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View Full Version : Suggested Review Format



SGT Rock
2003-01-20, 18:58
This is a SUGGESTED format for a review, not an requirement. If you have ever tried to write a review, it can be confusing if you don't follow some sort of formula. To that end, I'm trying to make this as user friendly as possible.
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Reviewer Name

Age:

Height: (if important to the review like with a pack or sleeping bag)

Weight: (if important to the review like with a pack or sleeping bag)

Experience: List some trails, years hiking, miles traveled, etc.

Similar Products Used: This gives a reader some idea of where you are coming from. If you review a pack and say "the most comfortable pack I've ever used" but have only carried 7 pound external frame, cast iron packs, then you loose credibility.

Locations/conditions tested: List temperatures, rain, winds, altitude, etc. Anything that can impact the test. If you test a tent in dry weather in a park, then the reader can understand you never had to use the tent in a downpour above tree line right above freezing temperatures.

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Weight (advertised):

Weight (as tested):

Price:

Manufacturer web address:

Phone Number:

E-mail address:

Any other statistical information such as capacity, material (like down or synthetic), style (like internal frame or external frame) fuel type (like Esbit, alcohol, gas, wood, etc.), etc...

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Construction, Design, or Initial Impression:
This gives the reader some idea of what to expect or what the product really looks like. This is important because often they only have what they read and some small pictures in catalogues or on the internet to see.

Another thing I often like to cover in the beginning is why I selected a product over another. For instance why I pick a Hennessy Hammock over the Clark when all I had to compare them by at the time was a picture on the internet - price and weight naturally LOL!

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Initial Tests:
This is what you did in the "back yard" before you hit the trail. It is important to try out any piece of gear BEFORE you ever take it on the trail. The saddest sights I've seen is people on a trail setting up a tent or using a stove for the first time.

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Trail Test:
No matter how thorough you may feel your tests are, they are not valid until you have to use a product over time on a trail. A 8 pound, two wall, three room tent may be the greatest ever built, but after two weeks on the trail is it ripped? Does the weight make it a pain in the back? Is it too hard to set up in bad weather Is site selection next to impossible? Etc...

You get the idea. "Trail and Error" test is the proof in the pudding.

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Conclusions/Recommendations:
After you use it, you must have some recommendations for proper use or how to best modify a piece of gear. Share! Maybe a manufacturer will read your review and change what you don't like. It does happen - trust me! I've been reviewing about 2 years now and I've actually influenced the design or even cancellation of a few pieces of gear.

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Anything else worth mentioning:
Sometimes I like to plug exceptional customer service at the end of a review. Nunatak, Hennessy, Brasslite, and Moonbow have all found me praising the exceptional customer service, and feedback (good or bad) gets attention.

Other things to consider when reviewing:

Be precise, use real numbers for things like weights and prices. If necessary list the company that you got the price from.

NOT ALL REVIEWS MUST BE POSITIVE! I really mean this. Almost every review I read by owners are positive, even for stuff I know to be overpriced, overweight, or just crappy. There is a human condition called "justification". In real terms this means that a person that spent $300 on a backpack often feels he/she better dang well be satisfied with it or else feel stupid, and we can't be stupid. I've ripped a few products and also said that a product while nice, was way overpriced.

Try to avoid a comparison review. Unless everyone reading your review has used a Hennessy Hammock, comparing a Clark to the Hennessy in your review is totally meaningless to the vast majority of readers.

Don't fake it. If you like a product and want to give it a good review don't exaggerate the review. Tell it like it is. This also applies to things like weather conditions you used it in. If you say a tarp is great in the rain, but you only used it in a spring shower, not in an Appalachian three day downpour, don't over blow what conditions you used it in.

Someone will buy a product based on your review. PERIOD! But if you are not honest and fair, the person will end up with substandard equipment that may fail and cause the person to expend finances on something they shouldn't have, or even worse - get hurt.

After a couple of years testing and reviewing I consider it a duty to the reader - not the product to be as thorough and honest about a review.