Monday, 29 November 2010

Commercial Reviews.

I had an e-mail from Gareth at Webtogs a few weeks ago asking if I'd like to review some kit, my initial reaction was that I was flattered but on thinking about it I wasn't sure if I wanted to go ahead with it. I've purchased a few items from Webtogs in the past and had no reservations about their service but felt that I'd be a bit pushed for time to actually do product reviews. I phoned Gareth to thank him for the offer and had intended to say no but after some discussion he persuaded me to give it a try on the basis that if either of us thought it wasn't working we'd call it quits. Initially it was suggested that I'd recieve an item every month or so but at my request that has been reduced to every 2 months or thereabouts.

In a nutshell they'll try to send something that I'd actually use but I may also be expected to review something that I wouldn't normally choose. The gear will be tested in the field and I'm free to post my opinions on my Blog without any influence.

So you may be wondering whats in it for me, well if it's not an expensive item I get to keep it so I expect I won't have to return a pair of fleece gloves or the like, more expensive kit such as I guess fleeces, shell jackets and so on will need to be returned. To be honest that suits me fine, I'm trying to simplify my gear not add to it.

For the benefit of anyone looking at a review any items that I haven't paid for will be clearly marked as such. To date the only item I recieved for review that I didn't actually buy was the MSR Reactor which Hendrik at Hiking in Finland sent out to a few bloggers as part of a pass-around. I didn't get to keep the Reactor unfortunately but I did eventually buy one.

At this satge I haven't received anything as I need to sign and return the T&C's, basically I don't post reviews on websites of a dubious nature and don't blame Webtogs if I kill myself.


  1. Richard,
    Everything is in your hands. Stay true to yourself and pull the plug if you feel compromised.
    Other than that enjoy it, they must like what you have done so far.

  2. Nice one Richard. I too have been asked by Gareth at Webtogs to review gear, I agreed and should get something in the post soon. I will be interested too see what you are sent!

  3. Hi James, glad to hear you're one of the others, Gareth mentioned that he'd been in touch with other bloggers but didn't say who and I didn't ask.

  4. It's an online shop not a company selling one brand of outdoor stuff. If it crap they wont stock it hopefully. It's should lead to a better review than say a comment on their website. Good idea it seems to me. James was telling me about this the other week. I reckon one or two folks doing tis should be interesting for Webtogs. Never bought a thing of them. I shall have a look at the website in-depth now.

  5. As I said to James - I need some new socks...

  6. @ Martin, hopefully I can make a decent job of it. I knew that I'd bought from them but hadn't realised how much until I checked my account, Montane Venture, ME Lightline, ME Zero 250, ME Ibex and Combin trousers so I have a good idea of their standard of service and to be honest it's absolutely 1st class.

    @Maz, are you signed up too?

  7. Mac,

    Good luck with it. I've got a handy 'kit testing/reviewing' form from a previous role if you fancy a copy?

    Helps remind you what to look for, why, compare etc etc. I go back to it from time to time to refresh the mind.

    Often a bit of kit I love, someone else would think is shite. So, the form helps to keep you thinking 'objectively' and 'constructively' if you like.

    Just pop me an email if you're interested

  8. Hi Terry, thanks.

    Re, the form, thanks for the offer, I'll get in touch. I think though that Gareths idea of having a few people looking at a particular item is that there should be a variety of opinions, that way those interested can get a better idea if it'll suit them. I don't want to take the view that everything suits someone otherwise everything would get a positive review and that benefits no one.

  9. Always difficult to balance the commercial interests of the PR companies and the distributors with the associated 'honour' of free gear to review. Its a difficult balance, but you seem to be making a fair go of it!

  10. Mac,

    That's the problem. It's a fine line. One bit of kit I tested many moons ago I rated as terrible and was slated for it. Thing is - I was reviewing it and testing it from the point of view of a backpacker. That was in fact the remit.

    On that front it was shite. Simple. No bloody use at all.

    Though I did give it praise for what it's intended purpose was - this wasn't good enough in some folks eyes.

    You'll find with gear and brands in general some folk can be a bit blinkered. Just because it's a 'Terra Nova' or whatever brand doesn't mean the gear is automatically fantastic does it?

    A Regatta soft shell I tested 3 years ago I considered better than many more expensive brands at the time. Loved it back then. Crap now, mind cause such jackets have evolved etc.

    You'll enjoy it. It's very enlightening. Though it's a bit of a pain sometimes if products don't perform as you'd expect.

    Hence it's not unknown for me to lug back up gear in case ;) But borne out of your own experiences you'll gauge whether to do that sort of thing.

    Good luck and enjoy it.

    I enjoy it on a part-time basis.

  11. @ Bob, thanks :-)

    @Terry, I bought a Terra Nova Laser and slated it, same with the Vaude Power Lizard but in each case I explained why I disliked it or what I saw as failings, on the other hand I raved about the MSR Reactor but put my money where my mouth is by buying one. Obviously it's worse if you spend your hard earned cash on something that fails to live up to the hype but in the end whether an item is paid for or supplied for the purposes of a review makes no difference, if I think it has a fault then that's what I'll say. I agree that some folks can be very defensive and display extreme Brand Loyalty, it's as if they forget that they paid the company for the product not the other way around.