a review template?

There is theory and research
Google “dissonance theory”. For example, there is research that shows that when people buy a new car they read literature afterward that supports their purchase. It is a perfectly reasonable and a long supported idea in psychology that people avoid dissonant cognitions (I bought this expensive boat and it paddles like shit). So it is not just enthusiasm that results in 10’s.

I bet with boats it correlates to the price paid.

$300 I can be honest about a crappy boat

$500 I have to have something positive to say

$800+ It’s better than any other boat on the planet!

$2000+ I’t better than sex

If $500 is a lot of money to the buyer, the scale moves down accordingly.

or maybe you link the two…
…i.e. define skill level by conditions handled/“worst conditions you still feel comfortable in.”

You list skill levels and define what it means to be in that skill level.

My point exactly
Reviews are only as good as the reviewer. That goes for any sort of review.

It is complex. I’m a class IV WW a complete novice surf kayaker and a skilled (though crazy to many) sea kayaker. What I review is going to biased by the conditions under which I test a boat and a whole host of other factors.

Here’s what I base it on.

– Last Updated: Oct-09-12 6:42 PM EST –

I based that statement on my own experience, since I really don't think I'm all that strange in my level of enthusiasm for small boats. When my only boat was a 12-foot aluminum Jon boat, I thought it was a fantastic vessel for traveling on ponds and small rivers. I thought it was quite fast and efficient because going 8 feet per stroke seemed like really good progress (it's easy to mark progress in a rowboat since you can always see the swirls where the oar blades were). Further, I could easily outpace my brother in his tandem canoe when his paddling partner was a kid. If asked to rate the boat, I would have rated it really high for all the uses I put it to, including traveling several miles at a time. I DID know that it performed poorly in choppy conditions, but that was it. I noticed that it bogged down with a load of camping gear, but didn't know that this was the boat's fault. By the way, I paid nothing for the boat.

Eventually I got a 12-foot rowboat that was roughly based on a "good" design that's been around for more than a hundred years. Now I was getting 22 feet per stroke with a fast cadence (I only checked this one time, just to compare it to the old boat since the improvement was so marked, by counting strokes for an extended distance measured by GPS), and quite a bit more than that with a moderate cadence, and suddenly I realized that the old Jon boat was pretty slow AND inefficient. Not only that, the new boat made almost no sound, so it was then that I realized that the prolonged sloshing sound coming from the bow of the Jon boat with every stroke was something I didn't have to put up with. Finally, when loaded with camping gear, the new boat didn't slow down dramatically in spite of a high exertion rate on my part like the Jon boat did, so I finally figured out that having a tiny boat become a pig when loaded wasn't unavoidable. At this point, if someone had asked me to rate the Jon boat I'd have said it's fine for fishing and hunting, especially if you don't have to go far, but crappy for long-distance travel, especially with a load.

I wasn't able to accurately rate the Jon boat UNTIL I had something better to compare it to. I enjoyed it perfectly well for years. I was doing fun things I simply couldn't do without a boat, so the boat seemed great. I just didn't know what I didn't know. For a person in that situation, I really don't think that's such an unusual way to interpret things.

Wait a minute I have not reviewed the last boat I bought. But I have only paddled it 22 times since June is that enough?

You need at least 23. -:slight_smile:

my boat is best and thus
reviewing a boat is a subjective process. Indeed, it is going to depend a lot on the reviewer, their experience level, and the paddling conditions they encounter. What I’m trying to figure out is: how to make the reviews better on the website? I’m not suggesting we force a format on anyone. I think that while there is some good info scattered amongst the reviews, it’s a bit frustrating to find it.

There’s lots of ways to go about buying a boat. The salesman at the store can recommend one. You can ask a friend or well respected paddler and get what works for them. You can go into it totally blind and say “what the heck” it either works for me or I’ll just resell it and call it a learning experience. You can buy the latest greatest thing just because it is the latest greatest thing. You can buy it purely on the reputation of the manufacturer. You can demo a bunch of similar boats and end up buyng the cheapest one. Or you can buy a boat because it has a cool paisley design on the hull and a pretty metal fleck deck. I’m pretty sure I’m guilty of all of the above when it comes to buying boats at one time or another.

The boats that I end up keeping and paddling over and over again are the ones that meet my needs and paddling style. I left comfort out of the review but that is something that’s a big factor also as I get older. I do think boats are designed for a particular market. How well do they perform for their intended purpose? That’s what landed me on pnet originally, but didn’t really find the kind of info I was looking for.

