- Buyer's Guide
Backpack Resales: the Art of Catch and Release
For a new twist on interviews, we caught up with Kevin Ankin, member of the Carryology Classified Facebook group and prolific buyer and seller of slings, packs and organization pouches.
When Kevin isn’t at his day job as an IT Consultant he can often be found participating in discussions at that secondhand marketplace, snatching up a deal on a soft goods product that someone offered up for sale, or tagging another member he knows has been looking for the same item.
Over a very short time, he’s built a reputation as a knowledgeable carryologist and (all around) great person to deal with, so we wanted to glean some of his insights on buying and trading in a space that can be pretty fickle and hot one minute, dead the next.
Kevin, thank you again for taking the time to talk about pack game. With luck, folks new to the experience of the secondhand market can learn some valuable lessons, without the costly mistakes that might sour their experience.
What is your count on the total number of pieces you have purchased in the past five years?
I was able to count to 80, but I know I’m forgetting some. Some bags I’ve bought more than once after selling previously. Others came through trades and those aren’t included in my 80 count.
And what drives you to flip so much gear?
I’m really just looking to try new stuff. However, I tend to find fault in all bags and then I can’t stop thinking about it so I need to let it go. But it’s mostly the former. There are so many different materials out there being made into bags; waxed canvas, all the various facets of Nylon and Polyester, as well as X-pac and Dyneema. Some materials work for me in some applications, and others don’t. It has taken a lot of “flipping” as you say to get me to know that. You can also say it’s about finding the perfect pack, which I won’t, but it’s fun to try.
How many of those were catch-and-release items which you sold off shortly thereafter?
Quite a few. A lot actually. I envision how I’m going to use it and if it doesn’t live up to that, then it’s out the door. I also measure it against what I’m currently using bags for today, and if my current carry doesn’t fit with the bag, then I sell it. My carry has changed a lot over time, so there’s a good chance some of those would work today that didn’t work yesterday.
And are there any common reasons why something you just bought for a song might be a quick sell?
There are some bags out there referred to as unicorns. These are bags that are no longer in production but have built up a cult following where people will not hesitate to buy if it comes up for sale. You can find some of them for sale now, but the seller usually knows what they have and is selling for more than what the market is willing to pay, hoping for that one buyer. So, snagging one of them, even if the bag is not to your liking, is worth the purchase because if priced right, it won’t take long to flip. Even if the bag isn’t a unicorn, but the bag is rarely seen for sale at the price you got it for, most people will flip it to help fund either that unicorn they are after (their grail bag) or the new bag that has hit the market.
Have you noticed a significant change in your tastes?
Absolutely. One of my absolute favorite bags at the moment is a GORUCK GR0, a precursor to the GR1 sold today. I never would have bought it when I first started out and have been happy ever since. I once bought a new GR1 but returned it due to how stiff the bag is brand new. It’s one of the negatives you hear so much about. Since I have a habit of selling bags quickly after getting them, I knew I’d never break it in to the point where it becomes “perfect” for you. But the GR0 came that way and it’s been a dream to carry. I like to think that if I only had this early on, I might not have bought and sold as many as I have. It’s really close to perfect for me.
If I were new to the Classified group and wanted to put a GORUCK GR1 up for sale, what sort of advice could you offer to improve my chances of selling it at my desired price?
You couldn’t have picked a more polarizing bag to bring up. Within the carry community you hear a lot of negative feedback about them, but just as many positive ones, if not more, though. When it comes to selling one, it’s usually a good bet it’s going to sell. What makes it kind of difficult to sell though is the price you set. A lot of people get a discount at GORUCK. It’s a 25% discount offered to public servants; military, law enforcement, government employees, first responders, as well as students. A lot of your bag enthusiasts come from those groups. So, selling a used GR1 close to MSRP won’t typically work. The number 1 piece of advice I would give to any new member of the group is to do a search for GR1’s. Get a feel for what’s been sold in the past and measure that up to what you are trying to sell, especially on what’s been sold most recently. The second piece of advice would be to pick a price that includes shipping and any fees that come with the payment method, and mention they are included in the price. It makes the transaction smoother and effortless on the buyer, which is what the buyer wants. Don’t you want that as a seller, too? Do 1 and 2 and you should see a quick(ish) sale. The last piece of advice would be to take good photos and call out any issues from minor blemishes to major ones. No one wants to be surprised when they get the GR1 in the mail and find something wrong with it that could or would have swayed their decision to purchase it in the first place.
