How to find the right bonds for your needs
Spotify has changed a lot since it launched more than a decade ago. If you, like me, have been streaming tunes for years, odds are your track library and your playlists are a total mess. I had more than 200 playlists—most of which I hadn’t listened to in ages. All that clutter made listening to music a pain in the ear, but there’s an easy way to fix it.
One quick note: It’s much easier to use the desktop or web app to tidy up. Some features—like creating folders for your playlists—aren’t available on mobile. It also takes a few taps to do things that can be done with a single right-click.
This is the hardest step. Not because it’s particularly difficult (though it can be a little time-consuming), but because you need to confront your past self’s music taste. I found out I had a playlist of every Macklemore & Ryan Lewis track released before 2014. Not my thing anymore. God only knows what horrors you’ll have to deal with.
But, it must be done.
Look through the playlists you have and see what’s there. Delete any that are half-built, shared with ex-romantic partners, or otherwise unnecessary. I had some playlists that were just full albums—because that used to be the only way to save them for easy access on Spotify.
To delete a playlist with the desktop or web app, right-click on a playlist and then hit Delete (if you didn’t create it, select Remove from Library). With the mobile app, tap into the playlist, press the three little dots, and then touch Delete.
If there are a few old playlists you don’t listen to but can’t bring yourself to trash, set up an archive folder. There were one or two playlists I’d made (including a collection of pop punk anthems with “anthem” in the title) that I just couldn’t get rid of.
As I’ve mentioned, you can only create folders with the desktop or web app. Right-click in the playlists sidebar and select Create Folder. Give it a name, like “Archive” or “Musical Mistakes,” then drag and drop in any playlists you can’t delete.
Devise a playlist plan
Getting rid of dusty, unfinished, un-listened-to playlists is just the first step. The whole point of this Spotify spring clean is to end up with a collection of easy-to-browse playlists that are worth listening to. To get there, you’ll need to think about what “there” means to you.
Personally, I like lengthy playlists that I can just throw on shuffle. The more songs on a playlist, the less likely it is to be repetitive. My Pop Punk Faves playlist is almost 20 hours long, for example.
I’m also a fan of creating shorter playlists inspired by a specific person or thing—it’s like gifting yourself a private mixtape.
Some people like crafting seasonal or monthly playlists, but my music taste is a bit too varied for that to work well. It’s hard to have Lethal Bizzle and Emily Burns on the same playlist. But if curating the sounds of spring, summer, fall, and winter sounds good to you, that’s another way to stay organized.
The great thing is that if you have a messy playlist section on Spotify, you’ve also got a perfect library of what doesn’t work for you. Look at the playlists you made ages ago but still listen to, and compare them to the ones you made at the same time but now ignore. That’ll give you a good idea of the type of strategy you should employ.
I realized I managed better with fewer, longer playlists, so I cut my 200-plus playlist pile down to a dozen or so big buckets.
With that said, I’d suggest everyone create one playlist that acts as a kind of inbox for saving random songs. It’s handy to have somewhere to stash songs you know you want to add to a playlist without having to settle on the perfect one right away.
Find playlists other people have made
If you struggle to make playlists that you want to listen to for more than a few weeks or months, I’ve got a radical idea for you: don’t make them.
I started making a lot of playlists with great intentions and then… just didn’t add more than a handful of songs. A running playlist with only my favorite pop punk songs on it seemed like a good idea, but it just wouldn’t come together. Instead, I use Spotify’s Run Punk, Run! playlist. It’s missing songs I’d add and there are a few tracks I’d get rid of, but it’s pretty damn close.
Spotify suggests its own playlists on the Home page, or you can find them by digging into the various moods within the Search tab (it’s Browse on the desktop app). If you’re looking for more specific stuff, check out Playlists.net. It’s a community for people to share Spotify playlists. The r/Spotify subreddit is also pretty active with people sharing epic playlists.
To add someone else’s playlist to your library, open it in Spotify and click or tap the heart icon.
Really, there’s nothing that says you can’t completely copy a playlist and use it as a base. If the lack of Zebrahead on Spotify’s playlist really bothers me over the next month or two, I can make a spinoff and add them.
Use these apps to make new playlists
If you don’t want to leave the music you listen to up to the big brains at Spotify or randos on the internet, check out some of the automated playlist-making tools built on Spotify:
You can also revisit Spotify’s auto-generated playlists like Discover Weekly and your Daily Mixes. I’ve found they can get a bit repetitive if you listen to them all the time, but they’re always easy to drop in and out of.
Check out “This Is” playlists
A chunk of my now-deleted playlists were attempts to put all the good songs by specific artists into one place. I love blink-182, but some of their really early stuff is a touch rough, so I tried to make a playlist of the songs I wanted to listen to. Thankfully, Spotify has realized the wisdom of this approach and there are auto-generated “This Is” playlists for most artists.
Every “This Is [Artist Name]” playlist (here’s the one for blink-182) has that artist’s newest, best, and most popular tracks, without some of the bad back catalog. You can find them on most artists’ pages.
Sort things with folders
Playlist folders are a weird Spotify feature. You can only make them with the desktop or web apps, but they show up on the mobile app. Unfortunately, you can’t give them any cover art so they all have an identical folder icon and can be hard to tell apart.
I find the convenience of tucking my playlists away into set folders—like gym music and people playlists—worth the ugly mobile user interface, but your mileage may vary.
To create a folder, right-click in the playlists sidebar and select Create Folder. Name it, and you’ll be able to drag and drop in any playlists you want. You can also nest folders if that’s your thing.
Get familiar with Spotify’s library features
As I’ve said a few times, a lot of the awful playlists I had cluttering things up were attempts to work around Spotify’s early lack of features. Now, with the removal of Spotify’s 10,000-track library limit, you have more options for saving artists, albums, and songs.
To add an artist to the Artists section of your library, click or tap Follow on that artist’s page.
