/ Do we expect to much from our outdoor gear?
Having worked in various outdoor stores over the past eight years I have seen quite a change in the products sold and the expectations from customers.
Year on year the number of customers returning items they are either unhappy with or think are faulty seems to be growing steadily.
There will always be products that do fail. Fact.
Personally i have always expected to sweat a little whilst slogging it uphill in a waterproof jacket in the pissing rain no matter how "breathable" its claimed to be.
I expect to get slightly damp feet whilst walking all day in a bog.
I expect a pair of winter gloves used heavily for a winter's climbing to get pretty battered or worn.
I accept it as my own fault if i wear a rucksack over my new thin base layer and it causes pilling on the shoulders.
Its bad luck if my shoe laces break after six months.
I walk a little more carefully if my new boots slip on lichen covered wet rock!
I'm pretty stupid if i rip my waterproof trousers climbing over barbed wire.
I'd blame the airline if my new ski bag came off the baggae reclaim missing a wheel.
Shit, my skiing sucks and ive shredded the bottom of my salopettes with my edges!
oops i washed my down gillet and its ruined, oh well i wont make that mistake again.
Get the needle out, i ripped my softshell squirming up a grit chimney in "The Peaks".
Some people need to grow a pair and face up to their own actions or mistakes!
Or are the gear companies and retailers to blame!
Just in a jacket, I expect it to be warm enough to wear year round, on its own, with only a base layer.
Have 3 pockets, all accessible with a harness on, but shall still be able to use as handwarmers when the harness is off.
Not get wet apart from a little sweat.
Be able to climb grit offwidths all day without even a scuff.
When I do have to take it off to go down to baselayer only, I expect it to pack down to around coke can size.
I don't think I'm asking too much, do you?
it only comes in red is this ok for the pub?
> Or are the gear companies and retailers to blame!
Partly, yeh. In the US many stores and companies take gear back for all sorts of stupid reasons and customers there have become to feel entitled about it. Go over to Summitpost and you'll see all sorts of tales about how great it is that Company X replaced some piece of gear, or some shop accepted some return, all because the person didn't like it, it didn't fit or for some minor wear-and-tear niggle.
I'm amazed the companies can afford to do this, and if some of them are struggling, this would not help. I guess for shops this is one service element they can provide which might give them an edge over online sales. But we all pay in the end.
But yes, people are stupid.
i bought this £3500 downhill mountain bike and rode it into the ground and now your telling me it will cost how much to service the shocks, bleed the brakes etc......... oh yeah ive never cleaned it or had it serviced, but at that price it should do itself!
> I expect it to pack down to around coke can size.
Also as competition in the outdoor market increases there is a real need to reduce production costs to stay competitive.
Is this one of the reasons why Arc'teryx charge the ridiculous prices for there gear, lifetime guarantee?
Probably people are also more aware of their rights as consumers as well, and so maybe more inclined to object if something is perceived as 'going wrong'.
It is a bit tricky with some things, though - you can sympathise with someone who has spent £100 on a pair of climbing shoes that they've then worn out in a couple of months. 'Not fit for the purpose they were sold for', they'd likely be thinking, while the manufacturer doesn't go out of its way to explain in its glossy adverts that they are really meant to be sold to people who are better with their footwork, so's not to limit sales.
Consequently I generally know what I'm getting. And never return things because of the hassle and cost.
Clothing is an exception, I buy that in store. Only piece I've returned is where a windproof face fabric started separating from the base fabric after a month.
I'm quite amazed at the durability of many items like climbing ropes.
I do wish there was a market for ultra durable clothing. Would be nice to have a t-shirt that never became holy.
I think that's probably the main reason. That said, I do think many manufacturers are now deliberately making gear that will only last a year or two at most, and using the 'lightweight' excuse to do so.
Cheap, light and durable.
Pick any two.
A woman brought a jacket back recently, a sub £50 white jacket, fault - it was getting dirty too easily. She seemed quite sincere as well and not totally mental; she had the demeanor of someone who had been wronged by us/the manufacturer and was genuinely expecting us to provide her another free jacket and an apology. These types of people have always existed but I think there are more and more "normal" people bringing things back that are worn, footwear in particular. Lightweight trail shoes they've had for 2-3 years and the tread is starting to wear for example (1 this week, so far, they usually come in on Saturdays!)
