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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.

Specs

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.

Features

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.

Storage

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.

Structure

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.

Durability

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.

Specs

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.

Considerations

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

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.

Features

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’]

Specifications

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.

Flexibility

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.

Features

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.

Flexibility

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.

FAQs

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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FAQ’S

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.

Features

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.

Features

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.

Features

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.

Features

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.

Features

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.

Design

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.

Warranty

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.

Specs

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.

Specs

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.

Specs

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.

Specs

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.

Construction

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.

Construction

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.

Setup

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!

Construction

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

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.

Construction

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.

Durability

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.

Price

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.

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The Best Co-Sleeping Baby Lounger

Maybe you’ve decided to try attachment parenting. Or maybe you don’t want to waddle across your home every night to feed you’re crying baby. No matter what your reasons are, you’ve decided co-sleeping is best for you and your baby. Your mind’s made up, so the next step is picking the perfect co-sleeping baby lounger.

There are many baby loungers on the market. Most of them are only safe to use while your baby is awake. I’ve tried co-sleeping face-to-face and I’ve tried it with in-bed bassinets and I didn’t care for either. But when my [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cee3f535-341a-11e8-a152-e3293eb421dc’] baby lounger came into my life, I knew it was the one.

The Three Best Co-Sleeping Baby Loungers You Can Buy Today

Let’s look at some baby loungers that makes mom’s and baby’s co-sleeping experience memorable.

Our Top Pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b910c239-3419-11e8-b729-bf3843c6be69′]

My baby and I absolutely love our [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’221f97df-341a-11e8-a7f0-69c073ba9f08′]. My baby slept in my arms during the day and at night needed constant comforting. I had no breaks, my arm was hurting, and I could never get anything done. When this little gem arrived, I started sleeping for hours at a time – uninterrupted.

Quality

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d22ad8b0-3419-11e8-afd9-6fb8b257a323′] is a durable, hand-crafted baby lounger made from natural material. It’s made from 100% organic cotton. This eliminates your baby’s exposure to toxic pesticides that are in regular cotton. People tend to steer clear of organic products but the benefits of making sure your baby is safe far outweighs the cost. It’s hand-crafted in the USA, so each piece is created with care and inspected for defects. The fabrics used to craft them are under regulations of the CPSIA, which have the strictest fabric regulations.

Multi-Purpose

This Multi-Purpose baby lounger is lightweight and perfect for traveling. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e1bd3496-3419-11e8-95b9-13be05c8a91b’] provides better sleep for mom and baby but it’s way more than just a co-sleeper. If you’re trying to clean up or cook, rest assured that your baby will be safe and comfortable on this.  It’s perfect for tummy time since you don’t have to worry about baby rolling off of it. That doesn’t mean you should ever leave your baby unattended while they’re on their tummy. It works for diaper changes too.

I used to pack my whole house with me when I went traveling with my baby. I needed five blankets so that he’s comfy, my breastfeeding pillow, and a changing pad just to leave the house for a day. Now I only bring my baby lounger which takes up far less space. Since it’s not padded, it takes up the firmness of whatever you place it on. With that being said, I avoid hard surfaces.

Design

It’s designed to snuggly fit your baby’s head and torso. They won’t roll or turn while in it. It fits them in stages: newborn, 2-3 months, and 4+ months. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f1999156-3419-11e8-8baa-ad4d3aa147bc’] comes with a center-sling that newborns fit in perfectly. Newborns have a Moro reflex which causes them to startle and wake from their sleep prematurely. Since the Snuggle Me Organic hugs your baby, it calms their startle reflex allowing for longer and deeper sleep. The feeling of being hugged helps newborns feel comfortable and safe because it reminds them of the womb.

The 2-3 months fit allows baby to still use the center sling. Babies experience important growth spurts around this time. The Snuggle Me Organic is designed to keep baby’s back in a neutral position for optimal growth and good back posture. Baby’s legs start to drape over the bottom around the 4+ months stage, which is totally fine because it’s usually the time to transition baby.

Value

Although the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fb494640-3419-11e8-9e94-816aeb610fef’] isn’t the cheapest baby lounger out there, the benefits of owning one of these can’t be beaten. It reduces the exposure of harmful toxins to your baby. This lounger is perfect for traveling and 24/7 home use. It is designed to give your baby the best start on life out of the womb.

Caring For It

Cleaning your Snuggle Me Organic isn’t hard. After separating the cover from the cushion, you place them both in the washer on gentle. Place them in the dryer on low heat, fluffing gently to remove any lent from the dryer.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00V2LVE5Q’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’519fd779-3439-11e8-8483-a7fbad976cb7′]

Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XGYJ9NL’ text=’DockATot Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’126d0ac2-341a-11e8-b2bf-f146a7e87f44′]

For moms who live in hot climates or babies who sweat a lot, the[amazon_textlink asin=’B06XGYJ9NL’ text=’ DockATot Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2f1e5102-341a-11e8-9728-030f597ab99f’] will not let you down.

Quality

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XGYJ9NL’ text=’DockATot Deluxe ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’358fa3c9-341a-11e8-b392-ff5e96b788c1′] is hand-crafted in Europe from high-quality material. The cover is made of 100% cotton. The tube and padding are made of 100% polyester.

Babies have the most sensitive skin. It’s important to limit what touches their skin. This product is made of a hypoallergenic material. This reduces the possibility of your baby having an allergic response. It is also made from breathable, hygienic fabrics that don’t harbor heat. This allows for excellent air-permeability. Breathable fabrics absorb moisture allowing for the DockATot Deluxe to dry quickly and eliminate the likelihood of baby catching a cold.

Multi-Functional

It isn’t just a co-sleeping baby lounger, it’s also a mini activity gym. Although I don’t personally own the [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XGYJ9NL’ text=’DockATot Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3cdde8fa-341a-11e8-9c49-576111ed658d’], I’m all for baby products that save money in the long run. The company created a [amazon_textlink asin=’B071ZWW6CD’ text=’Toy Arch’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c8afb5e6-341b-11e8-8f2f-abcfb890438c’] that fit with covers with the toy loops on the sides.

An activity gym comes with a Toy Arch and the mat itself has different shapes and colors to stimulate your baby’s senses. The main reason parents buy one is, so their baby can have a safe place for tummy time. That’s the best thing about this baby lounger! It helps baby during tummy time because of the pillow tube. Your baby’s senses don’t have to suffer because there are a variety of covers with different shapes and patterns that will equally keep them engaged and amused.

Design

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XGYJ9NL’ text=’DockATot Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’43549202-341a-11e8-9938-3b9017955640′] is designed to fit your baby up to 8 months. The padding is soft enough to be on hard surfaces, such as the ground if you decide to take your baby on a trip to the park. It gives your baby a snug, soothing environment like a swaddle to feel relax and calm in while also allowing them to stretch out.

It doesn’t prevent them from rolling over, however. Using a wearable blanket at bedtime is best. You can safely place it in the middle of the bed. It is designed to avoid the hazards of pillows and loose bedding that can suffocate your baby.

Value

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B06XGYJ9NL’ text=’DockATot Deluxe’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4bf2895f-341a-11e8-8ae0-43ef79798231′] is a more pricey lounger. But money never holds the same value in our heart as our baby’s safety and comfort do. This product consists of hypoallergenic materials. It is great for moms who want to minimize the number of baby products they buy. Additionally, it can fit on any surface – soft or hard.