To add an album to the Albums section of your library, click or tap the heart icon on that album’s page.
Spotify recently removed the Songs section of your library, so all songs you like are now in a Liked Songs playlist. To like a song, tap or click the heart icon next to it on any page it appears.
It’s time to get started on your New Year’s resolution with a fitness tracker. Here’s the best one for under $100.
It used to be that staring at the same computer screen all day was something we could limit to office hours. But as remote work has increased, a computer monitor is also where we spend lunch hours and happy hours; it has become a conference room, not just a corner of the second bedroom. An interface for coworkers, teachers, friends, and family, the right monitor in a work from home setup can be central to improving both our outlook and using Outlook. So let’s, well, screen options for the best monitors for home office.
Features to consider when shopping for the best monitors for home office
Setting up a home office often calls for creative use of space, and when it comes to a desktop a makeshift solution can work … to an extent. The number of surfaces that can become a “desk” is pretty impressive and even potentially efficient. The same can’t be said for grabbing any old screen and trying to make it a computer monitor. From compatibility issues with a computer’s ports to the dynamic range of the source material being displayed, there are many factors to consider.
As home office essentials go, a properly calibrated PC monitor is integral to success. The ability to liberate windows from overlapping, the space to immediate access resources without having to cycle through tabs, is possibly the single biggest boost you can give your productivity. So when it comes time to pick your new screen, here are some base specs to, you know, monitor: get a minimum resolution of 1080p, consider a starting size of 27 inches, and for best image accuracy opt for an IPS panel if possible.
Ultimately, however, the tool needs to be tailored to the task. Whether a creative professional concerned with color gamut or an afterwork gamer obsessed with response rate, someone going for something ultrawide or ultra-portable, there’s a monitor for every use case. Here are our selections to help find the best monitor for your home office.
Can a 4K monitor improve my workflow?
In a word: Yes. Any monitor properly positioned at eye level will do wonders for your posture and efficiency compared to hunching over a laptop. But if you’re staring at something all day, go in for the rich color and sharpness that a 4K monitor delivers. The best monitors for home office offer the ability to display more simultaneously—cutting down on scrolling, clicking, and cursing as you cycle through buried documents—but more quantity needs to come with more clarity. At a resolution of 3840 by 2160, a 4K panel delivers four times the pixel count of HD (1920 by 1080) displays, which means more spreadsheet fields but also more pleasing video chats (you’ll see the pores on a nose before you’ll see the dots that make up the image).
Best 4K monitor for home office: Dell Ultrasharp U2720QM
If you’ve got to crunch the numbers, you shouldn’t have to squint to see them, and the Dell Ultrasharp U2720QM monitor for home office offers 27 inches of crisp display space at a competitive price of about $600. The IPS (that’s In-Plane Switching) LED panel delivers a clearer picture from any angle, features 163 pixels per inch and a 1,300:1 contrast ratio (the more above 1,000 the left number goes the better) and offers 95 percent of the P3 gamut, which is the color space many of us have gotten used to watching video. The best Dell monitor for home office supports HDR, high dynamic range, which means more visible detail, especially in the darker areas of the screen. So, even if the folks from accounting aren’t good about lighting their Zoom calls, you can see more of their faces. And, with USB-C, DisplayPort, and HDMI inputs, the U2720QM is ready to connect to pretty much any standard computer (and it can be used to charge and/or daisy chain USB-C devices).
What if I want to game after work?
You know what they say: work hard, display hard. OK, maybe that’s not a common saying yet, but it could be as PC gaming continues to gain popularity. While recognizing there are people that build a custom gaming rig and select a monitor specifically paired to their GPU, this recommendation is for the best gaming monitor for a home office that can perform without dedicated NVIDIA or AMD hardware. You can really expect it to shine should you choose to invest in specialized components that can push its higher refresh rates and lower response times to the max.
Best 4K monitor for gamers: LG UltraGear 27GN950-B Monitor
If a monitor is the window to a game’s soul, you don’t want to shortchange all the passion put into these immersive worlds, do you? With the right hardware support, the LG 27GN950-B’s “Nano IPS” panel can achieve a 144Hz refresh rate (overclocked to 160Hz) and 1ms response time, which is ridiculous for a 4K monitor. It is both G-SYNC and FreeSync—offering flexibility if you do decide to purchase a top-shelf graphics card—but is a solid performer with low input lag right out of the box, offering multiple calibration presets and customizable parameters. It’s a very bright monitor, which is great to fight the glare of a workday with suboptimal lighting (though, conversely, it might not have the best contrast for dark-room gaming, where a VA panel is preferred). It’s not too terribly much more than an office-oriented 4K monitor, has all the standard ports (USB-C, HDMI, and DisplayPort), and is capable of delivering a clear, tearing-free experience whether shooting off emails or tearing through another campaign.
So what if more is more?
Want to reach new productivity heights? Then look to go to new lengths: up to 49 inches diagonal, depending on budget. The days of cobbling together several monitors with their disruptive bezels are over; it’s now possible to buy an ultrawide screen that is far more immersive than any patchwork of panels. A multitasker’s fantasy come to life, these panels can deliver a field of view that’s the equivalent of two 27-inch monitors without the need to move your head around too much, assuming you have the desk space.
Best ultrawide monitor: Samsung Odyssey G9 Monitor
The best Samsung monitor for truly voracious content consumers and creators, the Odyssey G9 offers an astounding 32:9 aspect ratio, driven by a company known for its pin-sharp panel innovations. Using QLED technology, this DQHD monitor features 5,120 by 1,440 resolution, a 240Hz refresh rate, and HDR10. It’s got a curvature of 1000R, which matches the human eye and keeps the entire image at the same distance to minimize eye strain, with great peak brightness and reflection handling perfect for those well-lit office appointments. There’s no doubt this represents the pinnacle of side-by-side document comparison and a Picture-in-Picture feature lets multiple devices be displayed simultaneously, but it’s also a monitor optimized for G-SYNC/FreeSync and the motion handling of gaming.
