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Clearing the air: the dirt clean on my product reviews

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
3 min read

shill (slang) n.: One who poses as a satisfied customer to dupe bystanders into participating in a swindle.

Last week I got together with some friends to tape a Confab show podcast over in Seattle. The confabbers that night were heavy on the new media folks, so during pre-show noshing, Richard asked if I’d be willing to talk about the details and ethics of my gear reviews during the podcast. I thought about it for a minute, and I don’t see any reason not to — I do this for fun, and ethical dilemmas aren’t fun, so if someone asks me a question about what I do here at, they’re going to get a full answer.

It turned out my contribution to that particular show was a “liberal elitism” ninja chop attempt and a discussion of how home-grown potatoes are totally worth the work, so we didn’t tread into my product review ethics. But, I did just finish a guest post for my friends at PembaServes and that got me thinking that it’s probably time for a little update here at my own blog, especially since I’m working on a spring Gear Guide, set to go live in mid-April.

First, the promise I make to you, dear reader, is that I am not, nor will I ever be, a shill.

Here at, and on my Twitter feed I only review products that I use, and love. Sometimes those products are purchased by me, and once in awhile they’re provided by someone in the industry. When I review products that were provided to me for the purpose of a review, I’ll mention that — it doesn’t affect my review, but some readers might want to know, so I will mention it — but they’re usually products that but for being provided to me I would have bought myself.

Despite starting to build some really fun connections with real people at companies in the outdoor industry, this blog is still my totally beloved hobby. I do this because I love writing, climbing, gear, and the people I meet through my activities here and on other sites online.

It doesn’t matter how an item was obtained, if you read a product review here, it’s because I trusted my life to it and it performed and I decided the item was worth spending my free time writing up for you. Sometimes I feature “wish list” items, that I haven’t yet tried or used myself but that I’m lusting over — when an item falls into that category, the post content will be clear.

Second, while this time of year the blog is always a bit gear heavy because I’m doing my shopping for the season, this is a blog about rock climbing. Gear is a part of that, but not all of it. I trust that if you feel that I’m spending too much time talking about gear, and not enough time talking about climbing and my climbing life, you’ll speak up instead of unsubscribing from the RSS feed. Can I count on you for that, dear reader?

And third, you will, on occasion, see a brief mention of activities in the industry — for example, the link above to the guest post I wrote for PembaServes addressing questions I’m getting from folks in the biz. I hope that me engaging with the industry doesn’t make you see me differently. It’s no different than when someone asks me my advice on climbing shoes or for beta on a climbing area or route — when folks in the biz ask for my advice on a topic I’m interested in talking about or exploring, I’ll give it. I’ll try to do the long-winded part of that elsewhere, so that you don’t have to wade through it here at But, I may make mentions here, just in case you’re interested in clicking through.

The questions I’m getting about my product review “ethics” are coming from outside the climbing community… but just in case any of you long-time readers or my newer industry folk readers have concerns or feedback, I wanted to clear the air.

Thank you for reading, commenting, complimenting and criticizing. I appreciate it all, and look forward to much more… now… for a post about climbing, up next… 😉


Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.