There’s a common misconception that high quality outdoor gear comes hand in hand with an expensive price tag. While this is most definitely true if you’re planning to buy everything brand new, there are plenty of ways to find great deals without compromising on quality. Here are my top tips for finding high quality outdoor gear without breaking the bank!
The dogs and I are busy gearing up for our big summer adventure. One of the funnest parts of planning has got to be collecting and curating all the outdoor gear you need and hoping it all fits in your backpack. I’ve been sifting through online listings and doing my research to make sure I find everything we could possibly need at the most affordable price. While it can take a while to figure out where to look, there are plenty of products at all sorts of affordable price points.
Borrow Before You Buy
I think borrowing equipment is one of the most under-utilised practices in the outdoor industry, particularly if you’re just starting out. There’s a negative stigma associated with asking friends or family to lend you gear, as if we have to ‘keep up with Joneses’ and buy absolutely everything brand new. This is definitely not the case! In fact, the majority of the outdoor gear I use and consequently now own has been initially lent to me over the years. This includes my The North Face Blue Kazoo sleeping bag, which I have permanently borrowed from my mum, who’s not so keen on camping any more. I’ve always borrowed tents too, as well as stoves for Duke of Edinburgh, all our trad climbing equipment while we learn the ropes and even the occasional hiking boot. Oh the joys of having the same sized feet as your nearest and dearest!
Borrowing is beneficial for all involved. It’s also one of the best parts of the outdoor community; everyone is always keen to help each other out! We’re all guilty of holding onto perfectly good quality outdoor gear well after we’ve purchased our upgrades, for no real reason at all. I love helping other people access the outdoors and am more than happy to lend out old gear that would otherwise be gathering dust in the back of my cupboard. I’d much rather see the item enjoy more adventures and often gift my less-used items to friends and family if they’ve been borrowing them for a while.
Purchase Gear Out of Season
I’m a huge fan of buying outdoor gear out of its intended season. I wait until summertime every year before adding new jackets or coats to my collection. While this does mean I look like a right numpty waltzing around the coast path in a down jacket in the middle of July (see below!) there is good reason behind it! Product prices tend to fluctuate throughout the year, subtly increasing when demand is high. During summer, less people are purchasing jackets and coats. This often means these items are relegated to the sales racks of outdoor stores, in an attempt to clear the stock before the new season products are delivered in time for their debut in autumn.
Often there are only slight tweaks, if any, made to the products year on year. So it’s well worth waiting for the ‘off’ season to make your purchase. I did exactly this in July last year, after our day trip to the Lake District, where we stopped by at the Epicentre store, where I found my Mountain Equipment Skyline jacket for over £50 less than its usual retail price. It was in perfect condition too. One of the only downsides to purchasing outdoor gear out of season is that you may be more limited when it comes to choice. This is especially true if you’re looking for something in a particular size. If the specific item you have in mind is particularly popular, it may rarely, if ever, find its way into the end of season sale.
Secondhand Forums and Facebook Groups
There are so many ways to purchase high quality outdoor gear without stepping foot into a bricks and mortar store. You don’t have to pay anywhere near full price either, especially if you’re willing to purchase something secondhand. Some of my top thrifted finds have come from online forums and selling groups on social media. These include my summer hiking boots, which were being given away for free on Facebook. We found our nearly new DMM Highball Bouldering Mat being advertised for less than half the retail price in a local climbing group, in perfect condition. I also found Hen’s Ruffwear Palisades Pack in the Outdoor Gear Exchange Facebook Group at a bargain price of £31 including postage.
I’ve had less success with websites such as Depop when it comes to finding more affordable secondhand gear. This is mostly due to the rise in popularity of brands such as The North Face and Patagonia in recent years. People know they can charge more per item with these labels as there’s more than enough demand. You can definitely still find more affordable prices for these items though. You’ll just have to look outside of these mainstream ‘trendy’ apps and websites. I highly recommend looking for specialist outdoor Facebook groups by activity (such as climbing, bikejoring or hiking with dogs for example) or browsing more general marketplaces and websites to find secondhand products near you.
Create a Gear Wishlist
Wishlists are a great tool to use, particularly if you’re purchasing items on a stricter budget. It also minimises impulse purchases. I typically keep items on my wishlist for at least a month before I commit to buying them. This may seem a bit extreme but I find it an effective way to evaluate whether I truly need the product or whether it’s just a want! I keep mine in a notes app on my laptop but you can also create them on Amazon and most outdoor store websites.
As I mentioned earlier, the price of outdoor gear often fluctuates throughout the year. If you have your wish list, complete with links at the ready, you can monitor the price changes over time and make the most of the savings. Wishlists are also great when it comes to gift ideas. I’m often asked what I want for my birthday and have started directing friends and family to my wishlist for inspiration.
These are just some of the many tools you can utilise in your search for high quality outdoor gear that won’t break the bank. What are your top tips for finding gear at a more affordable price point? What’s been your favourite used outdoor gear purchase so far? I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments!
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