As I mentioned in 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Go Camping, one reason why people do not spend more time getting outdoors is that camping and outdoor gear can be extremely expensive. I’m pretty thrifty anyway, so when I have to buy a new piece of equipment for our outdoor adventures, I do as much as I can for it to be as affordable as possible. Remember, most outdoor and sporting gear is made to last so you are making an investment. And if you’re making an investment, you always want to do your research. Some of our equipment is over 25 years old, still works great, and is in very good condition such as our two-person tent and backpacking stove.
There are so many ways to save money on outdoor products. I have never paid full-price for any of my sporting and outdoor gear. Because of it being fall and holiday time, there are lots of different ways to get what you want or need for a much affordable cost. The majority of my outdoor purchases are done in the fall or early winter and here’s why:
Brand-name gear isn’t always the best way to go. There may be something out there that is of better quality and more affordable. Maybe you prefer to purchase American-made or products from small businesses. A lot of the time you can get better products by picking an unknown brand because that company might be more affordable if the company is new and if they are trying to build their brand and customer base. However, some brand-name items charge as much as they do because they have such quality products, and devoted and return customers who trust those brands and that’s why they are so well-known. Check out these sites for gear reviews: Garage Grown Gear, Tales of a Mountain Mama Blog, or ReddyYeti. For ReddyYeti , you do not have to be a member to look at their gear reviews. With their membership, you can get some killer deals on really cool stuff. They also have a lot of discount pricing on newer products and things from small businesses. Cairn also has great reviews as well, their blog is very informative.
Shop Sales and Clearance
The clearance rack is the first section I check at any store, online or in-person. I like to bargain shop. The best time to get gear is at the end of season and when it’s on clearance. Black Friday/ Cyber Monday you can find some of the best deals for outdoor gear either online or in person. Many of the big retailers will have big deals, and many deals are often found online instead of at the actual stores. When you shop online, many businesses can offer lower prices when you shop online because they don’t have the overhead that brick-and-mortar stores have and shipping is sometimes even free. Local sporting goods stores are also a good way to buy gear, they seem to have pretty good anniversary and clearance sales. I like to buy my summer stuff in the fall and winter and my winter stuff in the spring and summer. Outdoor gear has seasons too, just like clothing, so buying at the end of the season will result in good deals.
Kids outgrow stuff or someone decides they need a better model or they just don’t use it. Check out your local yard sales, you can get great deals at moving sales too. Second-hand stores are also a great option because a lot of the time they don’t know what it is they are selling or what it normally costs. I have found a lot of equipment that is the brand name, barely used, and even some stuff new with the tags still on it. Facebook and Craigslist are also great places to find good deals. I belong to several Facebook yard sale sites where I have found amazing stuff. For outdoor winter gear, check out local ski swaps. We have purchased kayaks, skis, canoes, and snowboards all at once at these on the same day for about the price of a new kayak. REI also has a great second-hand gear program and Alwaystheadventure.com has the best list of second-hand outdoor gear retailers that I have found.
Subscriptions and Memberships
Just like a membership at REI, there are other places you can obtain memberships and get great discounts. One membership that I love, is ReddyYeti and they are very affordable. There is a membership fee, but it is totally worth it. I also like subscription boxes. It seems that these are all the rage, but you can’t beat the worth and innovation of some of the stuff you can get this way. Two of my favorites are Cairn and The Nomadik. (You can find my most recent Nomadik Subscription Box review here) Cairn has great items, free shipping, and really innovative stuff. There are other subscription boxes out there for fishing, snowboarding, outdoorsy kids, preppers and survivalists, and more.
Enter Giveaways, Raffles and Drawings
It never hurts to enter a giveaway or a raffle. I have seen some great prizes and even won one or two. At the least, if it’s an online giveaway, you get subscribed to their mailing list and get great information emailed to you. And if you win, even better. ReddyYeti has lots of giveaways.
Shop Fairs, Markets and Conventions
Another great way to get affordable gear is to go to fairs, markets, or conventions. I recently was at an outdoor recreation convention and some great gear for 50% off. Not to mention, there is always swag. The last convention that I was at, I got a free backpacking French press and mini tackle box. FOR FREE!!
Purchase Previously Rented Gear
At the end of the season, you can get some stuff from local rental companies at a pretty affordable cost. It is how we got our kid’s ski equipment and paddleboard last year and it was about the quarter of the cost. Previously rented gear might be a little scratched or dented, but is usually worth the cost to purchase.
Rent Instead of Buying
Renting can be cheaper than buying. Especially, if your outdoor sports and adventures are seasonal. When my kids were younger and grew like weeds, I always rented their skis instead of buying. It wasn’t worth buying new gear every year. Plus, trying out gear before you buy it, is an important tip. If you don’t like it after renting it, you saved the cost of buying it. Renting gear online is very easy with Arriveoutdoors.com and they have camping, hiking, backpacking, and snow gear.
And then again, you can always add it to your Amazon wish list and hope someone will get it for you for your birthday. That’s works sometimes too. Just remember, outdoor gear is made to withstand a lot of abuse so it is definitely worth it to spend the money and make that investment. And as always, be outside with no limits.