What if I have a Mac in my home office?
So you’re deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and looking for a monitor. Well, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: If brand loyalty and/or uniform aesthetics are a priority to you, that classic Cupertino industrial design is costly. Apple’s own Pro Display XDR 32-inch Retina 6K monitor starts at $4,999. Now, the good news: If you’ve got a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac mini from the last few years, you have access to a USB-C port and therefore any monitor supporting that connection. That makes the best Apple monitor simply the best USB-C monitor with the looks and features you like (pretty much any of our previous recommendations, though the Samsung would require an adapter). So, because a lot of Mac users are creative professionals, this pick highlights a monitor that’s geared toward color accuracy and photo/video editing.
Best Mac-compatible monitor: BenQ PhotoVue SW321C
No, it won’t match the Apple Pro Display’s brightness or contrast ratio, neither its light-shaping tech, nor its gleaming machined looks, but the BenQ PhotoVue SW321C also won’t match its price while delivering more than enough for professionals already spoiled by Retina displays. For $2,000, it offers a 32-inch 4K 16:9 display with 10-bit color depth and 99-percent Adobe RGB, 100-percent sRGB/Rec. 709 and 95-percent P3 color spaces, as well as HDR 10/HLG Support. The soft-matte IPS panel resists reflection and supports many software/hardware calibration tools.
On a side note: If you have both a compatible Mac running at least macOS Catalina (10.15) and a compatible iPad running at least iPadOS 13, you already have access to additional screen real estate. If you’re not editing professional images and all you need is somewhere to place a window or two, Apple offers a feature called Sidecar that allows an iPad (connected via wire or wireless) to either extend or Mirror a Mac’s desktop, and conversely give your computer access to the Apple Pencil for drawing, notation, and other activities.
Best monitor for home office on a budget: What you can get for under $200
If you want to reduce the price, the quick way is to reduce the size. This doesn’t mean you have to deduct all the features, however. Resolution, refresh rate, and brightness might be somewhat decreased, but when spending $200 instead of $2,000, what you do get is a jump in terms of value. There are still plenty of cheap monitors for home office that feature color accuracy and comfort features, zippy response times and gamer-friendly interfaces, flicker-less tech, and blue-light filters. Here’s the best monitor for home office we’ve found at an affordable price.
Best cheap monitor: AOC C24G1A Curved Frameless Monitor
A FHD display with up to a 165Hz refresh rate, the AOC C24G1A monitor features a 1,500R curved VA (Vertical Alignment) panel and 3,000:1 contrast ratio, meaning it’s going to offer inky blacks and vivid colors. You won’t get the same color gamut as an IPS monitor, but you will get some added depth to the physical experience. The monitor’s frame is unobtrusive and the sturdy stand has height, swivel, and tilt adjustments, offering a well-rounded, responsive experience. You’re restricted to using HDMI or DisplayPort as your connection, but the monitor still offers a lot of upscale, cinematic features for a low price and will improve the general work environment.
If your work involves travel or devices in multiple locations, another cheap option is the 15.6-inch Lepow HD USB-C display—the best portable monitor for mobile presentations. It’s not a replacement, more an extension of your desktop—think an iPad, minus everything but the screen. For just under $200, you get a 1080p IPS Eye Care panel with Mini-HDMI and USB-C ports (and a built-in cover), so you can connect a laptop, smartphone, or gaming device while on the go.
Best monitor for home office FAQ
What should I look for in a home office monitor?
Start your search at 24-inch models, but seriously consider 27 inches as a best baseline. A Full HD (1080p) resolution is the bare minimum, but a 4K panel with more than 100 pixels per inch, flicker-free operation, more than 95 percent of color spaces, and low blue light will deliver the crisp, rich presentation that reduces frustration and fatigue. An adjustable, ergonomic stand will reduce slouching and straining. Having both an HDMI and a USB-C port will assure maximum compatibility. And if for some reason you want to mount a monitor to a wall, make sure to pick one that is VESA compatible for ease of attachment.
Do I need a 4K monitor for office work?
“Need” is a relative term. If you’re not doing photo or video editing, you probably don’t need a 4K monitor. But could even clerical work and conference calls benefit from the added resolution? Absolutely. And, as more and more streaming media sites upgrade their content to the standard, getting 4K is a way to partially future-proof your investment.
Which monitor is better for eyes?
Eye strain, like carpal tunnel syndrome, is a harsh reality of the modern work environment, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. To reduce the chance of fatigue, look for a monitor that promises flicker-free, low blue-light technology. Several brands, such as BenQ, ASUS, and ViewSonic, designate optimized monitors as “Eye Care.” An adjustable, ergonomic stand and fast response rate also help, because the best solution is a consistently stable image.
A final word on shopping for the best monitor for home office
Folks always talk about the benefits of investing in real estate. Well, the same goes for screen real estate. When it comes to a working from home setup, you may not always start with the optimal space, but if you approach selecting the best monitor for home office like the most cost-effective renovation, you’ll find one simple upgrade can substantially improve your property.
It’s not your imagination: All those hours of video calls take more of a toll on your brain and body than regular office work. Now scientists say they know why — and what to do to avoid it.
If you’ve bundled up in cold and snowy conditions to hit the ski slopes, you might think that you don’t need a separate snowboarding jacket if you want to switch things up to do a few halfpipe tricks. It’s true that a ski jacket with sufficient insulation and waterproofing does provide protection against the elements—and that might be just fine for some people. However, the best snowboarding jackets offer coveted features tailored to the unique nature of the sport.
