What’s cooler than being cool? ICE C— Wait, actually saving your dollars! If you want to learn more about how to save money on outdoor gear, then get ready to bookmark this shit!
That way you can use those dolla’ dolla’ bills for that plane ticket to Thailand or to fund your non-paid vaycay dirtbaggin’ around the Pacific Northwest this summer.
Know what I’m sayin’?!
If you’re reading this blog, at some point you have probably had that eye-roll moment when someone tells you that spending time in the outdoors is incredible and it doesn’t cost you anything? Um, WRONG. Not the being incredible bit, but the part about it not costing you anything.
Seriously, have you been into an REI? The first time I jaunted through those ice axe doors I swore that I would never be able to afford being outdoorsy. I guess tailgating at Iron Maiden concerts and sun salutations on that patch of grass outside of Target will be how I #optoutside.
Ooooh, but look at those purple hiking boots! Well I guess I’m selling my first born child…
Here are some ways you can get your beautiful, calloused hands on some seriously discounted gear or avoid spending money on that item all together!
1. Host a Gear Swap
Let’s be honest. Most of us have plenty of toys that are cluttering up the gear closet. You know that dutch oven that you used twice and is now a certified dust collector?
Well that might just get you that pair of rain pants or that ultralight hammock you have been jonesing for.
Host a gear swap at your house, climbing gym, or neighborhood park. But mainly this is just an excuse to have a dance party with your friends. Don’t forget the chips and salsa.
Reach out to that gear head friend that always seems to have a different tent or backpack every other trip. Or throw a shoutout onto your Facebook.
Not everyone on the trip needs to bring a stove, a tent, a water filter, or a trowel. Remember, sharing is caring.
Lighten the load and share gear with your homies. You would not believe how long I got away with not buying my own stove! I always brought the tent and water filter, and friends brought the stove!
If your wondering how this stove-less story ends, I eventually scored a Jetboil at a REI garage sale for $30. It’s one of my favorite gear steals to this day.
4. Buy your friend’s gear
If your news feed looks anything like mine, it’s probably filled with your friends doing cool stuff outside and getting stoked about their new gear & upcoming adventures.
If someone posts a picture of yet another mountain bike they have spotted into their fleet, there is no shame in asking if they are looking to clear some space in their garage.
Put the word out into your community that you are looking to buy used “x” gear.
There is probably someone in your community that would be happy to sell you their gear! You are more likely to get a better deal buying from a friend that a stranger off of craigslist anyways.
5. Use buy/sell apps like LetGo, OfferUp, craigslist, poshmark, etc.
Before I moved to Thailand, I sold/donated most of my stuff, which included LOTS of gear, mostly through the app LetGo. I was basically giving my gear away!
I sold a down sleeping bag and backpacking pillow to a girl for $40! Now I’m not saying you are going to find the same deals, but you never know.
People move, downsize, sell 90% of their belongings to transition into #vanlife. You just never know what type of deal you may find.
On LetGo, I liked that both parties could leave reviews for one another with feedback sharing if that person was polite, showed up on time, and offered fair prices.
I recommend meeting at a public and somewhat busy place, like a coffee shop or in front of a popular store. I found people on this app to offer fairer prices and overall more polite than when selling on craigslist, but that’s just my experience.
6. Thrift Stores
So this is a bit of a gamble and nothing is guaranteed here BUT you just may find the greatest score of your gear-head life.
Your best thrift stores would be in mountain towns best known for their world class trails, slopes, and crags.
I’ve also donated tons of gear and outdoor clothing to my local Salvation Army. Hope it stoked someone out!
Try before you buy. Now before you go drop a grand on that SUP board on sale, try renting one first. Rent a few different SUP boards.
Take rentals as an opportunity to try out different style and brands before you invest your precious dollars.
You might not find that (insert new sport that has the potential to wipe out your checking account) to be as rad or as good of a fit into your lifestyle as you thought it was going to be.
8. Buy rental gear
Outfitters typically sell their rentals at the end of every one to two seasons. Call around and find out those dates.
9. Buy the model from the previous year
After working in a gear shop for years, I found myself often favoring the boot, the pack, the sleeping pad from one or two years ago.
I realized that these outdoor brands will forever be altering their products in efforts to make their equipment better than the last year’s. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don’t.
Try researching the best gear released over the last few years. For example, “best ultralight tent of 2017”. Find those top editor’s picks. Search for them on Google or on outlet sites
that have outlet sections for exactly that.
10. Facebook Groups
Type into the little search bar “Outdoor/Skiing/Climbing/Backpacking/Hiking Gear Exchange (insert your city)”. There are a TONS of groups, including women only groups.
Now this one doesn’t apply to everyone, but you don’t have to be a professional mountaineering guide to qualify for a prodeal.
Qualifications vary from brand to brand, but you may fit the bill if you are a : firefighter, athlete, camp leader, fitness instructor, ski patrol, outdoor educator, climbing gym employee, paramedic, yoga teacher, photographer, environmental employee, social media influencer, in the armed forces, or nonprofit employee.
Basically, if you have influence in your outdoor community and interact with their potential customers, they want you to use, love, and talk about their products!
You can either directly apply to a prodeal from a brand like Black Diamond, Kelty, or Prana, or can apply to third party sites that give you access to pro dealios from tons of different brands.
Some of these websites to check out include:
*Note: Documentation will be required to legitimize your qualifications and deals are to be used for personal use only. If you apply as a female yoga teacher, and order a men’s wetsuit, you will probably get flagged and booted from the program. Forever. So don’t abuse your privileges.
