The great outdoors and blogging

The great outdoors – don’t you just love it!

While away on my trips filming in the hills, I often log onto the internet (signal permitting) and read through the many outdoor blogs to be found – and I’ve noticed in some quarters there’s been some debate of late concerning the integrity of some authors and the creeping commercialisation of such sites.

This debate has likely kicked off on many levels due to the number of outdoors blogs out there now and the invites many have been sent concerning Gore Tex’s Active Shell Bloggers Summit over in Bavaria. And I’d like to throw my tuppence into this conversation (now I’m home) and perhaps explain a few things concerning me and my blog, too.

First off, I have to admit I too got an invite to Gore but have decided not to take up the offer of an all expenses paid trip in Germany to meet their team and fellow outdoors enthusiasts. Not because I don’t particularly want to per se – but mostly because I’m unable to due to work.


THE BACKDROP


Initially, there was some scepticism on my part with Gores motives behind the event but I can very well see why they’ve done this. The outdoors blogosphere is growing and becoming ever more influential as far as marketeers are concerned and this is quite understandable.

It’s an extensive community of like-minded souls who potentially have a reach and influence over many prospective customers for some gear companies. And it’s no surprise therefore that some of this beginning to be tapped.

The way the internet has shaped all our lives in the past 10 years is really quite remarkable – it’s enriched the world we live in and has shaped the way many think and wish to lead their lives. Naturally there has been some negative side effects to this empowerment and influence too. Be it extremism or such stories as Wikileaks. And for those who love the great outdoors they have been affected just as much as in any sector. Be it learning of new places, re-visiting old ones, sharing tips and stories, kit reviews, opinions and of course socialising.

Social networking is here to stay, that’s for sure and many businesses have failed miserably to take advantage of this ever growing market. As such we’ve seen the traditional media lose more and more of it’s influence and in turn they’ve lost huge amounts of revenue. And us users, in effect the customer have gained massively from all of this. We’ve become more empowered.

Against this back drop, it should come as no surprise that outdoor blogging has taken off into the stratosphere. Be it sites such as Blogger and others, Twitter et al or online forums (which in themselves are now dying a slow death but they still have their place).

Outdoor blogging has always been about the author, their travels and experiences and much more. Usually it’s a mark of their character and in turn sharing the joy of the great outdoors wherever you are in the world is enlightening and entertaining. Granted, there are some which are very bog standard but they’re no less interesting than those that are extremely popular. Human beings are social creatures and instinctively fall into groups. Blogging, forums and the internet have brought many of us together to form a ever closer knit community worldwide, breaking down barriers and prejudice.

Picture courtesy of Dean Read – me wandering around with my video camera on Kinder Scout

All said and done, where blogging is concerned, essentially it’s always about the content – whatever it’s quality – and it’s up to those who blog what they choose to write about or develop. After all, we’re all individuals and so blogs should reflect that. And just as you may prefer one person to another in real every day life – so it will be the case when it’s comes to following blogs online. Hike your own hike so they say – well, blog your own blog, no?

The same goes for our interests, passions and more. Blogs are a reflection of not only ourselves but our tastes and interests, too.

So, why then noting all the above is there some consternation in some quarters within the outdoors blogosphere?

Inevitably, authors will talk about gear concerning our pursuits and what’s relevant to them. It’s natural. We’re social, the medium we’re talking about is about sharing. How one chooses to present it to the world is up to them. But there are questions being raised (along with eyebrows) about those who do ‘gear reviews’. Their motives and integrity is being questioned namely due to a large number of gear companies and outdoors retailers sending in some wares in the hope of some market awareness.

Consequently, some reviews be it favourable or not can be open to debate and for some ridicule, too. Fairly and unfairly.

The fact of the matter is this.

As I’ve already mentioned above, it’s this untapped market influence gear companies and retailers are reaching out for. And you can’t blame them. That’s business. And those who are good at it have been promoting such practices for quite some time and not just in the outdoors blogosphere. If for one minute you believe that any gear company does not wish to promote their wares in any shape or form via any blogger they could choose – then you’re a very naive person. If such a business thought that way – they’d be out of business very soon in this day and age.

Bloggers have helped small companies thrive for crying out loud. Unheard of to most, now sought after by most! There’s loads of examples. It’s that empowerment the internet has brought us and naturally some companies can thrive or die from its effects.

