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This smart light switch automatically turns off lights when I leave a room so I can finally stop patrolling my home

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Ecobee Switch+

  • A high-quality smart light switch should be easy for even a novice to install, have an auto shut-off function, and feature an intuitive app that helps you automate your home.
  • The ecobee Switch+ Smart Light Switch (currently $49.49 on Amazon) turns off my kitchen lights a minute after someone leaves the room and has Alexa so I can voice-operate the connected devices around my house and set timers while cooking.
  • Though it's more expensive than most other smart light switches, the Switch+ is backed by the user-friendly ecobee app and comes with a one-year limited warranty.

 

Ever since Hanna-Barbera gave us The Jetsons in the early '60s, we've had an idea of what the perfect automated home of the future could be like. Thanks to the many smart home devices on the market, home automation has never been more attainable. But I don't think even Hanna-Barbera could've imagined that we'd be able to talk to light switches to access a virtually limitless database of information and controls.

Yet, this is exactly what the ecobee Switch+ can do.

It's a smart light switch made by ecobee, a Canadian home automation company founded in 2007. The company is best known for its smart thermostats found in residences and businesses alike. Since my ancient home's wiring isn't compatible with its smart thermostat, I decided to test out the ecobee Switch+ Smart Light Switch with Alexa built in (currently $49.49 on Best Buy) instead and see how it holds up.

Read more: The best smart outlets you can buy

Specs

The Switch+ works with any lights that are controlled by a single switch and have a neutral (usually white) wire. To check compatibility, turn off power to your current switch at the breaker, remove the wall plate, and check for a neutral wire before buying the Switch+.

The smart light switch works with Alexa-enabled devices (since it has the system already built in), Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT, as well as a mobile app for iOS and Android. The light switch can be used for interior and exterior lights, and the app has separate settings and features for each set.

The Switch+ has several buttons that control Alexa (putting it on Do Not Disturb mode, turning it off, and more) as well as indicator lights that let you know Alexa is responding. There's also a speaker, occupancy sensor, old-fashioned on/off button for the light, and an optional night light at the base that makes finding the Switch+ easy at night.

In terms of set-up tools, the Switch+ comes with a wall plate, four wire nuts, and two mounting screws.

Set-up process

I had the smart light switch for a few weeks before I got around to installing it. I kept procrastinating because ecobee advertises that installation only takes 45 minutes, so I assumed that with my novice skills, I could expect an hour and a half of struggling. It didn't help that the installation guide is covered with scary warnings about electrocution hazards. But, in the end, my apprehensions were unfounded. The whole process took me 30 minutes and I felt like a capable handyman afterward.

For installation, you need both Phillips and flathead screwdrivers. Pliers aren't necessary, but I found they helped for straightening out the wires. But before you do anything, you must, must turn off the breaker that supplies power to the light switch you're replacing. For this reason, you might want to install the Switch+ during the day when you have natural light to help you see or have a good flashlight (and holder) or buddy nearby.

Next, you remove the old switch and identify the wires you'll be using. You then connect the wires to the Switch+ using the included wire nuts. Then, you fit the wire nuts into the wall, mount the Switch+, turn the power back on, and test it out.

There's no need to memorize the above steps, I'm just trying to be helpful here. Thankfully, Ecobee provides incredibly easy-to-follow steps and videos to guide you through the process. There's even a lesson on how to work with wire nuts, which I needed. Overall, the process was painless.

Read more: The best smart light bulbs you can buy

What makes the smart light switch stand out

At first, I had a long list of negative adjectives in my head to describe the Switch+ —  ridiculous, extravagant, bougie, and so on. Why would I need a light that's connected to Alexa? It just seemed like another smart gadget that my five-year-old would be able to use to drive me nuts. But over time, I learned to use the light switch to my advantage.

My favorite use of the Switch+'s Alexa capability was cooking. When following recipes or making several dishes at once, it's helpful to have a timer. Previously, I would set an alarm on my phone, but that requires the use of my busy hands. But with the Switch+ nearby, I was able to set the timer without skipping a beat.

The ultimate dad move is walking around and turning off lights to shave pennies off the electric bill — which I am not ashamed to admit doing. But now I don't have to because I can set the light to turn off when no one is in the room. Through the app, you can choose to have the light turn off automatically one to 60 minutes after someone leaves the room. If I had a nickel every time it worked like a charm...

The Switch+ uses built-in motion detection sensor to turn the light on when someone enters the room. You can choose to have the light turn on whenever motion is detected; with daylight detection, it will only turn on when there isn't natural light so the lights don't come on at 3 p.m. when someone gets home. I chose to only have the light on when the room was dark.

I also like that the app offers a vacation mode. With this feature, you enter the dates and times you'll be on vacation, and the app makes it so each of your connected ecobee products gives the appearance that someone is home while you're away. For example, when vacation mode is engaged, my kitchen light turns on and off randomly to make it look like I'm there.

Read more: This $80 light strip adds accent lighting wherever you need it — here's how I use it around my home

Cons to consider

The "Smart On" function worked well, but I wish I could adjust the level of sensitivity to ambient daylight. There were times when it was overcast outside and I wasn't getting as much light as I wanted. Overall though, I'd prefer that the switch err on the side of not turning on because I kind of like the environment and would rather not overuse resources.

If you're buying the Switch+ for its bumping speaker, you'll be disappointed. The sound quality is not impressive, which is to be expected from such a small speaker. However, it does get up to 90 decibels from a foot away. I found the speaker to be good for alarms and information, but not music.

The bottom line

Overall, the Switch+ is a fun addition to my household. My favorite part is not having to worry about turning the kitchen light off. And I've slowly found ways to use Alexa to my advantage, like setting timers and telling my robotic vacuum to get to work. I'd recommend the ecobee smart light switch to anyone interested in integrating smart lighting into their overall Jetsons-like arrangement.

Pros: Eco-friendly because it can turn off lights, works with Alexa and other popular smart home systems, vacation mode makes potential intruders think someone is home, smart capabilities adjust the amount of light depending on weather, easy to install

Cons: Expensive for the category, non-adjustable sensor sensitivity, speaker isn't ideal for music

 

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100+ stores that are having huge after-Christmas sales — from big box retailers like Amazon to our favorite startups like Brooklinen

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best end of year sales

  • The holidays may be behind us, but many brands are keeping the celebrations going with great sales. 
  • We've rounded up over 100 of the best end-of-year sales for you to shop. Whether you're looking to get a belated holiday gift or want to spend all those Christmas gift cards, these sales should do the trick.
  • Visit Business Insider Coupons to find up-to-date promo codes for a range of online stores and potentially save even more on your purchases.

After the Christmas shopping rush, many retailers offer up huge savings, with deals rivaling those found on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Instead of heading to the brick-and-mortar locations to snag some discounted products, shop online. It'll save you the trip and you can stay curled up in your pajamas eating Christmas dinner leftovers.

Below, you'll find a list of stores with the best post-holiday sales on the internet including sites like Amazon, Nordstrom, Target, and more.

Whether you're looking for something to spend Christmas cash and gift cards on, you're shopping for a belated gift, or you're just never one to miss a great sale, this is where you'll want to look.

Here are the top 10 end-of-year sales we're shopping:

  1. Amazon
  2. Nordstrom
  3. Brooklinen
  4. Everlane
  5. Best Buy
  6. Leesa
  7. Sephora
  8. Target
  9. Walmart
  10. Nike

Looking for more deals? We've rounded up the best end-of-year deals online:

Amazon:

  • Save big on Amazon devices and tech from top brands like Bose, Sony, and Sonos as well as home goods, clothing, and more. Shop amazon.com.

Best Buy:

  • Save up to 50% on tech, TVs, home appliances, and more. Shop bestbuy.com

Dell:

  • Save up to $400 on clearance and overstock computers and electronics. Shop dell.com.

JBL:

  • Save up to 70% on speakers, headphones, and more audio devices and accessories. Shop jbl.com.

Microsoft:

  • Save up to 67% on digital download XBOX games, save up to $500 on popular PCs, and more. Shop microsoft.com.


Avocado:

Bear:

  • Save $150 on orders over $700 with promo code "WS150", save $2oo on orders over $1,000 with promo code "WS200", or save $250 on orders over $1,300 with promo code "WS250" at checkout. Plus, get two free Cloud Pillows. Shop bearmattress.com.

Brooklyn Bedding:

  • Save 20% on mattresses using the promo code "WINTER20" at checkout until January 7. Shop brooklynbedding.com.

Casper:

  • Take 10% off mattress orders now through January 6. Shop casper.com.

Dreamcloud:

Eight Sleep:

  • Save $500 on a smart mattress, plus get a free gravity blanket with your order. Shop eightsleep.com.

Helix:

  • Get $100 off any mattress with code "EOY100", get $150 off orders of $1,250+ with code "EOY150", get $200 off orders of $1,750+ with code "EOY200". Plus, get two free pillows. Shop helixsleep.com.

Leesa:

  • Save $200 on all mattresses. Shop leesa.com.


Alpha Industries:

Andrew Marc:

  • Save an extra 40% off sitewide with the promo code "MERRY". Shop andrewmarc.com.

Ann Taylor

  • Get 60% off sale styles and 40% off full-price items using the promo code "SHOP40". Shop anntaylor.com.

Backcountry:

Ban.do:

  • Take an extra 30% off sale now through January 5. Shop bando.com.

Brooks Brothers:

Clarks:

  • Take an extra 30% off all sale styles with code "TAKE30" at checkout, now through January 22. Shop clarksusa.com.

Club Monaco:

  • Shop end of season savings up to 60% off, now through January 7. Shop clubmonaco.com.

Coach:

Cole Haan:

  • Take up to 65% off sale styles plus an additional 10% off your entire purchase with code "CHEER" at checkout until January 3. Shop colehaan.com.

Columbia Sportswear:

  • Save up to 30% on select styles until March 3. Plus, get a $20 gift card when you spend $100. Shop columbia.com.

Dagne Dover:

Everlane:

  • Shop Everlane's biggest Choose What You Pay sale yet. Shop everlane.com.

EyeBuyDirect:

Fossil:

  • Save an extra 30% on sale styles with code "WINTER30" until January 5. Shop fossil.com.

Frank and Oak:

  • Get an extra 20% off almost everything sitewide with code "BOXING20" at checkout. Shop frankandoak.com.

GREATS:

Happy Socks:

  • Save 40% on select products, plus get free shipping. Shop happysocks.com.

HATCH:

J.Crew:

  • Save an extra 50% on sale styles with code "BIGSALE" at checkout. Shop jcrew.com.

JCPenney:

  • Take up to 70% off sitewide, plus get an extra 25% off orders of $100+, an extra 20% off when you pay with a JCPenney Credit Card, and 15% off everything with code "FORME". Shop jcpenney.com.

Jomashop:

Levi's:

  • Save up to 50% on select styles until January 2. Shop levi.com.

L.L.Bean:

Mackage:

  • Save up to 50% on select styles from. Shop mackage.com.

Macy's:

  • Save up to 60% on clothes, home goods, jewelry, and more. Plus, take an extra 20%-50% off select departments with the promo code "JOY" at checkout. Shop macys.com.

Madewell:

  • Save an extra 30% on sale styles using the promo code "MEGAMEGA" at checkout, now through January 2. Shop madewell.com.

MeUndies:

MVMT:

  • Save 20% sitewide with the promo code "MVMT20" at checkout. Shop mvmtwatches.com.

Need Supply Co.:

Nike:

  • Save an extra 20% on sale styles with the promo code "GOBIG" at checkout until January 4. Shop nike.com.

Nordstrom:

  • Save up to 50% on sale styles at the half-yearly sale, now through January 2. Shop nordstrom.com.

Nordstrom Rack:

Pact:

  • Shop final sale styles, plus get 20% off orders of $100+ with code "NEWYOU". Shop wearpact.com.

Ramy Brook:

Reebok:

  • Take an extra 50% off sale styles with the promo code "GETDOWN" at checkout until December 31. Shop reebok.com.

Ralph Lauren:

  • Save an extra 30% on sale styles until December 28. Shop ralphlauren.com.

REI:

  • Save up to 50% off on outdoor apparel and gear. Shop rei.com.

Richer Poorer:

Scotch & Soda:

Senreve:

  • Get a free limited-edition gift with purchases of $500 or more. Shop senreve.com.

Shoes.com:

  • Save 25% sitewide with code "BYE2018". Shop shoes.com.

Shopbop:

  • Take an extra 30% off sale styles for savings of up to 75% with code "TREAT". Shop shopbop.com.

Skagen:

  • Save up to 80% when you take an extra 30% off sale styles with code "SALEONSALE" until January 1. Shop skagen.com.

Soia & Kyo:

STATE Bags:

  • Save 26% with code "WISHLIST26" at checkout. Shop statebags.com.

Sweaty Betty:

Timberland:

Timex:

  • Save up to 30% on select styles, plus get free shipping. Shop timex.com.

United By Blue:

  • Save an extra 40% on sale items with code "KNOCKOUT" at checkout until December 31. Shop unitedbyblue.com.

Zappos:

  • Get big savings on footwear and apparel. Shop zappos.com.

Zenni Optical:



Allen Edmonds:

Alpha Industries:

Andrew Marc:

  • Save an extra 40% off sitewide with the promo code "MERRY". Shop andrewmarc.com.

Backcountry:

Bonobos:

  • Save 40% off final sale styles with code "SLEIGH" now through December 29. Shop bonobos.com.

Brooks Brothers:

Clarks:

  • Take an extra 30% off all sale styles with code "TAKE30" at checkout, now through January 22. Shop clarksusa.com.

Club Monaco:

  • Shop end of season savings up to 60% off, now through January 7. Shop clubmonaco.com.

Coach:

Cole Haan:

  • Take up to 65% off sale styles plus an additional 10% off your entire purchase with code "CHEER" at checkout until January 3. Shop colehaan.com.

Columbia Sportswear:

  • Save up to 30% on select styles until March 3. Plus, get a $20 gift card when you spend $100. Shop columbia.com.

Dagne Dover:

East Dane:

  • Take an extra 30% off select sale items for a total of up to 65% off with code "TREAT". Shop eastdane.com.

Everlane:

  • Shop Everlane's biggest Choose What You Pay sale yet. Shop everlane.com.

EyeBuyDirect:

Fossil:

  • Save an extra 30% on sale styles with code "WINTER30" until January 5. Shop fossil.com.

Frank and Oak:

  • Get an extra 20% off almost everything sitewide with code "BOXING20" at checkout. Shop frankandoak.com.

GREATS:

Happy Socks:

  • Save 40% on select products, plus get free shipping. Shop happysocks.com.

Indochino:

  • Save up to 40% on custom suits, shirts, outerwear, and more. Shop indochino.com.

J.Crew:

  • Save an extra 50% on sale styles with code "BIGSALE" at checkout. Shop jcrew.com.

JCPenney:

  • Take up to 70% off sitewide, plus get an extra 25% off orders of $100+, an extra 20% off when you pay with a JCPenney Credit Card, and 15% off everything with code "FORME". Shop jcpenney.com.

Jomashop:

Levi's:

  • Save up to 50% on select styles until January 2. Shop levi.com.

L.L.Bean:

Mackage:

  • Save up to 50% on select styles from. Shop mackage.com.

Macy's:

  • Save up to 60% on clothes, home goods, jewelry, and more. Plus, take an extra 20%-50% off select departments with the promo code "JOY" at checkout. Shop macys.com.

Madewell:

  • Save an extra 30% on sale styles using the promo code "MEGAMEGA" at checkout, now through January 2. Shop madewell.com.

MeUndies:

MVMT:

  • Save 20% sitewide with the promo code "MVMT20" at checkout. Shop mvmtwatches.com.

Need Supply Co.:

Nike:

  • Save an extra 20% on sale styles with the promo code "GOBIG" at checkout until January 4. Shop nike.com.

Nordstrom:

  • Save up to 50% on sale styles at the half-yearly sale, now through January 2. Shop nordstrom.com.

Nordstrom Rack:

Pact:

  • Shop final sale styles, plus get 20% off orders of $100+ with code "NEWYOU". Shop wearpact.com.

Ralph Lauren:

  • Save an extra 30% on sale styles until December 28. Shop ralphlauren.com.

Reebok:

  • Take an extra 50% off sale styles with the promo code "GETDOWN" at checkout until December 31. Shop reebok.com.

REI:

  • Save up to 50% off on outdoor apparel and gear. Shop rei.com.

Richer Poorer:

Scotch & Soda:

Shoes.com:

  • Save 25% sitewide with code "BYE2019" for total savings of up to 60% off, now through December 31. Shop shoes.com.

Skagen:

  • Save up to 80% when you take an extra 30% off sale styles with code "SALEONSALE" until January 1. Shop skagen.com.

STATE Bags:

  • Save 26% with code "WISHLIST26" at checkout. Shop statebags.com.

Timberland:

Timex:

  • Save up to 30% on select styles, plus get free shipping. Shop timex.com.

United By Blue:

  • Save an extra 40% on sale items with code "KNOCKOUT" at checkout until December 31. Shop unitedbyblue.com.

Zappos:

  • Get big savings on footwear and apparel. Shop zappos.com.

Zenni Optical:



The Art of Shaving:

Dermstore:

  • Take an extra 10% off sale items with code "EXTRA10", now through December 31. Shop dermstore.com.

Goby:

  • Take 20% off any purchase of two or more Goby Brush Kits. Shop goby.co.

Philosophy:

  • Save up to 50% on holiday gift sets and 40% on shower gels. Shop philosophy.com.

Target:

  • Save up to 50% on beauty products. Shop target.com.

Virtue:

  • Save 20% on all stylers with promo code "NYESTYLERS" at checkout now through December 31. Shop virtuelabs.com.

Sephora:

  • Save an extra 20% on sale items with the promo code "SAVEBIG". Shop sephora.com.

Smile Direct Club:



Artifact Uprising:

  • Save 10% sitewide now through January 1 with promo code "RINGIN2020" at checkout. Shop artifactuprising.com.

