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BPL reviews etc.
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ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 16:22:33 MDT Print View

ok, maybe i'm here to stir up the pot today, but....
what's up with BPL reviews these days? REI and MSR tents? really? wouldn't the average BPL member be more interested in a hexamid or haven review? if i need a review of an MSR tent, i'll find one of the hundreds online already.
i would like to have more reviews of cottage industry items that are pushing the boundaries of UL performance. i don't feel like i need to know more about a marmot sleeping bag, but i would like to know more about a nunatak quilt or a JRB wearable quilt.
does anyone else share my opinion? could it be that BPL is releasing a quilt, bivy, pack, and tarp, and would like to not have any conflict of interest?
i like reviews of items like the jakpak and the poddle because they are something new and innovative.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 18:32:09 MDT Print View

REI and UL are not normally used in the same sentence.

REI doesn't understand the meaning of the term.

Their target demographic appears to be modern day Yuppies whose idea of "roughing it" is car camping in a state park. Really roughing it means the toilets don't go "whoosh".

Definitely, no more REI gear reviews please; let Backpacker magazine do that. BPL should stick to the real UL gear, especially the newer stuff from the Outdoor shows and the cottage industries. For example, try some of the new Catabatic gear............give us a short Spotlight Review, and if merited from your findings, a full-on review.

Edited by wandering_bob on 04/30/2010 18:33:46 MDT.

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
Amen on 04/30/2010 18:33:00 MDT Print View

I want more reviews of stuff that I can't just go down to my local outfitters and look at myself.

Especially with all the new cottages stating up. maybe the BPL staff can get together with some of the new makers and give us a look.

I am also tired of reading people post about "my favorite piece of gear is the Bozeman.... or BPL...." when it does me no good since that stuff is long gone.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 19:04:47 MDT Print View

I too would like to see reviews of things not available at REI etc.. That's what we're here for, the non mainstream stuff. Want reviews for the items that have you saying, Wow, I have never seen one of those.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 19:10:21 MDT Print View

I fully agree with all the above!

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
re: BPL reviews on 04/30/2010 19:18:24 MDT Print View

We are in the process of writing a State Of The Market Report of 2-person double-wall tents with a trail weight of 4 lb or less. As part of that we are using, and reviewing a lot of the tents. Just the nature of the beast. It will drop back off after the SOTMR is finished.

mark cole
Sorry Raymond on 04/30/2010 19:32:59 MDT Print View

I gotta agree w/ everyone else. What you're doing is a complete waste of time for your readership. Maybe harsh, but true.
Everyone is clamoring for a Z Pack's Hexamid-THAT"S what you should be reviewing!
Don't make the reader's reviews have to do your work for you.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: re: BPL reviews on 04/30/2010 19:38:09 MDT Print View

Given how detailed your reviews are, you must be spending quite a bit of time in the field with the gear. Sounds like a lot more fun than my job, since I work in a Dilbert box.

Even though I'd rather see reviews of the cottage gear as well, I do appreciate the effort you put into the reviews that you are doing either way. And besides, it will make for more interesting reading when we can compare the cottage gear to the "big boys" gear. :)

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 19:40:33 MDT Print View

What about updating some product reviews? Often the cottage manufacturers will update their products, adding or deleting features, changing specs, etc.

For example: There is a new version of the TT DR. It'd be nice if the review was updated as well, reflecting the changes. It would also help if the review updated the shelters it was compared with, since shelters come and go, and some change. The SMD Europa, which is compared to the DR in the DR's review, doesn't exist anymore.

But, I should add, this is all very time consuming, and I appreciate the time put into the reviews. If you guys ever need any help testing some gear......; )

Edited by T.L. on 04/30/2010 19:42:07 MDT.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Agree, with a caveat on 04/30/2010 19:41:41 MDT Print View

I agree that a greater focus on lightweight/UL gear would be a welcome addition. I do like the idea of a bit more concentration on what I can't find locally, however, not everyone lives in areas that serve backpackers. That much said, when approached from a Lightweight/UL perpsective, I find some of the reviews of more mainstream gear to be useful, precisely because the scrutiny applied by a Lightweight/UL enthusiast generally differs substantially from that of your traditional reviewer.

The move from a traditional backpacking base weight to that of lightweight and UL is an evolutionary process for many people. Some of these mainstream products help bridge that gap and are a nice balance between weight and creature comfort. And it is clear that many people on these forums have experience with these products.

And while I don't want to shift the debate here - I would suggest that people go easy on the state park / REI / car-camping crowd. I don't think car camping as a negative, maybe not my thing, but hey, who here started out by backpacking UL from the get-go? If yuppies want to car camp in state parks, I am all for it! If it gives them a greater appreciation for parks and protected lands, then only good can come from it. The worst outcome, in my estimation, would be indifference toward our public lands.


