I bought my first IF easel about a year or so ago, and the plastic “bolt” that secures the extended
leg broke recently. That easel cost $100, and it only lasted a year– very disappointing. I found
another easel at Staples (online) that looked really durable. The legs retract into a solid base
and the base stores paper and pens. Looked great– until I read that it weighs 29 lbs.!! It has a
nice carrying handle, but yikes.
My colleague, Mark, showed me his easel: a Quartet. I really liked it– lightweight but solid
aluminum. He said that his has lasted him four years– also promising! The one I ordered from
Amazon (cheapest price I could find) ended up being even better– the same lightweight
aluminum but the legs don’t drive from that crappy plastic “blot” most use. Instead, they just
twist in and out of the top chamber. Takes a little practice but very nice and one less part to
break. I had to buy the paper clip separately, but it was also well designed and easy to use (take
up and down) once you figured out the mechanism. The two together weigh maybe 2-3 lbs.
REALLY lightweight but very solid. I used it last night and it worked very well. You can even
get a handy over-the-shoulder carrying case, which I would highly recommend. I inadvertantly
stumbled onto pads without the cardboard backing at Office Depot (I ordered the cheaper ones
and was a little ticked at first until I realized they roll up very nicely into a cloth grocery bag so
that I now just have the shoulder case + a cloth grocery bag for everything else; MUCH nicer!).
Here’s the link to the easel– Amazon has the best prices, but if you need any other supplies, you
can easily find a 20$ off coupon for Office Depot, which will allow you to buy the carrying case
(which was in the ballpark of the Amazon price) + the other office supplies (to 100$ or more)
and get the twenty bucks off.
Easel (I compared many of the Quartets and this looked best; now having used it, I really like it): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006HUQ5G/ref=oss_product
Carrying Case @ Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Quartet-Display-Easel-Carrying-156355/dp/B0006HUP2K/ref=pd_sim_op_3
I spent $100 bucks, about what this adds to, on the last one and got just over a year out of it.
Note that you can also get a carrying case for the easel with cardboard backing:
Hope this helps. Instead of reinventing the research wheel, this will hopefully save others some
time. Is this the “best” easel? I’m not sure, but it definitely looks pretty good.