The Most Common Types of Smokers – And Which One You Should Buy
Today we’re talking about cooking with one of the coolest appliances on the market – the smoker. A smoker is a tool utilized by many amateur and professional chefs to prepare meals that are (you guessed it) smoked! Smoking is a really delicious way to prepare food, and we’re going to tell you all about it.
This article is all about the different types of smokers that you may encounter when trying to purchase one of these magnificent machines. There are many methods by which food can be smoked, and as a result there are many different smokers on the market. We’re helping you to bypass this confusion by outlining all the major types.
What is a Smoker?
First thing’s first, since this article is about the basics of smokers, let’s first outline what a smoker is.
“Smoking” food is the method of preparing food by which you brown, flavor, or cook through exposure to smoke. This smoke is the result of a smoldering/burning material (most often wood or charcoal). Common foods which are smoked are fish, meat, vegetables, and more.
A “smoker” is any appliance where the primary purpose is to smoke food. As you might imagine, there are many possible ways to create smoke to cook food. And as a result, there are many variants of smoker available on the market today. Our goal in this article is to help you understand the differences between these offerings, so that you can choose the best one that suits your home-cooking needs.
After all, the “best” smoker on the market is really just the one that works best for you. So read on to discover all about these smokers, and pick the best way to achieve that delicious, smoky taste at home.
Why Get a Smoker?
If you’ve ever tasted smoked meat, you can probably guess the appeal that a smoker holds to so many people. The common term applied to smoking meats is “low and slow”. This is in reference to cooking the food at a low heat for a long period of time. The result is an extremely tender piece of food (usually meat or fish), with a rich, smoky flavour.
Of course, this is really just the tip of the iceberg with smoked foods. There are so many different recipes, and methods of perfectly smoking and cooking your food, that it is too much to even get into them all in this article. Just know that if you buy a smoker you are entering flavour country. You’ll have a great time learning new, exciting, and delicious methods to cook food.
Definitely the most popular type of foods to smoke are red meat, chicken (or any other poultry), fish, and pork. A smoker is excellent for any of these proteins. They all have different methods of cooking, seasoning, and temperatures at which it is best to smoke them. Popular dishes include beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, smoked back ribs, and much, much more.
But we could go on for this entire article about all the delicious creations you could make with a smoker. But our focus is on the types of smoker, so let’s get back on track. Firstly, there are two major categories of smoker:
Broad Categories – Direct and Indirect
Basically every type of smoker on the market falls into one of two broader categories – direct and indirect. Understanding the distinction between these categories will help you understand not only how your smoker works, but how you can work your smoker in order to create some of the most delicious meals possible.
A direct smoker is a smoker in which the heat source comes directly from below. The food is placed above the source, and the smoke directly makes contact from beneath. In contrast, an indirect smoker is where the heat source is located somewhere else, typically off to the side. The smoke is then able to flow through the smoker. One example is the offset smoker, which we will explain in more detail below.
Basically, each of these general categories have stark differences in the way that the meat is cooked, and also in the way that the end result will taste. To better understand these differences, it is best to evaluate each type of smoker in turn.
Most Common Types of Smoker
In this section, we’re running down all of the most popular types of smokers on the market. These are generally available for purchase, although some can even be home made with things you might have lying around.
Keep in mind when you are reading this list what you are actually looking for. Each of these have distinct advantages which we will note, and it is up to you whether it is the best smoker for your personal situation. After all, the “best” smoker is really just the one that is best for you. Let’s get started with one of the most popular smokers on the market:
The propane smoker, gas smoker, or “vertical” gas smoker, is one of the most popular variants of smoker for household use. These things are very popular because they are easy to set up and easy to use. The smoke is created more or less automatically, and you have a great deal of control over the temperature and heat. These are a great addition to any patio.
Most of these smokers are built vertically, as you can see in the picture below. It is similar to a cabinet, in which the meat is placed on shelves, and the heat source is located at the bottom of the smoker. The burner and the vents are located at the bottom of the smoker, and there is a chimney at the top.
Basically, the gas hookup (either with a propane tank or a direct line) lights a fire at the very bottom of the smoker. You can typically control the intensity of this fire with a knob. This heats up a tray of wood chips, which is responsibly for the smoky flavour.
Above the wood chips there is a water tray, which heats up to evaporate and produce a smoky flavored “smoke”. It is worth noting that the smoke isn’t the pure smoke you might get out of other smokers. Much of the smoke is just the evaporated water that has been “flavored” by the wood chips. It isn’t natural “smoke”, but it does have the smoky flavour of wood chips.
Pros and Cons of a Propane Smoker:
In order to properly make your decision as to which type of smoker is best for you, we’ll be doing a pros & cons list for each type of smoker.
The pros of a gas smoker are all about the usability and functionality. It is so easy to turn on and control the temperature. As opposed to other types of smoker, you can get it started and producing smoke almost immediately. Definitely a much easier choice than many other types of smokers.
As for cons, this one is typically not the choice of smoking “purists”. As we explained above, the “smoke” in this smoker is partly just evaporated water which has been “filtered” through wood chips. Although the wood chips do let off smoke as well, it is not always the type of smoke that smoking traditionalists might swear by.
