So, here's how it works. We rate each piece of equipment using the following criteria:
DURATION OF TESTING:
Quite possibly the most important aspect of our reviews is how long we've tested these products. ISG represents individual experience with tools spanning over years - not hours, days, or a camping trip as is common with bulk reviews on other websites. We will explicitly tell you how many years the item has been in service, and relevant facts about how hard it's been used. If you want to know how long it takes to wear out a recoil spring on an M&PC, we've got your answer, because we thoroughly use the products we review. It will be a rare occasion that you see somethings that's been in use less than 6 months - and if you do see it, it'll be because it broke before we felt it should have.
Utility is a metric we use when we discuss how often we find ourselves reaching for this tool versus how often we go to the toolbox to grab something else. A low rating in this category means that the tool often fails to perform at it's given task, whereas tools and equipment with high ratings excel, and leave little room for improvement. When we assess items, we weigh the item's purpose (specifically, is it a single purpose item, such as a sleeping bag, or a hammer, or is it designed to do many things well), how well it functions in this role, and finally: "is it useful?"When we look at Utility, we will give you a no-nonsense assessment of how likely you are to use this tool if you buy it, and how well it'll serve you when you do.
When we assess an items durability, we take into account it's construction, craftsmanship, material, and the lifespan of competing products. We live in an entropic universe, and you're not going to get wild-eyed stories about super-products. We understand that products break. When they do, we ask the following:
-How much work have you gotten out of them relative to competing products?
-How easy are they to repair?
-How effective is preventative maintenance?
-Are there deficiencies in material, craftsmanship or construction that could be improved?
We take these and give you a no-nonsense look at whether or not this product is durable enough for what you're paying.
Let's be honest - if you're not comfortable, you're not going to care about utility or durability. Footwear is a great example, but no one drives diesel tractors to town, either. They're not comfortable, despite being extremely durable and utilitarian. We will let you know if we've found problems in the equipment, whether it's a tool that pinches your fingers, or a shirt that fits weird. Of all the criteria, comfort will be the one that we expect you to take with the biggest grain of salt. We'll do our best to make sure you've got the best information possible, but comfort is a very personal thing.
Weight is the constant enemy of preparedness, and a perpetual 'check' that keeps us in balance. When we decide on an item, weight is often one of the final arbiters of whether it gets the nod, or ends up in a pile in the garage. This means that we're continually optimizing efficiency (durability and utility) with our need to be able to maintain mobility. Our staff tests gear under all sorts of circumstances; you'll find us scaling walls, climbing fences, crawling through tunnels, over rocks, up the side of mountains, and into the sub flooring of abandon buildings. Our goal is to be able to keep our equipment weight low enough that we can do anything we'd need to in a survival situation while wearing our loadout. We practice this through adventure, and will be happy to share our thoughts on what works and what doesn't.
For most people, this is where it all comes together. We want to be able to bring you options that meet our above standards, and also conform to your price point. That said - and read this carefully - we're not going to tell you what you want to hear. Often, the "Made in China" knockoff that's 75% less expensive is going to fail you. Sometimes it's not. We're here to help you suss out when and where you can cut cost, save money, and still maintain the integrity of our above criteria.
When it comes right down to it, this is where we answer this question:
"Knowing what we know, would we recommend this product to our families knowing they would bet their life on it?"
We will attempt to be straight forward here. We average the score, and give you the bottom line: Recommend, On-the-Fence, or Don't Recommend. Most of the products you see reviewed will be "recommend." Due to the time it takes to write negative reviews, a product will have to fail spectacularly, not be repairable by the end user, and have a company that doesn't tend to their customer's needs in a reasonable way.
There it is. Give us a chance, and we'll do our part to earn your trust.