buying gear is hard

5:34 p.m. on April 1, 2019 (EDT)
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I have this weird habit of putting together a comparison spreadsheet when I shop for gear. I compile information about items from which I am selecting one to buy. Does anyone do the same thing or is it just me?


12:45 a.m. on April 2, 2019 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace Mike.

I always just decide what I want and then wait for it to come up used in the off season (estate sales, garage sales, Ebay, Craigslist, ads on forums, etc.) there-by saving 50-80%+no tax .  That gives me the chance to let many others buy, use/test gear and then post reviews.  By doing this I get the best gear for the price of mediocre gear.  I've tried the spread sheet thing but after years of buying gear, over 40 years, I know what I want and what to look for.  I never make snap decisions by buying new and then regretting it.  If the item was good 10 years, 5 years, 2 years ago and I still want it, it will perform just as well today as when it came out. 

I just don't understand the need to buy the bestest stuff at the prices that gear costs these days.....cause marketing dictates that the tent you buy this year will be replace by a supposedly better tent next year and a higher price.........but with that being said I'm sure glad other people buy new gear, and sell their slightly used gear so I that can buy it basically new, at used prices . Gotta love that capitalism and consumerism thing.....................

12:47 a.m. on April 2, 2019 (EDT)
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I sold cameras for over 30 years.

When someone came in with a comparison list (ALWAYS A MALE) I knew that there was a very good chance that he would buy the wrong item for the intended use.

The reason probably was that by spreading all the wants too thin (too many choices) one or more of the needs would be overlooked.

As a silly example that comes to mind, if a backpack comes out at the top of your list in 10 out of 15 points but it's too small for what you intend to carry...well it's too small. 

Since I am in the mood, I remember a particularly funny (to me) post at BPL many years ago.

A guy demonstrated , several photos, how he could put all of his kit inside a 35 L or something like that pack.

Many comments raving about what a fantastic choice he made , till I pointed out that there was no room whatsoever inside it for any food or water .....

6:44 a.m. on April 2, 2019 (EDT)
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I really can't recall any piece of camping gear that had so many features, it warranted spreadsheet comparison.


7:15 a.m. on April 2, 2019 (EDT)
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OK, the spreadsheet bashers have had their say...

I sometimes will build a spreadsheet, but to Ed's point it depends on how many features the item has that matters. I will do it when I'm looking to make trade-offs -- for example, when I bought a new quilt a few years ago I was looking for the best balance of warmth rating, weight, and price. But I've also bought a lot of gear that I don't analyze that way, instead I've made up my mind that I want "the best" and just have to figure if I can justify the cost or not (as was the case when I bought a Goosefeet Gear down jacket). And as noted, some things have attributes that don't fit well on a spreadsheet, like backpacks and footwear, for which fit conquers all.

The key to using the spreadsheet approach is that you are trying to bring forth clarity from confusion, so don't build a spreadsheet for something you are already clear on, and don't let a spreadsheet serve to confuse you more.

9:40 a.m. on April 2, 2019 (EDT)
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No. I just pick one and look at the rest. 

Many people seem to suffer from TMI (too much information).

9:56 p.m. on April 2, 2019 (EDT)
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BTW, my post should be taken as a "beware of what can happen" not as a right or wrong judgement on spreadsheets. 

4:54 a.m. on April 4, 2019 (EDT)
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I use a combination and add the features in an outside margin on the paper to add to what I want out of said gear....

11:32 a.m. on April 5, 2019 (EDT)
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We have a spreadsheet to keep track of our kids' alpine and nordic ski gear and clothing so we can figure out what they need and what gets handed down that year. We don't do that for our own ski gear though.

I'll occasionally use a spreadsheet to organize gear info and/or potential races or events, but I use it more as an organizational tool versus a calculation. Ultimately you have to decide which features matter to you and how much.

As JR says above, a spreadsheet should be used to get more clarity, not to overwhelm you with more info and minutia.

7:38 p.m. on April 14, 2019 (EDT)
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Buying outdoor geat is easy, I have been doing it for around 53 years. Selling it is hard.  Mostly I just give it away. 

