It is a common thread in preparedness that good quality equipment is important. It goes without saying that the most important step is to build a strong skill set, one that will allow the prepper to respond in a flexible manner. I will be getting more into a discussion on skill sets in the future, but for now let's talk about equipment.
I first became interested in prepping very early in my life. Because of this I did not have a large amount of available funds for equipment so I have developed a tendency to be frugal in my prepping purchasing. The problem with inexpensive gear is that it often lacks quality.
I will relate an experience that I had a few years ago related to this. There is a forum on the internet devoted to AR-15 rifles. The stated purpose is to educate users about them and share information. While good data can be found, the forum in practice is an advocacy for certain brands. This forum has had me thinking about the value of this kind of “brandism” for awhile now.
I have been improving on my EDC kit recently. On of the items that I wanted to add was a quality small flashlight of the “tactical” variety. There are a number of brands of this kind of light that have price tags that give some people, like me, pause. Price tags over $200 for a flashlight feel a little too much to me.
I am not trying to disparage the companies who produce this product. They have valued the product at this price point and for years the market has accepted and supported it. In a free market, a product that is overpriced compared to the quality will not survive. The light I chose is a Bushnell that came as a pair with a mini-light and cost just over $30. After a non-scientific cost/benefits analysis, I decided that this was the top price range I was willing to pay.
I was looking for a quality product that fit my price point and my needs. I feel like I found it, but time will tell if I am right. Would a high price point light provide good service? Almost certainly. Do I need that high of a quality for the mundane tasks that I perform on a daily basis? No, I don’t.
Going back to the AR-15 forum I was discussing earlier. On this site you will find a lot of threads asking questions about so-called second tier rifles. These are mass market items that carry a price tag well under the $1000 price point. The bone of contention here is that most of them do not carry the magic words “mil-spec”, meaning that the materials are not the same as those called for by the government specifications. I huge part of the membership of this forum look with disdain on the second-tier product and become very insulting toward those who discuss them with anything other the same disdain.
The question for me has become are the lower tier products of any value to the prepper? Not in comparison to the first tier product, but just in and of themselves. Is my new Bushnell flashlight of sufficient quality to fill needs? Am I putting my life in danger if I do not buy a first tier rifle?
Brand fanism is all well and fine, but the average prepper has to balance price and quality when making decisions. So yes, brand matters but not as much as some like to believe. A product must hold up to the intended use or it has no value. If you are not putting the item to regular, repeated hard use then the lower price ranges are probably going to serve.
I am not saying that the lower priced product is just as good as the higher price brands. What I am saying is that they can provide more than enough quality for average use. Brand should be a guide, it can not become the only reason to buy.