Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Loyalty (Big C vs Little C)
Display Avatars Sort By:
Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/09/2010 21:40:35 MST Print View

This can about when thinking of the "What Happened to Golite" thread and

I noticed you seem to allude to an allegiance to Wild Things... and peoples comments regarding GoLite made me think.

It seems people have these "friend-esque" feelings toward companies like "I like to support (insert name here) because they really get it" or "I like to support the little guy because he's so nice"

Inversely "Don't support them man, they sold out" or "I wont support them because they are war profiteers" (perhaps a subject better suited for Chaff)

but if you are looking to truly improve, lighten, and complete your kit to the best of your financial abilities these feelings are a hindrance.

I mean a company is just that, small or large no difference and of course people are "nice" YOUR PAYING THEM!

I choose gear based on technology, weight, price, and use... No other criteria needed.

Not to suggest that you are doing this but "Emotional" shopping only prevents us from getting to whatever threshold we are aiming at be it light weight, UL, or SUL.

For context:

it seems that people have varied feeling when it comes to supporting big or small companies.

At the behest of JohnnyBgood4 I am creating this to pool people's opinions on supporting companies both large and small and one's reasoning for doing so.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Feel for the Little Guys on 01/10/2010 12:08:05 MST Print View

I think most of us are more enthusiastic about doing business with boutique gear makers (Ron Bell, Ron Moak, Henry Shires, Joe Valesko, etc., the usual suspects) because they are the ones making gear for fringe UL hikers. It doesn't necessarily mean that we are adverse to shopping at places like REI -- which cater to the more traditional hiker market.

Definitely a YMMV on this next point -- but another emotional angle is the "nationalistic shopper". I couldn't care less who makes my gear where as long as they meet my requirements at a reasonably good price. Imagine a Chinese hiker (to use as an example) swearing off Henry Shire's fabulous tarptents because Henry isn't Chinese. All very silly to me.

Edited by ben2world on 01/10/2010 12:10:29 MST.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/10/2010 17:01:16 MST Print View

"I choose gear based on technology, weight, price, and use... No other criteria needed."

Maybe you do , and maybe you don't...

Most people buy emotionally not logically. However we tend not to be aware of that.
If you "analyse" comments on gear choice here even from experienced users, you will find that most if not all try to justify "logically" a purchase that was based (unconscioulsly) on emotions.
For example if I were a satisfied Arc Alpinist user, I would end up with a Shaka Plus rather then the equivalent from say FF even it somehow the numbers tended to favour the other brand.

Based on use
Emotion is involved here too.
For example , Ben notoriously finds the floor space of some (beloved by others) shelters too narrow for him.
So that is true for him , but it isn't a "fact" , just the way he feels about it...
So Ben (like most) is precluded by his "feel" from buying those shelters...
However, (hypothetically...) having exactly the same tent by say BA and Eureka, I would expect Ben to buy the BA version...

A few years ago , following someone's comment about colour, I realised that my tent, my pack , my sleeping bag and my mat were all deep yellow or orange. Coincidence ?
(blue and grey now...)


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Feel for the Little Guys on 01/10/2010 17:10:49 MST Print View

"I couldn't care less who makes my gear where as long as they meet my requirements at a reasonably good price."

Well, kinda. For me anyway, I have to trust that the manufacturer is actually using what they're purporting to use. There are some places in the world I simply will not buy certain products because of this.

Also, I try to take the geopolitical/sociopolitical into account when purchasing. This causes me to care a bit about who's making my gear where.

Not perfect, not 100 percent. But it does enter into my purchasing decisions. Then again, I'm fortunate enough to be able to be choosy and still get whatever I want. I realize not everyone is. FWIW.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/10/2010 17:14:28 MST Print View

"but if you are looking to truly improve, lighten, and complete your kit to the best of your financial abilities these feelings are a hindrance. "

Certainly, for some, 'tis all about the gear. For others (as we've seen from some of the thread on these forums), 'tis about their concept of 'living sustainably' or 'living consciously' or 'living correctly.' These, of course, mean different things to different people.

For me, it's not just about the gear (though I do love gear!). There's also a conscious living aspect. Doesn't, of course, make me more right than anyone else. It just works for me.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/10/2010 17:16:06 MST Print View


My reading... Ten Ton is not talking about gear selection -- but buying a piece of gear (whatever it is) from companies based on their size.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/10/2010 17:40:47 MST Print View

Yes, that was a bit of a tangent. I was just challenging the concept of "emotionally free" buying.

I buy from both small and large. The main reason for buying from small companies (for example TiGoat,AGG,Tarptent,JRB) is because that gear is not available from the big ones . However at around the same price for a similar product I would favour a small company.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/10/2010 18:08:32 MST Print View

As Ben observed, many of the superior products are made by the cottage industry folks because we are their target market. They are happy to go after a nitch, and we are delighted to be targeted. That's why they get so much of our business.

