Saturday, 10 February 2007

Blogging and free gear

I was going to do a piece about free gear but after reading John's latest post over at Walkabout In The UK. I thought I’d combine a response to this with the free gear post.

John's latest post is: Podcast Bob, Podcasts, Blogs - The New Rock and Roll
Personally I see bloggers and podcasters as people who have a big interest in the things they are blogging/podcasting about but are never going to appear in regular print or radio because its such a niche interest.

People are probably reading that last statement and saying "Doh! that's pretty obvious!" but these people do have something to say and with the available software on the internet it's so easy for them to get their views out there.
With Software like, Skype, and Audacity; a podcast can be put together, it may not be as polished as Podcast Bob's or some of the other podcasters but it's a way to get the information out.

Blogger and other blogging sites is another way for the 'average Joe' to have their say. In the past, the only real likelihood of appearing in print was maybe on a letter page of one of the walking magazines but now through the medium of blogging anyone can express their views. Some of the blogging regulars have even managed to get published in TGO; now whether this would have happened without them blogging is unknown but it's pretty unlikely that the magazine would know that they exist.

So far; in the blogging/podcasting world, we have had Bob's wonderful 10-part TGO challenge podcast, Aktoman's West Highland Way mobile blog, and Weird Darren's Great Plastic Bag Test, and one to watch is Alan Sloman's LEJOG.

Personally I can't wait to see a videocast of a TGOC or another long distance trail.

Free Gear

At first this may not seem connected to blogging but bear with me.

BackpackGearTest is a site which has reviews of equipment, the good thing about this site is that anyone can post reviews and get free gear with a little work.

BGT is the brain child of Jerry Goller, his idea was to get manufacturers to supply equipment to the average hiker. The basic premise is that you test the equipment, write a series of reports (over a 4-6 month period) then get to keep the equipment.

There are some rules to follow but they are pretty straightforward. BGT have a user guide which helps you through the initial point of getting started.

I’ve been able to test nine pieces of equipment through the period; October 2002-March 2006. These have ranged from dehydrated meals to backpacks.

Now this is where we get back on to blogging; all of these reviews and test reports are written by average hikers but with an advantage of testing the equipment for a long period of time and this means that the reports are much more detailed than any report you will see in a magazine.

Here is a review on the Jetboil. Its amazing how much time and effort has gone into this review but it gives a potential buyer a very good idea if this piece of equipment is good for them.

The Wildebeat have a podcast with Jerry Goller (show no.3) and it also seems that some of the testers are now getting to go along to the Winter OR 2007

All this goes to show that there is more portential from blogging and podcasting to come. Hopefully the bigger players will see this and start to use this untapped resource and give Darren a press pass :)

My BGT reports are here (if anyone is interested :))


  1. A very thoughtful piece George.

    I'm off to the gear test site to see just what toys you've managed to play with in the past. I always got the impression that the site was aimed at US testers, but you've set me straight so perhaps I should take a bit more of a general look at it, rather than just for specific items (e.g. my Atko purchase last year)

    And the press passes - not just Darren matey - keep your ear cocked.

  2. Great piece... I think I will have to add to this debate abit further by blogging even more on it. And this is what I think is great about the blogs, a discussion has started that people respond to by blogging and posting comments. And so far it has been really great as it has not sunk to the level that some of the threads on OM sink to. Well I'll blog the rest of my thoughts. Once again great posting (you too John).

    And I really love that link to the Jetboil review. I was like WOW!! I think when ever anyone asks about Jetboils on OM you should reply with a link to that.

  3. I'm curious; you stated that "[you]’ve been able to test nine pieces of equipment through the period; October 2002-March 2006." Why don't you test anymore?