This set of durable and easy-to-clean cloths successfully replaces wet paper towels and kitchen sponges in many applications. Wiping counters and cleaning appliances was effortless. They soaked up more than 10 times their weight in liquid and were able to scrub through sticky messes. Their size also worked well for washing dishes. We were able to rinse them out in the sink or toss them in the washing machine or dishwasher for a deeper clean.
Our favorite plastic water bottle received perfect marks for its simple yet innovative design and durability. This transparent bottle was tinted seafoam green, which made it look similar to glass. Its lid had a rectangular handle that was big enough to comfortably hold while walking and could be easily attached to a backpack while hiking. Despite having one of the largest capacities in the lineup, it was still relatively lightweight when empty and not overly heavy when full. It had an easy-to-use screw-on spout (also referred to as a “chug cap” by YETI), so we didn’t spill water on ourselves like we occasionally did when drinking from bottles with just a wide mouth. We could easily remove the screw-on spout when we needed to fill the bottle or clean it. This bottle was superdurable—when it hit concrete, it bounced and sustained barely any scratches or nicks. It kept water cold for 4 hours, which is typical for plastic bottles. It’s a great option for hikers or those who prefer lightweight, high-capacity bottles.
Our winning stainless-steel model was a champion in cold retention. It kept water well below room temperature for more than 8 hours. Even when a tester walked around in 80-degree weather, the water stayed cool and refreshing. Like our favorite plastic model, it had a screw-on “chug cap” that opened up for a wide mouth for filling and cleaning. The spout on the chug cap was made from glass, which felt comfortable and clean while we drank. We liked the handle on the lid, which helped us carry it or attach it to a backpack. It sustained a couple of dents when dropped on concrete but nothing fatal. However, it was still quite heavy despite having only a 26-ounce capacity and it couldn’t fit in a car cup holder. Those issues aside, it’s the perfect bottle for anyone who wants to keep their water ice-cold for a day and doesn’t mind some bulk.
We loved that these gloves come in four sizes, which made it easy for testers to find the pair that fit them best. The gloves’ suede exterior is simultaneously soft and sturdy, allowing for an impressive level of dexterity and nimbleness as we cooked. Underneath the suede are layers of air-isolated aluminum foil and flame-retardant cotton, both insulator materials that contributed to the strongest heat protection in the lineup. The cotton lining was comfortable and made the gloves easy to slip on and off. We were also impressed that these gloves were long enough to protect our forearms while pouring flaming charcoal out of chimney starters and brushing up against the scorching rims of fire pits. We only wish the suede was a bit easier to clean; it stained in our cleanup tests but less noticeably than other suede gloves we tested.
Because this pit came fully assembled, we needed only to put together the grill rig and start a fire to get cooking. The cooking grate fastened onto a metal pole that slid into a port in the rim of the pit. We could adjust the grate vertically and swing it laterally, moving food toward or away from the heat as needed to add logs to the fire or speed up cooking. The diamond-mesh cooking grate had small gaps that didn’t let food fall through, and it was sturdy enough to support a full Dutch oven of chili. The pit’s 19-inch diameter was roomy enough to construct and maintain a single-level fire, but slightly cramped for the multi-zoned fires. We were still able to cook beautiful, delicious food after some trial and error. The grilling bundle includes an ash shovel that worked well; digging out ash with it was fairly simple, but we would have preferred a lift-out ash tray. We were also impressed with how effectively this model reduced smoke. The pit’s Corten steel exterior is meant to gain a handsome dark brown patina over time, which happened for us over the course of a few months.
We’ve recommended this rolling pin for years—and it remains the best dowel-style model on the market. Dowel pins’ long, flat barrels make them a great choice for larger jobs such as rolling dough for slab pies or croissants. It’s 19 inches long, giving plenty of space to roll out doughs of all sizes. At 1.4 lbs, it was heavy enough to help us as we rolled, but not so heavy that it crushed the dough underneath. Because the wood is slightly rough, it held onto a dusting of flour and dough never stuck to it. The wood also gripped the dough more than pins made from smoother materials, helping the dough respond to our movements more efficiently so we never overworked it. It’s also sold by King Arthur Baking Company as the King Arthur Straight Rolling Pin.
Tapered rolling pins are slightly lighter, narrower, and more maneuverable than dowels, and this model is the best we tested. It tapered gently at each end and has the most usable flat surface area, 9.5 inches, of all the tapered rolling pins we tested, so it was easier to form dough into rounds. The rough wood gave the dough something to cling to, so it responded efficiently to the movements of the pin. There was no sticking because a fine dusting of flour clung to the pin nicely.
