This place is a Ford Capri, flashy colours, but there’s a 1960’s engine revving under the hood.
You know me, I just kinda bimble along with a mix of mild swearing, partial nudity and a whole bunch of what I do, be it work or play. Then there’s the gear thing of course.
Martin has a interesting post over at his house, and reading through the comments (as one always should), gear does seem to be the prickly pear in the bloggers salad bowl. It got me thinking then, and indeed now.
Maybe I’ve come at testing and reviewing from an unusual angle, but it’s not something I really give much thought to, other than things like “Is this *******(insert item here) working for me?”, “This buckle is about to come away in my hand”, “I can’t believe these haven’t given me blisters”, “This hood needs to get under the sewing machine when I get home”, “Oh, this orange is going to look great in the snow…”, I worry about the gear, not the politics.
My reviews are on the whole pretty positive, I get niggles or features that aren’t what I’d personally choose, it’s not because I’m the trade’s bitch, but because nobody sends me shite gear. Too many reviews out there, in print and online, have a conclusion solely based on personal preference rather than a level of acceptable performance.
I mostly look through the workbooks and ask for what I know will get proper and repeated use, but I’ve made some mistakes, I don’t even know where those white Crocs disappeared to… I have asked for gear from budget brands, but no one will give me it, which I think is stupid. Something either works or it doesn’t, if it’s more expensive it might be lighter, if it’s cheaper the fabric might not be top end, but it’ll still do a job. Brands should stand behind their products, if they can’t, well, draw your own conclusions there.
Martin’s post also brought another circling item in to land, outdoor shops. I talk about them a lot, I’m always plugging the independents or sending folk their way when I know they stock an item that’s being sought, but being more directly involved with shops has always been something that’s troubled me. Alpkit and backpackinglight.co.uk seemed different, I’ve been happy to plug them and their gear, but when it comes down to it a shop is a shop, whether they make their own gear, import it themselves or get it shipped from a distributor.
So, I’m not fretting about this stuff any more. In a month or so I’ll be running a competition with The Climbers Shop in Ambleside, somebody out there will be getting a Hilleberg Akto after I’ve taken it out and made sure it works okay at 1000m in the Highlands. I like it this way, all I get from this is a night in a tent and chance to spread a little joy.
And, as soon as Haglöfs finally decide on a winner of the LIM35 pack competition, I’m giving away all the Wigwam socks that I’ve been storing in it.
Gear is going to be all over this place like a rash in fact, starting later this week I’ll be doing a first-look at some new gear every day for nearly three weeks. I’ve got alpine boots, trail shoes, socks, food, fleece, rucksacks, softshell, insulation, waterproofs, lighting, stoves and right in the middle, a day at Berghaus HQ.
Stands up nervously and faces the group… My name is Petesy, and I’m a gear freak.