Jun 22, 2009 at 2:49 pm #1237270
So am I thinking about investing in a membership. However, could someone tell me what the benifits are? I find this site to be a bit overwhelming at times with all the various sections you can click into.
So far I have enjoyed the luxury of posting here in the forum and looking gear reviews by readers. However, all of this is free.
If I knew that there was a monthly or bi-monthly BPL magazine that would also be sent to me in the mail as well, this membership would be more than worth it. You know like Backpacker Magazine, except in this case it would be Backpacker Light Magazine. That would be so cool!
So yea, fill me in, tell me why you think it is worth it. Thanks!Jun 22, 2009 at 3:11 pm #1509789
Every article that has a bold, red "M" before the article requires premium membership to read – take note, for instance of this page:
These premium articles are world-class quality articles. The founder(s) of this web site, some of them, have PhD degrees in Engineering, etc., and they do very methodological quality/quantitative analyses of topics of extreme interest to the sport. By becoming a member, you are supporting the staff, the site, these writers, etc.
This is such a great web site, like a homebase away from home. If you enjoy the site's free features, you'll really, really enjoy the site's premium features and you'll feel good supporting these endeavors and people.
I don't work for BPL, I'm just a big enthusiast of the site. I call BPL the "Science magazine of Backpacking".Jun 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm #1509792
I'm not sure why people pay for information that should be free. There are plenty of enthusiasts who don't charge to tell you about their sport. Look at all the fine contributors to these forums. That's why I'm here.
Not trolling, just my opinion.Jun 22, 2009 at 3:27 pm #1509796
Compare BPL with Backpacker Magazine. The web site at Backpacker is free but you have to put up with the obvious homage to advertisers there. TINSTAAFL. Compare BPL with Consumer Reports. It costs money – http://www.consumerreports.org .
I'll let others provide additional reasons. But just remember, TINSTAAFL.Jun 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm #1509802
I joined BPL specifically to read a couple reviews of sleeping bags a few months back, and haven't regretted my $2.08/month investment. I was disappointed the magazine was an extra fee, but that's BPL's choice.
I can't really tell you if the review will be worth the member fee to you though.
I have saved about half my membership so far in product discounts, so there's that too.
Especially since they decided not to accept advertising, even if the premium content was free, I'd lean toward making a $25/year 'donation' to support something I felt was of service to me. I've never hosted a website but I don't believe server space is free, even if the information on it is, and BPL is providing the forum for this exchange of 'free' information.Jun 22, 2009 at 4:04 pm #1509807
"I'm not sure why people pay for information that should be free."
Not all information is free to produce. Should information that comes at a cost also be free?
"There are plenty of enthusiasts who don't charge to tell you about their sport. Look at all the fine contributors to these forums. That's why I'm here."
Agreed. The forums bring a great deal to BPL, as does the free content, the civil tone of the discussions, etc. I also think the member-only content is worth something. In addition, I feel it's worth paying a few bucks a year to help sites I enjoy stay viable.
Members do get a slight discount on items in the shop, but it is slight. As a gear junkie, I wish it were more. :-) An early shot at back in stock items for members would be a nice benefit.Jun 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm #1509811
"There are plenty of enthusiasts who don't charge to tell you about their sport."
All this information IS out there somewhere.
But just in the Forums –
Here it is in one place.
Here an ounce counts.
Here there is a vast amount of experience.
Here there is more "science" than "Wild A$$ Guessing"
Here there is more field experience than "Well I think…"
Here there is a jury of intelligent peers challenging junk.
Here there are answers instead of derision.
Here there is a community of courteous and gracious folks willing to help in any way they can.
And strange though it may seem, disk space, bandwidth, continuity, reliability, research, and back office salaries, are all expenses that someone pays for, be it advertisers or subscribers, or a mix.
I don't feel Entitled just because something exists.
I do feel obligated to support what I value and use.Jun 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm #1509812
…"I'm not sure why people pay for information that should be free."….
This makes no sense. "…should be free"?
This isn't the only site with a fee for premium content. It's the modern version of a magazine. For $2 a month? The price of a nice coffee these days.
This site doesn't HAVE TO exist. The owners are running a business. Pretty simple.Jun 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm #1509815
if you don't want to pay, just read the forum responses to the articles. after a while the discussion will reveal the important parts of the articles. you don't get all the details this way, but you will be able to figure out if something is junk or not.Jun 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm #1509816
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
Information wants to be free, but gathering, editing, annotating, and maintaining information requires experience, and time. Most people with experience like to be paid for their time.Jun 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm #1509817
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
There is a lot of great information that is offered up for free on the forums here from many passionate BPL members and BPL Staff.
The articles are detailed and offer a great way to stay informed on the lastest UL products and treads in the market as well as techniques and tips to use in the field.
That said, I find that the forums are the number one reason why I keep coming back.
That said, I am more than happy to pay my money to BPL for the articles and the forum….hell, I would pay them the membership fee just to use the forums!
In the end, I find that the most compelling reason for me to pay my membership is to support the BPL website for everything that they do.
What is a few dollars a year that is less than the cost of 2 pizzas and less money than taking out the family for a night at the movies for all of THIS?
I guess you have to decide what is the value of this forum and website to your backpacking passion?
How sad it would be if this website ceased to be for all of us.
It is our online community and gateway to UL backpacking.
The people that I have chatted with on the forums have resulted in friends made and trips taken in the real world wtih BPL members that has enriched my life and created memories to last a life time.
In fact, I just returned from a weekend trip with 8 other BPL members and my family this weekend from Bear Lake in the Emmigrant Wilderness North of Yosemite.
All people whom I would have never had met if it were not for this website and the forums.
Anyway, I will get off my rant.
