There is compelling evidence in favor of investing in high-caliber equipment for outdoor activities.
Outerwear like Patagonia or Marmot and camping equipment from Big Agnes or Helinox are more expensive than the generic brands sold on Amazon or at your neighborhood big-box retail store. But the generic product will almost certainly wear out sooner than these name-brand options, even with mild use.
In addition, a lot of companies who make high-end outdoor clothing and equipment have lengthy guarantees that pay for maintenance and even replacements. In contrast to Duluth Trading Company’s no-questions-asked return policy, Patagonia’s Ironclad Guarantee is almost unlimited, but there is a modest cost for repairs.
How to Find the Best Camping and Hiking Gear Deals
Only the most fortunate adventurers can afford to buy brand-new, high-quality apparel and equipment. Due to a lack of funds, I have spent much of my time hiking and camping with second-hand gear such as packs, tents, and accessories. However, there are occasions when I must purchase my own warm-weather camping and trekking equipment, and this is when I need to find ways to cut costs.
If you want to make sure your restricted leisure budget doesn’t stand in the way of a good time outdoors, you can avoid the sticker shock of high-priced gear by following these strategies for getting the top summer camping and hiking brands for much less than full price.
- Purchase Used or Discontinued
You shouldn’t constantly rely on thrift stores for your used high-quality camping and hiking clothes when the weather is warm. Very seldom will a manufacturer honor a warranty on previously used equipment, and even gently used things may not live up to campers’ standards or wear out more quickly than brand new items. High-performance equipment, like rain flaps, might be risky to buy online without first trying. A constant roof leak is the quickest way to spoil a camping holiday.
New equipment is always more expensive than its used counterpart. If you’re on a limited budget but still want to go camping and trekking during the warmer months, old equipment may be your only option. There are many reliable resources from which to choose.
- Merchandise Swap for Outdoor Equipment. Finding gently used, high-quality outdoor recreation equipment at a fair price is easiest through brick-and-mortar and online gear swaps. The Outdoor Gear Exchange, situated in Vermont but serving customers nationwide, is a good location to begin your search.
- Conversational clusters on Facebook. Get in touch with like-minded individuals on Facebook who share your interest in the great outdoors. Use phrases like “camping gear exchange” and “used camping gear” to start, narrowing down to more specific terms like “camping tents” and “sleeping pads” if you know what you’re looking for.
- Always keep in mind the possibility of fraud. Don’t hand out financial information via a Facebook message, and only meet the vendor in a public place.
- Used Gear Stores Operated by Retailers and Major Brands Used outdoor gear may be purchased from most major retailers. For recycling outdoor gear and clothing, no program compares to Patagonia’s Worn Wear. Used Patagonia gear in good condition is welcome here as well. If you’re a member of REI (which you should be for a one-time cost of $20), you know about the incredible deals (of up to 50%) that can be found during its member-only Garage Sales.
- Second Hand stores and thrift stores. The consignment store has everything you might possibly need, including camping equipment. Visit your local Salvation Army or Goodwill to go through functional multipurpose gear like suitcases. You don’t need high-tech gear to make it to the top of the mountain.
- Marketplaces for used goods on the web. Online resale marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace are a great way to find deals on gently used warm-weather clothing and equipment, including more expensive goods like camping tents and sleeping bags. When shopping for sports items, you may want to compare the prices you discover in these clearinghouses with those of more niche stores like REI and Patagonia. When it comes to pricing, Amazon and eBay aren’t the only options, and they certainly aren’t always the best.
- In-town vendors. Instead of waiting for your equipment to come in the mail, you may find local dealers on websites like Craigslist and Nextdoor. Always meet in a public place, never transfer money in advance, and thoroughly check any items you plan to purchase before you commit to the sale.
- When possible, use hand-me-downs.
Clothing and gear that you may get for free from other campers and hikers among your friends, family, and neighbors is far more cost-effective than brand new or used items.
You shouldn’t worry; it’s easier than you think. Without trying, my wife and I have collected a sizable free stockpile of used camping equipment, including sleeping bags, tents, tarps, and a very used outdoor backpack that yet manages to remain together. This kit is more than adequate for car camping and day treks in conditions that do not require specialized equipment.
Check with trusted friends and family members to see if they can lend or give you the essentials for warm-weather camping or day hiking. Someone in your outdoor-oriented social circle probably has some gently-used, name-brand gear they’d be glad to pass along. The North Face, not exactly an unknown hand-me-down, provides me with the best free day hiking backpack I’ve ever used.
- Purchase During the Offseason and Around Major Retail Holidays
If you’re in the market for warm-weather outdoor gear, now or just after the conclusion of the warm season is your best bet since that’s when stores and manufacturers drastically reduce prices to clear out last year’s stock. That time of year marks the start of the off-season for backpacking treks in the Northern Hemisphere.
That doesn’t mean October is your only option for purchasing summer activity gear. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day are all days where you can count on finding unbelievable discounts. However, you might not be able to get rock-bottom prices on the precise piece of machinery you want.
It’s not too late, even if you put it off until late in the summer. Memorial Day and Father’s Day discounts are two examples of the seasonal promotions offered by outdoor shops throughout the spring and summer.