Big companies who screw up on kit or a practice – gets blogged about and their reputation is potentially ruined! Twitter and all it’s foibles has proven the power of mass social networking media in the past couple of years (of which I’m sure you don’t need me to list examples of). If some deserve praise the word spreads and so on.

So some bloggers are becoming another tool in the arsenal of marketing which is understandable. And why not? It’s everywhere on the internet. Travel blogs, automobiles, music, fashion and more. It’s in our everyday lives too, be it adverts on the radio, TV or billboards.

But just because someone has paid for some gear or been given it for free (or test and return) doesn’t or at least shouldn’t mean the authors review is compromised in any shape or form. I certainly don’t take it that way.

It’s pretty obvious if it has anyway. If you’re familiar with the author of a particular blog, you tend to gauge what they’re like in character and personality and shape your own opinion (rightly or wrongly but such are words on a screen!).

I wouldn’t say I’m a liberal, but I’m a firm believer in ‘each to their own’ and diversity. So, blogs will reflect that and in my opinion should.

ABOUT ME

As far as I’m concerned with my own blog – well, I’ve only been doing it for little over a year and I’m well aware of how popular it’s become. It bedazzles me (some cynical and harsh critics will more than likely agree with me on that!) but it’s also very heartening that there are those who enjoy sharing my joy from the outdoors. I’ve always been into my outdoor pursuits from a very young age and it irks me somewhat that due to some off the cuff remarks or questions somewhere I’ve made in the online world that some folk are naive enough to think that such words are a definitive reflection of my experiences or character.

Utter rubbish!

And those who’ve met me and know me can testify to that.

I was encouraged to create a blog by a fellow blogger and I was unsure of the idea at first because in reality I’m a very modest and down to earth person. I’m not one to be a showboat or wash my dirty linen in public. And I’ve no doubt many other bloggers are the same. Consequently, I use my pseudonym of ‘terrybnd’. Not because I’m hiding anything – far from it. I’m just naturally a cautious and careful thinker. I’m really very much a private and modest man.

But here we are today and I’ve been blogging, tweeting and all sorts – sharing my thoughts and joys of the great outdoors. And for those who’ve followed my blog over the past year they’ve seen how I’ve developed my career in filmmaking on the hills. Self-taught and self-made. Remember, it was a redundancy near Christmas last year that gave me that final push over the edge?

I’ve been fortunate enough to combine a passion for backpacking with a love for sharing the sights I see via video.

If you came up to me a year ago and told me I’d be where I am now in the future – I’d have laughed in your face! And despite my bad days out on the tops I do from time to time pinch myself and cannot believe I now spend more of my nights out under nylon outside than I do in my own bed at home.

The boundary between hobby and job has not only become blurred but disappeared all together.

And so as time has passed I’ve been contacted by more and more companies wishing to feature in some capacity in my outdoors career. I’m not stupid. I know full well the reasons why. Free marketing and access to an audience.

But this much has been obvious over the past few months – I’ve been selective in whom I deal with. Not out of snobbery or anything like that. But out of integrity.

If a company is not prepared to accept a negative remark or review of their product, then I quite simply do not wish to deal with them. They can totter off to some magazine they sponsor in some shape or form if they want that.

And believe me – there’s been several. Some are surprising and others not so. But I’m polite and fair and do not wish to embarrass them but if I feel they’ve really crossed a line, then I’ll not give a second thought to spread the word on here.

I don’t always state what kit I have in for testing either. I don’t wish for my blog to be some gear review mecca – that’s all. My blog was always about me – my online outdoors diary. My videos and more. If I’m honest, with my current workload I just don’t have the time to try out more kit or review it. I take it very seriously. I may well be given kit nowadays that’s saved me a tonne of money – but I haven’t got my head up in the clouds and forgotten what it’s like to part with hard earned cash. And as it happens I still purchase gear anyway out of personal preference.

Talk I’ve read of gear being tested over 30 days (involving separate trips) makes me chuckle. I test the kit I am given or buy over several days at a time, in all conditions (and sometimes choose to really push them to my own ill effect) over a period of several weeks.

In effect, I’m giving the gear a use that equates to most folks trips in one year! And I can tell you, you soon find out if kit is worth it’s salt or not after a few days hiking over several weeks.

