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The Best Baby Swings For Your Family

best baby swings

Whether you are a new mom or dad or you are expecting your first baby, you are probably wondering which are the best baby swings for your little one. I am a mom and I carefully select any product that is used for my babies. I want to be sure the product is safe, durable, effective, and worth the price. To find the best baby swings, I have spent many hours reading reviews by fellow parents with first-hand use of many different baby swings.

After comparing these different baby swings, I have created a list of the best baby swings. Each one on our list should meet or exceed your family’s needs. The market is flooded with a variety of baby swings so I hope that my top picks will help you make a great selection and keep you from any kind of impulse buy. I also want to save you from spending countless hours making comparisons of the abundant options as you prepare a home for your new baby.

Top Picks for the Best Baby Swings

Each of these swings will provide a safe and comfortable space for your little one and will also give you a bit of time to complete some tasks around your home. You will not need to worry about your baby with any of the products on our best baby swings list.

Best Baby Swings Winner: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01FF8H5Q8′ text=’Fisher-Price My Little Snugabear Cradle ‘n Swing’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1d08b478-48aa-11e8-af72-07e36d8c5a5f’]

best baby swings

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01FF8H5Q8′ text=’Fisher-Price My Little Snugabear Cradle ‘n Swing ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’db0ad7bb-48a3-11e8-ab9f-8f215054fafc’]offers many different features. Because of the many customizable options, it is the winner of our best baby swings list. It is easy to assemble and the choice between the two convenient power options (a 120-volt AC adapter or four D batteries) make it a top choice. This is especially helpful when you cannot be near an outlet.

Notable Features

The seat materials are soft and plush. This swing offers two different options with the side-to-side cradle and the head-to-toe swing. You can also choose from the six different speeds, depending on your baby’s needs. Your baby can be soothed easily with the convenient seat positions offered. Or you can choose to have your baby recline or sit upright. This swing is unique because you can also choose whether you prefer the seat to be left-facing, centered, or right-facing.

You will have even more options with the sixteen soothing tunes and gentle nature sounds. I really like that the cute mobile is motorized. The mobile is made up of several soft little owls that move overhead to help soothe, stimulate, and entertain your baby. Mobiles are a great feature on swings as they help in stimulating your baby’s developing senses of sound and sight. They even included a mirrored globe so that your little one can discover their little face.

Why It Made the List

This swing stands out because it features Fisher Price’s SmartSwing Technology that includes a wide range of speeds from low to high. You can find the perfect motion to help soothe your baby. It also has the unique feature where it senses your baby’s weight so that the speed will not slow down as your baby grows. Plus, the swing starts without a push.

This swing is extremely customizable to fit the way your baby prefers to be soothed, cradled, and entertained. It works great for a growing baby and adjusts as your little one gains weight and grows.


  • Senses baby’s weight
  • Two Power sources: AC adapter or batteries
  • Two Different Swinging Motions
  • Five Seat Positions
  • Inclines for sleeping baby
  • Motorized Mobile
  • Easy Fold
  • Maximum Weight Limit: 25 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

  • Loud motor when started; motor noise can get louder over time
  • The seat can pop out of the locked position
  • Not portable
  • Slightly higher priced than others on our list


[amazon_link asins=’B01FF8H5Q8′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’99318565-44bc-11e8-a63f-2f1ffb15d3c3′]

Best Baby Swings Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H8MSBY0′ text=’Graco DuetSoothe Swing and Rocker’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f6dbca41-489b-11e8-9ee9-cb7aeb15f33a’]

best baby swings

If you are looking for a space-saving swing that can work double duty in your home, then this DuetSoothe just might be perfect for your family. This swing is a close runner-up to our winner selection.

With the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H8MSBY0′ text=’Graco DuetSoothe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0c55aeff-489c-11e8-8ba5-25a34d38569d’] you will not have to compromise between swing and rocker. You can have both on a budget and in one product. It also includes a carry-handle that makes it more portable than some swings on the market today. Also included is a removable body pillow for newborn babies.

Notable Features

The seat is removable and doubles both as swing as well as a rocker. This swing is also extremely versatile as it offers three different seat positions, six speeds of swinging, and two movements including side to side and back and forth. Your baby will also enjoy the vibrating option that can be changed to two different speeds.

This multitasking baby product is suitable for babies from five and a half pounds and up to thirty pounds in the swing position and up to twenty-five pounds when used as a rocker. You can choose either to plug it in or run it on batteries.

Your baby will love the plush toys on the hanging mobile that promote development in hand-eye coordination and eye-tracking. Your little one will love the music and nature sounds. You have ten songs and five nature sounds included to choose from to help your baby relax.

According to some parents, the movement causes a clicking noise that can become louder over time and use. Most parents reviewed that the noise is not a deal breaker as it was not loud enough to wake most sleeping babies.

Why It Made the List

This particular swing is one of our top picks because it is quite literally two baby products in one: a swing and a rocker. It plays double duty and is a space and money saver. With choices of movement, music, rocking, or swinging, you can customize the experience based on your baby’s needs and preferences.  Overall, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H8MSBY0′ text=’Graco DuetSoothe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1f220098-489c-11e8-8dd7-2ff331861630′] is a great reasonably priced swing that works double duty as a rocker.


  • Two in One Product: removable infant swing that doubles as a rocker
  • Compact
  • Portable with a carry handle
  • Stable
  • Three Seating Positions
  • Two Power Sources: AC adapter and batteries
  • Reasonably Priced
  • Offer an inclined rocker
  • Maximum Weight Limit: 25 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers:

  • The harness is not adjustable
  • Clicking noise gets louder with time
  • Not the best for heavier babies; slows down over time as the baby gets heavier


[amazon_link asins=’B00H8MSBY0′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’19064964-42bb-11e8-bca9-5ff6a24c84c5′]

Best Baby Swings Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00PTL15D6′ text=’Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4f661c7e-489c-11e8-95b8-9918e3ead608′]

best baby swings

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00PTL15D6′ text=’Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5a40200e-489c-11e8-91dc-1322b54a2968′] is compact, high-quality, affordable, and long-lasting. While being compact, it is also stable and the frame is strong. It is designed to fit in any space including small areas. You can choose between six speeds for the swing and two speeds for the vibrating setting. It is always helpful to have the vibrating option in addition to the swinging motion.

You can also plug-in the swing and save yourself the frustration of changing dead batteries. But, if you need to move the swing to an area of your home without an outlet nearby, the batteries can be used as well.

Notable Features

This swing sways from side-to-side and does not move in any other direction. Your baby is secured in a five-point harness so you can be sure your child is secure whether relaxing, sleeping, or playing in the swing. Your baby will also love that the seat offers plush padding and that the seat is deeper than some others on the market which makes for an even cozier seat.

The seat padding is conveniently removable for machine washing. The included infant pillow that supports your newborn’s head and back is also removable when your little one is a bit older and no longer needs that extra support. The maximum weight limit is thirty pounds so you can use this swing for quite a long time.

Why It Made the List

The quality you receive at this price point is the main reason this swing made our list. It offers a variety of choices and it is helpful to have options for your baby and for yourself. You have a variety of selections with the ten melodies and five nature sounds. They are also volume-controlled so you can customize the best scene for your baby. Overall, this swing is a great bang for your buck purchase. It is very reasonably priced for the quality and features offered.


  • Compact
  • Durable, long-lasting
  • Good quality for price point
  • Reasonably Priced
  • High weight limit of 30 lbs
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Two Power Sources: AC adapter and batteries
  • Swinging and vibration settings

Flaws but Not Deal Breakers:

  • Included mobile does not spin
  • A firmer headrest would be better for infants
  • Loud clicking noise bothers some parents
  • Swings in only one direction


[amazon_link asins=’B00PTL15D6′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’805cc90f-476a-11e8-865d-ef91f0d6f889′]

Best Baby Swing With Super Star Tech: [amazon_textlink asin=’B073FVCS6F’ text=’4moms mamaRoo 4 infant seat’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7652b583-489c-11e8-8905-9771443a4d61′]

best baby swings

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B073FVCS6F’ text=’4moms mamaRood 4′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4bb473a0-489e-11e8-9eb3-13c7952c1a3f’] is the rock star version of baby swings. It is not a traditional baby swing but it would be the winner on my list if the price point were a bit lower. It is certainly on the higher end in terms of price but it also is unique in the features included. This just might be one of the best baby swings on the market. 

You can use the mamaroo from birth up until your baby weighs twenty-five pounds. There are no batteries required as it is powered with an AC adapter power plug. This does mean you will need to use this swing near an outlet.

Notable Features

This infant seat is designed to imitate movements that parents do when they are soothing and comforting their baby like swaying from side to side and bouncing up and down. There are five unique motion settings including car ride, wave, tree swing, kangaroo, and rock a bye. Additionally, you can choose one of the five speeds depending on your baby’s mood, needs, or age. The seat also has several different reclining positions in hopes to provide maximum comfort for your baby. It can be fully reclined and also in a completely upright position.

The mobile includes several different balls made with colorful fabric. One ball that rattles, the second ball has crinkles, and the last one has a mirror. This mobile is designed to stimulate your baby’s senses of sight and sound. It is also to help develop motor skills as your little one learns to reach and grasp. It will likely keep your baby entertained when awake. The seat is removable and machine-washable.

Why It Made the List

This baby swing is in a league of its own. It made the list because of some unique features not found on other swings on the market. There are four built-in soothing sounds. But you can also plug-in your MP3 player so that you can select anything from your music collection. You can even connect your smartphone or device through Bluetooth where you can control the motion and music on this innovative baby swing. This is truly a unique and innovative baby swing that stands out amidst the many choices on the market today.


  • Adjustable seating positions
  • Washable fabric
  • Smartphone, device, Mp3 connection for motion and music
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Many different movements, sounds, and speeds
  • Innovative features
  • Mobile made of colorful balls
  • Maximum Weight Limit: 25 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers:

  • High Price Point
  • Speaker quality is not the best
  • Noisy motor (some reviews stated the noise is actually similar to white noise and is not obtrusive)


[amazon_link asins=’B073FVCS6F’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’64048fa4-44c0-11e8-a42c-1fc5106e9eaa’]


What should I consider when selecting the best baby swings for our home?

First and foremost, you should always consider the safety and security of your baby. Does the swing you are considering safely support your baby’s current weight and age? Does it have a harness? What kind of harness is included? I personally prefer the five-point-harness on baby products. Be sure to check these limitations with the manufacturer’s information. It should be included on the box of your purchase or on the manufacturer’s website.

Secondly, I would consider the comfort of your baby including seating positions and also features included like vibrating, music, and swaying options. Depending on your home, you may want to consider a swing that is compact and portable. Since you will be investing your money into this baby product, I would suggest looking for a product that is durable, adjusts to a growing baby, and is made of quality materials.

How much should I anticipate spending on a baby swing?

The prices of baby swings vary greatly depending on the features offered. You can find swings as low as fifty-five dollars and up to several hundred dollars. Some swings are more durable and better quality which means they may cost a bit more. As you would expect, the more features offered, the higher the price. If you need something simple and at a lower price point, I would suggest our honorable mention option.

If you are looking for something with all the bells and whistles with unique features, I would suggest these two choices from our list, the winner and the superstar tech baby swing.

Which features are most helpful on baby swings?

Again, safety is your main concern. But a swing that has a music feature is very helpful, especially if you would like for your baby to nap in the swing. The music will soothe your little one right into dreamland. I used my swing for many months with my son. Over time, I appreciated having some variety with different features like vibrating, swaying options, and mobiles. I also liked using the wall outlet instead of relying on batteries. However, I personally did not need to move the swing from room to room.

Considerations for Selecting the Best Baby Swings

When you are ready to purchase the best baby swing for your family, you will want to consider the many different features offered on each swing. Depending on your home, you may want to look for a swing that is compact and does not take as much space as others. Do you need a swing that will be moved from room to room? If so, you will want to consider portability and the weight of the swing.

Most certainly you will want to select an appropriate swing for the age and weight of your child. As you prepare to invest in a baby swing, you will also want to select one that is durable and made of high-quality materials. Price is also a factor that will be important in your selection as the cost of swings varies widely.

For me, I always consider ease of use when it comes to baby products. Swings are a baby product you will likely use every day and even when you are very tired. As a mom, a swing that is frustrating to set up and use would not be one of my top picks.

Questions To Help You Make the Best Decision

Here is a list of questions to help you in your search for the best baby swings for your family:

  • Is it compact? How much space does it take in your home?
  • Is it portable? Does it fold? Is it lightweight?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Is it made of highquality materials and fabrics? Is it durable? 
  • What are the age recommendations and weight limits? Does it sense baby’s weight and will it adapt to a growing baby?
  • Is the seat safe for my baby? Does it have a harness? Is the base stable when the swing is in motion?
  • Is it comfortable? Does the seat recline? Is this swing also suitable for sleeping?

best baby swings

Important Safety Considerations

As a parent, you probably already know that babies love rocking and swinging. They are soothed by the rhythmic movement when you bounce or sway while holding them. Similar helpful movements can be provided by an effective swing or rocker.

A baby swing can also be a safe place where your little one can be securely seated for relaxing, playing, or sleeping. A swing can free up mom or dad to do a few things around the house or grab a quick shower. They are often effective for soothing a fussy baby who is having trouble settling down and falling asleep. The safety of your child is the most important thing.

Top Safety Considerations for the Best Baby Swings

  • Time in a swing cannot substitute for parent contact. Most experts recommend limiting swinging time to an hour or less a day when your baby’s awake.
  • Take the time to check product recalls on any swing before buying it. You can also check for a certification seal that shows that the JPMA independent safety standards have been met or exceeded.
  • Be sure to look for a swing that has a stable structure. The most stable and sturdy baby swing is made with a metal frame.
  • Many swings are suitable for newborns but they often require additional head support for this stage of your baby’s life. Additional head support will provide both safety and stability while your infant cannot support his own head weight.
  • Some swings offer several seating positions including an upright seating position. But, experts warn that infants under age four months should only be seated in the most reclined swing position provided.
  • Be sure that your swing is assembled properly and that is it completely stable. Check to be sure it will not tip over. Your baby should always be supervised while in the swing.
  • Be sure to always use the safety harness whether the swing is in motion or it is stopped.
  • If the swing offers features like a mobile or any unattachable items, check to be sure that any of the toys are securely and safely connected. Loose parts could cause choking if your baby gets anything in his or her mouth.

Final Thoughts on the Best Baby Swings

As you choose the best baby swing for your family, it is great to find one that offers the soothing motion babies love while also freeing you up and giving your arms a needed break. If your baby responds well to the swinging motion, one of our top picks can provide you with some much-needed quiet and hands-free time during the tiring newborn period. Hopefully, no matter your current needs, this article has equipped you with how to go about selecting the best baby swing for your home.

If you need more baby gear and you are interested in looking for a baby monitor, be sure to check out my review of the best baby monitors.

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The Best Backyard Trampoline For You and Your Family

A few years ago, my brother gave me the trampoline that had been in his backyard for the past 5 years or so. For the one year that we had that hand-me-down trampoline, we used it on a weekly basis, at least. There wasn’t a day that went by when someone didn’t jump on it. Even during the fall and winter, we would get our warmest coats on and jump with the dried leaves and the fresh snow under our feet. But one huge wind storm in February eventually blew our beloved trampoline away, crunching its frame between a light pole and our roof.

After the countless hours spent on our trampoline for the one year that we had it, we were hooked. I knew it was time to research which was the best backyard trampoline for our family.

Best Backyard Trampoline: Skybound Stratos Trampoline with Full Enclosure Net System

After reviewing the trampolines on the market, I’ve decided that the best backyard trampoline is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01F6T95TG’ text=’Skybound Stratos Trampoline with Full Enclosure Net System’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’159704f0-44b8-11e8-9305-43b92539efe3′]. This trampoline has the right combination of good quality of materials, safety considerations, and a long warranty for my piece of mind.


The Skybound Stratos Trampoline is a round trampoline that comes in three sizes: 12’, 14’, or 15’. The weight limit for this trampoline is 330 pounds. This is an important specification to consider. Even though my children currently only weigh about 100 pounds combined, they will only keep growing. Hopefully, this trampoline will be in our backyard even when they are teenagers weighing much more than they do now. I want to make sure I’m buying a trampoline now that will be able to accommodate my children and their friends as they grow.

Quite frankly, the trampoline is a lot of fun (and great exercise) for adults too. Any trampoline I purchase needs to have a good weight limit on it so adults and children alike can enjoy it.

Extra bouncy

The Skybound Stratos Trampoline comes with 108 8.5” premium springs, for the 15’ size. The 12’ trampoline has 84 springs and the 14’ trampoline has 96 springs. These springs are larger and stronger than the 6.5” springs that some other trampoline brands use. According to Skybound, their springs are 50% more durable and bouncier than standard springs. I like that these stronger springs are less likely to get damaged quickly, won’t rust, and create a bouncier surface.

Unique assembly system

The assembly for the Skybound Stratos Trampoline is unique. Skybound uses an enclosure system for its parts with push pins to connect the pieces. There are no bolts or screws to tighten into place, or to rust or get degraded over time. A frequent complaint about most trampolines on the market is about how difficult assembly is, and how easy it is to over-tighten and strip the flimsy screws that the manufacturer provides. The reviews on this trampoline were overwhelmingly positive about how easy the assembly was. However, many reviewers did mention the time-consuming nature of attaching the net to the trampoline.


Because the twelve poles that support the Skybound Trampoline are curved outward and the net has a  concave curve inward, it is impossible for someone to hit the pole when they are jumping on the mat. The twelve poles (and six legs) make the trampoline nice and stable, even for the mightiest jumpers. Since most trampolines generally have six or eight poles, the fact that this trampoline has twelve poles adds to its stability.


Skybound also offers one of the best warranties I’ve seen. The warranty covers ten years for the metal frame, two years for the jumping mat, and one year for the net and springs. Trampolines take a beating from its users and from the weather, so having a good warranty is a key factor when looking for a quality trampoline.


This trampoline does not come with a ladder to get in. You can buy a separate ladder, or just use a step stool. Not having a ladder was not a deal breaker for me. Upon reviewing the trampolines that did have ladders, I found many complaints from reviewers that the ladder hurt their feet or was slippery when wet.  When we had our old hand-me-down trampoline in our yard, we just put a sturdy lawn chair next to the entrance, and it worked out just fine.


[amazon_link asins=’B01F6T95TG’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’b46fd69f-471a-11e8-af6e-5d7af679efcc’]

Runner-Up Best Backyard Trampoline:  [amazon_textlink asin=’B009HE7YFO’ text=’Skywalker Rectangular Trampoline with Enclosure, 15-Feet’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5f97b879-44b8-11e8-9dd8-857a569bde46′]

Popular Brand

Skywalker is the most popular trampoline brand on the market. They have a wide variety of shapes and sizes of trampolines, and parts are easily accessible if you need a replacement. Of the Skywalker trampolines, I was most impressed with the rectangular option. This 15-foot trampoline has a weight limit of 400 pounds, as opposed to the Skywalker’s 15-foot round trampoline which only has a weight limit of 200 pounds.


Trampolines come in round, octagon, oval, square, and rectangular shapes. The round is by far the most traditional for the best backyard trampoline. All of the top brands carry a round trampoline. A round trampoline tends to guide the jumper to the center of the jumping mat by evenly distributing force equally to all the springs. Oval and octagonal trampolines work the same way.


