By Jennifer Bridgers
Let’s face it: camping can get expensive.
When you add up the cost of gear, clothes, snacks, water, and other camping essentials, the bill can add up quick!
Quality camping gear isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the cost. Quality gear lasts a long time and ensures you have a stellar camping experience.
However, just because gear costs a lot doesn’t mean you have to blow all your money on it.
In fact, here are six ways to save big on camping gear and keep more of your hard-earned money.
And who doesn’t like having more money in their pocket?
1. Track Amazon Prices
Amazon is a great place to stock up on your camping gear. They have practically everything that you need on a camping trip. Most of the time, their prices are hard to beat. However, that doesn’t mean that everything you need is super affordable when you shop on Amazon.
Quality products could still cost you a pretty penny on Amazon, but those prices are far from permanent. In fact, prices change to meet market demands.
Sometimes, they’ll see sharp drops into more affordable price ranges. When you find something you like on Amazon that is out of your budget, use camelcamelcamel.com to track its changes.
Camelcamelcamel is a convenient tool that lets you know when items on your wishlist drop in price. Use it to keep an eye on all your favorite products, and you’ll receive alerts with price changes.
They also offer a browser extension that allows easy use. You’ll also find price history on millions of products so that you can anticipate if current prices are high or low.
2. REI Co-op Membership
REI is one of my favorite stores. One of the reasons why is their epic co-op program.
Joining the REI Co-Op can save you serious cash for the rest of your life. Seriously!
For $20, you can purchase a lifetime membership to their co-op that comes with numerous perks.
Co-op members receive special prices on REI classes/events, access to garage sales (where items are up to 50% off) and other exclusive offers.
Most importantly, members receive an annual dividend every spring. This dividend is equal to 10% back on all your REI purchases, paid straight to you!
Not to mention, you get an exclusive members-only towel and water bottle when you sign up. If you find yourself regularly shopping for camping gear, this is a great way to save money and support a top-notch company.
Don’t forget – renting isn’t just for movies. Camping gear can be rented, too.
Renting is a great way to get unique gear that you might only use on irregular occasions. You only use the equipment for a few days, so why pay for it all year?
Buying a tent, bike, or kayak is pricey, but you can save cash by renting. You end up only paying a fraction of what the gear actually costs!
If you’ve got an REI near you, they offer rentals at most of their stores. REI rents to everyone (including non-members) but gives discounts to members.
Local outdoor stores usually offer rentals as well. They’ll also be able to provide local-specific tips since they know the area like the back of their hand.
4. Black Friday or Off-Season Purchases
If you really don’t like paying full price, off-season sales are perfect for you.
Stores often place certain items on sale when demand dries up. They like to keep inventory moving, so if some products aren’t selling, they’ll drop prices.
You can take advantage of seasonal price changes this way (like buying ski boots during the summer). So, if you’re looking at seasonal gear, plan ahead and try to buy when the product is in low demand.
Also, don’t count out Black Friday sales!
The “holiday” might be absolute madness in some areas, but the deals might be worth it. You could possibly save enough money to afford another adventure or two.
Now with the advent of Cyber Monday, you can snag the sales of Black Friday without leaving your house. Thanks, online shopping!
5. Used Gear
There’s no shame in buying used camping gear. Plenty of campers take outstanding care of their equipment. Even if they’re done with a specific piece, someone could still get plenty of use out of it.
Buying used is like renting gear. You end up paying only a fraction of the original cost (but this time, you get to keep it!).
You can find used camping gear all over the place. Websites like eBay are a great place to find used gear, as well as local thrift stores. You could discover some chic stuff if you know where to look and what to look for.
And don’t forget about your friends! If you have a friend who enjoys camping as much as you do, talk to them about borrowing gear when they’re not using it. Or, offer to buy their old gear when they upgrade to something newer. Everybody wins!
6. Budget in Advance
Budgeting and saving are skills that many people utilize before a big camping trip. Not only does it keep you from spending more than you have, but it also gives you a goal to work towards.
Budgets also may help you feel better about spending money on costly gear. You already know you can afford the equipment since you’ve allotted cash in advance.
There are plenty of apps available to help you set and stick to a budget, like YNAB. Once you have a budget, you can start stashing away extra money in your savings account.
Lastly, don’t rule out collecting your spare change in a jar to cash out right before your camping trip. Spare change can really add up over time!
What did you think about these ideas to save big on camping gear? How many do you use? Let us know in the comments below.