Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Information for Prospective Reviewers

Backpacking Light publishes comprehensive gear reviews that are critical, honest, and founded on both sound technical analysis and rigorous field use. is increasing the size of its product review corps. In addition, we always keep applications on file of potential reviewers for consideration.

About the Product Review Program

Backpacking Light has a nationally-recognized product review and testing program that requires a rational, balanced, rigorous, and unbiased approach to equipment and apparel testing. We combine field observations with laboratory testing to ensure that manufacturer's products are fairly evaluated under the conditions for which they were designed. We are the only outdoor equipment and product review staff in the world that requires a science or engineering degree from all of its reviewers. In addition, all reviews have been evaluated by a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) for fairness and accuracy.

Product Reviewer Qualifications

Following is a list of qualities exhibited by our product review staff over the years that we have found to be extremely valuable. They are not requirements, merely qualifications, and a prospective reviewer need not possess every one of the qualifications in order to join our product review staff.

The following qualifications should be addressed in the application:

  1. Hold a science, medical, or engineering degree from an accredited university. Particular preference is given to reviewers with advanced degrees in mechanical or civil engineering, environmental science or engineering, textile science or engineering, physiology, and medicine.
  2. Demonstrate a high level of knowledge and experience in ultralight / lightweight backpacking and/or alpinism.
  3. Possess the physical and mental ability to walk consecutive 10 to 20+ mile days, in inclement conditions, in order to test equipment and apparel in the context of realistic field conditions.
  4. Have the ability to test equipment in field conditions while overnight backpacking on a regular (monthly) basis. Preference will be given to reviewers who are able to spend a significant amount of time on multi-day backpacking trips.
  5. Must have exceptional analytical skills, to be used for the purpose of assessing both the design and performance of outdoor gear and/or apparel, as well as troubleshooting limitations in design and/or performance.
  6. Must have exceptional creative skills, to be used for the purpose of devising creative product testing protocols capable of generating valuable qualitative and quantitative data about the product being tested.
  7. Must be fluent in writing in the English language, with particular skills in research-style writing that is clear and concise, as well as creative and editorial writing that is readable and generates rapport with mainstream readers. Reviewers must be capable of providing polished, organized, and copy-edited final articles for publication.
  8. Must be able to work as a team member, including the ability to creatively brainstorm with other members of the product review and editorial staff, and be receptive to construction criticism and opinions of others.
  9. Must have the ability to plan and execute a product test, including the ability to adhere to deadlines.

Application Procedure

Applications must address each of the nine criteria outlined above, in a well-written narrative format. A brief biography that includes education and professional experience should be appended. Applications should be limited to 2,000 words (fewer is better - but be sure to address the criteria sufficiently) and submitted via our Web Contact Form.


Reviewers will receive complimentary equipment in return for their review. In addition, reviewers assigned to write more involved and detailed reviews (e.g., comparison reviews of multiple products or other product-based editorial assignments) will be compensated with an honorarium of $50 to $125, depending on the nature of the assignment. In addition, reviewers assigned to review products for our Contract Testing program will typically be paid $25 to $125, depending on the nature of the review.

For Manufacturers: Contract Testing

The product review staff regularly performs contract product testing for manufacturers. Final reports may not be published or used for marketing purposes and all information and data is protected by nondisclosure agreements. If you are interested in conducting proprietary contract testing, please contact us via our Web Contact Form.