Outdoor recreation is open to practically anyone with a passion for adventure and the wide-open world, but the quality gear required for some of your favorite sports are harder to come by. It's hard to tell when skis are as fantastic as the manufacturer claims, or whether the newest mountain bike is really going to stand up to your favorite trails. This is where Blister Gear comes in. Outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for mountain sports were frustrated when trying to sort out honest, accurate information from the sales lingo. Rather than wasting a lot of time and money buying the wrong equipment, turn to the expert reviews from Blister Gear Review.
What Is Blister Gear Review?
Blister Gear Review was founded by Jonathon Ellsworth in 2011. Ellsworth had looked for a resource that gave accurate, experienced reviews of outdoor equipment without finding any. On January 25, 2011, that changed with the launch of the BGR website. Today, many skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, runners, mountain climbers, and other adventurers read the articles, news, and recommendations on the website. With podcasts and videos, there's an informative format for just about any type of athlete. The site covers equipment, parts, supplies, outwear, apparel, and just about anything else you may need when venturing outside of the city.
On the Blister Gear Review website, you'll find that it is set up for members and non-members. Without signing up to become a member, you'll have access to informative articles and buying guides, podcasts about climbing and gear, trip reviews, information about outdoor gear symposiums, information about industry leaders, videos of pros in action, movies on current topics, and recommendations about where to shop for the gear you need. What really makes this review website stand out is the fact that the variety of sports covered and the thorough reviews for hundreds of items. If you're preparing for your favorite winter sports, check out Blister Gear Review's index on base layers or check out their favorite options when it comes to hoodies.
There are several options for becoming a member. If you just want product reviews and comparisons, the Blister Deep Dive membership, at $29.99 per year, is the choice for you. This membership gives you access to in-depth product comparisons for ski and bike equipment and products. The official Blister Membership, known on the website as the No-Brainer, is $59.99 per year and provides you with a lot of relevant content, such as answers to your pressing questions, a copy of the Blister Buyer's Guide, the chance to share your own experiences, access to exclusive product deals, and more. Finally, the Blister Premier level offers everything you can get from the other membership deals with the addition of the chance to talk directly to Blister reviewers. When you want to talk in-person with someone who has actually used the equipment on the side of the mountain under harsh conditions, this is the membership for you. The premier membership costs $199.99 per year.
How It Compares
Today, there are plenty of websites providing reviews and informative articles about outdoors gear and tips for staying safe and happy while out adventuring. How does Blister Gear Review stack up to the online competition? We didn't actually find any other sites that charged the same fee for membership, but we feel like this may be one of the key selling points for the BGR. Since the gear review site is paid for by other adventurers and not by product manufacturers, we feel like the reviews are probably less biased.
Some sites, such as Outside and Backpacker, are focused primarily on gear reviews with some access to how-to guides and some blog posts. Most gear reviews are funded by manufacturers, including Outside and Switch Back Travel; on the Switch Back Travel gear review page, they'll send you directly to the retailers' links. Finally, some websites offer the same range of information and product reviews.
Let's take a closer look at a couple of those websites.
Free – $199.99 per year
Remember, you're paying the reviewers for their work, so you can be confident of unbiased information on how well the equipment works when you're using it.
Ease of Use:
This website is very easy to navigate. Even if you don't join, you can watch several podcasts, read news articles, check out special features, watch the videos, and read through countless reviews on equipment for mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, paddle sports, climbing, running, and backpacking. You'll also have access to reviews on apparel and outerwear. Read through a selection of book recommendations and click directly to some partner websites.
Assembly Time, Getting From Point A to Point B:
Let's say you are new to biking and want recommendations on the best mountain bike as well as how to determine proper bike fit. On the Blister Gear Review website, you can go directly to the Reviews section at the top of each page on the website and then scroll right to Mountain Biking. You also have the option of clicking on Features, also at the top of each page of the site, and choose Gear 101 articles to go directly to the how-to articles and product reviews in the area.
Some sites are just cumbersome. They are tiresome to navigate, switching from one page to another is slow or clicking on links doesn't always lead you where you expect to go. This is not the case with the Blister Gear website. Most product reviews and articles in the blog are introduced with a descriptive caption and an informative photo. It's simple to find what you need and, if you happen to get sidetracked by something that catches your eye, it is easy to get back where you need. There's a very good chance you'll find an article or product review that tempts you off the beaten path.
