Practical Sailor is sometimes not too practical. I let my subscription lapse because of their bias towards testing of items mostly applicable to only the high end, cruising sailor.
When compared to the "civilian" mags that I no longer buy, it seems a model of economy to me. I find that between PS and ON, I learn and can judge applicable a fair range of products, but more importantly, I can start thinking about systems because reading of a product, service or technique in these magazines helps me to design (I hope) a better way of doing things.
Three examples come to mind: I have purchased a FilterBoss dual Racor fuel pump, an idea I saw in a less formal form in ON. I saw in PS the idea of having a reel of line stowed vertically off the arch for stern anchoring or reaching the shore. And finally, I started thinking about all the problems caused by seawater intrusion into fuel and water tanks from deck fills and topside vents, and this lead me to a great old book called Small Steel Craft by Ian Nicholson. Lo and behold, in there I learned that it once was (and may still be) customary to route all vents to centerline goosenecks on pilothouse cabin tops. I think I can improve on this by making a vent manifold with separate shutoffs, and by routing the vent stack, so to speak, inside a brass pole, which can double as a handhold in the pilothouse AND can have a drain **** at the lower end. Even if the boat rolls with the engine running, I have a shot at keeping seawater out of my tankage. Granted, that might be the least of my concerns, but the ideas were sparked by reading PS and Ocean Navigator and realizing that the way things are done today for the average cruising boat is neither sensible nor applicable to the distance cruiser, and the right idea might be an old idea awaiting rediscovery.
Sure, I read the product comparisons and gear reviews, but mainly these magazines get me thinking productively, I hope, about how to improve my vessel.