Reviews as a whole fucking suck and in all honesty I hate doing them with every fiber of my being. But they also need to exist because the big three (Transworld, Snowboarder, and Snowboard Mag) are failing you the consumer as a whole on giving you educated advice on gear. Paid advertorials do nothing to help anyone. But that's another topic for another discussion.
I also feel companies seem to fail on the whole getting demos in the hands of the actual people that support snowboarding. There need to be more weekend demo's at more major resorts vs these mom and pop ski hills, nothing wrong with the ski hill resort choices, but go to the major demographics. Also shops drop the ball on the getting demo's in the hands of people. If more shops did what my old shop used to do where for 25 to 50 dollars a day that if you decided to buy the board from us we would put up to 2 days worth of fees towards the purchase of that deck, we would also swap out mid day if you didn't like the board no additional charge.
As for sites that do reviews. They fill a void but who do you or don't you trust that's the big question? I have always said and stand by this that you should try and find three sites you trust that all have reviewed the same gear and look for the similarities. If all three seem to agree on something then I would say that's pretty accurate, now if one is off on something, see if it makes actual sense. With myself I try to give you the most concise and straight to the point no bullshit reasoning why something felt, did, acted, touched me where it shouldn't have so that you don't have to read a 20 paragraph dissertation about ZJ's and what not. I also encourage thought out questions not "you're wrong I dun bought dis and it's da bestest you fag" comments. Discussion is good!
Getting all the facts you can about conditions, terrain, binding angles, rider weight, stance width, etc. etc. etc. are key. I at 175lbs with a 22.5 inch stance and 18 negative 15 degree angles will flex a 154cm board a lot different than someone at 220lbs with a 21 inch stance and 12 negative 12 angles. Stance width and weight play such a huge role in how a board flexes. Then add in the conditions and terrain plus rider style/preference. Finally time on a board also has a huge effect on the review. I try to give a deck 4 hours as that's the length of a typical day for me and if I'm not sure of it I'll take it out for a second day just to give it another shot. These people that go to demos usually spend maybe 3 laps on a deck, I did this method when I started the site it's quick and efficient for giving the site content, but in the end doesn't help the company or the consumer with feedback. It's more of an ego stroker to the reviewer to claim I rode x number of boards/bindings and have these reviews on my site before anyone else.
Now I have some serious thoughts on the sites doing reviews:
Agnarchy: I talk with Dave pretty much daily and I've seen his growth with his site and the direction it's going. I back it and I see the improvements he's made going forward. It might not update as frequent as others but it's good for a guy with a wife, kid, day job, and living in the midwest. Adding the Asian contingent of Leo has been hilarious only because he's so stereotypical Asian in his thought process on things it's somewhat comical with how they do their dual reviews. It's a great compare and contrast situation. I actually suggest people check them out more, might light a fire under their asses to do more content!
Geeks of Shred: Rarely do I check out this site. It's like that thing that if it pops up in a social media feed with a review from a brand I work with I'll check it out to see what they say. But I think they spend more time on their graphics than they do on getting people the information they need. I'm not for them or against them I just view them as there and it might help people.
Board Insiders: They have a GREAT concept but unfortunately poor implementation. Fuck these guys in the ass with their camera. Rarely do they ever get the terminology of the tech they're reviewing right. I didn't know that Never Summer had Banana C2 with Magnetraction or whatever it was that they messed up. If you're going to be a supposed "authority" on products you should know what the fuck you're talking about. Carpet flex reviews? Watch a video and you can see what I mean. Plus they're always late on getting things out. What good is a review of a deck after Black Friday or the X Mas rush? Also from seeing these guys at industry events it looks like they're always begging for hand outs. Also what's up with the unquantifiable numbers they give? Shred Cred? Seriously do you see any under a 90 on there it's like everything they ride is the best.
