Touring - Which Australian outdoor equipment retailer: similar to REI/MEC?
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I'll be living in Sydney for the next couple of months and will be looking to buy a tent for a couple of weekend tours, as well as for my cross China tour this summer. Is there an Australian equivalent of REI in the US or MEC in Canada? Where should I buy my gear?
Try Anaconda ... it's kind of like Decathlon in France.
There's also Kathmandu, but they tend to be more expensive.
- Anaconda has a good range of medium quality gear. You won't find the best / lightest / most exotic stuff. Good selection of cycling gear (again entry to mid-level).
- Kathmandu - has some good gear, mostly medium-level. Expensive for the quality, but a good buy at outlets or at 50% off sales. Look for an outlet. Their bike gear is pretty ordinary.
- Ray's Outdoors. Caters more to car camping, fishing etc. Has some good quality gear despite this.
- Paddy pallin - wide range, some very good gear
- backpackinglight.com.au - a range of lightweight gear including some excellent quality stuff. Focus is on light weight. Nothing cycling-specific.
- Bogong - not sure if they have a Sydney branch or not. Excellent camping / bushwalking and climbing gear.
- Snowgum - has some good gear inc. One Planet sleeping bags (some of these are really, really good - high-loft down and light shells, equivalent to good Mountain Hardware or similar, but probably a level down from Rab or Western Mountaineering). Mostly mid-range stuff though.
- Mountain designs - again mosly mid-range stuff, again look for the outlet for lower prices.
- Not sure about Sydney other than Cheeky Monkey cycles which is a good service-focussed shop with an interest in touring / singlespeed / commuting / courier / "interesting" bikes.
I'd start with Anaconda, have a browse. Don't buy your camping gear straight away - look for better-quality and lighter gear, the range there is not great quality. You may end up buying some stuff over the internet. If you want eg. a tarptent and a western mountaineering sleeping bag, get them in the US - it will be cheaper.
oops, you mentioned US stores so I didn't realise you were from Canada. I have no idea what the prices are like there.
You will almost certainly get a better price on top-level gear if you buy it in North America.
02-20-10, 09:00 AM
From my experience (Adelaide), after arriving and realising there's a heap of brand specific stuff you really want, you'll probably spend a lot of time going from store-to-store, then end-up ordering it online anyway! Anything of a high quality which you're after will likely be made abroad (probably the U.S or Canada), so you're usually much better off buying it locally and bringing with you. I think I paid about $70 for my Mini Trangia...
I recommend at least a trip into Aussie Disposals which stock new camping gear as well as army surplus supplies (www.aussiedisposals.com.au (http://www.aussiedisposals.com.au)).
Ray's Outdoors is certainly a good starting point. They have a very good website and many conveniently locations (www.raysoutdoors.com.au (http://www.raysoutdoors.com.au)).
The yellow windproof/waterproof jacket in my display pic is from Ray's. The tent on the back is from BigW. Black army-style haversack (improvised) pannier bag in the pic is from Aussies. All have toured with me through China.
About 18 months ago I decided I just had to have the Mini Trangia stove in preparation for my first tour. I blame (thank!) Stokell on this forum for his suggestion. Anyway, I couldn't find one anywhere in Adelaide and thought I'd have to order from a North American site.
I highly recommend this West Australian website I stumbled across while researching (and ultimately buying from them) the Trangia stove: www.wellingtonsurplus.com.au (http://www.wellingtonsurplus.com.au). Their website is good. Service is fantastic. Range of products which they stock, but is unavailable in South Australia is supurb. Shipping cost is entirely reasonable. You would do a lot worse than ordering from them online, paying the local postage fee and having your stuff arrive in three business days :)
Department stores KMart and BigW are worth a look - similar to Walmart, but (if the U.S. Walmarts are similar to those I have visited in China) with better quality gear. They aren't the types of shops you'll buy your entire gear list from as most of it's Chinese-made - but I have found some quite good quality, low priced camping stuff at those two stores.
In summary, I'd be checking out Ray's, KMart, BigW and Aussie Disposals because they're the most convenient (many locations). Then looking for the specialty stores which Cave mentioned. Problem is if you're after something specific (a lightweight Thermarest mattress for example) if will be hit-and-miss on whether they sell it. You might have to either settle for the nearest alternative: the best quality, imported, quite expensive small shop item you can find; get something of lower quality from the mass market stores I've listed; or source it yourself online and pay a bit extra.
02-20-10, 09:25 AM
Cave, at the risk of hijacking this thread, would you mind advising where you got your Tarptent from (i.e. was it Australia or the U.S?). Another member was writing on here a week or two ago about the Tarptent Contrail. I was reading a review on it and am keen to see it for myself up close.
I have a Double Rainbow which I ordered direct from Tarptent in the US. I think it was about AUD$250 (or was it US 250?). The closest alternatives locally were from backpackinglight.com.au, they had a couple of MSR and I think a Eureka that were in the same ball-park weight wise (maybe 500g heavier).
Definitely cheaper getting it online if you know what you want. Australia has a good range of mass-market tents and a fair range of NZ mountaineering tents, but not much in the light-weight category. Starting to improve in the last couple of years, though.
The double rainbow is good, with the caveats that it can develop a lot of condensation on the inside, and despite the maker's claims I'm a bit skeptical of its abilities in heavy wind (having said that it was fine on a windy night in Swansea TAS where a lot of Anaconda and K-mart tents didn't stay up). It will sleep 2 if you're friendly.
If I get back into solo touring I will get either a Moment or a Contrail and try to go without panniers. At the moment the only "touring" I'm doing is riding to the family holiday while the wife and kids drive.
02-21-10, 05:33 AM
A couple of online stores in Australia that I've purchased from:
Evo Sport (http://evosport.com.au) - Good selection of gear and reasonable prices for Australia, but still expensive.
Camping Megastore (http://stores.shop.ebay.com.au/CAMPING-MEGASTORE) - Still only an ebay store, but starting to develop an online store (http://www.campingmegastore.com.au/) of their own, but not operational yet.
I'm starting to purchase any reasonable value item from the UK, as costs are much lower and shipping costs are reasonable. An example - just purchased a Golite Jam backpack (2010 model) for $160 delivered from the UK, to purchase in Australia it was going to cost me about $250 and that was for a 2009 model! My guess is you would do better to purchase before you get here if you can.
02-22-10, 08:56 PM
Mylesau - I checked out the Camping Megastore ebay shop. The prices quoted are pretty good.
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