How to get the Best Deals for Climbing Gears?
This article covers how and where you can get the best deals for mountaineering, alpine climbing gears (of course it applies to sports climbing gears too). This is also my confession as a gearwhore; I can definitely supply gears for a team of up to 6 men at anytime of the year. If you are not sure about certain terms used in this article, just google them.
1. Know What to Get/Invest In:
There will be no extensive post/information to cover ALL Alpine climbing equipment simply because there are that MANY gears involved in alpine climbing, not to mention expedition climbing.
For alpine climbing, from head to toe, you must know what items/gears you will definitely use for many more trips to come. Hardware like harness, karabiners, safety slings, cams, hexes, nuts, etc: All depend on what type of climbing you plan to do: big wall harness or ice climbing harness?
You must understand the relationship between the gears as well. Crampons and boots must marry well. Alpine summer boots, 6000m boots, 7000m boots, 8000m boots. Mono point crampons for technical ice and mixed climbing (BUT MUST compatible with your boots) or glacier walking crampons for non-technical 7000m peaks? Personally, I have all these different types of boots and crampons because I prefer to use a specific marriage for a specific objective climb.
You must be knowledgeable (Read a LOT of reviews on forums and pages) about the various brands to decide exactly which model of a piece of gear that you want. You need to keep yourself updated as well. Technologies improve, gears now are improved every year.
For the past 2 years, I’ve been using gears from China (AliExpress, Shopee): down pants, krabs, stopper, etc because they are really cheap and good (industrial rating). But I use these gears mainly for expedition where I know we are not going to take a whipper on these krab passed its ratings, NOT for alpine climbing. Again, UNDERSTAND exactly what you need, for what type of trip is very very important.
Lastly, you need to know how to store and maintain your gear in Singapore’s condition. If you don’t bother to maintain and store your gear properly, you will be wasting money on buying new gears every year but hey that’s good for the economy but not so good for the environment.
2. Start hunting for the good deal
This article will only cover online purchase because being based in Singapore means you have little to zero choice of retailers for mountaineering, alpine, big expedition equipment. You have a lot of choices for rock and sports climbing though. Having said this, I found very good deals of 8000m gears on Carousel Singapore so check your local shopping pages first before you go overseas online.
Timing: Now, if you already get #1 settled a long time ago, you have ample of time to search for the best deal for the piece of gear that you want. Ice climbing gears (ice screws, winter clothing etc) are usually on sale after winter. Watch out for the items you need during big sales like Black Friday, China’s single people’s day 11-11 or sometimes they even have 12-12 sales. The key strategy here is to catch your target fish at the right time of the sale. Subscribe to ALL the brands’ pages for their newsletter promotion. Patagonia had a 50% off on all items recently and I got a very good deal for a rare item that I had been looking for ages! Mountain Hardware has this 50% off sale once a year as well.
Sample sale: I have a list of schedules of brands’ sample sale: Nemo has their sample sale every Nov-Dec. If you do not have time and you need the items urgently for some upcoming trip, you can either follow the next few steps to find the best deal (try your luck) or to borrow it from someone else (in fact I have a list of the very niche items that I know only 2 or 1 person in Singapore might have it last minute).
3. The can of worms of shopping online:
Subscribe to newsletter of ALL these retailers for their sale and promotion news. I divide into zones: USA, Canada, Europe and UK.
USA: you have your usual retailers: backcountry.com, Moosejaw, sunnysports. Google is your best friend here. Use GearBuyer to search for all these retails. Depending on the item, Ebay and Amazon might even have very good deal. For used gears: geartrade.com. Arcteryx also has their own used gear page.
Europe: pages like bike24.com, trekkinn.com, mountaingear360, epictv shop. There is some Italian retailer whose website allow 25% off if you pay by transfer i.e debit (instead of credit). I would not recommend such site (be careful) because they made me sit on fire for 4 weeks after the money transfer: I was not sure whether I would ever receive the items! In the end, they did but dealing with this kind of retailer is not good for my mental health. In Europe, I bought gears from physical shops in Chamonix before but the tax rebates are only 12% after you come back to Singapore. Shopping at physical shops only worth it if they are already on a decent discount 50% min.
UK: (usually flat rate shipping to Singapore) banana fingers, needlesports, rockrun
Canada: CAD is same as SGD now so you can check out MEC Canada. However, shopping in and from Canada, there is a 12% tax on top of everything (even for used gear) and might be 7% state tax, depending on the state.
FOR ALL OF THESE PAGES, use retailmenot to search for coupons, activejunky to get rebates.
4. How to get hold of the items:
It depends on your talent to minimize the shipping cost to Singapore. Some ideas:
Get someone living/travelling there to bring back to Singapore for you. Bear in mind that in Europe and UK, if you ship within Europe and UK, there is still VAT so it’s actually worth the shipping money to ship back to Singapore, less this VAT 20 percent.
Pool order together (ask your climbing friends if they need something) to get discount or share the shipping cost. Just make sure your total order does not exceed 400sgd otherwise you will be sharing GST!
5. The unknown treasure trove which is Facebook:
I recently buy a lot of used and pre-own but decently new gears from Facebook pages. You just need to search for these pages: Singapore Outdoor Gear Exchange, outdoorgear exchange UK, gear selling in Malaysia, Chamonix, in Vancouver, in HongKong etc-wherever I have plans to travel to that country, I would try to find such pages in that country. Subscribe to these groups/pages. The traffic (the amount of postings) is beyond belief, just use google translate to communicate with the seller. Which also means you have to message the seller very fast in their time zone before the good deals are gone!
Side track: there was someone in the UK trying to sell a mobile 8m climbing wall with climbing titles...
There is only one thing you need to remember when purchasing on these pages: do NOT do bank transfer or credit card payment. Only use PayPal (NOT paypal for friends and family-this option was disabled in Singapore since 2011). Otherwise your money would be gone but no gear!
There are mountain guides and celebs (Piolet d’or winners) on these pages so you will even get a pair of Petzl nomics for 100 pounds with 6 extra picks and micro hammers, 30euros for a pair of Grivel Rambo, Tom Livingstone’s La Sportiva Spantiks for 50 pounds.
There are forums like mountainproject where you can find good deals as well. However, the membership of these forums is no longer free so you can only see the thread but you cannot reply! Plus all communications must be done via the forum, but sometimes, if the seller posts his email on the thread, you can email the seller directly.
6. Important Note:
Try to get gears with lifetime warranty or brands that have re-use and re-cycle programs like Patagonia, arcteryx. Storing equipment in Singapore is a headache and if your items have life time warranty, they will be saved. But if you know how to maintain and store your gears properly (point #1 above), your gears will last for a long time.
I like this topic a lot because expedition is mainly a challenge of logistics rather than one of physical or mental. There are lots of gears for expedition that you can DIY or get from Singapore with some personal adjustment: we made our own snow stakes, 56 stakes, at a cost of sgd6 per stake. I will try to write another article on gears for big Expedition (7000m peak, Himalayas), perhaps even for 8000m peak expedition.