Scarpa Freney XT
Scarpa Freney XT (courtesy, REI)
Gear Guy

Why do you never review foreign gear?

Why don't you compare gear from other countries to erican companies' gear? I have seen other gear from abroad and a lot of it looks like good-quality stuff with several really neat designs. How about some info on foreign gear? Steve Cullman, Alabama

Scarpa Freney XT

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Two reasons: One, familiarity. I am the Gear Guy, not (alas!) the Global Gear Guy. I mean, I was just at a trade show in Salt Lake City with a thousand exhibitors! Trying to keep up with the worldwide number would be, well, impossible, even for someone with my amazing gear superpowers. There are exceptions—I know stuff from makers such as Icebreaker (New Zealand), MacPac (ditto), Mont-Bell (Japan), Millet (France), and Paramo (Great Britain) because it’s somewhat available in the U.S. and does come up in occasional questions. And keep in mind that the Italians still make the best boots, as the stuff from Scarpa attests.

Scarpa Freney XT Scarpa Freney XT

Secondly, while it’s certainly true this site has a global readership, most visitors are in the U.S. So what good does it do to advise them to buy a brand they can’t find? I don’t dispute for a minute that gear makers in other countries make good stuff, and often very interesting stuff. But it’s also true that the most competitive market in the world for outdoor gear is in the United States. So it stands to reason that gear designed here is, if not best in class, then absolutely cutting edge. And I’m not saying that out of any misplaced parochialism or jingoism.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, REI