Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » conflict of interest: Manufacturing V review


Display Avatars Sort By:
Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/19/2006 17:23:21 MST Print View

Not sure if this has been brought up before. If BPL makes gear can it talk about other brands in an unbiased manner?

It is a discussion out here in snail land.

Edited by poop on 01/19/2006 17:59:57 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/19/2006 18:27:44 MST Print View

Please Note:
The following opinion is PJ‘s and PJ’s alone and please remember that for my $0.02 you get what you pay for.
----------------------------------------------


>>" If BPL makes gear can it talk about other brands in an unbiased manner?"

Sure. In fact, it's their policy not to include their own gear in comparison studies/reviews. "Riddle me this", since they don't even mention their own "branded" gear, how can there be bias? They are only telling us what other non-BMW gear to purchase.

Many of us wish that they would use their own gear in comparison reviews, so that we can see how BMW/BPL gear performs head-to-head. But, alas, as previously stated, they don't and won't do this to avoid any appearance of bias. Most of us who are Members and regulars to these Forums probably trust that DrJ and Co. would be unbiased if they did review their own gear. Why? Read on...

Sure they "plug" their own gear in advertisements. We buy it. We try it. We like it. We buy more of it. ...and so the cycle goes on and we're happy.

The Forums and the ReaderReviews then serve as "Reviews" for the BMW/BPL gear. If we like something we rave about it. If we don't like something, we say it too (e.g. relatively recent comments on Ti rod and Ti foil ). We often compare BMW/BPL gear to other well known, top quality, high-performing gear. With so many experienced, intelligent, and knowledgeable reviewers amongst us, BMW/BPL:
a) doesn't need to review their own (though they can do more professional reviews and those that require a laboratory, plus they have more expertise - it is for these reasons, at the very least, that we wish that they would review their own gear), and
b) couldn't get away with pulling one over on us ignorant, uneducated peasants if they tried.

Just my $0.02.

Edited by pj on 01/19/2006 23:38:19 MST.

Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
Re: Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/19/2006 18:52:53 MST Print View

Even if they say nothing about their own gear it can be construed that saying anything about other gear can be manipulated to BPLs own ends. There is a conflict no matter how you like to portray it. The honesty of the people involved seems irrelevant to the issue. It would be easy to say BPL reviews gear simply to make themselves look expert to less informed people out there. The reviews could be completely bogus to achieve that end. Indeed, many reviews in magazines and other venues are bogus.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/19/2006 19:25:18 MST Print View

Please Note:
The following opinion is PJ‘s and PJ’s alone and please remember that for my $0.02 you get what you pay for.
----------------------------------------------

Hmm...interesting...frequent very positive comments about other Mfr's (non-BMW/BPL) gear serving devious purposes for the benefit of selling BMW gear?...how does that work again?...is that the way they (not you) think in "snail land"...to quote Robby the Robot from the old B&W Sci-Fi flicks of the 50's: "It does not compute", i.e. "I'll say great things about my competitors so that people will purchase my product which I've said nothing about."

One suggestion, if i may. If you have not done so already, please read some of the reviews - nothing like first-hand knowledge. Of course, non-members NOT having access to all of the reviews in a particular category (e.g., packs or single-wall shelters for instance) will only get part of the picture and so will take that Review's negative comments (if any) "out of context" - never a good thing to my mind. Best, if possible, to purchase a membership in order to get the whole, clearer picture. In fact, one person recently posted in these Forums that it was the Forums the finally convinced him to purchase the membership - it's a great system for disseminating info and is a fine system of "checks and balances" on the BMW gear and BPL reviews. If BPL had anything to fear that their reviews were bogus, why do they initiate a Forum Thread to accompany their articles?

I understand your comments, but IMHO, it's a "straw-man" which does not portray the actual situation. There is ample track record to prove otherwise. Sure, a bad product will get bad marks, but that is only one of several similar products reviewed by the time the review cycle is complete. The good products get good marks. Just talk to the Mfr's of such gear (most recently the review of the MtnLaurelDesigns SilNylon Poncho-Tarp - as a result Mr. Ron Bell now has an 8-10week backlog on this item. BPL doesn't sell it). The benefit BPL reaps is that people want to read what BPL has to say b/c they speak the truth - whether good or bad.