The key differences between these two jacket types come down to fit and style. In many types of skiing, how fast you can make it down the mountain is a top goal. Aerodynamic designs need to fit snuggly to minimize resistance on your (hopefully controlled) descent. In contrast, the intricate movements required to stay on your snowboard as you execute flips, grab the heel or toe edges of the board, and rotate in mid-air, favor a looser fit. Even when you don’t bail in the middle of a move or unexpectedly land on your backside, you’ll also spend a lot of time seated in the snow to strap on your board, so a longer jacket is crucial to keeping your rear end from feeling the deep freeze. And with obvious parallels to the subcultures of skateboarding, snowboarding clothes are an opportunity to experiment with creative expression rather than fit into a traditional resort look.
Ultimately, choosing the best snowboard jacket to match the rest of your snowboarding gear depends on your preferences, skill level, and the conditions in which you’ll be taking to the air. Snowboarding jackets can be made up of high-tech material suitable for intermediates and pros, or a variety of materials that emphasize comfort and versatility. Special features like zippered air vents, designated pockets, and taped seams can make your experience even better. Here’s what to look for to make sure your snow gear works with you, whether you’re hand planting or face planting.
Features to consider when shopping for the best snowboarding jackets
When you take a little time to familiarize yourself with the types of snowboarding coats on the market, you’ll be able to choose the perfect gear for your needs and budget. The best snowboarding jacket for you may change along with your relationship to the sport, but you can avoid over (or under) equipping if you understand the purpose of each feature offered as you shop.
Are you searching for versatility in a jacket?
If you’re looking to get the most for your money in a jacket you can wear at home, around town, or on the trail, gear with multiple functions is a good choice. The best snowboarding jacket for multiple functions is called a 3-in-1 jacket, which means it can be worn three different ways depending on the situation.
Look for 3-in-1 jackets with a waterproof and insulated outer layer, and an inner shell that can be easily un-zippered from the outer layer. If you’re lucky enough to hit the resort when it’s warm outside, the shell might be just what you need to stay dry and minimally exposed to the wind. Wear the insulated outer layer as an everyday coat, and both together when conditions are truly wintery.
Synthetic materials are generally the most practical option for snowboarding jackets. Down jackets may be known for their ability to retain heat, but they lose their power to insulate you when wet. You can buy down jackets meant for use in snowy conditions with additional water-resistant layers, but synthetic materials for the best snowboarding jackets have been researched, planned, and tested expressly under the powder-tasting conditions snowboarders face.
Best 3-in-1 Jacket for Men: Patagonia Snowshot 3-in-1 Jacket
The 2-layer outer shell is waterproof, water-repellent, and breathable, with a detachable hood, cuffs you can adjust to wear over or under your gloves to protect against gaps, and zippered air vents under the armpits for quick cooling. Wear the quilted and insulated inner layer by itself depending on the weather, or bundle up with the whole combo. The embedded RECCO® reflector is a nice feature in the event of an avalanche as part of a comprehensive safety plan.
Best 3-in-1 Jacket for Women: Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1 Jacket
The Patagonia Snowbelle is very similar to the men’s Snowshot, and is an excellent women’s snowboarding jacket that can be worn while snowboarding or skiing. The inner insulated jacket is reversible to either a smooth or quilted surface, with 60 grams of synthetic insulation that performs even in wet conditions. Design highlights include a back long enough to reach your hips and a powder skirt that can be attached to any of Patangonia’s snow pants to offer a comprehensive barrier against the weather.
Are you new to the sport?
If you’re just starting out, purchasing a quality jacket at a lower price point allows you to learn what features are a must-have for your snowboarding style. How hot will you actually be on the trail or course when you hit your groove? What kinds of pockets will prove essential for your phone, gloves, and snacks, and whatever else you’d like to carry once you’ve left the lodge?
To get the full benefits of gear designed specifically for snowboarding as opposed to skiing, a mid-range shell jacket is a solid option. A well-designed shell with good water and windproofing gives you room to layer and doesn’t restrict your movement as you practice grabs and basic jumps.
The one feature beginners should definitely look for in a snowboarding jacket is an elongated back with a powder skirt (also called a waist gaiter), which creates a tighter fit of your jacket around your body so you don’t have the freezing sensation of snow traveling up your back when you’ve taken a spill or from loose powder in the wind. (And you will take a spill. Or three.)
Best Snowboarding Jacket for Beginners: REI Co-op First Chair GTX Jacket
At this price point, this is the best snowboarding jacket to acquire a high-quality shell when you’re still getting to know the sport. Stay comfortable with classic features including two-layers of Gore-Tex, a longer back hem, water-repellent zippers, and lots of room for adding insulated layers. What really makes this snowboarding jacket stand out are extra touches like the ability to detach the power skirt, a soft liner in the hand pockets, and cozy tricot fabric in the high collar to pamper your chin when you’ve tucked it in against the wind.
Are you ready to level up?
Snow enthusiasts who are contemplating investing a significant amount of time in snowboarding should consider purchasing a shell-style snow jacket. Sometimes called technical shells, these jackets are meant to be worn with extra layers underneath in colder temperatures, and feature high-tech materials like Gore-Tex, eVent, and Omni-Tech. These materials help ensure your jacket is waterproof, breathable, and protective against the wind.
You’ll also want to think about what your days look like snowboarding. Are you a weekender who books a couple of nights at a resort and likes to ski, snowboard, and drive into town for fine dining or drinks? In that case, you might prefer a slightly bulkier shell with warmer insulation that you can keep on all day.
Remember, along with top technical fabrics for waterproofing, the best snowboarding jackets have taped seams to ensure that there is no room for leaks and that everything you’re storing in your pockets stays dry.
Best technical shell for all-day wear: Arc’teryx Ravenna LT Jacket – Women’s
This Arc’teryx jacket features brushed flannel on the inside for softness and warmth, plus waterproof and windproof protection courtesy of 3-layer Gore-Tex.
Enjoy the added security of RFID blocking materials to help ensure your passport and credit cards can’t be accessed by a scammer while you’re out and about. The powder skirt is removable once you’re off the slopes.
Are you a super-serious shredder?
