Data are compiled on bed load transport and discharge in gravel bed rivers and torrents with bed slopes up to 0.17. The transport characteristics of 19 streams are compared with simple bed load transport equations and with measurements from flume experiments. In simple form the bed load transport is a function of an "effective" discharge times a bed slope factor. The efficiency of the streams in transporting bed load is defined as the deviation from the transport function. It varies over several orders of magnitude, particularly for smaller and steeper streams, whereas flume experiments and larger streams are in better agreement with the simple bed load transport relation. The large variation and the strong decrease in efficiency in smaller streams appears to be associated with substantial form losses for relative flow depths (defined by h/d90) smaller than similar ∼4-6.