Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
 
 
 

Amazon.com
Backpacking Forums
BackcountryGear.com
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store
 
 WINTER CAMPING 

Shelters
Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen

 SNOWSPORTS 

Snowshoes
Avalanche Gear
Skins
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters
Accessories

 ULTRA-LIGHT 

Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel


the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags

 CAMPING & HIKING 

Backpacks
Tents
Sleeping Bags
Hydration
Kitchen
Accessories

 CLIMBING 

Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial

 MEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 WOMEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 FOOTWEAR 

Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear

 CLEARANCE 

Backpacks
Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel
Climbing
Footwear
Accessories

 BRANDS 

Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva
Osprey
Smartwool

 WAYS TO SHOP 

Sale
Clearance
Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Shelters
BackPacks
Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment
Kitchen
Hydration
Climbing


 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#201275 - 06/29/18 12:34 PM Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1759
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I recently read a book by Barry Schwartz titled “The Paradox of Choice”. Part of the book is about the purchasing philosophies of American consumers. In his book, Schwartz classed purchasers into two distinctive personality types: maximizers and sufficers. Schwartz was careful to note that this distinction represents a spectrum, not two discrete categories and most of us will fall somewhere between the two extremes and in different places depending on what is being purchased. To me it was interesting reading and seemed consistent with my casual observations.

According to Schwartz, maximizers are people who, having decided on making a purchase will spend large amounts of time researching as many options as they can. Maximizers actively invest time and effort into learning as much about the variations, advantages, and weaknesses of an item as possible. When their decision is final and the purchase is made, they then internally compare their purchase to those made by people around them and frequently suffer “buyer’s remorse” feeling that their choice may not be “the best” and that perhaps they could have looked further and harder to find a more perfect item.

Sufficers, on the other hand, are those who are satisfied when an item being considered for purchase meets the criteria they have in mind. With these criteria met, no further looking is needed and is generally viewed as a waste of time. For example, a sufficer purchasing office supplies will not go to several stores to compare paper, or staplers, or paper shredders or desk lamps. A sufficer will be satisfied if the paper is white and strong enough, that the stapler will staple, that the shredder will shred and that the desk lamp will provide illumination. No further looking is needed once these criteria are met.

I see these personalities in play on several of the lightweight backpacking sites that I visit. This site (Backpacking Lightweight) seems to attract folks who seem to be somewhere in the middle of the gradient between maximizing and sufficing. On the other hand, the Backpacking Light forum seems to me to draw more of those who are nearer to, or obsessively at, the maximizer end of the scale. It may just be me but threads on that site are heavy with “What is the best (fill in blank)” threads. Passionate arguments will often break out over what are, to me, relatively trivial differences between, say, packs or wind shirts or light knives or water filters.

I like to think that I gravitate towards the sufficer end of the spectrum. I don’t like shopping or researching purchases, I have no fashion sense (and no interest in gaining one) and I have relatively little interest in pursuing evolving technology. I prefer items with which I am familiar, made of tested materials using familiar technology. Yet, I am neither a Luddite nor an early adopter of technology. And, I do find myself drawn to some of the more recent stuff such as Cuben fiber. But, I would much prefer to let others pay to work the bugs out of a product before I jump in. Finally, I like to make as much of my own gear as is economically possible.

What about you? Where do you feel that you fit in this hypothesis? Are you a maximizer, a sufficer or somewhere between? Do you favor cutting-edge stuff over time-tested technology or do you feel that your Army surplus stuff is good enough for you. I’ll be interested in hearing your opinions.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

Top
#201281 - 06/29/18 01:00 PM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: Pika]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 901
Loc: Torrance, CA
I am definitely a maximizer, but I include price in my maximization algorithm. That is why I like the view people have here. I think sufficers will often say this is good enough and a third of the price, which to me may be a maximization point.

Top
#201283 - 06/29/18 01:16 PM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: Pika]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2951
Loc: Portland, OR
I rarely think of the purchase of any item as my goal, but only as a means to reach some part of my goal. For that reason I evaluate the success of a purchase within the framework of my larger goals, like health, security or happiness. I think this attitude probably puts me much further toward the suffice end of the spectrum.

Top
#201288 - 06/29/18 02:49 PM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: Pika]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 877
Loc: Michigan
Definitely on the sufficers side. My wife gets upset with me when I go to look for something like a new pair of pants. I go into the first store and they have them in my size in black, blue and brown. My wife want to go to more stores but I maintain that they have every possible variation that I need and there is no need to continue shopping. If the first store only has pink and plaid I will then continue to the next store.

