All posts by Henry Leger

As Home Technology Writer, Henry brings you coverage of the latest in TVs, headphones, smart speakers, VR, video games, and home entertainment.

10 Best Espresso Machines Under $1000 of 2020-Reviews & Ultimate Guide

What you’ll find with machines at this price point is that most of the manual tasks of the lower-priced options are handled seamlessly in the process.

You will also notice a difference in construction quality and ease of maintenance of the machine itself.

THE FINAL SHOT: The Breville Barista Express my top pick for the under $1,000 range. I use this machine every day and the built-in conical burr grinder is a huge bonus.

The self-priming and auto-purge functions are also highlights, but in general, this is a solid machine for the home barista that enjoys being involved in pulling the shots and dialing in some of the brewing options.

You’re probably thinking, what’s the big deal about a grinder? Honestly? It was absolutely worth it. I’ll tell you why.

I was originally considering the Breville Infuser, which is priced around $500, but I really value convenience as well as quality and the perfect combination of those two fell in the under $1,000 price point.

My favorite machine from this group is the Breville BES870XL Barista Express. First and foremost, it makes really really good espresso, every time. I can say that with certainty because this is the machine I own and use every day. You know, the one with the magical built-in bean grinder.

Basically, every morning, I whip my wife up the most delicious latté she’s ever had, and I enjoy doing it. I’m actually excited to use the Breville every day.

And about that grinder…I can’t tell you enough how nice it is having the added convenience. You push a button and the perfect amount of grounds are measured and drop into the portafilter for a single or double shot.

This really beats using a separate grinder and measuring on my own. The consistency of the grounds is key and the measuring is also more precise when automated. It was a pretty easy choice.

1. Breville The Barista Express Coffee Machine

Breville’s the Barista Express Coffee Machine is the best automatic espresso machine listed in my guides and has one of the highest overall ratings.

The Barista Express Coffee Machine is the least expensive coffee machine on this list, but like the other options we share, it comes with a wide array of useful and luxurious features for a dream espresso experience at home.

If you want to be your own home barista and tinker with some different settings without the full-on lever-action experience of a coffee shop barista, this is a great option for you.

To start, the Barista Express weighs in at 23 lbs and 13.2” x 12.5” x 15.8”, making it similar in size to most other coffee machines currently being sold commercially. I can tell you from experience, it is well-designed to fit comfortably on a kitchen counter without dominating the space.

Some of my favorite and most notable features of this machine that really characterize the $500-1,000 group are an integrated conical burr grinder with stainless-steel conical burrs, enabling the machine to fully extract flavor from every coffee granule, a locking 1/2 lb hopper for convenient bean storage, a 54 mm stainless-steel portafilter with commercial-style spouts, a pressure gauge monitoring the pressure generated during flavor extraction, a Thermocoil heating system, which controls the temperature of the water with a great deal of accuracy, and an auto-purge function, which adjusts the temperature of the water after steaming automatically to the optimal temperature for full flavor extraction.

You are also able to select filter size, which indicates whether you’re using a single or double-wall filter basket for single or double shots, which tells the grinder to dispense the desired amount of ground coffee beans. The machine also has easily removable drip and dreg trays, which I know from personal experience are super easy to clean and pop back in.

Not surprisingly, the Barista Express received a stellar rating of 4 and a half stars out of 5 on Amazon. I’m a huge fan, and my personal rating would be a solid 5 of 5.

  • 15 Bar Italian Pump and 1600W Thermo coil heating system
  • Purge Function: Automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature
  • Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 1/2 lb. sealed bean hopper
  • 67 fl.oz (2L) removable water tank with handle
  • The newer model of the Breville BES860XL Barista Express

2. Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia Espresso Machine

The Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia Espresso Machine is one of the mid-range options for this price point. It is also one of our favorite overall machines and is listed as one of the best super-automatic espresso machines and great for smaller-scale commercial use.

We love all the features this powerhouse comes equipped with and that is was inspired by Rancilio’s line of large-scale commercial machines used widely in coffee shops and restaurants.

Weighing 34 lbs and measuring 9.2” x 11.4” x 13.3” inches in dimensions, the Silvia is luxurious in size and meant to accommodate the needs of the serious home espresso brewer. Its housing is made of an iron frame and stainless-steel side panels for a really stylish look and long-lasting durability.

Rancilio offers some great, top-quality features that really put this machine in the stratosphere for quality coffee brewing.

Most notably are Rancilio’s commercial grade group head, which ensures that the heat generated during brewing remains stable and that full extraction is achieved, the 58 mm patented, ergonomic portafilter, which is also optimized to achieve full extraction, the single boiler of the Silvia also has the largest volume capacity of any home espresso machine in its class.

Holding 0.3 liters (12oz) Silvia’s chrome-plated brass boiler produces outstanding steaming power and remarkable recovery time between shots for quick, timely production, great for parties, and for multiple espresso drinker households.

This machine also comes with an articulating, stainless-steel steamer, which allows for a complete range of motion for producing perfectly steamed milk. The steam knob is also of commercial-grade and allows a range of adjustments for power.

The rest of the espresso maker’s features include a 7 g coffee scoop, a plastic tamper, and filter baskets (single and double), all of which enable you to brew with precision.

The espresso machine received a stellar rating of 4 and a half stars out of 5 on Amazon.

  • Ergonomic porta filter handle same as the proven design of Rancilio commercial machines
  • Commercial grade group head for superb heat stability and extraction quality
  • The articulating steam wand offers a complete range of motion and a professional steaming knob precisely controls steaming pressure
  • The classic linear design fits most decors
  • Optional pod and capsule adaptor kit available

3. De’Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine

The De’Longhi is the most expensive espresso machine on this list. It meets every expectation you could possibly have for an $800+ espresso machine.

Let’s start by assessing the De’Longhi with its weight and dimensions. It comes in at 28 lbs and 15” x 11” x 14” inches. It is also beautifully designed with a clean, modern aesthetic and quality materials, ensuring its long-term durability.

Simply, the De’Longhi is a powerhouse. It is equipped with all the best features and is made from all the best materials. This model comes with a unique beans-to-brew system that, like the Rancilio and Breville, grinds coffee beans right before brewing, enabling the machine to make espresso with a heady aroma and ultimate freshness, it also uses 2 stainless-steel boilers to distribute heat evenly, an instant reheat function, which maintains the espresso/coffee machine at an ideal temperature, a quiet burr grinder that not only grinds coffee beans automatically, but can also be set to a specific grinding level of fineness, De’Longhi’s patented “Cappuccino System” frother that carefully mixes steam and milk to produce an especially rich, creamy froth, and an easy-to-use rotary and push-button control panel with programmable menu settings.

