An Introduction to the Outdoor Research Insight Lab (#ORInsightLab)

At the end of March, I received a mysterious tweet about participating in a gear testing project with Outdoor Research I'm a long-time admirer of the company, the apparel they produce (still love the Women's Transfer Jacket two years later) and the projects and people they support. Intrigued by the tweet, I followed up, listed the activities I'm participating in most regularly these days (backpacking, hiking, some running and CrossFit), and waited. Then, lo and behold, a box full of Outdoor Research apparel and stickers arrived last week and marked the official start of my participation in the Outdoor Research Insight Lab!

So, what is #ORInsightLab? The idea is to gather a group of what the #ORInsightLab manager calls "influential folks...who are diverse athletes and dynamic social story-tellers" to help share performance insights about products from three specific categories. But it's more than a gear testing project.

"The #ORInsightLab will be an all new community hub on where testers can share feedback with other users and even engage in discourse with designers from OR. The idea is to provide a forum that will help elevate the products and inspire people to take adventures and live boldly."  
- The #ORInsightLab manager

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about how I test gear and structure reviews on Adventure-Inspired. One of the things I mentioned was how awesome it is to get the chance to share honest feedback with the hope of ultimately making a company's product better. I'm excited that a company like Outdoor Research is interested in hearing what (dare I say "normal") users of their gear and apparel have to say. And beyond just sharing our opinions, we'll have a chance to engage with the people that design the gear and apparel. We'll have access to the style guide, product highlights and all sorts of information we'll be able to share with readers.

In the coming weeks, I'll receive more information about the products I'm testing as I put them through the ringer. For the initial testing period, I'm trying out the Women's Torque Tee, Expressa Skort, Offline Capris and Redline Jacket (pictured left to right above). They're all pieces I can see myself using on a regular basis and I can't wait to see how everything performs.

To following along with all of us involved in the #ORInsightLab program, keep tabs on the #ORInsightLab hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. I'll be sharing updates here, on Twitter and on Instagram regularly. And be sure to follow along with other folks involved:


Brian Green said…
It's about time. For the past few years I've pressed several leading outdoor manufacturers for this type of "early" involvement from our community. Reviewing gear after it's gone into production is one thing, but providing valuable input to a product's development before it goes into production is where the real value is.

Looks like a great group of folks to be providing direct input, great to see Mike Petrucci's name in there! Looking forward to reading more about how this pans out.
This is an incredible idea and great use of social! We have long had friends and family give us feedback about our products.

It's a little different with us as with an all natural and synthetic free product we are ALWAYS tweaking. That's the beauty no batch is ever the same!
Vicki Kechekian said…
I'd like to test out groovy gear like this!
Dirtbag Darling said…
Just an important idea, I've noticed a few brands sending out "test" packages to outdoor bloggers. Loving the movement to embrace the power of social and blogging to actually improve products. Can't wait to read your thoughts!
Katie said…
One of the marks of a truly great company is one willing to take the risk of asking for real, honest feedback and responding when they get it, i.e. you guys! Thanks for the comment :)
Katie said…
The gear testing world seems to be growing quickly, hope you get to soon, Vicki!
Katie said…
Agreed! I love that brands are willing to stand behind their products by sending them out to have them tested, and willing to hear what folks that use the products have to say. It's an awesome thing to be a part of!
Katie said…
It's a great group, Brian, for sure! We all seem to have varied interests and involvement in social media, so I'm excited to see what comes out of the project. I agree, it's so important for companies to get feedback from real people and love that OR's chosen this as a way to do it!
Vicki Kechekian said…
Hi i don't use Twitter or Instagram, but I check here and Facebook regularly. Am I missing out on your reviews of the OR gear?
Katie said…
Vicki, I so appreciate that you're a regular reader and that you keep up on Facebook! I haven't posted reviews of the Outdoor Research gear I've been given to test yet, but certainly will! I need to adequately test all of the pieces before I write them up. I did do a short Instagram review of the Torque Tee, which you can see at Stay tuned!