Caring For It

Caring for the DockATot Deluxe requires precise treatment every day. Although the material doesn’t come with microbial activity, some people have said that they have experienced mold on their baby lounger. The site says that it’s best to ventilate the padding daily. Anytime there are microbial organisms in a hot, moist environment – mold can grow. This baby lounger is breathable but not on non-breathable barriers such as when placed on a mattress, which is most likely the reason for using it. If mold does grow, you follow the care instructions on the cover with a cup of vinegar. Letting it soak for two hours at most before placing it in the washer, will help kill the mold.

Wash the cover with cold water then hang it to air dry, hand wash the pad then lay it flat to dry, and wash the tube in a garment bag with cold water then tumble dry on low.

 

 

[amazon_link asins=’B06XGYJ9NL’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’10343727-3452-11e8-aa03-6d658d479360′]

In a Respectable Third: [amazon_textlink asin=’B072K3D8N7′ text=’CubbyCove’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’64991d13-341a-11e8-b1a4-8946fc4e2e4c’]

This is great for moms who plan on co-sleeping with their babies for longer than 8 months but don’t want to buy two baby loungers. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B072K3D8N7′ text=’CubbyCove’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6ba7246c-341a-11e8-a7ab-1359ab4fa3a5′] was made with you in mind!

Quality

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B072K3D8N7′ text=’CubbyCove ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7399c042-341a-11e8-9c60-e3f5b738ea44′] is durable with high-quality German fabrics. It’s made with German-developed Spacer 3D mesh fabrics. This allows it to be more breathable than your average baby lounger. This fabric has properties of high permeability, compression strength, pressure redistribution, and anti-bacterial. The most important aspect is that this fiber pushes out heat and vapor making your baby’s microclimate more refreshing and safer. The baby lounger doesn’t have any flame-retardant chemicals and has the textile class 1 OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification which tests hundreds of harmful substances.

Design

An average baby lounger will last for about 6 months before you must buy another one, but not the [amazon_textlink asin=’B072K3D8N7′ text=’CubbyCove’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7a74a9c0-341a-11e8-bc57-af007ac0d79b’]. Besides saving you money, this jack of all trades is great for bed transitioning a toddler. It’s also has a detachable, retractable canopy. Want to go out with your baby but it’s windy? Pull up the canopy and you have a tiny stroller. The bumper is high enough to prevent baby from rolling out. The padding has a soft, cushiony feeling that is ideal for any surface.

Value

Buying a [amazon_textlink asin=’B072K3D8N7′ text=’ CubbyCove’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’90414224-341a-11e8-98da-bb17eb44f680′] will cost you about the same as buying any other co-sleeping baby lounger. The difference is that it’s larger and more breathable than your average baby lounger. You can take your baby outside without worrying the heat will hurt their sensitive skin.

Something Special

I’ve mentioned before that the [amazon_textlink asin=’B072K3D8N7′ text=’CubbyCove’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’984124ac-341a-11e8-96b2-f178d7a318b3′] has a detachable canopy, but that’s the best thing about it! Seriously, have you tried to go outside with your baby when the sun’s out? They squint their eyes to keep the sun out. The canopy is a saving grace because they get to enjoy a change in scenario and you don’t have to worry about your baby hurting their eyes because they’re starring up at the sun.

Caring For It

The CubbyCove is an easy clean. The cover can be unzipped and washed on a delicate cycle with warm or cold water, as long as it doesn’t exceed 85º F. Hang it to dry and then you’re done! You don’t normally need to wash the tubbing or mattress if you have to make sure it’s by hand. Then tumble dry on low heat.

Something To Keep In Mind

The cover is textured. The height is 7 inches, so it should keep your baby from rolling out of it, as long as they’re not crawling. The length is 29 inches without the bumper. It can fit babies up to 18 months but only if they don’t exceed the length limit.

[amazon_link asins=’B072MNKWSG’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’3094f149-3452-11e8-87a5-d38674e6d9e6′]

Should You Co-Sleep?

When it comes to co-sleeping safety is of the utmost importance. The main concerns about co-sleeping are that a parent may roll over and suffocate their baby or their baby may roll over into the bedding and suffocate themselves. This type of situation is known as SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

SIDS can happen anywhere a baby is sleeping that has loose bedding, pillows, and stuffed animals. Many people differ in opinion about whether you should co-sleep or not. Some people believe that it’s one of the most important bonding experiences you can have with your baby. Others believe that you obviously don’t care about your baby if you decide to co-sleep. Like whether you should breastfeed your toddler, co-sleeping is a personal preference because you know what works best for your family. Take pride in your decision, whether you’re for it or against it.

I brought my baby to the doctor once and the physician asked where he slept. I was tempted to say that he slept in his crib in his nursery, but it felt wrong. So, I told her that he slept onside me in his baby lounger. She didn’t say much but she got up and handed me a pamphlet of SIDS. From that appointment on – she always asked me where he was sleeping, and I never lied.

Eventually, I found a pediatrician who was more understanding of my decision to co-sleep with my baby. Many parents feel so guilty for saying that they are doing something that feels right, and they love. The decision to co-sleep is purely yours. But remember that items like a bassinet and baby loungers make co-sleeping a safer and much more enjoyable experience.

Tips for a Better In-Bed Co-Sleeping Experience

Make Sure That The Bedding Is Safe

A mattress that dips and sinks isn’t safe for a baby to be on – only place them on firm ones. An old mattress can cause your baby lounger to move around too much, causing your baby to move with it. Try not to use quilts or heavy comforters.

Make sure that your baby is positioned high on the bed but not somewhere that they can become lodged. Steer clear of pillows or walls where they could get trapped. Place your baby on their side of you but not extremely close to the edge, so that you reduce the possibility of them falling.

Make Sure That The Baby Lounger Doesn’t Have Anything In It

It’s hard to find a good temperature for everyone but the recommended temperature is 70 – 72 degrees. The house is usually freezing at this temperature. You may be tempted to add a loose blanket so that your baby can be warm. If you must add an extra layer to your baby, then consider swaddling them or using thicker pajamas. Also, remember to always place your baby on their back.

Make Sure You’re Working On Your Baby’s Sleep Independence

It may not seem like a big deal, but just because our little ones are sleeping with us doesn’t mean they can’t learn good sleeping habits. Let me be clear, I’m talking about the infant stage and up because anything goes when they’re a newborn – your goal is sleep.

Wait until their bodies know the difference between night and day (which is around 4 months). Once they are developed enough for that, try putting them down drowsy but awake, so they can learn to put themselves back to sleep. Trust me – you and your baby will get far more sleep when they learn this.

Make Sure You Invest In A Bigger Bed

Baby loungers are light but not small. Some moms say that it makes it hard for them to sleep on their Queen size mattress. Investing in a bigger bed will allow you to get in a more comfortable position because you can have room for both the lounger and yourself. Besides, no one likes waking up to back pain from hell. If you need another reason to go bigger – new mattresses are always firm.

Benefits of Co-Sleeping

You’ve decided that you want to co-sleep with your bundle of joy which is awesome! But, do you know some of the amazing benefits that co-sleeping brings that no one talks about? Here, let me list a few for you.

