Wow! This sure got a lot of great, quick responses. Thanks everybody.
Konrad: First, yes this is a giant project, but were doing absolutely nothing in the class other than this for the rest of the year. I especially like your 2 ideas about:
a) Income/job type VS. number of nights spent outdoors in a year.
b) BMI VS. average baseweight.
And as you said, this site is mostly full of folks with lightweight backpacks, so I'd have to find some way to collect unskewed data. Or find a way to collect enough data so that there is no skew. Perhaps there's a sister site, Backpacking Heavy?
Doug: I like your ideas, too. Especially:
c) Those interested in both hunting and lightweight hiking VS. where they live.
d) Cottage gear manufacturers base of operations VS. hiking opportunities in the area.
e) The amount of gear BPL members buy in a month VS. the number of posts Ben Tang makes in that month.
And the best thing about E is that there's already UNIMAGINABLE amounts of data. hahaha
George: I'm a little lost, what exactly are you purposing I should test? Oh wait... I like the idea:
f) Pack weight VS. daily mileage average
Roy: And you're exactly right, but who knows? None of these ideas have been tested, right? At least not to our knowledge.
And stealing? Nahhhh. My teacher recommends that I find pre-existing data, but he is very open to helping me conduct a survey. He knows I'm ambitious and he would help me accomplish whatever I choose. I'm open to either way, so long as a survey is feasible for the topic. A good thing about doing a survey is that I would be absolutely sure that my findings would be on an original topic.
Comments on ideas listed above? If I had to choose favorites I'd say:
D, F, A, B; in that order.