I consider myself to be really good at finding great deals, and I must say I really saved so much money by ordering a lot of my gear online at stores in the States...lucky for me a really good friend (thanks again Nats) was kind enough to bring my gear home after her business trip! Now I can already hear you saying, yes but what about sizing etc etc, well let me tell you that I spent a full week investigating before placing final orders.
Do yourself a favour and go check out www.backcountry.com - I found their website the most helpful and their sales are just out of this world! They also have live support online, so I chatted with numerous of their staff whilst surfing (and they generally are avid mountaineers as well) who gave me awesome advice, and never once tried to sell me anything expensive! In fact I got my gear at mostly half price!!!
I simply called up the online help function and told the person where I was going, what I needed and they came back with 3/4 options with links for me to check out - and the sale items were always first on the list!
To give a good example, they had a couple of technical shell jackets left in smaller sizes and only in a fern green colour....lucky for me I'm short and small, so I ended up paying less than half price for a Mountain Hardwear shell jacket - same jacket here in SA was R3000 and up, I paid R1400!
Their sizing charts are amazing and really accurate, I measured and added some for layering, and my goodies fit perfectly!
I will be posting my gear list for Mount Elbrus in a separate post, I really spent loads of time researching this as I really do battle with the cold in general...I do not want to spoil or foil my summit attempt due to me being under dressed!
Just another quick thing I HAVE TO mention - I'm sure you've all heard of those Grabber hand warmers, toe warmers etc..I think you get generic ones too, but Grabber is generally top of the market...well they retail for around R25 a set here in SA, but after going onto their international website and seeing all their products I was desperate to get my hands (or shall I say feet) on their full insole warmers - those would surely do wonders for the metal in my foot!! Only one supplier in SA gave me the option of getting them in for me - at R200 a pair!!? So....being the bargain hunter that I am, guess what? I managed to get a travel box from them containing the following:
- 10 sets of hand warmers
- 10 sets of toe warmers
- 10 sets of extra large body warmers
- 10 sets of full foot insoles