The rest of the espresso/coffee machine’s features include a sizable and easily refillable water tank and coffee bean container, Magnifica’s coffee spigots, with height adjustment to accommodate cups of different sizes; a cappuccino system that rotates 180 degrees to accommodate a milk container of virtually any size; a cup warming tray similar those you would find at cafés that let you leave your cup on it for several minutes to keep it toasty warm; and a stylish, intuitive front panel, making use of the espresso/coffee machine pretty hassle-free.

Consumer reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with the De’Longhi being a star appliance for most, receiving a solid rating of 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon.

  • Patented “Cappuccino System” frother that mixes steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth
  • Easy-to-use rotary and push-button control panel with programmable menu settings
  • Grinds beans instantly with the patented, compact, and easy-to-clean “Direct-to-Brew” system
  • No waiting between preparing espresso and cappuccino with the double boiler system
  • Professional-quality, conical low-pitch burr grinder with adjustable grind fineness

4. Jura 15215 D6 Automatic Coffee Machine

I am a huge fan of the Jura brand and there are SO many superior options at this price point that the Jura D6 had to fall toward the top of the roundup.

The D6 is a top pick for quality and overall ease of brewing. This is an automatic machine, which means little interference from the user is required – Jura handles it all.

You will see the one-switch operation, a height-adjustable dispenser, and a fine foam frother for smooth microbubbles. This machine is nothing like the lower-end Keurigs and Nespressos think of the Jura as being more akin to your favorite craft coffee shop barista.

If you end up purchasing, just keep in mind that super-automatics like the Jura perform best when they are not paired with a super oily bean. We recommend the Lavazza Super Crema.

5. Jura 13626 Ena Micro 1 Automatic Coffee Machine

I told you I love Juras! I’m including the Micro on this list as well for the simple reason that it performs like a champ and is streamlined for a single function at a very reasonable price point. This is a great pick if you’re looking to enjoy straight espresso, no lattes, and no cappuccinos.

The Ena Micro 1 includes a top-level integrated grinder and micro-brewing unit. It has an easy to use touch panel and three sizing selections to choose from.

And that’s it, folks. Quality builds simple purpose, exceptional delivery of a really tasty cup of espresso. If you’re a purist with a desire for ease and efficiency, this is the machine for you.

6. Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Maker

Next to Jura, Breville is our go-to brand for fine-quality espresso at home. The Barista Touch is an upgraded model from the one I swear by at home, enhanced with a good-looking and easy-to-use touch panel for quick selection of beverage preference.

Like the other Breville on this list, this machine will grind your beans, allowing you to customize the coarseness based on the coffee you’re using, it will also let you fine-tune the extraction process to customize your beverage per your individual taste, and then save those settings with your name to quickly repeat the process again later.

The Barista Touch also has an especially fast ThermoJet system with a heat-up time of just 3 seconds, one of the quickest on the market. The frothing wand is upgraded to produce perfect micro-foam automatically, without user interference.

This is one of those top-quality machines designed to enhance the morning coffee ritual and endure years of daily use. If you have the budget for it, splurge on the Breville.

6. De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine

De’Longhi’s are some of our favorite espresso machines, and the La Specialista model is an excellent example of fine Italian engineering and design.

Included in this machine is a 19 bar pressure pump, a one-second quick start, Sensor Grinding Technology for precision, adjustable grinding, automated tamping using a lever system, temperature control, a dual heating system for optimized extraction, and an independent heating system for steaming and frothing milk for lattes and cappuccinos.

The steam wand is designed to automatically froth microfoam for a perfect latte or thicker richer foam for cappuccinos, no skill needed. It also includes active rinsing and self-cleaning for easy maintenance of the wand.

The overall design is aesthetically striking with a great mix of black enamel and stainless steel. It is a high-quality machine for a beginner or an experienced coffee lover and delivers a quality beverage with flawless results.

7. KRUPS EA89 Deluxe One-Touch Super Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

The Krups machine is another super-automatic machine that offers a similar experience to the Jura Impressa but at a lower price-point. Keep in mind, the overall experience quality and durability is a bit lower, but the price point is better suited to most budgets.

In terms of user-interface, the EA89 Deluxe offers a one-touch OLED screen with 15 fully customizable drink options available. The delivery spout, like on the Jura, is also adjustable, which we love if you prefer to brew directly into a bigger travel cup to take on the go.

The frothing is performed in a separate milk canister on the side of the machine, which can be a bit cumbersome and irritating to clean, which is the primary reason why the Krups doesn’t rank higher on our list.

8. Gaggia Anima Coffee and Espresso Machine

The Gaggia Anima is similar in feature inclusion and styling to the Saeco on this list and I consider the two to be pretty interchangeable aside from the price difference.

On the Anima, you’ll find programmable brewing options, a limited range of temperature control, and a manual Panarello steam wand. Like the Saeco, it features a ceramic burr grinder and also offers the option of using pre-ground beans. Gaggia is a well-known maker of high-end machines so the construction is of high-quality, but we are a little frustrated by an over-abundance of plastic parts.

The Gaggia is also several hundred dollars pricier than the Saeco and for the savings, we recommend the Incanto, given the nearly identical feature list and lack of stainless materials in the build.

9. De’Longhi Dinamica Automatic Coffee & Espresso Machine

One of the more automatic machines on our list, the Dinamica is a high-end option with a lot of fun bells and whistles.

Key features in this machine include an Italian 15 bar pressure pump, a less than 40-second heat-up time, dual spout design for brewing two shots simultaneously, a steel conical burr grinder built-in with 13 grind settings, a fully adjustable manual frother, a removable brew unit and dishwasher safe tray for easy cleaning, and a simple but intuitive customizable touch-screen control panel display.

This model is pretty hands-off and doesn’t require any tamping skill or for you to even attach the portafilter to the brew head. Everything is facilitated internally for a super-automatic experience.

The Dinamica also includes De’Longhi’s innovative true-brew process designed to craft perfect iced coffee by brewing at a lower temp and infusing the coffee over ice. This is really a great feature if you love iced lattes but don’t want to wait overnight for cold brew coffee to steep in a fridge infuser.

This is a thoughtful, versatile machine and an excellent pick for the more hands-off coffee drinker.

How to Use a Wood Burning Stove in the Tent

Really, do you know how to use a wood-burning stove in your tent?

Not many people know that you can use this camping and backpacking stove inside your tent. If you are camping in the rain, you might need to use the stove inside your tent.

However, you have to be very cautious.

A wood stove for camping is a fire risk in a tent. Flames and sparks from the stove can cause a fire while gas fumes can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, if done correctly, a wood-burning stove can be used in the camping tent to give you warmth especially on those cold alpine nights.

