Is Cheap Outdoor Gear Really Worth It?

Some people make their buying decisions by choosing the lowest price tag. Cost is definitely a deciding factor, but you shouldn’t necessarily make your choice based on cost alone. Sometimes cheap outdoor gear won’t meet your needs, and it’s not always the most economical option. That doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive equipment out there, however. Here are a few things you should consider before buying outdoor gear or camping equipment.

How will you use your gear?

Are you going to put your gear through months worth of rigorous use in extreme conditions? Or are you only going to venture outdoors on the two perfect weekends out of the year? Heavier use and more exposure to extreme environments require higher quality gear.

If your personal safety depends on the performance of your gear, don’t sacrifice quality just to save a few bucks.

Consider gear quality

Sometimes price reflects quality, but sometimes it doesn’t. You can purchase affordable outdoor gear that’s just as good as some of the more expensive equipment. However, outdoor gear at a low price can sometimes indicates low quality. The best way to truly get a sense of an items quality is by handling it in person. That’s just one of the benefits of shopping in a store vs. shopping online.

Thoroughly examine cheap outdoor gear – check seams, zippers, closures, materials, moving parts, etc. – to make sure that it will hold up.

How do you feel about bells and whistles?

You typically pay more for full-featured equipment. If you can get by without convenience and luxuries, you can often save money on your purchase without sacrificing quality. For example, you could pay $200 for a lightweight and breathable rain jacket with pit zippers, side vents, an adjustable hood, and micro fleece cuffs, or you could pay $100 for a rain jacket without any special features. Both jackets come with a lifetime warranty and will keep you dry in the rain. You have to be careful about that $40 rain jacket, though.

You pay more for features. You can save a lot on outdoor gear if you can forego the bells and whistles.

How important is comfort?

When you break it all down, outdoor gear is basically about providing convenience and/or comfort. The more expensive the gear is the more comfortable, or convenient, your time outdoors will be. Cheap outdoor gear can, in most cases, get the job done, but you might get a little cold in your sleeping bag, or your feet might collect some blisters on the trail.

If you demand the utmost comfort and convenience you have to spend more money on outdoor gear.

View outdoor gear as an investment

In terms of immediate cost, a bag of coffee beans is more expensive than a single cup of coffee from your favorite coffee shop. But in the long run, buying your own beans and making your own coffee is a much wiser investment than buying a cup of coffee every day. This principle applies to outdoor gear as well. Yes, a $40 tent is cheaper than a $200 tent, and if you’re only going camping one time in your entire life, you’re better off buying the cheap tent. However, if you want to start camping on regular basis, that $200 tent will last for 15 years, whereas that $40 tent might get you through a couple of years before you have to buy a new one. Over time, the cost adds up.

Are you buying equipment for a single outing, or are you buying gear for a lifetime of adventures? It’s worth it to spend the extra money on good gear. View outdoor gear as an investment.

Sometimes the cheapest option can suit your needs. Affordable outdoor gear isn’t always cheap outdoor gear. Just remember that there’s more to buying camping equipment or hiking gear than the initial cost. Think about what you expect out of your gear, and consider whether your purchase will meet those needs. We carry everything from tents and backpacks to hiking boots and outdoor apparel. Stop by and see us in Northwest Arkansas, and let us help you find the outdoor gear that’s right for you!

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