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Review The Reviews

Posted Jul 18 2007 12:00am
rainbow kayak

So I was having an interesting conversation recently about paddle magazine product reviews. Of course when we are looking for a new boat we get information where ever we can. We ask friends, test paddle, read reviews and all the rest. I’ve certainly sat around the fires enough to get into those conversations about print reviews to know there are some who really feel the mags are fair and sometimes even a bit harsh. While on the other side of the fence are those who feel they are biased because of the small size of the sport and concerns about advertising dollars and such.

Now here’s the thing. I know some of these guys at various publications, websites and such. So it’s almost impossible for me to be fair in my comments either. I mean, I love certain magazines because I personally read every page. Others, I read because I have a friend who writes for them or whatever. You know how that goes. Then of course there are the manufactures who again are often friends or acquaintances and again you end up with a certain level of personal feelings tossed into the mix when you talk about them. Can’t be helped really.

A perfect example is this; I LOVE my Novorca paddle. I mean I REALLY LOVE it. And the truth be told, everyone who has used mine loves it too. However, I also work on the website and I think Ron is just a really nice guy too. So, how fair are my comments about the paddle? Well, as fair as they can be. Because on the other side of things is that if it was not a great paddle I would not use it. If Ron was not such a nice guy, I’d probably never have offered to help out with the website. So you can trust that my commitment to the product is because of the quality of the product, but also because I have personal attachments to the folks involved.

That of course can also be called “bias”. Yup! Sure is. I love the product and the people so therefore I use them. The same of course can be said for all the folks that have sponsored me along the way. I have no hesitation to say I love Rockpool kayaks and much of my affection for the boat besides being about how it paddles and the quality, is tied into the fact that I think Mike Webb is a nice guy. I love my Reeds, and I enjoyed my time with Chris and enjoy talking to Jo via email. But regardless their gear is fantastic. The guys at Trak kayaks are great! I love the boat, but I also just enjoy the people and their commitment to an innovative idea. There are very few really new ideas in kayak manufacturing, but Trak is certainly on top of that list. But what’s really fun is that they are just jazzed about their boats! Same goes for Werner. Each time I get out my paddle I can think of Kelly Blades showing me the paddle and Christie working with me to get just what I wanted. But that’s sort of the spin you’re going to get about when Derrick reviews products. I’m a people person. It’s hard for me to love a product if it’s not backed up by friendly, caring, people.

But back to that conversation. What do you think about the reviews you see in the mags? Do you think they are fair? Tough? Too easy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

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