How to find great gear for cheap....really cheap.

2:02 a.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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HOW TO FIND GREAT GEAR CHEAP... REALLY CHEAP.

Each time I go on a trip with trail friends, they show me their newest gear that they've picked up since the last trip. Per usual we end up going off the trail to explore some secret swim hole or unnamed lake. Getting there is often tough on our bodies but much tougher on our gear. At camp, the lament begins. Fancy rip stop pants ripped on prickly ash, tears for the new tear in their $400 pack, the ultralight tent that is a bit ultra-lighter from the campfire burn hole. 

Gear gets abused, busted, gouged, burned, bent, and all the rest. If it doesn't, I'm probably not having as much fun as I could be. 

Conversely, I am not the type of person that can drop $400 on a pack without treating it like a Fabergé egg. 

Therein lies the dilemma. How can one acquire really nice performance gear and throw it to the wolves without regret?

BUY IT FOR A SONG. 

My friends are often envious of my gear because it is top of the line but they are even more envious when I tell them how much I pay for it. For example: Last year I was using a Sierra Designs Sirius 2 tent, an Marmot Mavericks sleeping bag, with an Osprey Crescent 85L pack. I hiked in Salomon cross trainers, wore North Face zip offs, with a Mountain Hardwear mid layer and North Face Gore Tex windstopper. At night I used my Petzl headlamp and carried a Leatherman Sidekick. These were my staples.

Together this gear retails for over $1000. 

This is how much I paid for it:

Tent = $30

Bag = $10

Pack = $70

Shoes = $10

Pants = $8

Mid layer = $6

Jacket = $9

Lamp = Free

Leatherman = Free

Total = $143 That's about an 85% savings. 

How is it possible?

I'll let you in on the secret. Thrift stores. Garage sales. Craigslist. The river. 

THRIFT STORES:

In my metropolitan area there are many thrift stores. Examples are: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers, etc. There are also many smaller, more obscure second hand stores. I find the bigger the thrift store, the more power they have to move volume. More volume = more potential finds.

Suburban thrift stores get higher quality items since they are pulling from areas with higher disposable income. However, urban locations should not be overlooked. Often times people who shop inner city thrift stores do not have the time nor the resources to pursue backpacking, trail running, etc. This means that a lot of high quality gear flies by right under their noses. I can't tell you the number of times that I've found Arc'Teryx or Patagonia because nobody in that neighborhood has ever heard of either. The thrift store that I frequent has just realized (2015) that they can fetch more for North Face items than Columbia. Now NF jackets cost $20 instead of $7 or $8. I have never seen a tent priced more than $10 at any of these stores; albeit, most of them are Colemans. 

There is a second type of thrift store that not many people know about and probably doesn't exist outside of large metropolitan areas. It is called the Goodwill outlet. Have you ever wondered where all of the stuff that Goodwill doesn't sell ends up? Sub-Saharan Africa? Central America? Yes, but before it goes there, they send it all to a last stop shipping hub called G2. It's like a warehouse where they push out big bins either on conveyor belts or on rolling tables and it's a free for all rummage. Each 30 min or so, they toss what doesn't sell into huge crates and take them away. They then push out the next lot. The really nice items that were overpriced in the Goodwill retail store end up here as easily as the worthless brick-a-brack and it's yours to pay for BY THE POUND! This past week I picked up 2 North Face backpacks and a Bergan's of Norway Pack as well as Reichle Swiss hiking boots. I paid $10 for the packs and flipped 2 of them for $60. Guess what you can do with the extra cash you just made?

CRAIGSLIST:

If you just look at Craigslist once a day (2 minutes), you are guaranteed to find extraordinary deals. Just go to "sporting goods" and start typing in key words like "tent" or "backpacking". Dozens of options come up. Most are overpriced, low quality goods but every week or so, someone offers something you've been dreaming of at 1/2 the price you'd be willing to part with for it. Just take the money you made from flipping other gear you bought at the thrift store (I purchase high quality clothing and shoes that don't fit me just so I can flip them and make money to trade on CL). 