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"BPL reviews etc." on 04/30/2010 19:56:18 MDT Print View

I'm going to have to agree with much of what has been said. I expected more data and gear reviews coming into the spring of 2010 with the current stream of new cuben shelters/tarps, UL packs, alcohol stoves (ex. Trail Designs TiTri Inferno, Evernew DX, etc.), trail running shoes, etc. Alas, the year is young and there is plenty to look forward to as we are in the midst of spring. I do have high expectations from BPL for 2010 with all the options available to the lightweight hiking community. Of course there is always for current and relevant gear reviews and interviews concerning the UL industry. So all is well.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: NoCo
Some mainstream is ok on 04/30/2010 20:08:41 MDT Print View

I'm with Dirk. I prefer focus on lightweight but some mainstream is good. Can't convert all at once due to cost.

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 20:17:45 MDT Print View

well, in response to some of the comments-
i don't have any issue with the REI crowd or car camping or yuppies in the wilderness. i started out car camping as did many of us i'm sure. i also don't have a problem with MSR tents or REI tents, i'm sure they are decent. however...they sure aren't anything new. a rectangular double wall dome tent? where have i seen that before?
this thread was not directed at raymond pre se, just the lack of reviews i feel BPL subscribers would like to read.

there are plenty of people on this site that buy the new gear and write great reviews with excellent photos demonstrating pro and cons. they darn sure aren't doing it for the money, so it must be the service to the community at BPL.

Quinn Nelson
(QNelson) - F
Sad but True on 04/30/2010 20:31:58 MDT Print View

With out adding to much fuel to the fire I too am going to have to agree. I payed money to become a BPL member with the idea that part of that membership would give me reviews and info that was more pertinent to light and UL backpacking. Were as some reviews have been great many others have not.(Referring to item quality not the actual review quality)Hopefully with the amount of attention and agreement this thread is getting we can start to see a little more movement towards the UL items or at least an explanation on how items are picked to be reviewed.

EDIT:Bah I can't spell....

Edited by QNelson on 04/30/2010 21:12:21 MDT.

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Some mainstream is ok on 04/30/2010 20:57:13 MDT Print View

I don't think that anyone is criticizing the mainstream campers, but rather requesting a stronger emphasis on reviews of gear that are designed for THIS community.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Re: Some mainstream is ok on 04/30/2010 21:16:42 MDT Print View

Rakesh got it right.

There's nothing inherently wrong with car camping and the like, but that's not what this site and it's demographic are about. This is BackpackingLIGHT. Let's stay there. hasgood user reviews of a lot of the so-called mainstream gear. Go there for reviews like that.

Edited by wandering_bob on 04/30/2010 21:17:41 MDT.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 21:40:22 MDT Print View

I agree with the previous posters -- the most interesting reviews are for:
*) State of the art survey reviews
*) UL gear I do not find reviewed elsewhere
*) Calling my attention to UL gear I might not otherwise be aware of

There is one other category -- the state-of-the-art reviews in areas that are changing rapidly, such as GPS and digital cameras. The reviews BPL has done have been fine when done; what is needed is keeping those reviews up to date -- by definition, reviews in areas that are changing rapidly quickly become out of date. Perhaps an annual update in such areas would be good.


Edited by blean on 04/30/2010 21:41:38 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 21:44:03 MDT Print View

""Perhaps an annual update in such areas would be good.""

This is a great idea

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ben, Rakesh and Bob - on 04/30/2010 21:53:46 MDT Print View

Hey, I wasn't trying to start an argument here - I agree with the premise and mission of BPL, or else I wouldn't be a member. I wish there were more reviews and emphasis on light gear as well, regardless of who makes the stuff. I just don't have an issue with some "maintstream" gear being reviewed.

Bob, thanks for the tip on katabatic gear as well! Good find.


Edited by dirk9827 on 04/30/2010 22:00:04 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
BPL reviews etc. on 04/30/2010 22:13:01 MDT Print View

Please don't mind that my name says "Staff" underneath it because I'm definitely prone to be given more credit than I may be worth because of it.

That being said I agree with much of what is being said in this thread. It was for the quality information being requested by the above posters that I too originally joined BPL some years ago.

Now, to play the part of the "Staff" mentioned underneath my name I would suggest that the BPL community consider looking into submitting articles and reviews of the the items they are interested in themselves. Currently those who are writing and reviewing for BPL have a certain perspective/angle and I'd like to see what others could bring to the table i.e. as more cottage-industry based reviews.