Caution for how to use a wood-burning stove in your tent

If not used carefully, the wood-burning stove can turn into a hazard inside your tent. The good thing is that it is not too hard to use it safely.

Here are a few things to note:

Choose an appropriate tent for camping

You should not use a wood-burning stove in any tent since some tents can burn easily. A good tent should be made of poly-cotton or canvas because these materials cannot burn easily and the tent can be well ventilated.

The design of the tent should allow fresh air to enter. It should have a chimney flue that allows fresh air to get in and gets rid of toxic gas.

Never use the wood-burning stove in a tent that does not have ventilation. Always make sure that the tent has a vent.

Be cautious with the stove

You should be careful when handling the stove since it can be dangerous and can cause a fire.

Place a flame retardant mat around the stove to provide protection in case sparks and hot embers escape. Do not place the stove on the groundsheet. Instead, roll it and place the stove on the ground.

The sparks can cause a fire if they land on the tent as they leave the flue (chimney). To prevent this, put a spark arrestor above the flue so that the sparks do not drop in the tent.

  • Do not place combustible items near the stove.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby just in case there is fire.
  • Make sure you have cold water in the tent.

Now that you know how to take caution when using the wood-burning stove in the tent, here is how to actually use it.

Using the wood stove in your tent

Before you start using the stove, make sure you set up your tent in a campsite that is not prone to fire. Ensure no deadwood and branches above the tent can catch fire. You don’t want sparks from the flue to ignite a fire.

You need a spark arrester

A wood-burning stove will produce sparks. These sparks can cause fire by burning the tent or the dead wood nearby. To prevent this, you should fit a spark arrester in the vent pipe at the top.

If you don’t have the arrester, poke holes on the top part of the stovepipe. The holes help to cool the sparks before they leave the stovepipe.

Insulate the stove

Prepare the wood-burning stove so that you can light it. Start by insulating the bottom of the stove with sand to protect the metal from coming into contact with burning wood and weakening it. Normally, the metal on the bottom of the wood-burning stove is thin and direct contact with the hot coals can weaken it.

Choose the right wood

Avoid woods that give out many sparks such as larch, pine, and spruce since they can cause a fire. Instead, use these softwoods sparingly as tinder.

Hardwoods such as oak are preferred because they form coals that produce heat for longer, unlike the softwood that has little coaling. Also, you can get more heat from a piece of hardwood than you would from a similar piece of softwood.

Hardwoods burn at a slower rate and you can get more heat for longer than you could from softwood since they burn fast.

The best place to put the woodstove is in a corner close to the door. This will make it easy to reach the wood outside and put it into the stove.

You do not want the wood stove to burn the fabric wall of the tent. As such, make sure that the stove’s metal is at about 2 feet away from the fabric.

Do not leave the stove burning overnight because of carbon monoxide poisoning. In case you want to leave it, have someone stay up to watch over is and ensure there is enough ventilation.

Why use a wood-burning stove

Knowing how to use a wood-burning stove in your tent is good. But really, in this age of technology, why should you use one?

Well, there must be something good about it to make it a preferred choice by many for their heating needs.

There is the magic that comes with enjoying the warmth from wood fire when it is cold. A wood-burning stove provides you with warmth. It is also cleaner, more efficient and it can be accommodated in a small space, unlike the traditional fireplace. No wonder these stoves can be used in a tent.

Other than the euphoria of burning fire, here are more reasons why wood stove is a good choice.

A wood-burning camping stove is eco-friendly

Firewood will always be there as long as we are planting trees. So, when you are warming your tent using a wood-burning stove, you are using a sustainable alternative. This will leave the environment clean unlike if you were using fossil fuels.

For the eco-conscious campers, you can buy an eco-friendly stove that is EPA certified since they are more efficient and they burn less firewood. These stoves are energy efficient. In fact, some models have an efficiency rate of up to 80% in comparison to traditional fireplaces.

The older non-certified models are not as efficient with an efficiency rate of 50% or lower. So, make sure you buy an EPA certified wood-burning stove. These are more eco-friendly, efficient, and low emission levels.

You can save on energy costs

Heating bills shoot up high, especially in winter. It would cost you more to heat your tent using other means such as oil, gas, or electricity than using wood. A wood stove can help you cut your energy costs by up to 40%.

Have low emission levels

Burning wood produces carbon dioxide emissions into the environment causing air pollution. Remember the smoke of old wood stoves? You had to use so much wood to get the desired heat and so came the smoke.

This is not so with the EPA certified stoves. They are more efficient and they produce less emission since they have low emission limits. They produce less carbon dioxide. That is why you can use a wood-burning stove in the tent without worrying about too much smoke.


That is it for why and how to use a wood-burning stove in your tent. It is perfectly safe and it need not pose a hazard at all. Camping can never be complete without a fire blazing hot. Now, with these tips, you have this fire right inside the tent.

Choose the Best Backpacks for Back Pain

Are you looking for the best backpacks for back pain? There are many of them. Perhaps with some ingenious ideas, you can also use the regular backpack in such a way that it offers a reprieve for a bad back.

Why buy an ergonomic backpack

With everything else gone ergonomic, backpacks for back pain, the car seats, and many more, why not the backpack for hiking? Today, you can buy an ergonomic backpack on

Back pain has become a major health issue that seems to affect a large percent of the world’s population. In America alone, more than 14,000 cases of backpack injuries are reported every year.

Out of those cases, 5000 back pain patients end up in emergency rooms. Thanks to the long office hours, sitting has become the current smoking. Thus, many people suffering from back pain got it from sitting down on nasty chairs for many years.

As an outdoor enthusiast, you know you have to do all you can to stay fit. Here are a few ways to ensure that you are fit for the next hiking or backpacking adventure:

  • Buy hiking poles and know how to use them
  • Know how to pack light for backpacking
  • Engage in the best exercises for hiking
  • Learn about how to prevent knee pain when walking

People who travel, hike, or backpack frequently tend to be at a higher risk of suffering back pain due to carrying heavy backpacks over long distances.

Most beginner hikers and backpackers stuff their backpack close to breaking point. Others carry their backpack in the wrong manner. At the same time, others do not know to distribute the weight properly. This causes a strain on the spine and if the pain is neglected it can result in serious back problems in the future.

If you choose the wrong backpack and then pack it up with your camping gear, it will hurt your back.

To avoid these problems, use the following tips for choosing hiking, traveling, or backpacking backpack in order to avoid back pain.

It must have good back padding

The best backpacks for back pain must have a contoured and well-padded back panel for maximum comfort.

Proper padding with foam materials helps in distributing the weight evenly all over your back. This puts less strain on your spine.

