That’s So Last Year

Beat the Cost of Gear


I’ve seen gear evolve plenty over the years, and each year it gets better, lighter, tougher. But each year’s advance often is miniscule. So why not buy the best gear of, say, 2003, and save? And you can. Companies such as Sierra Trading Post ( and Northern Mountain Supply ( regularly help companies clear out overstocks or unsold merchandise, at sometimes enormous savings. For instance, Northern Mountain Supply currently is selling the ’04 model of Dana Design’s Mazama—an excellent, 3,000-cubic-inch pack suitable for technical climbs or light overnights—for $135, a third less than the pack’s suggested retail of $209. also sells lots of “dated” equipment, at similar savings.

Just because a piece of gear falls off the top of the product line doesn’t make it obsolete. After all, rain is still that same, wet H20 that trickles down your neck, and what worked three years ago will still do its damnedest to keep Mother Nature at bay. Perhaps the biggest place you’ll see cost savings is in the bike universe, with spring’s latest wares promising improved performance in everything from suspension and seatposts to brakes and rims. So let spring be your reminder to dust off your old copies of the Outside Buyer’s Guide and start scoping gear put out to pasture. Next, do some research online and at local gear stores and bike shops to see if you can find yourself one of these old “war horses.” Year-by-year improvements are incremental, but I think you’ll find the savings on even last year’s products are pretty staggering.

There’s another, albeit somewhat altruistic, boon of your quest to eke out savings: by clearing out a dealer’s overstock, you fill the coffers for that dealer to go out and buy next year’s model from the manufacturer and sell at more profitable margins. The result of this little lesson in economics 101: everyone’s happy.