me to immediately start running after I put my shoes on instead of navigating a menu just to hit Start. This may seem a minor feature but I ended up using it far more than I thought I would.

The other major component of the Versa 3 is its smartwatch capability. Though the features won't blow you away, I found that it did still function exactly as I needed, providing me quick glances at notifications without having to pull my phone out of my pocket (or locate it in my apartment). Android users get more features, like voice-to-text responses, but it still functioned well, albeit quite basic, with my iPhone. 

The best fitness tracker smartwatch
Apple Watch 6 Yellow

The latest Apple Watch (the Series 6) continues the tech company's dominance in the smartwatch space, offering wearers a versatile fitness tracker that's full-featured, easy to use, and incredibly powerful.

Pros: Wide range of accurate activity tracking, clean, stylish design, great for iPhone users, easy-to-read always-on touchscreen display, music integration

Cons: Battery life isn't that great (you'll be recharging it almost every day)

You can't have a guide to the best fitness trackers without the appearance of the Apple Watch — it's that good. And aside from its quality, the Apple Watch is also one of the most important fitness wearables thanks to its ability to seamlessly blend fitness tracking and smartwatch capability. Other trackers in this guide offer something similar but Apple's wearable is by far and away the best to do it. 

From a fitness tracking perspective, it has a deep offering of trackable activities but excels with your basics like running, swimming, and cycling. There's even a Nike version of the watch that comes with the Nike Run Club app pre-installed, so you know Apple intends for this to be on the wrist of a runner.

It works really well in practice, too. The watch was always quite comfortable on my wrist, even on longer runs or bike rides, and the screen is really easy to read mid-activity. Its GPS isn't as quick as the Suunto 7 but it wasn't as fussy as my experience with Fitbit's Charge 4. When it does finally sync, it's quite accurate and routinely produced that same accuracy over days and weeks of testing. 

The Series 6 is rounded out by both its smartwatch offerings and advanced health analytics. There's sleep tracking, a blood oxygen sensor, an ECG reader, and even handwash tracking. I didn't find myself using everything all the time but it was nice knowing I had access to some of the more in-depth features whenever I wanted. Being able to respond to text messages and use it as a true smartwatch made it that much more valuable to me (especially as an iPhone user). 

The best budgt fitness tracker
Person running with the Garmin Forerunner 35

The Forerunner 35 utilizes so much of what makes Garmin one of the best fitness tracker brands on the market, including accurate GPS, reliable activity tracking, and a sleek, comfortable design.

Pros: Great battery life, plenty of functionality despite its basic design, lightweight, waterproof, built-in GPS

Cons: No swimming mode despite its waterproof design, GPS signal can be slow to lock on

Often when you see the words "budget" and "fitness tracker" next to each other, you find a wearable offering the most basic of function and tracking capability. Then there's the Garmin Forerunner 35. Though vanilla in design, the Forerunner 35 is anything but "budget" in what it offers yet still has a very reasonable price tag of less than $100.

If you've ever used a Garmin fitness tracker or smartwatch before, you know just how capable its ecosystem is — and the 35, though inexpensive, is no different. It features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, accurate GPS tracking, and compatibility with running and cycling (among a few others). 

What I liked best about the 35 during my tests was its attention to running features that more expensive watches just don't have, specifically its running cadence analysis and an interval training mode. With the run cadence feature, I was able to have a more in-depth look into my mechanics and could make more informed adjustments. For advanced runners, this data is invaluable. 

Navigation-wise, the Forerunner 35 is a breeze. Just a few buttons flank the bezel, each of which is straightforward in allowing you to access the watch's suite of features. It won't wow you in terms of design but this is one of the best bang-for-buck fitness trackers on the market. 

The best basic fitness tracker
Fitbit Charge 4

If exercising is part of your routine, you'll love being able to track your workout in real-time on the bright, easy-to-read screen of the Fitbit Charge 4

Pros: Comfortable design, easy to read display, built-in heart rate monitor, in-depth sleep tracking, advanced workout features, real-time workout tracking on-screen, long battery life, user-friendly app

Cons: No music storage, basic black & white display

The Fitbit Charge 4 is the successor to the Fitbit Charge 3 (our previous recommendation as the best fitness tracker for workouts), with a handful of features that set it apart from past versions.

Specifically, it now features a built-in GPS. I did find the GPS to not be as accurate as others in this guide (even its Fitbit kin, the Versa 3) but it did function well enough that it's worth having on the watch.  

In addition to counting steps like any good fitness tracker should, the Charge 4 also measures stairs climbed, calories burned, resting, and active heart rate, and offers in-depth sleep tracking. It even shows which type of sleep you're in, be it light, deep, or REM. You can also see how your habits stack up against those of other people your age via the app. 

If you're feeling stressed, this tracker also offers breathing exercises to help you relax. And, diving into more of the workout features, the Charge 4 has dedicated functions for recording a wide range of activities, including running, cycling, cardio, and strength training. There's even a timer option for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). It also lets you pause and resume workouts, and if you do forget to tell it you're starting an activity or workout it can automatically detect a session and start monitoring it.

The best fitness tracker for recommended workouts
Garmin Forerunner 745 build quality and features

The Forerunner 745 is the perfect representation of the power of Garmin's ecosystem, offering wearers fine-tuned workout recommendations and valuable fitness insight in an easy-to-use package.  

Pros: Huge variety of trackable activities, built-in pulse oximeter, and accurate heart-rate monitor, motivating recommended workouts and detailed accuracy as you wear it more, offers valuable fitness insight, excellent battery life

Cons: The menu system can be clunky, expensive

Garmin's long-made highly advanced fitness trackers that have always done well to satiate the needs of hardcore athletes. With the Forerunner 745, it brings that in-depth approach to a wider audience, providing highly valuable fitness insight and feedback to anyone, regardless of how active they are. 

The beauty of this watch rests with the advanced data it provides. During workouts, the 745 displays everything from time active and heart rate to distance covered and pace. Each of which is highly useful in the moment if you're interval training or aiming for a certain time on a run or bike ride. It's also quite easy to customize this screen so you have exactly what you want when you want it. 

Though that in-the-moment date is great, it's what the watch offers after the activity (or between workouts) that's even better. This includes challenging workout recommendations that adapt to your output, the ideal amount of rest you need between activities (which is highly important), and customized training plans. Neither of these is just tacked-on, too, and I found myself gravitating toward them more and more as I tested the watch even though I've always preferred my own workouts to anything pre-written for me. 

Its tracking accuracy is also highly precise, and I found it to be similar to that of Suunto's 7 and the Apple Watch Series 6. It syncs with GPS rather quickly and would consistently produce very similar metrics (both in terms of distance and pace) no matter if I was cycling or running. 

If there was something to nitpick about the Forerunner 745, it'd be its clunky menu system. Like most Garmin watches, the OS isn't exactly intuitive, though it does get easier the more you use it (as would anything). It's not enough to be a dealbreaker, especially considering how much else this watch does that's superior to most fitness trackers currently available. 

How to shop for a fitness tracker

Those looking for a device dedicated to tracking daily activity, workouts, and sleep have a vast number of choices even without including members of the smartwatch family. To help you decide on the best fitness tracker for your needs, there are a few things to take into consideration:

Comfort and design: Since you'll wear the tracker daily (even to bed for sleep tracking), comfort is a high priority. If it's not comfortable, you won't want to wear it; plain and simple. The same goes for design. If you have a small wrist, you may want a tracker with a sleek, understated look. Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes, so you'll be able to find one that suits your style.

Features: Not all fitness trackers are created equal when it comes to features. If you're looking for a no-frills fitness tracker, then one that only tracks steps and your sleep habits may suffice. However, if you work out often or want insight into how your activity impacts your overall health, a more advanced tracker with a heart rate monitor or built-in GPS may be the one for you.

You should also consider the types of workouts you like to do. For example, if you're a swimmer, waterproofing is a must. Just starting out on your fitness journey? A device that coaches you and gives you goals to work towards may provide the extra motivation you need to stay on track.

App experience: Most fitness trackers are designed to work in tandem with your smartphone, syncing the data collected with a downloaded application. This allows you to gain even more insight into your health and save the information collected to track your progress over time.

Unfortunately, not all companion apps are that effective and you may find there are some experiences you prefer over others. It's important to choose a fitness tracker that gives you a good app experience. Easy navigation and compatibility with your phone's operating system are a must.

The best deals on fitness trackers from this guide

Fitness trackers help you keep track of your body's activities — from sleep to intense workouts. Depending on your specific needs, a good tracker can cost you over $150; luckily, we see discounts for them all of the time.

Here are the best deals on our favorite fitness trackers:

Watch Series 6 (40mm, GPS) (medium, Preferred: Walmart)Forerunner 35 (medium)

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

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best rooftop tents, for use at the campsite or in the backcountry

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • Rooftop tents attach to the roof of a vehicle to give you an elevated and secure place to sleep while camping.
  • The best should be easy to pitch, come with a foam mattress, and have enough space to sleep comfortably.
  • Our top pick, the Roofnest Falcon, is a low-profile and versatile tent that pitches in under a minute.

Rooftop tents originated as an alternative method for campers to sleep off the ground while camping. Though the earliest versions existed in places like Australia or Africa to protect campers from predators, many of today's models are geared towards comfort and ease of use.

Standard rooftop tents attach to a vehicle's roof rack and crossbars that are placed either on top of the cabin of an SUV or crossover, or over the bed of a truck. There's no lack of variety but many of the tents function similarly in that they're able to pitch in a matter of minutes, feature a wall-to-wall mattress, and come with a built-in ladder for entry.

A rooftop tent's ability to improve both the comfort and efficiency of camping does come at a cost, however. Most tend to run between $1,000 and $4,000, which is significantly more expensive than a traditional ground tent. But as they continue to grow in popularity, it's not hard to see why they're worth the investment.

Before I used one myself, I was skeptical. I've camped for over 25 years and grew accustomed to sleeping on the ground in a normal tent. And although it may not be the most comfortable way to sleep, to me, that was camping. But once I finally spent a night in a rooftop tent, it was easy to see their utility - and I quickly changed my tune.

