Five Ways to Save Money on Backpacking Gear
There’s no way around it, backpacking, hiking, and camping gear is pricey, but there are easy ways to save money on backpacking gear.
I’m a coupon-clipper, sales rack peruser, and a dedicated deal hunter. In my normal life I wouldn’t dream of paying full-price for anything, but when it comes to backpacking clothing and gear that is specially designed to keep me warm, dry, and safe in the backcountry I’ll gladly shell out a few extra dollars for high quality, name brand gear. But, just because I’m buying name brand gear, that doesn’t mean I’m paying full price.
If you’re new to hiking or backpacking, or if you want to upgrade your gear on a budget without sacrificing quality these five tips will help you get the backpacking gear you need without breaking the bank.
1. Buy Used Gear and Clothing
- Gear Trade: It’s like the Craigslist or eBay for used outdoor gear. If you see something on Gear Trade that you like, you better act fast because everything on this site is listed individually.
- REI Garage Sales and used gear sales: People can get a bit crazy at the REI Garage Sales, but if you’re in the market for a backpack this is the place to shop. Every garage sale is different, but at my local sales there always seems to be a wide variety of backpacks and you can be fitted on the spot by a knowledgeable REI staff member. If you don’t want to wait for this quarterly event you can now shop used gear 24/7 on REI’s website.
- Campsaver Shed and Outlet: If you’re not quite sold on buying used gear, but you still want the heavy discount you need to check out Campsaver. Campsaver’s Outlet is full of discontinued gear and the Shed sells demo or gently used gear.
- Big Agnes Tents and Gear: If you have your eye on a Big Agnes tent (my 1-person Fly Creek is my second home!) you’ll definitely want to check out the BAP online store. This is the place where Big Agnes resells all of their demo gear. You can find steals for most anything that Big Agnes makes and there’s also great deals on Honey Stingers!
- Used clothing direct from the manufacturer: More and more retailers are selling used clothing directly to the customer. Patagonia Worn Wear and The North Face Renewed are my go-to sites for used clothing for these brands.
- Online Thrift Stores: Many outdoor brands have gone mainstream and deals can be found on many used fashion retailer websites. I've found the best assortment of name brand hiking and backpacking apparel on Tradesy and ThredUp. If shopping in person is more your style you can browse your local thrift shop for deals.
2. Shop During the Off-Season
3. Join a Community
- Massdrop Community-Driven Commerce: If you know exactly what you’re shopping for Massdrop can net you some serious deals. The site is divided into “communities” (like their Ultralight and Outdoors communities) and they offer daily “drops,” special limited-time gear sales. Membership on the site is free, but you’ll need to register in order to see the deals. Massdrop is able to negotiate special discounts because they place orders in bulk, because of this the site doesn’t accept returns (except on defective merchandise).
- The Clymb: Another free membership site with great deals. I’ve never purchased anything off of this site, but it is always on my shopping rotation when I’m deal hunting.
- Facebook Groups: Enter "outdoor gear exchange" into the Facebook search bar and then navigate over to the groups tab. Ta-da! There are tons of Facebook groups that you can join to swap, sell, or buy from other outdoorsy folks.
4. Get Money Back on Purchases
- REI dividends: REI offers yearly dividends to their members. Last year I signed up for the REI Mastercard to get some extra dividends, and this year I definitely saw a little bump in the money I got back. (If you find this blog post useful and want to apply for an REI Mastercard consider applying under the Refer a Friend link. You'll receive a $100 REI gift card after making your first credit card purchase and I'll receive a $20 gift card. If you send me a quick email I'll reply back with my REI member number. Thank you for your support!)
- Moosejaw Rewards: Do you love getting REI dividends, but hate waiting all year for that sweet cash back? Moosejaw also rewards their customers with cash back, but you don’t need to wait to redeem it. Moosejaw gives 10% back on all regular priced merchandise and 2.5% on sales merchandise.
- Ebates Cash Back Program: Ebates is a third-party website that offers cash back for shopping your favorite brands and stores. Practically every major outdoor brand or store (like Backcountry, Columbia, Garmin, Moosejaw, and REI) participates in the Ebates cash back program. You can earn anywhere from 1-5% back just for clicking through Ebates to the store of your choice, and then shopping like you normally would.
5. Do your research
Do you know of other ways to save money on backpacking gear? If this post helps you score some great deals please share in the comments below.
If you're starting from scratch and want to know what I carry in my pack check out my packing list for beginner backpackers.
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