Makes Breastfeeding SO Much Easier

I never had to walk around my house when my baby started crying, sit in a rocker, feed my baby, and leave once he was sleep. I’m tired just reading that! Co-sleeping is practically a match made in heaven for breastfeeding. You can hear your baby start to stir and instead of getting out of bed, all you have to do is turn over to feed. Now you have a happy, full, and content baby (and a happy mama too). Also, it reduces the risk of SIDS because constant breastfeeding lets you check up on your baby constantly. As long as you’re practicing safe co-sleeping habits, then you reduce the risk – not increase.

Makes Postpartum C-Sections Easier

Moms who had a C-sections will find co-sleeping to be more forgiving than getting up and bending over to get their newborn. This is especially helpful in those first few weeks where newborns need to eat at least every three hours.

Stability in Baby

When babies sleep next to their parent, their temperature and heartbeats are more stable. That stability gives them a sense of calm and hopefully a better sleep. Also, you and your baby breathing become in sync because when you breathe, your baby gets the hint that he should too.  Not only does it help your baby, but it can improve your breathing as well.

A Beautiful Bonding Experience

Moms hear all the time that if they cuddle with their baby, co-sleep with them, or anything that shows excessive love, their baby will grow up to be dependent and spoiled. That’s the complete opposite! Showing your baby enormous amounts of love will lead to happier, more independent human beings. Our little ones often feel abandoned when left alone, so when you’re there to reassure them, then it helps them know that they can trust and depend on you.

Conclusion: The Best Baby Lounger

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00V2LVE5Q’ text=’Snuggle Me Organic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a5943e04-341a-11e8-a17e-31903a85884a’] is the best baby lounger that I’ve got my hands on. It’s not like others that can be used for longer periods of time, but its soft, organic material comforts my baby so much that we’re both happy. The money it’ll cost you doesn’t match the benefits you get from it.

But don’t just take my word for it. Search around and see which ones pull your heartstrings. What works for me and my baby may be horrid for your family. Although it takes a village to raise a child, you have the final say in decisions you make for your family.

Being well equipped with the knowledge of safe co-sleeping, you and your baby have everything you need for an enjoyable co-sleeping experience.

FAQs

If my baby can only use the Deluxe for a short period of time, should I start with the [amazon_textlink asin=’B018ZVIVLK’ text=’Grand’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5c9061b5-341a-11e8-8240-ab12fd8f273a’]?

It depends on how well your baby sleeps and where they are sleeping when they outgrow it.

Will my baby be able to move their head?

Absolutely! There’s more than enough room for your baby to move their head without the possibility of them having a flat head.

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The Best Miter Saw

miter saw laser technology

With the array of power tools available on the market right now, the average DIYer can be left confused and bewildered trying to figure out the best options. Many people believe that by purchasing the most expensive miter saw on the market, that’ll you be making the right choice, but is that accurate? As a man who has spent over 2,500 hours creating things with power tools, I’ve come to learn what to look for in a quality power tool. That’s why I’m going to share my choice for the best miter saw with you today.

A quick look at any hardware store will show you just how many options there are for miter saws. Yes, you can purchase the Ferrari model of miter saws and drop a good chunk of change, but you don’t need to! By looking to the lesser-known brand, you can find another model that provides the most bang for your buck.

The Three Best Miter Saws on the Market

I’m going to give you a peek into my pick for the best miter saw, but I’ve also found some close runners-up as well.

The Winner – [amazon_textlink asin=’B000V5Z6RG’ text=’Hitachi C10FCE2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d7f9c208-3380-11e8-ada8-77787c90e995′]

Hitachi C10FCE2 miter saw

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B000V5Z6RG’ text=’Hitachi C10FCE2 Miter Saw’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f4bb355b-3380-11e8-9099-8f9594493743′] is not from one of the most well-known manufacturers, but that is irrelevant with this power tool. Hitachi has managed to create a stellar 10-inch single-bevel compound miter saw perfect for hobbyists, homeowners or professionals alike.

This saw is a no frill design, but it delivers superior functionality at half the price of many others. It’s accurate, easy to use and quite powerful as well. With its wide range of abilities, you’ll find yourself using it more than you intended.

Motor and Accuracy

When dealing with any power tool, the key word is “power.” If a saw lacks power, it is pretty much useless when you go to cut through wood. This Hitachi model has you covered with a mighty 15-amp motor that runs at 5,000 RPM.

For the best results, you’ll want to choose a quality blade that is geared toward the cut you are performing. For example, if you are working with precision cuts, you would want to pair the Hitachi with a thin-kerf blade that has many teeth for the best outcome. Another plus with this motor is that it uses replaceable brushes. This means maintenance is simple and easy.

Another concern for many is how accurate the saw is. Surprisingly, despite this model being one of the least expensive on the market, it is also one of the more accurate choices. There is no adjustment needed; you can use it straight from the box. Plus, the blade doesn’t wiggle during use so you can expect a clean, precise cut every time.

Other Features

This best miter saw stand weighs 50 pounds and is made from heavy-duty steel. This construction allows it to support your projects up to 400 pounds. In addition, the extension arms on the Hitachi miter saw support wide materials giving you an extra eight inches of support.

When you buy the Hitachi miter saw, you don’t have to worry about the craftsmanship. With a five-year warranty, you are covered far longer than with many of the other power tool companies. That gives you some additional peace of mind.

The only downside to this lower cost model is the dust bag. While it does have a dust collection bag, it isn’t going to catch most of the dust you create while cutting. Thankfully, it isn’t hard to set up another dust collection system.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B000V5Z6RG’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’1105504f-3393-11e8-8d59-69e39c3f3c54′]

The Runner-Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B000ASBCK4′ text=’DEWALT DW715′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5fcce060-3381-11e8-932c-157a042e8576′]

DEWALT miter saw

For many hobbyists and DIYers, DEWALT has become a household name. While you will pay substantially more for this miter saw, enthusiasts everywhere can’t get enough of it. That’s why the [amazon_textlink asin=’B000ASBCK4′ text=’DEWALT DW715′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’66263d6b-3381-11e8-a2d2-c7a4ff1b1fe1′] is my choice as the best miter saw runner-up.

This miter saw isn’t just one of the more powerful options on the market, but also extremely precise. Being it’s a compound miter saw, there is no radial arm. That gives it the additional stability and precision you are looking for when working on a complex project.

Motor and Accuracy

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B000ASBCK4′ text=’DW715′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6c0fe963-3381-11e8-a63f-e9eded9df4d0′] has a motor mounted to the right side of the blade and it outputs 4000 RPM. This is slightly less than the Hitachi, but still a powerful operation. The stable base of the DEWALT is completely flat and precision-machined so that you can expect accurate cuts every time.

In addition, the blade mount and the arm are expertly manufactured as well, keeping accuracy in mind. This unit’s miter and bevel gauges are all easy to set accurately and they hold securely in place once you’ve set them. On top of that, the fence is level and solid for precise cuts every time.

Other Features

One of the main concerns for many woodworkers is if the tool is portable and can be transported easily. Thankfully, this miter saw weighs only 42 pounds plus it features a built-in handle for carrying. That means you can move this around any job site with ease.

The warranty on DEWALT tools is also quite different than some others. They stand by their products with a three-year limited warranty plus a one-year service contract at no charge and 90-day money back guarantee, no questions asked. There are few power tools that offer peace of mind to that level.

As with many miter saws, the dust collection on this miter saw is just not useful. If dust collection is an important aspect to you, it’s possible to put some work into it and make it what you need.