I think there is a level of blame on the manufactures though, and also on people for suddenly turning gullible. When did we start expecting marketing departments to tell us the whole truth and not exaggerate their products? A customer brought back a sub £100 waterproof back saying it "didn't breath", they were adamant that it wasn't faulty and were angry that we wanted to send it back to the manufacturer for testing. All they wanted was to swap their's for a different jacket. Shops are caught in the middle because when someone ask "does it breath" they expect the answer to be yes, and if the answer is more nuanced than that they go to go-outdoors, read the labels and believe the hype. "But this cheap regatta jacket is breathable and it's half the price of that one they said breathed to an extent in the right conditions". It's a no brainer, the marketing department tells them that the £20 jacket is really breathable so it must be better than that £100 jacket in the other shop.
Manufacturers do big up their products too much, to the extent that people expect a cheap waterproof to breath as well as one costing £400 or to breath as well as a softshell. A lot of customers take some convincing that a non waterproof shoe is more breathable than a gore-tex one! (but that one says "breathable") That's how good their marketing is and how gullible people can be.
> A customer brought back a sub £100 waterproof back saying it "didn't breath", they were adamant that it wasn't faulty
A customer brought back a sub £100 waterproof saying it "didn't breath", they were adamant that it wasn't faulty.
Perhaps there's also a culture now of trying to get something for nothing rather than just accepting that you've trashed it and either fixing it or binning it. That said the number of folk I see with silver gaffer tape on newish outdoor gear would tend to indicate there are still lots of folk who are realistic about expectations.
I suspect that advertising by gear companies is partly to blame but only in so far as the gullibilty of the buyer!
I have returned three items of outdoor kit in my lifetime:
TNF Gore-Tex Jacket - Was "leaking" through one shoulder. Sent back to TNF who gave me a full refund as there was no Gore-Tex in that panel. They were very apologetic.
Patagonia Puffball Jacket - Managed to rip the zip off it. Sent it back for repair assuming they'd charge me and it was replaced free of charge.
Osprey Mutant rucksack - Ripped a compression strap off on my second day of using it. Replaced by manufacturer.
I felt a bit bad over the rucksack but do feel that 2 days was a poor show. I did have skis down the straps ntbexplained this when returning it. They do have pictures of people using it with skis on the advertising so felt I was justified!
The only thing I can't make my mind up about is merino. It seems so fragile, I manage to hole all my merino stuff z quickly and it's quite expensive. It's just so much nicer to wear than my synthetics!
Try the HH merino base layers. Admittedly not as comfortable (i.e. soft next to the skin) as 100% merino but you still get a lot of the benefits with a lot more durability (i.e. temperature control and not stinking). Having abused mine for a good few years I can say they're very tough. The likes of icebreaker and smartwool are lovely but I can't justify spending £50+ on something that wouldn't win in a fight against brambles or would rip if you fell over.
Did you ask them whether they'd tried mouth to mouth?
Pretty well agree with all the OP says. I'd add that I also expect to get a bit wet even in a decent waterproof if I'm walking all day in the tipping rain - nothing dangerous, but the water always gets in or wicks in by some means.
Between us (self and wife), we've sent back three items of kit, all decent stuff from quality manufacturers. These were two pairs of boots which were leaking like sieves, and a pair of waterproof trousers which also leaked, with holes in the Event layer clearly visible. All were replaced with no quibble by the manufacturer.
Based on this experience, and some hassle and delay returning small items (gloves and socks which went into holes very early) to our otherwise excellent local shop, I'd always return stuff straight to the manufacturer rather than the shop. The shop always sent them back to the manufacturer anyway rather than replace them, so we might as well cut out the middle man.
Also how are we as consumers supposed to know if it isn't a manufacturing error.Back to the bag scenario, 11 years ago I was bought a bag, it has lives my life with me, been through lots of abuse and still perfect for any purpose. This year I decided to buy a new one of the same brand but slightly bigger, it didn't last a month. So has the brand gone downhill? Was it a bad item that slipped through quality control? I don't care... Give me my money back... I paid for something that is no good.