We’d definitely recommend a gas smoker to most types of at-home chefs! These smokers are renowned for their usability. Smoking is a pretty complex method of cooking. From controlling the heat, to controlling the amount of smoke, to keeping it consistent all day, it can be a pretty huge headache sometimes. This type of smoker simplifies it as much as possible, and makes smoking accessible to the average person.
As long as you are okay with the fact that this is a less “traditional” type of smoking, then you should be fine. Gas smokers still produce incredibly delicious meals! A quick Internet search will yield thousands of fun smoking recipes for you to experiment with!
Electric smokers are perhaps the simplest options on our entire list.
The main thing that turns many people off about smoking is the complexity of it all. From burning wood, to managing the amount of smoke, to keeping the temperature consistent, it can all be a bit complicated for the amateur chef. Electric smokers do away with these concerns almost entirely!
Electric smokers work using a heating element. The heating element is placed beneath wood chips, which are responsible for the “smoky” flavour of the smoke. Above the wood chips is a water pan. The water evaporates, which adds vapor to the smoke, helping to enhance the “smokiness” inside the machine. Additionally, the water pan also shelters the meat from the direct heat, which lowers the temperature overall, so that slow cooking can be achieved.
Essentially, these work in a similar manner to the propane smoker above, but the heating comes from the electrical element instead. This also saves you the trouble of having to restock propane to run your smoker.
Pros and Cons:
The pros and cons of an electric smoker essentially boil down to convenience vs. tradition.
It’s hard to deny that these are one of the most convenient smokers on the market. Simply fill the wood chip tray and the water tray, set the temperature, and you’re cooking! None of the worries that are traditionally associated with smoking, like keeping the fire stocked, and keeping the smoke and temperature consistent. Some electric smokers allow you to switch up the temperature through bluetooth!
The cons are mostly that this isn’t considered a “traditional” method of smoking meats. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. Traditional barbecue involves a fire that you stock yourself, to create your own heat and your own smoke. Chances are, this won’t matter too much to most people. But if you are looking to become a traditional pit master, then this probably won’t make the cut. Electric smokers still produce meat that is very smoky and very delicious.
Once again, it really comes down to how much of a “purist” you are looking to be. If you want to learn to BBQ the traditional way, then this might not be for you. If all you’re looking for is an easy cooking experience that will result in some delicious smoked meats, then an electric smoker is just fine for your needs!
Electric smokers can get quite expensive as well, so be sure that you are really interested in smoking meats before you put down your money on one of these units.
You probably recognize Kamado Grills, as they have been made quite popular by the Big Green Egg brand. While they might seem relatively new, they actually use technology that dates back thousands of years! The design is actually based on old clay ovens.
A Kamado Grill uses thick, ceramic walls to keep the heat in. The Kamado grill is built similarly to a traditional BBQ. The food is placed on a grate, and the heat comes from below. The Kamado burns wood chips to produce the smoke, and there is a water tray placed above the chips to add additional moisture and control the smoke levels. The smoke is also managed by vents on the top of the grill.
Kamados often have dual functionality as well, and are able to be used as a traditional home barbecue.
Kamado Grills definitely owe their vast popularity to the Big Green Egg, but there are actually many other brands available.
Pros and Cons:
Unlike the two smokers we mentioned above, Kamado Grills are closer to the “traditional smoking” experience. You have to add wood chips, and the smoke is more difficult to manage. There can be quite a learning curve if you expect to master this grill. From keeping a consistent amount of smoke, to keeping a consistent temperature, to managing it all with the vents on top of the grill. This is quite a complex grill, but the results are more than worth it.
This brings us to the pros. Simply put, these things make fantastic meals when you learn to use them properly. The thick wall keep moisture and heat inside the grill, which results in some delicious, juicy cuts of slow-cooked meat. So long as you take the time to learn how to use the grill properly, you will be rewarded for your efforts.
However, this quality comes at a price. These grills are not cheap. Specifically, the Big Green Egg brand will cost well over $1000 for some models. Be sure that this is something you are interested in learning how to use properly. Think of it as an investment.
We would definitely recommend this smoker to someone looking to learn a more traditional BBQ experience. These grills have the pit master seal of approval. They make excellent, high-quality smoked meats, and it’s all because of their functional, heavy-duty design. Be prepared for a learning curve, but also be prepared for some of the most delicious smoked meats you’ve had in your life.
Here’s a real back-to-basics approach. The drum smoker is about the simplest type of smoker on our list, but you can definitely make some very delicious cuts of meat with one of these. A drum smoker got its name because it utilizes a big steel drum. This means that a lot of home pit masters will make their own!
Basically, it is a very simple design. It utilizes a large steel drum, with a firebox in the bottom, and a cooking grill at the top. There are vents at the bottom near the firebox, and in the lid, which allow you to adjust the smoke manually. Unlike many of the other smokers on our list, this one doesn’t have a water tray. This means that the smoke comes directly from the firebox onto the meat. This makes it a bit more of an intense heat, and also makes it a bit more difficult to manage all of the smoke.
The firebox is typically filled with charcoal. So although it is quite difficult to use, it produces some pretty delicious, smoky meat if you learn to use it properly.
