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Gear Quality question?


chris54
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I was talking with a buddy about brands of clothing and gear. He's a big spender when it comes to gear and I typically by whats mid range and on sale. (aka. TNF) Do you guys think arcteryx, Patagonia, and other high end brands are really that much better? I know there's a lot of factors involved fit, durability ect.. But for your weekend climber is it worth the money or is it just wanting the so called best and looking the coolest.

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A bit of a mixed bag, and it depends greatly, but I would answer with a qualified yes. I used to not think so. Then I burned through the cheaper brands while the more expensive pieces still are holding up. Can't speak to dead bird clothing but their packs are pretty stellar. The thing is, you can get some of the primo brands for cheap if you have pro deals or find the sales. So, if you can get a "primo" brand for almost the same price as a second tier brand, why not right?

And to answer your question more directly, for a weekend climber, who obviously climbs less than some, quality is obviously less important because wear will be less.

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I always shop by evaluating each item individually. Some things like Gore Tex should be name brand for best performance, not the clothing company but the material.

 

Some things have a superior design like Nomic ice tools. Other things like packs I go by weight. Other things like ropes it's a specific feature like edge protection, that not many manufactures offer.

 

Lots of times it helps to go on-line and see what other people think. Typically you get what you pay for, like a Patagonia base layer costs more than the REI house brand but it lasts longer.

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I have had pants from North Face and Columbia, both wore out a little earlier than I would like but after hard use (you really shouldn't glissade on ice with softshell pants), and in both cases I sent them back to the manufacturer hoping they could be repaired for a small fee and was instead sent a brand new pair at no charge. Can't really complain about that

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I was talking with a buddy about brands of clothing and gear. He's a big spender when it comes to gear and I typically by whats mid range and on sale. (aka. TNF) Do you guys think arcteryx, Patagonia, and other high end brands are really that much better? I know there's a lot of factors involved fit, durability ect.. But for your weekend climber is it worth the money or is it just wanting the so called best and looking the coolest.

 

For over 25 years, until my kids were in school and finances looked stable I went with wool from the Goodwill or homemade GoreTex. Worked fine. I don't know who is state of the art, but I just grabbed a Patagonia Nano Puff, and I'm just shocked at how awesome it is. (F%%$K the kids, they're on they're own these days:-)

 

Buy the best you can afford, you only spin around once and then it's into the dirt with ya. That's all I have. I was hoping that guys like Frieh, Sol, Dane, Mikey et cetc would chirp in here...even if they might be getting the free stuff.....

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It really depends on the piece of gear IMO.

 

I have found that Patagonia stuff fits me well, lasts forever and is made with an eye towards environmental sustainability and non-sweatshop conditions (read Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard). It costs a pretty penny, but I buy a lot of stuff used and get it for far less than retail. I have nothing but good to say about Arcteryx too, I have an Alpha Comp Jacket that has held up better than almost every other jacket I own despite me wearing summer and winter. The other products I own from them have been excellent quality, again, bought almost all of it used.

 

That said, I would never buy things that wear out quickly, like gloves, from Arcteryx.It simply costs too much to replace them as often as I need to. I have found companies with solid warranty plans like OR are a better bet.

 

I also know there are great companies out there like NW Alpine which make, from what I hear, great gear at a reasonable price. My experience with lower end gear has been mixed, Lowe Alpine stuff seems to disintegrate and MEC stuff is pretty poorly made but backed with a really decent warranty.

 

 

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I learned the hard way very early in my back country traveling that it is always best to have the best you can get. Nothing worse than cheap gear failing you a few days into a long, wet/cold trip.

 

I think the newer TNF stuff is much cheaper in quality than when they were on the cutting edge. However, I've had remarkable success sending back gear than was 10, 15 or 20 years old and was always sent a current replacement or gift card of equivalent $ to spend at a TNF store. For example - I returned an original TNF Gortex "Windy Pass" jacket (retail about $100? at the time) that came out as one of the first Gortex products in the mid 80's. I returned it in the late 90's because it leaked at the seams. They sent me a brand new Mt Guide (retail $450 at the time). I then used that for another 15 years, sent it back due to leaky seams and they sent me a $450 TNF gift card, which I took to the TNF Outlet store and bought a Red Point synthetic puffy, shoes for me and the gal, a rain shell and a down micro-puffy. So, the original $100 (or whatever from the first purchase) is still serving me today. I lose the lifetime warranty on all the items I bought at the TNF outlet as they are considered "seconds". Still, I think I've gotten more than my original investment and then some. Their gear has served me well over all that time, too. I like other brands better but you can't beat the service TNF has given me.

