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Enter Trailspace's Backcountry Gear Haiku Contest

Do your skis, trail runners, or trekking poles ever move you to poetry? Well, brush off your thesaurus. We're giving away $500 in gift certificates thanks to in our Backcountry Gear Haiku Contest.

Write a great haiku about your hardshell in April (it's National Poetry Month) and you could be buying yourself a new sleeping bag at in May.

It's simple to enter. Just write a haiku (that's a three-line poem with 5-7-5 syllables each) about outdoor gear. Submit it in a new thread in our contest forum. You could win a $300, $150, or $50 gift certificate to Backcountry, plus Trailspace swag.

All community members can vote on their favorites (via "Yes," next to "Was this helpful?"). The top 10 haiku will then be voted on by a field of outdoor judges to determine the final three winners at the end of the month.


Now though Wednesday, April 25, write and submit your best backcountry gear haiku in our contest forum. You can enter more than once, though only your top rated haiku is eligible to be a finalist.

Haven't written a haiku since grade school? It's easy. A haiku has three lines: the first line has 5 syllables, the second line has 7 syllables, the third line has 5 syllables (5-7-5). Your haiku must be about backcountry gear, but it can be as creative, funny, or serious as you like.


Now though Thursday, April 26, vote for your favorite haiku by giving a thumbs-up to any and all haiku you like in the Gear Haiku Contest forum. The 10 haiku with the most "Yes" votes will be the finalists.

A panel of outdoor judges — including Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management; Trail Runner editor Michael Benge, Backpacker senior editor Shannon Davis, National Geographic online editor Mary Anne Potts, Rocky Thompson from Backcountry's The Goat, Gear Junkie's Stephen Regenold, and our own editor Alicia MacLeay — will vote for their favorites.

We'll announce the top three winners at the end of the month.

Win Prizes

The First Place outdoor poet wins a $300 gift certificate to; Second Place wins a $150 gift certificate; Third Place wins a $50 gift certificate. Thanks, Backcountry!

Plus, all three poets win a Trailspace goodie pack with an Ibex Zepher Skull Cap with Trailspace logo, a Trailspace Trail Runner Cap, stickers, and an array of energy bars from Clif, ProBar, and Olympia Granola.

Enter the Trailspace Backcountry Gear Haiku Contest now.



  • Any Trailspace member, with the exception of Trailspace employees and their immediate family members, may enter the Backcountry Gear Haiku Contest.
  • Each person may enter as many haiku as they like, but only the top-rated haiku of any one individual is permitted to enter the finalist round.
  • Each haiku must adhere to the contest’s Backcountry Gear Haiku theme.
  • A haiku is a three-line poem, with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third (and last) line. Want to read more about haiku? See:
  • Haiku must be submitted by the original author (you). Do not submit a haiku written by anyone but yourself.
  • You must be the sole owner of the haiku’s copyright. This is the case if you are the sole author. Haiku may not infringe any other person's or entity's rights, including, without limitation, contractual rights, rights of publicity and privacy, trademark, copyright, and patent rights.
  • Haiku must adhere to Trailspace's Community Rules and Guidelines and Terms of Service.
  • Haiku submitted must be appropriate for Trailspace's family-friendly audience. Haiku may not contain obscene, provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate content. Trailspace retains sole discretion as to what constitutes inappropriate content.
  • By entering the contest, authors agree to have their haiku featured on and partner sites without any fee or other form of compensation. Trailspace may publish submitted haiku on its website or use them to publicize the contest.
  • No purchase or payment is necessary to enter or win.
  • In the case of a tie, the winning haiku will be selected by a runoff vote.


For those who may polysyllabically deficient, there's this:!

I love Haiku.  I'll be writing all month long!

Excellent! We already have poetic entrants over in the contest forum.

Encourage your friends to enter and vote too. This will be fun.

I can't say I'm that big on tofu... Not that its not good stuff just that I don't like it that much. I suppose that maybe if I add...

Wait a sec, HAIKU. I get it now.

I just realized it is supposed to be about gear... Sheesh back to the drawing board.

