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The Business Of Reviewing Gear with Stephen Regenold (aka The GearJunkie)


Today on THE ROCK FIGHT (an outdoor podcast that aims for the head) we welcome Stephen Regenold the OG GearJunkie to get a behind the scenes look at the world of reviewing gear.

Stephen started GearJunkie in 2002 as a newspaper column that eventually became one of the go to website's for gear enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Today he sits down with Colin to talk about the current state of gear reviews, how changes in the media landscape has impacted the medium and what to expect from gear reviewing in the future.

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Episode Transcript

Colin (00:00):

Welcome to the Rock Fight where we speak out truth, slay sacred cows, and sometimes agree to disagree. This is an outdoor podcast that aims for the head. I'm Colin Tru, and today we are joined by the legendary Gear Junkie himself, Steven Reginald, to talk about where we are these days with gear reviews and outdoor media. Things are quite different than they were when Steven started his Iconic Gear Review column and website. So stick around to hear this conversation. Before we get to that, have you subscribed to Rock Fight's Newsletter News from the front. Each week you'll get a recap of what has been happening in the RFU along with a few special goodies you can't find anywhere else. Head to rock to sign up and ensure you get next week's issue. Alright, let's start the show. Alright, we're joined today by Steven Reginald of Gear Junkie Fame, who is also the founding editor and advisor for Gear Junkie's current owner, which is all Gear Digital. Steven, welcome to the show.

Stephen (00:55):

Colin. What's up?

Colin (00:56):

Good to see

Stephen (00:56):

You. Good to see you.

Colin (00:58):

Right before we got you and I think our only face-to-face in the same room meeting was at a breakfast at Outdoor Retailer probably in 2015 or something like that. And I just got a text from, do you remember Darren Josie? Oh

Stephen (01:12):

Yeah, yeah. What is Darren up to? Yeah, I haven't heard from that in a while.

Colin (01:15):

He started his own company, he is called First Seed Stone. He actually came on to talk about, because he actually is advising outdoor brands and stuff on their DEI efforts and working with local municipalities.

Stephen (01:26):

See? Yeah,

Colin (01:27):

Nice. Yeah, he's doing some really interesting stuff. Sweet. Yeah. But man, we're going to talk some gear review stuff. Obviously some gear and gear reviews are just part of the fabric of the outdoor experience. I think at this point I also think it's important to kind of look back and take stock of why that is because it wasn't that long ago, we were talking about this before we hit record, that it wasn't a foregone conclusion that something would work as expected. A good modern gear review means you learn something about a product that informs whether or not you'll buy it, right. But these days I never go into a modern gear review wondering if the thing is going to work as advertised. I just kind of assume that it will. But to start, I mean your career has sort of bridged these time periods, right? So Gear Junkies started as a newspaper column back in 2002, which was definitely in the, Hey, will this thing still work era? I mean when you look back on the past 22 years, are you surprised at where we are today? I mean, do you miss those sort of grittier gear days?

Stephen (02:18):

Yeah, I think my head goes to kind of two lanes. It's like the media production audience side of this is my industry, and then kind the product centric, what's produced and what are the new products. And both lanes have changed dramatically. So on the media side, I started in my early twenties writing for newspapers fresh out of college, and it was kind of like a whizzbang look at this new product, a few hundred words in a photo and move on weekly syndicated column and then the digital revolution of the early OTs and social media and UGC and YouTube and podcasts and newsletter and now ai. And it's been quite the mouth storm of change and I've tried to lean into that. And then on the product side, it was scrappier back in the early two thousands, but your podcast a few weeks ago, things haven't changed a ton. Like hiking boots and backpacks are pretty similar. The materials have changed, the wearables, the tech adjacent products have changed, but I think that honestly the media landscape part of it has changed more than the product part for me.

Colin (03:29):

So the delivery vehicle is really the big change. Yeah, that that's a good point. If you're just sitting there, Hey, I'm going to write a newspaper column, I'm going to start writing about this stuff that I just love. And as long as you had someone willing to publish those columns, you're kind of there, right? What else are you going to do in 2002, right?

