One of my favorite elements of backpacking is that it allows you to head off into the places that most people will never venture to see. While I love the backcountry, my only gripe with backpacking is that due to the gear required, it can be extremely expensive. I wanted to share with you some tips on how not to break the bank when it comes to getting into this amazing hobby.
Shop around: I love the major sporting goods stores as much as the next guy, but they certainly are not the host of the best deals around. Hold off on the impulsive idea of “I have to have this today!” and hit the internet. Google Shopping has been a great tool to use to price out backpacking gear. I have found backpacks and sleeping bags for 60% off retail price this way. backcountry.com campsaver.com and campmor.com are all sites that we have used and recommend for some deals on gear.
Shop the off season: Backpacking and hiking season(s) typically begin in mid spring and end in mid fall. That being said, gear demand is high during the peak season, which means less deals on the goods you need. Buying gear November-March usually will yield the most savings as people are done using it for the year and companies are looking to make room for the latest models.
Buy used: One of the best things about quality backpacking gear is that the stuff is designed to last multiple years and countless trips. With gear being designed with such quality, most people sell off their used gear even though it has plenty of life left. eBay.com, craigslist.org, and geartrade.com are all great sources for finding some used gear that is looking for a home. While most items like a sleeping bag, backpack, sleeping pad, or stove can be cleaned up and made part of your arsenal, we don’t recommend buying a water filter that has been used. Water filters aren’t supposed to be dropped, frozen over, or abused, so buying a used one just seems to have too much risk involved.
Rent: If you’ve never been backpacking before or only have a trip or two under your belt, it’s not a bad idea to rent. Renting gear will free you up from the large financial commitment that a gear purchase can bring. There really isn’t much need to buy certain seasonal items you may only use once. How often will you really use a 0 degree sleeping bag or snowshoes? Some items make more sense to rent than buy. It just so happens that Wilderness Trio rents all kinds of gear, so keep us in mind! It’s always nice to be able to try before you buy.
Have fun hitting the trails without hitting the budget,
- Chris Duarte