In the years since, I've camped in enough rooftop tents to have a good idea of what should (and shouldn't) deserve a spot on top of your car - and have compiled a list of my five favorites below. So, no matter if you want something casual for car camping or are looking to deck out an overlanding rig, I have you covered.

At the bottom of this guide, I've also included some insight into the testing methodology I used in deciding which to feature, the other tents I've tested, and why every camper should consider a rooftop tent.

Here are the best rooftop tents:

The best overall
RoofnestFalcon

The Roofnest Falcon is a low-profile rooftop tent that's incredibly easy to pitch, comes with a comfortable foam mattress, and is compatible with additional crossbars for hauling extra gear. 

Pros: Takes under a minute to fully pitch, comes with an included foam mattress, sits just 7 inches tall when packed down, ladder can be placed on either side of the tent for access

Cons: Expensive, might be cramped for two people plus gear

The Falcon from Roofnest does three things very well: It has an extremely low profile while packed down, it takes less than a minute for just one person to pitch, and its ability to be compatible with extra gear makes it highly versatile. Those three components alone slot it in as our top overall rooftop tent, but there's plenty more to the Falcon that makes it even more impressive.

The tent comes with its own included mattress that I found to be comfortable no matter if I was sleeping by myself among an allotment of gear, or if someone else was sharing the tent with me. I will say that space is quite limited in the Falcon's interior, so even having one other person sleeping in it makes for a bit of a cramped night of sleep. It's no dealbreaker but the Falcon certainly isn't the biggest rooftop tent I've tested. 

Where it makes up for that lack of space is with how easy it is to pitch and its ability to carry additional gear. The Falcon's design allows for just one person to open the tent on their own, and it fully pitches in under a minute (once you get the hang of it). Packing it down does take a little longer (and a bit more effort) but you can say the same thing about any of the rooftop tents featured in this guide. 

Concerning its versatility, the Falcon allows for the attachment of an additional set of crossbars. This helps make up for the lost roof rack real estate the tent takes up and lets you attach extra gear on top of the tent itself. Since it sits just 7 inches tall when packed down, the extra gear won't be much more of a drag as it typically would be on your normal rack.

The tent has two separate entrances and a component on either side for the included telescoping ladder to latch into. Its interior features a number of pockets for stashing things like a smartphone, headlamp, or car keys, and a rear window zips open to allow for increased airflow or for some nighttime star gazing. 

Rooftop tents are spendy and the Roofnest Falcon is no different. Though it costs north of $3,000, it's well worth the investment for anyone who intends to use it often.

The best hybrid
tepui

The Tepui Hybox doubles as a spacious rooftop tent and a cargo box, so you can easily store your gear in it when you're not sleeping in the tent.

Pros: Can function as a rooftop gear container, hard top design improves aerodynamics, patented zipper system makes it easy to switch between the tent or storage container

Cons: Expensive, space enough for just two people

One of the drawbacks to using a rooftop tent is sacrificing the cargo capability of a vehicle's roof rack system. With Tepui's Hybox, you'll not only have access to a quality rooftop tent but also 23 cubic feet of storage space via its built-in cargo box.

With the Tepui Hybox's cargo box function, you'll no longer be stuffing gear inside your vehicle ceiling-high while prepping for a weekend spent camping. When it's time to convert it back to a tent, an included canopy easily zips on to create a spacious and comfortable sleeping area. Its aerodynamic design also means your car won't be guzzling gas. 

However, the catch is that it can only be used as one or the other. For instance, any gear that's stored inside is essentially being stored in the sleeping area. This does open up more room in the interior of the vehicle but would require gear to be removed to create a proper sleeping area.

Switching between the cargo box and the tent requires zipping on the included canopy, releasing both of its latches, and then pitching the tent straight up. This can be done easily by just one person. An included telescoping ladder attaches to either side of the tent to allow campers to choose the best point of entry. Each door on the attached canopy also zips out to act as an entryway canopy. 

The tent features a 3-inch foam mattress with a removable cotton cover (which can be easily removed when storing gear), as well as a quilted upper to help with insulation and sound dampening. Its hardshell exterior is made of a thermoplastic polymer called ABS and an aluminum substructure. The shell is both aerodynamic and durable as it's able to take a beating and helps improve fuel efficiency for longer trips.

The best for families
freespirit recreation

For families of three or more, Freespirit Recreation's High Country rooftop tent is perfect for making sure everyone has enough space to comfortably rest. 

Pros: Sleeps up to five people, durable construction, large awning covers entryway, 360-degree windows

Cons: Heavy, expensive

Camping with a large family doesn't have to be a cramped and uncomfortable experience. With Freespirit Recreation's High Country rooftop tent, families of up to five people can rest assured each person will have more than enough space to snooze comfortably. When pitched, the tent measures 80 inches in length, 98 inches wide, and 49 inches tall, and can hold up to 750 pounds. 

The interior of the tent features a 2.5-inch high-density foam mattress and plenty of storage pockets and gear hangers to allow for easy organization. Its exterior is made of 600D Poly-Oxford body fabric, as well as a durable aluminum alloy frame.

Its heavy-duty construction also means that it can take an absolute beating and still perform as well on its 100th use as it did on the first day. 

Freespirit Recreation designed the tent to be aerodynamic when pitched, allowing it to function well in high winds or heavy rain. Windows on all four sides of the tent offer a full 360-degree view and provide for ventilation and help reduce condensation. When packed, its included cover has front and rear cinches to create a sturdy shape, though the lines can tend to flap loudly if not secured while driving. 

Its two biggest drawbacks are its price and weight. Its $2,495 price tag is a steep initial investment but one that's worth it for big families that need all the space they can get. Although it's heavy at 172 pounds, installing or removing the tent with two or three people makes the process significantly easier. 

The best for overlanding
Smittybilt

Rooftop tents were created by overlanders and Smittybilt's 2883 Overland Tent is the perfect companion for anyone looking to get into the lifestyle. 

Pros: Spacious interior, included mosquito screens, completely covered entryway, sleeps up to four people

Cons: Bulky when packed up

Though nearly all rooftop tents are intended for overlanding use, few do as well as Smittybilt's 2883 Overland Tent. With size enough to sleep up to four people, a durable ripstop exterior to protect against the elements, and a sturdy aluminum frame, it's perfect for multi-day backcountry pursuits any time of year. 

With a durable ripstop exterior and aluminum alloy frame, it's capable of holding up in all conditions. Its 770-pound capacity means it's able to house up to four people, too. 

What separates Smittybilt's Overland Tent from others on this list is its attention to the details needed by overlanders. It comes with an included mosquito screen, a completely covered entryway, a fully waterproof exterior without the need for a rain fly, and LED strip lighting on the inside. A 2.3-inch high-density mattress runs the entirety of its interior to provide comfortable sleeping or sitting space. 

One of the tent's best features is its price. At just $1,499, it offers great value compared to other rooftop tents on the market cheapest and should be the top choice for anyone getting into overlandering. 

The best on a budget
FrontRunner

The Front Runner Rooftop Tent sits just 7.87 inches tall when packed down, and its low profile helps improve fuel efficiency, reduces wind resistance, and makes it easier to store. 

Pros: Low profile when packed, weighs less than 100 pounds, built-in roof ventilator reduces condensation

Cons: Requires separately sold Front Runner tent mount kit for use on Front Runner racks

One of the biggest drawbacks of any rooftop tent is how much it impacts a vehicle's gas mileage. Even the most aerodynamic options are still heavy and can dramatically reduce the mpg of any car. The best option currently available that attempts to fix these problems is Front Runner's Rooftop Tent

Featuring a low-profile design, Front Runner's tent sits just 7.87 inches tall when packed down, making it the slimmest on the market. This helps reduce the amount of wind resistance taken on while driving and improves fuel efficiency. At just 93 pounds, it's light enough for two people to install and its compact size allows it to stow easily in a garage.

Though the tent sleeps just two people, it does come with a 2.5-inch high-density mattress, windows on each side of the tent, and privacy shades for each door and window. A telescoping aluminum ladder comes standard with the tent and has treaded steps to make climbing up and down easier. 

The exterior is built of durable 400D Oxford tent fabric that's breathable enough to offer the ventilation necessary to reduce condensation. Its aluminum base boosts the tent's insulation to keep the interior cool on warmer days and warm when temperatures drop.

It also comes with a fly-sheet cover to increase the amount of shade or protect against rain getting inside any open windows. A roof ventilator adds airflow and is protected by a mosquito net to keep bugs out at night.

What else I'm testing
yakima sky rise 6

Yakima Skyrise

The Yakima Skyrise has been one of the most intriguing rooftop tents since its debut. Not only is it spacious, easy to pitch, and compatible with a wide range of vehicles (and isn't only compatible with Yakima racks, thankfully) but it's one of the most inexpensive I've seen. Sold typically at around $1,600, it's a price that's hard to beat.

Why use a rooftop tent?

Pitching and packing a ground tent is as much a test in patience as it is deciphering a puzzle. Newer ground tents do feature easy-pitch designs but compared to a rooftop tent, even the simplest setup could be considered challenging.

Rooftop tents often take just one person to pitch and can be fully set up in less than five minutes.

Once set up, they offer more than just a comfortable place to sleep. Its high perch creates a unique vantage point for taking in your surroundings, and some even have a window on the roof for nighttime stargazing. Since most have a built-in mattress, there's no need to toss and turn in a sleeping bag either. Use sheets and a comforter, and you'll feel like you never left home. 

How I test rooftop tents

Each of the rooftop tents in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Ease of use, versatility, comfort, and value. Here's how each category specifically factored into which rooftop tents were ultimately featured:

Ease of use: When judging how easy it is to use the rooftop tents tested for this guide, I looked at more than just how intuitive they were to pitch (which is often one of the most straightforward aspects of any rooftop tent). Ease of use also refers to the process of packing it back down, if there are any additional components to attach such as a rain fly or awning, and if the point(s) of entry make it easy to get in and out of the tent. 

Versatility: Rooftop tents are versatile by design, allowing for people to use them at a campsite, in the backcountry, or really anywhere the vehicle it's attached to can go. Versatilty also pertains to any added extras it comes with like multiple points of entry, awning attachments to create covered outdoor shelter, convertible windows for air flow (and star gazing), or attachment points for other gear. 