Stephen (03:48):

I mean you made me kind of think back and when I was in high school English, I wrote some gear reviews for this assignment and it was like ski and I was a big skier. And so I wrote some ski kind of review that was very proto, proto gear junkie. And then in college we did a zine, black and white printed copy at a Kinko's or whatever, it was a rock climbing zine vertical Jones. And then I got a gig at a newspaper and we'd publish weekly print and then we did blog and social and podcast. And anyways, yeah, the evolution has been wild. How do you deliver this information on a product to an end consumer, a reader, a viewer, whatever it is. So constant change. And now it's like I built a GPT called Gear GPT on Chad, GPT, and it writes gear reviews for me. So gone from scratching on my high school notebook to AI that writes me gear reviews. So it's been a crazy 20 years.

Colin (04:50):

A was that zine, was it mostly focused in up in Baroo? Was it Baroo State Park, devil's Lake State Park at Baraboo. Wisconsin's the big guy.

Stephen (04:58):

Oh yeah. So I'm a Minnesota boy, so I should have said that we're more attuned to head up to the North Shore Lake Superior ice climbing up in GaN Canada. Really cut my teeth on the frozen waterfalls of the Northland and the scrappy little crags. So yeah, all that stuff. And then drive out to Devil's Tower and do those road trips. And that was my life. And I took gear really seriously early on because I was kind of this want to be extreme skier, literally hitting whatever cliffs and shoots and then somewhat serious climber and gear in those two sports is literally life or death at times. So I did take the gear seriously and was just a dirt bag trying to scrap together a kit too. So I needed the gear. I mean, vertical Jones was sort of a pseudo grif to get gear at discounted prices or free. And it's interesting, can get some, as a 19, 20-year-old that I had no other access to my ice axes and cams, I was poor. So the motivations have also changed over the years. And then I went to journalism school and I learned the best practices of being an objective journalist and worked for the New York Times for three years and really got very deep into the ethics and then built gear junk off kind of the back of that experience plus tangible training in journalism.

Colin (06:31):

Yeah, I have to sometimes check myself about coming off as, and maybe it's just hard like 48 now. So it's like I'm just turning into curmudgeon and always looking back and commenting on the way things used to be. I think we just all do that probably as we get older. One thing to look back and be like, oh, this is the way it was then versus the way it is now. I mean I think it's objectively better now. Look what I just said, things work now and we expect them to work. And then to your point, what you were talking about scrapping things together for a kit. I remember being not angry, but definitely didn't like the fashion adoptions of outdoor stuff. That was how I wanted to be recognized. I wanted to have a North Face Nipsey on and have someone look at me and be like, oh, that guy goes outside.

(07:17)I didn't want the guys on MTV to have on Timberland's and North Face stuff because that was what, but then as with all things, as we've gone on and we're able to find our community a little bit easier with the advent of the internet and things like that, it's good that it's not, that judgment isn't the kind of dissipating, I mean even things like I look at my kids in pop culture and I'm sure your generation was the same. I would discount the music from 10, 20 years when I was a kid. Stuff from the seventies was like, ah, screw that. Now my daughters are listening to anything from any era and it's just music. And I feel like there's probably a little bit of that happening in the outdoors as well. It's just easier to recognize someone else. It's not a bad thing where we've ended up, I guess is what I'm saying.

Stephen (08:02):

Yeah, kind this mainstream ation of gear and these brands too. And that really buoyed the media company I built Gear Junkie was scrappy and the industry was smaller and scrappier. And then as the hydro flasks and Yeti coolers of the world and numerous other brands came to mass popularity, both kind of in the outdoor endemic space, but also mass consumer culture. The kind of budgets opened up to do bigger ad deals. The personalities became, I dunno bigger names, just so yeah, kind of the mainstream movement it had, its good and bad anything, but now it's an average guy walking in Manhattan has an arc jacket on and you don't think twice. So I think it does trickle from it's good product too, like merino shirts and whatever, the footwear and the outerwear and this stuff, you need to be comfortable and sometimes survive in places like Minneapolis and Manhattan and whatever. It's better gear. The brands are better products and some of these formerly endemic brands have leaned into that and said, let's sell our down jackets and our Canada Goose parkas to the everyday consumer and to huge financial reward as well.

