It’s not that I don’t trust technology it’s just that most of the time I don’t understand it. It’s the pace of change that gets to me. Just when I think I’ve mastered one thing it moves on and I find myself running after it like I’m chasing some ever accelerating bus, no matter how close I get to it, it’s always pulling away and nobody seems to have the time table. I’ve decided that I’ll never use a GPS on the hill, not because they aren’t great little devices and would be really handy at times but because I spend so much time in front of one kind of screen or another I just want somewhere in my life that I don’t have to watch some flickering little screen or reboot it every now and again.
That doesn’t make me a technophobe, or maybe it does, I still use technology and I take my little Nexus 7 tablet into bothies so, if I’m there alone, I can watch a movie. This harmless little pass time has brought me much approbation, as if it’s somehow immoral or unethical. I think there’s a place for technology, it allows us to do amazing things, it’s getting the balance right that’s the trick, we shouldn’t let it take over.
Enough of the grumpy old man lecture, you’re here to find out about how to get cheap gear. I was on a hillside on a cold day in Glen Affric when I pulled on my trusty jacket, a Pertex shell with fleece lining made by Montane, I’ve had for years. Then something odd happened I realised I was still cold. For years that little jacket has kept out the Highland winter with unfailing enthusiasm but now the wind just seemed to be able to find a way through. Then I thought about it, I must have had that jacket for ten years at least, it had surely earned its right to a comfortable retirement spending its afternoons on the couch watching old East Enders episodes.
Somehow, all my gear conspired to wear out at once. Once I replaced my jacket my sleeping bag decided to give up the ghost. I just had to buy some new gear. I’d decided to put off buying a new sleeping bag until next season. I’m writing in late March and the winter is practically over isn’t it? We all know the answer to that one. I’d been secretly coveting a Rab down bag in Go Outdoors (GO) for some time but the price stubbornly remained at £220 and I decided I couldn’t justify that expense right now, another few nights shivering and surely spring would arrive and solve the problem at least until next winter. If it came down to below £200 I decided I’d go for it.
Then I spotted that GO have this price challenge thing (I’m sure other stores do it too). If you can find something cheaper elsewhere they’ll beat the cost by 10%. Here’s where the technology comes in, I started to search on my little tablet for cheaper prices. I found a couple but the bag wasn’t in stock. Then the tablet, which is much smarter than me, took over. “Why don’t you use this handy App?” It piped up. I’m not too sure what an App is but I thought well I’ll give it a go. I downloaded an App called Twenga, I’m sure there’s others, it may not be the best. Off it went searching the Internet for a cheaper price, sniffing around like a Jack Russell in search of rats.
Then up it popped, a supplier called Tower Ridge (only fair to give them some credit) had the bag for £200. I phoned GO head, office explained my find, and they cheerfully sent me an email entitling me to get the bag at my local store for £180. Result I think! I saved £40 without rising from the couch.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea I’m not sponsored by anyone and nobody gives me free gear. That’s not to say if you happen to be reading this and you are the marketing manager for some company I couldn’t perhaps be tempted from the straight and narrow.
(Please, please, I’ll say anything you want!)
I know this is not my usual blog and there’s no stirring accounts of encounters with freezing bothy monsters but forty quid’s worth shouting about, don’t you think?
This is the comparison site http://www.twenga.co.uk/
PS. I just saved £90 on a pair of Scarpa Mantas, nice! Feb 2014.