What Makes for a Great Outdoor Gear Review?

Various outdoor gear items on a wooden surface.

For the savvy consumer, the internet has been far more than a boon; it’s become an essential component of smart shopping.

This has given rise to an entire generation of product reviewers, eager to share their experience, know-how, and opinions on a variety of products with the world at large. There are literally millions of reviews from amateurs and professionals alike on virtually any product you could imagine. Not all reviews are created equal. How do you know which ones to trust? Which reviews have saved you the pain of wasting money, or nudged you into a purchase you might have been on the fence about?

A great review will grant you all the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision. Since our focus is on the outdoor lifestyle, we’re cutting to the heart of what makes a great gear review. While style and personality are obviously a personal matter, there are some definitive aspects that can make or break a reader’s confidence and trust in a review.

Without further ado, let’s go over a few critical aspects that help build a fantastic gear review.

1. Official gear title and detail

Having the actual title of the gear is crucial. There are far too many reviews showing an image of the gear, yet neglecting to share the full name of the manufacturer, model, and year it was retailed. This basic information acts as the front door to all gear reviews. It also helps for searching capacity given the number of gear reviews out there.

2. Standardized formats

Mixed red and green apples on the white background.

It’s too easy to simply share one’s opinion on a piece of gear. Whether useful or not, this information needs a standardized review format to place the thoughts into context, giving an objective framework for subjective opinion. It helps the reader cut through bias and get to the heart of whether the product will work well for them, personally.

A good reviewer will build up a sense of personality and style that, when framed in a standard format, can give the consumer an accurate assessment of a given product before he or she spends a single dollar.

3. Length of review

An illustration of a flow diagrams representing process and time.

This aspect is especially applicable for online reviews, both written and on video. For example, 10 minutes of footage on a rain jacket can break anyone’s attention span and obscure the delivery of useful information. Thus, keeping with a standard timeframe to cover the critical aspects of the product is a great idea. The important point is sticking with an appropriate timeframe, not whether it’s particularly long or short.

Sometimes a product demands a nuanced, lengthy exposition to get at just why it’s good or not. Your experience should guide your discretion on this aspect. You want to always maximize the amount of information for the reader.

4. A focus on functionality 

An illustration of clocks in the shapes of gears.

Aesthetics have their value and should be noted, but as the most subjective part of a product, they should leave the bulk of the review for functional matters. While aesthetics may work for one person and turn off another, the key functionality of outdoor gear is about as objective and scientific as you can get.

Let’s use a jacket as an example again: acknowledge the color before moving on to how it works. Some readers might be put off by the color red, but every reader will be happy to find out whether the jacket shields you from the elements!

5. Diversity of review subjects

Illustration of various iconic gear items.

While you don’t need to start throwing in movie and hotel reviews along with hiking gear and mountain bikes, having a range of product variety will only improve your review efficacy. Having a varied selection of reviews can give your readers a broad framework, a wider context to appreciate your knowledge and expertise.

For example, the narrow category of high-end jackets will only be useful to those comparing a product to a relatively similar one, which limits your audience in dramatic fashion. It doesn’t allow for comparison to other price points and quality tiers. Without that wider context, the relative merits of a product are basically meaningless.  Here is a post that informs the readers of the variety of material available.  Allowing the soon to be purchased to be aware of the basics is also the first step towards a review that will have further meaning.

The very point of reviewing products is to maximize value for the reader’s dollar, ensuring that they lay their money down on the best product they can afford. Top-tier information sharing needs to be driven, curated, and steered toward the ultimate question of, is this gear worth it? You’ll want to focus on carving out space where readers trust you to convey the pertinent information in a direct, honest manner.

They want your opinion, and they want it framed in a way that’s easy to grasp. Keeping these ideas in mind will be key to making the best, most useful, and most popular reviews around!

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