We Test This Stuff — Honestly

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This is our new gear blog, Field Test. It’s a straightforward name with a simple premise: We test gear in the field—because the way you find out if something works is by using it, not by reading about it in a press release.

The tag line is, “Gear reviews you can trust.” Which is also pretty simple on its face: We tell you, truthfully, what we think of the stuff we test. If David E. Petzal doesn’t like a rifle, do you think he’s going to pull any punches? This might all go without saying if it weren’t so apparently rare. Which reminds me of an answer our rifles editor gave to an Ask Petzal reader who wondered if magazine rifle reviews in general were bought and paid for by advertisers. Petzal replied: “I can’t remember a strictly gun magazine saying anything bad about any piece of equipment, ever. Draw your own conclusions. As for Field & Stream, if we think something is do-do, we say so, and we have taken our fiscal lumps for that.”

Turns out, writing honest gear reviews is a little complicated. (If you doubt that, I invite you to answer my phone after the annual bow test.) But doing so is one of the core missions of Field & Stream. As editor-in-chief Anthony Licata has written: “Our readers are smart, and we know that if we sacrifice our credibility for the short-term gain of an advertiser, our audience will go somewhere else.”

That doesn’t mean we’re out to bash shoddy gear. For the most part, this blog will highlight stuff we like. But it will also feature large, rigorous tests in which every rifle, rod, reel, or crossbow—good or bad—will be fearlessly reviewed, ranked, and rated. We’ll also bring you Reader Tests, where hardcore F&S fans—maybe you soon—hit the woods and waters with the latest gear and report back. And for the handful of you who’ve hinted that you might not be in the market for the latest $4,000 Best-of-the-Best-winning scope, there’s Bargain Shopper, a head-to-head comparison of the most affordable bows, stands, muzzleloaders, scopes, fishfinders, trolling motors, and more.

So, let’s get started with rain jackets, bargain tackle bags, and portable power packs, all nitpicked, scored, and ranked by F&S experts or readers—honestly.