The down side to being in the gear business is that I have to spend a lot of time studying the new gear. I have to try it out if I can. I certainly need to develop an opinion, because someone is bound to ask. To complicate matters, sometimes change really does represent improvement. I stress sometimes.
These may sound like crocodile tears, but gear is just what gets you outside. It needs to be well designed, well built and preferably affordable, but once I own a piece of it I tend to use it without thinking much about it. If it calls attention to itself by breaking or failing to live up to my needs I will look for alternatives. If not I'll happily play outside with it for years.
Customers require answers for two basic reasons. Either they need to acquire gear just to be able to do the activity in question or they're gear weenies who just want to acquire gear gear gear. Among the gear weenies there are also those who just want to talk about gear.
When someone starts to talk to me about gear, I don't know which category they're in. And they might change categories as time goes by. I can't afford to brush anyone off. A perennial pest may get less of my time than a known buyer or a stranger, but I can't assume that someone is always just wasting time.
I frequently forget to delve into catalogs, magazines and websites. I'd prefer not to read about someone else's boss trip to someplace exotic and distant, or the latest, greatest must-have pack filler or rack ornament. I would rather be out using what I have. But I'm in the business. Someone will call my attention to it sooner or later.