Bed Bath & Beyond:

Boll & Branch

Brooklinen:

Burrow:

  • Get 10% off orders up to $1,499, $200 off orders $1,500+, $250 off orders $2,000+, $300 off orders $2,200+, $500 off orders $3,500+ with code "NYE". Shop burrow.com.

Coyuchi:

Crate & Barrel:

Dormify:

  • Save up to 50% on pillows, plus free shipping on orders of $75+. Shop dormify.com

Houzz:

  • Take up to 75% off across all categories, now through January 1. Shop houzz.com.

Hurom Slow Juicers:

  • Take 25% off all juicers sitewide with code "HUROMHOLIDAYS" at checkout, now through January 5. Shop hurom.com.

iRobot:

  • Save up to $200 on select floor care robots. Shop irobot.com.

Overstock.com

Pottery Barn:

  • Save up to 70% on end-of-season sale items. Plus, save up to 30% when you buy more, save more with code "SAVEMORE". Shop potterybarn.com

Snapfish:

  • Save up to 70% on custom photo books, cards, and calendars with code "WINTERBCC" now through December 29. Plus, find other great savings. Shop snapfish.com.

Wayfair:

West Elm:

Williams-Sonoma:



CreativeLive:

  • Save 70% on classes sitewide and 50% on the Creator Pass. Shop creativelive.com.

GoSkills:

  • Sign up and receive 15% off your first purchase. Shop goskills.com

Pimsleur:

  • Save up to 40% sitewide with code "NEWYEAR" now through December 31. Shop pimsleur.com.

Skillshare:

  • New members get the first two months of Skillshare Premium for free. Shop skillshare.com.

Udemy:

  • Enroll in courses for as low as $10.99. Shop udemy.com.


Atlas Coffee Club:

Driftaway Coffee:

Godiva:

  • Save up to 50% on select products. Shop godiva.com.

Mouth:

  • Save 25% on select products with code "HOLIDONE19". Shop mouth.com

Snake River Farms:

 

 



AUrate: 

  • Get a $50 gift card when you spend $300+, a $100 gift card when you spend $500+, or a $250 gift card when you spend $1,000+. Shop auratenewyork.com

BaubleBar:

  • Save up to 75% on select styles, plus free shipping on orders of $25+. Shop baublebar.com.

Nordstrom:

  • Save up to 70% on select styles, now through January 2. Shop nordstrom.com.

Soko:



Amazon:

  • Save big on Amazon devices and tech from top brands like Bose, Sony, and Sonos as well as home goods, clothing, and more. Shop amazon.com.

Bed Bath & Beyond:

Best Buy:

  • Save up to 50% on tech, TVs, home appliances, and more. Shop bestbuy.com

Crate & Barrel:

JCPenney:

  • Take up to 70% off sitewide, plus get an extra 25% off orders of $100+, an extra 20% off when you pay with a JCPenney Credit Card, and 15% off everything with code "FORME". Shop jcpenney.com.

Kohl's:

  • Take up to 70% off, plus get $10 Kohl's cash for every $50 spent. Shop kohls.com.

Macy's:

  • Save up to 60% on clothes, home goods, jewelry, and more. Plus, take an extra 20%-50% off select departments with the promo code "JOY" at checkout. Shop macys.com.

Nordstrom:

  • Save up to 50% on sale styles at the half-yearly sale, now through January 2. Shop nordstrom.com.

Nordstrom Rack:

Target:

Walmart:

  • Save up to 50% sitewide at the end-of-year clearance. Shop walmart.com.


The best winter boots for men

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  • With a great pair of winter boots on your feet, snow, ice, and the frigid temperatures won't stop you from having fun or getting your work done.
  • We considered insulation, tread pattern, lacing systems, and more to find the best winter boots.
  • The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots are our top pick, thanks to the comfort, support, and amazing insulation properties of these boots.
  • If you're looking for women's styles, check out our guide to the best winter boots for women.

My favorite boots are comfortable, supportive, and have great treads for hiking on all sorts of terrain. They're reliable, they look great and they tend to spend many months of the year tucked away on a shelf instead of on my feet. Why? Because they're just not winter boots.

Boots have to provide two qualities to be suitable for use during the winter: insulation and water-resistance. If your boots can't keep your feet warm and they can't keep your feet dry, then they're just not suitable for wintertime use. And of those two imperative qualities, waterproofing is the most important factor.

Once your socks grow sodden after snow, slush, or rain inundate your footwear, the insulation properties of the boots are no longer of much importance. In the winter, a wet foot is going to be a cold foot, and one more prone to blisters and infection. So while you can always help keep your feet warm with a pair of socks (or with layered socks), you have to use waterproof boots if you'll be hiking, working, or just walking around in areas liable to see snowfall or rain during those colder months. It's no coincidence that most of the boots on our list have the word "waterproof" right in the product title.

But what makes a great winter boot, beyond the warmth and dryness? It's largely relative. You need a winter boot that offers sufficient traction for activities in which you partake, but you don't need the same level of aggressive tread pattern for slushy sidewalks as you do for snowbound trails. You want enough support to help prevent a rolled ankle if you slip on ice, but your winter work boots probably don't need a calf-high rise. You want a lacing system that's snug and secure, but you also want it to be as simple as possible, as you might be wearing gloves or dealing with frosty fingers.

In short, you need to choose a boot that fits the places in which you'll use it and the tasks at hand in said locations. Don't choose a winter boot because it has lots of nifty features that seem clever and keen; choose a winter boot that's going to serve your purposes. We've rounded up the best winter boots you can buy for different use cases and styles. Read on to see which of our picks is for you.

Here are the best winter boots for men:

Updated on 12/27/2019 by Jen Gushue: Updated links, prices, and formatting.

SEE ALSO: The best men's hiking boots you can buy

Best winter boots overall

With the Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots on your feet, you are going to be toasty warm even when the weather isn't, thanks to the advanced insulation and lightweight design.

The Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni Cold-Weather Boots will keep your feet dry if you stand in a stream or puddle. Seriously, you could just step right into the water, and provided it didn't crest the impressive seven-inch rise of the shaft, your feet would not get wet. And were the stream or puddle into which you stepped freezing cold, your feet would stay nice and warm, too. That's because these exceptionally well-made winter boots come with 200-gram insulation and an Omni-Heat reflective lining that radiates your own body heat right back at you.

You know those metallic emergency blankets (also called space blankets) that people wrap themselves in after an accident or after running a marathon? Columbia's Omni-Heat technology uses much the same approach. The lining consists of multiple little dots of a radiant metallic material that reflects your foot's warmth back into the boot instead of absorbing it and drawing the warmth away from your extremities.

And to top it off (or... bottom it off, to be more precise) these boots have an outsole featuring excellent traction that's lightweight and offers plenty of energy return. The boots are an ideal choice for winter treks, whether you're hiking across miles of woodland terrain or simply plodding across town on a cold wintry morning.

Pros: Amazing insulation quality, reliably waterproof, good traction on snow, ice, and varied terrain

Cons: Too warm for use except in winter, rather large and bulky



Best classic winter boots

L.L.Bean's shearling-lined 10-inch boots are the warmest of the bunch, but any of the Bean Boots will serve you well through both fall and winter, and they go with most outfits.

L.L.Bean's boots were introduced in 1912, and haven't changed much since. That's because they haven't had to.

Leon Leonwood Bean did generations of anglers and hunters a serious solid by tacking together these remarkably warm and dry boots. The Bean Boots went on to become the genesis of his stardom more than a century ago. Today, you'll find them everywhere from the backwoods of Maine to the boroughs of the Big Apple.

While many of L.L.Bean's products are being made offshore these days, the company continues to craft a select few of its products stateside, including the beloved Bean Boots.

Constructed using rubber bottoms and soles, a steel shank, full-grain leather uppers, and 3M Thinsulate, these boots have hardly changed since the start. Of course, there was no 3M nor Thinsulate in the early 20th century, but the design, the leather, and the rubber have all remained the same.

One thing that has changed in L.L.Bean's boot game is variety. There are more than 30 styles of Bean Boots to choose from with an array of linings so there's a pair for each season.

These boots are part of the history of exploration and expedition themselves, having gone to war for the United States Army and forayed both poles. They are also storied to have found their way onto Ernest Hemingway's feet, who, according to GQ, even went so far as to recommend them himself.

The endorsements don't stop there. Popular Mechanics discussed The Never-Ending Greatness of L.L.Bean's Boots, and GQ has sung L.L.Bean's praise for years. One staff member here at Insider Inc. made a pair of these boots last more than 30 years. Here's proof.

Unfortunately, L.L.Bean's lifetime guarantee was discontinued, and purchases only come with a one-year warranty from here on out. We're sad to see this longstanding tradition go, but will still stand by Bean's boots unless the quality itself starts to drop. — Owen Burke

Pros: Sturdy, high-end leather and rubber, steel shank for support, not outrageously priced, hand-stitched

Cons: Maybe not the most fashion-forward boots you'll come across this season (or next), but their beauty lies in their utilitarianism



Best affordable winter work boots

When there's work to be done, the Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots ensure the winter weather won't slow you down. 

A good work boot helps you accomplish your tasks without you even knowing it's there. Work boots need to be supportive and protective yet lightweight enough for the long hours required at the construction site, the farm, or the landscaping job. They need to keep your feet warm and dry in the winter, but not be so heavily insulated as to make feet sweat when your body temperature is raised. And of course, work boots need to be tough enough to endure the abuse that comes with the toughest jobs.

The Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots score high marks when tested against every one of the aforementioned standards, and they even have one more attribute worth noting: They look great. While aesthetics might have little effect on how well you get your work done, you might as well choose a work boot that looks good, right?

Made with full-grain leather, these boots are a great choice for workers in areas where winter precipitation can be heavy. Beyond that waterproof leather, they have watertight stitches, water-resistant laces, and a seal added along the sole to help make sure no snowmelt, rain, or slush ever soaks through to your feet.

A gear tester with AllThingsWaterproof called the Ever Boots Ultra Dry Insulated Waterproof Work Boots "ideal for construction, landscaping, gardening" and more, while a MyWorkWear writer noted the affordable price and the "high-quality materials and exceptional workmanship."

Consider stepping down a half-size because, in our experience, these boots tend to run large.

Pros: Great price point, reliable waterproofing, classic work boot look

Cons: Sizes run too large, break-in period required



Best stylish winter boots

Red Wing is known by many as one of the longest-running leather boot designers in the United States, and the Heritage 6-inch Moc Toe is an iconic and dependable workhorse boot. 

I've been testing out a pair of Red Wing's Heritage Moc Toes this year as the weather's been getting cooler, and I get the feeling that they may well outlast me. It might be the leather, which is almost unbearably tough to start (my ankles have the blisters and abrasions to prove it) but softens just enough over time without compromising the stitching at all.

These aren't the kind of boots I'd want to wear on a winter hike, but they're just right for trotting around town while still keeping a semblance of fashion about you.

With humble turn-of-the-twentieth-century beginnings in a small Minnesota town from which it took its name, Red Wing has been sourcing leather to make its boots from a nearby tanning factory that the company bought in the 1970s.

The fashion experts at Esquire call them a work boot "for the weekend" to be worn running errands or heading out on the town. AskMen swears by them, too, but warns that there may be a hellacious break-in period.

All in all, you can't go wrong with any pair of Red Wings, but the classic eight-inch 877s are an icon in and of themselves. — Owen Burke

Pros: Trendy, rugged, waterproof, tough soles

Cons: Breaking them in can be a painful chore (but well worth the agony)



Best rubber boots for winter

Soft, heavily insulated, and easy to pop on and off, Muck Boots' Arctic Sport boots are great for work and play all winter long.

Muck Boots are a popular choice for all seasons and terrains, but the Arctic Sport boots are designed with an additional 2mm of thermal foam atop 8mm of neoprene, earning a broad comfort rating between -40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

They're great for shoveling the driveway or running to the store while keeping you and your clothes muck-free. They'll also suffice for a light hike, and are excellent on any flatland adventures.

The Arctic Sport boots are also fleece-lined, completely waterproof right to the top, and incorporate a breathable "airmesh" lining, keeping your feet dry from within and without.

The lightweight rubber sole is reparable, so if you find a fissure after a few seasons of wear and tear, a quick patch job will have them ship-shape in short order.

The tall shaft of the boot is 14.5 inches when measured from the arch, making these boots great for light wading in shallow streams.

Weighing between two and two-and-a-half pounds, the Arctic Sport is extremely lightweight for any boot, let alone a lined, waterproof one with a reinforced toe, or "bumper."

All in all, Muck Boots' Arctic Sports might be a bit cumbersome for romping around town for any length of time, but they're fully serviceable for dipping out of the house. — Owen Burke

Pros: Waterproof, lightweight, suitable for multi-season use, tall neoprene shaft, ideal for wading across shallow streams, well-insulated with fleece and thermal foam

Cons: Lining is not removable and can get hot, especially with sweaty feet, not ideal on slick or black ice with little or no snow cover, no laces for those who require ankle support



Best winter work boots overall

Even when the temperature drops well into the negatives and the snow is blowing in sideways, you can head out with confidence while wearing a pair of Wolverine Drillbit Oil Rigger Boots.

The Wolverine Drillbit Oil Rigger Winter Boots are some seriously heavy-duty footwear. And speaking of heavy, let's get one thing out of the way early. These boots are too cumbersome, both in terms of weight and bulk, for use on long hikes or even for days spent strolling around town in the winter. But for working outdoors, shorter slogs around your property or neighborhood, shoveling snow, snowmobiling, hunting (when heavy hiking isn't required), and for other highly physical activities, they're ideal.

If you really wanted to step up your work boot game you could go with Danner or Red Wing, but those are still twice as much as Wolverines. The brand offers more styles than we'd care to count, and you can find everything from bona fide steel toe work boots to more classic, thick leather boots built for the ages.

These are superlative boots for extreme winter conditions primarily thanks to their excellent insulation and water-resistance. The boots' arch and ankle support are provided by a molded EVA insole and an upper that almost reaches mid-calf.

But the feature that sets these boots apart from the rest is the BOA lacing system. Rather than pulling the laces tight by hand and then tying a bow to secure the boots, you tighten and secure the wire lacing of these boots simply by twisting a dial. The laces pull tight evenly and are held secure by the ratchet-locking mechanism of the dial, and simply popping the dial forward about a half-inch loosens the laces.

This allows you to put on or remove your boots and to tighten or loosen the laces even while you're wearing bulky gloves. Anyone who knows the frustration of fumbling over laces with frost-numbed fingers is nodding right now.

Take it from me: They're excellent boots that are indeed almost strangely easy to tighten and loosen. And yes, I am wearing my pair as I write just to help me connect with the assignment. (No, I'm not kidding. I'm wearing these boots right now, inside ... at my desk.)

A writer with HuntersHandbook praised the BOA lacing system, saying it allows for "a glove-like fit that's easy to adjust on the fly." Multiple gear writers also mention the Vibram Arctic Grip outsole of this and other Wolverine boots, noting its excellent stability in snow, ice, or loose ground. — Owen Burke + Steven John

Pros: Easy to lace up even with gloves on, warm and waterproof, intelligent tread pattern

Cons: Rather heavy and large



Best low-cost winter boots

As a great budget winter boot option, you'll get at least a couple of seasons out of Kamik's sturdy, reliable, faux-fur-lined winter boots.

Kamik has been making affordable winter boots in Canada since 1898, and for the past 25 years, Kamik has been striving toward sustainability. The company has its own boot and recycling programs and 73% of its goods are North-American-made.

A removable polyester felt liner keeps things toasty inside while a faux-shearling collar helps to seal in the heat. Kamik claims that the boots are rated down to -58 degrees Fahrenheit, but, frankly, if you're entering temperatures anywhere in that range, you may want to invest a little more in a higher-tech boot.

The downfall of many a cheap boot — apart from poor lower-to-upper binding — is riveted eyelets, which are wont to pop off in short order. Kamik only makes a handful of boots this way, though. Our pick, the Alborg Cold Weather boot has D-ring eyelets sewn on with leather patches, which should hold up at least a couple of seasons.

Around the web, OutdoorGearLab and Switchback Travel both recommend Kamik boots as a budget option. — Owen Burke

Pros: Affordable, wide selection, over a century of shoemaking experience

Cons: Not the most durable boots in the world, but great at this price range



Best affordable winter boots for wearing around town

Who said winter boots can't be handsome and stylish? The Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Boots keep your feet warm, dry, and supported, plus they look great.

There is an elegant simplicity to the Timberland White Ledge Waterproof Boots. They are made almost entirely of full-grain leather with a dark oiled finish that only gets better looking with age. The eyelets and hooks are brass colored and will also take on a faint patina as the seasons roll by. 

These boots will look right at home whether you're wearing them with coveralls as you conduct highway repairs on a freezing winter morning or at the bottom of a pair of designer jeans as you make your way into the lodge to grab a coffee or cocktail.

The White Ledge boots have a multidirectional lug pattern on the sole, providing you plenty of grip when you're trekking along the trail, climbing a hill with a steep grade, or standing in one spot while working. The breathable dual-density EVA footbed provides support and helps to prevent your foot from overheating, while a generously padded collar and tongue help ensure these boots are comfortable the very first time you slip them on.

You can treat these boots like hardware for work or for hiking, but you might also consider reserving them for winter nights out on the town.

The professional gear writers are effusive, with a review on BootBomb.com calling them ideal for use on "slippery slopes" or "muddy riverbanks" while also noting their "fine looking design." A tester from Today's Camping Gear called them breathable and comfortable and appreciated their moderate weight.

Pros: Classic stylish looks, out of the box comfort, built to last for years

Cons: Sole too thin for some uses/users, narrow toe box



Check out our other winter gear guides

The best winter coats for men

A good winter coat will keep you warm and dry even when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. A great winter coat will keep you warm, dry, and looking good, too. Here are the best men's coats you can buy.


