amazon, backpacking, camping, craigslist, hiking, online, outdoors, purchase, REI, shopping, sporting good
Online shopping? In-store Experience? Craigslist? What’s the best?
Sporting Goods Store– Sporting good stores are great because it gives you a chance you try out the gear, build a rapport, and feel comfortable- plus you get to talk to an expert in person! These stores are even better when they have reward programs or dividends like REI (you get 10% back every year). And shops like REI even rent out gear so you can test it out before you buy- another bonus- return/exchange policies! Downside? You’ll pay top dollar at these places unless you catch a killer sale.
Sample Sale/ Used Gear Sale– I know I talk about REI a lot (and they don’t even pay me for it!) but I love them! They have their used gear sale where all goods that have been returned or exchanged are on sale for extremely low prices (think like 40% to 80% off). Or make friends with a sales rep- you can buy samples for a fraction of the cost. Downside? The events tend to be crowded and if you’re looking for a certain size, pray you’re a sample size- but if you are, you’ll score!
Direct Online Store– Who doesn’t love to shop out of the comfort of their own home? Online shopping is now one of most frequent ways to shop- why do you think Cyber Monday is such a craze?! Direct Online shopping from a vendor gives you a chance to score brand new goods first to the market. Plus if you can’t make it into the store, it gives you a chance to show your support. Downside? So many other websites out there make it almost impossible for direct online stores to have compatible prices because they mark the price so low to keep the consumer by staying low on the margin.
Amazon– Amazon is amazing because of its low prices! You can’t find a better deal out there. Plus, I heard their return/exchange policy is pretty awesome! Downside? You don’t get to try or see anything in person before you buy. Plus, people tend to only review products when they’re not satisfied so it’s hard to find good, consistent reviews.
Craigslist– If you haven’t heard of Craigslist, you’ve been living under a rock! I like to call Craigslist an online garage sale. You see something you like, call up the owner, go check it out, and negotiate (usually) a price. Downside? Craigslist is not for everybody. It could make you get a great deal, get scammed, or leave you a little creeped out.
Garage Sale– You know, those neighborhood functions that are used to attract all your neighbors, friends, and randoms? Well, I would almost prefer a garage sale over Craigslist because you seem to find cooler stuff and the fact that you can buy and receive instantly is totally worth it! Downside? You don’t know what you’re going to find- your luck could be spread thin.
Friends/Family– This is always great because these are the people who can give you an honest opinion of the product. They can be the bearer of bad news about longevity and quality but also give you an awesome price! Downside? Most equipment tends to be worn.
I love REI. Just abused their anniversary sale for a new sleep system. The people there are so great. However when it comes to buy something it’s a 50/50 chance between them and Amazon. If I need it that day REI hands down. If I’m on the fence about something then if REI or my local outfitters is within 20% I go with them. 25% less or above, sorry Amazon. As far as Craigslist, yardsales, and family? They never have anything fun. Although I did find a feathered friends sleeping bag at the salvation army for $5. It was too short fort me but fit my friend. Gave them $20 for it and thanked them.
Jo Ann Plante said:
Good article. I’ve never read such a detailed list of shopping choices.
I recently joined Amazon Prime, so now I get free shipping on most products.
Food is always high on the list of backpackers everywhere they go! Leave room in your rucksacks for enough supplies! http://backpackerlee.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/top-5-asian-street-foods-for-backpackers/
As much as I love Amazon and online shopping, when it comes to backpacks, hiking boots, and other gear, I HAVE TO try it on for size and see it in person. Especially with backpacks and boots, REI helps with fitting and sizing of straps, etc.
Downside?: Not good for my wallet because at REI I’m like a kid in toys r us and want to buy everything in site!
BUT if I’ve had my eye on something in particular online, I may go in store just to figure out my size and then get it cheaper on line.
Don’t forget the cottage industry! There are tons of small companies making high quality gear, many of them right out of their garages. Hard to believe, but true! Gossamer Gear, ZPacks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Light Heart Gear, TarpTent, Six Moon Designs, and countless others!
Spot on. Cottage industry stuff is usually the highest quality available, at least if it’s exactly what you’re looking for.