The obstacle in dealing with CL is that you are in competition with other people looking for a deal and these people are the cognoscente. They know what it is and they want it as much as you do. If it's a screaming deal, I'll offer the seller an extra $5 to get me to the top of their call back list. Half the time it works. When you get a deal on CL, you can then sell that item later for profit to put towards better gear you see in the future on CL. It's trading up. I started with a Kelty pack and an REI sleeping bag and have since traded up to a Big Agnes with an Osprey pack and it didn't cost me a dime. It takes time but half the fun is trying out newly purchased gear and reviewing it on Trailspace! BTW, when flipping your outdoor items, do it 2 weeks before major holidays and you'll increase profits by 30% or more. Sell winter gear in winter and summer gear in summer. 

GARAGE  and CHURCH SALES:

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRBkzJjjaxaHLSyG00jevC

Garage sales are hit and miss and require lots of driving so I don't bother with them. If you like garage sales then that factor won't bother you. Church rummage sales on the other hand are a great way to find sweet deals on gear. They are high volume concentrated in a single location. You must go on the opening day and early at that. The best deal I've ever seen was snagged by my very own brother. He was at a church sale and saw a tent. He pulled it half way out of the bag and saw NF. Knowing it was going to be a good deal, he asked the lady at the exit table how much it was. She asked for $15. When he pulled it out it had the faint odor of vomit so he let her know that and asked for a deal. She sold it to him for $9. When he brought it home, he found that the vomit smell was the Gore-tex (If you've packed away Gore-tex, you know what I mean). Turns out it was military issue North Face Extreme Cold Weather Tent (ECWS).

Right now it's retailing for $1700 on ebay. It has a special coating on the fly that inhibits light penetration so you can illuminate the inside without enemies seeing the tent from the exterior.  

THE RIVER:

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ7nD96HUdn2ip9EFkbtXC

I hesitate to even post this one because it is going to change your life. Just don't compete with me and all will be fine. Go to rivers where people lazily float down on big black inner tubes. For some reason, this past time rides a tight tandem with alcoholic beverages. It is the perfect combination for some really base shenanigans. Besides their dignity, drunk people lose EVERYTHING on these rivers. In the summer, I have more Oakleys than I can shake a schtick at. I flip them for $50 a pop and go buy gas to get out of town and into the woods. No, you won't find an Fly Creek UL in the drink but you will find iphones, cameras, go-pros, Leathermans and used condoms therein. Every community has its own water hole.

Unsolicited advice to you: Drunk people at these venues are sometimes dangerous. I've had full bottles of beer thrown at my head, beer poured down my snorkel, and horseless cowboys confront me on several occasions because I was wearing black tights (their interpretation for a wet suit). For this reason I only go at 6 am on Monday mornings now. 

There it is. The secret to the best gear in the world for some belly button lint and a few pennies. 

Good luck!

 

3:48 a.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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This post is confusing. You like to use fancy, expensive equipment but you say it doesn't hold up. But it makes your friends envious.  So you use it anyway by buying it used and finding it on the bottom of the river.

If this is a serious post, I would focus on some less expensive but more durable equipment that can take the hard use that you put it through. Then I would go spend your time in the outdoors for you and not worry about what your friends think.  Going in the outdoors should not be a fashion show or a contest to see who has the fanciest equipment.

 

6:51 a.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I have been following the forums for over 10 years and this is the first time ever that someone has revealed that one can buy stuff cheap in thrift stores.

I have always wondered what the idea of those stores was, never entered my head that one can in fact go in and buy stuff.

Thanks for sharing, the world is better for it.

9:48 a.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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Here in Jackson Hole Wyoming its called Browse and Buy, a second hand clothing and gear shop. People in tourist ski/hiking towns tend to donate the best brands of outdoor equipment. 

4:21 p.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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Come on guys...I think the point of the post is to get a conversation going about alternatives to buying gear. I do not live near a literal river of Oakleys (or at least I am unaware that I do)...but I do recycle down and buy cotton button-shirts for summer through local thrift places...and if you make an effort at it...I am sure you could outfit yourself adequately with enough time if you wanted to keep your cash investment in backpacking low.

