To prepare for my trip across America, I’ve had to thoroughly research all the gear that I’ll be taking with me. When I finally got my list together, the next step was finding the best deals, since I’m not a rich man by any means. Recently, I encountered three companies that made me realize how important it is to research not just the item you want, but the company as well. In this article, I’ll recommend two great companies that went above and beyond to help me get the equipment I needed for my trip and another company that you should avoid altogether. We’ll start by breaking the tradition of the modern world and start with the good:
I first heard about Hennessy Hammocks when I was checking out another adventurer’s gear list. His name is Matthew Karsten aka The Expert Vagabond. He has some great content that has seriously helped me prepare for my journey. If you’re interested in adventure travel, backpacking, and awesome tips for when you’re on the move, check out his site: www.expertvagabond.com
Anyways, while I was reading his gear list to help come up with my own, I noticed that he had a hammock. The thought to use a hammock on the road had never occurred to me. They’re lightweight, take up very little room (especially with a compression sack), and are quick and easy to set up. So I dove into researching hammocks and one name just kept coming up: Hennessy Hammocks (The same type the Expert Vagabond recommended).
I then checked out their site (www.hennessyhammocks.com) and found a cool company with an awesome history. Definitely, check out Tom’s Story when you visit the site.
After I decided on the hammock that would fit my needs (Deluxe Explorer Asym Zip with a Polyester Hex Rainfly), I saw that they had an insulation package (Supershelter 4-season Insulation System #2). Being as that I am backpacking all 50 states, I’m pretty sure I’ll be encountering some cold weather. Needless to say, I really wanted to get it. However, money was an issue being that work was off and on for me and the fact that I only had about a month left before starting the trip and needed to save as much as possible to get started. Basically, I could barely afford the hammock by itself.
However, being durable (210 D Oxford Nylon), and one of the only places that included a rainfly and integrated bug net with the hammock, I wasn’t worried that it might be a little more expensive. I wanted the best for my trip and when it comes to hammocks, Hennessy is it.
But I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask if they could work with me on the price a bit and let them know what I’ll be doing with the hammock (backpacking all 50 states). I honestly, wasn’t expecting much because again they’re a high quality well-known brand. However, not only did they work with me on the price, but I was able to afford the insulation system as well.
This company went above and beyond to help me out and now have a customer for life. I highly recommend them to anyone who spends time outdoors…or indoors lol. I’ll be including them in my gear list, travel guides, and videos.
A truly great company with an awesome history and a high quality product (with which they even have tutorials of how to set them up).
Check’em out: www.hennessyhammocks.com
Bait-and-switch: a selling method in which a customer is attracted by the advertisement of a low-priced product but then is encouraged to buy a more expensive one.
If you ever need an example of this feel free to check out Daxmart.com.
Our story begins on the week where civilized people turn into gladiators and cashiers fear for their lives, of course, I’m talking about Black Friday. Me? I took the Black Friday Agoraphobic approach and did my shopping online. I was searching for my second most important item (my Sony HDR-CX-900 camcorder). While searching the sites for the best deal I came across the big brother to my camera (The Sony FDR-AX100), an Ultra HD 4k camcorder. A pretty sweet camera…well out of my price range. Nevertheless, I searched a few sites that had it for sale and I came across daxmart.com.
They had the AX-100 for the same price as the CX-900. I couldn’t believe it (rather I shouldn’t have believed it), and immediately jumped on the black Friday deal they had going and ordered it.
I then got an e-mail asking me to call and confirm my purchase. Being that it was a more expensive purchase, I didn’t think much about it. However, if a company asks you to do this absolutely do your research on them.
I called up and went through the frustrating automated menu and then was placed on hold so I could take to a customer representative….for 15 minutes. When someone finally did pick up, I could barely understand him. I would say this was a red flag, but how many times do you call a customer service line and get someone who could clearly speak English…
Anyways, I told him I was calling to confirm my order and gave him my order number.
Him: Ok, I see you have ordered the Sony AX100 camcorder, but no battery. Would you like to add one to your order?