I'm one of those "not since gradeschool" folks. ;)

These things are addictive. Thanks to Trailspace and for the contest.

I am going to start writing these while I am on trail.

Its been years.

no your thinking

Why do I feel like a caveman when I write these? Oh well, thats probably why I like writing them so much. :p

I am the biggest anti-fan of haiku on earth (Lord Byron is my guy) but, I admit it, after trying it, this is fun!

FromSagetoSnow said:

I am the biggest anti-fan of haiku on earth (Lord Byron is my guy) but, I admit it, after trying it, this is fun!

Glad we could temporarily convert you over for the fun of the contest. Maybe you can come up with a Romantic, Byron-esque, outdoor gear, haiku.

Good luck!

not to be a party pooper, but I wonder where we draw the line for new members who's only posts have been the haiku and they get friends to join to vote for it. Isn't that kind of scamming the system?

iClimb - Thanks for looking out for our community! Your sentiment is coming from the right place, but I'm not personally very worried about this.  The same tools are available to everyone to enter the contest and share their haiku with friends.  We hope that some folks who came to Trailspace through this contest will enjoy our community, stay and contribute! Not all of them will, but it seems to me that someone passionate enough about gear to write some poetry has a lot in common with both you and I!


ya I agree it will def be useful to get more members to join by drawing them in with the contest. The pessimist in me sees people joining for only the contest and then never coming back tho...guess that sort of offends me a little since I find these forums awesome and they are merely using them. :-)

I have to support iClimb as I share some of his sentiments. I have just seen a haiku with ten votes and it is someone of whom I've never heard anything previously. I think this kind of thing is predictable and, from my point of view, a little sad to see in action. As I am not entering, it doesn't really bother me more than that.

In the UK, we call it "kicking the arse" out of something.

But good luck to everyone, even the opportunists (and their 'supporters').

I'm leaning toward iClimb and Pathlooser on this one.  But, rather than limit entrants I'd be more in favor of limiting submissions to a set number per author. 

Either way its been a fun experience.


Or for that matter let the judges panel be the deciding factor and not base it on how many likes one Haiku gets. 

The only negative to that would be that the judges panel would have 50 times the work. 

I kinda understand where iclimb, Pathloser, and Sage are coming from. 

It wouldn't be that hard for me to contact all of my family members & friends and have them join just to fire out helpful votes then the "new members" are never to be heard from again. 

Or I could just run around to all of my friends houses and log onto their pcs and register accounts under their email then give myself all of the helpful votes I want. 

I haven't been watching the helpful counts but this contest would be pretty easy to manipulate if one wanted to do so...

I love the idea of the contest but I personally want to see the winners be those that are deserving and not those that are cheating the system. 

So I suppose the members above that have posted in regards to this concern do have a valid point. 

Oh well nothings perfect.

Either way this is a cool contest and best of luck to everyone. 

Perhaps voting by TS members,  with eligibility cut-off date when contest begins; entry for anyone and everyone from same date onwards. That way, pre-existing members judge an open contest for all new and old members.

Like Seth, I also appreciate that our members are engaged and care about the Trailspace community. That's a great thing and not taken lightly.

We were all new Trailspace members once though. And you need new blood to keep a community going and growing.

If some individuals discover us through the haiku contest and stick around in some capacity (writing or consulting the gear reviews, reading articles or forums, telling their friends, following us on Facebook or Twitter, etc) that's a good thing. There are many ways to be a member of the community.

So, I understand where you're coming from and appreciate your investment in keeping the quality of the community high, but I hope the positive of increasing community engagement (and fun) is worth any negatives.

FromSagetoSnow said:

I'm leaning toward iClimb and Pathlooser on this one.  But, rather than limit entrants I'd be more in favor of limiting submissions to a set number per author. 

Either way its been a fun experience.


Ouch!  I think I am being fingered.  Not being the great literarian (sic) I must fall back on sheer volume to raise the odds of actually crafting a stanza worth the time it takes to read.  You know – give a monkey enough paint, canvas and time, and eventually he may accidentally paint a Mona Lisa.  Sorry that you must shift through my prosaic rubble, in search of a gem.