However...where the thrift stores pull from makes a world of difference...I know GT made note of this...but he was a bit optimistic with suburban areas have more disposable income and therefore have better stuff. If you live near a college town in Boulder I bet you will come across some great outdoor gear in local thrift-stores...if you live near a midsize + midwestern + mostly German and Irish city you will find a lot of Carhartt and steel-toe boots...and much of it will be unusable...though a good thrifter will find the "good stuff" given enough time.

The point is...GT has some flare in his writing...but it is a good post! I would press him further and ask him to look into building his own gear. You can save a lot of money making gear with very little skill and know-how. In fact...I would argue that making things in the simplest way possible usually pays big with outdoor gear. Gear with a simple construction is often cheap to replace...light weight...easy to repair...and reliable. My trekking poles were made in about 30 minutes with some glue and a hand-drill for 70.00 (30.00 with used golf-clubs)...they are far and away the best pair I have ever owned!

8:08 p.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I just buy what I can for cheap and give it all a shot. Some of it is fancy, expensive and falls apart but I usually find that out the hard way on a trip. Some of it is durable and expensive, and some is cheap and is in the middle. I try to field test it all and keep the best stuff or read Trailspace reviews and trade up for well reviewed items via Craigslist. 

As far as a fashion show goes, yes there are many out there that are slaves to it, and yes, I do hike with a lot of them. I like gear that performs well and costs next to nothing - a lot of it happens to be very fashionable. 

8:16 p.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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Joseph R. I like your response. I only gave a snapshot of my geographical area. My friend in Missoula tells me that he finds excellent stuff on CL when students try to raise money to go home from college in the summer. Each area is going to have its own gems and treasures and the hunt for them is the best part. 

I am really not trying to sensationalize in my forum. The excitement I get when I find a great piece of gear is something that gets me every time. I'm just trying to share a great thing with some other great people. 

As far as building my own gear, I find it a fascinating endeavor and have been aching to try my hand at it. Looks like you'll be a great resource if I have any questions. 

Thanks.

Jesse

8:49 p.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I've posted before about buying used gear which I have done fairly successfully. The caveat is that it takes research and patience. My pack and pants in my photo were used finds online on another site. The skis were a close out on Sierra Trading Post, a good place to look if you want new at a discount. Woot and Steep and Cheap are also worth checking out. Most of the used gear I have cost me about half of retail or less and was close to new condition.

9:55 p.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I have had very good luck at REI garage sales. Obviously, you have to live near an REI to attend, but most of the gear I have purchased there looks like it was used once and then returned on REI's very generous policy.

A recent deal I got there was on a Marmot Limelight 2p tent, including the fly, all stakes, poles, footprint and gearloft all in the original stuff sack.  The tag said the reason for return was broken poles, so I set it up in the store to check it out (since all sales are final during a garage sale).

Everything was flawless (including the poles) and not even a speck of dirt on the footprint or stakes!

What had broken was a small (and really useless) plastic connector that hold the 2 main poles together in an "X" where they cross over the top of the tent. I called Marmot and they sent me 4 new "X" connectors at no charge.

I paid $48 for the tent.

11:11 p.m. on May 2, 2015 (EDT)
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On a different note, from my previous comment, last week I spotted an aluminium pot at a local thrift shop that took my fancy.

I liked the look of it at first sight and it turned out to be very light too.

( I have been known to carry my postal scale with me but not on that trip.)

Anyway for $1 it looked the part.

Turned out to be about 600ml and just 5g over the weight of my "superlight" 550ml Ti pot (now sold under the Toaks brand)85g (3 oz)

I have no use yet for it ,because it does not work with my Caldera Cone but I enjoyed the bargain.


Al-pot_zpsdwkuvwhq.jpg
The dirt is much easier to see in this photo than in reality...

11:13 a.m. on May 3, 2015 (EDT)
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Some great points.  I haven't ever found good outdoor stuff at thrift stores, however church and other types of fundraising tag sales are another story, especially for cool vintage camping stuff.  The stuff you find is the sorts of things you would expect from people cleaning out their attic, perhaps to retire to Florida.  They just want to get rid of it, they are not attached to it, they don't want to save it until next year.  The pricing often reflects how your grandmother old women value an item i.e. not much value to old camping stuff, but a ceramic figurine or paperweight is an opportunity to get big bucks.  This weekend I went to a rummage sale that raises money for a high school graduation party and got a early 70's Svea 123 with a Sigg Tourist. 