Rectangular and square trampolines are traditionally used by gymnasts. You will get the highest bounce from one of these trampolines. They have a firmer and stronger bounce, and an even bounce no matter if you are jumping in the center or edge of the jumping mat. This is a great shaped trampoline if you are planning on doing backflips and other gymnastic tricks. Note that these are generally a bit more expensive than their round counterparts.


The frame of the Skywalker Rectangular Trampoline is made up of eight poles with padding. They are angled at the top, which keeps the net away from the poles. This decreases the likelihood of wear and tear on the net from scratching against the poles.Some reviewers did mention that the foam on the poles is flimsy and can rip easily.

The net, poles, and spring pad are all UV protected to help prevent degradation from sun exposure. The springs and poles are rust resistant. There are 76 7.64” springs, again bigger and stronger than the 6.5” springs commonly used on other trampolines (including the Skywalker round trampoline).


Most of the negative comments from reviewers of this trampoline were regarding the difficulty in assembling this trampoline. Most people recommend laying out all the pieces (including the screws) according to the instruction manual before starting the assembly process. Reading through the entire process before starting seems to be a crucial step to avoid making a mistake that may cause having to take everything apart to start all over.

In order to secure the pole caps, many reviewers mentioned they had to drill an extra hole in the top of the poles. Other common complaints were missing pieces, stripping the screws from over-tightening, and boxes that fell apart during delivery. Be aware that this trampoline gets delivered in three boxes, so they may not arrive all on the same day.


[amazon_link asins=’B009HE7YFO’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’52af1c9b-4725-11e8-a0cf-afe98f56525c’]

Honorable Mention Best Backyard Trampoline:  [amazon_textlink asin=’B0016GNDF6′ text=’Magic Circle Octagon Trampoline with Safety Cage’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’95ff5580-44b8-11e8-839f-b5e9b1f837f6′]

Weight Limit

The Magic Circle Trampoline is another option with a high weight limit: 450 pounds. With a weight limit this high, you can confidently have a few adults, a number of children, or a combination of both adults and kids jumping at the same time. For safety reasons, it is always advisable to have the fewest people jumping at the same time. However, in practice, most families end up allowing multiple people to jump simultaneously.

Safety Cage

The mesh net on the Magic Circle Trampoline is sewn directly into the jumping mat. This is designed so there are no gaps for a jumper’s limbs to get stuck. The net is made from the same fibers as the mat and has a tight mesh so fingers don’t get caught. I like the strength and safety of this net, compared to other trampolines that have nets that seem to rip more easily or have gaps where jumpers can fall through.  Safety is definitely an important consideration when deciding which trampoline to purchase.

Size and Shape

Magic Circle trampolines come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including octagon, round, hexagon, and rectagon. It is important to measure the area available in your backyard to determine the best size for your family. Make sure to measure not only the size of the trampoline itself but include a few feet surrounding the perimeter of the trampoline in your calculations. Also, keep in mind the height of the trampoline and the area where you will place it. Jumpers may jump higher than the net enclosure, so make sure there are no low hanging branches covering the area where you will place your trampoline.

Other considerations are how much direct sun exposure there is, which can possibly cause fading to the mat or foam, and how much debris from trees will fall on the trampoline. If you live somewhere with a lot of falling leaves in autumn, you may end up spending some time sweeping leaves out of your trampoline.

The opening for this particular trampoline is unique in that it does not include a zipper. Instead, the fabric overlaps about two feet, creating a gap for the jumper to squeeze through. This is a nice feature, as it doesn’t require jumpers to zip (or forget to zip) the enclosure each time they enter the trampoline. But, it does make for a more difficult cleanup job when sweeping leaves and other debris from the jumping surface.


One of the things I especially like about the Magic Circle Trampoline is the great warranty. The warranty covers ten years for the frame and four years for the fabric components. No matter what brand of trampoline you buy, it is important to occasionally inspect all aspects of your trampoline, including the net, jumping pad, springs, and frame.

Is there any rust? Are there holes in the jumping pad? Is the net-ripping? Are any springs falling out? With the amount of wear and tear a trampoline gets, it is important to know that the company stands behind its product and that you can get replacement parts easily.

Other Specifications

The springs on the Magic Circle Trampoline are 8.5” long. I like trampolines with these bigger springs, as opposed to trampolines that come with 6.5” springs. I want to make sure the springs on any trampoline I buy are going to be as strong as possible, and provide the best bounce. We did have to replace a number of the springs on the old trampoline that we briefly owned, and that taught me the importance of buying a trampoline with the best springs possible. Magic Circle is also made in the USA, so you can feel good about buying a product manufactured here at home.


[amazon_link asins=’B0016GNDF6′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’df661a73-4726-11e8-9038-c5db1d5b3c76′]

Best Backyard Trampoline with Accessories:  [amazon_textlink asin=’B00U8BX62K’ text=’Zupapa TUV Approved Round Trampoline’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ecb7a683-44b8-11e8-b4ba-59cea1e6210d’]


The thing that sets the Zupapa trampolines apart from the other brands is the accessories that come with the purchase. Zupapa includes a ladder, rain cover, and stakes with each trampoline. This is the first of the trampolines reviewed here that includes a ladder with the trampoline, and the only trampoline reviewed here that includes either stakes or a rain cover. If these are accessories that you may consider buying separately, this may be a good option for you since you won’t have to shop for these items beyond your trampoline purchase.


The weight limit for the 15’ Zupapa Trampoline is 375 pounds and 330 pounds for the 12’ and 14’ versions.  The frame, as with all trampolines reviewed here, is made of rust resistant galvanized steel. The 15’ trampoline comes with 108 7” springs. There are padded pole sleeves to protect against scratching or jumping against the steel poles. Jumpers gain entrance to the trampoline through a zippered entryway.


As mentioned above, the warranty offered on a trampoline is an important feature. Zupapa’s warranty includes six months on the pad and net, one year on the jumping mat and springs, and three years on the frame. It is certainly worth marking these dates on your calendar and inspecting each of these parts as the warranties expire, to ensure that no replacement parts are needed before you lose the warranty.

User Comments

This trampoline gets generally good reviews for its quality and for the excellent customer service from Zupapa. Installation is generally highly reviewed as easy, getting completed in a few hours with two people working on it together. The most common complaints about the assembly are regarding the poles.

The foam is difficult to get on the poles, and then it is difficult to push the poles through the netting sleeves. Many users found it necessary to use materials like baby powder to help slide the foam onto the pole. Others found it useful to use a sticky material like hairspray to help keep the foam in place, so it wouldn’t slide off the poles when pushing them through the netting.

Rain Cover

Although some users may find it useful that this trampoline comes with a rain cover, there are downsides to this accessory. The rain cover seems to work best if you purchase a trampoline without a safety enclosure. Using the rain cover on the jumping mat by itself is useful in keeping the jumping mat dry and free of falling leaves.

However, there are problems with the rain cover when using it on a trampoline with the enclosure netting. If a lot of rain falls while the rain cover is secured to the poles, it accumulates and may get so heavy that the poles will bend. It is also difficult to remove the rain cover while there is standing water in it without dumping the water back into the trampoline.


[amazon_link asins=’B018IJ8I7Q’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’a537a6f5-4725-11e8-8c7b-c396f306cf75′]

Best Backyard Trampoline With Gaming Abilities:  [amazon_textlink asin=’B004PIFOMW’ text=’Springfree 13ft Jumbo Square with Basketball Hoop and Ladder’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’82a833a7-44b9-11e8-a38f-91bfc2e1f1cf’]

Springless Design

The design of Springfree Trampolines is completely different than traditional trampolines that utilize coil springs. These Springfree Trampolines are unique in that they don’t use springs at all. Instead, Springfree uses a system of extremely strong rods underneath and around the mat. This forms a flexible soft edge surrounding the trampoline. These rods are made out of the same material that Boening uses for its newest airplanes.

Because there are no springs, the jumping mat is bouncy and soft for the entire surface inside the net, even right up against the net. This decreases the risk of injury from the hitting the hard outer edge that other more traditional trampolines have. It also creates a larger jumping surface inside the trampoline. An 11’ Springfree Trampoline has the equivalent jumping surface as a 14’ trampoline with coil springs.

Additionally, there are no rigid outside poles to hit. The poles surrounding the trampoline’s netting are flexible and expand when a jumper bounces against them. The netting is UV resistant, flexible, and strong enough to be resistant to ripping. Springfree designed their trampolines to be the safest trampolines in the industry. Because of the unique design of these trampolines, they are highly rated for safety. This unique design and high safety rating does come with a significantly higher price tag than traditional trampolines.

Size and Shape

Springfree trampolines are available in square, oval, and round shapes. Each of these trampolines also has between one and two different sizes available. Remember when looking at these trampolines that you can purchase a smaller sized trampoline but actually be getting a larger jumping area than a traditional trampoline with coil springs.


This trampoline comes with a basketball hoop for additional fun while jumping. As with many trampolines that come with a basketball hoop, reviewers found that the hoop comes apart from the net easily. A ladder is also included with the purchase of the Springfree Trampoline.

Another unique aspect of this trampoline is the optional gaming system accessory that can be purchased separately. The jumping mat has sensors on it that correspond to the optional Tgoma gaming system. This system gets attached to the net and includes over ten different games and apps. This is an interesting additional feature, although from my experience with some of the best backyard trampolines that it is not necessary or worth the additional cost.

Overall Impressions

I am intrigued by the unique design of the Springfree Trampoline and its high safety rating. The design is not only safe, but it provides additional benefits like the larger jumping surface and a quieter trampoline experience. Without springs, there is less squeaking noise as jumpers play on the trampoline.

However, the downsides to this trampoline are weight limit and price. The weight limit for the Springfree Trampoline is only 220 pounds. This means a heavier adult must jump alone, and it decreases the number of children who can bounce together. As important as safety is when considering a trampoline, I’m not sure the significant increase in price for this trampoline is worth the additional investment.


[amazon_link asins=’B004PIFOMW’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’910ede65-4726-11e8-bee6-57c61acd2c97′]

Best Backyard Trampoline Without Springs:  [amazon_textlink asin=’B0187CXH98′ text=’Vuly Thunder Large Trampoline’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d74916e6-44b9-11e8-aec4-a9e5a2e9a4f8′]

No Coil Springs

The Vuly Thunder Trampoline is another trampoline that uses a unique system to create bounciness. Forgoing traditional coil springs, Vuly Thunder Trampolines utilize leaf springs instead. These types of springs are traditionally used in heavy truck suspension systems. Vuly’s leaf springs create a higher bounce because the leaf springs lose less energy than coil springs when they stretch and bend.

They work in a similar way to the Springfree rods in that they create a soft bouncy edge around the mat. The net is sewn directly onto the mat, so there is no gap for jumpers or limbs to fall through. The Vuly Trampoline has a higher weight limit than the Springfree, at 330 pounds.

Safety Skirt

Another unique feature of the Vuly Thunder is the safety skirt. This feature goes around the entire bottom of the trampoline, preventing anything from getting underneath.  With other trampolines, some owners are able to fit their lawnmowers under the mat of the trampoline.  Other people opt to move their trampoline around the yard when they mow. With this trampoline, you would either need to let the grass underneath die, or you would have to move it around in order to mow the lawn.

Other Specifications

The Vuly Thunder Trampoline has a clever assembly system. The trampoline consists of only six components that click together easily. There are no nuts or screws to tighten. Another interesting feature is what they call the “HexVex game mat.” There are multiple designs on the jumping mat, which can be used to invent creative jumping games like Twister and Follow the Leader. The Vuly Thunder Trampoline comes only in a round shape, but has options for 12’, 14’, or 16’.

Further Considerations

I included the Vuly Thunder Trampoline in this review because of the unique nature of the leaf spring technology and the safety skirt that protects the underside of the trampoline. However, the user reviews for the Vuly Thunder are very disappointing. Poor customer service was a frequent complaint. Many reviewers said that the leaf springs broke, the net ripped, the entrance became frayed very quickly, and the parts rusted. There is a short warranty window of only one year on this trampoline. Complaints about parts wearing down coupled with poor customer service make me wary of this trampoline as a good investment.


[amazon_link asins=’B0187CXH98′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’e91d8ce2-4725-11e8-a85c-33e4d86cc9ac’]

Recap of the Best Backyard Trampoline For You

A trampoline can be a fun addition to a family’s backyard. Because of the high incidence of injuries on trampolines though, it is important to look at safety features and reliability carefully before deciding on the best backyard trampoline for your family.

The trampoline I have identified as the best on the market now is the Skybound Stratos Trampoline with Full Enclosure Net System. I like the safety features, the nice long warranty, and the quality of the materials used in its design.

If you’re looking for recommendations for other fun outdoor products, see our reviews for the ultimate sleeping bag, the best kayak, propane grill, and family tent.


Q: Are there any accessories I should buy to go with my new trampoline?

There are a few items you may want to consider. Depending on the trampoline you purchase, it may or may not come with a ladder. This may be something you want to purchase separately if you opt for the Skybound, Skywalker, or Magic Circle trampolines reviewed here. The Zupapa, Springfree, and Vuly Thunder, however, all come with a ladder.

Stakes are also a good idea to add to your purchase. As I experienced with my old trampoline, a strong windstorm may sweep your trampoline away. Even with the sturdiest and heaviest of trampolines, this is always a possibility. A set of good quality stakes can save your investment from this fate. The Zupapa Trampoline comes with a set of stakes, although some reviewers opted to buy heavier stakes from their local hardware store.

Some trampolines, like the Springfree, come with a basketball hoop attached to the net. This can be a fun accessory to purchase separately if your trampoline does not come with one. There are also volleyball nets and bean bag toss games available. Some owners like to simply turn on a sprinkler underneath the trampoline for some refreshing summertime fun.

Q: What safety considerations should I take into account?

When looking at the best backyard trampoline to purchase, look for high-quality materials in the design. Look for safety nets that are sewn directly onto the mat to avoid injury created by gaps between the net and the mat. Some trampolines can even be purchased without a safety net, which certainly decreases its safety as jumpers can easily fall off the side. Most injuries are caused by falling off the trampoline, hitting a pole, or getting caught in gaps.

Look for trampolines with designs that work on minimizing these types of injuries. It is always best to set up rules about the number of jumpers allowed on a trampoline at a time, to decrease the possibility of jumpers running into or falling on top of each other. And of course, always read through the instruction manuals thoroughly and follow all weight limitations.

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The Ultimate Sleeping Bag for Year-Round Camping

After a long day of hiking, setting up camp, and a relaxing meal around a campfire, there is nothing so wonderful as climbing into my sleeping bag and falling asleep – as long as I’m warm enough to fall asleep, that is. If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a cheap or inadequate sleeping bag, you know how long and exhausting a night camping can be. But how do you go about shopping for a sleeping bag when the item descriptions are filled with terms like loft, temperature rating, and continuous baffles? That’s where this guide comes in. I will help you find the best sleeping bag for your situation by reviewing four of our top picks for the best 3-season down sleeping bags that will keep you warm and dry for years to come.

My Experience That Led To Finding a Great Sleeping Bag

I grew up camping and have continued the tradition with my own young family. We’ve camped in the backyard, in the desert, and in the mountains. I’ve led scout troop campouts and even spent one wedding anniversary camping in the snow because we couldn’t wait for the weather to warm up any longer. Almost all of the camping I’ve done has been tent camping, so I am no stranger to sleeping on a thin pad on the ground. After many years of using a basic, run-of-the-mill sleeping bag I’d been given in college, I was ready to purchase a sleeping bag that would last for decades.

Our top sleeping bag pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B015I7PHDE’ text=’Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’950c7b78-435e-11e8-84d9-273fa9f08f9e’]

sleeping bag

In all of my research, I found person after person recommending Western Mountaineering sleeping bags and gear as the best purchase they’d ever made. Western Mountaineering is the gold standard in camping and backpacking gear for good reason: their sleeping bags are some of the lightest on the market (thanks to highly-compressible goose down) and use the highest quality materials and construction. Western Mountaineering sleeping bags are not cheap, so I had to be sure I was getting the right bags for my needs. Although I have gone with whatever I could find for the best price in the past (we all have to start somewhere!), I was ready to make a long-term investment this time. As a result, it was very important to me to choose a product that would last and a company that would stand behind their work.

I knew I wanted a sleeping bag I could use even in my hot, Southern summers—where nighttime temperatures are often upwards of 65°F—but that would also keep me warm on cool spring nights. I ultimately decided that a 20°F rating would be perfect for my situation. It is what I recommend to most campers shopping for a sleeping bag of their own. I’ve found my [amazon_textlink asin=’B015I7PHDE’ text=’Alpinlite 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cba7f8ed-435e-11e8-a265-f5431a24bf92′] to be the perfect level of warmth for camping during most of the year.

What I Love

One thing I love about this sleeping bag is its ability to both retain heat and compress down to fit in my pack. I love the fact that I do not have to sacrifice space for warmth, especially on longer backpacking trips where I am carrying my gear all along the trail. I was also pleasantly surprised by the design of the hood; it lies flat as opposed to curving up around my head. Since I often sleep on my stomach and side, this is a feature I do not want to be without. The draft collar and zipper tubes keep warm air from escaping out the top of my sleeping bag or through the zipper. I really appreciate these features on cold nights. I can be warm on both sides without my needing to flip over in the night to rotate which side lies next to the zipper opening.

Another design feature I have come to really love is the way the goose down is stuffed into the sleeping bag shell. Thanks to continuous baffles (the way filling is stitched into the shell) throughout the sleeping bag, I can move them down slightly to provide more or less warmth throughout the bag. For campers that toss and turn a lot at night, however, the continuous baffling can be more frustrating than helpful. 


[amazon_link asins=’B015I5TTLW’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’ed33eed9-44ab-11e8-8fb7-0f214b49c0be’]

Our runner-up sleeping bag: [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Big Agnes Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’31d448f4-435f-11e8-ac0f-dfc2fbdfe240′]

sleeping bag

Big Agnes is a favorite brand of sleeping bags and camping equipment for people who want a little more room or to share with a loved one. Big Agnes makes quite a few double sleeping bags, although, for the purposes of this article, I’m focusing only on the single, 3-season bags. Even with a single bag like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’467189ae-435f-11e8-9c9d-15b1c341170f’], you will find a bit more shoulder and hip room than in a standard mummy sleeping bag without adding extra bulk to your pack.

Although I have not personally had a problem rolling off my sleeping pad, I know fellow campers who do. Rolling off your pad onto the cold, hard tent floor is an unwelcome surprise. Even if the drop in temperature doesn’t wake you up in the night, you will certainly feel the stiffness in the morning. To combat that problem, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5f325c4a-435f-11e8-a392-01ae371a54c7′] comes standard with a sleeve to keep your sleeping pad snugly attached to your sleeping bag all night long.

Other Features

Another great feature of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’671da4da-435f-11e8-8d04-4d291e15abc2′] is that it unzips from all sides, meaning you can get in or out on either side. Double zippers also let you vent from either the top or bottom (or both) if you get too warm during the night.

