Trailspace Review Corps

Since 2001, the Trailspace community has been sharing independent reviews of backcountry equipment, apparel, and footwear with fellow outdoor enthusiasts. The Trailspace Review Corps program furthers our commitment to providing informative, helpful, outdoor gear reviews for hikers, backpackers, climbers, paddlers, skiers, and trail runners.

The Trailspace Review Corps' experienced, volunteer members test new, noteworthy backcountry gear extensively in the field. They share their results (the good and the bad), opinions, and expertise in high-quality, comprehensive reviews for the benefit of the outdoor community. Review Corps members are selected based on the superior quality and helpfulness of their reviews and their outdoor expertise and skills.

We’re dedicated to sharing thorough, helpful, real-world product tests and reviews with the greater outdoor gear community.

The Program | The Testers | The Reviews | Get Involved

The Program

What is the Trailspace Review Corps?

Trailspace's Review Corps is a volunteer outdoor gear testing and review program. Review Corps members thoroughly test new, noteworthy backcountry equipment in the field and publish their findings (the good and the bad) in expert-level Review Corps reviews.

The Review Corps strives to present honest, balanced, fair, and constructive reviews of noteworthy backcountry gear and equipment for the benefit of the outdoor community.

What products do Review Corps members test and review?

The Trailspace Review Corps focuses on pre-release (not yet available to consumers) samples of new and noteworthy outdoor equipment for human-powered backcountry use — hiking, backpacking, climbing, paddling, skiing, and trail running. Types of products considered include: technical backcountry gear and equipment (tents, stoves, packs, sleeping bags, etc.), outdoor apparel and footwear, and trail food.

We do not test lifestyle, travel, yoga, surfing, or general fitness clothing or equipment.

How do you select products to test?

Trailspace’s editorial staff selects products for Review Corps consideration based on relevancy, newsworthiness, and value to the outdoor gear community. We look for notable outdoor products that we, and our fellow backcountry enthusiasts, are interested in and are eager to put to the test.

Where do you get the products the Review Corps reviews?

Manufacturers provide samples of most products tested and reviewed by the Trailspace Review Corps. All Review Corps reviews are labeled for full disclosure and reviewers disclose the source of the product tested.

How long does testing take?

Review Corps members commit to testing gear samples multiple times in a range of real-world situations and conditions for which the gear was designed. Most products require an initial testing period of 60 days. Some gear may require longer-term testing and updates.

Do manufacturers pay to have gear tested?

No. Companies do not pay or compensate us for having their gear tested and reviewed. The Review Corps program is strictly volunteer and like all Trailspace editorial, separate from advertising on the site.

We select and assign products for testing and review based on editorial interest, newsworthiness, and availability. Manufacturers pay nothing, nor are they involved in the selection, assignment, testing, or review processes.

I'm an outdoor manufacturer. How can I get my product reviewed?

We select and assign gear for testing on a regular schedule. If you’re interested in suggesting your product for review consideration, please read completely the info on our testing and review program on this page.

To suggest your forthcoming, noteworthy backcountry gear for Trailspace Review Corps testing and review consideration, send information on the product and sample availability to reviewcorps@trailspace.com.

The Testers

Who are Review Corps testers? How are they selected?

Review Corps members are selected from the Trailspace community based on the superior quality and helpfulness of their reviews and their outdoor expertise and skills. They test products in real-world conditions and publish their findings in detailed, expert-level Review Corps reviews.

Our Review Corps members include highly experienced backcountry backpackers, hikers, climbers, paddlers, skiers, and runners who like to get out there and try new gear. Many have decades of backcountry skills and gear knowledge, including as outdoor instructors and leaders. Our testers are located across the country, from the Appalachian Mountains to the Sierra and Pacific Northwest, and they regularly explore the outdoors beyond.

Do testers keep the gear they test and review?

After testing and review publication, we inform Review Corps members if the gear sample tested must be returned to Trailspace or the manufacturer, or if it may be kept for long-term evaluation and use or donated to a nonprofit. Review Corps samples may not be sold.

How can I become a Review Corps member and test gear?

We select Review Corps members from the community based on the superior quality and helpfulness of their reviews and their level of outdoor expertise and skills.

We look for active community members who:

  • Have written at least 5 helpful gear reviews;
  • Have written at least one best-of-the-best Killer Review;
  • Have been a member in good standing of Trailspace for at least one year;
  • Demonstrate appropriate gear knowledge and familiarity;
  • Show a high-level of hiking, backpacking, climbing, paddling, skiing, and/or trail running skills and experience; and
  • Represent diverse outdoor groups. (For example: women, ultralighters, backcountry skiers, etc.)

The Trailspace community's rating of your reviews is the most important criteria for Review Corps selection. The more “helpful” ratings the Trailspace community gives your recent gear reviews, the more likely you are to be selected for Review Corps membership.

For information on writing helpful, honest gear reviews see "How to Write a Killer Review".

The Reviews

What's the lead time for a Review Corps review?

We aim to complete testing and publish a new product's review just before or as the product becomes available to consumers. Typically we need product samples in hand 60 to 90 days before the product is available for purchase.

Please let us know about sample availability as early as possible (reviewcorps@trailspace.com). Our goal is to give readers the best possible information to guide their purchases of innovative new outdoor products.

Do you only publish positive reviews?

No. The Trailspace Review Corps strives to present honest, balanced, and constructive reviews of noteworthy backcountry gear and equipment that our community is interested in. That includes covering the positive and the negative. Our Review Corps members publish accurate, helpful, fair evaluations that tell the full story for the benefit of the outdoor community.

Whose opinion is the review?

Opinions expressed, and experiences and findings described, are those of the author of the review, not of Trailspace. Review Corps members are selected from the Trailspace community based on the superior quality and helpfulness of their reviews and their outdoor expertise and skills. Manufacturers and their representatives are not involved in the testing or review processes.

How many people will read each review? How are reviews promoted?

Trailspace has 19,000 active community members, and every month more than a quarter-million people use Trailspace to research outdoor gear. Review Corps reviews typically are highlighted on the site, on the relevant product page, in our email newsletter, and shared through our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+).

We also encourage manufacturers and reviewers to share reviews with their audiences and social circles, such as through social media, websites, and blogs. Since our reviews are independent and in-depth, they offer a transparent, authentic way to communicate about your products with your potential customers.

Can I see the review before it's published?

No. Trailspace does not share editorial content prior to publication. We will notify you once the reviewer has completed testing and has shared his or her findings in a review on Trailspace.

If there is product information you'd like us to be aware of, or if you believe there is a factual error in a published review, please notify us at reviewcorps@trailspace.com.

How do you handle conflicts of interest?

Review Corps members are selected for the quality of their reviews and helpfulness to the community. To avoid conflicts of interest when matching testers and gear, members are required to disclose any personal or professional relationships with outdoor brands, companies, or retailers.

Like all reviews on the site, Review Corps reviews are subject to Trailspace’s Gear Review Rules and Guidelines, Community Rules and Guidelines, and Terms of Service.

I sent you a product. Why didn't you review it?

Trailspace does not test and review unsolicited samples of outdoor gear and equipment. Unsolicited products sent to our offices will be given away to our community, donated, or disposed of appropriately. In rare cases, a product assigned for testing may not be reviewed due to a change in editorial priorities or circumstances outside our control.

Get Involved

Help us share the best outdoor gear reviews and information with all backcountry enthusiasts:

Recent Review Corps Reviews