Snowboard-Reviews: I've had a few run ins with these guys. I love their concept of video reviews and think they actually do a far better job than Board Insiders, mainly because they get their shit done faster and do understand tech. Downside they're British those accents at times are just horrible. Also they're instructors which I view as the bane of snowboarding tech advances since they all ride like robots and seem to always push camber on people. Plus I question their brand allegiances only due to a run in I had with them about my thoughts on the current state of Rossignols marketing. Also don't like that there's reviews of shit they don't ride, if you didn't ride it don't put a review!
The Good Ride: Where to begin with these guys. This site was created solely to boost an online ad revenue stream in my opinion. The guy that runs it is a tool, I met him last year at a demo in Utah and the shit coming out of his mouth was fucking hilarious to say the least. They use unquantifiable numbers which mean fuck all, the shit is vague, and generally shit is just so all over the place. I would trust this about as much as a monkey trying to put a condom on me while I'm fucking an aids infested crack slut. Long ago he asked me to back him and as I don't see him bringing anything new to the table or offering anything great I basically told him to fuck off in my true fashion. Reviews of stuff they didn't ride so they can push online affiliate advertising is lame as fuck as well.
Angry Snowboarder: After four and a half years of doing this I can safely say I hate this thing with every ounce of my being. It has cost me jobs, friendships, my health, my retirement package, my credit score, and countless other things. Yet at the same time I love it and would never change my attempt to bring you guys the most comprehensive snowboard site int he universe. The struggles to keep this thing going have all been worth it and honestly if it wasn't for you guys I wouldn't continue doing it.
Reviews fucking suck and I hate doing them but until someone can actually fill the void and do them to a level I feel comfortable recommending people to I will continue to lead on trying to be number 1. After all if you're not first you're last.
Every year is a challenge with the site and last year was the worst by far. Dislocating an elbow on X mas day going into review season dampened the amount of reviews I could bang out. Add to that the worst winter ever, companies not having product, and all these upstart sites that haven't been mentioned on here going after free hand outs in the guise of reviews it was just hard. The year before I did 100 reviews in 100 days (think it was like 113 actually), it worked and proved that the boundaries you could do things can be pushed beyond an acceptable level.
The ability to adapt year after year and change is the biggest challenge I face. Going into the 2013/14 review season which starts in about 2 weeks we're going in a new direction. There will be video reviews, written reviews, and specials. Think of it as UK Top Gear but for snowboarding and without the accents but that sense of humor. It's a huge under taking in itself and I've done a lot of things to line this all up. We have our version of The Stig lined up called The Stoke. We're aiming for 200 snowboard reviews, 50 pairs of bindings, and a shit load of humor.
Contrary to what one really mentally unstable snowboard company says, the site is self financed and the ad revenue it generates is next to nothing. The contracts that I have in place are written specifically to continue to give me full control over reviews good, bad, or indifferent as well as all editorial content. Unlike some people I'm not afraid to bite the hand that feeds me, I like to let people know I'm still hungry. Also I can't stress this point enough with all the gear we go through I try to return 90% of it to companies in terms of hard goods. Just to give you guys some frame of reference a certain company dug the fact I liked one of their premiere models and offered to give me a head to toe set up if I backed it as my number 1 choice and daily ride, I told them I was content with my Arbor and that free gear didn't sway me, they stopped talking to me after that. Now outerwear is a different story, I don't return that to companies because who wants crusty gear after I've taken it in a hot tub/sauna to test breathability and waterproofing? What I try to do with the left over gear is pay it forward to the less fortunate around the county, this will probably be the only time I mention this as I don't want a pat on the back or any recognition for this it's just my belief that if you get free gear you should pay it forward with no strings attached. I will say though watch out for people that get constant freebies from companies and seem to push their products hard. Only take what you need that's my advice.
So in short this is my master thesis on snowboard reviews, demos, free gear, and hookers. If you ever have a direct question my email is Avran@angrysnowboarder.com
I try to answer anything that comes in, but as the name of the site states I'm a bit angry.