Lastly, as valid as some of your comments might be in other situations, it does not address the system of "checks and balances" that the Forums and ReaderReviews provide (please re-read that portion of my first/prev. Post). If BPL gives bad advice or sells a bad product, we will Post in the Forums or create a ReaderReview which says that it's junk or performs at a sub-par level (some have done this not too long ago regarding Ti rod and Ti foil which, for their purposes, did not come up to snuff).

Sure, we all have inate biases which we ourselves are blind to and are more often than not difficult to identify even if we try. Perhaps, this is just part of the reason, as well as to avoid any appearance of bias, the BPL will not review BMW (their own) gear.

IMHO, as you yourself have stated, there are so many better "targets" for your comments than BPL. [EDIT: looks like i'm the "target" and perhaps i deserve it.]

Edited by pj on 01/19/2006 23:38:50 MST.

Mark Larson
(mlarson) - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Re: Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/19/2006 19:40:22 MST Print View

Yes, you can construe a lot if you care to do so. Cynical speculation is easy. I don't think your concerns are prima facie invalid or uncalled for--it's important to have our BS-detectors on for whatever services we use. I just don't think those concerns have been confirmed. Some of my thoughts for the other side...

-BMW ≠ BPL. I'm not sure who gets money for what and how they get it, but I don't think that BPL reviewers are necessarily on BMW payroll.
-I doubt that selling gear is the cash cow in this operation. Development, testing, and production is usually capital-intensive. I bet there are probably better profit margins in other areas.
-"The honesty of the people involved seems irrelevant to the issue." I would very much disagree. Honesty is at the core of the issue--can you trust what they say? I say yes. Other than backpackgeartest.org, I don't know where you can find better reviews. BGT has its own its own issues though. Any other worthy competitors that you know of?
-"It would be easy to say BPL reviews gear simply to make themselves look expert to less informed people out there. The reviews could be completely bogus to achieve that end." Sounds like a bit of conspiracy theory. That's a lot of effort to create a front to sell 3.7oz packs and distribute the profits over 15-20 staff members. I think their market participation, collaboration, and trail cred demonstrates that many of them are, in fact, experts compared to most outdoor folks. Aside from BGT, as I mentioned, I don't think you'll find a collection of reviews with better depth or general consistency of quality. Let's not forget that BPL isn't just gear reveiws. Technique, education, and philosophy are also important, and we'll probably see more growth in that area.
-Final thought. Should they be unbiased? Let's say BPL folks know that they can make a similar item with a better fabric, better construction, lower cost, etc. Is it necessarily wrong to bring that knowledge into the reviews? I would say no. Because gear doesn't exist in a vacuum, it shouldn't be evaluated only on its own terms--you have to consider the goals in mind and what other options exist on the market.

In the end, even if there is bias, I think it's better to be a slave to a product of your own creation than to a 3rd party who bought your opinion--do you disagree? I don't see BPL making shameless plugs for BMW gear. I don't see BPL saying that BMW gear is the best option in all situations, or holding it as the standard for all other equipment. I do see BMW making great gear with particular strengths and limitations duly acknowledged--and pretty much verified in open forums.

-Mark

Edited by mlarson on 01/19/2006 19:41:57 MST.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
PJ Speaks for? on 01/19/2006 19:48:26 MST Print View

PJ I noticed you respond to many of the post directed to BPL. I'm curious are you speaking for BPL or just speculating? You also use the term "We" very liberally.

An opinion is one thing but to presume speak for BPL or the collective “We” doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

Perhaps a disclaimer is needed here’s an example:

Please Note:
The following opinion is PJ‘s and PJ’s alone and please remember that for my $0.02 you get what you pay for.

Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/19/2006 19:53:43 MST Print View

I was going to make the same comment. Apparently you work for BPL. Below is an example of 'we':

Lastly, as valid as some of your comments might be in other situations, it does not address the system of "checks and balances" that the Forums and ReaderReviews provide (please re-read that portion of my first/prev. Post). If BPL gives bad advice or sells a bad product, we will Post in the Forums or create a ReaderReview which says that it's junk or performs at a sub-par level (some have done this not too long ago regarding Ti rod and Ti foil which, for their purposes, did not come up to snuff).

Also, PJ, I have read many of the BPL reviews and there are numerous examples where gear does not meet up to BPL 'standards'.

If you think I'm just causing trouble and this is a straw man, it is not the case. I spoke with a fellow reader today that brought up the very subject without my prompting.

Edited by poop on 01/19/2006 20:11:43 MST.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: conflict of interest: Manufacturing V reviewing on 01/19/2006 20:15:50 MST Print View

Robert, I understand your concerns about conflict of interest. However, I've found reviews of gear that I have experience with to be very accurate. Two recent shelter reviews, of the Tarptent Virga 2, by Will Rietveld and of the Montbell Diamond by Don Wilson were pretty much spot-on. (Though I disagree with Don about the lack of headroom in the Diamond. Then again, he's a lot taller than I am.)
In another recent review, Will seems to favor a competing poncho/tarp over one made by BMW. And, as others have mentioned, if there is much BS going on in the reviews this crowd will pick up on it.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/19/2006 20:17:29 MST Print View

Really, I don't think there is any need for anyone to be made to feel that they cannot say what they want to in these forums. Anyone who has been around awhile here knows that the discussions and reviews are very open and opinions on gear and technique quite thoroughly evaluated by all and any who care to join in. Just the fact that this very thread happily bounces along with no intervention by any of the BPL staff ought to prove that BPL is an open-minded and constantly evolving community. You can wholeheartedly participate in this community and never once even look at the BMW gear, let alone buy it. You can write unfavorable reviews of BMW gear and be taken seriously. Or you can praise to the heavens another brand's gear and never be taken to task for not mentioning BMW.

It's a great community. I don't really see the conflict here.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Influence of gear tests on 01/19/2006 21:00:17 MST Print View

I can try to respond as a section editor and reviewer (please note: this my personal response and hasn’t been vetted by anybody). The guidance I’ve gotten, and continue to receive, is to be as rigorous as possible in my testing and to make my reviews relevant to our readership. My goal is to write product reviews that aren’t available otherwise in the outdoor press, always keeping weight, reliability, utility and performance foremost in mind. In this I might occasionally succeed, and I always try. To the original question I can say this: Never, in the several years that I’ve been associated with this group has anybody tried to influence my testing methodology or conclusions. Never, ever has someone rewritten an article to alter my conclusions. I am instead consistently and vigorously challenged to be better—in my technique, my analysis and my write-ups.

Everybody at BPL is a gearhead and an outdoor nut, and my fellow reviewers are highly experienced, many with impressive technical backgrounds as well. Some of us probably like gear a little too much (mea culpa). There’s simply no mechanism for sandbagging gear reviews and comparisons in favor of a particular product or product type (if that’s the root of the question). Further, if I were to do so I’d expect to be shown the door in a heartbeat. As to BMW gear, my perception is that these products exist solely to fill gaps Ryan and others have identified in the marketplace. They’re short-run, specialty products that use the best available technology and design that BMW can get their hands on. Where there are equivalents I’m confident that they’ll be compared rigorously and fairly. As you probably know, that happens before any come to market. There’s no point in making a $150 jacket if Patagonia makes the same jacket for $145.

I hope this helps! If it doesn’t, I encourage anybody with questions to hone your queries such that they can be answered to your satisfaction.

Edited by halfturbo on 01/19/2006 21:02:23 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/19/2006 23:23:39 MST Print View

Roger,

Many thanks for the reply. Point taken. My apologies to you and any others i may have offended by including them with the likes of me. I like that "Note" you mentioned. I'm going to add it to my prev. posts as soon as i finish this one. I forget, did i fail to say my two cents in either or both of mine? I'll have to check. Maybe, the second one? I'll check in a minute.

