Rebuys: The Upside to Buying the Same Gear Twice
Tony Sculimbrene 08.06.14
If you have even a passing interest in gear, then you have probably sold more than one or two items over the internet. The gear we buy tends to be well-made and overbuilt. The reality is that we will wear out before our gear does. Additionally, there is a thriving secondary market for gear, as seen on the many BST boards on the major forums. This can, and almost always does, lead to selling some of the stuff you have, stuff that you think you might not miss. Sometimes, however, during the churn of gear, you will realize that you made a mistake, and when given the opportunity, you re-acquire something you sold. It seems irrational, but it happens, and I think it is is a commentary on how good you thought that item was.
Rebuys, if you pay attention, can help you better understand what you really like. Sometimes we buy gear with an almost aspirational sense–this will be perfect, this will let me REALLY survive out in the woods, this will complete my collection, or the worst: THIS is the version I really will like. But all of these hopes are covering over something: what will you truly like and use. It’s not an easy thing to figure out, but rebuying gear helps answer it. Plus it can save you money. You will cease to be tempted by the newest, latest, and greatest. Instead you can focus on what will really work for you.
Over the years, I have rebought two knives–many Dragonfly variants (perhaps too many: the original version, the ZDP-189 version, the Nishijin version, and the Super Blue version) and the Kershaw Skyline. Analyzing why I rebought them has helped me sharpen my tastes and will hopefully prevent me from wasting money going forward.
Gear that gets sold and rebought usually falls into one of three categories: stuff that seems boring, stuff that really works but is offered in a potentially higher performing model, and stuff that you abandon for a more collectible version.
The Kershaw Skyline is one of the best production folders out there. The flipping action, especially in more recent production runs, is superb. The blade shape and size are very good for EDC, and thanks to a creative design trick by Tommie Lucas, it is exceptionally light. It is also widely available and inexpensive. But the beadblasted blade and black G10 make for a pretty ho hum knife. Even the clip is staid (though amazingly functional). In the end, I sold off my original Skyline because, well, I thought it lacked the wow factor that even similarly priced production folders, like the Mini Griptillian or the Delica, had. So I cycled through those knives, and in the end I came back to the Skyline.
Here is what I learned from this rebuy–simplest is often best. Simple designs just work. The Mini Grip is a great knife, as is the Delica, but both are expensive and neither have a flipper or the great performance ratios (blade:handle and blade:weight) that the Skyline does. I also prefer the 14C28N steel in the Skyline’s blade to either of the stock steels in the Mini Grip (154CM) and the Delica (VG-10). If the piece of gear is too plain jane but a commercial success, don’t worry. The knife companies will make a rarer limited edition sooner or later.
Spyderco is the worst (and by that I mean the best) at tempting folks to rebuy gear. Their capacity to feed the steel junkie in all of us is unrivaled. No other company uses as wide a range of steels as Spyderco, and no company comes close to using as exotic steels as they do. It is quite common for Spyderco to take a beloved classic and add in some exotic steel. My favorite knife of all time, the Dragonfly, has been “resteeled” many times. The ZDP-189 version was excellent and did every single thing I could ask it to do, but the allure of new steel was too strong to resist. So I sold the ZDP-189 Dragonfly and bought, eventually, the equally hard and more interesting Super Blue model.
If I wasn’t obsessed with both exotic steels and this little knife I would have never done this, but the reality is that the appeal of a steel with high performance and ancient origins is just too strong to resist.
This leads to the final lesson I learned in the process of rebuying gear–ignore bling unless you’re a collector. After the ZDP-189 DF2, I had the Nishijin scaled version.
It was a very well made knife and much more expensive than the stock version. I am also certain it will be worth a ton on the secondary market, but as an EDC, it was significantly worse than both the ZDP-189 DF2 and the Super Blue DF2. The spoon clip and the blingy scales drew way too much attention for me to use the knife discretely. Additionally, the scales were mounted on metal liners making the knife portly by DF2 standards, it was nearly twice the weight. After that purchase, it was finally 100% clear–I am not a collector. I didn’t carry the Nishijin version or use it because I was afraid of messing up the knife and that defeats the purpose of owning a tool. If I don’t use it, I don’t want it.
Rebuying gear is a weird phenomenon, but it can help you better understand what you like and why you like it. For me, it helped whittle away all of the silly reasons to buy new gear, and in the end, saved me money. The newest release isn’t as tempting anymore because I know what I like and why.
Understanding this, along with avoiding the upgrade treadmill, has helped me save money, enjoy my purchases more, and buy things I like and intend to use. I still hunt stuff down and go into crazy research mode like I am sure many of you do, but it is a better informed process than before.