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The Bylaws
v. 0609

This document changes over time. Please check back frequently if you have questions. If your questions are not addressed in this document, please send your questions to the group or to the Moderators for answers.  If you have suggestions for changes in this document, or would like to recommend a policy change, please email the Moderators.



The BGT Survival Guide
How to Become a Tester in Three Easy Steps


Introduction: What is BackpackGearTest? 
Chapter 1: Requirements for participation

Chapter 2: Mailing Lists
Chapter 3: Owner Review requirements
Chapter 4: Tester applications
Chapter 5: Test report requirements
Chapter 6: Minimum Report and Review Requirements
Chapter 7: Sending files to the list
Chapter 8: Editing Reports
Chapter 9: Uploading files to the site
Chapter 10: Test Monitor Requirements
Chapter 11: Including Pictures in your Reviews 
Chapter 12: Beta Testing 
Chapter 13: Miscellaneous Rules and Regulations 

Chapter 1: Requirements for participation

To read Reports and Reviews, you need only visit and click Browse Reviews. No registration is necessary.

If you would like to participate in gear discussions or ask questions of the Testers, you need to join one or all of our mailing lists. As a List Member, you may participate in any and all discussions.

(Note: Throughout this document, the terms Owner Review and Test Reports (which are part of an official Gear Test or Gear Review) are sometimes spoken of inclusively by the term 'Reports' or 'Reviews'.)

To participate in gear testing, you must first exhibit your dedication to the testing process by submitting and then publishing (on our site) at least two Owner Reviews, as described in Chapter 3 of this document. Owner Reviews can be written about any piece of backpacking gear you already own, and with which you have enough experience in the field to write a comprehensive report. 

Owner Reviews are edited for language, and for whether or not they meet the group's requirements. Once you have posted your Owner Review to the list, an Editor will work with you to refine your Owner Review in a way that will provide value to the group and to the public.  BackpackGearTest will then allow you to publish your Review on our website.  

All of the information you need to participate is contained in this document. Be aware, however, that this is a technical document, and if you would prefer a user friendly document that will take you step by step through the Owner Review and Tester Application process, please refer to the Survival Guide for a quick overview, or the HOW TO BECOME A GEAR TESTER IN THREE EASY STEPS document for a step-by-step lesson in becoming a gear tester. You should still refer to this document at each step of the process, and read the relevant sections in their entirety.  If you would like additional help, the Apprentice Program can assign you a Mentor who will give you one-on-one help through the entire process. If you would like a Mentor, just send a message to the moderators with the subject, "MENTOR REQUEST". More information is provided on this program in Appendix 5.

Only after you have submitted and published two acceptable Owner Reviews and submitted your Tester Agreement may you apply to test gear. If you are selected, you will be required to complete a series of Reports, usually scheduled over a four-month period. Once you have completed the tests and submitted all required Reports, and they have been approved, the gear is yours to keep!  All Owner Reviews and Test Reports become the sole property of when they are posted to the list, and when they are uploaded to the site.  By submitting an Owner Review or applying for a Test Series, you are agreeing to all the stipulations in these bylaws.

After you have completed your first Test Series, you may also volunteer to act as a Monitor for tests. Monitors, once approved and selected for a Test Series, are responsible for the tracking and editing of a test series, and for communicating with the testers assigned to a test series. Among other things, Monitors play an important role by keeping track of which testers have received their gear, which reports they've submitted, and if necessary, to remind the Testers when their reports are due. Monitors are also responsible for Editing reports filed for the test series that they are monitoring. When a test series is completed a monitor's duties are completed for that test.

All of the requirements outlined here are described in detail in subsequent chapters. This document is intended as an aid and a guide not only for Testers, but for Monitors and Moderators as well.  Failure to read and follow through on these bylaws will likely prevent you from being chosen as a tester.

Hiking and backpacking entail some risk. All testing is done at the tester's own risk and neither, its management, nor the manufacturers of the gear being tested accept any responsibility for any damage or injuries occurring during testing.  Your participation in this program is at your own risk.  While BackpackGearTest publishes Reports and Reviews, we do not guarantee the content of such, except as specifically outlined in this document.

