Testing and Reviewing Running Kit
What’s it like to test kit?
As part of the writing I do for Women’s Running magazine, I’m one of the panel of kit testers. I generally get one or two things to test each issue to give a review of along with a score out of five. I thought you might like to know how that goes and what’s involved.
Although it’s exciting to get parcels through the post, I take it very seriously. Running shoes particularly are pricey these days, so I imagine the readers as a friend of mine and I don’t want them to spend money on something they’re not going to be happy with.
It’s important to be objective. I review what I’m asked to, so while it might not be something I’d choose for myself, I have to put my personal preference aside and ask – is it doing the job it’s supposed to do? It can be difficult when items come from a small brand and you want to be supportive, but they just don’t perform as well as they should.
It can dictate the runs I have and when I go. If I have to test trail shoes, then I need to head to the trails etc. And there’s no avoiding the rain if it’s time to test a rain jacket.
On occasion, I’ve run with spare trainers in my backpack just in case the pair I’m testing are causing me issues. Or when I’m testing a very aggressive trail shoe and I have to navigate roads to get to a trail.
Pass it on
What do I do with the kit after I’ve finished testing it? Some bits I keep, but there’s only so much kit you actually need. And I operate a one-in-one-out shoe policy in my cupboard. So often I give it away to friends and family. My mum, niece, cousin and auntie all have the same shoe size as me so they’ve all had pairs of shoes that are ex-test pairs.
Of the last 20 items I’ve reviewed, I’ve only given three items 5 out of 5. One was a pair of trail shoes, one was a jacket and one was a pair of socks.
I also write a monthly column for Women’s Running and the training plans each issue.