Will $15 cause me to switch my pack choice?

The search

In December, after months of research online, youtube video reviews, and visits to REI and other local outfitters my pack choice was finally made. This pack was pretty much perfect. It fit the price point I wanted to spend (somewhere in the middle), had the features I was looking for, and is one of the top-used packs on the PCT. The only problem is that it’s cottage industry, which means nowhere to try it on. OK, So I haven’t come around to the “buy online and return if it doesn’t work” idea yet  (In some cases making this choice can cost you extra return shipping, i.e. my Uniqlo jacket mistake).

Just after the holidays, I lucked out. I found a size medium of “brand that will remain unnamed” at a local used consignment outfitter. Sadly it was too big. However, they did have a size small of a similar model same brand. I tried that pack and it fit me like a glove. I seriously considered buying it as it was “like new” and very similar to the model I’d picked out, but the carrying capacity scared me away. This visit, seeing the chosen pack in person and trying on one that fit just right of said unnamed brand cemented my choice. So, the search began to find a used one of my size.

My search consisted of regular visits online to eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, and my local consignment store inventory website. I found a pack on Marketplace, but the guy selling it won’t respond to messages. It’s still “For Sale” as we speak, just taunting me. I just found one today on eBay for $560, nearly double the price of a new one and I’m wondering if some unsuspecting newb will buy the overpriced used one.

Ending the search and admitting defeat

So, we come to today. I made the decision that 2+ months out from my start date I need to buckle down and buy this pack. A few weekend trips with it are needed before I leave. Sadly, I will be paying full price. I head over to the “unnamed brand” website and start my pack order. To my annoyance, they have no “ready-made” size small packs for women available of any color. It’s a whopping $15 to get a custom color.  My heart sinks.

Next, I decide to email the company. My question to them is “when will they have more size small packs of any color,” since I don’t care about color and would prefer the $15 stay in my pocket. I let them know I’m a thru-hiker (maybe they’ll be kind and waive the upcharge) and my timeline to start.

I get a response within 20 minutes. That’s incredible customer service, right? Sure, but not the reply I was hoping for. It reads, “At this point, I can’t say when we’ll get a break long enough to build back up stock/inventory. My recommendation would be to pay the $15 so you have the pack in plenty of time to begin training and test packing it.”

Maybe this is the frugal chick in me, but that $15 means one less in-town meal, or two Mountain Houses, or three beers (well on the west coast, 1.5 beers?).  I understand we’re talking about a small amount of money, but if I made all my decisions with the mindset of “It’s only $15” I wouldn’t be in the financial position I’m in that is allowing me to thru hike. Also, in principle it bothers me that Someone else can get the exact pack I want for $15 less simply because they are larger or smaller in frame then me.

So what now?

  1. I’m seriously contemplating going back to the drawing board for a new pack. I had a few others I was thinking about, one pretty much the same price.
  2. I’ll keep looking in the meantime for a used version of the “unnamed brand” pack
  3. Maybe I’ll save some money altogether and use the pack I already have. No one would mistake my 10-year-old Gregory diva for ultralight.
    Bottom line- Is this pack worth another $15? Not to me.

Edit: As I’ve had a few comments about this I should make 2 things clear: 1) I’m confident from experience that there are multiple pack options that I would be happy with  and 2) I know myself and that $15 will eat away at me. I’ll look at that pack daily and be irritated and every time I see someone else with the same pack I’ll ask myself “did they get it for the normal price”. That is why the $15 is not worth it to me. I revel in a deal and stew in being overcharged. This is my frugal nature.


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Comments 5

  • Katie : Feb 23rd

    Not to be a downer but it seems you’re upset just because the company charges for custom colors and won’t comp yours because you’re a thru hiker and that seems a bit entitled. Excited to follow your adventures but they can’t help what they have in stock and I’m just guessing that this is a cottage company that just has high demand. Trail magic is alive and well but expecting people to give you a discount that do this for a living just because you’re doing a privileged thing (a thru-hike) isn’t really a great thing

    • Thin Mint : Feb 23rd

      Thanks for the feedback. I see your point of view and trust me I know how privileged I am. I don’t see this as asking for a discount as I stated I was fully prepared to pay full price. It’s about not getting an upcharge that 75% of people going to that site would not have if they were ok with any available color, like I was. I was just hoping that upcharge would be waived and that mentioning I was a thru hiker would help, as It has in the past.

      • Jessie : Mar 8th

        I agree. Are you equipped for a thru-hike if you can’t spare $15 for your most important piece of equipment? That’s a better investment than beer or a lunch and I’m sure you know you will have unexpected extra expenses. Or are you just in a huff to not receive a freebie? You say it’s a small company, maybe due to Covid they are having to pay extra to employees or for supplies/ different colors than normal and trying to make ends meet. I am sure most ppl buying the packs are also thru-hikers. It reminds me if when I was a bartender and at least 15 girls every night would come up asking/demanding a free drink because it was “their birthday.”

  • WannabeThruHiker : Feb 23rd

    I suggest spending the $15 if this is the right pack for you. I understand that its the principle of the matter. But spending months with a pack this is just not quite right isn’t worth it. If you were talking $100 I would be totally onboard with you. But $15 is the equivalent of a couple of fancy coffees or a dinner out (at somewhere cheap). Forego the coffee or diner and buy the pack that fits like a glove. You won’t regret it.

  • Ruth Morley : Feb 23rd

    I agree with the other commenters. Having the pack that you have wanted for some time on your back for close to half a year surely takes priority over the hypothesized treats on one fleeting trip into town. The pack will be vital in getting you to the finish line. The beers, not so much.


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