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This is really a 'one time only' step, since you will use the biography you create here for all your reports and applications with only minor updates from time to time.  It is an important step, however, because your biography is required in all reports and in all applications.  People will be interested in your biographical information for a number of reasons.  People looking for clothing, for example, will often look for reviewers and testers of clothing that are their size and weight.  That way, they have a reasonable expectation that the clothing will fit them the same way.  Your biography is important during the tester selection process.  The moderators will select applicants based on various criteria found in the tester biographies.  For example, if cold weather gear is being tested, the moderators may look for people in cold climates, or those who predominantly hike in cold climates.  The moderators also like to select a cross section of testers, and the biographies help them do this.

You should, of course, use good judgment about the information you include.  When testing clothing, for instance, it may be necessary to add additional measurement information such as torso, inseam, waist, and other measurements.  You should include information in both Imperial (English) and Metric units.  It is better to include too much information than not enough.  

Ok, let's begin.  You should open any text editor or word processor familiar to you, and begin filling in your biography.  Here's a starting point for basic information:

Email address:
City, State, Country:
Backpacking Background:

This should be self explanatory.  The 'Backpacking Background' should be a paragraph that lets us know a little about how and where you hike.  While we're going to show you a few examples, these shouldn't be considered fill-in-the-blank templates.  You should let your own style and creativity come through while keeping it brief.  Let's create the example:

Tester Bio

Name:  John Backpacker
Age: 34
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (1.9 Meters)
Weight: 250 Pounds (113 Kilograms)
Email address:
City, State, Country: Barrow, Alaska, U.S.
Date: April 1, 2002

Backpacking Background:  I started backpacking five years ago, mostly taking weekend trips and occasionally going out for a whole week.  I like my pack to be as light as possible, but I don't really consider myself a lightweight backpacker.  I normally hike in hard, mountainous terrain, and I frequently encounter snow and freezing temperatures.

That's it!  That's all you need.  Here, we see that John lives in northern Alaska, and he briefly details his experience, time spent backpacking, his style, and the terrain and weather conditions he normally encounters.  Notice that John includes both English units (inches and feet) as well as Metric units (Kilograms) for his measurements.

A conversion utility is available from this site.  Just click on the 'Converter' link in the navigation menu. 

Here are a few more examples, allowing for style, that are all acceptable:

What if John had little or no experience?  Only his Backpacking Background would change:

Backpacking Background:  I started backpacking two weeks ago when some friends invited me along on a trip.  They lent me some gear, and we had a great time - and now I'm hooked!  I would like to start doing day hikes on the weekend, and I will start buying my own gear as I can afford it.  I will be hiking in arctic terrain, often using a snowmobile or dog sled and team to get me to places where I can hike.

In this case, John will be writing owner reviews of gear that he has bought or borrowed for his trip.  Since he doesn't have much experience with it, hopefully he will thoroughly test his gear before taking it on long trips in such harsh terrain where his life may depend on his gear.  

Let's look at John's bio ten years later...

Too Long!

Tester Bio

Name:  John Backpacker
Age: 44
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (1.9 Meters)
Weight: 250 Pounds (113 Kilograms)
Email address:
City, State, Country: Key West, Florida, U.S.A.
Date: April 1, 2002

Backpacking Background:  I have been backpacking for ten years now.  I have taken countless weekend trips, and I have started going out for six months a year to search out remote and lonely places.  I like to be comfortable in camp, so I often carry a very heavy pack.  I have thru-hiked the AT, PCT, CDT, Long Trail, and climbed several mountains in the U.S., Nepal, Tibet, and Lower Mongolia.  I have encountered all types of terrain, and have logged 15,000 miles both on and off the trail.  I moved to Florida last year, and I have been hiking in the Everglades.  On my weekend trips I often encounter low, flat terrain interspersed with wetlands.  The weather is often rainy, but much warmer than what I am used to experiencing.  In April of next year, I will be leaving to hike in the Sahara desert, and I hope to cross solo from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

From this we see that John has become a 'Superhiker' in the last ten years.  This boy has got the backpacking disease - and bad!  He's probably independently wealthy in order to be able to be gone so many months out of the year...

There is a problem with this background.  It has become more of a "gee look at me" instead of letting people know the person's background.  We like to keep the Backpacking Background paragraph to a hundred words.  Really.  A hundred words.

When making an application to test gear, you may also add other information that will be relevant to that test.  We'll cover that when the time comes.  By now you should have a good idea of what your bio should look like.  If you need other examples of acceptable biographies, just read any report on  In fact, it's a good idea to read several reports so that you will get an idea about what reports should look like.

Go ahead and write your biography now, and be sure to save it in a safe place.  You will be using it a lot and updating it from time to time.

You now have two options:

Return to the Introduction page or Continue to the next lesson - Writing the Review, Part I.

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.

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BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson