Alright, so you REALLLLLY want an ultra-lightweight tent, but that $300+ price tag has you cringing. So how do you find a discount on outdoor gear? It turns out, I’m a bit of gear genie and as a professional gear reviewer and freelance writer for the outdoor industry, I know exactly how to save money on outdoor gear.
With a little bit of forward-thinking and a touch of luck, you can score an amazing deal on everything from discounted hiking gear to finding that ultralightweight tent for cheap.
How to Save Money on Outdoor Gear
As a professional writer and gear tester, understanding that outdoor gear costs quite a pretty penny is important. Often times the cost of gear is a barrier to entry in the outdoor space. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to save money on outdoor gear and score some sweet deals on discounted gear. This post covers:
- Getting organized for finding the best deals
- How to find discounted outdoor gear that’s new
- The best resources for buying used gear
- What to do if you want to go camping or hiking and you’re flat broke
- The best websites for outdoor gear discounts
Make a List of the Gear You Need
Disorganized people don’t get deals. In order for these fancy money-saving hacks to work, you need to be organized. Create a list that includes your must-haves, splurges, and maybe-someday items.
You can be as specific or as general as possible. For example, I want a sleeping bag or I want an REI Jule. Next, put down what that item costs MSRP. Gulp.
Looks like a large number huh? Then in the next column put down what you want to pay. Be realistic here. Remember, the lower the number, the more likely it is you’ll be looking at something used.
If you want to get really fancy you can also write down the names of retailers that have these items. This will help later on down the line if you’re the kind of person who forgets who has what.
Buy During the Off-Season
We aren’t thinking about how worn out our old backpacking pack is in the dead of February. But it turns out, that some of the best outdoor gear deals happen during the off-season as shops make room for the new season of gear. Making purchases during the off-season often results in huge discounts on outdoor gear.
Your list will help you keep track of what you want and when to look out for it. Be on the hunt at places like the REI Garage Outlet and your local gear store for great deals during the off-season.
Sign up for Email Lists
Yes, this is absolutely annoying, but email lists are helpful tools to save money on outdoor gear. Sign up for a brand’s email list for those quick and easy flash sales. I find this to be helpful if you have smaller items you’re looking to get a slight discount on. This is also handy for annual mega-sales such as Patagonia’s 50% off online clearance sale.
Pro Tip: Patagonia and REI announce their big sales via their email blasts first.
This takes a pricey item and quickly turns it into something more manageable, albeit your inbox will get over-run, especially during the holidays.
Start with a few key brands that are your absolute fav – some of them even offer an additional 10-20% off your first order when you sign up, an easy way to score some discounted outdoor gear!
Join an Outdoor Club
Many outdoor clubs and organizations offer up access to killer deals on gear (we are talking upwards of 30%-40%). You don’t have control over which brands the club teams up with and there are rules – no returns, no exchanges, and expect to pay more for shipping – but overall it’s a great way to score big savings. Some clubs even offer discounts at local shops.
Buy Used Outdoor Gear
You don’t need the latest and greatest everything. In fact, there are a lot of amazing opportunities to save money on outdoor gear by purchasing it used.
Many websites offer a used outdoor gear and clothing section, you just need to know how and where to look. Of course, you should never buy used safety gear, such as a climbing rope, helmet, harnesses or rock protection. Unless you know the history of the gear, it’s not safe to purchase these things.
Look for an outdoor consignment shop or search for used gear online. There are a few websites – such as Gear Trade, Patagonia Worn Wear, REI Used Gear (no dividend), Facebook Groups, ThreadUp, and more – that offer up plenty of gently used gear for reasonable prices.
Switchbackr is another great way to find high-quality used outdoor gear. Their mission is to make the outdoors more accessible and sustainable by making it super easy to buy and sell used outdoor gear online.
Many outdoor consignment shops across the country sell on their site, so you can trust the quality of their gear, and their protection policy backs up every transaction.
Buying used outdoor gear isn’t only a great way to get some killer outdoor gear deals, but it’s also more sustainable too.
Borrow Your Outdoor Gear
You know what’s better than cheap gear? Free gear. Borrow gear and save big. Seriously, if you’re flat broke and you want to get outdoors, ask around to borrow some gear. Offer up a case of beer or a free pizza in exchange (mmm…pizza).
Here are a few places to borrow outdoor gear:
- An awesome friend
- Next Door App
- Facebook Groups dedicated to the outdoors
If you find yourself continuing to borrow the same piece of gear, it may be time to make the leap. If you still can’t afford that tent, see if you can go in with a few friends.
Rent Your Outdoor Gear
Okay, so technically you aren’t buying any discounted outdoor gear, but you’re still able to get connected with the gear you need to get outside. Support your local gear shop by renting your gear for your next big camping trip.
If you like what you rent, ask about when they do their rental sales. Purchasing rented gear is a great way to score a deep discount on outdoor gear. A lot of rented gear will go for 50 to 60% off!
The Best Websites to Buy Discounted Outdoor Gear
If you’re looking for killer outdoor gear deals, check out these online retailers.
- The Clymb. Provides daily deals for members, including up to 50% off.
- Steep and Cheap. Although Backcountry is getting some bad press right now, this is still an incredible place to get amazing discounts on outdoor gear.
- Your local outdoor gear consignment shop. Here in Denver, Wilderness Exchange reigns supreme.
- REI Garage. Epic deals abound, especially if you aren’t a standard size.
Get More Great Gear Advice Here:
- Amazing Hiking Backpacks for Under $100
- The Best Budget-Friendly Hiking Clothes for Women
- Women’s Hiking Gear: What You REALLY Need to Hike
- The Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Gear
- The Best Trekking Poles for Women
- Amazing Car Camping Accessories You Can’t Live Without
How do you save money on outdoor gear? Do you have a special hack that would help score amazing discounts on outdoor gear? Drop me a line and let me know.