So I’m a big proponent of the value in getting what you pay for. I’m not one to just go throwing out money and wasting precious resources. Trust me…i’m the first to hop on and look for a good deal. A lot about this term can be misread or misinterpreted but allow me to clarify and explain my experience over time.
It’s GREAT to get a good deal on a product from a long standing and reputable brand. Very rarely have I found that similar products from knock off companies or producers ever stand the test of time or quality. If the quality was never there to begin with then it certainly will not stand up to the test of time. Outdoor products are probably more revealing than almost any other industry when it comes to quality and truly getting what you paid for.
Outdoor products, if used as intended, will endure a great deal abuse over time no matter how well you take care of them. Ultraviolet rays, mud, grit and dirt, water and temperature extremes can take a toll on any item regardless of its intended usages. The more exposure something has to the aforementioned elements, the more likely it is to be degraded over its lifespan.
That’s why I believe that when purchasing outdoor gear, it is paramount that you get something from a reputable company that knows a thing or two about the outdoor industry. In addition to quality and standards, a company that has been in business over the years usually has a great customer service department. As we explore this topic, I’m going to use the essential waterproof shell for example.
My first “waterproof purchase goes back to my freshman year in college. I was riding a bike to class a couple miles every day and i needed something to keep me from getting wet on those rainy days. So one day as I was strolling through Target I noticed a really cheap “waterproof” jacket. Being the poor college kid that I was I figured it would be perfect for my needs and it was simple and stylish enough. A navy blue lightweight rain jacket. Thats should do the trick!
My firs trip to class in a a few weeks later would be the first lesson of many. I think I paid somewhere in the ballpark of $15 for this thing. What a steal for something “waterproof”.
So as I was pedaling up and down the rolling hills of Lexington, KY to my classes at the University of Kentucky I worked up quite a heart rate. I was usually running a little late and always tried to make up some time on the trip there on the bicycle.
It was a light drizzly fall rain. Nothing too extreme so the jacket from Target should really shine on its maiden voyage. Much to my surprise when i got to class and removed the jacket water poured out of the sleeve and onto the floor. My clothes were completely soaked and I was baffled as to what happened to the performance of my fresh new coat.
That’s when it hit me. This jacket was waterproof…but certainly not breathable. When you garments don’t breathe you are certainly to get that 1980’s spacesuit effect. Copious amounts of moisture from SWEAT! That’s right. It has no place else to go so it accumulates inside of your brand new “waterproof” jacket.
First lesson learned. Don’t buy a non breathable garment for rigorous outdoor activity wear. Granted this jacket would probably be fine for some old man who simply needs something to keep him dry from his truck to the barber shop but this thing has no place on the body of an active 18 year old.
Fast forward a few months when I was able to save up some money for a real brand. A Marmot Precip jacket. Not exactly top of the line but certainly breathable and waterproof which is all I really needed right?
Well, I paid less than $80 for the jacket and it served me pretty well over the years for the price but it definitely lost some of its waterproofness over the years. It began to easily wet out and then the dampness seemed to soak through. In addition, the inside of the jacket has begun to delaminate which further adds to the problem. I am currently in talks with Marmot’s warranty department to see if it’s even worth sending back in for repair and if they charge to fix it anyway.
So this brings me to final point. I purchased a waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex shell from the fine folks at Arc’teryx. All I can say is that this simple shell has been my go to pice for years on end. I even layer underneath of it and take it up on the mountain snowboarding sometimes. It has remained tried and true. Never had an issue and it’s always kept me high and dry.
On the other hand, it was NOT cheap. I think I paid somewhere in the ballpark of $275 for it. A pretty penny for such a petty looking piece of fabric. Bit one thing is for certain…it has been worth every penny spent. No more getting more soaked by body fluids than drizzle. No more damp shoulders from a leaky unreliable fabric and no more worries about ever having to repair it.
Yes i paid more for it but I know that if something ever malfunctions or degrades that Arc’teryx will totally take care of me. I recently sent back an old EasyRider soft-shell jacket that I’d had for more than 12 years. The bottom of the coat where the elastic waist cinches shit had begun to tear away. I inquired about a repair and they simply told me to send it in clean.
No proof of purchase…no hoops to jump through. About three weeks later I had my jacket back as good as new.
So my point is I spent nearly $100 on junky jackets that haven’t served me very well. Yes the Arc’teryx cost about two and half times that but had i never bought the junk ones to start out with I would have cut the cost of a waterproof jacket down by $100. So instead of having $350 in a jacket that finally works I could have just bought that one in the first place and saved myself an the extra money and more importantly the extra pain in the ass. My $250 jacket has been doing just fine for the last 10 years. Not to mention I didn’t even pay that for it. I actually got it for free through the Moosjaw Rewards Program. Even still, I would spring for the “expensive” coat anyway over the others.