Through different jobs, I’ve been helping people get outdoors and go camping for over 10 years. I’ve started a series to pass the information I’ve learned by camping, and talking about camping, for a long time with you. You can read the first part of the series here – Car Camping With Your Dog 101 Pt.1 – Getting a Campsite. The next post in the series will be about what you need to bring with you.
Before I have the conversation about WHAT to bring, I want to be clear on one thing first. You don’t have to break the bank to have a sweet camping setup.
I always deter people from spending a ton of money on gear or equipment if they’re not sure they like camping. Renting gear is not an option in some places, and not everyone has friends with gear they can loan (or gear at all) so my best suggestion to those venturing out into the woods for the first time is to buy mid-quality stuff cheap.
You don’t want to head to Walmart and buy the cheapest thing you find. It’s important to have decent quality gear your first time out so you don’t end up miserable and swear off camping forever (oh, no. Don’t do that!). Also, why waste your money on something that won’t hold up long enough for you to sell it if you change your mind?
I suggest that would-be-campers buy their gear and equipment from a discount website. There are a lot of sites out there. Some only offer a minimal discount. Some offer discounts on products that didn’t sell well in stores – that no one wanted to buy because they kind of sucked and that you’re probably not interested in either. Some sell gear that is made in China or other Asian countries.
Now, the thing about stuff made in Asia is, whether you know it or not, a lot of “American” outdoor brands have their stuff made there because of the growing demand for their products coupled with time, staffing, space, and cost constraints. They also do it to remain competitive in their market. Some of my favorite brands, which I find to be VERY high quality, make all of part of their product line in Asia. Examples are:
- Osprey Packs, of which I own 5 of, are made in Vietnam (source)
- Snowpeak, the maker of my favorite camping stove, is proudly made in Japan
- Black Diamond, the super awesome maker of headlamps, runs factories in China, in addition to their U.S. factories (source)
- Arcteryx, who makes the best rain jackets in the world and is one of THE top outdoor brands in my mind, outsources to factories in China (although most of their stuff is still made in Burnaby, BC.) (source)
(If you are interested, read this article about how manufacturing practices in China have improved over the years)
Now, I’m not saying that the products you find on a discount site with products from Aisia have products directly comparable to these high-end brands. These brands take great pride in their products, and have long-standing reputations to uphold, so they are usually very involved in the sourcing, manufacturing, and quality control process. However, the flip side of buying products from these big brands is that you are also paying extra for this process, the brand “name”, and the cost of marketing, free stuff they provide to outdoor athletes they sponsor, etc.
I recently discovered a new site to me – GearBest – when they contacted me and asked me to share their discount site with you (they are fairly compensating me for my time to do so but I don’t right about anything I won’t stand behind).
You can certainly find what, by my standards, is descent quality camping gear on discount sites that sell stuff made in Asia though. For example, GearBest, sells this anodised aluminum cookware set that looks almost identical to the “name brand” one I paid over $50 for. This inflatable, ligtweight sleeping pad looks very much like the one that set me back almost $150. This tent looks like the first love-of-my-life tent that I spent time in for well over 5 years but it’s about 1/5th of the cost I paid for mine.
GearBest even has me, a gear snob, rethinking where I buy (and how much I pay) for some of my hiking and camping equipment.
Do you need equipment to go camping for the first time? Are you a seasoned camper that needs a few updated things but don’t want to break the bank? GearBest might be a great resource for you.