Colin (09:28):

Well that's a good segue into because as sort of innovation kind mellowed out, things are more reliable. I mean there was this sort cottage industry of gear reviewers and publications that were all about gear that kind of sprung up. I mean you guys pioneered it, but we kind achieved this place where we stopped asking questions, what is this thing solving and took for granted that we just needed to make more stuff and review it because, and it's broadly speaking, that's just kind of now what we do. So I look at a good gear review as almost like it's sort of its own art form. How do you hook someone, relate to them, make them understand even if they're not maybe in the market for something when they kind of walk away learning something about it, whether it's something I would like to buy or what something is, or maybe something that I'm informed now where I wasn't before. So sitting in 2024, what do you look for today in a gear review? What's a good gear review today maybe versus back when you started?

Stephen (10:23):

I mean a macro change for better or worse is you need, if you're a digital publisher, you need to write for the algorithm to an extent and you can certainly overdo that. But if you simply don't kind of have the playbook to write for Google, you will not get visibility, you'll not get distribution. So that has kind of cookie cuttered a lot of review content now and the wire cutter and some of these sites pioneered this and then there's a million iterations. So the best of type template is kind of gross, but it's also, it happens to be what most of humanity, when they sit down at a keyboard and want a new pair of hiking boots, they type best hiking boots. And so that's one angle you just need to play in the field that you're given. And for things like your junkie, that means doing world-class content, but within the structure of 10 best hiking boots.

(11:22)Whereas in the past we leaned a lot more into single reviews of a new Timberland or a Merrill or a Keen boot. We still do that, but the consumer, the reader wants it aggregated in one place. They're used to marketplaces like Amazon and stores like REI where they see it all on the shelf providing that in kind of a subject matter expert editorial lens is the current playbook. And then we do a weekly column called emerging gear, and it's kind of the classic new products column. It's a couple hundred words in a picture of six to 10 new products that are cutting edge. And that's not necessarily a review, but it's product coverage and it serves its function of staying on the pulse of the industry, what is designed, what are the new materials, what are the trends? So those are two ends of the spectrum maybe. And in then the middle, I mean there's all sorts of middle, but there's more of a macro UGC movement across the web or last 10 years. It's less like here's some hoity-toity editor telling you. It's more like crowdsource reviews and Amazon stars and social media. So in some ways I think publications your junkie have leaned into that. I've kind of done that for a long time. Just first person, straight up straight dope kind of opinion and thoughts on something. So a few thoughts

Colin (12:53):

While you're talking, it made me think of this, but you mentioned the person who's going to look for something and the best of, and I had a question about listicles because they kind of seem like they're just gear reviews of almost become listicles in some regards. But that's coming from my lens as someone who was there when you were doing your thing at the beginning to now, and maybe I'm applying a little too much of my purest way of thinking what a gear review should be, and you're talking about a gear junkie now that has millions of uniques clicks every month. Your audience must be, you must have to consider your audience as broader at this point, I would imagine, right? Do you see that you're producing content at Gear Junkie for the sort of educated the person in the industry? Or is it like, no, no, you guys are fine. We need to appeal to the broader audience. I've talked about a lot too. It's like the hardcore outdoor doesn't really exist anymore. He said it's like the dog walker in New York City is just as much of an outdoors person who might have some of these questions and the resources to get answers as someone who wants to go to spend a weekend at ure, right? So I dunno, how do you guys balance that out?

Stephen (14:03):

It is a balance. You need to cover the core and make sure you're on trend and kind of the zeist if you want to be a voice in your space, if you want to be relevant. But there's also this massive humanity that just needs a water bottle or a pair of hiking boots for the weekend. So yeah, it's a balance. And I think 70% of our readers come from search, and that means they are intent on learning something, whether it's 10 great hikes in upstate New York or Best Hiking Boot. So we write to those people that are searching for those kind of answers and information. And then 30% of the audience is more core, more invested, interested, they follow our social media, they get our E-newsletter. They might type in gear to come see what's up. So we do write to both those audiences.

