October Winner!

Rob Sample October Winner

It’s a special day here as I am happy to announce the winner of the October contest giveaway!  As you recall, back in October, we started the giveaway again and on the table for some lucky participant is a Think Tank Photo Retrospective.  I loved testing this bag for Think Tank and am sad to part ways with it, but it’s going to good hands – specifically those of:

Rob Sample

Rob Sample October Winner

Congratulations to Rob, and thanks to everyone for participating!  Special thanks also goes out to Think Tank Photo for their continued generous donations of products for both reviews and giveaways!The holiday giveaway is forthcoming with quite a few goodies up for grabs so stay tuned and keep on shooting!

Garage Sale Deals of a Lifetime!

The gear from REI

When I was a kid, I fell in love with backpacking, camping, and being in the great outdoors.  My dad taught me essential life skills from as early as I can remember, including compass courses, land navigation, eating and living off the land.  Much like what Rangers do in training, but to a less intensive degree…

So, when I started getting back into it as an adult, nearly all my gear was too small for me – you grow a lot between 12-41!  I became acutely aware of that when I resumed the camping gig two years ago with the family canoe trips!  I struggled through a few years of “making do” with loaner stuff, and trying to eke one more use out of 30 year old equipment.  Just as I browse the clearance racks of B&H Photo, the walls of REI (with a main branch office right here in Denver) have also kept my eye.

Then, just this last weekend – REI had one of their apparently quite popular Garage Sales – members get exclusive access to some pretty amazing deals from returns.  After learning the hard way with camera gear (that used sometimes is better than new!), I decided to take a peak:

The gear from REI

  • Backpack – Retail $299 – Used once $49.95 (broken zipper)
  • Compact Air Matress – Retail $99 – Used once (no leaks – verified) $10
  • Long 20 degree sleeping bag – Retail $150 – Used once $30
  • AsoloFlame Hiking Boots – Retail $159.99 – Used once $59.99

When you think about it, the net results are pretty staggering.  Consider that I bought gear which at retail prices would have totaled $708.  I spent about $150 on the full set, and another $35 in cleaning and repairs (laundered the bag myself, the zipper fixed for $15, and the boots cleaned for $20).  That means I saved $523!  That’s 74% off!

If I was smart, I’d have done the same with photography.  Think about it…who cares if the tripod has a nick on one leg, or your camera body as a cosmetic scratch on one corner.  Even camera bags can get obscenely expensive.  My last camera bag I bought I paid nearly $400 for!  I probably could have found one with a busted zipper or whatever for 74% off.  Save your money where you can folks – that’s the tip here for the day.  Do we want nice and shiny stuff?  Sure!  But the question is – do we need it?  Not when I can save over $500!

So, shop around – look at Craigslist, see what’s on Flea Bay!  Heck, there’s even some good used gear that pro shops sell used – or even rental houses.  Just stick with reputable outfits and you’ll never go wrong.  But always consider going used – the gear will likely work the same, and you save a few bucks!