GEAR REVIEWS 101
How we select gear
The founder and many of the contributors of Preparation Concierge come from traditional media: Most of us have had successful careers in the outdoor and travel magazines — publications like Outside, Men's Journal, Gear and others — so gear has long had a way of "coming to us."
That being said, we start just the way you do: With a need. For a water filter, a medical kit, or a solar lantern, for example, that will ably serve us for a week canoeing in Minnesota's Boundary Waters, or in an emergency evacuation from our apartments in the city. Either way, that equipment has to be reliable enough to sustain us in situations when help is NOT a simple phone call away.
Then we talk to our industry contacts, professional emergency responders, outdoorsmen, and PR insiders. We look at our best available options, often sourcing from brands that we have long had confidence in. We buy most of the gear, because it's the stuff we ourselves need in case of a disaster or an emergency situation. In some cases also accept gear loans. Then we test that gear out, sometimes side by side.
How we review gear
Some companies have labs and the like, but we are not Consumer Reports, and besides, the clean-white-room idea really doesn't make sense to us. And unlike sites which are only concerned with side-by-side comparisons, we aren't trying to be utterly exhaustive. Our goal is to field test gear in the real world, looking for strengths, weaknesses, and failures. In many cases, we've used some iteration of this gear for years.
That testing often takes place in the Poconos, Pennsylvania; the Sierra Nevadas; and New Paltz, New York. But it is just as likely to be an apartment in New York City. This isn't traditional kind of gear reviews, after all. If we lose electricity in Manhattan (which we have, several times), we need a bright light for our windowless bathroom — preferably one doesn't suck down D batteries. For that, we've tested a number of solutions, and found that a solar light from Goal Zero makes the most sense. We keep its internal batteries charged, but in case of a blackout, we can then top if off daily using its solar panel. We just put it onto the fire escape.
We also have an extended group of professionals in a number of worlds we rely on for advice and insights: Doctors and first responders, former and current military personnel, CDC employees, and NGO workers who have helped major cities evacuate, and worked in places like Haiti after the earthquake.
In the end, we believe in this gear because we own it, and we use it. And we're always on the lookout, professionally and personally, for improvements and new models.
Want to suggest gear?
People get very enthusiastic about the gear that they love. We listen to those people. We also listen to those same people when gear that shold work doesn't.
Feel like you know something that we don't? Go ahead and drop us a line.
Are you a PR professional, representing a brand? We'll listen to your pitch, too. We do accept loans. However, we remain totally impartial (and we're VERY opinionated), so a gear loan is never a promise of inclusion in the site.
Either way, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.