Where to look for cheap backpacking gear
First, before you can even start shopping for backpacking gear – you need a
Now that you know what you’re looking for, start with your ‘big 3.’ The big 3 gear items you need are your pack, tent/shelter, and sleeping bag & pad. These are the big items because they will make up the bulk of your base weight in your pack, take up the most space in your pack, and eat up the most of your budget.
But, that also leaves the most room for savings on these big ticket items. As long you don’t need your gear in a hurry, like for a trip next week or something, take your time and really shop around, compare prices and scope out gear sales.
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If you want to set aside some cash first before you start shopping for gear, try this cash based system to get unstuck with your money and actually save up for your hiking gear.
I always start my gear search at REI. Be sure to check out their deals (sales), REI Garage, and if you have a REI near you, be sure to go to their annual garage sale. If you’re going to shop at REI at all, it’s totally worth it to become a member first.
Then I price compare to a few different sites, or move on to these if REI doesn’t have what I’m looking for.
- Backcountry.com – isn’t necessarily a discount site, but they usually have some pretty good finds, at really good discounts, in their sale section.
- Campsaver.com – it’s really easy to see at a glance on here what’s on sale, and what’s flagged as a killer deal, which is usually a hefty discount.
- Steepandcheap.com – is great for people who can stalk this site while working a desk job. They have one main item at a time that is steeply discounted, but only on sale for like 20 minutes, and then move on to a new item. So if you can check on it frequently through the day, with one or two items already in mind, then you just grab them when and if they come up. They also have more sales on their site as well, but vary day to day.
- Mountainsteals.com – if you need outdoor apparel or outerwear, like jackets, shells and coats, I’d definitely check their sale selection first!
- Flea market/garage sale groups on Facebook, or Craigslist, will sometimes have camping gear pop up, so it’s worth checking.
Then once you have you’re gear, promise me you’ll take care of it! This save will you money in the long run if you learn, or at least attempt to, care for and repair your gear rather than replacing it. Patch that burn hole in your down puffy jacket. Re-seam seal your tent if it starts to leak. Re-waterproof your rain jacket if it starts to soak through. And always make sure to read the cleaning and storage instructions on your gear to extend it’s life.
For more tips on backpacking gear, check out:
- Gear I wish I had with me on the AT
- Down or Synthetic – Which one is better for you?
- How to take care of your backpacking gear
Where to find cheap backpacking gear
About the author, Mallory Moskowitz:
After studying Recreation, Park & Tourism Management, Mallory spent several years teaching environmental education, guiding hikes, and leading backcountry trips. Her life-changing trek from Georgia to New York on the Appalachian Trail is what sparked the creation of Your Adventure Coach, to share backpacking tips and resources with as many new hikers as possible.