Buying New Equipment

12:58 p.m. on December 11, 2015 (EST)
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Partly due to being a part of this forum, I have decided to take Backpacker magazine to see what I have been missing. I am looking at the latest issue with all of the $400 jackets, $500 sleeping bags, etc. Do people really spend that much? The backcountry ski boots are unbelievable. They are plastic, weigh 6 pounds or more and cost $600-$1,000. I have skied most of the big hills in the western US with leather boots that cost $200, even the good ones made in Italy. I can hike anywhere in the leather boots and have never had a leg injury skiing in them. I can see some major knee injuries with those big clunky downhill style boots. I am really this out of touch? Help me understand what is going on.

2:17 p.m. on December 11, 2015 (EST)
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"I am looking at the latest issue with all of the $400 jackets, $500 sleeping bags, etc. "

It's 2015

A $500 sleeping bag now is the equivalent (in wages) to a $170 sleeping bag in 1980 or $90 in 1970.

How much of an sb could you have bought in 1970 for $90 ?

When you work the cost now including inflation, most of the gear is less expensive now  than it was decades ago.

2:42 p.m. on December 11, 2015 (EST)
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i spent about $500 on a large backpack in 2007 and about $550 on a -40 down bag in 2011 (a pretty good sale price).  winter trips in the northeast (anywhere that gets very cold) demand a backpack that can carry some weight and a really warm sleeping bag. both are in great shape.  it happens that the same sleeping bag runs about $1000 retail today.  I'll spend that much, very occasionally, for gear that works well and lasts a long time.  I will also look for deals - the used mountaineering boots i picked up on craigslist anchorage have been great.  

ski equipment prices have been out of control for a long time.  you could buy quality backcountry equipment - maybe not the latest and greatest, but perfectly fine for most purposes, for a fraction of the prices  you shared.  

.   

4:08 p.m. on December 11, 2015 (EST)
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No, not all of us spent that kind of money yesteryear or spend that kind of money today.

4:26 p.m. on December 11, 2015 (EST)
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If you read a photo magazine you would think that everyone buys or should buy a $3000 camera.

Of course the top of the shelf stuff is what most mags focus on, regardless of what the gear is .

How many people buy a Lamborghini ? But how many car enthusiasts want to read a review on a Toyota Corolla ?

however it is a lot more affordable to buy a $500 sb than a Lamborghini.

9:45 a.m. on December 12, 2015 (EST)
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I hadn't subscribed to Backpacker in about 20 years, but my wife got it for me last Christmas. I was not impressed with the equipment ratings and prices for the most part. While some seemed reasonable there are a lot that in my opinion are overpriced. Lots of cheaper alteratives that are just as good. They also ignore many of the cottage industry brands and go with the big boys consistently.

This comes from someone who bought a 400 dollar sleeping bag...

10:30 a.m. on December 12, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks everybody. I like Phil's post.

 

6:08 p.m. on December 17, 2015 (EST)
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The great part is that most of this new stuff will be put on a clearance sale at some point, likely when the new line comes out, which is usually pretty much the same, maybe 1oz lighter and a different colour. 

I usually just wait to get my stuff during big sales. Means I put in a bit more time searching for a deal, but its worth it in the end.

9:53 p.m. on December 17, 2015 (EST)
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Franco said:

"I am looking at the latest issue with all of the $400 jackets, $500 sleeping bags, etc. "

It's 2015

 That is exactly right. Some comparisons:

When I was in college in the 1960s, a VW Beetle cost $1500. A basic VW today (with its cheating smog device) is 20 times that.

Our house, according to the realtors, could be sold for 15 times what we paid for it in 1984.

My Nikon F was about $200 in 1960 (film camera). The equivalent DSLR is well over $3000 today.

A McDonald's Big Mac was 25 cents when I was in high school. It's a bunch of bucks today.

At that time, gasoline was 20 to 25 cents per gallon, compared to just under $3.00 here in California.

I don't recall exactly what my -40°F Eddie Bauer Karakoram (considered the best cold weather bag you could get at the time), but somewhere around $50. A -40° bag these days is, yes $1000, ten times as much, though at the price growth of real estate, cars, and food, that is effectively cheaper than my Bauer, plus being lighter, more packable, and generally better.

Incomes were a lot lower 40 or 50 years ago, too. My father's highest salary in a white collar job was $5000/year. I was able to pay my college expenses in the 1960s at a tuition fee of $500 as a freshman, up to $750 when I graduated, while pulling in $2000 in summer jobs. Universities like Stanford here in Palo Alto and state schools like UC Berkeley have fees in the $40,000/year and up range.

12:22 a.m. on December 18, 2015 (EST)
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It helps to be living the life style for many years. That you plan ahead and be constantly on the lookout for deals , discount web sites, being not afraid to pickup second hand stuff that people have used once. The trick is to know what you want and give your self the time to find it. 