FYI, "we" is often used in certain types of writing to avoid using "i" which in those cases would be somewhat improper - even when not speaking for the masses. In some cases, that's my use of "we" here. In others, when the pronoun's antecedent is plural (e.g. "Forum participants") then i'm speaking for both myself and others (please don't misunderstand me - NOT ALL others, but i have read in some cases where the opinions of others just happen to coincide with mine - those are the "we" - in at least one case, this type of use of "we" accurately reflects that Forum Participants will give bad marks to BMW gear. To use "i" in such cases, would perhaps be misconstrued as claiming to be the almighty reviewer and possessor of the only valid opinion - NOTHING could be further from the truth. Perhaps this Post was not one of those cases where i should have used "we"? I can certainly see that such was not clear here and that it appears that i seem to be acting as the almighty mouthpiece. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

None of this changes the fact that some of the opinions of "snail land" (i'm still not quite sure if Robert places himself in that group or not - mostly i thought after his first Post that he was merely reporting something he read on another B.P.website) are quite illogical. They simply make no sense - "A house divided against itself cannot stand" as someone said long ago. Hence, my weak attempts at humor to try to make this lack of logic clear. I'm thinking, now, that this may have been interpreted as being cynical since i wasn't speaking and my tone of voice (which would have communicated no cynicism) couldn't be heard. I'll try to be more careful in the future. However, IMHO, none of this changes the fact that, as stated in another post, not my own, there is a decided lack of logic on at least one point "snail land" is holding to - at least if i read it correctly. I felt humor might be a better way of communicating this than bluntly saying "that comment is totally illogical." Boy...might i have really drawn fire if i had been that blunt? Don't know. Please know that, in my own mind at least, i make a distinction b/t what was said and the person who said/wrote it; this meaning: the statement as reported was illogical; NOT the person reporting it -have no idea if he holds to it or not; my initial comments were directed at things and in some cases, perhaps, a group, not so much an individual. I'm going to go back and re-read carefully to make sure that i didn't inadvertently target "Robert" with a direct statement using his name in my first two posts. EDIT: Looks like i did use "you" 2 or 3 times. In more innocuous instances, not calling him illogical or error. Please, if you are so inclined, re-read my first two posts, and see if this is not so.]


Thanks for reminding me in diff words, what my father (brought up on a farm - plenty of famer wisdom, had he) once told me, "Son, opinions are like armpits, everyone has 'em and they usually stink." Those were his words and since most people has have multiple opinions, i like his wording. Besides, i heard it long before i was old enough to hear the more common phrasing.

Thanks again for taking the time to set me straight. Appreciate it. Take care, Roger.

--------------------------------------------------------
Please Note:
The previous opinion is PJ‘s and PJ’s alone (???) and does not necessarily represent that of either Roger, BPL, the Forum participants, Reviewers, God (who/how ever you conceive God to be) or Franco-the-Roo. Also, please remember that for my $0.02 you get what you pay for AND usually far less!! Opinions are like armpits and mine usually stink - especially after a day on the trail.

Edited by pj on 01/20/2006 01:44:34 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/19/2006 23:28:31 MST Print View

Roger,

Sorry forgot the two cents closing to my second post.

Rereading my posts, i still see your point. However, a careful reading of the use of all pronouns will clearly reveal that even my uses of "we" are set over against "they". The "they" is used of BPL. Logically, "we" cannot be part of "they" when used in such close connection. So, no...i don't consider myself speaking for BPL is anyone is still interested (...yawn!!).

I guess this "pronoun" point was too implicit, especially if any of my words caused offense (which again i'm sorry for), since, as is common for humans, we (all, i.e. humans, including me, on such occasions) don't see things too clearly once we become emotional.

I'll try to remember using your note in the future. Thanks again.

