Reviews You Can Rely On

About GearLab

OutdoorGearlab testing puts a priority on field testing -- comparing p...
Photo: Michael Feldman
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Friday March 13, 2015
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Have you ever wanted to buy an outdoor product and been stumped about which product is best? Or, worse, bought a product only to learn later that you didn't buy the right one for your needs? I have, and that is why I started GearLab.

The GearLab mission is simple: to create world's best outdoor gear reviews.

We believe the world's best gear reviews are the ones that help you select the right products for your specific needs, budget, and interests.

Our secret sauce is side-by-side comparative reviews.

Here's how it works:
  1. We select the top products in each category.
  1. We buy the products we review ourselves, at retail just like you, to help assure complete objectivity and independence in our ratings. We will not accept free evaluation units from manufacturers.
  1. Our Review Editors put the products through detailed side-by-side tests, both in the lab and in the field, and carefully assess performance, ease of use, and reliability.
  1. We rank the products, explain why, and give awards to the best.
  1. After our testing and reviews are finished, we sell reviewed products on eBay at big discounts. Check it out at:

GearLab is reader-supported. When you click on links to buy products we may earn money to support our work.

Our review process starts with selection: we look at hundreds of products to determine the top contenders in each category. We then buy the top contenders for detailed hands-on testing.

To provide a fair basis for scoring, we develop a set of objective lab tests for each category that will help us quantify important differences between competing products.

Our initial round of testing in 2010-2011 included 13 four season...
Our initial round of testing in 2010-2011 included 13 four season tents, pictured above. We expanded the review in 2013 to include 10 more models for a total of 23.
Photo: Max Neale
In addition, we put products through real-world field tests where we use and abuse them to see how they hold up to the competition. Our gear lab testing environments are the great mountains of America: the High Sierra, the Cascades, the peaks of Alaska, and the Rocky Mountain. Our testers are avid climbers, skiers, bikers, surfers, hikers, trail runners, and backpackers. Each of them has an eye for detail and an obsession to find the best. Many of our testers are professional outdoor guides who bring years of hands-on experience and backcountry wisdom to our reviews.

In the end, our mission is to help you find the best product for your situation, keeping in mind that each person's needs are unique. To achieve that goal we publish the scores of each product relative to its competition, both overall and across important attributes for each category. That means you can find the one that best meets your individual needs.

You'll find that our Editors' Choice award goes to those products we believe are the very best overall, and you'll learn why we selected them by reading our detailed reviews.

Our Best Buy award goes to quality products that offer the most bang-for-the-buck.

Our Top Pick award goes to those products that stand out for specific applications, and our review will explain the details of why and what for.

Our reviews should provide the information you need to select the right gear for your budget and needs, enabling you to buy with confidence.

Our review process takes a lot more work than the typical gear reviews you find online. But we strongly believe that the best gear reviews are those that objectively compare and contrast. When we read reviews, it's not enough just to know if the reviewer liked or disliked the product. We want to know how it stacks up against all the other top products out there, and why one product may be better than another. It's the rigorous style of comparing and contrasting though objective tests pioneered by Consumer Reports magazine that we aim to bring to the outdoor community.

So check out our reviews and let me know if we are living up to our goals. If you have more questions please check out our Frequently Asked Questions or email us. I'd love to hear from you, and especially encourage feedback that can help us improve. You can help us make GearLab the world's best source of information for outdoor enthusiasts like you.

Chris McNamara
Founder and CEO


P.S. If you are a rock climber, check out our climbing site, SuperTopo. GearLab was originally formed as the gear review section on SuperTopo, which provides climbing guidebooks and web information to the rock climbing community.

P.P.S. You might enjoy our sister sites:
  • TechGearLab — our consumer electronics product GearLab review site which applies the same in-depth testing approach we use to tech products.
  • BabyGearLab — is our GearLab site focused on pregnancy and the first years. It shares our commitment to side-by-side comparison reviews, and use the same underlying technology platform.

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