"Finally, sort your gear carefully into three piles consisting of absolute essentials, important items and could live without stuff and only bring the “essentials."
Black Diamond

Shopping

Price comparison

Shops

Background information

Even a short trip usually requires loads of gear. Credit: Ari Paulin,  Shot on 2011-12-23 Photo taken in Tampere, Länsi-Suomen lääni, Finland.(c) (c) 2010 Ari Paulin, licensed under: (c) 2010 Ari Paulin.
Even a short trip usually requires loads of gear. Credit: Ari Paulin, Shot on 2011-12-23 Photo taken in Tampere, Länsi-Suomen lääni, Finland.(c) (c) 2010 Ari Paulin, licensed under: (c) 2010 Ari Paulin.

Back in the day I collected plenty of various information about mountaineering equipment in Finnish that can be found in Gear Guide This section is not updated anymore (hasn't been for several years), so it is certainly badly out of date in many ways.

Shopping

In the current days, there's no real shortage either on gear or information about it. Whenever in the marked for major new kit, my process is usually as follows:

Gather information about available options
Usually I get information about the available tools in one of the following ways:
  • Read about them in magazine, website or discussion forum
  • Look for info about some type of gear with search engine or browsing webshops
  • Tumble into something when looking for something else in shops
Decide on what to buy
Loads of magazines publish tests of gear. So magazines either in traditional paper form or electronic ones are good places to start. Back that up with manufacturer websites and shops and it is relatively easy to find out what gear is available. That being said, in current days various websites, particularly discussion forums, gear review sites and blogs are great places to gather first hand information how others have found various pieces of kit. As these are filled with personal opinions of regular users, it may be brutally honest. However, as mileage, views and usage patters vary, take everything you read with healty dose of grain of salt. Further word of warning though, this can easily lead to countless hours wasted in hunting informations.
Decide where to get it
Once I have identified what I find, I start to research where I can get it. Ideally I'd buy locally but is often not an options either due to limited availability or prices way higher than on elsewhere. Unfortunately this often means that I have to order say boots without being able to actually fit the model. Which tends to lead for me to stick to brands & models I now fit me. Various Price comparison websites are great tools to find out where you can get what you are looking for most affordably. However, these seldom do a perfect job unless you are comparing local shops on a local website, as price comparison sites seldom are 100% up to date and usually comparison results don't have correct info about availability and cost of packaging and shipping. Not to mention possible customs and/or additional taxes you may be liable to pay.

Reviews

Price comparison

Shops

Manufacturers

See manufacturer websites for products info. Some manufacturers keep all kings of additional information handy. For example size chart can be very valuable when ordering something from webshop without a possibility to try it on.