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Written By Natasha Roy

Updated Mar 6, 2023 4:50 PM

Growing up, my mom would scold me whenever I bought a new notebook before finishing my old one. I couldn’t help it, though—sometimes a new pad is all you need to feel refreshed and get your thoughts out. Your phone has a notes app built-in. And even though it’s perfectly functional, let’s be honest: There is nothing like a good ol’ notebook. Whether you use a pocket-sized one for various lists or a spiral-bound one to take notes during class or meetings, putting pen to paper is a highly effective way to commit facts to memory, get your ideas in order, and let your creative juices flow. The notebook you choose is highly dependent on the purpose it will serve. Will you be carrying it around with you, or will it live on your desk? Do you plan to jot down quick notes or capture daily recollections in a diary? The details matter. Here’s how you can pick the best notebook for your needs.

How we chose the best notebooks  The best notebooks: Reviews & Recommendations

The best notebook is the one whose size and print type best serve your needs. In general, larger, lined notebooks work best for school settings where you’ll take copious notes throughout the day. However, if you plan to use a notebook as a diary, you may want a smaller, lined notebook with many pages. And for bullet journals or travel notebooks, a smaller notebook with plain, dotted, or gridded paper will work best. There are digital notebooks available if you’d like to skip the pen and paper altogether.

Best overall: Moleskine Classic Notebook

Why it made the cut: Moleskine notebooks have earned their reputation as a key piece of any scribe’s everyday carry over the decades. They’re slim and elegant, yet their durable covers will stand the test of time. This option is our top pick because it’s so versatile. You can use it to take notes in class, jot down grocery lists, or recap your day before going to bed. 

Specs

Cover type: Hardcover

Size: 5 x 8.25 inches

Page count: 240 pages

Color options: Comes in 21 colors

Print type: Ruled, dotted, plain, and squared paper available

Pros

High-quality paper

Multiple print types available

Long-lasting

Several size options

Cons

Not ideal for a classroom (smaller than the average spiral-bound notebook)

Not refillable

No customization options

Slightly pricey

The notebook comes with long-lasting, acid-free paper that’s easy to write on because of its weight. At 70 grams per square meter, it’s on the thicker side, making it suitable for use with various pens. If you prefer to write on both the front and back of the pages, the heavyweight paper will prevent most inks from bleeding through and muddying up your words. The soft yellow hue of the paper is also very pleasant to look at and won’t blind you as bright white paper does.

These notebooks work well for everyday use. The plain design makes one appropriate to bring to the office, and the 21 available colors allow you to express your personal flair still. And while this particular pick features ruled pages, Moleskine also offers the same size notebooks with dotted, gridded, plain, and plain/ruled paper. 

On a practical level, the integrated elastic band and internal folders ensure you can securely tuck mementos inside. And at 5-by-8.25 inches, the Moleskine Classic Notebook is easy to tuck into a bag on your way out the door.

Best bullet journal: LEUCHTTURM1917 Medium A5 Dotted Softcover Notebook

Why it made the cut: The LEUCHTTURM1917 bullet journal is an elegant, yet simple-to-use notebook that’s easy to carry around with you, and it’s a pleasure to write on. It’s comparable to Moleskine’s Classic Notebook, but LEUCHTTURM1917’s pages are even thicker at 80 GSM, making them more ideal for fountain pens.

Specs

Cover type: Softcover

Size: 5.5 x 8 inches

Page count: 123 numbered pages

Color options: Comes in 13 colors

Print type: Dotted, plain, ruled, squared

Pros

Eight perforated sheets

Light and portable

Multiple colors available

Cons

Fewer pages than other bullet journals

Not as long-lasting

The soft-cover A5-sized (5.8 by 8.3 inches) notebook is designed with off-white, acid-free paper that prevents ink bleed. The dotted lines are ideal for recording your thoughts, and the thread binding allows the notebook to lay flat for easier writing. The back cover also features an expandable gusseted pocket for safe storage. 

While there are plenty of bullet journals with dozens of extra features, the LEUCHTTURM 1917 is our favorite because of its simplicity. You can turn it into whatever you want: a daily agenda, a yearly goal tracker, a project planner, or all of the above. The pages are already numbered, and the book has a built-in table of contents—all you need to get started is a pen.

Best for school: Five Star Spiral College-Ruled Notebook

Why it made the cut: There’s a reason students still take the Five Star Spiral College-Ruled Notebook to class. This tried-and-true notebook covers all the basics. I used these in school, and they were especially useful in large lecture classes where we covered a ton of material in a short amount of time—I didn’t lose time flipping the pages every few minutes. The notebooks’ large size made it easier to organize my notes. Plus, only needing one pack of notebooks for a semester made back-to-school shopping significantly easier.

Specs

Cover type: Softcover

Size: 8.5 x 11 inches

Page count: 100 sheets

Color options: N/A

Print type: Ruled

Pros

Long-lasting

No ink bleedthrough

Additional storage

Cons

Can make a binder bulky

A bit pricey

Pages don’t detach easily

Sometimes you can’t beat a classic. Each notebook in this multi-colored six-pack has a plastic spillproof front cover and a two-pocket storage page for handouts, homework, and miscellaneous loose-leaf papers you collect throughout the year. 

Five Star’s college-ruled notebooks are our favorite for school because of how versatile they are. Each notebook has 100 sheets, ensuring you’ll only need one per class for the term. They are also designed with three-hole punches on the left side, so if you use a binder, you can easily add one to it, or tear off individual perforated, hole-punched pages when needed.

The pages are a standard 8.5 x 11-inch size, meaning they’ll easily fit on even the smallest lecture-hall desk. This size will also make it easy to fit in most backpacks, and the pages provide enough space to ensure you don’t need to flip the sheet every two minutes. Plus, each notebook in the set comes in one of six bright colors, so you can easily tell them apart. Never again will you have to scramble around to figure out which notebook you need for your next class before the bell rings.

Best for travel: Ai-Natebok Travel Journal

Why it made the cut: You’ll look forward to taking this small leather journal out of your bag to record memories when you travel. It also makes a perfect gift at a great price. The ability to have multiple insertable notebooks is crucial—when I took a solo trip a few years ago, I found it incredibly convenient to use different inserts for varying purposes. You can use one to jot down trip information, one to recap each day, and another to make a mini scrapbook.

Specs

Cover type: Leather cover

Size: 4.72 x 7.87 inches

Page count: 160 pages

Color options: Comes in three colors

Print type: Lined pages

Pros

Compact

Extra storage

Affordable

Cons

Plain cover

Small pockets

The Ai-Natebok travel journal is the ideal notebook to take while you traverse the globe. It’s small but mighty, with a soft leather cover to protect the inner pages, and won’t allow your memories to disintegrate as you take the notebook in and out of your bag. This journal also has two lined 80-page inserts to capture extra thoughts and a plastic card slot to store tickets, transit cards, and more.