The Honorable Mention – [amazon_textlink asin=’B004323NNC’ text=’Bosch GCM12SD’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’839c5b27-3381-11e8-b16b-15cfd69f9396′]

Bosch miter saw

If you can afford to spend several hundred dollars more than then the other options, you might be interested in upgrading to the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004323NNC’ text=’Bosch GCM12SD’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’89c9c6f7-3381-11e8-8390-7fd6fe63eb66′]. For the majority of home users and light contractors, this machine is slight overkill, but well worth the money.

This axial glide design is one of the best gliding miter saws ever manufactured. Even though it’s been several years since the initial launch, there haven’t been many saws that cut so smoothly. In addition, the compact workspace saves users up to 12 inches when compared with some other options.

Motor and Accuracy

The Bosch has a 15-amp motor with no-load speeds of 3,800 RPM so it’s capable of making precise and quick cuts in most materials. It’s also compatible with many 12-inch blades and has a lower guard so you have an unobstructed cut-line visibility.

The two sliding base extensions are integrated and allow adjustments for materials up to 40-inches long. The Squarelock quick-release fence system gives you a precise alignment every time. They come aligned at a 90-degree angle and require no adjustments. They also have a one-touch lock and unlock feature so you can slide the fence for accurate alignment.

Other Features

Looking through the best miter saw reviews, it’s easy to see why this unit is so much more than the others; it’s because of the exceptional dust collection system. While many miter saws fall short in this area, the Bosch has their head in the game.

Of course, with all the good, there is always a little downside. On this saw, you’ll find that the 65-pound weight could become slightly cumbersome. In addition, there is only a 30-day guarantee and 1-year warranty which is much less than the other options.

Features of the Best Miter Saw

Many people are surprised that one of the cheapest options out there is also the best when it comes to getting a new saw. While the [amazon_textlink asin=’B000V5Z6RG’ text=’Hitachi’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0c51df93-3381-11e8-b9b7-71b119cbdb1e’] is clearly the best miter saw for the money, there are other aspects to it that make it a winner. Let’s take a look at the features you’ll want to pay attention to when picking your next saw and you’ll quickly see why the Hitachi is the best miter saw under $200.

miter saw laser technology

Laser Guiding System

While the laser guide system isn’t necessary, some people find it to be useful. This is especially true if you are new to cutting. It’s important to note that just because a unit claims to have a laser system, doesn’t mean it’s effective so you’ll want to read reviews carefully on the model you’re considering.

If you find that the laser system is something you desire, you’ll want to upgrade to the [amazon_textlink asin=’B000NKB3LW’ text=’more expensive model of the Hitachi’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’aa9b9275-3381-11e8-bbf3-8be6f7916a41′].

I have to admit that I personally am not a fan of lasers. Maybe it’s because I learned how to make cuts before lasers were “the thing.” Nowadays manufacturers are installing lasers on all types of power tools –  from circular saws to drills. I get that it makes it easier for the beginner to use, but I don’t see the point. Many of them tend not to be precise enough anyway for an exact cut and you don’t want to rely on that when doing top-notch trim work. On top of that, they can be a pain to keep adjusted.

Motor Type

You also need to pay attention to the amount of power the miter saw has. You don’t want to be in the middle of your cutting jobs and find out that you can’t complete it. Most miter saws will offer anywhere between 10 and 15 amps of power. Some users will be content with a lower-powered model if they don’t use the miter saw often.

If you are someone that plans to use the saw regularly, you want to invest in getting an option with more power. This is when you’ll also take a look at the RPMs of the motor. The RPMs are going to affect how smooth the cuts are. In addition, direct drive motors last longer and provide more power than the belt driven motors do. If you are like me and plan to do a lot of heavy cutting or if you need smooth finer cuts, pay close attention to the motor. You might also consider looking for a motor that has smooth start technology. This option lessens the burst of power felt when the motor starts up.

Blade

Most miter saws come with one standard blade. This blade is good for rough cuts but doesn’t tend to work well for fine woodworking. If you plan to do fine finish projects with your miter saw, you need to prepare yourself for an additional purchase. Opt for a higher quality of blade and you won’t regret the investment.

If you are going to be in a situation the requires you to change between the blades, you’ll want to pay attention to how easy blade changes are. Some machines can make it quite difficult to swap out your blades when you need to. There are even some miter saws that require the use of two people if you want to change the blade. This is not an ideal situation when you are trying to complete a job.

Dust Collection System

Miter Saw dust collection system

I’ve already filled you in on the dust collection systems of the three choices above, but you might not understand the purpose behind this option. Dust collection systems come with most miter saws and generally consist of a dust bag which isn’t normally effective. Some saws, normally the expensive lines, have an effective dust collection system.

If this is important to you, you’ll want to read the reviews carefully to determine how other users feel. With an effective system, you can keep your work area clean. This isn’t just about tidiness, but it also extends the life of your saw by keeping dust from being trapped inside.

I don’t want you to be discouraged as you read most systems lack severely in this area. Don’t refrain from purchasing the saw you want over this matter. Simply get your shop vacuum out to help with dust control. Most shops already have this, so it isn’t like you need to make an additional purchase. If you want to take it a step further, you could opt for a [amazon_textlink asin=’B00MFGRT06′ text=’dust collection system’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c5d6da6c-3381-11e8-9910-396be3961932′] instead.

Safety

There’s no way around it; miter saws are dangerous. That’s why you want to find a model that features safety equipment to protect you. My recommendation is to look for options like fence guards and electric brakes. Most of the miter saws come with safety precautions, but you’ll need to read reviews to determine how effective they are.

10″ vs. 12″ Miter Saw

There are two sizes of miter saws you’ll want to consider: the 10-inch and the 12-inch. A 10-inch saw is capable of handling most any project an average homeowner would encounter. The 12-inch simply expands your capability.

The 12-inch sliding miter saw is going to be more expensive and the blades are more difficult to find. When you need to replace them, you can count on an additional cost as well. In addition, the 12-inch miter saws are heavy and the blades tend to spin at a slower rate because of the increased circumference.

The best 10-inch miter saw is capable of cross-cutting material about 12-inches wide while the 12-inch miter saw will reach 14 or 16-inches. There are some 12-inch miter saws that will take 10-inch blades but there are no 10-inch saws that hold 12-inch blades.

Personally, I think a 10-inch like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B000V5Z6RG’ text=’Hitachi C10FCE2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’19dc0ee9-3381-11e8-9110-dd34fb30d904′] is the best miter saw because of the price differences and that it’ll fit most user’s needs. If I have additional needs beyond what my miter saw can handle, I can always use my other resources like a jigsaw or circular saw instead.

Handle/Trigger

This might seem like a straightforward option, but there are a few things to consider when looking for the best miter saw model out there. The handle is the part of the saw that contains your trigger, so it will activate your machine. This is also where you will pull the blade down into the material.

Some saws will favor a person who is right or left-handed, so you need to be aware of this. You’ll be able to tell by the placement of the handle. Ideally, you’ll want an option that puts the handle in the middle of the unit for equal use with both hands.

In addition, there are some miter saws that have an ergonomic grip. This will reduce fatigue as you work on bigger projects. You’ll also want a comfortable handle to grip that reduces the vibration. This doesn’t just provide you with the additional feel you want but it also allows you to remain in control over your blade at all times. You don’t want the vibration to mess with your cuts in any way.