If entry level canoes and kayaks sold at discount and sporting goods stores get people out on the water, in boats that they can afford, and those folks are happy about it, then I think the manufacturer has succeeded. The boat deserves a ten if it has truly met its purpose. But the fact that people are on this board asking and looking for info tells me that they’re interested in finding out something more than what floats, is readily available, cheap, and possibly legal in some parts of Nevada.

Comfort and durability are big with me. I like a boat I can sit in for most of the day and my butt doesn’t hurt. I like throwing my paddling gear around, paddling up onto shore, parking on rocks, dragging my boat etc. I learned a long time ago I’m not a composite kind a guy. That’s why I put durabllity in my review format but if I was going to do a lot of portaging I think I could learn to take care of my stuff and paddle a composite. In that case comfort overrules durability. I’m going to add “comfort” to my list.

Many of the magazines are great at publishing specs on a select group of boats from companies that pay for ads in their publications. “Buyers Guides” don’t cut it for me. It’s the issue that hangs around the longest because it goes unread. We can do a better job because there are more of us and we actually paddle the boats we write about.

What is important to you? If we were rating hotel rooms we could probably agree on some common criteria: cleanliness, helpfulness of staff, value, location etc. What floats your boat? Just water?

Entry level review critieria
Your choices of what to include in the review are probably not what experienced paddlers who are going to worry about too much. Comfort for example is too dependent on your body shape. Most experienced paddlers quickly modify the seat and outfitting. Stability and tracking also experience dependent and function of paddler skill. Let people say what they want - diversity of data presentation is a very good tool for learning.

The reviews here have worked pretty well for at least 13 years. Best to look at a boat and form your own opinion.

I rate this thread an 8
comfortable, not tippy and is tracking pretty well.

overall a 3
too loose, way too much stability, unmaneuverable pig

I give it a 10
I spent time and effort on it, so it must be a 10.

Validate my choices!!! =]

Very good statement Celia.
The following is a word picture.

Trying out a boat can be much like shopping for clothing.

Because I am 5’2", I don’t buy pants or shirts made for a 6’ person with a 34" leg inseam (mine is 26"), and as I am of medium size, I would never buy shirts made for someone who is a size 3 or size 18.

When buying a kayak, I focus on where I will use it, is the cockpit too cavernous or too small, can I edge it easily, is the seat comfortable, do I hit my hand on the side of the boat when taking a stroke, etc.

As far as ratings, some are correct in noting many are rated a 10, but that could be due to them forgetting to change the rate. If not changed it automatically will give it a 10. Been there, done that and I apologize for that.

This doesn’t fit internet conventions
commonly accepted by most people. People who review products for a specific organization, often with some type of compensation (e.g., Backpack Gear Test) are prescribed specific things to talk about. Ordinary consumers post “more or less” whatever they want, with a few, but very few limitations. They may be given some general pointers (e.g. LL Bean), or boxes to check off, but they’re free to structure the narrative part as they wish.

Then it’s up to the rest of us to make sense of each review and draw a conclusion from the bulk of them taken together. If “rear hatch leaks” shows up in 15 out of 20 reviews, it’s a good possibility it’s true. If only one person out of 30 claims the Loon 111 is too narrow, you know it’s probably not. You have to read the reviews with discernment and compare the opinion offered with the level of knowledge and experience that is clear from big hints like “used three times on 50-acre pond.” That’s the reader’s job.

Some people write a lot. Some people write very little. That doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t be good to disallow those who choose to write less, or who don’t feel like addressing each of 8 prescribed categories.

Manufacturers and retailers have a role to play by providing all necessary information. How many of those clearly describe the hull design of a kayak? Very few, yet that’s one of the first things I want to know. One of the most comprehensive and helpful websites is Frontenac Outfitters in Ontario.

I haven’t read it, yet, but it’s a 10 :slight_smile:

How long have you owned the boat?

How many times have you paddled it?

What is your experience level?

The rest we should be able to figure out by ourselves.

simple test
Have a tippy check box. Is this boat tippy? If they answer this question without mentioning primary and secondary stability you have a good evaluation on the evaluator before you read it. Maybe a turny question also just to be sure.

What’s a tippy boat for one may not be
tippy for another.

I have a Vector 14, find it very stable, but when a much taller person than I took it for a ride you could see it was tippy for him. It was humorous to me, as he tried to find his point of balance, as he bragged about how much he had paddled SOT’s. This narrower boat was not for him or he padded his experience on the water.