How to buy outdoor gear? How might an intrepid backpacker face all of the confusion? Luckily, there are some tools to navigate the complex waters of choosing what outdoor gear to buy, including functional analysis.
Functional analysis is used to design all kinds of products. Some design engineers claim that it is the cornerstone of all product development. Outdoor gear companies, MYOGers, and others use functional analysis to develop outdoor gear. Jörgen Johansson has discovered that functional analysis is not only for people making equipment. It helps you evaluate the pros and cons of different kinds of stuff you run into at REI or elsewhere. Functional analysis will help you become an expert buyer of gear for your outings. In this article, Jörgen tells you how to go about this.
We recently published How to Choose Lightweight Backpacking Gear: Save Weight, Money, Hassle, and Time which was a high-level explanation of choosing what lightweight backpacking gear you need to complete your adventures. In that article, we recommended first identifying your core needs. What's the difference between trail running shoes, footwear, and foot protection? Next, we presented the idea that well-designed functional systems can serve your core needs. This article, How to Buy Outdoor Gear - Functional Analysis, dives into more detail about functional systems. Jörgen Johansson wrote this piece to give you the framework and tools to identify what you need and what system(s) will help you meet this need.
We recommend reading How to Choose Lightweight Backpacking Gear: Save Weight, Money, Hassle, and Time first as it forms an excellent foundation for this more detailed article which jumps specifically into how functional analysis can be used to make more informed and thoughtful gear purchasing decisions.
- Eric Vann, Associate Editor
Structure Your Buying Decisions
In this article, I may use the expressions "gear for your outings" and not "outdoor gear." This signals that keeping an open mind and realizing that a lot of things designed for purposes other than outings might be an option. They might even work better than "outdoor gear" or "backpacking gear" that outdoor specialty stores sell. Using grease pots from Walmart for cooking and running clothes for backpacking comes to mind.
Functional analysis is a structured way of forcing you to keep an open mind. For example, functional analysis forces you not to jump to conclusions, like: "I need a pair of backpacking pants," and instead provides a framework for asking the question "Why do I need a pair of backpacking pants?"
Now, structured ways of doing things can often be 80 percent "common sense" or "why that is obvious." Still, functional analysis can be useful because it might help us not to overlook the other 20 percent. So, please bear with me as I walk you through this presentation of functional analysis. I think it will turn out useful in the end because it might help you realize that what you need is a pair of runner's pants for backpacking!
Maybe I should also mention that I am by no means a design engineer. Luckily, my design engineer friends help me along. So what I am writing here is my attempt to translate what the experts are talking about. Translate it into something that I, as an amateur, can understand but also can use when it comes to choosing outdoor gear.
Login or subscribe to view the entire article.
- Structure Your Buying Decisions
- Core or Primary Function
- Subordinate Functions
- Supporting Functions
- How to Name a Function
- Function tree
- Function Limit
- The Market for Outdoor Gear
- Mature Market
- Rain Jacket – a Practical Example
- Supportive Functions – the Main Consumer Problem
- Choosing Between Supportive Functions
- Evaluating the Roots of the Product
- Setting Priorities
- Alaska Interlude
- What Functional Analysis Cannot Do
# of Photos: 15; Word Count: 4,840