For example, Exped Synmats. I bloody love em. Fab products. But I’ve gone through two Exped Synmat UL in less than 3 months. The first had approx 28 nights use and had a failure. The other is still going strong but did have a minor fault of which I repaired – nothing major but some of it’s insulation has now delaminated. The mat is covered in crap, has been soaked through, torn at – the lot. Would you as a user discover these faults in 30 nights? On separate trips?

Even so, it’s still going well and performing after 40 nights now. Count em. 40. Longest period of use in one go? 7 nights. That shows you how often I’m out in a tent on the hills. That won’t come as any surprise to some of you, I know. But some will through a blinkered view of me think it’s all a lie.

And if it helps – I bought the mats. They’re not test kit per se. That much will be obvious in any review I submit that I think will be helpful to my readers in the next couple of weeks or so – and it’s pretty plain to see for any other kit I’ve submitted a review for in the past.

Don’t get me wrong, with experience and personal preferences you can judge how a product will perform just from looking or one trip – but also you can get it very wrong, too. Kit I thought that be ace? After 30 nights, fell apart. Was not happy.

So, you can see from a gear companies perspective, I may well be just the sort of person they’re looking for to try out sample kit or brand new off the shelves equipment. It’s a clear two way working relationship for a mutual benefit in principle.

The likes of Rab and Terra Nova full well know my experiences in the past and present. I give them constant feedback on their products and they are always all ears and respond in a way we all hope and wish gear companies would. If they didn’t think I was much cop – well, I wouldn’t be testing their gear would I.

LE FIN


I’m a backpacker first and foremost. I’m a filmmaker second and a blogger third. And so it won’t come as a shock to learn that perhaps I’m a creative individual with a passion for sharing the outdoors (eg, the Monsal Head meet being one of many and even that was purely a social event I organised, nothing more, nothing less) that may well be deemed to have gone a little commercial.

Well, it makes sense does it not?

My blog is still my blog – it’s not owned or managed by anyone.

I have placed an advert for a particular pub in the top right corner of this page. Aye, I got paid for it – they aint having the profile and exposure for free. But it’s a bloody good pub I like and know not many people are aware of. What’s wrong with me being a little commercial here? And that’s just one example. For the keen eyed, you’ll see how I’ve considered how some may find this kind of thing intrusive so I’ve kept it to the far right of my blog page. It’s there for all to see but not too intrusive as to be off putting.

Besides, it’s an extra bit of revenue for me being self-employed. The kit I test supplements the vast amount of money I could’ve spent on kit just performing my job. I’ve gone through 3 pairs of shoes this year already, for example and when I’m done with the Merrell Intercepts, I’ll move onto a new pair of Karrimors sat in a box. I’ve got some Vango, Vaude gear to try out (some of which many many will find very interesting) but haven’t made the time to try em out proper yet.

So, if you were in my shoes wouldn’t all of the above be obvious?

Having read my posts, viewed my pictures, met me in a pub or on a meet, watched my videos and more – would all this not make some sense? Do you feel you know me well enough to trust my opinion and use it for your own decision making on a gear purchase? How about other bloggers?

Do you think I should just strip away everything on this wee space of mine in the online world and keep it to just text?

This whole blog is a reflection of the work I do, all it entails and much much more. But some people don’t see that. They see someone who’s carving a career for themselves in the outdoors and find it distasteful. They perceive it all as self-promoting.

To be frank, my answer is “rubbish”. Carving a career? It IS my bloody career. I’m a fake? Pah! That one and all those sort of insinuations make me, the gear companies and all who I know and work with laugh for minutes on end. The sort of remarks classic to ‘know it all’ keyboard warriors often found in chatrooms and online forums. As is often the case in life it’s always the minority which are rightly or wrongly heard the loudest.

So, take this post as what I believe is a majority of folks views. I could be wrong of course but I’d like to bring a public balance to this debate. Another vocal perspective, if you like.

Some will argue I shouldn’t even rise to all this – I’m not really. Just making a point and an observation albeit if it makes me as guilty of them of prejudice and ignorance, too – so be it. But this whole post is borne out of a provocative debate by some who think what they publicly state is gospel and should be adhered to.

All said and done – and this has been a long post – my blog is my blog. If you like it, great. If not? Well, I won’t be seeing you around on here again. Simple. Who says we should like every blog going? I wouldn’t think anything less of you if you dislike my blog.

