Gear Institute was founded in 2012 on the idea that our fellow outdoor enthusiasts deserved a better tool to help them buy the best outdoor gear for them.

We take this seriously. Outdoor gear is expensive. The technologies are complicated. And the marketing spin is laid on thick. In many cases, the right gear can make for a comfortable, safe experience or a miserable, dangerous one. You should not have to parse page upon page of marketing fluff and reviews by amateur “gear reviewers” to help you find affordable gear you can rely on.


Gear Institute is an network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing you—the gear buyer—with the most credible, objective, and helpful reviews and buying advice you can find on the web. Guides, veteran product testers, and top-level outdoor athletes put each product through extensive field testing against comparable products to provide you with clear, trustworthy, consumer-friendly comparisons of high-performance outdoor gear.

To learn more about the people behind Gear Institute, visit Our Experts Page.


We conduct fair, thorough, head-to-head tests of comparable outdoor products, both under controlled conditions and in appropriate real-world field-testing scenarios. We rate our products based on objective criteria and highlight the overall top performers, as well as other products that perform best for a given application.


Above all, we strive to provide fair, objective, and credible product reviews to the buyers of outdoor gear. That means we cannot and will not be influenced in any way by advertisers, product representatives, or our own biases. To learn more about how we test gear, click here.


The Gear Institute Rating is a clear and simple way for consumers to directly compare the performance of outdoor gear products.

The rating is a numerical score that evaluates a product’s overall performance based upon selected objective criteria, allowing consumers to directly compare the performance and durability of similar outdoor gear products at a glance.

We first decide on the five or six criteria we believe almost all consumers are going to be looking for in a product in any given category. These are the smaller numerical ratings you’ll see in every Gear Institute product review.

After a thorough field test of all the products in a given category, our test director will assign each product a 1-10 rating for each of these five or six criteria. A “5” is considered average.

We then add up all the ratings and add a base score of either 40 (if there are 6 criteria) or 50 (if there are 5 criteria). That final number is the Gear Institute Rating.


Gear Institute does receive some compensation through affiliate links to retail outlets located in the “Where to Buy” area of individual reviews. We hope that this not only provides us with the revenue necessary to continue our work, but acts as a valuable shopping resource for you. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are always our own.



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