Once we got more into camping it meant we had to up our camping game. In Boy Scout’s, for instance, there’s an expectation that all of your gear should fit in a backpack and that you’re prepared for a wider range of temperatures and camping conditions. As a result, we’ve started purchasing some better gear and that can get a bit expensive.
One way we found to address that is by attending the local REI Garage Sales. REI is a chain of outdoor stores. They can be a bit pricey for some items, but we found some boots and a waterproof outer shell (jacket) at a decent price there a couple months back. When we purchased those items it was actually cheaper to get a lifetime membership to REI due to the discount we got on our purchase. The membership gives us access to their periodic “garage sales.”
The garage sales are crazy discount events. At our store people get in line early – sitting out in camping chairs in a line – sort of like a Black Friday event. At the time that the event begins, a store employee walks down the line of people and passes out cards with group numbers on them. Groups are assigned a time. When you come back at your designated time you have 15 minutes to shop. The items for sale are generally things that were returned after one use, and as such, can’t be sold as new. Each item is labeled with a tag that explains why the customer returned it. Some items you obviously don’t want. The cell phone battery pack that won’t hold a charge is one you might want to pass on. But there are plenty of items that are just fine: “Sleeping bag wasn’t wide enough.” “Didn’t like the color.” Many of these items are just fine and are half off their regular price. We got multiple items like a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad and a one-man tent that were categorized as “ultra-light backpacking gear” for “normal backpacking gear” prices.
The sale happens a couple times a year at multiple locations and is well worth checking out.