And if you’re off to the Gore event in Germany? Good on ya and have a good time! It will make for a great experience to meet the team, see how they work, ask questions and bring all that info back to us readers.

If I were going, I’d be taking the video camera along!

For the bloggers I know who are going? I for one won’t judge you on your decision or even question your integrity as an individual. I trust you are all intelligent enough to know the crack and will consequently report back in the fair and objective manner you usually do.

I wouldn’t want you to insult my intelligence in any other way.

But all this talk about how blogs should and shouldn’t be, the whole negative tone and aloofness some take on this whole argument – well, it’s time to chill out. Move with the times, or better still live and let live.

Do your own thing, choose how you wish things to be but don’t expect everyone else to do the same. We’re all different and we should all respect one and others points of views as with all in life.

Some people take things too seriously and when they do? It’s usually a sign of some other underlying gripe or concern whether that may be disguised as something else – personal or not.

You want to blog about the outdoors? Do it! If not, that’s fine too. Want advertising? Sponsorship? Anything like that? Who cares? Each to their own and live your own life. Be creative, be sociable! If you don’t want to, well you’re in the wrong place.

So, to end on a happy note…..here’s a short clip of one of four videos I was filming on my last trip. My next escapade will be in just 5 days time, so I’ve not much time to get work finished!

I’m here just to share my passion for the great outdoors – and I hope you all feel the same too on that note.

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. bloggerzed says:

    Having just read the Scarecrow by Michael Connelly, blogging is looking pretty unattractive right now. Besides, no manufacturer ever offers me anything free so what's the point?

    Just to be clear, my tongue is in my cheek.

    Terry, to be honest, I haven't read all of your post. Neither have I read any of Andy's posts in their entirety. I guess if people think their integrity is being questioned, subsequent posts are likely to be lengthy. But don't worry. Reviews are only of value when they include fact. If the facts are accurate, and I realise leaving facts out can distort things, then the resulting review is likely to be of value.

    One of the worst things TV does is to get on an alleged world authority and then imply that everything he says – it usually is a he – must be right. In that situation, the opinions are only useful if the world authority really has integrity. Facts cut through all of that posturing. Just continue putting facts in your reviews and I will continue ignoring the adverts at the side of your posts. All twelve of them.

    Keep up the good work!

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  2. Lovely video Terry.

    Ah ja, ähem – well said. I'm with you mate. Or “+1” as we say in this new era!

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  3. Well said Terry! I am off to Germany myself and I am gonna have a damn good time. Only negative is that you won't be joining us! I can't stand negativity in the outdoors world or hypocrisy either which has been highlighted in this bizarre online argument between fellow bloggers. We all provide fantastic free content and work our backsides off doing so, if we get a little treat then so be it! And yes some people really are naive in thinking the outdoor gear industry is anything but a business at the end of the day. Shame you won't be coming 😦

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  4. mcalisterium says:

    If I was going to enter this debate on my own blog [and I'm not]. I'd have written something like what you've written here. As Hendrik says: +1

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  5. Martin Rye says:

    I think back a few year when I first came across you on LFTO forum. Back then you went hiking lots and took that video to try and win those competitions Trail ran. Later I badged you to get that website you started and then you blogged. Hardly a new novice in the big outdoors. Would it matter if you where? No it would not.

    Since I have read blogs, or wrote one there has been commercial stuff in a sense on them. PTC has always had test kit. Firms send it to him. We love reading about it and his trips. No one ranted about commercial stuff. He always said its in from RAB, Montane etc. No one doubted anything.

    So of late Webtogs and co send stuff out. What is the difference to a firm sending something? Nothing. Webtogs are competing in the big wide commercial world and using what ever means to get their brand out there.

    No one I have read has done what appears to be a biased review. In the past I have had the odd bit of kit sent me. Always the deal is if its shit it gets told to everyone.

    Why I say no mostly is the one review I did for Hi-Tec taught me a lesson. They hassle you for the review. I only will write gear reviews when I want to. It my blog, I will run it thank you. Test kit is always on my terms and stated as test kit. So why now the big accusations and alarm of a changing blog world. Nothing has changed.

    What part of Webtogs, Go-outdoors etc sent me this or RAB sent me this is not clear I am at a loss to understand. Adverts are clearly ads. Why this is now an issue is a puzzle. Alarming change in blogs. Bo((&$%. Since outdoor blogs have been going I have seen test kit sent them. Nothing new under the sun.