Bloody hell, I get through mine in 10 months! would you do me a swap? ;-)
I think on some level it's a response to all the bullshit we get fed by the manufacturers. Free markets work like that, every action has an opposite reaction (perhaps not equal, it's not physics). Maybe over time this kind of treatment will lead to less peddling of cheap crap because they can't handle the returns? Which in turn might lead to consumers being more sensible in the first place... hmmm... I can dream.
> It is a bit tricky with some things, though - you can sympathise with someone who has spent £100 on a pair of climbing shoes that they've then worn out in a couple of months. 'Not fit for the purpose they were sold for', they'd likely be thinking, while the manufacturer doesn't go out of its way to explain in its glossy adverts that they are really meant to be sold to people who are better with their footwork, so's not to limit sales.
Yeah. You see people all the time at the wall doing the equivalent of driving to the shops on track racing slicks. Me for example.
I agree with most the points except the gloves. I expect a 60 quid plus pair of mountaineering gloves to last 2+ seasons with some home repair. I had one pair i took back twice as the outer fabric would start delaminating from the first use and then get steadily worse to a point they were looking pretty bad by half a seasons use. Sure I could have got one season out of them just, but I consider that unacceptable for me normally. The 3rd time I exchanged for another pair that I've been using for about 5 years (with some repairs)
For most items of gear there is probably a ceiling price that it isn't worth going beyond. eg after reaching a certain price for breathable jackets, spending more leads to only marginal improvement in breathability. I doubt I ever get anywhere near the ceiling price though!
I couldn't agree more... I'm the ultimate fix it and make it last as long as possible, to the stage my similar boyfriend throws my things away when I go away.
a tip - spinnaker repair tape (from any good boat shop/ chandlery) is brilliant for fixing rips/ holes in things, is much lighter/smoother/durable that duck tape and comes in all different colours. Add a little bit of glue for certain and you have a bomber repair!
It's what sailmakers use to stick on sails (numbers, wear patches, batten ends, etc) as it is fantastically sticky and durable, without being heavy and stiff like duck tape.
Admittedly you have to buy a minimum of a metre off the roll, but I'm sure if you cut it up into large squares and sell the spare on to others via UKC.
Advertisers certainly have a lot to answer for.
"Guaranteed To Keep You Dry (TM)"
And other similarly cobblers claims.
But there's no doubt that the Consumer has also become much more of a chancer, and will try to return stuff of the flimsiest of pretences. I once saw a woman try to return a large bag of shopping to Sainsbury's. The duty manager was politely explaining that she'd bought it two hours ago, and a lot of it was refrigerated or frozen, and that he really couldn't take it back, and there was no good reason for him to do so under consumer law. She eventually gave up and went away, and I congratulated him on standing his ground, perfectly reasonably and politely. Okay, as a goodwill gesture, he could have agreed, but she really would have been taking the piss.
That said, if it breaks due to poor workmanship within a silly-short timeframe, it goes straight back!
Coming a close second is the woman with a pair of boots she wanted to return as she slipped over on some ice whilst walking to work.
We did explain to her that these were just your bog standard three season walkng boot with a vibram sole and that it would be unlikely that any boot we had would actually stop someone slipping on ice.
She demanded to know "How are people supposed to walk on icey pavements then"? To which a colleague who was walking past just muttered under his breath "Bloody carefully " She didnt stay long enough to be shown some "Petzl Spikeys"
They're all faulty you know
women - not the kit!
No idea why I thought that.
Silva do have a 5 year warranty and offer a paid remagnetisation service though.
The shop, although a Silva dealer wouldn't even help by offering to send it to them for me.
I remagnetised it with a fridge magnet. Tricky but not impossible.
Re durability, I wonder if part of what's happened is that manufacturers have started focusing on weight and "features" over durability because they're easily quantifiable and you can put a thing on your advertising saying "OUR LIGHTEST 35L SACK EVER" or whatever, whereas it's relatively hard to prove that something will last for 15 years without buying it and waiting 15 years.
A good rule of thumb for buying cameras and audio equipment used to be "choose your price range and then pick the one with the least features" - maybe we should try picking the heaviest one?
a slighty content & smug feeling skara ;-)
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