For car camping, old Coleman white gas stoves and lanterns are very well made and it is very common to find those at church tag sales. 

There is often also a free bin that includes beat up pots that are great for camping.     

12:20 p.m. on May 3, 2015 (EDT)
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Franco said:

I have been following the forums for over 10 years and this is the first time ever that someone has revealed that one can buy stuff cheap in thrift stores.

 Franco, I assume you posted this tongue in cheek. As Tom D posted, references to thrift stores appear all the time on Trailspace, several times a month. In my area (Silicon Valley), the thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and a bunch of others are full of barely used outdoor gear at really cheap prices. I got a wet suit that was barely used for $10, for example. Skis and ski clothing are abundant, apparently from (1) people with more money than sense who buy the "latest, greatest", then use it for part of a season and decide the sport is not for them (or, these days, with our now 4-year-long drought with virtually no snow, they have no use for it).

In addition, the SFBay area has lots of outlet stores from the major manufacturers. Several times a year, the Patagonia stores have 60% off sales. Plus TNF and others sell "seconds" that usually have tiny cosmetic flaws that make no functional difference.

The REI "bumps and scratches" sales were mentioned and are highly publicized. I got a MSR Whisperlite for $5 with a tag that said "doesn't work". A few minutes of cleaning had it working perfectly (some people don't know how to light a stove, is all I can figure).

Oh, and yes, I do find lost and abandoned stuff in the backcountry all the time. When I was in high school, some friends of mine and I would go to the Sierra, get an assignment from the rangers to pick up and clean campsites in a certain area, and find all sorts of abandoned stuff from tents and sleeping bags to nice jackets. The stuff would go into a lost and found bin, which we could reclaim after a month or so.

Best find, though, was hiking near Tioga Pass. As Barb and I were hiking along, I spotted something green on the ground. Picking it up, I discovered it was a $20 bill. This was 5 miles from the trail head. I called out loudly "Anyone lose some money?" Since there was no response, that night, we went to the restaurant at the Tioga entrance to Yosemite and hid a very nice dinner (this was a number of years ago, when $20 bough a very nice dinner).

9:56 p.m. on May 3, 2015 (EDT)
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If I'm buying retail, I nearly always buy clearance items and "last year's model." But I mostly avoid brand name/fashion gear. This weekend, I hiked in a $9 Walmart polyester t-shirt and a $12 pair of running shorts from Target. No worries if they get ruined.

The only "new" gear I carried was a hammock I'm testing for the Review Corps.

I've spent plenty of money on gear, but I refuse to fall for the REI line that I have to have the newest and best--guess that's why my dividend this year came to $4.

The ONLY things worth spending money on are:

1) Quality footwear (shoes, socks, & insoles)

2) Comfortable pack

3) Reliable sleeping bag

Everything else is negotiable.

1:59 a.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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Views from the Top has a lost & found forum. Since it's New England, the finds tend to be in the same local area, but I rarely see anyone claiming anything. Some of the lost gear includes cameras, snowshoes, most anything you'd expect to get left behind or come detached from a pack.

I think Franco has seen Casablanca too many times. "I'm shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in here." :)

Bill's lucky, surrounded by geeks with plenty of money and short attention spans. The trick is finding a second hand shop next to an upscale neighborhood where people are constantly "upgrading" their clothes and gear.

2:16 a.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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I think Franco has seen Casablanca too many times. "I'm shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in here." :)

Very good.

9:52 a.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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Hi all,

I'm actually the one who suggested Jesse start a new thread here sharing his own experience and tips on thrifty gear finds, and opening the discussion to our other members to share their experiences, tips, and best used and/or vintage finds (because I know you guys have good ideas to share).

After reading Jesse's numerous recent reviews of his gear, much of it bought at deep discount, I was impressed by his repeated ability to stretch a gear dollar. I thought, "this guy can get more gear for $100 than most consumers do for several times that much."

So, please don't throw Jesse under the bus for wanting to be helpful and to contribute to the community at my encouragement.