    The labeling of all by others was unneeded and wrong. With comments of biased and taking £500 of hospitality tarring all with their assumptions. Unneeded and not helpful. Well done to those who took the offer up. Lets hear about what Gore are going to do fight back against Polertech and co.

    Agree all the way. As you say RAB, Terra Nova sent this. What is not clear and when you say it not that good what is the issue about honest reviews. its clear and transparent.

    Those that dont like blogs like I said on Hendriks blog have a choice to read or not. No one asked them to read it. Same as I have a choice. We make no claims of expert knowledge either. We go hike and write about it and how the kit worked or did not. Its that simple. What ultimately matters is the blogger is has a passion for the outdoors. That is either clear or not. That weeds out the good from the bad for me.

    =1 indeed from me and well said.

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  6. Alan Sloman says:

    Did I mention that my Jersey trip was bought & paid for by someone other than me?

    Ooh – It were lovely! 🙂

    Any other PR companies out there that want to send Mark & me off somewhere gorgeous just need to ask nicely and I'll think about it… for about a nanosecond before I agree to go.

    A long one Terry – but well thought out.

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  7. terrybnd says:

    @bloggerzed – LOL Well, thanks. Last line made me laugh 😉

    @Hendrik – Thanks. But it feels kind of stupid saying all this, no? I personally would have thought it was obvious. To suggest otherwise insults ones intelligence. And I don't mean that rude in any way. Just why some folk take things so seriously and literally is beyond me. Just common sense, no?

    @Trekking Britain – Good on you and have a safe trip. Would've liked to go though initially I was going to say 'no'. Only because I was cynical to it all.

    Then I realised, well why not? If it's crap etc, I'll say it anyway as usual. Then I thought IF I took video of the event, it would make a great way to share the scenes with EVERY ONE so they could see there's nothing suspicious, or they could question stuff and so on and on.

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  8. Martin Rye says:

    What is really pathetic Alan was your trip got the seal of approval as you said it was paid for (and I am pleased for you). Others who have yet to write a word – as their trip is yet to happen thanks to Gore, got hung, drawn and quartered.

    Anyway I shall get my coat and go grumbling no one offers me a nice trip. Well they might have but I missed it as it landed in my spam box 😦

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  9. terrybnd says:

    @Martin Rye – Thanks. Thing is, you hit the nail on the head. I'm polite but fair. However, I don't suffer fools lightly. So, be it with work and who I deal with (and there are many fools who are time wasters) or reviews on here – I'm just the same.

    I be fair in my thoughts, I always state what I like and don't like AND how others may not agree. You can't get any more objective than that can you?

    I can think of one bit of kit Rab did send that I loved from the off and still do (and use) and that was the Infinity jacket. I can remember some quarters trying to dismiss my opinion on the garment (which doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things) – and lo and behold, some weeks later EVERY ONE loves the jacket and wants one.

    Same for the Fuizion freeze dried food and many more.

    To me I'm just always looking at it from a backpackers perspective. Be them ultralighters or casual or on a budget. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Folk seem to like it, so I'll continue to be thorough (which is me anyway) and be fair etc but make the reviews accessible to all – newbies or veterans. That's just how I am 🙂

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  10. terrybnd says:

    @mcalisterium – Cheers mate

    @Alan Sloman – Thanks. Just saying it how it is, in my opinion. Apologies for the long read – but some folk need some points emphasising to get a message across.

    I'm one of those who get's annoyed at prejudice and ignorance and consequently get sick of repeating or explaining myself lol (though always civil and polite!)

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  11. Terry,some good points made. I like to say “hike your own hike” and “blog your own blog”. If I had been offered the trip, I would have taken it. I like to understand new gear, the features and benefits and how that might potentially prove useful to me (or not) when enjoying the outdoors. When I review gear I will always point out its shortcomings and its good points, because in doing so I hope that I can help someone else. That is one of the benefits of an outline community.

