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How We Test Gear

We put a lot of work into testing tons of products—so you don’t have to. Here we explain Triathlete’s process.

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Triathletes need (and want) a lot of stuff. With three sports and a nearly infinite universe of gear for each, it’s important to know what’s good, what’s not, who should get what, and why. Here at Triathlete, we understand that just like gear, not all gear coverage is created equal. And we understand that triathletes like to know the what, how, and why behind things—including our gear recommendations.

Here we’ve outlined the process and philosophy to our gear coverage, how it works, and what we believe makes our reviews unique and valuable.

Our Gear Mission

Because the universe of multisport gear is so vast, we believe it’s important to seek out and test as much gear as we can. Even if that means we test things that we never write about and you never hear about—because we didn’t think they measured up to our standards. We also believe that our readers’ time is valuable—we’re triathletes after all, we have workouts to do! Because of this, our editors work very hard to thoroughly test, but also thoroughly distill our coverage and reviews. Could we write 20 pages on a smartwatch? Sure. But here at Triathlete, we believe that a big part of our value as experienced gear testers and editors is the ability to break out the important parts of an item, explain it simply, put it into context, and let you move on with your day. We also understand that some people prefer longer reviews, and we put certain gear items into extended reviews when we believe it’s valuable.

How We Review Gear

All of our reviews involve the writer actually receiving the item—in most cases as you, the reader would—assembling it, and using it out in the real world. With the exception of a few “recommendations based on features” that you’ll find clearly labeled from time to time in a more generalized advice column like “Ask A Gear Guru,” our reviewers are putting the thing through the paces. What does this mean? Bikes are received in big boxes, assembled, and ridden out on real roads. Wetsuits are put on in the dead of winter and tested in chilly open water and in pools. Shoes are run in. Unlike some sites, we don’t just read features off a product’s website and rehash them in our own words. Our testers—sometimes editors and sometimes independent testers—make notes on what worked and what didn’t, what they noticed, and compare those experiences against the brand’s promises and list of specs. In the case of in-depth reviews, we also rate the product on established criteria and qualities.

Our Reviewers

We pride ourselves in our experienced reviewers. Our reviewers are former pros, bike mechanics, fitters, long-time age-group athletes, and gear geeks. In some cases we have the person who tested the product writing the review directly, and in some cases we have multiple testers providing input, which is then compiled by an editor, who also tested the product. All of our testers have years of experience with other similar products and they also come from a range of backgrounds in order to have as wide a variety of people testing things as there are readers!. We believe that an experienced reviewer is a huge value because they have years of gear knowledge to give them a baseline for what’s good and what’s not. Our reviewers aren’t wowed by marketing hype, because they have a long history of testing the “newest and best” gear. That said, we understand that breaking down an item’s value into simple language is important (see Our Mission, above), so you generally won’t catch our reviewers clobbering you with minutiae and terms that require an engineering degree—even if the reviewer actually has a degree in engineering!

Our Relationship With Brands

This is a big one, and a question we know readers have—and that we take very seriously. While we do request that brands provide us with products for testing, the choice to review a product—and more importantly how we review a product and what we say—rests entirely on the editorial staff at Triathlete. If we request it, and we don’t think it’s worthy of a review, we’re not bound to review it. We also ensure that the relationship between a brand and the reviewer is entirely independent. (No ambassadors reviewing products they’ve also been paid to promote!) Brands themselves understand, in no uncertain terms, that they cannot influence the review process in any way. If we have a question about a product, we ask, but a brand or PR person does not see a review before it’s published, and while we will make corrections to inaccurate facts about a product, we will never change a review based on feedback from a brand.

Our editors pride themselves on their independence and objectivity when it comes to gear and gear reviews. And it’s important to note that our sales and advertising teams are separate from our editorial teams. Whether a company advertises with Triathlete or not does not influence editorial reviews.

An important thing to note, as a reader, however is when something is designated as Sponsored Content (more on that below). When something has been sponsored or paid for by an advertiser or brand it is specifically noted on the piece.

What’s An Affiliate Link?

An affiliate link is a link included in a story or review, where appropriate, that sends you to a site (like Amazon or Backcountry) to buy the product mentioned. An affiliate link then pays back a commission to the originating site. The most important thing to know about Triathlete is that our individual reviewers and gear editors do not determine affiliate rate commissions and do not themselves earn money based on the affiliate links. In fact, adding affiliate links to reviews or stories is not done by our gear editors or writers; it is a separate process done after a piece is completed, so there’s no chance of it influencing product or review decisions.

What’s Sponsored Content?

Sponsored content means a brand or advertiser has paid for a piece of content—whether a First Look at a new product or an article about an athlete who is sponsored by that company. These articles are clearly marked as “Sponsored Content.” Sponsored content is sold separately from our editorial team and our gear reviewers, who are not involved in the sales process. This includes our Gear 360 program, which includes third-party ratings and a review, and is clearly marked as part of the Gear 360 program—for which a company pays to be included. While sponsored content can bring value to our readers and cover interesting and relevant information, it’s important to understand the distinction. If you don’t see the words “Sponsored Content” or it doesn’t clearly say a company paid to be a part of this article or program, then they didn’t.

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