HOW TO FIND INEXPENSIVE HIKING GEAR

I love hiking, I love hiking gear and I start getting pretty excited when spring is only a short while away and we can get into our hiking mode with more gusto. Admittedly I am not a lover of winter hiking for more than a day hike so I really look forward to the warmer weather, especially since we live along the Pacific Westcoast.

I don't love hanging out in malls or shopping endlessly for clothes but put me in a camping, hiking and outdoor store and I feel right at home and my adrenaline starts rushing at the sights of new gear and gadgets. The smell of the latest and greatest, what new pot set has MSR got this year? What are the new features on the Osprey backpacks that mine doesn't have? Maybe we need more titanium kitchenware?

But the truth is that investing in hiking gear can really add up and add up quickly. Especially brand new gear that's just been released and you happen to be shopping during peak hiking season. So how can you save some money but still get great gear? Check out these tips for having top notch gear and pay less for them, nothing could be sweeter than that.

Tip #1: Buying Used Gear. There's nothing like recycling and helping out our environment at the same time. A lot of people buy great gear, hike a few times and give it up or want to trade in their gear for newer hiking equipment. You can find super gear, barely used, in great condition at a fraction of the original price. Places to check for used gear are online with Craigslist in your area, gear swap sites which can often be found through local outdoor stores such as MEC in Canada (I have found great kids gear this way for our family camping and hiking trips) and even the classifieds in your local paper. Also check out the bulletin boards inside your local outdoor store, they are usually filled with people offering to sell their equipment for very little.

A lot of hikers are like me and want the latest and greatest but need to trade in what we already have so selling off gear that isn't too old helps to justify buying newer gear each year. We've also found great gear that we wanted this way and as long as you inspect it for any wear and tear most really good quality gear should last a very long time.

Tip #2: Buy Off Season. Another great reason to head to your outdoor store between hiking seasons if you are a seasonal hiker. The outdoor stores need to clear their inventory after the peak season to make room for the upcoming season's new models of just about everything. Sometimes the only difference in a backpack or tent may be a colour change or the addition of a zipper but everything else stays the same. You'll find prices slashed for brand new gear if you search regularly during the off season.

Stores such as MEC and REI sell their gear online as well and you can check weekly for sales, special deals and discounts. It's a great way to stock up on your favourite pieces of hiking equipment.

Whether you hike year round or only part of the year these two tips will help you save money on some of the best gear you can have. What will you do with the money you save?

Happy Hiking!

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