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  12. terrybnd says:

    @markswalkingblog – Nail on the head there mate. Nail on the head

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  13. It's not like you terry to spill out like this your usually a much reserved sort of guy, I guess you have to have a bit of a rant now and then in this cut throat world of outdoor gear. It personally does my head in I am not affraid to tell the truth about gear, if its crap and costs too Much I will say, you cannot always test good gear properly in occasional trips but you can sift out the rubbish stuff.
    My philosophy is the best equipment is the cheapest that does the job.
    Keep up the good work your a great guy and don't let the idiots get to you 🙂

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Honest and upfront as always Terry. I got some Dare2B kit to test, loved 3 items didn't like the 4th. No issues with Dare and I got to keep it all so happy man. I never blogged just let them know what I thought.

    I hope this dispute fizzles out now and we all get on with doing what love doing and have in common – the great outdoors.

    Keep up the good work mate and I for one appreciate what you put into all this.

    Cheers.

    Chris

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  15. OWDBUM says:

    don't read, write or have any interest in gear reviews or 'traffic' through your blog…then none of this will matter.

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  16. Nice one Terry, you said lots of things that I would like to have said but to be honest I could not be arsed! Lets hope that this is the last mention of this subject in the bloggersphere. At the end of the day for me its all about the Great Outdoors.

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  17. Basti says:

    “Hike your own hike/ write your own blog”
    Well said! After all everyone must decide for himself why he's writing a blog and who is he going to adress his posts to. And everyone can decide on his own if something is worth to read or not!
    I just started writing gear reviews of “free gear” a short while ago. And I still don't feel very confident about it. I don't think I'm corrupted when I'm accepting these items as I clearly state the pros and cons of these in my posts. And I still write about stuff I've spend a whole bunch of my own money on.
    But now there's this invitation from Gore…
    They offer a travel allowance. They offer a stay in a four stars hotel, all meals included. They offer a guided hike/ trailrun and will provide us with free test garments we're allowed to keep! And we'll be able to visit theyr labs and testing facilitys! There's clearly a lot of money included!
    The invitation says that they don't expect us to write or blog something about it… But it's very clear that they would like to read about it afterwards.
    Well, to be true, I'm going to Munich and will attend this “Blogger Summit”. Why? I'm not quite sure. Maybe 'cause I'd like to meet other bloggers I only know from the internets. Maybe 'cause I'm really interested in the manufactoring process. Maybe 'cause it will surely be a great time. And very probaply 'cause it's free!
    As a student I don't have so much money as I'd like to have to spend on trips. (and four weeks of hiking in Iceland this year burned a BIG whole in my pocket)
    So I'm very happy to accept this trip.
    Will it corrupt me? Will it change my way of blogging?
    Well, that's difficult to answer. We're going there to be introduced to a new membrane. And it's a membrane that will very probaply not be used in UL garments! As my blog is about my wifes and my ultralight outdoor experiences there will very probaply be no review of this garment (unless we're very very very pleased with it!). At least we're still prefering windshirts over waterproofs… 😉
    It could be that there'll be a post about this happening as such. But when I'm going to write about it it will only reflect my feelings of this meeting. And if this “Summit” won't feel right then I'm sure you'll be able to recognise this in the way I' writing my post!

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  18. Great post, Terry… and I echo many of the comments here. I don't think too much about how the reviewer has acquired the kit as long as it is an honest and detailed review. I've only been offered free kit on a couple of occasions (many moons ago now) and I didn't review them because they weren't appropriate for the 'lightweight' tenor of my blog. Since then, I've realised that I don't buy enough new gear to merit regular reviews so I tend not to nowadays, unless it's a long term 'use and abuse' report, perhaps. I've lost a ton of traffic as a result, but I'm not really bothered. My blog is about sharing trips, pics, thoughts, emotions…

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Good post Terry. I’ve been reading blogs and forums before them for as long as they've been around. I have been with the internet from way back when all we had were 28k modems. Every couple of years there is a bubble when a few early adopters manage to make a bit of money or get free stuff.

    This outdoor blogging bubble will grow and then burst when most bloggers realize that you can make more money working in a bar than blogging. Blogging is time consuming and hard work and most blogs make nothing at all. I believe some of the bigger companies are killing the golden goose by throwing their kit at the new breed of bloggers and as I said the bubble will burst and we'll be left with genuine outdoor bloggers like yourself.

    We are in danger of losing the point of being outdoors. Outdoor kit is so expensive now and the snobbery around it bordering on being anal. I live in Sheffield and the Peaks have been my playground for more than 20 years. I have been for day long hikes and rides with nothing more than a couple bin liners in my pack for the longer stops but I could easily spend over a £1000 for the same hike\bike. If it works then I'm happy to buy it and that’s why I read your blog.