Comfort: One of the easiest ways to judge the comfort of a rooftop tent is to consider the kind of default mattress it comes with. Many feature something similar to a 2-inch foam mattress, though the exact kind may vary. Additional areas of comfort I judged were how spacious the interior of a rooftop tent was, whether it allowed for good ventilation and airflow, and how it held up across a variety of weather conditions (be it sun in the middle of summer, an unexpected spring downpour, or the frigid temps of winter). 

Value: Judging the value of a rooftop tent is more than just comparing price tags. Even the budget model in this guide is just north of $1,000, so choosing which tent to invest in is an important consideration. This means that a rooftopt tent's true value is a combination of the three categories above, as well as how long it's designed to last. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best bike helmets, for road cyclists, commuters, or casual riders

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • Bike helmets offer vital protection for all cyclists, and can save their life in the event of a crash.
  • The best should fit comfortably, protect from blunt and rotational impacts, and be highly visible.
  • Our top pick, POC's Octal X SPIN, has great ventilation, a highly protective design, and enhanced visibility.

Bike helmets aren't the same polystyrene buckets they used to be. They've since become so specialized that the helmet one might use for commuting differs greatly from what they might grab for a road bike ride - and that's a good thing. Now, anyone can leverage that variety and specialization to find a helmet suited perfectly to their needs and ride style.

The most important bike helmet feature is that it should be highly protective. Of course, you hope to never get to the point where you need it to perform its ultimate function of protecting your head, but no matter where you live, hopping on a bike comes with plenty of injury risk.

Thanks to a rigorous set of standards, modern helmets dramatically reduce that risk. They protect your head from the force of impact but also do well to avoid limiting your vision or coming loose and falling off as you ride. Helmet manufacturers have even started going a step further and implementing new technology (MIPS and SPIN) that build off those guidelines and protect you even better.

So, what exactly is the best bike helmet? Considering we couldn't reasonably test each helmet for how well it protected our head in a crash, we were still able to judge other important factors like fit, comfort, weight, ventilation, and value.

After testing dozens of helmets, we settled on six that are worth the investment. At the end of this guide, we've also included some tips on how to shop for a bike helmet, as well as insight into our testing methodology.

Here are the best bike helmets:

The best overall
POC Octal helmet

The POC Octal X Spin is well ventilated, comfortable, and offers enhanced visibility and safety features that benefit cyclists and commuters alike.

Pros: Lightweight, well ventilated, highly visible, enhanced coverage and SPIN system for better protection

Cons: Some riders may have to size up from the non-SPIN models, the appearance will not appeal to everyone, POC's crash replacement policy is not as generous as some brands, expensive

Whether I'm riding a hundred miles on the road or five miles to the shops, the OCTAL X SPIN is the helmet I pick for 90% of my riding. POC is relatively new to the cycling industry, but its focus on safety, along with a distinctly Scandinavian aesthetic, won the brand a loyal following.

To make the Octal X SPIN, POC took its popular road cycling helmet, the Octal, and gave it a few tweaks to make it equally suitable for trail use. Along with a shell that fully covers the lining — a common feature of off-road helmets — POC added SPIN technology. SPIN, which stands for Shearing Pads Inside, is designed to protect against oblique impacts — something many standard helmets don't do well.

While CPSC regulations don't require protection against these impacts, POC offers SPIN tech to people who want protection above and beyond the legal minimum. The main function of a helmet is protecting your brain, so POC made this its main selling point for the Octal X SPIN.

Safety might be a good reason to pick the Octal X SPIN, but you won't be let down in terms of performance either.

The Octal X SPIN covers more of the back and sides of a wearer's head compared to a conventional road helmet. This makes the Octal a safer choice, especially for riding off-road where low-speed falls and hits to different parts of the head are likely.

Despite its larger size, the Octal doesn't feel heavy in use, and the scales confirm it weighs in at a very competitive 267 grams for medium. The larger footprint didn't seem to impact ventilation, either. Even on slow climbs, the helmet provides ample airflow.

The best budget
bern helmet

The Bern FL1 Trail combines the styling of helmets five times its price with great venting and an adjustable fit for a performance that belies its incredible value.

Pros: Great value, highly vented and adjustable, looks and weight on par with top brands

Cons: Sits a little high on the head, visor is not adjustable

It might seem counterproductive to throw hundreds of dollars on something designed to break. Luckily, all helmets approved for use in the US have to pass the same tests, meaning that while cheaper helmets might weigh more or offer less venting, they'll protect you just as much as their higher-end counterparts.

With the FL1 Trail, the compromises are minimal. Bern uses the same in-mold 18 vent construction as its top of the line helmets but manages to save money by using a non-brand-name adjustment dial on the rear closure mechanism.

The helmet also offers a visor to protect from rain, sun, and trailside vegetation. It doesn't feel that much different in use to more expensive helmets thanks to its light weight of just 271 grams, along with plenty of venting.

The best for racing
giro helmet

Giro's Aether is a slimline helmet that doesn't compromise on breathability, aerodynamics, or safety, making it a great choice for racers.

Pros: One of the safest helmets on the market, lightweight and aerodynamic, comes in a variety of colors to match your bike or kit

Cons: The Aether is expensive, but you only get one brain, this is more of a road style helmet and off-road riders will have to wait for mountain bike appropriate model

Giro's long been synonymous with the highest level of performance in bike racing. Its helmets have won bike races in just about every category, and the brand has routinely innovated not just performance but also safety.

Two of the biggest trends in cycle helmets have been aerodynamics and multiple impact protection (MIPS) — each of which driven by Giro. Until recently, however, both required compromises resulting in racers often owning several helmets. Giro's aerodynamic models were fast on the flat but tended to be heavy and poorly vented, making them a bad choice for hill climbs.

The Aether is a no-compromises racing helmet. Instead of placing the MIPS layer by a rider's head, Giro sandwiched it between EPS foam layers, resulting in a more comfortable and aerodynamic helmet. Eleven vents make the helmet virtually disappear on climbs, too.

Of course, the Aether's best benefit is one nobody wants to test. Impact protection with the MIPS spherical system is better than ever before and now the helmet's fit and ventilation are uncompromised meaning that, should the worst happen, you'll always be the best protected.  

A new Spherical MIPS system is built into the helmet and provides more impact protection and less inconvenience. The adjustable Roc-Loc 5 fit system also means that the helmet retains its fit.  

The best portable
stack helmet

The Loop uses a unique design to reduce its size by almost 50%, making it perfect for stashing in your bag when you're not riding.

Pros: Collapses to a smaller size, portable, easy to travel with, protective design, easy to use, great for bike share fans

Cons: Not as robust as some higher-quality models

Most people who ride bike share bikes do so without helmets — it makes sense, too. It's not easy to carry around a full-sized helmet on the off chance you decide to rent a bike. This is where the Loop comes in.  

It's as safe and comfortable as a regular helmet but when collapsed, it takes up just half the space in your bag. If you use bike share bikes regularly or as part of a daily commute, the Loop will quickly become something you never leave home without.

When in use, the Loop acts like any other bike helmet, complete with ventilation and an adjustable elastic fit strap. It passed the same set of stringent tests that determine its ability to prevent brain injury in the event of a crash or fall as any other helmet, too.

The Loop locks in its expanded position dependably and never collapsed during our testing. The hidden air vents and elastic strap make for a comfortable fit and it comes in two sizes and four colors, meaning there should be a combo for everyone.

The best aspect of the Loop is how it behaves when not in use. Instead of requiring a special tie-down on the outside of your backpack or hanging awkwardly off your messenger bag, the Loop collapses into itself and can be stashed in a bag, drawer, or desk.

At only 330 grams, the Loop is light, too. If you use bike share systems or electric scooters on a regular basis, or intend to borrow a bike while traveling, this is a fantastic alternative to riding helmetless. At less than $80, it's also a cheap way to stay safe as you make your way around town.

The best for commuters
ThousandChapter1

The Chapter from Thousand comes with an attachable 50-lumen rear taillight that's capable of running for up to one-hour of solid light or two hours of blinking light.

Pros: Comes with a 50-lumen taillight that magnetically affixes to the back of the helmet or can attach to your bike, stylish design, features MIPS technology, easy to use clasp system

Cons: Light offers just one hour of battery life of solid light (though it does offer two hours of a blinking light)

If you bike regularly, chances are you find yourself riding in low light (or even night) conditions quite often. Riding with a light attached to your bike is a common practice but having a light affixed to your helmet helps dramatically improve your visibility. Though more helmets are starting to come standard with light functionality, our favorite is the Chapter from Thousand.

The Chapter comes with a 50-lumen rear taillight that attaches magnetically to the back, of which can also be affixed to your bike via an included adapter. Fully charged, the light stays on for up to an hour in solid light mode, and up to two hours while blinking. The ability to pop on or off the taillight gives the helmet great versatility for the everyday rider, as it doesn't force you to lug it around every time you hop on your bike.

Other features include a small visor designed to improve your field of vision, Thousand's signature PopLock that allows you to attach it to your bike via your bike lock, and an easy-to-use magnetic clasp system for easy on and off. It also has MIPS built into the helmet for added safety against impacts.

What also sets the Chapter apart is its modern design. Thousand's made a name for itself designing stylish bike helmets and the Chapter continues that trend. The helmet comes in either an all-black colorway, a navy finish with a sort of tortoiseshell visor, and a vibrant matte white with a rose gold visor. -- Rick Stella, fitness & health editor

The best high visibility
lumos helmet

The Lumos fits and feels like a regular helmet, but its host of high-tech features make it a great pick for anyone who rides in the dark. 

Pros: Highly visible and noticeable to drivers, wireless controls let you signal turns without taking your hands off the bars, easy setup, and a good fit

Cons: Proprietary charger, heavier than a standard helmet, lacks the adjustability of high-end helmets

For half the year, I ride home from work in the pitch black. I make every effort to light myself up like a Christmas tree with both flashing and steady rear and front lights, as well as reflective clothing. It wasn't until I tried the Lumos helmet that I realized drivers knowing where I was is only part of the safety equation. To be truly safe, they also need to know where I'm going.