Big Agnes is another company with a reputation for standing behind their gear. Since I was looking for a sleeping bag that would last me for fifteen years or more, I limited my search to bags and companies with solid customer service, superior construction, and stellar reviews. In the end, I ended up choosing the [amazon_textlink asin=’B015I5TTLW’ text=’Western Mountaineering Alpinlite 20 ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7bbce12d-435f-11e8-bcca-299018ed713e’]instead of the Big Agnes Summit Park 15 because I did not need the extra width and I wanted the highest-quality goose down. But I’ve met other campers that love their Big Agnes bags—both down-filled (like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6f5b2b5b-435f-11e8-b732-e18a666c2fe7′]) and the styles with synthetic filling as well.


[amazon_link asins=’B013PYDU6S’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’21d5aecf-4714-11e8-a4ef-11e63e2f1549′]

Our most versatile sleeping bag choice: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’Sierra Designs DriDown 800-Fill Backcountry Bed’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e0cfd19b-435f-11e8-88bd-99cf1bfb1b16′]

sleeping bag

One of the more unique styles in the down-filled sleeping bag market is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’Backcountry Bed from Sierra Designs’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fa412eb8-435f-11e8-b4c2-3568ae054588′]. Instead of a zippered side, you slip in and out of the enlarged opening at the top.

An incorporated quilt combined with the enlarged opening make this design incredibly versatile: If you’re too warm, fold the quilt down to let air flow into the sleeping bag. Wrap the comforter tightly around yourself to prevent heat from escaping on nights when you need help staying warm. Most mummy sleeping bags are really only suitable for sleeping on your back, but not the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’DriDown Backcountry Bed!’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’071d1ddc-4360-11e8-baf6-3f4ce273cf5e’] Side and stomach sleepers like me will especially appreciate the ability to lay the blanket across their shoulders and still stay warm at night.

Things To Consider

One major disadvantage of a mummy sleeping bag is that my feet often get too hot when I’m camping in warm weather. One solution is a double-zippered bag like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B013PYDU6S’ text=’Big Agnes Summit Park 15′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1e816d59-4360-11e8-ad0e-5bffe216a8d7′]. Another option is a foot vent like in the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBA182′ text=’DriDown Backcountry Bed’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1498a71b-4360-11e8-8b86-27fe5f29ff4b’]. If you feel too hot, simply slide your feet out of the foot vent to cool off. When you’re ready to warm back up, tuck them back inside.

The same comforter that allows you to modify your sleeping style and warmth level can be removed and used alone around camp. Deep pockets inside the blanket keep your hands and arms warm and let you keep the quilt in place whether you have it wrapped around yourself or are using it with the sleeping bag.

All in all, this was the most unique and versatile sleeping bag I considered and one I would really love to see in action on the trail. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HGBFZDI’ text=’800-Fill DriDown Backcountry Bed’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7706dcf4-4360-11e8-b0c1-d7cd4a41f0ca’] is the closest to what I was looking for in a long-term sleeping bag, but Sierra Designs does offer variations of this same sleeping bag in different fill materials and loft heights if you want to try the design but need something a little different than I do.


[amazon_link asins=’B00HGB9Z84′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’69c49963-4714-11e8-9580-31df00e0081d’]

An intermediate sleeping bag option: [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown Sleeping Bag ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’98faba47-4360-11e8-bc24-5339fb762726′]

sleeping bag

If you are looking for a high-quality down sleeping bag, but you aren’t ready to invest in one of the amazing bags on our list so far, consider the [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown sleeping bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a2d3a223-4360-11e8-9221-ab0df0fea49d’]. The price point is often less than other down sleeping bags with the same features, making it a great option if you are just getting started with year-round camping.

In general, continuous baffles are considered a high-end feature, but some campers prefer filling that stays put all night. If you don’t need or don’t care for adjustable filling, you will appreciate the quilt-through construction that holds everything in place. The proprietary down insulation is water resistant and designed to dry more quickly than other down-filled bags. The ripstop shell is made from the same material as most tents, so it will be durable and repel water.

Features and Options

Kelty offers a long, regular, and short version of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Cosmic 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bfdb4626-4360-11e8-9e8e-d7655e005b32′] as well, in case you are looking for the best sleeping bag for your particular height. In general, campers at or above 6 feet tall will appreciate the long, while those below 5’5″ might prefer a short model.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B014JQA9VU’ text=’Cosmic 20′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cc082fdd-4360-11e8-95df-3b62abda7891′] is heavier than comparable sleeping bags and is made from slightly less durable materials, but it is still far and away better than the sleeping bags most people have sitting in the garage or basement. If you are ready for a sleeping bag upgrade but not to commit fully to one of the other amazing bags on this list, start with the Kelty Cosmic 20. You will be hard-pressed to find another sleeping bag of this quality for the price.


[amazon_link asins=’B014JQA9VU’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’83abc2fe-4714-11e8-afb5-097d3ad92d3e’]

Choosing the Right Sleeping Bag

How did I decide which sleeping bags to include on this list? My goal was to offer four outstanding options that met the needs of most campers during the majority of the year. The three main factors I considered when choosing a sleeping bag were temperature (or season) rating, fill material, and size.

Temperature/Season Rating

In general, the temperature rating of a sleeping bag will tell you the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep an average sleeper comfortable. Temperature rating should be used as a general guideline instead of a specific guarantee. Every camper has a slightly different idea of the ideal sleeping temperature and the temperature rating process varies by manufacturer. Give yourself some wiggle room when identifying your ideal temperature rating. Choose a sleeping bag that is rated just a little lower than what you expect to encounter for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

The most versatile sleeping bags, known as 3-season sleeping bags, have a temperature rating (in Fahrenheit) of +10° to +35°. Summer-only bags are rated above +35°, while winter-only bags are rated below +10°. For most campers, a 3-season sleeping bag is the most versatile option. On the rare occasions that you will be camping in warmer or cooler temperatures, you can modify your sleeping situation to accommodate the weather without having to buy separate sleeping bags for each season. All the bags on our list are 3-season sleeping bags with a rating around 20°F because they meet the needs of almost all campers in most situations.

Understanding EN Testing Standards

Thanks to a 2005 law (EN 13537), European testing standards are the most closely regulated. As a result, you can expect a more uniform result with any sleeping bag that undergoes the EN test. Although each sleeping bag manufacturer can decide how to rate its own sleeping bags, it is worth knowing the basics of the EN test before you shop for a sleeping bag since many companies are adopting the EN test to make worldwide sales easier.

The EN test assumes that each camper is sleeping in one layer of thermal underwear and a hat with the sleeping bag over a single sleeping pad. If you sleep in more (or less) clothing when you camp or generally feel hot or cold when you sleep, use that information to adjust your ideal rating accordingly.

Upper Limit describes the highest temperature an average male can comfortably sleep with the bag zipper open and his arms outside of the bag. If the nighttime low is any higher than this, you may find the sleeping bag too warm for a comfortable sleep.

Comfort Limit is a mid-range temperature that is comfortable for an average female. I prefer to use the comfort limit when evaluating sleeping bags because it sits between the high and low extremes.

Lower Limit is the temperature at which an average male can sleep for eight hours without waking. Most campers will not be comfortable at the lower limit unless they sleep hot in general or use some other method of warming themselves (such as wearing more clothing to bed or sleeping on a thicker pad).

Fill Material

Sleeping bags are filled with synthetic (often polyester) insulation, duck and/or goose down, or a combination of synthetic and down filling together. The type of insulation greatly influences a sleeping bag’s price and effectiveness.

Down filling is the warmest for its weight and lasts the longest, which makes down-filled sleeping bags popular for anyone trying to conserve weight or space. You will pay more for a down sleeping bag, but with proper care, it can be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. When your down sleeping bag seems to lose some of its loft (height), simply follow the manufacturer’s directions for washing and drying the bag. Once the down is fully dry again, your sleeping bag will be as good as new.

Synthetic insulation weighs more than down but costs less. In addition to saving money, there is one other reason you might choose a synthetic filling: if you expect that your sleeping bag will often be wet. Synthetic filling dries much faster than down and is not as heavy when wet. Some synthetic sleeping bags are also better than down for campers with severe allergies. As long as you can keep your sleeping bag dry, however, and have no allergies to down, down filling is almost always worth the cost.


With down sleeping bags especially, the loft is a good measurement of how much warmth you can expect from the sleeping bag. When comparing two sleeping bags of the same weight, the bag with the higher loft will be warmer. The smaller the down that is used to fill the sleeping bag, the more air it can trap inside to act as insulation. If you are comparing sleeping bags that list fill instead of loft, a higher fill number denotes down filling that expands to a greater volume. With either fill or loft, larger numbers equal a warmer sleeping bag.

Size and Shape

When it comes to bag shape, the two main varieties are mummy and traditional. Mummy sleeping bags narrow closer to the feet, while traditional sleeping bags are the same width all the way down. Mummy bags are much warmer than traditional or box-style sleeping bags. If you want the warmth of a mummy bag but need a bit more legroom, look for a wider or relaxed-fit bag.

Most high-end sleeping bags are mummy-style bags. Mummy bags are much warmer than traditional sleeping bags, although the shape does limit the sleeper’s ability to move around. There is some variation in bag width, however, which can be useful if you have especially broad shoulders or are very tall or short. No matter what online reviews say, the best sleeping bag is the one that fits YOU!

Weight and Bulk

Another consideration is the weight and bulk of a sleeping bag. If you will be carrying your gear long distances in a pack, saving even a few ounces or inches is a big deal. This is another reason they fill many high-end sleeping bags with down or down-synthetic blends: down insulation is much lighter and easier to compress than synthetic filling. And when you unpack the sleeping bag, down filling fluffs up to its original loft faster and for many years longer than synthetic filling. Aim for a sleeping bag that weighs 2 pounds or less if you will be doing backpacking or need an ultralight pack.

Wrapping Up

If you read our recent article on the best family camping tent and are ready to head out to the mountains this summer, you will need the best sleeping bag as well. For the most durable and lightweight option, look for down filling or down alternative if you have any allergies to down. A mummy bag will keep you the warmest for the weight and size of the sleeping bag. A higher loft and/or fill number will translate to a higher-quality sleeping bag. When you are ready to upgrade to the best sleeping bag for your needs, start your search with the four excellent bags on our list.


Q: What is the best temperature rating for a sleeping bag?

A: That will depend on where and when you usually camp, as well as whether you are usually warm or cool when you sleep. In general, a sleeping bag rated for 20-30°F should keep most campers comfortable in most situations, especially if you have access to a tent fan in the summer or an additional camping quilt in the winter. In the end, the best sleeping bag rating will vary with your specific situation.

Q: How can I tell what a sleeping bag’s temperature rating is? 

A: You can find the temperature rating of most sleeping bags on a tag either on the side or inside of the stuff bag. Some tags will have multiple ratings, either for the low- comfort- and high-end rating (as described earlier) or different comfort ratings for men and women.

Q: What does water-resistant down mean?

A: Some companies are offering water-resistant down filling, which is an appealing option if you want a down-filled bag but know you will be camping in wet or damp conditions. Water-resistant down is not waterproof, but it does dry out faster than traditional down filling.

Q: Do I need a women’s or kid-sized sleeping bag?

A: That really depends on what you want out of your sleeping bag. Women’s sleeping bags tend to be a bit warmer and shorter than their male counterparts. Some women’s bags are also narrower at the shoulder and wider at the hip. Many women are perfectly comfortable in a unisex bag or even a children’s bag. High-quality children’s sleeping bags are smaller than adult bags and some include a sleeve for a sleeping pad to keeping children from rolling off their sleeping pads at night.

Q: Can I use my sleeping bag in a hammock?

A: Yes! Sleeping in a hammock is actually my very favorite way to camp. You can climb into your sleeping bag on cold nights or use it as a bottom blanket if the weather is a little bit warmer.

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Get Your Jobs Done With The Best Paint Sprayer

When facing a large-scale DIY painting project, you can easily become confused on what brand of paint sprayer to purchase. Should you use an airless model or HVLP for your needs? Do you really need to invest $300 in order to paint your house or will a lower price model work for your project? As someone who has painted numerous rooms of my home as well as many exterior surfaces, I know what it takes to paint like a pro. Save yourself hours of research and check out the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’best paint sprayer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f9d4946d-40fa-11e8-b68a-9b8639a5f4bb’].

Heading to your local home improvement store will only yield more confusion as you peer at the vast selection of paint sprayers. You’ll find options for under $100 all the way up to thousands! Thankfully, there are several brands that produce a flawless finish without the need to take out a second mortgage on your home.

The Four Best Paint Sprayers on the Market

Let’s take a peek at my pick for the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’best paint sprayer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2ca06c1d-40fb-11e8-90fa-29ee212bac09′] and then I’ll show you some exceptional runner-ups as well.

The Winner – [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum 262800 X5 Stand Airless Paint Sprayer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cd541031-40fa-11e8-8da8-9d7d4b189b95′]

Graco Magnum 262800 X5 Stand Airless Paint Sprayer - best paint sprayerWhen you purchase a paint sprayer made from quality parts, you’ll achieve consistent performance and longer lifespan. That’s why I am personally fond of the stainless steel pump on the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’619c6b8c-40fb-11e8-bfb6-379de28a12a8′]. It also features the Power Flush adapter so you can attach it to your garden hose when you are done. With this addition, you can expect a super-fast cleanup.

Graco is one of the leaders in the paint spraying industry mainly because of the durability of the products they produce. You will invest a little extra money when going with a Graco brand sprayer, but you can expect it to last through countless projects.


The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6ea7321f-40fb-11e8-9916-b7a80be0e5e4′] airless paint sprayer features a max output of 3000 PSI. With that in mind, it’s easy to adjust the settings between Low Spray or Hi Spray to achieve the finish you need.

It comes with a reversible 515 tip. You’ll want to use this with medium thick materials and prepare for a pattern size ranging 10-12 inches wide. What I like about the reversible tip is that when you face a clog, all you have to do is turn the tip around to blow it out.

In addition, this paint sprayer has a PushPrimer feature. This allows you to complete your project easily by reducing the steps that are needed to prime your materials. There’s also a filter found in the SG2 paint gun handle that catches large particles to avoid a clog. Many other paint sprayers don’t come with this kind of filter.

Depending on what you need to paint, this airless sprayer is capable of handling latex materials, stains and acrylics. You wouldn’t want to use a solvent-based lacquer with this model, or anything that contains texture particles.

Other Features

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’80710729-40fb-11e8-9539-739b61c88744′] comes complete with a durable stand. This helps to keep your sprayer in place during any project. In addition, it has an easy to use handle making the unit completely portable.

On top of that, this sprayer uses a flexible suction tube which gives you the ability to spray from a 1 or 5-gallon paint bucket easily. The paint hose is extendable up to 75 feet so you have the reach you need even if you wanted to paint the second story of your house.

The compact size allows you to store the unit easily when the job is done. If you aren’t familiar with paint sprayers, you’ll have no trouble using this model. It comes with a quick start guide plus a fully instructional DVD to make learning easy.


[amazon_link asins=’B0026SR0FW’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’35b012dd-426d-11e8-9a1f-1ba64fbf5efb’]

The Runner-Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B004RGOKR2′ text=’Earlex HV5500 Spray Station’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’978f4dad-40fb-11e8-9db7-7f2d1334dd74′]

This compact, lightweight solution is a rare find in the paint spraying industry. Not only is the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004RGOKR2′ text=’Earlex HV5500 Spray Station’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’135edc2c-40fc-11e8-a437-1bfddf0f5970′] easy to use, but it offers many general applications. This professional spray painter has numerous adjustments available to achieve the design and finish you desire.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B004RGOKR2′ text=’Earlex Spray Station’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1caf0af4-40fc-11e8-9d61-45784e1cb94c’] has what’s needed to deliver a consistent result with a variety of materials. It’s one of the best options when you desire flexibility without paying a premium price.


What makes the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004RGOKR2′ text=’Earlex Spray Station’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’26ebe529-40fc-11e8-9fc0-99b83ba28e87′] different than other sprayers is that the pattern adjustments are done with a push and click. Other sprayers use dials or knobs. This upgraded design allows contractors and homeowners access to an easier to use machine.

This spray gun generates up to 42 CFM because it has a powerful 650w turbine. This gives you consistent coverage on trim, shutters or any other medium-sized project. You can spray thinned latex, varnishes, stains, lacquers, oils and sealants with this machine.

It’s also easy to adjust the fan widths from 1-inch to 12-inches based on the level of coverage or detail you need. You’ll receive a consistent coverage that rollers and brushes can’t give you, especially when working on the exterior of a home or decking.

Other Features

This HVLP sprayer offers onboard storage that holds the spray gun, attached 5.5-foot power cord and the 13-foot air hose. It’s designed with the light contractor job in mind as well as for DIYers, automotive enthusiasts, and woodworkers. It’s the ideal option if you are looking to do your exterior trim, shutters, doors and more.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B004RGOKR2′ text=’Earlex Spray Station’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4445c778-40fc-11e8-911c-f77b545b592e’] comes with a 2.0mm stainless steel tip and needle. You can purchase other sizes if you find another one will work better for your project. This particular tip is best for larger-area projects, mainly outside.

In addition, it has a Teflon coated container that offers easy loading plus cleaning. It also comes with a 2-year limited warranty for peace of mind, although it doesn’t appear much ever goes wrong with this unit.

An Honorable Mention – [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Z2090U’ text=’Graco Magnum 257025 Project Painter Plus Paint Sprayer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4e8b2c6a-40fc-11e8-954a-db7d535f8bab’]

At first glance, this paint sprayer might lack some of the features of others, but it’s only because it’s geared toward the homeowner with small, occasional projects. It’s a lower priced option when looking for an airless paint sprayer.

The recommended annual usage of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Z2090U’ text=’Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5af211d6-40fc-11e8-a41d-039da6d51a9c’] is 50 gallons. That makes it ideal for a coat of paint on your house, plus a few smaller projects as well.


This airless paint sprayer isn’t going to blow your socks off with power, but it does offer a respectable application rate of 0.24-gallons per minute. It comes with a 25-foot hose and uses a 3/8 horsepower motor. If you need a longer hose, you can purchase a 50-foot option instead.

With the included SG2 spray gun, you can achieve up to 2800 PSI. This allows a decent pattern size plus a good quality finish. You also get a 515 RAC IV tip and guard. That’s enough to work with medium-viscosity materials such as latex, acrylic, and stains.

Even this entry-level Graco paint sprayer has a stainless steel piston pump. It ensures a longer life than many other brands. Just like the higher end Graco models, this sprayer offers an adjustable knob to create the perfect finish. There are also settings for hi and low pressure, roller plus cleaning.

Other Features

Just like my top pick, this Graco also features the flexible suction tube that allows you to work from a 1 or 5-gallon container. You can also utilize the integrate pail hook to take both the material and the unit with you together.

With the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Z2090U’ text=’Graco Magnum Project Painter Plus’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’68e7d505-40fc-11e8-bbac-b132b273a7f9′] weighing just 10 pounds, you’ll have no trouble carrying it around with you. Then, once you are ready to store it, you’ll find the compact size to be quite handy. If it’s your first time painting with a sprayer, you won’t need to feel overwhelmed. This machine comes with an instructional DVD and quick start guide to make operation simple.

