Apr 23, 2008 at 3:20 pm #1228557
I use to get excited to open my BPL newsletter e-mail and reading articles like;
– Thermoregulation by Ryan Jordan.
– Back Country Water Quality: Ron Silflow & RJ.
-A BPL guide to sustained, cold rain by Alan Dixon.
-SuperUltraLight: Breaking the Five-Pound Barrier by Ryan Jordan.
– Tarps vrs Tents by Carol Crooker.
-Bivy Sack Technologies, Products & Application (2006)by Ryan Jordan.
– Camparative Fuel efficiency & carry weight for 6 stoves by Will Rietveld.
– The Poncho Tarp; Techniques & gear systems Ryan J & Alan Dixon.
– Drying Characteristics;Down vrs Synthetic by Don Wilson.
– Comfort & moisture transport; Wool vrs Synthetic by Don Wilson, Alan Dixon, Will Rietveld.
-Unconventional Sleep systems by Ryan Jordan
– Drying characteristics of lightweight hiking shoes by CArol Crooker
– Condensation in single walled shelters by Will Rietveld.
Using this list, I think you get the idea. I love this stuff. I fell in love with BPL.com because these articles fueled my passion for hiking. I've been waiting for new articles like this for some time now. I'm getting disappointed everytime I open my BPL newsletter e-mail. It appears BPL is taking a different direction. Has anyone else notice this? Am I the only one hungry for articles like this?
Morgantown WVApr 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm #1429787
@thangfishLocale: S. Central NC, USA
I'm with you, brother.Apr 23, 2008 at 3:38 pm #1429790
It seems all the old articles were a hit. Now too many misses lately. But Dr. J says things are soon to change. We will see.Apr 23, 2008 at 4:46 pm #1429801
Yeah, it seems like there's a new direction to soft and fuzzy articles with littl useful information. I wonder if this was based on the reader survey?Apr 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm #1429839
@mikemartinLocale: North Idaho
Hi Craig (and everyone else who replied)
Yes! Your list above highlights some of BPL's best over the past few years. Most of the classic articles you mentioned are "technique" or "technology" articles (which are some of my favorites as well).
As "Techniques" editor, I wanted to point out some recent articles in my section that are in a similar spirit to those on your list:
Trekking Techniques for Early-Season Conditions by Andrew Skurka
Reducing Winter Pack Weight: Wood Fire Cooking in the Snow
by Kevin Sawchuk
Backcountry Cookfires: Overview and Techniques for Cooking Over an Open Flame by Bill Stadwiser
Take the Load Off: Using Pulks to Travel Over Snow by Ed Bouffard
Whether these will emerge as classics like the articles you mentioned remains to be seen. But, I wanted to assure you (and the rest of our technically oriented readers) that BPL will continue to publish quality technical articles. It's worth mentioning, though, that many of our readers equally enjoy our non-technical trip reports, commentary, etc.
Our challenge is to offer quality content on both technical and non-technical subjects. Not every article will appeal to every reader….But, we're trying! :)
MikeApr 23, 2008 at 8:31 pm #1429871
Nicely stated Mike! I think it's easy to loose perspective and only concern oneself with what one is interested in… Its a tough job to make everyone happy all the time.Apr 23, 2008 at 9:45 pm #1429883
Those articles are the reason I subscrib to BPL as well. They became the definitive texts because they took on a broadly applicable subject, described the various alternatives, and then tested to identify their relative strengths and weaknesses. I loved all the effort put in to the wool vs. synthetic argument to determine that there is very little if any difference. That's science at its best: when facts are used to determine merit, rather than folklore, that so much of the internet relies on.
I would add last years series on winter footwear and the stove carbon monoxide study to this category. So that's 2 in a year. Compared to the rate of previous years this was a bit slow, but it took 4 years to accumulate the articles above so it's not far off the mark.
A thought the wood fire articles were on this level. As Mike said, time and user testing will determine the accuracy of the information. I liked the early season trekking article too, but thought it more of a style that suggests a few tips and tricks rather than thoroughly examines many different possibilities. Not that a few tips and tricks aren't helpful.
Where I think BPL has struggled interestingly enough is on the gear side. There have been numerous gear reviews, probably more than ever so volume is not a problem. But each time it is a single piece in isolation. This tells us if something is a complete dud, but the unique thing that BPL did was to do thorough bake offs off all products in a category. These are now several years out of date.
I would like to see BPL adopt the Consumer Reports model of product review were an article is a living document with new products being incorporated and compared to the existing products in the category. This is not easy to do as it requires a repeatable testing methodology. But if it was easy anyone could do it.
To me it's only interesting to highlight a product in isolation if it breaks the established rules of the category.
As for the trip reports and other that I and others have complained about and as Mike correctly points out have gotten numerous positive responses from other members: I often read trail journals and blogs to learn about beautiful places, see some pretty pictures, and hopefully get a taste of the joy of being in the wilderness. BTW if you haven't checked out Chris Townsend's blog, I recommend it. He takes some nice pictures. So I don't mind this stuff showing up on BPL even if there are plenty of other places to find the same thing. I just hope that that is in addition to and not replacing the kind of work that Craig sited above which I have found no where except on BPL.
Man that was a long rant. Sorry for that. I really need to get off my soap box and go hiking.
p.s. did any one actually read this far? You might need to go hiking too. :)Apr 23, 2008 at 10:08 pm #1429887
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
"Me too." :)
You will note that (a) I've reassumed my role as BPL's Editor-in-Chief, effective March 1, and the amount of technical and intensive gear reviews will both increase; and (b) Chris Townsend has been brought on as our Senior Gear Editor for the purpose of dedicating somebody full time to the development of comprehensive gear treatises; and (c) Mike Martin as our Senior Techniques editor is VERY keen on developing this section; and (d) Roger Caffin as our Senior Technology Editor has a rather ambitious calendar of fundamental technology articles in the works on everything from fabrics to shelter design to water treatment technologies.
Having said that, I have a few short term teasers for you on the technical gear side: two comprehensive reviews about both the SPOT Messenger and the Garmin Colorado 400t, headed up by Alan Dixon in both cases. These will be goodies that will be ready to publish in a few weeks. I have not scheduled them yet, but I'm expecting them to hit the website in late May and/or early June.
RyanApr 24, 2008 at 5:53 am #1429920
That's what is great about BPL. The powers that be do listen! Thanks Dr. Jordan for the update!Apr 24, 2008 at 11:15 am #1429990
Dr. J — Happy to hear of your plans to resume "dancing" with what what has brought BPL its success. An injection of more "backpacking light" into BPL — pure genius!!
And adding Chris Townsend to the staff is a great move in the right direction. His books are an excellent resource that I often turn to for ideas. And he sure has a talent for clear, interesting narrative, as in his account of winter trekking into Yellowstone. Articles like that serve to inform and stimulate others who might be looking to expand their experience.
Yellowstone is hardly a stranger on the block, but other writings in BPL by its staff and membership have helped me learn of several other locations to add to my "to do" list for future outings — locations previously unfamiliar, or even unknown, to me.
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