Nature is awesome, man. Is there anything more inspirational than those ad campaigns from REI? A beautiful and giant mountain or forest with a fit human thrown in for scale. Pictures like that really help to put into perspective how big the world truly is. Backpacking and hiking are amazing outlets to get out of hectic lives
The truth is, while you don’t need all the fancy hiking and backpacking gear, you do need some basic things. Things like hiking boots, comfortable socks, first aid kit, and sleeping bag, etc. are pretty much non negotiable. But have you ever price checked all of that stuff? As I talked about in this post about making extra money, gear is expensive, yo. I didn’t realize a hobby that can help you enjoy things for free (nature) would cost so much! The nice thing is, is once you have a lot of the gear it will last you a long time. Since I am on a budget these are some of the tips I employed to get started, and I hope they can help you as well!
REI Garage Sales
This one will require a $20 investment which may seem counterintuitive but hear me out. REI is a co-op meaning you buy a membership to receive it’s perks. It is only $20 for a lifetime membership. You get things like access to their Garage Sales, special offers and even a yearly dividend of 10% back (on non-clearance items). Essentially, the membership would likely pay itself off over the course of your lifetime. These Garage Sales happen every few months and are a goldmine worth the membership alone.
Basically what happens is when people return items (their return policy is awesome btw) instead of putting them back on the floor they get marked for the Garage Sale. So hypothetically if someone bought a pair of brand new hiking shoes, wore them for a week but decided they weren’t the right size and returned them, they would go in the Garage Sale. Seriously almost brand new! I was able to get my KEEN brand hiking boots for $30 here! They weren’t brand-spankin’ new, but already broke in and in my size which was perfect. I looked up the newest version of that shoe and it is going for $124.
I was also able to get my Therm-a-Rest which normally runs for $109 for $50. The downside to this deal was it being a size large which is too big for me but value was too good to turn down.
Sierra Trading Post
The Sierra Trading Post is basically the Marshalls or TJ Maxx of outdoor apparel and gear. You can find a lot of big brands like SmartWool, prAna, and Columbia etc. on there. I got a pair of SmartWool hiking socks for 54% off the original price.
The downside to this site is because of the steep discounts some items are sold out of a lot of sizes which can be disappointing. The shipping speed isn’t the fastest either. (You can also use your Ebates on this site too!)
Waiting Until the Season Ends
Waiting requires a ton of patience since you will likely have to wait an entire year until you can use what you purchased but it is such an awesome way to get high quality products at a good price. You can’t always choose the color or print you normally want but at 40% it is worth the small sacrifice.
Almost nothing brings me more happiness than finding a thrift store treasure. I have really lucked out finding recreational equipment too! I’ve managed to score a dry fit shirt, Nike running shorts, and ice skates before. At the Goodwill near me, they sell brand new items as well. I have gotten wool hiking socks and charcoal hand and feet warmers.
If you don’t mind secondhand, it’s worth taking some time to dig for some things you may need.
Take advantage of birthdays and holiday presents
Another obvious way to save money on big ticket backpacking items such as tents and backpacks is to ask for gift cards to go towards the items. A comfortable, quality backpack is something I highly recommend you invest in. Being uncomfortable can make or break an otherwise fun time. Outdoor Gear Lab is a great resource for gear research!
Hiking and backpacking doesn’t have to be as expensive as it may seem at first. If you’re willing to slowly collect things and look for deals you can get the basics and then start investing once you learn what you like and your needs. Happy trails!
What are you favorite tips for saving on backpacking equipment? Any other stores that offer steep discounts?