In addition, the foam padding not only provides cushioning but also improves breathability.

If you have packed some heavy stuff such as the best backpacking hatchet in the pack, the padding will prevent it from pressing against your back.

Buy a backpack with compartments where you can pack things like travel coffee mug, shoes, and cooking items in different compartments.

Backpack shoulder straps

Strong, wide and properly padded shoulder straps are the best for alleviating backpack related back pain.

The best backpack shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide. They should be properly cushioned to provide the right support and comfort.

Well, if you can find a wider, the better for you.

Such straps allow the weight to sit comfortably on your back while preventing any pinching or chafing.

The backpack shoulder straps must curve to conform to the shape of your body. This allows you to carry your pack more comfortably. It will feel as if the pack is part of you rather than an added burden.

The padding allows the weight of your load to sit comfortably on your back, putting less strain on your shoulders and lower back.

Make sure the shoulder straps are adjustable to allow for a more flexible and snug fit. Anyway, all ergonomic backpacks come with adjustable shoulder straps today. Just make sure they are padded.

Backpack with chest and waist strap

It is extremely important that an ergonomic backpack comes with strong, adjustable, and well-padded waist straps.

The reason is that most of your pack’s weight will be sitting on your hips. Thus, you want a waist strap that will be able to support that weight while keeping you comfortable.

The right waist straps are able to provide ample support as well as distribute the weight evenly between your back and hips causing less strain.

The straps are adjustable. You can tighten or loosen them for customizable support. To be called a truly ergonomic backpack, it must have these straps.

Padded Chest straps

Chest straps are good for pulling your ergonomic backpack close to you and helping the weight stay intact inside.

The best backpacks for back pain should come with padded chest straps, which are also called sternum straps. These are added for more comfort.

The chest straps are usually attached to the shoulder straps. When properly fitted, they sit right across your chest.

They help in reducing the strain on your shoulders and they also keep the shoulder straps in place. This prevents your backpacking pack from swaying.

The chest strap should also be adjustable to allow for a perfect fit thereby improving the stability of your load.

Packing a backpack right

When backpacking, the best thing you can do when packing is being a minimalist. Pack only what you require to carry with you and leave the rest behind.

It may sound easy, but for first-timers, nothing is as hard as picking a backpack. Flashlight for camping, portable coffeemaker, food, first aid kit, and many more are important. However, just how much do you need to carry?

Ideally, you are supposed to carry a weight that is 10 percent or less of your body weight. Therefore, after packing your load, consider putting your pack on a scale to determine its total weight. If it is more than 10 percent of your body weight, see if there are some things that you can do without.

Audit the pack load. If you will be wearing your warm boots for winter hiking, for example, there is no need to carry extra shoes since it will be too cold to wear lighter shoes. You can use that space to carry a blanket or a sleeping pad for camping.

When packing, always aim for balance. Avoid putting more weight on one side of the backpack as straining one side of your body is a major cause of back pain.

Overburdening one side of your body can cause your spine to curve resulting in pain. Therefore, ensure that you distribute the weight evenly while packing.

To manage the weight on the trails, make sure you bring your poles for hiking. They will help you pull yourself up the steep terrains where the backpack would pull you back.

Finally, to create some organization in your backpack, buy some dividers. That way, the portable chargers, tablets, and other electronics go in their section.

Other things like the backpacking stove can go into the bigger compartments. Of course, your cooking stove and the fuel should be in their carry bags. Do not forget to pack your sleeping bag.

Buy a gender-specific best backpack for back pain

There is a lot of difference between men and women’s backpacks. When choosing the best backpacks for back pain, it is important to consider your gender.

You want a good fit. There are reasons for insisting that you buy a gender-specific backpack for camping, hiking, or traveling.

Here are just a few of them:

Torso sizing

The torso sizing of men and women backpacks is different. Women’s packs are mostly designed with shorter torso lengths compared to men’s backpacks. In order to be certain of your torso sizing, consider measuring your torso length before choosing your pack.

Shoulder straps

The shoulder straps sizing in women’s pack is different from that of men’s packs. Women backpacks are usually designed with a slimmer shoulder base and narrower cushioning on the shoulder straps.

Women have a smaller upper body frame compared to men who have broader shoulders. Having a backpack with shoulder straps that do not fit properly can easily lead to bruising and chafing.

Hip differences

The waist belt sizing for both genders is different. Women are usually gifted with bigger hips than men. This means that a woman’s packs waist belt will not properly fit on a man’s hips and vice versa.

Choosing the wrong backpack can only cause discomfort and a lack of proper support, which can easily trigger back pain.

Load capacity

Men and women backpacks come with a different load capacity or pack weight. Women’s backpacks have a smaller pack weight capacity as compared to men’s packs because of the difference in body anatomy.

Backpack height

Men’s backpacks are usually taller than women’s packs. Choosing the wrong pack can lead to discomfort and backaches especially over long treks.

Learn how to wear your backpack right

Wearing a backpack in the wrong manner is among the major causes of back pain for many backpackers. When wearing your backpack, avoid the following common mistakes:

Slinging your backpack with one strap over one shoulder

As stylish as this might look it is a wrong way of carrying your back. It puts all the load pressure on one shoulder, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pains.

In addition, it can lead to the development of a poor posture. Always make use of both shoulder straps when carrying your backpack.

Wearing your backpack too low on your back

This increases the strain on your shoulders. It can cause shoulder pain and will make your pack sway from side to side leading to discomfort.

This position can make you lean forward placing undue pressure on your lower back. To avoid this, adjust the straps to allow the backpack to sit high on your back.

Buy a backpack with an internal frame

Buy a backpack with an internal frame. This frame provides the backpack with a form of rigidity. It helps in distributing the pack’s weight between your back and hips reducing strain.

While many of the modern backpacks having internal frames, there are some that have external frames. Just look for the backpack with an internal frame.

The external frames are usually big and bulky making the backpack look bloated. The exposed rods can also get caught easily on things while moving.

The internal frames on the other hand make the packs slimmer. This makes it easy for you when moving around. They are also lighter and more durable.

Besides, you do want to look good on the trails. A nice looking slim backpack helps you look nice.

Buy a backpack with wheels

A backpack with wheels has an added advantage of pulling over at airports, train and bus stations. It may not be the best for hiking but it is good for traveling. Pack your travel pillow, airplane eye mask, and books.

However, note that you will still have to carry it on your shoulders. Thus, pack it just right. The wheels can help you to avoid back pains by allowing you to pull your luggage every time you feel like you are straining your back.

If you have a wheeled backpack, pull it behind you wherever you can to avoid straining your back.