There's no warranty to purchase that promises you'll be satisfied with your membership to the extra features on the website. However, there are plenty of customer reviews available on the site, and you can always follow them on Facebook and other social media sites. You might also enjoy reading through the founder's Manifesto where he outlines the company's philosophy and mode of operation. If you don't have to be satisfied, you can find the founder's email right on the website, so you can hash out your concerns with the guy in charge. There aren't too many companies, online or offline, that give you direct access to the head guy.
Free or $3.99 per month
This price is pretty standard for a magazine subscription, and the site offers some gift incentives for subscribing.
Ease of Use:
There are two ways to read the information offered by Backpacker; you can use the website or purchase a subscription to the physical magazine. Without paying for either, you still have access to gear reviews, trip information, and many other relevant articles, videos, and photos. If you live near a major metropolis, you may really enjoy the Local Hikes feature. In addition to letting you know where to find great trails, you'll also have access to local news stories relevant to outdoor recreation.
Assembly Time, or How to Get
From Point A to Point B:
Just like Blister Gear, Backpacker is easy to navigate. The main features of the site are listed at the top of every page, so you can quickly move back to the home page or navigate into a new area of the website. However, this site isn't as dedicated to product reviews as Blister Gear is. If you're looking for snowboarding gear, you probably won't find it. There are plenty of reviews for things you'll use while climbing, but not much in the way of mountain biking. To be fair, the site is obviously focused on backpacking. However, you can get great survival, fishing, swimming, and first aid information.
The look and construction of this website are both just as appealing as the Blister Gear website. It has beautiful pictures with informative titles, so you can be confident about what to expect when you follow a link. Once again, you'll enjoy an online experience where you can move quickly to the content you want, delve into new topics, and quickly get back on track when you're ready.
Once again, there's no warranty for the online magazine or the physical copy. However, you're not really risking much when you subscribe for just a few dollars a month. If you do find that you're not satisfied, it's easy to report a problem by contacting customer service through email or a phone call.
This website survives on affiliate retailer links. If you, for example, click on a link to a product, Switch Back Travel gets a commission. If you refer to their terms of service, you'll find that they are proud of the fact that they do not get financial compensation from the manufacturers of products they review on the site. The website also makes money by allowing links to other websites, advertisers, and resources.
Ease of Use:
It's easy to navigate around this website. As long as you have the website opened in full-screen mode, you'll have easy access to site links that let you move from one spot to another. If you happen to reduce to a smaller view, however, you'll lose that easy access. However, every time to click on a link or switch from one page to another, the website moves you easily to the new page.
Assembly Time, or How to Get
From Point A to Point B:
This website isn't quite as convenient to use as Blister Gear or Backpacker. If you don't happen to have the site open on your full screen — if you're checking out equipment reviews while you're at work, for example — you lose the links to features at the top of the page. At this point, you can scroll through the home page, hoping to land on something pertinent or you'll need to click on the three lines at the top left of the home page to open an index of gear reviews. If you're looking for skiing equipment, you'll click on the winter gear link and then scroll through several article intros until you find what you're looking for.
The content on the Switch Back Travel website is just as valuable as the content on the other equipment review sites, but the format isn't quite as attractive and inviting as the other two sites we reviewed. Overall, we think you can refer to this site for product reviews if you're looking for good information.
Again, there's no warranty for the information you get from this site. It is fairly easy to determine who is behind each article and review, so you'll feel confident about the information you receive.
As we compared the pros and cons connected to Blister Gear, it's seemed obvious that this site would hold its own in any comparison. Where other sites may have some motivation to upsell for manufacturers, it is clear that Blister Gear is paid for by those who are going to be using the equipment. When your safety is on the line, it's good to know that your gear is actually top-notch.
We think Blister Gear Review earned our 5-out-of-5-star rating with ease. The site is easy to navigate. We know how to find the information we want, and the articles and reviews have an attractive layout. While the other sites we reviewed, including Backpacker and Switch Back Travel, have many appealing qualities, we feel that Blister Gear is one of the best sites to trust before you purchase the equipment you need.