Edited by pj on 01/20/2006 01:46:04 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/19/2006 23:34:00 MST Print View

Robert,

Please see me prev. comments to Roger on the use of pronouns and careful reading. My apologies to you too as i seem to have offended you by a lively exchange. Keep in mind, at least once, IIRC, i didn't include you with the illogical thinking of "snail land" - hope that you didn't miss it. A thousand apologies to you sir; Gomenasai; Xin loi anh; Shille hamnida; Dwei bu chi. Sorry, i don't know how to apologize to you in any more modern day languages, or i would, in all sincerity, apologize to you in them too. [Note: as my co-workers would be able to tell you, out of habit, i often will apologize in english, japanese, vietnamese, korean, and mandarin (chinese). i try to write similar in a manner to how i speak - i feel that it communicates more that way.]

Please Note:
The following opinion is PJ‘s and PJ’s alone and please remember that for my $0.02 you get what you pay for and often far less. Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware.
----------------------------------------------
Oh...fine...i understand the conversation you had. However, it still doesn't obviate the "checks and balances" - they still exist and work.

>>"Also, PJ, I have read many of the BPL reviews and there are numerous examples where gear does not meet up to BPL 'standards'."

I'm confused by this. Did i give the impression that BPL doesn't say anything negative about gear? I thought i said they give neg. & pos. comments (i'll have to check after posting) - something like, the whole picture if a member reads all of the reviews in a category. Perhaps, this point was unclear and i should have been clearer.

I (meaning me) still feel that the ideas expressed in "snail land" that you (meaning you) conveyed to us (us = any who read, whether they hold to my opinion(s) or not) in your Posts focus on one point (BPL will tell us when gear doesn't meet their "standards" - is that necesarily a bad thing?) and neglects the rest of the truth of the matter. I believe, while sharing my point of view, i at least admitted that both good and bad things are said about other gear - it's, perhaps, more balanced. at least, i hope, that came across.

Just wondering, did BPL give a bad review to a piece of gear either you and/or your friends owns or likes? No need to answer. None of my business anyways.

[Well, it's been fun boys and boys. Got to run off to work. On a more serious note, seems like i'm making a habit of hurting other people's feelings - without even trying (on a less serious note b/c i feel bad that i may have made Robert and Roger feel bad, maybe it's my Mutant Power? always liked the 'X-men' as a kid - had #1 way back when; also, in case anyone is wondering: no, i didn't plan on authoring the book "How to alienate friends and irritate others" - just comes naturally, i guess.). I've got to give this "Posting" thing some more thought...pray for me. Molti grazie.]

Edited by pj on 01/20/2006 01:50:25 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/20/2006 00:50:53 MST Print View

Miguel,

You're right. Thanks for posting. I value your opinion. I feel pretty bad right now that i may have caused some to feel the way you describe. I think if they and i were speaking face to face and facial expressions, gestures (i sometimes talk with my hands - an ethnic "gift". right KD, you know what i mean by this?), and tone of voice were heard, that i would not have injured anyone feelings. But the fact remains, it appears that i sure did.

Also, you're right. No one should be made to feel that they can't participate. At first i thought i was being helpful with the first post - explaining things as i saw them. My second post "targeted" an illogical statement, of not Robert, but of "snail land" - at the time i thought he had read it elsewhere. I should have let that go. I've got to go and think about things now... take care.

Edited by pj on 01/20/2006 02:41:34 MST.

Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
Re: Re: Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/20/2006 01:47:59 MST Print View

I don't think 2 masters can be served here indefinitely. Ultimately it will quell the numbers that grovel to your door for a review, be they manufacturers or readers. What you call checks and balances can be seen as a house of cards - pretty flimsy separations there. There is also a thing called greed; wanting to have it all. I can see from the reams of gobbledegook above that you don't have it quite ironed out yet.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/20/2006 02:13:34 MST Print View

"PJ speaks for" pj - ONLY. My association with BPL is soley as a customer. Please direct all ire at me, NOT BPL. Many thanks.

Robert Ebel
(poop) - F

Locale: Earth Orbit
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/20/2006 03:01:36 MST Print View

Based on all you have said in the last few posts, I think many would find it hard to believe you don't speak for BPL or are not a 'volunteer' or whatever. Seems like it should say staff next to your name. I think the subject needs a few more 'outside' opinions. You have made your feelings known - thank you.

