When I was a kid, I fell in love with backpacking, camping, and being in the great outdoors.  My dad taught me essential life skills from as early as I can remember, including compass courses, land navigation, eating and living off the land.  Much like what Rangers do in training, but to a less intensive degree…

So, when I started getting back into it as an adult, nearly all my gear was too small for me – you grow a lot between 12-41!  I became acutely aware of that when I resumed the camping gig two years ago with the family canoe trips!  I struggled through a few years of “making do” with loaner stuff, and trying to eke one more use out of 30 year old equipment.  Just as I browse the clearance racks of B&H Photo, the walls of REI (with a main branch office right here in Denver) have also kept my eye.

Then, just this last weekend – REI had one of their apparently quite popular Garage Sales – members get exclusive access to some pretty amazing deals from returns.  After learning the hard way with camera gear (that used sometimes is better than new!), I decided to take a peak:

The gear from REI

  • Backpack – Retail $299 – Used once $49.95 (broken zipper)
  • Compact Air Matress – Retail $99 – Used once (no leaks – verified) $10
  • Long 20 degree sleeping bag – Retail $150 – Used once $30
  • AsoloFlame Hiking Boots – Retail $159.99 – Used once $59.99

When you think about it, the net results are pretty staggering.  Consider that I bought gear which at retail prices would have totaled $708.  I spent about $150 on the full set, and another $35 in cleaning and repairs (laundered the bag myself, the zipper fixed for $15, and the boots cleaned for $20).  That means I saved $523!  That’s 74% off!

If I was smart, I’d have done the same with photography.  Think about it…who cares if the tripod has a nick on one leg, or your camera body as a cosmetic scratch on one corner.  Even camera bags can get obscenely expensive.  My last camera bag I bought I paid nearly $400 for!  I probably could have found one with a busted zipper or whatever for 74% off.  Save your money where you can folks – that’s the tip here for the day.  Do we want nice and shiny stuff?  Sure!  But the question is – do we need it?  Not when I can save over $500!

So, shop around – look at Craigslist, see what’s on Flea Bay!  Heck, there’s even some good used gear that pro shops sell used – or even rental houses.  Just stick with reputable outfits and you’ll never go wrong.  But always consider going used – the gear will likely work the same, and you save a few bucks!

2 thoughts on “Garage Sale Deals of a Lifetime!

  1. Those are sweet deals! I wish I had seen the REI sale! I never seem to have much luck with finding camera gear on craigslist & eBay like others. I’ll keep trying though 🙂

  2. I completely agree with you. Of all my equipment inventory, I would say only CF cards and software was purchased new. Everything else was ebay, Craigslist, local camera shop used, etc.
    That includes:
    Canon 5D
    50 f1.4
    Canon 1n
    Seagate Ext HDDs, 6tb total
    Manfrotto tripod
    3 speedlites
    wireless triggers
    film scanner
    85 f1.8

    And most of the time, if it’s something I really would rather have new, I put it on a Christmas list. Everyone in the family knows what to get me then.

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