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Think about it. Who writes hiking gear reviews?
Uh, is this a trick question??
Just a necessary one, before you part with your money.
Gear reviewers have a vested interest in the gear, for any number of reasons.
For instance: Maybe they want to get the word out to other trail type people about what works, and what DOES NOT work.
Or, maybe they are writers as well as outdoorsy people, and they're combining two loves. No harm in that, right?
The profit motive is definitely a factor in some hiking gear reviews, and it's sometimes hard to detect it.
Full disclosure at the end of the review would be nice, as is done in scientific literature when the authors disclose potential conflicts of interest.
Are there any other motives behind writing hiking gear reviews, besides altruism and profit?
Extremely negative reviews might be a form of venting, making the author of the review feel better.
Personally, I find these rants - oh, sorry, reviews - to be entertaining.
But I digress.
You're looking for gear reviews you can trust.
But don't overlook one little fact of life:
Women hikers are backed into a tighter corner than male hikers.
We're at the mercy of manufacturers who may not have recognized that women aren't shaped like men, and we don't hike like men (apologies to the Iron Maidens who say they do.)
I'm not talking about endurance, speed, mental toughness - I'm talking about the realities of living in a female body:
That makes many gear reviews unreliable for women.
Knowing all of this, where do I go for hiking gear reviews?
Sadly, very few places.
I avoid the reviews which are clearly tainted with profit motives - the review is placed side by side with a link to purchasing the product, or an ad.
Product placement, I think it's called. A well known outdoor magazine does this month after month.
I also avoid reviews which are superficial, focused on the color of the back pack, or the number of pockets in the pants.
Useful details, but not really answering my vital questions:
Reviews in hiking magazines can be reliable, if you regard them with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Maybe it's just my scientific background, but if you state a fact, where's the proof?
Example: "This stove will boil water in 2 minutes."
A factual statement, no? But where's the context?
For example: Where was the stove?
I think you get my point: just because the review says it's true, won't make it true for your unique hiking situation.
When I read a review, I do a little detective work on
If this sounds like too much work, it probably is for most casual hikers. I've gone off the deep end with hiking, and claim it as my life's passion.
So I make it my business to ferret out the good reviewers, and I pay attention to what they say.
The rest is up to me, and if you trust my judgement you can take a peek at the womens hiking gear I recommend.
OK, by now you're probably wondering where I turn to for gear reviews when I'm scoping out a new piece of gear.
Here's one place: Backpack Gear Test (perhaps a misleading name, as it reviews gear for any type of hiker).
I immediately felt good about this site because they dedicate a page to explaining why and how they review hiking gear.
Another thing I like about this site is how thorough each review is.
I hone in on the hiking gear reviews written by women, which is easy to do on this site when you identify the category of gear you want to read about.
For instance, here's a female generated review of a pack complete with photos, pros & cons, and field reports.
That information makes it easier to decide whether the review is realistic for someone of my size, age, and hiking patterns.
It also gives me clues about how to buy hiking gear.
OK, I'll bet you knew this was coming:
I've been known to write my own reviews.
You can check them out here.
If you've found some great sources for reliable hiking gear reviews, please share!
I'll post my review of the gear review here. You can review it at your leisure!
And you can rely on me to be unbiased: I purchase and use most of my gear on the trail and in the back country.
If I do receive a piece of gear to test (I'm pretty picky when it comes to review opportunities), I'll tell you that right up front in the review.
And I'll scrutinize that piece of gear even harder - because I don't want you to think I'm biased just because it was free.
Plus, I never turn around and sell that free gear for profit - instead, I give it to a hiker who needs it.
So let's keep the gear review love flowing to our virtual trail sisters!
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