Best pocket: PAPERAGE Lined Pocket Journal Notebook

Specs

Cover type: Vegan leather hardcover

Size: 3.7 x 5.6 inches

Page count: 160

Color options: Comes in 11 colors

Print type: Ruled

Pros

Includes inner pockets and sticker labels

Hardcover

Cons

Can get a larger notebook for the same price

If you’re looking for a small notebook to write down your large, fleeting ideas, look no further than this one from Paperage. Don’t let its size fool you—this ruled notebook has pockets, an elastic closure band, and thick high-quality paper, just like its larger counterparts. It’s also great to keep on you for list-making, reminder writing, and quick doodles on public transit. Plus, it comes in 11 colors, and its ruled type will help you write in straight lines, which is important when writing in such a small notebook. We’re also fans of this mini notebook’s slightly larger cousin—our gear staff writer uses one to write down her hopes and dreams.

Best budget: EOOUT 3 Pack Spiral Notebook College Ruled Notebook

Why it made the cut: The practical EOOUT notebooks make it easy to record thoughts or take notes wherever you go, while the covers are neutral and add a bit of flair at the same time. The three-for-the-price-of-one bundle is difficult to resist, and the hardcover makes them durable.

Specs

Cover type: Hardcover

Size: 5.5 x 8.3 inches

Page count: 80 pages

Color options: N/A

Print type: Ruled

Pros

Flipping pages is easy

Portable

Sturdy

Cons

Not that many pages

This trio of notebooks from EOOUT provides months’ worth of space for jotting down your thoughts. Each is bound by twin coils that make opening and flipping through the pages easy. At 5.5 by 8.3 inches, these notebooks slide easily into just about any bag, and the sturdy hardcover casing makes them durable enough to withstand getting bumped around.

The quality of the paper also makes these notebooks a smart pick. Each of the 80 pages is thick enough to help prevent ink from bleeding to the next page. The college-ruled pages are designed with roughly 25 lines per sheet, so there’s plenty of room for notes.

What to consider when buying the best notebooks

A small notebook doing double-duty as a diary may be too small for school notes, and vice versa. Your words deserve only the best, stylish notebook to reflect what’s happening inside them. Here’s what you should consider when shopping for the best notebooks.

Size

The size of the notebook you choose should be determined by the purpose you want it to serve, whether that is jotting down a short grocery list or storing a semester’s worth of notes. Notebook paper is often measured in what’s known as the A-size scale, which ranges from A10 (1 by 1.5 inches) to 4A0 (66.2 by 93.6 inches). The most common notebook sizes you’ll see are A4 (8.3 by 11.7 inches), A5 (5.8 by 8.3 inches), and A6 (4.1 by 5.8 inches). 

If you carry your notebook around in different bags, you’ll want something on the smaller side—anything A5-sized or smaller will do the trick. If you’re taking notes during class, though, you’ll want to go for something in the A4 range.

Paper weight

You’ll want to ensure your notebook paper can prevent ink from bleeding through the page. The thickness or weight of paper is measured in grams per square meter (GSM), and the minimum you should look for in a notebook is 58 GSM. The higher the GSM, the thicker and stronger the paper. Higher-quality paper is important if you want your notebook to stand the test of time or you want to experiment with different media, like watercolor or paint markers. But if you’re looking for a small notebook to make lists you don’t plan to keep, a lower GSM will suit you just fine.

Print type

There are four basic print types: plain, ruled, dotted, and gridded. Once again, the print type you choose will depend on how you use the notebook and your particular preferences. Plain paper is great for sketching and mapping ideas, whereas the structure of ruled paper works well for note-taking and journaling. Dotted and gridded pages are ideal for bullet journals, especially when you’re creating your own agenda or list system. There are no hard and fast rules on this—trial and error will help you find what works best for you. 

Binding type

The most common binding types are sewn, glued, and spiral. With sewn binding, the pages come sewn together in sections. This type of binding works well for notebooks you want to lay flat to write in (think bullet journals, diaries, etc.). Notebooks with glue binding (or “perfect binding”) use an adhesive to hold the pages and cover together. This binding method is quite durable and is often used with hardcover notebooks. Finally, spiral-bound notebooks are threaded with wires between pre-punched holes to bind the front and back covers to a stack of paper. Notebooks made with spiral binding are often used for school and office settings at your computer desk.

FAQs Q: How much do the best notebooks cost?

Depending on the size, binding, cover material, and tech connectivity, the best notebooks can range between $7-$600.

Q: Where can you find the best notebooks?

You can find the best notebooks at Amazon, any major retailer, office supply stores, or at specialty paper stores like Papier.

Q: What notebook is best for college?

Lined, spiral-bound 8.5-by-11-inch notebooks are best for college because they provide enough space to take clear, diligent notes while also lasting an entire term. The Five Star college-ruled notebook is our favorite, but the Mead spiral notebooks and the TOPS/Oxford 1-Subject Notebooks are solid runners-up.

Q: What is the most popular journal size?

The ideal journal size is subjective, but they’re often smaller notebooks than those used for schoolwork. We recommend B6 (5.03 by 7.16 inches) or smaller so you can toss it in any bag.

Final thoughts on the best notebooks

No matter how many new notes you can start on your smartphone app, a notebook is a must-have for those details and drawings that need to be put on paper. Our favorite overall is the Moleskine Classic Notebook because of its versatility. You can choose from five different print types to get exactly what you want out of the notebook, and the durable cover will help it last for many ideas to come.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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The Best Dog Toys Of 2023

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Written By Maddy Morris

Updated Jun 20, 2023 9:36 AM

One of the easiest ways to ensure your dog is living a fulfilled, happy, and healthy life is by making sure he or she knows how to have fun. Lucky for us dog owners, there are so many incredible pet products out there today. Whether your pooch is young or old, a gentle or rough player, anxious or relaxed, there’s a dog toy that’ll encourage his (and your!) playfulness. Plus, when you provide your dog with the best dog toys, you can worry less about your pooch creating his own toys from mom or dad’s sock drawer.

How we chose the best dog toys

As avid pooch people, we know from experience how to differentiate between a high-quality dog toy and one that disintegrates in one chomp. On top of our own personal experience, we also looked at suggestions from pet stores, impressions from fellow dog owners, and reviews from experts.

What to consider when buying the best dog toys Anxiety level

Having a dog with anxiety or nervousness can be a tough sight to see. As a pet parent to a dog with this type of personality, you want to do all you can to help reduce these issues and work to increase their comfort and confidence levels. Dog toys can be the perfect aid here. 

