Testing & Rating
Scramble is a small network of committed, self-reliant, long distance solo trekkers / scramblers. The only difference from traditional scramblers is that we tend to carry heavier packs when climbing and that any climbs are more a means to an end (part of the trek) rather than an end in itself. Carrying all your supplies allows one the freedom to take on less accessible and more interesting routes without being tethered to "civilisation".
Kit recommendations are made by members of the network to the Scramble Editor. Unless the editor's research contradicts the recommendation, the item is then purchased and allotted a slot in a future Kit Test.
For the item to get reviewed, it has to outperform the existing recommendation in that category. If it does, the existing recommendation is a) moved into the Archive (on Scramble); b) stock is moved into the Clearance section in our shop (on SYSTEM), and c) the new item is sourced for sale. If it fails to dislodge our current recommendation, the item is made available on SYSTEM as a "Grade 2" item.
A draft review is then submitted back to the network for comment and guidance on rating, prior to a final edit and subsequent publication.
We run two tests per year - a winter test in February and a summer test in August. Tests are conducted in either Scotland or Wales; most often Wales (for convenience) generally in the Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains, Elan Valley and Snowdonia. The tests are a minimum of 1 week in duration (living outdoors continuously) and cover a minimum of 15 miles per day over mountainous terrain. As a matter of course we carry a week's worth of food. Items that excel during these initial tests remain part of our kit and thus are continuously under review unless substituted for an alternative item.
When you live with the gear you use, how it performs soon becomes apparent. If we find we hardly noticed it - that's generally a very good sign.
In the main we source our gear from four sectors: specialist mountaineering, general outdoor, sportswear (mainly running) and the increasingly weight conscious military.
We score clothing and equipment out of 10 in each of the following categories and then simply take the average for the overall score:
- weight: the lighter the better
- durability / toughness: the balance between weight and durability is always the hardest compromise to get right
- performance / function: how it performs its primary role, clean functional design, minimal points of failure, ease of repair
- value: The value score is derived from two factors:
1) Competitive Market Price (CMP). This represents our judgement of a competitive online price point if we were to stock the item. e.g. if we feel we would need to sell an item at 40% off (i.e. 60% of its full RRP) to be competitive, then our CMP score will be 6/10.
2) Customer Value Price (CVP). We then make an honest appraisal of the maximum price we would be willing to pay for the item (and we're mean). So if we'd pay 80% of its RRP our CVP score would be 8/10.
We then average the two scores to get our final value score, which in our example would be 7/10.
- Modular Sleeping Bag 1: Best ~450g 1 Season and Inner
- Modular Sleeping Bag 2: Best 1 Season and 3 Season Outer
- Modular Sleeping Bag 3: Best 4 Season (Sub Zero) Bag and Extreme Outer
- Best Cold Weather Waterproof Tent Boots
- Modular Tent (1. Body): Best Hooped Bivvy (Bivi, Bivvi, Bivy, etc)
A summary of all current reviews and recommendations can be found on Scramble's catalog page.