Before I traveled in Europe, I vaguely thought of their gear as … nice. Way overpriced. Gaudy. And sometimes completely goofy. (Especially the tents.)
Then I toured the huge Sportler store in Bolzano, Italy.
Later I was overwhelmed with the even bigger Schuster store in Munich.
Brands like Salewa, Kaikkaalla, Meru, La Sportiva, Mammut, Vaude, Deuter, Hilleberg, Vango, And more appealed. Quality is generally very high.
Also more familiar brands: The North Face, Salomon, Mountain Hardware, MSR, Primus, Therm-a-rest, Marmot, Arc’teryx.
Arc’teryx? How has that Canadian company become so HUGE worldwide? What a success story. They fit right in with the expensive European brands.
Actually, Arc’teryx was bought by Adidas in 2001. Then sold to Amer Sports of Finland in 2005. It’s a multi-national now.
My advice to every European hiker coming to North America: Buy your gear in Canada from Mountain Equipment Co-op. Or check prices on Amazon.com and comparison shop in the USA.
Europeans will get sometimes twices the value for their Euro currency in North America as compared with European prices. Especially on American brands.
My CAD Mountain Hardware Scrambler daypack is always CAD$50 back home. In Europe it’s normally €55. That’s CAD$86.40.
An MSR Hubba tent on Amazon.com is US$250 . At Schuster in Munich it’s €329.95 (US$468.14)
Yet there’s some gear available in Europe that I can’t get at home.
Want to take a Cheeseburger in a can hiking? They are available widely in Germany.
Taste Test: Cheeseburger In A Can