Friday, August 16, 2013

Review of Reviews

Before diving into this I want to clarify that I do not claim to be an expert on this but I do want to share what I believe to be important when looking at a gear review to help you in a purchase of new gear.  I am also not attacking anyone for the way they may do gear reviews nor am I saying that I do the best gear reviews out there.  I am just sharing what I think is useful in reviewing a gear review.  I believe this information could be useful for both consumers as well as for companies looking for people to perform gear reviews.

As an online blogger I see a lot of "gear reviews" done by other bloggers that have caught my eye.  Some times the things that catch my eye make me not believe a single thing on the review and in some incidences even discredit the whole blog.  Once again that is just my opinion and I have my own reasoning for such conclusions.  Other times the things that catch my eye make me overly excited about the gear.  Reviews that are done right sell people like me on trying out new gear!  Below are some things I look for when reading a review.


 How/Where they tested the gear:
It is important to look at how the reviewer tested the gear.  When I was talking to Ribz Front Packs about their gear and possible doing a review, the owner expressed a frustration of how some people doing a review just wore the pack around the house.  Be sure the review actually FIELD tests the gear! Anyone can try something on inside a store but the purpose of a review is to tell people how the gear performs in the field.  So when reading a review check for WHERE they tested the gear (if the reviewer does not specify if they used it in the field, it was probably tested in their living room). Also look for how intense the gear was tested. If you want gear that is durable and quality you need to check to see if the gear was tested for a few days or if it was a quick 5 minute "test" just so they could write a review and snap a few pictures.  By checking for these things you protect yourself from buying something that isn't going to suit your needs or wasting money on something that is going to fall apart the second time you use it.
 
Reviewing the Ribz Front Pack


How often they use it:
Another thing to look for is how often the gear was used.  If the reviewer only uses the item once for the review then the gear may not be as valuable as they are claiming it to be. Look through the reviewers other posts to see if they mention the product multiple times.  With this I know that you may not use some items as often as others but if a product is worth it the reviewer will often mention it in other posts as well as on their other social network accounts (ie. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc...).

I use my Teton Sports Summit 1500 almost weekly
Pictures:
A quick easy way to see if a review is worth while is to take a look at the pictures provided. If the pictures have houses, sidewalks, or kitchen counters in the background then that may be a sign that the review is lacking in quality field testing.  Once again this isn't a guarantee but be sure to check it out. If the reviewer says they took the gear on an intense hunting trip and all you see are pictures with kitchen cupboards in the background I would question the validity of the review. Do take into consideration the time of year the review was done also. If I sent out a review of my ice fishing gear in mid July then the review would even cause myself to question how accurate it would be.


Ranger Beads on my carpet
Ranger Beads on my Pack

 

















Pro-Staff or not:
This is one of the items I struggle with the most. A pro staff member is asked to promote a companies products so it is inevitable that they are going to say the product is a good one.  At the same time, most pro-staff members are quality outdoors men who have worked hard to be where they are in their social networking.  Be sure not to be easily convinced the product is good just because a pro-staff member says it is. Be sure that the pro-staff member can chat with you about the product, how they tested it, and what the products strengths and weaknesses are.  Many of the online bloggers have a twitter or Facebook account where they would gladly chat with you about their review. This is your way of making sure there aren't any inconsistencies between what the review says and what the pro staffer has to say about the gear.  It is also important to ask the pro staffer if there are others who have done a review on the same gear this way you can base your decision off more than just one opinion.


Remember, these are just some things to look for and be aware of when using a review while searching for new gear.  There are a lot of good bloggers out there who share some great information.  Even with the best blogs out there, it is important that you do your research and not just take someone's word on it.  This keeps us bloggers honest with the companies we promised to give their product a good review.  If you are aware of these things you will be able to tell the difference between those who do gear reviews because they like to test the gear and give it an honest review and those who agree to do a "gear review" just to get their hands on some gear.


Like I said I don't claim to do the best gear reviews out there but I try to make sure my review gives the consumer as well as the producer the most honest opinion I can to ensure the product is accurately tested and reviewed.  Some of the other bloggers I have see write and produce good reviews are: SoCal Bowhunter, Sole Adventure, High Country Bowhunter, The Will To Hunt, and a few others.  Remember that This information is to protect yourself from buying a product that will not be good for you in the future.  This is not information that is meant to bash or criticize anyone's blog or their efforts on gear reviews.