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#188303 - 12/30/14 05:15 PM how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? *****
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
While immersing myself in research prepping for my trip to Kisatchie, I can't help but notice that Ozark Trail seems to have some products that appear comparable to more expensive brands at half the cost or lower. For example, I've seen a sleeping bag rated to 20 that stuffs down to under 2lbs for $40. I realize that they probably sacrifice weight and durability, but I think I really just need a year out of them to figure out what works for me and what I like. With that thought in mind, paying $50 for a 45L backpack that I'll use for a year before upgrading seems attractive, considering my budget (just moved into a new place). Does anyone have experience with gear from this price point? How durable does it tend to be? I'm not too worried about weight, because I was in college drumline and has 30+ lbs hanging from my back on a daily basis.

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#188304 - 12/30/14 06:07 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
You're making the assumption it will last a year, and actually work. If you're only using it two or three days a year, you might be OK. You're also assuming the specs are accurate. A 2-pound bag will only be warm to 20 degrees if it's 800 or higher fill power down - My Western Mountaineering Alpinlite is a true 20-degree bag and weighs 2 pounds - and costs $500+. No way will an Ozark Trail bag equal that for $40. I'd bet it's more like a 40-50 degree bag, if you're lucky. And, since their stuff does tend to sacrifice weight and compactability to save money, the 45 liter pack won't be anywhere near large enough - think 70-80 liters. If you use this gear for a year, you won't figure out what you really want - you'll just come to one of two conclusions: "I don't want to backpack; it's uncomfortable, cold, and no fun" or "Anyhting has to be better than this junk."

Personally, I think you'd be better off taking the same amount of money you'd spend on such cheap junk, go to REI or your local outfitter, and rent a good quality tent, pack, sleeping bag, and pad and, if possible, stove. One or two weekends with decent gear and you'll quickly figure out what you really want. (If you can't rent a stove, try to borrow one from someone; if that doesn't work, buy a Snow Peak Gigapower or MSR Pocket Rocket - both are good three-season stoves, each costs $40, and either one will give you years of trouble-free use.)

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#188305 - 12/30/14 06:59 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Mr. Jowee Offline
member

Registered: 11/18/13
Posts: 34
It's really a "get what you pay for" scenario up to a certain point. That pack is probably worth every cent of $50. It will get the job done, sure. But it might not be as comfortable, will be lacking features that you might really want, might not breathe as well, and just might not fit your body. I hiked for the longest time with a Jansport 50L backpack, and didn't know what I was missing until I stepped up in price (and quality). Like glenn said, that 20 bag probably won't really keep you warm at such a low temperature. How low can it go? Well, do you want to find out that it can't even get the job done when it's 31? Thats the low tonight in Alexandria, btw.

A good middle ground between big box stores and cottage vendors are sporting goods stores. A tent (or tarp, bivvy, hammock system, whatever) might be hard to find, but there should be a better selection bags and backpacks. Not the best stuff in the world, but certainly a step up. Beyond that REI is a great source for just about all of the extras you might need, and Campsaver.com can have some pretty good deals.

If you wanted to go nuts Massey's in New Orleans has a staff that knows what they're talking about and can actually fir you for a pack. Pricey though, and they don't have a very good selection of shelters (they carry a lot of brands and can order just about anything).



Edited by Mr. Jowee (12/30/14 07:17 PM)

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#188306 - 12/30/14 07:49 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Mr. Jowee]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
Do you know if Massey's does rentals?

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#188307 - 12/30/14 08:00 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
Mr. Jowee Offline
member

Registered: 11/18/13
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By Roastduck
Do you know if Massey's does rentals?


Dunno. They rent kayaks, so I guess it's possible.

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#188308 - 12/30/14 08:09 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Mr. Jowee]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
There are a few locations in baton rouge, so I'll call them tomorrow and ask.

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#188310 - 12/31/14 08:21 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
I'm going to call a spade a spade: Ozark Trail is the walmart-version of pretty looking colorful junk. If you really want it on the cheap just type it in the Search Field on Craigs List and you can find a month old tent for 20% of the cost and frankly it's not worth it even then in most cases.