There’s no question that making an investment in the best snowboarding jackets is a good idea when you’re at the pro-level —even if you never plan to compete. A comprehensive grasp of the terminology of the sport means you’ll recognize what each feature of a pro-level jacket is addressing, like spindrift, which the Avalanche Center defines as “fine grained snow being carried by wind or falling.”
Keep in mind that snowboarding jackets at the pro-level are designed for a specific purpose, rather than trying to cover all the bases of a day spent outdoors. A lighter and more portable technical shell may be excellent for water and wind protection but work best with additional specialized layers of insulation. You might also see additional layers of Gore-Tex or other highly technical insulation in pro-level jackets, and other types of fabric designed to stand up in the toughest conditions.
Expect pro-level gear to be made from the latest materials being developed for optimal mobility and protection, and subjected to rigorous testing and standards pro athletes can trust. Every detail should be thought-out carefully and questioned in the larger context of performance. You can definitely find stylish pro-level gear, but that style will be in service to the end game: ensuring you can give every run all you’ve got.
Best pro-level snowboarding jacket: Arc’teryx Rush Jacket – Men’s
The Arc’teryx Rush features a special material created in collaboration with Gore-Tex to deliver three layers of protection against water and wind. Pit-zips and pocket zips alike are fortified with their trademark WaterTight design, and the helmet-compatible hood protects while keeping maximum visibility. The sleek, color-block appearance leaves plenty of room for your awesome jumps, flips, and aerial rotation to take center stage. At just over 1.5 pounds, it’s easy to store in anticipation of your next adventure.
Are the kids coming with you?
With all clothing purchases for kids, there are numerous factors that come into play, many of which you can’t control. Kids lose interest in activities quickly, and grow out of clothes just as fast. Get the most from your money by seeking a coat with features that can adapt as they grow (such as Burton’s Room-To-Grow sleeves), and that they’ll want to wear to school, on snowy weekend adventures, and in the backyard building a snowman.
Unless your child is training or competing as a snowboarder, you don’t necessarily need a jacket designated only for snowboarding. After all, next week they might decide they’re going to be a downhill Olympic skier. If the jacket you choose has a waist gaiter to keep powder at bay and a hood that fits a helmet, that will go a long way towards making your time together on the mountain enjoyable.
Best snowboarding jacket for kids: Burton Boys Symbol Jacket
This snowboarding jacket checks all the boxes of comfort and utility: a waist gaiter that’s compatible with Burton’s snow pants, DryRide insulation (their version of Gore-Tex) to keep kids from shivering when they work up a sweat, a hood that’s adjustable to fit a helmet, and taping of major seams for durability and protection from the elements. Their signature Room-To-Grow system makes this coat last more than one season, since you can let out the sleeves 1.5 inches when they start to get taller than you.
Best snowboarding jacket on a budget: What you can get for under $100
Snowboarders on a budget may be able to find significant markdowns on top brands like Burton, Arc’teryx, Columbia, REI, and Patagonia, especially at the end of the season. You might also consider thrifting lightly-used gear to get the most high-performance fabric and features for your dollar. If your interest in snowboarding and skiing is more casual or you need a jacket quickly for a getaway weekend, you still have options. You probably won’t be able to get fully waterproof materials at this price, but look for water-resistant and wind-resistant fabrics and a powder-skirt, and be sure to leave room for layering to make up for any lack of insulation. Here’s the best snowboarding jacket we’ve found on a tight budget.
Best budget snowboarding jacket: Suokeni Women’s Snow Coat
The Suokeni Women’s Snow Coat is versatile enough to grab out of your closet for a brisk winter walk with friends or a trip to the slopes. Key features include adjustable cuffs for your gloves or mittens, a detachable storm hood, and a snow skirt. While it’s primarily made of synthetic material, this jacket includes a cotton filling to help retain heat. A DWR polymer coating repels water and the outer layer also protects against the wind. Consider layering for added warmth in colder temperatures.
FAQ: people also ask
How do I choose a snowboard jacket?
Once you gain a thorough understanding of the common features and jacket types described in this article, you’ll want to choose a snowboard jacket that has the features you need for your skill level, fits in with your other winter gear (i.e. if you already have a 3-in-1 jacket, a technical shell will probably be next on your list), and is compatible with your budget. After you’ve narrowed down the jackets that meet these specs, feel free to have fun with style and color.
Are snowboard jackets warm?
The warmth of a snowboard jacket will vary depending on the type of jacket you purchase. Lightweight technical shells will have less insulation than a 3-in-1 jacket. For many snowboarders, layering is key to enjoying boarding in all conditions. Choose a jacket based on your entire snow wardrobe, rather than based on warmth alone.
What is a good waterproof rating for snowboarding?
Waterproof ratings can tell you something about your gear, but it’s a better idea to take into account the quality of the whole garment and the conditions under which it will be used. The difference between a 10,000mm waterproof rating and a 28,000mm rating may not matter at all, depending on these other factors. If you choose a top brand jacket made with technical fabrics and quality craftsmanship, you’ll likely find the number you need— but if you search based on number alone, you could end up with a jacket with leaking seams or poor durability.
A final word on shopping for the best snowboarding jackets
The most important characteristic of snowboarding gear is performance that matches what you’re capable of at the resort or in the backcountry. The best snowboarding jackets keep you warm and dry, give you plenty of room to move, and offer features like powder skirts tailored specifically for the sport. Casual snowboarders might have one great jacket for both skiing and snowboarding, and serious shredders might have several jackets depending on the weather and terrain. Once you have the right gear, you can focus on the unparalleled thrill of fresh air and exercise that in its best moments, make you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Canister vacuums can be such a drag—figuratively and literally. They require you to drag two pieces of equipment around rooms as you clean the floor, which can make the process of vacuuming particularly cumbersome and exhausting. You have to bend to turn them on and off, and when you’re finished with your work, you have to store two bulky compartments. And don’t get us started on the messy, frustrating process of changing vacuum bags.
