is backcountry legit? a review

Is Backcountry Legit? Unpacking the Truth [2024]

by Fraser

Given the vast numbers of online retailers, it’s crucial to discern between the genuine platforms and the… not-so-genuine ones.

As an outdoor enthusiast, one name has consistently popped up in my searches and recommendations: Backcountry. An outdoor goods giant that seems to have dominated the market in recent years.

However, amidst some less-favorable reviews, one question naturally arises, “Is Backcountry legit?”

To give you the inside scoop, I donned my investigator cap and set to work. These are my findings. 

The Short Answer

Backcountry has established itself as a legitimate online merchant for outdoor equipment, apparel, and accessories since 1996. However, when comparing it to other platforms, many people (myself included) find that Evo.com offers a more comprehensive product selection, user-friendly experience, and consistent customer service, making it a better choice for your outdoor gear.

A Detailed Summary

Backcountry Outdoor Goods

Backcountry Outdoor Goods

  • Free Shipping over $50
  • Excellent soft goods product range, average range of hard-goods
  • Lifetime return period for unused items!

Description:

Backcountry is a leading online retailer established in 1996, specializing in premium outdoor gear, clothing, and accessories. Catering to a range of outdoor enthusiasts, from hikers to skiers, Backcountry offers an extensive selection from top-tier brands, coupled with expert advice and a robust customer service framework. The platform has cemented its reputation as a popular destination for adventurers seeking quality and reliability.

Verdict:

Backcountry has established itself as a major player in the outdoor retail sector, offering a wide range of premium products. However, their history of suing smaller companies over trivial trademark disputes raises ethical concerns for some consumers (myself included). In comparison, many find that Evo.com delivers a more comprehensive and authentic service, positioning it as a preferable choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Pros

Wide Product Assortment: One thing is certain; Backcountry doesn't skimp on variety. Their product range is extensive!

Expertise On Hand: Their 'Gearheads', a team of outdoor experts, provide invaluable advice. I've reached out to them more than once and always left the conversation with helpful tips.

Robust Return Policy: Being able to return products, even after trying them out, offers a layer of reassurance. Their policy on unused item's is even more generous!

User Reviews and Q&A: Their product pages often have detailed user reviews and Q&A sections.

Promotions and Sales: Regular sales and promotions offer customers a chance to snag high-quality gear at reduced prices.

Cons

Lawsuit Madness: Backcountry faced criticism for initiating trademark-related lawsuits against smaller, grassroots businesses. This raises concerns about their approach to community engagement and ethical practices.

Shipping Delays: While I generally received my orders on time, I stumbled upon complaints about shipping delays in some reviews.

Pricing: Given the high-quality brands they stock, some items can be on the pricier side when not on sale.

Environmental Concerns: A few readers pointed out the excessive packaging for some items.

Who are Backcountry?

Backcountry is an online retailer that specializes in outdoor gear, clothing, and accessories. Launched in 1996, the company has grown to be a significant player in the outdoor industry, catering to a wide range of activities, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, camping, and mountain biking

backcountry building

Founded by Jim Holland and John Bresee, Backcountry began its journey as an online retailer from a garage in Park City, Utah. Over the decades, it has blossomed into one of the most reputable names in the online outdoor retail sector, offering a broad array of products tailored for activities ranging from hiking and skiing to rock climbing and camping.

While their online presence is strong, they’ve also ventured into the physical retail landscape with a few select stores, including a flagship location in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

A unique and standout service Backcountry offers is their ‘Gearheads’—a team of outdoor experts dedicated to assisting customers with advice and product recommendations.

However, it’s worth noting that the brand faced controversy over legal actions against smaller entities concerning trademark rights, a move they later apologized for.

My Experience and Research

I’ve made a plenty of purchases from Backcountry over the years. The process was usually smooth, and I received genuine, high-quality products.

But to ensure an unbiased perspective, I ventured into various online forums, review platforms, and even sought feedback from fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Let’s see what they had to say…

1. Trustworthiness: A Closer Look at User Reviews

Backcountry’s reputation for trustworthiness should be evident not only from its longevity in the market but also from the masses of customer reviews.

However… I did note that more recently, these have become much more negative (particularly on third-party review sites).

The concerns have focused mainly around slow shipping times, customers receiving incorrect products and substandard customer services. Whilst I normally take bad reviews with a pinch of salt, the sheer number of them is a little off-putting!

One aspect that remains well-regarded is the personalized advice and recommendations provided by their ‘Gearheads.’ This service appears to boost trust, and shows the brand’s commitment to ensuring customers make well-informed purchasing decisions.

2. Reddit's Take on Backcountry.com

Diving into the world of Reddit, a platform renowned for its full-frontal, grassroots-level discussions, revealed a variety of opinions on Backcountry.com.

