I’ve mentioned AliExpress before.
More outdoors people are realizing that some of the equipment for sale there is decent budget gear or even very good gear to fill a niche. You could just buy what is the most expensive item, but not everyone has the budget, and the most expensive items are necessarily the best for all situations or even in general.
But how to identify what are obviously planted reviews? Or, to use the current parlance, perhaps”alternative reviews “?
Well, the consumer does have to be smart.
What are the materials? I know fiberglass poles are going to be heavy and not very good for backpacking and even some car camping situations as just one example.
Beyond the basic knowledge you can educate yourself on, how do you know what seems like a good deal is a piece of junk? You can google reviews. And find some useful information.
But there is an initial website you should check first: Fakespot.
Much of the AliExpess and similar gear is often found on Amazon as well.
Fakespot and the related browser extension is a good initial way to see if further research and time spent on the research is even worth it.
Just put the Amazon link in the form and decide if the gear even has a chance of fitting the need.
For example, I see this Cloud Up tent that is sub-3lbs has some very reputable reviews. An “A” rating. Excellent!
Note that Fakespot also gives reviews of the company itself. With a “B” rating, I can guess that customer support at Nature Hike may not be the level of REI greatness but should be solid if some accessories are missing from the package.
Once I evaluate the reviews, I can see that this tent may be a good budget choice or even an all-around good tent.
Of course, they apparently extensively “borrowed” the designs, but that is another story…
Likewise, I see the popular BRS-3000t also receives an “A” rating. Few, if any, planted reviews on this stove!
Fake Spot is also good for helping find the converse, too.
Some traction devices less than half the price of Hillsound ultra crampons? Sounds great…er maybe not? With a “D” rating for the quality of the reviews and the company itself, I’d very hesitant to buy this product.
As Fakespot states in their FAQ document, they are not rating the product itself. Just the veracity of the reviews and how reputable a company may be.
The budget traction devices may end up being a good product.
But if you are going somewhere where traction devices are needed, do you want to be the lab rat to test the product first?
Fakespot is not a panacea to be sure you are purchasing a good product. As mentioned, you need to be an educated consumer. And sometimes an otherwise good product will get mixed reviews. Buying a minimalist pad when expecting a luxurious pad is an excellent example!
But Fakespot ends up being an overall useful tool in the consumer kit.
Fakespot and consumer education help you with this old chestnut.
Make use of the tools you have and use your funds in a wise way.