 

My opinion is that if you pay over $400 for a coat, pack, or whatever that you can buy a cheap one for less than$100, the company should stand behind the product. Returning used gear is an art form. I suggest if you plan to cash in on the life time warranty, write nice letter and let them know what a great company/product they have and all the cool ways you have used and benefited with the product. Let them know of the "issue" after schmoozing them up a bit. I don't always get a brand new replacement product/equivalent, but probable do 9 out of 10 times.

 

Patagucci is really nice but pretty pricey. I have finally been able to acquire some in the past few years and like the durability of the gear I have so far. I also like Marmot, Black Diamond, MSR, OR, Metolious, Cascade Designs, Sierra Designs & a few other brands that usually have great service if you have a problems.

 

Dane has a good blog with lots of product reviews you can dig up here as well.

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I'm still perdy new to all this real climbing stuff, but even in my first year of alpining, I'm seeing the benefit of the pricey manufacturers. First of all, it's better designed... better arm freedom, better pocket location and orientation, better compatibility with other climbing equipment- hoods that fit well with OR without helmet, for instance- and not least of all, lighter. Weight is everything.. and my Theta shell is about half the weight of my last gor shell. And even being an older model (bought used on MP, like 90% of my gear), and having been drug up a number of climbs, it's still in almost mint condition, somehow. That part really baffles me.

 

I can't afford any of this stuff... I've been fighting a pretty severe unemployment (not the insurance kind) addiction for the last couple years, and have suffered more relapses than I can count. So I just buy used.. I've had great luck, and get great deals. I just watch diligently, and when something I've been looking for pops up at a decent price, I don't haggle. "I'll take it. What's your paypal address?"

 

Good luck

 

-Ben

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In a word, yes. As others have said, the high-end stuff generally fits and performs better, and lasts longer.

 

Except gloves. High-end, expensive gloves make no sense to me, unless you can get them cheap or equal to other gloves, in which case they tend to fit that little bit better.

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Sounds like Patagonia's the shit! Do you guys think arcteryx and other companies that went over seas with their manufacturing lost quality in their products? Is Canadian made really better than chinese made?

Im just a weekend climber that gets out about once a month. I haven't wore to many things out and honestly can't see a difference. I have these discussions climbing with buddies and I'm wondering what some of the masses think.

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I have various softshells - Outdoor Research and Mountain Hardwear, Arcteryx Gore Tex shell, Mountain Hardwear waterproof Conduit jacket, Outdoor Research Primaloft Hoodie...From my experience getting the best shit you can afford is worth it. I have used all of it at some point on Mountain Rescue missions and training, as well as for personal climbing and have no complaint about any piece. It's comforting to know you can count on the stuff when it matters. As far as Arcteryx, I like the technical fit of their jackets.

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Really a bunch of climbers and there's not one person arguing for el-cheapo clothing?

What happened to the DIY spirit of climbing? Weren't folks making their own nuts at one point?

 

Some gear is worth spending the cash and getting good stuff, other things are not. Your calculations should be your own based on your uses and desires.

 

As a weekend-warrior alpine and crag climber I'm really happy with the salvation army wool, EMS/REI brand base layers and fleece, and work pants that I climb in. My shells are the cheap outdoors companies, my sleeping bags cheap, and my tents and sleeping pads cheap. My puffy- not so cheap, but I love it.

 

I've done alpine climbs, lots of cragging, long backpacks, bike trips, canoe trips etc with this set-up. I do forestry work with this gear to- not really just a fair weather weekend warrior.

 

Cheap and mid-range clothing is just fine for me.

 

check out the subject of this post:http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1060543/Re_even_Fred_knows#Post1060543

dont see any dead birds on his clothing.

