I wouldn't really call myself a particularly brand-loyal person. For the most part, the whole concept of branding seems rather dubious to me. Paying extra money for a name brand product usually just means you're paying a premium so that you can see the company's advertisements everywhere. However, there are a few brands that I can actually trust to be something better than the generic, and I just have to give a little credit right now to Marmot.

I bring this up because a few nights ago we went to the Gear and Beer event at Backwoods in Overland Park, where Marmot reps fed us free Boulevard beer and food. Now, you may think that anyone who gives me free beer gets my seal of approval. While this is mostly correct, I also have other reasons to think Marmot is the best gear outfitter on the planet. I got my first gore-tex shell jacket for backpacking in 2001, a bright orange Marmot jacket, with a zip-in fleece liner. I wore this jacket for ten years, without getting a single tear, or having the zipper, buttons, or anything else replaced. It was also pretty much the warmest jacket I ever had until I got a Marmot down jacket last year. (Honestly, the Zeus jacket is so damned warm, I can't hardly ever find a time to wear it where I don't overheat. Also doubles as a great camping pillow.)

Since then, I've got Marmot rain pants, a packable rain jacket, fleece, and gloves. Everything I have ever owned from Marmot has been awesome, and after years of use is still in great condition. And now, I can add the Marmot Kompressor Pack to my list (bright orange no less), as I won it at the Gear and Beer party by running up to the front to answer the trivia question of what a Marmot is. (Hint: it's a woodchuck that lives in the mountains. Or was that a groundhog? Apparently, they're really just giant squirrels. Where's Punxsutawney Phil when we need him?)

Now, I know what you're thinking: this guy must be rich! To be fair, Marmot is super expensive, and I don't think that I've paid full price for any of the stuff. It's pretty much all closeouts from the previous year, mostly off of Sierra Trading Post. Hopefully, some day I can do the company more of a service than spreading the word by actually buying some of their things at full retail price.

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