How We Test and Review Products

hunters in a field

Why Trust Field & Stream?

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.

What We Test

Field & Stream prides itself on evaluating a wide variety of outdoor gear. If you can take a product into the woods or on the water, odds are good that we’ve put it through the wringer at some point during hunting or fishing season. We have long provided readers with in-depth reviews of the best shotguns, rifles, handguns, bows, fishing gear, watercraft, and more.

How We Test and Review Products

Field & Stream has an expansive network of subject-matter experts across the U.S. who test gear for us year-round. While no two gear tests are the same, here’s a general breakdown of the production of a gear test from start to finish:

  • Step 1: We identify topics that are core to our brand and audience. Subjects chosen are based on readership interest, gear trends, and seasonal application. Hunting and fishing are the two most important categories for F&S and therefore account for the majority of our gear coverage. But we also cover hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and survival gear.
  • Step 2: Our editors and contributors narrow down specific products for testing. Product selection is determined by research, new-product launches, category expertise, and/or first-hand experience with applicable gear. 
  • Step 3: We acquire products for testing and review. This comes together in a number of ways. In many cases—especially when it comes to gear like rifles, shotguns, compound bows, or crossbows—we’ll reach out to manufacturers directly and request a model for testing. For other tests, we’ll either purchase brand-new gear or use our own personal gear for the test. 
  • Step 4: The testing begins. (Note: While we try to make hands-on testing a requirement as much as possible, not every gear roundup published on F& features that kind of field work. In many cases, we’ll make our selections and recommendations based on research and/or interviews with subject-matter experts, industry professionals, and product designers.) When testing products in the field or on the water, the Field & Stream test team looks for the following in each product: effectiveness, value, durability, materials and construction, and ease-of-use. Each test is situational—based on location, elements, and access. We do our best to use the gear we review in authentic, and demanding, conditions. For example: If we review a duck-hunting shotgun, we’re going to hunt ducks with it. Or if we review a new pair of fly-fishing waders, we’re going to wear them on the trout stream. Product testers include the Field & Stream gear editors, our contributors, and other dedicated outdoorsmen and -women.
  • Step 5: After hands-on testing concludes, we’ll come back home and pour over our testing notes—and award a winner. These awards are reserved solely for the best of the best. So anytime you see a story with a badge like the one below, take it as a sign that we tortured-tested that piece of gear—and it came out on top.
Field and Stream editors pick badge

Affiliate Disclosure

Field & Stream earns commissions when products are purchased through the links in our reviews and roundups. However, all the products were selected independently by our experts. No consideration to brand or retailer was given; our experts picked the best of the best based on their experience.

Meet Our Experts

The Field & Stream gear team features a deep roster of hunters, anglers, hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Here’s an introduction to many of the experts who test, review, and cover gear content at F&S.

Amanda Oliver: Executive Editor

Oliver is Field & Stream‘s executive editor of commerce. She oversees the commerce team, who covers everything from bowhunting to fishing to camping. Oliver spends as much time writing and editing all of Field & Stream‘s gear content as she does out in the field doing hands-on testing. Her biggest passions are bowhunting, waterfowl hunting, and hiking.

Ryan Chelius: Senior Editor

Chelius is an established outdoor writer and has covered various topics, including fly fishing, bass fishing, deer hunting, duck hunting, and conservation. During college, he was a two-time recipient of the Outdoor Writers Association of America Bodie McDowell scholarship for his dedication and success in outdoor communications. Chelius helps with assigning and editing Field & Stream’s gear stories. He also writes about his hunting and fishing adventures as well as how-to articles. Chelius’s passions are fly fishing and waterfowl hunting. When he’s not casting a fly, you’ll find him in the marsh chasing ducks and geese.

Phil Bourjaily: Shotguns Editor

Bourjaily has written for numerous shotgunning and wingshooting publications, and appeared on Field & Stream’s “Gun Nuts” TV show, as well as on DUTV and Clay Target Shootout, which received a Telly Award. He enjoys writing about shotguns and all forms of wing and clay target shooting and has traveled widely to hunt upland birds, waterfowl, doves, and wild turkeys. He also enjoys teaching people to shoot, and has coached scholastic sporting clays and trapshooting.

Richard Mann: Shooting Editor

Because his mother was a hunter, Mann was hunting before he was born. He has traversed the world in pursuit of small, large, and dangerous game. He was a member of the 1995 West Virginia Police Pistol Governor’s Twenty, won the 1999 WV National Guard State Pistol Match, and the 2004 WV Muzzleloader Metallic State Championship. Mann established a Scout Rifle training course for Steyr and assisted Gunsite Academy with the development of their Laser Integrated 250 Pistol Course. Mann has worked with many bullet manufacturers conducting ballistic experiments and has a patent for a bullet testing media and a scope reticle. He’s contributed to many periodicals, presented reloading seminars for the NRA, appeared on the Discovery Channel as a firearms expert, and was the executive producer of WildCraft: South Africa, on Amazon Prime. In 2019, Mann was awarded the Bill McRea Lifetime Achievement Award for his writings.

Jim Cobb: Contributing Writer

Jim Cobb is a recognized authority on disaster readiness, and has been involved in preparedness for almost four decades. He’s been writing about survival, prepping, and related topics for more than 10 years, having authored several books. He began contributing to Field & Stream in 2021. Cobb lives in the upper Midwest, and when he’s not out hiking with his wife, he’s spending way too much time and money collecting knives and other survival gear.

Jace Bauserman: Contributing Writer

While Bauserman loves to chase all game species, his passion is western big-game hunting. Each fall, he hunts pronghorn, mule deer, elk, and other western species with archery tackle. In addition to being an accomplished big-game bowhunter, Bauserman is also a gear nut and does tons of product testing each year. He is a master of his craft and has developed a strong following by those who crave the latest bow-and-arrow gear know-how. Before going full-time as an outdoor writer, Bauserman was the editor-in-chief of Bowhunting World and Archery Business. Bauserman has penned many award-winning articles about bowhunting and in-the-field gear testing during his time in this position. Bauserman also has a passion for chasing whitetail deer and waterfowl, and writes numerous articles each year for F&S on these two topics.

T. Logan Metesh: Contributing Writer

Logan Metesh has been passionate about firearms and history since he was 10 years old and has been working in the outdoor media industry since 2015. With more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums, Metesh has the ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry. Logan has been a frequent guest on the “Curator’s Corner” program for NRATV and has served as an historic firearms facilitator for television shows, such as Mysteries at the Museum, Gun Stories with Joe Mantegna, and American Rifleman TV.

Max Inchausti: Contributing Writer

Inchausti has a variety of experience in outdoor media and corresponding industries. Prior to writing for Field & Stream, he helped run a fly shop where he honed his skills tying flies and chasing trophy wild brown trout. When he’s not writing articles for F&S, he spends his time as a fisheries biologist in South Florida working with native and invasive freshwater species. Inchausti contributes to Field & Stream with authoritative and authentic gear reviews related to fly fishing, conventional fishing, and camping. He draws from his extensive time fly fishing for trout, tarpon, steelhead, muskie, and more in addition to his experience as a field biologist to recommend purposeful pieces of gear.