Colin (14:57):

What about things like, there's been a huge, and I'm not that informed on this, but just things like affiliate links and then even just sponsored content. If you go on even gear right now, and you guys would call things out if it's sponsored, but what is your expectation of the engagement of sponsored content? Is it kind of like, Hey listen, it's all good information on the website, we just need to make sure you understand that this was not something that we conceived of originally. Is it those two topics? I definitely understand affiliate links that makes actually just good business sense, right? Listen, click this link of the thing we're talking about and we might get a kickback for that. That just kind of like, okay, that makes sense. That's just good. Maybe capitalism, but on the sponsored content side, is there a too much or not enough kind of balance you need to strike in terms of how that appears as someone visiting the site?

Stephen (15:43):

Yeah, we have some hard lines. I mean, we're not paid to play for gear reviews. If there's a company that has a new initiative around whatever DEI or a new technology that they want to highlight and we can do that in an advertorial type sense and build a piece of content around that, we will do that occasionally, but we don't do paid gear reviews, so I think that's the hard line. We're not going to say something's good because someone's paying us for it, but we will say, you can reach our audience. That's part of our business. We can highlight what you're doing. It's going to be labeled as such. I always say growing up you're flipping through National Geographic and it says paid advertorial and it says 10 great hikes in Peru. It's just that. But in a digital format,

Colin (16:28):

I mean are we also then in a place where are we at a Feed the Beast kind of place where now it's become such a thing and such an entrenched part of the outdoor media scene where it's like we just have to continue to have more gear content regardless of what it is?

Stephen (16:45):

I don't know if the volume of gear content has changed, if that's the question. We being the editorial staff at Gear Junkie, we get up every day and look at press releases and news feeds and social media and try to find the stories. And I don't feel like the cadence of that has changed dramatically. There was kind of this period of the Kickstarter revolution of crowdsourced startups and different cottage industries that say the sup board revolution of the late 2000 tens or whatever. There's been little sparks, but for the most part, as you know, go to the OR show or anything like that. And there's kind of 30 to 50 brands that's sort of buoy the industry and they come out with new products, sort of a seasonal cadence. And in some ways that hasn't changed too much in the last 20 years I would say.

Colin (17:47):

It's so funny, we talk so much on the trade shows. You mentioned that when you mentioned or and the standup paddleboard thing, I can't but help but think about that kind of 20 15, 16 timeframe where they had their own freaking tent. It's just like, here's the paddle tent now. And now that it's such a weird world where the trade shows have ended up, I mean, how much has that impacted you guys? I mean, it's got to be a little impactful, right? That was one nice thing, especially if you're focused on gear to say, hey, here's the two times a year or everybody's here and guess what, they have all their new stuff, come see it. And now it's a little

Stephen (18:29):

More, it's pretty convenient. Pretty convenient. I mean, yeah, we built this whole program best in show the awards around two or sometimes three times a year or would happen. And we also started giving out that award at CES and other shows and we have an auto editor and he gives out awards. So the award thing kind of focused us on what is the cutting edge at these trade shows that are saturated with new products, what are the 10 standout items that we can say this is a best in show? And yeah, that rubric doesn't exist as much. We go to the shows, we give out awards, but Patagonia is not there and a lot of innovative companies are not there. A lot of the big guys are not there. So you end up awarding the startups and the scrappier companies, which is also kind of cool. But the press release has still come, the embargoes are still there. We see creative briefs, we see campaigns. A lot of it hasn't changed even though the trade shows have diminished.

Colin (19:25):

Is there anyone that's doing it remotely? Bob, do you have any in the future big year is going to crush it or is it, it just feels to me we're in this holding pattern and I'm actually going to get a chance to go to GOA Connect the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. They have their retailer show and I was talking with their organizers and you look about how that is laid out and who's there in the format so that they go through. And from a trade perspective, I'm like, this is all you need. It's all the most relevant brands, it's the most relevant retailers minus the independent retailers and business gets done here. Now I do think there's still, where's that sort of I a rendezvous kind of opportunity where you can have the industry to get together. Maybe there's product on display so you can bring media in to kind of see things, but do you see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel for the, I guess the trade show sort of vacuum we've been living in the past four or five years?

