Saturday, January 15, 2011

Avoiding Name Brands

    The North Face, Arc'Teryx, Mountain Hardwear, these are some of the boldest name brands in outdoor clothing right now and they carry the boldest price tags. For what? The other day I was walking through Dick's Sporting Goods, a popular outfitter (although their selection and employee knowledge are severly lacking) and noticed a Mountain Hardwear down jacket. 800 fill, and naturally I played the "guess the ridiculous price" game with myself. I wasn't surprised to see the price at over $200. Then I looked down at myself and noticed my own 750 fill down jacket. One I got for christmas, Eddie Bauer brand, from the local outlet store, no doubt for less than one hundred dollars. The loft difference was impressive, it was obvious my cheaper Eddie Bauer had twice (or more) the loft of the Mountain Hardwear jacket, in fact, I found it hard to believe that with less than 1/2" of down loft the Mountain Hardwear jacket could keep anyone warm, let alone be worth it's outrageous price tag.
    If you are a supporter of expensive brands, or have ludicrous amounts of money to spend on gear, then you'll probably argue that the Mountain Hardwear jacket is worth it. There must be some huge hidden factor (like warmth-Gnomes hidden in the stitching) that I am missing to make these prices worth it. Just take a look at this page of North Face Fleeces on google's shop North Face Fleece. Now compare it to Nike's ACG brands ACG Fleece. ACG's answer to Mountain Hardwear's Monkey Man (Woman) fleece goes for only $75 whereas MH's price is $150. What are you paying for; brand or function?

       Expensive Brands                                                        Alternatives

Mountain Hardwear                                             Outdoor Research

North Face                                                            Nike's ACG Line

Arc'Teryx                                                Anything is cheaper than Arc'Teryx

Therm-a-Rest                                                     Pacific Outdoor Equipment

Tips for Saving:

  1. Buy on sale or clearance
  2. Join a local outdoor club and get discounts!
  3. Rent gear you won't use often
  4. Buy gear during the off-season, it's a lot cheaper (supply vs demand)
  5. Join outfitter's rewards programs
  6. Look for coupon codes for online stores
  7. Join mailing lists, companies often send out exclusive discounts

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