Spending time outdoors can be a great budget-friendly activity, but a lot of the time the technical gear involved with outdoor activities can quickly add up. Every outdoors enthusiast understands the constant struggle of upgrading gear, new technologies, and new trends. Here are a few tips and tricks I've picked up over the past couple years to help save a little when it comes to buying gear.
Looking to backpack California soon? Here is a list of important permit deadlines you wont want to miss.
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Before buying anything new always consider shopping used, which is more sustainable and more economical!
I always like to check Facebook Marketplace and also stay connected in any local Facebook groups dedicated to backpacking or California hiking as people will sometimes post there and you can score some pretty great deals on second hand gear while also reusing gear.
I’m also really excited that REI has launched a used gear section on their site, which enforces a certain level of quality since they have a criteria for accepting used gear. GearTrade is another favorite site of mine that offers a centralized hub for selling used gear.
Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
Rakuten is probably the easiest and most general way to save money on any online purchase. My favorite thing about Rakuten is it is incredibly easy to use, and I've already seen real savings that I'll continue using it. I even have the Chrome extension to make sure I never miss a chance to earn free cash back.
How to Use
Once you have created an account, you just search for the merchant, and click on the link to go straight to the merchant's website. Then you shop and check out as normal, and the percentage of your total will be automatically credited to your Rakuten account.
Since I've started using Rakuten, I've earned a total of over $600+ in cash back, which has been automatically directly deposited to my PayPal account.
They'll also occasionally have sales on their site and offer double cash back at certain stores. I'll average around 2-4% back on all my online purchases, and I even have the mobile app since I find myself shopping from my phone alot.
If you're not an REI member already, just do yourself a favor and sign up here. The lifetime membership costs 20$ and gives you:
A 10% dividend on all full price items, paid out in REI credit at the end of the year
Special coupons like 20% off one item twice a year
Access to in store garage sales (I bought my first backpacking sleeping pad here for $20.. and still have it!)
I've made back the $20 membership fee a hundred times over already. One other feature I like is that I can track all of my online and in store purchases back to 2012 and see how much I paid, item details, and when I bought each item online or in store.
The REI sale happens twice a year (roughly May and November) where you can score big savings on gear as well as the 20% off one item. For the list of historical sale dates, click here.
If you don't want to purchase from REI, sites like Backcountry and Amazon often will match REI's sale prices. I often see Backcountry also offering the 20% off of one item during the same sale dates to remain competitive as well!
If there's a store that I'm sure I'll be buying from in the future, I'll buy a gift card off Raise.com, a platform for discount gift cards. I'll even set up an alert on the site to let me know when a new gift card with a certain discount is added. This will usually save you another 0.5-5% on your total purchase.
To Set Up an Alert
1. Go to the brand or store page on Raise.com and click 'Set Alert'
2. Set a maximum price and a minimum discount value
If you don't mind having a previous season's version or you're not particular about finding your piece of gear in a certain color, discount sites like Sierra Trading Post, CampSaver, and Moosejaw can offer amazing discounts in these categories.
Be sure to check each of these sites before buying something full price. Often times the previous season's model is very similar, or at least they will both function the same, but might vary in color or style.