Pros and Cons:
The pros and cons of this smoker essentially boil down to expense vs. usability. This is one of the most basic, simple smokers on the market. Many come in DIY kits and can be assembled at home. This means that it is quite cost-efficient to build your own and start smoking meat.
The cons are mostly based around the complexity. Unlike many smokers on our list, these don’t manage the smoke for you. They are so simple, but you basically have to do everything yourself. You need to load the firebox, heat the coals, and manage the smoke. There is not even a water tray to shelter some of the intensity of the heat.
However, it also forces you to learn the ins-and-outs of smoking meats. You will become quite adept because you will need to manage everything yourself. Drum smokers are often the starting point for many experienced pit masters. They offer an extra level of control over the process, and you can make some pretty delicious creations if you do it right.
We’d recommend this smoker to anyone looking to learn the process of smoking meats from start to finish. It is an inexpensive way to get a crash course in the fine art of “low and slow”. You might not nail it right away, but with practice and patience, a drum smoker can make you quite a meat connoisseur.
Charcoal smokers are among the most popular smokers on the market. This is due to the fact that they are relatively easy to use, and there are some inexpensive options available.
Charcoal is the result of wood that is superheated so that much of the components burn off, leaving “char”, which is formed into small briquettes and sold as charcoal. Charcoal is so popular because it burns cleanly for a long period of time, and leaves a strong smoky flavour.
A charcoal smoker is typically designed vertically. The pan at the bottom houses the coal. The amount of smoke is largely controlled by vents at the base, which allow more or less oxygen onto the charcoal, effecting both the rate of the burn and the amount of smoke. Above the charcoal pan will typically sit a water pan. This adds moisture to the cooking environment, and keeps the meat nice and juicy. Additionally, the water deflects the direct heat of the charcoal, keeping it “low and slow”.
The meat is placed on a grate above the water tray. The lid of the smoker also has vents which help to control the amount of smoke, as well as the internal temperature.
Pros and Cons:
The pros and cons of a charcoal smoker have to do primarily with ease-of-use vs. function.
These smokers are typically great, inexpensive options for home smoking. They produce great, natural smoke, and charcoal adds that delicious smoky flavour to all sorts of different cuts of meat. If you are looking for a traditional kind of smoking, then it’s hard to get more traditional than this.
The cons are typically associated with the complexity of the machines. Unlike gas and electric smokers above, you have to largely control the smoke yourself with the different vents, and control the rate of the burn. This adds an extra layer of complexity to the process, but also an extra layer of control. For true BBQ “purists”, they may actually prefer this. But these mahines are definitely more difficult to learn and to master.
Once again, our recommendation really depends on what you are looking for. If you want a “set it and forget it” type of smoker, then this definitely isn’t for you. This is the kind of smoker that you have to monitor, and keep constantly adjusting the smoke and internal temperature. Definitely more of an “experience” than a simple preparation.
But if you are willing to put in the time to learn the ins-and-outs of a charcoal smoker, then you will be rewarded with delicious, smoky cuts of meats that rival even top-quality smokers. This is the choice of a pit master in the making.
Pellet smokers are given their name for the unique type of cooking fuel that they use – pellets. Pellets are made of sawdust, and compressed into a pellet shape. These smokers also function in a truly unique way, and combine the benefits of an electric smoker with the smoky taste of more traditional smokers.
Basically, the pellets sit in a box which is located to the side of the grill. A “firerod” inside the firebox cause the pellets to combust, which produces smoke and heats the grill. These grills are actually quite sophisticated, and internal thermometers will maintain the smoke and regulate the heat automatically. They combine the natural smokiness of a genuine smoker with the simplicity of an electric smoker.
Pros and Cons:
The pros of this grill are quite self evident. They produce that real, smoky flavour, and are quite easy to use. In fact, they are definitely a “set it and forget it” type of grill. They do a great job of monitoring their own heat, and you don’t have to worry about struggling to maintain an internal temperature or optimal amount of smoke. Additionally, the pellets burn to a crisp, which means there’s minimal clean up.
Of course, as is often the case, these high-tech, high-convenience machines don’t come cheap! Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars, with some costing much more than that. Additionally, wood pellets are sometimes a bit hard to locate, as these smokers are far less common than wood, charcoal, and gas.
If you’re looking for the most advanced in smoker technology, then the pellet smoker might be for you. They combine the benefits of a traditional smoker with the ease and convenience of an electric one. You can achieve that rich smoky flavour with the convenience of a smoker that monitors its own temperature and smoke levels. Of course, the main hesitation will be the price tag. If you’re ready to invest into a premium smoker, then this might be exactly what you are looking for.
An offset smoker stands in stark contrast to many of the vertical smokers on our list. The first thing you will notice is that the heat source is to the side of the actual grill (thus being “offset”). This type of grill produces indirect heat and smoke.
The heat box is located to the side of the grill, and the smoke travels through the grill and is released by a chimney on the other side. This design allows the smoke to travel across all of the food. This means you could potentially have a very large grill surface, which can make these smokers very ideal for efficiently cooking pretty massive quantities of meats.