Another Honorable Mention – [amazon_textlink asin=’B003PGQI48′ text=’Wagner 0518080 Control Spray Max HVLP Sprayer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’77f9b5fa-40fc-11e8-8541-f3b6387d740c’]

Wagner is known for making high-quality HVLP paint sprayers. What makes this one unique from the rest is that its low cost, perfect for the occasional home project. Even though it is a budget machine, it still has a variable flow control, variable spray patterns, flexible air hose and variable air pressure.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B003PGQI48′ text=’Wagner Control Spray Max’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8a057661-40fc-11e8-8824-696f82d006a0′] has a power turbine to handle numerous materials ranging from thin to thick. In addition, it only weighs about 10 pounds, making it easy to take anywhere with you.


Where many paint sprayers on the market fail to accommodate multiple viscosities, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003PGQI48′ text=’Wagner Control Spray Max’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’96d2490d-40fc-11e8-b6a1-6757f4482476′] exceeds expectations. It has a powerful 570-watt two-stage HVLP turbine capable of spraying thin and thick materials with ease. This means you can tackle those large surface projects and then, turn around and paint a window pane or something else small just as easily.

The versatility also comes from the ability to change the spray pattern. The horizontal air cap makes a high, oval pattern. The vertical air cap creates a broad, oval pattern while the diagonal air cap offers a symmetrical circular pattern.

This allows you to choose between thin or thick coverage while painting. In addition, the air pressure is adjustable allowing you to avoid any overspray. Pressures with this machine range from 1.50 PSI to 2.63 PSI.

Other Features

What makes the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003PGQI48′ text=’Wagner Control Spray Max’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a140ba30-40fc-11e8-936b-9d87ebe39692′] truly unique is that there aren’t many parts on it. This means clean-up is a breeze. You can opt to use soapy water after spraying latex materials or mineral spirits when you paint with oil-based materials.

In addition, it comes with a 20-foot long hose that is also flexible. This allows most projects to remain within reach of your sprayer. One last perk of this HVLP paint sprayer is the two air filters that are included. They prevent dust from messing up the finish you created.

Features of the Best Paint Sprayer

Getting the best paint sprayer is going to be relative to what project you are working on. While I believe the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b0051737-40fc-11e8-adc0-cb1b8692d8e1′] is best for most applications, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Thankfully, there is a wide array of sprayers on the market, so you just need to know what’s going to work best for your project. Let’s take a look at the features the best paint sprayer should have.


The first thing to look at when searching for the best paint sprayer is what powers it. The majority of paint sprayers run on electricity but there are some cordless, battery operated varieties. In addition, you’ll occasionally see a model that is fuel-powered, so you’ll want to choose what works best for you.

It’s important to remember that a cordless air sprayer is going to need a recharge often. They are only a good option when electricity is out of the question or you can’t use a fuel-based machine. For example, if you are working on a new property without electricity, you might consider the use of a cordless paint sprayer. Ideally, it would probably be best to run a generator instead.


The next area of importance is the ease of portability. Most homeowners want the flexibility of taking their paint sprayer anywhere with them. There is no reason to purchase one of the large, heavy paint sprayers geared toward a contractor.

Consider the flexibility you’ll desire when working on the exterior of your home. You need to move to multiple sides of the house, so you aren’t going to want a heavy machine to lug around.

In addition, if you are painting numerous pieces of furniture or working on a car, you want a paint sprayer that you can walk around. A portable machine allows you to get at different angles easier.

Along with portability, you need to consider the length of hose that best suits your work. If you are only painting small pieces of furniture, this won’t matter much to you. When you are looking to paint the second story of your home, the best paint sprayer will need to have a long and flexible hose.


Every paint sprayer offers some form of adjustability; it’s just a matter of how much control you’ll have over the spray pattern. The best paint sprayer allows you to change the thickness or volume of the paint you are shooting.

You’ll find machines that offer varying spray patterns for more control. Think of this like the multitude of sprays you can achieve from the nozzle of your water hose. This allows you to paint with multiple materials from lacquer to varnishes.

Even if you are buying the best paint sprayer for a particular project that doesn’t require the use of many adjustments, you’ll want to keep in mind future use. It doesn’t make sense to purchase one so limited in options, that you won’t be able to use it on future projects successfully.


One of the reasons people avoid using paint sprayers is because of the mess afterward. Cleaning out the gunk from the head and canisters often proves to be time-consuming and messy.

That’s why it’s important the best paint sprayer features ways to make clean-up easier. Let’s face it: there’s no sense in owning a paint sprayer if you never use it because you dread the clean-up process.

Personally, I like the paint sprayers like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c0270982-40fc-11e8-9dd8-f5c41c0dd20a’] because it offers the ability to use your garden hose for clean-up. All you have to do is hook it up and spray – clean-up is truly that simple. Even when you pay a little more to have this feature, it’s a lifesaver (and money well-spent if you ask me).

Available Accessories

This might not be something you are thinking about when shopping for the best paint sprayer, but you should! There is a multitude of accessories available to use with paint sprayers and many of them make your jobs easier.

Some machines won’t be compatible with many accessories, so it’s important you learn that upfront and not after the purchase. You surely don’t want to spend several hundred dollars only to find out later that you can’t purchase an extension wand or varying tips.

Here are some of the accessories you might want to add on later:

  • Different tips for varying shapes or thickness of your spray. Some paint sprayers come with an adjustable tip already.
  • Hoses are available in differing lengths based on the job you are doing. Long hoses are difficult to use when working in a small area, but a short hose presents its own issue on certain projects. That’s why many people choose to own several lengths of hoses.
  • Filters are available to prevent contamination and clogs. They also produce an even coating.
  • Extensions give you an elongated rod which makes reaching far and high areas easier. Many people with back trouble find this the ideal way to spray paint.
  • Protectants are available for paint sprayers and they minimize sticking, clogging and freezing of the machine. Most of the brands will have their own specified protectant they recommend, so you’ll want to research that up front.

Differences Between Paint Sprayer Models

There are four common types of paint sprayers available with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It’s important that you understand them before investing in the best paint sprayer so you can be sure you purchase what’s best for your needs.

HVLP Paint Sprayers

HVLP is another way of saying “High Volume Low Pressure.” It simply uses a large volume of air to atomize the paint for spraying. What you end up with is a paint mist. This variety of sprayer, like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B003PGQI48′ text=’Wagner Control Spray Max’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d27725ba-40fc-11e8-8251-45cf82d55813′], is ideal for detail work because it reduces overspray onto other nearby items.

The downside to using an HVLP paint sprayer is that covering large surfaces can be time-consuming. Many people find that HVLP sprayers are great for interior trim work, furniture painting, and other household tasks.

Airless Paint Sprayers

The biggest asset an airless paint sprayer has is that it can use a wide variety of products with ease. This includes thin stains. You’ll find that models such as the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dcf0ba3b-40fc-11e8-8fb7-0f214b49c0be’] are best used on large surface areas rather than for detail work. That’s because there is a higher instance of overspray when compared to an HVLP sprayer.

Using an airless paint sprayer on the exterior of your home, fences or decks is ideal because of the speed most of these offer. For the best results, look for reversible spray tips as a feature on the model you choose.

Air Sprayers

This conventional type of sprayer requires you to do a lot of prep work before painting. You have to start by masking the environment to protect from overspray. Then, you’ll need to dilute the thickness of your material.

There are typically lots of spray pattern options with this variety of sprayer, so it’s best used if you need a high-quality finish.

Cup Sprayers

This includes most manual spray guns that use either gravity or propellant to force paint from the cup out the nozzle. Some of these are cordless which makes them desirable, plus they are portable. You wouldn’t want to do any task larger than a small craft, touch-up work or another tiny task because the cup only holds a minimal amount of paint at one time.

Professional Tip: It’s important to note that you don’t need a different sprayer for every job you want to perform. You can certainly use an HVLP paint sprayer outside on the fence or a cup sprayer to do a room, but it might be a little more difficult. That’s why you want to take your time deciding what the best paint sprayer will be best for your needs.

Spraying Like a Pro

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f23a6767-40fc-11e8-a453-594095a81f9a’] gets my vote for the best paint sprayer because of the versatility, price and durability. It isn’t just geared toward the contractor, but it’s also easy to use for a first-time DIYer. While I do believe that my choices as the runner-up and honorable mentions are also worthwhile choices, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0026SR0FW’ text=’Graco Magnum X5′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fd3957dd-40fc-11e8-b386-699e181c9bed’] offers the best bang for the buck.

Once you start spraying with this monster, you’ll quickly find many other household projects to paint. You may even want to consider building some of your own furniture with one of the best miter saws. Then, your house will contain handcrafted furniture that has been custom painted by you!


Q: What are the prices of the best paint sprayers?

A: This will depend on what type of sprayer you invest in. Manual sprayers start as low as $15 while a high-end airless paint sprayer runs into the thousands. Most of the time, you won’t be shopping at either extreme, so you can often find something useful in the $150 – $400 range.

Q: Are there safety precautions that should be taken with a paint sprayer?

A: Paint is dangerous when ingested. You should always wear protective gear like a mask when operating a paint sprayer.

Q: What’s the difference between a turbine HVLP and a compressor HVLP paint sprayer?

A: A turbine HVLP gun is an independent unit that uses the turbine to generate air. This turbine draws the air into the unit then transfers it out through the hose. A compressor HVLP gun uses compressed air to feed the materials out into a spray.

Q: What are the top brands of paint sprayers?

A: While there is plenty of variety in the paint spraying market, the best brands include Graco and Wagner. What’s interesting is that they each have their own area of expertise. For example, Graco makes the best line of airless paint sprayers while Wagner is known for their high-quality HVLP sprayers. When choosing the best paint sprayer, you’ll easily find a model from either of these two brands to fit your needs.

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Walking On Water With The Best Kayak

The waterways of the world are the final unconquered frontier on Earth. The allure of the mysteries hidden beneath the waves calls us to explore. Hopping aboard the best kayak, [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’like the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3b3ab1ce-3e78-11e8-84ea-e5a188509812′], will give you a level of freedom and access to the almost any water you want. It’s speed and versatility make them fast enough to traverse the water’s surface. Meanwhile, the small size can carry you places where traditional boats can’t go.

Kayaks come in many shapes and sizes, so jumping into just any kayak won’t get you where you want to go. Different kayaks will carry you on different adventures. To make sure you get the full adventure ride, you need to get the right kayak with the right features. Using my 15 years of experience and a fun day of research, I compiled this list of the best Kayaks that are great for all around fun times.

Best Single Kayak: [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’77a41628-3e78-11e8-b74c-5fae54ea608e’]

The first thing you should know is that I prefer to sit on top kayaks over sit-in kayaks. Sit-in kayaks have their uses for rougher water, like white water, where you want to be able to maintain control while reducing the risk of falling out of the kayak when it tips over.

Sit on top kayaks are easier to board and disembark from, and for a taller guy like me, they offer more room for long legs. The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90 is the best sit on top kayak I have uncovered through my research. It is a great combination of design and features that let you tackle almost any waterway.


Starting out, [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’the Skipjack’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8bf50b7a-3e78-11e8-a453-594095a81f9a’] is 9-feet long. The long length may seem excessive to a novice kayaker, but it is like surfboards or skateboards – the longer length is more stable and easy to control than a shorter kayak. In fact, the 9-foot length is on the shorter end of full-size kayaks. Though you will get the performance and stability of large kayaks in a smaller, more portable package.

Even though it is 9-feet long, the weight of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a80a60ad-3e78-11e8-acca-f125f71ec585′] is only 46 pounds, which makes it easy enough to carry from your car to the water. To make it even easier to transport, there are handles at the bow and stern of the kayak that is a cinch to grab and carry with two people. When we take out or kayaks, we like to load our gear onto the kayaks and carry it all at once. With two people hauling, kayaks and gear are almost effortless.

Using this strategy, we have even been able to pack our kayaks into lakes that aren’t close to parking areas. Last summer we packed three kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and picnic goodies over a mile. Thanks to the front and rear handle, we made quick work of the walk and still had energy left over to hit the water.


Speaking of hitting the water, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’da6f127e-3e78-11e8-acfe-97d3c7d29386′] is designed and build to let you cruise the lake while minimizing the physical effort to glide across the surface of the water. The bottom of the kayak has the nice blade shape that tapers to flat edges. This combination lets the kayak slice through the water, while simultaneously using the water displaced by the bow to buoy up the sides of the boat for added stability. The slice and float design keep you moving forward without having to use your energy to keep yourself from tipping or wobbling back and forth.

As you sit on top of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ed5fdbb2-3e78-11e8-bd0d-f797fca3f2a4′], you will feel comfortable and relaxed thanks to the included deluxe kayak seat. It can be adjusted to let you recline at different angles based on your comfort while rowing. The 5-foot placement options work well for kayakers of different heights. Plus, the 300-pound capacity means you don’t have to be wire thin to have fun out of the water.

Vibe markets the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fe8cade2-3e78-11e8-acfa-d1c3e577dc22′] as a fishing kayak, but before I get into all the great features for anglers, I wanted to let non-anglers know why this is still a great kayak.

For people who want to kayak, but don’t fish, a fishing kayak means an easy to maneuver and more stable kayak. Fishermen have to be able to fight hauling in fish and don’t want to have to combat a wobbly and unreliable kayak to get the job done. A fishing kayak will also have additional storage, hauling, and comfort features that you won’t find in your standard kayak. Fishing kayaks are also very durable to stand up against the abuse that fishermen are known to inflict on their gear.

Fishing Rod Holders

The features of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Vibe Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c79dea70-3e79-11e8-99e0-3f0be33a85f5′] for fishing include two paddle parks with bungees to keep the paddles from falling off and drifting away when you are not using them. No sitting up a creek without a paddle on this kayak.

There are also 4 fishing rod holders that will give anglers options for placement. You can also have more options thanks to the holder mounts that allow the fit an external rod holder, such as a swivel mount.


The [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0d3a9d12-3e79-11e8-90e4-3da5b10550cf’] has 3 additional storage areas. Two of them are sealed hatches that utilize the hollowed inside of the kayak shell for more storage. These two hatches have bag inserts to help keep your gear protected and organized. The hatches are located directly beneath the legs of the paddler, and the second is in the bow. I have used lots of other kayaks with similar hatches, but they lack the bag option so you end up having to play a fun tilt and grab game to get all your stuff out of the storage areas.

The third storage area is a rear tank well, basically a triangle shaped bowl behind the seat, that has bungees over the top to hold your gear in place. I am a free diver and spear fisherman, and this area is perfect for holding my diving equipment. The leg area also has enough storage that I can fit a scuba tank and gear between my legs without feeling overly cramped or that I have to put my legs over the side.


Vibe has built the [amazon_textlink asin=’B019JH6C4C’ text=’Skipjack 90′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1edd13c1-3e79-11e8-afd0-939c17a42e35′] out of rotomolded plastic. Rotomolding is a procedure that is used to make hollow structures that have high durability and maintain a lower weight. The rotomolded Skipjack is strong enough to take on almost as much punishment as you can throw at it. Unless of course, you don’t secure it correctly and it falls off the car to be run over by a semi…you’re on your own there.


[amazon_link asins=’B019JGZ68Q’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’7d6be30b-3e9d-11e8-b9d1-8189cf022cba’]

Best Tandem Kayak: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HLD45C8′ text=’Ocean Kayak 12-Foot Malibu Two’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’29c5e515-3e79-11e8-9dd8-857a569bde46′]

For those of you who don’t like to have fun all alone, or you have a significant other that wants to play but doesn’t want to handle their own kayak, a tandem option is the way to go. A good tandem kayak lets you ride the water with almost the same effort as a single.

Sound crazy or unbelievable? Well a few years ago I was in the Caribbean with my pregnant wife and we signed up for this kayak tour that ended up being much longer than we anticipated. Long story short, the Ocean Kayak Malibu that we were riding glided so nicely that we finished the tour with mostly just my paddling, and I didn’t feel like I was doing the work of two people by myself.

Since that trip, I have loved the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00QILUMLC’ text=’Ocean Kayak Malibu Two’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’459f1adc-3e79-11e8-a87b-f34f9f56cdc1′]. The smooth glide across the water and super stable platform make this a great watercraft for the aquatic adventuring couple. The Malibu has a maximum capacity of up to 425 pounds. If you are like me and my wife and now have a baby, this turns the tandem into a triple kayak. The point is, with this tandem, no one gets left standing on the shore.

Seating for two or three

What is great about this 12-foot kayak is that you can adjust the seating position so you can even run the Malibu solo. The foot wells in the kayak are placed in three different areas, including a set of wells placed inline with the forward seating position that lets you sit comfortably in the center of the kayak.

The other benefits of having such a wide range of foot placements are that the tandem Malibu will work for almost any sized paddler.

The seats are Ocean Kayak “comfort plus seats” that use adjustable straps to set the perfect angle for your back while paddling. The padded seats make sitting in the kayak comfortable even for long days out on the water. The padded butt is a nice feature that helps prevent a tired seat or a sore tailbone. I hate standing up after an uncomfortable ride feeling like I sat on the toilet too long.

Handling the Malibu Two

Even at 12-feet, the Malibu can be easily carried and transported. There are four total carry handles that allow easy lifting and transporting around to the all the fun places you want to explore. At the bow and stern are handles designed for easy and comfortable lifting to carry around from car to water.

On the sides at the center of the kayak are two thick molded handles that are near perfect for lifting the Malibu up on to a car, or up into storage. The handles are recessed into the molding of the body so they are not in the way while you are using the kayak.

Gear Hauling

12-feet of kayak space not only fits two people, but you can even use the extra space to haul along some gear for the ride. At the bow, middle, and rear are lateral straps that are in place to secure extra gear that you will want to carry with you. There isn’t as much storage space to haul my scuba equipment easily, but some of our lighter gear is easy to snug in between your legs or at the back of the kayak.

The extra straps help ensure that you don’t have to hold everything together with just your feet. This is extremely useful for the times when the water gets a little rough. Without the straps, you will have to spend your time fighting rough water and the gravity that wants to pull you down into the depths. The straps aren’t secure since they only have a single strap, but I like to use straps built into the equipment to add security and stability to my strapped down equipment.


The durability of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00QILUMLC’ text=’Malibu Two’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5b27f45c-3e79-11e8-a5ac-6b2fa55b3307′] is among the top that you will find anywhere. I have been around quite a few kayak rental shops around the Caribbean and the Western U.S. At almost all of them, you find the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two. The dependability of the Malibu makes it a strong and reliable kayak year after year.

Rental companies trust them because they stand up to the frequent and harsh abuse that you would expect from a life spent as a rental kayak. These companies can rely on the kayak to survive year after year in the most brutal treatment you can imagine. If it can survive for them, then it will certainly survive what you can throw at it. If you do manage to damage the kayak, Ocean Kayak has a guide of how to do simple repairs to keep you on the water.

Best Budget Kayak: [amazon_textlink asin=’B001ASRVDK’ text=’Sea Eagle SE370K’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’77ce1793-3e79-11e8-a223-59e0d1d3e98a’]

I’m not a huge fan of the inflatable kayak style, but the Sea Eagle line of inflatable kayaks has given me a reason to recommend going the inflatable route. Most of the time when you get an inflatable, they are cheap feeling, deflate easily, and are a magnet for sharp objects. Sea Eagle has made a kayak that almost completely answers all these problems. Having all the fun of kayaking is completely possible on a budget, thanks to the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001ASRVDK’ text=’Sea Eagle SE370K’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1519d3a6-3e80-11e8-beca-71574fcbe1e1′].