When it's too dark for drivers to see hand signals indicating a change in direction, the Lumos uses an automatic rear warning light to signal braking and a handlebar-mounted signal to indicate changes in direction. Just like a car, the Lumos gives you red brake lights and orange turn signals.

The Lumos helmet also includes white LED lights on the front and red LEDs on the rear, meaning you're visible even when not braking or turning. When combined with a sensible outfit and bike lights, the Lumos really does feel like the safest way to get home in the dark.

While the Lumos helmet might lack the adjustability of truly high-end road helmets, it's designed more with commutes in mind and isn't likely to see much use in 100-mile road races.

Overall, the Lumos is not a replacement for lights but it is a great addition to the safety toolkit of any cycle commuter. If you're riding home in the dark, this helmet really stands out as a great choice for safety and visibility.

The lab testing process

In general, cycling helmets are designed to prevent a traumatic brain injury in the event of an impact. All helmets sold in the US must pass a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) test, meaning they satisfy certain criteria that help reduce the risk of brain injury.

There are generally four tests each helmet must pass. These tests are:

1. Peripheral Vision Test: A helmet must not block a rider's vision

2. Positional Stability Test: The helmet must not come off a rider's head during a fall

3. Retention Strength Test: A helmet's straps do not stretch too much to allow the helmet to come off during an accident

4. Impact Attenuation Test: The helmet is capable of significantly reducing how much force is exerted on a wearer's head when it hits a hard surface

In recent years, systems such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) and SPIN (Shearing Pads Inside) have been included in helmets to help prevent brain injuries stemming from multiple impacts or oblique collisions.

These technologies go beyond CPSC requirements but can be helpful if a specific type of collision happens.

How to shop for a bike helmet

Since the jack-of-all-trades bike helmet is mostly a thing of the past, it's important to consider the kind of riding you plan on doing before purchasing. If you're a road biker, you'll likely want one that's aerodynamic and lightweight while commuters should opt for a helmet with some sort of built-in light or visibility marker.

Even if you're just casually riding around your neighborhood, you still want to find the correct helmet (likely one that teeters more towards comfort than aerodynamics while still offering a premium level of protection).

Above all, a bike helmet should excel at protecting your head against all sorts of impacts, be it a light crash or something more severe. Research the lab testing standards and how well certain helmets rate in those tests before buying. A good rule of thumb is to always side with helmets that have MIPS or SPIN technology, as those are the latest innovations designed to protect against a wider range of rotational forces upon impact. 

How we test bike helmets

Each helmet picked in this guide went through a thorough testing process to determine if it's worthy of a recommendation (and, ultimately, your investment). To do this, we looked at a number of factors, consisting of comfort, fit, safety features, and value. Here's how each of those categories factored into what helmets made the cut:

Comfort: If a bike helmet isn't comfortable while worn, you'll be less inclined to want to throw it on, even if you're just quickly running to the store. The best bike helmets should certainly feel like you're wearing something but not to the point where you're either constantly adjusting it or counting down the seconds until you can take it off. 

Fit: Similar in the way an uncomfortable helmet isn't ideal, an ill-fitting one is just as miserable. A poor fit can also jeopardize how well it keeps you safe in the event of a crash or direct impact. Many modern helmets feature adjustable sizing, too, allowing you to customize a perfectly dialed fit.

Safety features: How a bike helmet protects your head in a crash is, hands down, it's most important feature (and the entire reason why you're wearing a helmet in the first place). Look for safety features such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) or those with WaveCel technology, as these are advanced systems designed to reduce the force of impact on your head. 

Value: A helmet's value is the combination of the categories that come before it (plus, of course, its price). If you're paying a premium sticker price, you should expect a premium product in terms of safety, fit, and comfort. Going the budget route isn't taboo but do make sure that if you're looking to save a few bucks, the helmet you purchase should still be effective at keeping you protected (we included a reliable budget pick that checks this box).

Check out our other bike gear guides
thule bike rack
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best bike helmets, for road cyclists, commuters, or casual riders

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • Bike helmets offer vital protection for all cyclists, and can save their life in the event of a crash.
  • The best should fit comfortably, protect from blunt and rotational impacts, and be highly visible.
  • Our top pick, POC's Octal X SPIN, has great ventilation, a highly protective design, and enhanced visibility.

Bike helmets aren't the same polystyrene buckets they used to be. They've since become so specialized that the helmet one might use for commuting differs greatly from what they might grab for a road bike ride - and that's a good thing. Now, anyone can leverage that variety and specialization to find a helmet suited perfectly to their needs and ride style.

The most important bike helmet feature is that it should be highly protective. Of course, you hope to never get to the point where you need it to perform its ultimate function of protecting your head, but no matter where you live, hopping on a bike comes with plenty of injury risk.

Thanks to a rigorous set of standards, modern helmets dramatically reduce that risk. They protect your head from the force of impact but also do well to avoid limiting your vision or coming loose and falling off as you ride. Helmet manufacturers have even started going a step further and implementing new technology (MIPS and SPIN) that build off those guidelines and protect you even better.

So, what exactly is the best bike helmet? Considering we couldn't reasonably test each helmet for how well it protected our head in a crash, we were still able to judge other important factors like fit, comfort, weight, ventilation, and value.

After testing dozens of helmets, we settled on six that are worth the investment. At the end of this guide, we've also included some tips on how to shop for a bike helmet, as well as insight into our testing methodology.

Here are the best bike helmets:

The best overall
POC Octal helmet

The POC Octal X Spin is well ventilated, comfortable, and offers enhanced visibility and safety features that benefit cyclists and commuters alike.

Pros: Lightweight, well ventilated, highly visible, enhanced coverage and SPIN system for better protection

Cons: Some riders may have to size up from the non-SPIN models, the appearance will not appeal to everyone, POC's crash replacement policy is not as generous as some brands, expensive

Whether I'm riding a hundred miles on the road or five miles to the shops, the OCTAL X SPIN is the helmet I pick for 90% of my riding. POC is relatively new to the cycling industry, but its focus on safety, along with a distinctly Scandinavian aesthetic, won the brand a loyal following.

To make the Octal X SPIN, POC took its popular road cycling helmet, the Octal, and gave it a few tweaks to make it equally suitable for trail use. Along with a shell that fully covers the lining — a common feature of off-road helmets — POC added SPIN technology. SPIN, which stands for Shearing Pads Inside, is designed to protect against oblique impacts — something many standard helmets don't do well.

While CPSC regulations don't require protection against these impacts, POC offers SPIN tech to people who want protection above and beyond the legal minimum. The main function of a helmet is protecting your brain, so POC made this its main selling point for the Octal X SPIN.

Safety might be a good reason to pick the Octal X SPIN, but you won't be let down in terms of performance either.

The Octal X SPIN covers more of the back and sides of a wearer's head compared to a conventional road helmet. This makes the Octal a safer choice, especially for riding off-road where low-speed falls and hits to different parts of the head are likely.

Despite its larger size, the Octal doesn't feel heavy in use, and the scales confirm it weighs in at a very competitive 267 grams for medium. The larger footprint didn't seem to impact ventilation, either. Even on slow climbs, the helmet provides ample airflow.

The best budget
bern helmet

The Bern FL1 Trail combines the styling of helmets five times its price with great venting and an adjustable fit for a performance that belies its incredible value.

Pros: Great value, highly vented and adjustable, looks and weight on par with top brands

Cons: Sits a little high on the head, visor is not adjustable

It might seem counterproductive to throw hundreds of dollars on something designed to break. Luckily, all helmets approved for use in the US have to pass the same tests, meaning that while cheaper helmets might weigh more or offer less venting, they'll protect you just as much as their higher-end counterparts.

With the FL1 Trail, the compromises are minimal. Bern uses the same in-mold 18 vent construction as its top of the line helmets but manages to save money by using a non-brand-name adjustment dial on the rear closure mechanism.

The helmet also offers a visor to protect from rain, sun, and trailside vegetation. It doesn't feel that much different in use to more expensive helmets thanks to its light weight of just 271 grams, along with plenty of venting.

The best for racing
giro helmet

Giro's Aether is a slimline helmet that doesn't compromise on breathability, aerodynamics, or safety, making it a great choice for racers.

Pros: One of the safest helmets on the market, lightweight and aerodynamic, comes in a variety of colors to match your bike or kit

Cons: The Aether is expensive, but you only get one brain, this is more of a road style helmet and off-road riders will have to wait for mountain bike appropriate model

Giro's long been synonymous with the highest level of performance in bike racing. Its helmets have won bike races in just about every category, and the brand has routinely innovated not just performance but also safety.

Two of the biggest trends in cycle helmets have been aerodynamics and multiple impact protection (MIPS) — each of which driven by Giro. Until recently, however, both required compromises resulting in racers often owning several helmets. Giro's aerodynamic models were fast on the flat but tended to be heavy and poorly vented, making them a bad choice for hill climbs.

The Aether is a no-compromises racing helmet. Instead of placing the MIPS layer by a rider's head, Giro sandwiched it between EPS foam layers, resulting in a more comfortable and aerodynamic helmet. Eleven vents make the helmet virtually disappear on climbs, too.

Of course, the Aether's best benefit is one nobody wants to test. Impact protection with the MIPS spherical system is better than ever before and now the helmet's fit and ventilation are uncompromised meaning that, should the worst happen, you'll always be the best protected.  

A new Spherical MIPS system is built into the helmet and provides more impact protection and less inconvenience. The adjustable Roc-Loc 5 fit system also means that the helmet retains its fit.  

The best portable
stack helmet

The Loop uses a unique design to reduce its size by almost 50%, making it perfect for stashing in your bag when you're not riding.

Pros: Collapses to a smaller size, portable, easy to travel with, protective design, easy to use, great for bike share fans

Cons: Not as robust as some higher-quality models

Most people who ride bike share bikes do so without helmets — it makes sense, too. It's not easy to carry around a full-sized helmet on the off chance you decide to rent a bike. This is where the Loop comes in.  

It's as safe and comfortable as a regular helmet but when collapsed, it takes up just half the space in your bag. If you use bike share bikes regularly or as part of a daily commute, the Loop will quickly become something you never leave home without.