Stephen (20:23):

I don't know about the outdoor industry in general, but I can speak about trade shows in general maybe because I've seen more innovation beyond kind of this. I just got back yesterday from Chicago, a little regional show about affiliate commerce and it was like a hundred people and it's like a hundred people that every single person you meet is a connection that's valuable and the sessions are short and punchy, you kind of get what you want. It's not at all a consumer show, it's not really a media show, it's like a conference. And so I work more on business development, sales partnerships. That's where my lens nowadays. So that to me is very valuable. So it goes back to who's going to the show, what are they doing? If it's consumers, it's one thing. If it's editors looking for best in show awards, something like a CES is amazing. So that still exists that those big splashy shows with laser beams and press conferences still happen. They just don't happen in our industry and they don't happen because a lot of that has become just kind of irrelevant with things like Zoom and social media and everything that's come to light over the last few years.

Colin (21:40):

Yeah, I don't know. I just think there's still a need there. I've heard enough from folks where I see the value, I see what we've lost by not having those kind of gatherings. But to your exact point, it shouldn't just be a let's try and do it. We used to, I think, I know talking with folks like the outdoor recreation round table and you have the states to put on their local outdoor economy conferences and it feels like those conversations are super relevant in terms of it's not just about trade and retail and wholesale and those kinds of things. It's about what's actually happening on the government level as well as business. And there can be product involved, there can be because you can have business owners there, but then also the local trail advocacy groups are there and those kinds of things. And I just wonder if that's sort of the model eventually where if we find ways for people to get back together.

(22:32)But to your point, I don't know if we're going to even just have one big national event. There's too many options now that even if there was a kind of good event happening, if I can make it great, but then that all comes with the expense and time of making it. And I have local shows, I have Zoom, I have all of these resources that are there to me that it's like, well, I don't really need to go to that. I'm not going to miss out on that much. Before it was like, if you're not here, you're not going to see it. And so I don't know, it just feels like that's something that it's going to need to get worked out at some point. But right now everybody wants something different.

Stephen (23:08):

Yeah, I dunno if you've been to Outdoor Media Summit, but we've done that the last few years and it's a couple hundred people is in Boise last year and that's kind of a nice middle ground between these local conferences and something. Or I went to the Outpost for a few years, it was kind of similar. It was like I feel like, or of 2018, whatever, 16, whenever it's glory days, were a little bygone and a new model could be better. I was also going to say, I don't think I could have built Gear Junkie without or show. I mean it was such a strong make connections and get to know people and get the brand out there. I think it'd be hard to get that durability with brand and that human connection right now with the lack of cohesion and less in real life events.

Colin (24:06):

As you look ahead though, what's the criteria you would like to see in the future? What are the changes you want to see coming and maybe we may see eventually come on? Something like your junkie.

Stephen (24:16):

Are you talking about the product or kind of the review lens? Yeah, reviews,

Colin (24:19):

I mean all the above. I think things do feel a little stagnant. I feel like in the outdoor media space, probably the gear space, there's a lot of same out there. So what would you like to see? What do you expect to see in the future?

Stephen (24:35):

I guess I don't feel like things are stagnant necessarily. There's a lot of energy. Say if you look at, and I'm talking beyond Gear Junkie, but say look at YouTube, if you want a review of an ultralight backpack utilized on the Pacific Crest Trail by some core dude that hiked with three months, I'm pretty sure that's on YouTube, so Oh, it definitely is. Yeah. So as one minor example. So I think discoverability is a little difficult. Everything you want is out there in this giant world of content. Now whether that's a Substack or a TikTok or a YouTube or a article on Gear Junkies. So the challenge is maybe aggregating that better. And whether that's a media job or a tech platform job, I'm not really sure because everything is so chaotic at the moment. And we were looking at a tool called Vetted AI recently, and it's kind of like a gear review product review ai.