12. Get a seasonal job at your local outfitter
If you have the flexibility with your schedule, this is a phenomenal way to get brand spankin’ new gear at insanely discounted prices (see my best gear find at the end of this post).
Many stores will hire seasonally or for big sales granting full prodeal discounts to seasonal employees.
Bonus: This is also a great way to make some new adventure buddies! I met many of my favorite humans (and doggies too!) working at an outdoor outfitter.
Everyone that works there has something super cool in common: we all love to play outside.
13. Factory Sales
It is common for brands to have a factory sale at the end of a season to clear space for the current season shipment. If you live in the Seattle, Southern California, or in a major city in Colorado, you may be lucky enough to be near some of these brands headquarters.
These can be hard to find out about but there is usually an exclusive mailing list or Facebook group that blasts out the dates.
If you are just getting started with gathering your collection of gear, my recommendation would be to start with the basics and branch out from there.
Try your first few trips on the minimalistic side. You might find that you are fine without that ultralight chair or packable pillow. Ask yourself if that piece is truly essential?
15. Shop Close-Out Sites
- The Clymb: A favorite for all those adventure travel junkies. This site offers limited-time flash sales with steep discounts on outdoor gear and adventure travel. You can even browse trips ranging from a 12 day cycle tour through Ecuador to hiking Mount Everest.
- Steep and Cheap: Shop their Current Steal section which changes every few minutes or check out their Bargain Bin.
- REI Garage: The Garage is REI’s online outlet. New items at a closeout price, and they still honors their one year satisfaction guarantee. Be sure to check out their Deal of the Day for the daily 50% off piece of treasure.
- Campsaver Outlet: Their Outlet can have some pretty sweet deals.
- Sierra Trading Post: An overstock wonderland. Be sure to shop the Clearance section under their Gear tab. I just saw a pair of ski boots $600 off and a SUP for $1100 off. If you weren’t already a fan, welcome to the club.
16. Shop used online
- Gear Trade You can shop by sport or discount. I saw some ski boots on there for 90% off at a whopping $35. You even have the option to haggle with some sellers to try to save a few dollars. It’s really like being at a 24-hour yard sale where everyone is exclusively selling outdoor gear that you can filter through within seconds. Yeah, living on the planet at this time is pretty sweet.
This is Patagonia’s efforts to reducing their contribution into landfills by repairing, buying, and selling their used products. You can search for that jacket you have been eyeing by name, size, and color. Price varies depending on condition of a specific item. Their motto is “Better Than New” and I think this program is freaking dope! I hope more companies emulate this ethos.
Very similar to to Patagonia’s Worn & Wear program, you can shop items by name and size with price varying on the condition. “Reduce. Reuse>. Adventure.” LOVE IT!
17. Leave reviews
There are sites like Outdoor Gear Exchange that you are automatically entered to win a gift card when you leave a product review on their page. C’mon now, who doesn’t love free gear? For every 50 product reviews they get on their site, they give away a $200 gift card. Each review you leave is another entry into their drawing. This is awesome and I wish more companies did this.
Outdoor Gear Exchange also has a consignment program that they operate both in store (Burlington, Vermont) and online. They consider gently used items in exchange for store credit or dollars. If a piece of gear is left unsold after 8 months, they donate it to local charities they work with. Holler.
18. Patiently await sales
If you don’t need that gear ASAP, you can save some of your dollars if you wait for a retailer’s big sale. Holiday sales, Labor Day sales, just ask your local gear shop what sales are coming up this season or next.
For example, REI has their big Anniversary Sale every May. Tons of gear goes on sale in addition to a 20% off coupon for their co-op members.
19. Shop the REI used gear sales
Oh, the legendary REI Garage Sales. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me break it down for you real quick: REI offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and kindly accepts returns on used gear.
Since they are not going to put your used climbing shoes back on the shelves, they sell these items back to their members at a discounted price. These sales may also include new products with damaged packaging. Some of the larger stores will also include new items from the online outlet.
Now these events can be hit or miss, mostly dependent on what time you get there. Each item will have a tag that includes the price and the reason why it was returned. So you at least know what you are getting yourself into. I’ve bought most of my boots and trail runners at these sales.
Now I know what you are thinking: “Ew Bri! You seriously bought someone’s used hiking boots? No thanks.” And the answer is: YES! My go-to outdoor boots were practically brand new and about $70 off retail price.
Yes, they had a little dust on them but they were still rocking full tread and no other signs of wear. $70 savings for some slight dusty boots that are going to get hella dusty within the first 5 minutes on a trail? I’ll cope somehow.
I also scored a hiking rain jacket that I had my eyes on for months, brand new with the tag on it for 50% off! I don’t know why it was out there but I was happy to give it a home.
Check your local store for dates!
20. REI credit card
Get free gear for using a REI credit card? Um, yes please! So you get 5% back on REI purchases and 1% back on everything else. I have seen people cash out their dividend in exchange for a freaking bicycle worth THOUSANDS of dollars. Now, your dividend is obviously going to be dependent on your spending and income, but using it to pay bills and other necessary expenses can really add up. Might as well get some free gear out of it!
It’s also quite common that they will give you gift card (current promotion at the time I’m writing this is a $100 gift card) when you make a purchase with your new card within the first 60 days. This promotion may change so be sure sure to check out what’s currently going down on their site. So now you see there really isn’t any reason why you have to pay full price for your toys when you are gearing up for your next grandious adventure.
I hope this page inspired a piece of hope for your wild, wild wilderness dreams.
What has been your greatest gear steal?
Drop it in the comments, I’d love to know! Mine was a brand new ice axe, FOR A WHOPPING THREE CENTS. Yes, $0.03. Perks of working at a gear shop!