Does brand name really matter? You know the ones, Arc’teryx, Patagonia, Icebreaker Merino, Smartwool, etc.. These brands come with great reputations for high quality products and even larger price tags! The thought of spending $200 on a fleece zip-up is outrageous, but then again, I’m not out summiting massive peaks in -20 degrees, either.
I keep finding myself drawn to these fancy brand names, and I’m certain it’s because my strenuous and often life-threatening trek from my front door to my car requires only the finest of gear. OK let’s be real, I don’t hike, camp, or bike when the weather dips anywhere below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so what’s the deal? I see people everywhere wearing top-of-the-line outdoor gear to the grocery and the mall, but why?
I’ve always been the kind of gal who bargain shops at TJ Maxx (Maxxinista alert!), Marshall’s, Kohl’s, you know the bunch. The cheaper it is, the more likely I am to buy it. However, lately I have been paying more attention to brand names when shopping for serious items such as sleeping bags, tents, coats, and other outdoor gear.
Ultimately, you want to ensure you’re going to be safe in the outdoors, and by purchasing the best of the best outdoor gear, you are doing so. These companies pride themselves in being the best, top-notch, most tested and approved gear producers around. You can curl up in your Marmot Col MemBrain sleeping bag and know that you won’t freeze to death in the middle of your slumber. You can hook into a tough route with Black Diamond Equipment carabiners knowing that you won’t likely plummet to your death!
You will never find me sporting a $200 zip-up on a regular day at the grocery, and I will continue to bargain shop for my everyday clothes, but when it comes to gear that I’m betting my life (sometimes) on, I’ll leave it up to the experts to outfit me for all my adventures in the Great Outdoors.
Find some great gear outfitters for all your foot needs (hiking, running, walking) in John Vonhof’s Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes. You can find the best of the best gear at your local REI or independent outfitter store, or check Backpacker.com for their regular gear reviews and see what the experts are using.