We came across Buachaille, as we do with so many other things by searching for our name with Google. So there we were, our Airic self-inflating sleeping mats flying the Alpkit flag. We are always chuffed when our kit turns up unexpectedly so we dug a little bit deeper and found that Buachaille is run by Innes and Jaye, a brother and sister team based in Scotland. People like to get their hands on goodies before they buy, they like to pull things apart, try them on, compare them to what there friends have; that is difficult online. Difficult but not impossible. The great thing about the internet, if you can attract enough people to your site is that you can canvas diverse and numerous opinions. Of course you do risk courting a lot of trash as well but thanks to the sites clean, simple and professional design Buachaille manages to source considered and therefore useful reviews.
Innes: "The US sites, such as Trailspace, are ok but often the reviews don't go into enough detail. If i'm just about to spend £200-300 on a new tent, "Hey, I've got this tent - It's great!" doesn't really help me! Also, as more people choose to shop online rather than visit their local outdoor retailer, it will become increasingly useful to read the opinions of others before buying."The site is programmed 'in house' by Innes, a software developer by trade and his priority are on a functional, easy to use site. The site allows users to read product reviews as well as compare the latest prices from up to 20 outdoor shops. The real gear enthusiasts can submit their own reviews/photos and since launching 6 months ago the site has received almost 2000 reviews. Submitting a review is easy; find the product in question, click 'review this product', fill out the form and submit. The clever part is that the site can automatically track product prices if store owners have included the reviewed products. Buachaille doesn't rely on being fed information. They actually extract the prices and availability from each website so, in theory, the accuracy of the data should be much better. Innes says that they still have issues from time to time but the technology is definitely improving. What can we expect to see in the future? Obviously more products, photos, prices and reviews but there are also plans to start showing prices from US stores. Even taking international delivery charges and import taxes into consideration, it's often cheaper to have gear shipped from the US. But as we all know there is more to life than gear right? so it is good news that Innes is developing an accommodation directory where people will be able to review the hostels, bunkhouses, campsites and B&B's they use when climbing/walking in the UK.