Buying Quality Items

News & Tips: Buying Quality Items

Buying quality equipment may seem like a weird topic for an outdoor column until you think of the implications of not doing so. After all the planning for a trip, vacation taken and money spent it can all be in vain if your boat won't start or your reel breaks down.

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Quality is important for several reasons.

Shortly after getting married Katy described me as the eternal tight wad. She said, "Tom, you're not a kid anymore making $1.50 an hour. You're a grown man and have a real job. You can buy something nice." OK, maybe I had carried it a little far.

A few incidences further changed my outlook. Shortly after we got married Katy ordered me a nice hunting coat and pair of boots out of our Bass Pro Shops catalog. They lasted forever. In fact, I still have the coat.

Then there were my work boots. I'd buy a cheap pair and by the time six months rolled around they were falling apart at the seams. Finally I bought a pair of Red Wings. I wore them everyday to work and hunting. At the end of 2 1/2 years the soles were smooth but the boots were still functional. Since then I have never bought another pair of cheap boots.   

We've all had cheap reels that literally wrecked a fishing trip. Once in the Gulf I got stuck with a reel that had about 30 yards of line. Everyone else was killing the King Mackerels while my bait was worthlessly skipping on top of the water behind the boat. I didn't catch one fish. Another time in Louisiana the guide gave me a reel that wasn't casting too well. So I don't even trust guides to have good equipment.

Quality equipment holds up longer and doesn't malfunction under stressful times. When you finally slip in on a huge bull in inclement conditions you don't want to watch him slip away due to a fogged up cheap scope do you? When you hook into a lunker Northern Pike you don't want him to take a run and the guts rip out of your reel do you? No, you want equipment that is up to the challenge.   

Is cheap gear strictly the manufacturers fault? Are they only interested in making a buck? Or may the cause be a little deeper? I think maybe us consumers hold some of the blame. Let me explain.

Years ago I was watching a video by Tom Peters. He said that when we buy the cheaper item we either force the better producer out of business or he has to cheapen his product to stay in business. I thought, "You know, he's right." He also said price doesn't mean a thing unless you have a measure or quality.

Maybe we as consumers do need to accept some of the burden for causing less quality in our products. Think about this the next time you are making a purchase. There are a few axioms that still hold true. You get what you pay for and the second one I'll leave you with is: The bitterness of a cheap product last a lot longer than the sweetness of a good deal.

This topic holds true nowhere else like with guns. If you purchase a cheap gun it will malfunction and toot out within a couple of years. If you buy a good gun you'll pass them on to your kids and grandkids. That will be an inheritance that they will cherish and cling to in fond memories.

Am I saying you have to buy the top of the line everytime? No, just don't always dwell on the bottom row. Here's the conclusion I've come to: Usually the top of the line product has a lot of bells and whistles that maybe I don't need. That's why I usually buy mid-range.