12:50 a.m. on December 18, 2015 (EST)
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I could have bought a new corvette for $7500.00 way back when...now...over $55,000.00.  But...the difference is night and day.  The new corvette is an incredible machine and the old...well it is laughable the difference.  The biggest reason is inflation sure, but don't forget technology.  I just bought a new Enlightened Equipment quilt, and I know there sure was nothing like that way back then.  Technology has brought us into a new age, with stronger and lighter materials.  The thing is, you don't have to spend a ton of money on everything.  The staples for camping are the new tents, and yes the better and lighter bags, stove ect.  There will always be those that can afford the really expensive things, and that is good, as it drives competition and lowers prices to where most of us can grasp the new shiny toys we want.   

Me...I would rather read the reviews here than in BackPackers magazine, as I know you all are (hopefully) not being paid to write them.  

Merry Xmas all...

5:34 a.m. on December 18, 2015 (EST)
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Yet some things aren't more costly today than yesteryear when accounting for inflation.  Motor has, many food items, etc.

6:59 a.m. on December 18, 2015 (EST)
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I'm not sure the issue is what the over-priced gear today represents in yesterday's dollars, to me the issue is why Backpacker recommends items that are priced so much higher than other gear that is equivalent or better. Why a $400 down puffy when you can find a nice one for under $200?

To my observation, Backpacker recommendations tend to appease their biggest advertisers.

11:43 a.m. on December 18, 2015 (EST)
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Good post by JR. Advertising in Backpacker mag is at a very high level. There is a lot of competition for those markets. They like to talk about exotic, hard to get to destinations. It is really an elitist view of the outdoors. It is still interesting, but really the antithesis of why most of us got into the sport in the first place.

4:15 p.m. on December 18, 2015 (EST)
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Vast majority of hobby mags promote the advertisers in their mags and then often items in just the top tiers of those advertisers' lines .  That's why I always take reviews in those mags with a grain of salt.   Just too hard to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff. 

4:45 p.m. on December 24, 2015 (EST)
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As I have posted here many times, I am a big proponent of buying used gear and clothes. I have a long list of used items I have bought off of eBay or Craigslist. It takes research, patience and time, but high quality, lightly used gear and clothes can be found online or sometimes in used clothing stores if you have some of those nearby. You'd be surprised what people buy either on a whim or for a one time trip and then want to get rid of. I've bought a couple of things here on Trailspace from other members who were updating their gear or just cleaning out the closet.

The trick is to spend time looking at gear and clothes, reading reviews and then shopping. Resist the urge to go over your budget when bidding just because you really want something. Another will come along. Craigslist, you can bargain down the price most of the time. 

For example, my winter parka is top of the line TNF, bought off eBay for half retail and it looks like new. The seller bought it for a trip that didn't happen. I picked up a never worn (as far as I could tell), $300 Marmot ski parka in a used clothing store that sold film and tv wardrobe (I'm in the LA area). I paid $50 for it. I have a really nice Marmot bag I found on ebay for about half retail, again, it looked new when I got it (even had the hang tag) and after a trip to the cleaners just for peace of mind, you can't tell it from new.

Sites like Sierra Trading Post are also good places to find new stock that is either last season or overstock. I got the skis in my picture from STP then,  later sold them to a college student, so she got a great deal as well.

6:39 p.m. on December 24, 2015 (EST)
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This is a link to a Backpacker mag from 1974 :

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=tOEDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA3&source=gbs_toc&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false

Google Books is where you search for books and mags .

In that magazine you will see plenty of boots, basic tents and sleeping bags in the $50 to $70 plus range.

That is around $380 to $540 now.

Example : a very basic A frame tent $60. That is about $460 now.

A similar Eureka Timberline is under $200.

4:13 p.m. on December 25, 2015 (EST)
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Paying full price is for suckers  :-p I bought a -40 degree down bag for $100...it was once $1000. It was at a consignment shop where some rich kid put it for sale incredibly cheap because he slept in it by a fire and burnt a couple of small holes into it from embers. It was professionally repaired and then put on consignment. I inspected it and it was fine. It's kept me warm in some damn cold temps. 

I also watch for start up companies. This is taking a chance sometimes but usually worth it. I got a 4 season tent, who's equivalent brand name would cost $600+. I paid $75, and the tent is bomber and has gotten me through some crazy storms.

When eddie bauer started their first ascent line a few years ago to get back to their lmountaineering roots, I picked up shells, down jackets, etc that would have cost hundreds more. Now that they are well established in that line of clothing, the prices are just as high as anywhere else.

I bought a $125 mountaineering axe online for $50. It was new with tags, but was used in a photography shoot.

I buy blemished but otherwise safe (proven in safety tests) biners, ice screws, etc from a great site ar a great discount, or buy them only when on sale.

I got a $550 north face down ripstop parka for $199 because it was discontinued for a slightly different model.

