Rugged Individual FAQ

What is the Rugged Individual?

The Rugged Individual is a list of the best, most rugged, durable, and dependable gear recommendations intended for individuals who live an adventurous lifestyle and want to focus their time on adventuring, not sifting the internet for the best gear. Each category and product is carefully selected, researched, and tested in the field so that by the time it is presented here it is clearly the best. Reviews often consume over 100 hours of research, interviews with the world’s most knowledgeable experts, and field testing from around the world. The Rugged Individual is not a blog. We are focused on the highest quality content and since the best gear often remains the best gear year over year, we only update our recommendation for a given category when we see a compelling reason to. We write less frequently, and more effort goes into each of the gear recommendations because we don’t believe in rampant consumerism. We want you to buy the right gear the first time and have it last as long as possible.

How does the Rugged Individual choose what to review?

1. We are adventurers so most of the time. We are inspired by the gear we need to fulfill our adventurous dreams.

2. Someone asks us about a type or category of adventure gear that piques our interest or excites our imagination.

Often we have already tried all the obvious options and have figured out what works best in different situations.

If we haven’t had practical experience with a given gear category we will:

  • Scour the Internet and our favorite forums for ideas, suggestions, and recommendations
  • Consult with industry experts and people living out of Sprinter vans
  • Study product materials put out by gear manufacturers
  • Buy or borrow gear to test in the field

Then we take all of that input and make up our mind. Sometimes we agree with other recommendations out there in the web, and sometimes we will recommend a relatively unknown product based on value and market pricing or other factors.

Why should I trust your gear recommendations?

We recommend gear we think is best based on our own experience as well as input from experts. We gather expert opinions from a global network of adventurers and confirm popular opinions with our own field testing.  We keep an open mind regarding comments on product flaws or a new, or old, better option. We are building Rugged Individual out of a passion for adventure and the gear that makes it possible. We think as you read through our gear recommendations, you will find them to be earnest and truthful. Even when we recommend something, we will let you know what faults we find with it.

What if I disagree with your gear recommendations?

This is the internet! That could never happen! But seriously… Take our gear recommendations under consideration and read what we have written. Read why we selected it. Take a look at the best reviews we linked to from around the world and then make your own choice. If you use a different piece of gear in the field and think it’s a better option, we would love to hear from you. Maybe you will change our mind! Hopefully the process of reading all our content will help you make the right choice for you, even if it’s not exactly what we recommend. And if you let us know in the comments or by writing us an email at, maybe your recommendation will catch fire and take off!

Why do you publish gear recommendations less frequently than other sites?

Several very good reasons:

1. We are about quality content and meaningful reviews. This takes time. Often over 100 hours per recommendation. We believe that we should only publish our best work, and only recommend products that deserve it.

2. We don’t really want cutting edge. We want tried and true. And that kind of gear doesn’t pop up every day. (We will update the reviews at least every 6 months to make sure our recommendation still stands)

3. We love to adventure and we often disappear into the wild to have fun, relax, and use the gear we have reviewed or are reviewing. Maybe we will see you out at the crag!

4. We believe the world needs less information overload and consumerism. We are not after a billion page views or writing for writing’s sake. We would rather spend life climbing multi-pitch trad and hanging out with great friends. BUT… we do get excited enough to write gear recommendations when fairly priced quality gear comes to our attention.

Why do you have links to Amazon and other affiliates?

If you think our gear recommendations provide value, you can follow those links to make your purchase and support the Rugged Individual. You will get the great service and price our top tier affiliates provide,  and we will get a small piece of the action. We want to encourage your adventures and hope the gear we recommend will help you accomplish your dreams. We admire other web entrepreneurs that provide their content for free like us, and we need to  support our adventures and future reviews.

Do affiliate relationships bias your product reviews?

Frankly, if one isn’t careful, they can. Anytime $$ is added into the mix things get interesting. We try to keep that in mind and focus on finding the products we love first and figuring out affiliate relationships second. In some cases our gear recommendation won’t make us a penny.  We think affiliate income is less of a conflict of interest than traditional advertising because if you return the gear, we make nothing. We would rather get paid from legitimate purchases of quality gear than from page views created by over hyped or sensationalized garbage. We are not a big fan of annoying advertising or breaking content into tiny chunks on different pages so eyeballs see as many trashy adds as possible. So you won’t find any of that here.

The most important thing to the Rugged Individual is our reputation for solid gear recommendations and our relationship with the adventurers that read and trust us. We invite you to fact check our gear recommendations. Each will share the sources, process, research, interviews with experts, and field testing that ultimately led to our gear recommendations. Often, this is over a hundred hours per review. Our methodology and conclusion is laid out for you. We encourage you to call us out if you think there is a better choice. We try to have small egos and go with the best recommendations whether we thought of them or you did.

What if I’m looking for something you haven’t reviewed?

We would love to hear about it! Email us ( and let us know your particular gear quandary, and we will see if we can help!

 Can’t I go to retail outlets, scour the web, parse search results, read blogs, and make my own gear recommendations?

Yes, you can—knock yourself out!  When you do, let us know what you choose.  Maybe you will find something we didn’t.  And, while you’re at it, you could backup your hard disk, bake your own bread, churn your butter, clean the toilet, iron your own shirts, floss daily, get a full body work out, run a few miles, and bike to work. :)