Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to select gear

So here is another guest post from my wife on how she selects gear.

Hi, Farming Mama here to fill you in on our gear selection process!

I spend a lot of time searching before I commit to buying any new gear item. We use our equipment in all sorts of conditions, many of them less-than-ideal, so having good quality sturdy equipment is key. I like making sure we get the most bang for our buck with our gear, and I love finding great deals, but to me great deals don't compromise quality for a low price. I can't remember ever regretting spending a bit more to get higher end gear, however I do have regrets when I compromise on quality due to money. Obviously we do have budget limits, everyone does, but I would rather save for another month than spend my money on something less-than-worthy.

This isn't to say that I just look for the most expensive version of an item and figure its the best of the best. I spend a fair amount of time looking over reviews, checking multiple sites, and scrutinizing gear pictures (some might call it overkill). However, it means I am rarely surprised by the gear that I get, which trust me, is a good thing! I love browsing through all the reviews that can be found on sites like Amazon, REI, Cabellas, Sierra Trading Post, or Columbia (just to name a few online stores I frequent).

So one thing I do is shop around when I look for our gear. I compare prices, taking into account things like shipping fees, in-store credits I might have, coupon codes I can find online for things like free shipping or 10% off. There are a bunch of great resources online to find coupon codes that you can use at on-line stores. One I have used successfully in the past is Retail me not, but if you do a search for coupon codes you come up with a list of many sites doing the same thing - providing free (and hopefully current!) coupon codes for all your favorite online stores.

Another thing I do is always (with the exception of Amazon purchases) shop through Ebates. For those of you who aren't familiar with Ebates, you create an account, search for your favorite store, check out any current coupons or sales at that store, then click the store's link on the Ebates page to get taken through to that store. Once there, you make your purchases, and Ebates reimburses you for a percentage of your purchase. I've earned almost 40 bucks there since joining about a year ago - free money, just for clicking through their links before I pay! Since you can't use Ebates when shopping on Amazon, I try to price check to see if I will get a good amount back (I've gotten up to 10% cashback!) at Ebates and perhaps even free shipping, before I commit to a lower (perceived) price at Amazon.

I also do shop in-store; while we have plenty of wild areas around where we live to use our gear, we aren't able to just do a quick trip across to the local outdoor gear stores and compare prices and brands - there just isn't that kind of selection unless we drive an hour or more away! We shop in outdoor gear stores when we are visiting family, but I still like to go through the same selection process and have the specific brand and style in mind when we go in.

So there you have it, our gear selection process

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