Pros vs. Cons
The pros and cons of these smokers are largely dependent on the quality of smoker that you purchase. Due to their design, they need to be built very well or else they will face quite a few common problems. The first problem is that, because the fire box is located on one side of the grill, that side tends to be a lot hotter. There can be problems with uneven heating and with smoke distribution. Quality offset smokers can eliminate this problem by being air-tight, to eliminate any lost smoke and evenly heat the entire grill area. Of course, these do tend to cost a lot more.
An offset smoker is quite a bit easier to use. The simple design makes it easier to monitor and adjust the firebox, thereby adjusting the smoke and the heat. They also produce real smoke, which can result in some very tasty creations. These are a favourite among pit bosses who are looking to make a lot of high quality meat at once.
These are certainly quality smokers if they are done correctly. However, in order to ensure quality, you’ll probably need to buy one of the higher end models. Without splurging on these grills, you might end up with a smoker that faces a lot of issues with heat distribution. But if you are willing to invest into one of these, you can expect a grill that is relatively simple to learn, and one that is great for feeding large gatherings of people.
Choosing A Smoker
Before we wrap up our guide, we thought we’d give you a quick buyer’s guide so that you can make the perfect choice out of all the smokers on our list. After all, the best smoker is really just the best smoker for you.
As you can probably see by now, there is a lot to choose from when it comes to smokers. We recommend you make your decision based on how invested you would actually like to get into the smoker experience.
Many of the smokers on our list are quite a bit more difficult to use than others. The main differentiating factor is how well they actually monitor their own smoke and heat levels. Some are very hands-on, and require you to monitor the smoke and heat on your own. These include drum smokers, offset smokers, and even Kamado Grills.
On the other side of things, some smokers are very user-friendly, and do a good job at keeping their own temperature, and keeping a good amount of smoke for an even cook. These smokers include gas smokers, electric smokers, and pellet grills.
You should consider which type of smoking experience is best for you, and then browse through the options on our list to find a price point that works for you. We are sure that there is a smoker on our list that will suit your needs perfectly, but you first need to decide what these needs are!
Regardless, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most tender, most flavorful meats you’ve ever had!
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The 10 Best Portable Speakers in 2021
For those on the go, regular speakers simply aren’t going to make the grade. They often don’t have the durability required for travel and the speakers may not be powerful enough to cope with an open environment.
If you love music and the outdoors, then you need a speaker that is able to cope with your lifestyle. That means an ability to protect itself from water, dust, and drops. It also needs sound that can cut through the open air.
Thankfully, you don’t need to look very far to find speakers to match those criteria. We’ve done the hard work to find 10 speakers that we think are perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Read on to find the perfect portable speaker for you. Let’s go!
1. Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore
For the perfect combination of durability and sound quality, we picked this Bang & Olufsen speaker as the best overall choice. It has an excellent array of qualities and will never let you down.
The design of the speaker makes it look very tough and that’s exactly what you get. Its body is made from anodized aluminum and it can take a lot of punishment. This includes the speaker being both dust and waterproof.
While we adore the durability of this speaker, the feature we are most impressed by is the runtime. It can play for an incredible 27 hours before it needs to be charged. That’s usually enough time for most outdoor adventures.
There are many other aspects to love about this speaker such as the 360-degree sound, its solid Bluetooth connection, and the stylish earthy colors. While this speaker is great for any outdoor adventure, it’s brilliant in dusty or sandy environments where most other speakers suffer. It’s the perfect outdoor speaker, which is why it took our top pick.
2. Vifa Oslo Bluetooth Speaker
While the Bang & Olufsen speaker is perfect for those in more extreme environments, the Vifa Oslo is ideal for those who will be traveling in a bit more comfort. It’s a stunningly stylish speaker that comes in a choice of five vibrant colors.
It has two connection options of either Bluetooth or Aux, which are both very easy to use. The speaker itself is quite bulky, which is ideal for those looking for a larger speaker but not for those who need something compact.
The most impressive aspect of this Bluetooth speaker is the sound quality. The balanced woofers give you a premium level of sound at all ranges. It works well in any setting to give you exceptional performance.
There is also no doubting the level of durability and craftsmanship you get here. It’s extremely well made and has a soft feel. It looks great, sounds great, and is fantastic for premium sound quality on the go.
3. Anker Soundcore Flare Wireless Speaker
With the Anker brand, one thing you can always expect is excellent value for money. This speaker is able to produce premium sound while coming in at a lower price point, making it our best value product.
It has all the durability that you need for an outdoor speaker. It comes with an IP67 rating which not only means it can be briefly submerged in water but that it also has great dust protection.
For a small speaker, it also packs a punch. The bass especially stands out but the overall clarity is very impressive and it can deliver 360-degree sound. It’s able to run for 12 hours and is easy to charge back up.
A customizable light show is also available, which can be dialed back if you need to save power. That customization also extends to the EQ, which can be controlled via an app. It looks very good in either black or blue and is exceptional for a budget speaker.
4. Sonos Roam
A brilliant option for your outdoor adventure is to get a speaker that also has smart functionality for voice control. That’s exactly what you get with this Sonos Roam speaker which is packed full of exciting features.
