Where I Buy My Gear

Many stores and websites sell outdoor gear but some retailers just have better a better combination of gear, prices, and customer service. I have been buying gear for 15 years and these are the places where I have had the best experience. I don’t work for any of these retailers and I received no incentives to write this post. I just want to shine a light on retailers who deserve your business. Supporting businesses like this is the best way to make sure they stick around.
Valley Ski and Bike Werks
Where: Hadley, MA
Type of Gear:skiing and cycling
Why it rocks:customer service and product quality

About:

Geoff, Dave and Charlie aka the founders of the Werks, image from http://www.valleybikeandskiwerks.com/

Valley Ski and Bike Werks is a new shop that was created by local people who live for skiing and cycling. Their passion for the sport is evident as soon as you walk in the door; the walls are adorned with ski or cycling graphics and an epic ski or cycling video is always playing on the shop’s TV. The layout is open with a west coast feel.  It also helps that the shop is chock full of an amazing selection of skis, bikes and accessories.

Inside The Werks, image from gazettenet.com

 The Werks carries a complete range of skis and bikes from the best brands in the industry. They also have all of the accessories for both sports as well as a full bike mechanic shop in the store. This level of gear just can’t be found in a big box store.
The customer service is what really sets this place apart and it keeps me coming back. The employees are obsessed with cycling, mountain biking and skiing and they sincerely care about their customers. Going to the Werks feels like hanging out with friends. When I walk in the door someone always greets me, usually by name, and I always find the right gear at the right price. This is where I bought my bike/ skis and it is where I send my friends.
Where: Hadley, MA
Type of Gear:hiking
Why it rocks:product quality, price and return policy.
About: I have shopped at this EMS since I was a Cub Scout over 15 years ago. During that time the employees have changed but the quality, experience and prices have always been great. I have had great experiences with EMS brand gear and it can usually be bought on sale. I am also a big fan of EMS’s lifetime satisfaction guarantee and no questions asked return policy.
 Where: Online
Type of Gear: everything for the outdoors
Why it rocks: product selection, site navigation and return policy
About
Backountry.com’s slick web interface
Backcountry.com sells high end gear for every outdoor sport, has regular sales and they stand by a lifetime return policy. What is not to like? Backcountry.com might not be a local gear shop but their customer service has repeatedly earned my business. Their site is pleasantly laid out with plenty of gear reviews and a chat feature where experts will answer all of your gear questions. If you like to save money then Backcountry also has Steepandcheap.comwhich features a new gear deal every few minutes. Backountry’s purchase experience is simple, intuitive and fun. 
Backtounry’s iPad app
 Oh yeah, Backcountry has a slick iPad app that makes it almost to easy to shop for gear.
Chris, owner of Northampton Running Company, photo from newstimes.com
Where: Northampton, MA
Type of Gear:running
Why it rocks: customer service
About: The Northampton Running Company is a local running store located in downtown Northampton. This is where I bought my shoes for the Hartford Marathon and many Seven Sisters Trail Races. I like the Northampton Running Company because their only business is running. This means they have specialized merchandise and employees who love running. The people at this store can explain specific features of each shoe and recommend the best one for you.
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3 thoughts on “Where I Buy My Gear

  1. Backcountry.com really amazes me sometimes, and I wish more websites were like this. Tons of photos of gear, including photos that look like they're taken by their employees while using the items. The questions and answers section of each item is perfect (just ask a question and they seem to go out and find the answer for everyone). It's organized really well, and it seems like they really get out and try their equipment. That's pretty awesome.

  2. Ryan,

    Great point. I didn't even begin to point out how amazing the Backcountry buying experience is. They almost make it better than buying the product in store!

  3. Ryan,

    Great point. I didn't even begin to point out how amazing the Backcountry buying experience is. They almost make it better than buying the product in store!

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