Optional Accessories

This may not seem like something you need to consider before purchasing the best miter saw, but you should. Some saws have limitations on the accessories you can find to go with it, thereby leaving you without things you want in the future.

It’s always wise to research the accessories available for a saw before you make the leap to purchase. You can look at things like portable lasers, crown stops, clamp assemblies and the best miter saw stands as well.

Understand the Differences Between Miter Saws

When you are looking for the best miter saws in 2018, it’s important that you understand the various types available. With three basic types of miter saws available, it’s important that you determine which one you actually require; otherwise, you might make a purchase that isn’t right for you.

Each of the miter saw types has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a quick look.

Basic Miter Saw

A basic miter saw is useful for everyday projects such as making cross cuts, mite cuts or cutting trim. The cutting capacity is limited to just miter cuts because there isn’t a bevel option available. This means you can’t make a variety of cuts with this option. I feel that a basic miter is a great option for most home users and they are the best miter saw value. In addition, a basic miter saw is quite accurate and they will perform perfectly for casual or beginner woodworkers.

Compound Miter Saws

The compound miter saw is different from the basic saw only because it can make bevel cuts in addition to the miter cuts. If you are unsure what a bevel cut is, they are basically just a tilted cut. With a compound miter saw, you can adjust it to make both kinds of cuts. With those options, there are even further degrees you can take it to making this saw geared toward an advanced user.

When looking at compound miter saws, you are going to see another two options which might confuse you: a single bevel or a dual bevel. The single bevel miter saw makes bevel cuts in one direction. That means you need to move your workpiece when cutting in the opposite direction. A dual bevel miter saw makes cuts to the left and right. This saves you time from moving your workpiece every time you need to make a second cut.

Compound miter saws are good options if you are working with crown molding. It makes the job easier and increases the accuracy because the bevel cuts will match each other.

Sliding Compound Miter Saws

If you are looking to find the most versatile miter saw, you’re going to want a sliding compound model. Keep in mind that this convenience will cost you! With that said, this saw has all the features found in a compound miter saw and then adds in the sliding arm so you can cut wide or thick pieces of material. This increased capacity is a must have for contractors. Because of the significant price increase, most homeowners or DIYers won’t use it enough to make it worth the cost.

A Cut Above the Rest

winner of the best miter saw

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B000V5Z6RG’ text=’Hitachi C10FCE2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2e51a3b0-3381-11e8-b51a-e573cb05cbeb’] gets my vote as the best miter saw mainly because of the value, extensive warranty and ease of use. It’s a durable machine that works great for beginner and advanced user alike. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that my runner-up and honorable mentions are also ideal choices, for the right person. If you want a high-quality piece of machinery for a fraction of the cost of other models, I highly recommend choosing the [amazon_textlink asin=’B000V5Z6RG’ text=’Hitachi C10FCE2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’35353fea-3381-11e8-9315-bba02d0bf9b0′] as your best miter saw option. Once you begin making cuts with this beast, you’ll regret not jumping in sooner. You might even decide to build a backyard patio with it. If you do, don’t forget to add in one the best kegerators.

Q&A:

Q: What’s the deal with ambidextrous switches?

A: It doesn’t really matter if you are right or left-handed, you need to be able to operate your miter saw with both hands. The main reason for this is that you don’t want to reach across the blade. Some saws are hard to operate when the button is geared toward only right-handed use.

Q: How often would I use the features on a sliding miter saw?

A: It really depends on how you use your miter saw. Most of the time, when you are doing interior trim work, you’ll use a non-sliding miter saw. Consider using the sliding features when you crosscut wide boards like when you miter baseboards or if you have to cut extra-wide crown moldings. If you plan to carry your saw around, the best miter saw for you isn’t a sliding version. They are heavy and take up a lot of space.

Q: How can I stay safe while using my miter saw?

A: Most people don’t pay nearly enough attention to safety as they should, but it will only take one accident for you to change your mind about the importance. First, you need to be wise about the decisions you make. Don’t use a machine you aren’t comfortable with. Secondly, make sure you always wear protective eye gear. In addition, don’t wear any loose articles of clothing or jewelry.

Then, inspect your material for nails, staples, screws or anything else that could get in the way. Choose a model with a blade guard and electric brake. To further protect yourself, leave your blade in the material until the blade has stopped moving. Not only is this safer, but it will also give you a nice finish on the cut.

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Which Juicer Is Best For You?

Surely you’ve heard of the amazing benefits of drinking all-natural juice. While diet fads and health trends come and go, this is one wellness practice that is here to stay. While juice bars are becoming widely popular, they can get pricey, especially if you are trying to get your daily green juice. What can you do to combat this? Buy a juicer!

I’ve been professionally and personally involved in the juice business for almost seven years. Interestingly, I’ve found that a lot of people are intimidated by the thought of making their own juice at home. It can be a costly judgment call if that machine ends up sitting there, unused. Maybe you’ve considered buying a juicer for your home but don’t know where to start?

Start here!

I’ve tried all the popular juicer machines – not just for home but the commercial models as well. I’ve done all the legwork for you. Sit back and read up on three models for your home that are great choices depending on your needs.

The Top Choice: Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor

I own three juicers, but this is the one I use on a daily basis. It’s small but mighty. This model is surprisingly powerful yet an easy choice for quick juicing. Let’s go through the machine’s specs and what it can do. Then we’ll break down if this is the right choice for you according to my three key determinants:

  • What are you juicing?
  • Volume (How many people are juicing, and how often?)
  • How much time you have/are willing to put into the process

Size

Not only is this model compact, super quiet and easy to store, it’s easy on your wallet. In fact, it’s so small, you can take it on your vacation if you become a true juice freak like me. There’s not a lot of parts to deal with on this model which makes it not only easy to use but less cleanup time for you.

The base is solid but small. The entire dimensions of the machine are 11.75 x 11.5 x 14.25 inches. No matter where you live, you can easily fit this in a cabinet or on the shelf somewhere. The basic parts of the machine that require the bare minimum in the assembly are:

  • Bottom base. It’s sturdy. It has suction cups on the bottom, so even when I throw in a whole cucumber, it does not move or cause a mess.
  • Top base with a spout. Place this on the bottom base. This is where the juice is “caught”. It features an open/close switch that can be a lifesaver…more on this later.
  • Mesh basket with a blade. The blade is sharp and durable. I have had mine for over two years and use it multiple times per week but have not needed to replace the blade yet.
  • Top cover. This is plastic. Simply put it over the above parts and snap into place with handle.
  • Compost container. Place snugly behind the machine. This part will catch your pulp which you can then use in a variety of ways, or compost it.
  • Plunger. Durable and a decent size, this feature shoves the produce into the feed tube.
  • Juice pitcher. This part is actually optional. You can directly place a glass or small pitcher beneath the spout if you want to avoid using it.

Features

  • One-touch operation. A five-year-old can do this (when properly supervised of course). One button is all it has. For juicing at home, one setting is all you need.
  • Open/close switch on the spout. I LOVE this feature! Sometimes when I’m making a bigger batch I need to put the machine on pause. Or maybe I’m serving one juice to my child, and I accidentally add the jalapeño for my next juice. There’s a lot of scenarios where this feature will come in handy.
  • Basket brush for cleaning. I love this little brush. It makes cleanup even that much quicker.

What are you juicing?