When in use, the Loop acts like any other bike helmet, complete with ventilation and an adjustable elastic fit strap. It passed the same set of stringent tests that determine its ability to prevent brain injury in the event of a crash or fall as any other helmet, too.

The Loop locks in its expanded position dependably and never collapsed during our testing. The hidden air vents and elastic strap make for a comfortable fit and it comes in two sizes and four colors, meaning there should be a combo for everyone.

The best aspect of the Loop is how it behaves when not in use. Instead of requiring a special tie-down on the outside of your backpack or hanging awkwardly off your messenger bag, the Loop collapses into itself and can be stashed in a bag, drawer, or desk.

At only 330 grams, the Loop is light, too. If you use bike share systems or electric scooters on a regular basis, or intend to borrow a bike while traveling, this is a fantastic alternative to riding helmetless. At less than $80, it's also a cheap way to stay safe as you make your way around town.

The best for commuters
ThousandChapter1

The Chapter from Thousand comes with an attachable 50-lumen rear taillight that's capable of running for up to one-hour of solid light or two hours of blinking light.

Pros: Comes with a 50-lumen taillight that magnetically affixes to the back of the helmet or can attach to your bike, stylish design, features MIPS technology, easy to use clasp system

Cons: Light offers just one hour of battery life of solid light (though it does offer two hours of a blinking light)

If you bike regularly, chances are you find yourself riding in low light (or even night) conditions quite often. Riding with a light attached to your bike is a common practice but having a light affixed to your helmet helps dramatically improve your visibility. Though more helmets are starting to come standard with light functionality, our favorite is the Chapter from Thousand.

The Chapter comes with a 50-lumen rear taillight that attaches magnetically to the back, of which can also be affixed to your bike via an included adapter. Fully charged, the light stays on for up to an hour in solid light mode, and up to two hours while blinking. The ability to pop on or off the taillight gives the helmet great versatility for the everyday rider, as it doesn't force you to lug it around every time you hop on your bike.

Other features include a small visor designed to improve your field of vision, Thousand's signature PopLock that allows you to attach it to your bike via your bike lock, and an easy-to-use magnetic clasp system for easy on and off. It also has MIPS built into the helmet for added safety against impacts.

What also sets the Chapter apart is its modern design. Thousand's made a name for itself designing stylish bike helmets and the Chapter continues that trend. The helmet comes in either an all-black colorway, a navy finish with a sort of tortoiseshell visor, and a vibrant matte white with a rose gold visor. -- Rick Stella, fitness & health editor

The best high visibility
lumos helmet

The Lumos fits and feels like a regular helmet, but its host of high-tech features make it a great pick for anyone who rides in the dark. 

Pros: Highly visible and noticeable to drivers, wireless controls let you signal turns without taking your hands off the bars, easy setup, and a good fit

Cons: Proprietary charger, heavier than a standard helmet, lacks the adjustability of high-end helmets

For half the year, I ride home from work in the pitch black. I make every effort to light myself up like a Christmas tree with both flashing and steady rear and front lights, as well as reflective clothing. It wasn't until I tried the Lumos helmet that I realized drivers knowing where I was is only part of the safety equation. To be truly safe, they also need to know where I'm going.

When it's too dark for drivers to see hand signals indicating a change in direction, the Lumos uses an automatic rear warning light to signal braking and a handlebar-mounted signal to indicate changes in direction. Just like a car, the Lumos gives you red brake lights and orange turn signals.

The Lumos helmet also includes white LED lights on the front and red LEDs on the rear, meaning you're visible even when not braking or turning. When combined with a sensible outfit and bike lights, the Lumos really does feel like the safest way to get home in the dark.

While the Lumos helmet might lack the adjustability of truly high-end road helmets, it's designed more with commutes in mind and isn't likely to see much use in 100-mile road races.

Overall, the Lumos is not a replacement for lights but it is a great addition to the safety toolkit of any cycle commuter. If you're riding home in the dark, this helmet really stands out as a great choice for safety and visibility.

The lab testing process

In general, cycling helmets are designed to prevent a traumatic brain injury in the event of an impact. All helmets sold in the US must pass a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) test, meaning they satisfy certain criteria that help reduce the risk of brain injury.

There are generally four tests each helmet must pass. These tests are:

1. Peripheral Vision Test: A helmet must not block a rider's vision

2. Positional Stability Test: The helmet must not come off a rider's head during a fall

3. Retention Strength Test: A helmet's straps do not stretch too much to allow the helmet to come off during an accident

4. Impact Attenuation Test: The helmet is capable of significantly reducing how much force is exerted on a wearer's head when it hits a hard surface

In recent years, systems such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) and SPIN (Shearing Pads Inside) have been included in helmets to help prevent brain injuries stemming from multiple impacts or oblique collisions.

These technologies go beyond CPSC requirements but can be helpful if a specific type of collision happens.

How to shop for a bike helmet

Since the jack-of-all-trades bike helmet is mostly a thing of the past, it's important to consider the kind of riding you plan on doing before purchasing. If you're a road biker, you'll likely want one that's aerodynamic and lightweight while commuters should opt for a helmet with some sort of built-in light or visibility marker.

Even if you're just casually riding around your neighborhood, you still want to find the correct helmet (likely one that teeters more towards comfort than aerodynamics while still offering a premium level of protection).

Above all, a bike helmet should excel at protecting your head against all sorts of impacts, be it a light crash or something more severe. Research the lab testing standards and how well certain helmets rate in those tests before buying. A good rule of thumb is to always side with helmets that have MIPS or SPIN technology, as those are the latest innovations designed to protect against a wider range of rotational forces upon impact. 

How we test bike helmets

Each helmet picked in this guide went through a thorough testing process to determine if it's worthy of a recommendation (and, ultimately, your investment). To do this, we looked at a number of factors, consisting of comfort, fit, safety features, and value. Here's how each of those categories factored into what helmets made the cut:

Comfort: If a bike helmet isn't comfortable while worn, you'll be less inclined to want to throw it on, even if you're just quickly running to the store. The best bike helmets should certainly feel like you're wearing something but not to the point where you're either constantly adjusting it or counting down the seconds until you can take it off. 

Fit: Similar in the way an uncomfortable helmet isn't ideal, an ill-fitting one is just as miserable. A poor fit can also jeopardize how well it keeps you safe in the event of a crash or direct impact. Many modern helmets feature adjustable sizing, too, allowing you to customize a perfectly dialed fit.

Safety features: How a bike helmet protects your head in a crash is, hands down, it's most important feature (and the entire reason why you're wearing a helmet in the first place). Look for safety features such as MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) or those with WaveCel technology, as these are advanced systems designed to reduce the force of impact on your head. 

Value: A helmet's value is the combination of the categories that come before it (plus, of course, its price). If you're paying a premium sticker price, you should expect a premium product in terms of safety, fit, and comfort. Going the budget route isn't taboo but do make sure that if you're looking to save a few bucks, the helmet you purchase should still be effective at keeping you protected (we included a reliable budget pick that checks this box).

Check out our other bike gear guides
thule bike rack
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best men-sized backpacking packs, perfect for everything from multi-day treks to weeks spent on the trail

  • The right backpacking pack makes trekking with a 30-pound bag on your back a more comfortable experience.
  • The best packs evenly distribute large loads, have several access points, and feature adjustable straps and hip belts. 
  • Our top pick, the Osprey Atmos AG 65, carries tons of gear yet stays comfortable with mesh venting and padded straps.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Backpacking is a fun but grueling outdoor activity - but it doesn't always have to be. With the right equipment, a multi-day trip into the backcountry could feel like a literal walk in the park, and achieving this starts with purchasing the right backpack. 

Since backpacking requires you to haul everything you need to survive, your pack needs to both hold up to the harshness of the outdoors yet remain comfortable across long distances. This means finding one that's capable of packing everything from a change of clothes and a sleeping bag to ample food and water (which includes gear like backpacking stoves, changes of socks, and, of course, equipment for making coffee). 

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I've embarked on my fair share of backpacking trips, both big and small. Some had me spending just a couple of days on the trail with minimal mileage hiked each day while others were more intensive multi-day to week-long treks with tens of miles of ground covered between camps. While some of the gear you bring may be influenced by the season (like sleeping bags or hiking apparel), the pack you wear depends entirely on the trip you plan on taking.

But finding the right pack isn't always an easy process. With so many on the market, it's difficult to know which are best suited to the type of backpacking you prefer. To help, I've rounded up some of my favorite packs from brands like Osprey, Arc'teryx, and Gregory, all designed to function well in a variety of use cases. 

A note on fit

The backpacking backpacks featured in this guide are marked as "men's" packs for a few reasons, all pertaining to their specific fit. Men's packs tend to have larger carrying capacities, wider straps, taller hip belts, and larger torso dimensions.

Though they're marketed as "men's" packs, this doesn't mean someone of any gender wouldn't be able to find a men's pack that fits them well and serves their backpacking needs (same goes for women's backpacking packs, too). 

Here are the best men's backpacking backpacks:

Best overall
Atmos AG backpack

With 65-liters of cargo space, upper and lower compression straps to stabilize heavy loads, and Osprey's Anti-Gravity mesh back panel, the Atmos AG 65 is a backpacker's dream.

Pros: Osprey's Anti-Gravity mesh back panel molds to your back to create a comfortable, custom fit, included FlapJacket fly helps protect against rainy weather, upper and lower compression straps reduce load weight

Cons: Size could be bulky for smaller people, not ideal for short, day trips

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 focuses on providing absolute comfort no matter how far you're hiking or how much cargo you're hauling. Its 65-liter capacity may be too much for anyone setting out on an overnight trip, as it's meant more for a weekend or longer excursions. Even when it's not completely full, the pack never feels as though it's flopping around on your back or creating a poor fit. 

It features a top-loading design in its main compartment, as well as several exterior pockets designed to hold water bottles, ice climbing tools, or trekking poles. The Atmos also has a zippered bottom area designed to hold a sleeping bag, as well as removable exterior straps which are used to secure a sleeping pad. 

For load management, Osprey's LightWire frame connects the upper part of the pack to the hip-belt and central core to help distribute weight. Compression straps located on both the upper and lower part of the pack also reduced the pack's bulk and balanced out heavier loads during my tests. 