Me (already knowing the high prices of their batteries and planning to buy them later on amazon): Doesn’t it come with a battery?
Him: No, none of these cameras come with batteries. You can check anywhere (I did and they do). Also would you like to add a battery charger and power cord to your order?
Me (so many red flags going off and slapping myself on the forehead for being so stupid): How much would my total be if I added those?
Him: Just $1799.00 (More than the price it was on amazon)
Me: …I’d like to cancel my order.
After an infuriating exchange where he kept trying to convince me that this is the best deal I would find anywhere, I was finally able to cancel my order. I then took to the internet and researched Daxmart the company…and realized how stupid I’d been. There are countless reviews in which Daxmart is a perfect example of the bait and switch tactic and just an all around horrible company.
Check out some of the reviews right here: http://daxmart.pissedconsumer.com/
So the moral of the story: do your research when you’ve got an important item to buy and if it’s too good to be true it usually is.
The most important piece of equipment for my trip is my computer. I need it for video editing, writing, keeping in contact with family, friends, and fans. It is also going to be fundamental in finding places to stay, jobs, and interesting people to interview. Basically, it’s my boat keeping me afloat. Therefore, to put it frankly, I researched the crap out of what I needed.
A long time ago, I saw a commercial for a Panasonic Toughbook. I remember thinking how awesome they were. You can drop them, spill stuff on them, and they are fine. I remember even reading an article how a Toughbook saved this guy in the army. He was at his computer when some insurgents started shooting at them. After the battle, he looked at his computer which was still on and working fine and found that on the other side a bullet was sticking out.
Thinking about my trip, how I’ll be camping and hiking in all kinds of weather, this seemed like the best choice if I didn’t want to lose all my data to falling down a mountain and into a river.
The only problem is the one we all have when we want to get something…the cost. Being as that these babies are so high quality (often used by military and police), the cost was not surprisingly high as well.
The one I was looking at (the Panasonic Toughbook CF-31), can go for $3000 – $5000 new. So I was a bit distraught, because there was no way I could afford that. Luckily, a lot of friends of mine are nerds. One of them suggested that I get a refurbished one and get it built with the specs I would need for the trip.
While I grew up in the tech generation and know how to use a computer, I wasn’t sure about the specs I needed. So again I asked my friends. Here is what they came up with:
Processor: i3 or better
RAM: 4GB or more
Memory: 500 GB or more
So I began searching for a legitimate Toughbook refurbisher. The first few I looked at were the top contenders. They were Microsoft certified refurbishers and google trusted stores. When I first started looking, I couldn’t believe the difference in price. Some other versions of the Toughbook were going for only $300 and up.
Anyways, I began building the computer on different sites, comparing prices, and what they had available. The first few refurbishers that I looked at were on the expensive side (no doubt because of their credibility as a certified refurbisher). I checked a few more and found a couple that were sketchy (no certifications to speak of and the grey question mark that Norton displays next to an uncertain website). Then I found:
I quickly discovered that this place had something the others didn’t:
A 1TB solid state drive
Naturally, I was drooling and after comparing the prices I found that they had most of the best prices around. I checked with them and found out that they also did competitive pricing. So I was able to get the best deal with the best specs. As an example, the one thing that the other websites had was a 16GB RAM. I asked them about if they could put one in and what it would cost. They said they could and gave me the best deal compared to the other rugged laptop dealers. Along with that they threw in a year of Kaspersky antivirus software for free.
So by taking my time and researching, I was able to find this hidden gem and got not only a great deal, but all of the best specs that I didn’t think I would be able to afford. Here is the beast of a computer what I ended up with:
Memory: 1TB SSD
1 Year free Kaspersky antivirus software
An Internal GPS
Windows 7 (Because 10 is terrible)
Media Bay Battery
Removable Super Multi-DVD drive
An additional long life battery
They also supply Police and Military with computers and have a Norton shopping guarantee. So if you are in the market for a Rugged Laptop and want the best specs and best price check out: www.ocruggedlaptops.com
Thanks again Mack for all your help! 🙂
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