Many Redditors praised the platform for its vast product range, expert insights, and generally reliable customer service. The ‘Gearheads’ program, in particular, receives consistent praise for its authentic and knowledgeable guidance.

reddit snowboard logo

However, it’s also evident that the trademark disputes haven’t gone unnoticed in the community. Some Redditors expressed reservations, referencing the company’s past legal actions against smaller brands. Many still support an indefinite boycott!

Yet, several do acknowledge the company’s efforts to rectify its missteps, reflecting a broader understanding of its commitment to the outdoor community.

Where do you sit on the debate?

3. Online Security and Transparency

In today’s digital age, online security is paramount, and Backcountry.com has taken considerable measures to ensure the safety of its customers’ data.

Utilizing secure sockets layer (SSL) technology, the website encrypts personal and payment information, safeguarding it from potential breaches. Periodic reviews and updates to their cybersecurity measures further enhance this shield.

Moreover, there are clear privacy policies about how user data is handled. 

Let's Talk About the Backcountry Lawsuits!

The Backcountry.com lawsuits have been a topic of significant discussion, especially within the outdoor community. Here’s a more detailed look into the matter…

1. Where It All Went Wrong

Backcountry.com, for years, built its reputation as a leading online retailer specializing in outdoor gear and apparel.

However, in 2019, the company attracted controversy when it was revealed that they had been pursuing legal action against multiple smaller businesses that used the term “backcountry” in their names or products.

The company’s aggressive trademark enforcement raised eyebrows, given that the term “backcountry” is widely used to describe remote wilderness areas and is a common term in outdoor recreation. In essence, they don’t own the backcountry!

2. Scope of the Lawsuits

These legal actions weren’t just limited to businesses directly competing with Backcountry.com.

They allegedly extended to a wide variety of businesses, including those selling coffee, ski equipment, and even film festivals that had “backcountry” in their name or branding.

Here’s a few alleged examples:

  1. Backcountry Babes: An avalanche safety course for women. They were taken to court by Backcountry.com

  2. Backcountry Nitro: This coffee company was served with a massive lawsuit just for their name. 

  3. Backcountry Denim: A small company specializing in producing rugged denim designed for outdoor enthusiasts.

3. Immediate Response

The seemingly aggressive stance taken by a company previously held in high regard by the outdoor community led to backlash, big time!  

Many viewed these actions as bullying tactics against much smaller entities that lacked the resources to engage in prolonged legal battles. 

Many of the smaller, family businesses would have been made bankrupt by the legal fees, destroying grass-roots USA based business. 

4. The Backlash

As word of these lawsuits spread, many in the outdoor community, including customers, industry leaders, and activists, voiced their disapproval.

They called for boycotts and heavily criticized the company on social media platforms. The consensus was that such actions were contrary to the collaborative spirit of the outdoor community.

4. The Company's Reaction

In the wake of the significant backlash, Backcountry.com’s CEO, Jonathan Nielsen, publicly apologized for the company’s aggressive legal strategy.

He acknowledged the mistakes made and pledged to make amends.

This included dropping pending and future lawsuits related to the trademark issue and taking steps to rebuild trust with the community. The company also sought to engage directly with some of the affected businesses to find amicable solutions.

However… numerous small companies had already been forced to change their entire branding and name by this point!

6. The Outcome

In summary, while Backcountry.com tried to protect its brand, the approach they took was perceived as overreaching and damaging to smaller businesses and the broader community.

The incident served as a lesson in balancing brand protection with community values. The company’s subsequent actions did indicate a desire to rectify and learn from their mistakes. 

However, I’m not alone in still harbouring some reservations about Backcountry these days. Particularly if their customer service is also starting to decline. One thing is for sure… I’ll be keeping a very close eye on developments!

Backcountry Non-Profit Work

Time for a little positivity…

Backcountry.com has backed several avalanche safety non-profit organisations over the years. They’ve also championed sustainability, partnering with conservation-focused organizations to promote responsible outdoor practices.

Additionally, their involvement in local projects and financial contributions demonstrates their dedication to both environmental stewardship and community engagement.

Backcountry.com Alternatives

If you’d like to check out your other options, head to my list of the best sites to buy snowboard gear

Conclusion - Is Backcountry Legit?

All trails considered, Backcountry remains a legitimate and reputable online retailer in the outdoor realm. However, its commitment to offering top-notch products and expert-driven guidance are being somewhat overshadowed by their recent hitches.

Would I still shop at Backcountry?

Yes, but only if the product I really wanted wasn’t available at one of the more-community focused alternatives

Does that make me a hypocrite? Probably… but I’ll do anything for the right piece of snowboard gear (within reason). 

Happy riding!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored article, nor did Backcountry or Evo approach us to write it. However we do have affiliate links on the site and may earn commissions from products sold. That being said, we only ever recommend retailers and products that we personally support.  

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