All things being equal, I purchase gear I believe will provide the best performance / dollar factoring in weight, quality, design, price, etc. If I think something might be "perfect", I will be willing to pay a premium rather than selecting the best value. I buy whatever is the most compelling product.

There are four modifiers to this (e.g. all things aren't equal)

1) Personal knowledge of a designer makes me more likely to trust them and believe their claims. If two products look equiv, I will choice a product from someone I trust / know. Of course, if I find that the product doesn't live up to the promise, it will go to ebay. I don't view purchase the end of the story.

2) If I believe the company in unethical or objectionable I will avoid them. If there are products have have simular performance I will choice the product made by a company that pays a fair wage and engages in sustainable practices... even if it will cost more.

3) I will tend to favor smaller companies who have a track record of good customer service over larger companies where I am just a number. I like relationships. Likewise, I will favor companies that have good customer service other those than don't care about the customer.

4) I will favor items that I can touch in advance of purchasing which is the one factor which can give big C an edge.


Edited by verber on 01/10/2010 18:14:20 MST.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Miracle on 01/10/2010 18:36:20 MST Print View

I hope this is coherent.

This community; and backpacking light with the products now available are from my perspective nothing short of a miracle.

A miracle admittedly made possible by the internet.

Inspired by many

Twenty years ago the gear, techniques, ideas expressed on this blog and site were not possible. Not in the realized form we enjoy today.

The kind of "garage" shops cranking out amazing products run by really great folks ( in no particular order )like Henry Shires, Ron Bell, George Andrews, Dave Oware The GG gang, Six Moon, Nunatak and on and on .......... would essentially not have been possible.

And BackPacking Light. What an inspired idea!

This whole light-weight "world" is like another dimension, an alternate reality that really has just recently ( in the scale of things) appeared. I mean any of you near my advanced age (57) would have been just about as amazed by this site and these products in 1980 as we would have been by ipods and pocket hard drives in 2000.

It bothers me when posters complain about the cost of something like a caldera cone. It's amazing to me folks can scratch out a living making this stuff.

I'm just grateful any of this even exists and that I have the chance to support the "small c". Let me point out that it's the scale of the WWW that makes any of this possible. If the "Big C's" could scale their operations to compete in these specialized products with the "small c's" there would be no small c's. The net has made it possible for this niche to appear, thrive and grow, and the small c's along with the greater lightweight community makes it all possible. Thank you all and Happy Trails.

Oh and PS: Don't forget to give back! Service above Self.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Loyalty (Big C vs Little C) on 01/10/2010 18:37:19 MST Print View

If the cottage makers didn't make something I wanted I wouldn't buy what they were selling -period. But they do make stuff larger companies for now, won't.
The fact that they are relatively "local" is a plus but not the main or only reason. All things being equal ( and their not) why not buy from a little guy? I think we can all appreciate the effort of individuals trying to make something of themselves and start a home business. Not that I think a big business is necessarily "evil" but I don't feel for their CEO like I would a craftsman and innovator starting a cottage company. Plus small businesses are ( usually) more responsive to consumer demands and problems. They aren't bogged down with marketing departments telling them what people want- the owner hears directly from the consumer what they want and are usually willing to do custom work.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Miracle on 01/10/2010 19:21:29 MST Print View

"It bothers me when posters complain about the cost of something like a caldera cone. It's amazing to me folks can scratch out a living making this stuff."

Agree! Boutique gear makers making a few thousand gear pieces need to price each piece high enough to put food on their dinner tables. It is just not reasonable to expect them to match Wal Mart (or even REI) price points!

guys on 01/11/2010 00:07:41 MST Print View


Yes the nationalistic angle is another poinbt of view that is interesting. people rejecting things on that level could warrant a whole seperate thread but its a similar thought.


I absolutely do this, because in the past I had made many a emotional purchases. Thus it became apparent to me when traveling and trekking because one's preferences are not near at hand and you must just go with what is available/ accessable. (evidenced by the fact that it looks like Gov Patterson did my shoping with the complete random colors of various gear)

But I def agree with you that one's postive expereinces with a product would almost ensure a future purchase. Funny enough all my chosen gear tends to be blue or black so the vast majority of my pictures over the years look as though they were shot on the same weekend. HA!


I agree, I too do care where my gear comes from and verifying if what is said used is actually used.

I also enjoy the research and hunting that goes into rare gear selection but the price of many things is off-putting.

Yet with some creativity that is evidenced all over BPL you can Frankenstein common place gear into an awesome creation. (which Frankly I love) pun intended.

This is part of what I suppose I was thinking about with the Big C vs Supposition.

Im not pro or con either one just put it out there to see what others thought and it was good! obviously big C's steer clear of rare products but some of those products are what make us tick.

Cool Cool.