How We Test, Evaluate and Recommend Products

Here’s a breakdown of everything that we do when we are testing products. That way you have a better understanding of our process when we decide to recommend gear here on Know Nothing Nomads

Since 2017, Know Nothing Nomads has cemented itself as a trusted source of reviews on outdoor gear.

Everything from hiking socks, to climbing gear, and instant tents.

Every piece of gear we test may have its own definition of what makes it “the best”. But we’ve spent the last 7 years developing a thorough review process to keep the reviews and recommendations on Know Nothing Nomads as standardized as possible.

Without getting too technical, here’s a quick breakdown on what we do, how we do it, and why you can trust us.

How We're Different

We decided to be different when we set out to be the best outdoor blog on the internet.

Know Nothing Nomads is a passion first, and a business second.

Yeah, you read that right.

We created Know Nothing Nomads to share the expertise and passions we have for the outdoors.

We recommend this gear because we have used and loved it.
NOT FOR A PAYCHECK.

Know Nothing Nomads is not just a gear blog

What good is a piece of gear if you don't know how to use it?

Not only are we some of the geekiest and passionate gear nerds around, we are knowledgable on all points of the gear we recommend.

You aren't getting a gear recommendation, you are getting your own personal gear guide. Start to finish.

We don't just recommend ANYTHING

This is about making the best recommendation every time, not just the best selling product on Amazon, or just telling you to buy the same thing everyone else does.

The gear we recommend might be from a big brand, or from a brand you've never heard of.

But if you see it here, it's because we have used, tested, and put our own hands on it. And we know you’ll love it.

Our 3 Pillars of Product Research & Journalism

Our product research is done primarily through first-hand experience in real-world situations. (not in a lab with life-like conditions)

We like to think that we know almost everything there is to know about outdoor gear, but obviously no one can know everything.

That is the reason that we expanded our product research to include 3 separate methods to be as thorough and non-biased as humanly possible.

Here’s how we gather knowledge about the gear we are testing:

  1. Our hands-on experiences that come from ACTUALLY using it.
  2. We interview and consult industry experts for original opinions and advice, and to minimize bias.
  3. We collect commentary and perspective from dedicated power users within our community, and other enthusiast networks/communities.

Real-World Testing and Analysis

Mama said if you want something done right, go do it yourself. And, we think Mama was right.

This is exactly why hands-on, first-person testing is the foundation for all the content that we have on Know Nothing Nomads.

If we post a review about an instant tent, we camped in it, slept in it, and spent time in that tent. 

If we post a review of hiking socks, we don’t wear them around a mall or go on a couple-mile hike with them. We hike 100’s of miles in them.

We firmly believe the only way to “test” a piece of gear is to use it.  — in the actual wilderness. This is not a “gear lab” where we test things based on actual conditions. This is not some massive “review site” that will review anything under the sun just to make more sales.

This is Know Nothing Nomads.

And we know what matters to the consumers, because WE ARE THE CONSUMERS.

Original, Expert Opinions

We are experts in the outdoors who have decades of combined experience in the fields of camping, hiking, climbing, backpacking, fly fishing, road tripping, and travel.

This includes certifications and credentials like NOLS Wilderness First Responder, CPR/AED, Avalanche Rescue (AIARE), and even Leave No Trace Trainer Certified, as well as many other significant accomplishments of our abilities, passions, and expertise.

Ok, I’m sorry if that sounded like bragging… (it kind of was).

But our pride will never get in the way of recommending the best possible piece of gear that we can find.

We regularly interview professionals to vet our own decisions and findings. We may even ask them to make product recommendations if we see fit.

This further solidifies our commitment to only recommending the best of the best.

By the People, For the People

We don’t just love the outdoors and outdoor gear – we live and breathe it.

We started Know Nothing Nomads because we were passionate about gear and sharing our knowledge with people.

Connecting with other passionate and knowledge enthusiasts is part of sharing our knowledge. We love to hear about their experiences (or just go on a hike with a new friend).

We’ve found that this is one of the best ways to learn which products and brands are actually worth getting excited about, which ones are more hype than not, and even about micro-companies that we’ve never heard of.

Let’s be honest, though; there aren’t many gear companies we haven’t heard of.

We also love reading forums and comment sections to learn about other adventurers experiences with gear that we recommend.

This is just another great way for us to verify the findings that we’ve had during our hands-on product testing.

Do you own a piece of gear you think we should know about? Or maybe we overlooked an obvious contender in a recent buying guide? Let us know at hello@knownothingnomads.

