I'm an American thinking of using MEC panniers, sleeping bags, and clothing on my first tour.
I figure that the favorable exchange rate could allow me to get good quality equipment while spending less than I would on the equivalent American products. Am I mistaken? The MEC website was vague about the cost of shipping to America, saying something about tariffs and such. Would the cost of additional customs fees outweigh any savings I might make by buying from MEC?
Specifically, I'm looking at the Raven -7C sleeping bag, and the 43 L panniers. Has anybody used these products? How did you like them?
I've found the panniers to be good. Check the tube diameter on your racks, if it's larger than, say 5mm, you will need to order the XL hooks too.
I bought their front and rear panniers 14 years ago, and they're still going strong.
Originally Posted by johndavis
I buy a lotta stuff from MEC because I live a block away from one. I have the MEC panniers and sleeping bags and a ton of other MEC brand stuff. Most of the MEC branded products are a poor-man's version of a brand name product. The panniers are fine but they are not Ortliebs or Arkels by any means. I just got a new tent at MEC but it was the more expensive brand-name (MSR) tent and not the similar MEC tent (which is way more popular, especially with cheap-ass Canadians).
In other words, you are not saving that much money. You are getting lower cost products designed to hit a lower price point.
If you have stuff sent by mail from Canada it is substantially cheaper than courier because couriers (like UPS and FedEx) will rip you off grandly with bogus "brokerage fees" that the United States Postal Service does not charge for the same service.
I also live a few blocks from MEC and shop there often.
Originally Posted by johndavis
To be brief here are some thoughts:
- I don't like how their panniers attach to the bike
- if you get the MEC waterproof panniers the cost isn't much less than Ortliebs so why bother?
- I like their sleeping bags and am on my second MEC down bag in about 20yrs or so of use
- MEC clothing is hit or miss in terms of fit and quality. I have some favourites from MEC I wear all the time and other items I either returned or gave away because they don't fit/work as well as I'd like.
- I would hesitate to buy clothing online if at all possible. I think hitting up an REI sale makes more sense if you live in the US.
I have Serratus panniers I bought at MEC many years ago but I think the MEC branded ones are pretty similar. I would guess identical from the pics:
If you buy them for touring I would definitely buy the raincovers for them.
My only complaint is really they are not waterproof - if I was buying panniers all over again I would go for Ortliebs! Less pockets, but waterproof!
I just line my Serratus panniers with garbage bags. My stuff has never gotten wet, and I've been caught in a cyclone.
Originally Posted by crazybikerchick
MEC is not what it used to be. They are moving away from name brand products and more to their own private brands which are usually fairly suspect from my inspections. I live in Vancouver so I have REI and MEC at my disposal. I watch the sales at REI and often find I can do well there, plus there is a dividend at the end of the year. I bought a lot of product at REI and online when the Canuck buck was $US1 to $1.10. The REI sales now just bring things into line. REI is like MEC on steroids and the selection is much better.
So my shopping is MEC, REI, Performance Bike and the Touring Store, all of which can be done online. Being in Vancouver I can have things shipped to stores in Seattle (Performance) or Bellingham (REI) for free shipping. My panniers and racks come from Wayne at the Touring Store.