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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 4: Tester applications

When gear becomes available to test, the official Test Call is posted as a message to the BackpackGearTesters list with 'TEST CALL' in the subject line. Test Calls are also posted in the News section of the website as a courtesy.  You apply to test a piece of gear by submitting a test application as detailed herein.  You must have completed and uploaded two Owner Reviews, and submitted your Tester Agreement in order to apply for a test.  At this stage of the game, you are considered a 'Newbie' tester until you complete your first test series - three reports over four months. Once you complete your first test series, you are considered to have 'graduated' and are now a 'Veteran'.

New testers (a.k.a. 'newbies') are looked upon with some caution by the group.  During the Newbie stage, you are limited to one test series, with some exceptions.  Once you graduate, you may be selected to test multiple items concurrently.  For a detailed explanation of this policy, please see Appendix 4.

To be included in the pool of applicants you should submit your complete application by the stated deadline.  The testers will be selected based on parameters specified by the manufacturer and/or to include a broad spectrum of hiker types, styles, and locations (demography).  For more information about the selection process, see Appendix 4.

A test call generally remains open for one week, but may be shortened or extended at the discretion of the Test Moderator.  It is important to submit your application as soon as possible after the Test Call is posted.  If you are selected, you will be contacted off-list for additional information such as mailing address and telephone number. Respond as quickly as possible to this request or it may be necessary to pick an alternate. The Moderator for each test series will endeavor to inform the group when the testers have been selected.

Do NOT apply for a test if you are unable to spend the time and effort in the field to gain the experience with the gear necessary to write complete and impartial reports over the four-month period typical of gear tests.  Remember that the manufacturers are 'paying' you for your reports by letting you keep the item being tested. If you are not going to post the reports in good faith then please do not apply. 

It is acceptable to apply for two similar pieces of gear at the same time, however it is advisable to mention this in your application. Along the same lines, if you are already testing a similar piece of gear to the one you are applying for, you should justify why you will be able to perform the test satisfactorily in your application. In general, it is better to convey any special circumstances so that any appearance of impropriety is avoided from the start.

If you are not selected for a test, do not become discouraged.  Competition for gear can be stiff.  Persistence and patience is important.  If you have posted your Owner Reviews, cooperated with the Editors, and submitted your Tester Agreement, you are almost guaranteed to be eventually selected for a test series if you write good applications.  Posting additional Owner Reviews is a good way to get noticed.


  1. Test calls will include the term "TEST CALL" in the subject line.
    1. Test Calls are also posted in the News section of the website as a courtesy.
    2. The Test Call posted to the BackpackGearTesters list is the official Test Call.
  2. Incomplete applications will be discarded with no notice.
  3. Test applications must be the original work of the tester. 
    1. Copied or proxy applications will be rejected.
    2. Any tester who copies another tester's application or other work may be banned from testing.
    3. For an expanded explanation of this policy, see Appendix 4.
  4. You may not submit an application for any third party.  Testers are responsible for testing the gear that they were selected to test.
    1. The exceptions to this rule are gear used by an animal, and gear used by a child.
  5. No test applications will be accepted after the close of the Test Call.
    1. Test calls can be closed or extended at any time at the discretion of the Test Moderator.
  6. The decisions and selections of the Test Moderator are final.
  7. When selected, you should respond to the Moderators email notification within 48 hours.  Failure to do so may result in the selection of an alternate.
    1. If you will be unavailable during a test call close, you can send your name, address, and telephone number to the Test Moderator off list in case you are selected.
  8. The Newbie Rule
    1. Persons who have not yet completed a Test Series are considered Newbies.
    2. Persons who have completed a Test Series are considered Veterans.
    3. During the Newbie stage, you are limited to one test series.  That means that you can only test one item at a time.
    4. There are some exceptions to this rule.
      1. Some items are designated 'freebies', and it will be noted that the Newbie Rule does not apply to that item in the Test Call for these items.
      2. The Test Moderator may select a newbie for more than one test based on their discretion.
        1. The application of this discretion is subject to discussion and veto by the other Moderators.
    5. For a detailed explanation of this policy, please see Appendix 4.
  9. Your acceptance of a test item constitutes a pledge to complete that test series in good faith.
    1. Items do not become the property of the tester until after all required reports have been posted.
      1. Testers that do not successfully complete a gear test series completely cannot keep the gear. 
    2. If you do not, or cannot, complete a test series for any reason, you will be required to send the item to an alternate tester at your expense.  In some instances, you may be required to pay the full cost for the gear.
      1. If you cannot finish a test series for any reason, contact the Moderators immediately.
      2. Open communication about your situation, and cooperation with the Moderators will insure that your status as a tester is not jeopardized.
      3. The Moderators understand that life issues beyond a tester's control sometimes happen, and we are willing to work with you.
    3. Testers who do not complete a test series and do not return the gear have, by definition, stolen the gear.
      1. Such a tester may be banned from participation in and all associated discussion lists.
      2. Such a tester is subject to legal action as allowed by law.