I ask for stuff for xmas that is hard to find on sale

I buy base layers at major department stores off brand for $10 or less instead of  $50 for brand name. 

My fleece jackets and insulated pants were purchased for 50% off when they were getting discontinued.

The key is looking. CONSTANTLY. The deals are out there and in my opinion people who pay full price are mostly paying for convenience. Getting it now costs more. Waiting for sales or for stumbling upon a great deal requires patience and persistance. By my estimates I have several thousand dollars in gear that would have been at least double the costs without my efforts. You can do it too!

11:25 p.m. on December 26, 2015 (EST)
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I buy new but that's for warranty reasons sometimes or its an item that buying used would be too chancy. I'll buy certain thing's used but those are few and far between.

4:54 a.m. on December 27, 2015 (EST)
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I buy used as much as possible, and that's for everything from cars to houses to knives and tools to hiking and camping gear and everything in between.  Boots, shoes, and underwear are about the only things I insist must be new.

7:19 p.m. on December 30, 2015 (EST)
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I'm always looking for the marked down, clearance gear. But these days I find myself not wanting/needing more stuff. In fact, I just listed a bunch of gear on a local swap shop in hopes of clearing out clutter.


Only thing I really want is a full size UnderQuilt for my hammock--and those are never on sale.

As far as Backpacker Magazine, I let my subscription lapse about 2 years ago. It reads like an advertisement, and I know some of their information is inaccurate. I had emailed them on wrong captioning and errors in trail descriptions. They responded to tell me they were right, but they never retracted their errors in later issues. What else are they getting wrong that I wouldn't be able to catch because I don't know that trail?

10:26 p.m. on December 30, 2015 (EST)
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GOOSE said:

As far as Backpacker Magazine, I let my subscription lapse about 2 years ago. It reads like an advertisement, and I know some of their information is inaccurate. I had emailed them on wrong captioning and errors in trail descriptions. They responded to tell me they were right, but they never retracted their errors in later issues. What else are they getting wrong that I wouldn't be able to catch because I don't know that trail?

I agree GOOSE, alot of magazines now are more like a catalog of the latest gear you can buy, more than anything else. 

I think some gear made today is indeed much better than it was 10 or even 5 years ago, and is often less expensive now. I have a Black Diamond headlamp I paid about $100 for about 15 years ago. This year I purchased a new Black Diamond head lamp for only $60 and it is 10X brighter (and adjustable) than the old one AND its waterproof! 

As many others have said, buying used gear in good condition can save you alot of cash and much of the gear out there has barely been used at all. It was an impulse buy, and now they need to get rid of it.

I guess alot depends on priorities and personal preference about things. For me personally, I like to buy my sleeping bags and boots and shoes brand new. A used tent or stove (in good condition) is fine for me though.

I am all for being frugal, but often, I will buy brand new to get exactly what I want, with a full warranty and the peace of mind that it has not been abused or neglected in the past.  It's often less expensive to buy the BEST, brand new, one time, baby it, and enjoy it for many, many years before needing to replace it.

When it comes to cars, especially, I only buy brand new. Alot of it is peace of mind for me. I also drive my cars for a minimum of 10 years. I never miss a scheduled service (or even just an oil change) by more that 100 miles. My 8 year old Toyota 4Runner still drives like the day I bought it. 

 

8:02 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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G00SE said:

Only thing I really want is a full size UnderQuilt for my hammock--and those are never on sale.

 Enlightened Equipment is having a sale that is only advertised on BPL, it's only 10% off but that's better than a poke in the eye, as the saying goes. Use coupon code BPL2015 to get the 10% off. Sale ends today (Dec 31st). Looks like they have a 10F 900fp underquilt in size long in stock, or you can get one made to your specs but that takes production time.

10:15 a.m. on December 31, 2015 (EST)
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Thanks everyone. I feel better now.

8:45 a.m. on January 1, 2016 (EST)
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JRinGeorgia said:

G00SE said:

Only thing I really want is a full size UnderQuilt for my hammock--and those are never on sale.

 Enlightened Equipment is having a sale that is only advertised on BPL, it's only 10% off but that's better than a poke in the eye, as the saying goes. Use coupon code BPL2015 to get the 10% off. Sale ends today (Dec 31st). Looks like they have a 10F 900fp underquilt in size long in stock, or you can get one made to your specs but that takes production time.

 Thanks! I looked hard at it, but opted to wait. Looked good though!

9:22 p.m. on January 23, 2016 (EST)
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G00SE,

If you're looking for under quilts,....look at UGQ.  Especially, since you have a Dream Hammock.  Those two companies work with each other to make things compatible.  If your hammock has the "quilt hook mod" then get the "quilt hooks" on your UGQ quilt.  
The mod will keep the underquilt from slipping off your shoulder.  Very worthwhile!

http://www.undergroundquilts.com/default.html

I have quilts from the two best known cottage makers in the hammock world.  By far, UGQ is the best made.

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