Feb 13, 2006 at 12:04 pm #1217773
Has anyone ever come across an ultralight backpacking store? I know there is an endless supply of cottage companies out there that just can’t get their products to the consumers (limited to online), and was wondering if there has been any out there or interest in starting one out west. I live in the east and I’m sure there aren’t any specialized stores for ultralight outdoor equipment (such as all the stuff reviewed and talked about in these forums) out here.
Always light and fast,
daveFeb 13, 2006 at 12:21 pm #1350512
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
I have not been there in person but have ordered from Prolitegear, which is Out East. They are not exclusively ultralight, but carry lots of ultralight stuff, like Gossamer Gear, Oware tarps, Golite, Montbell, etc.
Locally we have Promountain Sports which carries some ultralight stuff. They have more of a mountaineering emphasis though vs backpacking.
Seattle WAFeb 13, 2006 at 2:17 pm #1350519
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
I have purchased stuff from Pro Mountain Sports and found them helpful, and very nice. Great gear and good prices. I would shop there again!Feb 13, 2006 at 3:17 pm #1350524
@laveLocale: Western Montana
I’ve been to Prolite Gear in Bozeman, MT a few times. It’s a small place, but I guess you don’t really need a ton of room for ultralight gear. If I remember right, they carried tons of ultralight stuff, but not so much of the SUL gear. It’s been a while, though.
A word of warning: if you ever do come across a store devoted to ultralight like Prolite Gear is, be careful. Seeing all that cool stuff in person can lead to an empty checking account in no time flat.
-EricFeb 13, 2006 at 6:36 pm #1350532
@david_bonnLocale: North Cascades
There is quite a bit of ultralight gear for sale at a few places on the AT, like at Neel’s Gap and NOC.
Stehekin Valley Ranch, about three miles off the PCT in Washington State, had tarptents, alcohol stoves, and quite a few products from Golite there, as well as a few other things that I would associate with skinny gear.
Retail outdoor gear is a tough business in general, and honestly the ultralight part is even more ugly. It has nothing to do with a lack of demand. It has more to do with the fact that an ultralight pack that costs $125 will require the same amount of floor space as a $400 pack, and arguably more time and effort on the part of the staff to match customer up with product. The other problem is that you’ll have a hard time attracting any experienced ultralighters to your store because they will probably be much more willing to buy over the internet, and much more aware of alternatives. Similarly, because there are so many cottage-industry companies in the ultralight world, to have a decent selection your store will have to have direct relationships with quite literally dozens of companies. Most outdoor stores order through a wholesale distributor, so they really only have a relationship with one or two suppliers. That can take time and cost money.
Competing with the big-box retailers locally and internet sales is going to be tough. You need to offer something really special in order to build the customer base and reputation that would give a retailer the traction it needs to survive. Some retailers have done this through connections with outdoor education programs: people who don’t have the gear for the classes are handed a shopping list and pointed at a particular store.Feb 13, 2006 at 7:54 pm #1350538
Jim ColtenBPL Member
Midwest Mountaineering in Mpls, MN carries a fair amount of UL gear. The owner has been a UL evangelist for several years.Feb 14, 2006 at 12:02 pm #1350566
Mark RegaliaBPL Member
@markrLocale: Santa Cruz
The Down Works in Santa Cruz, CA has a pretty good selection and the service is excellent.Feb 14, 2006 at 5:38 pm #1350579
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Six Moon Designs has three retailers listed on its website:
Alas, none of them is in southern California, so it’s still transacting online for me. I purchased my Henry Shires Tarptent Rainbow from “Only the Lightest” (also listed in the link above) to escape the onerous California sales tax, and am very happy with their service.
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