When my editor, McKenzie, asked me to do the review I was psyched. No matter what sort of climbing is your favorite, if you're a climber you nerd out on gear a bit. Even folks who only boulder (arguably the least gear intensive type of climbing) still obsess over the right shoes and the right shoe rubber. As a climber who is pretty keen on alpine climbing and also climbs the occasional big wall, the obsession runs deep. I read on line reviews pretty much every time I purchase something. Most reviews of climbing gear seem to be (a) a regurgitation of the manufacturers marketing materials, and (b) written after only a few days of use. They're also often published in magazines in which the manufacturer advertises. I know a few folks who write/have written for various climbing periodicals and they always seemed like people of integrity to me, but that definitely fits the definition of "conflict of interest".
|Glen testing (and posing) with a CiloGear WorkSack.|
OutdoorGearLab does things a little differently. First of all, they pay full price for everything. No companies send them free gear and the stuff they test is the same as the stuff climbers buy off the shelf, no prototypes. After the tests they sell the gear at deep discounts at their eBay store. Second, they rarely review just a single item, instead comparing items across a category. Third, their reviews are comprehensive. Each test has three articles in addition to each individual product review. I tested 9 packs. The shortest thing I wrote, one of the product reviews, is over 600 words. The longest, what they call the "Best In Class", which is the main overview article, is over 4000 words. In total I wrote over 14,000 words, which probably doubles the number of words I've written in the last 15 years! Fourth, the testing itself is comprehensive. Each of the 9 packs had at least 20 days in the field. I also did a bunch of weighing, measuring, and photographing at home. During the height of the writing process this definitely felt like a part time job, and I was glad I was doing the writing during the quiet part of my guiding year.
Thanks to everybody who took a photo, posed for a photo, or used a pack and gave me their two cents about it. Many thanks also to me excellent editor, McKenzie Long. If you've got some time to kill at work today, or if you're in the market for a new pack, check it out.