What are your guidelines for buying gear?
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Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 15:39:28 MST Print View

There was some discussion in another thread regarding how people decide whether to buy a new piece of gear or not. I thought it would be interesting to hear from other people what their decision process is for making a purchase or determing it's not worth it. Do you insist on one in, one out? Do you not allow yourself to own more than one of a certain type of item? For me, I ask myself if I honestly think I will use the piece of gear enough to eventually wear it out; if the answer is not a definitive yes, then it will probably sit in my closet more than it gets used and it probably isn't worth it for me to buy it.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:05:34 MST Print View

For me it comes down to a mixture of price, durability and weight, I put a lot of research in to kit (maybe too much) and always try to buy on sale or via Gear swap.

I have dropped some serious coin this week on a new pack, GPS and Plb but other times I would go a long time without buying new kit.

Often If I am upgrading an item I will keep the "old" item until I am happy with the new one and then sell it on gear swap.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:06:54 MST Print View

My decision tree:

Do I want it?
Yes - then buy it!
No - Are you sure you don't want it. Huuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh?

Which branches to:
Yes, I'm sure - don't buy it.
No, I'm not sure - better buy it then until you make up your mind!

Whether or not I'll actually use it rarely enters in to my decision.....

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:13:22 MST Print View

I like to buy the thing, regret the purchase after limited use, and then hoard it in one of the 50 gal storage bins I have dedicated to backpacking gear. It isn't all bad, because I can easily outfit a small group of people from my gear and this has gotten several friends into backpacking.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:17:05 MST Print View

"and then hoard it in one of the 50 gal storage bins I have dedicated to backpacking gear"

That is why my wife calls it the backpacking museum.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:18:28 MST Print View

"I like to buy the thing, regret the purchase after limited use..."

Regret is for sissies.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:39:11 MST Print View

In recent years (within reason) if I have wanted something then I have got it. I usually find that I get good use out of most things over time or I can sell it if I don't. I also lend gear out to people. About ten years ago I got a Squall 2 and didn't use it for about eight years. However I now take it on all my father and son trips and used it on our first family trip. These trips have been amongst my best ever. I now have a pretty good set up all round and will be getting less new stuff in the future.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 16:57:46 MST Print View

I have a weakness for jackets and tops. I try never to have more than one of the same thing but its amazing how specific some of my categories are; for example there's a difference between a pullover fleece hoody and and full zip fleece hoody.

The same goes for other gear, I try not to have duplicates although the categories tend to be pretty specific there too. Poncho tarp is different than a duo cat tarp even though I'm the only one that uses either of them. If I really want to replace something I've already got I try to get rid of the one of I have. I also try to find good deals on used or previous models. My Borah Gear stealth is actually the most expensive single item I've ever bought for backpacking. Even the materials for my MYOG down quilt were less. I feel like I've been spending a lot of money on gear lately but when I come here I feel like a pretty sensible guy. Thanks everyone!


Adam

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 17:10:30 MST Print View

Do I need it? Yes, buy it.

Do I want it? Yes, buy it.

The decision tree is actually a little more complicated than that though. For instance, we could just get by with one two-person, 4-season tent, but since we often hike in the summer, and sometimes hike by ourself, we tend to have several tents so that we don't have to carry more weight than necessary for each trip. Ditto with stoves, pots, sleeping bags etc...and I need a bigger pack in winter than summer, plus a pack for day hikes. We have a lot of gear between us!!

Brandon =Þ
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Re: Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 18:18:49 MST Print View

"Regret is for sissies."

This is why I hide my regret from my girlfriend, and insist to her I need everything in my storage bins, even the 3 styles of pump water filters that I'd never use again; don't want her thinking I'm a sissy. But with you guys, I'm willing to come clean... as BPL is a safe place for backpacking equipment hoarders to admit they have a problem. One day I hope to post an FS, maybe I'll start small and sell off some cathole trowels.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 18:21:31 MST Print View

"as BPL is a safe place for backpacking equipment hoarders to admit they have a problem"

Sure, but you've got to join the program.

Okay, repeat after me: backpacking equipment hoarding is not a problem, it's an alternative lifestyle.....

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 18:30:14 MST Print View

I'm with Lynn.

Need it, get it.

Want it, get it

I allow the gear stockpiling to get to critical mass then sell off a whole bunch of stuff to fund the next wave of gotta have its.

A variety of tools at hand for particular tasks=not hoarding.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Sparkly things..... on 03/04/2013 18:40:35 MST Print View

It's cool!! Buy it!
It's new!! Buy it!!
It's an old stand by...buy it!!
Everyone else has one...buy it!!
No one else has one...buy it!!

Mmmmm.....cuben..........

Like a lot of other folks, I have enough leftover gear to outfit a troop of scouts. It's how I get people into backpacking (which isn't all that popular here in Chicago...imagine that!) and how I got my father BACK into it. That guy was still trying to use his national guard gear from 1972...

Edited by Jenmitol on 03/04/2013 18:41:15 MST.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Guidelines for buying gear on 03/04/2013 18:41:05 MST Print View

I'm pretty happy with my kit, so more gear mostly feels like just that, more gear. If I felt like there was something I would use often, or something I was lacking that would help me accomplish a specific objective, I'd happily buy it. These days though, I think a lot more about collecting experiences over collecting stuff.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Guidelines for buying gear on 03/04/2013 19:14:10 MST Print View

"These days though, I think a lot more about collecting experiences over collecting stuff."

Killjoy....

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Guidelines for buying gear on 03/04/2013 19:26:57 MST Print View

I'm still at the point where I'm sussing out exactly what I want and need from a kit, so I own far more than I'm comfortable with. I research obsessively, buy on sale or swap, keep a buy list, a sell list, a keep list, and a try list with notes, from which, after reasonable testing, items get categorized as either sell or keep.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Guidelines for buying gear on 03/04/2013 19:57:58 MST Print View

can I make it myself?

yes - great!, another project!

no - hmmmm... I'm kind of a cheapskate...

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Guidelines for buying gear on 03/04/2013 20:38:28 MST Print View

--Travis's guidelines for buying gear--

Wife.






Nahhh, I kid. I try to keep a minimal gear closet. The only reason I have two or more of something is to accommodate the season change. Most of the time if something comes in, something goes out. Speaking of, keep your eye out for a modular cuben shelter on Gear Swap. Gonna try out a new getup soon. But I make no promises....Muahahahaha.


But, if I made a bit more money, I'm sure I'd have another half-dozen shelters, including that new CB3 Henry has going on over there.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: What are your guidelines for buying gear? on 03/04/2013 21:30:58 MST Print View

I don't buy new gear unless it's a necessary item to continue backpacking. I can rarely afford to drive places right now.

I find that it's nice to have enough extra gear to outfit a friend who is new to backpacking.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Good question on 03/05/2013 03:28:58 MST Print View

A much needed discussion, thanks to the author of the OP for starting it. I am a very critical consumer, and this is no different with backpacking gear. I try and do a fair amount of research before nearly all of my significant purchases, and very often try and buy used or discounted when possible.

Once I got my first basic UL (under 10lbs BW) gear list finished a few years ago (circa spring 2011), I went out and put it to the test. I made a lot of mental notes and learned quite a lot on trips, then I would come home and do research.

I think it is also worth adding that after going UL I would say my overall experience of going backpacking/camping/dayhikes/etc. went from "good" or say 6-7 out of 10 as a lightweight backpacker (20lb-11lb BW), to "great" or say 8-9 out of 10. My section hikes in summer/fall of 2012 were "excellent" or around 9-9.5 out of 10. I am now in the process of just fine tuning each of my gear systems, mostly focus on the two most used kits: my spring/fall or 3 season, and late spring to early fall 1+ season. Looking to maintain or improve things in the realm of "excellent" or that sweet spot of around 9.5 or over, 10 of course not existing (nothing is perfect, there are no essences--my existential influences are revealed).

A good example was my changes in backpacks. I made a MYOG backpack that was 445g, but was fragile and not the most comfy pack to haul. I did a lot of research and then finally settled on a Golite Jam because it was cheap, tough, and got pretty good reviews. Bought it new because I didn't yet trust gear swap as an alternative marketplace--my skeptical nature now reveals itself.

Took it out on lots of trips, but in doing research on backpacks in general, I learned about lighter ones that got the job done just as good if no better than the Jam. Observed gear swap at and reconsidered it as a way to buy gear. Finally settled on a MLD Exodus that was slightly used and on sale here on gear swap. Took it out on lots of trips, it carried weight nearly as good as the Jam, and I actually liked it much better over all, with certain features I felt were better (such as the shoulder straps and minimalist design). The Jam is now my urban backpack, and is great at it, because it can handle a lot of weight from books, laptop, groceries, etc.

Next problem was that while 50 liters volume is good for me during some trips and seasons, it was far too much for other trips and seasons. I needed a smaller backpack to use on overnight trips and 1+season section hikes, and I had also cut down on a lot of bulk and weight in the rest of my gear list anyhow. Because of several specific factors I wanted to address, and because it was in my price range, I decided to buy a new custom Zpacks Zero. Took it out on lots of trips, and between that and my Exodus, I feel no need for any more packs right now--they satisfy all my present needs, but this of course could change.

So my gear purchases are pretty methodical, and I am not interested in collecting gear or hording it, but putting most of it to frequent use. I recently picked up a Borah Bivy on gear swap after much consideration on fine tuning my 1+ season gear system (355g total for full rain/wind/bug/critter protection using tarp/bivy/ground cover, plus flexibility of being able to use bivy in trail shelters) of and look forward to taking it out and seeing how things go. My hope and expectation is that I can improve my trail section hike shelter system and stay or improve on that sweet spot of a general 9.5 out of 10 experience out there :)


EDIT: fixed typos, as usual

Edited by PrimeZombie on 03/05/2013 03:32:36 MST.