I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the issue of gear durability and value, so I decided to do the following inventory of the gear and clothing that I damaged or destroyed this year.
Like most of you, I wear out, rip, or destroy clothing most frequently, followed by footware, hiking poles, and electronics. The only difference between me and most people is that I do it a little faster since I hike or backpack over 100 days a year. Still these items can be quite costly, so I’m always interested in finding durable and less expensive alternatives.
I also make a point to buy certain items, especially outdoor related electronics, at REI or EMS, which replace defective gear or clothing that falls apart way before I think they should. When zippers come apart on hard shells, pant seams unravel, or other gear fails to function within a reasonable time frame after purchase, I take it back to be replaced or get my money back. These return policies are a godsend to consumers like me who can’t afford to own gear or clothing that is poorly made or designed and can’t withstand normal wear and tear.
SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger: The OK LED light failed. Returned to REI, which replaced the unit.
Montbell Therm-a-Wrap Jacket: Another hiker punctured my sleeve with an ice axe head, in the parking lot. Grrrr. Not leaking insulation, so not a repair priority at the moment.
Patagonia R1 Pullover: Tore a hole in the upper sleeve on a bushwhack. The hole hasn’t grown since, so I haven’t been in a rush to repair it, but I like this sweater and want to keep it. Owned for 3 years.
Patagonia R1 Hoody: The zipper in the chest pocket tore out from overuse. Need to take it to a tailor to be sewed back in. Great winter hiking sweater. Owned for 3 years.
RailRider Ecomesh Pants: Tore a hole in the calf on a bushwhack. Tore out the bottom leg hem on a trail hike. Probably repairable, but I have to get someone else to sew them. Owned for less than a year.
Gossamer Gear MP+/Gorilla Hip Belt: Significant abrasion to hip belt pockets while bushwhacking. Sent feedback to Gossamer Gear. I will probably repair/strengthen the fabric with duct tape and avoid bushwhacking with this these backpacks in the future. Owned for less than a year.
Rab Momentum Jacket: Zipper guard fabric tear. Not really fixable, but also not a serious reduction in performance. This jacket has seen it’s prime and I mainly use it for bushwhacking these days. Owned for 3 years.
Pacerpoles: Bent the bottom section of one of my alloy poles. Need to buy a replacement bottom section. Cool that you can buy spare parts from this manufacturer instead of having to junk the entire trekking pole when you just bend or snap a section of it. Owned for 1.5 years.
Team Golite Cap: Severe deterioration of fabric over hat bill. Might be repairable with seam sealer or duct tape. This hat, sadly, is longer available from Golite. Owned less than a year.
Scarpa Omega Mountaineering Boots: Wore out the insulated Intuition liners, including the duct tape I used to hold them together last winter. Need to buy new liners. Owned for 3 years.
Kahtoola Microspikes: Busted the chains on one of my Microspikes. EMS replaced them with a new pair.
Outdoor Research Celestial Jacket: Tore out front Napoleon pocket, probably on a tree branch. The Goretex Paclite fabric on this coat has always been paper thin. Owned over 5 years, but haven’t used it for the last 4 of them.
Inov-8 Terroc 330 Trail Runners: Blew through another pair. Wore out the tread and tore top of toe kick off in 100 mile wilderness. Bought two more pairs. Love these shoes for hiking. They last me about 6 months a pair.
Katadyn Micropur Chlorine Dioxide Tablets: Got a batch that would not dissolve in New Hampshire or Maine water. REI gave me a refund for 120 tablets and I switched to Aqua Mira Drops instead, which is far less expensive.
EMS Helix Ascent Hard Shell Jacket: The main waterproof zipper on this jacket fell apart. EMS replaced the coat for free with the 2012 model of the same jacket. Owned for less than one year.
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters: Already repaired crampon induced rips and bottom loop attachment points several times. Not worth fixing anymore. Will just buy a replacement pair. Owned for over 5 years.
REI Mistral Softshell Pants: Back seam let go after less than one winter of wear. I’ll probably return them and get another pair. That’s way too early for them to fall apart. Great pants, though.
Golite Reed Pants: Tore out a calf zipper and bottom leg hem on a trail hike in the pouring rain. Bummed. Golite has stopped manufacturing these very lightweight rain pants. Owned for 3 years.
Soto OD-R1 Canister Stove: Stove head rusted out while sitting in damp pot for a few days. This apparently also destroyed the pressure pump. Will probably replace with the same stove – which is really tops. Owned for 1 year.
Under Armour Heat Gear Boxers: Wore through area behind the thighs on two pairs. I’ve had these for a few years and gotten my money’s worth out of them. Replaced with more of the same.