Its best feature is the Anti-Gravity ventilated mesh back-panel that contoured to our back to create a snug fit. This helped evenly distribute weight, specifically taking it off our shoulders, hips, and back. This allowed us to carry more weight without feeling bogged down. 

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 is one of the best values among any picks on this list. Being uncomfortable can quickly ruin any backpacking trip, so investing in a pack like this one is always well worth the money.  

Best for short trips
REICoop

REI Co-op's Flash 45 offers ample cargo room for weekend-long adventures but remains lightweight enough for quick day trips or overnighters.

Pros: Smaller capacity perfect for day trips, compatible with hydration pouches, contoured foam hip belt provides a snug and comfortable fit, UpLift Compression tech raises the load to improve stability, and it's inexpensive

Cons: Not suitable for venturing off-grid for multiple days

Backpacking trips don't always need to be grueling multiday treks, so when shorter day trips or overnighters are on the agenda, REI Co-op's Flash 45 is the pack you'll want. Small enough to avoid slowing you down but with enough cargo space to support you for one or two days on the trail.

Even for a smaller pack, it's loaded with features geared toward making backpacking easier. REI designed its back panel to provide extra lumbar support while remaining breathable and flexible. It has a contoured hip-belt with foam padding throughout which sits snug against your body to create a custom fit.

On longer trips when I had more cargo, its compression straps helped raise its load while pulling it toward my center of gravity. This helped with pack stability which left me better balanced, and the pack better supported, while I hiked.

Other features include compatibility with a hydration pouch and external tool keepers for trekking poles or ice axes. It also has conveniently-placed bottle pockets that allow you to easily remove and place back water bottles. 

The Flash 45 is a great option for anyone just getting into backpacking but not interested in investing in a larger, more expensive model. 

Best for durability
Hyperlite backpack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear's 2400 Southwest Pack features a Dyneema composite exterior that allows it to hold up to hanging branches, sharp rocks, or anything you come across while on the trail.

Pros: Constructed out of durable and lightweight Dyneema fabric, 40-liter volume offers enough cargo space for weekend trips, dedicated hydration pack pocket, seamed seals to keep the rain out

Cons: Only offers a few external pockets that can fill up easily

It's not just your body that will take a beating on backpacking trips — your gear inevitably will, too. If you plan on backpacking in densely wooded areas or you find that your gear tends to get more scratched and scraped than you'd like, then check out the Hyperlite Mountain Gear's 2400 Southwest Pack.

Constructed out of durable Dyneema fabric, the pack can be taken into the harshest environments with confidence. Dyneema's light weight also helps reduce overall pack weight, something that proved beneficial when we packed this 40-liter bag to the brim. Its size is perfect for three-day treks and can even be an option for ultralight backpackers setting out for four or five days. 

Its roll-top closure system is easy to secure, though it did make it slightly difficult to reach gear in the bottom of the pack while we were on-the-move. There are a few external pockets to store gear that we could quickly access, but these are limited to the front of the pack. Vertical and horizontal compression straps along the sides of the pack help properly secure loads, which was especially useful when the pack wasn't completely full. 

Its interior houses a mesh hydration sleeve that's separate from the main compartment, so it won't take up valuable gear space. Other features include fully-seamed seals to keep water out, as well as ice ax loops. The pack is a little expensive at $310 but its durability more than validates the investment.

Best for heavy cargo
Gregory backpack

With a lightweight aluminum chassis and an innovative suspension system, the Gregory Paragon 58 weighs less than 4 pounds, saving wearers some valuable packing weight.

Pros: Lightweight frame and suspension system makes heavy loads easier to haul, matrix ventilation system allows for increased airflow to keep your back cool, adjustable hip-belt makes it easy to customize the perfect fit, hydration sleeve doubles as a small daypack

Cons: The stitching on the daypack isn't very durable 

Every backpacker knows that despite their best-laid plans to keep their pack light, they often end up bringing much more gear than anticipated. With Gregory's Paragon 58, those heavy loads become much easier to handle, no matter how long the trip might be. 

The pack achieves this by way of an incredibly lightweight frame and suspension system that clocks in several pounds lighter than any other pack on this list. Though it may not seem that crucial, every pound counts when you're hiking 10-plus miles for days-on-end and living solely out a backpack. 

Along with its matrix ventilation system that promotes increased airflow, the Paragon 58 is best-suited for trips anywhere from three to five days long. The final days of any backpacking trip can feel as though food, water, and clean socks are at a minimum but we took its lower weight into consideration and packed extra. This let us get through even a five-day trip with ease. 

One of its highlight features is its hydration sleeve that also doubles as a removable daypack. If we had camp set-up, this allowed us to not have to haul our big 58-liter pack on short treks to a nearby river just to tote along water or food. The daypack's stitching isn't the most durable and although it didn't come undone on our trips, we could see how it might when used often. 

For $230, the Gregory Paragon 58 is a great backpacking option with incredible value. It's best used for longer backpacking trips, or for anyone who has a hard time deciding on what to bring or what to leave behind. 

Best suspension system
Arc'teryx backpack

The Arc'teryx Bora AR 50's innovative suspension system, which allows wearers to freely move without worrying about shifts in weight, is worth its high price tag.

Pros: Best suspension system on the market makes heavy loads feel lighter and promotes a wide range of movement, pivoting hip belt helps avoid the displacement of pack weight, constructed out of weatherproof materials, large enough capacity for weekend trips

Cons: Expensive

A backpacking pack's suspension system has the ability to make or break a backpacking trip. Not only are they responsible for distributing the weight of a pack to make it more manageable for the wearer, but they help promote a range of motion and establish a comfortable fit. Right now, no pack does suspension better than the Arc'teryx Bora AR 50.

Thanks to the brand's RotoGlide hip-belt, its suspension system is designed to completely rotate side to side while also offering free movement up and down. What this does is that with every step, the pack slides in either direction to allow for a natural stride, even when it's packed full. This also reduces chafing and helps wearers maintain balance. 

Though this is helpful for any length of trip, we found it to be especially useful during weekend trips where our pack needed to carry the most gear. Whether crouching underneath a fallen tree or stepping up onto a high rock, the suspension system helped the pack remain stable through a wide range of motion. 

The pack also features a number of internal and external pockets that helped keep our gear organized. Its exterior kangaroo pocket was great for storing snacks we could access quickly, and would also function well for stashing wet gear. There are also side pockets sized for water bottles, as well as loops for trekking poles.

Arc'teryx designed the Bora AR 50 as a top-loading pack but included side zippers to make it easier to access gear stored at the bottom. The pack is also compatible with hydration pouches and features external storage loops for ice axes.

It's the most expensive pack on this list at $500, but no other model offers as functional a suspension system as the Bora AR 50. If it wasn't for the high price, we could easily see this as our overall pick.

Backpacking packs FAQ

Backpacking packs differ from traditional travel backpacks in that they're designed to hold upward of 30 or 40 pounds of cargo, while still being comfortable to wear. The best packs do this by distributing weight across its frame to avoid having the bulk of the weight sit on any one part of your body.

These packs also tend to feature an abundance of pockets to hold a variety of gear, a sleeve for a hydration pouch, and multiple points of entry to make accessing what you pack along easier than just dumping everything out and repacking. You'll also find most packs come with a series of adjustable (and padded) straps to fine-tune the fit, ventilation systems to promote airflow and keep you cool, and some sort of durable fabric to hold up to the harshness of the outdoors. 

How do you pick out the right size?

Many backpacking packs come in sizes such as small, medium, or large, but finding the right fit also comes down to personally customizing the pack yourself. This means adjusting the hip belt and changing the size of the pack's torso length. You'll also want to make sure the shoulder straps and any other stabilizing strap (sternum, load-lifter, etc.) are able to customize to your liking. 

A good rule of thumb for initially picking out a pack, too, is that your specific torso length is far more important than your height. Just because you wear medium shirts doesn't necessarily mean you'll wear a medium pack. Fine-tuning these adjustments and picking out the correct size allows the pack to be far less fatiguing while on the trail, and assures you're able to get from point A to point B in as comfortable a way as possible.

How important is the pack's fit?

Aside from packing the correct gear like sleeping bags, tents, and food and water, how your pack fits is one of the most vital steps to any backpacking trip. An ill-fitting pack can spell the difference between making it to camp without immense back pain or having to stop and readjust your load every few feet.

What are the most important features that it should have?

All backpacking packs should come with some form of padded hip belt, padded shoulder straps, a load-fitting strap (this is separate from the shoulder straps), and a sternum strap. Beyond those which help with the fit, you should also look for packs that come with a variety of useful storage pockets.

Personally, I like packs that have pockets on the hip belt for easy access to snacks, sunglasses, or anything else small I might need on the trail, as well as easily accessible water pouches (if it doesn't come with space for a hydration pouch). Some packs also come with removable top pouches which can serve as day packs if you venture off from camp. 

You also want to make sure your pack can carry everything you need it to (but don't go overboard). It's not always smart to just buy the largest capacity backpack, even for long trips, because you run the risk of overpacking and a heavy backpack can severely weigh you down on trail. The best way to judge how much gear to bring is by weight, and you generally don't want to pack more than 20% of your body weight. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best camping stoves for cooking on outdoor adventures

  • A dependable camp stove lets you prepare hot meals, brew fresh coffee, and purify gathered water wherever your outdoor adventures take you.
  • The best camp stoves are portable enough that they don't take up too much space in your vehicle, are easy to light with a lighter or match, and can hold up in a variety of weather conditions and environments.
  • Our top pick, the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe, is compact enough for backpackers to use, intuitive and easy to operate, and has a built-in igniter that's reliable all year long.

A warm sleeping bag and dependable headlamp are certainly key in smart and comfortable camping, but when you're sleeping on the ground and haven't showered in days, there really is nothing like a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning. Except, perhaps, a hot meal on a cold evening while camping. Neither of these is possible, however, without access to a reliable camp stove.

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

Have the right camp stove at your disposal, and you're able to enjoy whatever creature comfort you prefer - no matter how far off-grid you might be. 

At the end of this guide, we go into detail on how to shop for a camp stove and how we tested the options. Narrowing the list down to just five choices was a tough ordeal, so we included six of our favorites after rigorous testing. The final choices are a who's who among the outdoor industry with brands like MSR, Coleman, and BioLite unsurprisingly making an appearance.

Here are the best camp stoves:

Updated on 12/24/2020 by Rachael Schultz: Updated the intro and formatting, checked the availability of all recommended stoves, and updated the prices and links where necessary.

The best camp stove overall
msr pocketrocket deluxe 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best budget camp stove
coleman

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

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

Cons: Very heavy and bulky

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

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

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

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

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

The best high-powered camp stove
mr steak cmap stove

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

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

Cons: Expensive, not suitable for hauling on foot

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

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

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

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

The best high-tech camp stove
biolite camp stove

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

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

Cons: Getting initial fire burning can be frustrating

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

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

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

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

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

The best stove for fast boiling
jetboil flash camping stove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best stove for travel
msr whisperlite international stove

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

Pros: Compatible with various types of fuel, excellent longevity

Cons: Not the lightest stove

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

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

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

How to shop for a camp stove

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

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

How we tested

Here are the main features to consider when shopping for camp stoves (and the criteria we judged when doing our own testing over many nights spent camping, backpacking, or just taking to our own backyard): 

  • Boil time: How quickly a stove can bring water to a boil is one of the most important features for anyone who wants to quickly prepare food that only requires hot water, campers who want the ability to reliably purify gathered water, or those who need their coffee brewed mere moments after they wake up in the morning.
  • Ease of setup and use: Being able to easily set up your stove when you need it is vital. Most stoves are intuitive once you get the hang of them but it's still nice to have one without steep learning curve. 
  • Wind resistance: Depending on where you plan to do the bulk of your camping, a stove that's able to not only light but stay lit while it's windy is highly useful. While most stoves won't have a specific wind-resistant rating, many should list how well they'll work in blustery conditions.
  • Heating power (and total BTUs): Lighting the stove is one thing but how powerful it ends up being while lit is something else entirely. After all, you don't want to be sitting around for upwards of an hour waiting for a simple can of soup to heat up. The higher the BTUs (British thermal units), the more powerful the stove will be. Look for a stove between 10,000 and 30,000 BTUs. 
  • Fuel type: There are generally two kinds of camp stove fuel: Gas fuel like propane and butane or liquid fuel. Propane and butane canisters tend to be easier to use in terms of lighting the stove and don't require priming before being lit. Liquid fuel stoves require a bit more work (such as priming) but perform better in colder weather. They're also liable to be more dangerous to use. If possible, we recommend using propane or butane canisters as they're far easier to manage.
  • Price point: The importance of price point is completely up to you. If you have the budget to buy are more full-featured stove, by all means, go for it. If you're looking for a budget option, there are plenty of those, too, and many have negligible differences to more expensive options. 
Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Cyber Monday deals still available on Tuesday: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and more

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

Cyber Monday 2020 Deals_Gift Tag 2x1

The four-day stretch from Black Friday to Cyber Monday is the mother of all sales events. Before Thanksgiving dinner has any time to digest, online retailers slash the prices on everything from 4K TVs and Bluetooth speakers to Apple iPads, Sony noise-canceling headphones, and Roomba robot vacuums.

This year, those deals didn't stop as the clock struck midnight Tuesday morning. Instead, the frenzied event of exclusive discounts and best-ever sales now extends to December 1 and beyond, with many retailers keeping their Cyber Monday deals active through at least Tuesday. 

And that's where we come in.

Throughout the rest of Cyber Week, we'll be updating this page with every still active promotion we find. So far, we've come across more than 85 can't-miss deals from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, and we anticipate finding more all week.

Check back to this page often as we plan to include new deals multiple times a day. We've sorted this list by newest deals first but everything we post plans to live on this page until Cyber Week finally ends, and will be active either for as long as the sale occurs or there's stock available for purchase.

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The Best Cyber Monday 2020 Deals Right Now: Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target & More

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

Cyber Monday 2020 Deals_Gift Tag 4x3

Don't think that just because Black Friday's in the rearview you can't still score huge discounts on everything from laptops and 4K TVs to Apple products, premium noise-canceling headphones, and home theater systems. Judging by the number of deals that were active in the days following Black Friday, as well as the huge Cyber Monday discounts we're already seeing today, it's quite the opposite.

This means that if you left anything in your virtual shopping cart come closing time Friday, it's likely you're still able to score a similar deal today. And that's where we come in. 

Throughout the entirety of Cyber Monday, we'll be updating this live blog with all the best deals, discounts, sales, and promotions we find. There are already more than 60 can't-miss deals we've included from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Backcountry, and we anticipate even more to flood in as the day progresses.

Check back to this page often as we plan to include new deals multiple times an hour. We've sorted this list by newest deals first but everything we post plans to live on this page until the end of Cyber Monday and will be active either for as long as the sale occurs or there's stock available for purchase.

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The best limited-time deals of Black Friday 2020, including Amazon Lightning Deals

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

Best Buy Phone Black Friday 2020 deals

Some of the best deals available on Black Friday are only offered for a few hours — or in limited quantities. For instance, Amazon's Lightning Deals are aptly named — they're available for a limited time and have limited stock. Once the timer ends or the deal is 100% claimed, you'll have to add yourself to a wait list in case more stock becomes available — we've seen it happen. For example, on Amazon Prime Day in October, we watched a Lightning Deal on our favorite pillow, the Coop Original Pillow, sell out within 10 minutes of going live. But later in the day, Amazon released more stock.

That's why we're staying on top of the best Black Friday deals all day long so you don't have to wade through 200 pages of deals to find that hidden gem. 

Our list is sorted by newest first, and it's getting updated multiple times every hour. Check back frequently today for the freshest Black Friday deals.

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The best camping tents

  • The best camping tent should have these features in common: They're easy to pitch and pack up, made of durable materials that won't tear or rip easily, and provide reliable shelter in a variety of conditions.
  • Though a tent's size is also a concern, they're not all designed to be roomy, so it's important to consider your desired use case while shopping; backpackers should look for a lightweight option while families could opt for a larger tent that sleeps more people.
  • We spent several months testing a variety of tents from brands like Mountainsmith, Coleman, and Big Agnes to find the best for three-season outings, family car camping trips, and mountaineering — there's even a budget option that's less than $100.
  • Our top pick, the Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 2 Person tent, is easy to set up and break down, costs less than $200, and keeps you warm and dry even in the event of bad weather.

Packing along the right tent makes anyone's camping experience that much better. Though many tents on the market carry with them a premium price tag, what you get for that investment is something that's built to last and intended to be a central part of your kit for years. 

But not all tents are suitable for all conditions, nor is one person's ideal tent the right choice for another camper, climber, or hiker. Choosing the best tent for your needs means considering basic factors like climate and season as well as your activities and how the tent's weight, size, and layout might accommodate or hinder them. It's also smart to factor in the size and number of people who plan to share the tent and what your gear budget is.

To help narrow down your potential choices, we field-tested several of the industry's top tents from brands like Mountainsmith, Coleman, and Big Agnes to find the best suited to a variety of use cases. After several nights in the backcountry and various area campgrounds, we settled on five of our favorites. 

At the bottom of this guide, we've included some helpful tips on how to shop for a camping tent, as well as the testing methodology we used to pick our favorites.

Here are the best tents for camping:

Updated on 10/26/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the sections on how to shop for a camping tent and what we're currently testing, included a rundown of our testing methodology, added the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 as our pick for best backpacking tent, checked the availability of all recommended tents, and updated the prices and links where necesesary. 

The best tent overall
Mountainsmith

The Mountainsmith Morrison EVO 2 Person Tent offers plenty of room for two people and their gear, and it's a reliable three-season tent that will keep you warm and dry even in poor weather.

Mountainsmith is one of the most trusted names in outdoor gear, and for good reason: They make good stuff, and it just happens to be pretty affordable, too. That's certainly the case with the Morrison EVO tent, which is almost a steal at a hundred and sixty bucks. But this is not an entry-level tent — It's a bona fide shelter suitable for three-season use with impressive rain and weather resistance.

I like the Mountainsmith Morrison EVO thanks to the many variations in which you can erect it. The tent can be pitched without the rainfly, leaving the mesh roof exposed, which is ideal for ventilation and cooling in warm conditions. It can also be set up with the rainfly in place but with the windows unzipped and the vestibules open for protection from rain but with airflow maintained. Finally, when the cold sets in or the wind starts driving the rain sideways, you can zip everything shut and seal yourself and your camping buddy in all snug and sound.

You'll only need to practice setting this tent up once or twice before you master it, even with laying out the included footprint and attaching the rain cover. And as long as you don't expect the tent to stand up to a mid-winter blizzard, you should be able to enjoy it in almost any conditions during most months of the year.

Pros: Spacious interior, great price point, suitable for three-season use, easy to set up

Cons: Too heavy for some uses/users, rainfly limits window ventilation

The best tent for mountaineering
tasmanian snow

Even when gale-force winds and heavy snows are raging outside, within the ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 Person tent, you will be warm and dry. 

Let's get the negatives out of the way from the get-go on this one: The ALPS Mountaineering Tasmanian 3 Person tent is pretty heavy, and it's pretty snug in there with three adults and the type of gear you need for a genuine mountaineering expedition. But as you probably know, a tent that's designed for three people is actually ideal for two users. Also, if you divide up the poles, the fly, and the tent itself between two people (or three — a trio of sleepers can indeed fit, it just gets ... familiar), the issue of its nine-pound weight is mitigated.

And when the Tasmanian is keeping you safe and even comfortable in the middle of a howling blizzard at 12,000 feet of elevation, you'll be glad you decided to deal with those extra few pounds. The tent uses a freestanding frame system comprised of 7000 Series aluminum poles, complete with a cross pole and weatherproof shock cords, all of which help the Tasmanian keep its shape and remain standing even in powerful winds.

The tent comes with a waterproof polyester fly cover that will keep you dry and that adds excellent insulation, while factory sealed floor and fly seams enhance the water-resistance and block out any chilly breezes that might otherwise creep in.

