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What is your favorite way to learn about gear online?

In today's digital world, information is abundant and can sometimes be difficult to manage. When looking to upgrade equipment, what are your favorite ways to learn about new gear technologies and how do you determine which information is credible or nonbiased? The sources of information that I am aware of are user-generated reviews on a retailer's website, third party review sites such as Gear Junkies or Outdoorgearlab,  user video reviews on Youtube, gear guides from retailer websites or online magazine reviews...

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@Culvercooper interesting question. At the moment, we aren't really seeing any major shifts toward demo shops over traditional brick and mortar stores; I guess it also depends a bit on the category of gear you're interested in. For example, often you can find a ski demo opportunity during the ski season at a local ski resort. Specifically at REI, we have dabbled a bit with a bike demo program in select stores around the country. In addition, although not exactly a demo shop, last summer we opened a few seasonal Activity Centers around the country (example in WA) where folks can rent different types of boats to have fun on the water and perhaps inform a future boat purchase. And finally, also again not exactly a demo model, we have a robust Rentals program where folks can test gear before committing to a purchase. 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Those are all my go-to spots for learning about new gear. It pays to read as many reviews and overviews as possible from as many different sources as you can, however, because opinions can vary wildly...and some of the review sites (and user-submitted reviews) may have their own agendas. 

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Thank you for the input @Sweet-Tater ! It's so difficult to trust a third party source these days. My favorite way to determine what is right is to Demo the product after online research and interactions with professionals in person. But I find many of the demo opportunities to be limited. I am hoping that retailers change their brick and mortar models to more demo shops with online shipping capabilities. Does anyone at REI know if this is something that is already taking place? 

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@Culvercooper interesting question. At the moment, we aren't really seeing any major shifts toward demo shops over traditional brick and mortar stores; I guess it also depends a bit on the category of gear you're interested in. For example, often you can find a ski demo opportunity during the ski season at a local ski resort. Specifically at REI, we have dabbled a bit with a bike demo program in select stores around the country. In addition, although not exactly a demo shop, last summer we opened a few seasonal Activity Centers around the country (example in WA) where folks can rent different types of boats to have fun on the water and perhaps inform a future boat purchase. And finally, also again not exactly a demo model, we have a robust Rentals program where folks can test gear before committing to a purchase. 

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Wow, I will have to check out that activity center and the rental program. Thank you for the information Jen!

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