- Search for Clearance Sales
Clearance sales held by retailers or manufacturers may occur at any time of year, even the summer. If you’re in the market for some new outdoor gear or clothes, be sure to peruse the sites dedicated to such items. It’s an efficient method for comparing costs, albeit it isn’t the quickest.
If you have the time and aren’t too strapped for gas, it’s worth it to check out the sales at big-box stores, shopping malls, and other retail hubs in person.
You should always make the most of your time there if you’ll already be there for some other purpose. My wife and I, for instance, would never go out of our way to visit a Cabela’s, but we do drive by one every time we go to her hometown fifty miles away.
Make sure you check out any internet stores that deal exclusively in discount items. The Clymb, as one example, sells soon-to-be-discontinued goods and equipment at steep reductions from their original price. Another general discount store is Steep & Cheap. A recent warm-weather trip revealed 70% off The North Face merchandise.
- Subscribing to Mailing Lists of Stores
Most online stores selling outdoor goods and clothing to consumers also offer email newsletters. New customers who join up for these newsletters often receive special discounts on their first orders.
It simply takes a moment to sign up, and you can always opt out after making your first purchase, move mailings to a separate area like Gmail’s promotions tab, or switch to a different email account entirely. There is no risk in trying this out with each and every store that catches your eye.
Regular price cuts average about 10% to 20%. Some chances are much more alluring than others. When new “insiders” sign up for Z Supply’s email newsletter, they are immediately entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card.
- Participate in a Store Rewards Program
Rewards programs are offered by many outdoor gear and clothing merchants and manufacturers. Since joining most of them is cost-free, you have no excuse not to. Discounts at the register, store credit for future purchases, or early notice of special specials and events are just a few of the perks that loyalty program members can look forward to.
Credit approval may be necessary for some programs. Members of the Bass Pro Shops Club, for instance, can accrue points by using a shop credit card.
When comparing the membership fees of the few leisure companies out now, the value of a lifetime membership to REI jumps out as exceptional. Members of REI get access to unique benefits, such as the annual Garage Sale, discounted rates on REI Adventures trips, and travel insurance plans that are only available to REI members.
- Make use of a Cash-Back Browser Extension.
Use a cash-back browser extension that gives you money back on purchases made at certain stores to supplement the incentives you already receive there. The affiliate commission that the extension earns for sending customers to the merchant is shared with you when you make a purchase on the merchant’s website.
The affiliate commission and user cut offered by a store might differ significantly. In most cases, buying directly from retailers like Walmart and Target will save you money since their commission rates are lower than those of smaller, lesser-known businesses. Because of the 5% cash back at Marmot and up to 8% cash back at Sierra (two of BeFrugal’s outdoor gear affiliates), and the $10 incentive for new members, BeFrugal is my favorite cash back shopping portal.
Cash return from browser add-ons does not happen instantly. Your extension account should display it as pending within a day or two following the qualifying transaction, but it might take anywhere from a few business days to several months to arrive.
It is recommended to activate the extension before beginning your shopping trip so that you may complete each transaction without leaving the retailer’s site. If the transaction is interrupted, the cash-back you were expecting to earn may be lost.
- Look for Coupon Codes
Promo codes are often only valid for a single category or item on a website, as opposed to the more generalized cash back given through extensions. However, they are typically more lucrative than extension bonuses. It’s not unusual to find promo codes for 40% off or more.
With Capital One Shopping integrated in my browser, I never have to worry about finding the best price for an item or applying a coupon manually again.
Coupons may be accumulated as part of your cash-back upgrade. It’s something that, say, BeFrugal does. In addition to Honey, Brad’s Deals, RetailMeNot, and Slickdeals are some of the most well-known websites for finding discounts online.
- Use a Credit Card with Reward Points
Applying for a cash-back credit card or travel rewards credit card can help you save money on outdoor clothing and equipment, but that’s not all they can accomplish. Costs for necessities like food, petrol, and clothes are likely to rise.
However, saving 1%-2% on entertainment costs (or more with the correct card) is beneficial. Consider a 2% cash-back card, such as the Citi Double Cash or the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature, if you plan to redeem your incentives for cold, hard cash more often than other rewards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great option for frequent fliers because of the card’s generous travel redemptions and the ability to transfer points to a variety of travel partners.
This is subject to the same restrictions that apply to all credit card reward programs. A person who enjoys the outdoors but has poor credit is not likely to get approved for high-end credit cards that provide cash back or vacation benefits. Check your credit score to see where it stands; if it’s not where you’d like it to be, work toward improving it in other ways, such as by avoiding credit cards.
The summer season never ends. There is often warm weather from May or June through August or September in the northern United States. Until the fall equinox, I continue to use my warm-weather camping and trekking gear.
Afterward, I store everything up in the attic for eight months while I bring down my equally pricey winter hiking clothes and equipment. The price that outdoor enthusiasts must pay to enjoy a four-season environment is a higher initial investment in gear.
However, the term “summer” loses its significance the further south you travel. Those who are lucky enough to reside in a region where the weather is pleasant all year long are exempt from the “four-season tax.” They only need a single piece of camping gear.
Maybe they’re onto something here. Avoiding winter could be the only surefire method to keep your outdoor leisure expenditures in check. Although I personally wouldn’t be prepared to make such a sacrifice, it may be the finest money-saving suggestion for outdoor equipment.