The best beanies

The word "beanie" is one of those catch-alls that encompasses a ton of different styles, from slouchy cuts to ultra-fitted ones with a variety of embellishments and fabric variations. The sheer number of options is overwhelming. We've narrowed it down for you. Here are the best beanies you can buy.


The best places to buy scarves online

Your choice of scarf can make or break your comfort level in the wintertime. Opt for one that's wooly and warm and you'll be toasty. Choose a too-thin fabric and you, well, won't. Scarves are also a great opportunity to infuse a bit of personality into your winter wardrobe. And when you get bored of your outerwear, you can always pick a new scarf to mix things up. Here are the best places to buy scarves online.


The best thermal gloves

A good pair of thermal gloves can make all the difference on a cold winter day. We did the research to find the best thermal gloves you can buy to keep your hands nice and toasty for the rest of this winter and for many more winters to come. Here are the best thermal gloves.


The best places to buy winter hats for men, women, and children

Your body loses a significant portion of its heat through your head, so keep yourself warm this winter with a great winter hat. Here are the best places to buy winter hats online.


The best mittens

Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves, so if it's cold where you live, work, or play, slip a pair on and keep the chill out. Here are the best mittens you can buy.


The best snow pants for men, women, and kids

Make the most of that winter wonderland this year by keeping yourself warm and dry with well-made snow pants when you're skiing, sledding, or generally romping about in the snow. Here are the best snow pants.



11 Costco food court menu items workers swear by (COST)

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Costco pizza

Costco food courts are famous for having cheap, yummy grub.

These menus are static in terms of price and offerings. You'll have to travel if you want to find any serious discrepancies between Costco food court menus. They're a good option for shoppers looking to grab a quick, post-shopping spree meal. And some Costco employees are fans too.

"Everything at the food court is a good deal and a favorite of all who stop by to eat," a seasonal Costco employee from New York told Business Insider. "It is a great convenience for everybody, no matter what time of day it is."

Business Insider asked 49 current and former Costco employees to share their favorite food court menu options. We also scoured the internet for employee reviews of the food court items on social media.

"I eat at the food court more then I would like too," one Ontario-based Costco employee told Business Insider. "It's so good. The cheapest menus I have ever seen."

Here are the food court menu options Costco employees love:

SEE ALSO: 30 Costco food court items you'd never guess were on the menu

DON'T MISS: Costco employees share their best food court secrets and hacks

DON'T FORGET: 11 insider facts about shopping at Costco only employees know

Pizza was the most popular pick

A total of 2o other Costco employees told Business Insider that the pizza was their favorite food court item. Of those, three employees preferred the pepperoni pizza, while three went with the combo pizza.

"You get sick of the food after awhile, but the combo pizza is always my go-to," one Costco worker in Florida told Business Insider.

"I love the pepperoni pizza," another employee said. "It's very cheesy with nice and juicy crispy pepperonis."

The rest just chose "pizza."

"Fun fact: If you are ordering a whole cheese pizza pie it actually has just over a pound of cheese on it," said one employee who said they ate at the food court on a weekly basis.



The hot dog-and-soda combo was also a hit

"The hot dog soda combo for $1.50 is a classic," one San Diego-based Costco employee told Business Insider.

Two other Costco employees concurred that the hot dog was their favorite food court item. An Oregon-based employee added that it was the best deal in the whole store.



Bratwurst was big with two employees

One Costco employee in Illinois told Business Insider that they liked the bratwurst and felt disappointed when their store got rid of it in favor of chili.

Another worker who's been at Costco for 12 years told Business Insider that, while they didn't often eat at the food court, when they did, they opted for the bratwurst.



Three employees told Business Insider that they liked churros

Three Costco employees who have worked for the warehouse chain for seven and half, eight, and ten years, respectively, told Business Insider that their go-to food court orders typically included a churro.



Costco's various sausage options also had some fans

A Costco employee who's worked at the chain for 29 years told Business Insider they have been snacking on the chain's Polish sausages "since 1989."

Sadly for that employee, Polish sausages have been swapped out in favor of healthier choices.

Another employee said they preferred the Italian sausages.



Two employees enjoyed the food court's relatively new chili

"I love the new chili and the pizza," a Costco employee in Ohio told Business Insider, adding that they ate at the food court "every now and then."

Another California-based employee said that the chili was one of their favorite orders.



Two frozen offerings got a shout out...

"Regardless of what you eat as the 'main course', the pistachio gelato — or any gelato — is to die for," former Costco employee Robert Lu wrote on Quora.

A Washington-based Costco employee who spoke with Business Insider agreed. Another Costco employee said they preferred the food court's frozen yogurt.



... and so did the food court's berry smoothie

Seven Costco employees told Business Insider that they favored the food court's berry smoothies.

One Arizona-based employee said they used to eat at the food court when they were younger and it was "much harder to gain weight." Nowadays, they added that they still "drink the smoothies."



Three employees find the mocha freeze yummy

Three Costco employees said they went for this new addition to the food court menu.

"The new cold brew mocha freeze — yum," said one Costco employee from California.



Variations on the turkey provolone sandwich got a thumbs up

Two employees went for the turkey provolone sandwich — although one employee said they preferred it with pesto and without the turkey.



The chicken bake is one Washington-based employee's go-to

"My favorite food court item is the chicken bake with a cup of Caesar dressing," a Costco employee from Washington told Business Insider. "Most of the time, if you ask for a cup of the dressing, they won't give it to you, but as an employee I tend to be able to get one. It makes it ten times better."

Are you a Costco employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com



The best men's parkas for winter

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  • If you don't have a parka and you live where the mercury drops below freezing, it's probably about time you added one to your closet. Winter's about to get a lot more manageable.
  • We tested nearly a dozen parkas, and our favorites come fromTriple F.A.T. Goose, Fjällräven, Save the Duck, and L.L.Bean.

A parka is a wintertime essential for much of humankind. Without one, layering enough to stay warm can be a nuisance.

But oh, what a sea of decisions: How thick does it need to be? Do you need the hood to be lined with fur? How do you feel about faux fur? We're still left to ponder pockets, length, and lining. And what on earth does "fill power" mean? While all of the above may or may not be critical decisions, they're all things we have to consider.

A parka is something we hope to invest in for the long haul, and a parka that doesn't last more than a few seasons is, in our humble opinion, not a parka at all. 

Here's what to look for in a parka

Let's start with the filling, and what fill power means. Measured in cuin, fill power represents how many cubic inches of loft one ounce of a given variety of feather occupies at maximum (unencumbered) loft. 800 fill power is considered to have superior insulating quality, while anything south of 600 starts to become less insulating and also heavier at the same time. Still, fill power does not necessarily tell you how warm a parka might be because it doesn't denote how heavily packed the down is inside your coat. Some brands, like Triple F.A.T. Goose, do share the contents of their jackets (9 ounces in lighter models, 15.5 ounces in heavier ones).

What the fill power of a down does tell you is how well the quality of a given down traps air and, in effect, warmth. Precious as it may be, a lightweight 800-fill-power down packed lightly and loosely into a jacket might not do nearly as much as a heavier 400-fill-power down stuffed to the edges of each compartment. Another thing to keep in mind, especially for travelers, is that the higher the fill power of a down, the lighter the weight of it by volume, which can result in a lighter jacket overall.

While fill power does dictate something about the quality of a down, what really matters is how densely packed a down is inside the baffles, or the compartments that compose a down jacket. Without those compartments, the down would drop and collect and sag along the hem.

The outer lining of a parka can require a little explanation, too. Parkas are not generally waterproof but water-resistant (treated with wax, DWR, or other coatings), which might come as a shock, but then we don't generally reach for a parka when it's raining. We also tend to be active outside when wearing them, and so they need to be a little breathable.

Work up even the slightest sweat and a jacket that thick and warm will quickly do the rest of the sweating for you until you're unbearably drenched. That said, we've worn all of the parkas below in a bit of rain and come out dry, but it'd be best to look for something that's fully waterproof if you're spending much of your winter in, 35-degree Fahrenheit rain for any prolonged period of time.

We also have to discuss fur, which is commonly used in trim and lining. Yes, it feels wonderful, and there's no denying its beauty. But it comes at a high cost in many regards. We'll get into the sustainability and ethics surrounding fur later on, and in the end, it's your decision. We're not judging.

Length is another big concern both for style and function. While it's stylish to have jackets cropped at the waist or even above the waist, the bomber cut doesn't necessarily make a whole lot of sense on the functional side of the debate. Still, people on the shorter side often don't want a jacket that comes down to their calves, while taller folks might look like they're walking on stilts with a short hem. We'll leave that to you, too, though.

Here are the best men's parkas you can buy:

Updated on 12/23/2019 by Owen Burke: Updated copy, added Save the Duck as a most sustainable option, and adjusted formatting and pricing. After careful editorial consideration (and debate), our editorial team has decided to discontinue our recommendations of fur products. Herein, we've recommended fur-free parkas we've worn and tested by brands we know and trust. Some of these brands still carry fur, and we've linked to their sustainability statements to let you decide where you want to shop (and whether you want to purchase fur). We'll continue to test more fur- and down-free parkas throughout the winter in our ongoing search for the perfect winter parka.

The best men's parka overall

Triple F.A.T. Goose's Wyndmeir is plenty warm and waterproof, making it a great all-around pick for both the dead of winter (with a bit of layering) and the shoulder seasons. Although it may not be the most sustainable or the most affordable, the brand's line of parkas is the most comfortable and best-insulated we've tried.

Packed full with 700-fill-power down, Triple F.A.T. Goose's line is an Insider Picks favorite, and several of our writers have deemed it their go-to brand for winter parkas.

While the market may be moving away from natural down (and fur, which the brand also offers), Triple F.A.T. Goose is on the relatively responsible side of things when it comes to sourcing down (and arguably fur, too). The brand's down is never live-plucked or force-fed, and is inspected, tested, and certified by the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL). You can read about the company's fur and down policy here.

If you're in a somewhat milder climate like the maritime, the Wyndmeir is not fully waterproof but treated with TFG's Atmoshell+, and it's sealed at key seams for better water repellency without compromising breathability. It's also filled with a less down, leaving some room for layering when it gets really cold.

The best part of the Wyndmeir? It's much more affordable than most, if not all 700-cuin down parkas. That's partly because it contains 9 ounces of down compared with other parkas' 15.5 ounces. It's hard to contrast this with what other brands offer because they don't openly advertise the down contents of their parkas. We will say this: Each of the parkas we've tested from Triple F.A.T. has been generously endowed with down, and warm as can be.

And, If we haven't convinced you yet, Outside, Men's Journal, and Men's Health all stand with us on the matter of Triple F.A.T. Goose. There's no better parka out there.

Pros: As warm as parkas get, TFG offers a wide range of styles and prices on parkas

Cons: Not fully waterproof



The best affordable parka

L.L.Bean's parkas are made with quality 650-fill down, are rated for temperatures down to 45 degrees below Fahrenheit, and have a waterproof coating for half the price of comparable parkas.

If you're on a budget (and quite frankly even if you're not) it's hard to make a case against L.L. Bean's parkas. They're loaded with pockets, windproof and waterproof, and warm as anything.

L.L.Bean tests its parkas in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which might not be the harshest or coldest place on earth, but for most anyone's intents and purposes, the brand's outerwear stands up to the elements and a good deal of wear and tear.

Where sustainability is concerned, L.L.Bean uses DownTek down, which is RDS-certified. And while we don't know the exact amount of fill, it's not the heaping amount Triple F.A.T. Goose uses, but it's plenty to keep you warm.

Our current favorite parka from the brand, the Baxter State Parka, is made overseas, and the company does not let on where, exactly, on the product page, leaving us a little concerned about the amount of social responsibility the company takes on abroad. Also, this is a fairly high-quality jacket for the price, which also suggests they may be cutting some corners, though we can't say for sure. You can read L.L. Bean's policies on sustainability here.

With seven exterior pockets and three on the interior, you'll have no problem fitting everything you need on your person for your daily slump across town to the office or your intrepid wintertime trek up a mountain. Good luck finding everything again, though.

The hood comes with a wire insert that allows you to shape it around your head, which we like a lot, though that's subjective. You can also just zip the faux fur ruff away and forget about it altogether. We also tried the Maine Mountain Parka, which is similar, and we were very impressed with the quality.

Pros: Affordable price, high-quality and heavily packed down, waterproof (but somewhat breathable)

Cons: Faux fur can be a little ratty (but you can ditch it)



The best faux-fur parka

Fjällräven's parkas are a perfect hybrid of street savviness and adventure readiness with their durable canvas exteriors, sustainable down fill, and (removable) faux fur hoods.

Fjallraven has been around since 1960 when it started with framed backpacks to better distribute weight for hikers. The company has branched out in the years since, and its parkas are some of the warmest around.

Lately, Fjallraven has turned its focus on sustainability, and the company is working with Stockholm University to save the Arctic fox. It's also one of the few brands that can prove that all of the down used in its parkas is 100% traceable, and it happens to be at the top of the nonprofit Down Four Paws' Cruelty-Free list.

The outer lining of Fjallraven's parkas is made of the company's signature G-1000 waxed polyester and cotton blend. It's durable, but it is nowhere near waterproof, meaning this is not a good jacket for wet snow, sleet, or rain. While you'll stay mostly dry, it will eventually absorb water, get extremely heavy, and maybe even soak through in some spots. You can, however, wax it further to increase the water resistance.

During testing last fall, I spent a day wearing the Kyl parka while fishing from a small exposed boat in 30-degree temperatures and high winds. I was wearing nothing but a t-shirt underneath, and it was toasty as could be. I even unzipped it a bit at times.

Sadly, the Kyl is no longer with us, and you'll only be able to grab one while third-party retailers' supplies last.

We've just begun testing the brand's new Expedition Down, which comes with a DWR water-resistant finish, an adjustable hood, and 700-fill-power goose down (90%) and feather (10%). There aren't quite as many pockets in the Expedition Down, and the design is a bit more sleek and urban than Fjallraven's typical wares, but it is plenty warm. We're still fans of the brand's other, more classic models like the Barents, Singi, or Yupik; they all offer more substantial pockets, some of which are hand-warming (a feature the Expedition Down is missing). 

If you want the most technical parka adorned with the plushest real fur, then look elsewhere, but if you're seeking something sustainable and practical yet fashion-forward enough to pull off in town, we think Fjallraven is the best option.

Pros: Durable, utilitarian but still stylish

Cons: Not waterproof, pricey, low/entry-level fill power, real fur substitution is not available to those who want it



The best sustainable parka

Save the Duck is a new parka brand that's out to end animal cruelty surrounding the outerwear industry. No natural down, no natural fur, and no animal products.

Foregoing down for the brand's proprietary Plumtech polyester fiber to create a thermal padding, Save the Duck's coats are entirely synthetic and, more or less, cruelty-free. It's a lofty, heat-retaining, and highly effective alternative. It might not feel quite as fluffy or have the same memory as 800-fill down, but it does the job, and it's not derived from animals.

The shells of the brand's parkas are either made with a 60%/40% cotton and pressed nylon blend and treated with a water-resistant finish, or triple-layered 100% polyester (also treated for water-resistance).

The lining, part nylon and part polyester, is sufficiently smooth, and mostly durable, though a couple of the inside pockets (save for the phone pocket) seem a little light and prone to tearing, so we'd recommend not overloading them. The exterior hand pockets, which land over the breast, aren't the thickest (or warmest) either. 

Otherwise, the hardware all suffices, the elastic wrist cuffs are a nice if not-so-technical touch, and the coat is plenty warm (Save the Duck rates it for temps between -4 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit).

Pros: "Cruelty-free," plenty warm (in spite of not using down), water-resistant

Cons: Pockets could be heftier and warmer



A note on sustainability and the ethics around fur and down

The sustainability and ethics surrounding down and fur are murky.

Down is slightly more clearcut and traceable: Many of the brands in our guide, including Fjallraven and Triple F.A.T. Goose, put their down through rigorous testing to identify whether or not the down was plucked from live animals.

Triple F.A.T. Goose puts its down through the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL) to meet the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). Then there's the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS), which is certified by the NSF and slightly more rigorous in requiring parent farm certification. That means that whatever farm an egg or a hatchling came from must be certified, too. Otherwise, the RDS and Global TDS are almost identical, and both essentially uphold the Five Freedoms, ensuring that the ducks and geese whose feathers and down are collected are not live-plucked, malnourished, or mistreated.

There are a host of similar testing labs that exist to reinforce animal welfare standards, but the two mentioned above are the most prominent, and it's difficult, if not near impossible, to make heads or tails of how rigorously they test.

Fur can come from animals that have been farmed (as is often the case with foxes and minks), or it can come from wild animals. Coyote fur, which is usually what you'll see adorning parkas, is generally trapped or hunted. A lot of brands, such as Triple F.A.T. Goose and Canada Goose, source coyote fur from places where they're deemed to be a problem species, either by way of overpopulation, mange, or invasiveness. Many brands make sure to list compliance and cooperation with game trapping laws and standards set forth by the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) in Canada and the Best Management Practices (BMP) standards in the United States.

With hunting (either by bow or firearm), animals are targeted and shot with the intention of a clean and quick kill. With trapping, the animal is snared and stuck there until they starve or freeze to death (or until a trapper comes along and puts them out of their misery). 

The fact of the matter is that whether animals sought for their fur are trapped or hunted, many of them are killed solely for their hides, and that's something you'll have to be okay with if you decide to purchase fur. In many if not most cases, fur is not a byproduct of the meat industry, and in the case of coyotes and foxes (which are two of the most popular furs for parka trim), the meat can't even become pet food due to the risk of mange, heartworms, rabies, and more.

If you're still after fur, we get it. Fur looks and feels great, and does offer a moisture-wicking barrier and warmth that no synthetic material can match. Some of our favorites on the fur front are Triple F.A.T. Goose (comparable to, if not better than Canada Goose) and Moose Knuckles.



