What Do You Look For In Outdoor Gear?

child-with-binocularsAccording to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Americans spend $646 billion in outdoor recreation each year. While much of this is travel, lodging, entry fees, and other accommodations, outdoor gear makes up a big chunk of that number. The OIA estimates Americans spend $120.7 billion on outdoor recreation products. In other words, there’s a huge market for outdoor gear. Of course, a big market leads to a lot of options, and with so many choices it can be difficult to decide on specific products. So how are you supposed to decide which tent, pack, or boots you should buy?

It all depends on what you value most in your products. Think about what you want your gear to be like. Do you want the latest and greatest, or do you want an old standby? Here are some things to think about that can help you choose the outdoor gear that’s right for you.

Cheap

Some people don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. They just want the most affordable thing that can help them get outside. Just remember that this isn’t always the most economical option, however. Sometimes you pay more for cheaper gear in the long run.

Built to last

This is usually the opposite of cheap outdoor gear. Some people would rather buy one pair of boots that last 10 years rather than a new pair of boots every other year. Of course, the higher the quality, the higher the price tag.

Light

Every ounce counts for backpackers and long distance hikers. For many people, weight is a big factor when buying outdoor gear. The truth is, you will often pay more money for lighter equipment. Just decide if it’s worth it to you.

Compact

Space saving items are crucial for backpackers, but they’re not the only people who appreciate compact outdoor gear. Anyone who wants to travel light and fast, regardless of the activity, will appreciate compact gear.

Made in America

There are many different reasons to buy outdoor gear made in the USA. Patriotism, supporting local economies, higher quality, etc. There’s an increasing variety of outdoor gear being made in the states.

Functional

How well does an item do its job? Some people value function above all else.

Multipurpose

Some outdoor gear can be used for many different things. Of course, it might be a watered down version of the tools that it’s combining. Decide whether you value versatility or specialization.

Nifty

Gadgets are cool, and there are plenty of neat outdoor gadgets out there. Some gear certainly has a wow factor, despite lacking in other areas.

Cutting edge

Gear addicts know that outdoor gear companies are constantly improving textile, materials, designs, etc. If you’re willing to pay to stay current on the trends, you can find yourself buying new gear almost every season.

Tried and true

You can find people who still go outdoors with waxed canvas tarps and external frame backpacks. These folks have found something that works for them, and aren’t concerned with keeping up with brand new outdoor gear.

Comfortable

Sometimes comfort trumps all. Some people are willing to pay more for bigger, heavier items, all for the sake of comfort.

Sustainable

How outdoor gear is made is important as well. What’s the country of origin? What are their manufacturing standards? Do they pollute? How was the materials collected? Do your homework on a brand to see if they disclose their practices. Transparency is a growing trend for businesses, so it’s becoming easier to find this information.

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