Buy a compartmentalized backpack

The best backpacks for back pain should feature multiple compartments. Many compartments allow you to distribute the load’s weight symmetrically throughout your backpack.

They minimize the chances of stuffing only one side of the pack with all the weight. You should reduce the risks that come with carrying an unbalanced backpack.

Even when you have the best ergonomic backpack for back pain, if you do not distribute the weight evenly, it may not help you.

Multiple compartments make access to your stuff easier. This can save you a lot of time when looking for a particular thing.

While at it, also make sure the backpack has rings and webbing where you can attach more gear such as your lightweight water filter for hiking.


If you are a regular hiker, remember that backpack related back pain is sinister. However, with the tips you have learned here, it should be possible to avoid it.

The strain can cause unbearable spinal pains and cause the spinal discs to wear out prematurely. You have also seen that choosing the best backpacks for back pain alone is not enough. You should also know how to pack it right and that way, you can hike a longer distance each day.

Best Double Sleeping Bag for Backpacking

Cuddle on the trails? Aha, yes, why not. Two are better than one, especially when they sleep together in the best double sleeping bag for backpacking, under the miracle blanket of heaven spread with sparkling, twinkly stars. If you go hiking with your partner, why sleep separately while you sleep together at home?

Share a sleeping bag and even without the shenanigans of sleeping together (wink wink), you will get warmer faster and you will enjoy great bonding.

However, to do that you will need a good double sleeping bag, a real mammoth one, and tell you what, even if junior is with you, you can let him creep in the middle and the three of you can share one bag. Believe it or not, some of them are that big!

Best double sleeping bag for backpacking

Buying the double-sized sleeping bag is the same as buying the individual bag. You will just need to look for the same features as before. Look at the temperature rating, the fill, the size, of course, the shell, the lining, and the zip, zip baffles and anti-snag, and many more features.

Do not buy a double-sized bag without comparing the prices of a few of them. Therefore, read a few user and professional sleeping bag reviews online, know what people say about them, and buy the highest rated one.

5 two-person sleeping bags reviews

1. TETON Sports Mammoth Queen Size Sleeping Bag

Beats you why they did not call it the king-size sleeping bags, but there it is, a queen size bag that is indeed large, and very comfortable too. It is just the kind of bag that you want to snuggle in to with your spouse right there in the camping ground.

Let’s be sincere here … if it has the name TETON Sports, then you know without an iota of doubt in your mind that this is a product that will give you more than enough value for your money.

Here are a few of its features:

  • It is huge – 94 x 62 inches (238.76 x 157.48 cm) when laid out
  • It makes a small compact size when folded – 27 x 14 x 14 inches (68.58 x 35.56 x 35.56 cm)
  • Has a flannel liner that feels as sweet as a high-quality bed sheet on your skin
  • Has a strong enduring canvas shell
  • Have shoulder and zipper baffles to keep the cold from seeping in
  • Has SuperLoft Elite fiberfill
  • Quilt construction, the SuperLoft Elite fill keeps the bag free of any cold spots
  • Weighs 14 pounds/6.4 kg when packed
  • It is rated for 20° F/-6° C
  • It is sold with a compression sack


It is covered by a lifetime-limited warranty


Getting the TETON Sports double sleeping bag into the compression sack is quite something and many customers say that no matter how much help they get, they cannot be able to pack it up. Just buy a bigger duffel bag for it.

2. Sleeping Queen Size XL Two Person Sleeping Bag

Sharing the same bed on the trails has never been easier than it is now with this sleeping bag that is waterproof, lightweight, and is rated for cold weather sleeping.

If you are looking for a bag that can sleep two young or grown adults, two teenagers, and one that can be split up to form two individual sleeping bags, you have found one in Sleeping. It can be used for backpacking, hiking or camping, even car camping.


  • Can be split up to make two single sleeping bags
  • Shell is made of tough polyester fabric with a 210-thread count per square inch
  • Tetron and cotton fill
  • Tetron and cotton inner liner
  • It is sold with two traveling pillows
  • Rated for use in conditions of 32° F/0° C and upwards
  • Has Velcro to hold the zip in place at the top
  • It is waterproof
  • It measures 87 x 59 inches (220.98 x 149.86 cm)

To enjoy the most use out of this bag, use for camping, hiking, or sleeping under the right conditions. That way, it will keep you warm and comfortable.

3. Ohuhu Two Person Sleeping Bag for adults

Catching your beauty sleep when hiking, camping or traveling has never been this good with a sleeping bag that is made to cater to your needs. You will wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and you will want to continue with your outdoor adventure.

Here are the features:

  • It is sold with a carrying bag and two pillows
  • You can split it to make two single sleeping bags
  • Has a zipper on two sides for faster accessibility
  • Can be used comfortably in temperatures of -5°C/23° F
  • Fill is made of M2 3D Cotton
  • Shell is made of polyester – 210T per square inch for durability
  • Measures 86.6 x 59 inches (219.96 x 149.86 cm) when spread out
  • Measures 18.9 x 11.8 x 11.8 inches when packed (30.22 x29.9 x 29.9 cm)
  • Weighs 6.08 pounds/2.8 kg


Cotton fill insulation is not always recommended for camping in wet conditions

4. Coleman Tandem Double Sleeping Bag

This is a rectangular two-person sleeping bag. Well, there is nothing new there, since most of the sleeping bags for two people are rectangular anyway, but it is a good looker too if that matters.

It is the well-known brand name of Coleman again, a giant indeed in the outdoor adventure industry, and with such a name, you know your choice can never be too wrong.


  • It comes with a carry bag
  • A removable inner sheet – sleep clean always
  • Machine washable
  • Measures 81 x 66 inches (190.5 x 167.6 cm) when spread out
  • It can fit a person as tall as 6 feet 2 inches
  • Has a patented Zip plow feature that keeps the zips from snagging
  • It is sold with a carry bag
  • Sold with a stuff sack for storage
  • It is rated for temperatures of 30° F to 50° F/-1° C to 10° C
  • Covered by a 5-year limited warranty

This sleeping bag is mostly great when used for sleeping in warm weather. So you can also use it at home when you have guests coming over and need an extra bed or two.

5. Sportneer Sleeping Bag for two people

They do not come any better than the Sportneer two-person sleeping bag with its incredible features and mammoth size. And to understand just how big this bag is, it can comfortably accommodate people who are as tall as 6 feet 6 inches. It will give you and your partner not only value for your money but you can also let a kid share the sleeping space.

