Thursday, July 8, 2010

What To Look for Every Time

It doesn't matter what I'm looking for - a new backpack, stove, tent, sleeping bag - I always look for the same three things. I want the piece of gear to be high quality, low weight and low cost.

Now if spend more than five minutes in EMS, REI or Adventure 16, you'll notice it's almost impossible to find one piece of gear with all three of those qualities.

If it's low cost and low weight - it's probably going to be low quality (think: disposable poncho). If it's high quality and low cost, it's going to weigh a lot and so on...

So the real question is - what's the perfect piece of gear for you? If you're going to be car camping with the kids and a dog, weight won't be an issue, so go for the over-built Coleman gear from Walmart. :)

But for the sake of cutting pack weight, I'm going to suggest you find balance between quality and cost. A lot of my gear is high quality but it's also pricey stuff. I love my Snowpeak Ti Spork (I've had it for ten years and have eaten literally gallons of Ben & Jerry's with it. We're close.) but it cost significantly more than a plastic spoon you could probably pick up for free at your local Wendy's (and that might come in a pack with a napkin, fork, knife, salt and pepper!).

I'm also always on the look out for good deals on gear. I recently invested in a new winter tent (Nemo Tenshi). It's very high quality and low weight so you can be sure it wasn't cheap - but I got it on sale from EMS, so that made the price a little easier to justify and now that I'm married, I won't be using my Bibler bivy as much as I used to - so really, I bought the Tenshi for my wife... I don't know if she appreciated it as much as she should.

No matter what you're looking for, quality, weight and cost are the things you need to take into consideration. Ask yourself where your priorities are and what makes the most sense for what you want to do.

For good deals on quality gear, check out, Sierra Trading Post, eBay, and Campmor...

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