You’re the expert on your dog (along with your vet, of course) so think about how your dog tends to make himself feel better when he’s anxious or nervous. For many dogs, gnawing on things seems to help distract them. For others, having a comforting smell or their favorite dog products nearby simply makes them feel better. 

Personality

Apart from DIY canine enrichment games and puzzles, toys play a big role in a dog’s happiness and overall health. If you’ve been a dog owner for some time now, you’re probably keenly aware of the importance of matching a dog toy to your pup’s personality. Oftentimes we get so amped about how cutesy or reputable a particular toy is, only to present it to Pooch and get straight-up denied—there’s zero reaction, and it’s left alone, forever. To avoid this sad scenario, it’s important to anticipate your dog’s needs and wants by considering his or her personality. For example, if you know your dog is anxious, consider getting him a chewy dog toy or something he can gnaw on (this simple action has been shown time and again to decrease anxiety in dogs). If your dog is really playful, invest in a more interactive dog toy that will keep him on his toes and busy for hours. And if your dog is known to tear things to shreds, it’s time to ante up with an indestructible dog toy. A good dog toy can blow your dog’s mind.

Activity level

Whether you have a puppy or a more mature pooch who is still young at heart, sometimes it can feel impossible to find a toy that will actually fulfill their boundless energy needs. One of the best ways to exercise an active dog is by using interactive dog toys—where both you and your pooch can spend hours playing and bonding together. 

In fact, even if your furry friend isn’t the most active, toys can be a great way to encourage some positive fun and physical activity through new forms of exercise. Once they see that you’re having fun, they’ll want to join in and play, too.

Mental stimulation needs

Some breeds—like Australian Shepards, Jack Russell Terriers, and Siberian Huskies—need lots of mental stimulation to live a happy, healthy life. They can take to your couch cushions if not provided with self-entertaining dog toys. If you’re looking for some mental stimulation to keep your pet busy and entertained, dog puzzles and other enrichment toys are an ideal option. They present a healthy opportunity for pets to exert their physical and mental energies on a safe and fun toy. Plus, they can help with decreasing anxiety and improving problem-solving skills.

The best dog toys: Reviews & Recommendations

Much like humans need exercise to live a balanced life, dogs need toys for happiness and entertainment. As a crucial aside, keep in mind that no matter the material, even the best dog toys can break and/or wear with time, so please monitor your furry friend during playtime to ensure they’re having a safe experience.

Best overall: Kong Goodie Bone Dog Toy

Why it made the cut: From mental stimulation to everyday play, the Kong Goodie Bone Dog Toy survives it all.

Specs

Sizes: Small, medium, large

Breed recommendations: All breeds

Dimensions: 1.9 x 5.15 x 1.25 inches for small; 2.63 x 7.13 x 1.75 inches for medium; 3.35 x 8.5 x 2.25 inches for large

Pros

Multiple sizes

Warranty

Durable

Cons

Some dogs cause quick destruction despite durable claims

The Kong Goodie Bone Dog Toy will satisfy your pup’s instinct to chew while encouraging problem-solving. If you have a food-motivated dog, you can even fill the “Goodie Grippers” on each side of the bone with some of his favorite treats—go ahead and stuff them in there for a fun toy-turned-puzzle and some extra mental stimulation Kong’s durable red rubber stands up to wear from your canine’s canines. In case the toy is destroyed, this durable dog toy comes with a warranty, perfect for serial toy destroyers.

Best for puppies: Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Dog Toy

Why it made the cut: With a soft outer cover and an internal heated element, this toy is a cozy hug for nervous puppies.

Specs

Sizes: One size

Breed recommendations: All sizes

Material: Plush

Pros

Easy to clean

AAA batteries, heat pack included

Long-lasting

Cons

Doesn’t work for all puppies and dogs

No auto shut-off

Need to purchase additional heatpacks

Unofficially known as the sweetest toy out there, the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Dog Toy features a heartbeat-like vibration and a heat source, which you can turn on and off as you wish, for puppies who are in need of some mama-like comfort. If your dog is particularly anxious, you’ll be happy to learn that AAA batteries and a heat pack are included and last for two weeks of 24/7 use. Puppies are known to be messy—thankfully, the toy is easy to clean as it’s machine washable once you take out the heartbeat insert. Plus, it comes in four adorable color schemes to match your puppy’s coat.

Best rope toy: Feeko Dog Rope Toys

Why it made the cut: With its cotton construction, this tough tugger is fun for your dog and good for their teeth.

Specs

Sizes: Two sizes included: 19.5 inches and 30.5 inches

Breed recommendations: Medium and large dogs

Material: Cotton

Pros

Easy to clean

Cleans teeth

Durable

Cons

Not for small dogs

The Feeko Dog Rope comes in two sizes (19.5 inches and 30.5 inches) for medium and large dogs to play with themselves, their human friends and family, or with their dog peers. The all-natural cotton knots are designed for aggressive chewers, and as a bonus, the fibers help floss your canine’s teeth. Take that, dog breath. Plus, the fun colors and shapes will attract your pup’s attention away from furniture, shoes, and couch cushions. Additionally, the durable cotton rope is machine washable, in case Buddy keeps one rope for indoor fun, and the other for outside playtime.

Best dog Frisbee: Tuffy No Stuff Ultimate Ring Bone

Why it made the cut: This new take on a classic style of toy is safer for dogs’ teeth and more durable than other plush toys.

Specs

Sizes: One size

Breed recommendations: All sizes

Material: Fleece, industrial-grade luggage material, plastic coating

Pros

Durable

Better for dogs’ teeth

Lightweight

Cons

Squeakers pose a choking hazard

The Tuffy No Stuff Ultimate Ring Bone is made from polyester and fleece, which is super soft on your dog’s teeth mid-catch. The toy is lined with luggage material and plastic, meaning it’s just as durable as it is entertaining for pups. It weighs a mere four ounces, perfect for throwing in the car for long road trips, and it floats, meaning it’s a must-bring on your next lake or beach trip. The Ring Bone features squeakers so that every catch can be as intriguing as possible for your furry friend. However, this toy is a potential pass if your dog is prone to ripping out squeakers.

Best with treats: Outward Hound Fun Feeder

Why it made the cut: Barking brainiacs will get plenty of mental exercise while eating their food at a safe pace.

Specs

Sizes: One size

Breed recommendations: All sizes

Material: BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free plastic

Pros

Quiet

Benefits behavior and health

Quiet

Cons

Only holds one cup of food

The Outward Hound Fun Feeder not only should replace your dog’s boring old bowl, but also provide a fun way of slowing down his eating pace. Holding up to one cup of food at a time, the bowl wobbles and rocks and it’s up to your pet to figure out how to use his paws or snout in a way that will release his kibble. Additionally, the non-slip base is quiet on hard floors and won’t scratch or scuff floors while your dog plays. This toy doesn’t only have to be used at mealtime—go ahead and put a few tasty treats in there at any time of day when your dog is ready to play. The top removes for easy cleaning, and it’s made of safe materials for worry-free use.