Sportneer two-person sleeping bag features:

  • Has a tough waterproof taffeta shell
  • Rated for temperatures of as low as 0° F/-18° C
  • Measures an impressive 94 x 62 inches (238.8 x 157.5 cm) when spread out
  • Measures 27 x 14 x 14 inches (68.6 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm) when folded
  • Can fit two large people comfortably or three medium-sized people
  • Comes with a compression carrying bag with compression buckles for easy storage
  • Hollow fiberfill
  • Weighs 17.1 pounds/7.75 kg

This bag can be used for mild to medium winter camping, backpacking, and hiking

Brand name of the best double sleeping bag for backpacking

Is the brand name important when you are buying a sleeping bag? Of course, it is very important. The most popular brands are the best because they are well-known and there are many reviews for them on the internet.

Buying a new entrant in the market may not be very advisable for you since it is not very well known and therefore you may not find a lot of information about it online, apart from what the manufacturer will have provided. However, if you are daring, you can buy it and see how far it takes you.

Join two individual sleeping bags into one

That is right; you can still make one huge sleeping bag out of two single sleeping bags. If you have two individual sleeping bags, and one is left-zipped while the other is right-zipped, you do not need to buy a new sleeping bag for two people. You can mate the two bags to form a big one.

Although the sleeping bag will be big, it may cause problems when exiting. That is why many people prefer buying a bag for two people. This huge bed will have zips on both sides.

It will also have a zip at the bottom for ventilation and the good thing is that even the hood baffles are two, meaning that you can adopt any style of sleeping that you may like. If you would like to use a pillow and your partner does not want one, you can do so comfortably.

Cheap double sleeping bag temperature rating

Season rating system

Two-person sleeping bags are rated differently. The best way to choose the best bag is to consider the season ratings. This is very simple, and for the first-time buyer, it is easy to understand what you need.

Season 1 rated bags can only be used for hiking and camping in summer or in temperatures that do not go lower than 4° Celsius/39.2° F.

2 Season rated bags are best used in the mid to late spring (late March to May) and early fall season (August to October).

3 season rated bags will keep your warm even when you sleep in temperatures that go to as low as -5° C/23° F.

4 season rated two-person sleeping bags is used for the coldest months. If winter will not deter you from going camping, this is the bag to carry with you. It will keep you very warm even in the coldest of nights. Find one that is rated for temperatures as low as -10° Celsius/14° F.

If you do not know what to buy, you can ask the salesperson or just look for information online.

The standardized EN 13537 Rating

This is the new standard of temperature rating for the sleeping bags, which was introduced in 2002. It is more accurate than the season rating. However, you need not worry about it too much since it is not widely used.

The season rating is the widely accepted form of rating even with its inaccuracies. However, for the sake of palaver, the EN 13537 is a European rating standard. It rates bags considering the comfort that a person enjoys when they use the sleeping bags. For example, an Upper Limit bag is one that you can use in a regular summer night without sweating too much.

A Lower Limit bag is one that you can use in lower temperatures comfortably and the Comfort Level sleeping bag is rated against the comfort level of a woman because women need high temperature rated sleeping bags than men.

Sounds complicated, right? Do not worry about it. You are safe with the seasonal rated bags.

Other things for a double sleeping bag for adults

If you know that you snore, then you may want to take an anti-snoring device with you. Since the sleeping bags for two people are not as big as your bed is to leave the other person some space to escape your snoring, you will get too many elbow jabs if you do not bring an anti-snoring aid with you.

Bring your pillow if you use one. It is a sleeping bag for two people, but that does not mean that you will have to share just about everything. Since it has zips on both sides, you will both find it easy to get into and out of.

It has many features that allow individuals to sleep as if they are in their bag, but the main advantage is that two people can make the insulating blanket of air around their bodies faster than one person. Once you try the double sleeper bag, you will never want to use an individual bag again.


The best double sleeping bag for backpacking comes in all brand names. Some are well known, some are not so well known and some are new in the market.

To know that what you buy will serve you well, read a few user reviews. One thing you will agree with anyway is that hiking, camping, and trekking with your family is a lot of fun, but it is much funnier than that when you share a mammoth two-person sleeping bag.

How to Choose the Best Drip Coffee Makers – and What to Look for Before You Buy

 Nobody talks much about drip brewers these days.

Mostly the focus is on single-serve coffee makers.

And then there are real coffee enthusiasts who would rather talk about their French press, Chemex brewer or Hario dripper.

Drip coffee makers have that old-school feel about them. Not as old-school as percolators, but getting close.

And that’s a pity because there is no reason why a good drip coffee maker can’t make coffee that’s just as good as you can make with a fancy pour-over system.

In fact, a drip brewer IS a pour-over system.

Think about it for a moment. Water is sprayed over ground coffee placed in a conical or flat-bottomed filter. Gravity pulls the water through the ground coffee, and then it drips into a carafe.

The only difference between a drip brewer and a Chemex is that drip brewers automate the process.

It’s the coffee-making automation that most people care about…

If you’re a hard-core coffee lover and you want to enjoy every aspect of a new batch of single-origin Fair Trade coffee beans you just purchased, then a manual coffee-making method is the way to go.

But for most of us, most of the time, coffee is all about that 30-minute period after we get out of bed in the morning.

We’re sleepy, we have to get ready for work, and we absolutely want our coffee made at the press of the button.

This is why the popularity of single-serve brewers has taken off in recent years. They make the coffee-brewing process incredibly easy.

But… at a cost in terms of quality, taste, and price.

Making coffee one K-Cup at a time is ridiculously expensive when compared with making coffee with a drip coffee maker. And the quality is never quite there either.

Not to mention the fact that billions of used K-Cups end up in landfills every year.

All this makes the humble drip brewer the best choice for most of us.

What to look for when choosing a drip coffee maker.

A drip brewer will set you back as little at $25 and as much as $300 or more.

But if you’re looking for an automatic brewer that can approximate the quality of pour-over coffee, you’re going to want to spend at least $100.

And you’ll want to be sure to check for a few key features.

Make sure the brewer can heat the water to the right temperature.

To extract the flavor from the ground coffee the water should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cheaper brewers often fail to get within that range. And even some of the better brewers don’t deliver a consistent temperature.

Something else to look for is the ability to adjust the temperature up or down within that range. You can do that when making pour-over coffee, and some drip coffees makers allow you to make those same adjustments.

Make sure the brewer pauses to allow the coffee to soak and bloom.

Cheap drip brewers pump the water without pause. Better models pause after pouring just enough water to soak the ground coffee, but without water dripping through into the carafe.

The “bloom” is when carbon dioxide is released from the ground coffee after it’s soaked. You can see this happen when you’re making pour-over coffee by hand, but not when the process is hidden with a drip brewer.

The point being, it’s important that the drip brewer pauses for a bit after that first soaking. You want all the ground coffee to be evenly soaked to get the best flavor. Only then is the rest of the water pumped through the “showerhead” and over the coffee.