Other great places to buy men's parkas

Brands

Online retailers



Check out our other winter gear buying guides

The best men's puffer jackets you can buy

Puffer jackets provide warmth without weighing you down, making them perfect for layering in extreme cold or for use as your only jacket on milder days. These compressible, packable jackets can tuck away into a bag, or in some cases, even a pocket, so they're ideal for travel or trekking. Here are the best men's puffer jackets you can buy:


The best winter coats for men

A good winter coat will keep you warm and dry even when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. A great winter coat will keep you warm, dry, and looking good, too. Here are the best men's winter coats you can buy:


The best beanies you can buy

The word "beanie" is kind of one of those catch-alls that encompass a ton of different styles, from slouchy cuts to ultra-fitted ones with a variety of embellishments and fabric variations. The sheer number of options is overwhelming. After all, when you can buy a beanie anywhere, how do you narrow it down?

You could do a ton of research on the topic. Or you can read on for our top five favorite picks for men and women from around the Internet. Here are the best beanies you can buy:


The best places to buy scarves online

Your choice of scarf can make or break your comfort level in the wintertime. Opt for one that's wooly and warm and you'll be toasty. Choose a too-thin fabric and you, well, won't. Scarves are also a great opportunity to infuse a bit of personality into your winter wardrobe. And when you get bored of your outerwear, you can always pick a new scarf to mix things up.

These five brands are your best bet for warm, attractive options that will keep you cozy all winter long. Here are the best places to buy scarves:


The best thermal gloves you can buy

A good pair of thermal gloves can make all the difference on a cold winter day. We did the research to find the best thermal gloves you can buy to keep your hands nice and toasty for the rest of this winter and for many more winters to come. Here are the best gloves you can buy:



Planning a trip in 2020? Avoid Bali, Big Sur, and these other popular travel destinations ruined by tourists, Fodor's says

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Hanoi Train Street Vietnam Tourist Selfie

  • Fodor's Travel recently released its fourth annual "No List," highlighting the destinations, activities, and businesses travelers should think twice about in 2020.
  • This year's "No List" includes popular places like Big Sur, Bali, and Cape Town, select hotels and bars, and elephant riding as a tourist activity.
  • Poison beer, dying coral, animal abuse, and hordes of tourists are among the reasons why Fodor's recommends visitors avoid the destinations and activities on their "No List."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Fodor's Travel has released its fourth annual "No List," highlighting the destinations, activities, and businesses that they recommend travelers reconsider in the upcoming year for ethical, environmental, and political reasons.

"Every year, we use the No List to highlight issues that we're thinking about before, during, and long after we travel," Jeremy Tarr, the Editorial Director of Fodors.com, said in a press release. "Being featured on the No List is hardly a scarlet letter. Rather, it's a promise that when Fodor's covers the destinations on the list, we'll be doing so responsibly — warts and all."

The Fodor's editorial team chose the destinations on the 2020 No List from over 100 potential destinations. Previous lists have included Venice and Machu Picchu, both of which have enacted measures against overtourism in recent years. 

This year, Fodor's also included more general types of destinations and activities sustainable travelers ought to avoid, including select bars, hotels, and elephant riding.

From a street in Hanoi where tourists jump out in front of trains in order to capture the perfect Instagram shot to beaches in Bali strewn with trash, the 2020 list includes destinations that need some time away from tourists or ones that pose safety risks. Take a look:

SEE ALSO: The Croatian city featured in 'Game of Thrones' is so flooded with tourists that it may ban new restaurants. It's one of many cities buckling under the weight of overtourism.

NOW READ: 20 places around the world that are being ruined by tourism

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is plagued by overtourism. Short-term rentals such as Airbnb have made it easier for tourists to access the city, with the negative effects of increasing rent prices for locals, degrading the environment and breaking up communities, says Fodor's. In April, the New Yorker reported that 1.5 million tourists stay in Barcelona Airbnbs each year, and that due to rent increases resulting from short-term rentals, the resident population of the city's Gothic Quarter "has declined by 45% in the past dozen years."

What's more, popular tourist destinations such as Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are located in residential areas and have no room to expand and accommodate the influx of visitors, Fodor's notes. While Barcelona's mayor has proposed a plan to create 500 superblocks, or groups of streets closed to major traffic, Fodor's suggests that the city needs time and space out of the travel spotlight to enact these changes.



Big Sur, California

Big Sur is an iconic destination along one of the United States' most iconic road trips and and has gained even more popularity thanks to HBO's "Big Little Lies."

The influx of visitors combined with a lack of bathrooms has led to what Fodor's characterizes as "disgusting roadside consequences." Not only that, but illegal camping presents an environmental risk, considering that California has faced a string of deadly wildfires over the past several years. In 2016, an illegal campfire in Big Sur ignited the the three-month long Soberanas fire.



Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The 900-year-old Angkor Wat temple is Cambodia's most visited attraction— and the structure's steps, friezes, and bas-reliefs are eroding from the touch of so many visitors."They are eroded and discolored by pollution, bats droppings, and vandals whose ranks include not only those who break off ornaments for profit, but thoughtless visitors who let their backpacks scrape the surfaces of walls," UNESCO wrote in 2013.

The damage extends beyond the temple grounds to the surrounding area of Siem Reap. For one, hotels have exacerbated the effects of 2019's drought, says Fodor's. Though the agency in charge of Angkor Wat has started to limit the amount of visitors at a popular sunset watching spot near the temple, Fodor's suggests that protecting the temple with walkways and protective glass, regulating hotels' use of water, and promoting tourism elsewhere in Cambodia would help relieve the strain on Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.



Bali, Indonesia

Bali, touted in travelers' imaginations as a paradise with sparkling blue waters and pristine beaches, is another destination bearing the burden of overtourism. In response to beaches littered with trash, the Indonesian government declared a "garbage emergency" in 2017 and banned single-use plastics in December 2018.

To make matters worse, luxury villas and golf courses are affecting the livelihoods of farmers by sucking up water. Bali has considered instituting a tourist tax of $10 per visitor and is also working to create guidelines for culturally insensitive tourists, a select group of whom "are visiting religious sites in bathing suits," Fodor's notes.



Hanoi Train Street, Vietnam

Located in a residential area of Hanoi's Old Quarter, the Hanoi Train Street is a favorite of Instagrammers and shutterbugs. Flocking to the narrow sidewalks, tourists wait to capture the perfect shot of trains as they pass through twice daily.

The crowding has gotten so bad, says Fodor's, that recently a train couldn't pass and had to be rerouted. As a result, the government of Hanoi has ordered trackside cafes to close down and has posted signs advising against photo and video usage.



Matterhorn, Switzerland

More people are dying in attempts to climb Switzerland's Matterhorn. In 2019, seven climbers died on the mountain, and 11 lost their lives in 2018. A geologist with the Swiss Alpine Club has said that warmer conditions and thawing permafrost have led to more dangerous conditions on the mountains, Fodor's reports. In January 2018, 13,000 tourists were stuck in the nearby town of Zermatt amid a heightened avalanche risk. The Matterhorn remains open to the public.



Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which stretches for 360 miles off the coast of southeastern Florida, is dying. A disease known as "stony coral tissue loss," which was discovered in 2014, has affected more than 150 square miles of reef and affected close to half of its resident stony coral, Fodor's reports.



Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel, Mexico

Stony coral tissue loss disease has also spread to the tropical waters of Cozumel, Mexico. On October 7, 2019, one year after the disease was detected in the area, Mexico's National Commission of Natural Protected Areas announced that it would be suspending "all aquatic activities" until the end of the year in order to bolster the reefs with coral grown in labs.

To protect the coral reef in these threatened areas and others, Fodor's notes that travelers can avoid anchoring their watercraft on coral and opt for coral reef-safe sunscreen.



Galapágos Island, Ecuador

The land of giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies is a bucket list destination for many, and an increasing number of people are checking it off their lists. Airbnb rentals, inexpensive flights, and cruise ships have all contributed to an increase in visitors over the past few years, says Fodor's.

To put a cap on the number of visitors, the Galapágos is currently considering increasing the visitor fee relative to how many nights visitors spend on mainland Ecuador, according to the New York Times. A representative from the island's government council told Fodor's that the $100 per visitor fee hasn't changed in 20 years.



Komodo Island, Indonesia

Like the Galapágos, Indonesia's Komodo Island is on high alert for damaging effects to its ecosystem. The island's infamous Komodo dragons have become a target for poachers and have become accustomed to tourists feeding them, even though signs remind tourists that they can't feed the dragons.

The government of Indonesia is considering a visitor cap and imposing a tourist tax upwards of $1,000, the BBC reports. They had previously been contemplated closing the island altogether, a plan that was officially scrapped in late September.



Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, with its dramatic Seven Sisters peaks and sparkling bay, is an undeniably breathtaking city — and its central downtown is generally considered safe for tourists. However, certain areas in the region have experienced a an uptick in crime fueled by gang turf wars, with nearly 1,000 murders in the first six months of 2019.

"It is really a tale of two cities," Albert Fritz, Cape Town's provincial minister for community safety, told the Guardian in October, speaking about how concentrated the crime-ridden areas have been. "You can be a tourist in the center of Cape Town [and] you will be totally safe. You will not know that … 10km [6.2 miles] away there are people shooting at police."

In a statement provided to Fodor's in response to Cape Town's inclusion on the "No List," Minister Fritz noted that the military presence of the South African National Defence Force, as well as increased police and law enforcement initiatives, had led to a "dramatic" drop in violent crime rates and "increased general perceptions of safety" in some of the more crime-ridden areas. He also said that visitors to Cape Town "are advised to take the same level of precaution they would when visiting any other major city in the world."



Certain resorts in Mexico and Central America

Due to a string of deaths attributed to beer with high concentrations of methanol, Fodor's is recommending that travelers be careful about their bar and resort selection in Mexico and Central America. The tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic were found not to be caused by tainted alcohol but by "natural causes," according to the FBI. However, other cases in Costa Rica and Mexico are still being investigated.



Don't ride elephants

Elephant riding is a widespread tourist activity in Asia. However, it often comes at the expense of animal welfare, says Fodor's, who cited an investigation by Intrepid Travel and World Animal Protection into the conditions of elephants used for tourism and entertainment. Tourist interest in this activity has exploded in the last few years thanks to a more general increase in tourism, particularly in areas like Thailand.

In early November, Cambodia's Angkor Wat announced that it has completely banned elephant riding for tourists, an initiative that will take effect next year.



Consider who funds your hotels

While a hotel may offer white-glove service, the activities of its owners and those funding it may not be so spotless. Fodor's cites the boycott of hotels owned by the leader of Brunei earlier this year after he attempted to make gay sex punishable by death (which the country said in May it would not enforce "after global backlash").

Travelers may want to be cognizant of the individuals they're indirectly supporting by choosing to stay in (and give their money to) certain hotels over others.



This is the best book of 2019, according to the Book of the Month club and its members

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book of the year 2019 winner book of the month

  • Every year, tens of thousands of Book of the Month members — particularly voracious readers — vote on one Best Book of the Year.
  • There were a handful of great nominees in 2019, but "Daisy Jones & The Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid beat them all.
  • Get a free book for $5 when you use the code "FAM5" at checkout. You can also get $10 off 6- and 12-month gift cards with code "PERFECT10" at checkout.
  • Need more inspiration? Shop Amazon's picks for Best Books of 2019 here

Life is too short to waste time on bad books. 

That's why havings tens of thousands of voracious readers do the heavy lifting for you sounds so ideal. It'd be better if they read the thousands of pages, dissected the characters and plots, and then ranked each title to determine which was most unforgettable. Then, they tell you. You buy it, and chances are, you love it. 

Every year, that's basically what you'll find in Book of the Month's "Best of the Year" lists. The subscription service's members choose from spectacular titles — an already pared down list from those curated by experts and celebrity judges throughout the year — to crown one Best of the Year. For being the crowd favorite amongst bookworms, it wins a $10,000 prize. 

In 2019, that most unforgettable book is "Daisy Jones & The Six." It's the drugs, sex, and rock 'n' roll tale of the whirlwind rise of one of the biggest bands of the seventies — more specifically, of the beautiful lead singer, Daisy, and the lesser-known reasons behind the band's infamous breakup. It's the sort of book that's hard to put down, with unusual wit and perfect pacing. 

Book of the Month is a book club that's best known for putting American literary classics like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye" on the map. BOTM announces five book selections each month chosen by experts and celebrity guest judges passionate about books, and subscribers can choose which book they'd like to receive in hardcover that month. It's been around since 1926, and it has a particularly celebrated eye for cherry-picking promising debuts from the pack. They also give their subscribers access to early releases of anticipated books. 

Plus, BOTM members get each monthly book for just $14.99 — and they can choose additional titles that month for $9.99 each. That's often lower than what you'd find in the bookstore or on Amazon, which makes a subscription service surprisingly one of the most efficient and economical ways to get hardcovers of the best new books. And if you didn't finish your book from the previous month, you can skip the current month. For readers who want a physical book without a library line, it can be a particularly good deal. 

Below are the other finalists considered for Book of the Year:

Find more information on each of the nominees here, and sign up for your first month of Book of the Month to select your January books here

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.

Homepages then and now. Here's how websites have evolved from 2010 to 2019. (AMZN, VZ, AAPL, T, EBAY, DIS, FB, MSFT, NFLX, PINS, TWTR, WMT, IBM)

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twitter 2010

  • Website design trends have changed dramatically over the past 10 years, especially when it comes to homepages.
  • When more people were browsing the internet on desktops than mobile phones, designers often tried to cram as much information on a page as possible.
  • A look back at the homepages of popular websites shows how text-heavy layouts have given way to vivid images and minimalist design.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The internet doesn't look like it did a decade ago. Back in 2010, smartphones, mobile browsing, and social media were still relatively new trends. It wasn't until 2016 that mobile browsing took over as people's preferred way of surfing the web.

Instead, most people visited websites from a desktop computer and came in through the front door: the homepage. Web designers, who knew how valuable this real estate was, often packed the homepage full with as much information as possible. Today, that approach has given way to sparse layouts and lots of pictures that try to grab users' attention.

As the decade comes to a close, Business Insider took a look back to see how some of the most popular websites' homepages have evolved over the years.

SEE ALSO: These clothes use outlandish designs to trick facial recognition software into thinking you're not human

In 2010, Amazon was pushing the Kindle hard and books were still its top-billed category.



Now, Amazon doesn't even think people read books anymore. Or, maybe it's just too busy serving us up Prime videos.



AOL's 2010 homepage left us dazed and confused with clashes of colors, nonsensical icons, and a cluttered layout.



The revamp dialed it back a bit — minus that slide show with 81 slides. 81!



Apple went minimalist long before it was cool.



And yet somehow Apple managed to go even more minimalist...



Back in 2010, CNN still used its inside voice to give us straight news headlines and videos that weren't set to auto-play.



The refresh turned up the volume with lots of "breaking" and "trending" labels and a bigger focus on opinion, reaction, and analysis pieces.



In 2010, eBay wanted us to find our next purchase by combing through a brightly colored word cloud that might as well have been written in Comic Sans.



But eBay eventually grew up, and now it wants us to get credit cards like real adults.



ESPN used to have a million menus to sort through — but at least most of the content was free!



Disney, the site's new owner, really wants us to sign up for ESPN+ so we can watch all the sports. But at least they gave us that handy scoreboard for free.



Facebook used to tell us everything it knew about a person. And Zuck used to look a lot younger.



Facebook also realized people don't like reading that much and decided to place more emphasis on the "face" than the "book" part.



The Huffington Post once looked like the melting pot of the millennial internet — news, blogs, videos, and even social!



Then it got real cool, minimalist, and started dressing in all black. Oh yeah, and it goes by HuffPost now.



IMDb used to cater to us movie trivia buffs who wanted to deepen our knowledge of cinema.



Now, it knows we really just want to watch new trailers and ogle at Ryan Reynolds even if the movie is garbage.



Microsoft also used to have a thing for gradients — and it was still trying to get us to use Internet Explorer.



Microsoft eventually caved to the minimalist aesthetic, too — but at least now it has some quality hardware for us to browse!



MSN used to be a go-to spot for news on the internet, even though we had no idea where to go on this website.



MSN's new site at least gave us a cleaner menu and links to popular sites. (And it's competing with AOL for the longest slideshow award.)



Remember when Netflix used to only cost $8.99? Remember when it used to ship DVDs? Remember what a DVD is?



Netflix doesn't need to mess around anymore. We all know how this works. Sign up, pay up, and get unlimited access to hit titles like 'Boss Baby' and 'Sextuplets.'



The New York Times was trying to go global in 2010. Also, it apparently felt the need to remind us we could actually click on headlines by making them all blue.



Today, the Times' site has much more multimedia content. It has everything from podcasts to videos to images to traditional text headlines to draw us in — but only so far before we hit that paywall.



Pinterest used to be a big fan of neutral colors. Also, it made us request an invite to join. Also, Brad Pitt and baby otters — what more could we ask for?



Now, Pinterest has a much cleaner site, but also highlights the focus on metadata and tagging that allows the site to categorize images.



Reddit's design aesthetic was … no design aesthetic. No frills, few pictures, just words — as many words as it could fit on the page.



Reddit finally introduced some graphic elements and much-needed spacing, without sacrificing its popular news feed format.



Twitter was just a few years old in 2010, as we can tell from the cute baby bird, bubble-letter logo, and friendly reminders of what the site even did.



Twitter's look has gotten a bit more sophisticated since then — and the bird got a haircut.



Walmart had a surprisingly simple and easy to navigate website by 2010 standards.



Walmart also caught the minimalist craze and discovered the importance of pictures. But it still wants us to know it has tons of deals — that hasn't changed.



The Weather Channel's website used to have some killer graphics.



The Weather Channel's website still has some killer graphics.



WebMD wanted us to know that there are a lot of health conditions we might have — and that it has answers.