Edited by poop on 01/20/2006 03:10:47 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: PJ Speaks for? on 01/20/2006 03:19:52 MST Print View

Robert,

No truly, just a customer. Mine are merely the words of a happy-go-lucky, opinionated, old fool. Please, don't take them to heart. You've raised a good point - worth considering. From here on in, others can continue this Thread without my interference, if they so desire. Very sorry to have given offense. Nice of you to mention "Staff" (i'm going to choose to intrepret that as a positive comment), but i am nowhere in their league - they play in the big leagues; i don't even play AAA-ball. Take care.

EDIT: Robert, sorry to trouble you again. I was just thinking, you seem to have an interest in this website. As a member you would be able to read all of the BPL articles. I'm not sure of your personal situation (actually, no need for me to know), but if you think that you would make good use of a BPL Membership, but, if for whatever reason (e.g. college student, disabled Vet., retired fixed income, or any other reason - you DON'T need to state the reason) you can't afford one, i'm sure there would be a way for me to buy you a one-year BPL membership. What do you think? Is it something that you would like and use? Let me know. If so, i'll contact BPL and see what can be done. I won't participate in this Thread any longer, but i will check back to see if you Post back. Take care.

Edited by pj on 01/20/2006 04:07:59 MST.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
The potential is there on 01/20/2006 04:40:28 MST Print View

I think that the potential for abuse is there. That potential exists anytime people rate their competitors. If GM owned Consumer Reports, wouldn't you be looking at the magazine's automobile reviews with a very skeptical eye?

The potential for abuse is different from actual abuse. Honest, ethical people can prevent it, as is shown everyday on this site, by the staff and by the readers. Given that they can't completely eliminate the potential for conflict of interest, the staff has done everything they possibly can to avoid (or at least minimize) its occurrence.

However, in the end, it's not BPL's responsibility to avoid the conflict of interest. We readers have a certain responsibility to use our brains to evaluate the credibility of what we read here or anywhere else.

An example: when Klearwater was launched, BPL's role as sole U.S. distributor made me wonder if it might be prejudicing the support it was getting. So, I checked it out elsewhere, and found evidence that, for me, corroborated what I read here. That let me make my decision (the short shelf life made me decide against it, since I take weekend trips every 4 - 6 weeks and would end up wasting a good bit of it.) However, getting the second opinion also reinforced the credibility of this website for me.

Don't get too theoretical in this thread. The potential's there, as it is in many of our own endeavors. It is our own sense of integrity that keeps the potential from materializing. It's that integrity that we, as consumers, have to measure.

(pj: as you well know, you can have my opinion for free - and worth every penny!)

Edited by garkjr on 01/20/2006 04:42:32 MST.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Potential is there, but... on 01/20/2006 05:15:33 MST Print View

"Don't get too theoretical in this thread. The potential's there, as it is in many of our own endeavors. It is our own sense of integrity that keeps the potential from materializing. It's that integrity that we, as consumers, have to measure."

I had similar concerns as Robert. However, for me, the integrity I've seen in the reviews and frank discussions posted by BPL / BMW staff allays any fears I had on the 'potential'.

What I have always found interesting is that Dr J often uses "competitors" gear even when a BMW solution exists. I seem to even remember him (it could have been one of the other reviewers, but I could swear it was Dr J) getting extremely excited over a japanese mfr's self inflating torso pad that he saw at the outdoor retailer show (and wishing they would introduce it in the states). Using terms like 'brilliant' 'that's a great idea' and 'really light and comfortable'.

Yes, there is some gear that gets pretty harsh reviews. And yes, there is 'ideas for improvement' in each and every review. However, many of these 'ideas for improvement' are things that nobody (not even BMW) is using yet. Also, for nearly every MFR that has a product that gets a harsh review there is a product that gets a glowing review (unless the MFR only makes a single product). Plus, nearly every MFR has something that the staff is looking forward to that they've seen at an outdoor retailer show.

So, IMO, BPL staff has done a great job of keeping integrity consistent.