    I’m in the process of designing my own outdoor blog (it won’t be competition for yours ;-)) and I thought long and hard about monetising it. I decided I will but not really for the money but more for the rich content it can provide. I will possibly do kit reviews but it will be on kit I researched and bought myself. Would I take some kit for free? I don’t know, like you if they wanted a review, it would be a “warts and all” review.

    To answer to your posts main point. I don’t see any problem with bloggers taking what they can get. At the end of the day the consumer decides whether or not to buy and if they if the piece of kit is really what they need.

    Keep your blog real and keep the videos coming.

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  20. David L says:

    Bloody hell everyone got really annoyed din they! I'll own up, I think I'm responsible for the '30 day' suggestion – my comment on Andy's post concerned 'first looks' only…which I think have limited use. I certainly won't be trying my hand at them again. Long term reviews are a different beast and I certainly appreciate the likes of yourself and others doing them.

    All the best Terry

    Like

  21. Mike says:

    Terry, as a blogger who simple posts the walks I've done, but gets few visitors I go along with much of what you write, and I admire you for writing it. I read other peoples gear reports, I've even blogged about some kit I've bought. However, when I think about writing about gear, I always have in the back of my mind I have this thing, that I may love this kit but it may be crap for someone else. Therefore, as well as “Hike your own hike/ write your own blog”. we should study the reviews but once we are in the shop perhaps we should just, buy our own gear. And leave the reviewers out of it.

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  22. Chris says:

    Terry, a great article and post.
    Your comment above “I'm a backpacker first and foremost. I'm a filmmaker second and a blogger third.” rings true from what I know about you.
    As for you reviewing kit and blogging about it, I for one am grateful. I am probably furthest removed from any 'debate' mentioned and simply enjoy your enlightening, amusing and informative blogs and find someone with your integrity a godsend for a self confessed 'non gear freak' lol. Keep it up mate and those who know you respect all you do!
    Great vids as ever too 🙂
    Cheers buddy – look forward to meeting up with you again one day!
    @PilgrimChris

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  23. Hi Terry,
    thank you for the blog and all that it entails. I have never been one to get all caught up in the how's and if's, so suffice to say…no comment brother…sail on sailor….keep going up and sending back.
    Happy trails.

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  24. jamehand says:

    Jealousy is the word that springs to mind and very small minded people. Those that can do, those that can't moan about those that can etc, etc. I started watching your films via Trail several years ago and simply enjoyed them. I enjoyed seeing the places I hiked online and from someone else's perspective. It also encouraged me to visit places that I had not previously seen or realised existed as a result.

    The films got better and competitions were won and so when redundancy called at your door you took the opportunity to turn your hobby into your job. Anyone who has a problem with that has no understanding of what being out of work means and no real understanding of life in general.

    Fair play to you is what I say, I like to think if the same had happened to me I would have had the balls to go it self employed but I probably wouldn't have had the bottle personally.

    Anyone who camps and hikes knows that you are no bullshitter when it comes to all things outdoorsy and such. Via Twitter or your blog you have personally given me advice in the past on several occasions with no alterior motive other than to share the gospel of the great outdoors.

    Good luck to you Terry and keep the blog going, I for one and many others I am sure enjoy reading it!

    Like

  25. terrybnd says:

    @Everyone!

    Well, thanks for the kind words folks. And some good points raised. Seems we're all pretty much in agreement. Live and let live, eh?

    Blogs are unique to the individual even if some are at times a bit 'samey'. Even so, do what you want. That's what this is all about no?

    This post may appear as some kind of rant and apologies if it seems so. It isn't intended to be one. But more of a personal point of view along with some observations.

    I just felt compelled to share my thoughts (that's what blogs are about really, and I don't do it often enough to be honest) because it seemed a minority opinion was perhaps not bringing some balance to a valid and interesting argument.

    Peace and goodwill to wherever you are and whoever you are 🙂 Enjoy the great outdoors, one lifetime certainly aint enough to enjoy it all…

    Like

  26. Jules says:

    Blimey! A long post and a big response!

    Just to say, though, that IMHO I think you’re spot on. We are all entitled to do what we want – they’re our blogs, and no one forces anyone to read them.