It can be connected to a wide range of devices through either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which are both very easy to use. You can also control the speaker from their App, which adds to the usability.
As with most Sonos speakers, it looks stylish and will complement any room or outdoor space. It lasts for 10 hours, which is a little less than some rivals but is still a decent runtime.
You’ll find the music to have plenty of clarity with precision sound, even in an outdoor setting. Part of the reason for that is due to its ability to automatically adjust to its surroundings. We loved it and with the IP67 rating, it can easily cope with anything the outdoors throws at it.
5. Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3
If a company decided to call their speaker the MEGABOOM then it has a lot to live up to. You’d expect the volume to be great, even in outdoor settings. Thankfully, this outdoor speaker delivers on those promises.
The long cylindrical shape is very easy to carry and is able to deliver 360-degree sounds. This makes it ideal for the likes of a campsite where you can put it in the middle of your group and all enjoy the music.
You don’t have to worry about breaking it either. With its IP67 rating, the speaker can take a lot of punishment. That rating means it can be submerged in water and is highly resistant to dust ingress.
There are other features we love here such as the fabric covering, wireless charging, and drop resistance. It’s the ideal solution if you want a tough speaker that can deliver booming sound.
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6. JBL Charge 5
JBL is another brand name that you can trust. For these outdoor speakers to make this list, they needed to be very tough without compromising on sound quality. The JBL Charge 5 is a great example of that.
It’s able to produce a sound that is rich and clear. This is true even in challenging outdoor environments. If another member of your group has a JBL speaker with “Party Boost,” then you can connect it up for stereo sound.
It has 20 hours of run time, which is one of the highest available. If you use it for a few hours a day, then it has the potential to last for quite a long trip.
It’s another that has an IP67 rating but a standout feature is the built-in power bank that can charge your devices. It can be a lifesaver if your phone dies when you’re outdoors.
7. Sony Extra Bass Speaker
Sony is another company that has made an exceptional outdoor speaker. This stylish model comes in either blue, black, or taupe and will look great wherever you put it.
You’ll also be delighted with the sound quality. It’s both deep and punchy which can help to cut through any noisy outdoor environment. It also has a bass boost feature which can really boom.
The runtime is exceptional at 24 hours so you’ll be able to get plenty of enjoyment from it between recharges. It also has a lightshow feature that will sync up to the music that is playing.
The IP67 rating means it’s great for outdoor life but the fabric covering still adds style and a premium feel. The speaker is beautifully balanced and you’ll be impressed by the vocal clarity.
8. Urbanista Brisbane Wireless Speaker
When it comes to an outdoor speaker, style isn’t really that important. That being said, most people still want their devices to look great. It’s an area where this Urbanista speaker shines with its sleek rectangular design.
Looks aside, this speaker also performs brilliantly in both outdoor and indoor settings. It’s able to produce plenty of driver power which gives it a loud and deep bass. The vocal clarity is also excellent.
It’s highly compatible with many devices and you can also connect it with other speakers for surround stereophonic sound. It has a 10 hours runtime but only takes around three hours for a full recharge.
It isn’t quite as tough as other speakers we’ve looked at here as it has an IPX5 rating, making it splash resistant. That will still be more than enough protection for most uses.
9. Bose Portable Smart Speaker
If you want to have the ultimate in simple portability then you can easily get that here with this Bose portable speaker. It has a wide handle that makes it very easy to carry, along with it being lightweight.
It’s available in either black or white and both of them look great with the cylindrical design. There are many connection options here with Aux cable, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth all available.
It has an IPX4 rating which gives it decent splash resistance and a 12 hour runtime. You may also love the smart functionality, making it simple and easy to be controlled via voice.
10. Tribit StormBox Micro Bluetooth Speaker
For those wanting something a little more compact, this could be what you’re looking for. It’s only small but it can still pack a mighty punch in terms of volume and sound quality. The IP67 rating means it can cope with all tough environments and can easily manage rain, dust, and drops.
It will easily fit in any backpack and with the weight of just 0.64 lbs, you’ll hardly feel it. The eight hours of runtime isn’t the longest but you’d expect it to be a little lower with the smaller size.
The versatile speaker can be taken anywhere and your friends will be shocked at how much power can be delivered from this little thing. The bass can thump and it can cope with windy outdoor settings.
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Outdoor Speaker FAQs
Indoor speakers don’t usually need to worry about water, dust, and being dropped. An outdoor speaker is made to be much tougher and can cope with all these issues. An outdoor speaker also needs to be loud enough to cope with large open spaces.
Outdoor speakers need to have a high level of water and dust resistance, have enough power, and a long runtime between charges. After these key features, you can look at the connectivity, usability, and size. It’s important that you can easily carry it with you, so portability is also important.
We’ve looked at many great brands here such as JBL, Sony, and Bose. You can trust them all to give you a quality product. We’ve also looked at some lesser-known brands which often provide better value for money. It’s always a good idea to look beyond the brand and just get a speaker that perfectly matches your needs.
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The 10 Best Fashion Combat Boots for Men
The first pair of combat boots I purchased were a pair of black canvas Dr. Martens. Not to age myself but it was the 90s and I was in high school and they were essential in boosting my fashion confidence. I lived in Kentucky at the time and I stuck out like a sore thumb and I did not care.
