Creating helpful, reliable, authentic reviews of tools, outdoor gear, consumer tech, and appliances is at the core of everything we do at Popular Mechanics. And we’ve been at it for more than 115 years. Our current test team includes former contractors, engine techs, and outdoor guides. We care deeply about products because we rely on them everyday ourselves.

How We Test

We test products the same way we live and work with them, evaluating them on performance, tech, craftsmanship, value, and other factors. We use them the way they were intended and compare them with similar products. We cut grass and firewood. We use power tools and hand tools for our own projects. We stuff garbage disposals thick with food scraps and chicken bones. We camp, hike, and climb rock faces. If a reader is likely to use a product a certain way, we use that product that way.

We utilize our own experience and break out lab equipment (or devise our own apparatus) to better measure specific performance metrics. Case in point, we measured the wind speed generated by leaf blowers using the anemometer of a competition acrobatic airplane.

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Trevor Raab

We Test Fairly and Accurately

Not every product is ideal for its intended user, and we aim to suss out the respective strengths and weaknesses, probing for those with practical tests. And to make sure we get it right, we cross-test most products. For example, any mower can cut grass. But we also want to know how it cuts dry grass, wet grass, extra tall grass, going uphill or downhill or across an incline, and on smooth and rough ground. So we set up controls and test all those, too.

When we can’t test a product, we’ll let you know. In those cases, we rely on our experience testing similar models, extensive research, and consumer feedback to spotlight products we believe are good options for the intended user. In almost all cases, it’s gear we’ve had hands-on experience with.

How We Select Products to Review

Each piece is carefully selected by our test editors after rigorous research into the product category and trends, interviewing product engineers and experts, and listening to reader feedback and consumer reviews.

Our job is to be aware of the latest product releases so we can inform our readers of new gear we think you’ll enjoy. And our editors independently select every piece of gear. We don’t accept payment from any company for editorial inclusion, outside of sponsored posts. If a piece is sponsored, we'll make that clear to you.

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Trevor Raab

About Our Awards

One goal of our daily testing is to identify exceptional products and recommend those to you. Products that meet our highest standards, perform best for their intended user, and/or offer incredible capability at prices lower than the competition earn our Gold medal. These are products we recommend without reservation.

To help identify and spotlight exceptional gear, we also produce four annual features to recognize the best tools, outdoor gear, home goods, and games we’ve tested. These are our Tools of the Year, Best Outdoor Stuff, Best Home Goods, and Board Games of the Year awards.

Affiliate Disclosure

Most of our product reviews include links to retailers where you can purchase a product. We do this to make shopping easier for readers. We link to reputable retailers who we know provide good service and fair prices—whenever possible, we try to find the best deal for our readers. If you purchase a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We don’t allow that to influence our coverage. We include many products on which we earn no commission and always put your needs first, recommending and reviewing only products that have been fully researched, tested, or both.

The Popular Mechanics Test Team

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Will Egensteiner

Deputy Editor

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Roy Berendsohn
Trevor Raab
Chin, Illustration, Glasses, Circle,
Brad Ford
Trevor Raab
Hair, Face, Facial hair, Hairstyle, Chin, Moustache, Head, Beard, Forehead, Human,
Trevor Raab


Trevor Raab