9:56 p.m. on April 14, 2019 (EDT)
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"Buying outdoor gear is easy"

Stopping is easy too.

I do it all the time. 

1:59 p.m. on May 4, 2019 (EDT)
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As Franco sez, stopping buying gear is even harder. I must have 200 pounds of lightweight gear. ;o)

But I know i can stop any time I want - I too have done it hundreds of times.

Eric B.

BTW, Later in your backpacking "career" I think you will find the best use of a spreadsheet is for listing all your gear by category and weight so you can just check off what you're taking and total the weight.

Eric B.

2:24 p.m. on May 4, 2019 (EDT)
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300winmag said:

"..BTW, Later in your backpacking "career" I think you will find the best use of a spreadsheet is for listing all your gear by category and weight so you can just check off what you're taking and total the weight."



4:26 p.m. on May 6, 2019 (EDT)
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my packing lists, winter and summer, are on spreadsheets.  

gear, i tend to read and try and narrow down to a 'top 2,' then go with whatever fits best. no spreadsheet.  i tend to be fairly picky about some things, so there don't tend to be many options that rise to the top.  

8:30 p.m. on May 18, 2019 (EDT)
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Yes. Years ago. Longhand, yellowpads (legal sizes). Lots of fun back then. Tho, the point about missing one’s real life needs is important.

11:35 a.m. on June 27, 2019 (EDT)
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I find affording it harder than buying it.  Only second to making time for USING it ;)

2:00 p.m. on August 2, 2019 (EDT)
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"Affording it" is what home equity lines of credit are for. ;o)

Eric B.

(I can quit buying backpacking gear any time I want. I've done it hundreds of times.)

4:58 p.m. on August 2, 2019 (EDT)
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the Jones in gear acquisition isn't some much keeping up with them, as it is slaking an addition.

The thing is even opting to have all the exotic UL stuff and equipment, backpacking is still cheaper than any other destination recreational activity.  One trip to Cabo cost more than my entire BC kit, which is good to go for many years thereafter - until the next tech revolution offers up UUL (Ultra Ultra Light) gear.  

Personally I anticipate the roll out of Gravity boxes - a vessel that makes itself and its contents weightless.  And I'll be the first in line for the next innovation in anti gravity technology, the Gravity Snookie - a hand held device you use to make stuff weightless.  But first we must discover the quantum particle responsible for gravity.  

(I think I'll copyright UUL, Ultra Utra Light, and Gravity Snookie)


5:49 p.m. on August 2, 2019 (EDT)
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300winmag said:

"Affording it" is what home equity lines of credit are for. ;o)

 I know you are sharing a bit of levity here but the truth is, the amount of debt many people carry is appalling and this behavior is rampant and it is affecting their lives in a very negative way. They are paying way more doing that than just saving up and thinking about the purchase. I’m definitely in the minority in this country as I have never assumed debt and I buy very carefully. Then I use it till the wheels come off. 

1:58 p.m. on August 3, 2019 (EDT)
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Yeah, I'm guilty of "instant gratification" from time to time. But usually I wait for sales at REI or online OR buy good used stuff. 

Perhaps where my spending can go off the rails is with hunting and target shooting gear. For example yesterday I ordered a $340. MagnetoSpeed ballistic chronograph to determine bullet velocity for my rifles so I can figure much more exact ballistic DOPE cards from 100 yards to 1,100 yards, the distances at our club's steel range. In competitions I've lacked this data and consistently earned 10th place when i should have come in at least 5th place. (At least I didn't charge this purchase. :o)

Mea culpa, mea culpa...

Eric B.

Oh, yeah, I also ordered a $40. gizmo of Delrin polymer,  "Quick Stix", that clamp on each hiking pole just below the handles. When the two parts are mated and locked in place with a twist I get very sturdy "shooting sticks" for a rifle rest. This is ONLY for backpack hunting.They will be removed and stay at home otherwise. But dedicated shooting sticks are way too expensive and redundant. (That's my story and I'm sticking' to it.)

December 15, 2019
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