Best interactive: Wobble Wag Giggle Ball

Wobble Wag Giggle Ball

SEE IT

Why it made the cut: The Wobble Wag Giggle Ball’s giggle sound intrigues and entices dogs to play.

Specs

Sizes: One size

Breed recommendations: All sizes

Material: Phthalate-free vinyl

Pros

Easy stimulation

Good for dogs of all sizes

Safe materials

Cons

Not safe for chewing

Noise can be annoying to humans

The Wobble Wag Giggle Ball features six clutch pockets across its surface, allowing any pup to easily grab and carry the ball. This ball is not battery-operated—its interesting giggle sound is created by internal tubes when the ball moves—making it long-lasting and safer for play. However, this dog toy might be more suitable for herding breeds who enjoy rolling a ball with their nose, since it is not durable enough to withstand chewing. The name might be hard to say five times fast, but this toy makes for easy pooch entertainment.

Best budget: Nylabone Dental Chew Bone

Why it made the cut: The Nylabone occupies, entertains, and helps keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

Specs

Sizes: Extra small/petite; small/regular; medium/wolf; large/giant

Breed recommendations: All sizes

Material: thermoplastic polymer

Pros

Promotes dental health

Good for moderate chewers

Lots of options for dogs of all ages, sizes

Cons

Not for strong chewers

The Nylabone Dental Chew Bone comes in four sizes—extra small/petite, small/regular, medium/wolf, and large/giant—and features rounded “bristles” that are perfect for tackling tartar and plaque. It comes vet recommended and is made from a rugged thermoplastic polymer that is perfect for moderate chewers. Its chicken flavoring makes it particularly tantalizing for dogs.

FAQs

As pet owners, our dog’s happiness is generally our number one priority. To ensure your dog is leading a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life, buy him a dog toy (or two, or five)! There are plenty of amazing products out there designed for all ages, all sizes, and all environments. Think about what makes your dog’s tail wag the most, and align that with the type of dog toy you want to test out. It’s OK to trial and error with a few toys until you find the best dog toy that makes your goodest boy or girl the most joyful!

The Best Mattress Toppers Of 2023

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Written By Quinn Gawronski

Updated Jan 23, 2023 10:28 AM

We spend approximately one-third of our lifetime in bed—so why would you settle for anything uncomfortable? A mattress topper adds a layer of softness to stiff mattresses, which can ultimately improve back pain, sleep quality, and comfort. Mattresses themselves are pricey, but a topper allows you to upgrade your bed at a fraction of the cost. Whether you’re subletting in a city and want to make moving easier, are looking to improve a stiff dorm bed, or need an extra layer of support on your joints and back, the best mattress toppers will make lights-out much better. 

How we selected the best mattress toppers

We considered a range of mattress toppers and selected top picks that varied in price, material, and firmness to suit different sleepers. Mattress toppers are typically designed with materials including latex, memory foam, polyester blends, feathers, and wool. While each type offers unique benefits, the longevity, durability, and support of latex and memory foam options are generally better than the polyester and feather mattress toppers. For this reason, we stuck to mattress toppers that will be worth the investment—and won’t require a repurchase in a few months time. The material of your topper also plays a part in determining its firmness, as latex options generally offer slightly more support than their memory-foam counterparts.  

And when it comes to finding a high-quality mattress topper, added features like cooling technology, antimicrobial properties, and the assurance of health certifications can make the difference between a good and great night’s sleep.

The best mattress toppers: Reviews & Recommendations

Why It Made the Cut: The Tempur-Pedic memory foam topper is designed to conform to your weight and temperature for personalized comfort as your sleep.

Specs:

Foam material

3 inches thick

Medium-firm density 

Pros:

Cooling technology

Relieves back pain

Returns to original shape after sleep

Cons:

Heavy product

High price point

Tempur-Pedic is no newcomer to the mattress world—the brand was founded in 1992 and has been crafting specialty sleeping aids ever since. Tempur-Pedic uses memory-foam material in this mattress topper, which conforms to the body’s shape and for a deeper and more comfortable night’s sleep. 

Memory foam is known for its ultra soft quality, though it may not provide as firm support as other materials. This three-inch-thick, medium-firm mattress topper is outfitted with Tempur-Pedic technology that adapts to your body’s temperature, weight, and shape for personalized support as you sleep. For those who are stuck with uncomfortable dormitory beds, this topper can make your mattress feel like a high-quality foam design. The cover is also washable, so you can easily remove the dirt, dust, and allergens that accumulate on beds. 

Why It Made the Cut: The adaptive foam on this Tuft & Needle mattress topper can be used with any mattress and provides firm support as you sleep.

Specs:

2 inches wide

Adaptive foam 

Medium density 

Pros

Improves body aches

Affordable option

Lighter material

Cons:

Not washable

Thinner design

If you want to add a layer of comfort to your mattress and make sleeping a bit more luxurious, this topper from Tuft & Needle will send you off with sweet dreams. Unlike other mattress toppers, Tuft & Needle uses specially designed adaptive foam, which has cooling properties like open-cell foam, breathable materials, and less sink effect than most other foam mattress toppers. 

This two-inch mattress topper is encased in a non-skid luxe knit cover that prevents it from shifting overnight and keeps your sheets from bunching as you sleep. The responsive foam material responds to your body to relieve pressure points on your hips and shoulders, without the typical sinking feeling of memory foam that can leave you feeling uncomfortable. 

This topper is also third-party tested and certified with CertiPUR-US to ensure that it’s free of harmful chemicals or materials like mercury, lead, formaldehyde, and phthalates, so you can rest easy. This Tuft & Needle topper is also compatible with any brand of mattress, making it a one-step fix for a stiff or uncomfortable bed.

Sleep On Latex

SEE IT

Why It Made the Cut: The SleepOnLatex Mattress Topper is made with all-natural latex that’s durable, supportive, and adjusts to your body temperature. 

Specs:

3 inches thick

Latex material

Medium firmness

Pros

Non-toxic

Ideal density

Regains shape quickly

Cons

Non suitable for those with latex allergy

You’re probably familiar with foam mattress toppers, but what about latex? If you don’t like the slight sinking sensation from memory foam, latex is a higher-density option that provides more support, and won’t sink as you sleep. Latex foam is also one of the most durable materials when it comes to bedding, so this investment will stand the test of time. 