The Hull

Building an inflatable kayak that can stand up to riding the various wild waters of the world means that you need a hull that is made from materials that can stand up to rocks, sticks, and crazy kids that have escaped their parents and somehow found an ancient Viking sword buried in the sand (just joking about the Viking sword, of course). The [amazon_textlink asin=’B001ASRVDK’ text=’Sea Eagle SE370K’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’81544b47-3e79-11e8-acea-5b4f0e026b62′] is made from 38mm K80 PVC rubber. This rubber is impact and puncture resistant which prevents the boat from popping or ripping when faced with almost anything (except for maybe the Viking sword).

The K80 PVC feels tough. When the boat is fully inflated, it feels as solid as a plastic. It doesn’t have the bow and bend that you get in the typical inflatable. The outer hull feels almost rough, like a light Kevlar that will keep pestering points from penetrating. The SE370K is even strong enough to stand up to the raking claws of a dog passenger.


The whole boat weighs 32-pounds when fully inflated and water ready. That is only about 10 to 15 pounds lighter than a fully plastic kayak. The 32-pounds in an inflatable kayak isn’t the weight of the air, but rather the thick and quality hull. Thirty-two pounds may seem like a heavy little boat, but you will be grateful when the boat stays strong and full all day.

One-way inflation valves in the three air chambers of the SE370K help make sure the kayak stays inflated during your whole adventure. An inner diaphragm lets you fill the kayak with the included foot pump while keeping the air in. You don’t have to scramble like a kid playing hot potato to close the valve fast enough without losing air.

Fitting In

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B001ASRVDK’ text=’Sea Eagle SE370K’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8b3f5b3b-3e79-11e8-955f-4133aef52149′] is billed as a two-person kayak, and its 12-foot 6-inch length seems that it will have plenty of room. I have been in one of these with my buddy who is 6’3″ on Lake Tahoe in California. With two 6-footers in the boat, we were a little cramped and my knees were more bent then the Malibu Two. However, I didn’t feel uncomfortable as we cruised the shoreline.

You sit on an inflated seat that has a thick butt and back to it. They sit in the open, canoe-like, body of the kayak. The only thing that really holds them in place is the pressure from the inflated sides. This seems dodgy at first, but they stay pretty secure as long as you aren’t trying to wrestle with them in the boat. Plus, they have a wide range of placement options that allow you to adjust for spacing and leg room. You can even use this as a single kayak more simply than adapting the seating of a traditional tandem kayak.

I want to bring my gear along for the ride. But it’s probably not best with the 370. Because the interior is slimmer, due to the inflated chambers, it doesn’t leave a lot of extra room for taking gear along. If you are running it solo though, you will have ample room in front and behind the seat to pack in a cooler, fishing equipment, or anything else you want to take along with you.


My biggest problem with the inflatable kayaks is that you sit down in them, instead of on top of them. They are still quicker and easier to get into than your typical sit in kayak, but when paddling you have to go over the inflated walls. As I was paddling, my elbows hit the top of the kayak sides which was a little annoying and hard to establish a good rhythm.

That aside, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001ASRVDK’ text=’Sea Eagle 370K’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’988db9e7-3e79-11e8-8522-0db7e9e4a869′] moves pretty well through the water. You won’t win any speed records, but the two skegs on the bottom of the kayak make it easy to steer and track. With some budget kayaks, you may experience a swing back and forth as you paddle and may find steering a challenge. The design of the 370 keeps it reasonably straight while paddling and has a quick response when turning and maneuvering through the water.

A Couple Key Things To Know About Kayaking

Before you head off into the waves I wanted to give you a few more general knowledge nuggets to help you in your choice of a kayak. Nothing too crazy or detailed, but things I wish I had known better before I hopped on a kayak.

Look at the shape

Most kayakers are not in it to break speed barriers, but the shape of the kayak will go a long way to help minimize the effort you have to exert in getting around on the water. Ideally, you want to find a kayak that looks like a speedboat without a motor. A pointed tip with a hull that tapers to form a mix of blade and flat will efficiently push the water out of your way as you paddle. Kayaks with a flatter bottom will tend to drag more in the water because they collect the water underneath instead of displacing it as you slice across the surface.


Tracking is the term that describes how well the kayak stays straight as you paddle it forward. The best kayaks will stay true no matter your rhythm. The bow won’t wobble left and right with every stroke. A kayak that doesn’t track well will look a little bit like a drunk clown trying to ride a unicycle. When this happens, you will find yourself exerting more effort to go straight and may even feel like you aren’t going anywhere at all.

A kayak that struggles with tracking will also be harder to turn effectively. The shape of the kayak will go a long way to provide good tracking. Some kayaks, like the Sea Eagle, will have larger skegs and fins below the water to help maintain the tracking and steering of the kayak.

Get Your Feet Wet

I have loved kayaking and kayak tech since I first used a kayak to go abalone diving in Northern California. That first trip enamored me to this watercraft. Over a weekend, I was able to glide into rock reefs and abalone beds that other divers couldn’t get to. On the way back to shore, I was able to ride the waves like a surfer, without having to worry about losing my balance or trying to stand up.

Since that trip, I have kayaked lakes, rivers, mangrove groves, and even the grass in my backyard. I have spent my life on the water and seldom have had as much fun as my days flying across the water on a kayak.

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Which Is The Best Dishwasher For You?

With so many dishwasher brands and models out there, how in the world do you know which one is the best dishwasher to pick?  Throughout the last 20 years, I have lived in four different homes. Each home had a different brand of dishwasher, each with its pros and cons.

Recently, I had to replace an old broken-down dishwasher. This was an important decision, as a dishwasher should last approximately 10 years and cost anywhere between $400 – $1500. I wanted to make sure I made the right decision, since I run my dishwasher on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day.  My busy family of four goes through a lot of dishes. I cook, bake, and host family parties regularly, all of which produces a lot of dirty dishes.

Two vs. Three Racks

I have decided to rank dishwashers into two categories: those with two racks and those with three racks.  My personal preference is a dishwasher with two racks, as my family uses a lot of tall wine glasses, coffee mugs, and multiple cutting boards on a daily basis. I did not want to cut down on the height availability of these items. However, you may decide that a dishwasher with three racks makes more sense for your daily needs. I’ve included top picks for both in this article.

Best Dishwasher with 2 Racks: Maytag [amazon_textlink asin=’B06Y2HBT65′ text=’MDB4949SDZ’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e0a16009-38d2-11e8-816d-7fb9f4987517′]

What Does it Look Like?

The Maytag MDB4949SDZ comes in stainless steel, black, or white, so it can match the rest of the appliances in almost any kitchen. The controls are on the front of the dishwasher and include a timed countdown timer so it is easy to know how much longer the cycle will last. These front-facing controls are handy, with users particularly appreciating the countdown timer. However, many dishwashers now feature hidden controls in the top of the door, making the front of the unit sleek and more aesthetically pleasing.

Interior Features

The inside of this dishwasher is made out of stainless steel. This makes the dishwasher easy to clean, without leaving streaks and stains. The stainless steel is resistant to mold and odors. Additionally, the stainless steel interior tub retains heat better than plastic. This means your dishes will get drier using less energy. The leftover water will evaporate quicker inside the warmer unit.

Food Chopper

The Maytag MDB4949SDZ has a hard food disposer at the bottom instead of a filter. The disposer is a four blade stainless steel chopper. It grinds up leftover particles of food so they can get washed away. Other dishwashers have either a self-cleaning filter or a removable filter that needs to get manually cleaned.

Because the food gets chopped up and washed away, there is less of a chance for the small particles to get redeposited into the dishwasher as the dishes are being cleaned. Previously clean dishes are less likely to get debris attached to them while the water is flowing throughout the machine.


[amazon_link asins=’B06Y2HBT65′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’214ca754-3da5-11e8-b7cb-29979e95b508′]

Runner-Up Dishwasher with 2 Racks: Bosch Ascenta [amazon_textlink asin=’B0056IYZHK’ text=’SHX3AR75UC’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’44d4037a-38d3-11e8-99e9-7f1cb8b04fc3′]

Quality Brand

Bosch is rated as a reliable brand by Consumer Reports, and is known for having great customer service. As with any appliance purchase, there is always the risk of something breaking. It is always good to go with a brand that stands by its products.

Flexibility in Design

This dishwasher has an adjustable upper rack and fold down tines on both the upper and lower rack. This allows for more flexibility in loading tall and unusually shaped items. Some users found the tines on the bottom rack too close together though, making it difficult to fit bowls securely.

Self-Cleaning Filter System

The Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter in the bottom of the unit. There is no need to manually clean the filter. Self-cleaning filters tend to make a dishwasher louder than those with removable filters, but this dishwasher comes in at 50 decibels. That is the same decibel level as the Maytag MDB4949SDZ. For comparison, a 50-decibel level is comparable to listening to rainfall.

End of Cycle Notification

When the washing cycle is finished on the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC, a long series of loud beeps is triggered. This is not ideal when putting the dishwasher on a delayed setting for an overnight wash since the beeps can be heard throughout the house. It is possible to disable the beeps, although many reviewers pointed out that the instructions are not clear in the manual. Extra online research was necessary to figure out how to turn this feature off. The process for disabling the beeps was a strange sequence of pushing various buttons, making it not intuitive at all.

Honorable Mention Dishwasher with 2 Racks: Frigidaire [amazon_textlink asin=’B018CFHRVO’ text=’FGID2466QF’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9f728f98-38d3-11e8-9ba0-ef8261aa8623′]

Sleek Modern Look

The Frigidaire FGID2466QF comes with the most options for color: black, black stainless steel, stainless steel, or white. The control panel is hidden in the top of the door. When the dishwasher is closed, the controls are not visible. In order to know when the dishwasher’s cycle is complete, a green light shines on the floor since there is no indicator on the front.

I personally prefer the countdown timer on the front of the door, but the hidden control panel without the countdown timer is not a deal breaker for me. Many people prefer the sleek look of the hidden controls, so it comes down to personal preference.


The Frigidaire FGID2466QF has eight pre-programmed wash cycles (the most cycles of any dishwashers reviewed here). The Upper Rack Wash is useful when cleaning a small load, using less water and energy than using a normal setting. One unique cycle setting is The My Favorite mode, allowing the owner to select preferred cycle and options with one touch. Four additional options are available beyond the eight cycles, allowing for different drying options. These drying options can be combined with any of the eight cycles.

Soil Sensor – What Does it Do?

This dishwasher, along with all the other dishwashers reviewed here, has a Soil Sensor feature. This allows the dishwasher to adjust the cycle time and amount of water used based on the level of debris left on the dishes. It may seem counterintuitive, but this means that pre-rinsing dishes may be a bad idea.

When debris are rinsed off prior to placing dishes into the dishwasher, the Soil Sensor will use less water and energy to clean them than they may require. It is recommended to always rinse off bones, shells, or any other large items from dishes. But these modern dishwashers with Soil Sensors do not necessarily need to be scrubbed or rinsed.

Interior Design

The inside of the Frigidaire FGID2466QF is a made of granite grey plastic. Because the inside is made out of plastic rather than stainless steel, there is a risk that odors will get trapped inside. This dishwasher utilizes a removable filter that must be manually cleaned on a regular basis.

The filter is easy to remove and simple requires rinsing it under running water until there is no debris left. Although this type of filter generally results in a quieter dishwasher, the Frigidaire FGID2466QF comes in at 52 decibels, which is only slightly louder than the Maytag or Bosch.

Best Dishwasher with 3 racks:  KitchenAid [amazon_textlink asin=’B077YR8TZV’ text=’KDTE334GPS’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’01a3bc2f-38d4-11e8-af82-2139702540cb’]


The KitchenAid KDTE334GPS dishwasher comes in black or stainless steel. The interior tub is also made out of stainless steel. This dishwasher’s decibel level is the quietest of all dishwashers reviewed here at 39 decibels. It has a removable filter that must be manually cleaned, which aids in keeping this dishwasher so quiet.

Cycle Indicator

Since this dishwasher is so quiet and the controls are hidden on the top of the door, the LED indicator on the front of the dishwasher is especially helpful. There are different colored indicators for when the cycle is washing, drying, or is completed. This is a nice indication system, somewhere between the actual countdown timer on some models and the simple one-colored light to indicate when the machine is running. The tri-color system helps give the user a little more information as to when the cycle will be complete.

Unique Feature

The KitchenAid KDTE334GPS has a unique bottle wash feature that people really like. There are three stainless steel spray nozzles in the top rack that can be placed inside items like bottles, vases, and glasses.  This is especially helpful for slim glasses or vases that are difficult to hand wash but have stuck-on debris inside.


This dishwasher offers flexibility with the height adjustments that can be made on the middle rack. The tines in the upper rack also fold down with three different positions, allowing different sized items to be placed on this rack. There is a silverware basket in the lower rack as well as another basket in the middle rack for additional small items.


[amazon_link asins=’B077YR8TZV’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’3eb55aec-3da9-11e8-8824-696f82d006a0′]

Runner-up Dishwasher with 3 Racks: LG [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KAOOXE4′ text=’LDF5545ST’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3cf9b4ae-38d4-11e8-b97b-47a56f0262a4′]

What Does it Look Like?

The LG LDF5545ST dishwasher comes in the full array of 4 color options (just like the Frigidaire model reviewed above): black, black stainless steel, stainless steel, and white. Controls are visible on the front of the machine with an LED displaying a countdown to indicate when the cycle is complete. The inside tub of this dishwasher is made out of stainless steel.


This dishwasher boasts the most versatile options for cleaning. There are eight cycles to choose from – with the ability to download additional cycles! For extra flexibility, the Half Wash mode can be customized to either the top or bottom rack.

Cycle Indicator

The LG LDF5545ST dishwasher plays a musical ringtone when turning on the dishwasher as well as when the dishes are done. Many people prefer this much more pleasant sound than the beeps that other dishwashers make. But, if you prefer the beeps, the ringtones can be turned off.

They are also automatically turned off when using the Night Mode so that they don’t wake anyone up in the middle of the night. The Night Mode also dries the dishes for a longer cycle. You’ll have dry dishes when you unload dishes the next day.

Decibel Level

The decibel level on the LG LDF5545ST is 48 decibels. This is lower than any of the three dishwashers with two racks, and right in the middle of the three dishwashers with three racks. Although the decibel level is on the low end, it does include a self-cleaning filter, eliminating the extra step of cleaning the filter on a regular basis.

Honorable Mention Dishwasher with 3 Racks: Samsung [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MF9Q0YY’ text=’DW80K7050US’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7955fabd-38d4-11e8-8d1d-4787a689949d’]

Editor’s Note: This offer is no longer available on our site. 

What Does it Look Like?

The Samsung DW80K7050US dishwasher comes in just two color options: black and stainless steel.  Controls are hidden in the top of the door for a sleek look. The interior is made of the beneficial stainless steel.

Unique Feature

No dishwasher is perfect for drying every dish. Samsung has come up with a unique feature to try to increase its ability to dry dishes while still keeping its Energy Star rating. When the dishwasher has completed its cycle, the door automatically pops open to help circulate air and accelerate the time it takes to dry the dishes inside. Some users of other dishwasher brands manually prop open their dishwasher after the cycle is complete before unloading their dishes to get this same effect.


This dishwasher from Samsung boasts flexibility with fold-down tines in both the upper and lower racks, as well as height adjustments for both racks. The upper rack includes cup clips and the lower rack includes a removable silverware basket. The lower rack has a red square that indicates a special power-washing jet that gets used in the StormWash Cycle. This is great for targeting pots with baked on residue. It also includes the popular Half Load cycle for smaller loads of dishes.

Difference Between How Many Racks

I had a hard time deciding between a dishwasher with two racks or three. When a dishwasher comes with a third rack, that top rack is shallow. It’s meant to be used for lids, small bowls, lying silverware flat, and long-serving utensils. It is especially useful for those who use a mixer or blender often. The blade can be placed flat on top without the risk of getting cut when trying to fit it inside a utensil basket.

The downside to the third rack is that it can limit the height available for both the main middle and lower racks. When using that third rack, the middle rack may need to get adjusted downward in order to accommodate tall wine glasses or coffee mugs. After adjusting the middle rack down, the height of the lower rack may also be diminished for tall plates, serving ware, or cutting boards.

There are a lot of factors that come into play when choosing the best dishwasher for your needs. Is it important to you that the outside design is sleek? If so, you may want to focus on a dishwasher with a hidden control panel. Is the third rack important to you for loading serving utensils and other small items? If the noise level is an important factor for you, you may want to focus on the dishwasher with the lowest decibel rating.

Drying Capabilities

All six of the dishwashers mentioned here were reviewed well for their cleaning and drying capabilities.  However, all of these also had some reviewers who complained about wet dishes. There doesn’t seem to be a dishwasher available that can perfectly dry all dishes, especially plastic dishware and cups with deep lips that trap water.

Top Choices

I found the Maytag MDB4949SDZ dishwasher to be the best dishwasher with two racks, and the KitchenAid KDTE334GPS dishwasher to be the best dishwasher with three racks. Deciding between a dishwasher with two racks versus three may depend on what types of dishes you wash most frequently. If you use a blender or mixer on a daily basis, a three-rack dishwasher may be a good choice for you. If you wash a lot of tall glasses, pots, or cutting boards like I do, then the two-rack system might be a better option.

Other Reviews

If you find yourself spending a lot of time in the kitchen, you may want to read some of our reviews of other kitchen appliances. See which models we like best for toaster ovens and stand mixers, as well as food dehydrators and electric smokers.


What is Energy Star?

All the dishwashers reviewed here have the Energy Star certification. Energy Star is a certification given to appliances that are energy efficient. The more energy efficient a dishwasher is, the more money the consumer will save in water and electricity. An Energy Star dishwasher should save about $35 a year on utility bills. It will use about ten gallons less of water per cycle versus an older model without the certification. That’s the equivalent of saving about 3,870 gallons of water over the lifetime of the dishwasher.

One factor that contributes to making a dishwasher more efficient is the use of a Soil Sensor so that the machine uses just the right amount of water and energy to clean the dishes. Filtration methods, energy-efficient water jets, and even rack designs have also improved throughout the years to enhance the efficiency of modern dishwashers.

How do the decibel levels of these dishwashers compare?

Of the dishwashers reviewed here, the KitchenAid has the lowest decibel level at 39 Decibels, and the Frigidaire has the highest at 52 Decibels. Most dishwashers have a decibel rating between 45 and 50, so anything under 45 (like the KitchenAid and the Samsung) are extra quiet. If you are replacing an old dishwasher, any of these will seem like an improvement though. Most dishwashers from about 10 years ago averaged about 60 decibels.

Finding the best dishwasher to fit your needs should be fun. There are many options available so knowing what’s important to you will help you make the best choice. Happy shopping!

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Which Baby Monitor Is Best For Your Family?

From the moment you become a parent, the safety of your baby is likely the biggest concern in your life. When it is time for your little one to sleep in a room without you, a baby monitor is a great way to find the peace of mind you need. How do you know how to select the best baby monitor?

As a mom, I have been using a baby monitor for almost five years. As a writer and researcher, I have spent many hours investigating the different types of baby monitors on the market to find reliable monitors at different price points with varying features.

Types of Baby Monitors

All baby monitors have a transmitter that stays in the room with your baby with at least one receiver that stays with the parent. You can choose an audio-only monitor or a higher-tech monitor with additional features. With some monitors, you will receive audio and video of your little one. There is certainly a baby monitor that will meet your family’s needs. Check out our top picks and why we chose these specific baby monitors.

