9 Ways I Save Money on Gear

One of the few things I can honestly say I’m an expect at is finding a deal. I’m not just tooting my own horn here. I have many folks who come to me for advice on saving money.  This topic could seriously be written in a 9 part series, but I’m sure most of you would lose interest. Instead I’ll try to make this pithy. First, it might be helpful to understand a little how my brain works when it comes to money. After I’ve decided to buy something I treat pretty much every financial transaction with the question “how can I get this cheaper?” What follows are most of the ways I do just that as it relates to gear.

A Few Assumptions First

  • You should have already done your research and at least narrowed down your gear list to a few choices.
  • My methods for the most part require time and patience.
  • Know the retail price. I found a backpack that was double the retail price on ebay for no apparent reason. Some “Newb” is gonna jump on that though. If you know how much a product retails for It’ll be easier to spot a deal.

Saving That cash

  1. Shop during big sales. These are pretty predictable. Most major holidays (and some minor) are going to be a time that stores have their  sales. The Thanksgiving/Christmas season tends to be the best in my opinion with all around deeper discounts. Some stores have jumped on a trend I love “the 12 or 25 days of Christmas”.  Zpacks did one of these this year and so did a local outfitter in which they had new deals everyday for that day only. Consider asking the store if they have an upcoming sale, they are usually happy to tell you.
  2. Is there a coupon for that? So, your cart is full and you’re ready to buy. Hold that thought. If you don’t already have a coupon code google to see if you can find one. If you haven’t already, maybe signing up for their emails will give you 10% off.
  3. Get all the store emails. I recommend setting up a completely independent email for all the sales emails to go to and be sure to check in just before a holiday so you don’t miss out. This is how you’ll not only find out about sales, but likely get special coupons and discounts.
  4. Buy at end of season clearance events. Winter coats are cheapest when winter is ending. End of season is when you can get last year’s model for half price or more sometimes.
  5. Don’t pay for shipping. This isn’t always an option, but best to avoid if you can. -Many stores like REI will ship to the store and allow you to pick up at no additional cost. Look for coupon codes for free shipping. Another option is to add on items. If you need to spend $15 to get $10 shipping waived, buy a couple mountain house meals. Sure they are not on sale, but it’s kinda like getting a 66% discount on those add-ons.
  6. Use the right credit card. Going to REI? Use your REI branded card and get 5% added to your yearly dividend. Also, get a bonus gift card for just signing up and using the card. I have cards for travel, groceries, and gear. Some of these cards will have annual fees and tend to have better perks. Just be sure to pay the balance every month and make sure the fee cards are worth well over the fee. My Capital One Venture card gives me 2 points per dollar spent and that covers the $100 annual fee many times over.
  7. Buy through a portal. There are tons of web portals out there offering cashback or points on purchases. One I use a lot is Rakuten.  You go to the site, create an account or log in, and search for the store you plan to buy from, if it’s there click on their link and get rewarded for your purchase. Just be okay knowing they are tracking your purchases.  I just got a cash back check in the mail for $20
  8. Buy discount gift cards. Stores like Kroger, Dollar General, CVS, Sam’s, Costco, etc often sell other store’s gift cards at a discounted rate. This is especially true around the holidays. These deals typically range from 10-20% off.  Then there are sites like GiftCardGranny and Raise.com (my preferred) that always have hundreds of discounted gift cards to choose from. Sign up for their emails and get even more savings. A few examples I saw as of this writing Bass Pro shop 8.8%,Cabelas 8.3%, Dicks 7.4%, REI 6.0%.  I have a couple warnings with this tip. 1) If you buy a gift card with the intent of buying a specific item be sure you are ok with getting store credit if you have to return that item. 2) There’s the danger of losing a gift card and never recovering that money. Not true if you lose your credit card.
  9. Buy used and don’t be afraid to negotiate.  You can find great used gear and clothes on sites like Ebay, Poshmark, Facebook marketplace, or Facebook gear selling groups. For members, REI’s garage sale has slightly damaged or worn items for resale at deep discounts (I scored a $200 puffy with a tiny tear for $50). With a little patience you might even get lucky at a goodwill. I’m fortunate enough in my town to have an outdoor gear consignment shop that sells new and used gear. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with some of these sites and stores, I never pay asking on Facebook marketplace.

Bonus Discount tip

This isn’t for everyone, but it is probably the cheapest way to outfit yourself with some of the best new gear… work at an outfitter. Pick up a holiday help job if you have the time and get rewarded handsomely. Not only will your knowledge of gear improve, but you’ll have access to the best deals… Pro Deals. Sure xyz outfitter will give you 20-30% off gear, but with pro-deals (a discount direct from the manufacturer for learning about their products) you can get 50-70% off. This method is how I outfitted my 1st thru hike and if it hadn’t been for covid would have done the same this past holiday season.


Tell me some of the ways you save money on gear.


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Comments 5

  • Cora Taylor : Mar 26th

    Very excited to follow your journey 🙂
    Prior to buying a cart, Google “xyz coupon code OR discount OR % off OR sale”. The “OR” has to be in all caps. This nearly always finds me a discount or free shipping.

  • D Dog : Mar 29th

    Check in the money context, is spelt cheque.

    • Brian : Mar 30th

      Maybe where you’re from, but in the US the K ending is standard.

  • Brian : Mar 30th

    Good comment about using cash-back portals. If you haven’t tried Activejunky yet, they are like Rakuten but mostly for outdoor sites/brands and usually have a bigger cash back. They used to even work with REI, but not any more.

    • Thin Mint : Mar 30th

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll check that portal out.


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