In matters of etiquette what is important to consider when putting something up for sale?
First and foremost, read and abide by the group rules. After that, be truthful in your sale. The people that frequent these groups the most like to consider themselves a community. We are like-minded individuals, which is why we joined in the first place. We have built solid friendships out of it. If you want to last in the community, tell the truth. There are other avenues for you to go if that’s not what you are about. In my previous answer I mentioned calling out minor and major blemishes. Everyone likes to use trigger words that try to boost their chances at a sale. Such as, like new, or excellent condition. If it’s not truly those things, don’t say it. Think about how it would be if the tables were turned. Would you be okay with getting a bag that had an issue with it at the price you bought it at if the condition was overly exaggerated? Even if you would, mention it anyways. These aren’t sales with return policies.
What is the one item you let get away that you most regret?
I’ve been lucky to get my hands on most of what I’ve wanted. Patience and building good relationships has allowed for that. Although if you know me, I have zero patience, so it has mostly come down to whether or not I have the cash. That’s where I say no most often. I rarely, if ever, will buy an item for more than MSRP. So I don’t really regret not buying something. I have though had regret buying something and it being a total flop. That comes from making snap decisions. However, if the bag is “hot” at the moment, and you take time to think about it, it’s sold to someone else. Those regretful purchases have been few and far between, so for that I’m thankful. But if there is a VX Litespeed in black out there, PM me. That’s one bag I’d like to own, but the going price for it keeps me from buying it. A lot of people would probably think I would have said the Remote Equipment Alpha 31. I didn’t know much about that bag until it became as sought after as it is today, so I can’t really regret not buying it while it was for sale. I guess I only regret not knowing about it earlier. I’ve only seen it for sale once, and it went for more than MSRP, a lot more, so of course, I passed. There’s going to be another production run in 2020, so that’s a plus.
Are you using any particular platforms for your buying and selling, like reddit or eBay? Where have you had the most success with minimal fuss?
Most of my sales occur via Facebook on The Perfect Pack group and the Carryology Classified group. I use eBay on occasion when something is either not selling on either one of those groups or it’s an item that won’t get the attention of group members. I like to keep sales within those two Facebook groups because it’s nice to move a bag along to another member rather than some random on eBay. Folks in the group tend to show their appreciation for the bag they bought, will write up some reviews of their own, or “catch and release” to another member. Those Facebook groups tend to be the best format over eBay for me. eBay will take percentages of your sales and I personally like to avoid that.
Which bags and brands move the fastest? Have you singled out a particular best seller?
The bag or brand that moves the fastest is basically anything in demand, either it just hit the market or it’s a unicorn/grail bag that doesn’t come up for sale often. Just recently the Alpha One Niner Evade 1.5 (full and light versions) are hot. The pre-order sales prices have ended so when those bags come up they are typically in great shape, like new condition and cost less than the current price. If you price it right it will sell within a couple hours or less. Some materials and colors are out of stock so that helps make a quick sale. For me personally, the EVERGOODS CPL24 in red was my quickest sale. With only 100 of those bags made that bag is on a lot of people’s wish lists and will not last long when it goes up for sale. But again, price will dictate that as well.
This article was written by Jon Custis. Jon is a retired infantryman, currently serving diplomat, and professional nomad. His thoughts on carry are influenced by years of suffering under packs stitched up by the lowest bidder; he joined Carryology to shed those scars.