With two people sharing this tent, it's roomy and comfortable even if you have to keep all your gear inside due to inclement weather. The spacious vestibules help with gear storage and offer some space for food prep, repairs, or for slipping on or off those muddy boots. Just don't plan to use this tent for hot weather camping unless you really like saunas.

Pros: Four-season weather protection, stands up to strong winds, roomy vestibules

Cons: On the heavier side, too hot for summer use

The best backpacking tent
CopperSpur2

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 is extremely lightweight at just 3 pounds, features a hub design that lets it remain stable in inclement weather, and has an incredibly roomy interior for a backpacking tent. 

When a backpacker shops for a tent, there's mostly just one question on their mind: What's the lightest tent I can possibly buy? When you're packing days worth of belongings into a single backpack and hitting the trail, every ounce counts, which makes the Big Agnes Copper Spur tent a no-brainer for any and all backpackers. Weighing just shy of 3 pounds, it's incredibly lightweight and takes up minimal space in a pack — yet still offers a surprisingly roomy interior of 29 square feet. 

Setting up and tearing down the Copper Spur HV UL2 is one of the easiest we've seen throughout all our tests, as the poles snap together in seconds and the tent itself uses clips that quickly affix to the poles. Even when we first set this up, it took maybe five minutes to fully erect — and by the time we had the hang of it, it only took around two or three minutes.

Big Agnes used ripstop nylon and a polyester mesh for the tent's fabric, which make it both durable and breathable. And though it comes with a rainfly (that's also made of ripstop nylon), I wouldn't recommend using this for anything other than summer or shoulder season camping. Because it's so breathable (which is a welcome feature in the summer), it wouldn't be able to provide near enough warmth for camping in the winter.

Everything about the Copper Spur HV UL2 is a backpacker's dream. I've even used this during normal car camping trips because of how much interior space it offers — even if I was sleeping two people to the tent, it still provided more than enough room for both people and a pair of backpacks. It is expensive at $450 but this is a tent that will last you for several years and can be used in so many different ways — it's well worth the investment.  -- Rick Stella

Pros: Large interior space, easy to set up and tear down, weighs just shy of 3 pounds, perfect for backpacking

Cons: Expensive

The best tent for families
Coleman (1)

The Coleman Evanston Screened 6 Person Tent is large enough for six people to share, and it's a great choice for car campers or for use on shorter overland treks.

The Coleman Evanston tent has a footprint measuring ten by fourteen feet. That includes a generously covered vestibule area, but the interior of the tent itself is still about ten by ten, or 100 square feet, in other words. This tent is a perfect choice for family camp-outs, provided you are making camp in an area with mild temperatures.

The Evanston features huge screen panels and a mesh roof that allow for ventilation and that will keep you and the gang cool when it's warm out, but the tent offers minimal insulation for use in colder climates or seasons.

That said, rain is really no problem with the Coleman Evanston tent. With its rainfly in place and properly lashed down, the tent should stay dry inside even in a downpour. The vestibule is ideal for storing wet or muddy gear and is large enough to serve as a camp kitchen or a spot to hang out and play cards or read.

For the glamping set, the Evanston can accommodate two queen-sized air mattresses, but this tent is ideal when shared by a big family of outdoorsmen, outdoorswomen, and outdoorskids who are content to climb into a sleeping bag after a long day spent enjoying the outdoors.

Pros: Spacious tent with high ceiling, very affordable for large tent, decent rain protection

Cons: Very heavy tent, not suitable for cold weather, limited privacy

The best tent for a camper on a budget
tent

The Flytop Outdoor Backpacking 2 Person Tent costs less than $100, but it's warm, waterproof, wind-resistant, and adequate for adventures in almost all conditions.

The Flytop Outdoor Backpacking tent bills itself as a three- or four-season tent, and in my experience that means this: It's a three-season tent. While I wouldn't want to ride out a rough winter storm in this one, it is a great choice for use in the spring, summer, or fall or even in the wintertime if you are camping at lower altitudes (and lower latitudes, for good measure).

The main reason I would not recommend this tent for use during the winter is its middling durability. Some owners have reported bent poles and tears in the seams; these issues are frustrating when it's cool and wet, but can become serious safety concerns when you're facing freezing temperatures and wintry precipitation.

Though the tent does have a snow skirt that keeps the floor protected and dry, I'd be worried about heavy snow loads and about a potential tear to let in cold air, snow, or freezing rain.

For most people and in most climates, this Flytop Outdoor tent is a great choice, though. Its rainfly is reliably waterproof, it offers excellent ventilation when zipped open, and setup and takedown are both easy. The tent can surely fit two people, but it will get tight if the ground is too wet or dirty to store gear in the vestibules, though.

Pros: Great low price point, reliable waterproofing, easy to set up

Cons: Poles bend under heavy pressure, occasional fabric tears, slightly too heavy for trekking

What else we considered
Luxe_Tempo

The number of tents on the market is many, as just about every major outdoor brand offers some version of a portable shelter. They're not all created equal, however. During our test to find those worthy of a spot in your outdoor kit, we came across a few that just barely missed the cut.

We update this section often as we're testing tents year-round, but here's a quick rundown of what we've tested recently and why it still deserves some consideration:

Luxe Tempo Breeze 1 Tent

The Luxe Tempo Breeze 1 has room for a single sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and a bit of gear tucked down by your feet or in a side vestibule, but that's all the serious solo trekker or climber needs. By keeping this tent compact, Luxe Tempo also kept it lightweight. The Breeze 1 is suitable for use during multi-day hikes or when you're hauling your gear up a mountainside hand over hand.

The twin later tent is reliably waterproof and wind-resistant, and it's stable enough to handle some snow load, though most of the snow will slide down its angular sides. With the windows, doors, and rainfly zipped up tight, the Breeze 1 will help keep you warm even when it's below freezing outside. In warm weather, it offers ample ventilation when opened wide.

Setting up the Luxe Tempo Breeze 1 might take a little while the first few times, what with the extended guy lines and included footprint, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to pitch them tent fast enough to form a bivouac in the face of a sudden storm.

What we're testing
Decathlon

Decathlon Quechua 2-Second Tent

The Quechua 2-Second from Decathlon attempts to live up to its name by featuring an easy-to-use design that allows it to pitch in no more than two seconds. At just $99, it also sports an attractive price tag. 

How to shop for a camping tent

When shopping, take the time to consider important attributes before even beginning to look at actual tents. For example, if you've already decided that a spacious tent is worth a few extra pounds of gear weight, then there's no need to look at ultra-light tents (which tend to be quite expensive). If you know you'll have a heavy pack laden with gear and rations, then every ounce counts and a small, light tent is crucial.

Perhaps you and the family are summertime car campers and prefer sleeping in a big, breezy tent. Even those who head out onto glaciers or set up camp above the timberline require their own specific set up, which is usually a squat, sturdy tent ready for wind and snow. 

Tent glossary

Shopping for a tent also means combing through a list of industry-specific descriptors and features that might not all be entirely clear. Here are the most common (and important) terms you'll come across during your search:

Vestibule: A tent's vestibule (sometimes referred to as its porch) is a mostly covered exterior portion of the tent where the rainfly or roof of the tent extends beyond the actual shelter. The vestibule is a great place to store gear, cook meals, take off or put on hiking boots, etc. 

Guy lines: Guy lines are what is staked into the ground to stabilize the tent. In windy conditions, these are vital to assure the tent doesn't blow away and when it's raining, the tension of the guy lines, and the fly they're attached to, direct water away from the tent.

Rainfly: A rainfly is often a separate part of the tent altogether and clips onto a specific section of the tent poles to create a roof capable of protecting the interior from the elements like rain, wind, snow, excess sun, etc.. This also provides privacy. 

Footprint: A tent's footprint is the groundsheet that's used between the tent and the ground where it's pitched. These are especially important for any tent that doesn't already have a waterproof base. A footprint adds durability to the bottom of a tent, as well.

Tent poles: Poles help erect a tent by either sliding into specific pole sleeves built onto the tent or by having the tent clip onto the poles themselves. 

Stakes: Stakes are used to secure a tent, its poles, and the rainfly. These are often metal and, depending on the ground they're being put into, can be hammered using a rubber mallet. 

Door tiebacks: Door tiebacks allow you to roll up and secure the tent's door for easy access either in or out of the tent. 

Gear loft: A tent's gear loft is often a small mesh pocket (or group of mesh pockets) that are able to hold everything from smartphones and headlamps to clothing, food, or anything else you want quick access to inside your tent.

How we test camping tents

Each tent in this guide went through a series of multi-night field tests to see how well they stacked up across these four categories: Ease of setup, versatility, durability, and value. Since the tents featured in this guide are best-suited for car camping trips, we focused on categories relevant to that style of camping. The backpacking tent chosen for that category was tested during the review process for our best backpacking tents guide. 

Here's how each category factored into which tents ultimately made this guide:

Ease of setup: Few things are as frustrating as fumbling with a tent the day you get to your campsite (and many a family fight has been started over how to piece together tent poles or the right way to secure a rainfly). Thankfully, many of today's tents feature incredibly easy setup processes that allow them to set up in under 10 minutes, if not shorter. When testing, we looked at how intuitive it was to align the right poles with the correct side of the tent, whether the tent easily snapped onto the poles or had pole sleeves built-in, and whether the tent needed much adjustment after being erected.

Versatility: Though we mentioned above that each tent here is mostly designed for car camping trips, there are a few exceptions, most notably the mountaineering tent and the backpacking tent. But even the standard campsite tents should have some amount of versatility to them. This means coming with an included rainfly or door tie backs, or perhaps even a footprint for added durability. 

Durability: You'll notice that many of the top tents feature materials such as nylon or polyester, both of which are not only popularly used by manufacturers but afford some level of durability. For instance, tents that use ripstop nylon are highly durable and incredibly lightweight while still offering a good level of waterproofing. A brand like Coleman uses weather-treated polyester to get a very similar level of durability and waterproofing.

Value: A tent's value comes down to more than just its sticker price and is often a combination of the three categories above, as well as how much it ultimately costs. If you're able to get out of a tent exactly what you need it to do and can rely on it for several years, then spending more for that kind of premium product is far better than spending less more often.

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