Now WebMD just gets straight to the point about reminding us that we're only here because we're sad and sick.



Yahoo had lots of fun little icons to remind us about all the things we can do online.



Now, Yahoo looks like a serious news site (but somehow we can't move past that wayward exclamation point).



YouTube looked like it was still a rough draft in 2010. Also, it really liked to use borders.



In 2019, YouTube has its own video awards show, its website is dominated by images, and its algorithm operates sneakily in the background.



Just like Facebook used to be "The Facebook," Business Insider used to go by "The Business Insider." Also... more gradients.



Eventually, Business Insider — like most websites on this list — discovered that images speak a thousand words and a thousand words don't belong on a homepage.



5 reasons why most New Year's resolutions don't stick, according to a psychotherapist

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new years 2020

  • It's common to struggle with keeping a New Year's resolution. But that often happens because of five main reasons.
  • You have to be ready to change and to make a plan — and know what you'd be giving up to deliver on your resolution.
  • You should create a system for monitoring the resolution, and acknowledge how your own weaknesses may challenge you.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Anyone who has ever set a New Year's resolution knows how hard they are to keep. No matter how good your intentions are when you establish them, it's tough to get changes to stick.

As a psychotherapist, I see people fall into the same traps year after year. Whether they decide to lose weight, pay off debt, or get organized, they declare that they're finally going to do something different in the coming year. Yet, despite their efforts, most of them feel discouraged by their lack of willpower within the first few days of the new year. Most of them quickly abandon their goals.

Trouble keeping a New Year's resolution is a common phenomenon. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit their resolution after just one week. And only 19% of individuals are actually able to stick to their goals long term (two years, in the case of the study).

Here's why most New Year's resolutions just don't stick:

1. Not ready to change

Those end-of-the-year activities and New Year's Eve parties often come with pressure to declare how you're going to change your life. And many people set a resolution based on what they think they should do, rather than what they actually want to do.

Saying you want to hit the gym more often when your heart's not in it won't help you get in shape. In fact, a half-hearted attempt is likely to backfire. After a few days at the gym, you might decide you're more of a "couch potato" than an "athlete" and quit working out for good.

You have to be ready to change your life if your habit changes are going to stick. And while some people's readiness for change happen to coincide with January 1st, most people will find the timing doesn't quite work out that way.



2. No self-monitoring

Monitoring your progress is key to creating lasting change. Otherwise, how do you know if you're on target? Simply assessing your improvements on a regular basis can be enough to keep you motivated.

For example, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that fitness apps can motivate people to get more exercise. Tracking activity levels can help people overcome perceived barriers to exercise. All those excuses you're tempted to make might go out the window when you're monitoring your progress.

So whether you use an app that tracks your spending or how long your runs are, there are many ways you can monitor the steps you're taking.



3. Lack of planning

A little planning ahead goes a long way toward making good habits stick. You have to answer tough questions like, "Will I have to wake up earlier to go to the gym?" or "How am I going to stick to my budget when my friends invite me out for dinner several nights per week?" Anticipating challenges and identifying solutions is key to long-term success.

Mistakes are bound to happen when you're working on a resolution. In fact, a study from the University of Scranton shows that people who are successful at sticking to their long-term resolutions tend to slip up (defined as the re-emergence of unwanted behavior) at least 14 times. A whopping 71% of individuals said their mistakes actually strengthened their desire to reach their goals.

Planning ahead can help you figure out how you'll recover from those mistakes. And that's an important part of preventing a misstep from turning into a permanent failure.



4. Overconfidence

While many people worry that lack of confidence will kill their chances of reaching their goals, overconfidence can be even more detrimental.

When you're convinced your goal is going to be easy — and you conclude you're overqualified for the job — you'll likely find yourself unprepared and ill-equipped to face the reality of the situation.

Change is hard. Acknowledge that it's tough to delay gratification and push yourself when you're tired. Saying it's going to be difficult to stay on track doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're being realistic.

Recognize that you have weaknesses and that you're going to struggle, and you'll be more emotionally prepared to meet your goal.



5. Not looking at what has to be given up

Everything you add to your life means you have to give something up. But we often only focus on what we're gaining and forget to look at the things we're leaving behind.

Going to the gym three nights a week may mean fewer hours with your family or less time to watch your favorite show. Before you sign up for that membership, make sure you're ready to make the trade-off.

Similarly, sticking to your budget means less impulse purchases and fewer meals out with friends. How are you going to handle these uncomfortable feelings (or the awkward conversations when you have to say no to things you really want to do)?

Before you commit to changing your habits, recognize what you will gain from the new habits. And think about what you'll need to give up before you make the change. Simply acknowledging this ahead of time — and developing a plan to deal with the change — can help remind you that it is worth the price you're going to pay.



Make your resolution last

Just because most resolutions fail doesn't mean your resolution can't last. If you're prepared for the reality of the challenge and you're willing to put in the hard work to make it happen, you can make your resolution stick this year.



Puma and Balmain's limited edition collection features an $8,000 sequined kimono and a $250 pair of shorts — and it proves the luxury sportswear market is here to stay

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Diamonds are forever — and so are fashion collaborations.

On November 22, luxury brand Balmain launched a collaboration with athletics sportswear company Puma, codesigned by Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing and model Cara Delevingne.

The collaboration has two limited edition capsule collections, both of which are being marketed with an interactive campaign promoting love and unity. The campaign was directed by videographer Philippa Price and the images were shot by photographer Brianna Capozzi. Though Delevingne has been working with Puma since 2016, this is her first collection with the brand.

 

"For over a year, we have been working on this collaborative campaign," said Coleen Haynes, CEO of MAAVVEN, the company that produced the brands' campaign. "Whether it be standing up for mental health, trans rights, fighting to survive, fighting for love, this campaign gave people a platform to make their voices be heard."

The collection is boxing-inspired. It features items like gold-logoed boxing shorts for $250, a rhinestoned crop top for $3,795 and a sequined, hooded kimono for $8,195. According to the catalogue on Balmain's website, most of the collection has already sold out. 

"This new collection stands at the intersection of sports and fashion, with pieces inspired by traditional boxing gear and infused with Parisian couture," a spokesperson for MAAVEN told Business Insider. "Bra tops, boxing shorts, and sneakers are elevated with a stark color palette, hits of gold, and design elements straight out of Balmain's atelier."

This is not Balmain's first foray into the world of luxury sportswear

Balmain has worked with sportswear companies in the past.

In 2016, the brand teamed up with Nike to launch the NikeLab x Olivier Rousteing: Football Nouveau collection. In 2006, Puma teamed up with Alexander McQueen for a partnership that has lasted more than a decade. As reported by designer streetwear retailer Grailed, McQueen was a noted "sneakerhead" and his collection with Puma was one of the first notable collaborations between sportswear and luxury. 

Since then, luxury sportswear has become a key player in the mainstream market. The year 2019 alone saw the launch of numerous notable collaborations. For example, on December 3 it was announced at Art Basel Miami that Dior would be teaming up with Nike's Air Jordan to create the limited edition "Air Dior," which is expected to retail for nearly $2,000, Business Insider previously reported

The Air Jordan is named after basketball player Michael Jordan, who wore the shoe during his rookie season in 1984. It was officially released to the public a year later, according to Women's Wear Daily, and has since become one of Nike's most popular shoes. 

Travis Scott Dior Men Fall 2020 wearing Air Jordan

Business Insider also previously reported that Adidas is launching a sneaker collaboration with Prada. It's set to be released later this year.

#Pradaforadidas @adidas @adidasoriginals. Coming soon. Link in bio.

A post shared by Prada (@prada) on Nov 7, 2019 at 1:00am PST on

 

"The aim of this partnership is to investigate the realms of heritage, technology and innovation – and to challenge conventional wisdom through unexpected strategies," Prada said in a statement on its website. "This collaboration, based on an authentic fusion of fashion and sport, has generated an exclusive limited-edition collection of footwear for men and women that is entirely made in Italy by Prada."

The luxury sportswear market continues to rise

According to a 2018 Medium article by intelligence agency Heuritech, sportswear is predicted to become a $231.7 billion market by 2024.

PUMA

The article also points out that this trend was sparked by millennials, who made sneakers the new "it" item of the decade. Today, sneakers have become so popular that they can even retail at the same price as other luxury shoes. 

Air Jordans, for example, can retail for $500, with rare pairs selling for as much as $20,000. For comparison, a pair of Gucci shoes can range from $300 to $3,000 dollars, according to its current catalogue listing on the website. The mixture of  high- and low-end styles is more in tune with the millennial image, Heuritech pointed out in another article; millennials, after all, seek to create "a more laid-back image where exclusivity meets casual wear."

By teaming up with luxury brands, sportswear companies are tapping into a market that's poised for serious growth. In that case, it's no surprise Puma and Balmain finally decided to team up. In fact, it was probably about time. 

SEE ALSO: A TikTok star is the new face of 74-year-old French fashion house Celine, and it shows how luxury brands are courting Gen Z

NOW READ: Glossier's new partnership with Nordstrom proves the luxury department store remains a favorite for e-commerce brands looking to dabble in brick-and-mortar, even as other high-end retailers flounder

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Traditional Japanese swords can take over 18 months to create — here's what makes them so special

A day in the life of a 34-year-old early retiree who lives in NYC, grew his net worth to $1.25 million in just 5 years, and wakes up at 7:30 a.m.

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grant sabatier

Grant Sabatier is a self-made millionaire.

The 34-year-old retired at 30 after building up a $1.25 million net worth, in just five years.

So just what is life like as an early retiree with no job to report to?

As the author of both a book ("Financial Freedom") and a blog (Millennial Money), Sabatier is busy. He may have retired from the 9-to-5 life, but he still makes time for work, whether it's promoting his book or running his website.

But he also has free time to enjoy the simple things, like an early-morning yoga class or a leisurely walk with his dog. Sabatier also spends time hanging out with friends in the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community.

"One of the best parts about being financially independent is that there really is no 'typical' day in my life, and I like it that way," Sabatier said. "I don't do well with routines — never have. I'm like the anti-habit stacker."

Here's what a typical day looks like for Sabatier when he's at home in New York City.

Are you a self-made millionaire with a story to tell? Email hhoffower@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: A self-made millionaire who retired at 30 says budgeting is like dieting, and there's a reason neither feels effective

DON'T MISS: A self-made millionaire who retired at 30 says the 2 best ways to build long-term wealth don't require working overtime or obsessing about the stock market

Grant Sabatier, 34, retired at age 30 after spending five years building a net worth of $1.25 million while working in digital marketing.

Sabatier runs the finance blog Millennial Money. He's also the author of a book, "Financial Freedom," which was published earlier this year.

Sabatier recently moved from Chicago to NYC with his wife — a contrast from the many early retirees who typically live in cities with lower costs of living.

Read more: These are the 10 most affordable cities in the US for early retirement



Sabatier said the only consistent thing in his life is when he wakes up — 7:30 a.m., every day. He does this no matter what time he goes to bed, even if it's at 2 a.m.

Sabatier's friend and "strategic partner" Vicki Robin has been staying with him and his wife for the week. She originated the FIRE movement and coauthored "Your Money or Your Life."



If he's waking up at home, Sabatier typically takes his 9-year-old Eskie, Walter, for a 45-minute walk through Brooklyn and its parks at 7:45 a.m.

"Sometimes Walter wants to walk further than other times," he said. "I usually let him lead. He's really walking me."

Other mornings, Sabatier heads to a yoga class with his wife or practices yoga for 30 minutes on his own.



Sabatier is a fan of eggs and everything bagels. An hour after walking Walter, he grabs breakfast. Today, it's Bergen Bagels, which he says is home to "the best lox bagel in NYC."

This is part of the Brooklyn experience he's been curating for Robin the entire week.



Around 9 a.m., Sabatier heads to the local post office to mail signed copies of his book. He typically ships out about 40 copies every week when he's home. By now, he's used to carting books around — Ikea bags work best, he said.

"I don't sell signed copies — these are all for people who reached out asking for one, or they missed me on my book tour, as favors for friends, or to people who will be reviewing it or having me on their podcast," he said. "At any given time, I have hundreds of copies of the book and padded mailers in my office."

So far, he's given away almost 1,000 pounds of books.



Afterward, Sabatier hits his home office with Robin to work. This is the first time in three years he's had an office — he previously worked on his laptop in his kitchen, in libraries, or in coffee shops.

"I really love having a desktop and so many of my books nearby," he said. "My life has changed a lot in the past four years moving from Chicago to New York, and many of my books have been in storage until recently."

His books stack up all the way to the ceiling in his office.

He and Robin spend some time planning their upcoming conference in May, the first Financial Freedom Summit, discussing the history of the FIRE movement, and talking about climate change.



Around 11:40 a.m., Sabatier breaks for lunch, which typically consists of "whatever random things I have in the fridge and pantry mixed together," he said. Sabatier spends so much time traveling and eating on the road that he likes to eat simply at home.

He eats a lot of salads, salmon, avocados, bananas, and eggs.

"I'm not a big cooker," he said. "I'd rather leave it to the pros and enjoy eating awesome food when I eat out. I can roast a chicken and make a killer omelet, but that's about it."



At noon, Sabatier and Robin take advantage of the nice weather and head to Brooklyn Botanical Garden, where Sabatier is a member. "This is one of my favorite places on earth," he said.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is "just the right size with the right vibe," he said. "If you go at noon on any weekday, then you'll be lucky if you see even 10 people. It's almost like having your own private park. Sometimes I just go out alone and lie down under a tree or read a book. My favorite parts are the rose garden and the Japanese garden."



At 2:15 p.m., Sabatier and Robin tire of walking and drive into Manhattan. They take the long route to soak up the water views.

Sabatier drops Robin off on the Upper West Side to meet her sister for coffee.



Afterward, Sabatier heads to the central New York Public Library to work on his blog in its reading room.

"The secret is that you want to work on the right side of the library where tourists can't come over and take pictures," he said. "For as many people who are there, it's exceptionally quiet."

He added: "I'm excited because for the first time I've hired three other writers to help me reach more people with Millennial Money. I sit down and check on their work and follow up."



As he heads out around 4:45 p.m., Sabatier spots an exhibit on Walt Whitman, one of his favorite poets, and stops to check it out.

Whitman is also one of Sabatier's favorite marketers.

"After only selling a few hundred copies of the first version of his seminal work 'Leaves of Grass,' he kept revising and marketing the new versions of the book," he said. "He managed to get a copy to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and his hustle paid off." 

Whitman went on to publish many editions of the book. "I like to think we'd have been friends," Sabatier said.



Next on his agenda is hitting up a nearby Barnes & Noble to sign three copies of his book. He tries to do this whenever he's near a Barnes & Noble because they've been a "big supporter" of his book.

"Signing stealth copies all over the country and in airports is a lot of fun — people often hit me up on Instagram when they find them," he said.



Some weeks, Sabatier does a lot of interviews with the media. At 5:30 p.m., he talks with a national publication about how student loans work and the best strategies for refinancing student loans.

"I get asked about everything from how to best use credit-card rewards to travel to how to retire early when you're making less than $50,000," he said. "I really enjoy the interviews and always make time for them."



Fifteen minutes later, Sabatier sets off for a walk to Times Square on his way to dinner. "Sometimes I just love to walk 30 to 40 blocks through the city after a long day," he said. "It's the best city to walk in the world."

Even though Times Square is full of tourists, and many locals try to avoid it, Sabatier said he seeks it out and walks through it when he can.

He said: "It's like a video game. So many lights, faces, and people to weave through. I first visited Times Square on a family trip when I was 10, and I've been back many times. Every time there are more lights, more screens, and more crazy. We clearly love more. If the internet was a place, it would be Times Square."



At 6:15 p.m., it's time for dinner. Sabatier meets back up with Robin and fellow FIRE friends Julien and Kirsten from the blog Rich and Regular to eat at Bareburger, a local organic burger chain.

Sabatier gets the Impossible Burger, calling it "legit."

Read moreThese are the 21 ingredients that make an Impossible Burger look and taste like meat



At 7:30 p.m., Sabatier and his friends head to the NYC premiere of the documentary "Playing with FIRE," the first documentary about the FIRE movement and personal finance.

Sabatier was one of the early retirees included in the film, which also gave him the opportunity to foster new friendships and participate on panels at the Washington, DC, and New York City premieres.



By 10 p.m., Sabatier is home. He enjoys the late summer/early fall glow over the city from the rooftop on his building. He typically finds himself there at the end of a long day.

The roof is where Sabatier meditates, which he typically does three to four days a week in the afternoon or early evening, but he doesn't tonight.

"Tonight, I'm just happy and thankful," he said. "I've only lived in New York City for a year and a half, but it's starting to feel a little like home."



10 massive New Year's Eve parties that are worth traveling for

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valparaiso nye

  • New Year's Eve is a time for parties around the world. 
  • While Times Square's ball drop is the United States' signature celebration, there are plenty of others worth attending.
  • Some are in big cities like Hong Kong and Barcelona, and others are in less prominent destinations like Valparaiso and Reykjavik.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

New Year's Eve is one of the biggest global celebrations, with people throughout the world coming together with family and friends to reflect on the prior year and get excited for the coming one. While Times Square's ball drop is the United States' signature celebration, it's not the only one worth traveling for.

From big cities like Hong Kong and Barcelona to less prominent destinations like Valparaiso and Reykjavik, these are the world's best New Year's celebrations.

SEE ALSO: The best time to book New Year's travel is the week after Thanksgiving — here are 10 places to celebrate that don't cost a fortune

Edinburgh, Scotland

Hogmanay, Edinburgh's New Year's celebration, stretches across four days and features plenty of music and fireworks.



Berlin, Germany

Known for its rowdy club scene, Berlin celebrates New Year's with its "Party Mile," a collection of food vendors, light shows, music performances, and bars spread across two kilometers.



Sydney, Australia

Sydney has the advantage of being the first major city to enter the new year. It's also known for an enormous fireworks display near the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.



