Manufacturers over-design equipment
There are only a few hardcore climbers and outdoor people that need equipment
designed for the extreme environmental conditions and abuse that most outdoor
equipment is designed to withstand. The rest of us “hikers” need much lighter
equipment designed for the milder environmental conditions and stresses we encounter.
So why do manufacturers continue to over-design equipment?
- For warrantee and 100% satisfaction guarantee reasons, most outdoor equipment
manufacturers over-design their equipment. They don’t want their products
to fail or sully their reputation. Every manufacturer wants their equipment
to be referred to as “bombproof.” In their view, no one should come back and
say “your sleeping bag isn’t warm enough” or “you used cheap, thin fabric
on the shell and it ripped.” Thus, the 3 pound “summer” sleeping bag. It has
a heavy shell that is hard to rip, and lots on insulation to keep you very
warm. No matter that for around 1.5 pounds you can purchase a summer sleeping
bag that will keep you plenty warm, and with proper care last for years.
- Same with backpacks. For around 2 pounds, you can design a perfectly good
backpack that will carry up to 40 pounds (about double what some ultralight
hikers carry for a week.) Yet some highly rated packs weigh in from 5 to 7+
pounds. These packs tout their ability to carry 50 or more pounds comfortably.
Why would you need or want a pack to carry 50 pounds? Why pay $400 or more
for the privilege of carrying an extra 5 pounds?
- In the manufacturer’s defense, there are many novice users who mistreat
and abuse equipment. Equipment over-design is the manufacturer’s attempt to
protect themselves from these neophytes.
- Outdoor equipment resellers compound the weight problem. They recommend
heavy “bombproof” equipment to their clientele. They stay in business with
happy customers who have undamaged equipment.
- For liability reasons, retailers also recommend that you buy lots of equipment.
Retailers are happy just as long as you are safe. The more safety products,
and backup supplies you buy, the more money they make. The less likely that
you’ll encounter problems and accuse of giving them bad advice.
- Also for liability reasons, if there is any doubt, the retailer will recommend
the heavier more supportive hiking boot, the warmer bag, the heavier jacket,
that extra piece of clothing, the larger flashlight that puts out more light
and lasts longer. I have yet to have any sales staff recommend trail running
shoes for day hikes, let alone an extended backpacking trip. I know they’re
thinking of the liability if I sprain my ankle, not of my comfort hiking.