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Best Value Gear Thread - i.e. Bang For Your Buck List


Original Post
mattm · · TX · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,390

In the spirt of the ever helpful "Best Deals" thread (keep it up!), I thought I'd try and start a related thread trying to spotlight "value" gear. I fully realize there are places where you get what you pay for is not only true but life-and-maybe-death important. I have high end kit where I need/want it and see the value. For a lot of what we do though, there's plenty of "Value" or "discount" gear out there that does pretty darn well at a fraction of the cost. The way the industry works, many OEM manufacturers exist that not only provide product to the named brands but also to many much less known brands. I thought I'd start a not so organized list of my discoveries or hints that I've shared with people looking to get into the game on the cheap.

Base Camp: There's Zero need to spend $$$ for a good climbers dirt bag base camp:

Walmart: Yes, we all hate on ole Wally World BUT I've discovered some things there worth a look.
Their Ozark Trail line has several things that I've been happy with.
- Their Insulated Mugs are pretty much identical to the trendy Yeti at 1/4th the cost. The 20oz is the best for keeping coffee warm on cold mornings - $7.75 vs $30.
- No need for a $400 cooler - Coleman Xtreme Marine 70qt is good the VAST majority of peoples needs. $50
- Ozark Trail Tension Chair ($20) - This is the EXACT SAME as the Kijaro chair ($30) that got a best buy from OGL. Really like it as you don't slouch like you typically do in the classic cheapo chairs.
- Glamping for sure but my wife and kids approve: Ozark Trail Camp Shower

If you need Yeti esque coolers - RTIC is a must.

Stoves: Pretty much ALL propane camp stoves are made in one factory. Yes really. The Camp Chef Everest is one of the "best" but often $$$ (you can find sales and deals on it). The Stansport Outfitter 2 Burner is the SAME stove and I've seen it on Amazon as low as $67. (Basecamp by Mr Buddy is another rebranding of the same stove)
While MSR still rules my "must work" needs with the Windburners and Whisperlites out there and GSI makes some nice pots etc, you probably don't need that $$$ for a lowlands romp. There are METRIC TON of OEM rebrands of pots and pans on Amazon. OGL noted this Pot Set for $18. Same goes for small stoves. This "Pocket Rocket esque" Stove is $8! Another branding of the same stove has a TON of positive reviews.

Speaking of Amazon; There is a TON of interesting stuff on there for base camps needs. Cruising around you're sure to find Chinese crap but there are also decent things as well. I have two of these USB LED Lights that I power off a USB power pack and they're GREAT for the camp kitchen and common areas. Far cheaper than GoalZero. Same goes for battery LED lanterns and Headlamps. There's good stuff out there. I've been impressed with
this rechargeable headlamp. Not as polished as BD, Petzl etc but damn good for the price. Flashlight geeks know there's a lot more out there as well.

Clothing Again - Fit, warranty etc could dictate you go "top tier" for certain applications. [I've been impressed with many BD offerings lately]. That said, even though I always buy top tier on sale, I hate beating it up for "daily driver" needs. Costco, Old Navy etc can be pretty helpful here. Costco has Kirkland branded Polartec Fleece for cheap (1/4 zip 100wt is very similar to the Patagonia MicroD). Costco also has the "Gerry" branded down stuff. My kids have beaten the CRAP out of the Gerry line and it's done well. BPL people note the Old Navy Fleece on sale and Uniqlo as options too. Also, don't forget about "House Brands" from the outdoor retailers. EMS, REI, MEC, LL Bean etc all make good stuff that can be found on clearance for a STEAL. This is esp true for the 60g Primaloft Gold stuff and the ubiquitous "Nano" jacket copies. If you don't mind (or even want) the .MIL color scheme, ECWCS clothing can be had for great prices and has some great tech in there.

Climbing Hard Goods Even here, there are good deals to be had. As has been noted on MtnProj before, MANY companies source product from OEMs. Carabiners come to mind - I've really liked the Cypher Echo Line (which WC once offered as their Nitro) The Echo draws were once on sale for $8.50ea but I can't find that at the moment.
Same for slings. Another thread touched upon this - The cheapest 10mm Dyneema/Spectra is the best. They're all pretty much the same.

That's a long post but should get people started with their "value deals".

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

I'll give a +1 for the Old Navy line of synthetic T shirts. I've just been conditioned to stay away from cotton, and the Old Navy active line is very comfortable and is often on sale for less than $10 per shirt. The base layers are also pretty good.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

I have a 4-person Coleman tent that I got for under $100...think it was more like $50. Setup is fine and it kept me dry in a ridiculous KY rainstorm, so it's more than enough for the car camping 90% of climbers do.

Andy P. · · Wisconsin · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 185

My most "value" buys for clothes have come at goodwill, salvation army/other second hand retailers. When it comes to something like a midweight fleece, they are all pretty much the same - although perhaps the secondhand ones might not have that ostentatious but adventure-y looking bicep pouch for your chapstick. So anyway, if you are ok with having your midlayer fleece emblazoned with the name of some local high school's track or dance team, you can get your mid layers for a few bucks each. Do not confuse midlayers with baselayers. Synthetic baselayers bought secondhand will stink forever!

Barrett Pauer · · Brevard, NC · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 775

Goodwill is great for finding Synthetic Tees. No need to spend 70 on a shirt you will trash in just a season or two

JRM89 · · New Haven, CT · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 330

First of all this is a great post!

I would just add to the list that, for those brand name purchases, look seriously at getting AAC membership so you can use the discount. 20% off a lot of big brands makes a huge difference when making larger purchases.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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