How We Test

We don't just love outdoor gear – we live for it

Trail running brecon beacons mountains

When you read a review on Live for the Outdoors, you can be sure that you're getting honest opinions from expert gear testers. Quite simply, if we say something's great, then you can be assured it is. That's because our awards are earned, not bought.

In the interests of total transparency, this page tells you all about our product testing. Here you can find out how we go about getting hold of products to test, how they're tested, how our scoring systems work, and what our product awards really mean.

How do we get products to review?

The products usually find their way into our hands (or on our feet, or in our packs) in one of three ways.

1. A brand or a PR company working on behalf of a brand sends us a product they think will be of interest. If indeed it is (and this isn't always the case) it may appear on Live for the Outdoors as a standalone review.

2. One of our expert testers comes across a product – perhaps via a press release, or at a trade show – and calls it in specifically for review. Again, this may appear on Live for the Outdoors as a standalone review.

3. Our expert tester is performing a group review (such as six of the best one-person tents, or eight of the best running packs) and will invite brands or their respective PR to submit suitable products for review. Only the top products will be included in the final review on Live for the Outdoors.

No matter how a product finds its way to our experts, you can be sure that the final review is honest and unbiased.

How do we test?

Products will be tested by using them for the specific purpose they're intended. Walking boots and trail running shoes will be used to put in some serious miles over difficult terrain; waterproof jackets will be exposed to as much rain and drizzle as we can bear; tents will be taken to remote locations, pitched, and slept in; rucksacks will be packed and carried and flung around; running clothing will be worn over long runs in different conditions and temperatures. In other words, we'll use the gear exactly as you would, so you can be sure our opinions are relevant to you.

Who tests the products?

Live for the Outdoors has a permanent squad of reviewers, plus a team of trusted freelance testers. All our reviewers are outdoor enthusiasts and experts in putting gear through its paces. Their opinions are informed, reliable, and relevant. If you would like to know more about the team at Live for the Outdoors and their specialist areas of interest, head over to our 'Meet the Team' page.

Our scores explained

We use various scoring methods, depending how the test was performed.

Head to head tests

The products will be rated on 5 separate elements, with the specifics depending on what it is being reviewed. These may include 'Value for money', 'Comfort', 'Performance' and other relevant factors. Each element is given a score out of 5, and the product is then given an overall percentage rating based on these scores.

What the scores mean:

★ Falls well below what is expected from it
★★ Performs marginally worse than most similar alternatives
★★★ Meets expectations, doing what it should but little more
★★★★ Better than expected and offers more than most
★★★★★ As good as it gets from this kind of product

Our awards

best in test award

Best in Test – the top-scoring product in its category

best value award

Best Value – the best overall package of price and performance

tread lightly award

Tread Lightly – celebrating sustainable and ethical gear releases

Why you can trust us

We've said it before and we'll say it again – our gear testers are experts. In fact, we'd go so far as to say they're geeks. And while knowing almost all there is to know about outsole materials, hydrostatic head ratings, down-fill statistics, and the intricacies of rucksack design might not make them much fun at parties, it does make them great at reviewing gear.

More importantly, though, they're like you. They love the outdoors – whether hiking, running, or camping. They appreciate that having gear that works can make the difference between enjoying your time outside and simply tolerating it. Like you, they're huge fans of gear that works and have no time for kit that doesn't fulfil its promises.

Though our experts have years of experience behind them, and many miles under their feet, they are still human. Occasionally mistakes can occur. If you notice any inaccuracies in our reviews, please feel free to get in touch so we we can amend where appropriate.

Many of the tests will also have been in Trail Magazine and the now digitalised Trail Running Magazine. For access to all the in-mag reviews along with route guides, adventure inspiration, a load more digital content plus membership benefits, become a Trail member.