Those boots made me feel invincible. And the best part? I still have them and I still wear them. Read the list below to find your next (or first!) pair of combat boots that you will be sure to have for years, nay, decades to come!
1. Dr. Martens 1460 Smooth Leather Lace Up Boots
This is the original Dr. Marten boot. Named the 1460 because they were born on January 4, 1960 (01.04.60) this 8-eye work boot is iconic and a must-have for every closet. Each pair stays true to the original design with a Trans colored sole and the classic black and yellow AirWair heel loop.
The Goodyear-welted lines are heat-sealed at 700 degrees celsius and reinforced with the brand’s signature yellow welt stitch. New colors are introduced every season but smooth black never goes out of style. The leather can be polished to shine or scuffed-up depending on your preference and style.
2. Thom Browne Tricolor-Stripe Brogue Combat Boot
Two words: Thom Browne.
Three more words: Add to cart.
These Thom Browne black books are a mix of a traditional brogue shoe and a combat boot. These sexy-ass boots are crafted in Italy from pebbled leather and have perforated wingtip accents, chunky rubber soles, a tricolor pull tab, tricolor toebox stripes, and a cutout heel groove that twists around the edge. I cannot stress enough the cool factor associated with these. Trust me. They are in my cart.
3. Clarks Batcombe Hi2 Boot
Lined with sheepskin, these dark olive suede lace-up ankle boots were crafted with your comfort in mind. Made with Clarks Cushion Plus™ technology, the unique dual-density foam technology reduces strain on the ball of the foot and supports your natural movement, keeping your feet comfortable all day long. The durable yet lightweight cleated rubber sole ups the ante with an unbeatable grip making for a versatile boot that works for all aspects of life.
4. Thursday Boot Co. Captain Rugged
If you know, you know… and if you own a pair of boots from the Thursday Boot Co. you know that they’re a company that makes handcrafted and hand-stitched boots designed to complement your look from business casual to everyday wear.
These boots are made from genuine leather with a fully lined supple leather interior, studded rubber outsoles, and cork-bed midsoles that form to your feet for added comfort in order to give a clean, rugged, yet sophisticated look.
5. Moncler Black Vancouver Boot
These buffed black leather ankle boots are built for cold weather and then some. They feature a round toe, tonal lace-up closure, tonal hardware, and black leather lining. These boots also have a Vibram® black rubber outsole, a padded nylon tongue with a logo patch, a pull loop, and a tricolor rubber midsole. Moncler sells luxury and this boot is no exception.
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6. Timberland 6 Inch Premium Boots
Timberland boots. Need I say more? Oh… I do? This is awkward… Ok, then, for the few of you who do not recognize the original Timberland waterproof “yellow” boots from a mile away, let me give you some more information.
This classic boot was born in 1973 and features PrimaLoft® ECO insulation and waterproof leather sourced from a sustainable tannery. With premium leather uppers, rustproof hardware, seam-sealed waterproof construction, and exclusive anti-fatigue technology that provides all-day comfort and support, these boots have proven they will be in style for years to come. And did I mention that they’re waterproof?
7. Diesel Lace-Up Combat Boots
These Diesel black, goat skin blend lace-up combat boots feature contrasting panels, a logo patch at the tongue, logo to the back, a pull tab at the rear, a round toe, a chunky low heel, and a ridged rubber sole. At the time of publishing, if you use this link, they are also 40% off!
8. Wolverine 1000 Mile Axel Boot
Handcrafted in America since 1914, the 1000 Mile boot still maintains the same attention to detail with the finest materials and craftsmanship as it did over a century ago. The uppers are made from premium leather from Chicago and flat waxed laces from South Carolina. The sole is made from Goodyear™ welt construction that’s durable, flexible, and allows the boot to be resoled for years of wear.
9. Alexander McQueen Military Boot
Hands down, no contest, Alexander McQueen is my most favorite and can do no wrong. But that’s just my humble opinion. You can decide for yourself. Inspired by the military (as most combat boots are) these boots are crafted from genuine calf leather and they secure to your foot with an eight-hole lacing system. The edgy aesthetic is completed with a chunky lugged sole and printed branding pull tabs.
10. Red Wing Shoes Heritage Iron Ranger
No list of boots is complete without a pair of Red Wing Heritage boots. The Iron Ranger was originally built for iron miners in the 1930s. The six inch boot’s signature is a distinctive leather toe cap. These boots are built with a Goodyear welt, Puritan triple-stitch construction, and brass speed hooks that provide precision lacing and a visual hit of hardware.
The Iron Ranger is anchored with a Vibram® 430 Mini-lug outsole. As you wear the footwear, the full-grain leather upper, insole, and cork midsole will mold to your feet, creating an increasingly personalized fit over time.
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Combat Boots FAQs
Historically, combat boots were a tactical boot style designed for the military to wear during literal combat. In the 70s they became a symbol of the anti-establishment, most popular amongst British punk rockers.