In any case my motives are not based on winning a prize; I am just trying to add some color and entertainment.  Other than some socks, I currently have no need for new gear.  If I were to be so lucky, I would spend the prize to indulge some financially challenged friends who could use a fresh set of long johns to replace the rank threads they currently rely upon.  As you say this is mainly for fun and games.

As for outsiders I am fine with their participation, whatever their motives happen to be.  If they produce the best entries, so be it, there is no reason we should be like a leper colony, and limit auditions for our concert pianist to colony members with the most fingers.  That said, I think the method used to conduct this contest is a good solution.  There will always be folks who game the system; hopefully the number of finalists and the combined efforts of the judges will nullify the efforts of the few opportunists gaming the system.


I know I've been enjoying your backcountry gear haiku, Ed.

Your wit comes through nicely in the format.


BTW thanks for inventing this contest.  Participating has resulted in me reminiscing back on all the great times - and the not so great times – I have been lucky to experience (or survive) in the back country.  The things one does in the course of a life time are sometimes so silly or foolish.  Oh the things one could write about, but don’t fit the guidelines of this contest, let alone be fit for family eyes to read.


Ed, I think that half the votes you have are from me.  I raised a few eyebrows at work laughing at one of your posts the other day.  I love your submissions, I was just making a suggestion.    The dozens of one-post-wonders putting up poems are just kinda odd.  Its not my site though and if I really hated the contest I wouldn't have entered.  I really like TS and I think it has a good, family-friendly vibe.  I think the contest has been fun, even though my haiku reserves have been depleted. 

I'm with you Ed, I have pretty much all the gear I need and, though I don't think everyone needs to do this, wouldn't it be cool to donate the prize to someone needy? Though I love free stuff I think I'll look into donating should the poetry judges smile on one of my posts. 



FromSagetoSnow said:

..wouldn't it be cool to donate the prize to someone...

 Ah, another Santa!  Yea, I pretty much had more than my share of fun, and in my senior years find the goofy smiles resulting from unexpected largess to be at least as gratifying as a warm sleeping bag.


Ed said:

 Ah, another Santa!  Yea, I pretty much had more than my share of fun, and in my senior years find the goofy smiles resulting from unexpected largess to be at least as gratifying as a warm sleeping bag.

Could it be better said?  I don't think so.  Put THAT one in a haiku, I'll vote for it.

Ed, would I be guessing right that, should you grow a white beard, you might bear a rather uncanny resemblance to Pere Noel himself?



As someone who hasn't posted here much, I posted a few haikus for the contest (more for fun than for the prospects of winning; there are far great poets out there than I).  I think it helps the people that spend more time lurking and reading (such as myself) get a little more involved.  Sure, you may have some cheats, but isn't that true of nearly any contest, at anytime, anywhere?  Would you limit entrance to only those that have 100 posts or more or have been here for a year?  A lot of people would feel ostracized and it certainly wouldn't increase the number of members who contribute.  As Seth mentioned, if they go through the hoops of coming here, signing up, and then write a haiku about gear, are they really in it for a quick gain or are they maybe more interested in being a part of the larger community of trailspace?  All in all, everyone seems to be holding to their friendly vibe and we get a lot of great entertainment out of it along the way.

Btw, thank you for creating this contest.  It's been ages since I wrote any poetry and feel proud of the few submissions I managed to assemble.  It has been worth it for just that.


i don't think this is a regular occurrence sixty, but one I saw was quite blatant which prompted me to write the post.

Ed you couldn't possibly believe I was pointing the finger at you my friend.

I've had fun with it and I am fine with however the rules work....thanks a lot!

All though I am not entering the contest.I am enjoying everyone's entree's. Finding we have alot of talented members.

FromSagetoSnow said:

..Ed, would I be guessing right that, should you grow a white beard, you might bear a rather uncanny resemblance to Pere Noel himself?..

Me think my closest widely known double is Alfred E Numan.  With facal hair he resembes the Travelocity gnome.  So I guess I'd make a better Xmas troll.



Announcing the Backcountry Gear Haiku Finalists:

Thanks to everyone who participated.

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