How We Evaluate Gear

Testing gear isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Recommending the best gear takes a lot of hard work and planning.

We have to have some kind of framework to keep things organized, fair, and unbiased when we test thousands of pieces of gear (literally).

Years of testing, evaluating, publishing, and refining have eventually led us to the point where we are now.

Let me explain this fancy thing to the right.

These eight criteria go through our brains when we are testing a piece of gear – essentially, how we “grade” something.

Each of these criteria has a set of questions we ask ourselves every time we review a piece of gear.

By doing things this way, we’ve eliminated the variability from product to product as much as possible. All while maintaining the same goal throughout each product we get our hands on.

Granted, there are always small nuances that are taken into account. And there will always be a massive level of expertise and “feel” that goes into it. 

But doing things this way keeps our reviews well-rounded and thorough. And it eliminates as much human bias as possible. 

 

Performance

  • How well does this piece of gear do what it is supposed to do?
  • Does it do something better than the rest or fall short of its competitors?

Durability

  • How did it hold up through heavy use?
  • Is usability or performance affected by heavy use?
  • Was there a break-in period?
  • IF it did break in the wilderness, was it easy to repair?

Originality

  • Was there something special about it that was unique or game-changing?
  • How do those features compare to competitors?

Value

  • Is it overpriced for what is offered or the purpose it serves?
  • WHY is the product priced this way?
  • Is the price tag reflected in the benefits of the product?

Aesthetics

  • How does this piece of gear look and feel when using it?

Accessibility

  • Is the piece of gear in stock and readily available?
  • How easy is the return process?
  • Is there a warranty and/or guarantee?

Reputation

  • How is their customer service?
  • Does this company share the same values and ideals as Know Nothing Nomads?
  • What does the community have to say about this brand?

Environmental Impact

  • What is the carbon footprint of this piece of gear and brand?
  • Can this product be repurposed, recycled, or repaired when it reaches the end of its usable life?
  • Is there any environmental benefit to using this product?

FAQ's

We take transparency and honesty very seriously at Know Nothing Nomads.

Why would people keep coming back to us for outdoor gear recommendations if we just lied to them instead of giving them access to exactly the information they need?

With that in mind, here are some common questions we are asked about how we produce content for the website.

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How do you select which products to feature in your content?

Every single piece of gear we feature here on Know Nothing Nomads is selected by our editorial team after rigorous and in-depth, hands-on testing in the real world.

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How do you source products for testing?

Sourcing products for us is rather simple. Since we are a smaller company, the products we test are purchased using our own money.

Sometimes we have to purchase it at full price.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a discount available through the manufacturer, but it always made VERY CLEAR to the brand that this doesn't ensure a favorable review on their product.

I won't name names but we have definitely returned products and told the company that they don't want our opinion online.

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Do you make money off reader purchases?

If you buy a product using a link from our site, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

This is called affiliate marketing and it is a very common way sites like ours can be funded by delivering honest, detailed, and helpful product reviews on gear we love.

But we do things a little different than everyone else.

If a product is worth mentioning we are going to write about it and recommend it to our readers REGARDLESS of the commission that it earns us.

Some of the products recommended on our site are even commissionless. They are only there because we want you to have the best possible gear we can find

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Can companies pay to be featured in your buying guides and reviews?

NO!!! We don't publish ANY sponsored content on Know Nothing Nomads.

Period.

If there is an article on this website, we chose to write it because we believe it can bring our readers value.

If there is a product featured in a buyer's guide or review, we chose to feature it.

If we recommend a certain brand, it is because we love their gear and think you will, too.

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How often do you update older stories?

ALL THE TIME.

You can imagine staying up to date with how many new tents come out on a yearly basis can almost be a full-time job. Forget hiking boots and the other 349 things you need to go camping and hiking.

Alas, that is part of what we do here.

We update our content CONSTANTLY to ensure that we are always recommending the best gear, staying on top of the newest trends, and ultimately making sure that you have the best possible experience outside.

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Do you use AI to write your content?

A simple question requires a simple answer.

NO.

If you read something on Know Nothing Nomads, it was written by a person. End of story.

We believe that the only real way to test gear is to take it into the wilderness and use it.

AI can't do this and will never do this.

Does this put us at a disadvantage when you compare us to other websites that publish 15-20 posts in a day and hired ChatGPT as essentially a full-time writer? Some people think so...

But we don't.

Know Nothing Nomads was created to share this passion and expertise that we have for the outdoors, and a computer program just simply can't begin to articulate what REAL EXPERTS can share.

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