Reykjavik, Iceland

Residents of Reykjavik begin their New Year's festivities with celebratory bonfires and continue partying throughout the night.



New York, New York

While waiting for hours in Times Square requires plenty of endurance, watching the ball drop  is a signature New Year's Eve experience.



Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas' many clubs often book big-name musicians to headline New Year's Eve performances.



New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi Gras isn't the only holiday New Orleans is know for. The French Quarter has its own version of the ball drop, in which a fleur-de-lis descends on top of the Jax Brewery as the clock strikes midnight.



Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso holds a three-day celebration in anticipation of New Year's Eve, capping it off with the largest fireworks display in Latin America. Locals are known for a unique New Year's tradition: eating 12 grapes at midnight, wearing yellow underwear, and putting a $1,000 peso bill in one of their shoes.



Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is known for going all-out with light and pyrotechnic displays that rival any in the world.



Barcelona, Spain

One of the liveliest cities in Europe, Barcelona's streets are filled with locals and tourists singing and drinking in the hours before and after the New Year. 



The world's first female empowerment-themed hotel will open in Washington, DC with a Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural

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Viceroy - Hotel Zena - Washington DC - Logan Circle

  • Viceroy's female empowerment-themed Hotel Zena will open in Washington, DC in spring 2020.
  • It is the world's first hotel dedicated solely to celebrating women's accomplishments, according to Jon Bortz, president and CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.
  • The 191-room hotel will celebrate women's strength and successes with a Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural, "cheeky" design details, and programs for the "culturally curious," according to a release.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A female empowerment-themed hotel is set to open in Washington, DC's Logan Circle neighborhood this spring.

Designed to celebrate feminine strength, Hotel Zena will have 191 rooms, a 14th-floor pool rooftop deck, and lobby cocktail bar, according to a release.

Throughout, the hotel will feature works of art that are "perspective-shifting" and pay homage to important female figures. These include a 50-foot wooden serpent sculpture suspended from the ceiling and a mural of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

The latter isn't a new sight in DC. Walk into any gift store in the nation's capital, and there's a high likelihood that you'll find a tote bag, poster or mug with Justice Ginsberg's image on it. In Northwest Washington, she even has her own two-story outdoor mural.

Neither is Hotel Zena the only women-focused hotel. Take La Figueroa in Los Angeles, which opened in 1926 as a haven for women travelers and recently relaunched with an art gallery highlighting women and women-identifying artists.

Hotel Zena is distinct in being the "first hospitality establishment solely dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of women," according to Jon Bortz, president and CEO Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.

Bortz noted DC's majority-female population as a reason for Viceroy's choice of location.

The hotel will also include a destination lounge with programs for the "culturally curious" such as live music jams. Andrea Dawson Sheehan, art director of the interior design firm on the project, said that "cheeky details" contribute to the hotel's "rebellious and defiant playful energy."

Hotel Zena is one of a growing number of themed lifestyle hotels in the District. It will join the ranks of resistance-themed Eaton and millennial-minded Moxy, Washingtonian's Marisa Kashino noted. Both Eaton and Moxy are relative newcomers, having opened in fall 2018.

SEE ALSO: The top 18 boutique hotels in the world that should be on every luxury traveler's list

NOW READ: The legendary hotelier behind some of the world's top boutique hotel brands says luxury hotels are going to transform in 2 major ways in the next 10 years

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Traditional Japanese swords can take over 18 months to create — here's what makes them so special

5 important steps for making New Year's resolutions with your kids

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Parenting

  • Kids can have New Year's resolutions, too — it helps them learn how to set goals. So if you help your child make a resolution, take it seriously. You could even make a family goal.
  • You can help them create realistic goals and break it down into small steps. 
  • Regardless of whether they succeed or fail, you can make it into a teachable moment.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When most people think about New Year's resolutions, they imagine adults vowing to join the gym. But New Year's resolutions can be for kids, too.

In fact, New Year's is a great opportunity to teach kids how to set goals. You can help them learn new skills and deal with the outcome if they fall short of their goal.

But don't just tell your kids to set goals on their own. Create a resolution together so you can provide guidance and support along the way.

SEE ALSO: I'm a psychotherapist, and these are the 3 biggest resolution mistakes I see most people make

1. Take the task seriously

Rather than ask about your child's future goals in a nonchalant way, take the task seriously. Put away your digital devices and hold a meeting to discuss resolutions.

This doesn't mean you need to treat it like a job interview and ask  where they hope to be next year at this time. But you can begin talking about self-development and personal growth in a helpful manner. Use the conversation as an opportunity to talk about why goal setting is important and how good it feels to achieve goals — even though it's tough to do.

You might decide to establish a family goal. Maybe everyone goes for a 20-minute walk each evening, or every family member shares three things they're grateful for over dinner.

Or you could help your kids establish an individual resolution, such as practicing a musical instrument for 30 minutes three times per week. Just make it clear that as a family you can hold each other accountable, support one another's efforts, and cheer each other on throughout the year.



2. Consider alternatives to traditional resolutions

Taking your resolutions seriously doesn't mean you can't get creative. Your kids will be much more likely to stick to goals that feel fun and exciting, rather than grueling and painful.

Instead of picking a goal about health or money, you might decide your family's goal is to fill a bulletin board with things you're grateful for every week.

You could also establish a new 30-day challenge every month. Your family challenges could range from cleaning out all the closets and drawers to learning a new skill together.

You might also create a bucket list filled with things the family can do in the next year — and then decide when you're going to do them. It could include anything from places you want to visit to tasks you want to accomplish.



3. Help your child identify realistic and healthy goals

When you ask your child what they'd like to accomplish, you might hear anything from "I want to be the most popular kid in school" to "I want to score the most points on the basketball team."

Listen to their ideas and help them tweak their resolutions as needed. If their goals are unhealthy, unrealistic, or unattainable, work together to establish a better resolution.

Make sure resolutions are within their control. For example, I once worked with a child who set out to get the highest science grade in the entire class. And while she studied hard and greatly improved, there was another student with a near-perfect score. She had zero control over how other students performed. A healthier goal would have been to improve her grade or to commit to studying a specific amount of hours.

If your child picks a goal that isn't in line with your values (like being the most popular kid in the world), you might help them reframe it into something healthier — like showing kindness to someone every single day.



4. Identify small, actionable steps

Help your child turn a big resolution into small, actionable steps. "I'll study my spelling words for 10 minutes a night, five nights a week" or "I'll walk for 20 minutes on the treadmill after school three nights a week" are clear action steps.

Write down these action steps. Hang them up somewhere where your child can see it.

Talk about when your child will get started (sometimes January 1st doesn't work well because it's school vacation). Identify a clear start date and create a plan for taking action.



5. Make it a learning experience

Whether your child crushes their goals or the resolutions don't last more than a day, make the experience a teachable moment. Talk about issues such as motivation, goal setting, time management, failure, and life's inevitable challenges. Whether the opportunity allows you to improve your communication skills or a failed opportunity gives you a chance to build resilience, there's a good chance that both you and your child can learn a lot from the experience.



A Michigan couple who paid off their $200,000 mortgage in 4 years shares the exact budget sheet they used, and it accounts for every single dollar of their monthly income

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Hill Family Spring 2018 (95) (1)

In 2013, Andy Hill and his wife Nicole decided to move from their small bungalow to a 2,600-square-foot ranch-style home in the metro Detroit area. 

The couple bought the $350,000, four-bedroom house by putting down $155,000 and taking out a $195,000 mortgage. At the time, Andy was (and still is) a sales director and Nicole became a stay-at-home parent shortly after they moved.

They settled on a 15-year mortgage with a 3% interest rate and set a goal to pay the whole thing off in less than five years and ended up being debt free in just under four years.

With an annual household income that ranged between $150,000 to $180,000 and a monthly mortgage payment of $1,900 (including taxes and insurance), Andy told Business Insider that the journey to becoming debt-free required creating and maintaining a strict monthly budget. 

The couple created a "zero-based budget," meaning every dollar of their monthly income was assigned a purpose. 

Using this strategy, Andy and Nicole were able to make a hefty monthly mortgage payment of $1,900 while still being able to dedicate hundreds of dollars to gifts, donations, and personal shopping. 

Andy gave Business Insider an exclusive look at his monthly budget sheet from May 2016. On the spreadsheet, Andy and Nicole divided their income across nine expense categories.

Keeping reading to see how Andy and Nicole rationed $8,000 a month while paying off their mortgage.

Do you have a similar story or budget you'd like to share with Business Insider? Get in touch with this reporter at lbrandt@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: A Michigan family of 4 took a $6,000 vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico and spent only $300 on the whole trip — here's how they were able to do it

DON'T MISS: A Maryland couple bought a 120-year-old church for $320,000 and now live in it with their 3 kids — here's a look at how they turned it into a home

When Andy and Nicole decided to move, they had one child under two years old and another on the way.

They were determined to pay off their mortgage as soon as possible and created a system that allowed them to do so. 

Whether it was a bonus at work, tax returns, or money made by selling things around the house, any extra money the couple came into would go toward paying off the mortgage.

"Make a plan, write it down, and make sure your partner is on the same page as you," Andy told Business Insider.



On the first day of every month, Andy and Nicole had a "budget party" to tally up their expenses. They established nine clear categories to spend their $8,000 monthly income across.

They divided their monthly income into nine categories: Home; transportation; kids; financial; food; bills & utilities; gifts & donations; shopping; and entertainment.

Note that all expenses on the budget sheet were rounded to the nearest $50 and all percentages were rounded to the nearest whole number.



Home-related expenses accounted for nearly half of their monthly income.

Amount budgeted for "Home" in May 2016: $3,200

Percentage of budget accounted for: 40%



When it came to transportation, Andy and Nicole made sure both cars were accounted for. They even set $50 aside for service and parts.

Amount budgeted for "Transportation" in May 2016: $350

Percentage of budget accounted for: 4%

Along with crunching numbers, Andy and Nicole sold things around the house using Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. One of the biggest things they sold was Andy's moped.

Notably, transportation was one of the two lowest-budget areas of the family's financial plan.



For camps, field trips, swimming lessons, and baby supplies, they set aside $500.

Amount budgeted for "Kids" in May 2016: $500

Percentage of budget accounted for: 6%

At the time, Andy and Nicole's children were under the age of six, so the monthly budget had to include things like baby supplies and timely activities like camps and field trips.



They also set aside $500 for their 529 college savings plan.

Amount budgeted for "Financial" in May 2016: $700

Percentage of budget accounted for: 9%

Andy's advice to those looking to pay off their mortgage as quickly as possible is to have a clear-cut reason in mind. One of Andy and Nicole's reasons was to have the financial ability to help their kids graduate without student debt.



Andy told Business Insider that his family was able to save around $300 a month by shopping for groceries at Aldi — a discount supermarket.

Amount budgeted for "Food" in May 2016: $900

Percentage of budget accounted for: 11%

On his podcast, Andy said that food-related budgeting also included packing a lunch for work.



Other money-saving strategies included getting rid of cable and negotiating down phone and insurance bills.

Amount budgeted for "Bills & Utilities" in May 2016: $650

Percentage of budget accounted for: 8%

"Since we were young parents we weren't really watching a ton of TV on cable, so we got rid of it," Andy told Business Insider.



The couple was even able to put $600 toward gifts and donations.

Amount budgeted for "Gifts & Donations" in May 2016: $600

Percentage of budget accounted for: 8%



When it came to buying clothes and toiletries, the couple gave themselves a $350 budget.

Amount budgeted for "Shopping" in May 2016: $350

Percentage of budget accounted for: 4%

Shopping accounted for a mere 4% of the family's budget this month, meaning that it's tied for the smallest part of their budget, along with transportation.



Along with setting money aside for weekend fun and subscriptions, the couple also took advantage of travel rewards. This helped them keep their entertainment expenses relatively low — without having to sacrifice all the fun.

Amount budgeted for "Entertainment" in May 2016: $750

Percentage of budget accounted for: 9%

In a blog post, Andy stresses the importance of remembering to have fun during the money-saving journey.

"In 2016, we traveled to New York for a romantic getaway weekend on travel rewards. Flights and hotel would have cost us $1,500. We paid $0," Andy wrote.



Creating a monthly budget sheet allowed Andy and Nicole to keep a close eye on where their money was going. Every dollar was allocated to spending, saving, investing, or paying off the mortgage.

The couple made their first mortgage payment in January of 2014 and their last payment in November of 2017. And according to Andy, creating a strict and detailed zero-based budget was a crucial step to paying off their mortgage in under four years.

"If we didn't tell those dollars where to go, they'd magically float away. You know what I'm talking about, right?" Andy wrote in a blog post.

Since paying off their mortgage, Andy and Nicole have been able to go on more family vacations, save up for their first rental property, max out their retirement accounts, put money away for future college tuitions, and increase their charitable givings. 

Do you have a similar story or budget you'd like to share with Business Insider? Get in touch with this reporter at lbrandt@businessinsider.com.



I'm a 36-year-old CEO who sold my first startup for $1 billion. Here's what I've learned this past decade.

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justin kan

  • Justin Kan is a mid-30s entrepreneur who sold his previous startup, Twitch, to Amazon for $1 billion, and has raised millions in VC funding for his current project, the legal startup Atrium.
  • On Twitter, Kan reflected back on the past decade and what he's learned in the 2010s.
  • "Lasting happiness comes from connection to other people, gratitude, and the release of self-tortured striving," he wrote.
  • With his permission, we've shared his Tweets.
  • He says the most important thing for success in work is who you work with. And that achieving your goals won't lead to lasting happiness — that comes from gratitude and connecting with others.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

It's been a wild 10 years for me. Here's a bunch of things I've learned in the last decade: Things that seem disastrous at the time can happen for a reason. Some of my most important learnings came from failures that I thought were the end of the world in the moment.

The most important success factor in your work is whom you choose to work with

This has been more important to my success than having the right idea, the right resources, or anything else. Having the right people around you is the difference between success and failure.

No matter where you are at, you are probably giving up too early

Big things take time to succeed at.

No one does everything well

You are not an exception. Focus on your one superpower and be excellent at that, and the universe will take care of the rest.

There is an endless treadmill of goals

Ten years ago we had a small startup called Justin.tv. I thought if I could just make a little money I'd be set. Thus followed a decade of trying to raise more money, achieve skyrocketing valuations, start bigger because ... it never ends.

Achievement of goals won't deliver lasting happiness

After hitting many of the goals I set for myself, some beyond the wildest dreams I had 10 years ago, the satisfaction never lasted. It was there in the beginning, but never created a permanent state change.

You can be anxious no matter what your situation is

I thought my anxiety and fear was situational, but it turns out I'd just map the same level of fears on to whatever difficult experiences I was going through at any given time.

There is no antidote to your fears

I tried to escape from my fear lots of ways (alcohol, travel, TV). None of those methods delivered anything other than temporary distraction. I learned instead that meditation is key to sitting with your fear and accepting it.

I don't need to attract people to me to connect

All my life I longed to connect meaningfully to others, but felt I didn't know how. Instead I tried to be successful to attract other people to me. But that's not necessary: I've learned to start with vulnerability and curiosity.

Lasting happiness comes from connection to other people, gratitude, and the release of self-tortured striving

Nothing else.

Congrats on making it through the 2010s

I'm curious, excited, and open for what comes in the 2020s.

SEE ALSO: I'm a 36-year-old CEO who sold my first startup for $1 billion. I've learned more this year than any other year of my life because I made 5 important changes.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Taylor Swift is the world's highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $360 million.

We compared Casper’s foam mattress to its new hybrid mattress to determine which bed you should buy

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Casper hybrid vs Casper normal 4x3

A good mattress will last you for decades, and you'll spend a third of your daily life on it. When considering such an important purchase, you should be able to spend significant time sleeping on the mattress. Fortunately, Casper allows you to test drive all of its mattresses for 100 nights risk-free, and the company now has samples all over the country — at Target and in their own brick-and-mortar stores — for you to see and feel in person.

Recently, Casper updated its flagship mattress and introduced the Casper Hybrid mattress. The updated flagship Casper features a new zoned support foam layer that focuses on providing pressure relief and support that is firmer under the hips and softer under the shoulders.

The new Hybrid also has the zoned support layer along with the other three foam layers found in the updated Casper. What sets the Casper Hybrid apart is its individual coil springs designed to provide added lift and increased airflow.

Casper recently sent me both mattresses to test. Each has weaknesses and advantages. Below, we compare the updated all-foam Casper mattress to the Casper Hybrid mattress in a few key categories: price, style, return policy, warranty, set-up process, comfort, edge support, and motion transfer.

Keep scrolling to see how the flagship Casper mattress and Hybrid mattress compare:

Prices and specs compared

Winner: No matter what size you choose, the Casper mattress is less expensive than the Casper Hybrid.

The Casper Hybrid and the flagship all-foam Casper share several features, but there are a few differences. The biggest one is that the Hybrid has coiled springs, while the regular Casper mattress is all foam.

Since you are adding individually-wrapped pocket coils, the Casper Hybrid mattress is more expensive than the updated Casper mattress. If you are purchasing the Twin-sized mattress the difference in price is only $155, but if you want a Cal King or King, you can expect to pay an extra $400 for the hybrid experience.

You should look at costs when buying a bed, but don't make price the most important factor. Keep in mind that you will spend a significant part of your life on this mattress. Over the lifetime of the bed, differences in price work out to only a few cents per day. Also, if money is a concern, Casper allows you to pay for its mattresses with monthly payments at 0% APR.

If you plan on sleeping alone, a Twin, Twin XL, or Full mattress is your best bet. Twin works for smaller individuals, Twin XL is for taller folks, and Full is best if you are on the huskier side. Couples can share a Queen, King, or Cal King, though if you are a bigger couple go with a King. Taller couples will benefit from the Cal King.

As for looks, the mattresses are nearly identical. Both have gray sides with the all-foam Casper a slightly lighter gray. Both are white on top. The cover is removable and washable. However, you'll still want to use a fitted sheet.

