Planning a vacation in the great outdoors in the next year? Now’s the time to start thinking about new gear and how you can get it for less.
Outdoor equipment can be pricey, but buying it at the right time of the year can get you the gear you covet at a better price. The savings will give you more cash to spend on the outdoor adventures themselves.
We’ve noted national retailers as good sources, however you might be able to get better details from Facebook’s Marketplace or Nextdoor for secondhand equipment. At Gear Trade you can buy both new and used equipment.
It’s time to get out there.
Guide to Buying Outdoor Gear at the Right Time
Best time to buy: Fall and March
Details: When ski shops shut down for the season, they usually have to clear out the inventory. Many of these stores stay in the outdoor gear business year-round, converting to bicycle or camping gear stores come spring and summer. But there’s always the question of what to do with all the bulky skis and snowboards that are left. The answer is usually to sell them cheaply. While the selection might not be great post-ski season, the prices are. Another option is to buy used ski equipment via GearTrade.com. Every week that an item doesn’t sell, the price drops so you can watch your favorite items until the price is right (unless someone else snags it first).
You’ll save: 50-60 percent
Where to buy it: Backcountry; REI; Gear Trade
Camping Equipment (Mostly Tents, Things to Sleep On)
Best time to buy: September
Details: In September, retailers don’t typically have many people clamoring to buy camping gear because it’s getting cold in much of the country, and they want to sell as much as possible, Priobrazhenskiy says. November through January are also good times to purchase when people are searching for holiday gifts. If you have a last-minute outing, you can find discounted items in late August as well, says Andrew Priobrazhenskiy, the CEO of DiscountReactor, an e-commerce business.
You’ll save: 50 percent
Where to buy: REI; Dick’s Sporting Goods
Seasonal Sports Clothes (Ski Coats, Bathing Suits, Hiking Clothes and More)
Best time to buy: May
Details: If you wait until July or August, you’ll also be able to get your hands on great sale options and discounts as well, says Priobrazhenskiy.
You’ll save: 50 percent
Where to buy: REI; Patagonia; Moosejaw
Outdoor Cooking Gear
Best time to buy: February, June and August
Details: These items such as camp stoves and cooking supplies and utensils tend to go on sale during these months. This is when most people plan their camping and outdoor trips, and retailers want to snag the business, Priobrazhenskiy says.
You’ll save: Up to 60 percent
Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods
Stand Up Paddleboards, Surf Boards, Kiteboards, Windsurfers
Best time to buy: August
Details: Purchasing your water sports equipment at the end of the summer is best because many stores hold end-of-season clearance sales, says Holly Appleby, a marine conservation researcher and surf instructor who runs Ocean Today, a project dedicated to ocean education. If you purchase at the end of the season, however, ensure you have adequate storage for your new equipment. Surfboards and paddleboards should be stored out of the sun in a cool, dry place, Appleby says. And while many items can be purchased secondhand, Appleby cautions against purchasing water sports equipment this way. “Purchasing secondhand usually means you can get good deals year-round, but while you’ll likely save money, there’s a chance the safety of the item has been compromised,” she says.
You’ll save: 40 percent
Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods; REI
Kayaks and Canoes
Best time to buy: End of August
Details: The prime season for paddling around lakes, rivers and other waterways in much of the United States is August. So the end of August is a great time to buy a discounted kayak, canoe or other piece of paddle equipment. Don’t want to store it for a year before you’ll get to use it? Memorial Day usually draws major lake equipment sales, as does Christmas. The worst time to purchase these items is spring, when the new inventory arrives in the stores. Often, you can find used paddling craft and equipment on Craigslist or on local Facebook groups for half the price during the spring and fall months.
You’ll save: 40-50 percent
Where to buy: REI; Cabela’s
Best time to buy: March and April
Details: The majority of sporting goods retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Camping World will have closeouts in the spring to make room for new gear and accessories for hiking such as boots, packs, navigation tools and trekking poles, says Vipin Porwal, founder and consumer savings expert at Smarty and Smarty Plus. “It’s very important to take advantage of any available savings with trending coupons and rewards like cash back in order to assure the best price, regardless of the stores you’re shopping in,” Porwal says.
You’ll save: 10-40 percent
Where to buy: Dick’s Sporting Goods; Bass Pro Shops; Camping World
Bicycles and Helmets
Best time to buy: Fall
Details: This is when the stores get rid of the previous summer stock and to make room for new models. But you can also get good deals on Black Friday and around the Christmas season. If you’re looking for a specialist bike, such as a mountain bike or a road bike, these will be on sale whenever they’re out of race season (usually the winter months). Save even more by asking to purchase a demo bike. These are the bikes that shops lend to prospective buyers. They tend to be well-maintained, and are the equivalent of an open box item in an electronics store.
You’ll save: 20-35 percent
Where to buy: You should purchase bicycles at a local store to get the correct fit.
Best time to buy: February
Details: About two months after the December holiday season is the sweet spot: It’s too early to fish in much of the country except for all but hardy ice anglers and stores need to sell off their older gear. Make sure to look in the used sections as well because that’s where better deals can be found.
You’ll save: 25-40 percent
Where to buy: Cabela’s; Bass Pro Shops
Car Racks to Carry It All
Best time to buy: November
Details: Black Friday is the best time to snag racks for bikes, watercraft, skis, snowboards and more, but you’ll rarely see these for more than 20 percent off. Want a better deal? Look for these on EBay or Craigslist, or scour local Facebook Marketplace listings. These are sturdy so you don’t typically have to worry about it being damaged and often, people will use theirs for a trip or two before getting rid of it.
You’ll save: 20 percent
Where to buy: REI; Backcountry
Danielle Braff is a contributor to Codetic.