If you’re like me, you want to juice a lot of leafy greens for the insane health benefits. This little guy can and will effectively do this for you if you know what you’re doing. Always place the leafy stuff like spinach, kale, parsley, etc. in the feeding tube FIRST. The other produce will push it out so you’re left with a good amount of juice from the greens.

The feed tube is a little under three inches in diameter, so you won’t be able to squeeze whole apples into it. I don’t find myself using the cutting board overtime, but you have to be mindful. As mentioned earlier, it’s powerful enough to juice a whole cucumber at once.

This model gets a great amount of blending turmeric and ginger, which I drink often. As with the leafy greens, put these in first.

Volume

I’ll be honest, this machine is not ideal for making a ton of juice at one time. The pitcher is only 16 ounces and is meant for single servings. In fact, you will need to clean out the compost container after every two to three juices. If you don’t, the pulp will invade your juice.

However, for small households, this isn’t a big issue. If you’re making four or less 16-ounce juices per day, this will easily handle the volume.

Time

If you’re low on time, this is hands-down the best thing for you. You won’t spend too much time cutting veggies due to the wide feed tube. There are so few parts to clean, all of which are small. Prep, make your juice, clean up and store in seven minutes or less.

The Cuisinart is my top pick because of its combined score under the three determinants. It will juice even the tough stuff like leafy greens and roots, provided you follow my suggestion and put them in first. It can’t handle a lot of volume at one time, but unless you have a huge family or are running an illegal juice bar, that doesn’t matter. Finally, you cannot beat the time management it offers you.

 

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Runner-up: Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor

This particular model is slightly more expensive but more popular with consumers. I believe much of that is due to Breville’s marketing department and the ability to buy their products practically everywhere. Still, the Breville is a viable option for home juicing for a few reasons.

  • It’s compact. Like the Cuisinart, you don’t have to lug this thing in and out of the pantry each time you use it. The dimensions of the entire juicer are only 75 x 9.5 x 16 inches.
  • Less to clean. It also has a limited amount of parts. Less cleanup time for you means you’re likely to use the machine more often.
  • Dishwasher-safe. Other than the base, you can throw the rest in the dishwasher. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Make more juice at once. The juice pitcher holds almost 28 ounces or roughly two servings of juice. You can also make about four to five 16 oz juices before having to dump out the compost.
  • It’s powerful. The 700-watt motor operates at 14,000 RPM. For you, this means less time cutting vegetables. You also don’t have to worry about the machine shaking or tip over.

Features

  • One-touch operation. Again, simplicity is the name of the game here and Breville nailed it. You do not need multiple electronic settings, even on a commercial juicer.
  • It won’t take up the whole counter. The compost container is actually an internal part of the machine. It’s a sleek design, not some bulbous thing that will dominate your counter space. It helps lower cleanup time too.
  • One year warranty. If something is going to go majorly wrong with your juicer, it will usually happen in the first year. A friend of mine has this machine and a few months in, noticed an internal problem. Breville promptly replaced the juicer and was very helpful and cordial about it.

What are you juicing?

For me, this is where the rub lies with this machine. While yes, it is very powerful and will effectively extract juice with most produce, it just does not get the job done with leafy greens or roots. Maybe it is due to the larger surface area of the basket. I’m not quite sure. But organic greens are expensive, and you would be wasting your money trying to juice them in this model. You simply won’t get the yield you want.

Volume

Volume is a good selling point in this case. This is a great machine for big families or, for example, someone who is making a half gallon pitcher of orange juice every morning. Unlike the Cuisinart, you do not have to empty the compost and wipe the bin after just a couple juices. This machine is powerful and can hold more pulp. For the people consistently making more than two or three servings at once, this is a good choice.

Time

The Breville is a great time-saver, mainly in the cleanup department. You can rinse off and wipe the debris from the parts, throw them in the dishwasher and be done with it.

The popularity of this model among juice enthusiasts and newbies alike speaks for itself.  It’s sturdy and reliable, and you can go crazy making juice daily for the entire family. You also can’t beat the fact that your dishwasher will help you out with the cleanup. The drawback with this one is based on preference; the yield is low on leafy greens and roots. But if you’re not heavily juicing these things, it’s a non-issue.

Honorable Mention: Norwalk Juicer

This is one of the top juicers on the market. It is one of the most expensive and powerful juicers you can own. I call mine “Betty” and I guard her with my life. This machine does not mess around and is not for the juicing novice. It costs over 2k and is very labor intensive.

However, if the money doesn’t scare you and you are committed to this healthy juice lifestyle in a real way, it could become your most prized possession too. The Norwalk is a great option for you if:

  • You want to make cold pressed juice. The other models use centrifugal methods to extract juice from fruits and veggies. This is a completely different process. The produce is first fed through a small feeding tube and finely ground. You must then carefully place the material into juicing bags or cloths. These are then put into the powerful press which uses hydraulic pressure to extract every last drop.
  • You have cancer or another chronic illness. Cold-pressed juice is used in many cancer therapies due to its high phytonutrient content. One very successful approach is called The Gerson Therapy. It prescribes a wide range of plant-based healing regimens including cold pressed juice. This method has been met with a large amount of success among people with serious illnesses.
  • You want your juice to last. The enzymes in cold-pressed juice are alive approximately 72 hours after being pressed. On the other hand, juice from centrifugal or masticating machines will lose its enzymes in roughly one to two hours. If you want to be able to make juice and keep it in the fridge for a bit, while maintaining nutrition, this is the machine you want.
  • You want to make more than juice. The Norwalk has many capabilities other than juice making. It makes delicious and practically effortless nut butter. This machine will quickly and uniformly chop veggies when making a large amount of salad, say for a dinner party or fundraiser. It can also grind a variety of elements to make flour. I personally have used it to make highly nutritious baby food with the perfect texture. The culinary possibilities here are through the roof.

Features

  • Multiple grates for different purposes. The Norwalk comes with multiple grates that allow you to take advantage of all its capabilities. There is a particular grate for peanut butter, one for making flour, etc. You can always order additional grates through the company or replacements when and if yours actually wear out.
  • Durable design. This machine is very heavy (almost 60 pounds) and is built to last. If you buy one, you will have it for life.
  • The best warranty. Yes, the Norwalk is a very expensive machine, but it’s backed by a very good company. Norwalk is known for their customer service. They stand behind their products 100%. Your juicer comes with a comprehensive 12-year warranty guarantee. If something goes wrong, you ship your machine to Norwalk for repairs. They cover the cost of the repair. Also, you can send them your blade which they will sharpen for free. I love this company and only have positive things to say about them.

What are you juicing?

This is one of the top juicers around. It can juice anything. For example, the most nutritious part of the watermelon is actually the green skin and white mantle beneath. The average person doesn’t know this, and most juicers are not strong enough to extract anything from that part successfully. But the Norwalk can. There are tons of hidden gems in the nutrition world that you can actually realize with this machine.  Plus, as already mentioned, it can do much more than just cold press juice.

Volume

Volume is a huge thing to think about if you’re considering purchasing the Norwalk. You will not get your value if you are making a few juices per week. This machine is for a high-volume juicer and culinary enthusiast that spends a lot of time in the kitchen. The cleanup alone is not worth it unless you are making large quantities.

Time

This is probably the single most important determinant with the Norwalk. Making cold-pressed juice is labor intensive. First, you must learn how to do it. It’s not hard, but you’ll need to read a lot of instructions and watch a lot of YouTube videos. After all, you don’t want to mess around when you’ve spent this much money.

