Walking in the woods seems simple enough, but it isn’t long before all your extra cash is spent on shiny new gear and you are tempted to buy everything you see at REI. Here are 5 tips to get you on the trail with the right gear and still keep your wallet happy!
These tips on how to hike on a budget will be followed with sample gear lists with a budget in mind so check back in next week for those.
1. Change Your Mindset
It may be hard to resist purchasing lighter trekking poles, 10% off socks, or that new down jacket everyone is raving about. It may difficult to resist something off the clearance rack that’s at such a good price. By taking a few moments to ask yourself, “do I really need this?” you can save yourself a lot of money (and more storage space!) in the long run. Use what you already have and work to simplify your gear. Going through and organizing your gear is a great way to take inventory on what you have, what you need to upgrade, and what you are missing.
2. Time it Right
You may not want to hear this, but you must be patient to score good deals! I suggest making a list of the gear you are looking to purchase over the next year. Use sales throughout the year to purchase to strategically purchase everything you need. Labor Day, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and fourth of July are popular holiday sales across the board.
Certain stores have special promotions on specific dates. REI always includes a 20% coupon to members in April when they get their co-op refund. EMS has club days twice a year for those involved in outdoor organizations like the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Shop at the end of the season. If you’d like to buy crampons for winter hiking but know you won’t be hiking in areas that require them this year, wait until the end of the season to grab some marked down items. Don’t wait too long, though! Once a store is out of stock, that’s it.
REI has a garage sale multiple times per year with returned gear. Before making a purchase, look up the item online and see why it was returned (it will say on the tag). You can find some great deals but there are some items that are now junk. There are no returns so choose carefully!
If you sign up for store promotional emails and newsletters you can sometimes get coupons and deals only sent to subscribers. I was able to score 50% off PROBAR after entering a promotional contest (I didn’t win) and had subscribed to their newsletter. Sierra Trading Post often has flash sales on announced via email/social media.
3. Expand Your Horizons
There are many places you may not be looking for hiking gear at, but should! Take a gander at:
4. Invest in Quality Gear
You may have to put up more money in the beginning but if there’s gear you know you will use a lot, spend the extra dough to get gear that lasts. Spending an extra $40 now will pay off when you don’t have to buy that $50 item again next year.
5. Borrow or Rent Gear
Think about whether you really need to own a piece of gear. If you need mountaineering snowshoes for a day, places like REI and EMS will rent them out. Be sure to call ahead to be sure they have your size in stock for the day. A snowshoe rental at EMS is $20 the first day and $10 for every additional day. If you will only use certain gear once or twice a season, it may be more economical to rent. I know many day hikers who rent backpacking equipment since they only go once or twice a year. You get quality items without needing to invest in gear that will just be collecting dust.
If you have a gear obsessed friend, you may want to check to see if they have an item you could borrow. Gear junkies often have multiples of everything and may just cost you a six pack of Tuckermans!
Have any additional tips on how to hike on a budget? Leave a comment below!
Last modified: September 3, 2017