Wal-Mart is taking another stab at the budget-priced camping market, via subsidiary Moosejaw. Through Moosejaw, the mega-retailer has introduced new lines of low-priced camping gear and outdoors clothes.
Moosejaw is a retailer itself, selling a wide variety of high-end camping and outdoors brands as well as its own in-house equipment. Wal-Mart acquired the company in 2017, and used Moosejaw to sell premium gear through the Wal-Mart website. There was a pushback from some outdoors enthusiasts, so the bigwigs pulled back and re-thought their strategy. Now, we see the result: two of Moosejaw’s in-house brands will be sold through Wal-Mart, as well as through Moosejaw. This won’t offend the gear purists, but allows Wal-Mart to potentially offer products that are higher-quality than its current offerings.
The new Moosejaw brands, Lithic and Allforth, have distinct purposes, at least for now. At this point, Allforth is a clothing brand, selling shirts and pants that are “Fit for every body.” We’re talking zip-off pants, vented shirts, that sort of thing. It’s not likely a huge excitement for adventure riders, although savvy travellers know there are some advantages to buying lightweight kit like this; it packs lighter, and the quick-dry materials make it easier to do your laundry in a campground bathroom sink, if you’re the truly frugal type.
Lithic is a gear brand. For now, it’s got a very limited lineup; there are a few backpacks, a couple of cook sets (see one in the video above), a couple of generic camp stove kits, and a sleeping bag. It’s all affordably priced, a bit higher than the true bottom-dollar stuff you’ll find on Aliexpress (but with similar looks), but lower than brand-name stuff you get from specialty stores. Moosejaw’s website describes the kit this way: “Created for everyone, LITHIC is focused on providing affordable camping gear so that outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the fresh air without having to break the bank.” There’s likely more stuff to come here; we’d expect tents, at the very least.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Right now, there’s plenty of antipathy towards Chinese-made products, but for buyers who have no other local retailer besides Wal-Mart, that might not be an issue. Same goes for buyers on a tight budget. If the gear proves to be decent quality, that will be enough to keep many buyers happy. For others, made-in-China, bought-at-Wal-Mart gear will never be good enough—but then, Wal-Mart likely never intended to crack that market to start with.