The process itself involves many steps. I actually recommend enlisting another person for help to keep your sanity. It’s physical and requires constant attention. Lastly, the cleanup is a monster. Cleanup time is for sure one of the flaws but not deal breakers. To give you an idea, from prep to cleanup completion, making 10 juices yourself will take an hour or more depending on how fast you are. The volume question again comes into play. It’s wisest to make as many juices as you can in one go.

You absolutely cannot go wrong with the capability and culinary prowess of the Norwalk. But it’s for a very specific customer. I’ve watched quite a few people fork out the money for it, full of lofty ideas of daily juicing and becoming a cold pressed guru. If you want to buy this machine, you need to already be committed to the lifestyle in order to get your value. If you have the time, the money, and are truly committed, you will cherish it forever.

The Best Juicer for Your Home

In most cases, the Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor will work best for you. It’s quick, quiet, and easy. This is the device I grab every day. I can quickly make a couple of juices for my son and me and not spend time chopping and cleaning. I still marvel at the power in this little thing.  Looks are deceiving in this instance.

The Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor is a great alternative, and it’s popular for a reason. It won’t dominate your counter top and the parts are dishwasher-safe.

Finally, the Norwalk is amazing but it’s definitely for a very specific buyer with specific needs and enough time on their hands to actually use it. I do not recommend this machine en masse. But if you’re one of the few whose lifestyle corresponds accordingly, by all means, go for it.

Final Thoughts

No matter what juicer models you are considering for your home, do not forget the three key determinants: what you are juicing, the volume of items, and the time you have for it. You have to invest in the entire process. If you keep these things in mind, you can’t go wrong. Ask questions and do your research.

Hopefully, you will find the right machine for you and incorporate regular juicing into your lifestyle.  Juicing has changed my life. Directly, it’s given my overall nutrition a huge boost. Through juicing, you can consume more fruits, vegetables, and roots. What’s more, juicing was one of the first steps that lead me down a path to wellness and could do the same for you. Making a lasting change in your health requires many mini changes. It’s not about doing a crash diet and fooling yourself into thinking you will magically transform your life.

It starts with one choice. Those choices build on one another. You drink a green juice every day. Later, you decide to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. After that, you maybe eliminate processed sugar or fast food. Succeeding in one small area at a time helps foster success in the longer term. Drinking juice is an excellent first step.

Want to take another step in the right direction? Check out these rad tips to save money for the lifestyle you really want.

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Our Top Three Blenders Available Today

Are you considering purchasing a new blender, or upgrading your current one? Before scouring Amazon for the best deal, take a look at these top three blenders recommended for you. Not only do I have firsthand experience using many different lines of blenders, I’ve conducted hours of extensive research before making each kitchen purchase.

Top Three Blenders Available Today

I want to ensure I buy the highest quality at the right price point. That includes research on various brands, different blender capabilities, and stores. The three blenders in my review are well-renowned blenders: the Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender, the Ninja Professional Blender BL610, and the Oster My Blend Blend-N-Go.

Top Pick: Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender

A Top Kitchen Appliance for Everyday, Creative Uses

I was first intrigued by the Vitamix Blender in 2012 when I was going through a serious smoothie kick. My first, second, and even third blender left chunks of frozen fruit, ice, and other ingredients – not to mention they all broke or had the rubber piece burn out after a couple uses. No blender was cutting it for the thick, ice-cream like smoothies I wanted to create.

Then, I had my sauce kick. I wanted to try creating pesto varieties and nut butter, such as with kale and cashews. My food processor worked alright but, again, it started to burn out due to the length of time I had to blend the nuts. I have been scouring food blogs since I was 16 and spinning recipes off those resources.

For the past six years, I have thought about or used Vitamix’s blender on a weekly basis. Before purchasing my Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender in 2015, I conducted extensive research – I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a low-quality item, or an item that I would not be using all the time.

Why The Explorian Series Is Special

There are various other series of blenders in the Vitamix line, but the Explorian Series is the most affordable. The Explorian is perfect for the everyday user who is looking to improve their cooking game. The Explorian is a top choice; it improves quality of recipes, shortens the time it takes to make them and has the most versatility.

According to Vitamix, “At least a dozen tiny details go into the design of our aircraft-grade, hardened stainless steel blades. All to give you great-tasting blends for years to come,”. I have to say, users can feel the difference when compared to competitors. The Explorian falls in the mid-range of prices for higher quality blenders, yet it outperforms most.

Vitamix blenders are superior to others for a variety of reasons. It’s my top kitchen appliance because of how many different applications it can be used for. Because of that, I’ve been able to get rid of other kitchen appliances and become more organized. The Explorian is not too large, and I can fit it in the kitchen cabinet easily.

Foods I’ve Been Able To Easily Blend

Here is a short bullet list summarizing its breadth of uses and some of the yummy things I have made with my Explorian:

  • Raw cookie dough balls (I make these with a base of blended almonds, oats, and dates. First, blend the oats, then slowly add the nuts to create a flour. After, add soaked dates. Finish with vanilla extract, chocolate nibs, and spices.)
  • Nut butter (I like buying bulk almonds or cashews and making my own nut butter. Then I can control what is added, such as sweeteners or spices).
  • Sauces (such as enchilada sauce, pasta sauce, salad dressing, mayonnaise, and hollandaise sauce).
  • Pesto (different variety using greens like kale, beet greens, or watercress and nuts like cashews, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds).
  • “Nice” cream (a frozen banana blended until it’s a creamy, delicious ice cream-like treat. I add cocoa powder for a chocolate version.).
  • Dinner rolls (I like baking, but I hate kneading the dough. The Vitamix allows for a quick and easy kneading process.).
  • Ground coffee (I am a coffee addict, and the Vitamix grinds whole coffee beans perfectly.).
  • Fresh juices (It juices decently well. I prefer using a blender to juice, as I am able to retain more of the nutrients. Juicers take out most fiber.)
  • Ground spices (during the summertime, I will buy chili peppers from the farmers market and dry them. Once they are dried out, I blend them using the pulse feature until they are ground to the right consistency.).
  • Margaritas (I use whole citrus fruits.).

Specifications

The Vitamix advertises a powerful, high-speed blade. I’ve proven its strength time and time again (such as with those hard coffee beans and nuts). Other pros of the blender include a variable speed control with 10 settings and a pulse feature. I like having options, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed or confused, so 10 speeds are perfect for me.

In addition, the Explorian includes a tamper so I do not ruin wooden cooking spoons on the blade while trying to push ingredients around anymore (which happened a lot to me in the past). Cons of the Vitamix include it being heavy – it weighs about 10 pounds. Dimensions of the Explorian E310 are 11 x 8 x 18 inches. Other specifications include 1348 watts of power, a 2.0 HP motor, a 4.5-foot cord, as well as a radial cooling fan and thermal protection.

Other Special Features

The Vitamix saves me time – something we all want more of. One of the coolest time saving features is that it really is not only a blender – you can make hot soup without even using the stove! After blending for about ten minutes, the friction in the blades causes whatever is pureeing to heat up. It is an easy and fast dinner solution.

My least favorite part about cooking is cleaning up after myself, so I appreciate that the Vitamix has a very easy cleanup process. The container is self-cleaning and washes up easily with a drop of dish soap and warm water, blended on the highest speed for 60 seconds. According to Amazon, the blender is also dishwasher safe for a more thorough wash.

