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Re: How long should a piece of gear be used in order to submit a review?

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  • edwardripleyduggan
    Hello Becki, Good questions! We usually like a much longer use cycle than was indicated for the plate, but I made a judgement call on this. One could use a
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 2, 2005
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      Hello Becki,

      Good questions! We usually like a much longer use cycle than was
      indicated for the plate, but I made a judgement call on this. One
      could use a Lexan plate for five years and not learn any more than you
      indicated.

      However, as a general rule, we do prefer far more use of the item and
      I'd definitely like to see your next OR dedicated to something that
      you have used more intensively. Please don't worry if there are
      already reviews for a given item on the site--the more perspectives
      (within reason) the better. Similarly, if you have an item that you
      really like that is no longer made, a review may still be worthwhile
      (especially if it is of a favorite) as frequently such items show up used.

      Case in point: I did an OR last year of a Sierra Designs tent called
      the Divine Lighning, which fits a unique niche (ultra-light,
      four-season, one man). It's been off the market for a few years but
      they pop up used all the time; indeed, I bought a "spare" on eBay
      recently.

      So, while it is thoughtful of you to consider the distribution of
      reviews, and indeed there are certainly occasions when BGT very much
      wants reviews in a given category (requests for such are issued
      periodically), for now I'd like you to ferret out a trusty piece of
      equipment that's been through the wars a bit. I should probably urge
      you to stay away from tents and packs for now, as these are two of the
      more challenging (read "technical") categories. Plenty of time for
      that. Still, if you want the challenge...

      As to applications for gear, apply early and often! Even though a
      novice BGT member is limited to a single test item for their first
      go-round, the moderators will sometimes be kind and waive that rule if
      said application is really well thought-out and presented. Even if
      they don't, the practice is good for honing your skills at considering
      what the critical aspects of a given piece of gear are!

      Best,

      Ted.



      --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "becki_s19" <beckistacy@c...>
      wrote:
      >
      > Ted's comments brought this question to mind- I don't remember
      > reading it anywhere (key word, 'remember').
      >
      > My 1st review, and my next planned review (for the Therm-a-Rest
      > Trekker Pillowcase) are for items that I felt I could give an
      > accurate review on, even though they haven't been used more than a
      > week total. The only thing I couldn't comment on is the long-term
      > durability of the items, something that would take me years to
      > complete since at most we're packing 2 weeks of the year. I also
      > thought they might help broaden the database, since similar products
      > aren't listed yet.
      >
      > Other items, like clothes and my headlamp light, I've used more
      > often, but I was planning to get to those later since they already
      > have reviews on-site. My filter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc, I
      > can comment on, but they have not been used long-term or under any
      > extremes (yet).
      >
      > Then there's stuff like my tent that's a couple of years old (REI
      > half dome plus)- there have probably been several minor changes in
      > the gear since the year mine was made, so I would have to point out
      > I own an older model and everything I say may not apply to the
      > latest version.
      >
      >
      > There's the question in my mind about whether I should apply to test
      > gear or not, and if how many days I plan on backpacking in a given
      > year is 'enough'. I know it probably varies from item to item, but
      > is there a general rule of thumb? I would use the gear apart from
      > my actual trips to run it through it's paces, but it might not be
      > quite the same.
      >
      > Also, is it ok to apply for more than 1 test at a time, since it's
      > not a given if I would be selected for either?
      >
      > Thanks!
    • Andy Mytys
      ... I think it depends on the item and the items complexity. But even then, it varies. Take a tent, for example. That s a pretty complex item, feature wise.
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 2, 2005
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        --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "becki_s19"
        <beckistacy@c...> wrote:
        >
        > Ted's comments brought this question to mind- I don't remember
        > reading it anywhere (key word, 'remember').
        >
        > My 1st review, and my next planned review (for the Therm-a-Rest
        > Trekker Pillowcase) are for items that I felt I could give an
        > accurate review on, even though they haven't been used more than a
        > week total. The only thing I couldn't comment on is the long-term
        > durability of the items, something that would take me years to
        > complete since at most we're packing 2 weeks of the year.


        I think it depends on the item and the items complexity. But even
        then, it varies. Take a tent, for example. That's a pretty complex
        item, feature wise. As a reader, I'd be interested in the tents
        ability to be waterproof and shed snow. But, what if the reviewer
        lives in a relatively hot and dry climate? Does that mean they can't
        do a review on a tent? One of the things to remember is that our
        readers are broader than our pool of testers, so practically any
        review, written correctly, will have good information in it. In the
        tent example, if the reviewer talked about issues such as ease of
        pitch and roominess, the review is still valuable.

