When Buying “Cheap Gear” Doesn’t Save You Money

Collapsed tentImagine you’re in the market for a new tent. You walk into a camping supplies store and are provided with two options. One of the two tents costs $150 and the other one costs $50. You’re only planning on doing basic car camping, so you’re not really concerned about how much the tent weighs or how small it packs down. Price is your main concern, and you are looking to buy whichever tent will cost you the least amount of money. So when you are given the option of a tent that costs $150 and one that costs $50, the choice seems like a no-brainer.

People often shop by comparing price tags. They figure that the lowest price is the most economical option, but that’s not always true. There are more things to consider than the initial cost when it comes to buying outdoor gear.

Let’s say that the $50 dollar tent lasts you two summers before seams start ripping, zippers start derailing, and the roof starts leaking. You figure you got $50 worth of use out of the thing, so you buy another one. Two more years pass and you do the same thing. That $150 dollar tent, however, holds up for a solid ten years before it starts having issues due to normal wear and tear. Over the course of a decade the $50 tent ends up costing you $250 whereas the $150 tent costs you $150.

Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, “In this world, you get what you paid for.” This is often true for outdoor gear. If you pay for a cheap tent, you’re going to get a cheap tent. That’s not to say that good quality gear won’t be affordable. You can often find well made gear at a decent price. But if you’re trying to make the most cost-effective purchase, searching for the lowest price tag isn’t the way to go.

Nicer gear costs more initially, but that doesn’t necessarily make it more expensive. Better quality items last longer, hold up better, and end up being more cost effective, than equipment that is made to be the cheapest option. When you buy better quality gear, you’re making an investment. Not only spending money on better equipment save you money in the long run, it performs better than cheap gear.

Outdoor companies that charge more for their products are aware that they’re competing with companies that make cheaper gear. For that reason, the price tag comes with more attention to detail, better design, better quality, and often times a great warranty.

A lot of outdoor companies back their items with lifetime warranties. Outdoor Research, for example, offers a killer Infinite Guarantee. While these warranties are great to have, most of the time you don’t even need them because the the quality of their gear is so high.

So the next time you’re shopping for outdoor gear, trying to make the most economical purchase, consider the true cost of those items. Those price tags can be misleading.

One Comment

  1. […] Keep in mind that you can’t necessarily trust a price tag when you’re determining the actual cost of an item. You might think that you’re saving money buying a $50 dollar tent, but that’s not always the case. […]

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