Announcing the outdoor brand of the millennium!

As the humble editor of Trailspace lo these many years, I've had the privilege to read every single user review — yes, all 18,358,742,645,781 — submitted by our many loyal members. Reading that many reviews gives one a unique gear perspective and answers to pressing gear questions.

Questions like: How many men buy kilts and admit to it on a public forum by writing a review? (Answer: 1) What is the most popular day to buy a family camping tent? (Answer: the day before a rainy Memorial Day Weekend) Is it possible to sever one's thumb setting up a tent? (Kind of; we'll get to that later.) And, naturally, what is the best outdoor brand?

The widely coveted Trailspace Outdoor Brand of the Millennium award is painstakingly crafted from the back of a cereal box and meticulously adorned using Sharpie markers.

Well, I'm so glad you asked that last question! I've had some time to think about it, soak up the vast array of gear observations and experiences, and today I am finally ready to anoint the first annual, Trailspace outdoor brand of the millennium. [drum roll, please]

The honor goes to…. none other than Ozark Trail, that ubiquitous brand of big tents sold exclusively at America's biggest of the big boxes and pitched permanently in front yards across America. I'm giving them two thumbs up, and so should you, if you still have both thumbs.

Not only have I read all 7,523,997 OT reviews, I've had the honor to correspond every single day of the past decade, often repeatedly, with many very passionate owners of OT products. And, oh boy, are they both passionate and persistent, a combination that can be rather exciting in some circumstances (though not so much in this one).

Still, you have to admire their persistence. In addition to writing reviews, OT users find me by e-mail, phone, snail mail, and passenger pigeon, and let me into their lives. They tell me all the intimate details of their OT experience, believing -- all reports to the contrary -- that I must be responsible for the exciting adventures that befall them when their tents collapsed on top of them and their children, or when they opened the package to find no poles, or when the air mattress deflated on their honeymoon, or when the tent zippers jammed and they spent an entire weekend locked inside eating trail mix crumbs and playing Go Fish with a deck of 49 cards (you can't buy that kind of family bonding!).

Sadly, I can't take credit for these thrilling episodes of self-discovery. All I can offer people is a sincere "gee-whiz, sorry." But I also like to tell them, "Hey, adversity binds people together. It's a gift! Do you know what some crazy, self-described survivalists would willingly pay to sleep in a piece of snuggly, collapsed nylon atop a cool, calming bed of lapping water? You're sitting on a gold mine here! Call up the Discovery Channel and get yourself your own show!"

And it's not just the colorful language that binds us together. I feel like I really know OT users intimately. No other brand has produced customers willing to send me (a complete stranger!) close-up pictures of a partially severed finger that resulted from a weekend tent set-up mishap. (Finding that in your inbox on a Monday morning will wake you up better than cowboy coffee!) Nor have other brands given me an exciting role in law enforcement, such as when a private investigator asked me to identify boot footprints for a murder investigation. (It was almost like being on “Law and Order”!)

Yes, other outdoor brands may have tents with poles or air mattresses with air, but no one else has inspired the passion of outdoor enthusiasts like Ozark Trail! I'd give them one thumb and a bloody stump up any day of the year, but especially today!

Filed under: April 1, Funny


775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 9:48 a.m. (EDT)

This gave me a really good laugh! Thanks Alicia :)

0 reviewer rep
415 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 9:57 a.m. (EDT)

Ozark Trail: Shipped in by Star Fleet from that parallel universe where Spock has the Goatee!

22 reviewer rep
76 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 11:03 a.m. (EDT)

Ha Ha. Good one Alicia! :)

52 reviewer rep
200 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 11:23 a.m. (EDT)

We're only 9 years in and they already get the title? That must be some kinda track record...

Bill S
4,419 reviewer rep
6,010 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 1:09 p.m. (EDT)

It may be April 1, but I have the feeling that there is more than a little truth to the article. Especially since I have witnessed a finger that was severely lacerated in the process of setting up a Big Box Store tent. Didn't check whether it was OT, though.

Considering the number of kilts I see wandering around the OR Show, surely there must have been more than one rating!

389 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 2:25 p.m. (EDT)

Nice. LOL

1,711 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 3:51 p.m. (EDT)

Thats great.

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
848 reviewer rep
3,901 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 4:35 p.m. (EDT)

Thanks! It was fun!! I liked putting in lots of exclamation points!!!

And Bill is right, the best humor is based on truth.

The partially-severed thumb picture really happened. I felt badly for that guy, but he was quite calm and polite in his e-mail, versus most of the rants I read. I was impressed that he had the presence of mind to take pictures as evidence.

As for the homicide investigation, that also happened. In my head I couldn't help but think, someone needs a better PI if you can't even figure out that I'm not the manufacturer of this boot.

The rest is based on 9+ years of hearing from many angry people. Most people are nice, but things get ugly when tents fail spectacularly on a rainy long vacation weekend.

0 reviewer rep
43 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 10:13 p.m. (EDT)

Just keep the tents protected from dihydrogen monoxide. 8)

Nicely done!

Too much free time?

tokyo bill
3 reviewer rep
98 forum posts
April 1, 2010 at 11:47 p.m. (EDT)

Nice one!

1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts
April 2, 2010 at 12:23 a.m. (EDT)

Let he who has never had a cheap box store tent cast the first stone!

Haha, very funny Alicia.

63 reviewer rep
190 forum posts
April 2, 2010 at 9:11 a.m. (EDT)

Just what the Dr. ordered Alicia!


25 reviewer rep
14 forum posts
April 2, 2010 at 10:06 a.m. (EDT)

Gave me a good chuckle in the morning.

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