Outdoor gear has come on leaps and bounds since the likes of Warren Harding first scaled El Capitan. Outdoors enthusiasts can now expect to stay warm, keep dry, and enjoy their favourite activities in relative comfort and safety. The only drawback? The cost.
Yep, there’s no getting around it: outdoor gear is eye-wateringly expensive. In fact, this can be prohibitive for many would-be adventurers. Sure, you might love to dabble in a spot of backcountry camping – but are you willing to spend an entire pay check on a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, mat, backpack, stove and cooking utensils? Possibly not.
But never fear: there are ways to buy good outdoor gear on the cheap. Let me tell you how.
Scour Craigslist, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace
Buy and sell websites are a treasure trove of second-hand outdoor gear. Whether you’re looking for camping equipment, ski touring bindings or a set of panniers, something’s bound to crop up sooner or later. Sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Gumtree are the go-to options. There are also more specialist sites, such as Pinkbike for second-hand mountain bike gear. Scouring them each day can be a tad painful. And some people have unrealistic expectations with regard to what their second-hand item is worth. But with a little bit of patience and some haggling skills, you’ll find what you need.
Buy used gear from trusted brands
Did you know that various outdoor clothing brands now sell used gear at a discount price? This means you can buy from a trusted brand without having to pay top whack. A few examples include:
- Patagonia’s Worn Wear
- Arc’teryx Used Gear
- MEC’s Gear Swap
- REI Co-op’s Good and Used Gear
- The North Face Renewed
This concept is becoming increasingly popular in the outdoor industry. So, if you have a favourite brand, it’s worth checking to see whether they’ve jumped on the bandwagon.
Shop at thrift stores and charity shops
It’s incredible what people give away to thrift stores and charity shops. Perfectly good outdoor clothing and equipment winds up on the aisles at a fraction of the true cost. Like second-hand websites, shopping at second-hand stores does require some patience. However, if you keep checking, you may just undercover some quality goods. There are also second-hand stores that deal exclusively in sporting goods. In Vancouver, for example, Sport Junkies has a range of camping gear, skis, hiking gear and bikes.
Visit outlet/factory stores
Lots of retailers have outlet/factory stores where they sell goods for less than the normal retail price. If you happen to live near an outlet store, or you’re passing by, then this can be a great way to bag a deal.
Wait for end of season clearances
It helps to have some foresight and buy gear at the end of the season when it’s discounted. This expenditure is always unwelcome at the time – after all, why would you buy skis when the ski season has finished? But you’ll be glad you did when the months roll by and the snow starts to fall again. If you don’t want to shop in-person, then no worries: clearance items are usually listed on the brand’s website.
See what you can find on discount websites
There are loads of discount stores on the web, many of which offer up an array of outdoor gear and goodies. Options include:
Rummage around sample sales
Sample sales are when clothing brands sell excess stock or samples for discounted prices. Knowing where and when they’re going to happen is no mean feat. Check on social media, particularly Facebook. Keep your eyes open for advertisements and do some Googling. Certain sites, such as allsales.ca, allow you to sign up for sample sale notifications. Often payment is in cash and all sales are final. Sample sales are often highly anticipated, so it’s best to arrive early and go with a game plan.
This may sound silly, but it’s how I got my grubby mitts on my entire Patagonia trail running set-up. The thing with competitions is that someone has to win – and you have to be in it to win it. So, next time you attend an event with a prize draw or see a competition pop up on Instagram, why not enter? You never know, it could be your lucky day.
Shop the sales
Seasonal sales are also prime-bargain hunting territory. Most retailers hold at least two sales every year: a winter sale and an end-of-summer sale. Some add more to their calendar, such as Black Friday sales. If you’re eyeing up a particular item and you’re not in urgent need, then it’s often worth waiting until the sales come around. Otherwise, you may pay the full price, only to find it’s 50% off days later.
Get a pro deal
If you work in the outdoor industry, you may be eligible to get a pro deal. This entitles you to special pricing and, sometimes, access to new stock before the general public. A huge range of people qualify for pro deals, from ski instructors to editors of outdoor magazines. If you think this might be you, simply visit your chosen retailer’s website and search for the pro deal application form. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Often, people who get a pro deal can only shop for themselves. But if you do have a friend with a pro deal and their purchases aren’t restricted, then be sure to place your order.
What other money-saving tips do you have? I’d love to hear them!