 

-Nate J

Edited by Nate J
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I'll bite.

 

I have taken cheap gear on climbs in bad weather for years. In a lot of circumstances - most in my view - cheap rubber coated raingear paired with a windbreaker is a better choice than a $300 goretex jacket and, for shelter, a cheap tarp with rocks on one side and cord tied around the other for pull-out anchors can be better than a $500 tent. For most outings, salvation army pants are as good as those you might pay $100 for at the "bargain" website, and I have been warmer and drier when skiing when wearing used dress slacks than have my friends in goretex, on occasion.

 

But good gear is good gear. Patagonia, Arcterx or whatever, is good stuff.

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Some companies seem to spend more time, money and effort in their designs (articulation, streamlined fit, no velcro where it will eat away at fabric, etc.), fabric selection & testing. If a company is constantly obsoleting their old designs to come out with "new and improved" ones then I am usually sceptical that the changes are for the better (most likely made just to keep up with new trends, colors, or to reduce costs).

 

11 years ago I bought an REI hard shell jacket that was showing significant wear fabric wear after just a few trips. A year after that I bought an Arc'teryx Alpha SV jacket that I bought on clearance and it still looks brand new after wearing it in the mountains and city for many days. And the jacket fits better than any other I have ever tried on. Arc'teryx still makes this jacket and from what I can tell the design is quite similar... a few seam changes, less fabric overlap at the seams, newer generation of goretex, etc. Why change something that works and fits great!

 

The REI mistral pants 1st generation were made with a Schoeller fabric that has held up really well and their design was great! Only downside is that the type of stitch that they used seems to separate easily so I have had to have them repaired. The newer generation of these pants use a non Schoeller fabric and have been defeatured so that they look more like city dress slacks.

 

In the end, choose carefully and when you decide what you want wait for it go on sale.

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It's all about a thousand times better than the gear used bitd to do all manner of badass ascents. Or, to quote the epitaph below the old windsurfing pic on the wall of Bart's Better Boards Consignment Shop in HR, "...the gear then was better than you are now"

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i'll chime in as admittedly more gearminded than climb-prowess-capable than i'd like:

 

a vast majority of it comes down to the user. I recall somewhere in Virginia on the AppyTrail a buncha folks a shelter one evening chatting about tarptent and granitegear backpack..and this light weight and that awesome gear yada yada.. meanwhile Bryan and Glynn, quiet types who stuck to themselves, identical twins from rural TN or West Virginia who were hiking with a 85L Osprey pack and 1 monster army Alice pack..sharing a wool blanket and heavy foam for bedding..they were bummed that their el cheapo can opener broke cause most a their food was canned and not dehydrated (yes...carrying canned food for 60-80 miles stretches). Those two guys were dirt poor, never complained, always positive, had ancient HEAVY gear, and finished the entire trail without a problem.

 

clothes wise you can get by cheaply if you are mindful. If you're huffing it hard uphill in a misty 100% humidity cloud.. when its 36 degrees $25rubber jacket and a $400 goretex/event shell.. the 'breathability' factor only goes as far as what venting is available.. you'll be at the nearly the same level of discomfort with both. That said you can find 'ideal' conditions that the more expensive piece will be more comfortable, but, it is highly unlikely to make/break your experience in any discernible factor. What you ate, how much you slept, and how in shape you are, and your mental disposition affect the vast majority of your experience of 'things working' when it comes to your personal gear/choices. My experience is the trend is most 'more expensive' gear does seem to last a bit longer. Not all, and certainly there are exceptions and spectacular failures. Cheaper stuff does tend to have smaller margins of lifetime/abuse potential, but there are spectacular successes too..where a $15-50 item outperforms and outlasts all others. For weekend warriors the failure of a singular clothing item has about nill result in your success or failure. But if I'm doing some expedition/multi-day far from retreat type thing, I do want gear that I feel confident about.