Be sure the brew time is correct.

The total time the water and ground coffee is in contact should be between 4 and 6 minutes. Less than that and you won’t get the full flavor. Longer and you could get an over-steeped, bitter taste.

Top-end drip brewers allow you to adjust the time.

Look for any other features that are important to you.

As well as checking that your drip coffee maker is capable of brewing really good coffee, you want other features because, well… you just want them!

Maybe you want to be able to pre-program your brewer, so it makes coffee automatically, just before your alarm goes off in the morning.

Or you want a brewer that can also make iced coffee or cold-brew coffee.

Or you want an insulated carafe, rather than a glass carafe.

Or you want to be able to make concentrated coffee for use in specialty coffee drinks.

The point is, there are tons of different features you can choose from.

Just set your own priorities and do some comparison shopping.

Our top three drip coffee makers… and why we like them.

Over the years we’ve reviewed may be a dozen or so different drip coffee makers.

Here are our three favorites. These are the brewers we have used for months or years at a time. All have taken pride of place on our kitchen counter at some point.

1. The Breville Precision Brewer

This is our current favorite. It does pretty much everything.

It covers all the bases when it comes to quality, including the ability to adjust the temperature of the water, the bloom time, and the brew time.

And it has settings for iced coffee, cold-brew coffee and more.  

2. The Bonavita BV1800 coffee maker

Until we fell in love with the Breville brewer, the Bonavita was in daily use for maybe 5 years.

Very simple with hardly any settings. But the factory settings were just right for making a quality carafe of coffee.

3. The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System

This another drip coffee maker with a ton of different options.

And I use it every day.

I know, I said I used the Breville too.

I do. I use the Breville to make our daily pot of coffee. And I use the Ninja to make a coffee-concentrate version of a cappuccino each afternoon. It even includes a milk whisk.

And my daughter uses it to make green tea.

In fact, I could easily use the Ninja for all my coffee and tea making needs.

It’s worth doing the research before you buy a drip coffee maker.

Drip coffee makers are way better today than they used to be.

Sure, you can still pick up budget brewers at any big box store.

But if you love coffee, and want a quality usually associated with hand brewing methods, it’s worth spending a little more.

Do the research. And yes, any of our three recommended brewers will do the job.

The Best Black Friday TV Sales and Deals 2019

If you’re thinking of buying a new TV, you might want to wait for this year’s Black Friday TV deals. That’s when retailers drop TV deals to the lowest price of the year. A longtime staple of Black Friday deals, TV sales haven’t gone away, even as retailers have extended sales to nearly every other type of consumer tech product. This year TV deals are expected to be better than ever.  

As retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart gear up for Black Friday 2019, we’re keeping a close eye on upcoming sales to help you find the best Black Friday TV deals of the season. 

Where Black Friday used to mean steep discounts on TVs (but usually on brands you’ve never heard of), the new approach relies more on brand recognition, giving you a chance to score some awesome bargains on some of the best smart TVs and 4K sets.

There will still be some off-brand models on sale, but if you keep your eyes open, there should be some great deals on TVs from Samsung, Sony, TCL, and Vizio, and you may even be able to score an LG OLED TV for $999 or less. (Already we’ve seen 55-inch LG OLEDs hit that price point).  

And remember, Black Friday deals are as popular online as they are in-store. That means you’ll be able to score some excellent Black Friday deals without having to brave the winter weather. You may not even have to wait until Thanksgiving, as many retailers start offering sales as early as November 1st.

Black Friday TV deals to watch out for 

Black Friday deals are designed to generate excitement and sales, so don’t get lost in the hype. The basics of buying a great TV on sale are the same as regular-priced models: Know what features you should expect, what extras you may want, and read up on reviews to get a feel for what’s good or bad about specific models.

Our favorite brands are probably the names you already recognize: LG, Samsung, and Sony offer the top premium models, while Hisense, TCL, and Vizio deliver excellent quality at more affordable prices. Last year’s sales saw price cuts of $500 or more on some top models, and we expect similar sales this year. Look for Black Friday Target deals since the retailer tends to discount brands like Vizio and TCL. 

We’ve seen some great TVs this year, and all of them can expect some sort of price drop for Black Friday.

The LG C9 OLED and the entry-level LG B9 OLED offer fantastic value at normal prices, thanks to LG’s superb OLED displays and robust smart features. Last year’s model saw price drops of $300 or more, so these are definitely worth watching out for.

While Sony’s prices tend to run a little higher than we’d like, there’s no doubt that Sony TVs are among the best on the market, making Black Friday the perfect time to score some of the best TVs at more reasonable prices. LCD TVs, like the Sony X950G 75-inch Android TV, will often be found for $200 to $300 off their regular price, especially at the larger sizes.

And Sony’s Master Series OLED TVs, like last year’s A9F OLED and this year’s A9G OLED, don’t often see price drops, but Black Friday tends to be the exception. Last year’s A9F OLED, for example, dropped below $4,200 one of the few times it sold for under the $4,500 MSRP.

And you can expect to see more QLED sets from more companies this winter. While Samsung might be the best-known seller of quantum-dot enhanced TVs, other manufacturers are getting in on the action, and QLED sets from Vizio, TCL, and Hisense put this premium technology into some pretty attractive and affordable packages.

Our favorite QLED sets include the Samsung Q90 QLED TV, which is Samsung’s best 4K TV so far, but also the Vizio M-Series Quantum, which has the same QLED technology without the higher price.

Finding the best Black Friday TV sales 

In general, we recommend buying a TV with 4K resolution, since it’s the current standard, and will serve you well for old and new content alike. Stick to smart TVs, since nearly all current TVs include smart features giving you everything from free content to cable-free premium content, and compatibility with a whole house full of smart gadgets.

It’s also a good time to bone up on some of the basics of current TV technology. The difference between OLED and QLED, for example, can not only deliver different picture quality, but it can also mean a price difference of hundreds of dollars. And features like high-dynamic-range (HDR) support and HDMI 2.1 connectivity are premium touches that are worth paying a little extra for. The best Black Friday TV deals won’t just have low prices, but great overall value.

And watch for sales on bundle deals. The holidays are a great time to score a TV that comes with extras like HDMI cables, wall mounts or even soundbars, often for less than the regular price of the TV alone. 

Black Friday Cheap TVs: Bargain hunters beware 

Watch the fine print on those deals, though. You may see some TVs selling for $100 or less, but they all have some pretty severe limitations. Small sizes are common, and 32-inches is pretty small compared to the 65-inch models we usually review. (Check out our guide to choosing the right TV size to find the best size for your home.) 

