03 Aug, 2009
Every snowboard company has product testers who test the products before they even reach the showroom floors at SIA. For years, months, days these testers take out products and give that feedback to companies. Sometimes it’s the employees, shop kids, testing programs or just a variety of riders in various regions. It’s a dream for many snowboarders to be product testers and receive free products to give feedback on. However it’s not a job you can apply for, you get recommended to get this role.
I became a snowboard product tester in 2007 and a binding product tester in 2009. I work directly with two different companies to give input on products and most of that input you will never see on this blog. Testing requires a level of confidentiality between the company and myself, sometimes it takes waiting until I can demo it to make sure it can be reviewed or just getting approval.
I became a product tester by luck and I still consider myself very lucky to give input on products directly to companies. It’s fun but it’s also work, it means somedays I need to ride products I might dislike or wish I was riding something else. It means taking out products for enough days that I feel confident when I relay my input back to the company, whether it’s on a testing form or through a phone call.
Here’s my two stories on how I became a product tester. I was a very active member of snowboard.com for years, constantly giving advice on products and gear I had ridden at demo days. During SIA show in Vegas in January 2007, I was at the Never Summer booth and without knowing it, I was talking to Tracey Canaday one of the owners about their snowboards. I gave my opinion on one of the men’s boards and it was the exact same phrase I had said online about it. Tracey asked if I was on snowboard.com and said aloud, “you’re shayboarder” and I think my heart stopped beating. He knew my comments and input from the site, on the Never Summer snowboards I had ridden and within two weeks I was product testing for them.
My first board to test from Never Summer
Since then I’ve been riding Never Summer snowboards and progressed into testing the women’s boards but I also ride a fair amount of the men’s boards. Each year I receive the boards early in the season, ride them and offer any changes that need to be made. By the end of the season, I have enough time to ride all the other board companies that I review for the site. It requires a balance and making sure testing gets done early so I can ride other boards.
Trying out the Rome Shifts with a Monument Snowboard
Earlier this season, I wrote a post about the 100 day input on my Rome Madison bindings and gave my feedback to Rome Snowboards just in case they wanted to use it. I showed my Rome Madison bindings and how well they held up after 100 days on snow. Because of that post, Ron from Rome emailed Anna who is in charge of the Rome women’s testing program to get me involved with their testing program. I met Anna at SIA in Vegas and soon after, I was on board for testing women’s bindings, specifically the Shift bindings for this year.
Testing for two companies can be frowned upon, so when I was invited by Rome to be part of their binding testing program I went and discussed it with both companies to make sure I could test for both, without interference. Because the products are different it makes it a lot easier. Rome was cool with me testing snowboards with Never Summer and Never Summer was cool with me testing bindings for Rome, so it worked out.
I’m not the best rider out there testing but product testing isn’t about being the best, it’s about breaking down a product to see how to improve it, who it is directed to and make sure it rides for that rider. In the end, it’s something I never planned on but I’m happy I was allowed into this world of product testing.