I camp roughly 25-30 weekends a year, some overnights, some 5 day runs. As I live right on the doorstep of Great Smokey Mountains National Park (IE: Appalachian Trail country) I get a chance to see a few bits of everything out there from car campers to thru-hiking rigs. Ozark is definitely in the "Let's try this for a weekend of car-camping, learn how much we hate camping because the gear is all uncomfortable, we froze our butts off, the zippers screwed up, tent leaked, etc.." category of "I tried camping once and will never ever do it again" gear. If you want to make sure you don't go camping again, feel free to 'invest' in a camping-free future.

Yes. It's that bad.

I also have a Western Mountaineering Alpinelite and yes it's a $555 bag day in and day out, but it's also a 25-30 year bag at a true 20 degrees (tested it down past that a few times). I also have a north Face Cat's Meow rated at 20 that's really about a 30-35 degree bag. Keep in mind, there is no true regulations for these. They can take a burlap sack and call it a 20 degree bag and no law will tell them differently. There are ratings systems and some will list their extreme ratings, as in "it might keep you alive and from having your appendages fall off due to frost bite but you are going to be miserable until the search and rescue team finds you" and they will list that as their rating (IE: Ozark Trails), or the better ones and cottage vendors will use their comfort rating where an average person of average build will have an enjoyably toasty night at their ratings (Western Mountaineering, MontBell, etc.)

You do not have to go nuts on the gear but do your homework.

Tent wise? I've seen plenty of the Ozark stuff at car camping sites. Some of it lasts a weekend, some of it 3-4 weekends. After that it's usually heading to the dump with leaks, broken poles, torn zippers, etc. It really is that bad.

If you are on a budget and want to have gear that lasts try Eureka!'s and Kelty's lower end models. Both are a bit heavy for average long hikes but are durable. (I still have a Eureka! 2-man tent I use regularly that I bought in 1988. Yes, 26 years ago! It now rests alongside Mountain Hardware Optic 3.5 which is a very nicely priced tent and a Big Agnes Slater UL3 which is among the KaCHING variety. Both are excellent at what they do but you don't have to start there. If you can find a used Optic 2.5 or 3.5 or a used Big Agnes Copper Spur, etc. you are in the game!)

I know this is probably running on but frankly if you want to give it an honest try and have an outcome where you and your companions will want to go again it's worth INVESTING in some decent gear. If you have a local outfitters that can rent it? Bonus! You don't have to shuck out lottery winnings to have fun if you know where to hunt and look. Just make sure if it's on Craigslist it's worth the money.

One surprise cheapie that works just as well as the big boys is this little steel stove. I have 2 MSR MicroRockets that sit nicely in my Pinacle Dualist and Soloist cook sets, and then I tripped across this one several times on the trail. It's usually around $8-10 brand new to your door and works just as well and is just as small (ditch the plastic case). It even has built a built in igniter where the $40+ MSR doesn't. I don't normally link things like Ebay but there are several vendors who sell it.
http://tinyurl.com/ph955ub

Good luck!

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#188314 - 12/31/14 04:33 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: AdventureMyk]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Thank you for saying what I really wanted to say, but decided to err on the side of not trying to scare him off.

You're exactly right. I've seen a bunch of Ozark trails stuff in various states of collapse or abandonment in the car campgrounds and dumpsters, and have awoken well-rested after a good night's sleep to see the folks using it huddled around a fire trying to get warm after freezing their butts off in their "20 degree" bags on a 40 degree night. I've also carried out some of their stuff after it transformed itself into "litter" by failing someone along the trail.

As far as good quality gear in the lower ends of the price spectrum, Eureka is a reliably good brand, as are Kelty and Sierra Designs. You won't find really lightweight offerings in their lines, but they aren't crushingly heavy. REI and Campmor both offer house brands that are excellent quality, reasonably light, and reasonably affordable. (In fact, if I didn't already have fairly high-end gear or were just starting out, I might be looking at REI brand gear - they have some interesting-looking stuff.) However, if I were just starting out, I might also be looking heavily at "cottage" makers like Six Moon Designs and Tarptent, too.

I'd stay away from WalMart, and probably also avoid big-box places like Dick's, Gander Mountain, Pro Bass, or Field and Stream (one just opened across the street from my office; I probably should go in some time. Naaaah.)