Buy the updated Casper mattress from Casper for $536 (Twin), $581 (Twin XL), $806 (Full), $896 (Queen), $1,076 (King and Cal King)

Buy the Casper Hybrid mattress from Casper for $716 (Twin), $761 (Twin XL), $986 (Full), $1,076 (Queen), $1,256 (King and Cal King)



Return policy and warranty compared

Winner: This is a draw. Casper offers the same return policy and warranty for all of its mattresses.

Though the return policy and warranty are not good ways to differentiate these mattresses, it's important for you to know what's available. You can try out both mattresses with Casper's 100-night risk-free trial. If you don't like the mattress for any reason within 100 nights of its arrival, you can let the company know, and it will send out a local charity or recycling center to take it away for you. You then get a full refund within two weeks.

The mattresses are also backed by 10-year limited warranties. So, if you find any manufacturing defects, physical flaws, or the mattress just experiences significant (an inch or more) indentation, Casper will fix or replace your mattress. The warranty is only valid if you use a supportive foundation, care for the bed properly, and if you use it normally.



Set-up process compared

Winner: The flagship Casper mattress wins by a hair in terms of set up because it weighs less and seemed to have less odor.

Before I dive into my experiences setting these mattresses up, I want to point out that you can pay Casper to set up your mattress for you. For a fee ($149 where I live in Lansing, Michigan), the company will send someone to deliver, unbox, and set up your mattress and bed frame. They will also remove the packaging, your old mattress, and foundation.

I didn't go this route. Instead, I did it all myself. Both mattresses come with instructions for how to unbox and set them up. The mattresses took five minutes to completely unpackage. Then, I let the mattresses air out for a couple of days before using them because memory foam tends to have an odor associated with it.

The queen-sized Hybrid weighs 106 pounds, while the all-foam Casper weighs 85 pounds. The light weight and firmness of the all-foam mattress made it easier to set up. Additionally, I never noticed any odor from the all-foam bed, while the Hybrid did have a noticeable odor.



Comfort compared

Winner: As a side sleeper, I found the softness of the Casper Hybrid served me better than the firm original Casper.

When it comes to mattresses, comfort depends on a lot of factors that vary from person-to-person. Heavier individuals, back sleepers, stomach sleepers, and people with back pain generally benefit more from firmer mattresses. Lighter people and side sleepers tend to feel more comfortable on softer mattresses.

I'm telling you all of this because — unless you're 6-feet tall, weigh 250 pounds, and sleep on your side — you should take my preferences with a grain of salt.

For me, the updated Casper mattress is too firm. It wasn't comfortable sleeping on my side. Instead, I was forced to sleep on my stomach, which I naturally do part of the time, but it was unfortunate that I couldn't switch it up with some side sleeping. The Casper Hybrid is more of a "Goldilocks-fit" for me. The softness makes side and stomach sleeping comfortable.

I'm a hot sleeper and both mattresses did a good job of dissipating heat, but the all-foam Casper slept cooler than the Casper Hybrid. When temperatures dipped into the 30s at night, I found I actually had to add an extra blanket. With the Hybrid, I felt just right with one blanket, even when the mercury fell. If you are a hot sleeper, the all-foam Casper may be a smart choice during the hot summer months.



Edge support compared

Winner: The firm memory foam layers of the flagship Casper mattress extend all the way to the edges offering superior support.

Edge support is important for a number of reasons. First, you don't want your mattress to sag on the sides and give you the feeling you might fall off. It's hard to sleep like that. Secondly, it's nice to sit on the edge of the bed, whether you're putting your socks and shoes on or slowly transitioning from laying to standing.

Both mattresses offer good edge support, but the all-foam Casper mattress is better. I laid on the very edge of the flagship mattress and was actually comfortable there. I didn't feel like I was about to fall. Whereas with the Hybrid, I could feel more give on the edge. However, when I shared the Hybrid with my wife, I never felt like I might fall off, despite her attempts to annex my side of the bed.



Motion transfer compared

Winner: The all-foam Casper mattress passed our motion transfer tests, while the Hybrid failed each time.

Motion transfer isolation or dampening is an important mattress feature because it will help you get a good night's sleep even when your partner is tossing and turning. The fewer times you wake up, the more productive your sleep will be.

Based on my research, I created a makeshift motion transfer test with the materials I had available. First, I placed a 12-ounce can of soda upright on the center of each mattress. Then, I dropped a 20-pound weight from four feet above the mattress so that it landed 12 inches from the can. If the can stayed upright after several iterations, the mattress has good motion transfer dampening properties. If the can fell over consistently, the mattress has poor motion transfer properties.

In my tests on the Casper all-foam mattress, the can remained upright each time. With the Hybrid, the can always fell over. My subjective experience backed these results up. I shared the Hybrid bed with my wife, and she occasionally woke me up with her sleep troubles — a common problem for her.

Though I did not share the all-foam mattress with my wife, I did have a stream of pets walking on it while I slept. They didn't wake me up. The only evidence I had that they were there were random toys and occasionally they would be asleep next to me when I awoke in the morning.

These results tell me that the Hybrid may be better for individuals who mainly sleep alone or are heavy sleepers. The all-foam Casper mattress does a better job of isolating motion transfer, which is ideal for couples sharing a bed.

I also want to point out that poor motion transfer isolation usually translates to more bounciness. Bounce is nice to have when engaged in intimate activities. Yet, neither mattress exhibited much bounce. This may have been due to the foundation (i.e., our floor) having zero give. The all-foam Casper was nice because it did allow for easier movement on top of the mattress, which is helpful for a variety of reasons.

 



The bottom line

Overall winner: Though I personally would choose the Hybrid, I think the overall better mattress is the all-foam Casper.

During my testing schedule, I found myself looking forward to sleeping on the Hybrid but not the flagship Casper mattress. In the above categories, the only one in which the Hybrid is the clear winner in comfort, but that is an important enough factor that it beats out all others in my opinion. But, keep in mind that I'm a heavy person who sleeps on his side.

If you are a back sleeper, stomach sleeper, are carrying a few extra pounds, or have back pain, you might benefit from the all-foam Casper. This is especially true if you share a bed with someone and want good motion transfer isolation. You can also save hundreds of dollars by going with this option.

You could conceivably try one mattress for up to 100 days, and if you don't like it, return it and try the other for up to 100 days more.

If this seems a bit extreme, I recommend setting up an appointment for a 30-minute nap session at one of Casper's many locations across the United States. Casper is also available at Target stores everywhere.

As you may have gathered, the best mattress is a matter of personal preference. If you look at the above categories and some are more important to you than others, use the important categories to guide your buying decision. You can always return your mattress if you don't like it. 

Buy the updated Casper mattress from Casper for $536 (Twin), $581 (Twin XL), $806 (Full), $896 (Queen), $1,076 (King and Cal King)

Buy the Casper Hybrid mattress from Casper for $716 (Twin), $761 (Twin XL), $986 (Full), $1,076 (Queen), $1,256 (King and Cal King)



Check out more mattress reviews and our mattress buying guide

The best mattresses you can buy

A great mattress can be the difference between a good night's sleep that results in a productive day or a horrible night that makes you feel like you didn't sleep at all.

We've tested a lot of mattresses to find the best ones you can buy online, and these are our picks:


You can also read our full reviews of the Casper mattresses here:



50 trips you need to take in Europe in your lifetime

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

  • Europe is home to historic sites and gorgeous natural wonders.
  • The ultimate bucket list of travel destinations in Europe includes the canals in Amsterdam, scuba diving in Cyprus, and the Colosseum in Rome.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Europe is home to historic cities, world-famous museums, and phenomenal restaurants. But there are also gorgeous hidden beaches, world-class ski resorts, and stunning natural formations like canyons, waterfalls, and gorges.

We've come up with the ultimate bucket list of travel destinations in Europe.

From biking along the canals of Amsterdam to scuba diving in the clear Mediterranean waters off Cyprus, here are 50 things you need to do in Europe in your lifetime.

Eliza McKelvey and Megan Willett contributed to this story.

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Lagos, Portugal

Lounge on the stunning beaches of Lagos, Portugal.



Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ride alongside the canals in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.



Innsbruck, Austria

Hit the slopes at Innsbruck, a breathtaking ski resort in the mountains of Austria.



Tresor — Berlin, Germany

Dance to house music at the underground nightclub and record label Tresor in Berlin.



Santorini, Greece

Take in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea from the Greek island of Santorini.



Promenade des Anglais — Nice, France

Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice — or ride on skates, scooters or bikes.



Charles Bridge — Prague, Czech Republic

Walk across the Vltava River on the 617-year-old Charles Bridge.



Cyprus

Scuba dive in the clear Mediterranean waters off Cyprus.



The Shard — London, England

Get a drink at Aqua or Gong, located inside the Shard, the tallest building in London, and enjoy incredible views of the British capital city.



Ibiza, Spain

Stay up all night partying on the Spanish island of Ibiza.



Colosseum — Rome, Italy

Explore the ruins of the stately Colosseum in Rome, Italy, and imagine the gladiator fights that once packed the arena.



Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Test your limits and peer out from the edge of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.



Market Square — Krakow, Poland

Have a beer in the beautiful Market Square of Krakow, Poland.



Sistine Chapel — Vatican City

Marvel at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took Michelangelo four years to paint, in Vatican City.



Autobahn — Germany

Test your speed on Germany's famous autobahn, known for having no speed limit.



Tivoli Gardens — Copenhagen, Denmark

Pass a day in the beautiful Tivoli Gardens and amusement park in Copenhagen, Denmark.



Edinburgh Fringe Festival — Edinburgh, Scotland

Catch a show at Scotland's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world's largest arts festival.



Plitvice Lakes National Park — Croatia

Explore the waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park, the largest national park in Croatia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Discover Český Krumlov, a historic town in the Czech Republic that dates back to the 13th century. The town is spectacular yet not overrun with tourists.



Casino de Monaco — Monte Carlo, Monaco

Play a hand of blackjack at the Casino de Monaco in Monte Carlo, one of the most luxurious casinos in the world.



Amalfi Coast, Italy

Hug the cliffs while driving along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, and visit the charming towns of Positano, Ravello, and Salerno.



Alhambra palace — Granada, Spain

Marvel at the Moorish architecture and tranquil gardens of the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.



Oktoberfest — Munich, Germany

Cheers with an authentic German beer during Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.



Jägala Fall — Estonia

Hear the roar of Jägala Fall in Estonia, called "the Niagara Falls of the Baltics."



Oslo, Norway

Norway's capital city offers national museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula, medieval fortresses, and fjord nature walks.



Fjord Norway — Norway

Cruise Norway's imposing fjords, created by eroding glaciers. The Norwegian fjord landscape is a UNESCO Heritage Site.



Interlaken, Switzerland

Go skiing, hiking, or canyoning in Interlaken, Switzerland, which is known for its outdoor adventure activities.



Dubrovnik, Croatia

"Game of Thrones" helped boost Dubrovnik's popularity, having appeared as King's Landing. A walk around the Old City walls dating back to the 600s provides panoramic views of the ocean and Mount Srd.



Provence, France

Stroll through fragrant lavender fields in Provence, France.



Budapest, Hungary

Take a dip in a thermal bath in Budapest, Hungary.



Brussels, Belgium

Indulge in fresh gaufres chaudes (hot waffles) topped with strawberries, whipped cream, Nutella, and more in Belgium.



Lapland, Finland

Gaze at the aurora borealis from Lapland, in northern Finland.



Musée d'Orsay — Paris, France

See what is arguably the world's greatest collection of Impressionist art at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, France.



Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood — St. Petersburg, Russia

Marvel at the ornate interior of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, which is covered in colorful mosaics.



Scottish Highlands — Scotland

Drive through the Scottish Highlands and admire the gorgeous hilly terrain.



Pamplona, Spain

Run with the bulls in Pamplona, a tradition that dates back to 1591.



Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Explore Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A blend of east and west and heavily influenced by the Ottoman Empire, the city offers museums, mosques, and cathedrals.



Istanbul, Turkey

Straddle two continents on a boat tour along the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey.



Étretat — Normandy, France

Walk through the chalk cliffs and natural arches of Étretat along the region's famous white pebble beach.



Vienna, Austria

Linger over a strong cup of coffee and a rich, chocolatey Sachertorte at a cafe in Vienna, Austria.



Sighisoara, Romania

Recount the tale of Dracula in Sighisoara, the Romanian town where real-life inspiration Vlad the Impaler was born.



Icehotel — Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Opened in 1989, Sweden's Icehotel is built anew every year with ice from the Torne River.

 



Uffizi Gallery — Florence, Italy

Seek out Botticelli's masterpieces "The Birth of Venus" and "Primavera" inside the Uffizi Gallery.



Carcassone, France

Stroll the ramparts of the medieval fortified town of Carcassone, complete with a castle and Gothic cathedral.



Stonehenge, England

Watch the sun set at Stonehenge, one of the most recognizable prehistoric monuments in Europe.



Rila Monastery — Rila, Bulgaria

Find solace at the Rila Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria's Rila Mountains.



Sagrada Família — Barcelona, Spain

Admire the incredibly detailed facade of the Sagrada Família, a church in Barcelona, Spain, which was designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudí and has been under construction since 1882.



Cinque Terre, Italy

Hike through Italy's gorgeous Cinque Terre region, which is made up of five small fishing villages, all of which boast narrow winding roads, pastel-colored buildings, and amazing views of the Italian Riviera.



Ballybunion Golf Club — Ballybunion, Ireland

Play a round at Ballybunion, one of the most iconic golf courses in Ireland.



Reynisfjara Beach — Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland

Reynisfjara Beach is known for its black sands and basalt columns. It's located next to Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland's southernmost city.



The best winter boots for women

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  • All too often, women's winter boots put fashion above function and you end up with cold wet feet. We tested dozens of winter boots to find the best ones for warmth, style, and comfort.
  • The UGG Adirondack III Boots are our top pick for women because they are stylish enough to wear with any outfit, but warm, waterproof, and tough enough to handle the harshest winter weather.
  • If you're looking for men's styles, check out our guide to the best winter boots for men.

Winter boots are one of those things that are really hard to shop for — especially when you're a woman. After all, you want a pair of boots that are both warm and cute. Besides, you shouldn't have to choose between fashion and comfort. 

In the process of writing this buying guide, we researched winter boots from all the top brands and several lesser-known names to find pairs in a variety of styles that were highly rated. We tested dozens of winter boots to find the best ones for different women's needs.

After all, we know that not every woman needs heavy-duty boots that can take on sub-zero temperatures and six-foot snowbanks, but we also know that most women who are looking for a great pair of snow boots won't be satisfied with a cute pair of water-resistant boots that can't handle more than a light flurry. As such, we've included a fair mix of different options here so there will be something for everyone.

To test these boots, we dunked them in a tub filled with icy water and tried to make them slip on patches of ice. We wore them on cold days to see how warm they were and stepped into deep puddles on rainy days to test water resistance. We walked for miles on snowy stretches of sidewalk in New York City and waded through snow banks in Central Park to vet these boots.

Our opinions are also backed up by expert reviewers and actual buyers, so rest assured — these winter boots are guaranteed to keep your feet warm, dry, and happy all winter long and for many winters to come.

Here are the best winter boots for women:

Updated on 12/30/2019 by Jen Gushue: Updated prices, links, and formatting. 

SEE ALSO: The best winter boots for men

The best winter boots overall

The UGG Adirondack III Boots are super cute winter boots that can handle extreme cold and deep snow without any problems.

UGG makes super stylish boots, and the Adirondack III boots are made for intense cold and tons of snow. With these boots on your feet, you'll be ready to brave anything winter throws at you.

The boots are made of waterproof leather and they have a super cozy insulating wool lining that's as fuzzy as it is warm. You can roll the tops down to expose the wool for style, or flip them back up to keep more of your ankle and lower calf warm.

The Vibram outsole is strong and provides great traction on icy surfaces, plus, these boots can handle extremely cold temperatures as low as -20°C, which is -4°F. You can buy the Adirondack boots in a few different colors, including white, black, and brown.

When I first put an older version of these boots on, I was impressed by how light, warm, and cute they were. By all rights, they should be clunky, but they're not. UGG's boots look cute enough to pair with skinny jeans or leggings and a dress all winter long in even the snobbiest of cities.

These boots are tough enough to handle rural areas with tons of snow, too, so you really can't go wrong with them. In my mind, they're the perfect boots for just about every woman. The only downside is the high price, but they'll last you for years. After a full winter of use, mine are still going strong.

Pros: Waterproof, pure wool lining, made for very cold temperatures, good traction, cute style

Cons: Expensive



The best tall winter boots

The Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots are absolutely perfect for stomping through snow banks and tackling intense winter conditions in style.

When the winter winds blow up a crazy snow storm and you have six feet of snow to contend with in sub-zero temperatures, you need some serious winter boots that will keep more than just your feet warm. Sorel's Joan of Arctic Boots are just the ticket.

These boots are nearly a foot tall, so they'll keep your entire calf warm and dry even in deep snow. The suede leather shaft is fully waterproof and a faux fur cuff finishes the boots off in style. They lace up from a sturdy vulcanized rubber section that covers your toes and keeps them dry.

Sorel says these boots can handle temperatures as low as -25°F or -32°C. The tread on the bottom is grippy and good for ice and snow. You can even get them in a number of different colors and styles if faux fur isn't your thing or you don't want leather.

When I first took them out of the box, I thought these boots would be super clunky and bulky, but looks are deceiving. Once they were on my feet, they looked great. I can easily see these boots being perfect for both the city and the country because they are super stylish yet rugged enough to take on serious snow.

Pros: Tall boots, extra warm, rated for cold temperatures, good grip, comfortable, cute, many colors

Cons: Expensive



The best light but tough winter boots

The Columbia Bugaboot IV Winter Boots protect your feet from the fierce cold of winter and wet icy slush puddles — plus, they're light on your feet.

