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:
- 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!