Upright vacuums, which come in both bagged and bagless styles, only have one section to worry about, and most have a power button you can reach while standing upright. They’re easy to maneuver since there’s no canister constantly bumping into furniture and walls or scuffing the floors with its wheels. They may be heavier and louder than canister models, which also feature retractable cords to prevent tripping, but as electric carpet cleaners and hardwood floor cleaners go, the best upright vacuums can cover a larger area and are simple to use and store.
The benefits of upright vacuums don’t end there. Most come with snap-on and snap-off cylinders, so you won’t have to worry about changing vacuum bags, and attachments allow them to do more than clean floors. Ultimately, the best upright vacuum for you is a matter of taste, and unless you get a remote controllable model, you’ll have to do some physical work. Still, the following models will make cleaning floors and carpets easier and maybe even a little bit of fun.
Features to consider when shopping for the best upright vacuum
So you’ve decided to make clean-up easier and seek out the best upright vacuum your money can buy. Now what? Well, as with all household appliances, first you need to narrow down the options. Do you want to go bagged or bagless? Should you go with a larger upright vacuum or get a lightweight stick model to tackle stairs? Do you need it for carpet, hard floors or both? There are a lot of decisions to make, but you can relax. We’re here to help.
What is the best upright vacuum?
Even the best upright vacuums lack the suction power of canister models. This makes them a bit less effective at cleaning smooth floors, but they can really rock a carpet. They’re a bit unwieldy when vacuuming stairs due to their size, but if you opt for a stick model or get one with a handheld vacuum attachment, the stair issue is easily solved.
The feet of the best upright vacuums aren’t designed to reach corners and crevices as easily and efficiently as those of canister vacuums, but having just one moving part makes them easier to maneuver, which means they work better with larger rooms. Let the user beware, however: Upright vacuums can rouse even the deepest sleeper. The quietest models produce around 70 decibels of noise. That’s between five and 10 decibels louder than the average canister vacuum. So you might want to wait until everyone’s awake before running the best upright vacuum.
Best upright vacuum: Dirt Devil Endura Reach Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner
This is the best upright vacuum, lightweight enough to roll all around the house, and its multi-floor brushroll works equally well on carpets and hard floors without any loss of suction power. This upright bagless vacuum comes with attachments for crevices and underneath furniture, a washable filter, and a dirt cup that’s easy to detach and empty.
What is the best upright vacuum for pet hair?
Pet hair sheds, and that’s a fact of home life for any family with a beloved dog or cat. To keep walking surfaces hair-free, you’ll need a pet vacuum cleaner with enough suction power to zap it all up. Experts recommend a machine with at least 12 amps of power and/or special attachments designed specifically to take care of pet hair. If you have carpet, get a vacuum with a brush roll to help loosen particles from the carpet so they can be more easily suctioned into the unit. Be sure to turn it off when vacuuming hard surfaces as they may blow dirt around the room and leave scratches on floors.
Handheld models make the best upright vacuums for pet hair because they can get between couch cushions and other hard-to-reach areas. Just be sure to get one with adequate suction power. Since pet hair will cause vacuum bags to fill up more quickly, consider a bagless upright vacuum with a bin so there is less hair build-up and you won’t have to constantly replace bags. Oh, and don’t forget to read reviews to see how other dog and cat owners have fared with whatever pet vacuum cleaner you are considering.
Best upright vacuum for pet hair: BISSELL Cleanview Swivel Pet Upright Bagless Vacuum Cleaner
Swivel steering helps make upright vacuum cleaner easier to move around furniture, and at 13.5 inches wide, its square-edged foot is designed to fit into the harder-to-sweep corners of rooms. Specialized pet-tool attachments for the six-foot-long hose assist in picking up cat and dog hair on furniture and stairs, making this the best upright vacuum for pet hair.
What is the best carpet cleaner?
As previously mentioned, the best upright vacuums for carpet will feature a brush roll to assist in removing dirt and dust from rugs. If your carpet or rug is made of synthetic fibers like nylon, olefin, or polyester, or if you have a lot of floor traffic, you’ll need a carpet cleaner with aggressive bristles on the brush roll. That means they should have dense, stiff bristles and a beater bar function to lift dry soil from the carpet so it can be brushed and suctioned away.
For carpets made of natural fibers like wool or silk, the brush roll should be softer, more flexible, and not as densely packed so that it doesn’t damage the delicate fabric. If your rug or carpet is made of especially fragile material, you might have to get a carpet cleaner with a specialty brush roll or a suction-only rug tool. To be on the safe side, check the label on your rug to be sure you’re getting the best upright vacuum for your carpet needs.
Best upright vacuum for carpet: Eureka PowerSpeed Turbo Spotlight Lightweight Upright Vacuum Cleaner
This upright vacuum for carpet can hold 4.1 liters of dust, and an LED light allows you to get a clear view when it’s being used to clean under beds and too see dark spaces beneath other furniture. It weighs in at a manageable 10 pounds, and it can easily switch from cleaning carpets to vacuuming cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling.
What is the best hardwood floor cleaner?
The best upright vacuums will have a brush roll with an on/off function. This makes for a more versatile machine that you can use on both carpets and hard, flat surfaces. Always turn it off before running it over hardwood floors to avoid scratching. This will also prevent it from blowing dust around and causing debris to land on your furniture or circulate around the room.
If an upright vacuum has no on/off brush-roll function, then a brush roll with soft bristles will be gentler on your hardwood floors. A good one will have enough suction power to remove debris from those tiny crevices in the wood. One reason upright vacuums for hardwood floors are preferable to canister models is because there are no wheels to leave unsightly marks as the unit rolls around during the cleaning process.
