If you read my blog much, you know I mostly have disdain for gear reviews, and I discussed in this post a few years ago, The Business of Backpacking. Gear reviews, for the most part, are simply opinions. And “opinions are like assholes — everyone has one.”
If you are researching gear, you need to determine the author’s credibility, other than what he or she tells you. My classic example is the stove review, where the author has placed the stove on a bed of flammable dry leaves, which is not something an expert would do.
So today I was looking into a pair of strap sandals. Similar to flip flops, strap sandals are simply a sole held in place with straps; only more secure and eliminated the go-ahead syndrome inherent in flip flops. One reviewer, who supposedly uses sandals a lot posted pictures of his pasty white feet wearing several brands of sandals. I call BS. If you wear sandals or flip flops a lot, as I do, in the outdoors you will develop a tan with contrasting tan marks where the straps cross the feet. Something like this:
So I call the sandal review total BS, and must disregard the author’s purported credibility, expertise, and opinions.
Over the past week or so there has been a firestorm on a popular Internet backpacking forum due to a gear review by a well know blogger, who posted a link in the forum to the review on his blog. What the gear review did not include was a disclosure that the blogger has a relationship with the manufacturer of the item being reviewed, and he is “sponsored” by the manufacturer. Of course, no one knows the conditions of the sponsorship, but many felt an ethical review should include a statement revealing if the gear was purchased for full price, was obtained at a discount, or was given to the blogger for free.
About three years ago, in The Business of Backpacking, I warned people about gear reviews that might have a bias when the reviewer has a relationship with the manufacturer…
Keep in mind that there are Reviewers, Ambassadors, and Sponsored hikers with integrity who write unbiased gear reviews. It is up to you to determine who is who.
Ethically, gear reviewers should disclose any consumer/manufacturer relationship and apparently there is even a Federal Trade Commission regulation requiring this disclosure, even for reviews on a personal blog. To be honest, the FTC has over-stepped its bounds. More precisely, there should be no FTC, it should be abolished and replaced with personal accountability requiring consumers to think.
Continue reading Disclosure & Self-Reliance
What’s Up With That?
In The Business of Backpacking I took a jab at gear reviews on personal blogs. Specific blogs were not identified, as I have no interest in pointing out any individuals.
Apparently a blogger was put off by my comments, and a “Cease and Desist” email was sent to me via a PM (private message) hosted by an Internet forum. Since there are no Comment or Email capabilities on this Website, it is rather difficult to contact me unless you are a friend or a business client. This is intentional. I really don’t care about what others think.
Continue reading Cease and Desist
LOOKING FOR GEAR
A friend of mine sent me an email asking me to look at a couple of reviews for a new backpacking product. Okay, I like to help my friends. Both reviews were on personal blogs. That’s okay, I like checking with people who actually use gear and provide honest feedback. Whenever looking at new gear and considering someone’s opinion, it is best to get a feel for that person’s experience and whether or not they have a vested interest in the product. Real everyday users can provide the best feedback.
Continue reading The Business of Backpacking