The open-celled structure of natural latex foam allows air in to regulate the topper’s temperature. So if you’re looking for a mattress topper that will keep you cool all year round, you’ll appreciate this feature. The material allows for improved air circulation that doesn’t absorb body heat—so you can avoid the stuffy feeling of a body-temperature mattress topper. 

And unlike other latex mattress toppers, this one from SleepOnLatex is made with no fillers or synthetic latex, only natural latex harvested from rubber trees. During the production process, the latex is also tested by Oeko-Tex and is Class I-certified to ensure only the highest quality materials. 

Best for allergy sufferers: SafeRest Queen Size Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector

Why It Made the Cut: This cover from SafeRest keeps bacteria, fluids, and allergens out of your mattress with its waterproof coating and hypoallergenic material.

Specs:

60 inches x 80 inches

Fits 18-inch deep mattress

Cotton terry material 

Pros

Reduces allergies

Fitted design

Waterproof coating

Cons

No padding included

Thinner material

Best for cooling: subrtex Memory Foam Bed Mattress Topper

Why It Made the Cut: The gel-infused memory foam material keeps you cool while you sleep and comes with a washable bamboo rayon cover.

Specs:

3 inches thick

Gel-infused memory foam 

Bamboo rayon cover 

Pros

Washable cover

Cooling technology

No harmful chemicals

Cons

Elastic straps only suit up to 12-inch mattresses

Less warmth than other picks

Slightly sinking memory foam

If you toss and turn at night to find the coolest spot of the bed, this gel-infused memory foam topper will add a layer of comfort and chill to your nightly routine. While regular memory foam can feel stuffy or warm once you’re settled in, the ventilated design on this mattress topper optimizes the air flow throughout to reduce any trapped body heat. 

The gel technology from subrtrex also helps to disperse tension across its surface, which relieves stress on your body as you sleep. Plus, this pick comes with a machine-washable bamboo rayon cover for no-stress cleaning. For those who toss and turn, this pick comes with convenient elastic straps that prevent slipping and sliding. And fortunately for those of us who want to doze off without worrying about harmful chemicals in our mattress topper, this pick is both OekoTex- and CertiPur-certified.

Things to consider when buying the best mattress toppers Best brands of mattress topper

When it comes to creating a dreamy bed that provides the perfect amount of support and softness, there is a huge range of mattress toppers that claim to improve sleep quality. We recommend companies like Tempur-Pedic and Tuft & Needle—they have a reputation for high-quality products and patented technology.

Types of mattress toppers

Latex, memory foam, polyester blends, feathers, and wool are the primary materials used to make mattress toppers. But not all are created equal—some are more affordable with less durability, while pricier picks can hold up better as you toss and turn. Our top types to look for are latex and memory foam, which tend to be higher quality, but also slightly more expensive than polyester or feather options. 

Memory foam is the most comfortable of the bunch, and is known for its ability to soften a hard mattress, improve back and hip pain, and reduce motion as you sleep. For those that prefer a slightly more dense option, latex offers a firm yet bouncy feel. Latex also offers antimicrobial properties and is an incredibly durable rubber-based material, allowing you to use it for years to come.

Cooling Technology

Nobody likes a sweaty night’s sleep, which is why many mattress toppers are outfitted with designs to improve air circulation. If you don’t like the feeling of a heat-absorbing mattress topper, we’ve hand-selected picks that wick away heat for a cooler sleep. Whether it be the gel-infused materials of this subrtex pick or open-celled natural latex that wicks heat away, these toppers provide plenty of cooling.

FAQs Q: Which is better: memory foam or feather topper?

Both memory foam and feather toppers have unique benefits that will suit different types of sleepers. Memory foam adds a considerable layer of comfort between you and your mattress and reduces pressure on joints. A feather option is less expensive and doesn’t retain heat. For those who really want to make a difference to the comfort of their mattress, we’d stick with a memory foam option—the material is denser to turn a stiff bed to an ultra-soft one.

Q: Do feather mattress toppers make you hot?

One of the benefits of a feather mattress topper is that they don’t retain heat. Whether it’s chilly months in the winter or a hot summer night, a feather mattress topper will help keep your bed’s temperature comfortable.

Q: Is a thicker mattress topper better?

In general, the thicker your mattress topper is, the more support it will provide. Mattress toppers can range from two to four inches thick—so if you need significantly more support than your current mattress provides, a thicker topper will serve you better.

Q: Which is the most comfortable mattress topper?

Your most comfortable mattress topper will depend on your support and softness preferences. For an ultra-soft and conforming pick, the Tempur-Pedic option is a clear winner, but if you prefer a bit less give and more support in your mattress, the latex option from Pure Green will give a great night’s sleep. 

Q: How long do Tempur-Pedic mattress toppers last?

A Tempur-Pedic topper will last approximately three years if cared for properly.

Final thoughts on the best mattress toppers

You don’t need to go out and purchase a new mattress for a great night’s sleep. This range of mattress toppers provides an added layer of support, comfort, and cushion to your bed, so you can wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. Whether you want a plush option that conforms to your body or a semi-firm pick that relieves pressure on your joints, a mattress topper is the easiest and most cost-effective way to improve your sleep.

The Best Spin Scrubbers Of 2023

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Written By David King

Updated Jun 11, 2023 9:39 PM

What if we told you you could feel less like Cinderella while cleaning the house, scrubbing the floors with a cloth and bucket of water, and instead feel more like Inspector Gadget, whipping out all sorts of high-tech tools to make the job not only quick, but actually fun? Cleaning your floors, bath tiles, and kitchen sinks can go so much quicker with the help of a great spin scrubber. Whether you’re tackling the tile and grout in your bathroom, removing the baked-in grease and grit from your stove, or giving your hardwood floor a bit of a shine, here’s how to find the best spin scrubbers to finish the job.

How we picked the best spin scrubbers

Finding the best spin scrubbers for you means identifying the work you’ll be doing and the environment you’ll be doing it in. If you’re getting the grunge out of your grout or removing it from the narrow space around faucets, you’ll want a small brush specifically designed for tile and grout cleaning. If you’re tackling bathroom and kitchen floors, though, you’ll need a larger brush head. Thankfully, there are also convertible options that allow you to change out brushes to fit the job.

The best spin scrubbers: Reviews & Recommendations Best overall: Electric Spin Scrubber Cordless Shower Scrubber

Why it made the cut: This Electric Spin Scrubber makes deep cleaning easier, with a kit that includes three brushes suitable for both kitchen floor and tile and extension handles for hard-to-reach messes.

Specs:

Power: Cordless, 2500mAh batteries

Speed: Up to 380 rpm per minute

Run time: Up to 90 minutes

Pros:

Easy to assemble

Comprehensive set of brushes that work from floors to grout

Extension handle makes it easy to reach high spots and into corners

Cons:

Limited battery power

Why it made the cut: This powerful, cordless option comes with three brushes for deep cleaning, an extension of up to 51 inches, and water resistance that can handle a range of projects. 