Has anyone ever suggested buying used gear at thrift stores before in Trailspace's 14 years? Yup. Does that mean we can't discuss it again? No, otherwise most forum topics would be off-limits.

To that end, I've personally enjoyed the advice, finds, and pictures already shared above.

And I would love to see a picture of Joseph's golf club/trekking poles that he made.

On this topic, while I have donated some used gear to Goodwill (nothing too exciting, but things like the kid carrier I didn't like as much and some backpacks I didn't love as much—see the trend?), I have never found anything overly exciting in return either. I think I also gave them a very heavy, bulky winter sleeping bag once (I wonder where it is now?).

However, about a decade or so ago, when it had a call center near my Maine town, LL Bean would have a semi-annual sale there. You had to stand in line and wait to get in, but they had all sorts of returned and discontinued gear, clothing, and other items for very deep sale (way lower than what you'd find at the outlet).

If you weren't picky and went early, you could get some great deals! I would pick up things like bike shorts and gloves for very cheap, and hiking clothes too.

11:21 a.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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Franco said:

I have been following the forums for over 10 years and this is the first time ever that someone has revealed that one can buy stuff cheap in thrift stores.

I have always wondered what the idea of those stores was, never entered my head that one can in fact go in and buy stuff.

Thanks for sharing, the world is better for it.

 I guess the world has changed a lot. For many decades, people found their equipment in Army surplus stores and garage sales.  We made some of it. There were plenty of used equipment sales and thrift store finds.

I would be comfortable shopping with GOOSE.

11:49 a.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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On my part, I will work on that delivery of mine. Thanks for the comments though. They are all helpful. 

3:25 p.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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GT...there is nothing wrong with your delivery...as a person who reads for a living I can tell you personally I hate it when writers kill their voice in their text (men and scientists are particularly horrible at this). Keep your voice...change your voice...do what ever you want...just don't kill your voice!

I would add to Goose's list "shelter"...now that doesn't mean you need to buy Cuben...but there is a big difference between a 50.00-100.00 sil-nylon tarp and a 20.00 cheap tarp...no matter what your negotiation skills. I would like to add that I am disappointed that Goose's total dividend was 1.30 cheaper than mine this year...I thought I had him!

Alicia...I have uploaded the photos before...I'll try to find a link to them...Here you go.

Hiking-006.jpg

4:02 p.m. on May 4, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks, Joseph!

I went ahead and inserted the image in your post. I hope that was OK.

I also agree with you that having your own unique voice is a good thing. Don't aim to be bland.

3:00 a.m. on May 5, 2015 (EDT)
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Jesse basically wrote the article I was thinking about doing but never got around to doing in long form. Some of us have been around for quite some time, so don't take a few pokes too seriously. I remember back when army surplus actually was army surplus. If I remember correctly, Banana Republic, the trendy clothing store, started out as a catalog of surplus military stuff from third world countries, hence the name. I loved getting the catalog in the mail and seeing surplus stuff from India left over from the British colonial days, that sort of thing. You can still find surplus clothing online and in a few stores, but the vintage stuff you used to see is pretty much gone or too pricey.

6:43 a.m. on May 5, 2015 (EDT)
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Not all that long ago in the early '90s (at least in my memory not that long ago), as a teen I got all of my first hiking and backpacking gear, clothes, and even boots out of the little Sierra Trading Post catalogue with black and white drawings of discounted gear. This was pre-internet.

Of course, STP is still around with a robust online presence, but now we have so much more info about what something is that we might want to buy. As a teen, I just trusted my older brother who'd led backpacking trips to look at the name, drawing, and price and say "this is a good boot" or "a decent backpack" and bought what I needed.

I don't think I even knew anyone else who'd ever backpacked, let alone had access to an outdoor retailer and gear advice.

Yup, I bought all of my first outdoor gear without trying it on, and I survived. I also had virtually no money to outfit myself, so even buying those things on sale was a big deal.

