On my first backpacking trip, we used old backpacks that my friend picked up on the side of PCH and a heavy 10-year-old sleeping bag my mom made us take. But we were in college, and I couldn’t afford a new backpack and sleeping bag. Since then, I’ve gotten savvier on how to save money on hiking gear.
So regardless if you’re a newbie hiker just getting everything or you’re upgrading, here are the ways that I save money on gear.
1. SHOP SALES
This might seem obvious, but in order to do this right, be savvy about it. I have a running list of things that I need for that summer or winter. So when a sale comes up, I jump on it.
Sales usually happen before or during a big holiday like Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Sales also happen at the end of a season. If you know you’ll want to upgrade your summer hiking shoes before next summer, then look for sales when fall rolls around. Or if you are in need of winter gear, keep an eye out for major discounts come spring.
Also keep an eye out for good deals on used gear. Local REI’s have Garage Sales where they sell used and returned gear. You can also find used gear online through places like Patagonia Worn Wear, Craigslist, Ebay, and various hiking Facebook Groups.
2. ASK FOR MONEY OR GIFT CARDS FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND YOUR BIRTHDAY
Instead of getting a shirt that you will probably never wear, ask your family and friends to give you gift cards (to an outdoor store like REI or a VISA gift card) or just cash instead of surprising you. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 or $500, it’s the thought that counts and every penny can go towards that ultralight tent you’ve been eyeing.
My birthday is in June and then the holidays are in December, so I use my birthday gift towards summer gear and my holiday gift towards winter gear!
3. USE YOUR REI DIVIDEND AND COUPONS
As an REI Member, 10% what you spend on every purchase goes towards your annual dividend, which comes out every year in March.
Also, usually around the same time, the dividends come out, REI releases two 20% off coupon for members only. One is for a regular priced item and the other for a garage sale item. So double up on those savings!
And if you’re a new REI Member, you’ll just have something to look forward to next spring!
4. OPT-IN FOR CREDIT CARDS WITH REWARD PERKS
I have the Amex Everyday Credit Card. No annual fee, 2x points on groceries, 1x point on everything else, and if I make more than 20 purchases per month, I get 20% more points every month. Then I can redeem those points on purchases, gift cards (for the REI gift card it’s an even exchange – 10,000 points for $100 gift card), or for hotel stays and flights.
If you don’t want an American Express (Amex), there are other good options for credit cards (with or without annual fees) to help your purchases including one from REI. The REI Mastercard gives you 5% back at REI and 1% back on all other purchases, no annual fee.
5. SIGN UP FOR THE COMPANY’S EMAIL LIST
Usually, when you sign up for a company’s email list, they’ll give you anywhere from 10-20% off your first purchase. And then you’ll be in the know about any future sales they’re having!