Best upright vacuum for hardwood floors: BISSELL 81L2W Hard Floor Expert Corded Stick Vacuum Cleaner
This stick vacuum is the best upright vacuum for hardwood floors, with the added bonus of being ultra-lightweight and easy to maneuver. It has swivel steering, which makes pushing it around practically effortless, and a bagless design means you won’t have to put too much energy into cleaning it out when it’s full.
What is the best vacuum for stairs?
If you live in a house with stairs, you’ll need a lightweight upright vacuum cleaner that you’ll be able to negotiate from step to step. Since upright vacuums tend to be too bulky to accomplish this with ease, we recommend considering a stick vacuum cleaner, which, on average, weighs in at less than seven pounds. Most are battery-operated, so you won’t have to worry about keeping them plugged in while you go up and down the steps.
Cordless handhelds are another good lightweight option, though they will require a lot of bending. As lightweight and portable as they are, handhelds are probably best when used in tandem with a larger upright vacuum, especially since they may run out of power after less than a half-hour, forcing you to suspend your vacuuming until they recharge. Even if you don’t live in a house with stairs, you might find that a lightweight upright vacuum cleaner (think 10 pounds or less) will make cleaning up floors easier on your back.
Best lightweight upright vacuum cleaner: Eureka Airspeed Ultra-Lightweight Compact Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Designed for both hard floors and carpet, this model weighs under eight pounds. The super-lightweight design of this upright vacuum makes it perfect for vacuuming stairs. It includes a crevice tool and dusting brush attachment as well as a stretchable hose, and it converts into a handheld vacuum that can reach the tightest spaces, making it our pick for the best lightweight upright vacuum.
Best upright vacuum on a budget: What you can get for under $30
You can easily pay hundreds of dollars for the best upright vacuum, but there’s really no reason why you can’t get what you need for around $100 and even much less. Look for a model that tackles multiple surfaces and something bagless for easy emptying. You might have to skimp on extras, like extendable nozzles and smart steering, but if you’re on a budget, these are small tradeoffs.
Best budget upright vacuum: Dirt Devil Versa Clean Bagless Stick Vacuum Cleaner and Hand Vac
You probably won’t find a better vacuum cleaner for a lower price. It works on carpet, rugs and hard floors as well as on stairs, and it converts to a handheld tool that you can use to vacuum areas above ground level. It’s not the best cleaner for large houses with a lot of foot traffic, but for single users living in smaller apartments, it should do the clean-up trick.
FAQ: people also ask
Will an upright vacuum lose suction over time?
An upright vacuum may lose suction over time if the bag is full, the filters need to be cleaned, or the airflow is obstructed. An old or faulty motor can also lead to a decrease in suction power.
How long should an upright vacuum last?
An upright vacuum should last around eight years, depending on how often you use it. A machine for a larger house that requires more frequent cleaning won’t have as long a lifespan as a vacuum that’s used in the studio apartment of someone who lives alone. Once the motor starts to go, it should be replaced, or it may be time to invest in a new vacuum.
How do you clean an upright vacuum?
You should clean an upright vacuum every six months or so following the manufacturer’s instructions. The dust bin on bagless models should be emptied, and if the instructions permit it, washed with warm, soapy water. Filters should be washed or replaced, and dirt and dust should be removed from the hose and attachments. Don’t forget to wipe the wheels and remove string and hair from the brush roller.
A final word on shopping for the best upright vacuum
The best upright vacuums can be specialized to accommodate specific spaces or functions (sweeping up carpets or hard floors, sweeping away pet hair) or designed to tackle a wide range of tasks and floor types. These cleaning tools may be louder and generally heavier than canister vacuums, but a portable, lightweight design can allow for more versatility and maneuverability. And if fussing with vacuum bags isn’t your thing, a bagless version will make cleaning up after cleaning up much less of a hassle.
If the area under your sink is a hodgepodge of spray bottles and solvents meant to clean your hardwood floors, carpets, appliances, and upholstery, it may be time to downsize by upgrading. One steam cleaner could be all you need to safely and effectively sanitize your home—sans harsh bleaching agents—including all the various surfaces, fabrics, and materials that entails. In fact, steam cleaning is the CDC’s recommended method for sanitizing your home.
A steam cleaner does what it sounds like: heats up water until it vaporizes, then uses that water to disinfect and sanitize. Because it’s a green way to clean, it’s a great option for anyone eco-conscious or with allergies. Some studies have even shown steam cleaning to effectively fight mold, bacteria, viruses—even bed bugs (eek).
If you’re ready to invest in a steam cleaner, figure out what you need from the device before you buy. Will you be using it primarily on hardwood floors? Or is your home carpeted? Do you want something that will pull triple-duty as a floor-cleaning tool, handheld contraption for hard-to-reach places, and upholstery steamer? Then you need something multipurpose. Use our guide to find the best steam cleaner for your particular needs, even if you’re on a tight budget.
Features to consider when shopping for the best steam cleaner
The best steam cleaner for someone with rooms full of wall-to-wall carpet and upholstery may not be the right option for someone who’s just looking for an extra layer of sanitation on all the hard surfaces of the kitchen and bathroom. And it may be different, still, for someone who wants to break out the machine once a year for a super-deep spring cleaning. Whether you’re looking for a basic floor cleaner, something to deep-clean the carpets, or an upholstery cleaner to finally knock that seemingly permanent layer of dust off the furniture, there’s a steam cleaner that’s right for you.
What should I look for in a carpet steam cleaner?
Instead of outsourcing your rug cleaning (expensive!) or just vacuuming (doesn’t sanitize), steam cleaning at home not only removes stains from your carpets but also disinfects thanks to the high heat. That means it can kill mold spores, germs, and bugs, while also refreshing your carpet, giving it new life.
Parents—of human children and furbabies alike—can also take comfort in knowing that steam cleaning uses nothing but hot water to get the job done. So your kids and pets are safe to roll around and do whatever it is they do on the carpet without your worrying about what potentially harmful solvents they’re lying on.