7:58 a.m. on May 5, 2015 (EDT)
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Nice on the craigslist recommendation,..That has paid out to me more than once..I actually listened or read from other backpackers to check craigslist for gear..I thought well maybe..Well I was looking for a new sleeping bag down and had it down to 2 companies..I thought if i can find a deal it's better than paying retail I will..I hit the jackpot..I found a Western Mountaineering sleeping bag used hardly for 100...The bag was a 20 degree and he was a hunter that was moving..He just wanted to sell his gear and move..He actually knew what he had and I talked to him while I was looking at the bag..I was the only person who contacted him about it..I also found that forums you can get good used gear..I never met a backpacker that tore up his gear to be honest..I bought my first ULA pack from a guy in Georgia off whiteblaze..I saw the pic's and he listed the year etc on the pack. I contact Chris at UlA and was honest with him telling him I was buying a used pack..He told me everything I should look for so I contacted the seller and had him send me up to date photo's of the pack and I knew my torso measurements and had tried that pack out before I bought it..I paid 150 for a pack that had maybe 300 miles on it...I did buy a New ULA Circuit 6 months ago Full retail because I love their packs..I have bought other gear on Backpackinglight to lighten my load and it was dirt cheap compared to retail..I wouldn't pass up Social Media either..Such as Facebook there are gear sale groups where if you know what your looking for you can buy it at a good price below retail...I bought a used Western Mountaineering sleeping bag rated higher temp at 1/2 the cost at retail again it's knowing what you want out of your doallars..But great info...

9:10 a.m. on May 5, 2015 (EDT)
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Facebook gear trading? Awesome.

11:42 a.m. on May 5, 2015 (EDT)
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I've found some great clothing items at thrift shops. Sometimes you double take and think, "Is that a Mountain Hardwear Jacket? Are those some Montane pants?" 

My dad found a Helly Hansen jacket at his in Fuquay. Can't be a few bucks, especially for those items that are built to last. 

Craigslist is a great place too, especially if you're in a bigger outdoor area. I'm with G00SE in that my bigger items like shoes, pack, and sleeping bag I'd prefer getting new or gently used, though I am flexible on a pack. If I see a good one, I'd grab it!  Being a runner since high school, I gotta stick with new shoes...and who doesn't like the smell of a new pair?...so win-win!

6:11 p.m. on May 5, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks for the tips, I try to never pay retail for anything but when it comes to shoes I'm really picky but my favorite trail shoes are a pair of vasque I picked up at an REI yard sale for less than 1/2 price that were like new.

Never considered drunken diving treasures though.

2:17 a.m. on May 6, 2015 (EDT)
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BTW, for the ones that didn't get it, here is the Casablanca clip mentioned by Tom :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gf8NK1WAOc

11:26 a.m. on May 6, 2015 (EDT)
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I tend to shop wisely, buy new stuff infrequently, and look for deals wherever I can. One thing that has been mentioned by Bill and others, is the gear that gets used once or twice and then put up for sale. Bill and I, and a few others here can probably remember the late 60's and early 70's when the outdoor experience grew a hundred fold. But then, a lot of young people who had bought the nice Kelty packs, and the x-c skis, decided the experience wasn't worth the pain. So the used gear was plentiful and cheap. But there is another aspect to this that I also follow. Because I watch my pennies, I also look for durable gear, even though it may not be trendy, or quite as light. I'll turn down the titanium MSR spoon and take the stainless one because the wrench on the titanium one is next to useless. But lots of people sell their more durable gear in an effort to get the lightest and newest. While I buy new canoes every now and again, I also buy used. My drysuit was bought for half what it would have cost new. I got it from a kayak school and it had only been worn one season. Outing club classifieds are another way to get gear. Ask around and often people have used gear they don't need and are willing to let it go for nothing or very little cash. And surplus stores also provide a good source. My son works as a guide at a canoe tripping camp in Ontario during the summer. They go out for six to eight weeks and the gear gets used hard. When he was a camper there, I sent him with nylon convertible pants. Good quality ones, but they didn't last. He later switched to Dickies, the UPS uniform pants. Incredibly durable and they last a couple of seasons. The bottom line for me is that I have gear that I have used for decades, and though not super light, it is often like an old friend. When I do buy, I shop carefully and rarely pay the full price at the retailer, unless it is something that I really need.

12:42 p.m. on May 6, 2015 (EDT)
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I must admit I don't have the patience to sort through the thrift stores. Most of the shirts in my closet (that I wear in the office) are from second hand stores but my wife gets the credit for finding them.

