How To: Lobby your S.O. for Gear

Posted by on Apr 22, 2009 in How To | 8 Comments

This post is another in a series of ‘How To’ Posts that I started last year. Click here to read the previous installments.

We all, at one time or another have needed new gear. Whether a bike, or a part for a bike, a new pack, or a pair of shoes, it is inevitable that upgrades and replacements become needed.

Even in this economy.

Personally, I love the process. I love researching new gear, and then finding just what I want at bottom-feeder prices. I spent about 6 weeks reading everything I could find about LED lights leading up to the 2006 KTR. I read reviews, blog posts, forum threads and manufacturers specs. I sent off email after email to the Crackhead himself, Mr. DH, who at that time was in the midst of building his own homebrew LED laser beams. The journey to finding the lights I used was nearly as fun as actually using them.


However there are certain obstacles to being able to find, and more importantly buy your new piece of tangible ecstasy. Namely, your Significant Other. So how do you lobby your S.O. in a way that he/she will approve, and even celebrate that new GPS or wheel set or that pair of white gloves?

Here is how I do it:

  • Safety. Getting new gear means safer, better working gear. Which means you will be less likely to crash due to equipment failure. If your S.O. worries about you out in the desert or along the divide then you can argue that the very best and newest gear is also the very safest gear. And plus, its a great way to advocate for getting a SPOT.
  • Economic foresight. Spending a “little” money now on a new XYZ will save a lot of money down the road when you would otherwise have to continually try and repair the current XYZ which is failing and has certainly become dangerous (see above).
  • It’s a great deal. Finding a great price on something is the sedentary version of skiing powder or riding singletrack. You feel like you are cheating the rest of world by finding something that only your fitness and intelligence have allowed you to see. The euphoria is enhanced when you are able to share that with your S.O. “Can you believe how much money I just saved!” It will be hard for your partner to deny the contagious feeling of accomplishment that accompanies finding that steal of a deal.
  • Sell something. I can justify nearly any purchase if it is offset by selling something I currently own. If I want a new bike, then I need to sell my current one. Now, in addition to being a legitimate way to offset costs, it is also a way to appear responsible to your S.O. They never have to know that the older bike works perfectly fine and there is no good reason to sell it, other than the desire for a new, shinier one to ride.
  • Accidentally buy it. This is hard to pull off, but you can try and accidentally buy something online. “I don’t know, I thought I was just checking to see what the shipping would be and suddenly I got a receipt thanking me for my purchase of that awesome new set of bindings. I am outraged!” By the time you figure out how to cancel the order it is too late – “dangit, its been processed!” And of course once it arrives the storm may have passed, and you can quietly integrate the new gear into your existing stash. Like I said, it’s hard to pull off, but coming across as an idiot is an easy price to pay for new gear.
  • Forgiveness is easier than permission. There is that old cliche about asking for forgiveness being easier than asking for permission. Well, I think it is true. And let’s be honest; we men (which I think make up the majority of my readers) are much better at saying sorry than we are at making our case in the first place. I think that must be because we are so very often needing to apologize. So after a while, we simply become very, very good at it.

Now, if none of the above work, there is one last technique that is certain to break down any economic barriers between you feeling triumph or wallowing in guilt when you pull the trigger on that new item. Be warned, this is a highly manipulative tactic that can backfire when used on a savvy S.O. But when it is used correctly it is almost guaranteed to work. I’m referring of course, to the “don’t you love me and want me to be happy” argument. In fact, let’s demonstrate a conversation (hypothetical of course) that employs some of the above mentioned lobbying strategies, including the highly effective, but ultra risky “don’t you love me” hand grenade:

“I really like these skis, they would open up a whole world of winter activity for me.”

“They are expensive”

“Well, yeah if you pay retail, but I can find these for at least half off.”


“Websites, clearance sales, I got a buddy who works in the industry, he might be able to swing a good deal for me.”

“Do you really need them?”

(At this point, no verbal response is needed, just a quick glance of repulsive disbelief will suffice)

“We really can’t afford them.”