 

that said there are certain margins where good gear/bad gear can certainly matter. A crappy tent not made for the occasion being subjected to 35mph+ sustained and 50mph+ gusts above treeline indeed is liable to fail. I often use a bi-mart bought gardening kneel pad as my 'foam' sitpad. A heavy backpack is just a heavy backpack. A sleeping pad R value is just an R value, and the difference may be weight. A cheapo synthetic sleeping bag is just heavier and bulkier than the $400+ 800-900fill power down equivalent. A cheap gas stove is probably as reliable as an expensive one or MSR reactor, maybe more. Its just heavier and maybe slower. Goggles/glasses are just goggles/glasses.. a goodwill wool hat or a $35 MH windstopper hat lined with special fleece... is just a piece of textile to keep your noggin warm.

It has been my impression that the strong (and somewhat stoic type, it seems) can get by with pretty much whatever, so long as the basics are securely covered-with nary batting an eye. Their mind is not on the flextrek 37,000,000,000,000's augmentation system, hypercooling spectral channels, or the dynamic-fiber ergo jerkmeoff system.. ..there is often sooooo much goddamn stupid marketing hype about gear each year. it is why i love Feathered Friends/Western Mountaineering and a handful of other cottage/shoulder gear companies that just have a design that works and don't try to glitz me over every season with the diarrhea pull-tab they added that is trying to make me think I can actually climb stronger. i wish those fuckers would sell good conditions, good weather, good partners, and days off work.

 

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This is starting to sound like the fitness vs technique debate on Dane's blog.

 

Yes, it can be done in wool and corduroys.

 

But, also, yes, it will be more fun with the best there is.

 

I've done both. I used to be a poor student with no money who used the cheapest gear I could find. I did some crazy shit back then. I still have the ex-military wool pants and boots, probably a sweater kicking around somewhere.

 

Now I've got the latest and greatest, and it's just plain more fun. I don't get wet, sweaty or overheated. I don't worry about my clothing too much, as it just plain works. Wet snow, dry snow, wet ice, dry ice, I wear the same system of softshell and hardshell.

 

I've a friend who's very 'Maritimes' - i.e. pretty damn old school. He prefers his wool sweater to a fleece / softshell top for climbing in, most of the time. Yet the pair of Arcteryx softshell pants he bought on my recommendation is, in his words, "the best $200 I've spent this season on climbing gear" (this was before he upgraded to Nomics, though).

 

Buy the best you can afford (look for deals, though!). You won't regret it (probably).

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consider that the "top climbers" in the world use an assortment of brands between em ... whoever sponsors them ... and they can still climb at that level ... i dont know anyone who says "i cant do this climb because im not wearing this brand" ...

 

as an example eddie bauer first ascent is fairly new on the scene and not considered "top quality" ... yet it goes to everest, antarctica and quite a few good climbers use it ... you can google who ...

 

make yr judgement from there ...

 

what i know is that with my godawful climbing ability, brands are the least of my worries ... the money i save for gas is much more important ...

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If you want bonus points for suffering, go with itchy wool and hemp ropes and an old school foam pad.

 

Or, get the best gear that offers comfort & performance in sometimes even life depending situations.

 

Shop for bargains, buys used, work the written warranty system and next thing you know, you too can be a card carrying gear whore. Capable of pulling some excellent gear out of the most surprising places.

 

Lastly, take excellent care of your gear. I find that when I am conscious about protecting my outer wear, I actually climb more gingerly, softly, delicately and my ward robe shows it. ;)

 

 

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I have a hard time paying 100$ bucks for a pair of Nike running shoes when Nike makes a 50$ shoe that works just as good. I get the buy cheap buy used. But at some point your paying for marketing and not performance. I agree that arcteryx stuff fits great, but mountain hard wear,first ascent soon copy the design for much cheaper. So I think buying the best in some cases is being taken for a little money. Although if you have the time to find screaming used deals. Why not have the latest and greatest.

 

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MH is used by a certain piolet d'or recipient and many other good climbers

 

first ascent is used by quite a few famous high altitude climbers and guides

 

like i said ... look at all the "brands" being used and what people do with it ... and i suggest that its the person, not the brand, that allows them to do what they do ... as long as the gear works and is decent

 

if the top climbers can use different brands between them, some not considered "top quality" ... you be the judge

 

 

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