When I first got into backpacking I was aghast at the cost of gear and perplexed at why lighter equipment was generally more expensive even though there was usually less raw materials involved in it's construction; paying more for less seemed illogical. I subsequently learned about the cost of the lighter materials for certain products like those made of titanium.

Though I'm no textile expert, I'm still not sold on why finer denier nylon is more expensive than a more robust "fiber".

5:50 p.m. on May 6, 2015 (EDT)
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"Though I'm no textile expert, I'm still not sold on why finer denier nylon is more expensive than a more robust "fiber"."

A couple of reasons. Lighter fabrics are generally more expensive to manufacture (can be 10 to 20 times...*) also some of those lighter fabrics are much more difficult to handle (cut/stitch/bond) .

Another popular misconception is that heavier fabric is automatically stronger or longer lasting.

Sometime it is , other times it's just heavier...

* 70d polyester can be bought in China for 50c a yard 

30D silnylon starts at $5 or so.

6:02 p.m. on May 6, 2015 (EDT)
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jrenow said:

I would add to Goose's list "shelter"...now that doesn't mean you need to buy Cuben...but there is a big difference between a 50.00-100.00 sil-nylon tarp and a 20.00 cheap tarp...

 I didn't mention shelter, because, to me that is relative to conditions. My first real backpacking experience included a crappy tent. https://www.trailspace.com/gear/wenzel/starlite/#review26765

Having a great sleeping bad saved that trip from being absolutely miserable. So, I can get by on a cheap shelter (in 3-season conditions).

10:01 a.m. on May 7, 2015 (EDT)
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Unless people are trustfunders or something, how can Craigslist and thrift stores be a secret?

10:05 a.m. on May 7, 2015 (EDT)
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I've been fortunate to be in the UK as there is so much competition in terms of outdoor gear retailers, that end of year sales are amazing.

I have gotten most of my stuff for prices I wouldnt even dream of in North America.... often less than I would pay for used!

11:05 a.m. on May 7, 2015 (EDT)
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Not that thrift stores or Craigslist is a secret, but many people I am acquainted with (80% or so) put themselves "above" thrift stores. In addition, I was hoping to show a sequential pattern of trading up a person can use to acquire great gear (start out at the thrift store or the river and trade up on CL, and then use the profit money to buy full-price gear if you want).

There was story of a boy that started trading with a paper clip on craigslist and ended up with a car in a short amount of time - something in that vein.

For people like me, on a school teacher's salary, this is one of the only ways I can get high performance gear without getting the LODGE cast iron pan from my wife. 

11:16 a.m. on May 7, 2015 (EDT)
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online sales, craigslist, geartrade.com have been good sources for lowering the costs of certain gear for me. The thrift stores I have been in around the DC area probably have some options, but it would take some sifting.  

for craigslist, it helps to focus on the local area that suits your needs.  I have had good luck with craigslist Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming for various types of gear.  Selling old gear on craigslist is definitely worthwhile.  

if you live near a manufacturer, think about factory sales.  Malden Mills used to sell heavily discounted seconds, gear that had minor imperfections.  

9:17 p.m. on May 7, 2015 (EDT)
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Andrew makes a great point...I had forgot about that one..I would say this is a great source of information packed with way's to save on gear..Not every member who joins TS is experienced. Some are looking for advise to help them in what they need skill wise as well as savings on gear..Great thread...

1:23 a.m. on May 8, 2015 (EDT)
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There used to be a search engine called Craig's Pal that enabled you to do multi-market searches on Craigslist, but Craigslist shut it down claiming infringement. Too bad since quite often, finding things like winter gear requires searching out of your home area one market at a time, which can be tedious.

2:04 a.m. on May 10, 2015 (EDT)
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Goose...I think this is just one area where we will have to agree to disagree...though I agree with footwear and pack completely...I put shelter about a million times above a sleeping-bag...which I rarely use in the summer...and can be easily substituted with clothing (I actually find my puffy stuff more comfortable than a sleeping-bag). On the other hand...a leaky shelter is much harder to work-around...though I imagine I could sleep in my rain-gear :-(

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