Finding Value in Sporting Good Equipment

I bring this up because just the other day I was playing Golf with a buddy. We proceed to the first tee and he pulls out this brand new set of clubs with graphite shaft, matching bag, and full set of woods. It was a discount brand and cost 50% less then say the equivalent style in any of the name brands like Callaway or Nike.  The first few holes, no problems and he was hitting the clubs great. Then by the fourth or fifth hole, we started to hear some strange sounds. Couldn’t identify the problem, so we continued. The next hole, he takes a swing and the club head goes flying. It must have soared 200ft down the course. It was quite funny. We thought perhaps it was just the one club, but a few holes later same thing. Needless to say, he used my clubs the rest of the round.


I have dozen of these experiences from friends or myself. Boogie boards bought from kmart that break on your first wave, tennis rackets that look great but when you hit the ball it just goes through the racket, snowboard bindings that break after two runs, or a co-worker that bought a discount name bike that was outfitted like a $2K Gary Fisher but on taking one jump the frame breaks, I can go on with dozens of these.


The point is, does the discount you get on these no name products really end up saving you money? In my opinion no. If you plan on doing the sport more than once, consider the lower end of a name brand or buying used name gear.  We all can’t afford or don’t need the $1K set of Callaway clubs or the $500 Burton snowboard, but the $250 no name snowboard from Big 5 is probably not as good as last years $500 Burton on sale for $350 or someone’s used Burton for $200. 

With sites like ebay and stores like play it again sports, there are plenty of alternatives to the low cost no name brands. Also check sites like yahoo shopping, shopzilla, and These all provide discount searches for anything you are looking for. 


Lastly, one should consider safety in any serious sport. In the case of the co-worker who bought the no name bike, when the frame broke he did go over the handle bars and injured his shoulder and cut up his face. He had a helmet, but the point was clear. He bought a used diamond back with less features (better quality) for the same price the following week. The store did give him a refund on the bike that fell apart. What good are more features if the product is not going to hold up and provide you with a safe experience? 

Top 10 Tips To Purchasing Good Sporting Equipment 

1. Have you heard of the brand? If not, look it up and see what others are saying.


2. Inspect the quality of the product. Move parts, check for fluid operation, apply pressure to see how the product responds.


3. Know your abilities. If your are just learning a new sport your don’t need the top model. It is usually better to get the learning model of a good brand than the discount brand that comes with features you don’t need or know how to use. (Although I must note this is where you can find the best deals! If you are lucky you may find that person who bought the top model only to use the product once and is now cleaning out the garage. You just scored a great deal).


4. The more expensive the item the more research you should do.


5. Are you a quick learner? If you are and you plan on doing the sport more often, spend the extra to get the next model up (you don’t need the top model, but just something above the learning model). You will be happy you did.


6. Safety should always come first. If you plan on punishing your gear, buy the gear that is meant to be punished. If you can’t afford the new gear, shop for used gear.


7. Sporting gear usually goes on sale in the off season or just before the new models come out. If you can wait, buy in the off season.


8. Comfort should also be a consideration. If something does not feel good in the store imagine what it will feel like after a few hours of using the gear.


9. Look for demo’s. Many types of sporting gear can be “tried out”. This is a great way to see how the product performs and to try different models.


10. Don’t buy on color and look alone. Your list should be safety, comfort, quality, and then you can play with color and graphics.

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