Combat boots really gained traction in the 90s with the emergence of the grunge scene. Today, combat boots don’t have the same anti-establishment appeal as they did in decades past but they still ooze cool. There are a variety of modern styles, including traditional lace-ups in black and brown, as well as more bold colors like green and blue.
Combat boots became mainstream in the 90s when grunge was both a music genre and a fashion trend. Band members and fans of groups like Nirvana, Garbage, Hole, and Alice In Chains started rocking the utilitarian tactical boot style and by the turn of the century, combat-style boots became a part of mainstream fashion.
Combat boots look great styled with skinny jeans, flares, straight leg, cuffed jeans – basically, they look good with pants. If your pants are too long, tuck them in or roll them up. Or pair your boots with shorts. A longer short looks better but with confidence, you can pull off almost any look.
The 12 Best Beaches To Visit in the U.S.
There’s really no such thing as a bad beach, right? Sand, sun, and glistening, refreshing water to play or cool off in – what’s not to love? Thinking about what makes a beach exceptional, though, is a whole different story. It’s a very subjective thing, as the best beach might mean calm water and powdery white sand to some, while to others it may mean excellent surf and plenty of opportunities for adventure.
Whatever your personal definition of the best beach is, America has lots (and lots) of them to choose from. With two very different coasts and three major bodies of water, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a beach for everyone here.
Do you prefer iconic, broad, sandy, palm tree-dotted beaches, hidden ones requiring a hike to access, or maybe even beaches where wild horses live? Whatever your beach style, you’ll find the perfect one for you on this list of the best beaches in the U.S.
1. Secret Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
For most people, Hawaii immediately comes to mind when they think of the best beaches in the U.S. Kauai’s Secret Beach, which is officially named Kauapea Beach and often referred to as simply “Secrets,” is the epitome of a pristine Hawaiian beach. It’s exceptionally large in terms of both length and width and features golden sand, shimmering turquoise water, and lush green rainforests.
To get to Secret Beach, you’ll need to find the unmarked, steep trail between Kilauea Point and Kalihiwai Bay. You can actually see the beach from the Kilauea lighthouse, so if you get stuck searching, try visiting there first. Secrets is large enough that it’s always easy to find a secluded spot for yourself to layout and relax.
Note that the far eastern end of the beach has a reputation for being a go-to spot for nude sunbathers. There’s also a waterfall toward the east end of the beach and at the west end, there are a few lagoons that form natural calm swimming holes. The strong ocean current here makes it difficult to swim at Secret Beach most of the time, so stick to these lagoons for swimming and enjoy simply relaxing on one of the best beaches in the U.S.
2. Miramar Beach, Santa Barbara, California
Technically five miles from Santa Barbara proper in Montecito, Miramar Beach is somewhat of a hidden gem. This beach is very quiet and calm, with gentle, clear waters and sugar-fine soft sand, making it ideal for everything from surfing and swimming to sunbathing and walking the shoreline.
Miramar Beach’s calm waters are attributed to the fact that it’s situated in a south-facing cove. It’s pretty well-sheltered, which also allows for leisurely exploring the crystal-clear water. At low tide, several tide pools are also revealed. Thanks to its location just outside Santa Barbara, Miramar Beach is rarely crowded, yet it’s less than an hour from Los Angeles. Talk about the best of both worlds!
3. Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Fun fact: Maine has more coastline than the entire state of California. It’s true! So it comes as no surprise that some of the best beaches in the U.S. are in Maine. Located about eight miles from Portland in southwestern Maine, Crescent Beach is a classic, postcard-perfect New England beach.
The beach itself, as you may have guessed, is a one-mile crescent-shaped swath of soft sand. It’s surrounded by saltwater coves, sand dunes, woods, and granite rock ledges. Swimming and sunbathing are popular activities at Crescent Beach, of course, but there are also plenty of opportunities for fishing and paddling, plus several hiking trails.
4. Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Alabama
Orange Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Gulf Shores, and for good reason. The superfine, sugar-white sand is so soft that it’s said to squeak under your feet and the calm waters are an almost unbelievable turquoise blue.
Adjacent to Perdido Key in the Florida panhandle (which is another spectacular beach), Orange Beach spans eight miles. It’s also fairly wide, so even on the most crowded days, it’s not difficult to find a patch of sand to make your own and stretch out comfortably. There’s a waterfront park, plenty of opportunities to fish either from the pier or aboard a boat with a guided outfitter, and even a shipwreck, The Lulu, to explore on a scuba diving expedition.
5. Moonstone Beach, Cambria, California
Part of Hearts San Simeon State Park and situated just off the world-famous Highway 1 (aka the Pacific Coast Highway) in central California, Moonstone Beach is one of the best beaches in the U.S. The coastline here is punctuated by rocky cliffs and several coves with plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the beach. Spend some time combing the beach for several varieties of beautiful sea glass and impossibly smooth stones, including jade, jasper, agate, and of course, chalcedony – also known as moonstone.
Up above the beach, a boardwalk spans exactly one mile between the Santa Rosa Creek and Leffingwell Landing day-use areas, both with plenty of parking. A lookout near the boardwalk is perfect for spotting gray whales, dolphins, sea lions, and otters.
6. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida
Since 2015, TripAdvisor has named Siesta Beach America’s #1 beach a whopping three times on its annual Traveler’s Choice Awards. The soft, fluffy white sand is cloud-like, with hardly a shell or other debris in sight. And thanks to its composition of nearly all quartz-crystal, the sand doesn’t get hot on even the sunniest days – an impressive feat on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida summers.
The largest of Siesta Key’s beaches, Siesta Beach has shaded playgrounds, volleyball courts, picnic areas, and plenty of free parking. Dolphins are frequently seen playing in the turquoise waters just off the shore, and the sea here is calm, shallow, and clear, making it one of the best U.S. beaches for families.
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7. Jack’s Bay Beach, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Often overlooked, the U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of three main islands nestled into the Caribbean. Each of the islands – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix – is stunning and, interestingly, very different from one another.
One of the best beaches in the U.S., Jack’s Bay Beach, happens to be on St. Croix and it’s well off the beaten path, which means you’ll likely have it all to yourself. Located near the far eastern end of the island, Jack’s Bay Beach is directly below Point Udall.
Fun fact: Point Udall is the easternmost point in the United States and sees America’s very first sunrise every morning. You’ll need to hike downhill from Point Udall to get to Jack’s Bay Beach and while it’s not a long hike, it is steep. The reward is well worth it, though, as there’s rarely more than just a few people at the beach.
8. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Outer Banks, North Carolina
North Carolina has dozens of fantastic beaches to choose from, but one of the best is Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Technically a narrow, 72 mile long strip of several barrier islands between Nags Head and Ocracoke Island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a little something for everyone.
Enjoy broad sandy beaches dotted with seashells and framed by towering sand dunes, lots of water and beach activities, and a couple of lighthouses. In fact, the tallest lighthouse in the United States is here, 196 foot tall Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Standing just 40 feet shorter, the Bodie Island Lighthouse is also nearby. Both date back to the 1870s and visitors can (and should!) climb both. Allow a full day for visiting the beach and lighthouse, and keep your eyes open for sea turtles sunbathing on the beach.
9. Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California
No list of the best beaches in the U.S. is complete without a mention of Big Sur. Arguably one of the most iconic stretches of coastline anywhere in the world, the Big Sur area is defined by dramatic rugged sea cliffs, crashing waves, and pristine beaches. Because of the rugged cliffs, Big Sur beaches aren’t necessarily the most accessible and visiting many of them requires a bit of effort.
That’s actually not the case with Pfeiffer Beach – it doesn’t require a hike or even an admission fee, but it is somewhat hard to find, thanks to the unmarked road connecting it to Highway 1. Once you do manage to find it, you’ll be treated to large unique rock formations (including Keyhole Arch, a natural rock arch) just offshore, tide pools at the north end of the beach during low tide, unbelievable sunsets, and sand that’s unmistakably purple, thanks to manganese garnet in the cliffs above.
10. Assateague Beach, Assateague Island, Maryland & Virginia
In the heart of the east coast, Assateague Island is truly unlike any other. The barrier island sits in both Maryland and Virginia and features a rugged landscape dotted with wind-swept sand dunes, grasslands, and warm, shallow bays. Oh, and it’s also home to hundreds of wild, free-roaming horses. Legend holds that they’re descendants of a handful of domesticated horses that survived a shipwreck sometime in the 17th century.
The horses are, of course, one of the main reasons that Assateague Beach is one of the best beaches in the U.S. However, it’s far from the only reason. Each side of the island is unique, with 12 miles of quiet sandy beaches on the Maryland side and the interior bayside being more recreation-oriented.
Here, there are numerous opportunities for kayaking, clamming, and crabbing, plus the waters are warmer and calmer – perfect for swimming. If you want to go for a horseback ride, head to the Virginia district.
11. Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
Situated on one of Georgia’s four Golden Isles, Driftwood Beach is widely considered one of the best and romantic beaches in the country. Due to years and years of erosion on the northern end of the island, hundreds of weathered, warped, and bleached trees dot the beach.
It may sound a little odd if you’ve never seen it in person, but it’s strikingly beautiful and truly memorable. In fact, Driftwood Beach is one of Georgia’s most photographed landmarks!
Aside from being picturesque, Driftwood Beach has tons to do. Georgia’s coastline is notorious for its excellent fishing, there’s a great network of bicycle trails, and you can even camp on the beach here. Another must-do activity at Driftwood Beach is visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, an interactive experience for every member of the family!
12. Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana, Hawaii
Wai’anapanapa State Park, along the famous Road to Hana, is the epitome of a Hawaiian beach. Its black sand was created by basalt lava flow several centuries ago, and it’s framed by lush green rainforest and indigo blue ocean.
The dramatic scenery is postcard-perfect and absolutely pristine. Being a stop along the Road to Hana, Wai’anapanapa State Park takes a bit of effort to reach. Those willing to put in the work are rewarded with a big payoff, as the beach is rarely crowded – something increasingly hard to find anywhere in Hawaii.
In addition to the beach itself, Wai’anapanapa State Park features large black boulders, sea caves, a natural sea arch, a blowhole, several small swimming holes, and a blowhole. Visitors can cliff dive, explore the sea caves, or hike to explore the boulders and inlets.
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