Gear Reviews: Do's and Don'ts

Since you're reading the Trailspace blog, I'll assume you've consulted a gear review or two at some point. User reviews can make a significant difference when researching new gear, especially well-written, thoughtful reviews about well-used gear.

But, for all the good to great reviews, we all have our pet peeves about certain gear reviews ("I just saw this tent set-up in the store and it's amazing!") or sometimes wish the reviewer had provided additional info about how the gear was used (were you backpacking in the desert or mountains? Are you 4 feet or 6 feet tall?).

So, share your wish list and vision for the ultimate, independent outdoor gear reviews below. We want to hear your suggestions and comments.


See also: How To Write a Killer Gear Review and "Gear Tester?" in the forums.


Filed under: Gear Reviews


0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
June 2, 2010 at 4:34 p.m. (EDT)

Even more important to me than how the gear was used is how much experience does the reviewer have with similar products. I'll give much more credence to somebody who used a pack or tent for a weekend but has tested dozens of like products for decades than to somebody who used a product for two weeks but has only used one cheap version in the past.

An experienced reviewer can quickly figure out what is great, what are potential problems, what can be improved, and put it in context of other gear. An inexperienced reviewer is easily wowed, or easily confused, by some feature, often not realizing it had been done a decade or two earlier by another company or works in some conditions but not others. Long term testing also has to be taken with a grain of salt since it's usually a sample of one and may not reflect performance of the other products out in the wild.

0 reviewer rep
39 forum posts
June 2, 2010 at 9:00 p.m. (EDT)

Pet peeve for me is people who use a product once or not at all and write a 5 star positive review. If something fails right out of the box that is a different story, but at least break the stuff in with a few trips before saying it's the best thing ever invented.

Bill S
4,404 reviewer rep
6,005 forum posts
June 3, 2010 at 1:42 a.m. (EDT)

Hey Clyde,

Welcome to Trailspace! I look forward to your contributions here!

For those who don't know, Clyde is one of the true gurus of climbing and gear for the outdoors, and incorporates all the desirable qualities of a gear reviewer - experience in using a wide variety of gear over the year, honesty in telling it like it is, and thoroughness in testing the gear in real-life situations, plus he writes very very well.

Clyde, I still use that quote of yours when I teach outdoor courses about stoves - "Treat all stoves as the barely contained explosive devices that they are." (not the exact quote, but I have the exact quote on a slide in the stove safety presentations I give. Hope we see you at the OR in August. I still need an autograph on one of your books. I don't know how I overlooked your first post here back in January. But let's hear from you more often.

2 reviewer rep
66 forum posts
June 8, 2010 at 10:38 a.m. (EDT)

Bill S, I'm starting to see a pattern here, area all you your friends on here designated by an "S" ?

Bill S

Jim S

Clyde S

Anyway back to great reviews...

I agree that people need to wait on their review untill they have actually used it. When looking for gear I can't believe all the people that write a review that says, "This is some great gear. I set it up in my living room and it looks so cool!"

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