Top
#201289 - 06/29/18 07:48 PM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: GrumpyGord]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1510
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Golfers everywhere want to know where that first store is! smile

I tend to fall midway on the spectrum. I was a gear geek for 5-10 years, and would tend to buy whatever looked interesting, without a great deal of research. Then I’d take it out on a trip, and decide if it did what I needed it to do; if it didn’t I replaced it. (A lot.)

At the end, i.e. now, I have what comes pretty close to an ideal set of gear for my needs (emphasis: for MY needs.)

So, if you count lots of purchases that ended up in other people’s packs as “research”, then there’s a bit of maximizer in me - offset by the sufficer’s idea that, once I find what works for me, I’m done.

By the way, I buy pants and shirts the same way you do. Drives my wife nuts, too. (But that’s just a little bonus.) smile

Top
#201293 - 06/30/18 04:13 AM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: Pika]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 99
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Pretty interesting stuff. I'm reminded of Robert Pursig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and the follow-up years later, "Lila." If by chance you haven't read (and re-read) these, get to it smile

I'm somewhat of a maximizer depending on my level of interest. I'm interested in backpacking gear, so I'll do research and experiment and probably spend some money foolishly, but that's part of the fun. At some point, the gear can become an end in itself rather than just a tool, but even that's not necessarily "bad," just something to be aware of.

If I'm not particularly interested, I'm a sufficer. If I need a new toaster (and I do) I'll likely just go to a big box store and get one that seems OK and doesn't cost too much.

It's changeable, too. My background is in electronics (I went to USC - Uncle Sam's College) and this caused me at one point to be thrust into the role of "computer guy" on a particular job. Of course, I knew almost nothing about computers, so I had to learn quickly. I became interested and spent countless hours building and configuring computers (remember OS/2 and NextStep?) Now, I couldn't care less. I'm hoping my old laptop will last forever so I won't have to mess with setting up a new one (not to mention buying one). This is real interesting if you happen to be me smile

I think, though, that us part-time maximizers would do well to develop a Shock-Proof Crap Detector to alert us when we've drifted into absurdity. It's just setting the threshold that's the problem...
_________________________
There are two kinds of people: people who think there are two kinds of people and people who don't.

Top
#201294 - 06/30/18 06:44 AM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: Pika]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 717
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
If I were a rich man (I feel a song coming on), I'd be an optimizer. Maybe I still am, but cost plays heavily into my optimization equation, more than for most BPers.

Playing devils advocate here, if you consider convenience as part of your search equation, couldn't you argue that everyone is an optimizer?

Top
#201297 - 06/30/18 09:59 AM Re: Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking [Re: 4evrplan]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1776
Loc: Napa, CA
I teach this somewhat differently, because these behaviors vary strikngly depending on what is being purchased.

I begin with asking various students to tell me about their cars: what do they drive, do they like it, did they get a good deal....it becomes clear after a few students that almost everyone likes their car a lot and everyone got a good deal on their car. How is this possible? I ask.

Then I ask them about toilet paper...turns out that people don't remember buying it, and just buy whatever seems like a good deal at the time, frequently buying generic or house brands. Nobody talks about how much they like the toilet paper.

Finally, I ask about the most important piece of jewelry or art they have purchased--often an engagement ring. Turns out nobody cares about getting a great deal on an engagement ring...because theyre buying more than just a rock and a band of metal.

Depending on what we buy, we fall into different categories.

For real fun, I should post my lecture on how much a small cardboard box is worth. If it's that tiny blue box you get when you buy something from Tiffany & Co., that 2 inch cardboard cube costs about $2500. And it's worth every penny to many people...
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

Top

Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
 
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
 
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Mountainsmith Gear
by packlite
07:35 PM
DWR and Trail Runners
by Bill Kennedy
07/01/18 03:19 AM
Montrail hiking shoe replacement???
by Keith
06/30/18 11:11 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Leaving a Mark
by balzaccom
07/10/18 09:32 PM
Maximizers vs Sufficers in backpacking
by Pika
06/29/18 12:34 PM
Alice Pak
by Capt hook
06/21/18 01:13 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
drying socks while hiking
by AtlantaBill
06/28/18 03:28 PM
Quilt question
by PaHiker
06/28/18 12:14 PM
New Pack Finished
by Bill Kennedy
06/27/18 05:39 AM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
0 registered (), 92 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
FrankDaTank, maggiemae31, GregoryCheve, CWalkerNC, Nadini
12604 Registered Users
Forum Links
Disclaimer
Policies
Site Links
Backpacking.net
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Our long-time Sponsor, BackcountryGear.com - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum
 
 

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum