What we do
Have you ever bought a pair of hiking shoes or boots just to discover that they’re not everything you thought they would be?
We have and among the 4 of us we have over 80 years of hiking, trekking and camping experience.
So, we founded Sole Labz to HELP YOU never make the same mistake again. In other words, we are doing the research so you don’t have to.
How do we actually rate the products in reviews and what is the Sole Labz rating?
The reviews are compiled in two ways:
1) We actually buy the products for ourselves or our featured bloggers and rate each of the products in ten different categories with a rating of 1-5 in each category. The final rating is the average – all category ratings summed up and divided by 10.
2) We use the existing reviews of customers and go through each of them and award a rating, again in 10 categories, based on each review. The final rating is an average of those category ratings. This takes time but the result is worth it because YOU, the reader of Sole Labz, gets the best information, accumulated over time and shared by people just like you. Since we started the website, we tweaked the process to make sure that the ratings we give are as neutral as possible.
You can see an example of how we compile data in the image bellow:
The rating that we get with the second method is what we call a Sole Labz ratingand it can range from 1-5 – just between us, we haven’t seen a perfect 5 yet (what we call a WHAMMY) probably nobody made the perfect hiking shoe or boot yet. When the rating is based on our own experience with the product we clearly say so.
Do we buy and test each of our products personally?
No, we’re not there yet because that would take a fortune which we don’t have but it is our goal that aside from listening to all the customer reviews, in time, personally test each of the products we review. We’ll get there, don’t you worry, but in the meantime the methods that we have developed and tweaked over time have been proven statistically accurate in a vast majority of cases.
Do we accept free sample products from companies?
No. This assures that we maintain total objectivity.
How we keep the data fresh and up-to-date at all times?
With the market as it is now, outsourcing and budget cuts, a quality of a product can change. That is why we update our reviews to include new factors and fresh reviews every two months. This is where we are different to any other website out there and we take special pride in that. Is that a lot of work? Absolutely, but we consider it essential to keep our information accurate.
We consider all of our fellow hikers and trekkers that test the gear to be a part of our team but this is the core of our operation.
James Menta – Editor-in-Chief
I am an avid camper and hiker of over 30 years. I live in Fairbanks – Alaska, I am a husband, father of two and grandfather of three.
I spent a large chunk of my life outdoors and while I leave most of the actual field work to the young-bloods, I am here to mentor them and show them how it’s done because I started reviewing camping and hiking gear about a decade ago and learned a lot along the way. In that time, I have made my own outdoors and gear review websites and written articles for a number of blogs and magazines. Here are just a few of them: Klymit, AllPeak, Realcamping, TGOmagazine, GearX, TheNextChallenge, GoCampingAustralia, OutDoorSelfReliance, Naimakka, EagleNestOutfittter, eBed, Capestudios, BubsOnTheMove, LetsExpresso…
I believe you get it, I am an outdoorsy guy, as much as I can be in the autumn of my life and I love what I do today, since I can’t walk-the-walk all that much these days I share my experience by talking-the-talk.
Nenad Popovic – Managing editor
Nenad grew in the Southeastern Europe and fell in love with the mountains on his first visit to the Alps when he was five. Since then, he wasn’t able to shake it off and fueled by that unsettling urge to go places, he molded his life around being able to travel, hike and climb. He has a degree in Traffic Engineering and Poynter’s News University journalism course.
He is the one that keeps things organized and ensures smooth running of the Sole Labz, along with doing a lot of field work and reviewing.
Within our team he is known for saying, ‘Do I have to do everything around here?’ A lot.
Melissa Kerr – Review editor
Melissa is into sports and curling especially, which none of us really understands but when it gets to writing reviews she is as diligent as one gets. As the rest of the team she is an avid hiker and trekker. She earned our respect especially for hiking the Bold Ridge in Eklutna more times then we care to remember. Again, something we don’t fully understand, but yes, we do respect it.
Around here she is known for saying,‘You guys will never get it.’
Ryan Burke – Review editor
Another young-blood with a passion for the outdoors and the wits to write about it, Ryan hiked most of the difficult trails in the far North USA.
He’s the joker in our little team and he’s known for saying, ‘Take it easy man.’ Most of the time to Nenad.
So, there you go, our little team that’s a melting pot of experience, energy and laid-back attitude. We’re not the world champions or record holders in anything but we do know hiking and that is what probably got you here. You can contact us by using the contact form and if you want to contact a specific member of the SL team just stress so in the subject.
Take care and safe hiking,