“I know, not at this price, but like I said, I can get a smokin’ deal for them, and anyway, I was planning on selling my old pair. I got a coworker who wants to get into skiing and he said he’s interested in my Rossignols, which I won’t even need anymore since I am looking to get into touring.”

“Can you sell those first, and then get the new ones?”

“Maybe, but a lot of the sales I have found online are ending soon. I don’t want to miss them and then have to pay retail.”

“I don’t know…”

(She is thinking it through. Now is when you gently pull the pin on the hand grenade you have been keeping in your pocket…)

“Listen, I love the outdoors and you know how much more focused I am when I spend time out there, how much more patient at home I am. How much easier it is to live with me. This will help stave off those restless winter weeks when I get stir crazy and irritable.”


(When you say the following, do it cheerfully, almost excitedly)

“Fine. forget it. It’s not a big deal. I will make due riding the trainer in the basement. I can catch up on Lost or something.”

(Start to walk away…this is the crux moment)

“No…OK. Get them. Find a good deal on them and get them.

“Really, are you sure?” (Be humble at this point!)

“Yeah, yeah I think its a good idea.”

“Sweet! Thanks!”

And then strike that iron. Swipe that card, hit buy-it-now, speed to the LBS…you get the point. Which is, make that purchase before your S.O. clues in on the sneaky game you just played.

And then, get out there and enjoy your new toy(s)!

Exit Question
: What other tactics have you used?


  1. Tennille
    April 22, 2009

    As Adam’s SO, I must denounce this post. Not because it isn’t true (well, some of it at least) but merely on principle. 🙂

  2. Meredith
    April 22, 2009

    As the SO of one of Adam’s associates I would also like to denounce this post!

    Again – not because it isn’t true – but on principle.

    I would also like to contend that the Hand Grenade “Don’t you love me” tactic is exceedingly dangerous since us SOs are liable to come back with something like – “Don’t you love me enough to keep this money in our savings account, so if you injure yourself (or worse) out there, we’d have enough money to get you the best medical care! While also not losing our home, or having to sell all our possessions, or put me into bankruptcy, so when you die from your injuries I won’t have to beg your parents to help me pay for your funeral” (Major sobbing here)…

    be careful who you try to manipulate!

  3. Ski Bike Junkie
    April 22, 2009

    You forgot the double-edged sword of quid-pro-quo. If I buy X, you can buy Y. This always makes whatever you’re buying at least twice as expensive, but if you need it bad enough…

    Of course, my friend Paul had a perpetual green light to buy a new mountain bike and held off for three full years because he knew once he bought the bike, the S.O. was going to try and use it to justify new appliances or furniture or something else that MTB riders are aware is in their homes but find no particular value in.

  4. The Marginal Triathlete
    April 22, 2009

    Great post! Had to show my SO this one…

    Another great tactic is Succession Planning for your gear. As an HR guy, I have become adept at this one.

    Even though you don’t need the gear now, you know you will in a year or two so you start telling your SO how cool it is even though you know the gear is out of your price range. Then, when that fateful day rolls around when you actually need it you are credited with restraint and discipline and are allowed to get it because you have wanted it for so long.

  5. Rick Sunderlage
    April 22, 2009

    I usually find a pic of the item online and leave it open in the browser on her computer(repeat 3 times per day, 4-5 days in a row). Eventually, she’ll get the hint and you won’t even need to talk about it.

    That said, I’m still not sure my wife has ever gotten over my white gloves.

  6. Faceless Ghost
    April 22, 2009

    I have no SO, so I ride when I want and buy what I want.

    Of course, the downside is that I have no SO. Still not sure if there’s any connection.

  7. uncadan8
    April 23, 2009

    Like Faceless Ghost, my primary tactic is staying single. And as an outdoors loving, bike riding, trail running, boating nut, that is harder than you might think!


  8. Dave
    April 24, 2009

    I like the “Keep me in shape so I don’t end up like my Dad” tactic. Just stick the gut out a little and remind the SO that it could be twice as big in just a few short years. She already knows exactly what it will look like having seen it on my Dad so it usually scares her right into compliance.

Sign up for email updates and get STOKED!

A FREE manifesto for subscribers.