What kind of ratio of Cottage Vs Mass Produced gear do you all tend to have once your gear is dialed in for a trip?
My pack, sleeping bag, and tent are more cottage, but most of my other stuff is pretty much from REI or Moosejaw. (And the bag is actually Granite Gear, so probably more mass produced now that I think of it)
Any cottage manufacturers you couldn't live without, and any gear that you'd only get at REI or a larger store?
With the stability of REI, the ability to grab and go, the selection, and their return policy, there are certain things I just always buy from them.
My quilt is cottage everything else could most likely be found at REI. I don't think I will ever own another sleeping bag after using the quilt. There are always gear items I would like to get from differect cottage vendors but price gets in the way.
My hammock, tarp, & underquilt are all cottage (Warbonnet). The last two tents I bought were a Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo and a Tarptent Rainbow. I'll still buy shoes & clothing at REI if what I want is available and on sale, even if it's a few dollars more than what I can find online. A brick & mortar store adds the value of trying things on, and the REI return policy is great.
I bought a new pack recently and considreed some cottage-made designs, but decided to go with the Granite Gear Blaze AC 60 when it went on sale prior to the model upgrade (found it for $125). I haven't bought a topquilt for my hammock because I have two high quality down bags that work well without adding much weight -- a Montbell UL Superstretch Downhugger rated 32* and a 20* Western Mountaineering Ultralight for colder temps.
I can't say I'm loyal to any particular brand, except Warbonnet for my hammock gear. I generally do a lot of research before making any major purchase.
Cottage gear dominates my gear closet. My packs, shelter, quilts etc. One of the defining factors being your use case. How often are you in the backcountry or using the gear? Does it need to perform a specific task?
But things like my altra shoes, msr pocket rocket, sawyer squeeze, air pads, garmin stuff came from REI
It makes sense to take advantage of sales and evaluate what you need from each item.
Most of my stuff is cottage gear too, with the exception of a few pieces (shoes, water filtration, etc.). The smaller makers just have more interesting things...gear that is honed for a specific use and lightened down to the bare essentials.