        I think the question comes down to if you can write a report that
        conveys some substantive information about the product, backed up by
        real-world examples that gives the reader an idea that you actually
        used it and have something intelligent to say about the product.

        Long-term durability is nice, but is isn't always available. We
        don't expect our writers to beat up their equipment just to see if it
        survives, and then write about it.

        I'd like to add that most people are in your catagory in terms of
        #nights under the stars. A weekend here and there, but in terms of
        long-term regular use there's just not a lot of testers, or readers,
        that can relate. So, not having a lot of mileage in the test might
        not be an issue for the reader - just disclose this fact when you
        talk about durability... that you really can't comment due to limited
        use, but make sure to comment on what you've noticed "so far."

        Use also must be taken with a grain of salt. I've "used" my HS
        tarptent for more than 30-nights w/o a scratch. On one trip, I hiked
        with a friend and he carried the tent in his pack. I then watched
        him toss his pack off during a break, proping it up against a tree
        with an agressive bark. He rubbed the pack against the bark as he
        put the pack down and picked it back up... of course my tarptent was
        between the pack and bark, and the silnylon took some abuse, and
        frayed, as a result.

        If this guy wrote the review, he might complain about product
        durability. I say he's just a jackass that doesn't take care of his,
        or my, stuff.

        Readers aren't seeing what's going on in the field, so they're left
        to whatever's in the review - them's the breaks!

        In closing, I fell that a well written, thoughtful, and analytical
        report is much better than a poorly written report by someone who's
        had lots of experience with the item in question.
      • AndrĂ© Corterier
        We all want to know that... One way to find out for yourself is to sit down and write the report. Then ask yourself: If I read this report, would I be
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 3, 2005
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          We all want to know that...

          One way to find out for yourself is to sit down and write the
          report. Then ask yourself: If I read this report, would I be
          satisfied? Or are there obvious unanswered questions that would make
          me curse the author?

          Generally, the more use the better, and for ORs - the more of them
          you write, the better for all of us! Just go!

          This is even more true for applications - apply away! I was a little
          afraid to appear greedy when as a raw newbie I sent out several
          applications (and continued to do so, even after having received my
          first item, even applying to other items with the one-item-at-a-time-
          newbie-rule in effect). Nobody was bothered by this. To the
          contrary, it was rewarded...
          So go ahead and apply to any and all items that you'd like to test.

          André

          --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "becki_s19"
          <beckistacy@c...> wrote:
          >
          > Ted's comments brought this question to mind- I don't remember
          > reading it anywhere (key word, 'remember').
          >
          > My 1st review, and my next planned review (for the Therm-a-Rest
          > Trekker Pillowcase) are for items that I felt I could give an
          > accurate review on, even though they haven't been used more than a
          > week total. The only thing I couldn't comment on is the long-term
          > durability of the items, something that would take me years to
          > complete since at most we're packing 2 weeks of the year. I also
          > thought they might help broaden the database, since similar
          products
          > aren't listed yet.
          >
          > Other items, like clothes and my headlamp light, I've used more
          > often, but I was planning to get to those later since they already
          > have reviews on-site. My filter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc,
          I
          > can comment on, but they have not been used long-term or under any
          > extremes (yet).
          >
          > Then there's stuff like my tent that's a couple of years old (REI
          > half dome plus)- there have probably been several minor changes in
          > the gear since the year mine was made, so I would have to point
          out
          > I own an older model and everything I say may not apply to the
          > latest version.
          >
          >
          > There's the question in my mind about whether I should apply to
          test
          > gear or not, and if how many days I plan on backpacking in a given
          > year is 'enough'. I know it probably varies from item to item,
          but
          > is there a general rule of thumb? I would use the gear apart from
          > my actual trips to run it through it's paces, but it might not be
          > quite the same.
          >
          > Also, is it ok to apply for more than 1 test at a time, since it's
          > not a given if I would be selected for either?
          >
          > Thanks!
        • colonelcorn76
          ... ### With very few exceptions this would not be considered enough. We re looking for a season or more use. It is dependent on the item in question but
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 3, 2005
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            --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "becki_s19" <beckistacy@c...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Ted's comments brought this question to mind- I don't remember
            > reading it anywhere (key word, 'remember').