Specs:

Power: Cordless; one lithium ion battery

Speed: Up to 210 rpm per minute

Run time: Up to two hours 

Pros:

18 volts of power

Telescoping handle that extends from 51 inches down to 38 inches

Water resistant up to 30 feet for 30 minutes

Cons:

Battery and charger sold separately 

This rechargeable power scrubber offers up to two hours of battery life, a telescoping neck that extends up to 51 inches and shrinks down to 38 inches, and an articulating head. Its water-resistance rating means it can be submerged in three feet of water for half an hour and keep on ticking.

Best for cars: Brush Hero Wheel Brush

Why it made the cut: The Brush Hero cuts through the grime and dirt that accumulates on your vehicle every day with water pressure and brushes that won’t damage its exterior.

Specs:

Power: Water

Speed: Slow and steady

Run time: N/A

Pros:

Water-powered

Comes with a four brushes to clean delicate detailing and deep seated-grime

Can use to clean grills, bikes, even pets

Cons:

Slower working

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep your vehicle clean, consider the Brush Hero. Just attach it to a garden hose and use water pressure to dislodge dirt and grime. A range of four brushes from soft to hard provide a slow and steady scrub that allows you to get your car clean without damaging the finish. And the Brush Hero can do double duty on a range of other items around the house, including the grill and sports equipment.

Best for tile and grout: Rubbermaid Power Scrubber with All-Purpose Grout Head

Why it made the cut: For stubborn spots, the Rubbermaid Power Scrubber provides targeted cleaning power at an affordable price. 

Specs:

Power: Cordless, two AA batteries

Speed: 360 per minute

Run time: N/A

Pros:

Ergonomic design

Lightweight

Fast

Water-resistance

Cons:

Can’t recharge directly

Best for floors: Bissell SpinWave Cordless PET Hard Floor Spin Mop

Specs:

Power: Cordless; lithium-ion battery

Speed: N/A

Run time: Up to 20 minutes

Pros:

Designed to clean up after pets

Lightweight and quiet

Comes with multi-surface cleaner

Cons:

May be harder to reach corners and crevices.

An 18-volt battery in this Bissell spin cleaning brush provides 20 minutes of cordless runtime as two brushes shine up your floor. Control how much cleaning solution hits your surfaces with a button. For another deep-cleaning method, check out the best steam mops.

Best budget: Drillbrush All Purpose Power Scrubber Cleaning Kit

Specs:

Power: Comes from drill

Speed: Comes from drill

Run time: N/A

Pros:

Three brushes in different sizes and shapes

Inexpensive

Can be used on porcelain, tile, and floorboards

Cons:

Not great for big projects

For under $20, you can get the scrubbers you need—but not the motor that powers them. That’s OK if you own a cordless drill. Drill brush-attachment packs offer an assortment of brushes designed for a wide variety of surfaces. Just plug in your drill, attach them, and bam, you’re ready to get your bathroom clean. We don’t recommend using your fanciest, newest drill for this task unless it’s waterproof, as odds are the drill is going to get wet.

Three different-sized nylon brushes of this electric scrubbing brush will do away with gunk and dirt and shine up your bathroom fixtures. You can also purchase different colors for different surfaces—the stuff red brushes work best for dinge-y garages and outdoor work, while the yellow bristles are better suited for bathroom tiles and porcelain.

Things to consider when shopping for the best spin scrubbers

Here are some factors that you should weigh before purchasing one of the best spin scrubbers.

Type of job: Are you looking for a scrubber to clean the sides of your house? Or are you looking to pinpoint tough areas, like grout in the bathroom? Spin scrubbers come in a variety of forms, from models that come with extenders for hard to reach places and a range of brushes to perform a variety of jobs, to handheld devices that allow you to zero in on an area.

Power: Some devices are equipped to provide hours of scrubbing power, powered either by batteries or water. Other options that attach to tools such as cordless drill will depend on the capabilities of the tool.

FAQs Q: Do spin scrubbers work?

Spin scrubbers make some cleaning tasks much easier. They regularly do away with soap scum and dirt, but mildew stains may require more precise cleaning tools. Their effectiveness really relies on the power they put out and the job you are trying to do.

Q: What soap should you use with a spin scrubber?

Part of the allure of spin scrubbers is that they offer enough power to preclude the use of harsh detergents. Most experts recommend using a mild cleaning formula along with your scrubber.

Q: How long does it take to charge a Hurricane spin scrubber?

Hurricane spin scrubbers must be charged for 20 hours when first removed from the box, but after the first use they need nine hours to fully charge.

The bottom line on finding the best spin scrubbers

The Best Hydration Packs Of 2023

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Written By Kristen Mulrooney

Updated Jul 21, 2023 1:55 PM

How we chose the best hydration packs The best hydration packs: Reviews & Recommendations Best overall: Osprey Raptor 10 Bike Hydration Bike Backpack

Specs

Bladder size: 2.5 liters

Sport: Biking

Weight: 1.6 lbs.

Backpack size: 10 liters

Pros

Lots of extra features like hip pockets and helmet attachment

Can also be used as a day pack

Large bladder size

Cons

Bag is not waterproof and doesn’t include a rain cover

Designed as a bike pack, the Osprey Raptor 10 Bike Hydration Backpack includes a 2.5-liter hydration bag and can also be used as a day-hiking backpack. Even weight distribution, hip belts, the LidLock helmet attachment, and a sleek look make the Osprey Raptor our pick for the top hydration pack.

Best for hikers: CamelBak Fourteener 26 Hydration Pack

Specs

Bladder size: 3 liters

Sport: Hiking

Weight: 2.3 lbs.

Backpack size: 26 liters

Pros

Large bladder and backpack capacity

Lots of back support

Overflow pocket to store an extra layer or other stashables

Cons

Expensive

The CamelBak Fourteener 26 Hydration Pack is designed for long hikes on hot days. Its reservoir holds 3 liters of water, and it’s designed with dual wing belts and an inner cargo belt to take the weight off your shoulders. More than a hydration backpack, the Fourteener also boasts 23 liters of cargo capacity for snacks, sunscreen, and other important hiking gear.

Best for bikers/cyclists: Thule Vital Hydration Pack

Specs

Bladder size: 2.5 liters

Sport: Biking

Weight: 1.15 lbs.