Edited by Glenn Roberts (12/31/14 06:01 PM)
Edit Reason: additional thoughts

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#188317 - 12/31/14 08:57 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I'm a big proponent of buying used gear. I've posted about this before so you might find my posts using search. Buying used takes time to research what you want, then looking for it on eBay or Craigslist, or local second hand shops, but it can be worth it. Used outerwear can be found sometimes at Goodwill, Salvation Army or similar shops. I'd rather buy a good bag for half price than pay retail for a cheap one. I have a very nice Marmot bag I got off Craigslist. A trip to the cleaners and it looks new. A lot of gear and clothes sells because of trips that don't happen, are a one time adventure or people just lose interest. I got my parka from someone who planned a trip to Alaska that didn't work out. It was and still is like new. I have a fairly long list. My latest find is a new (never worn as far as I could tell) Marmot ski jacket. Retail $300; I paid $50 in a shop that sold clothes from films and tv shows. My point is look around, you never know what you might find.


Edited by TomD (12/31/14 09:04 PM)
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#188318 - 12/31/14 09:04 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: TomD]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
For what it's worth, REI's house-brand items are usually comparable in quality/performance of the mid-upper range, especially in their backpacks which (while not exactly Gregory or Osprey) get rave reviews. The REI tents are frequent items you see along the trails and the people are happy to say they last a few years. The bonus? They are usually priced closer to Kelty/Eureka than Big Agnes or Mountain Hardware. Good stuff.

I haven't used Sierra Designs myself so I can't comment on them. (Rare thing but if I don't have first hand experience I don't offer recommendations most of the time)

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#188319 - 12/31/14 09:10 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
Thank you for saying what I really wanted to say, but decided to err on the side of not trying to scare him off.


Thanks, yet I'd rather be up front and ditch the watered-down politically correct nonsense and give them information up front. Why sugar coat it, let them run out and spend good money on junk only to have that junk fail them and turn them off one of the best sports in the world? After all, if you buy good gear the first time you don't have to replace it for another 15-25 years. If you buy junk you might have to replace it 2-3x a year. There is no savings in it, and it sure isn't any fun when you are packing up in the middle of the night and coming home overtired because nothing worked.

I guess I was lucky enough to escape that PC filter that has screwed up so much of our world. wink


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#188320 - 12/31/14 10:20 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
You guys make a pretty compelling argument. I've decided it's probably a good idea to shelve the Kisatchie trip for now and aim for later this year, probably November or December. I should be able to pinch pennies and get some decent gear by then.

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#188321 - 12/31/14 11:01 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Watch CraigsList in your area. Honestly, you can find some prime gear on the cheap. Just like motorcycles people will buy it all new, top of the line with all these ideas they have, it never happens. The gear might get 1-2 trips (if any at all) and sit in their closet for 2-3 years. They need some cash to pay off their X-mas debts and that's an easy way to get it. You get virtually new gear anywhere from 20%-40% of retail, they get to clean out a closet and put a few bucks back in their pocket. Don't hesitate to ask on here if an item is good or not or even just google the name and review and see what you find.

Good luck and don't give up!


Edited by AdventureMyk (12/31/14 11:02 PM)

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#188322 - 01/01/15 03:34 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: AdventureMyk]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
Oh, I'm not giving up. Just coming at it from a new (to me) angle. I've just been desperate to get out in the woods lately, and got a bit ahead of myself.

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#188323 - 01/01/15 08:41 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: AdventureMyk]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1628
Loc: Southwest Ohio
It wasn't so much the PC aspect that made me tone it down. Instead, since I was the first to reply, I wanted to make it clear that he shouldn't waste his money, but I didn't want to provoke a reaction that "those forums are a waste of time; the regulars are just a bunch of elitist gear snobs" - at which point he would have loaded up on Ozark Trail stuff and lived (assuming no really bad weather) to regret it.

Like you, I don't really like the PC either.

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#188334 - 01/01/15 08:57 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
Mr. Jowee Offline
member

Registered: 11/18/13
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By Roastduck
You guys make a pretty compelling argument. I've decided it's probably a good idea to shelve the Kisatchie trip for now and aim for later this year, probably November or December. I should be able to pinch pennies and get some decent gear by then.


It'll be cheaper in the spring, summer, and fall. It's warm enough to skip the bag all together (this is SE Louisiana, after all). Easier too, since you won't have to carry as much with regards to clothing and a sleep system.