Yes, it would be nice if all the information in the world were free, but the reality is that things cost money and I am more than happy to support BPL, which enables me to feed my gear addiction, stimulate the economy by buying more UL gear from cottage manufactures….
-TonyJun 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm #1509822
@anywayoutsideLocale: South East
I pay for two reasons –
I think this is one of the most informative and accessable backpacking sites online and I want to do my little part to keep it that way. I also donate to one other backpacking site that I sometimes surf around on.
I have the extra money since I let my "Backpacker" subscription expire. I prefer my information with as little advertiser induced bias as possible.
Note: Information is not free…as Cameron said "Most people with experience like to be paid for their time." If you don't pay for it…advertisers will.Jun 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm #1509839
I just renewed.
Evan, if nobody paid a membership we would have advertising on this site instead.
BPL is one of many websites I visit regularly, but the only one that a I happily subscribe or donate too. Other than the excellent gear reviews, technique articles, and trip reports (which are worth the price alone) I feel it is important to support a site in which I am a regular participant.
Although information is "free", it costs money to host the machines and bandwidth which transmits this information. Anyone who has looked at the costs of running a popular website knows bandwidth, hardware and admin costs money… which must come from advertising, sales or users. By paying a subscription we get an independent site which is not always trying to make a buck out of us. They don't even advertise their subscriptions!
Oh, BTW, Timothy… before too long you'll come across a members-only BPL review or article that you just *have* to read. At that point you'll probably bite the bullet and join and never look back. =-)Jun 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm #1509854
See, I really want to join, and at the moment the Aussie dollar is not so crappy, and you're all right there are a couple of M articles I want to read, but I'm scared.
I already spend WAY too much time on here, there is too much info still to digest and I'm scared that once I join, I may go into meltdown, and never escape the clutches of my evil laptop!!Jun 22, 2009 at 6:53 pm #1509855
Welcome to my world Rod. I spend all day on here and researching/lusting over gear. Don't tell my boss.Jun 22, 2009 at 7:06 pm #1509858
Okay you guys, I'm new to this member thing. If you see me here for more than 6-8 hours, especially if it's not in work time, please feel free to take me aside and have a little chat.Jun 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm #1509861
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
I agree with the other members. If enough of us don't support this site, then it will either go to advertising or just cease to exist, neither of which I want. I consider it a voluntary tax to keep a community going.Jun 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm #1509871
I bought the membership for $15, and it has been worth every bit.Jun 23, 2009 at 8:26 am #1509957
I wouldn't recommend a membership to someone new to the sport. They should get out there and have fun. Then if they find themselves in camp staring at their tent stake wondering if another type would hold better and weigh less, they might consider a membership.
Also, why do some of you have the impression this site is not supported by ad revenue? Looks to me like they are plenty willing to sell out. What's with the 'ADVERTISE WITH US' link at the bottom of the page?Jun 23, 2009 at 8:35 am #1509959
Evan, that is interesting. Does anyone recall or know of a BPL page link where an advertiser is 3rd party and not a self-advertising (ie, BPL advertising BPL sold stuff or sold services).
This could be a residual web teaser for when they had a paper based magazine. I should look at old issues in paper if they carried ads. They stopped the paper based magazine about a year ago.
Anyone know better?Jun 23, 2009 at 8:38 am #1509961
"Looks to me like they are plenty willing to sell out."
Do you See any advertising?
Making up hypothetical issues is always possible, but seldom useful.Jun 23, 2009 at 8:47 am #1509966
Online, I've only seen advertising on the podcast pages but that is b/c the podcasts were always made available to everyone for free. Also, they did have a few ads in the print mag (no more than say 5 pages per issue) but they were almost always for BPL itself, for a cottage manufacturer, or rarely for a bigger company such as GoLite. Now that the print mag is gone and there have been no podcasts lately, there has been ZERO advertising on BPL.
Sorry Evan, I disagree with you about membership for people new to the sport. I think that membership is MOST useful for those who are new to backpacking. Why would you want to buy gear and then later regret purchases after reading BPL articles? For a newbie, it would be best to get the most info possible to make informed buying decisions and to quickly and easily learn lightweight techniques for backpacking. Also, a new lightweight backpacker would likely buy some gear from BPL, in which case you could easily recoup some if not all of the cost of BPL membership. As a previous poster mentioned, membership at just over $2 a month is a bargain compared to many other publications, for the amount of information membership provides, and just to make sure this amazing community survives well into the future.Jun 23, 2009 at 9:02 am #1509969
No, I don't recall seeing any ads. But the link raises suspicion. One of the advertising 'opportunities' listed is the 'Lightweight Gear Guide'.
As for newbies, I think they would be best served by posting their gear and getting free help from fellow backpackers.Jun 23, 2009 at 11:41 am #1510000
I only paid for 14.99 for renewal this year=)making it around 1.25 a month. This is a minor fee considering how much time I spend on this site reading the Best articles by some of the industries most dedicated, passionate Ul travelers. It's an amazing offer and chance for anyone interested in packing less to ease into the UL world. Here you will also find an honest, helpful, educated, community that is really supportive and give you the answers you were looking for. I have spent many of minutes reading others insight on gear. This has been a big help when it comes times to making a purchase, because now if it hasn't been discussed,i can start a thread and see what has worked for others in the field. By paying the membership fee I feel that i have contibuted to the best cause which is UL hiking; This is my passion along with many others. If im not out on the trail or spending time with my family, this where you'll find me=) Thanks to the communtiy and staff for making BPL what it is today!Jun 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm #1510034
@jephotoLocale: New Zealand
I have found membership to be worth every penny. I am on the site every day, and in its small way this community enriches my life and makes the world a little better. This is something I am prepared to pay to keep going.
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