Backpack size: 6 liters

Pros

Retrakt magnetic hose system

Large enough to carry a bike pump and repair kit

Low center of gravity

Cons

Chest strap sits high depending on body type

The hands-free design of the Thule Vital 6 Hydration Pack is perfect for bikers and cyclists who need to hydrate mid-ride. Thule’s Retrakt magnetic hose system automatically returns the drinking hose to its place after each sip, so riders always know where to find it. Bikers and cyclists can carry up to 2.5 liters of water and 6 liters of additional storage for a pump and repair kit.

Best for runners: TETON Sports Trailrunner 2.0 Hydration Pack

Specs

Bladder size: 2 liters

Sport: Running

Weight: .9 lbs

Backpack size: 2liters

Pros

Low-profile design

Lightweight and sturdy

External pocket for items that need to be within reach

Cons

Can chafe parts of your body if not covered by clothing

Best budget: Water Buffalo Hydration Pack

Specs

Bladder size: 2 liters

Sport: Hiking, running, cycling

Weight: 7 ounces

Backpack size: 12 liters

Pros

Extremely lightweight

Splashproof nylon

Multi-purpose

Cons

No seal between twist cap and bag on bladder

The Water Buffalo Hydration Pack holds up to 2 liters of water and has several pockets for storing other essential items so that it can be used for a run, a bike ride, or even as a small hiking backpack. Its Oasis Hydration bladder is designed to keep water fresh and clean while also preventing pesky leaks. With fully adjustable straps, splashproof nylon, and ultralight material, the Water Buffalo will keep you hydrated even if you’re on a tight budget.

What to consider when buying the best hydration packs

There are plenty of designs available for different sports, so you can choose the best hydration pack depending on the type of activity in which you’re participating. Packs come in two main designs. The first is the waist pack, which belts around the waist and has slots for one or more water bottles. The other is the hydration backpack, which straps to your back and contains a reservoir, or water bladder. The bladder is connected to a long straw, so you can sip from the pack without taking it off your back.

Hydration backpacks typically hold more than waist packs. A standard water bottle holds roughly 0.5 liters of water, so that’s about the capacity you can expect from a waist pack. Backpacks come in different capacities, ranging from 0.5 liters to 3 liters of water. Stocking up on as much water as possible might seem like a great idea for a long bike ride on a sweltering day, but don’t forget all that water comes with extra weight—one liter of water weighs over 2 pounds. Water weight is just one of the considerations when searching for the best hydration pack.

Which activity will you be using the hydration bag for?

The first thing to consider when shopping for a hydration bag is that most are tailored to a specific activity. Hiking hydration backpacks are usually bulkier and provide more space for storage. Biking/cycling hydration packs tend to offer features for hands-free drinking. Running hydration packs are thinner and lightweight and often come as a vest. While many hydration bags are adequate for cross-training, they tend to lean toward one sport or another, so bear that in mind.

How much water do you want to carry in your hydration bladder?

Water weight is an important consideration when choosing the best hydration pack for you. A seasoned hiker going for a day-long climb might do best with a larger, 3-liter hydration bladder. A marathon runner, on the other hand, might prefer a less cumbersome waist pack that holds a single bottle the runner can sip from between water stations (where they can also refill).

What other features do you want in an outdoor backpack?

Before making a purchase, consider what extra features the outdoor backpack offers. Some hydration backpacks come with similar features to daypacks, with extra pockets and loops for storage. This is optimal for carrying snacks on long treks when you’ll need to fuel up along the way. Other features of the outdoor gear may include shut-off bite valves to prevent leaks, disconnecting tubes to simplify refills, and multiple portals for easy straw placement.

How comfortable is the day pack for you to carry?

Finally, make sure you feel comfortable carrying the day pack. If possible, try it on to ensure the hydration backpack fits properly on your body. Give it a test run while you’re biking, running, or hiking—something comfortable while you’re standing still doesn’t always feel so great when it’s jostling around during a run. Check that the backpack has a hip belt (most do) to relieve pressure on your shoulders. 

FAQs

One of the best ways to keep your body going during strenuous activity is to keep it hydrated! Athletes who ignore their water intake may begin to experience symptoms of dehydration, which include feeling fatigued, dizzy, and light-headed. Making hydration part of your fitness routine will help you run faster, bike farther, or enjoy a longer hike on a sunny day. There’s no excuse for being thirsty when you’ve got the best hydration pack, tailored for a specific sport, as part of your outdoor gear. Choose one that’s right for you, get out there on the trails, and don’t forget to drink up as you drink it all in!

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

The Best Swing Sets Of 2023

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Written By Billy Cadden

Updated May 1, 2023 6:12 PM

A swing set can be lots of fun for kids and also provide parents with recreation right in the backyard. When the weather is nice, nothing beats letting little kids run around outside to expend energy. But if you’re buried in the demands of work and parenthood, you may not always have time to take the little ones to the playground or the park. We’ve rounded up our recommendations of the best swing sets will have them sliding and climbing for hours, right in the safety of your own backyard.

How we chose the best swing sets

Swing sets can provide years of fun for your kids right in the backyard, but as they’re typically a big purchase that often comes with additional costs, like delivery, assembly, and add-ons, choosing can be a daunting task. Of course, safety considerations are paramount, as are size, durability, and price. Depending on its complexity, building a swing set can also be a challenge, so we took into account the ease of assembly. We considered options from trusted brands such as Backyard Discovery, Little Tikes, and KidKraft in making our recommendations. We also looked for kids’ swing sets that will provide new challenges and opportunities for fun for children as they get older.

The best swing sets: Reviews & Recommendations

Kids are notorious for getting bored easily, so any swing set you purchase should have enough features to hold their attention. Our recommendations will help you find the right playground sets for backyards for the age of your children, the size of your yard, the features you want, and your budget.

Best overall: Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure Swing Set

Specs

Dimensions: 175 inches D x 178 inches W x 128 inches H

Materials: Polyethylene (plastic), steel 

Weight: 505 pounds

Age suitability: 3 to 12 years old

Pros

Serves a range of ages

Comes with swings, slide, clubhouse, climbing ladder, storefront, and more

Available in three colors

Cons

Some users say it’s not easy to assemble

An outdoor swing set is a major purchase that will likely spend years in your backyard. That’s why it’s smart to pick one that will keep your kids entertained from when they are toddlers to pre-teens. The Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure Swing Set fits the bill. Designed for ages 3 through 12, this comprehensive unit comes with two swings and a wavy slide for younger kids. As your children get older, the climbing ladder and the rope ladder present new physical challenges. This swing set with slide also features a clubhouse with a blackboard so kids can have an outdoor classroom. 

Keep in mind that at 178 inches across (roughly 14 feet) and 505 pounds, this set will require substantial space in the backyard. It does come in three colors (green, brown, and tan) that will blend in better with the surroundings than many other swing sets. And the Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure Swing Set also comes with a 5-year limited warranty.