The three different types of baby monitors are:

    • Audio Baby Monitors
    • Wireless Network Baby Monitors
    • Audio/Video Baby Monitors

Top Picks for The Best Baby Monitors

Winner: Best Baby Monitor Overall

I would happily use any of the picks on our list but in the end, I chose the Infant Optics DXR-8 as my top pick overall. It has a long range, supports multiple cameras, has a talk-back feature, and high-quality video display. It is also simple to use. Many major baby product websites rank this baby monitor number one. You will easily be able to see why. It is certainly impressive with many amazing user-friendly features.

What You Can Expect

The portable video display is sleek and compact. It is very high quality and can work with the screen off, creating the audio-only mode. You will appreciate the up to ten-hour long battery life, night vision camera, and the great range. It is also very convenient to have the integrated two-way intercom system as well as the temperature monitor. For your safety, all communication happens over encrypted wireless communication.

The most innovative feature is the interchangeable optical lens capability which allows you to customize the viewing angle and zoom in your child’s nursery. This is extremely helpful when your baby has moved to one side of the crib and out of sight of the camera’s view. The adjustable pan allows you to remotely pivot the camera up to 270-degrees left or right. The adjustable tilt allows you to pivot the camera up and down. All of the camera changes can be done remotely without disturbing your baby.

Other Features

If you want more views of your baby or would like more coverage throughout your home, you can expand this monitor with up to four additional cameras. To see the view from each camera, you will simply press a button on the receiver to toggle between the different camera locations in your home. To have multiple camera views, you will need to buy them in addition to your initial purchase of the DXR-8, as they are sold separately. Additionally, there is a relatively inexpensive wide angle lens that can give you a better view of up-close scenes.

The main flaw, but not a deal breaker, is the audible beep on the base unit. If you want to check on the baby in the night, when you turn the unit on or off to see your little one, you will certainly hear the beep which could possibly wake up your spouse or partner.

This monitor is priced above some of the other picks on our list. However, many say that it proves to be worth the additional funds.


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Runner-Up: Best Bang For Your Buck


The Hello Baby Monitor is a wireless video baby monitor that will enable you to keep an eye on your baby in your home. It is a great low-cost option with features similar to those in at a higher price point. Plus, you receive a generous one year warranty on your purchase.

What You Can Expect

On the portable base station, you can choose to monitor with both video and sound, or just the sound only. You can use the two zoom levels to remotely zoom in on your baby. On the parent base, there is also a convenient two-way intercom so you can talk to and reassure your baby as needed. The base station’s battery can last for approximately eight hours with high use and up to twelve hours with monitoring only the sound.

The daytime video is very clear and this monitor provides excellent sound quality. Keep in mind that this camera cannot be controlled remotely for panning or tilting.

The set up is minimal as you simply position the camera where needed and plug it into a wall outlet. The setup does not require connecting to your internet router or the use of a smartphone app. It is straightforward and simple. However, you will be limited to viewing and hearing your baby on the included portable base station.

You can conveniently put the base unit into a standby mode where it will automatically activate when the camera’s microphone picks up any noise in the nursery including your baby’s cry. Some monitors can disconnect for a few moments but this one is great a maintaining a consistent connection.

Notable Features

  • Wireless Portable Base
  • Temperature Monitorin
  • Two-way Talk Option
  • Optical Pan and Tilt
  • Sound Activated Led Indicator
  • Screen-off Audio Only Mode
  • Two Times Digital Zoom
  • Eight Levels Alarms

You can also purchase up to four additional cameras for other rooms in your home that can connect to the monitor. The base station can easily switch between the different cameras. If you need to monitor more than one child, this could be an ideal monitor for your family by adding more cameras to your original purchase. Due to the automatic night vision, the infrared LEDs will automatically adjust to the level of light in the room and then it will transmit a black and white image even in a darkened room.

But, the nighttime video quality is lacking. It is a flaw but not a deal breaker. Even at the highest level of brightness, the video quality was somewhat poor. It is certainly usable but not as a quality as some at a higher price point. Some families noted that this monitor is reliable for around two years but then it can become unpredictable and inconsistent.


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Honorable Mention: High Tech Computer Savvy Parent

The Nest Security Camera is a not only a baby monitor but could also be a full home security system. If you consider yourself tech savvy, you will enjoy all the unique features that come with the Nest system. Also, if you want to be able to view your home and baby from anywhere, then this may be the solution you are looking for. You can view your baby on your compatible smartphone in another room in your house but also while at work or out running errands.

What You Can Expect

The Nest is a wireless video camera that communicates with your smartphone and computer. It can be placed anywhere in your home, including your baby’s nursery. To set up, you simply download the Dropcam App onto your phone so that you can view your baby no matter where you are. You can also speak to the babysitter or listen to your baby through the two-way communication with the built-in microphone and speaker.

This system is extremely high quality with many flexible settings. For example, you can choose the alerts for movement and be immediately notified on your phone. It plugs into a power outlet, so you never have to worry about replacing dead batteries. You will enjoy a high-quality color, night vision camera with a wide field view.

Additional Features

This smart camera system can work with other smart devices in your home like smart light bulbs and even start your laundry in a smart washer and dryer.

For this system to work, you will need to be a bit computer savvy. You will also need to have highspeed wireless internet in your home to stream the high-quality video and audio. As mentioned, you will need a smartphone and to download the app. You will also need to subscribe to Nest Aware if you want to remove the banner ads from the app.

I think the Nest system is incredible. But keep in mind that is not a traditional baby monitor. The main flaw is that it does not include sleep mode where a noise or cry from your baby will alert you in the night or during nap. This is not a deal breaker but certainly something to consider for your family.

With your purchase, you will receive one camera, a stand, power adapter, USB cable, mounting plate, an instruction guide, and Nest screws.


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A Few More Baby Monitors To Consider

Gets the Job Done for Your Family


When it came time to choose a baby monitor for our family, we knew that we wanted to not only hear our son but we also wanted to be able to see him. We also had to consider cost because we all know that babies are expensive!

We chose the Summer Infant In View Digital Color Video Baby Monitor because it provided exactly what we needed without breaking the bank.

What You Can Expect

The monitor comes with one five-inch portable color LCD flatscreen, a wall charger, one camera, a wall anchor, and security clips.

You can easily keep an eye on your baby by simply touching the largest button on the top of the flatscreen. It is nice that you can see the baby whether day or night. My little one slept best in a completely dark room. Because of the automatic black and white night vision, I was able to see him perfectly with no light in the room.

As a new mom, I wanted to be sure that I knew exactly how my son was doing at all times. With this Summer baby monitor, I could hear every single whimper, cough, sneeze, and movement of our son on the lowest volume setting.

If you are relying on monitoring your baby visually, you can turn the sound on this monitor off as needed.  But, you can rest easy because the sound activated orange LED lights will indicate the noise level coming from your baby’s nursery.

Other Features

One of my favorite features it the “talk-back” option that I use even more with my toddler. You can simply press a button on the side and talk to whoever is in the nursery.

It is convenient that you can use the camera’s digital zoom to get an up-close view of your baby.  If you would like multiple views of your baby, you can easily purchase separate cameras for your baby’s nursery and view each one on your flatscreen.

Notable Features

  • Optional Audio Only Mode
  • Sound Activated LED Lights
  • Indicators for Low Battery and Out of Range
  • Adjustable Volume Controls
  • Kick Stand
  • Automatic Power Save Mode
  • Rechargeable Battery
  • Table Top or Wall Mountable Camera
  • Adjustable Brightness Controls
  • 600-Foot Range

Over time you may notice that the handheld flatscreen will only work when plugged into the wall. The battery starts to lose the ability to hold a charge for very long. For me, this is a flaw but certainly not a deal breaker.

Summer Infant is a leading and trusted brand for baby monitors. You can rest easy with their generous one-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you are looking for a higher tech version of this monitor, Summer Infant offers an Internet Baby Monitor with additional features.


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Audio Only Monitor

In my research, I asked fellow parents which baby monitor they chose and Angelcare Baby Sound Monitor was highlighted as reliable and very reasonably priced.  It has met the major needs of their families for many years. If you are looking to monitor the sounds your baby makes when you are out of the room, this unit fits the bill. 

What You Can Expect

The full-color digital parent unit is conveniently portable and rechargeable. As you carry the unit, you will be able to easily hear your baby in any room of that house up to approximately 320 feet away from the nursery. In addition to monitoring your baby’s sound, you can see the temperature in your baby’s room on the display so you always know if the room becomes too cold or too warm.

This monitor can also serve as a nightlight with a soft glow that will be helpful as you enter and exit a dark nursery. Parents said that the transmission is clear and that you do not hear feedback beeps or other intrusive noises from the monitor.

The main drawback is that you do not have a way to visually see your baby with this monitor without entering the nursery.


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Heart Rate and Oxygen Monitor

The Owlet Smart Sock can give you the peace of mind you may need when you lay your baby down to sleep. It tracks your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels while sleeping. Parents can sleep more soundly knowing that you will be made aware if either of these two levels goes outside of the preset zones.  

What You Can Expect

The Owlet uses the clinically-proven pulse oximetry which is the same technology used in most neonatal intensive care units in hospitals. The Smart Sock is placed on your baby’s foot to capture real-time heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. It connects through Bluetooth to a base station that glows green, letting you know everything is in the selected zones. Lights, sounds, and app notifications will immediately alert if the heart rate or oxygen levels are too high or too low. 

With your purchase, you will receive three washable socks that fit most infants from birth to eighteen months old or from approximately six to twenty-five pounds. You can also download the free app to your smartphone to have easy access to your baby’s current readings. You can buy this monitor risk-free with the forty-five-day full refund offer.

The main flaws are that you will not receive any audio or visual monitoring with the Owlet. It is much more expensive than many traditional baby monitors on the market. But, if you have a medically fragile child like me, this may be the additional monitor you need for peace of mind. Keep in mind that the settings for heart rate and oxygen saturations are predetermined and cannot be lowered. If your baby’s levels sit lower than those predetermined rates, the Owlet will continue to alert you.


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What things should I consider when selecting the best baby monitor for our home?

My main consideration would be the sensors. Are you most concerned with hearing your baby? Or is it important to you to be able to see him or her with a video monitor? What about the temperature of the nursery? Is that a concern for you? Some monitors can even detect movement as subtle as breathing.

Would knowing that make you sleep more soundly? Other things to consider is how the monitor functions. Does it require replacing or charging batteries? Does it need wifi? It is also important to know yourself. All the bells and whistles may sound good at first but if they will frustrate you when you are sleep deprived in the middle of the night, a simple audio monitor may be your best choice.

How much am I likely to spend on a baby monitor?

There are many viable options on the market on the lower end around fifty dollars. The mid-range monitors run between seventy-five and one hundred dollars. If you are looking for a complete home monitoring system, it will likely be around or above three hundred dollars.

There are great options out there for all price ranges. If you need a budget-friendly option, check out our Best Bang for Your Buck option or the Audio Only Monitor on our pick list.

What can I do to avoid interference with a baby monitor?

Many electronics in your home will transmit the same frequency as common baby monitors. Many parents complain about this problem when it comes to selecting a good baby monitor. Interference can sound like feedback noise, a distant radio channel coming in and out, or annoying beeps.

If you use devices with Bluetooth or have game consoles and laptops then you definitely want to think about interference with the baby monitor. In fact, your neighbors may even interfere with your baby monitor.

To help reduce possible interference and for more security, select a model with a frequency of 900 MHz or higher. Analog monitors offer little privacy from RF scanners but will cost less than most digital monitors. If you are comfortable with the audio-only monitors, select one with Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology. It transmits on the 1.9 GHz frequency band and is much less susceptible to interference from your other devices.

If you are looking for a monitor with minimal interference, our Best of the Best pick is great for avoiding interference problems as is our Audio Only pick. I have used the Summer Infant Baby monitor with little to no interference problems in almost five years.

Is range an important consideration for selecting the best baby monitor?

Depending on where you will be when your baby is sleeping will determine the range you need in a baby monitor. If you will be in a small apartment, it will not matter quite as much. But, you want a monitor that will have reception while you do yard work, then the range will be more important to you. Most all baby monitors will notify you with an audible alert when you have moved beyond the acceptable reception range.

I have a baby monitor that works with a smartphone. Are there memberships or additional costs associated with this type of monitor?

The main cost is the purchase of your baby monitor which will likely come with a base unit for the parent, a charge cord, and one camera. Most monitors that use the smartphone as the base unit will offer a free app that you will need to download on your smartphone or tablet.

Some monitors will offer upgrades to avoid having banner ads but you can choose whether or not to join that membership. It is not required for the baby monitor to work properly. You will need a Wi-Fi connection in your home, so you will need to consider that monthly fee when selecting a monitor that works with a smartphone.

If you are looking for more baby gear, be sure to check out the best co-sleeping baby lounger!

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The Top Propane Grill Available For You

A propane grill is a must-have for the barbeque as it has a host of advantages over charcoal and natural gas grills – their convenience and ease of use are completely unmatched. As someone who has spent several years selling and using grills, I’ve seared, mopped, and shish-kebabbed over a whole host of the best propane grills available – with my favorite being the Weber Spirit II E-310. This grill sports the amazing GS4 grilling system and the ultra-dense cast iron with porcelain enameled grates. It ensures you will have a great grilling experience regardless of what you are cooking.

Top Five Propane Grills

While there is an obvious winner in calculating what the best propane grill is, there are a few that might better fit you depending on what you need out of it.

Our Top Pick: Weber Spirit II E-310 Propane Grill

When cross-referencing eight characteristics of grills – such as exterior toughness, grate quality, heat output, ignition system, design, cooking area, special features, and warranty – this Weber grill outperformed the rest. The cooking grates aren’t only made from an extra hardy cast iron and reinforced with porcelain, but they are also reversible. This allows you to cook delicate foods such as fish and soft vegetables on the thin side, while also being able to deeply sear steaks on the thicker side.


The GS4 grilling system is designed in such a way to give consistent and even cooking. Part of this is from Weber’s unique Flavorizer bars. These bars are perfectly angled in such a way to catch any meat drippings. The caught grease smokes up to infuse more flavor into the meat, helping fight that typical propane flavor that seems to curse even the best propane grills. Underneath is a grease management system that funnels down all the excess grease into a pan.

The design of this grill is probably the sleekest – it contains both a foldable side table and burner. Integrated onto the side table is a series of hooks for grilling tools. Combined with the open cart design, this Weber product works great for making everything you need as accessible as possible.

Things to Consider

The only area that this grill seemed to do mediocre in was actually on heat output. Because it contains 3 stainless steel bar burners, this grill only has a total heat output of 30,000 BTUs per hour. While this isn’t the lowest amount of heat output on this list when compared to the price it means this is one of the most expensive per BTU. In this grill’s defense, Weber does offer some of the toughest machines and best warranties on the market today. The Weber Spirit II is covered under a 10-year warranty, which includes everything from the burners to the Infinity ignition system.


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Runner Up: Char-Broil TRU-Infrared 4-Burner Propane Grill

Following closely behind is the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared grill. As a grilling expert, I found that this machine sports a great bit of power behind it. The primary cooking area has 32,000 BTUs of output and the side burner clocks up at 13,000 BTU. Even these numbers are a bit deceptive though, as this grill uses Char-Broil’s innovative TRU-infrared system to cook even hotter than expected.


This system centers around its unique use of specially designed cooking grates. The zig-zag construction of the grates contains a myriad of holes in the valley portion. This traps the heat underneath, forcing it to spread evenly through the holes. This simple feature has a double advantage – on one end it helps cook juicier meat and also eliminating any flare-ups. This special grate doesn’t replace the traditional porcelain-coated cast iron ones either, as these are located on top of the infrared versions. This grill also boasts a pretty sizable cooking area of 525 square inches, making it only the slightest bit smaller than the Weber model.

Things To Consider

The primary flaw of this grill, when compared to the Weber Spirit II, is that it’s missing a couple of the extras that you might take for granted along with a more traditional design that doesn’t do it any favors. Of course, it has a built-in thermometer and electric ignition system that works great. But don’t expect to find a built-in propane gauge or a foldable side table.

Many grillers prefer the stainless steel cabinet, but in my experience, the open cart design makes a bit more sense. That being said, this grill does have 4 casters that greatly improve its mobility along with a nifty rack on the inside to keep cooked foods off the grill but still keep them warm. The side burner also has a nice addition of being converted into a small side table with its lid attachment.

Budget-Friendly: Char-Broil Performance 2-Burner Propane Grill

While this grill didn’t score the highest, it is an incredible choice for the price. This propane gas grill contains a pair of burners that go up to 24,000 BTU per hour of heat output, which is pretty impressive for its fairly small size. Since it only covers 300 square inches of cooking area, this Char-Broil grill is great for a small family rather than a large party of people.


Regardless, we found that despite it being cheaper and smaller, there isn’t much missing from this that you wouldn’t find on a more expensive and larger grill. Expect such features like the integrated thermometer on the top lid, and of course the electronic ignition system. The propane tank fits in the compartment and dominates it, removing the ability to really hold any extras such as cooking utensils, wood chips, and cleaning tools. This grill also contains a pair of side shelves that are foldable, further taking advantage of its slim size.

Things To Consider

There are a few unusual design limitations when compared to larger models. First, this machine has a cooking area that is actually deeper than it is wider. This odd shape makes food cooked in the back a little bit more difficult to get to. The swing-away warming rack was a nice idea, but at only a 100 square inches it’s really only great for toasting buns rather than holding more than a couple pieces of meat.

Additionally, the grease drip tray is better removed from the back – thankfully this machine is incredible mobile as it has 4 casters that have 360 degrees of rotation. None of these downfalls are crippling by any stretch, for the price you can’t really go wrong with this grill.

On-the-Go-Pick: Coleman Road Trip Portable Propane Grill

This Coleman grill is a great pick if you are looking for something inexpensive and can take tailgating. I found that this machine actually has a decent amount of features despite being so incredibly small. This portable gas grill has a removable tray that collects grease and oil, along with an electronic ignition. The pair of burners can get up to 20,000 BTUs of heating power, which isn’t bad considering it’s limited size.


The machine sets up and folds up easy enough – one side of the stand has a pair of wheels while the other converts into a handle. The whole setup is done fairly seamlessly too, as there was little fussing with it to click it into place. The machine shrinks into such a small package that it can be thrown in the back of truck beds, car trunks, and back seats without taking up too much space.

Things To Consider

Now, of course, the main advantage of this grill is also the biggest disadvantage – with a cooking area of 285 square inches it clocks in at nearly half the size of our top pick, the Weber Spirit II. The side tables are good enough for holding basic cooking utensils but don’t expect much more than that.

In addition, but this grill is set up to only take the smaller propane tanks unless by an extra piece to convert over to the small ones. Thankfully these pieces are cheap enough and easy to install. You can also replace the cooking grates for different types, though these too are sold separately. While not perfect, this Coleman grill is one of the best portable gas grills out there.

Our Upgrade Pick: Weber Genesis II E-410 4-Burner Propane Grill

When rating the top pick, there was always the thought in the back of my head – is there a grill that is even better? Now, of course, this grill isn’t for the amateur – this machine has a hefty price tag weighing it down but sports some of the best stats of a propane grill.


