Gear is personal. No product here will be the perfect option for every person. But we believe the REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards celebrate the gear that’s the best for most folks. Here’s how we know.
How are REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award recipients determined? We, the editorial team, take stock of all that’s available to you at the co-op. We consider the specific needs most people who use the product may have, narrow down the list and enter what’s left into an extensive test—which can last months or even a year, depending on the category—against as many as 20 other top picks. We do this all to see how these products perform where it matters most: outside. REI expert staff and co-op member-testers head into the field to evaluate everything from a product’s usability to its features, vetting all claims from the manufacturer. We also factor in sustainability attributes. At the end of the round-robin review period, we ask our testers to rate each product on a set of criteria. Then we average the scores and scrutinize the data, also considering what our members and customers are saying about these products when reviewing them on REI.com. You’ll find the highest-scoring equipment and apparel in our Gear Guides. We recognize the best of the best with an REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award.
What products are considered? Within a particular gear category, we consider products available at REI. We don’t include items that the co-op does not stock.
Who takes part in gear testing? REI staff and members test gear for both the REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Awards and our tested Gear Guides. These folks are chosen for several reasons, including their outdoor experience, knowledge of a product category and competitive landscape, and more. We aim to include testers of different skill levels and from across the country. We are committed to increasing diversity among our gear testers, including representation of BIPOC communities, women, LGBTQ+ people, different ages and people with disabilities.
When are award winners announced? Awards are given on a rolling basis throughout the year, and we’ll announce the awards on Expert Advice when there are new winners. We’d encourage you to come back seasonally to check out our latest award winners.
Do awards carry over each year? If a brand releases an updated version of an award-winning product, its REI Co-op Editors’ Choice Award carries over to the newest version of the product, unless we deem the updates significant enough to warrant its inclusion in another field test. If so, the new product will undergo extensive field testing to evaluate it.