Specs

Dimensions: 135 inches D x 168.5 inches W x 103 inches H

Materials: Cedar

Weight: 227 pounds

Age suitability: 3 to 6 years old

Pros

Good for small backyards

Comes with sandbox, rock-climbing wall, and built-in bench

Instructions are easy to follow

Cons

Some users say the wood is low quality

Backyard Discovery’s Lakewood Playset is a relatively basic set that comes with a few extra features, like a sandbox, rock climbing wall, and a snack stand with a built-in bench. Like most modern swing sets, it comes unassembled and you’ll have to put it together yourself, but the instructions are clear and the finished product is a safe and sturdy cedar swing set that you can feel confident letting your kids monkey around on. Then take a breather and watch from your porch swing.

Best for small yard: Backyard Discovery Bay Pointe Wooden Swing Set

Specs

Dimensions: 107 inches D x 123 inches W x 92 inches H

Materials: Cedar, plastic, metal

Weight: 118 pounds

Age suitability: 3 to 6 years old

Pros

Smaller footprint

Less expensive

Made of cedar

Cons

Only suits a small range of kids

Looks somewhat unfinished

Even if your backyard isn’t spacious, your kids can still have plenty of fun. The Backyard Discovery Bay Pointe Wooden Swing Set measures 10 feet wide, which is small enough to fit in a range of yards. Should you need to move it, this swing set for small yard is also comparably lightweight at 118 pounds. This small swing set with slide also features a rock climber and a fort with a blackboard. Less expensive than many other options, it’s a great starter swing set for kids ages 3 to 6 years old. And it comes with a 5-year warranty.

Best for large yard: Backyard Discovery Skyfort II

Specs

Dimensions: 12 feet 4 inches H x 21 feet 11 inches W x 16 feet 9 inches D

Materials: Cedar, plastic

Weight: 709 pounds

Age suitability: 3 to 10 years old

Pros

Comprehensive entertainment system

Made of rot-resistant cedar

Comes with easy-to-follow instructions

Cons

Expensive 

May be too big for many yards

This model from Backyard Discovery is almost 22 feet long and spans from monkey bars, to a play fort and slide, to a pair of swings and a two-person glider. The play fort has windows, a covered porch, and a sun deck, making it a great swing set for big kids. The swing set with rock wall is made from 100 percent cedar, which has a natural resistance to rot and decay and with basic upkeep can last for over twenty years. While it’s a big assembly job, Backyard Discovery offers a 3D interactive assembly app that makes it super easy to follow. And when you’re done, take a well-deserved break in one of the best hammocks.

Specs

Dimensions: 16 inches D x 16.3 inches W x 17 inches H

Materials: Plastic

Weight: 3 pounds

Age suitability: 9 months to 4 years old

Pros

Classic product

Adjusts as toddler ages

Can use in a variety of settings (indoor and outdoor)

Cons

Just one swing

Not connected to a swing set

The ubiquitous Little Tikes toddler swing is easily recognizable due to its popularity, and that popularity is earned. The item is made from lightweight plastic and is fitted with a T-bar and straps to keep your tot safely secured while they swing and is able to bear up to 50 pounds. While it’s not a toddler swing set, the swing has hooks to hang, or you can purchase an additional adaptor to hang it from a tree or other sturdy structure. 

Best budget: KidKraft Appleton Play Set

Specs

Dimensions: 108 inches D x 123 inches W x 95 inches H

Materials: Cedar, plastic, hardware

Weight: 137.7 pounds

Age suitability: 3 to 10 years old

Pros

Comes with lots of features

Less expensive

Good for smaller yards

Cons

Not as substantial as other models

This play set from KidKraft comes in under $500 and is made of high-quality cedar wood. It boasts two swings, a slide, a rock-climbing wall, a sandbox, and a vinyl chalk wall at the top of its play deck for creative fun. The weight limit is slightly less than more expensive models (about 770 pounds, while others generally hold about 1,000 pounds) but it’s plenty steady enough.

Things to consider before purchasing a swing set

Swing sets can be expensive, so you’ll want to make sure you weigh a range of factors before making the investment.

Safety

The number-one thing to think about when buying the best swing sets for kids is safety. Confirm that the structure is sturdy and stable, and stay away from anything that feels lightweight. Something that’s too light could run the risk of tipping over when your child climbs on it. 

Expandability

Because a kids’ swing set is such a big purchase, and because kids grow so quickly, you may want to splurge on an expandable design model that can grow as the kids grow. These types are modular and allow you to build onto the mainframe as your child’s wants and abilities expand. On the other hand, you may prefer a less expensive, non-expandable model with the understanding that your kids may be interested in something entirely different in a couple years.

Materials

Then decide what material you’re interested in. Decades ago, metal was the most widely available material for backyard swing sets, but now wood or plastic are more popular. Wooden swing sets are the most durable of the three, which comes at a higher price, and many would argue that it’s the nicest looking option. Metal and plastic are less costly, but that comes at the expense of a low weight capacity and susceptibility to bend and break.

Metal swing sets can run the risk of rusting and bending, but one made from durable, quality materials should be long lasting. A galvanized steel model with powder coating will be strong and carry protection from natural elements that tend to rust and deteriorate metals. Keep an eye out for a model that comes with rubber or plastic caps on the end pieces to protect kids from sharp edges.

Wood is the most durable material for an outdoor swing set. Quality materials come at a higher price, but the splurge may be worth it for a structure that will last all through the childhood years, and possibly beyond. Backyard Discovery swing sets are one of the most popular brands for wooden models and come in a variety of different frames.

Size

A larger swing set offers extended play. Kids love forts and secret hideouts, and many playsets now come equipped with hideouts, porches, and sun decks. A larger extended playset has all this and more, and in many instances will come in modular versions so that you can add on to the set as your kids grow and require more challenges in their play.

If you have a toddler and aren’t quite ready to throw down money for an entire swing set that they aren’t old enough to use yet, a single toddler swing is an inexpensive option for outdoor swinging. These individual swings are easily adapted to hang from different secure locations.

Price

Swing sets are by nature a big purchase, so in this instance, “on a budget” means roughly under $500. Here’s a tip for the frugal: even the best swing sets are often sold at a discount during the off-season, especially if you live in a climate with cold winters. A wide assortment of plastic and metal options are available in that price range, but we also found some wooden swing sets that are inexpensive and reliable.

FAQs

The best swing sets for your backyard will offer your kids years of outdoor play and get them off electronics like tablets. Swinging, sliding, and climbing are great ways to get exercise and keep the kids happy—and keep the parents happy when the little ones are sleeping soundly through the night after a busy day of play. Adding a swing set to your yard is a big decision, but one that pays back tenfold in the end. You’ll love watching your kids play for years.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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