All testers are required to follow the Tester Code of Ethics, which states:

  1. A Tester's Report or Review must be an original work. Stealing a report from someone or somewhere else is wrong.
  2. A Tester's Report or Review must be based on his or her own direct experience. The exception to this is when a tester writes on behalf of young children when testing children's gear, and pets or pack animals when testing animal gear.
  3. A Tester's Report or Review must never contain any false information or falsified data. People who read the Reports and Reviews and buy gear based on those Reports and Reviews (or DON'T buy that gear) may one day trust his or her life to that gear.
  4. A Tester's Report or Review must always be his or her honest opinion, without taint of influence from Manufacturers, Retailers, or any other person.
  5. A Tester will always be responsible.
  6. When selected for a test, a Tester will complete tests and submit Reports in a timely manner. 
  7. If any Tester is found in violation of any or all points of this Tester Code of Ethics, that tester may be immediately and permanently banned from all future tests based on the decision of the Moderators.

Rules and Restrictions on Participation, and Requirements for All Testers

  1. Safety considerations are always a priority, and no tester should at any time place himself or herself in any danger or jeopardy while testing gear.
    1. Any tester discovered to be placing (or to have placed) himself or herself (or others) at unnecessary personal risk while testing gear may be permanently suspended from testing.
    2. Testing of animal gear should always be done humanely, with the life, health, and safety of the animal placed before all other considerations.
    3. Testing of children's gear should always be done with the life, health, and safety of the child placed before all other considerations.
      1. Children should be supervised at all times by a responsible adult when testing gear.
  2. In order to participate in, you must have fun.
    1. Anyone found not to be having fun will be immediately suspended from participation until that person is rehabilitated.
  3. Age Restrictions
    1. Persons over the age of majority (18 years old) and who are mentally competent may participate fully in, subject to the rules and regulations set forth in the Bylaws.
      1. Kathy and John Waters and The Moderators reserve the right to temporarily suspend or permanently discontinue the participation of any member for any reason.
    2. Persons under the age of majority (17 and younger, AKA 'minors') may participate in, with some restrictions.
      1. Minors may submit Owner Reviews, and participate fully in the Owner Review process.
        1. Minors should obtain the permission of their parents (or legal guardians) before participating in
        2. Parents who have questions regarding the participation of their children in the Owner Review process, should contact the Moderators.
          1. A phone conference may be arranged between a parent and a Moderator.
      2. Minors fall into two classifications.
        1. Minors whose parents (or legal guardians) are not current and active testers with
          1. Minors whose parents are not currently associated with cannot become active testers until their 18th birthday. 
          2. Minors who are approaching their 18th birthday are encouraged to submit Owner Reviews and then submit their Tester Agreement as soon as possible after their 18th birthday so as to become testers as soon as possible.
        2. Minors whose parents (or legal guardians) are current and active testers with
          1. Minors may test gear with their parents, who are approved testers, and contribute to those reports where such contribution is appropriate.
          2. Minors whose parents are current and active testers with may apply for and test gear so long as they have the permission of their parents, and are approved by the Moderators.
            1. Minors will not be allowed to test sharps (knives, etc.), anything related to fire, or anything that the Moderators deem dangerous or inappropriate for testing by a minor.
            2. Parents must agree to supervise their minor children during all phases of testing.
  4. Testers should, as far as possible, minimize any ecological and environmental impact that may arise from their activities.
    1. This is frequently stated as, 'Leave no Trace'.  We at prefer, 'Do no harm.'
  5. Testers should obey all Federal, State, and Local laws, orders, rules, and regulations.
  6. Manufacturer Conduct
    1. Manufacturers and their employees are not allowed to test types of items they themselves manufacture or sell.
    2. Manufacturers and their employees are not allowed to comment on competitor's (in the broadest sense of the word) items on list.
Introduction: What is BackpackGearTest?


Chapter 2: Mailing Lists

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.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson