Saturday April 29, 2006
A matter of choice
KUALA Lumpur-based freelance writer and adventure buff, Erik Fearn, 40, has no qualms about buying knock-offs.
Fearn has worn his fake Mountain Hardwear fleece jacket while trekking and paragliding in the Himalayas at altitudes of up to 3,000m in the middle of winter. And he has also trekked up mountains in blizzard conditions with his real Marmot shell.
“In both extremes, the fake Mountain Hardwear (MH) and the ‘real’ Marmot excelled at the jobs they were designed to do – retain warmth and breathe,” said Fearn who forked out US$99 for the Marmot, and US$5 for the MH. “I’ve compared it to the original and found no difference at all other than paying 85% less for the knock off! And keep in mind, there is a growing number of good quality knock-offs out there in the market.”
“Or if you find yourself in a hardcore situation where you plan to squeeze every last bit of performance out of your gear (which most of us never find ourselves in), then it makes no financial sense to spend thousands of extra Ringgit on gear whose brand and quality has been closely imitated,” asserted Fearn.
But Fearn cautioned buyers to shop around to compare the quality of knock-offs as they come in differing qualities. A better bet would be to buy these items in destinations known for outdoor activities like Nepal and Indian Kashmir, both Fearn’s favourite places to shop for fake outdoor gear.
“Ever been camping in a RM39-tent from Giant during a rainstorm? Not fun. It leaks like a sieve. Soaks all your other gear, sleeping bag and clothes,” said Fearn, speaking from experience. “Better spend a few hundred ringgit and get yourself a reliable outdoor ‘home’. Even if all your other gear fails you, you should have a reliable sanctuary to return to.”
“Anyone who’s been awake shivering all night because of a substandard sleeping bag will know the value of a good bag,” added Fearn. “In high altitudes and cold climates, especially if you’re suffering the effects of altitude sickness like insomnia and nausea, it’s crucial to keep warm.”
Fearn thinks if he has to spend days or weeks carrying 20kg of dead-weight on his back, he will definitely invest in a pack that gives him good padded lumbar support, suspension system, quality internal fames and is water resistant.
“A good pack will set you back at least RM500 but to thumb your nose at this critical piece of gear is to flirt with trouble,” advised Fearn.
And as far as footwear is concerned, Fearn’s piece of advice: “If you are going for hiking boots, never ever get knock-offs! Even in less than extreme circumstances, your footwear is critical to the success and enjoyment of your trip. If you get that wrong, you could be in a world of misery.”