            ### It's in the SG - minimally "a season".

            >
            > My 1st review, and my next planned review (for the Therm-a-Rest
            > Trekker Pillowcase) are for items that I felt I could give an
            > accurate review on, even though they haven't been used more than a
            > week total.

            ### With very few exceptions this would not be considered enough.
            We're looking for a season or more use. It is dependent on the item in
            question but commonsense applies. For example, a week's use of
            chopsticks would be fine. A week in a 4-season tent would not. In the
            first case there's nothing you're likely to learn after another 6
            months than you know after the first few days. In the second case,
            you've had no chance to evaluate the primary features of a 4-season
            tent in a single week (by definition you've only experienced it in one
            season at best). On the other hand, I don't look for anything more
            than a winter's use of snowshoes---don't really care that you might
            not have used them during the spring/summer/fall as well. :-)

            However, even this "season" rule might be waived for some reviews. For
            instance I approved one for rain gear that the reviewer only had for a
            month. The kicker was that month was spent entirely on the PCT and
            consisted of a couple of dozen rainy days, a day or two of sun, and a
            snowstorm if I recall. That month of rain on the trail is more than
            enough to evaluate the rain gear IMHO (which is the one that counted
            since I was editing). On the other hand had that month been 1 day of
            rain & 29 of sun it would have failed the use test.

            Good questions to ask yourself are "how many days/nights of use would
            I expect to get out of this piece of gear?" and "what could I learn
            about this gear if I used it for another 6 months?". If your answer to
            the first is a large number and the answer to the 2nd is more than
            "did the fabric pill over time" then you need more than a little use
            to review it. If the answer to the first is low and/or the answer to
            the 2nd is "not much" then low usage is no constraint against an OR.

            For a rough (really rough) rule of thumb, my radar activates when I
            see anything less than 5 trips &/or 10-15 days of use (which is pretty
            consistent with the average recreational backpacker's year). Usually
            this is just a confirming indicator that there's not enough use
            because the review itself doesn't answer many questions. If I have no
            questions, or only a couple of questions about the gear after reading
            the OR it was probably enough time...if I have dozens, then it wasn't
            enough time.


            > There's the question in my mind about whether I should apply to test
            > gear or not, and if how many days I plan on backpacking in a given
            > year is 'enough'. I know it probably varies from item to item, but
            > is there a general rule of thumb?

            ### Nope. It's entirely based on how your test plan exercises the item
            and whether that provides a fair test of the gear. It can be as little
            as a day -- ever use an Oral-B Brush-Up...it's a once-and-done
            product. That's what we pay the test moderators the big bucks for - to
            determine how much is enough.

            >I would use the gear apart from
            > my actual trips to run it through it's paces, but it might not be
            > quite the same.

            ### And is acceptable only as a confirming or corollary information.
            Tests must be based on real-world hiking & backpacking use. Standing
            under the sprinkler in the front yard doesn't have nearly the impact
            of slogging through 3 days of steady downpour through the Pemi
            Wilderness in New Hampshire.

            >
            > Also, is it ok to apply for more than 1 test at a time, since it's
            > not a given if I would be selected for either?

            ### Yes and it's encouraged. At the very least these will be added to
            your "known body of work" to evaluate your ability to test something
            appropriately, how you think, and how well you write. Sometimes the
            newbie rule is waived so you can have multiple items out if there's
            something unique about your app or even because we need one more
            tester with your demographic for a particular test.

            Jim
            Edit Moderator
          • Andy Mytys
            ... Hey... I want a refund! :) Those Oral-B strips might be a one-time use item, but the question for this backpacker is if prolonged use will keep plaque
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 3, 2005
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              --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "colonelcorn76"
              <colonelcorn76@y...> wrote:
              >
              > > There's the question in my mind about whether I should apply to
              > > test gear or not, and if how many days I plan on backpacking in a
              > > given year is 'enough'. I know it probably varies from item to
              > > item, but is there a general rule of thumb?
              >
              > ### Nope. It's entirely based on how your test plan exercises the
              > item and whether that provides a fair test of the gear. It can be
              > as little as a day -- ever use an Oral-B Brush-Up...it's a once-and
              > done product. That's what we pay the test moderators the big bucks
              > for - to determine how much is enough.
              >

              Hey... I want a refund! :)

              Those Oral-B strips might be a one-time use item, but the question
              for this backpacker is if prolonged use will keep plaque build-up at
              bay. I'm not so much interested in how it cleans the teeth when used
              once as much as how clean those teeth stay when its used regularly.

              Yes, the question of "how much use is enough for a review" certainly
              is a complex one.
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