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#188338 - 01/02/15 01:59 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Mr. Jowee]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
Originally Posted By Mr. Jowee
Originally Posted By Roastduck
You guys make a pretty compelling argument. I've decided it's probably a good idea to shelve the Kisatchie trip for now and aim for later this year, probably November or December. I should be able to pinch pennies and get some decent gear by then.


It'll be cheaper in the spring, summer, and fall. It's warm enough to skip the bag all together (this is SE Louisiana, after all). Easier too, since you won't have to carry as much with regards to clothing and a sleep system.

I actually have a hammock on order. when it comes in, I'll re-jigger the suspension to have a ridge line for a rain fly, and I think I'll be set for a few shorter solo trips. I think it might be possible to repurpose the fly from my old Coleman 3 person tent

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#188339 - 01/02/15 08:25 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
What kind of hammock did you end up ordering?

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#188341 - 01/02/15 10:57 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: AdventureMyk]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
A cheap Yukon Outfitters one. I was doubly inebriated and it was $25 on Christmas day. I probably wouldn't have bought it sober, but it's on its way now.

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#188343 - 01/02/15 11:56 AM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
You know, some of those things turn out to be sweet little deals.

If you don't like it, $25 isn't huge and you can always re-sell it. There is a company out there called Ticket To the Moon which was the predecessor to Eno. I have an Eno single-nest, friend picked up the TTM which size-wise splits the difference between eno's single and double, it's $45 and it's about 30x more comfortable than the Eno. You can really sprawl out in this thing, it's ultra-soft and easy to keep clean. If your $25 job doesn't work out take a look at them but find them local. If you have to ship them from the manufacturer the import tariffs are horrible...

For what it's worth, I had two Hennessy hammocks (one used 2x, one literally new) that I just sold as with the TTM and a good bug-net I won't ever use the Hennessy's. They aren't nearly as comfy.


Edited by AdventureMyk (01/02/15 11:56 AM)

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#188350 - 01/02/15 06:31 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: AdventureMyk]
Mr. Jowee Offline
member

Registered: 11/18/13
Posts: 34
Hammocks are a much better choice than a tent in hot, humid weather. I switched to a hammock last year and I'll never go back to the ground (at least not around here).

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#188357 - 01/03/15 02:50 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Mr. Jowee]
Roastduck Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/14
Posts: 23
I think what hooked me about it was the built in mosquito net. In all my reading, I see people talking about "make sure you find out when the mosquitos hatch." I'm insanely jealous of people who live in areas where mosquitos aren't omnipresent

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#188369 - 01/04/15 06:00 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: Roastduck]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
In spite of all the bashing of cheap gear, keep this in mind-not everyone needs top quality gear or clothes and most people probably either can't afford it or don't want to spend the money. I've got pretty good stuff, but not what I would consider the "best" of everything, depending on what it is, but I've been collecting stuff for a long time, so that has made it possible to be choosy.

Don't not go out just because you don't have everything or you have cheap gear. Instead, plan trips where if you have a gear failure or the weather overcomes your clothes, you can retreat to your car or a shelter without undue risk. You don't have to be miles from safety to have a good time and get experience.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#188370 - 01/04/15 06:35 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: TomD]
AdventureMyk Offline
member

Registered: 06/16/14
Posts: 127
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Tom, please go back and re-read. You won't find any bashing of cheap gear, in fact, you might find some praise of some inexpensive gear. What you will find is a few references by some people who see the Ozark junk in particular in dumpsters and just abandoned at campsites when virtually new gear fails. That isn't just cheap, it's junk and not all of Ozark's stuff is inexpensive, either.

Intermixed in that group we also pointed out some places like Craigs list where you can find GOOD gear as cheap if not cheaper than the Ozark stuff and in some cases where spending a bit more might seem out of line at first but when it's still 100% functional after 15 years it more than pays for itself. I did not, however, see anyone bashing cheap gear specifically. wink

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#188372 - 01/04/15 06:54 PM Re: how bad of an idea is Ozark Trail gear? [Re: AdventureMyk]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Myk, I'm one of the people who recommended buying used gear. My point to the OP is not to let the perceived cost of adequate gear keep him from starting out if he is on a budget. I agree that some cheap gear is better than others. I have a pack sold by Academy which is surprisingly well made and was only $40. It's big drawback is that it isn't as adjustable as I'd like but that is more of a design issue, not quality. A friend took it to India for several weeks and it held up just fine.
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