(25:34)So things are going there. I don't love that as a human, but as a potential consumer of, I think that there's all sorts of new technologies that will change this landscape. And I'm an optimist and I think hopefully the arc goes towards quality and usability and a lot of information. It's just kind of like you need to know, okay, if I'm setting my at what skin fits this ski or something, you don't need to read a thousand words. It's like just give me the info. So there's a lot of utilitarian info that I think bots will handle in a great way, whether it's voice or some text tool. And then on the other end of the spectrum, it's just deeper connection to personalities that there's stuff and can give you kind of the straight up. So

Colin (26:31):

I think the biggest shift is going to be, and I think this is still relevant to our conversation, is just because of all that, because of the choices and we're seeing it in podcasts too, how many shows are out there and how many are good versus bad and it doesn't even matter. The smaller audience is going to become more valuable. I feel like there is something for everybody out there and people you're able to curate to your own taste no matter what it's about. If maybe I might find the 30 minute POV mountain bike video annoying, it's like, well what am I seeing here? Great, you're still going downhill. I'm not getting anything from this video. Someone else might think that's awesome and maybe they're pausing it and taking notes, going to ride that trail, ride that trail tomorrow and it's so easy to kind of maybe wave off, oh, that's just not good. It's like someone's going to listen to that or someone's going to watch that. It's kind of incredible the era we're entering into here.

Stephen (27:25):

Yeah, you got to find that, but somewhat at scale, otherwise you just don't have a business there. And that's also a question, are you trying to build a media business or just do content because your competition as a media company is just UGC user-generated content, whether that's Instagram, YouTube, anything else. It's like most people enjoy interfacing with other people in their community. These are some tools. And then us media folks are like, yo, let's jump in there too. But these are like UGC first platforms and so that's where the energy is and that's where the competition is in some ways. So if Joe Mountain biker has 800 views on his 30 minute stream, he is like psyched. If Gear Junkie invests a big thing and we get 800 views, we're like, oh, that doesn't work.

Colin (28:18):

That doesn't work.

Stephen (28:20):

I think a really interesting inflection was wire cutter and 2012 or 14, I can't remember, but Brian Lamb started wire cutter and he kind of took this model of detailed 3000 word product reviews at a time when listicles and Buzzfeed and billions of video views on Facebook were kind of like the operative trendy thing to do in media was to get scale and to be brief and be fond. Wirecutter went the other way. And things like DC Rainmaker and later things like Gear Junkies. So there was this kind of moment of inflection around going deep on quality when the world had shifted to very superficial listicle type of a landscape. And then what happened also is at that same time this affiliate industry began to get more mature. So all of the brands leaned into affiliate networks and publishers could find this whole new revenue stream by adding links.

(29:31)It's essentially lead gen to a retailer. So someone's reading about an REI, whatever, something sold at REI, they click from Gear Junkie and if there's a sale made, we get a cut of that. And so it incentivizes Gear Junkie to add these links. It can also incentivize brands to be Gray hat about it and promote things that are maybe not the best product, but they know will get LS links and clicks. And so that created tension but also opportunity. And at that same time, there was just this huge UGC revolution with like we were talking about YouTube and all the social media and all these kind of amateur gear reviewers who, I'm not saying that negative because some of them are amazing, but they're doing it for free. And so now all of a sudden media is competing with everybody that wants to talk about their favorite gear online. And it continues. The kind of craziness continues to this day with all the algorithm updates, Google Eat, HCU, generative ai, it just goes on. So from my view, as a media person in the gear review space, the operative thing has been to stay nimble and to just be audience centric and try to produce objective content that is usable and hopefully that can kind of keep you relevant and authentic for the long term.

Colin (31:03):

So last two things I'm going to ask you. Number one, I think, did you go see, I have not seen it, but have you watched Arthur the King as an adventure racer? Did you go see

Stephen (31:10):

It? Oh man, I haven't seen it yet, but it's on the list here.

Colin (31:13):

Are you excited to see that? Just because it's a movie about adventure racing? Oh

Stephen (31:17):

Yeah. Mark Wahlberg wearing a backpack out in the jungle. Yeah, so Gear Junkie actually broke that story years ago. We were in that race and our team, I wasn't there, but some of my editors

Colin (31:28):

And it's based on a true story is right that whole

Stephen (31:30):

Thing about, so it was, I think the movie set in the Dominican Republic, the actual race was in, I believe Ecuador, it was South America and our team was racing with the dog. So we have a special connection to that film

Colin (31:42):

That makes more sense. And

Stephen (31:44):

Yeah, we are leaning in though we're doing a big to be announced, but a big deal with adventure racing later this year. So it's a sport close to home.

