The Complete Guide to Becoming a Gear Tester

Being a gear tester sounds great, right?  You get free backpacking gear that you love and all you have to do is tell people about it.  Easy, right?

Well kind of.  Becoming a gear tester for outdoor gear companies isn't difficult but it can be a pretty long road to get there.  To understand why you need to think like the owner of a gear company.

Why Do Companies Give Out Free Gear?

The only reason companies give out samples for people to review is to get exposure and get more sales.

If you invent a brand new backpacking tent that's super light weight and packs in a ton of amazing features, you would want to tell the world about it!

But if you're like most people, you probably don't have a huge audience.  Building an audience of people that trust your reviews and will buy based on your recommendation takes a long time to build up.

The only way to skip around that long road to building an audience is to get access to an existing audience.

Gear companies do this by reaching out to influencers who have websites or social media followings (usually Instagram) so when they review a product, the company can be guaranteed that thousands of people will see the review and trust the recommendation.

So How Do You Become a Trusted Reviewer?

There are two ways that make the most sense right now.

The first is to build up a website/blog where you review gear.  If you stick with it long enough and do a good job, you'll eventually start to attract companies who are looking to advertise or have gear reviewed and they'll send it to you for free.

The second way is to build up a social media following.  The most popular social media platform right now for attracting brands to work with is Instagram.  Some of the most popular Instagram accounts have millions of followers and can command upwards of $50,000 for a single post!  Insane!

If you had an Instagram account or website that had consistent traffic and a solid following, you would be able to attract the eye of some brands and get free backpacking gear in exchange for providing a review to your audience.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has rules that require anyone reviewing a product that they received for free or at a discount to clearly state that up front.

If you are lucky enough to be chosen to review products from companies, you absolutely, positively, MUST tell people up front that you received the products for free.

If you don't do this, not only are you lying to your followers and risking that they will stop following you if they discover your dishonesty, but you're also violating the law and could find yourself in hot water with the FTC.  No thanks.

When in doubt, always be up front and honest.  Even if you don't get the gear for free, if there's any type of dialogue or negotiations or anything that could be even remotely sketchy, you should make sure to tell your readers about it.  Honesty is the best policy and is also solid legal advice in this area.