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4 summer must-haves, according to Consumer Reports

For all your beach and barbecue needs!
/ Source: TODAY

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer — and with camping trips, beach days and summer parties on the horizon, you may need to add a few new things to your daily checklist.

Whether it's using sunscreen and insect repellent to protect your skin or taking camping to a new level with portable grills and speakers, these Consumer Reports picks (tested and evaluated for their performance and convenience) are sure to light up your summer.

Consumer Reports' Elliot Weiler stopped by TODAY to walk us through some of the top picks for the summer.


Sunscreen can be a tricky buy — sometimes it's hard to know what will work best for you or what SPF you need. To help, Consumer Reports evaluated some of the most popular sunscreens on the market and ranked them based on three criteria: SPF, whether it lived up to the label on the bottle, and the scent and feel of the product.

Though many didn't live up to their listed SPF labels, there were a few favorites!

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk, SPF 60, $36, Amazon

This sunscreen got a perfect score on the Consumer Reports scale. Though it may be a little pricey, this is its fourth year as one of the top performers, and it provides excellent protection. With a quick-absorbing, velvety finish and a fragrance-free formula, it's great for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It's also water resistant for up to 80 minutes, meaning less time spent reapplying.

Trader Joe's Spray, SPF 50, Available in Stores

Consumer Reports Sunscreen
Consumer Reports

This spray option has also been one of Consumer Reports' top performers for four years straight. It's lightweight and lacks the stickiness that some spray-on sunblocks can have.

Up & Up Kids, SPF 55, $8, Target

Your face always needs a little extra TLC when it comes to applying sunblock, and these kid-friendly sticks from Target are a great solution. Easy to apply and containing a high SPF, the sunblock is a great option for active kiddos, because it's also water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Consumer Reports did note that it can leave a slightly waxy film on the skin, but is "excellent overall" for protection.

Insect Repellent

Nothing ruins the great outdoors like irritating bug bites. Whether you're spending a weekend in the woods or just spending some time in your own backyard, insect repellent can always come in handy. Consumer Reports tested dozens of products, monitoring how long their protection lasted. As a bonus step, they also sprayed the repellents on clothes and furniture to see if the formula might damage whatever you're wearing or sitting on.

Total Home Woodland Scent Insect Repellent, $7, CVS

This was Consumer Reports top pick for insect repellent, determined to be "excellent" for repelling mosquitoes. The protection lasts for up to two hours, and repels ticks and black flies.

Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, $5, Amazon

This plant-based repellent is DEET-free, using lemon oil and eucalyptus oil to drive off mosquitoes for up to six hours. However, it doesn't drive off ticks, like the other repellents claim to.

Sawyer 20% Picaridin Premium Insect Repellent, $8, REI

This repellent is also DEET-free, instead using picardin as its active ingredient. It's also less likely to damage clothing and furniture when compared to other brands.

Portable Grills

Give classic activities like camping and tailgating an upgrade with these portable grills. Consumer Reports took various convenience factors into account while ranking, including ease of lighting and how well it folded up for transport, while also taking into account the same criteria it would use for normal-sized grills.

Cuisinart CGG-306 Professional Tabletop Gas Grill, $161, Amazon

This tiny grill packs a punch — Consumer Reports calls its ability to heat quickly one of its key strengths. With a huge, 20-pound propane tank, it can grill for much longer than most other grills, which have only a 1-pound tank. The legs on the bottom fold up easily, and the whole set comes together in under 10 minutes without the need for any extra tools. The integrated thermometer and adjustable burning knobs give you plenty of control over the heat, and even though it's small, it can still handle roasting or smoking large cuts of meat.

2-Burner Portable Propane Gas Table Top Grill, $109, Home Depot

This tabletop grill has two independently adjustable burners with push-and-turn ignition buttons that work well for quick and easy start-up. Consumer Reports was particularly impressed by its ability to spread heat evenly, though it lost some points when testing features like indirect cooking. It can fit up to nine hamburgers, making it perfect for groups, and the lockable lid and foldable legs are perfect for transport. Like the Cuisinart grill, it's easy to assemble.

Portable Speakers

Nothing gets a party going like music — and nothing ends a party like a broken speaker. These waterproof options remove that risk, and with fun, colorful picks, you don't need to sacrifice style. When ranking, Consumer Reports graded based on the sound quality and convenience of the various speakers.

Bose SoundLink Color II Speaker, $129, Walmart

This compact Bluetooth speaker has good sound quality and power for its size, and the water-resistant exterior will keep it safe all summer long. It comes in four fun colors and the soft-touch silicone exterior makes it easy to pick up and go. Each battery charge gives up to eight hours of listening. It also includes some fun tech elements, like the ability to sync it with paired devices through the Bose Connect app, voice prompts that talk you through Bluetooth pairing and a built-in speakerphone that lets you take calls.

JBL Pulse 3 Waterproof Speaker, $150, Target

This speaker did well enough in tests for sound quality, but its real benefit lies in the ease of use. It works with inline and Bluetooth inputs, and the logical controls won't confuse anyone. The rechargeable battery lasts for up to 12 hours, long enough to keep any party dancing. The cool light fixture adds a real pop to any situation — the LED lights are a great touch, and they can be synced up across speakers, creating a fun light show once it gets dark.

For more Consumer Reports picks, check out:

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