Colin (31:53):

And I guess last thing I want to ask you is, and this is a really lame question, but you've probably been asked this a lot, but in 22 years of gear reviews, do you have a desert island all time favorite product? Is there one that you point to and you're like, that's the one? And it could be because of the way, what it means to gear junk, it doesn't have to be even the performance of the product maybe so there's another reason, but is there one thing that you hold up? This is, I

Stephen (32:16):

Guess if I had to say one, it'd be the buff, which I, one said for years I use a buff every day of my life and I wore one today, it's a little windy, so I put one on my neck. But yeah, above is, I discovered it in 2004 or five and I was like, what is this thing? And I literally have not put it down since. So I've always got a few on my person when my kids are cold, they're like, give me a buff and I'm pulling one off my ankle. So I would say the buff, if I have to pick one product,

Colin (32:46):

That's a good one. Yeah, I wonder if, I mean they still feel like they're riding the survivor bump of the early two thousands,

Stephen (32:53):

Never let go of that. Yeah, but they're so dang usable, like 365, like any weather, you kind of need it. So I think my second would be Merino wool, t-shirts and merino boxers and that has just been always on my body since Merino came out. It's just such a great fabric in all regards. So that would be maybe number two.

Colin (33:15):

Yeah, I assume women as well, but definitely men. If you ever put on a pair of good merino like boxer briefs, just be prepared to drop a few hundred bucks a year on boxer briefs because

Stephen (33:27):

It's kind of sad.

Colin (33:28):

They're not as bombproof maybe as other things typically, but they, it's awesome. It's the best. Even in hot weather, it's the best.

Stephen (33:36):

I asked the Jeremy Jeremy Moon of Icebreaker, the founder, what is it with Merino? It's just kind of this magic almost energy. I'm not trying to get woowoo, but it just feels good on the body and he had the best answer. He said It's because every other material you make you wear is based on either synthetic or plant like cotton and so forth. Merino is based, the base of that fabric is keratin, which I believe is a protein, which is very, it's essentially hair, which you already have hair on your body. So it's very natural feeling. And that was kind of his physiological explanation as to why Merino feels good. And I've always kind of carried that with me.

Colin (34:24):

Alright man, we can wrap it up there. Anything to promote anything? So you got a big announcement on adventure racing coming up soon. What else we got going on over at Gear Junking or even at All Gear, anything new at all Gear to promote any cool new brands?

Stephen (34:36):

Yeah, I came onto All Gear a couple years ago. We raised some money, made a bunch of acquisitions. We just acquired Pack Hacker, which is in the portfolio now. It's a site out at Detroit that covers travel gear and pack. So it's another kind of core property. So I would say if the audience hasn't checked out the portfolio of sister sites to Gear Junkie, we now own Switchback Travel Bike groomer. I run Far Explorers Web, the Inertia Pack Hacker, and I think I'm missing something. So we have this suite of really amazing brands and people underneath those brands that care about their audience are objective gear reviewers, journalists. So it's a great organization. And yeah, sign up for all the socials and e-news if you want to deluge of gear information from all Gear digital.

Colin (35:23):

Right on man. Well appreciate you coming on.

Stephen (35:26):

Thanks Colin. That was fun.

Colin (35:28):

Alright, that's the podcast for today. What did you think about this episode of The Rock Fight or any episode of the Rock Fight? We want to hear from you. Please send an email to My rock We want to hear from you. Send your emails over. The Rock Fight is a production of Rock Fight LLC. I'm Colin True. Thanks for listening and here to take us out. It's Krista Makes with the Rock Fight Fight song Will see you next time. Rock fighters. Rock fight,

Chris DeMakes (35:55):

Rock fight. Rockside, Rockside. We go into the rat bike where we speak our truth, say sacred cows, and sometimes agree to disagree. We talk about human power, outdoor activities and pick bikes about topics that we find interesting. Black, my Culture, music, the latest movie reviews, ideas for the head. This is where we speak our truth. This is where we speak our truth. Rock.


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