Once we got past our initial total confusion about how this innovative stand mixer works—its design is radically different from the familiar KitchenAid style—we quickly began to appreciate its powerful performance, excellent visibility, sturdy parts, and easy handling. Made in Sweden since 1940, the Ankarsrum (pronounced on-kar-SHROOM) had a thick manual that was difficult for beginners; it referred users to YouTube videos. After a short, steep learning curve, we found using this mixer quite easy. It aced our tests, whipping just two egg whites into airy, stiff peaks; creaming cake batter and cookie dough; and effortlessly kneading pizza and bagel bread doughs. It is large with a lot of parts to store, but if you have the space, it’s an ideal choice for serious home bakers who often make big batches that require heavy-duty mixing, though it performs well on smaller tasks too. One note: The top of the bowl is open, with its high-torque motor in the base of the machine. It’s very important to keep tools and fingers out of the fascinating and vigorous mixing action. You actually flip the mixer on its side to attach and operate additional tools.
This colorful collection of reusable cotton flannel towels comes on a roll that you can add to your paper towel holder. Although we had to wash them before our first use, we could easily clean them in a washing machine. They were effective at absorbing spills, dried dishes thoroughly, and left our glasses sparkling. We also loved how soft they were in our hands and while shining wood surfaces. Testers liked that they could use them as napkins as well and appreciated that their edges were sewn down to prevent fraying. A couple of small quibbles Their fleece texture caused them to pill slightly, which made them look worn, and they linted a bit. These are great for people who want to store their towels on a paper towel holder.
The Challenger Bread Pan produced gorgeous loaves of bread with moist crumbs and blistered, deeply caramelized crusts. Its base was big and broad enough to accommodate large kilogram–weight boules and batards. While its heavy weight made it a bear to lift, it also ensured great heat retention and quick baking. And it was otherwise a pleasure to work with. We loved that it came with two sets of handles—one set for transporting it into and out of the oven and another set on the lid that made it particularly easy to lift or lower. While it’s not cheap, this sturdy, well-designed oven will reward you with wonderful bread for years to come.
Originally intended for use over a campfire, this “combo cooker”—essentially a shallow cast-iron skillet and saucepan—became a cult item for many home bakers after it was championed by well-known baker Chad Robertson. It’s relatively compact and lightweight, so it’s easy to move and maneuver, and it can make beautiful, well-browned boules weighing up to a kilogram. Because it’s round, it can only make smaller batards. Its single pair of handles makes it a touch trickier to use—you must remember to offset the handle on top from the handle on the base if you want to be able to pry the two halves apart during use. For the price, though, it’s a fantastic option, especially if you have limited storage space for an extra piece of cookware.
This attractive bread oven made crusty, well-blistered bread and proved the easiest to use. Its light weight and large side handles made it a breeze to move in and out of the oven, and a metal knob on its domed top allowed us to lift and lower the top effortlessly. It requires no maintenance, since it’s made of enameled, not raw, cast iron. (Note that like other enameled cast iron, that pretty enameled exterior can discolor if any oil gets on it and polymerizes.) We didn’t love the raised circles and logo on the oven’s base. They browned the bread more deeply than in the surrounding areas, making the bottom of our loaves look like they’d been branded by an electric coil. And while it’s big enough to make 1-kilogram boules, the oven’s hemispherical, “cloche-like” shape means it can only make smaller batards, about 750 grams.
In task after task, from carrots to zucchini and papaya to potatoes, this compact peeler worked neatly, easily, and efficiently to produce piles of crisp, uniform, long matchsticks. It almost never jammed and never dragged while peeling; it cleaned up quickly under the tap. The slightly grippy, rounded handle felt comfortable and its short length kept our hands close to the produce for excellent control and leverage. Its stainless-steel blade remained sharp.
We liked that this product’s small glass vials of concentrate saved us storage space. We also loved how easy they were to pour from and recycle after using. The liquid concentrate reconstituted quickly with only a few shakes of the spray bottle, and we liked the spray’s pleasant citrus-rosemary scent. Best of all, this spray performed well in all of our tests, scrubbing away messes on a variety of surfaces and leaving behind minimal streaks. It was especially adept at breaking down grease and oil. It left a few more streaks than our conventional cleaning spray winner in one test, but otherwise performed just as well—and has the added advantage of requiring no single-use plastic.