    But one of the good things about blogger gear reviews has always been their unbiased approach – for users, by users, if you like – that get away from the banal magazine version that gets offered up. The big plus is that somewhere out there is someone who is pretty close to your own profile, who tests and reviews things for much the same purpose as you might require.

    And much of this gear is actually bought by the reviewers – it certainly is in my case – not given as freebies for test. So the neutrality is maintained.

    I’ve certainly got no beef with anyone who chooses to test a freebie and then blog about it – hell, I’d do it myself! – as long as the interest is declared and the review unbiased and honest. Or, if you want to just report back to the company that’s fine, too – it’s just two different things.

    I started gear reviews on my blog because I saw too many magazine reviews (for gear that didn’t have to be bought!) slagging off good kit just because it was a gram too heavy, or praising up £400 jackets. To me, that didn’t seem to be based in the real world. So, if I can help someone or stop them making an expensive mistake, great!

    Thanks for the post – very thought-provoking!

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  27. I enjoy reading your blog posts and tweets and as you say, I can choose to read them or if I don't like them I can go elsewhere. There are plenty of choices online these days catering for most tastes.

    I don't get to enjoy as many nights out under canvas as you do but when I do get out I like to enjoy it in my own way. I'm sure there are loads of readers of your blog that wish they could get out more but circumstances often restrict it. The mentions of gear you have done so far have been interesting and have certainly given me knowledge on kit I might not have considered but in the end I make my own mind up on what to buy based both on information I have gathered and what I feel my usage is going to be of it.

    At the end of the day I don't have a preconception about what your content should be like and if you happen to mention gear that you like or dislike, I take it as your personal opinion not as some dictate that I must follow blindly.

    As long as you keep enjoying what you are doing and share that passion with us, then I am a happy reader.

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  28. terrybnd says:

    @Jules – Agree totally. To be fair, looking at the likes of Trail Magazine and their reviews of late – it's a bloody joke. How on earth can they really test then review so many garments in a short space of time?

    Granted (I do it) you do pick up on experience what will work and won't etc BUT I've been proven very very wrong on some gear I've tested. It could be something I bloody love but it packs in or shows wear and tear much too soon, for example.

    I think bloggers definitely have a place in the mix and I know (rightly or wrongly) many folk have appreciated my thoughts and balance with reviewing gear (including the companies I deal with themselves!).

    But to suggest otherwise to the above smacks of all sorts really. But as I've said and others – each to their own. It's not like I buy The Sun newspaper but millions of others do, for example. But I think no better or worst for whatever anyone chooses to read etc. Know what I mean?

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  29. terrybnd says:

    @Jonathan Pulfer – Thanks and exactly. I wouldn't want to insult your intellect in any shape or form, mate. In my case, I don't or shouldn't have to describe the ins and outs of me or whatever.

    I deliberately make my reviews to be informative to the 'masses' and not someone who maybe more particular and requires more thorough details. And in that respect the mix I throw in on that front or even my general blog posts etc are just a mark of my character.

    Nothing more, nothing less and that is after all what blogging is all about, eh?

    Like

  30. Er, how is one's integrity diminished by an invitation and trip to test Goretex's new kit when there is absolutely no obligation to write about it? Yes, if Goretex had said we could only go if we definitely wrote nice things about them and the jackets then that would be jeopardising the integrity and independence of bloggers but they have made it very clear that we do not need to say a single thing about them. In fact, if this had been the case the blog would need to be clearly marked: Sponsored. And, indeed, if we want, we can say horrible things about their kit and the trip. This trip is a chance to see what Goretex is up to, to meet like-minded bloggers and to visit Bavaria. If I'd been asked to pay I couldn't have afforded it. It would have been great to have you along Terry but, like me, time away from your desk is time not earning. For once, I have decided not to worry about my lack of earning this weekend and simply enjoy the chance to visit a new place. I might.. but then again I might not.. write about this trip on my own outdoors blog website that I pride myself in being “independently” written (unless otherwise stated very clearly). http://www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk

    Like

  31. terrybnd says:

    @FionaOutdoors – Couldn't agree more. Hope you have a safe and enjoyable trips along with everyone else going.

    While you're all there drinking and socialising, admiring the Alps and learning about Active Shell etc – I'll be on my lonesome, on a hill in a bivvy with my video camera 😉

    Enjoy! 🙂

    Like

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