When you think about tough gear that'll last you through an epic snowstorm, chances are, Columbia comes to mind. The company's coats, boots, shoes, and other gear are known for being of the highest quality. Columbia's Bugaboot IV Winter Boots are no exception.

I tested an older version of these popular and very highly rated winter boots and came away impressed by how light and toasty warm they were. By the look of them, I expected these boots to be as heavy and awkward to wear as the old winter boots I used to wear to survive the brutal winters in upstate New York (right across from the Canadian border, so we're talking six feet of snow and -30 windchills here). Imagine my surprise when they turned out to be light and nimble like a good pair of hiking boots.

The secret is in their design: Columbia used a mix of waterproof leather and textiles on the uppers to keep out all the snow, slush, and wet of winter without adding any unnecessary weight. The 200 grams of insulation inside keep your feet piping hot, too. These boots are so cozy that Columbia says they can handle temperatures as low as -25F or -32C. 

Of course, it's not just the uppers that keep these boots light, it's also the special Techlite midsole and the Omni-Grip outsole that keep the weight down. Both are lightweight and specially designed for great comfort, stability, and traction on slippery surfaces. 

These are the kind of boots I'd want on my feet during the cold nasty winters snowy climates. They're perfect for walks through the snowy woods, shoveling out your driveway, and heading out to the grocery store. They obviously will not win any beauty contests and those who have more mild winters or live in cities where style is more important than strength won't need tough boots like these.

However, for anyone who needs a super warm, waterproof, stable, and lightweight pair of winter boots that are ready for action, these are the ones I'd recommend.

Pros: Lightweight, very warm, rated for low temperatures, relatively affordable

Cons: A bit bulky, not the most beautiful boots you'll ever see



The best stylish winter boots with a small heel

The Sorel Slimpack II Lace Boots are fully waterproof, slim, and cute with a slight heel and fun color options.

If you don't want to wear clunky winter boots all the time, you may want a lighter, slimmer pair for days when there's less snow on the ground. These Slimpack Lace II boots from Sorel deliver. They have the distinctive duck boot design you see on many winter boots and rain boots, but Sorel adds cute little design elements like wool accents and fun laces to make them stand out.

The full-grain leather upper is fully waterproof as is the vulcanized rubber part that wraps around the lower part of your foot. You can splash in the rain or stomp through slush puddles in these boots without getting wet. The wool felt collar around the top of the boot adds warmth and style to the basic boots.

Inside the boots, there's a nice microfleece lining that will keep your feet warm but not sweltering. If you live in milder climates where you may get some snow, but it's never that bad, you can call these your only winter boots and use them as rain boots in any weather.

These are comfortable, breathable boots that Sorel says are best for heavy rain instead of snow. However, if you wear them with a nice thick pair of socks, they are perfect for cold winter days and a few feet of snow. The waterproof construction and the grippy outsole give perfect traction on ice.

These boots even have a little heel that's just under two inches. It adds a touch of class and a bit of height for shorter women. As a 5-foot-2 lady, I appreciated that. I love these Sorel boots and I wear them whenever it rains. This winter, I wear them when we have light snow because they're both cute looking and practical for city winters.

If you need heavy-duty winter boots for extreme cold and snow, check out our other more rugged picks.

Pros: Slight heel, cute color options, good traction, waterproof, slim, comfortable, warm

Cons: Not as rugged or warm as some



The best winter boots made in America

The L.L.Bean Shearling-lined Bean Boots are super cozy, classic looking, and made to last — right in America.

L.L.Bean's boots are quintessential winter gear for a reason: They're extremely high quality. These classic duck-style Bean Boots are lined with real sheepskin shearling to keep your feet extra warm even in the cold winters of Maine where these boots are made.

The uppers are made from full-grain leather that's waterproof, while the rubber covering on the bottom half of the boots keeps your feet totally dry even if you step into a nasty puddle. The boots have a tiny heel and a high-traction rubber chain pattern on the bottom for extra grip on slippery ice.

It's not often you find boots that are made in America, so these Bean Boots are special. They're very high quality and they should last for years before you need a new pair. Longevity is going to important because these boots cost $229, which is an investment. L.L.Bean does make cheaper versions of its classic Bean Boots without the shearling if you want to save some money.

I tried a pair on a wet rainy day and they handled puddles with aplomb. They handled snow equally well. These boots are very warm, so they're well-suited to cold conditions and a foot or two of snow. Because the design is simple, classic, and cute, you could wear the Bean Boots in any situation from a trek in the snowy woods to a jaunt into town for milk.

Pros: Made in America, real shearling is warm, durable, great traction, waterproof

Cons: Expensive



The best mid-calf winter boots

The Columbia Heavenly Omni-Heat Boots feel like cute light slippers on your feet, but they're super cozy and fully waterproof mid-calf winter boots.

If the other Columbia boots in our guide are just too clunky and rugged looking for your tastes, you'll love these Heavenly Omni-Heat boots. First things first: These boots look way cuter in person than they do online. When I put an older version of these boots on the first time, I knew I could easily wear them with skinny jeans or a dress and tights in the city without shame. Columbia has a bunch of fun colors, too, so you can buy the pair that'll look best with your style.

Believe it or not, these cute boots are just as warm, waterproof, and comfortable as the chunkier Bugaboots. The waterproof woven textile uppers hit your leg mid-calf and boast a cute faux fur lining that peeks out at the top and along the sides where you lace the boots up. They'll keep your feet and part of your legs warm even in a foot or two of snow.

Columbia's Omni-Tech waterproof seam-sealed membrane keeps water, slush, and snow out of your boots and the 200 grams of insulation inside keep your feet and legs super warm. Just like the Bugaboots, these ones can withstand temperatures as cold as -25F or -32C, thanks to the Omni-Heat reflective lining.

These boots will fare just as well on the snowy city streets as they will in the driveway shoveling snow or out walking on snowy paths. I consider these boots to be the perfect stylish alternative for colder climates where you still need serious boots.

Pros: Warm, comfortable, good traction, rated for very cold temperatures, cute looking, higher rise

Cons: A bit expensive



The best extra warm winter boots

The L.L.Bean Wildcat Boots are heavy duty boots that are made for intense cold and lots of snow.

When you live in a very cold place with tons of snow and you need a serious pair of boots, the L.L.Bean Wildcat Boots are a good pick. These boots are rated to keep your feet warm during light activity in temperatures of 30°F or during more intense activity in temperatures as low as -20°F.

The waterproof leather upper and L.L.Bean's TEK2.5 waterproof technology make these boots all-but impermeable. You can dunk your feet in a huge icy slush puddle without fear — These boots will keep your feet totally dry and warm. There's even a toe bumper in the front to protect you from stubbing your toe on a fallen log or what have you.

The PrimaLoft insulation inside the boots wicks away moisture while also keeping your feet comfortably warm. On the bottom of the boots, you have very good grip and traction even on slippery ice and snow, thanks to the Vertigrip outsole. The way it's designed prevents snow from getting trapped in the treads and messing up the traction.

Although these boots are a bit bulky, they're quite light on your feet. I tried a pair and I was surprised by how comfortable they were to walk in. Most heavy-duty winter boots make you feel like a giant stomping around, but these Wildcat Boots felt more like a tough pair of hiking or work boots.

Obviously, L.L.Bean's Wildcat boots aren't ones you'd choose if you live in a mild climate or a city where you have to look your best, but out in rural areas where you really need a good pair fo hard-core boots, these are perfect. They're also great for outdoorsy ladies who love to snowshoe and walk in the wintry woods.

Pros: Warm, made for tough winters, waterproof, leather and fabric design is breathable

Cons: Not so fashionable



The best stylish winter boots for cold weather

The UGG Fraser Boots are perfect for city slickers who don't deal with much snow but still need super warm boots with great traction.

Full disclosure: These are not serious winter boots. You should definitely not wear them in feet of snow or run through deep puddles in them. However, if you're walking around the city and you need to look fashionable while staying toasty warm, the UGG Fraser Boots are the ones for you.

As a city slicker myself, I love these boots. They look cute with skinny jeans or dresses with tights and the sheepskin and leather design made me want to show them off. I wore them on the first 30-degree day in New York City and I was amazed by how warm my feet were. These are definitely the boots I'm wearing all winter long (providing we don't get feet of snow, of course).

The real sheepskin lining covers the tongue and top of the boots to add warmth and style. Inside, you'll find a cushy pure wool insole and tons of sheepskin that'll wick sweat and keep your feet extra warm. On the bottom of the boots, you get excellent traction and a subtle 1.5-inch heel for a bit of height. 

The leather is water-resistant and you can treat it with waterproofing agents to make it even tougher. You can get these boots in a few different colors, including black, brown, gray, and a subtle purple tone. The color of the sheepskin also varies to match or contrast with the leather.

Although these aren't true winter boots for serious snow, they are perfect for stylish city folk who want to look cute and stay warm on the city streets. They're also great for mild climates that get cold, but not snowy.

Pros: Cute design, great for the city, water resistant, sheepskin lining is warm, comfortable, good traction

Cons: Not fully waterproof, not for serious snowfall



Check out our other winter gear guides

The best winter coats for men

A good winter coat will keep you warm and dry even when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. A great winter coat will keep you warm, dry, and looking good, too. Here are the best winter coats for men.


The best places to buy scarves online

Your choice of scarf can make or break your comfort level in the wintertime. Opt for one that's wooly and warm and you'll be toasty. Choose a too-thin fabric and you, well, won't. Scarves are also a great opportunity to infuse a bit of personality into your winter wardrobe. And when you get bored of your outerwear, you can always pick a new scarf to mix things up.

These five brands are your best bet for warm, attractive options that will keep you cozy all winter long. Here are the best places to buy scarves online.


The best thermal gloves

A good pair of thermal gloves can make all the difference on a cold winter day. We did the research to find the best thermal gloves you can buy to keep your hands nice and toasty for the rest of this winter and for many more winters to come. Here are the best thermal gloves you can buy.


The best mittens

Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves, so if it's cold where you live, work, or play, slip a pair on and keep the chill out.

Yes, you will lose a measure of dexterity when choosing mittens versus gloves. But you won't risk losing a finger to frostbite, or simple suffering from frigid digits, to be a bit less dramatic. Today we've lined up some of the best mittens on the market, including mittens for babies, kids, adults, and some specialty pairs, too. Here are the best mittens.


The best snow pants for men and women

Make the most of that winter wonderland this year by keeping yourself warm and dry with well-made snow pants when you're skiing, sledding, or generally romping about in the snow. Here are the best snow pants.



I tried KitchenAid's top-of-the-line stand mixer, and now I get what all the hype is about

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KitchenAid Pro Line mixer

 

There are a few kitchen appliances that are dominated by a single brand. For instance, Vitamix is the king of blenders. Instant Pot has cornered the electric pressure cooker market. And, when it comes to stand mixers, experts and home bakers alike consider KitchenAid to be the best stand mixer around.

For 18 years, I have used KitchenAid stand mixers in my kitchens. The KitchenAid stand mixer gets its own counter space because of its attractive design and — I'm a little sheepish to admit — it shows that I have good taste in appliances. 

Until recently, I used an older Professional 5 model. Then, KitchenAid sent me its 7-Quart Pro Line Stand Mixer to test. Below are my experiences with this top-of-the-line unit.

Specs

KitchenAid Pro Line Mixer 2

The KitchenAid 7-Quart Pro Line Stand Mixer is available in several colors, including candy apple red, sugar pearl silver, and frosted pearl white. I went with onyx black to match my kitchen's decor. 

The mixer comes with a 7-quart stainless steel bowl, spiral dough hook, flat beater, stainless steel wire whip, and a pouring shield.

Here are some more specs:

  • 10-speed slide control
  • 1.3 horsepower (about 970-watt) motor
  • Capacity for 14 dozen cookies or over 8 pounds of dough
  • 16-cup flour capacity
  • 5-year limited total replacement warranty
  • 13-inches wide by 15-inches deep by 16-inches high
  • Weighs 25 pounds

Through the total replacement limited warranty, KitchenAid will replace your appliance if it fails within the first five years of ownership. The warranty covers free delivery of the replacement, but you may be asked to pay to ship the broken unit back to the company. The warranty doesn't cover mixers used for commercial purposes or those damaged through abuse, misuse, alteration, or accident.

Set-up process

The KitchenAid Stand Mixer is ready to go out of the box. It even comes with the whisk already attached. However, I recommend washing everything before your first use. 

If you want to do some mixing, first make sure the speed control is set to off and the unit is unplugged. Fit the bowl supports over the locating pins on the machine. Then, press down on the back of the bowl to snap it into place. Next, attach the whip, hook, or beater by locking it into place on the beater shaft. You can then raise the bowl using the lever, plug in the mixer, and select the speed you want.

I decided to start by grinding meat. Within five minutes of opening the box, I had my meat grinder attachment on the mixer and was making burger meat. 

What makes the KitchenAid Pro Line stand mixer stand out

KitchenAid Pro Line mixer 3

The large stainless-steel bowl is nice and roomy. I like that it hooks into place — rather than twisting in like other models. The bowl's handle also feels more heavy duty than those of previous models, and it's rounded for a better ergonomic hold. The speed-control lever and bowl-lift lever have nice round knobs that feel comfortable in the hand. 

Previously, I'd had a pouring shield that was two pieces and didn't work too well. I really appreciate the shield that comes with the Pro Line. It's only one piece, and it fits easily over the bowl while it's in position. The pouring chute sticks out enough so you can add ingredients without getting to close to the beater. And, the shield keeps flour and other dry ingredients from flying out — a must when adding flour to a bread dough.

A good test of a mixer is how it does whipping up stiff-peaked egg whites. I made cloud eggs to test this out. To get stiff peaks, I added the whites from four eggs to the mixing bowl. There was room to whisk at least a dozen egg whites, but I only needed four. I attached the whisk and slowly turned the speed control up to 8. In less than two minutes, the peaks were stiff. It sure beat the 10 minutes or more it takes to do it by hand.

I made countless other treats with the help of the stand mixer, including cookies, brownies, pizza dough, ground meats, sausage, pancakes, French toast, ice cream, and more. I never experienced any jams — even with harder pizza dough. And, at no point did it seem like the motor was straining.

The KitchenAid stand mixers are great because of the variety of attachments you can buy to make everything from pasta to tomato sauce. I like that the cover for the attachment hub has a hinge that keeps it connected to the unit so you don't accidentally lose it. Older KitchenAid stand mixers feature hub covers that you remove completely.

Cons to consider

As I washed the bowl, I noticed what appeared to be some stuck-on debris on the bowl interior. Upon closer inspection, it turned out there are slight divots where the handle attaches to the bowl. In my time testing this unit, the divots didn't cause me any problems, such as harboring unmixed ingredients or hard-to-clean debris. But, it's worth noting that the interior isn't perfectly smooth.

The Pro Line mixer is expensive. At 7 quarts, this is more stand mixer than some buyers may need. If it's out of your price range and you're unlikely to ever need to make 14 dozen cookies at once, read below for our "Which model should you get?" section for more affordable KitchenAid stand mixers and the "What are your alternatives?" section for off-brand solutions.

The bottom line

KitchenAid Stand Mixer Pro Line 4

The KitchenAid 7-Quart Pro Line Stand Mixer is outstanding. I love how the powerful motor can handle harder doughs. I also like the large capacity that allowed me to make double and triple batches of pizza dough. And, I appreciate all of the accessories that are available for the mixer.

Should you buy it?

Because of the price and size of the Pro Line mixer, I would mainly recommend if you have a larger budget, plan on using the mixer frequently, and you like to make larger batches of baked good.

Which KitchenAid stand mixer model should you get?

Previously, I compiled a guide to the best KitchenAid mixers. If you don't need something as heavy duty as the Pro Line, consider:

  • KitchenAid 5-Qt. Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer ($279)— This model is KitchenAid's best seller and is tops on several expert lists, including our own. It comes in dozens of colors, features a pouring shield, and has a respectable 325-watt motor. The main negative is that it doesn't have overload protection.
  • KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5-Qt. Tilt-Head Stand Mixer ($199)— The Classic Series mixer is the most affordable KitchenAid in our guide. It has 10 speed settings and a tilt-up mixer head. The only downside is the motor isn't as powerful as other models. Still, it's a great mixer for beginners.
  • KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series Stand Mixer ($329.99)— I used an older generation of the Professional 5 for about 18 years. It features a 450-watt motor and thorough 67-point mixing. The only negatives are its weight and it gets loud on high settings.
  • KitchenAid 6-Qt. Professional 600 Series Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($329.99)— There's a lot to like about this model. It has a powerful 575-watt motor, large 6-quart stainless steel bowl, and comes in dozens of colors. If you want a good mix of power and affordability, this is the model for you.

As with the Pro Line mixer, all of the above KitchenAid stand mixers are backed by a five-year limited total replacement warranty.

What are your alternatives?

Hamilton Beach mixer

There are alternatives to KitchenAid out there. Here are two that may be a good fit for your budget and needs:

  • Hamilton Beach Electrics All-Metal Stand Mixer($144.99)— For its price, this mixer has a strong motor (400 watts). There are 12 speed settings, and Hamilton Beach backs it with a three-year warranty. Unfortunately, it may have trouble with stiffer doughs, such as bread.
  • Sunbeam Hand & Stand Mixer($29.99)— This is a fun stand mixer that converts to a hand mixer. It comes with a three-quart stainless-steel bowl and has five speeds. However, it's fairly weak but may be a good alternative for smaller, light-duty tasks.

Overall, the KitchenAid 7-Quart Pro Line Stand Mixer is the best, most powerful stand mixer I've ever used. If you love to bake and are looking for a statement piece for your kitchen, I strongly recommend going with the Pro Line.

Pros: 1.3 horsepower motor, large 7-quart capacity, compatible with more than a dozen accessories, ergonomic knobs and handles, five-year limited total replacement warranty

Cons: Expensive, may be bigger than what most buyers need

 

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