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It is often difficult to know what to look for when shopping for outdoors gear. Is there some magazine, website, or other resource that does Consumer Reports style objective evaluation of outdoors gear (boots, trousers, jackets, tents, sleeping bags, ...)?

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closed as not constructive by studiohack, Russell Steen, PearsonArtPhoto Mar 1 '12 at 0:35

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I often use Outdoors Magic when trying to work out what to buy! Another magazine in the UK I subscribe to is Trail, there parent website, "Live for the Outdoors" can be found here. There is also Gear Junkie, but have not used their site.

Its often probably a good idea as you allude to to check a few different review sites for an objective view, but I have found the first two certainly informative!

I guess the other place is to look at the major resellers of the gear. They often have customer reviews (although of course people only tend to write reviews if something is wrong!), but sometimes these can be helpful.

Some other sites:

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If you are into ultralight/lightweight backpacking, nothing tops BackpackingLight. They do a lot of scientific testing, and the articles are very thorough. It is a pay site, but it's something like $20 USD per year. You can see a list of some of their best articles here. They regularly come up with objective test measures for backpacking gear, and then carry out those tests on a wide array of items. i.e. for testing inflatable air mattresses, they figured out a way to measure how slippery the bottoms of each mat was, along with independently measuring weight, R-Value, etc. Finally the (free) forums on that site are also a great place to find more specific info about particular gear.

As backup for that, I like what BackpackGearTest does.

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I love this answer. I was ready to type up my own answer on what I do, but this is awesome! Scientific testing would be a great thing. – Russell Steen Feb 7 '12 at 19:52

I tend to look on the livefortheoutdoors site - it has a fair few reviews, not loads, but those it does have are pretty comprehensive and (in my eyes) well written and balanced.

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