All I'm looking for is items I can rely on. Minimalist backpacking means everything I carry has a purpose, and if it fails, I could be up a creek. When the entire shoulder seam on my Marmot Super Mica failed at once on a winter trip, I replaced it with Patagonia's super cell jacket, which was substantially burlier.
If I buy an Arcteryx baselayer, I want it to do its job without shredding and pilling under pack straps. If I buy an Arcteryx hat, I want it to last without unraveling (and my Contrail has, so far, but it isn't exactly mind-blowing in terms of quality).
Pants are a huge one. If I step up and put down $150 for pants, they'd better make it over some granite. There's peace of mind in not having to think about my gear when I'm actually in the outdoors. Knowing that I'm guaranteed is a good feeling, like an insurance policy. I'll pay for that rather than being surprised when something cheap DOESN'T crap out.