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How We Tested Pedometers

By Mary Witlacil ⋅ Review Editor
Wednesday June 13, 2018

Mainly, we lived our everyday lives while using this collection of products. The test team included mountain guides, corporate professionals, professional climbers, dedicated hikers, trail runners, and "regular" people. We tested in San Diego, the High Sierra, Nevada, Utah, New York City, Louisville, Denver, and the high Rockies. Our Brooklyn-based tester logged the most miles, by far. Everyday life in NYC is walking intensive! While using these devices in everyday routine, we compared ease of use, wearing/carrying comfort and convenience, motivational effect, and rough accuracy assessments. We also conducted extensive surveying on the aesthetic value of each device. "Can a user really carry this in all situations?"

Testing distance and step count on a foggy New York trail run.
Testing distance and step count on a foggy New York trail run.

In terms of objective testing, we took to the track to assess absolute accuracy. Most of the devices in our test will communicate both step count and distance. But some only count steps. To test and score accuracy, we walked a known distance around a track and counted our own steps. We noted what each device recorded in the tests, and calculated the error percentage. We noted error percentage in the distance estimate and step count over multiple test laps. The final error percentage score is a function of the average error margin over the various test iterations.