First of all, this is a Weber grill – so that means everything that was mentioned in terms of quality and features before can be applied double here. Being one of the best propane grills, this machine sports the previously discussed GS4 grilling system, ergonomically designed Flavorizer bars, and grease management system. This machine also has an extra burner when compared to the Spirit II. This works great because there is over an extra 100 square inches of cooking space for the porcelain enameled cast iron grates – giving you a total of 646 square inches with additional 198 square inches for the warming rack.

Things To Consider

We found that although all of this is impressive, most of what was mentioned is just an expansion on our top pick for an even steeper price. That is until I realized that this Weber grill comes with the iGrill3 thermometer. This Bluetooth enabled monitor only needs a simple app download and you can connect to your grill.

When using it, it allows you to see details such as temperature levels and fuel tank level. To really take advantage of this app, there are the iGrill thermometers that plug right into the food. This is, of course, sold separately. But this allowed me to look at the internal temperature of the food, a pretty cool feature that I expect will get incorporated into new grills.

What Characteristics To Look For In a Propane Grill

There are eight defining characteristics I like to look at when using a grill. Specifically, there is exterior toughness, grate quality, heat output, ignition system, design, cooking area, special features, and the warranty. There is surprisingly a lot of variances when it comes to all these characteristics. When looking over this list, I try to always keep the price in mind. While there is no doubt some super grill that blows all these out of the water if it has an inflated price tag it isn’t really worth it.

Exterior Toughness

This is the first thing most people see when looking at a grill. The exterior not only has to look good but also be tough enough to survive the elements. Stainless steel is often the way to go, but aluminum can actually work really well too as it is immune to rusting.

Ideally, I like to have a grill with lids that are stainless steel but porcelain coated. This improves not only durability but also insulation. Plastic, if used properly, can actually improve the durability of a grill if incorporated in areas like the edge of a side table.

Grate Quality

Next up is the overall structure of the grates. More expensive grills use stronger materials, with some of the best use porcelain-coated cast iron. These types last considerably longer and are particularly anti-stick (as long as they properly maintained).

Lower end grills will not only use thinner grates – that naturally break down faster – but also varying sizes that are sometimes difficult to replace. The heating rack doesn’t have to be and rarely is, as tough as the cooking grates themselves.

Heat Output

All propane gas grills are measured in British Thermal Units (BTU). Despite its name, the BTU is only used in the United States as it is a measurement of the amount of heat required to raise 1 pound of water by a single degree Fahrenheit. The amount of heat a grill can give off is incredibly important, but shouldn’t necessarily be the deciding factor when purchasing the grill.

Extremely high BTU grills might be deceptively advertised to include the combined energy of the side burner or have shoddy manufacturing somewhere else. Though grills with lower end BTUs typically need longer to preheat.

Ignition System

There are roughly two types of ignition systems to look out for: the piezo starter and the battery starter. Most grills rely on the former of these, as it doesn’t require any outside power source in order to work. Battery starters, on the other hand, pull power from a battery pack to produce a spark electronically.

You can activate either ignition system by either releasing the spring-loaded knob or with the press of a button. The button method is considered to be superior and is also in many higher-end grills. While it requires a rare change of batteries, I often find the battery powered starter works a bit better over a longer period.


This is the general structure of the grill. This includes how aesthetically pleasing a grill is, but also how rationally it conforms to do the job. For instance, a grill with a cabinet is often seen as superior to many, but this typically closes it off.

An open cart design works better as it put everything within view and reaching range. A good design also incorporates a logical spot to put the propane tank, and the ability to easily access the bottom interior part of the grill for easy cleaning.

Cooking Area

This is probably one of the more important aspects of a grill, as it is heavily influenced by how many people you expect to cook for. Obviously, a larger cooking area is ideal, but it might go to waste if you have a small family.

In order to quantify better, you’re going to need about 20 square inches per burger – that’s a burger that is 4 inches in radius and ½ inch of space on the outside. This means that for every 100 square inches of cooking area, you can hold around 5 burgers – a 500 square inch cooking area, for instance, would hold approximately 25 burgers.

Special Features

Special features are everything not covered by the other characteristics – this is everything from integrated hooks, foldable side tables, side burners, infrared capabilities, and so forth. I find something like a side burner is cool, but not really needed most of the time (unless I need heat up any sides).

Foldable side tables are nifty if you want to keep your grill tucked out of the way. While something like infrared is really preferential and dependent on how you like to cook. Weber has recently rolled out its iGrill3 thermometer, and I can only expect more technological upgrades to follow suit.


Warranties vary dramatically depending on the manufacturers. A good chunk of the grill’s price is the amount of, and life of, coverage for it. Lower end grills might only have a warranty for a year or two, while some can last as long as 10 years.

The parts of the grill that can best take advantage of the warranty are those that erode the fastest. Always try to get a grill warranty that will cover the burners, grates, and ignition switch. If you do intend on cashing in on the coverage, make sure to keep a hold of that receipt information. If it is a paper receipt, make sure to properly file it away as they have a tendency to fade.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often should I clean my propane grill?

I recommend cleaning your grill after every use, ideally as the grates are still warm. Scrap or scrub off any grease and food that hasn’t solidified yet. You can use a specific grill cleaner to do the job, but a simple mixture of water and vinegar will work great too. Once or twice a year you should do a deep clean.

Q: How do I deep clean a propane grill?

Go ahead and take out all the grates and heat plates first, then drench them with cleaner and let them soak for about an hour. While they are soaking, go ahead and start scrapping the interior and scrubbing the burners.

What should happen is that all the gunk should build up on the bottom of the grill. You can just remove the bottom pan to throw them out. When you come back to the grates and heat plates, use a scrub brush to cut away any built on grease. Use a metal brush to scrape off any rust spots on the exterior, and just use a damp cloth to wipe everything down before you finish.

Q: What are some great accessories for grills?

The typical cooking utensils are a must – think of tools like knives, spatulas, and tongs. Also think of additional cooking items like smoke boxes, rotisseries, thermometers, and grill mitts. I would also recommend some sort of pad to stand on if you are going to be in one spot for a long time.

Q: What other machines work in tandem with a propane grill?

If you are looking to expand on your grilling experience, try investing into things like smokers. Smokers are slow cookers that allow you to cook your meat and vegetables while also infusing with the smokey flavor. You might want to also think outside the box a little bit, and invest in something like one of Cusinart’s Frozen Treat Maker for a cold dessert after a hot grilling day.

Q: How do I prevent flare-ups?

Even the best grills are prone to flare-ups if you don’t properly maintain them. Make sure to empty built-up grease in the drip pan and keep the grates as clean as possible. If you are cooking fatty foods like a cheeseburger, make sure to keep them away from the edges of the grates.

Q: How do I manually light a grill?

If your igniter goes bad, there is a way to manually light it with either a butane utility lighter or match. For a utility lighter, point the tip toward the burner while it is on and pull the trigger. For a match, you need to find the small metal tool typically located in the inside cabinet – it has an end that pinches the matchstick, allowing you to get the burner going without getting your hand near it.

Final Thoughts: The Best Propane Gas Grill

When compounding all the different attributes, I decided that the Weber Spirit II was the best when balancing all of its characteristics with the price. Like all Weber products, it has an impeccable quality standard that few other grills can meet, and confidence backed with one of the best warranties in the grilling market. While this grill should be satisfying for just about anyone, there might be better ones depending on your wants and needs.

When out on the market for the best propane grill, make sure to keep an eye on not only cooking area and heat output, but also secondary things like the overall design, ignition, and any special features that you might want. Make sure to never use a damaged propane tank or hose. Check for leaks at least once a month.

Keep about a two-foot clearance on either side for a grill that is on. If you ever smell propane, immediately turn the grill off. As long as you follow these steps and properly maintain your machine, you should be able to get many great hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks out of your propane grill.

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The Best Bread Pan for Baking Homemade Bread

Once you’ve measured, kneaded, proofed, and shaped your favorite homemade bread dough, how much does the pan you bake it in influence the final result? Quite a bit, actually! The color and texture of the finished loaf are dependent on the pan you use. That’s not all; once the bread is baked and sliced, your choice of bread pan affects the time it takes to clean up as well.

Who am I to recommend the best bread pan? I am an avid home baker and self-proclaimed cookware nerd. I’ve been making all of the bread (sweet and savory) my family of five can eat for nearly a decade. My start to this tasty hobby began through baking sandwich bread, and I’ve developed strong opinions about the best bread pans for homemade bread along the way.

After making hundreds of loaves of my own sandwich and sweet bread over the past ten years, I reach for my pick for the best bread pan (a [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fa0dba49-3674-11e8-9242-9395d528465b’]) every time, thanks to the fact that it bakes bread evenly without over browning and is incredibly easy to clean. To give you even more options, I have also narrowed down the myriad choices online and in the baking aisle to four of the best bread pans for both savory and sweet loaves. In this article, I will go over the pros and cons of our favorite bread pans.

Our top pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’36edfd3f-3675-11e8-8ad6-7d3de4bd0853′]

This [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3eafebad-3675-11e8-bbaa-15d1d778e254′] is our number one choice for both savory and sweet breads because it bakes evenly without over browning and is incredibly easy to clean. I have never had a loaf stick in the pan after baking, including loaves that are notoriously difficult to remove like loaves with raisins or fruit in the dough.


The pan is made from heavy-gauge aluminized steel with a unique fluting to encourage the bread to release easily and prevent warping. If the professional-grade design looks familiar, it’s probably because USA Pan sells customized versions of its pans to many specialty baking stores around the country. Once I learned to recognize the signature fluting and design, I found it at high-end gourmet stores all over.

Although the non-stick coating is PTFE/PFOA free and dishwasher safe, I have never needed to use the dishwasher…or even an abrasive scrubber. A simple rinse with soap and water is all my pans ever need. The bread pan comes in multiple sizes, but I find the 1 lb. loaf pan to be just right for an everyday, multipurpose pan. This is the best bread pan for almost every situation I’ve come across in my years of regularly baking bread for my family of five.


[amazon_link asins=’B002UNMZOO’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’8fc278c0-36b4-11e8-ab07-89f19fd95d49′]

First Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H5BQICG’ text=’Pyrex 1.5-Quart Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f6b79586-3675-11e8-904d-bb04c913e92a’]

Glass pans distribute heat more evenly than metal pans do, which is one of the main advantages of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H5BQICG’ text=’Pyrex 1.5-Quart Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0b49b254-3676-11e8-81d3-6d23e7967ffb’]. Another nice feature is the ability to see the bottom of the loaf while it is still in the pan, helping you prevent any soggy or underdone loaf bottoms. When I was first starting out as a bread maker, I really appreciated being able to check if the bottom of my bread was done in my glass pan.


I find I have the best results when I reduce my cooking temperature slightly with glass pans to prevent the loaf from cooking too quickly on the outside, a byproduct of the better heat distribution. My bread crusts are softer as a result of the lower temperature. If you prefer a sandwich bread with a soft crust, try baking it in a glass pan. You will need to preheat the glass pan before adding your dough—a major obstacle with most yeast breads—if you are looking for a crispy crust.

The one major downside of baking in a glass pan is that loaves are prone to sticking unless you thoroughly grease the pan prior to baking. This is especially true of quick loaves of bread like banana and pumpkin, which was ultimately why we chose the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b23b8a16-3675-11e8-81f2-b1929da38b26′] as our top pick instead. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H5BQICG’ text=’Pyrex 1.5-Quart Glass Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ec70bf0d-3677-11e8-b53b-a94db10faa0c’] stands up to scrubbing and is dishwasher safe, so you can wash off any stuck-on bits without worrying about scratching the pan or having it rust.

Second Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B001K2058E’ text=’Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’310bfc50-3676-11e8-9278-75ea90f126db’]

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B001K2058E’ text=’Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3b1df5dd-3676-11e8-abb7-dbe614e62f6e’] is a popular choice among bread bakers for good reason. Wilton is known for making quality products accessible to home bakers—both in price and availability. As long as the non-stick coating is intact, nothing will stick to the pan, making it incredibly easy to use and clean.


The dark non-stick coating leads to a darker crust, which can be a positive or negative factor depending on the type of bread you bake. Bread also cooks more quickly in this pan than in any other pan on our list because of the dark coating. Oversized handles on each end make it easy to grab without sticking a thumb into the side of your load, even with bulky oven mitts on. In the end, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001K2058E’ text=’Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’58cb4f8e-3676-11e8-9b21-79ace8c3251f’] just missed the top of our list because it is significantly less convenient once the non-stick coating is scratched or damaged in any way.

My Wilton loaf pans were my go-to pans for over a year before one of the pans was scratched too much to use. Before the coating scratched off, it was the best bread pan in my kitchen. It fell just short of our pick for the best bread pan, however, because it was not nearly as durable as my [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan loaf pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4d86bf9b-3675-11e8-9278-75ea90f126db’].

Most of the scratches on my pan came from children trying to pry loaves out with butter knives, however, which may not be an issue at your house. As long as you care for your pans properly, or replace any worn pans promptly, you will love the ease of using and washing this truly non-stick pan.

Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6f7d981c-3677-11e8-be2b-9d9ab81738c1′]

No list of loaf pans would be complete without mentioning a silicone option. Fans of silicone baking molds love them for how easy loaves of bread and cakes are to remove with a simple twist of the pan, even without any oil or spray. If you are looking for a non-stick pan without any non-stick coating, [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7c0f5df8-3677-11e8-a2a4-cb611b633f41′] is our favorite.


Made from European-grade silicone, there are no fillers or plastics in the pan at all. While silicone baking molds do not hold their shape as well as glass and metal pans, [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’856a8a6e-3677-11e8-959c-df8da65d6632′] has been reinforced for better longevity than most silicone pans on the market.

One disadvantage of baking bread in a silicone pan is that the bottom and sides will never brown as well as the top of the loaf because of the way heat is distributed along the silicone. Although we felt that knocked any silicone pan out of contention for our top pick, [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’62388708-3677-11e8-9110-dd34fb30d904′] deserved honorable mention because of its superior ability to evenly bake and release quick bread loaves—which brown more evenly because of their high sugar content—and what it provides for any baker looking for a non-stick pan without any special coating.

For best results, place any silicone baking pan on a cookie sheet before filling. Some bakers even use [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a0b38dcd-3677-11e8-9d4e-1b1c6c9adf91′] as a non-stick liner with other bread pans.

Why Homemade Bread?

There are two main reasons I have enjoyed making my own bread for so many years: I can control what goes into each loaf and baking my family’s bread saves us money.

Homemade bread gives you better control over ingredients.

Making your own bread allows you to decide what ingredients go in your bread. The basics of yeast bread are the same no matter what variation you make. Once you master basic sandwich bread, you can easily try your hand at three-cheese bread, raisin cinnamon bread, and more.

Our family favorite is a walnut and sunflower seed whole wheat bread that we’ve never seen in stores. The same is true of quick loaves of bread; banana nut bread is not any harder to make than pumpkin, zucchini, or poppyseed bread. You will be surprised how easy it is to create your own variations once you learn the basic technique.

Do you have any dietary restrictions? Is anyone in your family gluten or dairy-free? If so, baking your own bread is often easier than carefully reading ingredient labels as you try to find your favorite loaves of bread at the store. By baking at home, you can make variations of all your favorite loaves of bread that everyone can eat. Choosing the best bread pan for the job is a major part of learning how to bake bread at home.

Baking homemade bread saves money.

In an earlier article, we told you the secrets to cutting your monthly food bill (according to the internet). The number one way to save money on food each month was to cook at home, and baking your own bread can be a part of that. Once you settle on a favorite recipe, you can easily purchase ingredients in bulk for a fraction of the cost of storebought bread.

It does take more time to make bread than to buy it at the store, but the difference in flavor and the quality of ingredients more than makes up that difference, especially because bread freezes so well. I make two loaves of bread almost every weekend: my family and I eat one loaf fresh over the next few days and I freeze the second loaf, pre-sliced, for quick toast and sandwiches later in the week.

While the actual cost per loaf will vary depending on the recipe you use and where you buy your ingredients, we’ve broken down the cost of homemade vs. storebought bread for comparison, assuming a basic whole wheat bread recipe and a loaf of standard whole wheat sandwich bread costing $2.98 per 1-lb. loaf.

The Cost of Homemade Bread vs. Storebought Bread

Storebought bread: $2.98
Per slice: $0.17

4 c. whole wheat flour: $0.88
1/2 tsp. instant yeast: $0.14
1/2 tsp. salt: $0.03
1/4 c. granulated sugar: $0.10
1/4 c. oil: $0.13
Homemade bread: $1.28
Per slice: $0.09

Even factoring in a smaller loaf size (15 slices) for homemade bread than storebought bread (18 slices), homemade bread is still a savings of over a dollar per loaf for a basic loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread! Baking your own specialty and artisan bread will save you even more money since many rustic loaves run upwards of $5.00/loaf at the supermarket. Baking bread not only saves you money compared to purchasing a loaf from the store, but the bread tastes better! There is nothing quite so delicious as a hot slice of fresh bread with butter and honey.

What to Look for in the Best Bread Pan

There are four main factors to consider when shopping for a new bread pan: How evenly does the bread bake? Will your bread loaf stick to the pan? How easy is it to clean the loaf pan? What is the bread pan made of? Any of the pans on our list will outperform disposable bread pans in all four areas, but let’s take a closer look at each to help you determine the best bread pan for your kitchen.

How evenly does the bread bake?

Ultimately, a bread pan that fails to produce an evenly-baked loaf will never see the light of your kitchen. I had a beautiful, decorative bread pan that I held on to for many years (and through multiple moves!) but rarely used because I was always unhappy with the results. When you are searching for a pan that leads to an even bake, start by testing weight. In general, heavier pans will distribute the heat more evenly.

Loaves baked in dark metal pans will brown faster than loaves baked in other pans, while loaves baked in glass or silicone will brown less on the bottom and sides. For yeast loaves of bread, I prefer a sturdier crust; when it comes to quick loaves of bread, I like the softer crust of a glass or silicone pan.

Will your bread loaf stick to the pan?

Loaf pans with the non-stick coating are the absolute best when it comes to removing bread without leaving any behind on the sides of the pan. The downside to coated pans is that the coating eventually scratches off or deteriorates with heavy use. That said, the coating on my favorite pan, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5dc512a0-3675-11e8-9fa5-cf4964d72d16′], has held up to many years of regular use: I bake bread in my pan at least once a week and have washed it by hand and in the dishwasher both without any reduction in its non-stick quality.

Stainless steel and glass loaf pans require greasing before each use, but they have the potential to outlive non-stick pans. Silicone baking molds provide the same non-stick ability without greasing the pan, but they do lose their shape over time.

How easy is it to clean the loaf pan?

Both the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’686ce327-3675-11e8-86df-63e0d7e5172c’] and Wilton loaf pans wash up quickly with just soap and hot water, although the former is also safe to clean in the dishwasher. If you are shopping for a pan without non-stick coating, look for something that can stand up to scrubbing for times when you need to use a little elbow grease to get it clean. Glass pans are my top choice for durability because they can withstand scrubbing with even abrasive chemicals and metal utensils.

What is the bread pan made of?

In the end, most bakers have a favorite material when it comes to bakeware. If that is true for you, find a loaf pan to match. I have recently started replacing my own muffin tins and cake pans with USA-brand pans because of how much I love the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6edef8d0-3675-11e8-aec1-55e27a81e813′].

