So for the last few weeks I have been spending my time researching, finding, and buying gear for our up coming Boealps Mountaineering course. This has been a solid reminder that gear is EXPENSIVE. Seriously… I mean I love gear and I love looking for it but phew, it sure can break the bank. But thus far Kyle and I have not paid full price for a single item. Since I am feeling proud of this fact I thought I would share my tips…
There are a couple of avenues we have been utilizing that involve a bit more investment… aka having an outdoor job. While we were working for the conservation corps in Arizona and thanks to my recent stint with EarthCorps we both have a number of different pro-deals available to us. If you do work for an outdoor industry make sure you are signed up on websites such as Outdoor Prolink. You will have access to a wide array of gear and brands depending on what your job is. If you work for an outdoor company they might also have relationships with different outdoor vendors, take advantage of these! Or, you could do what I did and go get a part-time job with an outdoor company. My company of choice would have been REI but without any prior retail experience I wasn’t offered a job, so I bit the bullet and got a job at the North Face. Although not my first choice for a number of reasons they do have great deals for employees and their gear will get the job done, especially for our upcoming mountaineering course. The North Face has a couple of employees who only work a few times a month… so even if you work a full-time job you could probably throw in a couple of shifts at an outdoor retailer, because damn the employee discount is awesome. For me the North Face is a means to an end and will hopefully help me get a job at REI next winter.
After we have utilized all of our professional connections I often turn to used gear websites. Gear Trade is my personal favorite, I check it frequently just to see what new deals have shown up! You can even offer the seller lower than what they are asking, but beware, if they accept that offer is open to anyone browsing the site so make sure you are vigilant about checking the status of your offer. If there is nothing on Gear Trade I will then turn to Ebay, Cragslist, or Amazon. Other websites that work are Backcountry, Whittaker Mountaineering, and Moose Jaw. I also like to check out The Clymb. You have to sign up to get the deals but it’s free and you can do so by clicking this link. Similarly you can always check out Steep and Cheap to see if they just so happen to have exactly what you need. Also, there are a lot of Facebook groups dedicated to talking about gear and selling and buying gear. Check out and consider joining Gear Talk or Barefoot’s Hiking Gear Flea Market! Seriously don’t be afraid of used gear! Certain things should not be bought used, like crampons or climbing harnesses, you know, things you life depends on, but other things like backpacks and sleeping bags, go for it!
ALSO, check your warranty on things you do own that just need a little love. I know North Face has a life time warranty and will fix almost anything for free or give you a new piece of gear or the equivalent price back on a gift card. I am pretty sure most of the other major gear companies have similar promises! Gear is expensive so make it last as long as you can.
If all else fails then I buy it at REI because lets face it, I have an REI visa and that’s 15% back on every purchase… it’s basically a discount every time. Don’t forget to shop their outlet as well, I have found some good stuff on there! SO, no excuse to pay full price for something unless you have scoured the internet looking for a deal!
Anyone else have any great useful tips?