  1. It is better to include too much information rather than not enough.
  2. Please use your best judgment about the information you include.
  3. You should read applications from veteran testers to get a feel for how a good application should read.
  4. If you have come back to us after a hiatus, or you simply haven't tested in awhile but would like to again, there are a few things you should do to make sure you have a fair chance to test gear. If you qualified then, you qualify now, but you can improve your chances by doing two things:
    1. Read these Bylaws to be sure that you are aware of any new policies or procedures.
    2. Make sure that you have two reports or owner reviews that meet the current standards. This does NOT mean that you have to go back and re-do all of your reports. In fact, the best thing to do would be to submit two new Owner Reviews that follow the current Survival Guide outlines.
  5. If you have any question as to your approved tester status, please contact the Moderators directly for information about your status.


  1. Applications must be posted to the BackpackGearTesters list.
  2. If you submit an application and then need to modify it, resubmit the entire application. Do not just send the additional information.
  3. If you need to withdraw your application for any reason, send a note to the BackpackGearTesters list stating that you wish to withdraw.
  4. Include both Imperial and Metric units when giving measurements.  
    1. Refer to the Converter for rules about units of measure.
  5. You must also read Chapter 5 and include additional information in your application as specified in that chapter. 
  6. You should read the Test Call message carefully, and include any additional information specified therein.

The following is a starting point for required information:

  1. Personal biographical information
    1. Name
    2. Age
    3. Gender
    4. Height
    5. Weight
    6. Email address (need not be clickable)
    7. City (or region), state, and country (if outside the US) where you live
    8. Backpacking background
      1. Short, comprehensive description of your backpacking experience (how long, where, etc.)
        1. This biography may be longer than the one traditionally required in Test Reports, when appropriate.  Test Moderators actually welcome comprehensive biographies in applications.  You should, however, attempt to be concise.
        2. You may wish to include biographical information that is relevant to the specific test for which you are applying.
      2. Style (lightweight vs. heavyweight, tent vs. tarp)
  2. Field information
    1. Location or locations where you propose to test the gear.
      1. Understand that 'backyard testing' is not an acceptable substitute for actual field testing.
      2. Extended Travel Plans
        1. If you are taking extended trips of a week or more, please make the dates of these trips clear, and take note of where these trips fall in the probable schedule of testing.
        2. If you are uncomfortable posting away dates on a public forum, send this information to the Test Moderator or Test Manager in a private email.
        3. For an expanded explanation of this, see Appendix 4.
    2. Description of location (mountains, elevation, terrain, etc.)
    3. Typical weather conditions expected (temperature, precipitation, etc.)
    4. Style of hiking you plan to do during the test (lightweight, tent vs. tarp, etc.)
    5. Test plan or strategy.
  3. Previously written reports
    1. Include a link to your Reviews Written by <Tester> page on the website.
      1. This link is automatically created when you upload a report.
      2. The usual format of the link is: "" + <your user ID>
        1. Example:
      3. You can find this link at the bottom of any of your reports on the website.
    2. It is no longer necessary to include separate links to previous reports.
Chapter 3: Owner Review requirements


Chapter 5: Test report requirements


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