One of, if not the biggest barrier to getting outside, is the hefty price tag that can come with it. Following your favorite outdoor adventurers on Instagram will expose you to gear recommendations that are usually top tier when you might not be willing to devote that much money. Whether you’re new and looking for starter items before you commit to the name brands, or just looking to save some money, I hope these recommendations serve you well.
Aside from buying inexpensive gear, here are tips on saving money:
-Borrowing things from friends!! If you have friends with gear that aren’t busy, you can ask to borrow it, as long as you take care of it properly. This is how I got into camping before I was ready to buy anything (thanks, Dad).
-Work for an outdoor company, they’ll give you pretty good discounts.
-Craigslist! To be fair, I’ve been living in Denver where the outdoor market on Craiglist is abundant. But most areas should have a decent amount of listings.
-Enter as many giveaways as you can, especially with smaller companies since you’ll have less competing entries.
-Don’t buy everything name brand. Look on Amazon, and make sure a product has at least 100+ reviews and actually read them!
-Support smaller or up and coming businesses. Sometimes to promote themselves, they’ll give away free or discounted gear.
–REI garage sales and other companies’ annual or closing sales. For example, right now REI is doing 20% off almost everything as a recurring annual sale.
I use this all the time to find free camping instead of paying $20-$40 for a site. Most of these, however, do not have amenities (toilets, water, dumpsters, etc) so pack in-pack out! Always read reviews first and make sure your vehicle can make it to the site by checking 4WD and high clearance requirements. I drive a 94 Toyota Camry but can still find plenty of sites.
$5 – You absolutely do not need to spend more on camping chairs unless you’re trying to be picky.
Car camping stove:
<$45 – We got off of Craigslist for $20. Any simple two burner stove with a wind blocking panel will probably do fine.
$20 – This one is nice in case you forgot your lighter since it has self-ignition.
Backpacking mess kit:
$20 – This is a one or two person kit for small meals or boiling water for dehydrated meals.
$100 on sale! I wouldn’t buy this full price, because you can find it on sale multiple times throughout the year.
$70 – useful for more than just outdoor recreation! If you’re not ready to buy a rain coat, and will only be experience light rain, you could go with a poncho to cover your body & backpack.
Cheap backpacking food:
<$3. I get these at Natural Grocers but you can buy them online or in other stores as well. They’re not the lightest food, but they’re not heavy, and easy to make. Easy, healthy, quick = win with little effort.