However, not all Vitamix models are. Be careful to check before purchasing if that is a necessity (the self cleaning method is simple). Not to mention, if something ends up faulty with your machine, Vitamix will replace your blender. The company offers a full warranty for 5 years, or 8 years at a small additional cost.

Special Diets

The Explorian is definitely for everyone, but I want to note it can be especially helpful for people with special diets. Vegans and vegetarians can more easily boost their protein intake, by using the blender to create veggie burgers, nut butter, or other nut-based dishes like cashew queso dip.

For people who are gluten or dairy-free, the Vitamix will produce smooth oat or almond flours, and velvety nut milk (which I tried many times to make with all my previous blenders, but I was always left with grainy milk).

Vitamix products have devoted users and for good reason. I absolutely love my Vitamix and the creativity it allows me to harness while I’m in the kitchen. I highly recommend the Explorian – for all of your kitchen needs – not just smoothies. The Explorian Vitamix is the highest quality blender you can choose if you are willing to invest the money.

 

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Runner-Up: Ninja Professional Blender BL610

An Affordable Alternative

If you’re not quite ready to make the jump and invest in a Vitamix, the Ninja Professional Blender BL610 is a great choice for starting out. Ninja offers a free, 1-year limited warranty for this kitchen appliance. Mine lasted quite a while but started to lose its effectiveness around the 5-year mark. Five years was longer than any other cheap blender I had before, so I felt it was a worthwhile investment.

The Ninja is very effective. The only downside is it is not as versatile as the Vitamix – you are buying a blender and you are getting a blender (although there is still some variety in uses, such as for soups, salad dressings, and purees. I have heard of success with chunky nut butter but have not had any myself). Users cannot grind whole coffee beans, make creamy nut butter, or heat up purees in the blender.

That being said, the Ninja consistently blended all frozen fruits and ice seamlessly. There is nothing worse than to make a morning smoothie only to keep pausing so gobs of frozen ingredients reach the blade, then to drink it and still have those gobs floating around!

Features

Part of what makes the Ninja so effective is its “Total Crushing Blade” which has six sharp, uniquely stacked blades that blend more easily. The blade handles vegetables well, so if you like making green smoothies, it has got you covered.

There is only one issue with the blades being taller than most other blenders – the blades sometimes miss fruit in the deep corners of the pitcher. Also, the blender is not at all quiet when it is on. I have heard some people complain about the noise level affecting children or dogs, but I personally do not expect any blender to be particularly quiet.

This blender offers a very sleek design. It looks fine stored on the kitchen counter, but also fits well in cabinets if desired. The base is a little heavy, so I tended to leave mine on the counter. In total, the blender weighs nine pounds. Dimensions of the Ninja BL610 are 8.19 x 10.63 x 15.75 inches.

Power wise, the Ninja has 1000 watts. It comes with a 72-ounce blender jar, made of BPA free plastic. The plastic is also dishwasher safe. The Ninja, like the Vitamix, also comes with recipes to get you started in the kitchen. As stated, Ninja is a high-quality brand, just not quite as versatile as the Vitamix. I recommend the Ninja if a consumer is not ready to yet invest in the Vitamix brand.

Honorable Mention: Oster Blend-N-Go My Blend

A low-cost personal blender for people on the go

Oster Blend-N-Go My Blend is a super cheap option, making it great for kids, college students, or anyone on a budget – and especially those who may be living in a dorm room or do not have a lot of space. Additionally, it suits well for people who live an active lifestyle, as the blender uses a personal sized attachment in the form of a sports bottle.

Users simply replace the blade with a sports bottle lid. It is very easy and fast. The replaceable sports bottle is perfect for taking breakfast on the go or having a shake prepared for directly after a workout.

Note that the blade is not extremely sharp. Vegetables work alright in the My Blend speed if they are cut into small enough pieces, but not well enough to make baby food or something that needs to be perfectly smooth.

It also does not have high wattage – only 400 compared to the Ninja’s 1000 and the Vitamix’s 1380 watts. The brand does, however, offer a 3-year warranty. The bottle is also dishwasher safe.

Ease of Use

The blender is incredibly easy to use. There is only one button and it is a manageable size, so younger children who are starting to cook for themselves can use the appliance, too. Oster offers some really fun colors like teal, orange, pink, green, and blue. If you don’t like flashy appliances, they also offer a standard grey.

Oster and Hamilton Beach models I’ve owned would smell like they were burning because the rubber attachment always wore out. The Oster Blend-N-Go MyBlend blender is not my top choice, but if you are looking for something to just get by, I would suggest the My Blend. It does have higher quality than some of its counterparts. It is small, gets the job done, and it comes in bright colors for any personality.

Which One Should I Buy?

The Vitamix Explorian E310, the Ninja Professional BL610, and the Oster Blend-N-Go MyBlend are all solid blenders, but at different price points and with varying characteristics. The Explorian scores highly in every area – easy, quality, appearance, and versatility. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Ninja Professional also scores highly in every area. However, it scores lower in what kinds of foods it can handle. The Oster is still a good buy, even though it does not perform as highly. It is also a fraction of the price. Ultimately, purchasers should think of exactly how they will use the blender – and if they are curious to use it in new, exciting ways, too.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What’s the noise level of each blender?

The Ninja is the noisiest. It’s loud! I’ve been told the Explorian is louder than other models by Vitamix, but it is quieter than the Ninja. Oster is pretty quiet, for a blender.

2. Do the containers lock in place?

The Explorian does not lock; instead, it balances on four posts. It makes it a little difficult to walk away, but I haven’t had any issues with it coming off. The Ninja Professional has a jar lid with a locking handle, and the unit does not work unless it is locked. The Blend-N-Go is placed onto the base, after screwing on the blade.

3. What are the sizes of each blender container?

The Explorian has a 48-ounce container, which serves about two people smoothies. The Ninja Professional is 72-ounces, perfect for four people. The Blend-N-Go is a single serving sports bottle.

4. How does each model do with kale?

The Explorian and the Ninja have no problem. Both blend kale into a smooth consistency, but the Ninja takes a little longer. Blend-N-Go isn’t quite strong enough to take the tough stems so I recommend cutting the leaves up.

5. Do the Ninja and the Blend-N-Go handle hot liquids?

The Ninja works fine with blending hot liquids after they have been removed from the stove. It is not recommended to use hot liquids in the Blend-N-Go.

6. How do they perform when making baby foods?

The Vitamix is the ideal blender to make baby food as it gets your puree smooth enough for a baby. The Ninja left some purees a little too chunky, and Blend-N-Go would not be ideal for preparing baby food due to its size and wattage.

7. Can I put ice in the blenders?

All of them handle ice, although the Oster does not crush and blend ice as well as the other two.

8. Is the Blend-N-Go bottle freezable?

Oster does not recommend freezing the bottle as the freezing and contracting will weaken the plastic and the rubber sealing ring. Freezing and thawing a smoothie changes the consistency.

9. Do they have measuring lines on the side?

Blend-N-Go does have measuring lines but they are hard to see. The Explorian E310 does have 90 visible measuring lines, while the Ninja Professional BL610 does not have measuring lines on the container.

10. Are they BPA free?

The Ninja, the Explorian, and the Oster are all made of BPA-free plastic. Plastic is generally preferred for blenders, as there is less risk of breaking the container than with glass.

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