If you still aren’t sure which material to choose, start by figuring out what traits matter to you most. Is durability your primary concern? If so, then the Pyrex 1.5-Quart Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan or a simple stainless steel pan are probably your best bets. Do you need a pan that releases even the stickiest loaf every time? The Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan and [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’75b1577b-3675-11e8-8daa-494ec3168209′] is equally fantastic, although I favor the latter slightly because the coating is much more durable. If you are hesitant to use a non-stick pan for whatever reason, you may prefer a ceramic or silicone pan. While Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Silicone Loaf Pan is not perfect for every recipe, it does offer superior loaf release without any chemical coating or added oil.

Non-Stick Coating

A note on non-stick coating: Many home chefs are concerned that their non-stick coatings may contain dangerous materials. Ongoing research is underway about many of the chemicals used in non-stick coatings. At the time of this writing, the primary concern is for skillets and pans that are heated to 500°F.

Most bread is baked at 350°-425°F, so your bread pans should never be exposed to dangerous levels of heat. If you are still worried about what makes up the coating of your non-stick pan, carefully read the product description before purchasing or select another type of pan.

The Best Bread Pan for Everyday Use

Loaf pans are often inexpensive enough that you can purchase more than one model if you want to do your own at-home trial. In the end, however, there is only one pan I reach for each time I bake yeast or sweetbreads and give as gifts to all the graduates in my life getting ready to leave home (with a copy of my favorite bread recipe, of course). The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7fad0935-3675-11e8-8867-b54702c0b0e0′] is our top choice because it performs well in each of the four factors I used to evaluate bread pans for both yeast breads and sweet quick breads.

If you are looking for the best bread fan for everyday use, I am confident you will love the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’885670fe-3675-11e8-9968-31d49a9c1cd6′] as much as I do.

FAQs About Baking Homemade Bread:

Q: Where do I find bread recipes?

A. You can find great bread recipes online, in most cookbooks, and even on the back of many flour bags. My favorite way to get bread recipes is to ask friends and family for recommendations; many people have a favorite family recipe they are happy to share.

Q: Doesn’t making bread at home take too much time?

A. It does take a few hours to bake bread from start to finish, but there are quite a few ways you can reduce the time commitment. One way is to make a no-knead or overnight bread recipe that requires very little active preparation time. Another way to save on the time commitment is to make a larger batch of bread. Two loaves (or even four loaves) take the same amount of time to make as a single loaf, as long as you have enough pans and oven space. Like I mentioned earlier in the article, most bread freezes beautifully.

Q: How do I go about freezing my homemade bread?

A. If you find yourself with more fresh bread than you can eat in a day or two, freezing the rest is a great option. I prefer to slice my sandwich bread before freezing to make it even easier to use for breakfast and lunches during a busy week.

Once the bread is completely cool, slice up your loaf and wrap it in plastic wrap or a zip-top freezer bag before freezing. When freezing sweet bread, simply wrap the entire loaf in plastic wrap and freeze whole. Although it is possible to freeze individual slices of quick loaves of bread, the loaf retains its moisture better if you freeze it whole.

Q: What about thawing my frozen bread?

A. One reason I prefer to slice my homemade sandwich bread before freezing is because it makes thawing the bread so convenient. Remove the slices you need from the freezer and thaw at room temperature for around 20 minutes. For an even higher-quality result, warm the bread slightly in an oven preheated to 350° before serving. For quick loaves of bread, thaw the entire loaf in the fridge overnight or on the counter for an hour.

Q: How should I store homemade bread?

A. Homemade sandwich bread will maintain the best texture if you store it in a plastic bread bag once the loaf is completely cool. A bag leftover from a storebought loaf will work, or you can purchase specialty bread bags online. Quick bread should be wrapped tightly in plastic or stored in a plastic bag. Crusty, artisan bread should not be kept in plastic, however, as it will prevent the bread from keeping its signature crackly crust. To maintain a crisp crust, store rustic bread in a paper bag instead.

Q: How can I be sure my non-stick bread pan is safe?

A. Look for a pan that does not contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is a suspected carcinogen, and avoid using any non-stick pan at heats about 500° F. Fortunately, no bread recipes I have ever used—even when baking crusty loaves like baguettes—have called for temperatures above 500°. If you are still concerned about what might be in the non-stick coating of your bread pan, opt for a glass or 100% silicone pan instead.

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The Best Family Camping Tent

Planning on going camping with the family? Some may call you crazy. But, I say you’re brave – brave for getting out of the comfort zone of air conditioning and refrigeration. But just because you’re willing to rough it doesn’t mean you should have to rough it in an uncomfortable, cramped tent. A little homework before purchasing a family camping tent for your crew will ensure your family is camping in comfort.

I’ve spent countless summers in tents of all kinds: one person nylon pop-ups, U.S. Army GP mediums, and mind-bending jigsaw puzzle family camping tents. After many camping trips – some great, some miserable – I can tell you without a doubt which tents are best suited for a family looking to have a little outdoor fun. My absolute top pick is the Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Cabin Tent.

Top Pick – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’The Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Cabin Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’df06cfa3-353e-11e8-b77c-6952d37bbe8f’]

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’eb0cf6fd-353e-11e8-88bb-8385b54c4027′] is my new go-to camping tent for the family.

It fits my family of six with room to spare. We blow up two queen size air mattresses inside the tent with plenty of room for extra sleeping bags, stuffed animals, and copious amounts of baggage.

Top Features

What makes the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f4b7549d-353e-11e8-8e3f-71c37960d666′] such a great choice for a large family? It’s the top notch convenience factor of course.

We typically get this tent unpacked and set up in less than ten minutes, thanks to its color-coded assembly rods. In fact, on our last summer camping trip of 2017, we finished setting up our tent in under eight minutes. Then we helped my brother-in-law, who was still struggling with his six-person family camping tent that took twice the time to set up.

Break down is just as simple and quick as set up. The tent is essentially a large rectangle, so sweeping it out before break down is a cinch. Once you’ve broken it down, it easily fits into a wheeled storage bag. Just pick up the handle and roll the bag back to the car.


Coleman has gone crazy with the trademarks. They have trademarked nearly every cool construction feature of this tent. Trademark or not, there’s plenty to talk about.

For starters, the tent is made of welded polyethylene floors and inverted seams for protection against the elements. It’s a cabin style family camping tent, which means there’s 6’8” of height at the tent’s center. So no need to crouch down when you’re moving around.

At 13 x 7 feet, the interior of the tent easily accommodates two queen air mattresses. It comes with two built-in cabinets complete with shelves. The tent material making all this room and shelving possible is coated polyester. Polyester is a popular family camping tent fabric for its durability and ability to hold shape.

Set Up

I admit, I have far from a photographic memory. So each time I set up my tent, it’s like I’m setting it up the first time. But, I can still get it done in a snap, partly because my husband remembers everything, and partly because the set up system on the Tenaya Lake is so intuitive.

This family camping tent comes with pre-attached fiberglass top poles that are color coded to fit with its matching stored steel poles. So, set up is as easy as finding the right colored poles and running them along the correct lines.

The guy lines are a breeze too. They are equipped with another trademarked Illumiline technology so that you don’t go tripping over them in the middle of the night when nature calls.

Ideal Use

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S57US34′ text=’Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0479735a-353f-11e8-a229-e5615256c3e8′] is perfect for a family that does a moderate amount of car camping each year at sites equipped with spacious, level camping pads.

It’s easy set up of about 10 minutes or less makes it ideal for a family full of kids waiting to bust in and get settled. The room divider gives the grown-ups a smidge of privacy too, but that’s purely optional.

Something To Consider

If you’re a hardcore camping family, then you may want to look for a tent that has a little more durability. That’s not to say this family camping tent isn’t absolutely worth the money, but the velcro components and highly used areas like the door may not be able to stand up to the demands of outdoor enthusiasts year after year.


[amazon_link asins=’B00S57US34′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’3909f470-3699-11e8-a48f-c7ca73f94bdf’]

The Runner Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’16057c45-353f-11e8-b1b3-870027101912′]

Similar to the Coleman Tenaya Lake Fast Pitch family camping tent in many ways, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1f88f0b2-353f-11e8-815d-e31969195ff3′] does what it says. Setup is almost instantaneous. And, although the nine-person rating is a bit generous, the CORE is still one very roomy tent.

Top Features

Two huge convenience factors make this family camping tent a great option for big families. The first is in the access to the tent. There are two doors: the large D-door in the front of the tent, and a huge T-door in the side of the tent. It would seem to most of us that one door is more than enough. After all, we’re not moving in permanently.

But, when you’re camping with the family, gear seems to accumulate faster than you know it. The ability to unzip a door the size of the entire side tent panel makes moving sleeping bags, air mattresses, or even cots into the tent nearly effortless.

Another great feature about the[amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’ CORE 9-person tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a7e4487-353f-11e8-ab8d-2344561b4480′] is the ventilation. There are windows and vents galore on this family camping tent. All this venting allows outside air to move in from the bottom, while warmer air moves out through the top. Anyone who’s ever tried to take a mid-day tent nap knows the value of a well-ventilated tent.

Set Up

Putting this family camping tent together is amazingly simple and quick. In a few minutes, the tent will go from a lump of fabric on the ground to a polyester fortress. This is all thanks to CORE’s click and lock system.

Setup does require two people. But an extra person shouldn’t be hard to find if you’re using a large family tent like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9-person’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’33b8f07b-353f-11e8-b16b-15cfd69f9396′] in the first place. As one person stabilizes the tent, the other person walks around, locking elbow joints into place.

Then, once all elbows are locked, the tent behaves much like the canopies you would find at a typical farmer’s market. Extend all the leg poles and lock them into place. At this point, you’ve spent about a minute on set up so far. All you have left to do is set up the rain fly and guy lines.


The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9-person tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3c141224-353f-11e8-85fd-cf6d1b26eb08′] is like most other family camping tents in its class, made from 68D Polyester. The floor is constructed with 125 gsm P.E. (polyethylene). It’s seams are heat sealed and it’s stakes are made with 7” steel.

Floor size is 14’x9’, which will accommodate two queen size air mattresses easily. They rate this tent for nine people, but I find that’s a bit generous. Sure, if you’re in a pinch, nine people can squeeze in. But realistically, if you want to be comfortable, aim more for seven or eight people.

Ideal Use

Like the Coleman Tenaya Lake, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00VFH1RQS’ text=’CORE 9-person tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’448c581f-353f-11e8-b087-2b14dcbed52d’] is ideal for a large family who wants the ultimate in convenience. I’ve found myself rolling late into a campsite many a night due to unplanned pit stops and snack breaks. Having the ability to pitch my family camping tent in under five minutes is an insanely attractive selling point for predicaments like these.

Something To Consider

Watch out for wear and tear on this family camping tent. It’s a great choice for families who camp a moderate amount each year. It is also well priced for the material and features. But, the convenient locking mechanisms may become more difficult to operate after a few years.

That’s not to say they won’t still do their job in pitching the tent quickly. But, if you do have a problem with one of the latches, it won’t be like other tents where you can easily replace a pole.

Best Family Backpacking Tent – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JSPB8FY’ text=’TETON Sports Mountain Ultra 4′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’521a7f50-353f-11e8-b205-c1c106f248a4′]

Yes, there are actually small family size tents you can backpack in with. They’re not too heavy; which is surprising given the sheer square footage of fabric required to temporarily house a family. Trail weighted at 7.8 pounds, any medium-sized member of the family can take turns hiking this to your campsite with a four-person tent on their back.

You can use that extra room in your pack to bring along a high-quality DSLR camera for those beautiful views. Check out this article for help choosing – Which DSLR Camera Is Best For Me?

Top Features

The best part of this tent is that it only takes one person to set it up using just three aluminum poles. So the rest of the family is freed up to gather firewood and start meal prep. Just make sure to lay down the included footprint under the tent to keep it protected from whatever surface you plan to camp on.

The next best part of this tent is the fully ventilated inner tent. So if no rain is on the horizon, keep the rain fly off and enjoy the beautiful night sky and a refreshing breeze while mid-summer camping. Or, throw the rainfly on to protect you and your family from the elements.

The entire tent can be rolled up in a small cinch style duffle that will add just under 8 pounds to your pack. That’s two pounds of tent per person. Not too shabby considering the weight of average one person tents.

And, best yet, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JSPB8FY’ text=’TETON Mountain Ultra’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’61eaf50f-353f-11e8-ab03-21c753f5bae3′] comes with a limited lifetime warranty.


Putting this tent together is an easy one person job. Just lay out the footprint, shiny side facing the sky. Lay out the tent over the footprint, then assemble the orange cross poles. Insert each end into the grommets while the poles are arched.

Clip tent seams onto the poles, then insert the T6 silver ridgeline pole. Drape and secure the rainfly. Guy out, and you’re done!


The inner tent is made up of a micro mesh to protect you from bugs, and a waterproof oxford bathtub floor that comes up around the edges to properly keep moisture out.

The rainfly is made of ripstop nylon treated with 66D 3000 mm water repellent. The rainstop comes out and over the entrance of the inner tent to keep rain from running onto the inner tent.

Ideal Use

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JSPB8FY’ text=’TETON Mountain Ultra’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’71fb8195-353f-11e8-b0c6-79ccc410ee20′] is ideal for a hardcore backpacking family with minimal luggage. If you hike into your campsite more than you drive in, then you’ll get sick of hauling in a large family tent pretty quickly. The TETON Mountain is a great, affordable choice, for any family looking to go far on a light load.

Something To Consider

When TETON says this is a four-person tent, they mean it. Unlike the generous amount of room a cabin style tent provides, this dome style tent will provide just enough room for four sleeping bags and four packs. Any presumptions that it will hold too much more may land you in a world of disappointment.

Best Family Four Season Tent – [amazon_textlink asin=’B001NZWQ1C’ text=’Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7f3fa7f9-353f-11e8-8e1b-21c3301b3cba’]

So far I’ve only listed three season tents. That’s because most tents are built with only spring, summer, and fall camping in mind. After all, most families who tent camp do so when the weather is optimal, lest they endure the grumbles and rumblings of many unhappy family members.

But there are those who love to camp throughout the year, and in regions where cold weather, heavy rain, and snow may come earlier or stay later than other areas. For that reason, I thought it important to include my pick for best family four season tent -[amazon_textlink asin=’B001NZWQ1C’ text=’ The Kodiak Canvas Flex Bow Deluxe 8 Person Tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8976dbe6-353f-11e8-9300-1d1ec59b4d4c’].

Top Features

The very best feature of this tent is its ability to protect you from the elements. It’s completely waterproof, windproof, and light snow fall-proof. It will keep you warm during the cold winter months, thanks to its heavy canvas construction. But it’ll also keep you cool in the summer thanks to large windows and roof vents.

What else is great about this tent? The roominess. This truly is an eight-person tent with room left for each person’s gear. And there will be no bumping heads on the tent roof; it easily accommodates six-foot tall campers.


Setup does take a small bit of time, but it can be done with just one person. It really is just a matter of laying out the base and staking it down, followed by insertion of the aluminum poles. Guy it out of course. Make sure you do put the awning up as well, especially if you’re expecting rain.


The [amazon_textlink asin=’B001NZWQ1C’ text=’Kodiak Canvas Flex-Bow tent’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’94ff21d0-353f-11e8-ad8c-5d4ce8e2390a’] will last decades, literally, thanks to its beyond durable 100% cotton duck canvas construction with a silicone finish to keep the canvas rain tight yet breathable.

The floor of this 10 x 14 cabin style tent is made of 16-ounce vinyl. The fully screened windows, doors, and vents are made with no-see-um mesh. And all zippers are UV treated #10 ykk extra heavy molded zippers.

The interior features tons of gear hammocks and pouches so that you can stay fully organized while you’re out camping for the long haul.

Ideal Use

This tent is heavy and expensive. So, it’s really meant to be used for those who are devoted to car/truck camping, hunting, or fishing year after year; those who need something that will stand up to the cold, wind, or rain effortlessly.

Something To Consider

Most canvas tents need to be weatherized before their first outing. Soaking the canvas with a water hose will ensure micro holes around the stitches get closed by the shrinking fabric exposed to water.

Also, this tent is very expensive. So, if you just camp a couple times a year, you may want to consider a less expensive, lighter weight tent to accommodate your family.

What Do You Really Need In A Tent?

Before making any tent purchase, consider what elements are most important to you, how often, and in what kind of environment you’ll most often be using your tent.

Are you looking for a tent for some fun backyard camping with the kids on a lazy summer night? Maybe you’re looking to branch out into light car camping at established campgrounds with well-groomed camping pads. Or maybe you’re ready to go into a full overland move and drag your kids along for the ride.

Knowing just what kind of camping you’re looking to get your family involved in will help determine which price determining factors are most important to you.

Ease Of Use

Setup can be a cinch, or slightly more complicated, depending on the tent. Just because a tent is harder or easier to erect doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. If you’re planning on camping with just the kids, and they’re still on the wee side of growth, then you may want to pay a little extra for a fastpitch family camping tent that can be done by one person.


There’s no sense paying a lot of money for a highly durable tent if you’re just looking for a good quality family camping tent to take to the backyard or a local campground once a year. Then again, if you’re already a heavy camping family, then there’s a lot of sense in spending more money for more durable tent construction.

Look for features such as double inverted seams, no-see-um mesh, high quality easily replaceable poles, thick bucket style flooring, and smartly designed rain flys.

Wiggle Room

Just because you’re a family of four doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an eight-person family camping tent. Before my second two children came along, we used an eight-person tent. Never did we have to worry about the extra stuffed animals and pillows my oldest two children wanted to bring. Nor did we worry about dragging in extra luggage or blankets.

Conversely, you don’t want to go too conservative on the family camping tent size either. A little extra money is worth getting a slightly larger footprint if you need it. Nothing is worse than trying to squeeze five people in a four-person tent, especially after the once little people have grown larger and your high-quality tent is still going strong.


Luckily, you can find really well-constructed tents at a low price point, especially if you’re looking to camp only a couple times a year. But if you and your family’s main form of recreation is camping, don’t be afraid to save up and invest a small bit of dough in the highest quality tents.

Canvas family camping tents will absolutely last the longest with little upkeep. They are heavy and expensive, but well worth the investment if you’re looking for something that won’t give up.

Price – Least Expensive To Most Expensive (scale of 1 to 10)
Weight – Light To Heavy (scale of 1 to 10)
Durability – Least To Most Durable (scale of 1 to 10)
Ease of Use – Hardest To Set Up To Easiest (scale of 1 to 10)
Capacity – 1 to 10 people

Questions & Answers

Q: What type of fabric is best for a family camping tent?

A: While cotton was the go-to fabric for ages before man-made fabrics made their debut, cotton is still used by many due to its thickness, waterproof nature, breathability, and durability.

More often, though, campers choose tents made of lighter weight material such as polyester or nylon. Nylon is a popular choice for backpacking tents because the fabric is incredibly light but still water resistant.

Polyester is the most popular material for larger, car camping style tents. Whichever material you choose, take a look at what kind of coating has been applied to the material for added protection.

Q: What’s the most important factor to take into consideration when choosing a family camping tent?

A: While headroom and general ability to move about within the tent is important, it’s not a deal breaker. I would rather put more attention to the material the bottom of the tent is constructed in, as well as the style and construction of the rain fly. The easiest way to ruin a camping trip is with water leaking into the tent because of poor design or low-quality material.