When it comes to buying an easel, like anything else, I need to know what it's purpose is going to be. You see there are several different kinds of easels. If I am a plein air painter I will need a different kinds of easel than if I was a studio painter. Generally artists that paint outside need something that is easy to carry, light and portable and easy to put up and dismantle. So for that I might be looking at a box easel. The box easel is ideal for outdoor painting because you have somewhere to store your paints and brushes etc. as well.
The other kind of easel often used out doors is a lightweight version of the simple A Frame Easel. It has the ability to also fold down into a smaller size, for ease of carrying. You can see examples of this type of easel in the picture below.
Other kinds of easels include:
Convertible Easel - This type of easel can be used for both watercolours, acrylics and oil painting.
Single Mast Easel - These are often used in art schools as they are easy to store.
Tabletop Easel - Best if you need to sit down and work and have small sized art work.
French Easel ( Often called a box easel)
In my studio I have a few different easel types, but my favourite is my Mabef H Frame, studio easel. It winds up and down (a god send) and is very sturdy.
As you can see I have a more than adequate supply of rags, lurking under the easel. I don't think I will run out any time soon! This easel also has a drawer on either end which is very handy.
Down below is a giant easel - not that you can really see the easel, but the picture gives you an idea of the kind of size they are.