Hiking tents and other equipment: large retail brands or specialty brands?
We need to find a good compromise between reliability, product durability, and price. Sometimes it is better to renew a product which always performs well. But sometimes it is worth buying a quality product that will keep its performance in short time.
The following two questions provide an overview:
Why not buy a cheap tent, low quality?
For the same reason, you do not buy mobile phones 8 to 10 Euros and prefer to buy one at 80 Euros which is “supposed” to be more reliable. You want to avoid problems and loss of time. You do not want to transfer all your mobile numbers to the other each time one of them stops working or end up with a phone that does not work a day you really need.
Hiking, you do not want a shoe sole to peel, a tent that tears, a water bladder leaking, etc.
Imagine for against you buy a plastic utensil which is a fork and a spoon at the same time. You take the first prize and it breaks during the hike. It’s not very annoying! At worst you eat with your fingers …
We must not think only in terms of financial investment. We must also think about the consequences if the product you coward. Do not buy a product “vital” poor quality that could compromise your hikes or your safety if you lose (shoes, tent, backpack, etc.). For other products, do as you wish.
Why not buy the top model tent to keep it very long?
First, the hardware is becoming less reliable and is made to last less long. One reason for this is the reduction of the material. Then the technology will evolve and improve the products, you will be tempted to buy new, more efficient products.
There is some retail of high-quality products. And the price / quality ratio is unbeatable.
Attention in retail stores, you will often find unsuitable for hiking tents – even if you can see the handwriting on the label or a nice picture of a hiker using this product. In retail stores, you can find for example what is called “hiking boots” about 15 Euros.
Also, think about the consequences of the non-reliability of each product you buy. It’s the same as if you were buying a car: it’s not very serious if the paint is peeling, but you do not want a faulty seat belt.
Is that if I buy an expensive big brand, it is necessarily a good product?
Not necessarily. Do not fall into the trap: “This is a great brand, it’s expensive, and so it must be a good product.” This is far from true. Even big brands have poor quality products or low-functioning at a high price.
That is why we must always try the product, read and ask the user reviews and well informed before buying. Do not be too eager when seeing something like cheap tents for sale.
Do not be fooled by brands – do not buy a product for the brand. It is better to buy an ugly backpack, cheap, and average quality which is very comfortable for your body rather than a nice big brand backpack that hurts you. This seems obvious, but many people do the opposite. Many people choose a product first in terms of color, design, and brand.
Is the expensive hardware brand durable?
Conversely, some specialized brand trekking shoes have incredible durability – that beats by far the sustainability of any retail trekking shoes.
So the answer to the question is, generally, yes, but not necessarily. It depends on the product. Good brand sleeping bags (tents) specialized for example often have a better durability than sleeping bags (tents) from supermarkets. But it can be the opposite for waterproof jackets.
When I was a student, after having stolen my hiking shoes (among others), I bought the first prize for “hiking boots” in a retail brand. When walking, a piece of wood made it through the sole to my foot. That’s why I recommend avoiding the first awards for material that could compromise your hikes or your safety if it is faulty.
On the other hand, I had great distribution hiking boots which I was extremely satisfied. For the same quality, I probably would have paid much more expensive in another brand.
My experience of brand products is that there are some that are not worth their price and others I could not replace with retail products because they have a quality and performance that cannot is not in supermarkets.
One last tip that I have discussed in this article before you leave: buy only what you really need. You will not spend money unnecessarily, and will not have to wear these items. In addition, you can use this money to obtain vital equipment better. So the price is not all, do not select a tent just by selecting its price, if you need cheap tents, and do not hesitate to do some research online.