PURCHASE PURPOSE BUILT GEAR!
Let's keep this simple. My best advice to anyone looking to purchase backpacking gear is to keep it activity specific. I've been down the rabbit holes of finding that perfect tent, shoe, or backpack that will do everything for me in one foul swoop and I'll tell you that it doesn't exist. Of course you can make anything work for what you're doing, but if you want your money to buy you happiness and the right gear, ask yourself what it is you're wanting to do with your backpacking adventures. After years of research and a silly amount of money spent on gear that didn't work for me, here are the top three questions I ask myself when buying gear.
WHAT'S MY PURPOSE?
- Am I going to backpack in the snow? If yes, then I need to choose gear that is suited for snow adventures. While you can find a way to survive in the snow using a summer setup, I wouldn't recommend it at all whatsoever.
- Am I going to backpack mostly in the summer? If yes, buy summer weighted backpacking gear. If you think you might one day maybe try snow camping, then still buy summer gear because that's what you'll likely end up doing the most. In doing so, you'll be happier with your setup.
- Does this new backpacking adventure I want to go on require something special? If so, buy that thing on sale, used, or new because climbing a mountain in the snow with the wrong footwear will suck really bad. Again, I'm sure you can find a way to do it, but you risk not having a good time and if you end up hating it then you might never go again. Give yourself a chance to have the best time possible by either borrowing gear, renting it, or getting it used. Be specific.
HOW'S THE QUALITY?
- You don't always have to go with a name brand, but make sure you are purchasing gear from a company that knows what they're doing. There are big brands like Osprey who make great gear which can be found in most outdoor stores and there are brands like Exo Mountain Gearwho are small operations that can't be found in stores. Whatever you do, just do your research and purchase from a reputable brand. They'll have better customer service, higher quality, and far better functionality.
IS THERE A WARRANTY?
- Backpacking equipment is expensive. Make sure your money is spent with a brand that will take care of you if things go wrong. Some brands have better warranties that others, so before you purchase, find some reviews online about the warranty and make your decision. Companies like Vortex Optics are known to have an incredible warranty that doesn't require receipt and that transfers from one owner to the next. As long as the Vortex item is a Vortex item, then you're covered. Understand the warranty and know what you're getting into.