Things to consider when contemplating the best steam cleaner for you come down to what surfaces you’ll be using it for, whether you prefer something handheld or with a canister, and how much money you want to spend.
Best steam cleaner for carpet: McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner
Though the best steam cleaner for carpet is heavier than some of its peers—12 pounds, to be precise—a 15-foot-long power cord and a 9-foot steam hose make it easy to maneuver all over your home or business.
What about the best floor cleaner for surfaces that aren’t carpeted?
If you’re working with hard surfaces, especially wood, you need to make sure the steamer you’ve chosen is compatible to avoid any damage. First, double-check that your floors are sealed, and that goes for other materials, too, like linoleum, granite, and marble. If they’re not sealed, do not steam them. (The best thing to do is check with the manufacturer, but a quick test is to spill a few droplets of water on the floor. If they bead, you’re sealed.)
Once you’ve confirmed that your floors are appropriate for steaming, choose the proper gentle accessory—for example, a flat-surface tool (not a scrub brush or scraper) and make sure to set your machine to “low.” The last thing you want to do while cleaning your floors is accidentally damage them.
Best floor steam cleaner: Bissell PowerFresh Slim Hard Wood Floor Steam Cleaner System
The best floor steam cleaner? A Bissell steam cleaner is pretty much the gold standard in the category. All the accessories conveniently hook onto the base, which still weighs only 6 pounds, making it easy to schlep around. The 25-foot power cord makes it easy to move around, and it can be used everywhere from your grout to the inside of your oven.
What if I want cleaning tools that I can hold in my hand instead of lugging around?
Handheld steam cleaners offer the most adaptability, versatility, and convenience. They tend to be relatively lightweight for easy maneuverability, especially in tight corners.
If you’re looking for something that can clean every surface of your house—from the soap stains on your vanity to the grease marks on your hutch to the wrinkles in your sheets—you can’t go wrong with a handheld. These are great for detail-oriented cleaners.
Best handheld steam cleaner: Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner
This lightweight, 350-milliliter capacity, handheld steam cleaner is great for whipping out at a moment’s notice. Toddler spill something? Pet make a mess? Just want to give that wrinkly dress of yours the once over? Grab the handheld steamer and you’re set. It heats up in three to four minutes and delivers 20 minutes of steam.
What if you need a device that doubles as an upholstery cleaner?
The best machine for cleaning upholstery is a spot cleaner, which uses suction and steam to get into even the most down and dirty stains. And the best part about steaming your fabric-covered furniture is that because you’re using only water, you’re relatively safe from damage. (Just use your instincts. For example, don’t use a steamer on your leather armchair.)
Especially if you have fabric-covered furniture and you also have pets, an upholstery cleaner is a must. You’ll suction up and destroy dirt, dander, germs, and whatever else your pets (or guests) may have tracked in.
Best upholstery cleaner: Hoover ONEPWR Spotless GO Cordless Carpet and Upholstery Spot Cleaner
You get their Paws & Claws stain remover with your purchase of the best upholstery cleaner, which is great if you’re looking to amp up the power of your steam cleaner beyond plain water. Just always remember two words before you get started: Patch. Test.
I can’t decide which kind of steam cleaners are best for me—is there one that does it all?
There is! A multipurpose steam cleaner delivers concentrated shots of vapor into those hard-to-reach places you may have never thought about steaming. Ever knelt down and use a Q-tip to clean the goopy track of your shower door? No longer! What about the grimy grout between all your tiles? Forget about it.
A multipurpose steamer lets you seriously sanitize—with minimal effort—those places you dread cleaning the most. High-pressure concentrated steam wipes out dirt with no additional cleaning solvent or elbow grease required.
Best multipurpose steam cleaner: Bissell Steam Shot Deluxe Hard-Surface Cleaner
At just 4.5 pounds, you can tote this Bissel steam cleaner around looking for surfaces begging to be blasted. And it takes just 30 seconds to warm up. Steaming can tackle ceramic, laminate, vinyl, granite, marble, fabric, and sealed wood, making it our pick for the best multi-purpose steam cleaner.
Best steam cleaner on a budget: What you can get for under $55
Expensive isn’t necessarily better when it comes to finding the best steam cleaner for you. Especially if you end up intimidated by contraptions with lots of bells and whistles (and therefore end up not using them), there’s nothing wrong with keeping things simple and affordable. You may end up with a smaller capacity tank, or a model that takes a little longer to heat up, but the best steam cleaner on a budget will still get the job done.
Best cheap steam cleaner: LIGHT ‘N’ EASY Floor Steamers Steam Mop
A flexible head and 20-foot cord let you get into hard-to-reach places. This cheap steam cleaner also heats up in only 20 seconds. But if you want to use this one on the rugs, you’ll need to buy separate accessories.
FAQ: Everything else you need to know about the best steam cleaners
How long does steam take to kill bacteria?
No time at all! Well, practically no time. As long as the steam is hot enough (between 175 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit, though even higher is better), three minutes should do the trick. When you’re using a steam cleaner on floors, remember to vacuum first.
What happens to the dirt when you steam clean?
It’s true: Matter cannot be created or destroyed. So if you’re steaming a surface in order to clean it, even though it looks like the grime may have just disappeared, it hasn’t. The dirt gets picked up when you wipe it away. You steam mop the floor, and the dirt adheres to the reusable or disposable pad.
What should you not steam clean?
Avoid delicate fabrics like silk, leather, and suede; porous surfaces like stucco and brick; any unsealed wood, granite, or marble; and anything that’s been painted. When in doubt, skip the steam.
A final word on shopping for the best steam cleaner
Whether everybody in your house has a cold and you want to sanitize every single surface, or you’re just looking to upgrade your arsenal of cleaning tools with an easy-to-use, convenient, hypoallergenic machine, a steam cleaner may be for you. With nothing but piping-hot water, the best steam cleaner will wipe out every dust mite, microbe, and dirt fleck that dares set foot in your home.
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