Most are lacking smart features or rely on off-brand software with limited app selection. But the biggest gotcha you’ll see on Black Friday is a low resolution some don’t even offer full HD, opting for 720p resolution. While you may see TVs listed for amazingly low prices some for less than $100 don’t expect any of the smart functions or 4K panels we see in the best TVs.

Retailers also see the big sale as an opportunity to clear out slow-moving stock, and that includes sets we usually recommend against buying, like curved TVs. While the curved screen is an eye-catching feature, it’s not a good choice for anyone that wants to watch a show with someone else.

The curved screen warps the display in a way that produces terrible viewing angles, not only distorting colors for those viewing from an angle but sometimes making entire portions of the screen unviewable.

The one exception to this rule is if you want a dedicated 4K TV for gaming: For single-player gaming, a curved display can offer better immersion than a flat panel. But for most users, curved screens are something to avoid, even at a discount.

The other thing to watch for is refurbished and open box units. These can be a source of enormous savings, but they come with wear and tear before you ever set it up, and warranty coverage may not be as robust as a new model will offer. Refurbs are a good way to save a buck during the rest of the year, but as we get into the holidays, the best deals are on new units.

Just remember the old saying about things that look too good to be true. Not all Black Friday cheap TVs are great deals, even when the prices are enticing. 

How to Buy a Laptop on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

With Black Friday fast approaching, anybody and everybody in the market for a new laptop would be well advised to have their mouse finger primed. There are very serious savings to be had on such a big-ticket item as a laptop on Black Friday and its Cyber Monday deal-busting sibling.

But knowing you want a new laptop is a far cry from knowing what model and specification you should buy and where you can find the best deals. This is where our guide on how to buy a laptop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes in.

So, let’s start by covering off the former. How do you begin choosing a laptop?

On the one hand, that’s a veritable ‘how long is a piece of string’ question, such as the huge array of form factors, price, and features on offer. On the other, there are a few rules and tools you can use to home in on the most suitable systems.

Choosing a laptop that’s right for you

For starters, if you’re doing anything resembling serious work, choose a laptop with at least four processor cores. They can be Intel cores or AMD cores, it doesn’t matter much, even if Intel very much dominates the laptop market currently.

That stricture includes some very thin and light laptops these days, so you’re not giving up portability. Dual-core is fine for web browsing, text editing, and content consumption. But if you’re doing serious work, you’ll appreciate at least another pair of cores.

As for graphics, we’ll cover off gaming laptops in a separate piece. For non-gaming laptops, the spec of the graphics chip isn’t hugely critical. What’s more, ever since Intel’s 7th generation of CPUs (we’re now on generation 10), support for hardware decode of the latest video codecs has been included with its integrated graphics. So, a 4K YouTube video on a cheap laptop, for instance, is no problem.

The one related worry involves video output rather than graphics performance per se. We’re of the view that a modern laptop should include USB Type-C connectivity with support for at least one external 4K screen running at 60Hz.

Speaking of USB-C, you should also look for support for charging via that interface. So, you could hook up to an external display with a USB-C port, and both charge and drive the display with a single cable. 

It also makes for wider charging support. In other words, you can often head out without lugging a power supply around, safe in the knowledge that you can hook up to generic power sources via USB-C. USB-C also enables really fast transfers to external drives and all manner of further features, so it’s very much something to look out for.

Storage solutions

Next up is storage. These days it absolutely has to be solid-state and preferably an M.2 SSD. SATA SSDs are acceptable, but we’d turn our collective nostrils up at the likes of an eMMC drive. Yuck. Capacity wise, we’d prefer 256GB minimum on any system. But if you genuinely use very little storage, 128GB may be acceptable.

As for the operating system, it’s almost always going to be Windows. Apple’s excellent MacBooks are somewhat a world unto their own and Chromebooks are likewise a very particular proposition.

In short, if you’re in any doubt at all whether a Chromebook is what you need, it probably isn’t and you should buy a Windows laptop.

Think about the form factor

In terms of form factor, that’s a rather subjective choice. It’s your call how you want to compromise on screen size versus portability. But we’d make a few observations.

First, anything less than 13 inches really is a very small screen for doing anything but casual web browsing and the like, while anything larger than 15.6-inches pretty much kills portability. 

We’d also recommend you pay attention to the size of the screen bezels. Smaller bezels mean a larger screen in a given form factor and also ensure a contemporary appearance. Fat bezels are ugly and make for a bigger and heavier laptop.

But what about screen resolution? Treat 1080p or Full HD as a minimum requirement, regardless of screen size. For screens larger than 13-inches, favor resolutions beyond 1080p in order to ensure crispness and sharpness.

As for the question of conventional laptop form factors versus 2-in-1 machines, that’s a very personal judgment. Just bear in mind that 2-in-1 systems are pretty bulky in tablet mode, compared to normal tablets. Visit our best 2-in-1 laptop guide for our pick of the best convertible laptops.

Speaking of form factor, it makes dictating battery capacity rather tricky. Really roughly, for very thin and light laptops, look for a battery of around 40Wh capacity, 60Wh for a mid-sized model and 80 to 90Wh for larger models. 

90Wh, incidentally, is the largest allowed on many international flights. Battery life claims are notoriously unreliable. But claimed endurance of 10 hours or more is preferable if you’re expecting to use your laptop away from the mains regularly.

What laptop brand should you go for?

But what of brands? Choosing the right brand will get you a long way towards ensuring a good quality laptop. Among the best laptop brands are Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, Huawei, HP, Microsoft, Lenovo, Razer, Samsung, and Sony. Among those brands, there are few absolute dud laptop models, though obviously, compromises have to made at the cheaper end of their product families.

If this is all a little overwhelming, one way to ensure you get a good system is to buy a laptop that qualifies for Intel’s Ultrabook standard. 

Ultrabooks must comply with a wide range of minimum specifications and capabilities that essentially ensure you’re getting a very portable laptop with good battery life, a decent screen, and solid performance. Pricing for Ultrabooks starts around $500/£500.

Set your budget

Since we’ve mentioned money, we reckon you’re probably looking at around $400/£400 to get a proper, full-featured system (there may be some stellar deals that break that barrier), the aforementioned $500/£500 to slip into Ultrabook territory and around $700/£700 of Black Friday money to get into true premium notebook territory.

If that’s what you should be buying, where the heck should you get it from? The simplest and best answer is right here on TechRadar. We’ll have a veritable army of experts trawling the web for the very best deals, both leading up to Black Friday and on the day itself, and you’ll find the deals presented in neatly categorized and easy to scan lists. 

So, it’s a bit of a no brainer to start your search here. That said, if you want to do a little DIY searching, the best options in the US are AmazonNewEggWalmart and Best Buy.