Shop Smart for Outdoor Gear

Shopping for outdoor gear can be an interesting endeavor, to say the least, and really varies depending on the individual. If you’re like me, then going to a store like REI is like going to a casino; I can only bring as much money as I’m willing to lose. Then there are others who are significantly more disciplined when it comes to their wallets, and go with one or two specific items in mind to buy. To keep both extremes in better harmony, I’ve detailed a few habits to pick up when shopping for outdoor gear that I think will keep all of us in check the next time we hit the store.

One big tip addresses those impulse shoppers, like me, who just can’t resist buying more gear: resist the urge to splurge. You can do this effectively by shopping with a list to focus your spending on what you need by prioritizing essential gear or upgrades, like a tent, backpack, or boots.

There’s something to be said for discount shoppers, bargain hunters, and extreme couponers. You can save some money and take advantage of great deals by waiting for close-outs, clipping coupons, finding online promo codes, or becoming a member. Members often gain access to special discounts, free shipping, or rewards for spending a given amount throughout the year, so if you shop at a specific store frequently, membership is a good idea.

I’m not going to call it hoarding, because it’s not quite that extreme, but stocking up when the retail price is discounted significantly is a great idea. When prices drop by nearly 50-percent or more, it’s perfectly okay to stock up on gear such as shoes, socks, or baselayers. Just be weary of new brands, new styles, or kids gear (they’ll grow quickly).

Lastly, shopping during the off-season can be very cost-effective. Starting as early as January, many stores clearance their winter gear in preparation for the spring lineup, and then repeat the process again with summer gear around July. No, you won’t be wearing or using your new winter gear in April, but picking up a pair of Gore-Tex lined boots for half price is a hard deal to beat. Check the store’s website frequently to stay on top of impending clearance sales or close-outs.

Pay attention to sales, coupons, and membership discounts to take full advantage of the retail system, and your wallet will appreciate it. There are times when spending is good, but times when focusing your shopping on specific items is ideal, too. The key is knowing when to do each.